Guest Authors

Juno Rushdan’s NOTHING TO FEAR excerpt & giveaway

“Juno Rushdan is the real deal. Every Last Breath is an electric combination of heart-stopping thriller and swoon-worthy romance.”—LEXI BLAKE, New York Times bestselling author

The clock is ticking.

Fearsome Gray Box operative Gideon Stone is devoted to his work and his team. He’s never given reason to doubt his loyalty…until he’s tasked with investigating Willow Harper, a beguiling cryptologist suspected of selling deadly bio-agents on the black market.

He knows she’s innocent. He knows she’s being framed. And he knows that without him, Willow will be dead before sunrise.

Thrust into the crossfire of an insidious international conspiracy, Gideon will do anything to keep Willow safe…even if that means waging war against his own. With time running out, an unlikely bond pushes limits—and forges loyalties. Every move they make counts. And the real traitor is always watching…

**********

Willow’s car nosedived down a long ramp that mouthed open to three lanes. Vehicles lining the two on the left were stopped at a red light.

She grabbed the wheel and veered toward the empty right lane.

Relief flashed through her. But as quickly as it came, it was gone. Her car had no brakes and was on a collision course with a major intersection of traffic.

Pressure welled in her chest.

Figures. She’d just had the most highly charged experience in her short life with a guy she was crazy attracted to, and now she was going to die. After living a neutral—

Neutral. She shifted from drive to neutral and dragged the tires against the concrete curb. The friction would shave off some speed but not enough. Not while pitched downhill on a trajectory sending her right into traffic with the cruise control jammed at sixty.

She had to avoid causing a domino effect of collisions in the intersection. Cranking the wheel, she plowed over the curb, scraping the undercarriage, and climbed the grassy berm over uneven terrain. Her gaze flickered up to the rearview mirror and to a red Jeep speeding up behind her.

A concrete barricade ahead stole her attention and her breath. She spun the wheel, turning into the main street traffic. Cars squealed, braking. Another skidded and rear-ended a truck.

The Jeep bulldozed up beside her in the left lane, horn honking.

What was she supposed to do? What could she do?

The four-wheel-drive vehicle nosed past her bumper and crashed into her car, forcing her to make a hard right—straight into the parking lot of a grocery store.

A woman yapping on her cell phone while rooting in her purse crossed in front of them. Willow’s chest turned to a block of ice.

The Jeep that had run up beside her tapped her car to the right, engaging her focus.

She steered away from the woman to the side of the building and a vacant part of the lot.

“Willow!”

The sound of her name penetrated her shroud of fear. She looked over through the Jeep’s open passenger-side window.

Gideon.

He signaled to her, punching his hand down and yanking his fist up toward his shoulder. She glanced to her side.

Gear selector? No.

Emergency brake. He wanted her to pull up on the emergency brake.

She gripped the handle and wrenched up. The car whipped into a wild spin. She gasped. Light swirled into a haze of gray. Nausea flooded her in a violent wave. Her body shivered like it wanted to splinter into a hundred pieces.

Pressing her head against the seat, she released the wheel and crossed her arms, hands to her shoulders. The tail of the car crashed into something, shattering the back window. The vehicle rocked, jostling her forward.

Phfowmph!

A dense pillow punched her, throttling her back. A white cloud engulfed everything. The airbag sucked up the space around her. A scream strangled in her throat and died.

Dust and white powder clogged her nose and esophagus. She choked on the remnants of terror.

Her car door swung open. “Willow! You okay?”

A loud pop echoed. Her airbag deflated with a hiss, as if it’d been cut. She drew in a shuddering breath and waved to clear the congesting dust from her face.

Gideon whipped a double-handled knife closed and reached for her.

A whimper slipped from her lips as she cringed, raising her arm. It was all too much—losing the brakes, the sound of metal grating, hitting vehicles. Almost dying. She needed to breathe, gain her bearings, before he touched her.

“I want to help you from the car and make sure you’re okay. I won’t hurt you.” He reached for her slowly. “Okay?”

Shutting her eyes, she clutched the strap of her purse still draped over her and nodded.

He unfastened her seatbelt. One strong arm slipped under her legs, the other curled around her shoulders. He lifted her out the car, tucking her against his large frame.

Particles clung to her nostrils, burned her throat, and filled her lungs. She coughed and raked in a glorious breath of fresh air.

Gideon’s long legs stretched quickly, carrying her to his car. In his powerful arms, warm and solid, a blanket of calm covered her, dampening her chaotic thoughts save one.

She was safe with him.

He opened the passenger’s door and set her inside, but she didn’t want him to let go. Not yet.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Everything had unraveled in minutes. Trying to slow the car, the parking lot. Gideon helping. She still couldn’t make sense of it.

Gideon crouched in front of Willow and examined her, smoothing his big hands over her face and her hair. He tilted her chin up. “Did you hit your head? You might have a concussion.”

Staring into his wide eyes, now darkened to the bluish gray of a stormy sky in this light, her breathing slowed and her bunched muscles uncoiled. He looked shaken, off beat from his normal steady cadence.

“Willow? Are you all right?”

I’m okay. How bizarre since she’d almost died. “Everything is fuzzy, but I didn’t hit my head. I don’t think I have a concussion.”

“You can get it from whiplash. A doctor should check you.”

Before she voiced objections, a sheriff’s car pulled into the lot, lights flashing, siren muted. Gideon patted her knee and left her side. He spoke to the officer, pointing to her car, waving his hands in the air as if explaining everything that’d happened.

What exactly had happened?

This morning, nothing was wrong with her brakes. She’d had the car checked recently, never pushed the service due date. Yet she’d nearly been killed.

***

Excerpted from Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan. © 2019 by Juno Rushdan. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Juno Rushdan draws from real-life inspiration as a former U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer to craft sizzling romantic thrillers.  Although she is a native New Yorker, wanderlust has taken her across the globe. She’s visited more than twenty different countries and has lived in England and Germany. When she’s not writing, Juno loves spending time with her family. She currently resides in Virginia.

Author Website: www.junorushdan.com

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A chat with Carolyn Brown on her latest, EMPTY NEST & giveaway

Jump Into Author Carolyn Brown’s Empty Nest   
Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, The Empty Nesters. I’ll be giving all y’all a few of my favorite scenes and a little commentary during the time we get to spend together.

As Ma used to say on Golden Girls, imagine this—Carmen, Joanie and Diana have just dropped their daughters off at the recruiter’s office. They’ve managed to keep the tears at bay and put up a brave front, but now it’s time to let the tears loose. 

“For the first time ever, Natalie and I won’t decorate the house for Halloween together. Nine months of carrying them, then we basically raised them on our own while our husbands were deployed or got sent someplace to train other officers. And now they’re gone, and we won’t see them for Halloween or Thanksgiving. And who even knows about Christmas? It’s not fair.” 

It’s always amazing what comes to mind during a sad time, isn’t it? Things pop into our heads that seem trivial in the face of the event, and yet, at the time, the good memories are what keep us sane.

