Today we have the excerpt reveal of IN OTHER WORDS by Jennifer Woodhull! Check it out and grab your copy now!
IN OTHER WORDS
Release Date April 30th
There are not enough words. I don’t mean that in a dramatic way as if there are not enough words to express something with which I’m momentarily frustrated. I mean there are often times when the optimum word for something simply does not exist.
Fernweh is a German word that describes a feeling of homesickness for a place you’ve never visited before. The Swedish word, lagom, describes taking not too much nor too little, but just the right amount of something. To wear or use something for the very first time is expressed in Spanish by the word estrenar.
I love words more than anything. I love hearing someone intelligent use the absolutely perfect, most fitting word at exactly the right moment. I love anagrams, crossword puzzles, and riddles. I love how they make me think about language and how people use it. Perhaps most of all though, I love awful puns—even dad-level terrible ones. I only know one person who loves language as much as I do, and he also happens to be the very person I can hardly wait to see.
The Portuguese have a word for the sensation of nostalgia and longing for someone who is far away. Saudade. That’s what I’ve been experiencing since I moved to New York. I have saudade for Dexter Flynn, but that’s about to come to an end.
I walk into The Tipsy Alchemist, an upscale hipster place Dexter chose to start our reunion evening. I visually scour the space, and am disappointed when I don’t see him. I walk the length of the bar and just as I’m about to turn and head back toward the front, a man leans in close behind me and says, “Excuse me, miss, but might I buy your first libation of the evening?”
I turn, ready to tell the guy to get lost so I can call the person I want most in the world to see. When I turn around, though, I’m met with a pair of sweet, soulful brown eyes hiding behind tortoiseshell frames. My heart darts around my chest. I throw my arms around him so hard, I nearly send us both tumbling to the floor.
“Dex!” I squeal, squeezing his neck. His arms wrap around me, and they’re far stronger than I remember.
“It’s about time you came back,” he whispers into the side of my neck as he squeezes me tightly. “I’ve missed you, Clair.”
I feel an instant wash of relief, being here in his arms. The feel of his cheek against mine and the smell of his aftershave trigger an eruption of happy memories. My brain floods with late night talks and board game marathons. My circuits overload with shared stories and supporting each other through tough times—with gushing over books and documentaries at the independent theatre. He has been such a huge part of my life for so long, and now, with him, I finally feel like I’m really home.
When we finally break from our embrace, we both realize we’re standing in the highest traffic area of the bar, and the place is so packed we might be physically in danger from rowdy patrons clamoring for beer.
“Come on,” he says, grabbing my hand. “I reserved us a booth.”
He leads me through the trendy, dark-paneled space to the back where tiny, high-walled booths, are situated. This area of the bar is quieter than the rest, and the high walls of our booth offer some much-appreciated privacy.
The booth to our immediate right houses what I can only assume is a bachelorette party judging by the volume and frequency of the word woo, coming from their direction.
When the server arrives, I order a cocktail, and Dex orders a beer. “Miss, can I ask, the group of ladies in the booth next to us…is one of them a bachelorette, by chance?” He smirks in my direction.
“Actually, yeah. Are they being too rowdy?”
“Not at all. I was just curious,” he replies. I snicker and he winks in response.
“It’s a cool story, actually,” the server pauses to tell us more detail. “She just got out of the military. She met her fiancé while they were stationed together. He was injured, and she’s a nurse.” She puts her hand to her chest. “They fell in love while he recovered in her hospital.”
Dex and I look at each other, and each make the universal face that any red-blooded human with feelings makes when seeing a baby, or a puppy, or hearing a sweet love story. “Aww,” we say in unison, laughing.
“Would you please take them a bottle of Dom Perignon and put it on my tab? Anonymous, though, please…with thanks for her service, and her fiancé’s,” Dex adds.
“Wow, that’s really nice of you! Absolutely, I’ll take care of it,” the server replies.
When she walks out of Dexter’s line of sight, she catches my eye and mouths the words, “Lucky you,” with a wink. It makes me smile unreasonably wide.
Lucky me that such a kind, thoughtful, generous man is in my life and cares so much for me. Lucky me that he’s my friend. Unlucky me that he’s not more than just a friend.
“That was very generous of you,” I tell him.
“I had the good luck to meet an inventor whose work I really admire once at a party. Knowing I was new to success, he told me, “I always say, if you’ve got it, spread it around. Nobody likes a successful, stingy asshole.” I’ve always tried to remember that,” he says with a shrug. We toast to successful good guys.
“You look amazing, Sinclair.” Dex is grinning at me, his brown eyes sparkling.
I reach across the table and take both his hands in mine, giving them a squeeze. “You look amazing too. By the way,” I say, stifling a giggle. “I didn’t know I’d need tickets.”
“Tickets? For…what, exactly?” He cocks an eyebrow up in question.
“The gun show,” I reply, pointing to what I can see is a pronounced bicep on each arm.
His cheeks flush with crimson as he looks down and away. The expression belongs to the shy, gangly guy I met in school, not the hunky, successful entrepreneur sitting across from me.
“So, have you been hitting the gym, or did you invent some magical neurotransmitter that passively enhances muscle tissue?” I tease. “Because if you have, please sign me up as a test subject. Pilates is torture, but I like to eat far too much to ever give it up without some sort of alternative.”
He chuckles. “I like to think of the fitness thing as my transformation to Dexter two-dot-oh. I have to say, I don’t hate that my efforts are producing noticeable results. I told you about my business partner Cole, right?” He asks sheepishly.
“Your friend Cole, yes,” I reply, rolling my eyes.
I think he still has a little trouble wrapping the high school part of his brain around being friends with a jock.
“Yeah. Anyway, since he pitches for the Frontiersmen he knows all the best personal trainers. He convinced me to start working out with one he recommended. I go to the gym almost every day now. Turns out I’m not as unathletic as I thought I was.” He grins wide, pride evident on his face.
“You certainly seem like you’re feeling pretty good,” I reply. I stand up enough to reach across and squeeze his bicep. “Yep, feeling pretty darn good to me.”
He smiles, then he shakes his head and chuckles. “I really do feel good…and even better now.” Something flashes briefly in his chocolate-brown eyes, then he smirks. “I’m just so happy you’re back, Clair.”
Clair. No one but him calls me that. The way he says it is familiar and makes me feel special that he has a nickname just for me. It’s the same way I call him Dex. Those terms of endearment are just for us, like they’re special words all our own.
By the time we finish the drinks the server brings over my stomach is growling, so we head down the street to a Mexican place that has always been one of my favorites.
As we walk the four or five blocks to the restaurant, a group of girls walking the opposite direction toward us are all checking Dex out as they pass. I turn to look over my shoulder and see them all looking back, whispering and giggling. When I look over at him, he seems oblivious.
And this is why he has trouble finding the right girl. He has no clue when a woman is into him.
I bump his shoulder with mine.
“They were checking you out,” I say with a smirk.
“That group of girls that walked by. They were cute, too.”
He rolls his eyes.
“So, not seeing anyone?” I ask.
“Not at the moment.” He lets out a sigh. “Maybe I’m too picky.”
“Maybe you are,” I agree.
And that’s the other reason he can’t find the right girl. He has never fully explained the criteria with me, but he seems never to have found a girl that checks all the boxes on the list of Dex requirements for the perfect girl.
Someone as genuine and kind, as smart and as funny as Dex deserves someone wonderful, though—someone who can see him for everything he is. I have tried to resign myself to the fact that I’m not that girl in his eyes. I only hope that one day he finds her, and she deserves him.
That brings me to another word that should exist, but doesn’t. There should be a word for enjoying something you have, but still wishing it was much, much more.
