K-9 HOLIDAY RESCUE
Surviving Christmas by Valerie Hansen
When single dad Sean Murray returns from a war zone and discovers someone is following him, he turns to his old friend K-9 officer Zoe Trent for help. But as the threat escalates, can Zoe and her police dog find whoever is menacing Sean and his son…and make sure this Christmas isn't their last?
Holiday High Alert by Lenora Worth
After a cryptic note appears in the playground at Josie Callahan's daycare center, rookie K-9 officer Dalton West vows to protect Josie and the kids she loves—especially his daughter, Maisy. And with a stalker closing in, the widower and his four-legged partner are all that stand between Josie and a deadly Christmas.
Two Christmas novellas that both have a similar basic information - a single dad with broken souls trying to survive with everyday life, finds solace in their faith in God, and fight against the evil lurking around trying to harm them and their loved ones. Even though the stories does have a similar baseline, they are both unique and original with their plot.
In Surviving Christmas both Sean and his son have heartwrenching histories that have left marks on their body and soul. Zoe is like the beam of light in their lives, and the old friendship takes a new meaning as they are fighting to keep Sean alive and his son from being kidnapped.
This story touched my heart, and I enjoyed it immensely. The action is fast, the danger was constant, the development of the relationship sweet and deeply felt. Sean's struggle to find his footing again after military service, not only with his job, health, and his son's health but in every possible way including his faith in God was poignant and true.
In Holiday High Alert Dalton and his daughter Maisy are still healing from the death of wife and mother. The hurt and pain little Maisy carries inside were heartbreaking. Josie has been the safe harbor in Maisy's life, and now that is set in danger by life-threatening messages and action. Josie and Dalton were outright cute in this novella. The feelings that had been growing inside them started to burst out like there was no holding back. The danger is real, the threats evident, the consequences actual. I loved how the whole unit rallied around Josie to help her and keep her safe. A heartwarming romance mixed with tension and peril from the crimes.
Lots of deep emotions, from love and joy to fear and doubt, great characters with deep faith in God and His guidance in life, good teamwork with the K-9 unit and four legged friends that make the stories even more delightful if that's possible.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
After the death of his wife and twin sons, Army vet Ian Slaney is a shadow of his former self. On the path of self-destruction, only his best friend's disappearance in South America pulls Ian back from the ledge. He rushes to Brazil, only to discover that his friend was murdered. The single lead in the case is also the single biggest obstacle--Daniela, a mysterious beauty very much in need of protection, with a host of secrets hidden in a dark past.
As the two of them track down clues and try to untangle an impossible case, they draw the attention of all the wrong people, and danger follows them back to the US.
Ian wants the murderers. Daniela wants Ian to acknowledge the hot sparks of passion between them. But convincing Ian to set aside his protective instincts proves more difficult than turning an anaconda vegetarian.
This is a very intense three-part book, where the part one is the backstory, part two focus on the suspense, and then comes part three with the main focus on the romance and wrapping up the tale.
The part one tells the devastating and raw story of an escape from a human trafficking, from sex slavery that she was born into in the Amazons. Daniela's story is heartbreaking, her nearly accidental escape from the destiny she inherited from her mother is awe-inspiring, what she is able to accomplish with the help of Ian is nothing short of a miracle.
But Ian doesn't just rescue and save Daniela's life, she does the same for him, with the slowly killing burden of the death of his wife and twin sons while he was in the military.
The part two, four years later, tell about Daniela and Ian working for an agency in the States rescuing missing civilians overseas. They are teamed to return to Daniela's original home, to her roots, to save a baby from child trafficking. This part has an investigation, clues to be uncovered, and endless miles to be walked and search with the hope of a positive outcome, while Daniela and Ian have a battle of minds concerning the type of relationship they will have in the future.
The part three is six months later, and more of a conclusion to the story.
I found the plot intriguing, it was different and touched the many problems around the child trafficking and sex slavery. With the length of the story and timeline for the plot, the development of the characters was distinctly evident. The psyche and the inner battles of the characters came very familiar to me, and I learned to care about them as time went by.
I found the writing style to be a bit heavy at times. I like more to be shown what is happening and getting the visual image instead of being told this and this happened because of that. The story is also told from several different points of views, and every time the viewpoint changed I felt it broke down the flow of the tale, the wave the story was on. Sometimes the point of view were secondary characters, and obviously important clues were given to a possible future development of the plot, yet they were left as it was, never touched again. Maybe those points could have been edited out to tighten up the tale, to lighten the load of the abundance of information.
For me, the story took life and momentum after the 60% mark, the middle of the book moving on a bit too slow to hold the intense interest in the tale.
Girl in the Water is an impressive and fascinating story. The destinies of the characters go from heartbreaking to exhilarating. Daniela's speech towards the end of the book was a turning point for me, making the tale, getting that emotional connection to her journey from me. If there is such a thing as a disturbingly beautiful story, this is it.
~ Four Spoons
Contemporary Romance - medical and sports
Date Published: May 6, 2016
How does a man come back from the brink? Billionaire Lincoln Montgomery, a Nobel-Prize-winning doctor, nearly lost himself after the death of his wife and unborn child. Now, years later, he wants nothing more than to find a woman to share his life with, but doesn’t believe true love can come around twice in a lifetime. A single tee shot and a glimpse of perfection changes his life forever by sending him just the woman to help heal his soul.
Secrets that have been buried for fourteen years and a deeply scarred soul have prevented Dr. Nicole Harris from finding true love. A beautiful woman who only sees herself as average, she perceives herself as someone whom nobody would want but seeks to atone for the consequences of her decisions. Then a chance encounter brings Lincoln Montgomery into her world. Fearful that the man she’s fallen in love with will discard her if he ever learns the truth, she vows to keep her secrets buried.
But what happens when the love of two lifetimes is confronted with the dark secrets that could destroy them both? Can Lincoln and Nicole both survive their pasts and forge a future together, or will one final secret destroy their love for good?
Looking into his eyes, Nicole was intrigued by what she saw and felt. It was as if the sky had cleared, the sun was shining and she felt the refreshing breeze after a spring rain hit her all at once. But, she could see something else in his eyes that gave her pause. She could see a lingering deep despair that made her want to take him in her arms and tell him it would be okay. At 5’ 8” with dark blond hair and brown eyes, she had always been a tomboy at heart and much preferred playing games outdoors to sitting inside and reading. She had never really considered herself a beautiful woman just merely average but she had never been swept off her feet or stopped dead in her tracks by meeting a man until now. Her athletic grace seemed to elude her anytime she saw something she may be interested in. Today had caught her by surprise. She did not see this tall stranger until it was too late and she was bumping into him with full force running to get something for her mother. Right now she was thanking God that she needed more ketchup for her fries. “It is a pleasure to meet you Dr. Montgomery” she said with a smile and warm tender eyes. Nicole had been alone too long. Yes she dated in recent years but it never lasted. She was looking for the one Mr. Right not Mr. Right now. She had always had a notion that romantic love, love at first sight was out there waiting for her and she would not settle for anything less. However, today she could not help feeling that maybe she had finally found her tall prince charming. “So, did you go to school here?” she asked.
“No I am a proud graduate of the University of Georgia.” Lincoln said.
“Eww.” Nicole said with a chuckle.
“So what brings you to Auburn? Slumming it with other schools?” She said mockingly.
“No, since Rob and I became friends, I have become almost as much part of the Auburn family as I am the Georgia Bulldog Nation. I like to give to the scholarship fund every year but unfortunately my seats usually go unused or given to friends and staff members. As a matter of fact I just auctioned off my luxury box at Georgia for the Auburn Georgia game last night at the charity event.”
