PUPPY LOVE EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY!

No matter the job, no matter the need
 
These service dogs in training will always fall in love at first bark.
 
When Sophie Vasquez and her sisters dreamed up Puppy Promise—their service puppy training school—it was supposed to be her chance to bring some good into the world. But how can she expect to do anything when no one will take her seriously?
 
Enter Harrison Parks: a rough, gruff, take-no-bull wildlife firefighter in need of a diabetic service dog. He couldn’t be a more unlikely fit for Sophie or Bubbles—the sweet Pomeranian she knows will be his perfect partner—but when Sophie insists he give them both a shot, something unexpected happens: he listens. Even better, he keeps on listening, even as Sophie and Bubbles turn his lonely, uber-masculine world upside-down.
 
As it turns out, they all have something to prove…and more than enough room in their hearts for a little puppy love.
 
Service Puppies Series:
Puppy Love (Book 1)
Puppy Christmas (Book 2)
 
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GIVEAWAY: 3 Copies of Puppy Love

Oscar didn’t say a word as Harrison stretched out the sock and slipped it over the puppy’s head. It went easily. There was so much fur on her, she could be decompressed to half her size. Gently guiding her limbs to fit through each of the holes he’d made was more difficult, especially since some of his measurements had been a little off, but the end result was about what he expected.

In other words, Bubbles was wearing a sock. One of his favorites too, the sweat-wicking kind he wore when he was out fighting fires for long stretches at a time.

“What the hell did you just do to that poor creature?” Oscar demanded.

“What do you mean? She loves it.” Harrison set Bubbles down on the table. The puppy wriggled once, scratched twice, and decided she’d never been so pleased in all her life. With a toss of her head, she began prancing along the table’s edge, just in case they hadn’t noticed her the first time. “Look at her—she’s preening.”

Oscar scratched his chin. “Well, I’ll be damned. She does like it.”

“Hello, boys.” A soft, feminine voice arose from behind them. “Sorry to barge in, but I rang the doorbell three times. No one answered.”

Harrison’s pulse leapt at the sound of Sophie’s arrival. It wasn’t a scared leap or an alarmed leap—it wasn’t even a wary one, which should have been his reaction given how far she’d managed to push him already.

No, this was the most dangerous kind of leap of all—attraction.

His heightened pulse didn’t lessen when he turned to find her standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He’d been more grateful than words could express when she’d showed up yesterday wearing sensible pants and a shirt with a Puppy Promise logo embroidered on the front. She’d still looked amazing, of course. The playful wisps of her short hair set off her pretty features, and the simplicity of her attire only enhanced her neat figure. But the uniform had helped.

I’m here to do a job, that uniform said. I’m here because of the dog.

Today, she’d gone back to wearing her own clothes. He wasn’t sure why the sight of her in faded jeans and a loose gray top should be so alarming, but he suspected it had something to do with the gentle curve of neck exposed on one side of her shirt. He’d seen women wear similar clothes before, but there was something about the sight of Sophie’s bare clavicle that made it difficult for him to breathe.

He wanted to kiss her there. He wanted to run his fingers up and down that slope of perfect skin until she shivered under his touch.

She shifted slightly, the shirt shifting with her. As if aware he was watching, the material slid even farther, giving him a glimpse of the rounded softness of her shoulder, broken only by a thin pink bra strap.

Shit. What was he doing? He couldn’t lust after Sophie. Not when she showed no signs of reciprocation. Harrison might go numb at the sight of her dressed in casual wear, but he doubted his jogging pants and decades-old Pink Floyd T-shirt were doing anything in return. Nor was she likely to lose herself at the sound of his rough grumbling.

“Sorry,” he said in a voice that was, unfortunately, both rough and grumbling. “The doorbell doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked in years.”

“Nothing around this place has worked in years,” Oscar added with a cheerfulness that seemed inappropriate, given how recently he’d been threatening Harrison’s life and livelihood. “Except for Harrison and Wallace, of course. Two more dedicated workaholics I’ve never met in my life—it’s the only thing they’re good at, if you want the truth.”

He wasn’t wrong. As much as Harrison would have liked to leap to his own defense, there wasn’t much to say. He wasn’t a man with varied interests or a whole hell of a lot going on in his personal life. Fighting fires was literally the only thing he was good at—the only thing he’d ever been good at since the summer he’d turned fourteen and made friends with a group of delinquent kids from around town.

His dad had been working around the clock at the time—his default for as long as Harrison could remember—so when he’d caught his son in the middle of a tractor-stealing incident, he’d handed him over to Oscar with plea that he do something with the blasted boy.

Oscar had done it, of course, and in the process, created a monster. An irritable, overworked, firefighting monster who had nothing to offer a woman except a newfound talent for making dog sweaters out of socks.

“Speaking of, when can I expect to have him back?” Oscar asked. “I’ve got a contract to start training a team from Fairchild Air Force Base with his name written all over it.”

“Right now.” Harrison almost shot out of his chair in his enthusiasm. Work would get him away from this house. Work would distance him from Sophie and her goddamn shoulder. “Pull the crew together, and I can start the training as soon as you want. You know how valuable the air force support can be for the flyovers. We’ve been after a contract with them for years.”

“I do know, which is why I’m going to delay the training until you’re free to run it.” Oscar turned his attention to Sophie. “What do you anticipate? What’s the expected timeline?”

Sophie glanced down at the puppy, considering. Not by so much as a flicker of a long, curled eyelash did she betray that she noticed anything out of the ordinary about Bubbles’s appearance.

Harrison couldn’t decide whether to be grateful for her tact or outraged at her disinterest. He’d worked really hard on that sock.

THE COWBOY MEETS HIS MATCH excerpt & giveaway with Margaret Brownley

Watching Emily stagger away like a drunken cowhand, Chase kicked himself mentally. Now he’d done it.

All he’d wanted to do was keep a safe distance from her emotionally. It was the only way he could keep from thinking things he had no business thinking. Things like how she’d looked in that blasted towel.

But he’d gone too far, and now it appeared he had pushed her away completely.

He hated thinking that he’d taken out the resentment toward his father on her. She wasn’t to blame for any of this and was as much a victim of circumstances as he was.

Feeling lower than low, he watched her cross the yard for a moment before chasing after her. She might not admit it, but it was clear by the way she limped that she was hurting.

Emily stopped when he caught up to her. “Now what?” she demanded, eyes flashing.

“I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

If she was surprised by his interest in her welfare, it didn’t show. “I’m fine!” she snapped. “No thanks to you.”

Yep, she was hurting all right. He could see the strain in her eyes. She also looked like she’d been through the wringer. She straightened her hat, but not much could be done for the abundance of yellow hair that had sprung free from its bun. The intriguing smudge on her cheek, however, called for a man’s touch. His touch.

When he reached a finger to her smooth, silky skin to rub the spot away, her startled blue eyes met his. “Sorry,” he said, pulling his hand away. “You had somethin’ on your face.”

Her hand flew to her cheek, and her already heated face turned another shade darker.

“It’s gone now,” he said.

Her mouth formed a perfect circle, and she lowered her hand to her side.

He felt bad for giving her a hard time. Lack of sleep had made him start the day out of sorts, and his encounter with Cassie Decker hadn’t helped. Poor woman. She had counted on their marriage for her children’s sakes.

His failure in keeping his promise to Cassie had made him more determined to do right by Emily. Or at least to see to her safety. He’d let one woman down; he sure in blazes didn’t want to fail another.