We all need moments of escape. With all the demands on us day in and day out, we each need something just for ourselves. Perhaps nothing provides a private moment - a brief respite from every day - like escaping into a great story. When you pick up one of my books I hope you find that place that you can escape to. Explore the streets of Paris with new heroines or fly around the world to reclaim your lost love with a favorite hero. Whether it's the romance that takes your breath away or those climactic encounters that make your pulse race, I hope you find that solitary moment of enjoyment while lost in one of my stories.
Connect with Jennifer:
Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub
Audio book lovers!
Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or 'chick lit' as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.
She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She's a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!
She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads
Title: RED HOT RANCHER
Author: Marie Johnston
Genre: Contemporary Romance
After a streak of bad decisions, Brigit has to slink back home to nurse her wounds and find a job. To complete her humiliation, there’s no way she can avoid the first love she walked away from years ago—because he’s sleeping on the other side of her wall. At least it’s only a matter of time before she’s gone again. After all, there’s nothing in this town for her but bullies and cow patties…except a fireman in cowboy boots who melts her heart and makes her consider love again.
He’s not leaving. She’s not staying. If the reason they can’t be together is so simple, why is it so hard to remember?
Whatever she’d thought about a shirtless Caleb didn’t come close to the real thing.
He was stopped in the hallway, like he’d seen her crouched in nothing but a towel and gotten glued to the spot. A matching gray towel was slung low over his waist, the rest of his lean body bare.
Defined pecs. Rippling abs she wanted to gaze at as much as she wanted to trace with her tongue. There was nothing relaxed about him. This wasn’t the usual Caleb.
Because they were both wearing only a towel. Her gaze flew to his face, but his was stuck on the flare of her hips. His jaw tightened until she thought he’d bust teeth. He finally noticed her looking at him.
“Sorry.” He stiffly turned his head, like he’d defaulted to robot mode.
“Yeah.” She wasn’t sorry. There wasn’t any more chance she and Caleb would work than there had been ten years ago. Might as well torture herself with what she was missing. That view was worth it.
She took a step, her heel hitting a patch that hadn’t completely dried, which had turned into an ice rink for the unwary. The skid of her foot on the ceramic tile was louder than her startled cry. Her biggest worry wasn’t that she’d hurt herself. It was that she’d crash to the ground and lose her towel, or land with her legs splayed in the unsexiest peep show to ever hit Moore, Minnesota.
Her other foot hit with a thud and she caught herself. The pounding of her heart clogged her throat and she put a hand to her chest.
Caleb was at her side, a sexy safety net she would’ve gratefully fallen into. “Are you all right?” His hot hand was on her elbow. He was only inches away from her.
“You move fast.” She blinked and tried to lift her gaze to his face, but it was glued to the way his muscles flowed from his shoulders to his chest.
He dropped his voice. “Not when it counts, honey.”
He’d meant it as a joke, she knew that. But the timbre of his drawl and the proximity of his nearly naked body belied the humor. She couldn’t get past her raw need. How did the adult Caleb feel? Would he still like when she nibbled along his jawline to his earlobe? Would he groan every time she stroked his length?
She swallowed hard. Somehow, he’d crowded closer. Or had she drawn nearer?
“Bridge.” His voice matched the raging hormones inside of hers, the ones demanding answers to her questions.
She lifted her chin and kissed the corner of his mouth and pulled back only slightly. “Caleb.”
“I know.” She planted her lips on his.
Marie Johnston is an award-winning writer of paranormal and contemporary romance, and a RITA® Finalist. Marie decided to pursue her passion for writing and traded in her lab coat for a laptop to write her first book ever, Fever Claim. She lives in the upper Midwest with her husband, four kids, and two kittens. Other than hanging out with her family, Marie enjoys reading, movie dates with her hubby, getting outside on sunny days, and the all too rare - girls' night out.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Author Page
Everything and Always Book 2
by Mia Echo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Max had been one of the guest speakers for Harlow’s studies, one of her teachers. She wasn’t supposed to fall in love with him, but who can argue when fate arises?
When she had to leave quickly, Harlow was so overcome by fear that she didn’t even take a minute to think about the consequences of her actions. Not only did she break her own heart by leaving, but also his. Could Max ever be able to forgive her for that?
When he shows up unexpectedly for the big family dinner one weekend, it looks like she might get her chance to find out. Letting go of the fear of her father’s reaction is easier said than done, but if it means having a second chance with Max then surely it would all be worth it, won’t it?
What will happen when the two most important men in Harlow’s life finally come face to face?
But it’s not her father alone she has to worry about. Harlow has a secret. It’s a big secret, an important life-altering secret. If she thought Max wouldn’t forgive her before, now he’ll probably hate her for life. Even if Harlow explains, even if she apologizes, could it ever be enough?
Putting my key in the lock when I reach my apartment, I’m surprised to find the door is unlocked. Did I forget to lock it behind me before I left for my appointment? Cautiously, I open the door little by little. Peeking my head in once the opening is wide enough, I notice the lights are on in my tiny kitchen. I know I turned those off before I left. The open concept of my apartment allows me to see my living room next. I jump when I see a person sitting on my couch, but quickly recover as I realize who it is. Taking a deep breath, I clutch my chest before saying, “Fuck. Dad, you’re gunna give me a heart attack.” Walking in, I toss my keys and purse on the counter, but I don’t set the ultrasound picture down. I can’t quite let go of it yet. Then I turn my attention to my father who is currently sitting like a statue. He’s quiet for a long minute. Just staring at me, searching my face. Does he know? How could he? I haven’t told a soul, aside from my doctor and his staff. I haven’t even told my sister yet. His expression seems so serious, so intense. My earlier levity evaporates as he continues to stare at me. “Dad you’re scaring me. What’s wrong?” Shaking his head, he laughs humorlessly. “What’s wrong? You’re asking me, what’s wrong?” Confused, I look around the room as if the answer is written somewhere on the plain blank walls of my apartment. Bringing my gaze back to his, I wait, hoping he’ll put me out of my misery and just tell me.
When I don’t respond for another long minute, he sighs heavily. “A father knows when his baby girl is hurting.” Looking into his eyes, really looking for the first time, I can see the pain and worry there. My misery is clearly causing him pain. “You haven’t been the same since you came home. It’s like someone stole all the joy from your eyes and replaced it with a storm cloud so strong it’s pulling you down and I don’t know how to help you. I’d do anything for you baby girl. You just gotta let me in. I can’t help you if you don’t let me in.” His voice cracks as he says the last sentence. I can’t help the tears that pool in my eyes at the sound. Closing my eyes, I let the tears fall. I know I have to tell him what he doesn’t want to hear. I’m terrified of what he’ll say. What he’ll do. I can’t bear the thought of him being disappointed in me. The moment he sees my tears, he’s off of the couch and rushing to my side. Wrapping his arms tightly around me, he rocks me back and forth saying, “Shh, I’ve got you baby girl. I’ve got you.” The dam I had been doing such a good job of holding in place breaks as the comforting feeling of my father’s arms seeps into my cells. “It hurts so much.” I sob into his chest. His arms tighten around me as my body shakes with each sob. Silently offering his support, he lets me cry until I have nothing left. Several minutes later, I take a stuttering breath. Lifting my head off of his tear-soaked chest, I sniff a couple of times before looking up. “You may wanna sit down, Daddy.” I whisper before pulling away fully. Running his thumbs gently under both eyes to clear my tears, my father nods. He grabs for my hand to lead me into the living rooms but the ultrasound picture is in the way. Lifting my hand so he can see what I have clutched so powerfully in my hand, his eyes harden and his jaw clenches as he sees what it is. I wait as the anger flows through him. The muscles in his arms tighten and I worry he’ll start yelling before I can explain. His chest starts to rise and fall faster as his breathing accelerates. “Who?” He demands through clenched teeth. “That’s not important.” I say shaking my head. “The hell it’s not!” He booms. “I broke his heart.” Taking a deep breath it feels so much more real as I say the words out loud. “I love him and I broke his heart.” My father’s eyes soften slightly at the pain in my voice. With the wounds open, I can’t stop the break down from coming in a second wave of agony. My father’s strong arms catch me as my knees buckle, never letting me fall. Carrying me over to the couch, he holds me as I attempt to purge myself of the pain. Pain I caused. Pain I’ll have to learn to live with
Everything and Always Book 1
When you're the only girl growing up in a family full of soldiers, it's hard to find a date, let alone true love. Either your family scares the guy off, or the dating pool is slim pickin's because you know how a real man should act and won't settle for less.