“Well that was mighty nice of you. So why are you here and not in Athens today?”
“I prefer Rob and Erin’s company to the empty seats around me. It is so nice to have friends that accept me for what I am and not who I am or who I know.”
“Well then”, she said “you want to avoid that group over there. They only care about your bank account and whether or not they can get into it.” She said pointing at a group of women standing on the far side of the room. Lincoln laughed hard for what seemed like the first time in 3 years. He was suddenly feeling light on his feet as if the burden was being lifted.
“So what about you Nicole, do you enjoy your work and living in Atlanta?”
“I love my job. I am lucky enough to work with the best people in the business and the ability to see people regain use of their bodies and even walk again is simply amazing. I often find it difficult to put into words how I feel about it. Atlanta, well it is Atlanta. I grew up outside of Atlanta and lived there all of my life except for college and grad school. The only big change is moving to the Dunwoody area.”
“Really, I live over in the Dunwoody area as well. I wanted something close to work and to avoid the commute.” Lincoln said but thought I am running away from the ghosts of my past
at my house. What would she think about me if she knew the truth.” “Please do not think this is another line, but you look so familiar. I can’t help but feel that I have seen you somewhere this weekend.”
“Well unless you were out at the Grand National yesterday then it was not this weekend.” Nicole said.
“Wait. You were the woman I saw on the 18th tee box. I stood there and admired you grace and athleticism from afar. I was taken by your strength and beauty and the way you could drive a golf ball. I was surprised to see you playing from the men’s tees. I don’t mean that in a sexist way it is just most women play from the forward tees.”
“Well I suppose most women are not scratch golfers from the men’s tees.”
Suddenly flush with renewed vigor, Lincoln knew he had to spend more time with this remarkable woman. “Please don’t think that I am being too forward, but are currently seeing anyone seriously or not so seriously? I only ask because I would really like to take you to dinner or lunch so that we could get to know each other better.”
“Well Dr. Montgomery, this is totally unexpected, but no I am not seeing anyone serious or otherwise. I would not mind having dinner with you but my schedule is very busy and I have a difficult time getting away from work at a decent hour.”
Interrupting her Lincoln said, “Please call me Lincoln or Linc as that is what my friends call me. Sorry to interrupt please continue.”
“As I was saying, I do believe I can try to make some time.” Nicole was suddenly struck with the thought why did I say yes to something so quickly. I know that I do not really have time, but there is something about him that intrigues me and makes me want to know him better. Holding out her hand Nicole says, “Give me your phone and I will put my number in there then you can text me with yours. I am sorry to have to run but I need to get back to my family since they are done eating. We always like to get to our seats early so that we can watch Nova fly before the game.”
Unsure what to do, Lincoln held out his hand to Nicole but was surprised when she pulled him in for a quick hug.
“Just as good as I thought it would be Dr. Montgomery.” Nicole said with a slight flirtiness in her voice.
After their too brief hug, Lincoln stood there staring at Nicole momentarily shocked by her display of affection, he could do nothing more than smile at her and bid her goodbye. Lincoln was so excited he could not stand it.
Rob saw Lincoln and turned to Erin to point out the look on his face and eyes. “I don’t know what just happened” he said “but I don’t think I have seen him like this in years.” Rob laughed as he watched Lincoln walk towards them with an almost swagger in his step. He was shocked by the change of his demeanor today. Gone was the dark brooding Lincoln replaced by the man he knew so many years ago. Not sure what to make of what had just happened he was silent while he waited for Lincoln to tell him about the encounter.
Lincoln wanted to talk to Rob and Erin but he did not know what to say. What was he feeling? He had so many emotions running through his mind at this very instant that he could barely make sense of the ground moving beneath his feet. “Rob, I don’t know or even understand what just happened. I feel like every nerve ending is on fire.”
“Lincoln, I haven’t seen you like this in a long time. You look like the weight of the world has been lifted off of your shoulders.”
“I don’t know what to do. I feel so alive but I‘m terrified all at once. How can someone I just met have this effect on me? I mean just looking into her eyes set my soul ablaze. I could see the sweetness and desire in her and it was just one touch and one long glance into her eyes.”
“Lincoln, I can’t pretend to know what you are feeling with all that you have been through, but I have known for a long time that you needed to connect with someone else and once you meet that person you would hopefully find that closure. Maybe she is that connection that you need.”
BK Harrell is former Navy physician who has had a long love of writing. He specializes in medical, military and sports romance writing. He began seriously writing while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and has never looked back. Whether he is teaching, serving his country, educating people about the fine art of cigars, practicing medicine or spending time with friends and family he uses his diverse background to shape the world around him through words.
He uses his unique experiences and love of all things Atlanta, University of Georgia and sports to weave intricately detailed stories focused on Atlanta and the surrounding areas. His goal is to bring the same joy and excitement he sees in his own city to the readers and to allow them to experience the city through his eyes.
Dr. Harrell is married to his beautiful wife Erin, a proud graduate of Auburn University, which makes multiple appearances in his books, and their wonderful one son. Dr. Harrell is a native of Augusta, GA and a proud graduate of the University of Georgia, Emory University, and proud to have been a member of the first ever graduating class of Georgia Campus Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He currently resides in the Atlanta area where he practices medicine and raises his family.
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Mail-order bride Josephine Dooley's trip West was supposed to end in marriage to her intended groom—not with the discovery that he hadn't actually placed the bridal ad! Now her only choice is to convince Pony Express rider Thomas Young to wed her anyway to save her from her scheming uncle.
A bride shouldn't be a surprise package, and when Thomas finds out about his meddling brother's ruse, he plans to send his would-be wife packing. However, when he realizes Josephine desperately needs his help and a marriage of convenience is the only way he can protect her, he vows to become the husband she needs. But he quickly learns that it will be hard to keep his new bride at arm's length…because Josephine is his perfect match.
I am in love with this series. The Young family has captured my heart and mind with their love, loyalty, honesty, and dignity. They all work hard, they care for each other, and are always willing to open their homes and hearts to the strangers in need of both. Their faith in God is the cornerstone of their lives, they rely on His guidance, and ask for His providence and protection as they live and love on the Pony Express route.
Thomas has always been one of the quieter ones. The scar on his face has determined his fate, the cruelty of the words spoken to him at a tender age still carries a heavy weight in his heart. He has so much to give, but his lack of faith in himself holds him back from social scenes, and especially from any kind of romance.
But Josephine needs help, she needs to be married, she needs a home, security, and protection. And Thomas's kind heart wants to and will give her anything she needs.
I loved the fumbling dance Jo and Thomas have for a relationship and to deeper feelings. It takes a lot of patience, understanding, and perseverance to make the marriage work, they fight, they argue, they apologize, they ask for forgiveness, they get to know each other and the quirks and habits of each other. They learn to share and compromise, and in the process face danger, joy, frustration, fear, and adoration.
I enjoy every moment I got to spent with the Young family, with their loving spirits and generous hearts they are encouraging and inspiring example, the stories of their lives are entertaining with the charming characters and tidbits of the times before us intriguing and exciting with the pioneer will and simpler lifestyle
~ Five Spoons
One for the Rogue
The Bachelor Lords of London #3
By: Charis Michaels
Releasing December 6, 2016
The third dazzling romance in USA Today bestselling author Charis Michaels' Bachelor Lords of London series.
