Single Dad (Milford College #3) by Noelle Adams is available NOW!
Title: Single Dad
Series: Milford College #3
Author: Noelle Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: no-strings-attached; single dad
The last thing I want is to partner on a library exhibit with Max, a hot new art professor at my college, but it's part of my job as librarian so I don't have a choice. My attraction to him is intense and immediate, but I'm taking a break from dating so I can focus on myself. I don't need a distraction like Max.
He's a single father, and that's the only thing he can focus on now. He's never going to take a relationship with me seriously, no matter how much I want him to.
Single Dad is the third book in the Milford College series, novellas about the faculty and staff of a small liberal arts college.
Enjoy a fragment:
I’m pretending to work on email but mostly giving myself a pep talk when there’s a tap on my half-open door.
I turn around with a practiced smile, only to freeze when I see Max standing in my doorway, dressed in tan trousers and a black Oxford with that intimate smile on his face.
It’s unseemly for a man to look that sexy. A universal injustice.
“I’m three minutes early, but surely you aren’t surprised to see me,” he says.
“Come on in. Of course I’m not surprised.”
“Then why do you look like you’ve been socked in the gut?”
“I don’t look like that.”
“How do you know? You can’t see yourself.”
I roll my eyes, my annoyance at this teasing overcoming the rush of attraction that had paralyzed me. I stand up. “Let me show you the books.”
“Ah. I’m back to being treated with cold-as-ice professionalism.” His smile is even warmer than before, so it’s clear he isn’t remotely offended.
I roll my eyes again. “I’m not treating you cold as ice.”
“It feels kind of icy to me. And here I was being nice and bringing you lunch.” He raises a bag he’s been holding that I only half noticed before.
“You brought me lunch?”
“I brought us lunch, but if you don’t want me to eat with you, I can take mine with me.”
“Why did you bring lunch?” I’m filled with another rush of pleasure.
“Because I figured I was using up your lunch break, and I thought you might be hungry. I’m a nice guy that way. You just haven’t realized it yet.”
“I know you’re a nice guy.”
“Yes. I do.” I’m afraid I might be gazing at him fatuously, and he’s going to be able to see it. So I clear my throat and give myself a mental shake. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“I don’t know. Like I said before, I’m still trying to figure you out. So do you want some lunch?”
“What did you get?”
“I didn’t know what you would want, so I got two kinds of salad, three kinds of sandwiches, and some pasta salad. I’ll eat whatever you don’t want.”
I gape at him. “You’ll eat two salads and two sandwiches?”
He laughs as he pulls containers and wrapped sandwiches out of the bag. “I could, but I probably won’t. You’ll have to eat half this stuff.”
“I can’t eat half of all this. You do see the size of me, don’t you?” I’m checking the labels and getting excited at every one I see. They’re just half sandwiches, so I pick the chicken salad on sourdough and the small Greek salad.
“Yes. I see the size of you.”
My breath hitches at his shift of tone. When I lift my eyes to meet his, I’m trapped by the heat of his gaze. His eyes are running up and down me, from my loose hair to my sandals. I’m wearing a long, soft skirt today in a pretty, feminine print. It’s not a sexy outfit, but I feel that way under his possessive gaze. My whole body starts to pulse.
When I realize what I’m feeling, I wrench my eyes away from his and focus down on my food again. I sit in my desk chair with an awkward flop.
He appears in better condition than me, but he doesn’t say anything else as he takes the turkey club and the pasta salad. He hands me a napkin and utensils, and we begin to eat.
“Thank you for this,” I say, after I’ve swallowed a bite of sandwich. It’s really good.
“You’re welcome. Thanks for your help with the exhibit.”
“No problem. The books are over there.”
“Great. We can look at them after we eat.”
His suggestion makes sense since we obviously don’t want to get food all over the books I’ve collected for him. But it extends our time together longer than I was hoping.
It would be so much easier and better for my state of mind if I could get him out of here in ten minutes.
No such luck.
Who can you trust
When family, truth, and love are all on the line?
Gracie Parish knows the true cost of trust. Rescued as a child by the infamous Parish family, she became a member of their covert sisterhood of vigilantes. Gracie saw her most precious relationships destroyed by secrecy. She learned long ago to protect her heart as well as her family's secrets.
Special Agent Leif "Dusty" McAllister will do anything to uncover the truth about the Parish family's covert operations. Dusty knows Gracie is his ticket in. He'll use everything he's got—fair, unfair, and just plain wrong—to break through her defenses. But the more he gets to know Gracie and her family's mission, the harder he starts to fall. Neither one is sure they'll get out of this with their lives—or their hearts—intact.
Dusty entered the packed club. Not an empty seat at the bar. Or an empty space around it. People pushed in hard.
Behind the bar, the club’s owner, little Miss Gracie Parish was overrun, making multiple drinks simultaneously, while she nodded to acknowledge people and instruct servers.
Only one other person helped Gracie behind the bar. A brunette in the server’s white shirt and black pants. He pulled beers and gave shots, but Dusty didn’t see him making any mixed drinks.
Never say he wasn’t a man to help a friend in distress. Even if he had orchestrated that distress in order to get close to her, use her to get to her family and uncover their vigilante activities.
He navigated his way through the crowd with care. Being as big as he was, he was well aware of his ability to intimidate without trying, so he tapped shoulders, nodded politely, and made his way behind the bar as graciously as he could.
Upon seeing him, Gracie jerked her head in surprise then smiled. Hadn’t expected that. Kind of warmed his heart.
He put up a single digit, a give me a second before you kick me out. He leaned closer. She was a good foot shorter. “Stopped by to check on you and have that drink.” He gazed around. “Looks like you’re slammed. Okay if I help? Worked as a bartender in college.”
Gracie’s face walked the line between yes please and stay the hell away, then tipped over. “I could use the help.”
She sent the obviously relieved server back into the club, opened a couple of beers and handed them to a guy across the bar. She took his cash and smiled when he told her to keep the change.
When she turned back to Dusty, her eyes ran down him like it was involuntary. That kind of warmed him too. Warm enough to start a fire.
She pointed to a notepad. “There are two parties that have a tab, try to handle those. You can just write the drinks down. We have the credit cards, so we can tally them later.”
She began making a mixed drink, efficient and calm and sexy as anything he’d ever seen. “Cash is king for you. Drink prices are there.” She pointed to a laminated document held together at a punch-holed corner with a silver hoop. She winged a slice of lemon around the drink she’d made and handed it to a woman, who handed Gracie a credit card. Running the card, she gave Dusty a quick overview of the cash register.
Basically, he had to push three buttons. He could handle that and the math. “What about credit/debit cards?”
She pulled out the receipt that had just spit from the credit card machine. “I’ll handle all people with cards.”
“Got it, boss lady.”
She smiled, and as she walked away, tossed back, “Thanks. Really.”
Lady had a great backside. “Happy to help.”
Quick to learn where everything was, Dusty hit his stride. It wasn’t hard to find people with cash or on account, so he didn’t hurt for business. For the next few hours, he and Gracie worked, brushing hotly against each other as they buzzed here and there.
But, much to his disappointment, not standing in one place long enough to talk or explore that heat. The crowd kept them hopping. A few people got handsy with him and her, trying to get attention. Nothing they couldn’t handle, until the big guy.