All I wanted was to find a man I could start a family of my own with, but I never imagined how quickly I'd fall in love or how quickly I could lose it all to be his everything.
I stared at that damn bathroom door until she came back out, waiting for her to walk past me again. The way she carries herself… confidence and sensuality radiates from her in the sexiest way I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been so drawn to someone, let alone someone I’ve never even met.
She’s mine and she doesn’t even know it yet.
When she finally emerges, I almost panic as she takes a different path back to her seat. Watching intently, I see her talk to the waitress before turning toward her table. Several executive type guys are clustered around the girls she came with, flirting with them as if they are God’s gift to women. What a joke. More like a waste of space. I could snap one of them in half with minimal effort and they’d never even see me coming. They wouldn’t be able to defend themselves much less protect the woman they’re with. I’ve never understood how men like that could look at themselves in the mirror every day without being completely disgusted with what they see. No way is one of these panty wasters, man enough for my woman.
As if taking my thoughts as a challenge, one of those fuckers approaches her. I’m out of my seat and walking toward them in a nanosecond, ready to beat the guy to a bloody pulp, but then I hear her beautiful voice for the first time. “Not on your life, pretty boy.” Calmly, she turns to leave as if she hasn’t just made my night.
I think I’m in love.
My feet move of their own accord. I can’t take my eyes off of her as I follow her outside. She knows I’m here, I saw her posture stiffen as she felt me watching. Her steps faltering only momentarily, but she maintains her composure, never looking in my direction. Keeping her head held high as if she owns the place, I realize, in this moment, she owns me as well. Her hips sway as she pointedly ignores me. With confident strides, she finds her car and climbs in. Not wanting to scare her, I stand by the door, just taking her in. What will she do next?
Like a slow-motion video, she raises her eyes to meet mine. My heart races and it’s hard to breathe. I know she has the most beautiful emerald green eyes, I saw them as she walked past me in the restaurant, but to see her looking directly at me, even through the glass of her windshield thirty plus feet away, they are so intense. I’m lost to her. She could ask me for anything, and I’d get it for her, I’d do anything for her.
Is it crazy? Yes.
Do I care? No.
She’s mine. Secretly I beg her to get out of her car and come and talk to me. I get the feeling that she is contemplating just that, so I wait. Hours, minutes, seconds later, she shakes herself slightly before pulling out of the lot. I let out a sigh of disappointment. Reaching for my keys, there’s no question, I have to follow her.
Corrupt Empire Book 1
by Sarah Bailey
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance
I witnessed something I was never meant to see.
He took me.
He broke me.
He made me his.
And now he wants to use me to bring down my family.
I was never meant to have her.
The daughter of the scum who stole my life.
I took her.
I broke her.
I made her mine.
And now she'll do anything I say.
One tattooed anti-hero gets caught up in a whirlwind with an innocent heiress. It'll keep you on your toes with its web of lies and secrets.
“Don’t move an inch,” a deep voice I didn’t recognise said.
I looked up at Mum. Her face hardened. She mouthed to me ‘stay down’. My hands stilled.
“Walk around the counter slowly,” the voice said.
It sent a chill down my spine. Void of all emotion. Cold as steel.
Mum complied, sending me another warning look before she disappeared.
What is going on?
“You know why I’m here.”
“We can discuss this calmly like adults. Just put the gun down,” Dad said.
Gun. He has a gun. My heartbeat kicked up a notch. My palms began to sweat. Why did this stranger have a gun? And what did he want with my parents?
“Funny, Mitchell, you lost the right to negotiate the moment you took something that never belonged to you.”
Nothing made sense. I needed to see for myself. I carefully placed the pan on the floor and crawled towards the counter, edging along to the end. Peering around, I found both my parents with their hands up. The man holding the gun wore no mask. My breath caught in my throat.
I’d never described a man as beautiful before. There was no other word for him. His light brown hair, short at the sides and longer on top, was neatly styled. Grey eyes glinted under the soft kitchen lights. His dark suit clung to him in all the right places, tailored to absolute perfection. It left no doubt he was all hard muscle underneath. An avenging angel. Except this angel had a gun pointed at my dad’s head.
Self-preservation made me freeze. If I alerted him to my presence, it wouldn’t help anyone. I ignored the voice in my head telling me the real reason I couldn’t move had more to do with how awestruck I was by the gun-wielding stranger.
Thanks brain. Not!
“Look, can’t we put all of that behind us? It’s been over twenty years,” Dad said.
The angel’s expression didn’t change. Cold, almost calculating. It sent chills running down my spine. Terrifying and beautiful at the same time. A deadly combination.
There was no other warning. Two shots fired in quick succession. The sound rang in my ears. My parents collapsed one after the other. I put a hand over my mouth, stifling a scream. He’d shot them right between the eyes. There was no question in my mind. They were dead.
The word stuck in my head.
Blood poured out of the back of their heads, pooling on the wooden floor beneath them. Their chests were still, unmoving. Tears pricked at my eyes.
My parents were dead.
I looked at the angel again. He stared right at me. The surprise in his eyes faded after a second. I fell back onto my hands as I tried to scramble away.
“No, please,” I whispered.
He didn’t raise the gun to me. His lip twitched. I backed up right into the counter behind me, putting my hands up.
“Please don’t kill me.”
In five long strides, he stood before me. His very presence made my heart hammer erratically in my chest. I could hear it loud and clear in my ears. Up close, I got a real sense of just how tall and well-built he was, muscles rippled under his suit jacket as he moved.
“I’m not going to kill you,” he said, his voice quiet. “But you and I are going to have a little talk.”
I nodded slowly. I’d just seen him murder my parents. The likelihood of him letting me go was slim to none. I doubted he’d counted on having a witness.
He squatted down until we were eye level. Those grey eyes cold and yet so beautiful.
“You shouldn’t have seen this.”
“Why… why did you kill my parents?” I whispered, almost unable to get the words out.
“They weren’t good people, Avery.”
“How do you know my name?”
He cocked his head to the side.
“Everyone knows who you are.”
He wasn’t wrong. I’d been photographed countless times by the press and had my name plastered all over social media. Still, he didn’t seem like the type of person to browse tabloids.
Why did he know who I was?
Why did he do this?
His expression told me he felt no remorse for killing my parents. They’d known who he was.
I had too many questions. And I didn’t think I was going to get many answers out of this man.
“What are you going to do with me?”
He stared at me for the longest moment without answering. My skin prickled. I was struck again by just how beautiful he was.
Get a grip!
You don’t crush on the guy who just murdered your parents. Normal people don’t go around with guns. He wasn’t a good guy. Nothing about him was soft or welcoming. Nothing at all. My brain was playing tricks on me. I was just in shock. That had to be it.
He reached out, grabbing me by my neck and pulling me up to my feet with him.
“Who are you?” I whispered when he didn’t let go.