Tootsie, their elderlyneighbor, has just lost her husband, after they’d bought the huge RV and planned a trip to northeast Texas. She’s trying to convince the women that they need to get away from their empty nest for a while.

“You need to get away for a little while and get some perspective,” Tootsie said.

“Let’s pool our money and blow it all on a trip to Paris. We can shop and have lattes in little bistros,” Diana suggested. 

Joanie sighed. “That’s a pipe dream. We probably don’t have enough money to even get to Paris, Texas, between the three of us.” 

The three of them have known the support of each other through the past thirteen years, and just because they’re now alone in their homes, they have no doubt that the love is still there between them—and that it’s even stronger than blood sisters.

“We’re only half a block and a phone call away. If any of us feel the world dropping out from under our feet, we can get back together in less than five minutes.” 

I was amazed at how supportive all of them, including Tootsie, were of each other. They might disagree, but Lord help the person that tried to come between them, or who had the nerve to say an ugly word about one of them.

Everything happens for a reason and in the time that it should happen. I believe that with my whole heart. Diana had gotten her divorce years before the book opens, but she remembers the pain and anger of it all. Then she focused all her energy and time on raising her daughter. But now it’s her time to find a new love, and a new life—maybe with a younger man.

“That many trips into town on those roads would shake the hell out of their Caddy. And believe me, Aunt Tootsie treats that car like family.” Luke chuckled. “Age, on a truck or on a person, makes no difference. It’s how well they’re maintained that matters.” 

Why, oh, why, couldn’t he have smooth pickup lines like other men? Luke asked himself. What he’d just said could be taken as an insult. She might think that he thought she looked like an old pickup truck at her age, when in reality she was downright gorgeous. He wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she still got carded at bars when she ordered a drink. 

Thank you again, for inviting me into your world, and letting me talk about the amazing ladies (and Luke of course), from The Empty Nesters. Happy reading to each and every one of you!

***

Dear friends and army wives Diana, Carmen, and Joanie have been through war, rumors of war, marital problems, motherhood, fears, joy, and heartache. But none of the women are prepared when their daughters decide to enlist in the army together. Facing an empty nest won’t be easy. Especially for Carmen. With emotions already high, she suffers an even greater blow: divorce papers. Diana understands the fury and tears. She’s been there.

With nothing to lose and no one at home, the girlfriends impulsively accept an unexpected offer from their elderly neighbor. The recently widowed Tootsie has an RV, a handsome nephew at the wheel, and an aim for tiny Scrap, Texas, to embrace memories of her late husband. Still grieving, she can use the company as a balm for her broken heart. So can the empty nesters.

Embarking on a journey of hope, romance, and healing, Diana, Carmen, and Joanie are at a turning point in their lives. And with the open road ahead of them, it’s just the beginning.

***

Carolyn Brown is a New York TimesUSA TodayPublisher’s Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books. Her genres include romance, history, cowboys and country music, and contemporary mass-market paperbacks. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when . . . and reads the local newspaper every 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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Cheryl Holt’s new ALWAYS Trilogy Chpt 1 sneak peek & giveaway!

y new ALWAYS trilogy will be released tomorrow.  I’m so excited that everyone will finally have a chance to read the three novels.  The books will be released together, so you can binge-read all three without any delay.

They contain all the fun stuff for which I’m renowned:  yummy heroes, strong heroines, fast-pacing, surprising plot twists, and wicked villains.  I’ve created some of my very worst villains this time, and they will do absolutely everything necessary to keep the hero and heroine apart.  But of course, they get their just desserts in the end.

My heroes are famous African explorers, and the history I created for them gave me tons of character issues to build them into fascinating, wounded men.  They sweep across the heroines’ skies like blazing comets, and my heroines can’t resist.

They are definitely wounded warriors that any woman would like to save!

The three books will be released together on August 1st, and they’ll be available as an e-book or a print book.  My Always trilogy—available tomorrow!  I can’t wait for everyone to read them!

Cheryl’s giving away ten (10) signed Print copies of the first book in the series, ALWAYS,  & one (1) lucky winner will get autographed print copies of the trilogy. Enter here.  Hurry, giveaway ends August 2, 2019.

CHAPTER ONE

Selby estate, rural England, twenty-four years later…

Nell Drummond walked down the pretty lane toward the main road.It was a beautiful July afternoon, the sky so blue, the trees so green.Up ahead, she could see the sign that indicated the estate entrance, the simple word SELBY carved in the wood to announce the esteemed location.

She was carrying ribbons and a basket of flowers, and she placed the basket at her feet and surveyed the surrounding posts and fence that she intended to decorate.Back at the manor, the house was hectic, with the servants in a lather because guests were about to begin arriving and the final wedding preparations were still being completed.

In two weeks, her dearest friend, Susan Middleton, was marrying Selby cousin, Percy Blake.Nell, Susan, and Susan’s mother, Florence, had already traveled to the country to participate in the celebrations that would lead up to the ostentatious event.Susan’s busy father, Albert, wouldn’t appear until the day of the ceremony, feeling no need to be present during the escalating mayhem.

Nell had to admit he’d been wise to delay.Now that she’d discovered how chaotic it would be, she wished she could have stayed in London until the very last minute too.

Though she would never confess it aloud, Florence always put people on edge, and she was being her typical annoying self, irking everyone with her pompous posturing.With her usual lack of awareness, didn’t notice she was creating enemies right and left. 

The groom’s mother, Edwina Blake, was especially aggravated.

The two women had arranged the nuptials, so ultimately, they’d be related by marriage, but as the years rolled by, Nell couldn’t imagine how they would ever socialize.They had naught in common, and Edwina’s dislike of Florence was potent and evident. 

The Blakes had been aristocrats for three centuries, and they were considered a premier family in the kingdom.The Selby title, currently held by the groom’s cousin—the famous explorer and conspicuously absent Nathan Blake—was one of the oldest and most exalted in the land.Edwina Blake—as a member of the lofty group—viewed herself as being very grand, very important, and she was.

The Middletons were obscenely wealthy due to Albert being a successful brewer.Florence ceaselessly, but erroneously believed their money could buy them a position in High Society, but it never could.They were too ordinary, their antecedents too low.

Despite how hard Florence tried, she couldn’t purchase the spot she thought they should occupy.She’d hoped to use their fortune to snag a noble husband for Susan, but she’d had to settle for a nobleman’s cousin instead.

The groom, Percy Blake—as a grandson of the prior Lord Selby—had very blue blood, but an empty purse, and Susan’s dowry would fill it to overflowing.It was the reason his mother, Edwina, had sought the match.Once the vows were spoken, Percy would become very rich.

Yet the mothers—Florence and Edwina—were like an explosion waiting to happen.How would they all survive the next two weeks without a huge fight breaking out?If Percy and Susan could reach the altar without their mothers calling the whole thing off, it would be a miracle.

