Welcome to Hope Bay, a small Australian seaside town where dreams come true, some souls come to mend, some to start again, and family and friends mean everything. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and live!
Working at the local GP Practice was a new beginning for RN Emma. Then along came her new boss, and suddenly her peace of mind - shaky to start with - was thrown into turmoil. Not only does she find him attractive, but she has a secret - a secret that could have unpleasant consequences.
Why, oh why, did he have to come along now?
Shane was instantly bowled over by the pretty, curvy nurse, and not just because she knocked him off his push bike at their very first meeting. It’s going to take more than charm to win this woman’s heart, but he’ll do whatever it takes.
He hadn’t planned on using her cat to get to her, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
But when he discovers her secret, will he believe her…or will any chance at new beginnings and love turn to ashes?
This story hit me directly to my heart and mind, on several occasion I laughed until I cried and then laughed again. The tale is whimsical and sassy, it ardently embraces life, and I miss the world she created after the book was over. These, Angela Verdenius' stories, are the books that cheer me up, inspire, and take away from any book-slump I fall into.
One of the reasons I love these books so earnestly is the characters. They are just like us, they have faults and weaknesses, they have curves and scars, they have succeeded and failed, they live normal lives in a small town community that knows them, embraces them as they are, and gives them a good, solid ground to grow to be the best version of themselves.
Emma and Shane have an unexpected and rather funny meet-cute, yet the chemistry is immediate, and the connection between them is not only on a physical level, but they also want to get to know each other as colleagues and friends. I adored how the relationship developed, how they found their way to each other, and how Emma's secrets were resolved. It felt real, it felt genuine, and the way Shane won Emma over both cracked me up and made me swoon.
The group of friends Emma and Shane are part of is a hoot. They made me laugh out loud with the cheeky banter yet through it all comes clear the love they have for each other and how they would be willing to do anything for each other, protect each other if needed.
The author provides a dictionary to those who struggle with the Aussie slang. That is very considerate of her, though I have always been able to figure the words out from the content they are in. The books are easy to read and enjoy, I don't feel any cultural or language barriers while reading them.
A heartfelt tale of love, life, family, and friends. A story that delivers laughs, smiles, tears, and feels while inspiring and encouraging to make most out of life, to dare to fall in love, to accept ourselves as we are, and embrace the environment we live in and the opportunities given to us. A story that genuinely, earnestly delivers positive vibes and message of acceptance while entertains. Yes, I loved it!
~ Five Spoons!
The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date June 18, 2019
Brooke Lemon has always led the life she wanted, wild adventures—and mistakes—included, something her perfect sister, Mindy, never understood. So when Mindy shows up on Brooke’s doorstep in the throes of a break-down with her three little kids in tow, Brooke’s shocked.
Wanting to make amends, Brooke agrees to trade places, taking the kids back to Wildstone for a few days so Mindy can pick up the pieces and put herself back together. What Brooke doesn’t admit is she’s just as broken . . . Also how does one go home after seven years away? It doesn’t take long for Brooke to come face-to-face with her past, in the form of one tall, dark, sexy mistake. But Garrett’s no longer interested. Only his words don’t match his actions, leaving Brooke feeling things she’d shoved deep.
Soon the sisters begin to wonder: Are they lemons in life? In love? All they know is that neither seems to be able to run far enough to outpace her demons. And when secrets surface, they’ll have to learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask.
Brooke sighed. If there was one thing you could say about the Lemon sisters, it was that they were night and day. Oil and water. Apples and oranges. But here was the thing—night and day melded together twice every twenty-four hours, oil and water could be forced to work together with a good shake, and apples and oranges were still both fruit. “What if I take the kids away for a few days?” she heard herself say. “You could stay here and relax.”
“Where would you go? To Wildstone?”
The thought brought a burst of hope and an equal burst of gut-wrenching anxiety. To go to Wildstone, she’d not only have to face her past, but the consequences of that past. “I was thinking maybe Disneyland. I’ve got some free passes. Perks of the trade.”
Mindy looked so hopeful it hurt. “You’d do that for me?”
Damn, she’d really been a crappy sister. “Yes. Now go to sleep. We can make plans in the morning,” she said, hoping this whole meltdown thing wasn’t contagious. Once again, she wrestled the wine away from Mindy’s hot hands and set the bottle on the dresser. Then she pulled off her sister’s sneakers and eyed the rest of her clothes.
“How comfortable are those yoga pants?”
“They’re my skinny-weight ones. But since I’m not at my skinny weight, they’re not comfortable at all.” Mindy paused. “I’m not even at my medium weight. I’m the heavyweight champ right now, but I threw away all my heavyweight clothes.”
“Because my skinny-weight self is a complete selfish bitch who thought I had more control than I do,” Mindy wailed.
“You’re not fat, you’re just . . . easier to see.” Brooke tugged off Mindy’s leggings and set her hands on her hips. “I get that life sucks right now, but that’s never a reason to wear granny panties. Like, ever.”
“My skinny panties give me wedgies.” With a sigh, Mindy turned on her side and curled up in just her T-shirt and granny panties.
Brooke spread a blanket over her.
“But the kids,” her sister said, eyes already closed. “I’ve gotta make sure the kids brush and floss and clean up...”
Mindy infamously micromanaged everything and everyone around her because she hated surprises. Brooke was the opposite. If you asked anyone who knew her, they’d say she was the free bird, the wanderlust spirit, the . . . well, the crazy one.
They had the crazy part right, especially given what she was about to say. “I got them. Just sleep.” And please God, wake up like your usual calm, unruffled bitch self . . .
“Thanks,” Mindy murmured. “I owe you one.”
“Wiiiiiiiipe meeeeeeee!” Mason bellowed.
With a sigh, Brooke headed down the hall to save the kid, thinking she was going to have no problem not falling for these kids after all.
About Jill Shalvis
New York Times bestselling author JILL SHALVIS lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
★★★ NEW RELEASE ★★★
JUSTIFIED by Jay Crownover is available now!