“Your worst nightmare.”
A sharp pain erupted from the back of my head and radiated outwards. The last thing I remember before passing out was those steel grey eyes and his expression. Regret.
Sarah currently resides in the Scottish Highlands with her husband. Music is one of her biggest inspirations and she always has something on in the background whilst writing. She is an avid gamer and is often found hogging her husband's Xbox.
Website * Facebook * FB Group * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads
Broadway star Alison Bartholomew needed a break from her high-pressure theater career and all the scrutiny and judgement that went with it. When she meets Troy on the first morning of her Valentine Bay getaway, she starts to wonder: could a short sabbatical turn into something more lasting?
Troy and Alison can't help but be drawn to each other, but is the force binding them together stronger than the one pulling them in different directions?
Stand-alone Valentine Bay romance, complete with HEA--and plenty of heat and heart along the way!
The story has it all, the small town vibes with the blessings and the meddling, the best of friends that becomes the family of your heart, the romance that sweeps you off your feet and is adorable, lovable, and seductive, and I enjoyed each of these elements and how they played part in the tale and the development of the relationship between Troy Valentine and Broadway star Alison Bartholomew.
But what really sets this story apart, what had me to tear up, my heart to swell a few sizes, and want to cheer out loud, that was Mila and both Troy and Alison's relationship with her. That girl stole my heart in the first Valentine Bay book, but oh my, here, with her performance, and the town's response, I felt like I was a proud auntie in the audience applauding her until my hands were sore. And yes, there were tears all over my face as I read that scene.
Troy and Alison are just so perfect together, in each and every possible way, that it is delightfully cute and deliciously delectable. The chemistry, the connection, the celebrity status, the interests, their love for Mila, it all just fits, it is harmonious and beautiful and mixed with all the other elements of the book, vastly entertaining.
And after enjoying the funny, the amusing, the touching, and the steaming -- it was the last sentence, just three words that pulls the whole story together in a brilliant way, that brought me to my knees, figuratively speaking, and brought all the feels, the smile, and the tears that only a fabulous story manages to draw out of me.
~ Five Spoons
NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Melanie Shawn is the writing team of sister duo Melanie and Shawna. Originally from Northern California, they now make their home in So Cal.
Growing up, Melanie constantly had her head in a book and was always working on short stories, manuscripts, plays and poetry. Shawna always loved romance in any form - movie, song or literary. If it was a love story with a happy ending, Shawna was all about it! They have joined forces to create a world where true love and happily ever after always has a sexy twist!
Author: Shannyn Schroeder
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: O’Leary’s, Book 4
Carmen Delgado is left reeling when her father dies. Taking care of him has been her sole purpose for so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to have dreams of her own. And with steady, sexy Liam O’Leary inheriting a share in her dad’s successful food truck, Carmen is suddenly free to explore her life’s possibilities. She never expected Liam to provide the kind of temptation she’s not sure she can resist…
A talented chef, Liam O’Leary has been itching to open his own restaurant for years—and the death of his mentor is a reminder that time passes too quickly. Gus’s Taco Taxi isn’t exactly what he dreamed of, but he can’t desert Gus’s daughter. Working side by side is an unexpected pleasure—and grownup Carmen is alluring in all new ways. Is love on the menu—or will old fears and insecurities drive them apart?
He entered the house and looked around. People packed the entire living room. He stood still for a moment, allowing the air of the room to warm him. He studied the faces and realized he didn’t know anyone. No one approached him, but many looked in his direction with open interest.
Then he spotted Carmen. She bustled around, taking plates and delivering coffee to older men and women around the room. He crossed to her and followed until she went into the kitchen. He waited in the doorway.
The kitchen was empty of guests. She put the dishes in the sink and then braced her arms on the counter and released a breath that shuddered through her. Guilt poked at him. He was interrupting a private moment and he should leave, but his feet wouldn’t listen.
He cleared his throat. “Carmen?”
She straightened slowly before turning to face him. A slow smile formed on her face. “Liam.”
He hadn’t been sure she would remember him. “How are you holding up?”
She lifted her shoulders in answer. The question was dumb. That was one of the worst parts of dealing with people after his father had died. The dumb questions from people.
“Here.” He held the flowers out to her. “I know it doesn’t help or ease the pain in any way, but I couldn’t come here empty-handed.”
“Thank you. They’re beautiful.” She took the vase from him and looked for a free space on the counter. The entire kitchen table and the length of the counter held trays and bowls of food. The smells made his mouth water even though he wasn’t hungry.
“Can I get you something to eat?” she offered after she stashed the flowers in the corner near the refrigerator.
“No. Can I help with some of this? Do something for you? You look like you have your hands full with all of your guests.” He removed his jacket and hung it on the back of one of the kitchen chairs. He rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, prepared to help.
She blinked a couple of times. “Uh… In all honesty, I’ll probably end up throwing most of this out. There’s just too much.” She turned in a circle. “Coffee. I need to make more.”
Liam moved forward. The girl looked dead on her feet. How could her family not see this? He pulled a chair out from the table. “Sit. I’ll make it.”
“No, it’s okay.”
“Carmen, sit down. Take a break and relax for a minute.” While not harsh, his tone was firm and she sat.
He remembered when Gus’s wife, Inez, died and the house had been filled like this. Gus loved having the family here, but Carmen had hidden in the kitchen, overwhelmed. Liam had joined her then too. He moved around the kitchen making coffee and then washed the dishes that were in the sink.
“You don’t have to do that, Liam.”
“I know. I like to feel useful. And I don’t think anyone in your family wants to chat me up.” He rinsed a dish and put it in the drain. “I came here to see you, Carmen. I don’t know anyone else. Your dad was my friend.”
He heard her hiccupping breath. When he turned, he expected to see her crying, but she just stared off at nothing. Drying his hands quickly, he squatted in front of her. “What do you need, Carmen? I watched you run around here, taking care of everyone. What can I do for you?”
Her focus shifted until her eyes met his. So much sadness. He wanted to wrap her in a tight hug, but they had never had that kind of relationship. They’d had a teasing, laughing one with minimal contact. And that had been years ago.
“Could you take the coffee into the living room? I just need a few minutes.”
He patted her knee before rising. “Take all the time you need.”
REVIEWED IN JANUARY, 2015 WHEN IT FIRST CAME OUT
Connect with Shannyn:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Book + Main Bites
But a serial killer is on the guest list.
Bette Fuller has come to Eagle Mountain, Colorado, looking for a fresh start.
So when she becomes the target of a serial killer terrorizing the small town, the wedding caterer refuses to be anyone’s victim.
Turning to groomsman and US Marshal Cody Rankin for help becomes personal for Bette.
Cody is attractive, protective—and more trustworthy than she wants to admit.
But can they stay one step ahead of the Ice Cold Killer…?
Cindi Mayers' books have always captured my mind but the Eagle Mountain Murder Mysteries are definitely my favorites. The emotions and the characters go so much deeper in these, and I don't know if it is the whole prison/convict aspect that so shatters my heart each time, but it certainly plays a big part on bringing up all the feels.
And Bette Fuller, she wasn't even innocent when convicted. But she has done her time, she has learned from her past mistakes, and is now doing her best to rebuild her life, start anew, and make something, honest and real, with her future. There is a time when Bette talks about how working in the kitchen is like therapy for her, and I was cheering in my mind, cause I get that so well. Bette is a tough yet sensitive, capable, hard-working, talented, yet her past makes her vulnerable and hinders her somewhat not only from professional success but personal as well.
US Marshal Cody Rankin is everything Bette wants to stay away from. Bette sees him as a career lawman, he is rigidly rules and regulations guy, who puts the law and order first, the human interest second. But Bette captures his eye, and things start to change on both of their lives, cause there are some heart-shattering reasons why Cody arrived at the soon-to-come wedding so early on.
