The Risks (and Rewards) of Dating in A Small Town by Tracy Brogan ~ MY KIND OF FOREVER & Giveaway

MY KIND OF FOREVER is the second book in the Trillium Bay series set on a small island in Northern Michigan, and tells the story of thirty-five year old Brooke Callaghan who has just been elected as the youngest, and first female, mayor the town has ever had. As the oldest of three sisters, Brooke is accustomed to taking charge and bossing others around, but the stodgy, long-time members of the decisively not-modern city council are determined to keep the status quo. In fact, the only one who seems to take Brooke seriously is Leo Walker, the new bartender whose reasons for being on the island are both short-term and known to him alone. 
 
Despite a budding attraction to Leo, Brooke knows she needs to focus on mastering her new job, especially when rumors of a jewel thief hiding out on the island begin to circulate and the well-established rumor mills goes into overdrive. And speaking of rumors, Brooke is more than a little concerned with what the townspeople might say if they discover she and Leo are spending time alone. Coming from such a small community, in this case a village with a winter population of just six hundred people, people’s private lives rarely stay private, and modest, pragmatic Brooke doesn’t like the extra attention. Especially since a bad relationship from her past has left her overly cautious.
 
Although determined to prove to her neighbors and family she’s got what it takes to be a great mayor, with Leo’s encouragement, Brooke comes to realize she’s also entitled to address a few of the more personal aspects of her life, such as finding romance. But when things with Leo get rocky, she falls back into old patterns, believing that love is too elusive and not for women like her. Fortunately, the local community knows otherwise. They see the real Brooke, the one she thinks is hidden. They know her dedication and intelligence and worth, and they know she deserves to have it all. They know she deserves to have a forever kind of love. And so does Leo.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” Leo said after everyone else had left and I remained seated in the small meeting room holding my aching head in my hands. “But it sounds like you have your work cut out for you.”

Wow. Did I ever. I’d just spent the past two hours listening to so-called adults bickering about a litany of arbitrary topics. Should Polly’s Popcorn Shop be allowed to sell day-old products? Could the street sweepers add five minutes to their afternoon break? Who was going to play Santa during the Christmas Parade if Harry didn’t come back in time? And the biggest topic of the day? Did everyone see the awnings Tasty Pastries had put up, and who on earth had approved that?

“It’s like they couldn’t even hear me talking,” I said, looking up at him for a response, just to reassure myself that I was, in fact, speaking out loud.

He picked up an empty glass with one hand while wiping a ring of condensation off the table with a damp rag. “I’m not sure they could hear each other talking. Seemed like a lot of monologuing without any listening.”

“But I had an agenda.” I shook my paper at him, now covered in notes that I’d scribbled in the margins about all the other things I wanted to discuss. Things I would have discussed if I could have gotten a word in edgewise. The only one who didn’t interrupt me was my own father, but that’s because he didn’t say anything the entire time. Not unusual for him, but I had hoped to demonstrate a little more power over that cluster of clucking hens. “They were worse than teenagers. I have so many great ideas, but all they care about is the awnings.”

Leo wiped another spot off the table. “What ideas?” He gazed down at me, and I noted how dark blue his eyes were. Depths-of-the-ocean kind of blue. The kind of eyes that made every glance feel significant, even if it meant nothing at all. A flutter of something long-forgotten tickled inside my veins. Attraction. Followed by an immediate need to ignore it.

“Oh, all kinds of ideas.” I smiled tiredly and pushed myself up, because it was nearly five thirty and the Palomino Pub would start filling up with the evening crew pretty soon. “I’ll get out of the way now so you can have the room for dinner guests.”

“Speaking of dinner,” he said, “I’m new around here, so I was wondering, what restaurants do you like?”

“Oh, we have lots of great places to eat. All price ranges. The Windemere Grill is right down on the corner. There’s the Imperial Hotel dining room if you want something elegant. The Feast Well Bistro, Carmen’s Café, and Tate’s Tavern on the Bluff are good, too. At the tavern, you can watch the sun set behind Petoskey Bridge. It’s a great view. And for breakfast, I recommend Link & Patty’s Breakfast Buffet. The pink piggy décor is a little much, but the pancakes are the best.”