Dusty watched him. Impatient as hell, using his size to insert himself at the bar as if the crowd were an insult. He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled loud to get Gracie’s attention. She turned.
If it had been him, Dusty would’ve ignored the guy. But he saw Gracie’s eyes evaluate the guy and the situation. A smile on her face, she went right over. They exchanged a few words. She tapped the bar as if asking for his patience and began to turn.
Guy’s big hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. Gracie looked at where he held her, said something, smiled like it was the only warning she’d give.
The guy’s knuckles whitened on her wrist. A few people at the bar were paying attention now. Someone had taken out a cell. Gracie Parish on camera. Which meant she wasn’t likely to pull any self-defense. She surely wouldn’t want that all over the internet.
Dusty would’ve moved to help, but he was also sure the lady didn’t need it and wouldn’t appreciate him butting in. Plus, he wanted to see what she’d do.
Still smiling at the guy, she reached under the bar, pulled out a nozzle for the fountain drinks, and blasted the guy, not in the face, but directly up his nose.
Shock and the sting of it had him reeling back. The people lining the bar sprang away. Gracie backed up too but kept hold of the nozzle.
That second was all that was needed for one of the bouncers to move in for the kill. He wrestled the dude, got him under control, grabbed him by the neck. Forcing the guy’s head down, he marched the soaked idiot out.
By the time the bouncer reached the front door, Gracie was already getting bar towels and handing them to customers, apologizing for the mess and offering free drinks.
Maybe feeling his gaze, she looked over at him. He’d thought he’d see condemnation, like why hadn’t he hotfooted it over there and given her a hand, but she smiled. She smiled and mouthed, “That was fun.”
Lady was going to break his heart.
Armed with a razor-sharp wit and a rolled-up MFA in Creative Writing, Diana Muñoz Stewart cartwheel-kicked her way into publishing with her fiery Black Ops Confidential series. Washington Independent Review of Books called the series’ award-winning debut, “original, impressive” a “rollicking good ride” and “high-octane.”
Of her writing Publishers Weekly said, “Stewart plays adeptly with the reader’s emotions” and noted that in her series, “Stewart’s talent shines.”
Of her unflinching openness in taking on today’s relevant topics, Booklist noted, “Munoz-Stewart discusses such sensitive topics as human trafficking, sexual violence, and sexism…while the diverse …Parish family and their mission to protect women everywhere give these topics…hope…”
Kirkus Book Reviews noted her romantic suspense series, along with having, “Sizzling physical encounters” also “enables an emphasis on recovery and power.”
Munoz Stewart’s work has been a BookPage Top 15 Romance of 2018, a Night Owl Top Pick, A BookPage Top Pick, and an Amazon Book of the Month. A 2014 Pages From The Heart Winner, 2015 Golden Heart® Finalist, 2016 Daphne du Maurier Finalist, and a 2016 Gateway to the Best Winner, Diana Munoz Stewart is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.
Diana lives in an often chaotic and always welcoming home that—depending on the day—can hold husband, kids, extended family, friends, and a canine or two. A believer in the power of words to heal, connect, and distract from chores, Diana blogs regularly on topics near and dear to her heart, including spotlight pieces on strong women from around the world. When not writing, Diana can be found kayaking, doing sprints up her long driveway—harder than it sounds–attempting yoga on her deck, or hiking with the man who’s had her heart since they were teens.
Diana is represented by the wonderful Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Some things you can’t forget.
A body hanging from the infamous History Tree unraveled their teenage love.
Now Maura Antrim is again tangled up with Brock McGovern.
Twelve years later, they’re back where that murder occurred—where Brock had been arrested and then released, where Maura had run, too scared to stand by his side.
But with two women missing, and Brock now an FBI agent, Maura is determined to help. Together, they’ll have to confront a threat that never died and see if their passion has withstood the test of time.
With a flare of history, intense murder investigation, and reunited lovers Heather Graham delivers her trademark style of potent, fervent entertainment, that is hard to put down and leaves you craving for even more.
I enjoyed this story immensely, it had the vibes of Dirty Dancing (the movie) with the drama of the resort summer employees, it had the horrid crimes, it had the intriguing investigation, and the interplay of the cast of characters.
Maura Antrim and Brock McGovern were destined to be together, their connection, their energy, the strong attraction, it was all still tangible after twelve years of no communication. I loved how uncomplicated their relationship after all was, and I admired their honesty, openness, and loyalty to each other.
The murder mystery is a twisted tale of heinous crimes and sadness for the senseless loss of lives. There are many suspects, there are few clues, and to get all the puzzle pieces together, to figure out the case of disappearing and murdered girls, Maura and Brock risk their lives and future together to get the answers their need.
With each story I read by the author, I learn something new of the area the tale is located in with her compelling way to tie the local history to the events of the book. It is left to readers discretion to determine what is fiction and what is fact, and that in itself I find absorbing.
A mystery to be solved, an old relationship to be rekindled, and friends reunited... Another thrilling riddle told in the compelling and unique way only Heather Graham can do it
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write, working on short horror stories and romances. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, WHEN NEXT WE LOVE, in 1982 and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. She wrote the launch books for the Dell's Ecstasy Supreme line, Silhouette's Shadows, and for Harlequin's mainstream fiction imprint, Mira Books.
Heather was a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA and, since 1999, has hosted the Romantic Times Vampire Ball, with all revenues going directly to children's charity.
She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty languages, and to have been honored with awards frorn Waldenbooks. B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.
Heather loves travel and anything have to do with the water, and is a certitified scuba diver. Married since high school graduation and the mother of five, her greatest love in life remains her family, but she also believes her career has been an incredible gift, and she is grateful every day to be doing something that she loves so very much for a living.
For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, eHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
An Amish marriage of convenience
A new North Country Amish novel
Secretly pregnant and unwed, Gemma Lapp has a difficult choice—face her Amish community or raise her baby alone.
But when a storm strands Gemma in the wilderness with her former crush, Jesse Crump, she knows her secret won’t be safe for long.
Gemma can’t imagine trusting a man again…until Jesse proposes a marriage of convenience. Could their arrangement lead to love?
An inspirational, sweet, and even humorous story of new beginnings, new chances, and trusting the Lord's guidance.
I'm fascinated by the Amish lifestyle, their strong sense of community and culture, their unwavering faith in God and in their leaders, as well as the minimalistic way they choose to live. All these aspects are well represented in this story, in the mix of the drama and romance. I was thrilled of the bits of humor the author had inserted into the otherwise so serious matters.
The protagonists were strong characters, who captivated the attention in every scene. Jesse was easy to be admired by his loyalty, the high standard of character he has, he is smart, he is talented, capable, and kind, he is a protector, and in his awkwardness so adorable at times. Gemma was in trouble, and it wasn't the first time, but this time it was more than just escaping the town could fix. She is stubborn, strong-willed, and outspoken, yet she has good intentions and kind heart. She was my crumbling rock in this story, her obstinate sometimes so strong it was frustrating.
From the beautiful scenery to the strong family connections, the community that has your back, and the romance that is budding in the midst of trauma and fear for survival, I enjoyed this tale of second chances and its many stages. A charming and graceful tale of not only survival but triumphing and prevailing against all the odds.
