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Children's Book Feature & teacher review~ THE RELUCTANT FAIRY GODMOTHER (Colette Freedman & Kimberly Much)

 

3.5 stars

The Reluctant Fairy Godmother and the Absolutely Positively Impossible Good Deed follows a 9 year old girl who was adopted into a quirky, loving family. She struggles with her own identity as a member of the family and is trying to figure out her place in the world. One day, she gets a mysterious letter in the mail inviting her to join a special school. Upon her arrival, she discovers that she is a fairy godmother in training. In order to complete her training, she must complete a series of good deeds, which proves to be a bigger challenge than she had anticipated.

This book is appropriate for ages 6-9 and has a very positive message for young children: you are special. While the idea behind the book is cute and creative, I feel that the execution was somewhat lackluster. The main character’s personality is charming, but overall, the story lacks character and relationship development that could have really driven it to be a great book. The ending came about abruptly and didn’t leave me wanting more, which is important in series writing -especially for children.

Though the book’s plot and characters lacked solidity for me, the illustrations picked up some of the slack. Clever artwork is perfectly planted throughout the book to keep it visually interesting for kids who are ready for the critical transitory picture-to-chapter book phase of reading. From Frankie’s lists to the “neighbelline” sketch, kids will get a kick out of the pictures in this book.

As an educator, I would definitely use The Reluctant Fairy Godmother as a mentor text to model writer’s voice. The author did an exceptional job writing from the viewpoint of a 9 year old girl, which is a perfect example of how authors must look at things from different perspectives to write good stories.

While I don’t believe The Reluctant Fairy Godmother and the Absolutely Positively Impossible Good Deed is a series that kids would flock to their school library for, it definitely has some good take-aways. I would recommend this book for teachers looking for mentor texts for teaching voice, or for reluctant chapter book readers who still need pictures to engage in a story.

Devyn Truitt- Teacher

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We have a long history of working together in the theatre so we knew we had an authentic grasp of dialogue and characters and we wanted to translate that into a children’s series because we had an important story to tell. Kimberly had just adopted her daughter and we we wanted  to create a series that empowered young children who may not fit into a cookie-cutter mold. We thought that by creating a strong, multi-layered, dynamic character like Frankie, we could give children from all backgrounds a voice and a unique kid with whom they could identify. It is important to us to have kids understand that just by being themselves, they are already special.

Lucy Gilmore's PUPPY CHRISTMAS excerpt & giveaway

“We’re going to the symphony. We’re visiting art galleries and sipping overpriced white wine. Oh, I’ve got it! You’re taking me to the fanciest store in the city and buying me a new dress. I’ll be like Pretty Woman, except you won’t have to pay me for s-e-x later.”

Ford cast a sidelong look at Lila. She’d caught her lower lip between her teeth, but she didn’t look up from the phone in her lap.

“I like to make the first one free to get the ladies hooked,” he explained. “Then I ratchet up the price accordingly.”

That didn’t get her to take the bait, either. “Turn right at the next intersection,” she instructed him. “Parking should be in the big lot on the right. And for the record, I don’t think that’s a very good way to run your gigolo business. Why would the cow pay for milk after the fact?”

“The cow isn’t the one paying for the milk. The cow is the one providing it.” He clucked his tongue and shook his head. “And here I thought you were supposed to be the smart one.”

That got her to glance up, her gaze sharp. “I never said that.”

“No, you didn’t,” he agreed cheerfully as he pulled his minivan into the last of a row of cars. “But that doesn’t make it any less true.”

She had no response to this, which was just as well since they’d arrived at their mystery destination. He had no idea where they were or why, but he didn’t care. The fact that he was on an actual date with Lila was enough.

It wasn’t just any date, either. He’d had to lift nary a finger to make it happen. Apparently, Lila took her role as invitee very seriously. From dropping Emily off at her mom’s house to planning the evening from start to finish, she’d handled everything on her own. All Ford had to do was doll himself up and wait to be whisked away for an evening of romantic bliss.

It was a new experience for him—and a delightful one. Lila was wooing him. Lila was wooing him hard.

He, too, was hard just thinking about it.

Although that wasn’t really fair. He’d been in the same state of agonized anticipation for days. No number of cold showers or hot showers or short, frantic showers with his cock in his hand had helped. Nor had Lila’s constant presence in his home. How she managed to sit with his daughter and Jeeves, cool and collected as she went through the steps of puppy training, was a mystery.

“Here. We’re going to need this.” Lila reached into the pocket of the white wool coat she wore and handed him a flask. “It’s like fifteen degrees outside. It’s straight bourbon, in case you’re wondering.”

“You remembered,” he said as he accepted the flask and took a long pull. “My vice of choice.”

It wasn’t the cheap stuff, either. The woodsy-sweet taste coated his tongue and throat, the warm burn making him feel almost giddy.

“I have my occasional value,” she admitted. “Remembering things in painstaking detail doesn’t make me a very endearing person, but it does make me a useful one.”

He opened his mouth to argue, to tell her that her value lay primarily in her ability to make him feel relaxed and happy and like a hot-blooded man again, but he didn’t have a chance to get the words out before she pulled a white knit cap over her head and secured her gloves onto her hands.

Lila was a stunning woman almost all the time, her poise and grace so ingrained that he doubted she was aware of them, but there was something about the way the cap framed her face that almost undid him. She looked absurdly youthful, her cheeks flushed from the bourbon and the cold and—he hoped—the company.

Unable to help himself, he leaned across the console and dropped a kiss onto her slightly parted lips. Surprise rendered her delightfully malleable, her mouth giving way to his for a full ten seconds before she realized what was happening and kissed him back. That was delightful, too, but for entirely different reasons—most of which had to do with the fact that she wasn’t about to let him have his wicked way with her without giving him his own back again. In fact, that was a thing she’d done since the day they’d first met. He could, on occasion, catch her off guard, but it rarely lasted for long.

She proved it by deepening the kiss. The assault of her tongue and the warm press of her mouth against his invoked every sense he had—taste and smell and glorious touch. She even released a soft moan into his mouth that made his head whir with possibilities.

And then she ended it as quickly as it began.

“Let’s skip the date,” he said before he’d even managed to open his eyes again. “I don’t care if we’re flying to the Eiffel Tower on a private jet run entirely on champagne. Let’s stay in this van and make out instead.”

She didn’t move. “You don’t want to see what I have planned?”

He’d opened his eyes by this time, but the parking lot lighting was dim, and what little vision he did have was obscured by the stars dazzling his vision. Actual g-o-d-d-a-m-n stars.

***

Excerpted from Puppy Christmas by Lucy Gilmore. © 2019 by Lucy Gilmore. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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These adorable service puppies are matchmakers in the making…

Lila Vasquez might not be the “fun one” at Puppy Promise—the service puppy training school she runs with her sisters—but she can always be counted on to get things done. So when her latest client shows an interest in princess gowns over power suits, Lila puts aside her scruples, straps on the glittery heels, and gets to work.

If only the adorable six-year-old’s father wasn’t such an appealing Prince Charming.