The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers an "emotional, unforgettable" (Lori Wilde) romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy...
Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he's determined to do everything by the book--until he's called to Aspen Barlow's office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn't the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge...
Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she'll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there's a thin line between love and hate... because there's nothing Case wouldn't do to keep her safe.
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Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, The Point Series, Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Reader Group
Today we have the release week blitz for Shelly C. Alexander’s It’s In His Song!
Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!!!
Title: It’s In His Song
Author Name: Shelly C. Alexander
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: A Touch of Sass, LLC
Publication Date: June 24, 2019
They’re both back in Red River for good, and the chemistry is stronger than ever. But will her secret tear them apart all over again?
Dylan McCoy is restless to take over Red River’s favorite watering hole—Cotton Eyed Joe’s—when his Uncle Joe retires. First, he’s got to prove he has what it takes to carry on Joe’s legacy. Finally able to put the painful scars from his days working in L.A.’s trendy music scene behind him, he sets out to host a weekend workshop for songwriters. He calls in a favor and lines up some of the biggest musicians in the biz to attend. Life is good. Until the business owners who occupy the commercial space next door threaten to ruin his establishment right before the rock star lineup of attendees are scheduled to blow into town.
Hailey Hicks left Red River six years ago with a secret. Now—as a seasoned hairstylist who’s made her own way in the world—she’s back in town to help her cousin expand her salon. Unfortunately, the renovations aren’t going as planned and draw fire from the saloon next door. When she comes face to face with her ex, Dylan McCoy, sparks fly. Can they mend the damage done because of how they parted ways? Or will her secret cause them both to get burned again?
“I like the look of this place. It’s very swanky.” The modern design of chrome, white, and black gave it a chic look. “Doesn’t really fit Red River’s norm, but it seems to work.”
“Kind of like your long hair. If you want the norm, you’ll have to see if Bill’s Barbershop has any openings.” Hailey had him lean back, and she turned on the water. It gurgled to life. She stood over him, holding the sprayer in one hand and testing the water temperature with the other. “The earrings aren’t the standard look around here either.” She finally looked him in the eye. “I only remember one earring when we…” She hesitated. “Before you left for L.A.”
“The other earring was an addition once I moved to the West Coast. It was a thing there.”
She stayed rooted in place and didn’t move again.
“What?” He scrunched his brows.
“I saw all the things happening for you as a new face in the music world. The tabloids went crazy over every move you made.” She focused on his hair, went to touch it, then froze. Her fingers lingered a fraction above his head.
“You read about me?” He couldn’t help it. He really couldn’t. He had to ask. Had to know if she’d been thinking about him.
“No.” Her gaze snapped to his.
“Then why is your ringtone one of my old songs?”
She blanched. “That’s one of your songs? I had no idea.”
Bullshit, but whatever.
“I saw the magazine covers while I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store,” she said.
“So, you read what those covers said about me?” Now he was just teasing her for fun. How could he not? Pink tinged her cheeks, and he wanted to brush his fingers across them to feel the warmth.
“They were a little hard to miss. Every rag in the country put you on the cover for a while.”
“Don’t believe everything you read.” The stupid shit that had been printed about him when he was still with the band, then after he left L.A. and headed back to Red River was so far from the truth that it had been too ridiculous to deserve a response. Which was exactly what he’d told any of the locals who’d been bold enough to ask.
“Interesting that I never heard much about you. You’re one of the few people no one knew much about in this town.” He studied her expression.
Something flashed in her eyes. She didn’t offer any information, so he left it alone.
She pulled her top lip between white teeth. Still hadn’t started washing his hair.
He let one side of his mouth quirk up into a sly smile. “It’s okay to touch it.”
Her pretty eyes turned to saucers. “Wh…what?”
“My hair. You look almost afraid to touch it, but it’ll be a little hard for you to cut it if you don’t.”
The muscles in her slender throat moved as she swallowed. “Oh. Right.” Finally, she dove in, running fingers through his hair and wetting it with the sprayer.
It felt spectacular. Stupendous. Shockingly sensual.
Shelly Alexander is the author of contemporary romances that are sometimes sweet, sometimes sizzling, and always sassy. A 2014 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2019 RITA® finalist, she grew up traveling the world, earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and worked in the business world for twenty-five years. With four older brothers and an older sister, she watched every Star Trek episode ever made, joined the softball team instead of ballet class, and played with G.I. Joes while the Barbie Corvette stayed tucked in her closet. When she had three sons of her own, she decided to escape her male-dominated world by reading romance novels and has been hooked ever since. Now she spends her days writing steamy contemporary romances while tending to two toy poodles named Mozart and Midge.
Connect with Shelly:
Website • Facebook • Instagram • Amazon • Goodreads • B&N • BookBub
I adore this series! Every time I start a new book by Delores Fossen I know I will be lost to the rest of the world for the duration. The world she creates, the characters that live there, they are filled with life and loving, and I just want to linger there, to enjoy each moment, treasure the clever usage of language, the inspiring, engaging stories, and fall in love all over again.
I loved the friendship and connection between rodeo rider Nico Laramie and his best friend, Eden Joplin. It is not every day you experience that kind of chemistry even in romance novels. Eden and Nico knew everything about the other, they were soulmates, friends, confidants, and they respected and cherished the other as such. And then in comes the heat, the physical attraction, the passion and oh man, they melt the pages of the book! Yes, the love scenes are detailed, and they are scorching hot, yet told with such a dose of humor and heart, deep feels and rich laughs, demonstrating the precious, loving connection between Nico and Eden, and I adored every moment of it.
But the book is not just about the ardent love story between Nico and Eden, even though there is more than enough material between these two as they start to try new things for Eden's blog!