~ Four Spoon
She doesn’t need a man
But she could use a friend
When the new director of security, Nick West, arrives at Gallant Lake Resort, Cassie Smith’s carefully protected life is turned upside down.
The handsome ex-cop insists on teaching her self-defense, and as Cassie learns she can indeed make it on her own, she starts wondering if she wants to!
But when Cassie’s safety is threatened, she must choose: continue running from her past…or take a stand for a brighter future.
A heartfelt story of the consequences of domestic violence, the ripple effects it can have in the community, and how learning to live again is possible if a long and difficult journey for all involved.
There is this wholesome, solid vibe in the tale, the small community it is located in, and the people in the center of it. I loved the meddling friends and family, their support and loyalty, their curiosity and cheerful spirits.
Cassie Smith is a capable, smart, and sassy as she comes out of her protective shell she was forced to built to protect herself. She has secrets and for reasons is shying away from people, but the new man in the resort is not allowing her to hide, and the sparks are flying, all possible kinds.
I liked the energy and connection between Cassie and Nick, there was a fragile attraction but even more than that, there was a genuine friendship building in between them, no matter how much they fought against it. Nick is loud, funny, friendly, and outdoorsy, everything opposite to Cassie, yet they find a way to compromise, and learn to spread their interest as they dare to new challenges.
This was a sweet story about healing and finding your way again, finding your strength after being shattered. It has lessons of learning to forgive yourself, letting your past be history, instead of constant present hinderance of joy and love in your life.
An engaging and inspiring tale of life and love
~ Four Spoons
I write the same kind of romances I like to read - stories about people facing real-life challenges with real-life consequences. The stories are emotional and character-driven.
I live in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband - my slice of the bed is very small. When I'm not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed...), I can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends while listening to great music. If the weather is absolutely perfect, I might join my husband on the golf course, where I always feel far more competitive than my actual skill-level would suggest.
by Tinsley Sellers
Publication date: August 16th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
She’s just met the man of her dreams…but he’s not who he said he was. Neither is she. Until they get a second chance to make a first impression.
Is he a sophisticated big-city lawyer, or an easygoing small-town woodworker? And if she’s not a career-driven high-powered attorney, then who is she? Hiding behind their masks is second nature until circumstances force them to see beneath the surface and realize just how alike—and in love—they really are.
He’s only got one rule: no lawyers. She’s a lawyer.
Burned by experience, Buck’s got a rule for a reason. After walking away from a lucrative legal position, he found his peace in Beckley. Life on the farm is simple, and his woodworking business is thriving. He’s not interested in trading his work boots for wingtips and rejoining the rat race. So what if she’s the most compelling woman he’s ever met?
She’s only got one requirement: no a**holes. He’s an a**hole.
After a disastrous encounter in a trendy bar, Nichelle’s convinced that he’s an over-muscled a**hole. She’s got a sleek car, luxurious condo, and elegant designer clothes. Family comes first, and her legal career is on the fastest track. She’s never met a problem she couldn’t solve on her own. So what if he can see beneath her carefully constructed façade?
They’re perfect together. They just don’t know it yet.
Welcome back to Beckley, Michigan! Autumn is in the air and as the days get shorter, the air gets cooler and the calm lakes reflect the blue skies and red-gold trees for a double-dose of fall color. The people are just as warm, friendly, smart, funny, and real as you remember. When you need a place to call home, Beckley welcomes you—and sometimes the family you choose is as strong as the bonds you’re born with.
If you like small-town romance, you’ll like Beckley. If you like smart heroines who balance demanding professional careers with a commitment to family, friends, and finding love, then you’ll definitely like it here. If you like strong, sexy, hard-working heroes who have not-so-secret soft spots for kids, dogs, and classic cars, you may find that you never want to leave!
Knowing Nichelle is the third in the Beckley’s Daughters Romance series. It can be read as a stand-alone story, but continuing readers will recognize many of the characters and locations. This series is recommended for adult readers and contains explicit language and intimate situations.
“Welcome to the Alpha Quadrant!” the bartender shouted as he poured two whiskies and set them on the bar before us. I finally took a good look around the space; it had been decorated by someone with a serious Star Trek fixa…oh. Got it. This was definitely her home turf.
Nichelle spun on her stool and waved to the karaoke DJ, set up next to a small stage on the wall opposite the bar. His face lit up and he punched the air enthusiastically. When the couple on stage finished their duet, the DJ spoke into his microphone.
“It’s been awhile, Starfleet cadets, but Uhura is in the house!” Someone whooped, and heads began turning towards Nichelle. “Get your fine ass up on this stage, Lieutenant!”
She grinned and shouted over the crowd, “Pick me a song, Harcourt Fenton Mudd!” I stared with disbelief as she picked her way to the stage. Harry Mudd typed a few keystrokes on his laptop as she stepped onstage and took up her mic. I recognized the No Doubt song; Jess had listened to it compulsively—without headphones—when it was first released.
“Funny how I…find myself…in love with you,” Nichelle’s silken voice stopped most of the conversation in the room. Bones poured me another drink without asking.
“I ask myself, how much do you…commit yourself?”
Thank god I was already sitting. Thank god the place was poorly lit and all eyes were on the stage. The bar was suddenly too hot; I pulled off my suit jacket and draped it over the back of my stool. I yanked my tie loose and popped the collar button that threatened to cut off my airway.
“Funny how I…blind myself…I never knew,” she sang more softly, and I caught the wave of pain that rolled off her. I flinched, but she raised her gaze, finding my eyes in the dim light. Her voice grew stronger, and bam! she was playing the crowd like a pro.
It’s just a song, I repeated to myself. Swallowed some whisky. Just a song. She didn’t pick it. Goddamn it, it’s not a message. Maybe it was. This thing between us… Why was she blinding herself to the possibility? Why was she focusing all her effort on proving that it couldn’t work? I didn’t know how to convince her to give it a shot, but I had to try. She deserved so much. I had to give her this.
“It’s my life,” she belted out. “Don’t you forget.”
It was her life, but I wasn’t about to let her shut me out of it. Not without a fight.
The bartender nudged my elbow, and I swiveled away from the stage to face him. “You got a response to that?” He jutted his chin towards the stage.
He stepped away, set up a round of tequila shots on a tray for the waitress, and returned as the song was ending. “You got a response to that?” he asked again with a knowing look.
“I might,” I admitted.
Tinsley Sellers grew up in Chicago, spending her summers with her grandparents in a tiny town a lot like Beckley, Michigan. Life took her to Arizona, Washington, and Idaho before she finally found her home in Arkansas.
She is married to an amazing, supportive (and handsome!) man, with whom she has rescued three dogs and two cats.
When she’s not writing, she teaches physics and engineering at the local university.
When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably trying new recipes. She enjoys fast cars, loud music, fine whisky, and big books. In no particular order.
If Lacy Shaw could have one wish, it's that the past would stay in the past. And with her high school reunion coming up, she has no intention of reliving the worst four years of her life. Especially when all she has to show for the last decade is how the shy bookworm blossomed into...the shy town librarian. Ditching the event seems the best option until a blistering hot alternative roars into Lacy's life. Perhaps riding into the reunion on the back of Paris Montgomery's motorcycle will show her classmates how much she really has changed...