Ford’s whole life revolves around his daughter…until he meets Lila. Smart, capable, and amazing at helping Emily gain confidence with her new service puppy at her side, Lila is everything he ever wanted—but she’s way out of his league. Good thing Emily and her new pup are up to the matchmaking task. This Christmas, it’s all hands (and paws) on deck!

Service Puppies Series:

Puppy Love (Book 1)

Puppy Christmas (Book 2)

Puppy Kisses (Book 3)

Lucy Gilmore is a contemporary romance author with a love of puppies, rainbows, and happily ever afters. She began her reading (and writing) career as an English literature major and ended as a die-hard fan of romance in all forms. When she’s not rolling around with her two Akitas, she can be found hiking, biking, or with her nose buried in a book. Visit her online at http://lucygilmore.com. She lives in the Spokane, WA area.

 E

THE WONDER OF NOW~guest post, excerpt, & giveaway with Jamie Beck

Throughout my career, I’ve loved the challenge of redeeming a character that might be hard to like, much less love. In Peyton, the heroine from The Wonder of Now, I took on a particular challenge, because most of my readers are women, and most women don’t forgive a friend who betrays them for a man. This setup made redeeming Peyton a singular challenge and begs two questions: who is Peyton, and why should you care about what happens to her? 

Peyton Prescott is part of a legendary literary family owing to her great-grandfather’s prolific career as a celebrated novelist. The casual observer would say she’s grown up in a mansion by the sea and enjoyed every privilege (wealth, beauty, wit). But life in Arcadia House wasn’t as picture-perfect as her family would have the public believe, and emotionally distant parents didn’t exactly model warmth or instill a sense of deep love and acceptance. She spent her twenties living out of suitcases and blogging about her travels, then had the misfortune of falling for her childhood friend’s boyfriend, who dumped that friend for Peyton…until she got diagnosed with breast cancer, at which point he dumped her, too. 

Facing her mortality alone forced her to take a hard look at her life and her choices, spurring a sincere desire to become a better person, and to make amends with the friend she betrayed. Although she gets diagnosed in the first book in this series, and begins to make amends in the second, this final book is when all the threads come together. She and her famed-photographer brother recorded her journey from diagnosis through her final surgeries, collaborating on a memoir that is about to release (the proceeds of which will be donated to cancer research). Of course, at this point in time she’s more interested in moving on with her life than with reliving the experience with cancer and sharing those intimacies in public forums. Her attitude puts her in direct opposition to the publicist, Mitch, who is counting on her becoming his fledgling company’s big hit.

Despite Peyton’s flaws, of which she is well-aware, she also has strengths that draw people to her. She’s self-deprecating, witty, brave, beautiful, and empathetic. She now also has a heightened appreciation for living in the moment and not taking any day for granted—something the goal-oriented Mitch must learn to do. Although he has very good reasons for being disciplined and focused on his ambitions, he is instantly drawn to her energetic spirit and zest for life.

I confess that I struggled while writing this book, but it ended up becoming my favorite to date. Not just because I loved rising to the challenge I’d set up, but also because Peyton’s musings, fears, and hopes go to the heart of what connects us all, and because I think I gave her the perfect man to help her complete her much-needed personal growth arc. But you can be the judge!

***

Peyton Prescott would give anything for the carefree life she knew before breast cancer changed everything. But instead of using her second chance to move forward, she’s stuck promoting the memoir her brother convinced her to write, thus reliving the very battle she wants to forget. If she hopes her European book tour will allow her to enjoy revisiting her favorite travel-writing destinations, she’s wrong: her PR whiz is too consumed with his own goals to consider her needs.

Mitch Mathis has relied on discipline to achieve his goals, and with his new firm’s success riding on Peyton’s book launch, he must keep her on task. They’re here for business, not pleasure. And Mitch won’t let unbridled desire harm his professional reputation—not again.

When frustrated expectations and attraction throw the tour into chaos, it challenges everything Mitch and Peyton believe about themselves, life, and love, forcing these opposites to consider whether they can embrace the change they need to grow.

 

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The writer from the Barcelona Review swaggered in and sat down. Medium height, trim, with coal-black hair worn a bit shaggy. The guy’s eyes lit up when he got his first good look at Peyton’s smile, making Mitch’s gut tighten. 

“Hello, Miss Prescott. I’m Javier Molina, but friends call me Javi.” He reached across the table to shake her hand. 

“Nice to meet you, Javi. Please call me Peyton.” 

The little knot in Mitch’s stomach screwed tighter when he thought she was flirting. She’s only smiling, stupid

Javi set up his phone recorder and then slouched back, feet planted wide apart on the ground, pen in hand. That cocky bastard was trying to intimidate Peyton with his domineering position. “First, let me say I enjoyed the book, although I suspect some of the caustic humor was meant to keep us at a distance.” 

“Not exactly,” she muttered. 

Javi hesitated but would be disappointed if he expected his silence would force her to elaborate. Mitch had watched her operate with interviewers in Rome. She’d make an excellent trial witness, answering only those questions asked—nothing more or less. Even this spare utterance seemed to have slipped through her fortress wall. 

Javi prodded again. “In certain cases, the photographs are more raw than the narrative, although they blend seamlessly together. All but the cover photo, which has no explanation or accompanying exposition. It’s a spectacular, harsh image . . . Can you tell our readers what was going through your mind when it was taken?” 

“You mean aside from ‘I’m going to kill you, Logan’?” She chuckled, buying herself a precious moment to compose her thoughts, Mitch guessed. 

Meanwhile, Javi raised his index finger with a sly nod, as if she’d proved the point he’d made a moment ago about her defense mechanism. Rather than venture another attempt to flirt his way past Peyton’s defenses, Javi simply stared at her this time, waiting for a real answer. 

Her gaze drifted, eyes cloudy. If she’d wanted to discuss whatever happened at the time of that photo, she would’ve put it in the memoir. 

Mitch loosened his fist and wiggled his fingers. She needed to do this for herself, and it might be easier on her if he left the room. It would certainly be easier on him not to listen to the story behind the photo that had captivated yet haunted him for weeks. 

He wrestled with his internal debate until she sighed. 

Without looking at Javi, she picked up the pen and began doodling on the pad in front of her while she spoke. “Forty-five minutes before Logan shot that photo, I’d used the magic mouthwash to help with my mouth ulcers. After the waiting period, I went to the kitchen to get some water. It was predawn, so I’d assumed Logan was sleeping. I took a few sips and then wandered to the living room window. Outside, the street was already coming to life, all shadows and movement and secrets. Garbage men emptying bins, night-shift workers heading home, a stray woman dashing toward the subway on an obvious walk of shame . . . ordinary people living their lives. Probably worrying about the electric bill, or looking forward to a sporting event, or maybe daydreaming about a new love. Things that had once occupied my thoughts but, in that moment, meant less than nothing to me.”

When she paused, Mitch stole a look at her notepad. Daisies? 