“Are you suggesting we have dinner and breakfast?” His dark eyebrow arched just as the corner of his mouth quirked in a ridiculously endearing fashion.

I pushed in my chair with an abrupt scrape. “Excuse me?”

“I was inviting you to dinner. You were inviting me to breakfast.”

That flutter of attraction multiplied even as my mouth fell open for a second. I’m sure it was a great look on me. “I wasn’t. And you weren’t. Were you?”

He laughed, and even though it might have been at my expense, the sound of it sent a flush over my skin and a tingle to places that hadn’t tingled for a very long time.

“I was inviting you to dinner, but not very well, apparently. I’ve been on the island a few days, but I don’t know anyone here, so would you like to have dinner with me?”

I was starving. And he was handsome. And new in town. And looked to be roughly my age. There was no history, no baggage, no reason to say no. But it had been so long since anyone had asked me out, it nearly felt improper. Everyone knew me around here. Everyone would know that we’d had dinner, and certainly everyone would have an opinion about it. And it’s not as if we could go someplace private because there was no place private on the entire island. And there was that issue of the flutter. I didn’t want to be fluttering. Fluttering led to heartbreak.

 
***

As the youngest mayor Trillium Bay has ever elected, Brooke Callaghan wants to prove she’s up to the challenge. She’s stepping out of her practical teacher flats and into her sister’s treacherously high heels…with disastrous results. But if she’s going to (literally) stumble her first day on the job, why not fall into the arms of a handsome stranger?

Leo Walker is a rarity on Wenniway Island. Not only handsome, he’s also single, funny, and—most importantly—interested in Brooke. Unfortunately, his reasons for being on the island are temporary, so in spite of the undeniable chemistry between them, he’s not a forever kind of guy.

When a private investigator arrives with news of a jewel thief hiding on the island, Brooke finds herself dealing with one kerfuffle after another, and Leo proves to be a delicious distraction. What does she really know about him, though? And the biggest question of all? Does this short-term romance hold the possibility of long-term love?

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Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Tracy Brogan is a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist for her Bell Harbor series. She writes fun, funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love, and she lives in Michigan with her two brilliant daughters and their two intellectually challenged dogs. She loves to hear from readers, so check out her website at www.tracybrogan.com. You can also follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tracybroganwriter.

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Kendra Elliot’s A MERCIFUL FATE Feature w/ Gift card & digital copy giveaway

“Sit.”

Mercy sat on a stool that was too high for the makeshift table. She didn’t care. They could sit on the ground and she’d be happy with Truman. Currently the home had plywood subfloors and open framing, but part of Mercy loved the empty, bare look; it promised that something fabulous was coming.

Fabulous and practical.

Truman leaned over and poured red wine in the plastic cup by her paper plate. She sighed and buried her nose in her cup. The fragrance was deep and bold, with hints of plum and smoke.

“Italy,” she mumbled into the wine.

“What?” asked Truman.

“I want to visit Italy. How does a honeymoon in Italy sound?”

A grin filled his face, and the sensation of butterflies fluttered up her spine.

Or maybe it’s the wine.

She took a sip of her wine as she studied his face. So familiar and dear to her.

A smile to stop traffic. Eyes that crinkled in happiness. Several scars that testified to his love of law enforcement. Her attraction to him was more than skin deep. She was in love with the person he was. He was a natural leader and easily commanded respect. His people turned to him, followed him, admired him. His natural sense of honor was a magnet for her.

No. It’s not the wine.

He gets me.

He understood how her mind worked, and they fit together like a couple of complicated puzzle pieces. She’d been painfully aware of her missing puzzle piece when he’d been taken away, chained by men planning to kill him, and then rescued thanks to Ollie. The two weeks when no one knew his fate had been the worst of her life. When he’d been returned to her, she’d known she couldn’t waste any more time.

He’d been of the same mind-set and had proposed.

“I’ll try Italy.” He dished spaghetti carbonara onto their plates.

“And what’s on your agenda for tomorrow?” he asked over the rim of his plastic cup. She perked up. “The bank confirmed the money bags are from the Gamble-Helmet Heist. And I have the go-ahead to visit Shane Gamble at the Two Rivers prison tomorrow.”