Nell was a pleasant person, and she couldn’t abide discord or bickering, but her years of living with the Middletons had honed her skills as a peacemaker.

Her widowed mother, who’d died when Nell was twelve, had been Florence’s childhood friend.After Nell was orphaned, she’d taken Nell into her home and had finished raising her.Nell was now a very elderly twenty-two, and for the past decade, she’d resided with the Middletons.She was a sort of second daughter they didn’t like very much and hadn’t really wanted.

Florence relentlessly reminded Nell of how lucky she was to have been welcomed by the Middletons, and she was lucky.Grateful too.But she spent an awful lot of time calming Florence’s temper, and she often felt she should have been awarded a prize for her intervention skills.They were skills she assumed she would frequently employ as the wedding neared.

She didn’t like the Blakes very much, and Percy Blake was an arrogant prig who didn’t deserve a wife as sweet and lovely as Susan.But she and Nell were devoted to one another, like affectionate sisters, and she was glad Susan was about to be a bride.It had been Susan’s dream, one over which they’d constantly fantasized as girls, and Nell would toil valiantly to ensure Susan’s big day was as perfect as possible.

She started working on her decorations, weaving strands of ribbons and flowers that she could wrap around the fence posts.She was humming an off-key tune, engrossed in her task, when she realized a man was approaching.

He was strolling along on foot, his horse plodding behind, as he meticulously assessed the quiet woods.He noted every tree and shrub as if he were a soldier wary of attack.

A very handsome fellow, he was tall and broad-shouldered, with black hair and very blue eyes.He needed to shave, and his hair was much too long, tied with a strip of leather and hanging halfway down his back as if he hadn’t been to a barber in ages.

And while he was probably burly and fit when in prime physical shape, at present, he was thin and gaunt, as if he might have been ill for an extended period.He appeared to have traveled some distance, and it must have been a grueling trip.His boots were dusty and scuffed, his jacket tattered, the elbows patched. 

She might have wondered if he’d suffered a calamity, if she should send him to the servant’s door to request a free meal, but he didn’t seem imperiled.Though his outward condition was a bit bedraggled, he carried himself like a warrior or a prince.

There was a powerful aura about him that was tangible, and she was curious as to his identity and purpose.Obviously, he’d have many stories to tell, and she always liked to encounter an intriguing character.Her own life was so small and so boring that she relished any chance to enliven it.

Eventually, he noticed her, and he stopped and stared, scrutinizing her with those magnificent eyes of his.He studied her as if he hadn’t seen a female in years, and he didn’t miss a single detail, his evaluation commencing at her head and meandering down in a manner that was almost inappropriate. 

“Hello.”She flashed the pretty smile for which she was renowned. 

It was her mother’s smile, and fortunately, Nell had inherited it.Her mother had been a great beauty, and Nell—with her curly chestnut locks, big green eyes, pert nose, and dimples—resembled her exactly.Men found her to be very fetching, but none of them would ever act on it. 

Her deceased father had been an officer in the Royal Navy, her mother his adoring and very common wife.They’d left her no inheritance, no bequests, no dowry, and no wealthy kin.It was why she’d always resided with the Middletons.

She was old enough to be declared a penniless spinster, and her winsome looks and curvaceous figure were her only viable attributes.But they couldn’t take her anywhere she’d like to go—that being into a happy marriage and a home of her own—so they were merely a method for garnering empty praise.

“Hello,” he said in return, and he kept coming until he was very close.“Do I know you?”

“I’m sure you don’t.I have a good memory for faces, and I don’t recall yours.”

“You’re not a Blake.”

“No.”

“Is this still their property?Or have they finally lost it and moved away?”

“No.”She pointed to the sign that marked the lane to the manor, the one that had SELBY carved into the wood.“They’re all here and limping forward in a tremendous fashion.I can safely state that they’re quite as grand as ever.”

He scoffed at that.“I suppose grand might be a bit of an exaggeration.”

“Yes, I suppose it is, but I find them to be very illustrious.”

“Why are you decorating the fence?”

“We’re having a wedding, so guests will be arriving.I’m hoping to generate a festive tone from the moment people ride through the gate.”

“Who is getting married?”

“The Earl’s cousin, Percy Blake.”

“Who is the bride?”

“Miss Susan Middleton.”

“Never heard of her…” he mused.“Is it a love match?Was Mr. Blake swept off his feet?”

“It was nothing so thrilling as all that.It was all very mundane, with it arranged by their mothers when the parties involved weren’t paying attention.”

“That indicates Miss Middleton must be very rich and he’s marrying her for her money.”

Nell chuckled.“I will neither confirm nor deny your appraisal of the situation.”

“Percy always was a mercenary.His mother too.They must be walking on air over their windfall.”

“I can’t say they’re complaining about it,” Nell indiscreetly agreed, even as she recognized she should guard her unruly tongue.

She was in no position to comment on any facet of the nuptial machinations.Florence was vigilant as a spy, and the least little infraction always made its way back to her.

Nell decided to steer the conversation in a different direction.“It sounds as if you know Edwina Blake and her son, Percy.”

“I do.”He sighed, the weight of the world on his shoulders.“I know them all too well.”

“Then I will be very nosy and ask how you’re acquainted.”

“I’m a Blake cousin.”

“Oh!How nice.Are you just passing by?Or will you be staying for the celebration?”

“I guess I’ll have to stay.I don’t have much choice.”

“We all have choices, Mr. Blake.” 

“I haven’t ever found that to be true.”He stared down the lane, torn over whether he should continue on.He scowled at her.“What is your role in this madness?”

“I’ve tagged after the Middletons as a sort of poor relative who’s not a relative at all.”

“Meaning what?You live with the Middletons, but you’re not family?”

“Precisely.I intended my reply to be a riddle, but you deciphered it immediately.Mr. Middleton is my guardian, and I am his ward.You’re very astute.”

“I can be when I try.”

“Susan and I are very fond of each other, like sisters only better, so it’s as if I’m helping my sister stagger toward her wedding.”

“When is it to be?”

“Two weeks from today.”

“Will it be a huge event?”

“Yes.Dozens of your Blake kin are coming, and of course, the whole neighborhood has been invited.”

He wrinkled his nose.“The manor will be packed.”

“Yes.The housemaids are in a frenzy, what with preparing all the bedchambers.”She grinned.“It’s why I’m outside, decorating the fence.The furor inside is overwhelming.”

She studied him, thinking he appeared as worn down as his clothes, as if he’d recently been pummeled by life and was struggling to regroup.He looked as if he could use some pampering.

“You’ll be the first cousin to arrive,” she said, “and the staff is just waiting to serve someone.They’ll spoil you rotten.”

“I might actually enjoy that for a change.I can’t remember the last time I was fussed over.”

“That’s the saddest statement I’ve ever heard.We all deserve a little coddling.”She waved him on.“You’re dead on your feet.Why don’t you go to the house?”

“Am I that decrepit?”

“Yes.Have you traveled far to get here?”