In the mids of all the shenanigans and small-town drama, there are serious issues of infidelity, young adult pregnancy, and the possible consequences. There are issues of the wide range of care children experience on foster families, from being a blessing to the horrid abuse. These sensitive, delicate situations are handled with tender hands, and heartfelt, raw honesty. I admire how the author manages to bring light to the vulnerable social issues while presenting them in a way that touches our hearts yet makes us smile.
These are just a few of the reasons I adore this series and the unparallel way the author uses heat, heart, and humor to tell heartfelt, fervent tales of everyday people in an engaging, inspiring, and uplifting way.
This story took me for a wild Texan style emotional, entertaining, captivating, and most of all delightful ride through dark valleys, and bright pastures, absolutely a marvelous tale!
~ Five Spoons!
Some Like It Scandalous by Maya Rodale
Series The Gilded Age Girls Club
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date June 18, 2019
They are sworn enemies…
Theodore Prescott the Third, one of Manhattan’s Rogues of Millionaire Row, has really done it this time. The only way to survive his most recent, unspeakably outrageous scandal is marry someone respectable. Someone sensible. Someone like Daisy Swann. Of all the girls in Gilded Age Manhattan, it had to be her.
Pretending to be lovers...
Daisy Swann has plans and they do not involve a loveless marriage with anyone. But when a devastating family secret threatens to destroy her standing in society, suddenly a fake engagement with Theo is just the thing to make all her dreams come true.
And now it’s time to kiss and make up…
Daisy Swann aspires to sell cosmetics that she has created, but this brainy scientist needs a smooth talking charmer’s flair for words and eye for beauty to make it a success. Before long, Daisy and Theo are trading kisses. And secrets. And discovering that despite appearances, they might be the perfect couple after all.
About Maya Rodale
MAYA RODALE began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the bestselling and award winning author smart and sassy romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.
SIDE CHICK NATIONby Aya de León
A Justice Hustlers Novel
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Urban Fiction, Feminist Crime, Standalone
Meanwhile, New York-based mastermind thief Marisol already has her hands full fleecing a ruthless CEO who’s stealing her family’s land in Puerto Rico, while trying to get her relatives out alive after the hurricane. An extra member in her crew could be game-changing, but she’s wary of Dulce’s unpredictability and reputation for drama. Still, Dulce’s determination to get justice draws Marisol in, along with her formidable Lower East Side Women’s Health Clinic’s heist squad. But their race-against-the-clock plan is soon complicated by powerful men who turn deadly when ex-side chicks step out of the shadows and demand to call the shots . . .
Praise for Aya de Leon and her novels --
“Staking out space for women of color in the heist-fiction genre, Aya de Leon’s smart, sly writing is a knockout.”
–Andi Zeisler, Bitch magazine
“This well-written and enjoyable installment in de Leon’s unique, feminist, urban crime-fiction series . . . infuses satisfying power in both plot and character.”
--Booklist on The Boss, STARRED review
Water flooded the storage space as Dulce slept. It seeped through the metal slats in the pull-down door. It pooled on the concrete floor. It rose around the mattress where Dulce was sleeping. Although she was not exactly sleeping, more like in a stupor or a spell from the cocktail of rum and marijuana. It dulled her hearing, so she didn’t startle with the shrieking winds and battering rain, and thudding of broken branches against the building. It dulled the panic she would have felt—alone in a storage space where she was living illegally. In a hurricane. And nobody knew she was there.
Water seeped up, turning the mattress into a giant sponge. Soon her back was wet. The crisscross of her racerback tank top, the cotton shorts. The moisture soaked into the fabric, even above the surface of the water she lay in. Inch by inch, the line crept up her feet, her beautifully painted blue toenails, the sides of her arms and legs and torso. It saturated her hair, destroying the remains of the blowout she’d been trying to conserve. She had sweated out the roots, but the tips of her hair had stayed somewhat straight, even in the humidity. She’d kept it up in a ponytail over the last few days, so the ends didn’t erupt into tight curls from the sweat on her back and shoulders.
But now, the water rose just above the mattress, soaking her hair, and it bloomed into springing curls all around her head.
Still she slept.
It wasn’t until the water seeped into her ears that her body moved at all, beyond the rise and fall of her chest. Her shoulder flinched with the moisture tickling her ear canal, but it didn’t wake her. First one side, then the other, as her head was slightly tilted on the mattress. No pillow. But then both ears filled and the tickle was gone. Her body stilled again in sleep. The now full canals dulled the howls of the storm.
The flooding outside was anything but gentle, yet the water could only seep in through the slats in the metal door, and the crack at the bottom above the cement floor. So the water level rose slowly. It crept up gently along her neck, her jawline, her cheekbone. The water sidled up tenderly, like a lover.
Dulce slept, like a maiden awaiting a prince, awaiting a kiss.
Yet she slept on when the water first touched her lips. Only when it began to drip into her mouth did she truly stir. The water, pooling in the back of her throat and making it impossible to breathe properly now. The prince had come. The rescuer on his horse. The discoverer. The pimp.
She flashed back as the water choked her. She recalled his hands around her throat, the bruising press of fingers against skin and muscle and tendon and windpipe. As the floodwater of the hurricane trickled delicately into her throat, her body recalled the searing pain of constricted breath. The scrabbling panic of asphyxiation, her heart was hammering frantically, as if it needed to escape her body to survive. Then the half-blackout, feeling her body slump to the floor, wincing with the sharp press of his boot toe as he delivered a single kick to her hip.
Her hip was soaked now in the floodwater, the left hip. Her pelvis was tilted slightly, and her left side pointed down toward the sodden mattress. Her right side was slightly raised, the hipbone jutting above the waterline like a disappearing island of brown skin, as water pooled between the tops of her thighs.
Yet she could feel that the real threat was at her throat. Again.
Like that other time, her pimp had sent one of his thugs to kill her. The man had a knife at her throat, as a few dozen women and some of their kids looked on in horror. She had been standing outside the shelter on the icy Manhattan ground in only socks, numb with terror, unable to feel the freezing concrete beneath her feet. Again, the press at her throat. The knife threatening not only skin and muscle and tendon and windpipe, but now her carotid in jeopardy, as well.