Her expression shifted to something self-deprecating. “And yet I envied them and those small worries . . . envied their health. Their nonchalance about another new day. I was so separated from it all—and not only by the glass. I swallowed a scream because I knew they, like me before my diagnosis, were taking everything for granted. I watched them, resentment festering because I might not exist long enough to even see those people months later. Worse, they’d never know. Life everywhere would go on without me, and very, very few people would care. Just like that”—she snapped her fingers—“it hit me that my whole life never mattered much. No spouse. No children. No impressive legacy from my Globejotter days. What, of value, had I done with my time?” 

The room remained silent while she resumed her doodling. “I don’t know what woke Logan. All I remember is that I turned when I heard the camera click, and then he kept snapping.” She finally looked at Javi and tapped the book jacket with the back end of her pen. “That was his favorite of the bunch.” 

Javi straightened his posture while finishing his notes. Peyton shot Mitch a quick glance punctuated by a half shrug. What a strange, intriguing woman. Drawing flowers while relaying her existential crisis to a total stranger. 

Mitch offered a sharp nod of approval when what he wanted was to gather her in his arms like a bouquet of delicate flowers and tell her that he would care very much if she didn’t exist tomorrow or the next day or the one after.

***

National bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She’s a Booksellers’ Best Award and National Readers’ Choice Award finalist, and critics at KirkusPublishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing, the author of the Cabot novels, the Sterling Canyon novels, and the St. James series enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.Fans can learn more about her on her website, www.jamiebeck.com, which includes a fun “Extras” page with photos, videos, and playlists. She also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks.

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Opposites Attract ~ CLAIMING SARAH feature --excerpt & giveaway

When Cole Claims Sarah 

In Claiming Sarah, Cole Johnson is co-owner of one of his town’s most popular gyms. He’s extremely busy since his partner, Felicity, is out of town. He makes an appointment to meet with Sarah Butler, to arrange for some self defense training for her, but he almost loses his chance when she overhears him telling his secretary he’s too busy and to give her an excuse as to why he can’t meet her. The couple (obviously) works out that awkward first meeting and Sarah begins learning how to defend herself from a creepy man who keeps giving her inappropriate presents. Of course the more time Cole spends with Sarah, the more he likes her and they end up dating. When she disappears it’s up to Cole, and Ace Security, to put together the clues to find her before it’s too late.

Cole Johnson is a man who’s used to plowing through his day and when he needs or wants something, he simply gets it. Sarah Butler is more reserved. As a kid who didn’t feel wanted until she was finally adopted she was used to being in the background. Cole and Sarah compliment each other perfectly. Cole is able to ferret out what Sarah wants and needs and he delivers. And in return Sarah keeps Cole grounded. She smooths out his jagged edges.

I think that’s how good relationships work, at least in my books. The Hero is there to protect and shield his woman from anyone or anything that might want to hurt her, and she’s there to keep him grounded and to support him. It seems to just work.

***

 

“Do you ask out every woman you train at your gym? It just seems . . . fast.”

Cole stared at her for a long moment, and when he frowned, Sarah felt as if she’d somehow disappointed him.

“No, I don’t ask out every woman I train. Not even close. It’s been a long time since I’ve asked anyone out. And believe me, Sarah, I’m looking at you—and I like what I see. A lot. You’ve got an air of innocence about you that I find fascinating. You’ve had a tough life, but haven’t let it harden you. I respect you, and I . . . I’d like to get to know you better.”

She bit her lip and took a deep breath, but didn’t immediately protest, so he went on. “I have a feeling simply being around you will make me a better person.”

Sarah shook her head. “Don’t do that. Don’t put me on a pedestal. I’m not some paragon walking around sprinkling glitter throughout the world.”

Cole laughed. Threw his head back and laughed as if she’d said the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Sarah tugged on her hand again, somewhat offended, but he still refused to let go.

When he got himself under control, he said, “I know you’re not perfect. You’re too trusting. You see the good in everyone, even when there isn’t any there. You probably neglect your own health in order to do something good for someone else.”

“You make me sound like an idiot,” Sarah grumbled, despite being secretly kind of flattered.

“You’re not an idiot. You’re refreshing. And I’m not. I’ve got more than my share of flaws that I’m sure you’ll discover sooner rather than later. But as I said, if you let me get to know you, go out on a few dates with me, I’m hoping you’ll find that you like me back . . . just a little.”

Sarah frowned. “I already like you, Cole, but I don’t understand you. You don’t know anything about me. I could totally be lying to you right now, and you just bought my lies hook, line, and sinker.”

He smile

d again. “You’re not lying.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m an expert at reading body language. I’ve been around some bad people in my life, angel. You are who you say you are. What you see is what you get.”

Sarah licked her lips nervously, and his gaze immediately followed the movement.

Cole persisted. “Say you’ll go out with me, Sarah.”

“I thought I was here to figure out how to defend myself.”

“You are. And we’ll get to that. Agreeing to go out with me in no way affects whether or not I’ll teach you some basic moves that will allow you to get away from someone and get to safety.”

“But if I say no, things could get weird.”

“Then say yes,” Cole cajoled. “I swear you’ve got nothing to fear from me. I’ll even get references if that will make you feel safer.”

“It’s not that. I think I feel safer with you than anyone I’ve ever been around . . .” She hesitated.

“But?”

“I’m afraid once you get to know me, you’ll decide I’m annoying. Too much work or something. I work odd hours, weird shifts. And I looked you up online. I know about your friend and what happened to her. And about the Andersons. The last thing I want is my stalker getting upset when he sees us together—because he will—and taking out any anger on you and your friends.”

“Breathe, ang

el. Take a breath. Nothing is going to happen to them.”

“You can’t control people, Cole,” Sarah pressed. “They’re unpredictable.”

“Fine. Then we’ll meet with Logan, Blake, Nathan, and Ryder, and make sure they know everything about this Owen guy. We’ll let them investigate and figure out what will make him back off. In the meantime, we’ll hang out at my place. Or here. Or your house. We won’t shove our relationship down Owen’s throat. We’ll be discreet. How’s that sound?”

Sarah could only gape at him. “How’d we go from me wanting some tips on protecting myself to having Ace Security investigating Owen and you and me hanging out at each other’s houses?”

He smiled at her again, but didn’t answer her question.

She took a deep breath and gave him the only answer she could. “Okay.”

He beamed. “Okay,” he said quietly. Then he finally let go of her hand and stood, before immediately reaching the same hand down to her again. “Time for your first lesson.”

Automatically, she reached up and let him help her off the floor. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting. A kiss to seal the deal. A hug. A discussion about when and where their first date would be. But so far, Cole hadn’t done anything the way she expected him to.

“First lesson for today will be how to get a guy to let go of your hand if he’s been holding on too long and you’re uncomfortable.”

Sarah knew he was referring to her feeble attempts to pull her hand out of his, and blushed. But he was right, this was something she should know. It would come in handy at the hospital too, just in case one of the patients or family members got a little too familiar, as they’d done in the past.

Concentrating on his instruction, she did her best to put her nerves about dating Cole behind her.