“What are your thoughts on the remains?” Truman asked. “Did the medical examiner get to them yet?”

“Yes. They spent the afternoon removing the remains, and Dr. Lockhart was going to start an examination tonight. The woman never takes time off.”

“Same could be said for you.”

“Only when I’m deep in a case.”

“I guess this means your weekends are booked for a while?”

Mercy sighed. “I know. The two of us are supposed to be working on the interior of this place … We’ll get it done at some point. It’ll have to wait awhile.”

A grin filled his face.

“What?” she asked.

“You’re not the same person I met last fall. Back then, if the cabin had been in the half-completed state it is now, you’d be climbing the walls with anxiety because your safety net wasn’t perfect.”

“You’re right,” she agreed. “I had a similar thought earlier, but nearly all my supplies are still intact, so it’d be rough living but doable. I can temporarily live with that for now. Especially with this case to distract me.”

His lips twisted.

“Jealous?” she asked with a grin. “It’s an amazing case, isn’t it?”

“It is. Considering there have been no leads for decades, and the robbery is practically modern folklore. It’s like a buried treasure hunt, and Ollie found the first clue.”

“Is Ollie okay after his morning?” she asked with a small wince. She’d nearly forgotten the teen had made the grisly discovery.

“He’s okay. I spent some time with him and he was very quiet, but I could tell he was processing it. He’s dealt with death before.”

“He’s been through a lot,” sympathized Mercy.

They silently ate for a few moments until he glanced up and caught her staring at him. Longing shone in his eyes, an appetite and craving that had nothing to do with food, and she struggled to find her breath.

How does he do that to me?

“You know,” he said, his voice low and tempting, “this place hasn’t been christened yet.”

Mercy blinked. “People do that to homes?”

Patience filled his features. “That’s not what I meant.” His brown gaze held hers.

“Ohhh,” she breathed as heat flashed through her.

“Dessert.” His smile was sinful, and energy pulsed between them.

She melted. “Yes. Dessert.”


***

Raised by preppers, survivalist and FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick has a deep-rooted need for a safe place. Her getaway in the Cascade Foothills is her secret. But when skeletal remains are unearthed—those of a murdered man linked to a notorious heist—Mercy realizes she isn’t the only one with something to hide.

Thirty years ago, an armored-car robbery turned deadly. The mastermind was captured. Four conspirators vanished with a fortune. One of them, it appears, never made it out of the woods alive. For Mercy and her fiancé, Police Chief Truman Daly, their investigation opens old wounds in Eagle’s Nest that cut deeper than they imagined. Especially when a reckless tabloid reporter draws fresh blood. It’s clear to Mercy that somebody in this close-knit community is not who they seem to be.

Some are still shattered by the heist. Some still have reason to be afraid. But which one will kill again and again to hide three decades of secrets? To land this case, it’s up to Mercy to unmask a familiar stranger before someone else dies.

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Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series, as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick novels: A Merciful Death, A Merciful Truth, and A Merciful Secret. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls. She was born, raised, and still lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters, but she looks forward to the day she can live in flip-flops. Visit her at www.kendraelliot.com.

 

Carolyn Brown & Dotty Welcomes Readers to The Magnolia Inn ~ Gift Card & digital Giveaway!