Horses were dangerous. The land was dangerous. But a part of him knew there was more. A lot more. As long as they were at each other’s throats, he could control his thoughts. Or at least keep from dwelling on such things as Emily’s gold-tipped eyelashes. Or the little indentation on her cheek when she smiled. Or even the way her eyes flashed during their many confrontations.

Looking away, he reminded himself how unsuited she was for ranch life. How unequipped she was to deal with the harsh land. She was much more suited to the city.

“Tomorrow, we’ll go a little easier with your lesson,” he said, hoping to make amends for his bad behavior.

She lifted her chin, her face dark with anger. “There won’t be any more lessons.”

“Come on,” he said gently. “You don’t mean that. Look at you. You’re fine.” More than fine…

“No thanks to you!”

Surprised by the vehemence in her voice, he stepped back “Me? What did I do?”

Her blazing blue eyes met his. “You put me through hell, that’s what!”

“By teachin’ you the proper handlin’ of a hoss?”

“By making me obey your every command like a helpless imbecile!”

He drew in his breath. He’d been rough on her, but he never meant to make her feel bad. “You have to admit your knowledge of hosses leaves much to be desired.” Taking her silence to mean she agreed, he added, “Tomorrow, same time, same place.”

She shot visual daggers at him. “If you expect to have your way with me a second time, you better think again.” With that, she stormed away.

Her words struck a chord that was better left untouched. Still, he couldn’t hold back the words that popped into his head. “Trust me,” he called after. “If I wanted to have my way with you, it wouldn’t be on a hoss!”

***

Excerpted from The Cowboy Meets His Match by Margaret Brownley. © 2019 by Margaret Brownley. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

“A great story by a wonderful author.” —DEBBIE MACOMBER, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, for Left at the Altar

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His first mistake was marrying her.

His second was falling in love.

Chase McKnight will do anything to secure his family’s ranch—but marriage to a complete stranger? That’s a hard pill to swallow. Yet the will is clear: Chase needs a wife by his side if he wants to keep his home, so he meets his veiled lady at the courthouse steps and reluctantly says “I do”.

Too bad he married the wrong bride.

When Boston runaway Emily Fields agreed to marry a Texas stranger to escape her family’s scandal, she wasn’t prepared to get hitched to the wrong cowboy! Stuck in a secret compromise, she has one year to learn the ways of the ranch and convince Chase’s family they’re happily married. But when the lie becomes true, the past catches up to them and they must save the love they never expected…

Haywire Brides Series:

Cowboy Charm School (Book 1)

The Cowboy Meets His Match (Book 2)

What People Are Saying About Margaret Brownley:

“Delightful, humorous…packed with engaging characters, loads of action, several mysteries — all enough sizzle to satisfy her fans.”—RT Book Reviews for A Match Made in Texas

“A sweet, touching love story.”—Kirkus Reviews for Left at the Altar

“Lively and warm. A welcome addition to a sparse yet popular subgenre.”—Booklist for Left at the Altar

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WSjhpX

B&N: http://bit.ly/2X4SBCq

Apple: https://apple.co/2BwgGZL

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2SIVvgF

BAM: http://bit.ly/2tdUYoK

AUTHOR WEBSITE

http://margaret-brownley.com/

Feature: BLAZE by Hope Bolinger for YA readers

Danny was told sophomore year was supposed to be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To add to his sophomore woes, he—and his three best friends—receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the prestigious boarding school. Danny says no. His overbearing mother says yes. So off he goes.

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters horrible hazing initiations, girls who like to pick other people’s scabs, and cafeteria food that could turn the strongest stomachs sour. As he attempts to survive, he will have to face his fears or fall prey to the King’s Academy lions.

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited for her modern-day Daniel “Blaze” to come out with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She enjoys all things theater, cats, and fire.

Preorder Link: https://www.amazon.com/Blaze-Hope-Bolinger-ebook/dp/B07Q44JDNQ/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=hope+bolinger+blaze&qid=1554054306&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Release Date: 6/3/2019

Contact Info:

Facebook: @therosewoman

Twitter: @hopebolinger

Instagram: @hopebolinger

Website: hopebolinger.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Bolinger/e/B00V0VWFKQ?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_fkmrnull_1&qid=1550020518&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13700140.Hope_Bolinger

MILLION DOLLAR DEVIL Excerpt & Giveaway with Katy Evans

There’s a long, almost-empty bar and a couple of customers having nachos and chips and salsa at the tables.

But as I walk across the tilting cement floor, every single one of those eyes is on me.

What am I doing here, again?

Oh, right. Probably trying to get myself mugged.

Summoning my courage, I take a middle stool at the bar and tell the bartender, who’s busy watching something on his phone, “Tequila, the finest you have—straight up,” in a gruff voice that I hope makes me sound like I can hold my own, in case someone is eyeing up my purse.

He doesn’t look up, merely smiles down at whatever he’s watching as he pours me something from a bottle called Montezuma and serves with his free hand. What the hell is Montezuma?

Great service. “Um. I said the best you have.”

He looks up at me, finally seeing me for the first time. A frown of annoyance on his lips. “This is the best, princess. Also the only.”

I probably don’t want to upset him, seeing how he has arms the size of tree trunks, covered in tattoos.

I take my shot and guzzle it down. It’s awful, like paint thinner, squeezing tears from my eyes. Whatever. I tap the bar for another. When my curiosity gets the best of me, I ask, “What are you watching?”

“Jimmy.”

“Jimmy what?”

“Jimmy Rowan. The stunt guy on YouTube? He’s going to get killed one day.”

“Hopefully not today.” I frown and peer at the screen as he shows me. “What kind of stunts does he do anyway? That’s so dangerous.”

He tilts his phone in my direction. A guy in a helmet and nylon jumpsuit is throwing himself off an airplane. He’s speaking into the camera saying, “So I was dared to pull the strings fifteen seconds after any sane, normal human being would. So, let’s count down from right about … now.”

My eyes widen, and my insides clutch in concern for the idiot behind the camera.

Fourteen…

The static from the wind makes his voice sound shattered, strained.

“Thirteen.” The bartender is counting.

I watch the idiot continue his free fall as land grows closer beneath him.

“What an idiot,” I mumble, but I’m still unable to take my eyes off the video.

“Five!” the bartender says. I look away.

“Just tell me he lived.”

“Oh, he lives.” He shows me the camera when the guy finally pulls the cord on his chute, and a few seconds later, crashes into the ground. The guy growls, “Ouch,” then starts laughing, a low, rumbly laugh. I can’t help but smile and shake my head.

“And he did this all because…”

“They dared him to. Five hundred bucks.”

“He did all of that? For five hundred bucks?”

“He gets more from the video views. A man’s got to put food on the table.” He eyes me up and down. “Specially when he doesn’t have a trust fund coming to him.”

Shaking my head, I push my empty glass forward. “Bartender. Another drink. Please.”

I’m on my third.

He pours it for me. “Classy guy, that Jimmy.”

“In what dictionary?”

He frowns as he sets his phone back into his pocket and polishes a glass. “Huh?”

“What dictionary would define him as classy?”

His eyes widen as if I’ve just murmured something blasphemous. “Well, maybe not your class. He doesn’t own a Rolls. But around here, he’s royalty. Jimmy hangs out here all the time.” He nods at a dark corner booth situated to the right of the bar. “His office is right over there.”

I see the cluttered tabletop and wonder what kind of man leaves a tripod, camera, and old laptop set up in a bar. He must trust the people who patronize this place. Either that or the patrons fear him.

“Jimmy Rowan will do anything for a dare—he’s a man of honor.”

“If he’d do that for five hundred, what would he do for half a million or more?” I grumble, smiling and shaking my head at the thought. At least I can still smile.