Beauregard “Beau” Cortland has no use for the whims of society and even less for aristocratic titles. As a younger son, he travels the world in search of adventure with no plans to settle down. Even when the title of Viscount Rainsleigh is suddenly forced upon him, he will not bend to duty or decorum. Not until an alluring young woman appears on the deck of his houseboat, determined to teach him propriety in all things and tempting him with every forbidden touch
Lady Emmaline Crumbley has had a wretched year. Her elderly husband dropped dead without naming her in his will and she’s been relegated to the life of a dowager duchess at the age of 23. She has no wish to instruct a renegade viscount in respectability, but desperate to escape her greedy stepson, Beau’s family makes her an offer she cannot refuse: teach the new lord to behave like a gentleman, and they’ll help her earn the new, self-sufficient life of her dreams. Emmaline agrees, only to discover that instructing the viscount is one thing, but resisting him is quite another. How can she teach manners to the rakish nobleman if he is determined to show her the thrill of scandal instead?
This is the tale of two brothers.
No, allow me to go back. This is the tale of two half brothers, a distinction that does not affect the brothers as much as it creates a place for the story to begin.
They were born deep in Wiltshire’s Deverill Valley, less than a mile from the River Wylye, in a crumbling manor house called Rossmore Court.
Although the Rainsleigh title was ancient and the family lands entailed, the boys’ parents, Lord Franklin “Frankie” Courtland, the Viscount Rainsleigh, and his lady wife, Este, were not held in high esteem—not by their neighbors in Wiltshire nor by members of London’s haute ton. Instead, they were known mostly for their predilections: recklessness, coarseness, drunkenness, irresponsibility, and deep debt.
Their notoriety did not curtail their fun, however, and they carried on exactly as they pleased. In 1779, the viscountess became pregnant, and Lord and Lady Rainsleigh added “woefully unfit parents” to their list of indiscretions. Their firstborn was called Bryson—the future viscount, Lord Rainsleigh’s heir. Young Bryson was somber and curious, stormy and willful, but also inexplicably just and kind.
In 1785, Este and Frankie welcomed a second son, favored almost immediately by his mother for his sweet nature and easy manner, his angelic face and smiling blue eyes. The viscountess named him Beauregard, known as “Beau.”
On the whole, the boys’ childhood was not a happy one. Lord Rainsleigh was rarely at home, and when he was, he was rarely sober. He managed the boys with equal parts mockery and scorn. Lady Rainsleigh, in turn, was chronically unhappy, petulant, and needy, and she suffered an insatiable appetite for strapping young men, with a particular preference for broad-shouldered members of staff.
Money was scarce in those years, and schooling was catch-as-catch-can. The brothers relied on each other to get along.
Bryson’s hard work and good sense earned them money for new coats and boots each year, for books, and for an old horse that they shared.
Beau employed his good looks and charm to earn them credit in the village shops, to convince foremen to hire them young, and to persuade servants and tenants to stay on when there was no money for salaries or repairs.
And so it went, each of the boys contributing whatever he could to get by, until the summer of 1807, when the old viscount’s recklessness caught up with him, and he tripped on a root in a riverbed and died.
With Frankie’s death, Bryson, the new viscount, set out to right all the wrongs of his father and cancel the family’s debts. He moved to London, where he worked hard, built and sold a boat, and then another, and then another—and then five. And then fifteen. Eventually, he owned a shipyard and became wealthier than his wildest dreams.
Beau, on the other hand . . .
Well, Beau had no interest in righting wrongs or realizing moneyed dreams--he wasn’t the Rainsleigh heir, thank God. His only wish was to take his handsome face and winning charm and discover the delights of London and the world beyond.
For a time, he sailed the world as an officer of the Royal Navy. For another time, he imported exotic birds and fish. He spent more than a year with the East India Company, training native soldiers to protect British trade. His life was adventurous and rambling, sunny if he could manage it, and (perhaps most important) entirely on his own terms.
Until, that is, the day the Courtland brothers received, quite unexpectedly, a bit of shocking news that changed both of their lives.
The news, which they learned from a stranger, was this: the boys did not share the same father.
The horrible old viscount—the man who had beaten them and mocked them, who had driven them into debt and allowed their boyhood home to fall into ruin—was not, in fact, Bryson’s father after all. Bryson’s father was another man—a blacksmith’s son from the local village with whom their mother had had a heated affair.
Beau, as it turned out, was the only natural-born son of Franklin Courtland.
Beau was the heir.
And just like that, Beauregard Courtland became the Viscount Rainsleigh, the conservator and executor of all his brother had toiled over a great many years to restore and attain.
It made no difference that Beau had no desire to be viscount, that he was repelled by the notion, that the idea of becoming viscount made him a little ill.
In protest, Beau threatened to leave the country; he threatened to change his name; he threatened to commit a crime and endure prison to avoid the bloody title—all to no avail.
He was the rightful Viscount Rainsleigh, whether he liked it or not.
His brother, now simply Mr. Bryson Courtland, shipbuilder and merchant, set out on a new quest: to train, coach, and cajole Beau into becoming the responsible, noble, respected viscount that he himself would never be again.
To answer that, Beau seized his own quest: resist. He could not prevent his brother from dropping the bloody title in his lap, but he could refuse to dance to the tune the title played.
He would carry on, he vowed, exactly as he had always done—until . . . well . . .
“Until” is where this tale begins.
But perhaps this is not a tale of two brothers or even the tale of two half brothers.
Perhaps it is the story of one brother and how the past he could not change built a future that he, at long last, was willing to claim.
Things You Might Want To Know About One For the Rogue
1. The heroine is a widow, but a very young, very innocent widow.
I don’t know about you, but “mature” widows who’ve survived established marriages before their books begin are not my favorite. Ditto for widows who are grieving for their dead husbands. When I devised Lady Emmaline, I made her less than 25, newly widowed, and just out of a very short marriage to an old man. In no way is she grieving the dead duke.
2. The hero is a bad-ass on the streets and hotness in the sheets, but he is flawed. Super flawed.
Clearly, a man in sore need of a good woman to love him despite his flaws. After their long journey to love, the heroine gives Beau the courage to be a better man for her. Possibly my favorite ending scene to date. Possibly.
3. There is a dog, a ballroom, and a killer moment with old Lady Frinfrock (although not in the same chapter).
4. The book is set at Christmas, but because many of our current traditions were conceived in the Victorian era, this 1813-set Regency is not so Christmas-y that you cannot read it in the New Year.
5. You don’t have to read the previous two books in the trilogy to enjoy it!
6. But if you haven’t met the other residents of Henrietta Place, I humbly beseech you to check out The Earl Next Door (Book 1) and The Virgin and the Viscount (Book 2).
Charis Michaels is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A & M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Drug deal and Murder: In her fight for justice, Abby Monroe is forced to flee to protect herself and her family, seeking out the only man she's ever fully trusted. Seeing him again threatens not only her safety, but her heart as well.
Injuries and Betrayal: After a close call with death, Graeme Tucker made some changes. No women, no danger. Just him and his beach bar. Until Abby shows up asking for his help and twisting his heart.
Lies and Deception: As Graeme and Abby struggle to stop a gang of ruthless criminals, old flames are rekindled. But all is not as it seems. Will Graeme stand by his word to protect Abby, or does he have a sinister agenda of his own?
A suspense and a passion-filled tale of a woman, who is being sought out by drug dealers, and her running to seek help and protection from a man she had a one wild night with, seven years ago.
The set-up for the story is intriguing, Graeme and Abby having that one night at her cousin's wedding, and neither of them not being able to forget the other, but never seeking each other out either. Abby has visited the small beach town several times since the wedding took place, but never asking after him. Now she is in trouble, and instead of agreeing to go to a temporary police protection, she runs to him for safe keeping.