“It seems as if I’ve traveled forever.”

His voice was fatigued, his demeanor drained, and she’d always been much too sympathetic.As a girl, she’d been the type who’d dragged home stray kittens and puppies.As an adolescent, living with the Middletons, she’d nursed the sick dogs and worried over the lame horses.She was no different with people.

He was such a tragic figure, standing there in his shabby coat and scuffed boots.She had no idea what ordeals he’d suffered on his journey to Selby, but she was swamped by the perception that they had been punishing and dreadful.She was desperate to wrap her arms around him, to hug him and tell him everything would be all right.

“Can you find the manor on your own?” she asked him.

“Yes.”He stared down the lane again, and he was wretched, as if he couldn’t bear to spur himself toward it.

“It’s quite a distance.With you being so tired, maybe you should jump on your horse and ride the rest of the way.”

“Is my fatigue that clear?”

“Yes.You have no secrets from me, sir.”

“How terrifying.”

She lifted her hand to urge him on, and the lace on the cuff of her sleeve caught on a nail in the fence post.She managed to halt just before she tore it.

She frowned and glanced down, and he asked, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing.My sleeve snagged on a nail.”

She started tugging at it to free herself without damaging the gown.The Middletons provided her with a tiny allowance, and Susan gave Nell her castoffs, so she had clothes to wear, but her benefactors weren’t overly generous, and she would never deliberately ruin a garment.

She was much too pragmatic to be frivolous with her wardrobe.

“Don’t rip it,” he said, his tone scolding, and he dropped his horse’s reins and stepped over to her.

Suddenly, they were very close together, and she was thrilled in a peculiar feminine fashion by how he towered over her.At five-foot-six in her slippers, she wasn’t exactly a petite person, but he was much taller than she’d initially assumed, six feet at least and perhaps even more than that. 

Even though he was currently too thin, he oozed male virility, making her wonder if he wasn’t a soldier or an athlete.He was so thoroughly masculine.

Without requesting permission, he clasped her wrist, then wedged the lace off the nail.It came loose, and she should have thanked him and pulled away, but she didn’t.Neither did he.

Though it sounded odd, it seemed as if the Earth stood still for a moment.The breeze stopped blowing in the trees.The birds stopped singing.It grew very quiet, the silence almost eerie. 

There was the strangest sense in the air, as if powerful forces were at work in the universe, as if she’d been destined to cross paths with him for some reason.She gazed up at him, fully expecting him to utter a profound comment that she would mull forever.

When he finally spoke, she bit down a laugh as he voiced a perfectly mundane question instead.

“What is your name?”

“Eleanor—Nell—Drummond.”

“Is it Miss Drummond?”

“Yes.”

He scrutinized her in the same intense manner he’d scrutinized the forest:as if he was assessing every detail for later reflection.She’d never had anyone stare at her so meticulously, and she might have fidgeted, but she wasn’t a silly debutante, meeting a potential beau.She was a twenty-two-year-old spinster.She could survive a male inspection.

“Where did you get all your lovely chestnut hair?” he asked.

It was her best feature, curly, lush, long, and uncontrollable.She gave it a vain shake.“From my dear, departed mother.”

“Was she very beautiful?”

“Yes, she was.”

He actually grabbed a strand and wrapped it around his finger.Then he leaned in and evaluated the color, and she was frozen in her spot, absolutely breathless to discover what he might attempt next.

But he swiftly remembered himself.He released her and moved away.She couldn’t decide if she was relieved or disappointed.

“I’d better head to the manor,” he said.

“Would you like me to walk you?You seem awfully weary.”

“There’s no need.I’ve come such a distance on my own.I’m sure I can make it the remainder of the way without collapsing.”

“Will you join us for supper?”

He snorted, perhaps with disgust, perhaps with amusement.“I probably will.”

“If you’re seated near me at the end of the table, I can talk your ear off.”

He smiled—the only one he’d displayed—and told her, “I might like that.”

“There’s to be dancing after.And cards.”

He winced.“I thought I was the first cousin to arrive.”

“Mrs. Blake has invited many of the neighbors for the evening.”

“Aren’t I lucky?” he muttered.

“Are you a dancer?Or are you more prone to drink in the corner with the bachelors and irk the ladies who can’t find a partner?”

He gaped at her, as if he’d never heard of dancing before.“I guess I was a dancer in a different period of my life.”

“Well, once you’re fed and spoiled for a bit, will you dance with me?Since I welcomed you so warmly, I ought to receive a reward.”

He snorted, this time with amusement.She was certain of it.

“You’re sassy,” he said.“I didn’t think I liked that in a woman, but maybe I do.”

He sauntered off, his horse obediently plodding after him.A cloud floated over the sun, the sky darkening, as if the world was colder and duller without him standing beside her. 

She was sad to have him leave, which was ridiculous.After all, he was staying for the wedding, so they’d have chances to socialize.But still, it felt wrong that he’d abandon her so quickly after they’d met. 

“Goodbye,” she called.“I enjoyed our chat.”

He glanced over his shoulder, his potent gaze rocking her. 

“It’s not goodbye, Miss Nell Drummond,” he offered like a threat.“I’ll see you soon.”

“Yes, you will—and I will expect that dance you promised.”

“Don’t be greedy.”

He kept on, and she yearned to call out again, but she forced herself to refrain.He likely already deemed her to be a nuisance, and she wouldn’t lower his opinion any further. 

It was a rare occasion when she flirted.Had they been flirting?It definitely seemed like it, and she couldn’t wait to bump into him again at the earliest opportunity.

From the moment she’d arrived at Selby, she’d been afraid the entire celebration would be a boring slog, but it might not be.She might be introduced to handsome men, mingle exhaustively, and head back to London with a dozen new friends.

It could happen.Couldn’t it?It didn’t have to all be unpleasant.

She grinned and returned to her basket of flowers, but she could barely concentrate on her task.She wanted to chase after him, to babble a mile a minute as he proceeded to the house, but that was insane—and rude as well.She’d see him later. 

Oh, yes, she would!


Guest Post:A Pretty Woman With Power ~ RESIST excerpt & giveaway with K. Bromberg

 

Ryker Lockhart: Powerful. Unrelenting. Stubborn. 

Vaughn Sanders: Defiant. Strong. Unyielding.

With those two sets of characteristics, Ryker and Vaughn are definitely oil and water one moment and then an ember met with gasoline the next. That dynamic is what made writing them and their story so much fun in my latest book, Resist. Their tale was a delicate dance though because the push and pull of the chase better be worth the reward for readers.

I often enjoy taking characters and painting them with broad strokes (i.e. Vaughn’s profession) so that readers initially question them. Then over the next 100,000 words, I love to smash their preconceived notions so that they root for the heroine. So that they are right beside her cheering her on and falling in love with the hero just like she is.