“He’d do anything. What? You offering?” He eyes me with new interest, in kind of a smarmy way, as if he thinks I’m asking to buy his services. Who the heck does he think I am? “Ladies go for him.”

Oh god, he does think that.

No, thank you very much,” I mutter. “Ladies or women? I don’t think a lot of ladies would go for someone that foolish.”

He raises his gaze past my shoulders. Silence falls over the room, and then the bartender murmurs, “Speak of the devil…”

There’s a loud crash, followed by a ruckus.

“What’s that?” I glance around at the commotion.

The bartender smiles. “Jimmy Rowan.”

I turn my gaze to the door, and my heart skips a beat. The tall, raw-looking sex machine the bartender refers to doesn’t look anything like a Jimmy. The guy is too tall and eye catching and too … well, hot.

***

 

Heir apparent to her father’s company, Lizzy Banks needs a man. The perfect man. But when the rich “fundbabies” she usually rubs shoulders with prove impossible to hire, she takes a chance on a raw beast of a man salvaged from the wreckage of a bar brawl.

James Rowan earns a modest income as a YouTube daredevil, but he can’t refuse Lizzy’s million dollar deal. As she polishes his rough edges, creating a sophisticated gentleman fit for the highest circles of society, not only does she bring out the perfect man—it’s like she’s making the man of her dreams. How can she resist?

Though Lizzy loves seeing James in his clothes—and out of them—he isn’t the kind of man you bring home to Daddy. Her father’s disapproval and the pressure of the campaign have her eyeing the straight and narrow, but Lizzy’s finding it awfully hard to resist the devil on her shoulder . . .

Author Biography

Katy Evans loves family, books, life, and love. She’s married with two children and a dog, and she spends her time baking healthy snacks, taking long walks, and taking care of her family. To learn more about her books in progress, check out www.katyevans.net and sign up for her newsletter. You can also find her on Twitter @authorkatyevans and on Facebook at AuthorKatyEvans.

Website: http://www.katyevans.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatyEvans

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorkatyevans

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6997072.Katy_Evans

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WICKED HIGHLAND WAYS & giveaway with Mary Wine

Brenda Grant has no desire to marry. Ever since her first, horrible marriage she’s made herself into a hellion of a woman to keep men from wanting her. But the Campbells, her previous husband’s family, are determined to find her a new husband.

Highland Chief Bothan Gunn is smitten by the woman who won’t be tamed. It takes all Brenda’s willpower to resist the brawny Highlander who takes her to safety. But as they spend time together—and grow ever closer—Brenda finally finds the freedom she’s been longing for all along.

 
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Chief Bothan Gunn pulled his horse to a halt. He reached forward to rub its neck as he contemplated the view before him.

Maddox, his captain, came up beside him, tilting his head to one side as he waited to see why Bothan had stopped. Both of them peered at the land in front of them, the place where Scotland ended and England began.

“I never thought to lay eyes on that,” Maddox declared when Bothan remained silent. His voice drew out the last word, making it clear Maddox cared little for the place they were heading.

Bothan turned to look at him. “Or cross into it.”

Before them were the borderlands. England lay on the other side of them. He didn’t belong there, but Bothan set his stallion into motion because Brenda Grant wasn’t suited to England any more than he was.

She was wild.

And he was going to ensure she could remain unbridled by those who didn’t understand the value of a woman with the spark of life burning in her. Let the English keep their wives in submissive obedience. He craved a wife who would singe him with her heat and give him children with the strength to rise up to the challenge of living in the Highlands.

Brenda was that woman.

She would spit in his eye though. At least until he proved his worth to her.

He slowly grinned as he contemplated the battle ahead.

It was a fact; he was going to enjoy it.

And so would Brenda.

He’d see to that…personally.

Of course, first he had to rescue her. His lips curved into a grin. At last there was something pleasing about his journey into England. Snatching a prize from the hands of the English—well, there was something he would enjoy full well. They told tales in England of wild savages such as himself.

Highlanders.

Not that he was planning on changing the way the English thought about him.

No, he was riding onto their land to retrieve the woman he craved. Any who stepped between them was going to discover he was tenfold worse than any story they had ever heard.

***

Excerpted from Wicked Highland Ways by Mary Wine. © 2019 by Mary Wine. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

SWEET WILD OF MINE Excerpt & giveaway

Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo…


In a bid to revitalize his career, bestselling author Magnus Gray has come to Sagebrush Flats to write about the local zoo’s latest rescue—an orphaned baby polar bear. But Magnus dreads the drama of small towns and is bullishly determined to keep to himself.
 
June Winters is a people person, and delights in welcoming Magnus to Sagebrush Flats, though it seems unlikely she can get the handsome stranger to crack a smile. Then a mishap with an open gate forces Magnus and June to deal with a stampeding flock of fainting goats, an adorable but clingy polar bear cub, a cranky pregnant camel, and two star-crossed honey badgers. Never mind small town drama—the lively animals may just convince these two that opposites really do attract…
 
Where the Wild Hearts Are Series:
Wild On My Mind (Book 1)
Sweet Wild of Mine (Book 2)

Praise for Wild on My Mind:
“Hilarious…a truly touching contemporary romance about the power of love and family.”—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick 
“Clever, fun, and poignant…with wit and heart.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Outstanding…sure to delight.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
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A flicker of softness flashed in Magnus’s blue eyes before they froze over again. “I don’t talk about that isle, lass.”

All of June’s carefully constructed arguments blew from her mind as frustrated anger swept through her. The man was as bullheaded as a groundhog after a fresh tomato. “You wrote an entire book about it.”

“It was a purge.”

“A purge?”

“An enema.”

“Did you just call your bestseller an enema?”

“Aye.”

“You are a complicated man, Magnus Gray.”

“Nay. Just a simple bloke who likes peace, quiet, and a good tattie scone.”

Although June fully believed the man liked solitude and Scottish cooking, she didn’t buy his first claim. The reclusive author had depths greater than Loch Ness that hid mysteries even bigger than a fabled sea monster. Although June excelled at charting a person’s personality within minutes of meeting them, she still couldn’t fathom this man.

“Good day.” With that parting salvo, Magnus Gray started to turn and walk away from June for a fourth time in a row. Before he could take one step, however, everything broke loose in the form of cloven-footed critters.

*

Honey’s nose twitched as she watched the Giant One and the Blond One. She respected the devious spark lurking in the woman’s green eyes. And she’d been monitoring the hulking newcomer since his arrival. Unlike the careless Fluffy, Honey knew how to conceal her presence. The Giant One had no idea she’d stalked him for days.

He intrigued her. He was not like most weak-willed humans who craved the company of their own kind. The Giant One preferred solitude, just like honey badgers.

Since her arrival at the zoo, Honey had been watching for suitable adversaries. Although the young female cougars had the speed and agility to keep her reflexes limber, they lacked foresight and cunning. The grizzly was elderly and slow. And the rest of the animals did not interest her. Unfortunately, the human keepers did not provide the same amusement as her old biped. They were too pleasant.

But these two were different. They reminded Honey of bees, full of energy as they buzzed at each other. Yes, these two could sting if properly motivated.

Honey smiled as she scurried up a pole of the goat pen. With one swift nudge of her nose, she lifted the latch. Hanging on to the gate, she used her body weight to swing it open. The silly goats immediately bolted for the exit.

Honey shimmied back to the ground. The Giant One was busy tripping over the horned creatures, but the Blond One stood upright. As Honey scampered away, she made sure the female spied her. It was time to make her presence known. After all, what was the point of starting a game if her opponent didn’t know she was a player?