***

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Montlake

Sarah Butler isn’t flattered. She’s angry and unnerved. She’s been getting intimate gifts from a man she barely knows. Nothing threatening yet, but there’s just a weird vibe she can’t ignore. Her recourse is Ace Security. Their solution: self-defense lessons at Rock Hard Gym with a personal, hands-on instructor. One look at the bearded, tattooed, green-eyed alpha is enough to take Sarah’s breath away.

Cole Johnson is definitely the man for the job. He’s eager to train her. Eager to get closer. And when it comes to Sarah’s instincts, Cole knows she’s not imagining things. He’s also not imagining the intense attraction between them—and his desire to protect her is growing. But so are Sarah’s fears, the worst of which come true when she disappears.

Enlisting the help of Ace Security, Cole will stop at nothing to find the love of his life . . . before she vanishes forever.

 

Susan Stoker is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Claiming Felicity, Claiming Bailey, Claiming Grace, and Claiming Alexis in the Ace Security series. A lover of alpha heroes, Susan is also the author of the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes series. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. She is a true believer in happily ever after and

 enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her at www.stokeraces.com.

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Review of TREACHEROUS STRAND (An Inishowen Mystery) by Andrea Carter

 

Perfect for mystery readers who enjoy character driven mysteries, with a strong female protagonist and a powerful sense of place

A woman’s body washes up on a remote beach on the Inishowen Peninsula. Partially clothed, with a strange tattoo on her thigh, she is identified as Marguerite Etienne, a French woman who has been living in the area. Solicitor Ben (Benedicta) O’Keeffe is consumed by guilt: for the second time in her life Ben has failed someone who needed her, with tragic consequences. When local sergeant Tom Molloy dismisses Marguerite’s death as the suicide of a disturbed and lonely woman, Ben cannot let it lie. Ben uncovers Marguerite’s strange past as a member of a French doomsday cult, which she escaped twenty years previously, but not without leaving her baby daughter behind. Disturbed by what appears to be chilling local indifference to Marguerite’s death, Ben pieces together the last few weeks of the French woman’s life in Inishowen. What she discovers causes her to question the fragile nature of her own position in the area, and she finds herself crossing boundaries—both personal and professional—to unearth local secrets long buried.

Treacherous Strand is the second in a series of mysteries set in the fictional town of Glendara on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal with amateur sleuth, solicitor Ben O’Keeffe. These atmospheric and immersive mysteries are being adapted as a television series to be filmed in Inishowen.   (Synopsis from Amazon)

 

My thoughts…4.5 stars

Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe is the UK’s northern most solicitor, practicing on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal.

For me, Glendara came across as contrary. It’s cliquish, but not to an extreme. Charming, but isolated, a study in contrasts which made it more interesting.

Ben carries guilt like Atlas carries the World. She drinks too much and in TREACHEROUS STRAND she becomes a tad obsessed with proving her French yoga teacher, Marguerite Etienne, didn’t kill herself. Ben is trying to atone, in her mind at least, for having brushed Marguerite off the afternoon prior to her death. She doesn’t need guilt about another death on her conscience.

TREACHEROUS STRAND is layered, the characters, locale, and the mystery.  There was more of the solution that eluded me than I was able to solve; always a big plus for me. Another big plus is Ben herself. She drinks too much, blames herself too much, and carries more than she should, but I like her and enjoyed the time spent with her in County Donegal.  

The characters and the Inishowen Peninsula drive and define this mystery.  The location left me felling a little unsettled at times, but that only speaks to how atmospheric it is.  I’m looking forward to spending more time with Ben in Glendara and wherever her “investigations” take her.

HANDLE WITH CARE excerpt & giveaway with Marie Harte

Evan Griffith has had a hell of a day…

And that was before he met the stunning, sexy woman having a meltdown.

Evan Griffith has had many careers in his life. But who knew working for his family’s moving company would hold just as much action as his stint in the Marine Corps? On an unforgettable job, Evan finds himself taken by a teenage conman and confronted by a woman wielding a knife—and promptly falls head over heels for her.

Kenzie Sykes is doing her best to raise her little brother and keep him out of jail—all while dealing with her own broken heart that just hasn’t healed. She doesn’t have time for romance. He’s not asking… Until he is, and she finds herself saying yes.



Funny, he’d said. Evan had been set up. Again. Daniel Sykes needed some discipline, something the Corps, or a foot up his butt, might just provide. Then again, should Evan be upset at another opportunity to see Kenzie up close?

Damn, but even angry she turned him on. Yeah, that was it. He wanted her. Physical desire. That he understood. And if he ignored the quickening of his heart and the need to sigh just looking at her, he’d believe his own bullshit. Because falling for a woman he didn’t even know made no sense. And Evan was nothing if not rational.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, biting out each word.

“I’m supposed to meet your brother to discuss financial matters. He had a legitimate question about tax penalties, and since I was already in the area, I told him I’d meet him.”

Kenzie clenched her jaw.

“So he was lying?”

“No. I am having some issues with my books, but I’m not sure why Rachel’s moving guy is qualified to help us.”

Evan smiled. “I’m an accountant. I was, I mean. Well, I still am. I’m just working for myself now.”

“Why?”

“So much suspicion.” He grinned, not telling her how adorable she looked in her pique. Women didn’t like hearing that they were cute when trying to appear serious. “I wasn’t fired for any wrongdoing. I left the firm because I couldn’t handle the hours. But I’m still consulting for them, and I have a few clients staying with me who left Peterman & Campbell Accounting when I did.”

She blinked. “I know that firm. One of my clients uses them. They’re big money.”

“Yep.” Evan wanted to stroke her cheek, to see if she felt as soft as she looked. So he tucked his hands in his pockets.

“What was with lying to Rob about your clients using me? Or me being overbooked?”

He shrugged. “I know Rob. He’s competitive. The thought of him not getting to use your services because you don’t have time for him would annoy the crap out of him. Plus it never hurts to make people think you’re more than you are. Perception is everything, and before you know it, you will be overbooked.”

“Oh.” She gave him a tentative smile. “Thanks.”

“Mind if I grab a coffee and wait with you for your brother? It’s getting crowded in here.”

She nodded, her gaze thoughtful.

Evan picked up a coffee and a few pastries and returned to Kenzie. “How about some sweets as a peace offering? I had no idea I was interrupting a meeting.”

She accepted an apricot Danish. “Thanks. It’s not your fault I couldn’t snare Rob Talon on my own.”

He didn’t know about that. Rob had seemed pretty smitten when Evan had seen the pair sitting together.

“How do you know him anyway?” Kenzie asked.

“I knew his sister from a long time ago. She and I dated briefly in college. Rob is a good guy, and he and I became friends after Kayla and I broke up.”

“Really? Kayla is amazing.”

“She is. But I was the problem.” I was too boring for Kayla. And I really hate that word. “She wanted to see the world, and I had responsibilities.” He sipped his coffee, remembering the past and wondering where the time had gone. “Well, actually she wanted to go to India for some technology conference, and I wanted to go to Miami for a wild spring break. We parted ways after I joined the Marine Corps and she moved to Bangalore.”

“You were a Marine?”