Graeme did some kind of private security, that also had government contracts before he was injured and bought the bar. He is not interested in going back to that world, several times he says no to Abby, yet his actions say the opposite.
The bond between Abby and Graeme is strong like no time has passed since they last met. The lust filled sensuous moments sear the scenes with them seeking for fulfillment.
The numerous secrets and unexplainable attacks towards both Abby and Graeme bring friction and doubt, the action at the end deliver several abrupt twists in the plot changing everything and bringing the tension, concern, and confusion into the set.
I liked the story, the plot was nothing new, yet there was a fresh take on it. The action mostly comes towards the end of the tale, giving the romance time to grow and develop. I liked Abby and Graeme together, they had charisma and they fit well with each other. I was left with a couple of questions, like why wait seven years if the feelings really were there, and why now, only because of the danger?
The flow and pacing of the story covered up the bit clumsy dialog most of the time. The story is solid, with compelling characters that made me want to know more about them, even the secondary characters had an allure to them that raised an interest towards them.
Dreamy romance and life threatening suspense in an ardent tale
~ Three Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
LOVE ME AT MIDNIGHT
Three romantic comedies that’ll melt your heart!
Releasing December 12th, 2016
MELTING THE MILLIONAIRE'S HEART by Linda Morris
Special needs teacher Kayla Johnston is supposed to be schmoozing at a swanky school fundraiser. Instead, she careens into a snowbank on the side of the road...straight into the path of a wickedly handsome stranger. When their chemistry ignites, Kayla's New Year's Eve begins to show some seriously sexy promise...
YOURS AT MIDNIGHT by Robin Bielman
Four years ago, Quinn Sobel gave Lyric Whetsone the night of her life...then disappeared. Now he's back to make amends, but Lyric has a secret that could drive Quinn from her life forever.
ONE NIGHT IN VEGAS by C.M. Stone
Eliza knows plenty about sexy cowboy Christian Yerrick, the man who crushed her heart when they were kids. Back in town, she's determined to avoid Chris altogether...until she accidentally rear-ends his truck on New Years Eve, and the fireworks between them burn hotter than the Vegas Strip...
On Sale for $.99 from Dec 12th – Dec
When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts most of her story ideas.
She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.
She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com
Linda Morris is a writer of contemporary romance. She writes stories with heart and heat, with a joke or two thrown in. Her book Melting the Millionaire’s Heart was an Amazon Top 100 Series Romance bestseller. Hard Hitters, her series about a fictional minor-league baseball team in southern Indiana, is available from Berkley.
When she’s not writing, working as a freelance editor and technical writer, or mommying, she’s doing yoga, reading, working in her flower garden, or baking delicious things she probably shouldn’t eat. She believes that there are two kinds of people: pie people and cake people, and she is definitely one of the former. Her years of Cubs fandom (and their 2016 World Series win!) prove lost causes aren’t always as lost as they seem. A beat-up old copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind was her gateway drug into the world of romance novels, and she’s never looked back.
Linda loves to hear from readers. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook at facebook.com/lindamorrisbooks.
C.M. Stone grew up in Boulder City, NV–just outside of Las Vegas–and went to college there in Southern Nevada before moving to rural northwestern Wisconsin. From her earliest memories, she was telling stories and finding ways to record them. At seven, she wrote her first book (a sci-fi thriller!) and sold it door to door. These days she’s writing romance. https://ceeemstone.com/
The Coltons of Texas saga reaches its thrilling climax with a tale of Christmas justice!
Ex-cop Reid Colton is working double-time to help beautiful widow Penelope Barrington Clark. While investigating her dad, his family lawyer, the two are also trying to uncover who murdered Pen's husbandall while keeping their relationship professional! But when a bullet and their forbidden attraction change everything, it's Reid to the rescue, determined to guard Pen and her son with his life.
The last thing Penelope wants is to fall for a sexy Colton who's not looking for forever. Yet as Christmas approaches and their investigation heats up, the three start to feel like a family. And the best present of all? Solving the Colton clan's biggest mystery!
I have truly enjoyed this series, but this last book turned out to be my favorite one! It has great mysteries to be solved, the case of missing patriarch needing to come to conclusion, there are the old friends who need to find their peace with each other, a little boy who deserves a father, and the Colton family who always manage to get some drama and trouble stirred up wherever they go.
Pen and Reid has an interesting history between them. Reid actually introduced Pen's husband to her, and then later on Reid was accused of killing Andrew, his partner in the law enforcement and her husband. They used to be acquaintances, even friends. Reid has
always found her attractive, but now they have so much hostility, remorse, guilt, and anger in-between them it is going to take an effort for them to work on the mysterious information coming to the light about Pen's father and her husband, Andrew. The chemistry between Pen and Reid was amazing. And this novel takes it time to develop, it is not a day or two but weeks of time, and when the slow heat between them turns into a sizzling burn they both have a strong reaction.
And while they are in hiding and investigating, the growth, the development in both of them is evident. Reid has to face his past as the rich playboy with no commitments to slow him down. And Pen has to take the steps to move on from Andrews death, his father's betrayal, and dare to embrace life anew. That part of the story was like watching a sunrise, there was such a light and joy in their discoveries and beauty in their fragile attempts to approach each other.
And them - BAM and we are in the middle of a high-speed action, and it is happening in several places at the same time with deadly force and attempt. It is fierce, bloody, and horrifyingly intimidating. I was coming off my seat with tension as the crescendo hit the story.
An absolutely marvelous ending to the series, breathtaking at times, gave a conclusion to most of the questions. The case of a missing patriarch I wanted more answers for, but even though this was the end of the series, somehow I got the impression there are some of the Colton's we might be hearing again later on. Maybe. Wishful thinking?
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Date Published: Originally August 31, 2010,
New release Nov. 21st
Divided by Centuries
Diana Dearborn knows all about romance, at least in the books she writes. But passion eludes her in real life—until she’s offered the chance to travel back in time to Camelot. The world of King Arthur and Guinevere is nothing like she pictured, and neither is the knight she encounters upon her return to San Francisco: Gawain, the hero of her current project. He’s complicated, mysterious, and sexier than anything her imagination could conjure. And he’s been waiting for her…
Entwined by Desire
Now, joined together in a desperate race, Diana and Gawain must prevent an ancient, evil force from wreaking mayhem in the all-too-real present. Diana must learn to trust Gawain, even while she encounters secrets about her own past. But even if their mission succeeds, does Diana’s destiny lie with this man from another time—and will their love alter history forever?
Making love to her had been a miracle. Gawain couldn’t regret it. The way she opened to him, the way she trusted him. He’d worried when she was so hesitant. He’d wondered if she was too damaged by her previous experience.
Had he been gentle enough with her? It had cost him every ounce of his control to go as slowly has he had, when he wanted to claim her as his own, fast and fierce, with the right to protect and defend her, the right to make love to her, for them to bear children together and stand together against all comers.
Gawain felt her stir in his arms. She still had her sleep shirt on, though it was entirely unbuttoned, leaving her soft breasts pressed against his chest. He had captured her thigh between his own as she dozed after sex. This was how they should sleep together, always.
She wiggled the leg between his. He opened his thigh immediately. “Did your leg go to sleep?”
“No. I just liked the feel of it against your, uh, you know.’
He raised his brows. “Against my ‘you know’? Those are my bollocks and my cock you’re speaking of.”
Her eyes went dark. “Yes.”
“I know you know those words. You use them in your books.”
“Yes.” She cleared her throat. “Well, it’s a little different saying them to someone in real life.” She cleared her throat again. “I, uh, I hope it was okay for you.”
“Yelling is a clue. You don’t often get yelling.”