It’s not often an easy task to write a heroine, because women are often harsher on female characters than they are males. Heroes can be over the top alphas who are dominant and say all the wrong things, but once they show vulnerability, we somehow forgive them. Heroines on the other hand, are judged more fiercely. She’s too weak. She’s too strong. She’s too wishy- washy. She’s being a b*tch for pushing him away. Making a reader like a strong-willed female character isn’t always an easy task. So when you put two characters together who embody all of these things, it’s a delicate balance to have enough push and pull. Enough sexual tension. Enough redeemable qualities so you can love them despite their faults.

This challenge is one of the reasons I loved writing Resist (and its sequel Reveal). I don’t quite remember where the storyline came from, but I recall the furious scribbling on paper as Ryker and Vaughn’s story came to life in my imagination. Take a strong-willed woman with a risqué job and give her a real reason to need that job. Take a domineering divorce attorney who deals with love gone wrong day-in and day-out, and force him to see that there can be more than just sex between a man and a woman. That love is, in fact, possible.

Challenge accepted.

Is Resist a subtle nod to the Pretty Woman trope? I never really thought of it that way, but I can see the similarities being drawn. Vaughn (my character) and Vivian (movie character) have names that both start with the letter V. They both wear a red dress in a scene. The both work in fields that deal with selling sex for profit . . . but that’s where the comparisons stop.

Vaughn Sanders is a force to be reckoned with. Sure, she’s a madam, but once you get beneath the moniker, readers find a strong-willed woman taking measures into her own hands for the benefit of someone else. Readers will find a woman with a strong backbone and a take no prisoners attitude. A woman they can’t wait to see succeed. Sure, we throw in our hero–Ryker, a senator you know is dirty somehow, an adorable niece, and whole cast of other characters and situations and we’re left trying to figure out how it’s all going to play out . . . but the one thing we know for sure, is that we want Ryker and Vaughn to end up together.

Because hopefully when you finish Resist, like Ryker and Vaughn, you start to believe true love does in fact exist. 

***

 

Who says you have to play by the rules to get what you want?

Agreeing to meet Ryker Lockhart is my first mistake. Rich, handsome, and more than intriguing, he thinks blackmail will bend me to his will.

But he’s wrong.

I may have done a few things that weren’t exactly legal, but I have my own reasons for that. The last thing I’m going to do is let some high-powered divorce attorney come into my life, have my body, and rule my heart. Not to mention ruin everything that I have carefully built in just a short amount of time.

But as much as I try to resist him, and against my better judgment, there is something about him that has me agreeing to his proposal.

I’m putting everything on the line for him. I just hope I won’t lose everything when this is all over.

Visit K. Bromberg                  FB                       Twitter                         Goodreads

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New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg writes contemporary romance novels that are sweet, emotional, a lot sexy, and a little bit real. She likes to write strong heroines and damaged heroes that readers love to hate but can’t help loving.

Since publishing her first book on a whim in 2013, Bromberg has sold over 1.5 million copies of her books across eighteen different countries and has repeatedly landed on the bestseller lists for the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. Her Driven trilogy (Driven, Fueled, and Crashed) is currently being adapted for film by the streaming platform Passionflix, with Driven available now.

You can find out more about this mom of three on any of her social media accounts. The easiest way to stay up to date is to sign up for her newsletter (http://bit.ly/254MWtI) or text “KBromberg” to 77948 to receive text alerts when a new book is released.

Guest Post: A Marriage Destroyed with Natasha Anders~ NOTHING BUT THIS excerpt & giveaway

Hi there, my name is Natasha Anders and I’m excited to talk to you about the second book in my Broken Pieces series, Nothing But This.

My long-time

readers will know that I’m a fan of second chance romances and absolutely love a good marriage in trouble trope. The story of Greyson and Libby falls firmly within the latter category.

It’s not easy to write a marriage in crisis novel. By the time we’re introduced to the characters, they already have a relationship history behind them that readers have yet to discover. We enter this particular story at the lowest point of their relationship. The birth of a child should be a happy occasion but something is clearly wrong here; Libby’s husband isn’t there and she believes he hates her and her baby. And when Greyson eventually makes his way onto the page, her belief is confirmed.

No marriage can survive the things Greyson says at the beginning of this book and finding a way back from that low point is nearly impossible. I know that my readers are going to loathe him at the start. My heroine despises him and his own family is angry with him. I have to find a way to redeem him that will make everybody happy. And, harder still, I have to find a way to make the readers forgive him and, ideally, start to root for him.

It’s a challenge that I absolutely adore. I love hearing from readers who have that “wait a second, when did I stop hating him?” moment. I want his redemption arc to be so seamless that readers can’t pinpoint exactly when they started forgiving him. This is easier said than done and Greyson needs to do a lot of groveling and apologizing to even get a foot in the door. I like to look at what he’s doing and saying and put myself in the heroine’s and the reader’s position. Is this enoughHave I forgiven him yet? Even if the answer is yes, I try to push it just a little further because “enough” is never good enough and there will always be someone out there who wants him to suffer just that tiny bit more. It sounds sadistic, but I do like to put my characters (male and female) through the wringer. They need to earn that happy ending.

But the story needs to be balanced and while my hero is terribly flawed and at times insecure and vulnerable, his heroine needs to show a similar amount of character growth and self-recognition. She needs to find an inner strength and confidence that she lacks at the start of the novel. Striking the exact right balance and making their journey toward redemption and a satisfactory and well-earned happily ever after is what makes writing a second chance romance so hard.

One of the things I hope readers take away from this book is that a situation isn’t always as cut and dried as it seems on the surface. Greyson comes across as one hundred percent villain at the start of this book. But he’s insecure and incredibly lonely. This story is about a man breaking out of his self-imposed isolation and finding a place, not only in his wife’s heart and life, but also within a welcoming and accepting society. It is also the story of a woman learning to embrace and accept the flaws within herself and others.

I loved writing this book. I started with only one scene constantly playing out in my head; the hospital scene where Greyson unequivocally rejects his wife and his child. That’s all I had at the beginning and building this story around that one moment, was often frustrating but at the same time so incredibly satisfying. I loved discovering Libby and Greyson’s strengths and weaknesses and often found that some of those weaknesses echoed my own. It was a vulnerable space within which to find myself but it was also a rewarding step on my personal journey toward self-realization and recognition.

Thank you so much for taking the time to step into my not always sane mind. I do hope you enjoy reading Nothing But This as much as I loved writing it.

***

“We need to talk.”

“I have absolutely nothing to say to you.”

“Libby, please.”

“Why are you here? How are you here? Who told you how to find me?”

There was a long pause as he continued to grimace in her general direction, his eyes slits to protect himself from the light.

“I have money and resources. I’ve known where you are for months . . .” He hesitated before continuing, “For four months, to be exact.”

“Well, then why are you here?”

“Can we discuss this inside?”

“I don’t want you in my house.”

He compressed his lips in that way he had when he was trying to refrain from speaking his mind. An expression with which she was much too familiar. It used to bother her back when she cared about what he was thinking. He opened his mouth as if to say something, then changed his mind and swallowed back the words.