Am a Marine.” He smiled with pride. “You’re never an ex. You become a ‘prior’ or ‘former’ Marine. It’s always with you.” Even though he hadn’t enjoyed many of the aspects of the military, he missed the camaraderie, which explained why he loved working with the gang at Vets on the Go! It felt like a mini-Corps of likeminded individuals.

“So if you don’t mind me asking, why are you moving furniture for a living? Because you burned out doing accounting?” She sounded disbelieving.

He couldn’t blame her. “Actually, I’m a partner in our moving business. My cousins and I own Vets on the Go!, and one of our guys is out due to a broken arm. So I’m helping out until he’s back. But to be honest, it’s been enjoyable using my muscles more than my brains for a while. I got tired working eighty-hour weeks for Peterman & Campbell.”

Her eyes softened. “That makes sense. I love my job, but I get tired too. I worked all weekend in between cleaning my house and running errands.” She sighed. “And today was a bust.”

“Sorry to hear that. I’ll make sure Rob calls you back since I interrupted you.”

“No, please don’t. I can handle my business myself.”

He sensed a little bit of tension there, but he understood the need for independence. “No problem. At least finish the Danish.”

She shoved half the pastry in her mouth and grinned at him. “Happy now?” she asked, her mouth full, and he laughed.

“You know, I can see where your brother gets that attitude.”

She managed to swallow the ball of dough and groaned. “Now I should be apologizing to you. I can’t believe he tricked you into coming here.”

“So you’re not having a problem with your taxes?”

“Yes, but—” The buzz of her phone interrupted her. She read a text and blinked. “Daniel just told me he’s on his way here to meet with you and not to be freaked out if I see you because you’re not stalking me, you’re doing him a favor.”

“Wow. He texted all that?”

“Mostly in abbreviations and emojis, but I understand teen-speak.”

Evan laughed. “Better you than me. I couldn’t even figure out how to change my name back.”

“What did he change your name to?”

“Well, my ringtone became ‘Dancing Queen.’ And my name became Sexy Moving Man with a Fine Ass.”

She couldn’t stifle her mirth, and he saw it.

***

Excerpted from Handle With Care by Marie Harte. © 2019 by Marie Harte. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Meet the Kings of North Carolina with Author Penelope Bloom & giveaway

 

 

Anyone But Rich is the first book of my new, three book “Anyone But…” series. Every book is a true romantic comedy and is full of moments that I hope will have you laughing out loud, if not at least breathing out a little puff of air from your nose.

Anyone But Rich follows the oldest King brother, Richard King, and his love interest, Kira Summerland. Seven years ago, the King brothers left behind a trail of scorched earth as far as Kira and her best friends, Iris and Miranda were concerned. The three women swore an oath that they’d never date the King brothers again, even if they wound up becoming mega-famous billionaires and came back on their knees, begging for forgiveness.

But that’s exactly what happened. Now, Kira isn’t so sure she’ll be able to hold herself to a vow she made seven years ago, even if breaking it could drive a rift between her and her best friends.

Rich and the King brothers are global phenomenons. Each of them takes their own, unique approach to melting hearts. Rich is the kind of guy who puts business first and relentlessly pursues his goals, even if it means ruffling feathers along the way. That’s what makes Kira so special for him. She’s the one person who can bring out a softer side of Rich, and at times, even a funny side. But Kira or not, he’s generally seen as the face of the company, and he’s easily the biggest name to ever land in a place like West Valley.

Cade is Rich’s twin brother, but the two men couldn’t be more different. Cade is a somewhat strange blend of intelligence, goofiness, and unbearable cockiness. He can turn any situation into a joke, but behind the laughs and crude comments, he still wonders if his high school crush, Iris, would ever look beyond their past.

Nick is the youngest of the trio and generally thought of as the quiet genius of the group. He’s not as in-your-face as Rich can appear, but Nick commands respect in his own way. He also has the closest relationship with Cade, partly because Nick is the only one who ever seemed up to the task of keeping his wild, older brother alive.

All in all, the three brothers are like the riders of the apocalypse, if apocalypses were caused by melted panties and broken hearts, at least.

But the King brothers all share one thing in common. Whether they’ll ever admit it or not, they all came back to West Valley for the girls they left behind. Anyone But Rich is the story of Richard King and his attempts to win the forgiveness of Kira Summerland, his old high school flame. The question for Rich is how long he can pretend forgiveness is all he wants. For Kira, it’s a question of whether she can look past the mountain’s worth of warning signs telling her to stay as far away from Rich as possible.

There are endless obstacles between the King brothers and their West Valley girls, but the King brothers aren’t the type to shy away from a challenge. They’ve just never faced one this great.

***

Seven years ago, my best friends and I made a promise: No matter what, we would never date one of the King brothers. Even if they grew up to become megafamous, gorgeous, heart-stopping billionaires. Even if they crawled on their knees and begged for forgiveness.

But guess who just flew back into our lives in a private jet? And guess who just showed up to my job on my first day? Richard. King. Fortunately, it takes two seconds for Richard to reveal he hasn’t changed. Conceited. Cocky. Rude. Unfortunately, he’s also the kind of gorgeous that’s borderline offensive—with a jawline to make statues self-conscious and a grin that short-circuits my brain.

He’s spent years taking what he wants. I doubt he’s hungry for anything else—except me, apparently. There’s no way I’ll let him maneuver his way back into my life. My friends would never forgive me. I would never forgive me. But did I mention his jawline?

 

Principal Lockett. 

He was shorter than most of the freshmen, but the shiny patch of bald skin on his crown and the drooping bags under his eyes meant there was no mistaking him for a student. “Just wanted to say good luck on your first day, Kira.”

“Thank you,” I said. I hoped my smile looked genuine. I’d expected to need to try very hard to make a good impression on my new boss, but from the first day of preplanning two weeks ago, it seemed like he was the one sucking up. It wasn’t the first time being the mayor’s daughter had given me some unwanted advantage. No matter how much I protested, some people in West Valley were dead set on the idea that getting in my good graces was the same as getting in my father’s good graces. Unfortunately, my objections went unnoticed, and people had never been quick to believe that favoritism wasn’t something I secretly encouraged.

So I did what I always did. I pretended I still needed to bust my ass to make a good impression. I refused to sit back and let my father be an easy pass, and I hoped for the best.

“Is everything okay?” I asked when he was still standing there with a smile plastered on his face. From the corner of my eye, I saw students start pouring into my room from the back door.

“There is just one thing. A slight hiccup, really. Nothing that you would need to worry your father about,” he said. “There’s a very influential businessman in town. He got on the phone with the right people a few minutes ago, made some very interesting promises, and . . . well . . .”

“Well, what?” My eyes were darting between Principal Lockett and my rapidly filling classroom.

“He’s apparently an old friend of yours. Said he’d like to be able to stop by today and say hello. He promised it would be quick.”

“It’s my first day,” I said slowly, hoping I wouldn’t need to explain any further.

“And you’ll do great!” Principal Lockett seemed to sense my inevitable eruption, so he ducked back into the hallway and flashed me a quick thumbs-up before the door snicked closed.