She tried to suppress a smile and looked down.
He felt his cock springing to new life. Would he ever get enough of her? “I’m not sure your research is yet complete if you have to resort to ‘you know’ to describe things.” He rolled over on his back and scooted her over next to him. “Don’t you think you should explore a little yourself? Just in the name of research.”
She grinned but looked away.
“You can’t possibly be shy after opening to my mouth the way you did.”
“Was…was I too brazen?” She looked stricken.
“A man likes his woman to be lady in public and brazen in bed. You were perfect.”
“So, uh, I should be brazen now.” She slid a glance down to his groin.
She took her lip between her teeth as though she were girding her own loins. “I suppose you know that all those things I wrote in my books—they were pretty much just words to me. I know the words well enough but…”
“But you should explore the reality,” he said.
She smiled shyly. “If you’re sure you wouldn’t mind.”
“I’ll bear up.” At least this time he could wait. He’d had one hell of an orgasm less than an hour ago.
“Well, I think I’ll start with your nipples. I was very curious earlier, but I didn’t like to, uh, just.... Well, you know.”
“You think you’re conveying something with this phrase ‘you know.’ But you’re not. Could you mean ‘lick them’?”
She sighed as if relieved. “Yes. Lick them.”
She bent over him and touched her tongue to his right nipple. Sensation shot to his groin. He hadn’t expected that. Not from just a nipple. Not after having spent himself so forcefully less than an hour before. She ran her tongue over it and then sucked gently. He cleared his throat. Now she raked her teeth across it, not biting, but the mere possibility of biting made him feel open and vulnerable to her. She continued working at it, alternating techniques while her other small hand gravitated toward his other nipple and began to tweak it.
She pulled up. “Now, describe how that feels please.”
She frowned at him. “I can’t just say it feels ‘good’ in my books.”
“Well, I’m a man. Men don’t wax flowery over…over things like that.” He took a breath. “That doesn’t mean you have to stop.”
She slipped down and slid her tongue into his navel. “I have other fish to fry right now. I’ll try to get back to them later.” She pulled his thighs apart and he obliged her. “I’ve read,” she said meditatively, “that the area just behind the testicles is very sensitive.” She took two fingers and rubbed the spot in question slowly, deeply. Lord, he was hard as a rock already. Could things get any more intense? “Is that true?” she asked.
“Uh, yes.” Where did she read these kinds of things? In books like hers?
“That would be yes.”
“And balls, do you like them caressed if I promise to be very gentle?”
“I, uh, I don’t know. No one’s ever done, uh, that exactly to me.”
“You surprise me.” She gave a knowing smile. “A man with your experience?”
The last woman he’d had was the Green Knight’s wife, and that was many years ago. At the thought of the Green Knight and his failure of honor, his heart contracted. He had to put that failure away. This was for Diana. He would perform the act of loving with her, for her, as a healing rite. That was the height of honor. And if it wasn’t, then honor be damned.
Susan Squires grew up among the giant redwoods of California. She thought she was being practical by changing her major in college from theater to English literature. Immersed in a PhD. Program, she slowly realized that none of her graduating friends had work. So she dropped out after receiving a Master’s degree to take an paying job in the business world.As an executive in a Fortune 500 company, she returned to her love of writing while continuing to hold her day-job, much to the amusement of her fellow executives. Her novel Danegeld, had already been purchased by Dorchester by the time she accepted a Golden Heart for Best Unpublished Paranormal Manuscript from Romance Writers of America. It was the first of an eclectic group of historical and contemporary paranormal stories known for their intensity. Body Electric was named by Publishers Weekly one of the ten most influential paperbacks of 2002, for blending romance and science-fiction. Book List compared No More Lies to the works of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton, but it was also a Rita finalist for Best Published Paranormal Romance by Romance Writers of America.
Susan’s Companion Series for St. Martin’s Press continued to garner attention with admiring reviews and several visits to the New York Times Bestseller List. Publishers Weekly named One with the Shadows a Best Book of the Year, and several of the series received starred reviews. Her books have won the many regional contests for published works of paranormal romantic fiction.
Susan no longer has to use tales of romance and adventure to escape budgets and projects. She finally left her day job, and researches and writes her books at the beach in Southern California, supported by three Belgian Sheepdogs and a wonderful husband named Harry who writes occult mysteries as H.R. Knight
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A BABY FOR CHRISTMAS?
Tiffany Lawson promised herself that she would never, ever give her heart to a man again. Now she's a pregnant former rodeo queen and ex-debutante struggling to support her mother and grandmother. She's already picked out the perfect adoptive parents, but cowboy Navy SEAL Rowdy Jones isn't letting anyone take his child.
Rowdy loves the rush that comes from being a Navy SEAL, but finding out he's about to become a dad? That trumps everything. While he and Tiffany shared only one night, Rowdy's determined to do right by her and their baby. His next mission—to win Tiffany and keep his son—might be his toughest yet…
I applaud the author for writing a story around a difficult and sensitive topic - giving a baby for adoption after a one-night stand with a stranger ends up in pregnancy. Rarely is this seen in romance novels even as an option, not to mention a serious consideration, as Tiffany was ready to give the baby for a loving home to be raised before Rowdy found out about the baby.
And the plot itself is well thought out, I think this could have been a great story indeed, I just had a little problem with the characters, or more likely how they were presented. Every single person in the tale was the caricature of their stereotype. And I am thinking this might have been meant to humorous but I was mostly embarrassed while reading, not knowing what to think about them. Tiffany's dreams and hopes for her future were centered around a perfect manicure, and Rowdy, well he didn't come off as the sharpest knife in the toolbox. Even the secondary characters were a parody of the worst possible stereotype. Tiffany and Rowdy with their constant fighting and sparring with each other and about the matter of adoption and future was tiresome, so that instead of being sensitive and deeply felt story, it ended up being a satire of cowboy and a debutante.
Obviously, I didn't connect with the writing style, or the sense of humor, or at least with the characters. Maybe my expectations were off. And I do admit, the caricatures were well done, so most likely someone else will find them hilarious while I felt awkward. But since the storyline was fresh and original, that I am ready to give
~ Three Spoons
God of Wine
Immortal Matchmakers, Inc. #3
By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Released Nov 25th, 2016
CAN ROCK-HARD ABS SAVE THE WORLD? HE SURE THINKS SO
Acan, the God of Wine and Intoxication, has been partying for over ten thousand years. And New Year’s Eve, when humans around the world succumb to his naturally occurring spike in powers, is his big night. Only this year, things are bit different.
A plague is sweeping the immortal community, and he’s turning downright evil. All those New Year’s bashes will turn into bloodbaths if he doesn’t stop it. Sadly, the only known cure is finding a mate, and he is a giant, rude, beer-bellied mess. Definitely not husband material.
But can a little gym-time and help from the pros at Immortal Matchmakers, Inc. turn him into a divine sex-machine? Absolutely!
So watch out, ladies! The God of Wine is lookin’ for love. And he has absolutely no clue what he’s doing.
“You did what?” The Goddess of Forgetfulness winced as she slid the uncapped Corona across the narrow width of the bar into Acan’s awaiting hand.
He licked his lips, greedily grabbing the ice-cold beer, and chugged it down, not spilling a precious drop. He slammed the empty bottle on the counter and pushed it to the side with the other ten he’d just guzzled. “I think you—” Hiccup! “—heard me.”
Forgetty, as he liked to call her, was a tall blonde who usually wore nightclub party clothes—white go-go boots, miniskirts, or little tank dresses like she had on today—because, like him, her life was all about the party. After all, nothing complimented a night of getting hammered better than blacking out and forgetting all about the crazy shit one did the previous night.