Oh, wasn’t he just the model of restraint tonight? Well, Libby had no such reservations and felt a sense of complete liberation when she unleashed the torrent of resentment and fury that had been roiling away just beneath the surface for much longer than the four months since she’d left him. A lot of her anger had been tamped down during her pregnancy, when he hadn’t offered a single word or gesture of support. The excuses she had made on his behalf . . . she was disgusted with herself for not speaking up sooner. But now he was here, in the flesh, and she could finally let him have it. With both barrels.

“You’re a vile, disgusting excuse for a man, Greyson. I want nothing more to do with you. I don’t want my baby within a hundred miles of you. And even that seems too close. I don’t want you here, contaminating our lives with your toxic presence. You don’t get to come here and . . . and . . . whatever the hell this is. I don’t know what you want, I don’t want to know what you want. I want you gone.”

“Libby, I understand why you feel that way. But I thought . . .”

Clara’s crying was escalating, and Libby’s rocking increased agitatedly.

“Yes, I know. Thought you were infertile, right? And I’m supposed to—what? Feel sorry for you? Understand your cruelty? Forgive your cruelty? Am I to take it that you’ve had that paternity test done? You know she’s yours, am I right? Is that why you’re here? Because let me tell you, mister, you have no moral right to my child—I will not allow you access to her just because you now believe you’re her father.”

“I haven’t had any paternity tests done.”

That made her pause, but not for long.

“I don’t care,” she decided. “I don’t care. Go away. Back to your diamond-encrusted ivory tower. Leave us alone. We don’t need you.”

“I know you don’t. But . . . maybe I need you?”

***

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It’s always been complicated between Libby Lawson and Greyson Chapman—and married life isn’t any simpler. But when Libby gets pregnant, she at last sees a bright future ahead. There’s just one problem: Greyson says he’s sterile.


Furious, Greyson abandons the young family. Equally furious and deeply hurt, Libby cuts all ties with him. After all these years, it seems their relationship has finally expired. But love is resilient and e
ndures even when you don’t want it to. Greyson still longs for Libby, and though Libby’s heartbroken by Greyson’s lack of trust, she holds out hope for a complete, happy family.


And so they embark on the journey back to each other, wary of all the obstacles between them. It’s been a long road already—one strewed with fear, doubt, and misunderstandings. Will they keep looking to the past, or will they look to each other and walk hand in hand toward a broad new horizon?

Visit Natasha        FB          Twitter           Goodreads

 

 

Author Biography

 

Natasha Anders was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She spent the last nine years working as an assistant English teacher in Niigata, Japan, where she became a legendary karaoke diva. Natasha is currently living in Cape Town with her temperamental and opinionated budgie, Sir Oliver Spencer, who has kindly deigned to share his apartment with her. Please feel free to contact her (or Oliver) on Twitter @satyne1.

 

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MILLION DOLLAR MARRIAGE excerpt, giveaway, and words from Katy Evans

Million Dollar Romances with Katy Evans

Meet the Million Dollar series books. Books that are all about passion, romance, and all about what people will do for money—actually, a LOT of money. In book one, Million Dollar Devil, we have a sexy, raw, bad-mannered daredevil willing to pose as a sophisticated rich guy – while skillfully seducing the heroine in the process.

In book two, Million Dollar Marriage, Nell and Luke both agree to become contestants in a reality show that requires—gasp, marriage. Marriage to a complete stranger, which is appalling. But, it’s a fake marriage, right? It doesn’t matter that they are complete opposites. Nell will be the brains, and Luke will be the brawn. For a moment there, they both think they’ve got it covered. But the challenges end up being far more than they anticipated, especially the unexpected challenge of resisting falling in love with each other.

I’d always wanted to write a reality show book. I mean, reality shows are so addictive to watch, but though I’ve loved indulging in binge-watching Survivor or The Amazing Race, I’ve always wanted a little more romance to go with all that adrenaline and excitement. What happens when you’re put under all that pressure, and aside from that, have just met a person who gives your heart wings? Let’s face it. Falling in love is a little scary when you do it privately, so how does the public nature of a relationship hinder or help the romance between two strangers?

Well, in Nell and Luke’s case, being exposed to the cameras all day, every day, was more of a hindrance. And yet without those cameras, would they have given each other the time of day to begin with? 🙂

I would totally write another reality TV show romance. It’s been one of the funnest, most uniques writes I’ve ever written to date.

Katy Evans

New York Times Bestselling author

***

Will Wang says, “Teams, you have the choice to participate in the next challenge. If you decide to, you’ll receive a minimum of seventy thousand dollars! All you have to do is say YES!”

I shrug and call out, “YES!”

Will laughs. “Hold on, buckaroo. There’s a catch you might want to know about. And that brings us to the main premise of the show. John Phillips, are you out there? Please, join me on the podium.”

A man in a suit stands up, and the crowd parts to let him through. He jogs up to the podium, shakes Will’s hand, and stands beside him.

“John is here for a very special reason. A very special ceremony, if you will.”

The cameras are focused on our faces, and I know something is up.

“Yes, in fact, John happens to be a justice of the peace.”

The crowd gasps. Next to me, Penny’s body stiffens.

“Yes. In order to participate in the next challenge and any challenges going forward, you and your partner must be man and wife!”

Louder gasp. The screens overhead focus in on the shock of the contestants. Penny’s trembling. Ivy looks pissed. Ace is hurling out f-bombs into the air. The Indian girl has sunk to the ground and is covering her face in her palms. It’s chaos.

Me? I’m calm as can be.

It’s called Million Dollar Marriage. Did they think marriage wouldn’t factor in?

I’m in.

“You will need to spend the rest of the time living with your partner as a unit. You’ll do everything together for the duration of the contest. There will be challenges that test your endurance, your strength, and your ability to work together as a couple. If you win, you’ll each get two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and the opportunity to have the marriage annulled, should you choose. BUT, if you decide to stay together as lawfully married, you’ll together receive the grand prize of ONE MILLION DOLLARS and an all-expenses-paid honeymoon package!”

I look around. All the couples are yin and yang. It’s like they ran our personality tests through a machine and picked out the person we’d be least compatible with.

“Now, we understand this is a big commitment on your part, so we’ll give you and your partner five minutes to talk things out and decide what you’d like to do. Please note that once your decision is made, it is final, and you will be married here, on the spot, before you board a flight to where the real competition will begin.” He winks at the losers’ wall. “If you drop out now, you’ll go home with fifty thousand dollars, but if you decide to continue on, you’ll earn seventy thousand and the chance to compete for even more! Time starts . . . now!”

I turn to Penny. She’s hugging herself and won’t look at me. “Hey. I’m in.”

She doesn’t say anything.

I wave a hand in front of her face.

“Are you crazy?” she finally says, staring at me. “I’d never marry you.”