While growing up as a foster kid, Paris Montgomery only felt at home in Sweetwater Springs, which is why he picked the small town to start over after his divorce. He can't afford to ruin this refuge with another doomed relationship - especially one with a woman who is his total opposite. But when the town's sweet librarian offers to help him reconnect with his foster dad, he finds they have more in common than he thought. Both are about to discover that home is where the heart is.
This was such a sweet, adorable, emotional novella.
I loved how connected Paris was to the small town Sweetwater Springs, and how the whole town seemed to look after each other, and if it was wanted or not, it didn't matter.
Paris and Lacy Shaw have a shy yet true connection, I loved how Lucy blossomed and found her inner strength to face the past.
Paris finding his foster parents was touching, and how a memory illness affects a person was realistic and sadly true to life. I wish there would have been more about Paris' past, about his struggles with his parents and growing up in foster care. What we find out about him is admirable, how he reaches out to his former foster parents was heartwarming.
Lacy's meddling family had me laughing out loud - cause it is only funny when it is not happening to yourself!
I somehow have missed this series until this novella was offered for me to read, and I'm glad that I found out about the series, even if late to the game, cause this place, Sweetwater Springs, sounds like the perfect place to escape into!
An entertaining and lovely love story
~ Four Spoons
Annie Rains is a USA Today bestselling author who writes small-town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina.
Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love.
When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and three children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.
Author Links: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON | BOOKBUB
Sometimes we’re placed in the strangest of circumstances for the most important reasons.
After her carefully constructed life crumbles, Liz Carlisle finds herself back on Nantucket, picking up the pieces. With the family estate under renovations, the solitude she craves seems out of reach.
Matthew Stone intends to steer clear of his new tenant. She’s carrying a load of baggage, but as long as she pays the rent, he’ll let her be. He’s got enough to deal with caring for his wayward niece, Mia.
Liz doesn’t have time for teenagers and her track record with men is abysmal, but an unlikely friendship forms between the three.
When her former boyfriend is charged with assault, Liz is called to testify against him. But he knows the darkest secrets of her life—secrets she’d hoped to keep buried forever, and he’s ready to reveal them. Telling the truth is the right thing to do, but it may cost her everything she’s worked so hard for, and all she’s come to love.
***NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR***
As the Light Fades is published as a standalone novel, but features some characters from one of Catherine's earlier novels, The Things We Knew, published in 2016 by Thomas Nelson.
Five siblings, renovation of the family home, the father with memory illness, and drama and trouble at their doorsteps... From the first pages, the story resonated with me for various reasons, and it was a marvelous story, a delight to read. I got completely lost in the tale, the scenes so engaging, the relationship drama and trouble giving it spice, and the human tragedies bringing tears to my eyes.
There is so many contrasts in the tale, all the light, the positive, that feeling of conquering your past and making a new start. And there is so much sorrow, abuse, and letting the anger go, losing loved ones and the memories vanishing from your mind.
Liz Carlisle was one tough lady. She had survived the unimaginable, and even though fragile at times, she was realistic, her outbursts were rational, and her fears were tangible. I was somewhat surprised by the romance slowly developing between Matthew Stone and Liz. Yet it was a positive surprise, something filled with hope, loyalty, and trust.
I adored Mia, and the relationship she had to her uncle, Matthew. The author has the talent to get to the deepest, darkest corners of the characters' souls, and bring their thoughts and notions into the tale in an age-appropriate manner.
There are so much going on in the two (or three) families, and in their relationships, yet there is no hurry to tell the tale. The time moves on, there are events that brake the brittle balance, yet there is time to heal, to find mercy, to have grace, redemption from the past, the beggings of something new, something wholesome and flourishing.
I treasured the world the author has created, and the characters who live in it. The tragedies they faced broke my heart, yet the way they fought to find better tomorrow was inspiring and uplifting. Even though this is a standalone novel, like the author warned us, there are mentions to the characters of her previous book. For a person who has not read the previous story might be left wanting a bit more details and insights to those characters.
An affecting and moving saga of two families, of their heartfelt destinies. It gives insights to the drama happening behind the closed doors, and to the salvation from the past, to the right timing in life to finding your path.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda.
When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors.
She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter.
Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew).
Office Mate (Milford College #2) by Noelle Adams is available NOW!
Title: Office Mate
Series: Milford College #2
Author: Noelle Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
The last thing I want is to share my beautiful office with an uptight, unfriendly new English professor. I don't care if he's incredibly hot. He's still the worst office mate in the world.
We're stuck together for a year, and that might be too long for me to resist discovering what's hiding beneath his buttoned-up appearance.
Office Mate is the second book in the Milford College series, novellas about the faculty and staff of a small liberal arts college
“Hey,” I say as I come in, dropping my keys onto my desk and turning to face him.
He looks up from his computer. His expression is unsmiling but not angry. “Hi.”
“I’m sorry about before. I’m not sure what got into me. I’m not usually so… irritable. I’m really sorry.”
His mouth turns up just a little. His eyes soften palpably. “Evidently I’m an irritating kind of person, so that probably explains it.”
“No, you’re not!” I lower my tone as I continue. “You’re really not that irritating. I should never have implied that about you. It’s just that I’m usually really good at getting to know people, and I’ve been frustrated that I can’t seem to get to know you.”
He frowns. “You don’t know me?”
“Of course not.” My eyes are wide in surprise. “You think I’ve gotten to know you?”
“I thought we were making progress.” He seems bothered by that piece of information, and he looks down at his desk as if he’s thinking. “I’m afraid I’m never going to be the life of the party, if that’s what you’re hoping for.”
“I know that. I mean, I don’t care about that. I like all kinds of people. I just feel like you’ve got so many walls up I can’t seem to get around them.”
“Maybe if you wouldn’t run away every time things start to get better between us.”
Shit. He has no idea. I have to run away occasionally, but it’s not because I don’t want to get to know him.
It’s because I want to tear his clothes off.
No way I can admit that to him.
I clear my throat and think fast. “I haven’t run away that much. You just confuse me.”
“What can I do to be less confusing?” Leave it to Evan to go about getting to know someone with the same sober determination he uses to tackle everything else.
“I don’t know. Don’t you ever just hang out and relax?”
“You want to hang out with me?”
Yes. Of course I do. In particular, I want to hang out in bed with him. “I just meant to get to know each other a little more. So we can get along better and be more comfortable sharing the office.” There. That didn’t sound too bad. That didn’t give away my irrational lust for him.
He nods. “I like to bike, but that’s obviously not your thing. I can go with you when you walk, if you’d like. Or…”
“I was thinking about watching the Lord of the Rings movies since you like them so much.”
My heart clenches. Ridiculously. “You were?”
“Maybe you can watch them with me. I would enjoy that.”
“Yes. Would… would you?”
“Of course I would.” His eyes never leave my face.
“What if you don’t like them?”
“I’m sure if you like them, then they can’t be that bad.”
We smile at each other, and I let out a long breath.
I still have way too many papers to grade today, but things are definitely looking up.