Good morning to all y’all. Thank you for inviting me to your site today to tell you a little about The Magnolia Inn. I’m so excited about this book. The characters became like family to me as I was writing it. Today, I have Dotty with me. She’s one of the four ladies—Sugar, Dotty, Lucy and Flossie—who’ve been fast friends since their youth. I’m going to turn this microphone over to Dotty now, and leave the rest of the post to her.
Hello, folks, I’m Dotty Beauchamp—half Texan, half Louisianan and all sass. I own the Tipsy Gater bar that sets right on the Big Cypress Bayou near Jefferson, Texas. When my good friend, Sugar, told me that she was going to give half of The Magnolia Inn, the bed and breakfast that her family had owned for generations, to her niece, Jolene, I thought she was bat crap crazy. When she said that her husband, Jasper, was giving the other half to his wimpy nephew, Reuben—well, I figured Reuben would sell his half the minute the ink dried on the papers.
I was right! The little weasel sold out his part of the inn to Tucker Malone. We—that would be Lucy and Flossie and me since Sugar was already off in that big ass RV touring the United States—had heard that he was a tortured soul. And dear hearts, we damn sure believed the rumor. He was the best of the best when it came to carpentry work, and from what we heard he only hit the bottle on weekends, but still we didn’t want our precious Jolene in living in that inn with him.
I really didn’t want to hire Jolene when she came to the bar looking for work, but I needed help and she sure enough needed a job. I figured I’d take some flack for it from Sugar, Lucy and Flossie, and I did—believe me I did. But Jolene and I both lived through it.
When we met Tucker for the first time, we were sure that the rumors had been right. His wife had died in an automobile accident a few years back. She’d gone to our church so we all knew her very well, and we’d met Tucker a few times when he showed up at church with her. When she died, he turned to the bottle and lost his important job on the police force over in Dallas. It was rumored that he came to our part of the world to be near her grave site. Poor man, he wore the guilt like a heavy shroud and just couldn’t seem to get past it.
But I’m digressing. When we met him we found out that he was also a Prince Charming. He didn’t have a white horse or a white cowboy hat, or a crown, but he was so sweet and kind, and he had such a sweet nature, that pretty soon, we fell in love with him as much as—well, she didn’t know it then, being as how she had plenty of baggage of her own—but as much as Jolene could it they’d could get past all the obstacles life kept throwing at them.
I see that my time is up. So let me thank you again for inviting me sit a spell and visit with all y’all. And if you’re ever in Jefferson, Texas, come on down to the Tipsy Gater and I’ll give you a free drink if you tell me that you’ve read The Magnolia Inn.
*****

“Why is Tucker a tortured soul?”

“He lost his wife, Melanie, a couple of years ago. She was his whole life,” Lucy whispered. She clucked like an old hen gathering in her baby chickens. “I just can’t believe he bought half interest in this place. It takes a people person to operate a B&B, and from what I hear, Tucker is almost a hermit.”

“I guess we’ve all got our own emotional baggage,” Jolene said.

“Wait until he hauls his damn sorry ass home drunk and you’ve got guests in the place,” Lucy declared.

“She loves Jesus, but she still cusses a little,” Dotty said with a wicked grin.

“He’s a fantastic carpenter. He’s got money to put into the inn. And I’ll cross the drinkin’ bridge when it happens. And . . .” She glanced over at Dotty, who shrugged and winked.

“And just so y’all know.” Jolene took a deep breath. “I’ll be working at the Gator starting Friday night.”

“Lord have mercy,” Lucy groaned. “Have you talked to Sugar about this?”

“Visited with her last night and was going to tell her, but . . .”

Lucy threw a hand over her forehead in a dramatic gesture and then shook a fist at Dotty. “You’re leading our sweet girl down the path of unrighteousness. Jolene, I’ll give you a job in my place of business. Full-time with benefits if you’ll quit the Gator right now.”

“I know bartending, and I can only handle part-time work with the inn, but thank you,” Jolene said and tried to change the subject. “Do I have the recipe for these cookies in Aunt Sugar’s files?”

“I’m sure you do, chère,” Dotty said. “But now let’s talk about the Easter Tour of Homes. Surely Sugar mentioned it?”

“Oh, that.” Jolene was glad Dotty had changed the subject. “She always wanted to be included in it but figured the Magnolia was too far out of town.”

“It might be, but we want to add it this year,” Lucy said.

“It’s, what, like three months from now?” Jolene asked.

“Yes,” Tucker said from the doorway. “We’ll have it ready by then.”

Jolene felt heat rising from her neck to her cheeks. How much had he heard? She motioned to the coffeepot and then to the cookies. “Come on in and meet my friends.”

“Always ready for cookies and coffee. I’m Tucker Malone.” He stuck his hand out toward Lucy.

Her expression said that she’d rather be sticking her hand in a rattlesnake pit, but she put her frail hand in his. “You probably don’t remember us, but we remember you from when you used to come to church with your wife. I’m Lucy Rogers. I own Attic Treasures, an antique store in Jefferson.”