***

If someone had bet Nell a million dollars that she would be saying “I do” to a complete stranger on national television, she’d have called them crazy, but with her crushing student loan payments sending her deep into the red, she’s out of options. This should be nothing more than a business transaction—until she sets eyes on her groom, and everything changes.

The game is on the instant Luke spots Penelope “Nell” Carpenter. He’s out for the money, yes, but getting a little dirty with Nell doesn’t sound too bad either. Everyone knows he’s not the marrying kind, so it’s a good thing it’s just for show. God knows he’s the worst guy his pretty wife should pick for real.

They have nothing in common, but if they want the grand prize, they’ll have to beat out eight other couples. Proving that total opposites attract should be easy enough…as long as they don’t fall in love in the process.

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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.

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NEWS: Tory Richards newest release, and giveaway!

COLE

Desert Rebels MC

Book 1

He can’t resist her.

She can’t refuse him.

Will her lies tear them apart?


As enforcer of the Desert Rebels Cole’s job is to protect his MC. As a favor to a friend they take in a young woman who they think is trying to escape a crazy ex. But she’s lying. When the truth comes out, so does trouble to the club. Cole wants Raven, but will their explosive attraction to one another be enough to overcome the deception, and give them both a chance at happiness?

Excerpt

Heart pounding, I panted breathlessly, “Cole! I’m-I’m not who you th-think I am!” I scraped his scalp with my nails, bowing sharply beneath his mouth. Oh, sweet Jesus, he was going to kill me with pleasure!

Breathing hard, he pulled his mouth off my nipple and looked up at me with surprising clarity in his eyes, his dark expression stamped with raw arousal. “I know exactly who you are,” he grated hoarsely. “I’ve known since I pulled you beneath me.”

What? I took a second to process what he’d said, or to at least try. I was so turned on that it felt as if I were on some life-altering drug, and I was, in a way–I was high on Cole. “We-We can’t do this,” I whispered, while at the same time asking myself why it was that we couldn’t.

His grin was pure sex. “Looks like we are.”

“But . . . you thought I was someone else,” I reminded him. “What about her?”

He released a frustrated breath. “Can we talk about this later? I’m right in the middle of something.”

I was not going to be a convenient fill-in for another woman, no matter how turned on I was. No matter how hot Cole was. “Listen, jerk, when a man makes love to me, I’d at least like to know that he knows it’s me he’s making love to.”

His body vibrated with laughter against me. “I don’t make love, baby. I fuck.”

I felt a surge of anger in response to his flippant attitude. “Well, then find someone else to fuck,” I hissed, trying to wiggle out from beneath him. Cole was a big man, and he was heavy. Bumping my hips to try to force him to move proved to be a dumb move, because all it managed to do was reveal how fucking huge and hard his cock was.

Cole grunted in response and dropped his head back onto my breasts. I began to wiggle wildly, afraid of where this was going.

Afraid of myself.

“Get off!”

“Jesus, wait a fucking minute, will you?” he growled as if he were in pain, pressing my body down to hold me still.


I stilled. “I’ll give you ten seconds.”

His mouth was against my breast, and the feel of his smile on my flesh caused a shiver to ripple through my body.                                                                    

This 5-book series has no cliffhangers but I recommend reading it in the order it was written as the characters pop in and out of the series.  Next up is DEMON with a release some time in September or October 2019. I have several trilogies out and I’m gifting 1 lucky winner the complete set of Phantom Riders MC.

Please enter the rafflecopter below.

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ONLY EVER YOU Excerpt, Giveaway, & Interview with CD Reiss

 

Please introduce your newest release. 

Only Ever You is about a girl who planned for everything but never got what she hoped for, and a dweeb who hoped he’d to marry the girl, but never planned for it.

Rachel and Sebastian have an interesting history. They were friends as kids, but have lost touch as adults… 

They’re really strangers when they reunite at 30, but they’re burdened by what they think they know about each other. Sebastian was supposed to be an artist and Rachel was supposed to be a screenwriter. They have to shake all that stuff loose before they can see each other. When they do, they’re strangers.

 

I think attraction between strangers is real. Sexual heat is real. But “hearts and flowers” are earned. (I know that sounds like I’m your dad telling you to mow lawns, but that’s where the magic is. Not the lawns.) In the time just before you’re struck by lightning there’s a real electricity. It’s pure potential and anything can go wrong. It’s the best thing ever.

When they were kids they made up a ‘contract’ to get married at 30—which is pretty much panned when they do meet up and have the most awkward first kiss EVER. How do they overcome such an incredibly uncomfortable situation?

They overcome it by running away!


Sebastian is thinking “now or never” because he thinks Rachel’s never going to think he’s any cooler than when she sees him in the office of his own company. And she isn’t ready because her whole idea of herself is tied up in what a failure she is. Neither one of them is feeling good enough about themselves to have a really hot first kiss, which is the same reason they’re not ready to get married.

***

After I left her and CJ with Lucinda, I spent the weekly staff meeting wondering if Rachel was the same warrior I’d loved or if she was more the woman who’d held her laptop to her chest as if she needed protection.

I was obsessed.

I had to know.

Her text came in as I was leaving the meeting. 

I need to check that we’re kidding

Before I could finish typing a response, I caught her coming out of the bathroom with her laptop under her arm.

Alone. Me and her. Nothing between us but the question of who we were and how we fit.

“Seb, I—”

She didn’t have a chance to finish. I crowded her back into the bathroom and locked the door behind us.

“Kidding about what?” I said.

“About getting married.”

“Why would that even be a question?”

“Our parents have been in negotiations about it.”

My mother couldn’t keep herself from talking if she tried, and I was her favorite subject.

“It might be a little soon for marriage, but—”

“Soon? I don’t like you seeing what I do for a living while you’re in a glass-walled office overlooking the ocean. I mean, I’m not marriage material, and the odds are that’s never going to change.”

“I don’t see why a date’s off the table.”

“Do you know what’s going to happen if we date?”

The list of possibilities was as long as my arm. I could have counted them off, from “We decide we hate each other” to “We end up in bed.” But I didn’t, because I was still trying to figure her out.

What did she want to hear?

With her wide eyes and parted lips, what did she want? Did she have a fondest wish where I was concerned? Was she leaning forward? Was her expression soft and yielding?

My mind spent too long deciding what to say, so my body spoke for me.

I kissed her hard and was met with teeth and stiff resistance. It was a kiss I’d wanted since I’d had hairless armpits and a voice somewhere in the low soprano range. I’d dreamed about it. Fantasized about it. Thought about it so hard in the middle of the night I could practically feel it.

But never, ever in my fantasies did she push me away so hard I fell back against a towel dispenser, watching her face twist into surprised rage as the machine spit out a ragged rectangle of brown paper.

“That was—”

“Messed up. I know.”

“Then why? What is wrong with you?”

She was livid, just like she would have been. Just like she should have been.

The tiger within Rachel was in there, and my attempt to tease her out had probably alienated her. She’d be right to never speak to me again.