Despite seemingly being the opposites, Bette and Cody have a connection. They struggle with trust, yet they work on finding a way to be open and honest with each other, learning to trust each other, even though the unknown culprits are trying to sabotage Bette at each turn.
The serial killer doing havoc in the small mountain town continues their hideous killing spree and manages to escape without leaving any evidence. The sheriff is doing all he can to capture the killer, but the case is not solved in this installment of the series.
The story of the upcoming sheriff's wedding continues with this intense and exhilarating story of vigorous, crude action and harsh suspense in the midst of an inspiring, hopeful, ardent love story. A rather touching story of family, friends, and loyalty, trust and hope even when there is questionable evidence of criminal activity.
~ Five Spoons
Former president of San Antonio Romance Authors, Cindi is a member of Romance Writers of America, Novelists Inc., and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
She and her husband and their two dogs live in the mountains Southwest of Denver. When she's not caught up in creating new characters and stories, Cindi enjoys reading, quilting, gardening, skiing and hiking. She's also in demand as a speaker, teaching workshops and making presentations to both local and national writing groups.
A train heist unearths family secrets
The next exciting True North Heroes story
Trapped with armed hijackers aboard a speeding train, Nick Henry is determined to free the hostages—especially his ex-girlfriend and the son he never knew existed.
The army corporal must use his training to save them, but this mission’s personal.
Nick broke a promise to Erica Knight once, but he won’t let her down now, because something precious is on the line: his family.
I pretty much inhaled the tale at one sitting. It was so effortless to be engaged in the story, as all the elements of it were so well thought out, twined into a tale of danger and death, faith and growth, as well as soulmates and second chances.
Building up tension and believable suspense and action in a small confined space, that is moving across the Canadian wilderness could be a challenge, yet the author manages to bring up the intensity from the very start, and hold it high up till the very end. The twisted plot unravels with the help of the Henry brothers, but I have to say, Erica Knight and her son Zander can manage to hold their own. Erica is a brave, strong, capable woman who is not afraid to take the lead and act when needed. And Zander, the little soldier, he is so adorable, while daring, smart, and fast on his feet. Zander stole the scene every time he walks on the stage, and I love him.
Nick Henry might have been a hotheaded, irresponsible young man, but he had to grow up fast after facing the consequences of his mistakes and actions. He lost Erica once, his best friend and the only girl he ever loved, so this opportunity to stop the train heist, and rescue the travelers, it was more than just act of bravery, it was necessary for a new chance for Erica and Nick.
The connection between Erica and Nick was palpable and real. The hurt from the past still bites, showing how deep the chemistry between them even now burned, yet there was hope for the reunion through redemption and forgiveness.
One thing that I admired in this story was the strong presence of the faith in God in both Erica's and Nick's hearts and minds. In everything that they were, every situation they faced, their first thought was a prayer, showing where the foundation of their lives was built on.
The intensity of the story was visible in every element of the tale, in the suspense, romance, as well as in the faith of the protagonists. The importance of family was everything to them, as they boldly face the danger, and fight for their lives while facing their past mistakes.
I truly enjoyed the author's voice, her style to tell the tale, and pull the reader into the world where the known truth was challenged, everyone's lives were in the line of danger, and past mistakes had a chance to corrected if survived, new lives and possibilities arising from the deadly threat to their existence.
A breathtaking story in many ways
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Gwenevere Solomon is the current "It" girl in Hollywood. The star of a dozen films, she seemingly has the world at her feet. Gwen's problem? She also has one very dangerous stalker at her door. His attacks are getting bolder, and Gwen is becoming more and more afraid. Because this stalker...he knows secrets that she's fought hard to keep buried. The kind of secrets that can destroy a woman's life.
A ghost from her past can save her.
Gwen needs protection, and she needs that protection now. So enter her new leading man...Simon Forrest. Tall, dark, and ever-so deadly, Simon is the lover she left behind. Or rather, the lover who left her behind. He went off and became a SEAL, saving the world and riding one adrenaline high after the other. But he's back now, and as part of Wilde Securities, he's supposed to offer the best, most discreet protection service in the business. He'll pretend to be her lover so the press won't realize her life is going to hell, and Simon will stop her stalker.
He can keep his hands off her...and keep her shielded at the same time.
Simon never got over Gwen, and the fact that she's been filling the big screen with her gorgeous self? Yeah, it's just made her even more tempting...and put her even further out of his reach. Simon was never good enough for Gwen, and he knew it. But this time, he can help her. He can catch the stalker, unmask the jerk, and keep Gwen shining in her spotlight. Easy as pie. Or, it should be.
Except...Simon might not be able to stop himself from falling for her all over again.
Because when the cameras stop watching, that's when the real action begins...
After reading Eric and Piper's story, I knew Simon's book would be tense and fierce. But this tale exceeded my expectations with the action and suspense, with the powerful secrets, and vigorous investigation to the case of Gwen's stalker.
And the passion between Gwen and Simon just fed the flames that the suspense started.
To tell the truth and trust him with all her heart was the only option Gwen had when after all the years she was face to face with Simon again. The fact that they both still trust each other, have this raw honesty when it came to the other, and that they did not fight for more than a short moment to surrender for the fervent passion still flaming as a tangible force between them -- it was just beautiful.
The connection was real, the feelings bubbling back to the surface were unavoidable, the chemistry was palpable and strong, Simon and Gwen were adorably amazing together, with the kind of energy that takes your breath away.
I loved seeing the whole gang working together, getting to the bottom of the case. Seeing the connection Simon had with Ben and Eric, the brotherhood that excited without bloodlines told about the bond of a friendship they had formed.
This book was tough to put down after I first started it, the tempo of the unraveling tale is fast and I wanted to hang on to each word that took me for the wild ride. A vastly entertaining tale with a fabulous cast and crew, highspeed action, explosive suspense, and a ravishing, mindblowing love story of tragic soul mates whose destiny once drew apart... Yep, pretty amazing tale, indeed!
~ Five Spoons
Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over eighty novels and novellas.
Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.
Title: Mad About Moon
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Can true love strike twice in one lifetime?
Josie Beckley refuses to believe there is a limit on happiness. A decade after she escaped her abusive parents and lost touch with her siblings, the death of her husband leaves her and her son homeless. But Josie has never been one to wallow in sadness, and when she takes a chance on reconnecting with her siblings, a sinfully handsome bright light from her past shows up and offers to help her find a way out of the darkness.
Most people wouldn't see Jed Moon as someone to look up to. He's been in and out of jail and has lived a less-than-stellar lifestyle. But years ago one woman saw through his bullshit, and he's never forgotten her. Now she's back in his life, and as a prospect for the Dark Knights motorcycle club, Jed promises to keep an eye on the sassy, sexy single mother who has never stopped lighting his fantasies on fire.
Jed and Josie's combustible connection is stronger than ever. Having Josie and her son in his life brings out all of Jed's protective instincts-and visions of a future he never imagined having. But when a shocking revelation knocks the insatiable lovers to their knees, it forces them to make choices that could change their lives forever.
As she drove away, she decided to surprise Jed with lunch. He’d done so much for her, and she was too excited to just go back to the shelter. She stopped at Jazzy Joe’s café and picked up sandwiches for her and Jed and a cookie for Hail, which she’d give him after school. Then she drove over to the auto shop to surprise Jed.
When she arrived at the shop, she realized she probably should have called first. They were busy, and she had no idea if Jed even took a lunch break, much less if he was working there or at the bar today. She scanned the open bays, but didn’t see Jed. She spotted jeans-clad legs sticking out from beneath a car in the first bay, so she headed over with the bag from Jazzy Joe’s.