*

Magnus was not sure what had happened. One moment he was arguing with the barmy lass, and the next, he was surrounded by a blasted herd of bleating, screaming goats. He’d just started to pivot away from June when two kids darted between his legs. The blighted things must have mistaken him for some sort of shelter as they twined about his ankles. Caught off-balance, he felt his massive frame sway. He couldn’t right himself without stepping on one of the cloven beasties. And, as much as goats annoyed him, he didn’t wish to crush them under his weight.

Twisting his body, he managed to avoid them, but he ended up crashing to the gravel path with a painful thump. Since Magnus couldn’t use his arms to brace his fall, his back collided with the ground, knocking the wind out of him. As he lay gasping like a landed sea trout, one of the wee devils climbed on his chest while the other started eating his hair. Magnus could only lie there as he tried sucking air back into his lungs.

Suddenly, June appeared in his vision, her blond hair hanging around her face like a golden curtain. For once, mirth didn’t sparkle in her bonny green eyes. To his surprise, real concern shone there instead. If he hadn’t met her already, he’d say she looked like an angel hovering over him.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You hit the ground pretty hard.”

He would have reassured her, but that would have required oxygen. Her mouth twisted, and she reached down and lifted a bleating goat off his body. That helped, marginally. Using his eyes, he gestured to the one chewing his hair. She removed that one too. “You just breathe easy now, you hear?”

He had no choice but to listen. As he sprawled spread-eagle on the ground, the lass stood guard, a squirming kid under each arm. A couple adult goats tried to clamber on his body, but June shooed them away. It was odd, he thought, having someone watch over him. His da would have called him a muckle nyaff and left him in disgust for tripping over his own feet.

Finally, Magnus could breathe again. He slowly raised himself on his elbows and then almost plopped right back down. The manky goats were all over the path. How had they escaped?

“A honey badger let them out,” June explained.

Magnus swung his gaze toward her in disbelief. A honey badger had caused all this? What would possess the wee beastie to open the pen?

“By its size, I think it was the female, Honey. I saw her darting away just after you fell.”

“Baws.” Magnus finally managed.

“If you’re okay, I’ll go put these two critters back in their home before we get the rest,” June said, lifting the kids in her arms. They bleated loudly in protest. Magnus nodded. As he heaved himself to his feet, June dropped the two bairns back in the paddock.

Sighing heavily, Magnus took after two of the goats. They screamed like banshees and darted away. Magnus swore. He hated chasing the slippery wee devils. Give him a cow or even a pig.

“I don’t think we need to run them down,” June said.

He swung toward her, irritated. He doubted she’d done much farming. “How do you propose we get them back in the pen then, lass?”

She smirked, that gleam back in her green eyes. “Strategy.”

Then, she reached down and grabbed a metal feed bucket hanging from the corner of the pen. She smashed it against the steel gate, the sound ringing sharply through the air. The fainting goats toppled and hopped everywhere, and Magnus had to admit it made corralling them easier.

She grabbed the wee ones, while he hoisted the adults. They had to bang the gate a few more times, but they managed to quickly clear the path of goats. When the last bleating goat was dumped back in its home, Magnus turned to regard his unexpected helper. The cold and the exertion had brought color to June’s cheeks, making her bonnier than ever. She was as fair and delicate as the fae folk in the German tales, and just as devious. And something about her made Magnus wonder what the price of kissing a fairy would be.

Too steep. Much too steep.

***

Excerpted from Sweet Wild of Mine by Laurel Kerr. © 2019 by Erin Laurel O’Brien. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

SEA WOLF SURRENDER Excerpt & giveaway!

 
For a shifter with no interest in she-wolves…he sure is territorial.

Wolf shifter and former Navy SEAL Brock Greystoke isn’t interested in she-wolves. The last one in his life ambushed him with the intent to kill. So when he’s tasked with helping his cousin’s friend get to a wedding, he has no intention of getting involved with her…

She-wolf Natalie Silverton has inadvertently crossed a group of dangerous criminals, and she’s in dire need of a bodyguard. Good thing Brock is there to protect her. At every turn, their work—and play—brings them closer to catching the criminals and to each other, but Brock will have to get them out of this alive if he has any hope of winning Natalie’s heart.

SEAL Wolf Series:

A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing (Book 1)

A SEAL Wolf Christmas (Book 2)

SEAL Wolf Hunting (Book 3)

SEAL Wolf In Too Deep (Book 4)

SEAL Wolf Undercover (Book 5)

SEAL Wolf Surrender (Book 6)

What Readers Are Saying About Terry Spear:

“Great paranormal romance with depth and dimension.”—Night Owl Reviews for A Billionaire Wolf for Christmas

“Excitement and suspense that will keep readers hanging on tight.”—RT Book Reviews for Flight of the White Wolf, 4 Stars

“Striking characters and explosive chemistry.”—RT Book Reviews for SEAL Wolf Undercover, 4 Stars

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Using her GPS, Natalie drove from the airport toward Granby, but somewhere along the way, she took a wrong turn, then another. After fifteen minutes of rerouting directions on her GPS, she called Angie. “Hey, my GPS is going crazy. Can you guide me there?”

“I’m sending a SEAL to the rescue. I’m in the middle of toasts. Here, talk to Brock.”

“No, that’s okay, I’ll just—-”

“Tell me where you are,” a sexy, deep–baritone male voice said. “I’ll meet you there, and you can follow me here.”

Ugh, if it didn’t mean so much to both of them for Natalie to be there, she would have just skipped it. She wondered if the SEAL was as sexy–looking as he sounded though.

She blew out her breath in an annoyed way. “I’m at—-” She looked around. “I don’t know where. I parked at a garden nursery called the Denver Garden Center.”

“There are four of them.”

Of course there were.

His voice calm, as if he was used to helping women in distress, Brock asked, “What are the intersecting roads?”

Oh, just great. “Wait just a minute.” She couldn’t see any intersecting roads! She looked at her GPS. “Um, I think I’m off North Boulevard.”

“Okay, that’s the nearest one to the restaurant. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

“You can just give me directions.” Otherwise, she would be thirty minutes late instead of fifteen.

“It’s your call, Natalie. I’m one of Aaron’s cousins, Brock Greystoke, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Brock. Yeah, it will save us both time, so just give me the directions.” And hopefully, she could make it there without having to be escorted the rest of the way. She could hear all the noisy lunch guests having fun without her. She preferred working with plants more than partying with people. And she had a total love–hate relationship with the GPS. She loved it when it worked. She hated it when it got her lost.

“All right, I’ll stay on the line and get you here that way,” Brock said.

She could listen to his calm, soothing, masculine voice all day. She imagined hers sounded frazzled and annoyed. “Okay.”

“Turn right onto North Boulevard. Stay in the right–hand lane. You’ll turn on the first exit to the right.”

“Okay, leaving the nursery. I’m on North Boulevard, coming up to the first exit on the right.”

“Good,” Brock said, and she was glad he didn’t sound as if he thought she was an idiot.

“Okay, exited North Boulevard.”

“Go down to the third signal and turn left on Elm Street.”

“Oak Street. Ash Street. Elm Street.”

Brock chuckled. Okay, she knew she sounded silly, but she really, really hated getting lost in a strange city, especially when she was already late! She was really nervous about meeting all these strange wolves. Despite working in her parents’ garden shop and being used to meeting customers—-human customers—-or presenting educational programs to humans, she wasn’t used to meeting a lot of wolves.

“Keep going. You’re nearly there. Stay in the right lane, and at the third signal, you’ll turn right. Dallas’s Steak House is three buildings down on your right.”