I turned my eyes toward my students and made a weak attempt to mentally rally. I can do this. They’re just children in bodies that have grown faster than their brains. They aren’t as mature as they look. 

“Do you see how red her face is?” whispered a girl in the front row. I wasn’t sure if it was intentional, but I was pretty sure I would’ve been able to make out every word of the “whisper” from the parking lot.

The boy beside her smiled cruelly. “Maybe she’s PMSing.”

The girl frowned at him and slapped his arm. “That’s not how it works, you idiot.”

“What do you mean? There’s all the blood issues. Some of it must end up in their heads.”

The girl rolled her eyes, crossed her arms, and gave up on him.

I cleared my throat. “I’m Miss Summerland.” I paused, swallowed, and willed my windpipe to grow a little bigger. “This is—”

The bell signaling the start of first period rang deafeningly, cutting me off and making me realize I was already showing what a rookie I was.

I cleared my throat again. “This is—”

The announcements began, instructing the students to stand for the Pledge and the anthem.

I turned my back to face the flag and pretended I didn’t hear the snickering students behind me. I also pretended I didn’t remember being a high schooler not so long ago, and how quickly I would’ve decided a teacher like me was the kind students were going to eat for breakfast.

A few minutes later, the announcements ended, and I finally turned to face the students again. “Okay. This is—”

The door to my room opened. I spun, hands balled into fists. All the frustration of the last few minutes boiled over into an embarrassingly squeaky outburst. “I would love to finish my sentence!”

And that was when I saw my visitor.

Richard King.

Distantly, I heard the excited whispers of every girl in my classroom.

“Is that him?” 

“Oh my God, is my hair okay?” 

“This is going on my Snapchat!” 

Their voices faded into background noise as I looked at him in person for the first time in so many years.

“Please,” he said. His voice was so deep and rich I could feel it rumble through my chest. “Finish your sentence. I’ll wait.”

He knew damn well there was no way I could think about anything else with him standing there. The corner of his mouth had twitched up into the suggestion of a smirk, and his eyes were locked predatorily on me. He knew exactly what was happening to me, and he was enjoying it.

I tried to picture a normal human being in his place. I tried and failed to unsee the broad, powerful shoulders and long legs, to unmake every cruel and perfect line of his face, from the sharp jaw to the dark eyebrows and burning green eyes. His nearly black hair was cut short and neat. He wore a suit that would’ve made most men look overdressed, but he seemed perfectly at ease. Here I was with my legs spread out like I was trying not to step in a puddle, pretending I was in control. Meanwhile, Rich’s pinkie toe projected more confidence than my entire body.

I wanted him and his obnoxiously cocky pinkie toe out of my classroom and out of my life. I was perfectly happy seeing him in a dirty dream every few weeks, where he couldn’t screw up my reality any more, thank you very much.

“Out,” I said.

“That was the end of your sentence? ‘This is . . . out’?”

The students acted like his sitcom laugh track, and I already wanted to give them all detentions for being traitors.

I turned, annoyed, and gestured to my students. “This is English Four Honors.” I looked back at Richard. “Out.”

***

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Penelope Bloom is a USA Today, Amazon, and Washington Post bestselling author whose books have been translated into seven languages. Her popular romances include His Banana, Her Cherry, Savage, and Punished.

Her writing career started when she left her job as a high school teacher to pursue her dream. She loves taking her imagination for a spin and writing romances she’d want to live. She likes a man with a mind as dirty as sin and a heart of gold he keeps hidden away. Her favorite things include getting to wear socks all day—pants optional—and being a positive example for her girls. Showing her daughters that no dream is too big, no matter what anyone tells them, is worth all the late nights, doubts, and fears that come with being a writer.

Stay connected! For giveaways, goodies, updates, and extras, join the mailing list at https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/a0y7m1. Follow her on Facebook at PenelopeBloomRomance, and check out her website at www.penelope-bloom.com.

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Social Media Links

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Featuring Juli D. Revezzo ~Why Are We So Fascinated With Dragons & THE DRAGON'S SEAMSTRESS

Why are we so fascinated with dragons?

by

Juli D. Revezzo

Why are we so fascinated with the dragons? It’s a question that I’ve never really thought about. And yet they are so preveleant in our society. From Sleeping Beauty where in Maleficent turns into a dragon to harry the prince to Disney’s The Sword in the Stone where the witch turns into a dragon. You can find them in The Hobbit, of course, in the form of Smaug and in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series wherein the main characters tamed dragons and use them as transport and, indeed, companions for their warriors. Even Morgan Le Fay commanded dragons from time to time (for instance, the 12th century story Eerc by Hartmann von Aue). And of course, dragons are in far more books than just these.

They’re even found in Welsh mythology and of course the Welsh so love dragons that they put one on their country’s flag. They’ve also returned as a major part of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. Since the show’s popularity has grown, it seems the popularity of dragons is growing along with it. (My goodness, a search of Amazon brings up over ten thousand hits on a search for dragons in non-romantic fantasy alone!)

Why is that?

Perhaps because the dragon is seen as a symbol of strength and power? Or perhaps it’s an old memory that we brought with us down through the ages from our medieval ancestors who told the stories of dragons and knights around the castle fireplace on long, dark winter nights. Dragons have been found everywhere from ancient Egypt to Biblical references. And even now, as author Todd McCaffrey said in a recent article, perhaps our love of them harkens back to how, many of us, fell in love with dinosaurs when we were children, either from some mention in school, or a cartoon, or a toy passed down from an older sibling, a father or a cousin, or even… from catching old Godzilla movies on the Saturday or a children’s program (HR PufnStuff! J).

At any rate, when I built my latest release, The Dragon’s Seamstress, as it is part of my Antique Magic series, a series wherein, so far, the heroine Caitlin and hero Trevor have already dealt with other things coming from their neighboring Otherworld—fantastical things such as ghosts, imps, and goddesses—and as they’ve visited the Otherworld and seen for themselves just how vast it is, I thought, why couldn’t there be dragons hanging out in a section they’d never yet visited? Happily, the Welsh myths provided a reason for the dragon’s appearance to my helpful witch couple in this book, in the form of an antique cloak made from the beards of defeated Welsh kings, why he had it, and how he related to the piece was a fun thing to create.

I hope you will enjoy The Dragon’s Seamstress as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Synopsis:

Since Caitlin and Trevor vowed to assist the Otherworld and opened their enchanted antique shop, they’ve seen many strange things. But now, someone comes in asking for a mundane item: kitschy “witches” brooms. Has their magical life returned to normal?

As the couple prepares to host a family gathering, fate intervenes and something they’ve never seen before roars into their life: A creature out of Welsh legend and fantasy: A blundering, somewhat underdeveloped dragon—not at all the type of dragon they ever expected to meet. Forced to undertake his unique challenge, Caitlin and Trevor are perplexed by his demands, but the magical beast is certain they are the only witches who can help him.

Doing so might unlock an ancient hidden secret. Refusing might destroy them.

If you’d like to check out The Dragon’s Seamstress, it is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon: https://smarturl.it/ojdlj8

Thanks for having me here today, Ivy!

