Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date April 24, 2018
Widowed by an unspeakable tragedy, accomplished photographer Camille Palmer has made her peace with the past and is content with the quiet safety of life with her teenage daughter, Julie, in a sleepy coastal town. Then the arrival of a mysterious package breaks open the door to her family’s secret past. In uncovering a hidden history, Camille has no idea that she’s about to embark on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her.
Camille, Julie, and Camille’s father, Henry, return to the French town of Henry’s youth, sparking unexpected memories for him—recollections that will lead them back to the dark days of the Second World War. And it is in the stunning Provençal countryside that they will uncover their family’s surprising history.
While Provence offers answers about the past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, she meets an American historian who stirs a passion deep within her—a feeling that she thought she’d never experience again.
Brilliantly written and infused with Susan Wiggs’s trademark style, this hugely popular author has created her biggest, most powerful story yet in MAP OF THE HEART—an instant New York Times bestseller on the hardcover list. MAP OF THE HEART beautiful and heartfelt novel that celebrates the bonds of family and pays homage to the sacrifices of the past.
A car’s headlights swept across the front of the house, and crushed shells crackled under its tires. She glanced at the clock—nine p.m.— and went out onto the porch, snapping on the light. Her heart flipped over. Mr. Ponytail Professor was back.
“Did you forget something?” she asked when he got out of the car. “My manners,” he said.
What the . . . ? “Pardon me?” “Do you drink wine?” he asked.
“Copiously. Why do you ask?”
He held out a bottle of rosé, the glass beaded with sweat. “A peace offering. It’s chilled.” She checked the label—a Domaine de Terrebrune from Bandol. “That’s a really nice bottle.”
“I got it from a little wine shop in the village.”
She nodded. “Grand Crew. My father was one of their suppliers. He’s retired now.”
“He was in the wine business, then.”
“He owned an import and distributing firm up in Rehoboth. And why are we having this conversation?”
“I came back to apologize. I got halfway across the bridge and started feeling bad for yelling at you, so I turned around and came back.”
She caught herself staring at him like a smitten coed with a crush on her professor. She flushed, trying to shake off the gape-mouthed attraction. “Oh.” An awkward beat passed. “Would you like to come in?” She held open the door.
“Thought you’d never ask.”
In the kitchen, she grabbed some glasses and a corkscrew. What was he doing back here? “Actually, you did forget something—your sunglasses.” She handed them over.
“Oh, thanks.” He opened the wine and poured, and they brought their glasses to the living room and sat together on the sofa. He tilted his glass toward her. “So . . . apology accepted?”
She took a sip of the wine, savoring the cool, grapefruity flavor of it. “Apology accepted. But I still feel bad about your film.”
“I know. You made a mistake. I should have been more understanding.” He briefly touched her arm.
Okay, so maybe he wasn’t such a jerk. She stared at her arm where he had touched it. Why was this stranger, whose one-of-a-kind film she’d ruined, taking care of her? Watching him, she tried to figure it out. “I’ve never screwed up a project like that,” she said.
“So what happened?”
“Everything was going fine until I got a phone call from the local hospital that my daughter had been brought in by ambulance. I dropped everything and ran out the door.”
“The girl I met earlier? Oh, man. Is she all right?”
“Yes. Yes, Julie’s fine. She’s upstairs now, online—her favorite place to be.”
“So what was the emergency?”
“She was in a surf rescue class—most kids around here take it in ninth grade. She hit her head and got caught in a riptide.” A fresh wave of panic engulfed Camille as she pictured what could have happened.
“Thank God she’s okay.”
Camille nodded, hugging her knees to her chest. “I was so scared. I held myself together until . . . well, until you showed up. Lucky you, getting here just in time for my meltdown.”
“You should have said something earlier. If I’d known you rushed off because you got a call about your kid, I wouldn’t have been such a tool.” He offered a half smile that made her heart skip a beat.
At least he acknowledged that he’d been a tool. “Well, thanks for that, Professor Finnemore.”
“Call me Finn.”
She took another sip of wine, eyeing him over the rim of her glass. “You look like a Finn.”
“But not a Malcolm?”
“That’s right. Malcolm is totally different.”
He grinned, flashing charm across the space between them. “How’s that?”
“Well, buttoned down. Academic. Bow tie and brown oxfords.” He laughed aloud then. “You reduced me to a cliché, then.”
“Guilty as charged.”
“Want to know how I pictured you?” Without waiting for an answer, he rested his elbow on the back of the sofa and turned toward her. “Long dark hair. Big dark eyes. Total knockout in a red striped shirt.” He chuckled at her expression. “I checked out your website.”
Oh. Her site featured a picture of her and Billy on the “about us” link. But a knockout? Had he really said knockout? He was probably disappointed now, because on this particular night, she didn’t look anything like the woman in that photo.
“You look just like your photo,” he said.
Wait. Was he coming on to her? No. No way. She should have looked at his website. Did history professors have websites?
She saw something flicker across his face, an expression she couldn’t read.
“Go ahead,” he said. “You can look me up on your phone. You know you want to.”
She flushed, but did exactly that, tapping his name on the screen. The information that populated the web page surprised her. “Ac- cording to these search results, you’re a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former intelligence officer. You’re now a professor of history at Annapolis, renowned for tracing the provenance of lost soldiers and restoring the memories to their families. You’re an expert at analyzing old photos.”
“Then we have something in common. If you ever come across something mysterious in a picture, I can take a look.”
She couldn’t decide if his self-confidence was sexy or annoying. In the “personal” section of the page, it was noted that he had been married to “award-winning journalist Emily Cutler” for ten years, and was now divorced. She didn’t read that part aloud.
“I’m renowned? You don’t say.” He shifted closer to her and peered at the screen.
“I don’t. Wikipedia says. Is it accurate?”
“More or less.” He grinned. “I don’t know about the ‘renowned’ part. I’ve never done anything of renown. Maybe choosing this exceptional wine. Cheers.” He touched the rim of his glass to hers and took a sip.
About Susan Wiggs
SUSAN WIGGS is the author of more than fifty novels, including the beloved Lakeshore Chronicles series and her most recent, instant New York Times bestseller Family Tree. Her award-winning books have been translated into two dozen languages. She lives with her husband on an island in Washington State’s Puget Sound.
The first book in Rachel Lacey's sizzling new Rock Star Duet, where the only thing brighter than the glare of the spotlight is the power of love.
Pop sensation and Hollywood star Katherine Hayes has worked hard to maintain her squeaky-clean image. But with nude photos going viral on the internet, the ensuing smear campaign threatens to ruin everything.
A chance meeting with a handsome college professor—who’s adorably clueless about her identity—is a rare break from the stress. But when shocked recognition dawns in his eyes, her survival mechanism kicks in. She can’t simply let him walk away to add grist to the rumor mill.
Josh Randall has already loved and lost his soulmate. Yet when he witnesses Kate in a vulnerable moment, he can’t deny the pull between them. Even though he believes down to his bones that true love doesn’t come twice in a lifetime.
A no-strings fling sounds like the perfect solution. But Kate never expected Josh to see the woman hiding behind the celebrity—or that the paparazzi would catch on to their sizzling passion so quickly. Making it hard to keep their tangled emotions from tearing their hearts apart when it’s time to say goodbye…
A beautiful, emotional, and realistic story about the life in limelights, troubled childhood, loss of a loved one, and mostly, about opening your heart and falling in love despite the challenges it will create.
Rachel Lacey's beautiful writing pulled me into this tale that was real, emotionally raw, and vastly entertaining.
Obviously, I know nothing about the pop star lifestyle in reality, but the world the author created was authentic and realistic to me. It was stressful yet rewarding, challenging and demanding at times, luxury and splendor in few fleeting moments.