Action, danger, and threats, mind manipulations and international crimes, sweet yet passionate romance with your best friend's baby sister - Shadow have it all, and it is wrapped into an entertaining and fast-moving tale that holds your attention.
The oldest and most ardent Crouch fans (waving my hand vigorously) might recognize some of the base storyline from a novella, Covert Intents, that she first published 2015. There was a scene that triggered the recognition for me, yet it just whet my appetite towards the story, to find out how the story was expanded, changed, and brought into the Linear Tactical setting, and into a full-length novel. Certainly, it didn't disappoint!
The Linear Tactical series with its ardent stories that at the same time spooked you and enamored you have become one of my all-time favorite series that I can't get enough of. There is the tight brotherhood, the humor, and banter between them, the palpable love and loyalty they have for each other and their loved ones, and the passion they have towards everything they put their minds into, not the least to protect those in their circle of their 'family'. Yes, the stories can be read as standalone books, yet I would recommend to read them in order, as some of the plotlines do continue throughout the series, and you can get so much more out of the story knowing the background to the events and to the team members. Like, for example, the mind-manipulation to Heath Kavanaugh's brain.
While I got a thrill out of the mysterious manipulation tactics (that started in Ghost) and finding out the reasons and culprits behind them, I am happy to see that the relief for those who suffered the consequences of the crimes is here, and the particular storyline seemed to be wrapped up in Shadow.
Both Heath and Lyn were lovable characters, so effortless to connect with. I loved the way they saw each other, how they brought the best out of each other, and the protective yet understanding way Heath reacted to Lyn's health problems. I loved Lyn's sharp mind, both of their ability to get languages, and her strong will that she was finally able to express to her male-dominated family as well. Lyn and her personality, her drive for independence and acceptance from her family, reign the tale when it came to the protagonists, as Heath and the insights to his background were staying more in the shadows of the strong heroine.
Intense situations, secrets, betrayals, menace, and peril are tangibly part of the tale that engaged, engrossed, and charmed my mind.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
USA TODAY bestselling author Janie Crouch writes what she loves to read: passionate romantic suspense. She is a winner and/or finalist of multiple romance literary awards including the Golden Quill Award for Best Romantic Suspense, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the coveted RITA© Award by the Romance Writers of America.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and their four teenagers to Germany (due to her husband's job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she's not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys engaging in all sorts of crazy adventures (200-mile relay races; Ironman Triathlons, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp) traveling, and movies of all kinds.
Best friends. A fake relationship. And only one bed.
New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey delivers the feel-good beach read you’ve been waiting for.
Noah Stafford loves his life—his happy, single life. So what if he made up a fake girlfriend to stop his boss’s matchmaking? He kept things close to the truth—Carly really does have long, sexy legs and a killer sense of humor. She just happens to be his best friend. His wicked awesome and completely platonic best friend.
But now his boss is having a destination wedding, and Noah is expected to attend…with Carly, his girlfriend.
Carly Randall has no interest in living out a rom-com plot. But Noah is her best friend, so she agrees to help. Still, once they arrive on Cape Cod, she can’t explain the sudden butterflies she feels when he looks at her that way. Or why she doesn’t mind when Noah’s hands stray a little south of her back.
What happens on the Cape stays on the Cape.
Except not really, not at all, and once their sexy faux-cation is over, Noah and Carly return to a reality where everything’s changed. Going for it would mean risking their friendship…but forgetting how good they were together just isn’t an option.
The fun and flirty story, going from witty dialog and humor to the smoldering hot and emotional romance in a heartbeat.
I love Shannon Stacey's way to tell stories, there is so much feels, family, friends, and heart in the tales mixed with drama and passion, life, and loving. And this new series starts off with so much promise of wonderful tales coming in our way.
I loved the connection, the deep friendship Noah and Carly have. They had been best friends forever, and they knew each other like no one else. The fake romantic relationship started off as fun and games, but soon the deep desires came to surface, and oh boy, lit up the scenes.
The story is an easy and fast read, yet it covers all the developing emotions well. And since Carly and Noah are best friends, there is a solid, believable foundation they are building their romantic relationship on.
Shannon Stacey books are always a must-read for me, and One Summer Weekend has all the feels and elements of an entertaining, ardent, adorable love story to me
~ Five Spoons
Sexy, romantic and so crazy fun.”
-- Maria Luis, Amazon bestselling author
Beauty and the Bayou, an all-new sexy, small town, opposites attract rom com from
New York Times bestselling author Erin Nicholas, is available now!
Sawyer Landry knows he's been beastly to be around for the past few months. But he can't seem to remember how to be fun-loving and friendly. Until he sees Juliet Dawson on his boat dock... and realizes that hip waders are, apparently, one of his turn-ons. But despite the beauty in the boots, the last thing he needs right now is a city girl in his way for the next two weeks.
But he's not really getting a vote. Juliet is determined that her little brother rebuild the dock he and his idiot friends smashed. She's quirky, klutzy, independent...and possibly an even bigger pessimist than Sawyer is. He's incredibly drawn to the cynical fish-out-of-water, who seems to be the one person who isn't intimidated by his growling.
The big, gruff boat captain is the first person in a long time to want to watch out for her and Juliet finds that hotter than his grandma's jambalaya. Well, that and his sexy scar, his emotional baggage, and the sense of humor and fun that is buried deep.
But Sawyer doesn't need any more people to worry about long-term and the things that make him feel protective of Juliet aren't going to go away. So, this two-week adventure can't be anything more than a fling. With Juliet down on the bayou, there's an even bigger threat than alligators and hurricanes. There's the very good chance of someone ending up with a broken heart.
“I guess when we need relief from the heat, we go, you know, into the actual shade.” He looked amused. “Among other things.”
It wasn’t so much that she needed to know other ways to keep cool. But she really liked the way he looked when he was mildly amused. It was a very good look on him.
“Lots of water and sweet tea,” he said.
She gave an involuntary shudder.
His amused smile grew. “No to sweet tea?”
“Not my favorite,” she admitted. “But don’t tell Ellie,” she added quickly.
He chuckled at that. “I would never.”
Yeah, the chuckling was nice, too. “I’ve got the water covered though,” she said.
“Well, when we get hot there area couple of other things we do,” he said.
Had he moved closer?
Juliet swallowed. “Like what?”
“We take clothes off,” he said.
Yeah, his voice was definitely deeper now.
“I gue—” She cleared her throat. “I guess that makes sense, but there are bugs and sunburn to consider.”
He gave her a nod. “Sunscreen and bug repellent are important. Cora makes bug repellent that’s amazing.”
Huh. Homemade bug repellent. She might have to give that a try. These people intrigued her, she had to admit. “What about the flying debris?”
Sawyer glanced at the boards behind her. “Yeah, well, I guess we do take some risks down here.”
Ah, ha. “I’d rather be a little hot than dealing with an infection from a piece of wood imbedding itself in my skin and muscle tissue.”
Sawyer paused, then shook his head, almost disbelievingly. “Okay, girl. Then that only leaves one other thing to do when you get too hot.”
For a moment, looking into Sawyer Landry’s eyes, for the first time since she’d been ten years old, Juliet wanted to take her clothes off and jump into a body of water.