Bio:

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of The Dragon Seamstress, part of the Antique Magic paranormal series,  the historical romances, Courting the Stationmaster’s Daughter, House of Dark Envy, the fantasy Gothic romance Lady of the Tarot, and much more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

Author’s Website and blog: https://julidrevezzo.com/Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julidrevezzoor Twitter: https://twitter.com/julidrevezzo
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/juli-d-revezzo
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782712.Juli_D_Revezzo
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julidrevezzo/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Juli-D.-Revezzo/e/B008AHVTLO
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/julidrevezzo
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jewelsraven

References:

Violence and Conflict Resolution in Hartmann von Aue’s Erecand Iwein, Wirnt von Grafenberg’s Wigalois, and Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival by Melanie Kay Piltingsrud, dissertation, University of Kansas, 2014

Here (And There, And Really Everywhere) Be Dragons, All Things Considered, Allison Keyes, url: https://www.npr.org/2012/03/31/148295380/here-and-there-and-really-everywhere-be-dragons

Morgan Le Fay, Wikiwand, url: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Morgan_le_Fay

Jane Ashford's HOW TO CROSS A MARQUESS excerpt & giveaway

The warmth in his expression left Fenella shaken. She’d been braced for blame. She knew how to dismiss unjust accusations, taught by those her father had been tossing at her for as long as she could remember. But not to have to. That was another matter entirely. Relief was a pale word. Her throat thickened with tears.

She looked away to hide them, blinked them back. Their horses had ambled along at their own direction while their riders talked, and she saw that they’d veered closer to Clough House. Before them lay a dip in the land that was filled with bushes. “The raspberry thicket,” said Fenella. “I used to come here and pick berries whenever I could sneak away. How Mama scolded me for spoiling my dresses! But I couldn’t resist. I love raspberries.”

“I’ll pick some for you.”

“The thorns will tear your clothes.”

“No, they won’t. You can sit in the shade over there.” He turned his horse toward a cluster of saplings at the side of the thicket, grinning over his shoulder. An antic mood seemed to have overtaken him.

The breeze carried the scent of sun-warmed raspberries. Fenella’s mouth watered. “I could pick my own,” she said.

“Please allow me.”

He spoke like a knight offering some perilous feat of chivalry. She decided to let him.

They dismounted, leaving their mounts to the rich grass on the side of the hill. Fenella settled in the shade and watched Roger plunge into the raspberry bushes. He pulled out his handkerchief and began to fill it with ripe berries. Stains spread over the linen as he added to his haul. She saw the thorns catch at his coat sleeves and riding breeches. They scratched his glossy boots as well. His valet wouldn’t appreciate that. But Roger didn’t appear to care. He moved deeper into the thicket, until only his hat was visible above the arching canes. And then that too vanished. “Are you all right?” called Fenella.

“Dashed briars snatched my hat,” he replied. “Just a… Got it.” The crown of his hat reappeared above the branches. He was near the center of the thicket, at the bottom of the dip. It was much harder to get out of that little valley than to go in, Fenella remembered. The slant of the bushes seemed to push one back down.

Roger’s face showed above the vegetation. He must be standing on tiptoe. “There you are,” he said. “I got turned around.”

He moved slowly toward her, obviously having to fight his way out. His head, and then his broad shoulders, came into view. He held one arm in front of his face to stave off the thorns.

“Hotter in there,” he said when he finally emerged. Sweat gleamed on his face. He came over to her, bowed, and set his bundle of berries beside her as if they were indeed the result of a knight’s quest. Fenella noted an angry scratch across the back of his right hand. At least it wasn’t bleeding. She took a raspberry and ate it. The fruit was warm from the sun, sweet and tart at the same time. It melted on her tongue, utterly delicious. “Berries picked here are always better than any others,” she said.

Roger sat down in the grass beside her.

“You must have some, too. You did all the work.”

He ate one. “Very good.”

“Better than that,” Fenella said. “Luscious.” She held out a berry. He bent a little forward and took it, his lips brushing her fingertips, light as a butterfly’s wing, and still it stirred her.

“Luscious,” he agreed.

The word vibrated between them, expanding out to encompass far more than berries. The air was heavy with the hum of bees and the scent of fruit under the heat of the August sun.

They were hidden from the world here, Fenella noted. Even the horses would not be easily visible, due to the dip in the land and the height of bushes. They might have stepped outside of time. Her everyday life seemed far away.

Roger took a raspberry and held it out to her. Fenella leaned forward and opened her lips. He put the berry on her tongue. She bit into it, the intense flavor filling her mouth—piquant, delicious, another dart of pleasure. She held out a berry. He followed her example, bending toward her. She set the crimson fruit in his mouth without touching him. He held her gaze as he bit down.

The sultry atmosphere went to her head—the languorous warmth, the rustle of leaves overhead, the soft grass beneath her, Roger’s lips red with berry juice. Hers must be as well, Fenella thought. The same hue, the same taste. The idea seemed to pull her forward, and the next time he held out a berry, she leaned past it and kissed him.

He did taste of raspberries. But the kiss was so much more than that. The sweet taste of the fruit slid slowly into a melting of her whole body.

Strong arms came around her and pulled her close. She put hers around his neck and let herself sink with him onto the grass. The world contracted into a kernel of dizzying sensation.

What kisses, she thought. She’d known she was drawn to Roger, but she hadn’t realized it would be like this. His touch set her vibrating with desire. She wanted to give him all he could ask, to take everything he could offer. She pressed up against him. Their kisses wove a tapestry of longing, begging to be unraveled. He murmured her name.

“It went this way,” shouted a boy’s voice from other side of the thicket.

“Into the brambles?” replied another.

“Right under, the cunning little devil.”

“I ain’t desperate keen to crawl in there.”

“It’s John and Tom,” whispered Fenella.

“Deuce take them,” replied Roger.

“Perhaps it will come out the other side,” said John. “We can go around.” Footsteps pounded along the edge of the thicket.

Roger pulled her closer as if to protect her from this intrusion. But his instinct was wrong in this case. They couldn’t be found embracing. Fenella pulled away and sat up. Her hat had fallen off. She retrieved it and set it on her head, plucking and pinning stray strands of hair into place.

“Must speak to you,” Roger whispered.

“Shh. Not now.”

“Must.” He couldn’t stay silent. He had to tell her. This was the tricky bit, where he could win her, or lose everything. If only he could make his damnable tongue form the right phrases, and in a hurried whisper, no less.

***

Excerpted from How to Cross a Marquess by Jane Ashford. © 2019 by Jane Ashford. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

“A refreshingly different, sweetly romantic love story [readers] will long remember.”—Booklist for Brave New Earl

The Marquess of Chatton and his neighbor Fenella Fairclough have known each other all their lives. They refused to marry each other years ago when their parents demanded it, and they won’t concede now—even if circumstances have brought these former enemies much closer than they ever could have anticipated…

The Way to a Lord’s Heart:

Brave New Earl (Book 1)

A Lord Apart (Book 2)

How to Cross a Marquess (Book 3)

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight was part of what led her to study English literature and travel widely. She’s written historical and contemporary romances, and her books have been published all over Europe as well as in the United States. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. Find her on the web at www.janeashford.com and on Facebook. If you’d like to receive her monthly newsletter, you can sign up at either of those sites.