More water trickled into her throat, and she coughed weakly, her gag reflex still kicking. And with the gagging, part of her brain began to register the fact that her life was in danger. Some fight or flight response activated her tongue, dragging it into action to spit some of the water out.
Her life was in danger. Her body struggled to wake, but couldn’t quite push through her half-sleeping stupor, in which the unbidden memory bloomed in her mind like a nightmare. The time she’d been fool enough to go back to her pimp. And he’d thrown her against a wall. Paint and plaster crashing into her back and shoulder like a drunk driver. When she staggered to her feet, he’d choked her. His thick fingers were more insistent than ever, despite her own hands, gripping his wrists, digging her fingernails into his skin, trying in vain to open the vise of his oppositional thumbs. Yet it was her own grip she could feel loosening as she began to lose consciousness.
That had been Dulce’s breaking point. The moment she decided to leave him for good. Or rather, she passed out fearing she might die, but deciding to live if she found she had a choice.
That same resolve woke her inside the storage unit.
She sputtered to life, coughing through a burning throat. In total darkness, completely soaked. Her body was sluggish and disoriented with the marijuana and the residuals of rum. She tried to lift her head, but her hair was unexpectedly weighed down with water.
Slowly, through the chemical fog, she rolled to her side. As if in slow motion, she dragged an arm beneath her, propping herself up on one elbow, her mouth fully above the water line.
She coughed hard and gagged, suddenly vomiting. Yet the retching made her a bit more lucid. Even in the total darkness, she was able to orient herself, to make sense of the bizarre combination of mattress and moisture, screaming winds and crashing thuds.
Storage space. Hurricane. Flooding. Fuck.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise without written permission from the publisher. It is illegal to copy this book, post it to a website, or distribute it by any other means without permission.
Dawn Michelle Hardy
Publicist | Literary Agent | Book Consultant
A Lady in Disguise by Lynsay Sands
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date June 25, 2019
It’s a case of mistaken identities and unmistakable attraction in New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ classic historical romance!
Lady Maggie Wentworth must support herself as an investigative reporter. Writing under another name, she’s been exposing the notorious scandals of the ton -- this time it’s the “working girls” of London. While interviewing the women, a client enters, and Maggie is shocked to see her beau. She changes clothes with one of the girls and flees out the window, only to be whisked away by a stranger.
Lord James is honoring a deathbed promise: watch over his late friend’s sister. Following Maggie to a house of ill repute, he’s stunned to see her emerge dressed as the notorious Lady X! Hard times must have driven her to such a desperate act, and he is intent on reforming the wanton chit. No amount of protest will stop him from saving her reputation. Now if only he can hold his own desires in check—and keep himself from falling in love.
“Yes, I am Lord Ramsey. Your brother died saving my life, and his last request to me was that I see after you.”
Maggie was silent for a moment. She had known Gerald died bravely—his commanding officer had written the details of his leaping in front of a musket ball to save a comrade. However, she had never known whom he had died to save; the name had been left out. Now she stared at the man who had kidnapped her, the man her brother had saved…
She couldn’t help her suddenly tight expression or the tone of her voice as she snapped, “I see. Well, forgive me for pointing out something you may not wish to hear, my lord, but I doubt very much if smothering, typing up, or kidnapping me is what Gerald had in mind.”
Lord Ramsey grimaced, but after a moment said sternly, “It was not what I expected to be doing when I agreed. However, I doubt your brother expected you to get up to the things you have done.”
Maggie stiffened at his tone, indignant. “And just what is that supposed to mean?”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of A LADY IN DISGUISE by Lynsay Sands, we’re giving away a paperback set of The Highlander’s Promise & Surrender to the Highlander by Lynsay Sands!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of The Highlander’s Promise & Surrender to the Highlander by Lynsay Sands. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books. Giveaway ends 6/9/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Lynsay Sands
LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus. Please visit her on the web at http://www.lynsaysands.net.
Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James
Series The Wildes of Lindow Castle
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date June 25, 2019
They moved toward each other as if they were following the steps of a very slow, very grand country dance. One that was danced by kings and queens and countryfolk alike.
When they were beside each other, she squared her shoulders and met his eyes. “I decided to come to you. I hope that is all right.”
“I do believe that you are the bravest woman I’ve ever met,” he replied.
He couldn’t have said anything better; Betsy felt herself begin to glow. “I haven’t been brave to this point, but I have made up my mind to change. I outlawed being nervous, but now I need to outlaw being afraid.” She hesitated. “I have chosen courage, and now I choose happiness.”
“I love you as you are,” he whispered, and then his mouth came down on hers.
Her breath caught in her throat because their tongues met as if they kissed every day, every night. He tasted right, which sent a shiver through her whole body, and pushed her against him gently, the way a pebble might roll up a beach when the tide comes in.
One doesn’t fight the tide.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of SAY NO TO THE DUKE by Eloisa James, we're giving away a paperback copy of Wilde in Love by Eloisa James to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Wilde in Love by Eloisa James. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books. Giveaway ends 6/28/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Books will send the prize to the winner directly. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Eloisa James
ELOISA JAMES is a New York Times best-selling author and professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.
Forever Friends Book 3
by Allyson Charles
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Dax Cannon never says no to a challenge. But when he discovers a sexy stowaway in the back of his truck, he realizes Annelise Ansel might be more than he bargained for.
An artist, Lissa claims she’s leaving New Orleans for a fresh start in Michigan--which just happens to be where he’s headed with the pack of rescue dogs he’s delivering to the sanctuary he works for. But when three thugs threaten to take lovely Lissa off his hands, he realizes she’s in need of a sanctuary, too.
Once Lissa is riding shotgun with her long, lean protector, she’s wondering if fate might have something better in store for her than a life in hiding. But when her hijinks threaten to take down the best man she’s ever had the pleasure to run away with, Lissa realizes it’s time to face her demons. Now it’s up to the two of them to fight through the danger to discover the life—and love—waiting on the other side.