Josh Randall was easy to like and relate to. He is a kind, sweet, caring man, a college professor who has traveled the world and worked overseas. His family is important to him, dating and romance not so much. After losing his soul mate, the one he planned to build a life with from a young age, he didn't believe there would be love in the cards for him again. Compared to Kate's life, Josh might be the 'regular guy', but there is nothing boring or regular about him. He is fun, smart, cultured and educated. He can take charge when needed, he is protective, romantic, just all around a solid and attractive, the kind of man it is nearly impossible not to like him, or fall head over heels for him.
Katherine Hayes, aka Kate, has worked hard and relentlessly to create the world of fame and success she lives in. Coming from nothing to be the pop sensation has been everything she has focused on since her early twenties. But beneath the surface, it is all about survival, secrets, and enduring the pain of rejection and betrayal by those who are supposed to love you the most.
The connection between Kate and Josh is true, sweet, and passionate. I loved how the relationship is built over time, how they are first friends before lovers even comes a possibility. It is a challenging relationship filled with drama and turbulence, because of who Kate is and what Josh has had to overcome. Neither of them is perfect but they are so perfect for each other, it took my breath away.
An entertaining story that made me smile, sigh, and even laugh out loud. It was easy to get lost in the world created with the intriguing characters, the charming romance, the adorable fans, and the fascinating world of fame and glamour, and even the ugliness that comes with jealousy and greed from people surrounding you. There were also heartwrenching moments from the pain and betrayal, from the angst and torment of the nightmarish wounds from the past.
With five parts to the book, it felt like a saga of the legacy that is Katherine Hayes, a fascinating, poignant, and engrossing tale. An exciting start for the new series, that I am looking forward to!
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
They're brothers in arms, Navy SEALS risking their lives for their country . . . and the women they love. This is Luke Harding's story.
Six months in a desert hellhole taught Navy SEAL Luke Harding things he never wanted to learn about life and death. Only tender memories of the beautiful brunette he met a few weeks before his deployment helped get him through the torturous days and nights. Back in the States after a perilous rescue, physically and emotionally damaged, Luke's about to plunge into a new kind of war. In a seemingly bucolic Idaho town, Sally Duncan faces real-and unpredictable-danger.
All Sally ever wanted was a safe place to raise her nine-year-old daughter. Her identity hidden behind a faade of secrets and lies, can she trust Luke-a man she barely knows-with the truth? Even as they give in to long-denied passion, a killer with a personal vendetta is setting an ambush that will leave them praying for a miracle and fighting for the future they may not live to see.
When I read Rescued By Ranger, a previous, standalone book by the author, I was intrigued by Garrett's brother, Luke. And Luke and his heart-wrenching story do not disappoint.
The story is intense with the danger and threats coming from several different, unexpected sources. It is touching and heartbreaking, the depth of the emotions taking my breath away.
The despair and pain Luke faced as a prisoner of the war, the threats, danger, and attacks Sally had lived with most of her life, the feelings they had for each other, the pain they had cost for each other, it all was poignantly touching and went straight to my heart. I am not ashamed to admit, Luke's destiny had me sobbing by the end of chapter one. It is a rare occasion that a story, at that early point, have such a strong connection to my mind and heart.
Sally, Luke, and the family and friends surrounding them, are in for a fight for their lives. It is intense, vigorous, and violent. The enemies and people wanting to use them and harm them seem to be coming from every possible direction. It is constant, it is scary, it is menacing, each sharp turn in the plot giving the story a new edge their barely hang on to. No matter where they go, how deeply they hide, who is protecting them, it seems like the malice has an all-knowing arm with an ability to reach them in any and all circumstances.
Luke is a man of integrity, honesty, and loyalty. He has a kind and generous heart, he is resilient, smart, and a man of action. The terrors he has faced, the evilness of the men who captured him, they tried to break him down, nearly succeeding. The beam of light, and hope, that kept him going were Sally and her daughter, and the connection they briefly had before he was deployed.
Sally was a mysterious character. The more I got to know her, the more insights into her life were revealed, the more my heart ached for her and for the trials and tribulations she had had to face.
The connection between Luke and Sally is a tangible force. After all the turbulence between them, Luke's honesty with his feelings for her was refreshingly sincere and true. There is passion, compassion, adoration, and admiration between them that develop into something rare, something special, something to be treasured and cherished. If only they will survive to see another day arise.
The brutally raw action and emotions, the desire for each other and to outlive the attacks, the battle for survival and holding on to the beam of hope and happiness that seems to be slipping away with each assault, all these elements intensify the story, making it strong, sharp, harch, and fierce. There are the rough and raw aspects of the tale, as well as the delightfully cute, elated, and joyful ones, that mixed together makes a story that held me captivated, on the edge, and cheering for the hero and heroine to find a way to survive and thrive.
A well written, twisted and thrilling story of suspense, mixed with a vehement tale of soulmates overcoming the biggest obstacles in life and still daring to have faith to take the leap for love.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Published April 23rd 2018 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Amara)
Deputy Marshal Angel Larson has been set up and accused of murder. On the run, desperate to stay one step ahead of the law and the real killer, she turns to a former protectee in a small town—the man who's haunted her dreams...and fantasies...ever since.
Former DEA agent Colton Williamson misses the action of his past life since entering witness protection as a high school math teacher. He also misses Angel, who refused to join him in his new life. Now it’s Angel who’s in trouble, and Colton can’t help but be there for her—before it's too late.
But the killer may be closer to them than they think.
Angel hadn’t been sure what kind of reception to expect from Colton. Having a gun pulled on her had not been outside the realm of possibility. Still, seeing a Glock 19 pistol instantly appear in his hand made her pulse jump and her own hands reach for the sky.
She only hoped she’d be able to explain before he pulled the trigger.
“You broke my guard dog,” he said.
A cautious spurt of relief went through her. “I didn’t break him. He works fine. He just loves me. I think he knows I picked him when you said he was scrawny.”
When Colton had found out he was destined for WITSEC, he'd decided he wanted a companion. She’d suggested a puppy. Later, when he asked her to go into the program with him, she'd realized he wanted more in a companion than long walks and playing catch.
He’d wanted to spend the rest of his life with someone, and okay, she’d panicked.
“Not only did you eat my shoes, but you picked a girl over me?” He frowned at the dog, who didn’t look the slightest bit remorseful.
Colton’s Glock was still leveled on her, so she stayed still with her hands in the air. “I seem to remember telling you not to purchase a firearm.”
He looked down at the pistol and shrugged. "Old habits."
“Your new identification is good, but an overzealous background check could turn up inconsistencies,” she reminded him.
She’d guessed right away his new identity wouldn’t sit well with him. She’d even spoken to his handler about it. The man needed constant action. He would say it was because he didn’t like being bored, but that was BS.
She knew the real reason why he lived for danger.
“Are you going to let me in, or should I leave?” she asked, no longer alarmed by the gun. He might be really angry at her, but he wouldn’t shoot her. At least, she didn’t think so.
He’d probably been pissed after she’d left without a word in the middle of the night, but, surely, he was over that by now. No doubt, she was the only one still wondering what might have happened if she’d stayed...
“That depends," he said. "Are you going to kill me, too?”
He knew her better than that. They’d spent months together, and she’d let him in behind her walls, where no one else was permitted. Granted, she hadn’t told him about her past—she didn’t talk about that, ever—but she’d told him enough for him to know that she would have gladly put herself in front of that knife to stop someone from killing the person she was protecting.
There had been a time when she wasn’t sure she was cut out for that level of duty, but it had been tested, and she'd proven she would always do the right thing when it came right down to it.
"Seriously?" She made a sound of annoyance and rolled her eyes.