“Thank you. I so appreciate it. I’m nearly there.” She should have just thanked him and signed off, but he wasn’t ending the call either, and she felt more at ease knowing if she missed the steak house somehow, Brock would redirect her and make sure she got there all right. “Okay, I see the steak house, and I’m pulling into the parking lot.”

“You’re driving a blue Toyota?”

“Uh, yeah.” She turned to look at the deck leading to the front door of the restaurant, where a large fountain was flowing into a basin.

Wearing blue jeans, a dress shirt, cowboy boots, and a Stetson, Brock was standing next to the fountain, appearing bigger than life, but he looked as though he was into roping steers rather than scuba diving as a SEAL wolf. Dark hair, dark eyes, and a sensuous mouth, curved up in a slight smile, greeted her. His gaze was intense, all–consuming. She parked her car and joined him.

“You must be Natalie, Angie’s best friend. Brock Greystoke, Aaron’s cousin.” Brock offered his hand to her and she shook it, but then worried hers was a little clammy from sweating out the drive there. She should have wiped her hand off on her skirt before she shook his hand.

“All Angie’s talked about was one of us running to the airport and picking you up so you wouldn’t get lost. You know, instead of staying at the hotel, you could stay with any of the families in the town of Greystoke out in Wolf Valley. That way, you won’t have to make the long drive there in the morning for the wedding. I know how it is when you want to have your own getaway vehicle though. Oh, and welcome to Colorado. Angie said you’ve never been here before.”

“Thanks, and no, I haven’t.” How could she tell the darkly handsome wolf she preferred staying at her own hotel because she didn’t want to put anyone out? They’d insist she wasn’t, but she just needed…her own space. She wondered how much Angie had told her new pack members about her.

She sighed, and Brock opened the door to the restaurant for her. The noisy conversation inside was nearly deafening, partly because of their enhanced wolf hearing. That was why she preferred her garden nursery to this.

The aroma of hickory–cooked steaks did appeal though.

“Are you ready for a good–sized steak after all the flying and rushing to get here?” Brock asked.

“Yes. I hate being so late.”

“Don’t worry about it. We just started at noon, and it’s only a quarter of one. Everyone is enjoying cocktails and appetizers first.”

Natalie figured no one would realize she hadn’t been there earlier since no one even knew her and Angie would have been too busy enjoying herself. But Natalie hated arriving late to anything, as if she were the star of the occasion and needed a big entrance. Yet she was vitally aware of the man walking beside her, his arm brushing hers as they moved closer together so that customers could get by them. When a waiter nearly ran into her, Brock adroitly slipped in behind her, pulling her out of the waiter’s way.

Heat spread through her whole body, and Natalie tried to think of anything other than the way his body was pressed against hers in the sudden crush of customers as a large party was leaving the restaurant. “Angie told me you and your brother, Vaughn, are Navy SEALs. Are you just here on a visit?” she asked Brock.

“No, we’re both out of the navy now, retired. You know how it is. We didn’t look like we were aging, so as soon as we could, we retired. Both of us had been private investigators. Vaughn hooked up with a jaguar policing force that’s called the United Shifter Force, and he has a mate now. They live out here, but their headquarters is in the Houston area. They travel there whenever they need to for a mission. I’m doing the PI business on my own now.”

“You look like you wrangle steers too.”

He smiled at her.

She felt her face flush with heat. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say to him. She saw men wearing western wear in Amarillo too, so she was used to seeing it.

“I help out on Aaron’s ranch when I can. I just like getting out and riding a bit. Do you ride?”

SPITFIRE IN LOVE Excerpt & giveaway

 From the International Phenomenon with over 200 Million Reads on Wattpad

She’s never at a loss for words.

He’s determined to have the last one.

KARA

There he was with his piercing blue eyes and Lucifer black hair.

He was leaning against the wall, a lollipop in his mouth, hot as hell and twice as dangerous.

Kara Hawthorne never backs down, especially when it comes to protecting her family.

CAM

She looked so soft, harmless, like a pretty kitten, but she was as safe as a ticking time bomb.

My sweet, sweet Spitfire.

Cameron St. Laurent isn’t intimidated by the feisty woman at his doorstep. And when she asks him for the impossible, Cameron knows just how to sweeten the deal…

The two combustible personalities are faced with unavoidable off-the-charts chemistry. But when Cam’s dark past shows up, he’ll have to slay his demons and lay himself on the line to win Kara, body and soul.

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Cameron

“Just…an experiment. You’re an experiment,” she stammered.

“An experiment?”

Slowly, I stepped toward her. Her eyes were wide, watching my every move. The pulse on her neck was pounding.

“You want me to be your experiment?”

She swallowed.

“What do you have in mind for me?” I whispered.

I placed my hand on the soft skin of her neck, gently stroked the side of it with my thumb. “I might say yes if you tell me.”

She closed her eyes, her muscles relaxing and her body swaying softly toward me. I wrapped an arm around her waist to support her.

“How about I make you a deal?” I continued. She smelled of peaches. Ripe, sweet peaches. “You said your brother doesn’t have insurance. See, you shouldn’t have told me that. Now I’ve got an ace.”

Her eyes flew open. She slammed her hands on my chest and pushed me away.

“Get off me!”

I stepped back. “You’re too honest for your own good.”

She scoffed. “Oh, believe me when I say that I’m not!”

“Maybe,” I allowed. “But in my book, you are.”

“What do you want?” she spat it out. Her stance was confrontational, her voice dripped with venom.

If she thought that would turn me away, she was mistaken. I wanted more of it.

I leaned against the counter, reached for the cup of coffee she’d made for me. “If I go to my insurance, my bike will be fixed.”

“But you’re going to have to cough up your deductible—”

“I can pay for my deductible easily. And I can take it to the mechanic who’s been servicing my motorcycle for years. Why should I go to a shop that I have no idea if they’ll do a good job or not?”

If looks could kill, I’d be decapitated by now.

“Have you heard of subrogation? My insurance will go after your brother. It’s also a hit-and-run. The police will be very interested.”

I gave her a moment to absorb that. Then I said, “So now that we know where we both stand, let’s make a deal.”

I took a sip and very nearly choked. It was too strong. When I saw her face, I knew she’d deliberately made it undrinkable.

This girl would cut me off at the knees without batting an eye. Why did that excite me?

Damn. I’m in trouble.

“First, tell me why you’re doing this for your brother.”

She crossed her arms in front of her. “I don’t need to tell you dick.”

My mouth twitched. “Tell me why the hell he isn’t owning up and paying for his mistake.”

“You’re not going after him for this. If you do, I’ll castrate you.”

“You like making threats, don’t you?”

“I like putting them in action too. Try me and you’ll find out.”

“Oh, I think I want to. I’m looking forward to it.” To prove it, I took another sip of her coffee without breaking eye contact with her. “Tell me where he is.”

“I won’t let you—”

“I’m not going to hurt him. Don’t you think he owes me an apology? Or do you think that’s too much to ask?”

She opened her mouth, closed it. Sighed. “No,” she said, capitulating. “It’s not too much to ask. He went fishing with my dad.”

“So…” I looked at her lips. Her bottom lip was fuller than the top. I moved my gaze up and met hers. “You’re alone with me.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Yeah. And no one would know who murdered you when I hide your body in the shed.”

I paused and threw my head back laughing.

“I like you,” I said.

“Listen, I don’t go out with guys. Ever.”

I paused. There was something about her expression that told me she wasn’t feeling as firm on this as she sounded. “Girls?”

“No.”

“Never had a boyfriend?”

“Never met anyone who measured up.”

“To what?”

“My standards.”

“Tell me what they are.”

“You’re playing with me.”

“Am I?”