That lasted about twelve seconds. But that was twelve seconds longer than she’d considered doing it to that point.
“I don’t have a swimming suit.”
“You don’t need one. The fewer clothes the cooler you get.”
“Skinny-dipping?” she asked.
“Skinny-dipping,” he confirmed.
“You actually skinny-dip?” she asked.
Sawyer Landry naked.
She just took a few seconds to relish that thought…and the images that went with it. Skinny-dipping with Sawyer might be the one way she would ever even possibly consider any of that. “Do you have a private pool with lots of chlorine and a maximum depth of three feet?” she asked.
She wondered if being naked but with a life jacket on still counted as skinny-dipping.
“Don’t need a pool when I’ve got a whole bayou in my backyard.”
She shuddered. “There is no way I’m jumping in there. Clothes or not.”
“So, the naked part of skinny-dipping isn’t the problem?” Sawyer asked. “It’s the water?”
“It’s absolutely the water,” she said. It was actually all water, but water where she could see the bottom, touchthe bottom, and that was pumped through a filtration system was tolerable. Maybe. For a short period. With plenty of floatation devices within reach. “I mean, other than just the dirt, there are snakes and alligators and fish…and fish and alligator poopin there.” She frowned. “Do snakes poop? I mean, they probably do, right?”
Sawyer blinked at her. “I’ve never really thought about it.”
She nodded. “They almost have to. And they probably do it in that water, too.” She shuddered again. “No, thank you. There are just places I do notneed dirty bayou water.”
“It’s the poop that’s keeping you from skinny-dippin’?” Sawyer asked, clearly trying not to laugh. “You are really thinking about the wrong thing when it comes to bein’ wet and naked, darlin’.”
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Erin Nicholas has been writing romances almost as long as she’s been reading them. To date, she’s written over thirty sexy, contemporary novels that have been described as “toe-curling,” “enchanting,” “steamy,” and “fun.” She adores reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines, and happily ever afters.
Erin lives in the Midwest, where she enjoys spending time with her husband (who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books), her kids (who will never read the sex scenes in her books), and her family and friends (who claim to be “shocked” by the sex scenes in her books).
Connect with Erin
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Today we have the blog tour of RULES OF A REBOUND by Nina Crespo!
Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!
Title: RULES OF A REBOUND
Author: Nina Crespo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Mortification kept Natalie’s gaze on the string of four condom packages lying on the counter between her and Rome. The printed words “Do Me” glittered and flashed on them like neon signs, mocking her clumsiness.
Heat flamed in her cheeks. “Oops. That was an accident.” She’d just meant to take out cash to pay for her drink.
But the amusement in Rome’s golden-brown eyes expressed exactly what he thought. Yeah, right, the condoms just magically flew out of your purse.
More heat surged into Natalie’s face. But they really had. Determined to salvage some of her pride in failing the flirting game, she made a grab for the condoms, but he did, too. As he slid them from the counter, his fingers brushed hers. A rush like the kind that came from heady, high-proof alcohol almost threw her off-balance.
“Uh-uh.” He grinned, and a slight dimple sunk in below a semi-circle shaped scar on his right cheek. “I’m not giving these up. They’re the best tip I’ve gotten all night.”
“They’re not your tip.”
“Could have fooled me.” He stuffed them into the front pocket of his jeans.
Her gaze riveted on the slight bulge to the left of his zipper. “They’re my property.”
“Looks like they’re mine now.”
Mine. His husky possessive tone conjured up images of him pinning her up against the wall as he made good use of one of the “Do Me” condoms, doing her.
“Excuse me,” a woman farther down called out. “Can we get some service? The show’s about to start.”
Rome’s attention remained on Natalie. “Hold on. I’ll be back.”
She held out the money. “But I need to pay.”
“You will.” Rome’s mouth lifted with a faint lopsided smile before he turned away.
His self-assuredness made Natalie’s heart flutter. She was all into compensating for whatever transgressions he accused her of. Was it wrong for her to strip off her clothes, lay on the bar, and give herself to him as payment? Yeah, it was definitely inappropriate, no matter how much the thought of doing it turned her on.
The woman Rome served at the bar smiled coyly up at him and brushed her fingers over his forearm.
As his deep chuckle floated over the woman’s laughter, Natalie suppressed an eye roll. And a tinge of envy. Obviously, she wasn’t the only one willing to be his sexual sacrifice. So what? Like she cared if some bottle-blonde flirted with him. Technically, she’d caught his attention first. Yes, things had gotten a little messy in the process, but she’d still landed him. Experiment over. Time to go. Cori and Alexa were probably wondering where she’d run off to.
As she went to put her money down and leave, Rome opened a mini fridge and grabbed a bottle of champagne. He stripped off the foil covering, deftly loosened the wire cage, then draped a towel over the bottle. As he pointed it away from the crowd, he twisted the bottom of it, and a muffled pop reverberated. Rome glanced over at her and winked.
Seriously. Did he think opening that bottle would impress her? But as much as she tried, she couldn’t stop a laugh or tear her gaze away from him as he served champagne to customers at the bar.
Natalie put her purse on the counter. Staying until he came back to her was purely about principle. No way in hell was she leaving her party favors behind so he could use them on some other woman later on. He had her “Do Me” condoms, and she wanted them back.
Minutes later, Rome returned to her with a cocktail glass filled with ice, amber liquid, and topped with a maraschino cherry. He set it in front of her.
“Sorry. I’m all out of condoms to pay for my drinks.”
He nudged the glass closer. “This one’s on the house. Try it. I think you’ll like it.”
She would, huh? No one read her that easily, but he had made the effort. Natalie took a drink, and the bite of alcohol mingled nicely with a hint of sweet. “Not bad. What’s it called?”
“A Do Me Slowly.”
The low tone of his voice made her tingle. “If this is some kind of ploy to change my mind about getting my condoms back, it won’t work. I have plans for using them.”
Lust sparked in Rome’s eyes, mesmerizing her to the point where she failed to realize his mouth was suddenly just inches away.
“So, you still think they’re yours?” As he leaned in farther, his hair-roughened cheek brushed hers, and her knees grew weak. “That’s definitely something we need to talk about.”
Catch up on the Standalone Series:
Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions — the beach, a good glass of wine, date night with her own real-life hero and dancing.
Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel.
Let Nina’s sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales feed your own addiction for love, romance, and happily ever after.
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Today we have the release week blitz for Melissa Foster’s CALL HER MINE!
Check out this fantastic new contemporary romance and be sure to grab your copy today!
Title: CALL HER MINE
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Fall in love in Harmony Pointe, where hearts are lost, found, and sometimes misplaced…and everyone get a happy ever after.
If a woman can’t find love in the quaint town of Harmony Pointe, it’s sure to find them—whether they’re looking for it or not. Here, the remaining single Dalton siblings are about to discover that they’re next in line to get swept away by love. A sweet and sexy spin-off of Melissa’s beloved Sugar Lake series.
Ben Dalton has always been honest, except where his heart is concerned. He’s been in love with his best friend—saucy, smart-mouthed Aurelia Stark—forever. But Ben’s a planner, and timing has never been on his side. When he finally decides to make his move, Aurelia beats him to the punch with a move of her own—to a different town.