She’d pinned everything on his willingness to help her. Her Plan B was to look for an abandoned property and hide out until things died down. But with the level of media coverage the story was getting, that could take months. Or longer.
Besides, abandoned properties usually contained things like rats and spiders. No thanks. She’d go up against a bad guy any day, but a spider? Hell, no.
She needed Colton. In more ways than one. But she was determined to keep things professional this time.
She let out a breath when he lowered the Glock.
“Get in here,” he muttered.
Whether he meant her or the dog she wasn’t sure, but both of them hightailed it into the house.
Reason To Die
by Debbie De Louise
Genre: Crime Mystery
Someone is strangling disabled people in the small town of Baxter, Connecticut. Detective Courtney Lang and her ex-partner and ex-lover, wheelchair-bound Bill Thompson, are paired up again and put in charge of the investigation.
During the search, Courtney uncovers information that points towards a connection between the murders and an unsolved series of muggings by a masked man, the same man who shot and disabled Bill a year ago on the night he proposed marriage to her.
Complicating matters for Courtney is her guilt about Thompson's shooting, her affair with her new partner, Mark Farrell, and her unresolved feelings over the deaths of her mother and sister who perished in a fire when she was away from home.
As the deaths accrue and the “Handicapped Strangler” as the killer is coined by the press continues to rampage the town adding victims of different ages, sex and disabilities to the murder count, Courtney discovers a clue that could crack open the case but may put her and Bill's life in jeopardy.
As Agnes walked to the bathroom now, she tapped her cane around in habit. She knew the twenty steps down the hall by heart. She had her own built-in GPS. But the cane was a comfort, a guide she hesitated to give up.
When she was through taking care of her needs, she started back to the living room. Chirpy suddenly began squawking. She thought he was resting. Something had stirred him. Then she heard a noise by the front door. Someone was on her step.
“Settle down, Chirpy. Looks like we have a visitor,”she said as she cut across the room to answer the light knock. The bird continued to squawk. She wondered why he was so excited.
“Who is it?” she called when she got to the door.
A male voice replied, “Talking Books delivery for Ms. McCarver.”
How very strange. She’d had a delivery of the audio books last week, and they usually only arrived once a month in a box delivered by the mailman. Maybe there had been a mistake.
“I haven’t ordered any new books,” she said, “and they usually come in the mail.”
“No mistake, Ma’am. Talking books are being hand delivered now. Can you please open the door and take them? I have several more stops to make today.”
Agnes hesitated a moment. Chirpy had finally quieted down. Edna would probably scold her for letting a stranger in the house just because he claimed he had audiobooks for her, but he sounded nice enough. He sounded a lot like the kind librarian from the Helen Keller Library who visited yesterday.
Reaching up, she unlatched the safety lock and then twisted the doorknob. She heard the man step forward. He closed the door behind him and then pushed her to the ground. Her cane flew away. She tried to grab for it, but it was out of reach. It happened so fast, a scream lodged in her throat as he put his gloved hands around it and squeezed. From a hazy distance of fear, she heard Chirpy start squawking again. The pressure on her throat tightened. She couldn’t yell or even talk. Blackness engulfed her as the gray shadows of her limited sight dissolved. All she could hear in those last moments were Chirpy crashing against his bars in a useless attempt to free himself and the bad man’s raspy breathing against her cheek as he squeezed the life out of her.
My name is Debbie De Louise. I am a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island and the award-winning author of the Cobble Cove mystery series. I have a B.A. in English and an MLS in Library Science.
My first novel, a paranormal romance, "Cloudy Rainbow" (Booklocker 2008) received an honorable mention in the Writer's Digest self-published awards. I wrote that book after my beloved cat, Floppy, died from diabetic and liver complications. The book is dedicated to him, and he is featured as a character in it. I have recently signed with my publisher to reprint this book, and it will soon be available as a paperback as well as an eBook.
My second novel, the first book of the Cobble Cove Mystery series, "A Stone's Throw," (November 2015) was published by Limitless Publishing, LLC. It is the story of a widowed librarian who visits her husband's hometown and finds a new love with the town's newspaper publisher but also discovers some alarming truths about her husband's death and its connection to the publisher and his family. Along with a variety of characters, there is also a cat and dog who play minor but interesting roles in the novel. The second Cobble Cove Mystery, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" was released in October 2016 by Solstice Publishing and a reprint of "A Stone's Throw" with an additional chapter was published in March, 2017. The third book of the series, "Written in Stone," was released in April, 2017. I've also published a romantic comedy novella, "When Jack Trumps Ace."
I'm currently working on a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, and have several other writing projects planned for 2018 including a new cozy mystery series along with the fourth volume of the Cobble Cove mysteries.
I'm a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Cat Writer's Association, and Long Island Authors Group and have published articles in Cats Magazine and Catnip (Tufts University Veterinary Newsletter). I won the Glamour Puss special award from Hartz Corporation for my Catster.com article, "Brushing your cat for bonding, beauty, and better health," (June, 2016). My short mystery, "Stitches in Time" was published in the Cat Crimes Through Time Anthology, (1999). I have also published several other short stories of various genres in Solstice anthologies. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and our cat, Stripey.
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Nothing like a wedding to get a girl dreaming of happily-ever-after . . .
Kessed Ling’s best friend’s big day is finally here. It’s especially exciting because it’s Kessed’s chance to show her childhood crush she’s not just a young bridesmaid, she’s a full-grown woman—with red hot desires. But when her long-awaited prey barely blinks an eye at her, Kessed retreats right back into her deeply guarded heart. Doesn’t matter that chivalrous Jasper Matthews steps in and offers a shoulder to lean on. Kessed is no longer in the market for a man, despite how unsettled the strong, silent groomsman makes her feel . . .
As a veterinarian, Jasper better understands a skittish filly than he does willful Kessed Ling. But when fate finds him playing ranch hand alongside the raven-haired beauty, Jasper realizes she’s a woman running scared—and he’s just the man to tame her. So with soothing words and bold kisses, Jasper sets out to show Kessed how good it can be between a man and a woman. Especially when the man is falling hard and fast in love . . .
An engaging, humorous, and touching romance story with fantastic hero and heroine who won my heart over.
Kessed Ling and Jasper Matthews have a connection and chemistry that is natural, authentic, realistic, and so adorably romantic and sweet while sizzling hot and passionate at the same time.
I absolutely loved Kessed and Jasper with his obvious attraction to her and her battle to try and fight the feelings. There was some raw honesty between them, it was real, it was relatable, and it was hilarious. Because Kristin Vayden writes banter like no one else. Seriously, she takes it two steps further than most, it is deliciously sarcastic, it has some thorns, but it is not purposely mean or hateful. It does not stop with just a line or two but it can go on for whole conversations until you are hauling with laughter and wiping tears of joy. Delightful!
While Jasper has accomplished on his career what he wanted and has started his own practice, he is in a place in his life to 'take the next step', to have a serious relationship, and he is willing and able to fall head over heels for Kessed. He is kind, fun, honest to the bone type of a cowboy, who loves animals, is generous with his affections and time, a family is everything to him, and taking care of his sister is a priority. It was so easy to fall for this guy, with the imperfections he was just perfect for Kessed.
Kessed has been attracted to Sterling most of her adult life. It is the kind of attraction that you want the one you most likely never will get. It is safe that way and does not involve getting vulnerable and building a relationship. And Kessed is not really in a place in her life to settle down yet. She knows what she wants to do with her life, yet the place where she wants to build that life is not compatible with her career goals. She is trying to advance at her job, she is trying to find her place in life while pining after Sterling, who only considers her as a little sister. Until he sees her in a serious relationship with Jasper.
Kessed is feisty, stubborn, food loving coffee addict. She has a kind heart, she loves fiercely, she is a loyal and generous friend.