We are like peas and carrots.
In any case, his “sister”—the gods were not related by blood since they had no parents—DJ’d at their global chain of successful nightclubs and bars they owned together. She also worked the private parties for their immortal brethren while he bartended, which was his gift. As God of Wine and Intoxication, he merely looked at a person and knew what sort of drink to serve and the quantity they required to reach the ideal state of jubilation. Between him and his sister, they served a vital function that allowed humans—and the occasional immortal—to blow off steam.
Forgetty blinked her turquoise eyes at him. “I did hear you, brother. I merely cannot believe you went into a gym. At five in the morning. Are you absolutely certain you’re feeling all right?”
He tapped his index finger demandingly on the bar.
Forgetty reached into the trough of ice behind the counter, uncapped another cold one, and plunked it down in front of him.
“Feeling great!” He grabbed his frosty treat, saluted her with the bottle, and then threw it back.
“Belch, Belch, Belch.” She shook her head with worry, using his nickname. “I mean this in the kindest way possible, but you just called the elevator woman a cunt.”
He set down his empty bottle and shrugged. “Correction. Fuzzy cunt. And so?”
She tipped her head to one side. “So you called her a cunt.”
Where was Forgetty going with this? He stared at her, hoping she’d open another beer.
His sister sighed and then rolled her eyes. “Belch, don’t you find that just a tad bit abrasive? Even for you?”
“Fuck no! She was being a bitchy shrew. I should rip out her throat and make a Bloody Mary out of it.”
Forgetty stepped back, cringing.
“What?” he snapped defensively.
“Belch,” she said softly, “you are many things—a drunk, a flasher, a very loud snorer, and occasional arsonist. But you are not an asshole.”
“I am an asshole!”
She slammed her fist down on the counter. “No, Acan.” She used his real name. She never did that. “You’re nice, and you’re fun, but you’re never cruel or so outrageously rude. Especially not to women.”
He wasn’t? “Well, fuck that! Let the bitches die. Burn them all.” Belch slapped his hands over his mouth. “What was that?” he mumbled.
Forgetty’s face turned ghost white. “I think—and please don’t panic and break out the absinth when I say this—bad, bad things happen when you break out the absinth—but I think you’re flipping.”
Fuck. “Fuck.” Maybe he was.
She nodded. “Yes, brother. It is the only reason I can think of for your recent change from happy drunk to mean drunk. Which means—well, you know what it means.”
Fuck, I do. Acan sat there on the barstool, staring into the empty bottle, his quickly sobering mind feeling far too lucid for his taste because he actually understood the implications. He didn’t like it one little bit. Cimil—world-renowned garage-sale huntress and Goddess of the Underworld—announced almost a month ago that something had upset the order of the Universe. No one was sure why, but the evidence was there: good immortals were beginning to change into bad immortals and vice versa, the only remedy or vaccination being a mate. Yep, a significant other. Having a special someone seemed to act as a counterbalance of sorts to prevent the immortal from “flipping,” as they now called it.
“Blahhhh!” Belch swiped his hand through the air. “I don’t need a woman, I need women. Lots of them and a new one every night. And I need my mojito tank.” Yes, it took a lot of upkeep, but the mojito tank was the highlight of his day. An indoor two-person glass tank filled with mojito goodness was ideal for total submersion, drinking games, or a very long straw.
“You’re acting too dense, even for you,” she said.
“I am the party god. Density is my immensity.”
“Acan, stop! If you’re turning evil, think about what this will mean for humanity.” Her turquoise eyes—same color as his and all of the fourteen gods—filled with intense emotion. “Everyone else might underestimate your powers, but—” she tapped the side of her head “—I know. We’ve been partying for ten millennia. You have the power to influence an entire hemisphere. You do it every New Year’s.”
True. New Year’s Eve was all him, with New York City being the epicenter. He influenced billions around the planet to drink in excess and party hard. It was the equivalent of his Super Bowl.
“Brother,” said Forgetty worriedly, “New Year’s is less than four weeks away.”
He looked up at his sister, who stood on the other side of the counter, not reaching for the tequila bottle behind her on the mirrored shelf like she should.
“What are you waiting for?” he scolded.
“I’m cutting you off, Belch.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“You heard me. No more cocktails. No more beer. No more flaming assholes or Jell-O shots or even cough syrup.”
MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author. Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance closet and follow your dream. Mimi lives with her Latin Lover hubby, two pirates-in-training (their boys), and the rat terrier duo, Snowflake and Mini Me, in Arizona. She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Danger is heating up…
When Carly Reese’s beloved fashion boutique catches fire, she sees her dreams go up in smoke. The good news is that Carly was saved from the flames by a barking dog nearby. She soon discovers the heroic pooch is a trained K-9 who’s guarding his unconscious partner …a gorgeous firefighter who ends up in Carly’s arms.
Noah Glover and his K-9 are a fearless duo, and Noah has clearly met his match with the brave, beautiful Carly. Soon they team up to track down the arsonist behind the blast – a psychotic criminal who’s intent on framing Noah. Meanwhile, the sparks between Noah and and Carly could ignite a five-alarm fire. Should they smother their feelings in the name of justice…or fan the flames of passion?
The story takes off with tension and fear filled moments in the darkness of the night where lives are at stake and I was hooked. Immediately my expectations of the story went sky high and I wish that wouldn't have happen because the next morning things got awkward.
Noah is in the hospital and turns out this gorgeous hero of the book is very abrasive with sharp cutting edges when relating to others around him. At first, I tried to put it on the condition he was in and to the events the day before but it turns out that's just how he was, rather arrogant and rude person who only soften when around his son. Yes, Noah has had it tough, with many setbacks and tragedies, but this is just me, I don't have much sympathy for unnecessary rudeness in any form.
And then in walks Carly, the heroine who saved Noah's life the night before. She has found out about a rumor that Noah might have tried to kill himself at the fire. And Carly walks in yelling at him, not listening to a word Noah has to say, just being judgemental, rude, overbearing, and rumbling all over this person whom, to her knowledge, tried to kill themselves the night before. Who, what, I mean what kind of person does that?! A little compassion, consideration, kindness, and humbleness go a long way.
So the impression the main characters made on me wasn't that flattering. As the story unfolds the reasons for their behavior comes clear, but not justifiable in my mind.
Their connection to each other is running as hot and heavy as their tempers. I wasn't prepared for their relationship to turn physical at the hello. It had no foundation, no base to built on, it was basically a hook up in the heat of the moment. After that, I eagerly looked for 'more' in their connection, I really wanted to like them as characters, like them together, and root for them, and their nearly managed to pull me on their side. The epilog didn't work for me, it just proved to me that what I had thought at the beginning was actually correct. So the romance side of the story was a wash for me, furthermore, it made my mind wonder while reading at the cost of the suspense side of the tale.
The story is told from many different points of views, I like it when I get to see the culprit's thoughts, to better understand their reasons, how delusional they might be, but in my opinion, it gives more depth to a story. What I wasn't prepared for was Harley's point of view, the K-9 dog. I loved him, he is a trooper with his eating disorder, but I had to go over the pages couple times to confirm it really was Harley here talking and thinking. It was just distractive and didn't really give anything to the plot.
The suspense behind the crimes was alluring. The mystery held my interest so that I kept reading despite the other issues. The strain at the arson investigator's offices was concerning and the possibility that Noah might not win the fight against the villain chilling. And as lives are at the stake again, the actions of the offender petrify.