Aurelia loves her new life in the charming town of Harmony Pointe. She has a great apartment and her very own bookstore, and best of all, the sinfully hot, commitment-phobic friend she’s crushed on for years is no longer just around the corner. Maybe she’ll finally be able to leave her unrequited love behind and move on.
But when a baby is left on Ben’s front porch—a baby that is presumably his—Aurelia is there for him. Neither one knows the first thing about babies, but how hard can it be? Ben and Aurelia are catapulted into a world of love, laughter, and tracking down the baby mama, and it might even add up to a very happily ever after . . . just not one either of them expects.
AURELIA LOOKED LONGINGLY at the muscular arm circling her waist and the large hand cupping her breast over her shirt and promptly closed her eyes, chastising herself for doing it again. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride was beginning to ring too true, and it was all Ben Dalton’s fault. She’d had a ridiculous crush on her Henry Cavill–lookalike best friend for far too long, and it was getting in the way of her life, her thoughts, hereverything. Every time she went out with a guy, she compared him to Ben, who looked rugged and yummy in jeans that hugged his thick thighs and perfect ass and could rock a suit like he’d strutted off a runway. But it wasn’t just his looks. She quickly bored of every date, waiting for them to be quippy, fun, and unknowingly seductive like Ben. If she wasn’t careful, she’d end up the spinster of Sweetwater, New York. Harmony Pointe, she corrected herself. Though she’d grown up in Sweetwater and had moved back to reopen her grandmother’s bookstore and combine it with the Ben’s sister Willow’s bakery, Sweetie Pies, Aurelia had recently changed directions. In an effort to stop waking up in Friendsville, she’d bought an adorable bookstore with an apartment above it on the corner of Main Street and West Avenue in the next town over, Harmony Pointe.
She allowed herself another minute to enjoy the feel of Ben’s broad chest against her back, his titillating breath warming her neck, and yes, even his morning wood pressing into her bottom. The situation would be sexier if the man child wrapped around her wasn’t also drooling on her shirt.
That was about all the action she’d ever see from him.
She’d spent the last month swearing she was done doing this with him. But when he’d called her last night and said, “Come on, Rels, hang out with me. I miss you,” that’s all it had taken. The way he said Rels always made her stupid heart melt. She’d been called Aurelia since the day she was born—the day her mother had died—by everyone except by Ben. He had coined the nickname Rels—or Relsy if he was in a particularly sweet mood—and he only seemed to use it when they were alone. It was ridiculous that a secret nickname could made her feel special, but it did. She knew she was important to him. She was the first person he called to share any kind of news, and they were known in their circle of friends as Ben and Aurelia—always linked, like Ben and Jerry. Two people who seemed to exist as one perfect combination.
Except she didn’t want to be Ben and Jerry.
She wanted to be the perfect combination of man and woman, like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. The type of couple who had wild, crazy sex and woke up naked, tangled in each other’s sticky body parts, not clothed on a chaise lounge in the middle of Benjamin Unable-to-Commit Dalton’s couch with drool on their shoulders.
The Harmony Pointe series is published by Montlake Romance and will be available in
paperback and audio formats, and exclusively in digital format for Kindle and Kindle apps.
Download a free Kindle reading app here: https://amzn.to/31ERYkl
AUDIO - iBooks
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women's fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa's fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa's emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented.
Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.
Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.
Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website.
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The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley
Series Advertisements for Love
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Entangled Amara
Publication Date August 12, 2019
October 4, 1818, Gretna Green, Scotland
The words between my Adam and the innkeeper left me shaking.
Get your bed wench out of here.
A chemise slipping from my shoulder exposed our so-called sin.
How dare you bring a whore to my good establishment!
The hate echoed in my head, rattling and shaking my conscience.
I was frozen.
Torn between fleeing and defending my love, I settled for hiding with blankets at my chin.
How could that horrible man reduce my vows said before God to something illicit and tawdry?
Plink. Plink. Scatter.
Coins dropped to the floor.
My hearing was sharp, sharper than my sight, and I could picture Adam throwing pence to prove a point.
Didn’t he know points stabbed?
Even a rich man’s son could be killed.
Adam came back inside our room and slammed the door. “My love, we must leave. Ruthy, we have to be on the road sooner than I wanted.”
His voice was calm, like nothing had happened. He finished dressing, tied his perfect cravat, and leaned over the mattress, kissing my nose.
But I knew Adam.
He prayed and called for blessings but could curse like a hot-headed sailor.
My love’s cheeks were red, flushed with anger, and he kept clenching and unfurling his fingers as if he’d fight the next person who crossed his path.
“I adore you, my Ruth.”
My husband’s voice—perfection. So sweet to my ears, if a masculine sound could be called sweet. I couldn’t think when he whispered my name.
“Ruthy, my love, I’m going to the stables.”
I pressed my hand to my middle and pushed hard on my stomach to squash the wiggles and tingles inside.
“Wait here for me.”
“No, I must come with you,” I begged to stay at his side.
“No, my Ruthy. Another time you’ll get what you want. But this is for your safety. My wife must stay safe.”
Mesmerized, I nodded. His power over me was complete. He took his gold cross from his neck and put it about mine. “So, you won’t forget me while you dress.”
The trance ended when he turned and reached for the door latch.
“Don’t, Adam. Don’t do anything rash.” I wanted to say stupid, don’t do anything stupid, but that would push him into trouble. His hot temper surpassed mine when he thought I suffered.
“I won’t, Ruthy. I won’t be long.”
Fingering the cross, I decided to try one more time to keep him. I feared that I’d never see him again if he left this room. My hands came together, palms flat and pointing up toward him. “Adam, please stay. Let me dress and come with you. I don’t want us apart.”
“I’ll be back for you when our carriage is ready. My wife is not waiting in the cold.” He came back and kissed my forehead like a reward for a good girl.
But I was his girl. And he was all mine.
Tossing me a wink, Adam slipped to the door again. “I’ll be back soon, to help you lace up your corset and anything else I had a hand in removing.”
My husband loved his jokes, but his jaw was stiff. His face remained beet red. Anger would eat him up.
The door closed with a thud. The lock clicked.
I was alone.
I climbed out of bed and found my shoes. Low boots with hard soles were better than bare feet when running for your life.
I paced around the smallish mattress of the rented room. The bedclothes he’d tossed off when the innkeeper had pounded on the door lay here and there. A pillow flopped half against the bedpost.
It looked like a struggle, where a volatile argument had occurred, not an abandoned lovers’ nest.
The floorboards creaking under my shifting weight made my heart race.
I stopped, grabbed the pine footboard, and tried to breathe.
My ears perked to the footsteps outside my door.
I kept watching the door that didn’t open.
The pounding in my head grew so loud I saw stars and could almost envision Adam coming across the threshold. But I knew that was my fear twisting up my insides.
The vengeful innkeeper had given us an hour to leave. That time couldn’t be up, not yet. Adam hadn’t returned.
My only possessions—a balled-up dress, a nightgown, a silver brush—I tossed into my trunk. I should lock it up, close the metal clasps, but I wasn’t done in this room and wanted to leave the way I came, on my husband’s arm
I picked up my pearls from the bed table. The smooth beads felt cold in my sweating palm. Five days ago, I’d worn them for Adam as we’d married with the anvil priest.