I loved the story, I was so into it, I loved the connection between Jasper and Kessed, the fire between them just lighting up the pages of the book. And then... Third person drama is one of my biggest turnoffs in romance novels and Sterling, well, he got an 'emotional reaction' out of me with his actions, that I didn't believe were sincere for a minute. Thankfully, the angst was not built upon, and the drama was minimal, and after a temper tantrum I did finish reading the book and was happy that I did because Jasper is just ALL THAT and then some!
In the eARC that I was reading, Kessed keeps saying that her friends are out of the country, while in fact, they were said to be at Hawaii. First I thought it was just a mistake but it keeps repeated several times. Hawaii is still in the country, not just in the continental US. Not a big deal that would affect the rating of the book, but a detail that caught my eye.
A fun while deeply emotional, sweet while ardent and spirited, entertaining yet touching and heartfelt, the story captured my heart, got my attention and my emotions involved. The book is continuing the poignant series, yet is easy to be read as a standalone novel, if you so choose to.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Published April 23rd 2018 by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Amara)
Declan Sinclair is a Highlander who believes his dreams never lie. When he spots Caya at a public house, he knows instantly she is the woman in his dreams—his future wife. Though her brother had promised never to gamble again, he engages Declan in a card game—and the prize is the lovely Caya.
Caya Pendarvis has no time for childish things like dreams or fairy-tales or love. She’s the sacrificial lamb on her way to the far north of Scotland to wed a wealthy merchant in exchange for settling her brother’s gambling debts.
Winning at cards is one of the many things Declan Sinclair does well. Unfortunately, the ability to court a woman—a talent he lacks—is the only skill he desperately needs to win Caya’s heart.
She smiled. “I live here now. I’m your wife.”
His mouth hung open. Did he not believe her? Did he not understand her? Or had he changed his mind? “You do still want me to be your wife, don’t you?”
An odd look appeared on Declan’s face. One she couldn’t interpret. “Well now,” he said. “That all depends.”
“Depends on what?” Oh, God. Was he changing his mind? Did he wake up and realize she was a fool for trying to save her brother?
“I ken you love me, but I need a wife who will trust me,” he said and took a step closer. “I ken it’s a hard thing for you to trust given all the lies your brother had told you. And me, I was wrong to take you from him the way I did. I gave more thought to my daft dreams than I did for your happiness and I’m sorry for that, but…”
“But what?” Hot tears pricked at the corners of her eyes.
“When I thought you were lost to me, when I thought I’d never see you again, I knew that I loved you more than my own life. I was ready to toss my life away to save you. That’s how much I want you, need you, love you.” He held out his hand just like that fateful morning in front of the Crown Tavern. “So, I’m asking you, do you trust me?”
Six weeks. Six dates. Six different guys.
What could go wrong?
Entrepreneur and marketing expert Jade O’Sullivan is determined to take the advice she gives her clients and think outside the box. So she’s agreed to be a dating guinea pig for a popular podcast in exchange for free advertising for her new business. It’s all fun and games until the ex she’s secretly still in love with starts hijacking her dates and her heart.
Former Army Ranger and decorated war veteran Hayden Reed is trying to put the pieces of his life together after returning to his hometown. He’s found his calling, training rescues as service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Everything is starting to fall into place, but there’s still something missing. Will Hayden have enough fight left in him to go after the only woman he’s ever loved?
A story of forgiveness, redemption, and second chances with hot sexy times, a meddling family—and a rescue dog thrown in for good measure!
Stand-alone Wishing Well romance, complete with HEA—and plenty of heat and heart along the way
Poignant, stunningly beautiful, emotional story that left me in a state of awe and a raw emotional mess.
Melanie Shawn writes steamy, sexy stories, that has plenty of humor, tight family connections, the best, most honest friendships, the kind of characters you want to fill your own life with. And the sexy times are as steamy as all get out, but even though the erotic heat is as high as possible, the emotional level goes as deep as you can imagine, balancing the stories, and at times, even breaking your heart.
Jade and Hayden got me good. The chemistry between them is sizzling, there is this amazing connection that goes all the way to their childhood. They understand each other, they get each other and balance each other ever since they were barely teenagers. But there is also the deep, consuming hurt, devastating losses of life, and heartbreak that shattered the soul.
Hayden's experiences in the military, the PTSD, the loss of friends and brothers in arms, the battle to survive the guilt, to find your place in the civilian life again, and to find his way to the one his heart has always loved, is a heartfelt struggle. I loved his honesty, his openness, his willingness to do the hard things, to do the work needed, and going the extra miles required to get where he wanted to be and with whom he wanted to share his future with.
Jade might come across as the fun-loving, directly speaking, no boundaries having, firecracker of a woman. Yet there are deep wounds in her heart, that never had the chance to properly heal, and Hayden being back at home, and now back in her life as well, is hurting more than she thought possible. The pain she knows from her past she has no desire to visit again, and if that means staying away from Hayden, so may it be.
I laughed, I smiled, I sighed, and I cried. Hayden and Jade's journey and their emotional struggles and burdens took me for a ride I didn't expect. But thankfully, there is healing, there is improvement, growth, and cure, with doses of medicine that had me even blushing, and feelings so deep, raw, honest, and sincere that went just directly to my heart. I still get emotional from all the feels in the tale while writing this review.
This is a must-read, absolutely a marvelous story you don't want to miss!
~ Five Spoons!
I Can Kill
by Angela Kay
Genre: Crime Mystery, Thriller
I Can Kill, and You Can't Catch Me...
These were the last words The Carnations Killer said to FBI Special Agent Aidan O'Reilly ten years ago before he went into hiding. He has tortured and murdered fifty women since then and managed to elude capture. Now, he's returned once again, and his new hunting ground is Augusta, GA.
O'Reilly teams up with Shaun Henderson, the special agent in charge of the Augusta Resident Agency, to bring this ruthless killer to justice once and for all. But as each second ticks by, tensions rise and O'Reilly finds himself in a race against time before the killer slips away again.
“A gripping new thriller by Angela Kay that pits FBI Special Agent Aidan O’Reilly against the Carnations Killer, a serial killer who enjoys playing Cat and Mouse with this formidable agent.” -- Dana Ridenour, retired FBI Agent and award winning author of Behind The Mask and Beyond The Cabin
LIEUTENANT CHRISTENSON STARED at the lifeless body of a young woman who appeared to be in her late twenties. Her eyes were closed, and her French braided hair looked like a mass of blonde spider webs. The bruising on her body was prominent, and he could tell she’d endured a great amount of torture. Her wrists and ankles held deep gashes, as though she’d once been bound by a thin wire. She had two puncture wounds on her neck indicating a taser had been used.
She appeared to have been posed: her legs straight in front of her, head facing the sky, arms positioned over her chest. She held a bouquet of white carnations in her hands, which stood in contrast against her black dress.
Christenson noticed her fingernails were broken and rugged. She had splinters and blood underneath them. He guessed it was possible she’d tried escaping from wherever she was originally held.
But what struck his interest the most was the envelope resting against the carnations. It read: FBI Special Agent Aidan O’Reilly.
Christenson had one of his men contact the Resident Agency in Augusta to notify them of the note singling out one of their agents. After hearing the details of the crime, Assistant Special Agent-In-Charge Monroe informed him she would get in touch with Agent O’Reilly and dispense a team of agents to the location.
As he waited for the FBI to arrive, the medical examiner was finishing her first-glance examination of the body.
One of his men interviewed the teenage couple who called it in, while two divers searched beneath the Clarks Hill Lake, and the rest of the men scoured the surrounding areas. So far, no other evidence had been found.