She let out a huff and walked to the living room. “Let’s talk about this deal so you can leave. I have a very busy day.”

“Sure.” I poured the coffee in the sink and rinsed the cup before following her to the living room. I sprawled on the couch. She leaned against the wall opposite me, eyeing me warily.

“That’s my dad’s bed. Feel free to soil it or anything.”

The house looked like it had two bedrooms and a bathroom. The two rooms must be for her and her brother.

“I like sleeping on the couch too,” I said. I stopped for a moment. I hadn’t meant to tell her that.

She gave me a bored look. “What’s the deal?”

I looked her directly in the eye. “Give me a ride.”

She blinked slowly. “Come again?”

“Until my motorcycle is finished to my satisfaction, you’re going to drive me where I need to be. Not your brother. Not your best friend. You.”

“Have you lost your mind? What, do you think I have all the time in the world?”

“Since I saw you trying to break into my house last night, I’m going to have to say yes.”

“You have a mint truck in your driveway! That’s yours, isn’t it?”

“That’s not mine.”

It was the company truck assigned to me, which would make what I said technically a lie, but I couldn’t let her know that or she would never agree.

“You can get a rental!”

“Are you paying for it?”

“This is blackmail.”

“You make it so easy. Rule number one: don’t expose your weakness to the enemy.”

“Are you my enemy?”

“Wanna find out?” I stood up, walked toward her.

She stood her ground. Unflinchingly.

“If I do this, you’ll let my shop fix your motorcycle? You won’t file a claim with your insurance?”

“Yeah.”

I want to know what your lips taste like.

“No accessories,” she added.

What they feel like.

“And no maintenance,” she finished.

She’d drive me to bankruptcy if she could. And laughing while she was at it. She could shut me down and kick me out if she really didn’t want the deal, but some part of her was thriving on the tension between us. I could feel it in the way her body turned toward me, the way her eyes flashed with excitement, and the hint of a smile on her lips she tried to hide.

“The deal includes maintenance.” Before she could open her mouth to protest, I added, “But you can get out of it. Easily.”

“Why don’t you tell me how, oh wise one?”

I rubbed the stubble on my jaw. It was getting itchy. Time for a shave. I headed to the front door and put on my shoes. I opened the door, then tossed her my keys.

“I’ll let you know.”

***

Excerpted from Spitfire In Love by Isabelle Ronin. © 2019 by Isabelle Ronin. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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3 Bundle Packs of Chasing Red and Always Red

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Loreth Anne White guest post, THE DARK BONES excerpt, & giveaway

Hunting For Betrayal with Author Loreth Anne White

My newest novel, THE DARK BONES, is about a cop, Rebecca North, who learns that her father—a retired police officer—has killed himself. She can’t believe it. But in order to prove it was murder she must return to her small, rural home town and face a lot of dark things she’s been running from including the man she left behind long ago, and a cold case thought long buried.
At the core, THE DARK BONES examines the lies people tell each other and themselves—the false narratives they construct in order to hide mistakes, or bad deeds, or hurtful truths, or realities that shame and burden them. And as Rebecca North, my detective, digs deep to find the truth of what really happened to her dad, she begins to crack open a carapace of old lies that wraps around a cold case—a  heinous deed that occurred in her small community twenty years in the past, a crime from which people are still hiding.
Rebecca fast learns that the secrets she is beginning to unearth are secrets people will still kill to keep. However, opening up this vault of lies and betrayals in the small town also reveals to Rebecca truths about herself, and about the man she once loved, Ash Haugen. A man who betrayed her. And in confronting those betrayals and old lies, and the reasons that underpinned them, Rebecca and Ash can finally heal, and open themselves to a love that was always meant to be. At the heart THE DARK BONES is also about second chances, and getting that opportunity to try and set right the collateral damages around betrayal.
Although THE DARK BONES stands alone, it also revisits the setting and some of the characters from an earlier book, A DARK LURE. Those earlier characters were left with a hard road to travel toward their happy end, and as some of them play a key role
in Rebecca and Ash’s story, we see them also confronting outfalls around betrayal, and getting chance to continue their journey towards a good life.
 

Rebecca felt warmth. She was enveloped by it. She heard the crackle and pop of dry logs burning and, in the distance, dogs barking. The smell of … fire—

Her eyes shot open, her heart thumping.

He sat there. Ash. In a chair by the fire, watching her with his ice-blue eyes. She was in his living room, and the lighting had been dimmed. The flickering glow of the flames in the hearth behind him cast his rugged features into sharp relief. The scar down the side of his face looked harsh. An old brown dog with a white muzzle slept on a rug in front of the hearth.

Rebecca’s brain slotted puzzle pieces into place as she struggled through a mental haze to backtrack and figure out how she’d gotten here: The lights following her. The razed cabin and the clues that someone had been inside the shed and maybe fled the scene. Ash shooting at her. No gas in her truck. Fear of dying. Coming here to Haugen Ranch. Shucking her dad’s gear in Ash’s mudroom. Him helping her into the living room of his old family home—a great big log house built by his grandfather. Seating her on the sofa.

She sat up slowly, trying to pull her brain into sharper focus. A down duvet was wrapped around her, a heated blanket beneath that. The duvet smelled of fresh laundry. Yes, she recalled, the fire had already been going in the hearth when he’d brought her in—she’d noticed that. Next had come hot tea with honey, warm clothes handed to her—fleece, oversize. More tea.

He’d told her not to talk. Discussion could wait.

She met his eyes now and felt a visceral connection across the darkened room. This was her first proper look at him after all these years.

Her teen lover had aged. As she had. But he’d matured in a way she found attractive. He was neither sweet nor handsome. Rugged rather. A brooding look. Sun bronzed and weathered. Her attention returned to his scar. So prominent, cutting down the left side of his face from eye to jaw. He could have had plastic surgery over the past decades, but clearly hadn’t. Her memory slipped back to the day she’d tried to patch him up with the help of a small medical kit and knowledge she’d gleaned during her part-time job as a veterinary assistant.

He lied…

Her attention shifted to his hands. His knuckles were scarred.

What were you protecting him from that day?

She recalled the blood she’d seen on those ragged and bruised knuckles that day. Why had she not told her father she didn’t know for certain he’d fallen off his horse and been dragged across sharp terrain?

Why had she not questioned more firmly, at age sixteen, Ash’s refusal to go to the ER facility on that particular day? What deep psychology had driven her to possibly blind herself to search for a darker truth?

In that tempestuous, hormone-filled year she was sixteen, had she conveniently compartmentalized something that had created cognitive dissonance, because she’d just recently started sleeping with Ash, and needed to believe him? Needed to trust him again?

How had her actions that day shaped this present? Could it—she—have possibly played a role in her father’s death?

And why, oh dear God why, did Ash still make her feel things? This—this—was why she’d stayed away. He held an animal kind of magnetism over her. She felt it now, her gaze locked with his arctic eyes. Her attraction had blinded her to the fact he was not good for her. He was a liar.

She cleared her throat. “What time is it?”

“Almost midnight. You going to be okay? Do I need to drive you to Clinton?”

From his ranch it would take almost an hour, in the dark, on bad roads. And the ER would be closed. They’d have to call 911 for emergency to open up with an on-call physician. It reminded Rebecca that out here, one looked after one’s own.

“I … I must have passed out.”

A half smile. “Slept like a baby. You must have been tired.”

A desire to tell him all rose in Rebecca: How rough her journey home had been with the storms. How seeing her father’s body had gutted her. How exhausted she felt, emotionally. But she held back as her mind sharpened and the immediacy of why she was here, with him, in this house, was pulled into clear focus.

“What made you return to my father’s place when you did, Ash? How did you come to find me?”