Dax Cannon never thought trouble would appear in such an unassuming package. But with his vast experience in stirring it up or sniffing it out, he really should have known better.
She wore a paisley kerchief tank top, the triangle hem fluttering around her waist. Dax didn’t see her face as she hurried past, but the cascade of curls tumbling down her back was enough to capture his attention. They looked so soft, Dax’s palms itched to reach out and touch them. Her hair was a rich mahogany near the roots, growing lighter until the blond tips disappeared into the sunlight. Her bare, tawny arms were long and slender, and the tips of the fingers on her right hand were stained blue. She had a black backpack tossed over one shoulder, and it bounced off her pert behind with each step she took as she jaywalked across the street.
Reaching the other side, the woman stopped by two young boys tapdancing on the sidewalk, dug into her pocket, and tossed some bills into an upturned hat. One of the kids gave her a thumbs-up as he spun at
Unbidden, Dax’s feet turned to follow. He stepped onto Decatur Street, and a mule brayed a foot from his left ear. Heart thumping, he leaped back onto the sidewalk.
He shook his head and patted the animal’s rump as it trotted past. “What a dumb ass,” he muttered, and he wasn’t talking about the mule. When the tourist carriage passed, the woman with the long curls was gone.
He sighed. Well, no matter. He wasn’t in New Orleans for a vacation. He’d left Crook County only two days ago. Two days, one thousand miles, four tanks of gas, and more fast-food restaurants than he could count. And now to make the return trip at the same exhausting pace. But the eight at-risk dogs he’d picked up from the local pound were heading to Forever Friends, the no-kill shelter he volunteered for in Michigan. They were safe, and that made the trip worth every headache.
A gust of wind rippled the green awning of Café du Monde. An elderly woman in front of the café grabbed for her scarf, but it blew off her shoulders. Caught in the breeze, it drifted up and up and wrapped itself around a light post.
Dax jogged over to her. “I’ll get that for you, ma’am. If you’ll just hold my bags …” He waited until she cupped the two bags of baked goods with wrinkled fingers.
She drew her eyebrows together. “It’s fifteen feet up, young man. You’ll never reach it.”
“I love when someone says I can’t do something.” He shook out his arms and shot her a grin. “It makes it that much more satisfying when I succeed.” He winked and turned toward his target. The light post had a boxy base that rose two feet from the ground. The lip was an inch wider than the pole, plenty of space for a toehold. He ran for the light, jumped onto the base, and pushed off. He stretched his lanky six-foot-three frame and grabbed the pole close to the horizontal arm the scarf was wrapped around.
Hand over hand, he pulled himself up the last couple of feet and tugged the silk square free. He slid down the pole, hopped off, and presented the scarf to the woman with a flourish. “Madam.”
Several patrons from the café’s patio clapped, and Dax swept a low bow.
The woman handed him his bags and knotted the scarf around her neck. “Thank you for the dramatic rescue,” she said wryly.
Dax opened his mouth to respond, but a group of three beefy men knocked into him as they hurried down the sidewalk.
Dax staggered into the woman and threw out a hand to steady her. “Hey, watch it,” he shouted after the jerks. The men ignored him and quickened their pace.
The older woman sniffed. “People today. What are you going to do?”
He shrugged and waved goodbye. His irritation melted away before he’d crossed the street. It was hard to stay annoyed in the Big Easy. With its decadent food, sultry music, and beguiling women—Dax looked up and down Decatur but didn’t see any long curls—New Orleans didn’t allow a person to stay in a bad mood for long. Maybe he should take a real vacation down here sometime.
Forever Friends #1
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 Friends #2
Head vet at the Forever Friends animal rescue shelter, Gabriel Moretti is known as the Dog Whisperer because of his gift for soothing rambunctious patients. But it’s the two-legged species that has him, and his libido, working overtime. Marla Popov single-handedly saved the shelter from financial ruin. But the bossy trust funder is even more irritating than her snooty Standard Poodle. You’d think keeping his attraction on a short leash would be a no-brainer for Gabe. Unfortunately, Marla is also smart, beautiful, and intriguing . . .
Most of her life, people have been eager to tell Marla just what she wants to hear. So now that she’s nearing forty, she doesn’t expect to be refused—especially by a sexy younger man like Gabe. She also doesn’t expect it to sting so much. But when she discovers a scheme involving illegal dog fights, she gets a chance to show what she’s truly made of. And as she and Gabe team up to fight it, they discover a surprising respect for each other—and passion that might just grow into love. . .
Allyson Charles lives in Northern California. A former attorney, she happily ditched those suits and now works in her pajamas writing about men’s briefs instead of legal briefs. When she’s not writing, she’s probably engaged in one of her favorite hobbies: napping, eating, or martial arts (That last one almost makes up for the first two, right?). One of Allyson’s greatest disappointments is living in a state that doesn’t have any Cracker Barrels in it. To find out what she’s up to next, visit her website at allysoncharles.com.
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A roll-a-coaster ride of emotions and action in a twisted tale of murder and mayhem.
The Nash siblings series continues with Madeline's story, the only girl in the family and one of the triplets. Someone is determined to make Madeline look guilty of the recent brutal crimes. With mounting evidence, even she would blame herself if she didn't know better.
Just when she is in dire straits, in rides her former fling, Julian Mercer, the one man she let her guard down with seven months ago with life-changing results. Despite the fact that Madeline let him go once, Julian believes in her, wants to protect her, and is willing to do anything, even break the law, to keep her safe.
That journey turns out to be more twisted and dangerous than any of them believed to be at the scene of the first murder. And boy, do things get convoluted as the story goes on.
There is so much story to be told in the shorter length of the category romance book, that the timeline seems to be squeezed together at several points. And that was the thing for me with this book - the somewhat messy, and jumping around, timeline.