He watched as his divers pushed their heads out from underneath the water and returned to shore. They reported to him that nothing unusual was found. He received the same from the land squad.
Christenson frowned at the body as the medical examiner rose.
“From what I can tell based on the body temp,” she began, removing her latex gloves, “she’s been dead for about six or seven hours. I’ll know more once I perform the autopsy. I’d have to say the cause of death was strangulation by a thin wire of some sort.”
Christenson nodded. “I’ve been instructed by the FBI to leave the body as she was found. But once she’s released to you, she’s your first priority.”
He stepped over to where the teenage couple stood. As he neared, he heard the young man say, “Can’t believe I actually found a dead body.”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight,” the girl whined. The light wind bristled through her brown hair, sweeping a strand in her eyes. She brushed it to the side with a frown and hugged herself. “It’s so awful.”
“It’s very CSI-y, isn’t it?” The boy let out a scoff.
“This isn’t a joke,” Christenson said, frowning. “A woman’s dead.”
The boy swallowed as his gaze settled on the lieutenant. “I didn’t mean—I was just saying—"
Christenson ignored him with a wave of his hand and looked at the officer who interviewed the couple. “What did you get?”
“Wrong place, wrong time,” the officer replied. “They planned on spending the day here but found her instead.”
“Are you going to arrest us?” the boy asked.
“No,” Christenson assured him. “Thank you for calling it in. You’re free to go home, but the feds may need to speak with you later.”
“Thanks,” the girl muttered. She tugged her boyfriend’s hand and pulled him from the scene. He followed with reluctance, his eyes glued to the body by the water.
“All right, men, listen up,” Christenson called out. His officers looked his way, giving him their attention. “When the FBI arrives, I want us to be as cooperative as possible. Understood?”
His men muttered their agreements.
Christenson returned to where the body rested. He wondered what her name was, who her family was. She had a wedding band, and he wondered if she and her husband had any children.
“It’s tragic,” Sergeant Taylor stated, standing next to him.
Christenson didn’t respond. He didn’t need to. During the thirty years he spent as a police officer, he’d seen unimaginable things.
And he knew it wouldn’t be his last.
All he knew to do to compensate for the evil deeds of the world was his job.
Equipped with a professional writing degree from Augusta State University, Angela Kay is a southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people.
Angela Kay was one of 23 across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act entitled “Digging Deeper.” Because of this, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta at the Horizon Theater Company.
She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her crazy calico, Maggie.
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Wrangler's Creek's most eligible bad boy has just become its most eligible single dad
Dylan Granger could always count on his rebellious-cowboy charm to get his way--until the day his wife, Jordan, left him and joined the military.
The realization that during a wild night he got her cousin pregnant is shocking enough. But the news that Jordan has come home to Texas to help raise the baby is the last thing he expects.
Raising a baby with Dylan in Wrangler's Creek is a life Jordan might've had years ago, but she doesn't want regrets. She wants what's best for the child--and to find out if there's something deeper between her and her ex than blazing-hot chemistry. Getting closer means letting down her guard to Dylan again, but will he be able to accept the emotional scars on her heart?
Wrangler's Creek is one of my favorite series, it is a series that I have tried to get in paperback as well as in ebook form as I love it so much. While Lone Star Blues might not be my favorite book in the series so far, but it does not take away how much I have enjoyed the series and it doesn't stop me from continuing to read the series, that's for sure.
I just don't think Lone Star Blues was a romance story. Yes, Dylan Granger and Jordan have sex, they even have a bit physical chemistry between them, after all, they were married 14 years ago, so there have been some deep feelings in between them a long time ago. But I didn't get that the feelings were deep now, or were romantic in any sort of way. The story itself has absolutely no romance, not even as they declare their feelings for each other, a scene that somehow didn't fit the rest of the tale.
Basically, this is a tragic story of a custody battle of a child, who is the results of people sleeping around. The chaos and turbulence that is always part of the Wrangler's Greek life come from the fact that there are several possibilities who the father of the child is, and the drama unfolds in front of the whole town.
I am not a fan of the male-slut type heroes, or third person drama in relationships even in romance books. The whole story is basically based on that theme, and I felt sorry for that little boy who was in the eye of the storm throughout it all. The bingo with Dylan's sexual experiences was awkward and made me laugh several times.
The book is well written, the plot has plenty of twists and unexpected turns. The whole extended family gets involved in the paternity case, and we get to meet many of the characters from the previous books in the series. The story does give new insights to the family, and thus builds up the series, or takes it deeper. I am just a bit confused with the sudden ending of the tale, that didn't give much of a conclusion or a solid solution to most of the issues talked about in the story, so I claim this book in my mind another chapter in the wild and lively life of the Granger family at the Wrangler's Creek, with hopefully, more insights to come in the future.
~ Three Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Wherever You Go Series Book #3 (Each book is a standalone story.)
by Robin Bielman
One rookie assistant + one demanding executive = flirting that is too hot to handle.
Have you ever wished for the perfect job? Me, too. So when I land a temporary gig with a worthwhile and exemplary startup, I'm determined to make it permanent. That my boss is the gorgeous, clever Elliot Sax is nothing I can't handle. We may steal glances at each other and straddle the line of playing it safe, but our partnership is too important for complications. Not to mention workplace hookups are against the rules.
But when our attraction flames hotter, our best efforts are put to the test. I never imagined having to fight my feelings for him on a daily basis and keeping my hands to myself is absolutely killing me.
Until I can't. Until we can't. And what's at stake becomes more than our jobs. What's at risk is our hearts.
“Hey,” Madison’s gentle tone is music to my ears after the phone call I finished with Drake a few minutes ago. I lift my head from my computer to see what’s up as she slips all the way into my office. “I just emailed you the final trending forecast for Indonesia and Rwanda, so if that’s all, I’m going to head home now.”
I glance at the time. Jesus. It’s nine o’clock. I kept her late because James has been breathing down my neck about the expansion project. She’s been amazing helping with it, her contact in Indonesia a big plus.
“Okay. Thanks, Mads. I really appreciate all your help. Good night.” Damn it. I quickly drop my gaze. It’s the first time I’ve slipped and called her Mads in a while. Ever since we got back from Tahoe a little over a week ago, we’ve been nothing but appropriate with each other.
It hasn’t been easy.
Every time I look at her, I feel connected to her beauty and intelligence in a way I’ve never felt before, and I tell myself in order to keep her, I have to let her go.
“You should head home, too,” she says, taking the chair across my desk and drawing my helpless gaze, because there is nothing I’d rather rest my tired eyes on than her. “You’ve been working late every night.”
I reach over my shoulder and rub the knots there. “Some weeks are like that.”
“Is there anything else I can do so you get out of here quicker?”
“No. You’ve done enough. Thanks for the extra hours you’ve put in.” It hasn’t been a hardship working late when Madison is on the other side of the glass wall.
“Thanks for trusting me with so much responsibility. I’ve learned a lot from you.”
“We make a good team.”
“We do.” She stands and moves around my desk toward me.
In typical pulse-pounding fashion, my heart beats a little faster. What is she doing?
“Friend to friend, let me at least help with that?” She lifts my hand out of the way and starts massaging my upper back and shoulders.
I’m an idiot, because no way in hell am I about to refuse a massage from her. I don’t tell her no, that’s okay. Instead, I drop my chin and let my head loll forward. She did put us in the friend zone.
She kneads my muscles with perfect pressure, using the heel of her hands and fingers in flawless coordination. Add back massage to her list of extraordinary qualities. It feels so good that when I sigh in total surrender, I don’t give a shit.
“You’re really tight,” she says.
I’d like to find out how tight she is.
“I’ve been told I carry my stress there.”
“I think a lot of us do.” She digs a little deeper. I had no idea her small, delicate hands contained so much power.