Adam had beamed at me with a wide lazy smile as he had tonight, before the knock upon our door.
The pearls were now slippery in my hand. I tossed them into the trunk before they fell and burst apart. Papa had given them to me for my birthday, something to wear for my coming-out. Or for a wedding to a groom he’d choose.
My concerns for my parents pressed. I pictured Mama rocking, blank faced, in a chair, fearing her wild child was lost to the streets. Gone a fortnight, traveling from London to Scotland and only now heading back—I must be dead to them. Surely, they think me killed, even slaughtered like my uncle.
Adam had persuaded me to send no note. He’d said it was too risky then had smothered my complaints in a kiss. That silver-tongued devil could convince me the world was flat, that I was the Queen of England. One look at me with his deep-gray, almost black, eyes would send me spinning. He wove sweet words about me—I was better than Papa’s silk—and I became boneless and agreeable and not myself.
I pounded the footboard with my palm. I was Mama’s wild child, at nineteen, her oldest. I had caused such trouble—breaking curfew, sneaking out, running from chaperones.
I sank onto the bed, trying to stop my sobs.
A full minute I sat before I couldn’t bear it and leaped up.
Sitting on sheets that had lost the warmth of Adam’s body but teased the scent of his Bay Rum cologne ripped everything wide open.
I didn’t know who owned these tears—Mama, Adam, or me?
I had to get out of this room that now felt too big and empty.
Over my corset and chemise, I yanked on my favorite dress. I buttoned it fast and crazy, missing hooks and holes. There wasn’t time to fix it, so I hid the uneven placard under my shawl.
This, my wedding gown, should be worn with care. Fragile, soft silk, colored in primrose yellow, I’d worn it with pride when I’d become Mrs. Adam Wilky.
Fussing and cussing sounded outside my door. Maybe the innkeeper had found another couple to evict.
I’d wait until the corridor cleared, and then I’d leave.
Quiet. No footsteps. No creaking floorboards.
Locking my heavy trunk, I then struggled with it, and walked out of the room.
I held my breath, tiptoeing with my head up.
Soon I was halfway to the stairwell, too far to turn back. My boldness and pride kept me from retreating. I shifted the trunk and mumbled that I was resilient. I was a Croome as much as a Wilky. That should mean I possessed strength like my papa and shrewdness like Mama.
But I was alone, and none of these notions seemed to stick, not when someone had cursed at me and wished me dead.
Resting for a moment, I brushed at the creases in my dress.
Mama’s hot scolds about lazy bones admonished my soul. The spring muslin gown should’ve been folded, placed with its bodice lines straight on the chair, not tossed with lover’s abandon, without thought or care.
I laughed, a gut-wrenching chuckle. Fleeing for my life had fashionable consequences.
Come on, Ruthy, I said to myself, modeling Adam’s way of keeping me calm. We were only a half day’s travel to London. A few more hours and we’d be at Nineteen Fournier to face my parents. The grief I’d caused shifted through my brainbox, raising questions I didn’t want to think about.
Did we rush to elope?
Had we found love too fast?
Would this passion last?
Moonlight streamed through an open window. I headed toward it like a moth, swinging my heavy trunk. I peeked out the glass to get a glimpse of Adam or the carriage.
The light of the stars made the silver band on my finger sparkle. Pride cut through the confusion in my bosom. I am Mrs. Adam Wilky, the wife of a man who understands me better than any. He is worth it. I just need to find him.
I forced my chin to lift, forced my limbs to move, forced myself to believe I’d soon be safe in my husband’s arms.
Glowing slit eyes crossed my path.
I ran. The heaviness of my trunk jerked my shoulders. Blinking, I turned the corner and saw nothingness, especially nothing soft or furry or as scared as me.
My sight wasn’t normally bad, but thick-rimmed reading spectacles like Papa’s would someday be mine.
Finally, finally, finally—I found the stairwell, dashed inside, and hid in its blackness.
Back flat against a wall, I filled my lungs and waited.
My breath caught in my throat, and I hugged my trunk as if it were Adam. He’d told me to wait, that he’d come back for me, but my heart was about to tear apart. I was afraid I’d never see him again.
Never ever were we to part.
Sweat dripped down my neck. My hastily done chignon fell. It was frizzy and damp on my neck. I couldn’t fix it now. I needed Adam.
Counting my steps, I made it to the bottom of the stairs. Ten paces more and I was out the door. I held my breath again. No carriage.
I set the trunk down by my foot. Though small, the thing was heavy, very odd for a leather-skinned box holding so few items.
Cupping my hand to my face, I hunted for my love.
I saw nothing but road and fence.
Oh Lord, had he left?
I prayed with hands folded in front, fingers pressed high, eyes shut tight, like a good girl who hadn’t broken a commandment, defying her parents, one who hadn’t lied about going to Mrs. Carter’s for tea. She was one of Mama’s closest friends. Maybe they comforted each other.
“Where are you, Adam?”
He’d never leave me, not by choice.
Stories of his family’s treachery slammed into my chest. All the air fled. I forced my breath in and out and tapped my foot to this rhythm then leaned out and looked from side to side.
Every cloak-and-dagger meeting by the dock, near my father’s warehouse, swept into my head, the motion roaring, swinging my balance like a fiddler’s reel.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Every whispered conversation swirled.
Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Adam’s walk, his smile, swam past my eyes.
He’d said his uncle was after him.
I’d thought it was a joke. Something that added to the mystery of him.
Had evil come and taken my husband?
Why did Adam have to be digging into his uncle’s business, nosing about stuff that could get him killed? He could be slaughtered, like my uncle.
Papa’s brother had been murdered for being too black and building his business in areas where my people weren’t supposed to be. A bloodied jacket was all that had ever been discovered.
I’d found it balled up on the steps like he was nobody and nothing to this world.
That couldn’t be Adam’s fate, a bludgeoned cape that would haunt my mind forever. It would remind me of his walk, that swagger, draped in ebony velvet. The best time of my life had been loving him.
I looked down at my trembling hands.
My whole arm vibrated. I couldn’t control it.
I was lost.
The panic that stalked my thoughts covered me, catching me in a fine fabric mesh. It was too wide. No seams to split. No way out.
Fear for the man I loved did me in.
I started sinking.
No way out.
I tipped over.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE BEWILDERED BRIDE by Vanessa Riley, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 8/16/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
Award winning, Amazon Bestselling author, VANESSA RILEY, worked as an engineer before allowing her passion for historical romance to shine. A Regency era (early 1800s) and Jane Austen enthusiast, she brings the flavor of diverse, eclectic peoples to her stories. The author of Madeline's Protector, Swept Away, Unmasked Heart, The Bargain, and Unveiling Love, she has won the Beacon Award, the Colorado Award of Excellence, and placed in the International Digital Awards for her Regency romances. Vanessa Riley is a historical buff who has spent many years researching Regency society. During her undergraduate studies at Penn State, she gained a love of Western Civilization and took as many classes as she could while pursuing Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering. Her love of history has given her a passion for conducting precise research in architecture, customs, and rituals of the times. She lives in Atlanta with her career military husband and precocious child. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.
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