I liked the characters. I was impressed with the daring move to cast a former 'mean girl' as the heroine. The character development there, all the drama and PTSD Madeline suffered could have been one full-length novel in itself.
The romance between Julian and Madeline was all kinds of adorable. I loved how he reacted at his return to the scene. I admired how maturely they dealt with the issues they faced, both the suspense as well as the relationship drama.
The Nash family tightness, the way they simply are there for each other at every turn, no matter what was as evident as always.
The savage action, the up close and personal fights, the threats, the crimes, it kept me on the edge.
I enjoy the way the author manages to insert humor in the most intense moments. Her style to tell a story is engaging and even charming, no matter if she is talking about blood and gore on the walls in a crime scene or the troubled times the protagonist lived through in their childhood.
The Winding Road Redemption series is definitely something I can recommend, and I am looking forward to the future stories in the series.
~ Four Spoons
Today we have the blog tour for Sophia Knightly’s SCENT FOR LOVE!
Check it out and be sure to grab your copy of this fun romantic comedy today!
Title: Scent for Love
Author: Sophia Knightly
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy
He's hotter than a chili pepper. She's icy champagne. A combination ready to combust...
All Gabe Falcon wants is to open a successful and trendy restaurant on the posh side of Naples, Florida. What he doesn't expect is to get a glamorous and feisty neighbor who keeps him on his toes, challenging him at every turn.
Upscale perfumer Lily Marlowe, just back from Paris, creates custom fragrances for Naples' elite. And the last thing she needs is the spicy aromas of Gabe's mouth-watering dishes overpowering her fragrances and turning away customers. But she doesn't expect her business rival to present her with a tempting proposition that makes her reserve falter.
The more she gets to know Gabe, the harder it is for Lily to distance herself. Their chemistry is explosive and as his tender pursuit breaks through her barriers, she grapples with an intense longing she is powerless to resist. Torn between her desire and her business, can Lily trust Gabe when the unimaginable occurs?
“Let’s talk about tonight.”
“Tonight?” He sure didn’t waste any time. “You didn’t mention we’d be practicing so soon,” Lily hedged.
“The sooner we get started, the better. I plan on winning, don’t you?” Gabe fixed her with a direct gaze and waited for her response.
“Yes,” she said slowly, “but how are we going to find a dance instructor to choreograph it on such short notice?”
He drew back and made a noise that was a mixture of scoff and disbelief. “We don’t need a dance instructor. I’ll teach you the moves you need to know.”
Really. She’d never met anyone so cocky. “What makes you think I need to be taught?” she challenged. “Not to brag, but I’m a good dancer.”
“And I’m the king of dance.” One corner of his mouth lifted, and his dimple appeared, taunting her.
His tone was playful, but he probably meant it, Lily thought with a roll of her eyes. “Why so humble?”
Gabe winked. “You’ll see. But tonight, we put your moves to the test.”
“Mine? No,” she said with a shake of her head. “Your moves will be put to the test, not mine. I don’t have to prove myself. You recruited me,” she reminded him with a lift of her brows. “I need to see your moves before I agree to them. I don’t want to regret I agreed to partner with you.”
His lips twitched. “Ouch, you’re great for a guy’s ego, aren’t you?” His grin deepened. “Fair enough. I like challenges, and you,” he said, tipping her chin to meet his eyes, “are the best one I’ve ever encountered.”
He was baiting her. Lily remained silent as he watched her with amusement dancing in his espresso eyes.
“What kind of dancing did you have in mind?” she said after a weighty pause.
He shrugged. “Some salsa, merengue, mambo and a little cha-cha thrown in.”
“Anything else?” she said dryly.
“Maybe.” He chuckled at her tone. “Think you can handle it?”
She didn’t want to reveal it, but excitement pumped through her veins at the thought of Latin dancing with Gabe. “The King” was sure to be a great dancer—his rolling, loose-hipped walk attested to it. She suddenly couldn’t wait to get started, but he didn’t need a bigger ego, so she lifted her nose with a detached air.
“Well?” he prodded when she didn’t answer right away.
“I can more than handle it. No big deal.”
“Have you ever Latin danced?” he challenged, giving her a narrowed-eye look.
She sniffed. “Of course.”
A slow grin spread over his face. “You’re full of surprises,” he murmured. “I rented a studio on 3rd Avenue. We’ll practice three times a week for the next two weeks, and then every night afterward for the last week. Does that work for you?”
She sucked in a breath and considered how their dynamic would change. She’d been making an effort to keep him at arm’s length, but that wouldn’t work anymore, not with that much contact.
Three times a week was a big commitment, but if they were going to win, they had to practice often. Dancing with Gabe that often would intensify their intimacy, and he might have more in mind than dancing. His dark eyes regarded her expectantly.
Oh, who was she fooling? The prospect of dancing with him and the intimacy it would bring made her heart race and her body thrum with excitement. She’d be a fool to turn it down.
Catch Up on the Series of Standalone Romances Now!
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance novels, Sophia Knightly, loves to transport readers from everyday life into happily ever afters. A BookBub featured author, her modern novels feature hot alpha heroes and strong smart women and are laced with humor, international appeal and a dash of glamour.
Her popular Tropical Heat Series and Heartthrob Series books have consistently been on bestseller lists and continue to grow in readership.
Sophia is passionate about writing books that end with a sigh and a smile. She loves traveling, foodie adventures, and appreciates the arts in all forms.
One of her favorite pastimes remains simply watching people, especially those in love!
Connect with Sophia:
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An emotional and angst-filled story of grief, love, and friendship. It is a tribute to new beginnings and second chances as the protagonist learn to trust again, to embrace life with all its chances and possibilities.