So no, this wasn't my favorite story in the series. Someone else might not find the issues I faced a problem at all, might even enjoy them. But from my end, the suspense saved some of the character falls, making the final score
~ Two Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
The Scottish Duke
Duke Trilogy #1
By: Karen Ranney
Releasing November 29, 2016
New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney returns with the first novel in a new series about dashing, charismatic dukes—and the women who tame them…
Though raised as a gentleman’s daughter, Lorna Gordon is obliged to take a position as an upstairs maid at Blackhall Castle when her father dies. Alex Russell, the Duke of Kinross, is the most tempting man she’s ever seen—and completely unattainable—until, at a fancy dress ball, Lorna disguises herself as Marie Antoinette and pursues an illicit tryst…with scandalous consequences.
Months after his mysterious seductress disappears, Alex encounters her again. Far from the schemer the distrustful duke assumed her to be, Lorna is fiercely independent and resourceful. She’s the one woman capable of piercing his defenses. But when danger threatens Lorna, Alex must prove himself not just the lover of her fantasies, but the man who will fight to protect her.
“It would be a waste of my time to tell you this is foolish, wouldn’t it? You wouldn’t pay any attention.”
Nan stepped back and surveyed Lorna, shaking her head all the while.
The room they shared was small and with only a tiny mirror over the common bureau. Nan would have to be her eyes.
Each maid was assigned an oil lamp and a certain amount of oil. If it was used before the end of the month, she had to dress in the dark, a way of ensuring that she rationed the light better the following month.
Lorna hadn’t used any of her oil for a week, saving it all for this one night.
“Maybe it is foolish,” she said, glancing down at the wide panniers of the gown she wore. “But it is such a magical evening and when would I have another chance to experience a ball at Blackhall?”
“You’re a maid, Lorna,” Nan said, sighing heavily. “Not a guest.”
“Tonight, though, Nan, no one will know.”
Nan made a sign in the air and she obediently turned so that the back of the dress could be inspected.
Things happened for a reason, didn’t they? The housekeeper had sent her to find a certain table in the attic and she’d gone, reluctant to climb into the darkened space. She couldn’t disobey Mrs. McDermott. The dear lady had taken her on when she hadn’t a whit of training or background in service.
To her surprise, the attic wasn’t gloomy or dark at all. Porthole windows along the outer wall let in the June sunlight. For an hour she’d pulled up one sheet after another, only discovering the table at the far end of the attic. Between the stairs and the door, however, there’d been dozens and dozens of trunks, each begging to be opened and inspected.
In the third trunk she’d found the carefully wrapped wig and the golden dress with the panniers. A fortuitous find, especially since they’d been preparing for the fancy dress ball at Blackhall for over a month.
She was not one to overlook circumstances, especially when they were calling out to her. Her father had often said that fortune favors the bold – fortuna audaces iuvat.
“We could have found a dress for you, too,” she said now as she tugged on the wig.
She’d taken the precaution of grabbing some flour from the kitchen. None of her training had given her any insight into fashions from a hundred years ago, but the wig had given off a cloud of finely milled powder and the only thing she could think of to substitute was flour. Nan dipped a powder puff into the bowl and patted it on her temples and the tall crown of hair adorned with gold bows.
“I’m not as brave as you.”
“Or as foolish,” Lorna said.
“That, too.” Nan stepped back and surveyed her handiwork. “Mrs. McDermott will have no choice but to dismiss you if you’re found out.”
“Then I’ll make sure I’m not discovered.” She turned and smiled at Nan. “It’s a fancy dress ball, Nan. Everyone will be wearing masks. No one will know who I am.”
“What?” she asked.
Nan shook her head again. “You see what you want to see, Lorna. You have ever since I’ve known you. You’re lucky Mrs. McDermott didn’t assign you to serve the guests. What would you have done then? Come up with some sort of sickness?”
“I would have found some way,” she said, smiling down at Nan.
She’d been deliberately clumsy this past week, especially in the housekeeper’s sight for that very reason. She’d dropped an armload of books she was dusting, fumbled with the jar of spent tea leaves used to clean the carpets, and repeatedly stumbled holding her brushes and pail.
After all that, Mrs. McDermott would have been foolish to select her as one of the servers. Better to dismiss her early, send her to her room, and instruct her to appear at dawn to help clean the ballroom. To her relief the housekeeper had done exactly that.
“Well, how do I look?” she asked, carefully affixing the mask strings behind her ears. That, too, had been another miraculous find, a sign that she had to attend the ball.
It was as if Providence, well aware of her barely contained curiosity and fascination, had provided her with a way to see the Duke of Kinross up close. Granted, it would only be for a few hours on a June night in the Scottish Highlands, but who was she to deny Providence?
“You look beautiful,” Nan said, nodding. “The gold makes your brown eyes sparkle. And the white wig accentuates your complexion.”
“Could I pass for one of the guests?”
Nan sighed again. “Yes, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”
“My father was Robert Gordon. I’m the equal to most of them there.”
“But it isn’t because of most of them that you’re going, is it? It’s to see the duke. We both know how foolish that is.”
Lorna reached over and hugged Nan, depositing a fair share of flour onto the other girl’s shoulders. Apologizing, she pulled back.
“Don’t worry, Nan. I’ll go and pretend to be someone else for a few hours. Then I’ll return and be a well disciplined upper maid, I promise.”
Nan didn’t appear convinced. Nor was Lorna, if she were to tell the truth. It was going to be so difficult to be herself after tonight.
Karen Ranney wanted to be a writer from the time she was five years old and filled her Big Chief tablet with stories. People in stories did amazing things and she was too shy to do anything amazing. Years spent in Japan, Paris, and Italy, however, not only fueled her imagination but proved she wasn't that shy after all.
Now a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, she prefers to keep her adventures between the covers of her books. Karen lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Author Links: WEBSITE | GOODREADS
Skirting the Ice
Bannister Brothers #3
By: Jennie Marts
Releasing December 8, 2016
Buttoned-up accountant Jack Bannister lives an uncomplicated life until his teenage crush moves back into the house next door…all grown up and sexy as hell. Murphy Ryan is still wild and reckless, and danger has followed her to Colorado. Jack will do whatever it takes to protect her, even it means letting her go…again.
Murphy Ryan is focused on building a new NHL women’s hockey team. But staying on her game is hard with the distraction, and the memories, of the hot nerd in the house next door. Jack Bannister had been her first kiss, and she wants him to be her last. With his dry humor and sexy glasses, being smart never looked so good.
Jack’s been given a chance to win back the one that got away, but worries this gorgeous hockey player is still out of his league. He’s kept his heart on ice, but now that Murphy’s back, she might be the one to finally thaw it.
His eyes widened, and he swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. Frozen in place, he only stared at her as he labored to breathe.
“Are you okay? Do you need your inhaler?”
“Yes. No. Wait.” He pulled in a deep breath. “I’m okay. It’s just that I’ve thought about this so many times. Dreamed of what it would be like. But I never imagined it would be like this. You’re a goddess. You literally take my breath away.”
Oh. My. Gosh.
Her heart ached at the pure honesty of his words.
He shook his head, letting out an embarrassed sigh. “Sorry. That’s pretty nerdy, huh? It’s gotta be so sexy to take your top off and have a guy have an asthma attack just from looking at you.”
If you only knew.
She sat up, pressing him back against the sofa as she straddled his lap. Pushing his hair off his forehead, she gazed into his eyes, trying to match his sincerity. “You just told me that seeing me half naked literally took your breath away. That’s actually sexy as hell.”
A grin tugged at the corner of his lips. A grin so cute that she couldn’t help but smile back.
“Jack Bannister. You are like no man that I have ever known. I’m sitting topless in your lap, and instead of mauling me, we’re grinning like loons.”