Truman slid out from beneath the car as she approached. “Hey, Josie. Looking for Jed?”
“Yeah. I thought I’d bring him lunch. I won’t stay or get in the way.”
“No worries.” He pushed to his feet and pointed to a set of steps by the office. “He’s up in his apartment. He’s not working at the bar until three. Go on up. I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you.”
“Thanks.” She headed for the steps and saw Tex peering at an engine beneath the hood of a car. “Hi,” she said as she walked by.
“Hi. Josie, right?”
Big Mama, the big calico cat she’d seen at the bonfire, wound around her legs. She leaned down to pet her. “Yes. Good to see you again.”
“That was some party, huh?”
“It was fun. I’m just going up to see Moon--Jed.”
Tex winked. “Have fun.”
As she climbed the steps she played over that wink, wondering if Tex was used to women going up to Jed’s apartment in the middle of the day. On the landing at the top of the stairs she knocked on the door, trying to ignore the swirling in her stomach. She waited for what felt like forever, but in reality was probably only a minute, and then she knocked again. She heard him say something that sounded like come in, so she turned the knob and peered around the door, quickly scanning the masculine loft-style apartment. Worn hardwood floors ran beneath a deep-cushioned brown couch, an orange chair, and a heavy wooden coffee table. There was a small open kitchen and glass doors that led to a deck.
“Moon?” she called out.
“In here,” came from behind a partially open door.
She closed the door behind her, and as she crossed the room, she said, “I just got done with Scotty and—”
He pulled open the door and she lost her voice. His hair was wet and tousled, his bare chest slick from a shower, and sweet baby Jesus, he was naked, save for a towel tied low on his hips.
“And…?” he asked as he stepped toward her.
She tried to speak, but her mouth had gone bone dry. A devilish grin spread across his face.
There he is. My big bad wolf.
And that wasn’t all that was big about him.
Her gaze dropped to the significant bump in the towel. Heat whipped through her like a torrential storm, bullying its way through her core, up her chest, and down her limbs. Her sex clenched, and her nipples burned. He lifted her chin, and that flirtatious smile morphed to sinfully enticing hunger.
“And…?” he whispered against her lips, drawing a needy whimper from her lungs. “Did you miss me, Little Red?”
And don't miss RIVER OF LOVE, the first story in which the Whiskeys were introduced!
The Whiskeys are perfect beach reads with depth of story, strong family ties, and a wealth of emotions. Small town love stories with happily ever afters guaranteed.
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.
Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Fan Club | Pinterest | Google Plus | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | Website
After being stood up and having her pickup truck break down, Bailey found herself walking barefoot in a ball gown down a back road. And when her sexier-than-sin ex rides up on his steel horse Bon Jovi style to rescue her, she knows she has to accept his help even if it means breaking her heart all over again.
Josh Scott had no interest in being anyone’s hero.
After finding the only woman he’d ever loved stranded on the side of the road, Josh knew that he had to do the right thing. And when his headlight shone on long silky, blonde hair, huge doe eyes, and the most perfect set of lips ever created he knew his already shattered heart was in serious trouble.
To live in the present, Josh and Bailey have to face their past. If they do they just might have a future…and it all starts with just one night.
18+ Stand-alone Crossroads romance, complete with HEA--and plenty of heat and heart along the way!
Bailey Rossum and Josh Scott hadn't had the easiest start in life, but they had had each other. In the most amazing, finding your soulmate kind of way that will blow you away and steep deeply into your heart. Until they didn't. Until things went wrong in the worst moment in the worst kind of way. And even though they both had managed to succeed in their lives, to be successful in their careers, it might have been, cause all their energy and efforts were focused on the task at hand to avoid the feelings churning in their souls and core beings.
The energy, connection, chemistry between Bailey and Josh is something amazing and tangible and adorable all at the same time. The attraction they have for each other is a palpable force, and they are helpless to avoid it now that the connection between them is established again. And the love scenes these two create, are off the chart smoking hot.
The challenge they face is the secrets from their past. Can they overcome everything they left behind and is there enough room in their hearts and minds for the understanding and forgiveness needed to move forward? I loved the road, the struggle they faced but mostly how the handled it. I loved both Josh and Bailey, how they saw each other and how honest they were with each other.
The half spoon dropped - from my opinion - cause there was some third person drama involved that continued after the first love scene between Josh and Bailey. Was it physical, not really - a kiss - but it bothered me as it was first mentioned, it bothered me when it continued, and then when it was ignored after all the turbulence started in the hospital, I wondered why, oh why was it mentioned in the first place. I know, this is me and my silly hard limits, but this is my opinion so...
The chaos created by unraveling secrets and the mayhem it caused in the protagonists' lives took me for an emotional road with angst and passionate adoration as the main vehicles riding down the curvy path... A journey that I am thankful I was able to experience, not only because of the lovely visit with my friends in Harper’s Crossing but because of both Josh and Bailey deserved to find peace, redemption, and most of all, love into their lives.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author Melanie Shawn is the writing team of sister duo Melanie and Shawna. Originally from Northern California, they now make their home in So Cal.
Growing up, Melanie constantly had her head in a book and was always working on short stories, manuscripts, plays and poetry. Shawna always loved romance in any form - movie, song or literary. If it was a love story with a happy ending, Shawna was all about it! They have joined forces to create a world where true love and happily ever after always has a sexy twist!
I love enemies-to-lovers stories because they’re so much fun to write and absolutely delicious to read! And Sean Riddick and Dani England from my upcoming Fighting the Fire are absolutely incendiary together! They’re both bad asses in their own right—both veterans, both fighters, both stubborn as hell. And boy does the cover capture them so well—the intensity, the passion, the push and pull. Now check out this excerpt and let me know what you think!
If you haven’t started my wounded Warrior Fight Club series yet, you can jump in anywhere because they’re all sexy standalone romances! And here’s where you reserve your copy of Sean and Dani’s hot, hot story:
Amazon (coming) | B&N | Apple Books | Kobo
Add to your Goodreads
Coming in ebook, paperback, and audiobook
“Bring it,” Sean said, giving her a wink.
Ignoring his head games, Dani got into position. Fists up, elbows close to her ribs, lead leg forward. In this drill, Sean as the kicker could only make offensive moves with his legs. While, as the puncher, she couldn’t use her legs at all. Which meant she had to get in close while defending against his strikes.
They circled. Feinted. Attacked.
Sean was strong as hell, but she was faster by a lot. Dani used that to her advantage. Blocking and dodging his kicks and then getting inside to attack his ribs and gut and kidneys in the spare seconds before he regained his footing.
Each punch she landed released a pressure valve somewhere deep in her brain. And that release was so fundamental that she barely felt the kicks that Sean landed. Not that she gave him much chance to get them in, because she kept him close, under pressure, and on the defense blocking her punches.
“Damn, girl,” he said, respect and wariness plain in his voice.
“You told me to bring it,” she said, looking for another in. He blocked a shot at his ribs and delivered a spinning side kick that landed on the side of her thigh.
“Someone has some aggression to work out today,” he said.
“Do you have to talk so much?” she asked, sweat curling down the side of her face as she attacked again. This time she drove forward, forcing him to retreat and not letting him get in a kick.
Sean blocked and covered and dodged until they were in a clinch, breathing hard and face to face with no room to punch or kick. And for no good reason, heat roared over Dani. Heat that almost incinerated her from the inside out. Maybe it was the bulk of his muscles or the slick slide of their sweat or his scent of clean soap from a recent shower that couldn’t quite remove the hint of fire from his skin and hair.