This story was not an easy, light read for me. It is a heartfelt journey to the depth of losing the foundation of your life in more ways than meets the eye. Cadence Grigg was a challenge for me to understand. I liked her, I wanted all the best for her, and for her adorable son. I understood that she had gone through severe trauma, and because of that, she was a true survivor and heroine on her merits alone. The secrets that she held in her heart, the troubled marriage that ended in a cruel and unexpected way, the single motherhood - she had had it tough, her soul was raw, her heart broken. What I didn't understand about her was her inability to communicate. With pretty much everyone, but especially with her best friend, Zach.
Zach Cardenas, absolutely delightfully kind, considerate, generous soul, who would do anything for her and her son, was supposed to be her rock, her support, her best friend. Yet, with all these things building up and churning in her mind and soul, and the new attraction towards him budding in her heart, and she hides, turns away, and cuts him out instead of communicating and trying to find an adult way to reason and work with the issues, to grow together, even as just friends. But no, she creates all this - what for me - seemed like unnecessary drama. And then she does something that is a big no-no in my eyes and goes on a date with another man after confessing her attraction towards Zach. I think there was enough third-person drama with the husband who had passed and all the issues with him, to bring yet another person into the circle.
With the angst and growing pains, for me, this felt a good fit for the Young Adult genre. I think a lot of people who enjoy that variety of books, who do not normally read category romance novels, would love this one. The first book in the series, From Exes To Expecting greatly compliments this book, yet A Father for Her Child can easily to be read as a standalone story.
Deep felt emotions, struggling to accept what life is offering for her after all the sorrow it threw at her way, trying to find her independence, and accepting help to balance her life in the midst of well-meaning family and friends, Cadence Grigg is in the fight for her life and future happiness in a raw, real, and engaging tale.
~ Four Spoons
Raised in a small town on Vancouver Island, Laurel grew up skiing and boating by day and reading romances under the covers by flashlight at night.
Ever committed to the proper placement of the Canadian “eh,” she loves to write books with snapping sexual tension and second chances.
She lives outside Vancouver with her law-talking husband and two daughters. At least half her diet is made up of tea.
Brooke Lemon has always led the life she wanted, wild adventures—and mistakes—included, something her perfect sister, Mindy, never understood. So when Mindy shows up on Brooke’s doorstep in the throes of a breakdown with her three little kids in tow, Brooke’s shocked.
Wanting to make amends, Brooke agrees to trade places with Mindy, taking the kids back to Wildstone for a few days so she can pick up the pieces and put herself back together. What Brooke doesn’t admit is she’s just as broken …also how does one go home after seven years away? It doesn’t take long for Brooke to come face-to-face with her past, in the form of one tall, dark, sexy mistake. But Garrett’s no longer interested. Only his words don’t match his actions, leaving Brooke feeling things she’d shoved deep.
Soon the sisters begin to wonder: Are they lemons in life? In love? All they know is that neither seems to be able to run far enough to outpace her demons. And when secrets surface, they’ll have to learn that sometimes the one person who can help you the most is the one you never thought to ask.
*Read the First Chapter here: https://www.jillshalvis.com/excerpts/the-lemon-sisters
The Pancake House Mysteries #5
by Sarah Fox
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Pub Date: 5/28/2019
When a murder case from the past heats up again, it’s up to Marley McKinney to sort through a tall stack of suspects in the latest Pancake House Mystery. . .
Although it’s a soggy start to spring in Wildwood Cove, the weather clears up just in time for the town to host an amateur chef competition. Marley McKinney, owner of the Flip Side pancake house, already signed up to volunteer, and chef Ivan Kaminski is one of the judges. But when Marley visits her landscaper boyfriend Brett at the site of the Victorian mansion that’s being restored as the Wildwood Inn, she discovers something else pushing up daisies: human remains.
The skeleton on the riverbank washed out by the early-spring floodwaters belonged to eighteen-year-old Demetra Kozani, who vanished a decade earlier. While the cold case is reopened, Marley must step in when some of the cook-off contestants fall suspiciously ill. Stuck in a syrupy mess of sabotage and blackmail, it falls to Marley to stop a killer from crêping up on another victim. . .
The last diners of the day left the restaurant shortly after two o’clock, and I locked the door behind them, flipping the “open” sign to “closed.” Leigh Hunter, The Flip Side’s full-time waitress, untied her red apron from around her waist. Patricia Murray’s daughter, Sienna, did the same with her apron. Sienna was seventeen and still in school, but she worked at the pancake house on the weekends.
“Did you know that Logan’s entering the amateur chef competition?” I asked Sienna.
“Yep. He’s a really good cook. He got into watching cooking shows about three years ago, and now he can make some really amazing stuff.”
“I hope he does well in the competition,” Leigh said.
“He will,” Sienna said with confidence. “My friend Ellie Shaw’s entering too. She didn’t really want to, but her mom thought she should.”
“Why didn’t she want to?” I asked.
“She’s kind of shy. I don’t think she likes the idea of cooking in front of an audience.”
“Maybe she’ll forget anyone’s watching once she gets cooking,” Leigh said.
“I hope so. She’s really talented, especially with desserts.” Sienna headed for the break room to fetch her jacket, and soon she and Leigh had left the pancake house for the day.
Talking about cooking made me wonder if Brett would be finished work by dinnertime. I sent him a text message asking him how things were going. I tidied up the pancake house while waiting for his response. It came about half an hour later. He figured he’d have to work until six o’clock, but he hoped he wouldn’t have to stay at the inn any longer than that.
Hungry? I wrote in another text. I can bring you a snack.
I love you, was his quick response.
Smiling, I finished up my remaining tasks and grabbed a can of soda from the kitchen before heading out. I walked to Marielle’s Bakery and picked up two doughnuts and half a dozen chocolate chip cookies. From there, I set a course for home. The Wildwood Inn sat on the outskirts of town, and making the trip on foot would have taken a while, so I decided to make a quick stop at home to pick up my car.
After checking on my cat, Flapjack, and Brett’s dog, Bentley, I set off in my hatchback. When I reached my destination, I followed a long driveway toward the beautiful white Victorian mansion and continued along the branch that led around the house to the large detached garage, built in the same style as the inn. I parked my blue hatchback next to the cube van Brett used for his lawn and garden business.