“Feel free to stop as soon as you get tired.”
Her hands still. “Do you want me to stop?”
“Not even a little.”
Hot Response by Shannon Stacey
Series Boston Fire Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Carina Press
Publication Date April 24, 2018
The men of Boston Fire are back and hotter than ever! Don’t miss this brand-new novel from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey.
Gavin Boudreau lives for the job, but he also believes in “work hard, play harder.” As the youngest guy in Ladder 37, he figures he’s got plenty of time before settling down becomes a priority. Soft, pretty women who aren’t looking for promises are exactly his type, and he’s comfortable with that. Working with a gorgeous EMT isn’t going to change who he is.
The last thing Cait Tasker needs in her personal life is a firefighter whose challenges on-scene have been a thorn in her side from minute one. Her plate’s too full for a man anyway. Back in her childhood home to help her family cope with an unexpected tragedy, she’s got enough to handle without throwing a hot, testosterone-laden fireman into the mix.
As long days on the job lead to long nights together, Gavin and Cait will discover how far temptation can take them—and what happens when the one you thought was all wrong for you turns out to be the person you can’t live without.
A genuinely real and emotional romance story that touched my heart. The characters are not only likable, they are relatable, they are solid, deeply feeling, kind and considerate people I loved hanging around with.
The world the author has created is so down-to-earth realistic, that it could be the fire station around the corner from my house.
The relationships in the firehouse, the teamwork, the camaraderie, is a warm, caring, competitive (in a positive way) place where people are comfortable and enjoy working in, and that atmosphere of positivity in face of challenges and exultations of life is transferred to the pages of the story.
Gavin Boudreau and Cait Tasker have a sizzling, tangible chemistry between them. They balance each other, they match, they bring stability to each of their hearts and thus are perfect for each other, it is like coming home when they are in each other's arms. They have a lot in common with their jobs in the service. The way they love their families and set them above anything else, their generous and kind hearts, their professionalism sets them apart. No, they are not perfect, they are struggling just like any one of us, they have challenges, they have stubborn streak, they have room to learn and grow and develop as people, and I think that is what made it so easy to love them, to care for them, and to admire them, because they truly were so real, true-to-life, honest people with everyday challenges, triumphs, and joys.
Shannon Stacey is one of my favorite authors, I have devoured every book of hers that I have gotten into my hands, and loved them. She writes from her heart and it shows. The characters feel like dear friends and the world they live in like my old neighborhood. I savored every word of the story, wanting to linger in that creation the author had drawn with her words.
The tough choices and sacrifices Cait has made for her family touched my heart, the struggles Gavin and Cait have with building their relationship were heartfelt and true. The danger the first responders face, the fear of possible peril the firefighters might experience was palpable, even brought me to tears at times. But mostly Hot Response made me smile, laugh, sigh, and fan my face while blushing cause the kitchen is not for just dancing anymore...
An absolutely fantastic story, and series, that I can highly recommend
~ Five Spoons!
“Hey, try not to push any firefighters down the stairs this time, okay?”
“It was one time, Tony.” Cait Tasker reached between the seats to get a couple of blue gloves from the dispenser mounted on the back wall of the ambulance cab and snapped them on as her partner pulled up behind a fire truck. “And that was an accident.”
“So you’ve said, multiple times. Hell, I’m pretty sure you said it twice before he even hit the landing.”
“Funny.” She grabbed her bag and headed toward the door of the building, leaving Tony Colarusso—her partner of four years—to grab the OB kit since it sounded like they’d probably need it. Dispatch was also sending a paramedic, but it was going to be a few minutes.
A police officer was holding the door open for her and she nodded her thanks as she passed through. The first flight of stairs was no sweat, but she felt the weight of the bag by the time she reached the second. Another officer was standing there, and he pointed off to his right.
Not that she needed any help finding the commotion. The reported screaming had stopped, but there was a gaggle of firefighters in the hall. Or a herd or a flock or whatever you’d call a bunch of guys holding turnout gear, standing around and doing nothing.
They parted to let her through, and she saw the back of the firefighter kneeling between the patient’s legs. And his back was all Cait needed to see to know it was Gavin Boudreau.
That freaking cowlick.
They crossed paths occasionally, and there was something about the man that got under her skin. The first time they’d been on the same scene—a minor MVA involving a confused tourist going the wrong way up a one-way street—she’d gotten sucked in by his good looks and quick humor. She’d been working up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to grab a coffee or a drink sometime when he’d called her ma’am.
Not only had she not asked him out, but every time she saw him, she remembered the ma’am. It made her feel old and these days, she didn’t need any help feeling older than her years.
Gavin glanced over his shoulder and as soon as he caught sight of Cait, he moved to the woman’s other side and gave an update—including the patient’s name and what vital info he had—as he moved.
Then Kelly grabbed a fistful of Gavin’s shirt and pulled so hard, she almost yanked him down on top of herself. “Don’t leave me.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I just need to get out of Cait’s way so she can take over. She’s better at delivering babies than I am.”
He knew her name. Why that should stand out to her in their current situation, she didn’t know, but she noticed it and was surprised. “Kelly, he can stay by your head, but I need room for my partner.”
“By my head, like a husband,” Kelly said with a short, breathless laugh.
“You should at least buy me dinner first.” He moved toward Kelly’s shoulder without letting go of her hand.
Cait ignored him as she moved into the position he’d vacated. It was baby time.
“I want my husband,” Kelly said, and her face began to crumple as tears welled in her eyes. But before the crying could begin in earnest, her face paled and her eyes widened. Her sharp intake of breath held a note of panic, like a sour musical tone, and Cait blocked out everything but the baby crowning between her patient’s legs.
Tony was next to her, ready to take and assess the infant. It went as smoothly as unplanned labor on a hallway floor could go, and by the time the paramedic arrived, Kelly had a squirming, fussy bundle of baby boy on her chest. Though it was a busy day for EMS and there were a lot fewer paramedics than EMTs, they always tried to transport newborns with them in case they needed advanced medical care.
Phil had a rookie EMT with him, but Cait and Tony stood back and let them take over since they had to take care of the OB kit and somebody had to bag the mess. Gavin was still holding the patient’s hand as they put her on the stretcher, and Cait saw him smile at Kelly.
He really had a great smile.
“That’s a good-looking boy you have,” he was saying. “If you and your husband have trouble coming up with a name for him, Gavin’s not too bad.”
She laughed and said something Cait couldn’t hear. Then Phil had the firefighters in motion, ready to carry mother, child and gear to the ground floor.
It was just Cait’s luck that Gavin also lingered. She couldn’t blame him for letting the other guys do the heavy lifting down the stairs, since they’d basically done nothing during the incident, but seeing him was a reminder she hadn’t dated in a while and, considering how things were going at home, wouldn’t be for a while. And that made her feel even older than the ma’am had.
“I feel like I should be handing out cigars,” he said, and both he and Tony laughed.
Gavin’s laugh made her even more tense. It was rich and deep and made heat curl through her insides. It was his laugh that had first turned her head, so every time she heard it, it reminded her of that day.
“Not gonna lie,” he continued. “I’m glad you guys got here in time for Cait to play catch.”
Play catch? “At least I took the situation seriously.”
He’d been in the process of picking up her bag, and his head jerked up as if she’d slapped him. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Emergency childbirth isn’t playing catch.” She took her bag and slung it over her shoulder.
“Jesus, lighten up. It was a joke.”
She was tired. She was hungry, and she wasn’t in the mood. “Like I said, I take my job seriously.”
“When I got here, she was laying on the floor screaming, and not just from the pain. She was in labor and in a full-blown panic. Her BP was through the roof and that’s no good for her or the baby, so I did what I had to do to relax her.”