As if he sensed it, Sean’s dark eyes flashed hot and his jaw went tight. Breaking the rules, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her in close, letting her feel his erection for one spare moment before taking her to the mats in a controlled move that showed just how freaking strong he was. She expected to get the wind knocked out of her, but he’d more laid her out than knocked her down.
A whistle blew. “Switch up,” Colby called. “And follow the damn rules, Riddick. We’re not doing ground work right now.”
But Dani and Sean were caught in a staring contest with their faces mere inches apart.
She wanted him inside her so bad that she nearly gave voice to it.
Her brain went immediately to that night.
How they’d circled each other throughout that whole damn party. How Sean had walked her to her car, parked right in front of his, which she’d begrudgingly thought sweet despite her insistence she didn’t need a damn chaperone. How they’d started bantering about something she couldn’t even remember now—because all she could remember was how desperately aroused she’d felt. How she’d teasingly punched him and he’d caught her arm and hauled her in against him. How the shock of his erection against her hip had made her look up at him. And how he’d claimed her mouth and she’d let him.
Oh, hell yeah, she’d let him do that and so much more…
And she wanted it again.
It was that thought that finally made her brain come back online. “Get. Off.”
His brow arched. Just the tiniest bit. “You can take your aggression out on me anytime.” He spoke in a rushed whisper, but the words impacted her like a body slam, pressing her back into the floor with some unseen force. Because she’d heard that tone in his voice before, when she’d straddled his lap on the big bench of his pick-up and finally taken him deep.
“Fucking hell, Dani. Take all of me.”
“Now,” Dani said, hoping he didn’t hear that her voice was affected, too.
In a move that seemed too lithe for someone his size, Sean hopped up then extended his hand to her.
Shook as she was, Dani accepted his help, then regretted it when he didn’t immediately release her hand but instead held her right in front of him—exactly like he had that night. “Just say the word.”
Dani swallowed hard. “Hold your breath waiting for it. Please.” She glared up at him, irritated with herself for letting him see inside her for that one unguarded moment when her body had reacted so viscerally to his. It was like that night had tuned their bodies into the same wavelength, and now they could communicate whether she wanted it or not.
Amusement and challenge slid into his gaze. “You’ll not only say it, Dani. You’ll beg me for it.”
Check out the whole Warrior Fight Club Series:
Fighting for Everything – Available now!
Fighting for What’s His – Available now!
Worth Fighting For – Available now!
Fighting the Fire – April 23, 2019!
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of forty books in contemporary and erotic romance and romantic suspense, including the Blasphemy, Hard Ink, and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. Laura also writes historical fiction as the NYT bestselling author, Laura Kamoie. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day. Newsletter Sign Up http://smarturl.it/subscribeLauraKaye
FORGIVEN by Carrie Aarons is now live!
In a split-second, a car crash killed almost everything between them. Ten years later, can one accidental ride fix tattered spirits, uncertain futures, and broken hearts?
Lily Grantham has always done what she’s been told. The daughter of a senator, she grew up as the good girl of Fawn Hill, and carried that torch right on through to adulthood. Her only wild streak? Bowen Nash. She loved that boy since the day they laid eyes on each other, and it nearly ended them both. A decade later, and Lily still can’t move on. Even if Bowen has made it clear he doesn’t love her anymore.
Bowen Nash never wanted the life he’s trapped in. Destined for baseball fame and the love of his high-school sweetheart, that existence vanished in the flip of an old pickup. Now, he’s stuck in the town that produced his worst nightmare. Pretending to hate Lily Grantham guts him day in and day out. But to protect her from the ultimate secret, it’s necessary to break his own heart each time they pass on the street.
They’ve been fighting fate for as long as it’s been chasing them. And now, time is up.
DOWNLOAD FREE KINDLE APP HERE
When she isn't writing, Carrie is busy binging reality TV, having a love/hate relationship with cardio, and trying not to burn dinner. She lives in the suburbs of New Jersey with her husband, daughter and dog.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub | Street Team
The Hoodoo of Peckerwood Finch
by Jerome Mark Antil
Mamma's Moon gives the reader a dramatic and insightful glimpse into the very special world of today's Louisiana French Acadians, whose early tragic history was immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his classic poem, Evangeline, even before the heartless bayou's more contemporary history was buried deep and forgotten."
Tom Hyman (LA Times bestselling author: writer for LIFEmagazine, The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, Washington Post Book World and New York Magazine.)
This novel, Mamma's Moon, is a sequel to the novel, One More Last Dance. It stands alone as an entirely self-contained story, but for those of you who may not have read the earlier novel, I include here a brief description of the main characters and of the events that preceded this story.
A bond that can only happen on a dance floor happened in a cafe off Frenchman Street among four unlikely characters: a man who was about to die; his friend, an illiterate Cajun French yardman; and two of the most successful women in New Orleans.
Aging Captain Gabriel Jordan, retired, was given two months to live, three months before he met "Peck"--Boudreau Clemont Finch--a groundskeeper on the back lawn of his hospice on Bayou Carencro, Louisiana. It was at the hospice that Gabe told Peck his dream of seeing the Newport Jazz Festival before he died. They became friends, and Peck offered to help grant his wish by taking him there.
And they began their journey.
It quickly became a journey with complications and setbacks. They saved each other many times, but they were in turn saved by two extraordinary women: Sasha (Michelle Lissette), a real estate agent in New Orleans's posh Garden District, and her best friend, Lily Cup (Lily Cup Lorelei Tarleton), a criminal attorney.
Less than a year before the events in Mamma's Moon, Gabe and Peck wandered into Charlie's Blue Note, a small jazz bar in a side alley just off Frenchman Street, where the music was live and mellow and the dancing warm and sensual.
Here they encountered Sasha and Lily Cup, and amid the music, the dancing, the food, the flirting, and the cigar smoke, the four formed an unusual and lasting friendship that would see them each through a series of crises, disappointments, life-threatening situations, and moments of great joy and satisfaction.
Chapter 2 Good Morning, Murder
Did you murder the kid, Gabe?” Lily Cup asked. The aging army captain, veteran of Korea and Vietnam, low ered his newspaper just enough to see over the entertainment page.
“Close the door, honey, AC’s on,” Gabe said.
In a tight, black skirt with a tailored matching waistcoat and white Nike walking shoes, she leaned and propped a black leather briefcase against the wall by the door. She stood like an exasperated tomboy, adjusting and refastening the diamond brooch on her lapel.
“I heard you’ve been walking with a cane, dancing man. What’s that all about? You’ve never carried a cane. You jazz dance for hours a couple of nights a week and Sasha tells me you started carrying one everywhere you go when you don’t need one. It’s smelling pretty premeditated to me, Gabe. What’s up with the cane thing?”
“Does Sasha know about this morning?”
“I haven’t told her anything. She’d have a canary.”
Gabe lifted the paper again to read.
“I need to know if it was murder,” Lily Cup said.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Gabe said.
He closed the paper, folded it in half, and in half again. Dropping it on the arm of the chair, he stood and left the room.
“Define murder,” he said from the kitchen.
She tossed a handbag and white driving gloves onto the other chair, lifted Chanel sunglasses to the top of her head.
“Gee, I’ll have to think on this one. Hmmm…Oh, I know. How about the police have a cane with blood on it and there’s a dead man.”
“It’s a walking stick. My cane is over by the door.”
“Well now it’s a goddamned murder weapon. They checked for prints, and yours are the only prints on it, and their guess is the lab will say the blood has his DNA.”
Gabe came out with a coffee urn in one hand and his finger and thumb through two empty cup handles. He held the cups out for her to take one.
“No more,” Gabe said.