“Jolene told me that a couple of you ladies own antique shops. That’s wonderful.” Tucker brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. “I’m right glad to make your acquaintance, ma’am. I hope to do some business with y’all as we work on this place. We’d like to keep the antique ambience but use modern things like tubs and showers to make things nice for our guests.”

From Lucy’s expression, Jolene could’ve sworn she’d rather have been shaking hands with the devil. “Well, I’ll be sure to give you a real good price on anything that you can use.”

He turned to settle his crystal-clear blue eyes on Flossie.

“I’m Flossie Simmons, and I own Mama’s Place in Jefferson. My antiques are better than Lucy’s.” She winked. “And since Jolene is like a daughter to all of us, I can beat any deal Lucy would give you.”

“And I’m Dotty Beauchamp.” Dotty’s southern accent thickened. “I’m a Louisiana girl from the other side of the Big Cypress Bayou, and I own the Tipsy Gator. I’ve seen you a few times in my bar. You always sit on the last stool in the shadows, right, chère?”

“Yes, ma’am, I sure do,” Tucker said.

Jolene was totally blown away. One minute they were ready to crucify her for letting Tucker live there, and the next they were flirting with him. Good glory! They had to be seventy or older, and he wasn’t a day over thirty-seven.

“We should let you two get back to work,” Dotty said with a broad wink toward Jolene. “And since you’re going to be out of pocket on Friday night, then Sunday afternoon will be our meetin’ time.”

They pushed their chairs back and paraded toward the foyer. Lucy stopped at the hall tree for her coat, and Tucker hurried over to help her into it. “Thank you for the cookies.”

“You’re welcome. Good luck with all this remodeling.” Flossie gave Jolene a quick hug and whispered, “I hope you know what you’re doin’.”

Tucker picked up the last coat from the hall tree and held it out to Dotty. “It’s been a real pleasure to meet you ladies.”

Jolene sank down on the bottom step of the stairs and sighed when Tucker shut the door behind the ladies. Tucker sat down beside her and propped his forearms on his knees. “So you work in a bar?”

“Ever since I was twenty-one. Until then I did waitress work,” she answered. “How much did you hear?”

“I got there when Lucy was offering you a job to quit working in a bar,” he answered.

“Sounds like you heard most of it, then. I’ll be working at a bar on Friday and Saturday nights. I understand that you drink a little on weekends.”

He got to his feet. “I’m going to get a couple more cookies and another cup of coffee to take upstairs with me. And, honey, I drink a lot on Saturday nights.”

“Just so long as we understand each other.” Jolene stood up and headed toward the kitchen. “Right now we could take fifteen minutes off and call it a midmorning snack.”

“Got chocolate syrup?” He followed her into the kitchen. “For the cookies, the coffee, or the milk?”

“Milk, and then I dip my cookies in it,” he answered.

The ladies had called him a tortured soul. Jolene stole glances at him as she got out the chocolate syrup. It was a shame that he’d lost his wife so suddenly. He might never get over it, but she sure wasn’t looking forward to dealing with another weekend drunk—like her mother or that last worthless boyfriend.

*****

Inheriting the Magnolia Inn, a Victorian home nestled in the East Texas pines, is a fantasy come true for Jolene Broussard. After living with the guilt of failing to rescue her self-destructive mother, Jolene knows her aunt and uncle’s B&B is the perfect jump start for a new life and a comforting place to call home. There’s just one hitch: stubborn and moody carpenter Tucker Malone. He’s got a half interest in the Magnolia Inn, and he’s planting his dusty cowboy boots squarely in the middle of her dream.
Ever since his wife’s death, Tucker’s own guilt and demons have left him as guarded as Jolene. The last thing he expects is for his new partner to stir something inside him he thought was gone forever. And as wary as Jolene is, she may have found a kindred spirit—someone she can help, and someone she can hold on to.
Restoring the Magnolia Inn is the first step toward restoring their hearts. Will they be able to let go of the past and trust each other to do it together?

 

 

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books, which include women’s fiction and historical, contemporary, and cowboys-and-country-music romance. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else and knows what they’re doing and when. And they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.

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