She headed for the stairs before the conversation could escalate any further. If she really pissed him off, Tony might feel obligated to intervene and that wouldn’t be fair to her partner.
“At least you’re going down first,” Gavin called after her. “I don’t have to worry about you pushing me down the stairs.”
“That was an accident,” she shouted over her shoulder, and she might have been tempted to go back and explain it a little better, but she heard both men laughing.
Gavin was pushing her buttons and she’d let him get under her skin. Again.
After helping load mommy and baby into the back of Phil’s truck, Cait and Tony took a few minutes to pack their gear away in their own ambulance before climbing into the cab. The firefighters were still milling around on the sidewalk, laughing and talking about who knew what.
Her gaze landed on Gavin because it always seemed to, whether she wanted it to or not. She wasn’t sure how old he was. One of the younger guys in his house, but around her age—late twenties or so. There definitely weren’t enough years between them to merit him calling her ma’am.
He was average height for a guy, but with a better than average body. Or maybe that was just her take on it. She liked guys who were in shape, but not such good shape they spent hours at the gym and expected applause when they flexed an arm. Physically, he definitely checked all her boxes.
And every time she saw him—which thankfully wasn’t that often—she wanted to smooth that damn cowlick down. Maybe run her fingers through his hair a few times to help it stay. Then she’d invariably remember how close she’d come to asking him out, and why she hadn’t.
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Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of HOT RESPONSE by Shannon Stacey, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR. Giveaway ends 4/30/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per person. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Shannon Stacey
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.
Isabelle Lopez has never been a dog person. Raising her daughter alone and building a real estate career leaves no time for four-legged furballs. When she finds an abandoned mutt and litter of pups in a foreclosed apartment, Izzy intends to drop them off at a shelter and walk briskly away. Instead, her “heroic” deed makes her a local celebrity. Her boss is thrilled. Commissions are up. And thanks to gorgeous shelter owner Bradley Cohen, Izzy’s disciplined life is suddenly much, much more complicated.
He’s got a sexy smile, a wicked sense of humor, and a big, noble heart. Even as Izzy tries to get her libido to heel, boy, Bradley sets out to convince her there’s more to life than padding her bank account. But Izzy knows a trade secret that puts Brad’s beloved shelter at risk, and she can’t warn him.
Their relationship was barely getting started; suddenly it’s in the dog house. Now Izzy and Brad need to figure out what matters most, and whether this could be much more than animal attraction…
Forever Home is an entertaining, humorous, and a rather adorable story of dogs, friends, single parenting, priorities in life, and the opposite attracting each other.
Isabelle Lopez has one goal in life, and that is to provide the best possible life for her daughter, economically. That requires hard work, long hours, and cut-throat attitude as a real estate agent. She has no time for PTA and some of her daughter's soccer games, not to mention men and dating. Isabelle is not a bad person, her priorities even are not completely wrong. Yet she could be a bit more flexible and live more at the moment, enjoy what she has now, instead of planning and focusing solely on money and for the future.
Bradley Cohen loves his furry friends. He left the lucrative career as an engineer behind him to enjoy life and take care of the dogs in his shelter. He is the opposite of Isabella when it comes to planning and economics, and they surely could learn a lot from each other.
I liked the world the author had created, I like the main characters as well as their supporting cast and crew. They all were well thought out, had distinctive individuality, and were pleasant to be around. The story flows smoothly, it is easy to read without any major drama or angst. The chemistry between Bradley and Isabella was smoking hot. The passion was palpable and their feelings towards each other were believable.
Forever Home is a story that was easy to get lost in. It is a bit predictable, yes, but fun and enjoyable. It is a good, solid romance story with pleasant characters and great chemistry, a few life lessons, charming dogs, and amusing moments that made me smile.
A lovely and lively story to spend an evening with
~ Four Spoons
I jumped as the thick metal door slammed shut. It wasn’t just the sound, but the physical force of it closing that affected me. The pressure changes inside the small cell were palpable. I could feel it in my ears, like that feeling you get on an aeroplane, and my heart thudded in my chest a couple of times before returning to normal. If only the rest of me could calm down, things would be a lot easier.
I looked around the cell, taking in the four white walls that would be my home for the next fifteen years. They seemed so close, almost suffocating. The cell was maybe six feet by ten. There was a small window high on one wall with a glow coming through it I knew was from the streetlights outside. I’d considered trying to see out, but even if I climbed up to the window, I wouldn’t be able to see anything through the opaque reinforced glass. The only other light in the room was a bright fluorescent shaft of light from the observation window set into the green metal door. Even though it was my first night in this cell, I knew in about ten minutes that light would disappear as the prison guards turned off the main lights to the wing.
Other than the bunk bed I was sitting on and the bare toilet in the corner, the only furniture in the cell was a small table with a chair and a cabinet bolted to the wall near the window. I lay back on the bottom bunk, wriggling to fit myself into the bed. They weren’t made for people my size. That much was for certain. I’d
been told that my cellmate, who was in the hospital wing for a few days, had already claimed the top bunk. I couldn’t see any point in making a scene about it. Not on my first day, anyway.
The events of the last few weeks ran through my mind as I examined the bottom of the mattress above me. Being arrested, being remanded, and being tried. Being found guilty.
Maths had never been my strong point, but I tried to do the sums in my head. I wanted to know how many times the cell door would slam before I would be eligible for parole. There were three hundred and sixty-five days in a year, so I needed to multiply that by fifteen. When I realised it was over five thousand, I gave up trying to work it out. Fifteen years was a long time, but it was the minimum term for my crime.
Nathan Burrows is a writer based in Norfolk in the United Kingdom. His debut novel, Blind Justice, was published in March 2018.
Nathan's a keen reader as well as a writer. He occasionally runs marathons, has a Norwich City football club season ticket, and is the proud part-owner of a Daschund puppy called Bertie.
His current work in progress is tentatively called ‘Meat’, and is a dark post-Brexit comedy. It’s currently scheduled to be released in the autumn.
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This time there's a baby on board...
Dr. Lauren Dawson knows her brief marriage to footloose photographer Tavish Fitzgerald ended for a reason.
That doesn't mean their undeniable chemistry isn't as potent as ever.
And when Tavish returns home to Sutter Creek for his sister's wedding, the sparks between them turn into a blaze.
But when Lauren finds herself pregnant, these exes have nine months to build a forever family together...
It is not easy to be a grown up and adulting has many challenges as the heroine Dr. Lauren Dawson knows. Lauren is a complex character in a middle of crossroads in her life, trying to find her own way in a middle of assumed expectations from her family, from her boss, from her ex, and from herself.
Lauren became a doctor because that what her mother wanted her to be. She has a low (read no) tolerance for seeing blood, she believes that she has to be in a close company of her family or they are going to be in harm's way and die, she believes all her ex is good for is leaving her behind, she herself is not good at finding solutions for problems or making compromises, she is all or nothing person even though life is often all about finding the middle road.
Photographer Tavish Fitzgerald has traveled the world and seen it through his camera lens. The small town he and Lauren grew up in has never been exciting enough for him, but his teenage love, Lauren thought that meant her as well, even though Tavish would have rather traveled the world with her at his side, with him, as his wife.
The chemistry between Tavish and Lauren is palpable, nearly a visible force in the tale. I like the honesty and openness they have between them, especially from Tavish's side. Lauren has a lot of issues, she is rather stubborn about them, and at times she frustrated me to no end. Both Tavish and Lauren have doubts about their relationship making it work, not because of their feelings towards each other, but because of their needs to live their lives in a certain way that are in conflict with each other. These questions and misgivings go on all the way towards the end and stayed in my mind as well, making the story very realistic and life-like, and raw enough to make me question the possibility of a happily ever after for Lauren and Tavish.