“I go up to the Broken Bar mesa sometimes. The view of the valley on a clear, cold night is surreal.” A pause. “I needed to think.” After seeing you. The unspoken words seemed to simmer between them. “Someplace above it all. Then as the moon rose, I caught light glinting off metal where your father’s place was. I thought it might be a vehicle, so I went to check before heading home.” He paused. “You could have died out there.”

Rebecca swallowed as this fact sank like a stone through her gut.

“Have you been sitting there watching me like that all night?”

“You worried me,” he said. Then, very quietly, he added, “And I like to look at you.” He paused. “It’s been so long.”

***
 
 
When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.
 
To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.
 
And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.
 
Author Biography
 
Loreth Anne White is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the 2017 Overall Daphne du Maurier Award winner, and she has won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, in addition to being a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. A former journalist and newspaper editor who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Visit her at www.lorethannewhite.com.
 
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THE BLUESTOCKING Excerpt & giveaway with Christi Caldwell

Who was this . . . daughter of Diggory? The one few spoke of and about whom little was known.

Edwin pushed himself away from the door, and folding his arms at his chest, he took slow, predatory steps closer, walking a path around her. His earlier assessment in the darkened foyer of the woman had proven correct. Drab brown hair. Nondescript brown eyes. Of medium height, and in possession of a slender frame that left her cloak hanging unflatteringly upon her, there was nothing extraordinary about the last unwed Killoran. Which was no doubt why she’d not snagged herself a wealthy or powerful husband as her sisters had already done. At his lengthy scrutiny, she dared him with her eyes. And yet for her . . . ordinariness, there was a strength of spirit that radiated, casting a soft blush upon cream-white cheeks, that marked her as . . . interesting. She was interesting. He stopped abruptly. Seeing this woman in any light except the darkened one was a betrayal to his late wife and his children, both living and dead . . . and himself.

“I was clear with my demands. Get out now, Miss Diggory.”

The stubborn chit pursed her slightly too-full lips. “As I said earlier, you were less clear than you give yourself credit for,” she challenged, ignoring the latter part of his directive. My God, she is an insolent bit of baggage. “And my name is Killoran.”

The names were synonymous and interchangeable.

Edwin stopped before her so only a pace divided them. “And tell me, where was I not clear?” he purred. “Was it the part about making sure Broderick Diggory hangs, as he deserves, that was not clear?” The color bled from her cheeks. “Or was it my stated intentions for your sisters . . . what are their names? Ophelia? Cleopatra?” he asked, mocking that Shakespearean queen’s name, and the woman in front of him frowned deeper. “How . . . unfortunate it would be if their business ventures were both to fail.”

The young woman curled and uncurled her coarse hands at her sides. “Do not threaten my family,” she said coolly.

He’d hand it to her. She remained undaunted.

“Or what, Miss Diggory?” A muscle ticked at the corner of her right eye, but she did not rise to the bait, either. “Will you set my townhouse afire and attempt to steal my son . . . again?”

Her features leached even more of their color, leaving those previously blushing cheeks a ghastly grey-white. And for her earlier brave show, it was her turn to falter. “I didn’t . . .” And he celebrated that triumph over his enemy.

“What was that?” he barked, cupping a hand around his ear. “You didn’t what?” Destroy my life? Shatter my family? “Kidnap my son?” he settled for, refusing to voice aloud his greatest agonies before this of all women.

She flinched.

“Now leave, and tell your real brother if he violates our arrangement once more, using you or another one of your . . . sisters or his henchmen to do his work for him, I’ll take you all down.” His in-laws’ earlier recriminations flooded forward. It was just something else they’d been right about.

Edwin had stomped over to his desk when he registered the absolute silence—more specifically, the lack of retreating footfalls.

He turned back.

Miss Diggory jutted her chin up defiantly. “No one sent me, my lord. I am here of my own volition.”

He chuckled, that rusty, ill-used laugh more a growl than anything that could ever be confused with a real expression of mirth. No one came here of their own volition. As a rule, the world avoided him.

Shifting direction, he returned to the stubborn chit’s side, and leaning down, he placed his mouth close to her temple once more and fought the maddening pull of whatever damned perfume she dabbed behind her ears. “Do you think I’m foolish enough all these years later to believe a lie dripping off a Diggory’s lips?”

The young woman’s back moved up and down, an indication of her rapid breath. Of her fear. A lifetime ago, he’d have sooner chopped off his left hand than deliberately taunt a woman and take pleasure in her fear. No longer. That pathetic excuse of a man who’d gotten his wife and babe killed, and the other son snatched, reveled in this woman’s unease. “Hmm?” he prodded, and she jumped.

“I have no reason to lie to you, my lord,” she said calmly, and as she spoke, her breath, containing a whispery trace of honey, filtered from her lips and fanned his mouth. Another unexpectedly sweet scent, at odds with her past and name and sins. It enticed, drawing his gaze to her mouth and holding his focus there, mesmerized. “There is nothing I want, need, or desire.” She darted her tongue out and traced the plump seam of her lips. And God forgive him, his gut clenched. For even as self-loathing spiraled through him, something far worse, far more perilous and viler and more treacherous, held him in its snare: desire. “The only reason I’ve come . . . the only worry I had . . . was for Stephen.”

Stephen.

That single name, spoken aloud, snapped whatever siren’s trap she’d sucked him momentarily into. “August.” Had there ever been a doubt as to his insanity, this quixotic fascination with the woman’s slightly too-full mouth as she spoke was evidence enough of it.

She tipped her head, and one of the few brown strands that had managed a curl bounced at her shoulder.

Edwin flared his nostrils. “His name is August Rudolph Thadeus Stephen Warren, the Earl of Greyley.” He flicked a stare over her face. “You’ve no relation to him. He is His Lordship to you.” Stalking over to the front of the room, he pulled the door open. “Now that you’ve seen him”—he peeled his lip in a mocking sneer—“safely delivered to his rightful home, you are dismissed. You may leave now.”

Gertrude Killoran drew in a breath. “I am afraid I cannot do that.”

He narrowed his eyes. “And whyever not?”

“I’m not leaving.”

“I beg your pardon?” What more could she possibly want or expect of him?

The young woman clasped her palms before her, like a nun at the abbey. “I’m staying.”

Confusion rooted around his mind. “Staying?” he repeated. “Staying where?”

“Here.” She settled her features into a serene expression he’d have believed impossible for a Diggory. “Indefinitely,” she clarified.

Edwin rocked back on his heels.

My God, I’ve finally found someone madder than myself.

*****

Gertrude, the eldest Killoran sister, has spent a lifetime being underestimated—especially by her own family. She may seem as vulnerable as a kitten, but given the chance, she can be as fierce as a tiger. Her adopted brother, Stephen, has just been snatched back by his true father, and she’ll be damned if she relinquishes the boy to the man reviled throughout London as the Mad Marquess.

Still haunted by a deadly tragedy that left him publicly despised, Lord Edwin holds only hatred for the Killorans—the people he believes kidnapped his son. And not one of them will ever see the boy again. But when Gertrude forces her way into the household and stubbornly insists that she remain as Stephen’s governess, Edwin believes he may have found someone madder than himself.

With every moment he shares with the tenderhearted Gertrude, Edwin’s anger softens into admiration . . . and more. Is it possible that the woman he loathed may be the only person who can heal his broken soul?

USA Today bestselling, RITA-nominated author Christi Caldwell blames authors Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. When Christi was at the University of Connecticut, she began writing her own tales of love. She believes that the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing her couples before crafting them a well-deserved happily ever after.