His smile widened. “I know. It’s ridiculous. I want to maul you. Well, I mean I want to everything you. It’s not like I’m normally a real suave guy or anything. But holy hell, when I’m around you, I feel like a gawky teenage boy again that’s never kissed a girl and is completely transfixed by an amazing pair of breasts.” His gaze flicked down to her chest and color brightened his cheeks. “I don’t even know what to do with my hands.”
She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Amazing, huh?”
He nodded. “Spectacular.”
His words made her bold, the way he looked at her bringing out her brazen side. “How about this—how about if you stop worrying about what you’re not doing and let’s focus on what we could be doing.” She pushed off his lap and shimmied out of her pajama bottoms.
Reveling in the sharp pull of his breath, she stood before him, wearing only a tiny pair of white lace thong panties. Even though she worked out consistently, no amount of skating could shave off the extra curve of her hips. But tonight she didn’t care.
He’d just told her that he thought she had the body of a goddess. Leaning forward, she took his hand and pulled him up to stand in front of her. “And don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas for what you can do with your hands.”
Jennie Marts is the USA Today Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”
She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.
Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Publisher: 4-D Publishing
Roberta Sedgewick is stuck in a house that is too empty without her beloved Burton--the rat died and left her with his dog and rooms that rattle. She convinces her three golfing buddies, all in their seventies, to sell their homes and buy adjoining condos. The widows intend to spend the rest of their days golfing, gambling at the casino, and having fun. Oh, the heaven of it.
But then they all hire the same maid who uncovers long-hidden criminal secrets kept by each woman. Oh, the horror of it. The reputations of their deceased husbands, a banker, a minister, and a respected farmer, will be tarnished forever. Three of the widows could face jail time, and the fourth fears for her life.
Whatever will they do with the conniving, blackmailing maid?
I catch my breath. This could be it. To make sure, I draw the newspaper almost to my nose and read the listing again. Right here in the real estate section of the Vista Harbor Chronicle is the answer. The date in the corner reads July 7, only four days ago. A happy dance springs within me, but I control the urge. No customer sitting at a high table in a bistro needs to witness a lady past her prime make a fool of herself. Instead, I jig my fists below the table in a silent yes, yes, yes. I’ve found the condos. Life at age seventy-two is about to change. I slide from the stool and head for the door, hoping no one notices the newspaper tucked under my left arm.
“Thank you, Mrs. Sedgewick,” the coffee gal calls after me. She saw the paper, and that’s her way of letting me know. Without looking back, I waggle my right hand above my shoulder and push open the door.
Outside, I dig through my Gucci for my phone. I love my hobo bag, but don’t like searching for whatever drops to the bottom. I need to figure that out. I also don’t like the dark face of the phone in the bright sunlight. Phone people need to figure that out.
I move under the umbrella of a red maple. In filtered light, I send a text to my three buddies. Meet me at the clubhouse. I have a surprise. I shuffle a little smart-step, unable to hide my joy. I’m still light on my feet even though my hair has turned soft white. I avoid coloring it but fight other signs of aging with a diet pill once in a while and wrinkle cream rubbed in nightly. Like most Pisces, I’m proud, a bit vain, and not afraid to admit it. I hop into my reliable Subaru.
A hand grabs the top part of the car door.
I gasp and brace against the seat.
A careworn woman stands there like a waif. “I did naught mean to startle you. I noticed you did a jig step before getting into your car and wondered if you are from Scotland. I’m so homesick for the heather.” She’s medium height, medium weight—medium all the way around. Her flyaway hair is sandy, and her sad eyes show more burnished gold than green. She removes her hand from the top of the door. “I’m sorry for intruding.”
“No need to be. I’m not from Scotland, but some distant relatives were. They mixed with my English ancestors, so I’m blessed with a good dose of Highland merriment and English good sense that battle each other. I hope you find your way back to the heather.” I close the car door. It thuds softly, not a hard slam to show dismay. So often anymore I’m prone to sharpness and a quick tongue, followed by guilt. Or else I rattle on about nothing and don’t worry about it.
The Scottish woman walks away, spine stiff, head high. An odd, lonely woman, but likable.
A sense of uncertainty chases around my shoulders. I banish it with a glance at my watch. There’s enough time to run by Jones Realty and arrange for a showing of the condos this afternoon. I tilt the rearview mirror and apply a boost of blush, lip gloss, and a dab of liquid concealer by my left eyelid—the dang droopy thing. There. All is repaired well enough to see Ned Jones, the realtor.
Before I swing into the late morning traffic on Harbor Drive, a white-knuckle thought smacks into my gray matter. The newspaper is only a few days old, but what if someone already bought one of the units? What a terrible thought. I press harder on the accelerator and zip through Vista Harbor, the alpine resort community I call home. It’s a small town compared to Aspen or Big Sky, but it’s more than big enough to accommodate tourists and newcomers. I don’t mind sharing the beauty of my valley, my mountains, and my lakes. Sure, there’s room for all, and yes, I claim ownership. This part of Montana belongs to me.
Ten blocks later, after having to slam on the brakes to avoid the rear end of a showoff car, I park next to a chalet-style house with a readerboard announcing homes or acreage for folks to buy. Big black letters read, New on the Market. Four Single-Story Condominiums in the Harbor Hill Area. Perfect. And no more stairs to climb.
I straighten my skinny jeans, smooth my top, and walk inside the office. A clock chimes the half hour . . . plenty of time before lunch.
Behind a glass counter, inlaid with prize listings and a Sold banner across each, a young man thumbs through a stack of listings and thoroughly ignores me. He must be the new assistant, and the talk of the town, like any new buck. No cure for small towns and gossip.
“Is Ned in?”
“No.” The young squirt doesn’t bother to look up and continues to scan a paper, nimble finger flying down the page.
I lean a little onto my right side and place my jewel-covered fingers on the counter, thrumming them on the most expensive listing. “Just tell your boss our mom called from the nursing home and wants more money.”
The kid makes eye contact. “You’re his sista?”
“No, but you should treat me like I am. Do I hear Boston in your accent?”
“Moving to a small town is an adjustment. Attitude counts.”
Satisfied I have his attention, I say, “I would like to see those newly listed condos at 2:00 this afternoon.”
“The ones out on Harbor Hill?”
I nod. “The ones with the same name as the golf course, ski mountain, and every other place that isn’t called Alpine or Vista. What’s the street number?”
“101. Ned is showing a unit now.” The kid tries not to smirk. He doesn’t make it. His brown-flecked eyes shine with mischief. They probably always do. He’s a young devil, I can tell, and figure he’s teasing me.
“Please inform him Roberta Sedgewick will be at the condos at 2:00 this afternoon. If he can’t make it, have him call me. He has the number.” Halfway out the door, I lean back inside. “Oh, by the way, I’m interested in buying all four and may be interested in listing four pieces of prime property. Like the kind you have there under glass on your counter. Tell him not to sell any of the units until we talk. Understood?”
I chuckle to myself as the door closes. I’m bad.
Marie F. Martin is the author of an intense vow in MATERAL HARBOR, surprising twists of a family’s past in HARBORED SECRETS, a grizzly attack and lover’s spat in RATHAM CREEK. Together her three thriller, mystery, or suspense novels have over 250,000 Kindle downloads and 613 five star reviews.She now adds DON’T MESS WITH MRS. SEDGEWICK to her list of books.
Marie lives in a fertile valley at the base of the Rocky Mountains. She enjoys a quiet life where laughter comes easy, love easier. She invites you to join in her rich, rural memories on her website where she has posted a memoir of her early childhood and raising her family of four children.
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