A thought-provoking, well-written, and emotional story about choices we make in life, about responsibilities, career moves, expectations we feel, and about family, relationships, compromises, finding the middle ground, setting priorities, and daring to fall in love and act upon it.
Not your typical category romance story, yet entertaining and delightfully provocative in many ways. It has witty dialog and well thought-out characters in an unexpected and awkward situation in life.
~ Four Spoons
“Why are you still here? Your ride’s gone.” She threw the accusation out from somewhere behind him.
He turned, held up his hands in mock surrender. “I come in peace.”
Gripping the newel post, she shuffled her feet on the bottom tread of the staircase. Her sleek hair hung in just-showered tendrils around her shoulders, making damp spots on her silk bathrobe. That material would be touchable as hell and, with her soft skin, it would be hard to tell where silk ended and flesh began.
Cool it, Fitzgerald.
He jammed his hands into the front pockets of his hoodie sweatshirt. “Just needed to explain myself.”
“Explaining yourself is well and good, but you’re getting back to town how?” she demanded.
“Try again, Tavish.” Crossing her arms over her chest, she sent him a death stare.
Okay. So his prediction he might end up in a shallow grave wasn’t far off.
And no way were his fingers getting even close to touching her.
Instead of verbally running in circles, he went for the easy out. He pasted a cheeky smile on his face. “That’s a pretty complicated half hitch in your panties, Lauren.”
“You can dream about seeing my panties, but it’s not going to happen.”
He chuckled. She made it so easy. “I don’t need to dream, sweetheart. I got my fill in Vegas. You still like lace, or have you moved on to the waist-high, granny kind?
“Wouldn’t you love to know?”
A predictable response, clichéd even, but it pierced the bull’s-eye. Discovering white lace under Lauren’s wedding dress had killed him. And getting to touch her over the soft material, coaxing sexy moans from her with his fingers? The memory still kept him up at night. He barely held in a groan and ran a hand over his face before she realized just how much he’d love to delve under her robe. To find out what she had hidden beneath. Maybe nothing but her sweet skin.
“Nice house. I recognize the artwork.” He jabbed a thumb toward his photography on the mantel.
“Don’t read anything into it. You have a way with a camera.” Her pink cheeks contrasted with her blanched knuckles, which were clenched in fists at her sides. “And with ruining my summer vacation, apparently.”
“You going to give me the chance to explain before you reduce me to ash with that glare?”
“By all means.” She stomped into her kitchen and started opening and slamming cabinets before yanking out a coffee canister and grinder and placing them on the granite island. Sure, her anger had grown to the point that he could almost see it shimmering on her skin, but too much white showed around her irises to peg her as solely pissed off. She was covering for something he didn’t want to poke too much. Unearthing their feelings could suck him past the point of no return.
He strolled to the island and leaned his forearms on the surface across from where she was shakily scooping beans into the grinder. “Mackenzie and Drew needed help, Lauren. Otherwise they were going to have to cancel their honeymoon.”
“Nice to know you’re more concerned about your ex-brother-in-law than your ex-wife.” She pressed her lips together, brows knitted into a near V-shaped blond line.
Tavish’s heart dropped. “That’s not... I didn’t know I’d be working with you when I offered. And it’s about my sister, too, not just Andrew.”
Beans whirred in the grinder. She stared at the counter and gripped the machine as it slowed into silence.
“I figured you’d be so busy at the clinic that we’d barely see each other.” He offered the excuse in a gentle voice.
“Whatever.” Deserting the coffee, she circled the island and stood close enough to him that she had to tilt her chin to look him in the eye. He had a good foot on her, something she’d always complained about. Why, he didn’t know. It had just made it easier for him to pick her up, pin her against a wall and send her into oblivion. Her fresh-from-the-shower scent drifted into his nostrils, a hint of tropical summer and sugary sweetness. His mouth watered for a taste, just one...
And now he was lying to himself and not just his family. Great.
She slumped against the counter. “So, two weeks?”
The urge to touch her, comfort her, licked up his arms. He fisted his hands. “I’m sure if we schedule things right, we can avoid actually being in the office at the same time.”
“That’s not the problem!” She jabbed him in the chest. Her utilitarian-length nail wasn’t sharp enough to dig in, but she put enough force behind it for it to sting. “I can’t believe you’d step in with this, but you wouldn’t stick around for me!”
He caught her by the wrist before she could poke him again. “You needed more than two weeks, Lauren.”
Swiping at her eyes with the back of her other hand, she nodded. “I needed a lifetime.”
"And I couldn’t give that to you. Still can’t.” Not if it meant holing up in Sutter Creek. He ran his thumb along the fleshy base of her palm. The tendons in her hand tensed under his touch.
She glanced down at his fingers circled around her wrist, then back up to his face.
Those damp eyes. Holy hell. Through all of his travels, the countless people he’d captured with his camera lens, he hadn’t come across irises that exact blend of amber and spring green. Nor had he ever encountered eyes that could stare right to the core of his soul. A fist clamped around his stomach. He released her arm and tucked a damp wave of hair behind her ear. “That’s why we cut and ran. Better for both of us.”
“Was it really? Better, that is.” Her lips parted and her chest rose and fell faster than normal.
“I’m betting my mom would say it was. My dad jerked her around for almost a decade—did the same to Mackenzie and me—before disappearing. Our decision seems miles more responsible.”
Her expression softened, and she touched his face. Skilled physician’s fingers drawing down his cheek, leaving behind a trail of aching emptiness. They settled on his left pec. Did she know she owned the organ beating under her palm? That he’d given it to her in high school, and even through long-distance breakups and divorce, he’d never quite gotten it back?
“I’m not putting all this on you, you know,” she said. “I changed my mind. Was just as much at fault as you sticking to your need to roam.”
He settled his hand over hers and squeezed. “Never thought you were.”
“We’ll get through working together somehow. Through seeing each other every day.”
Anticipation, blended with dread, fused his heart to his lungs. He wanted to see her every day. And knew he’d feel like he was walking on knife blades each day he did.
“Maybe it’ll help us find closure,” she added.
“We’ve wanted each other for over a decade. I don’t see that ending for me after spending two weeks watching you trot around the WiLA sites in tight technical gear."
Her cheeks pinked. Her hand still rested on his chest and her fingertips dug into the muscle a fraction. “Kind of like you showing up on my dock in a fricking wetsuit?”
“I couldn’t exactly turn down the invitation when Drew extended it. Figured the fewer questions the better.” Sending her a pained grin, he brushed the backs of his fingers along her jawline. “And you can’t point fingers about wetsuits.”
The corner of her mouth curved as she toyed with the open zipper on his hoodie, running the tab up and down the teeth. “Pretty sure Cadie and Mackenzie suspect something’s going on between us.”
“We’ll hide it. Even if you did decide that you were ready to be honest about our marriage, dropping it on our families right before Drew and Kenz tie the knot would be the definition of unfair.”
Nodding, she slid her hand under the cotton of his hoodie. It rested on his waist. What he would give for her to drop that hand lower, cup his hardening length. He closed his eyes and shifted his weight, hoping she didn’t notice how much of an effect she was having on him. “I should probably go.”
It would be a long walk back, especially in flip-flops, but he didn’t trust himself to stay in her presence any longer without reaching for the row of tiny buttons holding the fabric of her robe snug under her breasts.
She stepped into him, until only an inch separated their bodies. A charged, heated energy thrummed between them, seeped from his skin deep into his bones. He couldn’t be the first to close the space. Couldn’t do that to her.
He didn’t have to. Standing on her toes, she pressed a kiss just above the collar of his T-shirt. “I dunno. If we’re needing closure... Maybe you should stay.”