Author Website: www.janeashford.com

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I'VE GOT YOU, BABE excerpt & giveaway with Lynnette Austin

Where do you go when you’re at the end of your rope?

Former Marine Tucker Wylder wants nothing more than to work with his brothers in their vintage car restoration business and be left alone with his nightmares and regrets. The last thing he needs is to take on someone else’s troubles…

Then Elisa Danvers and her young daughter arrive in Misty Bottoms, Georgia. Elisa has reached the end of the line—flat broke, engine trouble, sick in body and spirit. Tucker steps up to the rescue and finds himself reluctantly taking care of a feisty preschooler and her independent mother, who doesn’t seem to want his help. And Tucker isn’t sure he’s ready for the way precocious little Daisy and headstrong, beautiful Elisa herself capture first his bachelor household and finally his carefully guarded heart…..

Must Love Babies Series: Must Love Babies (Book 1)  &  I’ve Got You Babe (Book 2)

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A cup of hot, black coffee in hand and a well-earned—and desperately needed—weekend fishing trip on his mind, Tucker unlocked the front door of Wylder Rides. The smell of oil and new tires welcomed him like an old friend. He liked the peace and quiet of the early morning, the solitude before his brothers arrived.

When a breeze drifted in through the open bay door, he thanked the stars the calendar had finally flipped to October. This summer, his first in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, had been hotter than Hades. With the onslaught of autumn, though, temperatures had dipped to a less humid mid-seventies.

Still, even the Georgia low-country summer had been a hell of a sight better than the sweltering heat he’d suffered during his Middle East deployment. There the July temperatures hovered above the hundred-degree mark. Add in the blistering sun, and the place could turn a man’s hide to shoe leather in no time. Don’t even get him started on the never-ending sand that found its way into every crack and crevice on the human body and scoured exposed skin raw.

A tough place to live. A worse place to die.

Involuntarily, his hands clenched into fists. Taking a deep breath, he relaxed them. Not today. He dropped to the creeper, slid partially beneath the ’Vette, and got busy replacing the brake lines.

Southern rock blasted from his stereo. Over the magic of Charlie Daniel’s fiddle, Tucker heard a car slow, then pull in out front. Its muffler was shot. The engine knocked, coughed and sputtered, then shut down with a rattle.

Seconds later, a totally different sound caught his attention—high heels on the garage’s concrete floor. Tucker slid a sidelong glance toward the front of the bay and almost swallowed his tongue. Framed in the narrow window between the floor and the car’s bumper were a pair of legs that would have any red-blooded man drooling…and they crossed slowly toward him. Laying the wrench on the floor beside him, he gave a push with his foot and slid the creeper from beneath the car.

Flat on his back, he let his gaze travel up over a body that matched the legs beat for beat, then on to a face only angels could have created. The heart-shaped face, with its sensuous lips and the biggest, bluest eyes he’d ever seen, sent a shockwave rocketing through him. Long, pale blond hair had been caught back in a ponytail.

An illusion? Maybe he’d breathed too many gas fumes and was hallucinating?

Nope. This woman was real and, from the expression on that stunning face, in trouble. 

“My car—” She waved a hand toward the front of the building.

“Could use some work,” Tucker finished, slowly getting to his feet. Wiping his hands on a grease rag, he moved toward her. “Look, we’re not a repair shop, but I can probably figure out what’s wrong. If it’s minor—”

She swayed and reached out toward the wall.

“You okay?” Even as Tucker spoke, he saw those mind-blowing eyes go blank. Dark lashes fanned her cheeks.

With a muttered curse, he lunged, barely reaching her before she hit the floor. Heart racing, he held her against him and swore again. Out cold.

“Hey, can you hear me?” He tapped her cheek but got no response. “Wake up.”

Sweat broke out on his brow. Where were his brothers? They should be here by now. What was he supposed to do with an unconscious woman? He leaned his head close to hers, relief flooding him when her breath whispered against his cheek.

A high-pitched wail split the air. Panicked, his head whipped up, and he glanced toward the beater parked out front. The driver’s side door hung open; in the back, strapped into a child’s seat, sat a little girl with her mama’s pale blond hair—a little girl winding up for one hell of a crying jag. 

And the day just got better!

He shook the limp woman gently, noticed the sheen of perspiration on her face. “Come on, sugar. For God’s sake, open those baby blues.”

She didn’t.

Kneeling and taking the woman down with him, he spread an old garage blanket and laid her carefully on it, straightening the short skirt of her flower-print dress.

With his forearm, he swiped the sweat from his brow. “Hey, wake up.”

She didn’t.

Okay. Time to tackle the second half of this double-feature horror show.

Edging toward the used-up Ford Escort and its young occupant in much the same way he’d approach a suspected sniper’s nest, he pulled out his phone and hit 911.

The sheriff answered on the first ring. “Misty Bottoms Police Department. What can I do ya?”

“Jimmy Don, it’s Tuck Wylder. I’m out at my shop.” Opening the sedan’s back door, he stared at the young child, at her tear-covered face and runny nose. He’d guess her to be maybe two or three years old. An opened bag of pretzels lay on the seat. Leaning in, he grabbed one and handed it to her. She raised it to her mouth and chewed, her cries dying to quiet whimpers.

Thank you, Jesus.

“Tuck? What’s goin’ on?” the sheriff demanded.

“A woman pulled up in front of our place, and, well, she’s passed out.”

“Been drinkin’?”

“I don’t think so, but she’s hot.”

“I don’t care how good lookin’ she is.”

“No, Jimmy Don. Not hot hot, hot! As in sweating.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?”

“I did!” Who’s on first? he thought.

“Do I hear a kid?”

Exasperated, Tucker raked fingers through his short hair, his gaze travelling over the woman. She still hadn’t moved. What a friggin’ mess!

“Yeah, you do. She came with the woman who’s passed out on my garage floor.”

“She okay?”

Tucker raised his eyes to the heavens and rubbed at his forehead. “Which one?”

“The kid.”

“How would I know? Nothing wrong with her lungs, I can tell you that.” The nagging beginning of a headache bloomed into a full-fledged whopper.

“You need an ambulance or you gonna take the gal in to see Doc Hawkins?”

“What?” Tucker pulled the cell away to stare at it. Bringing it back to his ear, he asked, “Are you serious, Jimmy Don? You want me to pick up an unconscious stranger, toss her in my car, along with the baby, and drive them into town?”

“So I guess you want me to send the town’s ambulance out there.”

“Bingo.”

***

Excerpted from I’ve Got You, Babe by Lynnette Austin. © 2019 by Lynnette Austin. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Lynnette Austin has been a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse. Visit her at http://www.authorlynnetteaustin.com. Lynnette splits her time between the beaches of Florida and the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia.

Author Website: http://www.authorlynnetteaustin.com

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