The author of the Wicked Wallflowers series, which includes The Governess, The Hellion, and The Vixen, Christi lives in southern Connecticut, where she spends her time writing, chasing after her son, and taking care of her twin princesses-in-training. Fans who want to keep up with the latest news and information can sign up for Christi’s newsletter at www.ChristiCaldwell.com or follow her on Facebook (AuthorChristiCaldwell) or Twitter (@ChristiCaldwell).
 
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Get to know Meghan Quinn & enter to win a Gift Card & THAT SECOND CHANCE

Get To Know Author Meghan Quinn

  1. In the past few years you have written dozens of novels! First off, how do you find the time? And second, how has becoming a bestselling author changed your life? 

I have the best partner in life ever that helps out with everything around the house, including the kids. I also have a very overactive imagination so when I get into a scene, my fingers fly, giving me high word counts in a short amount of time. Even though it looks like I’m working all the time, I make sure to make time for my family, ending every day at five at night. And hitting the USA Today bestselling list was a huge goal of mine I had ever since I started writing. It meant everything to me.

  1. What can you tell us about the first time you sat down to write with the goal of completing a novel? 

I was a maniac. I wrote the book in a week. Yes, a week. It was insane. I had so much to say because I was thinking about it consistently while commuting an hour and twenty minutes one way to work. When my fingers hit the keyboard, it al flew out of me.

  1. What is the best part about being a romance author? What is the most difficult part? 

The best part is constantly being able to create, break it up, and then find it again. It’s such an old, classic formula, but it’s my favorite of all time. The most difficult is trying not to gross people out with terminology during sex scenes. There are only so many words that are on the OKAY list. Sometimes it can be restricting.

  1. What draws you to writing romance novels? Specifically why is it important that your characters have happily-ever-afters? 

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved love. Instead of going out in high school, I would stay at home and watch romantic comedies. I was fascinated with falling in love and the heartbreak, and then the make up. I love everything about it. I think we all deserve a HEA, why not give it to our characters too?

  1. Even though you include realism and heartbreak in your books, the thing readers really takeaway is sense of fun you pack into the novels. How is it you (and your characters) are able to find humor in everyday things? 

I’ve always found myself to live in the clouds, in a land of cupcakes and fun, it’s just my personality so whenever I’m in a situation, I usually can find the fun in it and of course, I’m really good at embellishing.

  1. Give us a quick snapshot of your newest novel That Second Chance

Four brothers, small town romance, all single, all cursed. Will they be able to find love, even though they’re the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine?

  1. What makes Ren and Griff’s story special to you? 

Their meet cute is probably one of my most favorite of all time. Wayward moose, volunteer firefighter, a crazed woman new to town, looking for help. It’s all charming, funny, and perfect.

  1. What’s next for this series? 

Rogan!!! AND OH MY GOD!!! His story is . . . gah! I can’t even tell you how in love with it I am. There is mystery, intrigue, questions that need to be answered and so much swoon you might just fall off your chair while reading.

 

I’m counting out our register drawer, trying to stay focused on the numbers whipping through my head, but it’s difficult with Reid’s constant small talk. I jot down another tally mark on the paper in front of me and set aside a stack of bills.

“Hello, are you listening?” Reid asks, sounding annoyed.

“No. I’m counting.”

“Well, I’m talking about you, so you might want to lend me your ear for a second.”

Huffing, I set the cash on the counter, knowing my very persistent brother won’t be quiet until I give him my full attention. “What’s up, Reid?”

Satisfied, he smiles. “You should ask her out.”

“Ask who out?”

“Ren.”

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. “No.”

I go back to counting, but Reid starts snapping his fingers at me. “Hey, I wasn’t finished.” I look back up at him, not even slightly interested in this conversation. “I saw the way she was looking at you today. I think she likes you.”

“You’re confused. She was probably just being nice, since I’m the guy who pulled her out of the window of her car after her accident. And even if she does like me, which I highly doubt, there’s no interest on my end. So that’s the end of that.”

“Bull,” Reid and Jen both say at the same time.

Christ. My two most nagging siblings are ganging up on me. Just what I need when I’m trying to get home and relax.

“Can we not make this into a dissection of my personal life, please? I’m not in the mood, and I want to get this done so I can go home.”

“Griff, she’s pretty, she’s sweet, and she’s smart. She’s new to town and, I’m sure, could use a friend,” Jen says just as the door opens, its bell chiming through the space. Brig pops in, grease all over his shirt and a smirk on his face.

Uh-oh. There’s only one reason why he’d be smirking at me that way.

“What are we talking about?” He rubs his hands together and takes a seat on a barstool near the window. “If it’s about the hot new teacher in town, I want in on this conversation.”

“We’re trying to convince Griff to ask her out.”

Brig slow claps his appreciation. “Novel idea. I think they’re a perfect match.”

“I’m not asking her out,” I huff, giving up on the register and leaning against the wall behind me, arms crossed. There’s no way I’ll be able to concentrate on counting while these three are yapping in my ear.

“Why the hell not? She’s perfect for you,” Brig says, a little insulted at my rejection. “Before you even say no, you should at least get to know her a little. I told her today she could borrow your truck while her car is in the shop.”

I count to five before answering, tamping down my temper. “Why the hell would you do that?” Okay, maybe I didn’t tamp it down enough.

“Uh, because she lives three houses down from you?” Brig rolls his eyes as if I’m the stupid one in this conversation. “She needs some help, so be a knight in shining armor, dude. Help out the damsel in distress and then make out with her on the beach. Maybe cop a feel; get some for once.”

“I’m not doing that,” I answer, going back to the money, letting them know this conversation is over.

“And why not?” Jen asks.

“Because I’m not interested in starting or being in a relationship. I’m happy with how my life is right now, and I don’t need anything complicating it.”

“But she has heart eyes for you,” Brig says like a jackass.

“Don’t worry; there are plenty of Knightly brothers to choose from,” I reply.

“Come on, Griff, how fun can going home to an empty, lonely house really be?” Jen chimes in, concern evident in her voice.

I shift on my feet, my voice terse. “I like my house. It’s fine. I’m fine.”

Silence falls between us, an awkward air moving in like a fast-moving cold front.

“Is this because of New Orleans?” Reid finally asks, taking a seat next to Brig. Both of my brothers fix their gazes on me, waiting for an answer.

Why is this a thing whenever we talk about my love life? Can’t they just let it go? What happened was … hell, I don’t even know how to describe it. All I know is I don’t foresee love in my future.

Claire was the love of my life, and I lost her; in a blink of an eye she was gone. I’m not going through that again. Not ever.

Shaking my head, I turn away from my family. This conversation is over.

And with that, I take the cash to the back office, where I can get some peace and quiet.

Ask Ren Winters out on a date? Not going to happen.

And she’s not going to drive my truck either. I think that’s evident in the fact that she drove her car in between two trees.

Can’t blame a guy there.

***

It was supposed to be an innocent night, celebrating my brother’s birthday. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We’d vowed to be on our best behavior after all . . .

But it only took one rowdy night with my brothers to flip my world upside down. One unlucky encounter saddled us with a family curse and the promise of doomed relationships. I laughed it off immediately. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “A love curse. Ha!”

Boy, was I wrong.

Word spreads quickly in a town like mine; rumors about that night soon made us the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine. As a subject of endless gossip and speculation, I could kiss my dating life goodbye.

It would have stayed that way if Ren Winters, the new girl in town, hadn’t crashed into my life. Brave, beautiful, and smart—her vivacious thirst for a fresh start has given me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can have one too.

Everyone wishes for that second chance . . . but could this really be mine?

USA Today bestselling author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. An author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

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