“You’re rather nonchalant for the spot you’re in. Why’d you clam up on me like that at the precinct? It didn’t set well with any of them. The DA entered a charge of second-degree murder. The police chief put out a warrant for you from lunch at Brennan’s.”
He held the empty cups closer to her.
“Just made it. Chicory and cinnamon.”
“If you had television you’d have seen it—‘Daylight killing on St. Charles Avenue.’ It’s all over the news, freaking out the DA and the Visitors Bureau. No telling how many videos from streetcars going by will wind up on You Tube.”
“That’s enough,” Gabe said.
“People can live with violence after dark. That’s expected in any city, but when it’s in broad daylight, forget it. The DA pushed for an early docket with a magistrate and it’s Tulane and Broad for you at nine a.m. tomorrow.”
“What’s Tulane and Broad?”
“Magistrate Court. Congratulations, Gabe, you made the big time. You have to appear before a magistrate to hear the second-degree murder charge against you.”
She took an empty cup in one hand, pinched his arm with the other.
“Look me in the eye and swear it wasn’t murder,” Lily Cup said.
“This some kind of technique they teach at Harvard Law, Miss Tarleton?”
She rolled her eyes and turned to the other chair.
“The only reason they haven’t busted down your door and you’re not behind bars is you’re a decorated veteran, and I’m your attorney, and I promised you’ll show up in the morning. Sasha warned me about you. I should have listened. You’re an ornery, stubborn old coot when you have a mind to.”
She sat down.
“I’m never ornery,” Gabe said. “But that’s enough.”
He leaned and poured coffee.
“You’re lucky we have Magistrate Judge Fontenot tomorrow. I heard her dad was killed in Vietnam. She’s been pretty fair to me in the past. A new school gal, tough on the letter of the law, but she’ll listen to reason if it solves a case. She hates red tape with a passion, and seldom lets the DA or the defense use the system for delays. She doesn’t get hung up on tradition.”
“Have you heard?” Gabe said. “Our Sasha has asked me to give her away. How about them apples?”
“Gabe, like she’s been my best friend since kindergarten, she tells me everything,” Lily Cup said. “It’s sweet.”
“I’m thinking Peck and I might throw a party,” Gabe said. “Something she’ll remember—commemorate their engagement Mardi Gras style. Lots of pictures; close friends.”
“Will you print invitations, like a formal do?” Lily Cup asked.
“But of course,” Gabe said. “Maybe costumes?”
“It’s party time! She would flip over a costume party, all our friends would,” Lily Cup said. “You and Peck celebrating her engage ment will mean a lot to her.”
“Should we do it here or over at Charlie’s Blue Note with the live jazz?”
“Gabe, you’ve got one picture on the mantle, two chairs, and a cardboard box in the living room. This isn’t exactly what I’d call a Commander’s Palace party room.”
“I was thinking a streetcar day pass in the invite if we do it here at the house,” Gabe said.
“That’s a nice idea—parking sucks on this street. When are you going to buy some furniture?”
“I’m too old to impose furniture on Peck. Peck would only feel obligated to keep it after I’m gone. I’ll let him and Millie pick out the furniture doodads, curtains, and the dishes when they play house. There’s time.”
“How’s your stomach with what happened today? Were you hurt?” Lily Cup said.
“What stomach? They removed it.”
“I meant how’ve you been since the operation?”
“I’m a hospice survivor with some time left in me, hopefully. At least enough time to plan a party.”
“You might be partying in Angola if the DA pushes this to a grand jury,” Lily Cup said.
Gabe stood, got the coffee urn again and brought it into the liv ing room.
“Warm your coffee?”
“Do you two at least have beds?” Lily Cup asked.
“Of course we have beds,” Gabe said. “Peck thinks he’s a prince— a mattress with sheets after sleeping on a canvas cot most of his life.”
“This must be a new world for him,” Lily Cup said.
“For fifteen years he slept in an unheated shed at a wood mill,” Gabe said. “Saw blades hanging over him like Macy’s parade bal loons. It took him weeks getting used to sleeping on a bed. I’d find him curled on the floor with his window wide open.”
“Peck and Millie,” Lily Cup said. “They do seem like a good fit, don’t they?”
“She’s loved the boy with a passion since the day he made the Greyhound bus stop so he could jump off just to give her the baby doll she left on her seat,” Gabe said.
“Her baby doll, Charlie. Sasha told me about the doll. Hell, I had my Teddy bear all through Harvard. I still have it,” Lily Cup said.
“Millie does love her Charlie,” Gabe said.
“Does she like the house?”
“That girl loves New Orleans. It’s a completely different world for her from the strict Baptist home life in Tennessee and Baylor University. But hell, the girl would love Milwaukee if Peck were there. Her mom and dad love Peck. I’m not certain Millie’s had a good look at the house the few times she’s come on her school breaks. She hits the door, pauses just long enough to hug ole Gabe here a genuine hello and a kiss on the cheek, then she’ll grab Peck’s arm like it’s an empty egg basket handle, close his bedroom door behind them and climb his bones until he comes out peaked, steps on the porch for some air and goes back in for another round.”
“Whoa, now that takes me back,” Lily Cup said. “I can remember those wild younger days of reckless abandon.”
She sipped her coffee, smiling.
“Innocent times,” Gabe said.
“They weren’t so innocent,” Lily Cup said.
“I remember after school sometimes; Sasha and I’d be feeling randy and we’d corner us a couple of momma’s boys we thought showed promise. We’d sneak into one of those back storage rooms on Magazine Street and wear them out.”
“Lord help ’em,” Gabe said. “Impetuous youth.”
“We had perfect lures. Sasha was the first in our grade to wear a D cup bra,” Lily Cup said.
“Her girls,” Gabe said.
“They were magnets for high school bad boys dying for a peek,” Lily Cup said. “The bigger her girls, the ‘badder’ the boys.”
“Youth,” Gabe said.
“We developed our fancies,” Lily Cup said. “Hers was arousing a dude and putting his condom on him. She’d ride it like a sailor on a rowboat—the boy gawking up at her girls in her Victoria Secret bra she saved her allowance for. She’d never take it off. She’d say a boy appreciates a cleavage—why spoil the fantasy?”
“Let’s just say I developed a liking for the feel of a firm cigar.”
“Ha!” Gabe guffawed. “Is that why you smoke those short Panatelas?”
“Over the years I’ve learned to keep my expectations low.”
“Youth is uncouth,” Gabe said. “At least you’re sophisticated and couth now, little lady.”
“Too couth. I like to get mussed up on occasion.”
“You’re an attractive woman. It’ll happen.”
“She’s talking about the wedding reception maybe being at Charlie’s Blue Note,” Lily Cup said.
“If that’s true, I’m surprised James hasn’t put up a scuff,” Gabe said. “A jazz joint in an alley off Frenchmen Street isn’t what I’d call his cup of tea.”
“I think the house would be best for the engagement party, fixed up a little. I’ll help,” Lily Cup said.
“It would be more personal here,” Gabe said.
“I think so,” Lily Cup said. “This is like home to her.”
“I’ll have Peck paint the porch ceiling,” Gabe said.
Lily Cup stood, coffee cup in hand. She walked to the door look ing out at the porch’s ceiling.
“Why?” she asked.
“I’m changing the sky–blue to another color, maybe a white.”
“It looks freshly painted.”
“It’s a tradition thing,” Gabe said.
“A lady at the library told me a sky–blue ceiling on a front porch signals an available woman–of–age living in the house.”
“That’s phooey,” Lily Cup said. “I heard that one and three others like it. Like sky–blue wards off spiders and attracts bees away from people sitting on porch swings. I wouldn’t bother painting it.”
“I’m a Chicago boy—what would I know from superstitions?”