With the paper bakery bag and soda can in hand, I wandered around the garage until I could see clear to the back of the inn’s property. An expanse of green lawn stretched from the mansion to a white gazebo—a
new addition, Brett had told me. Beyond the gazebo, flagstone pathways wandered around numerous flower beds. Brett had been working hard to add some color before the garden party. He’d already transplanted numerous types of flowers in a variety of hues and would add more over the coming days. Some of the flower beds farther back in the garden were home to recently planted rosebushes, which would bloom in a few weeks’ time.
As soon as I started across the lawn, I spotted Brett near the back of the property, working away at one of the last flower beds, only a stone’s throw from the woods that bordered the garden. There was a small cottage in the back corner of the lot, but I couldn’t see anyone else around. The garden was peaceful, the only sound the chirping of birds in the trees.
I followed the flagstone pathway past the flower beds, raising a hand in greeting when Brett looked up and saw me approaching.
“I come bearing food,” I said as I reached him.
He grinned and drove the spade he was holding into the soil so it would stand upright on its own. “Best news I’ve heard all day.”
I glanced around the garden. “You’ve made a lot of progress since the last time I was here. It looks great.”
“I need to work at a couple of other sites this week, but hopefully this job will be done in the next two weeks.” He pulled off his work gloves and tucked them into the back pocket of his jeans. “How was your day?”
“Great. Everything went well at The Flip Side. A lot of people were talking about the garden party. They’re going to love what you’ve done here.”
“Hopefully Lonny and Hope will love it too,” he said.
“They will,” I said without any doubt. “They like what you’ve done so far, right?”
“So far so good,” he confirmed.
I held up the paper bag and can of soda. “Your snack.”
“Thank you. You’re the best.”
“I can’t say I was disappointed to have a chance to see you before tonight.”
He grinned. “I’m definitely not disappointed either.”
He led me to a stone bench at the end of the garden that faced the flower beds, the mansion visible in the distance. I sat with him and snacked on one of the doughnuts while he devoured the other one along with a couple of the cookies. When I’d finished eating, I rested my head against his shoulder.
“It’s so peaceful here,” I said, listening to the birdsong coming from the woods behind us.
Brett took a long drink of his soda. “It’s definitely a nice place to work.”
I raised my head. “Speaking of which, I should probably let you get back to it.”
He eyed the rosebushes sitting in pots near one of the flower beds, waiting to be transplanted. “Another two hours or so and then I’ll be heading home.”
I got to my feet and set the paper bag on the bench. “I’ll leave these here in case you want more.”
Brett set down his soda can as he stood up. He took my hands, pulling me in close. “Thanks for stopping by, Marley.”
He gave me a lingering kiss that I reluctantly pulled away from.
“See you later.”
I was about to set off along the garden path when something small and black streaked toward the tree line. I spun around to follow its progress.
“A kitten!” I exclaimed. “Did you see that?”
The tiny black cat paused at the edge of the woods, its green eyes wide, one ear twitching while the rest of its body remained frozen.
“Does it belong to Lonny and Hope?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Brett said. “I caught a brief glimpse of it earlier today, but that’s the first time I’ve seen a cat around here.”
I took a careful step toward the kitten. It dashed beneath a bushy fern and hunkered down, out of sight except for the tip of one black ear.
“It looks way too tiny to be out here on its own,” I said.
“We can take it up to the house and see if that’s where it belongs. If we can catch it, that is.”
As if it had heard Brett’s words, the little kitten darted out from its hiding place and zipped away, deeper into the woods.
“Catching it might not be possible, but I don’t want to leave it in the woods. Maybe we can at least get it to run back this way.”
“We can try,” Brett agreed.
We moved off in opposite directions, planning to circle around into the woods and hopefully herd the kitten back to the garden. I tried to move quietly as I entered the woods, not wanting to scare the cat farther into the forest. Despite my efforts, twigs still snapped under my feet and the underbrush rustled as I picked my way through the trees.
I could hear rushing water somewhere nearby and realized we were close to the Wildwood River. My concern for the kitten shot up. Although the water level was on its way down now, the river was still higher than usual and could be dangerous for anyone who got too close to the slippery, unstable banks. I didn’t want the kitten going anywhere near the water.
As I moved deeper into the forest, the dirt beneath my feet became soggier. Through the trees, I caught sight of the river, still swollen and muddy, hurtling its way toward the ocean. I swept my gaze from left to right, desperately seeking out any sign of the kitten.
“Can you see it?” I called out to Brett when he came into view. We were almost to the river now, and I had to talk over the sound of the rushing water.
“Not yet,” Brett called back.
At the sound of his voice, something moved slightly a few feet away. I peered at a small, hollowed-out cavity at the base of an old tree. It was dark inside the hole, but I was certain I’d seen movement. I crept closer
to the tree, moving slowly and cautiously.
I was about to crouch down in front of the hole when the kitten darted out of the hollow tree. I dropped to my knees and grabbed at the kitten, ending up flat on my stomach, my arms outstretched ahead of me. A fallen tree branch poked at my ribs, cold moisture was seeping through my jeans, and I had a face full of ferns, but I also had a wriggling kitten in my grasp.
“Are you okay?” Brett asked as he hurried over to me.
“I caught it!” I said through the ferns.
I couldn’t see too well, but I heard Brett reach my side. One of his hands brushed against mine.
“I’ve got it. You can let go now.”
I released my firm but gentle hold on the cat and climbed to my feet, brushing pine needles and clumps of mud from my clothes. I smiled at the sight of Brett holding the little kitten against his chest, but when I reached down to brush a clod of mud from my knee, my smile slipped away.
“Are you hurt?” he asked with concern.
I shook my head and stepped back before pointing at the ground.
Next to the patch of ferns I’d landed in, a partial human skull poked out through the mud.