“I’m sorry,” I said with my hand on the door lock. “I misread you. It won’t happen again.”

I started to open the door, but she held it closed.

“If we date, my mother’s going to get her hopes up that I’m going to settle down. And I’m sorry, Seb, but if we break up while she’s in chemo, it’s going to crush her.”

“You don’t even know if she’s sick again.”

“You’re right.” She pointed a rigid finger at me as if I were her mother. “I’m going to make her tell me.”

“You’re really beautiful when you’re telling it like it is.”

She slid her hand off the door. Having been called out, the warrior was sent into hiding.

No. I wouldn’t accept that. I wouldn’t allow it.

“Let’s just go out and catch up,” I said. “Saturday.”

“Can’t. Saturday’s the soonest I can talk to Mom.”

I unlocked the door. “I’m sorry about . . . the thing.”

“Kissing me?”

“No, wasting paper towels. Of course kissing you.”

“Next time, give a girl a little warning.”

Next time? Her eyes darted to the door. Was she calculating the distance to her getaway? Or making sure it was closed?

“How about now?” I asked.

“Now what?”

“Fair warning. Now.”

I stepped a little closer and put my hands on her arms. Not right away. I let them hover an inch away before touching her to give her the chance to move away. A chance I was sure she’d take.

“Seb, really?”

But she didn’t move away.

Not this time. When I laid my hands on her biceps, she leaned in to me just a little. I smelled the floral lotion on her skin and a hint of cool water on her breath.

“Really.” I slid the laptop from her arms and placed it on the counter. “This is your warning.”

You’re doing this. I cannot believe you’re doing this.

“It doesn’t feel like a warning,” she said, and again—I noted—she didn’t move away.

“Flashing red lights.” My lips brushed her cheek, heading for her mouth. She felt better than I ever imagined. “A buzzer, maybe.”

“Just a kiss?” she asked, her lips moving against mine.

Before I could consummate what she was agreeing to, I was smacked by a swinging door.

“Oh!” CJ said. “I’m sorry! I was looking for you.”

Rachel snatched up her laptop and walked out. CJ raised an eyebrow with good reason, since I was in the ladies’ room. I left, and we all gathered in the hall.

Awkward.

“Well,” Rachel said. “Thanks for showing us your tedious financial-sector company.”

“Thank you for coming,” I said and let them walk away. I could have done or said much more, but not without getting her into trouble. She glanced back at me when they turned the corner, as if she wanted to make sure I was still there.

***

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Rachel knew exactly what turning thirty would be like. She had a plan, after all. First college, then a climb up the professional ladder. Love, marriage, children. All of it was on the schedule.
The cheap Hollywood apartment wasn’t on the list. Neither was the string of heartbreaks. Or the effect her mother’s cancer had on her career.
It’s hard to stay practical and on point when everything takes a left turn.
Enter Sebastian, the nerd across the street. The boy she defended when he couldn’t defend himself. The best friend she promised she’d marry if life didn’t go according to plan.
Not only is he successful, confident, and gorgeous, but he also still has their handwritten marriage contract.
No one goes through with childhood wedding pacts.
That’s crazy.
But their families might just be crazy enough to rent a hall and set a date. All Rachel and Sebastian have to do is fall in love.

CD Reiss is a New York Times bestselling author. She still has to chop wood and carry water, which was buried in the fine print. Her lawyer is working it out with God, but in the meantime, if you call and she doesn’t pick up, she’s at the well hauling buckets. Born in New York City, Reiss moved to Hollywood, California, to get her master’s degree in screenwriting from USC. In case you want to know, that went nowhere—but it did give her a big enough ego to write novels.

Reiss is frequently referred to as the Shakespeare of Smut, which is flattering but hasn’t ever gotten her out of chopping that cord of wood. If you meet her in person, you should call her Christine. Text cdreiss to 77948 to get a notification whenever she has a new release.
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Featuring MONTAUK by Nicola Harrison & shared hardcover giveaway

Montauk, Long Island, 1938. 

For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city.

College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.

As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.

Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…

There’s a hardback copy giveaway shared with Miss Ivy’s Book Nook Take II where a review will be posted 6/6/19. Comment on either blog (leave your email so you can be contacted if you win) to be entered. Winners will be chosen by random drawing. Sorry, due to shipping costs giveaway is Continental US only.  Contest ends @12am est 6/11/19.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble        Books-a-Million        Indie Bound        Powell’s

Born in England, Nicola Harrison moved to CA where she received a BA in Literature at UCLA before moving to NYC and earning an MFA in creative writing at Stony Brook. She is a member of The Writers Room, has short stories published in The Southampton Review and Glimmer Train and articles in Los Angeles Magazine and Orange Coast Magazine. She was the fashion and style staff writer for Forbes, had a weekly column at Lucky Magazine and is the founder of a personal styling business, Harrison Style. Montauk is Harrison’s debut novel.

SMOOTH MOVES (VETERAN MOVERS SERIES) EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY

He may be all brawn

But when it really counts… His heart is all gold

Former Marine Cash Griffith is a brawny beacon for trouble, always finishing a fight that someone else starts. Working at his family’s moving company, he does his best to keep a low profile, but he can’t help but tangle with the newest employee, Jordan Fleming.

When Jordan joins Vets on the Go! she has her hands full with her new job and her rebellious teenage brother, not to mention going toe to toe with the obnoxious, arrogant, incredibly hot Marine at work. Soon their battles turn to camaraderie, and one kiss leads to a connection neither of them expected. But when dark secrets come to light, will their bond break…or strengthen into a happily-ever-after they desperately desire?

Veteran Movers series:

The Whole Package (Book 1)

Smooth Moves (Book 2)

Handle with Care (Book 3)

Praise for Marie Harte:

“A blazing hot, emotionally intense love story.” —Kirkus Reviews for A Sure Thing

“This is truly a must-read!” —Night Owl Reviews Top Pick for Roadside Assistance

“Sexy, sweet, and thoroughly satisfying.”—LAUREN LAYNE, New York Times bestselling author for The Whole Package

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Visit Marie

GIVEAWAY

5 Copies of The Whole Package   

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Smith left them, and Cash glared at Smith’s back until he disappeared into the office. “I hate that guy.”

“I think the feeling is mutual.” Jordan wondered why.

“Has he been bothering you?” The look in Cash’s dark-green eyes warned her the man spoiled for a fight.

“Nope. He’s easy to get along with.”

Cash seemed disappointed. “Oh.”

“And he rarely talks. We got the Jasper job done in one day. Would have been back sooner, but traffic sucked.”

He let out a long sigh. “So what’s this favor I ‘owe you’?”

“I need you to talk to my brother.” The admission she couldn’t handle her own family felt easier while looking at his chest.

“Your brother?”

She glanced up, saw his interest, the way it lit up his face, and did her best not to stare at his firm, kissable lips. Damn it. She needed to focus on the man’s irritability, not his sex appeal.

Jordan swallowed. “How about I tell you about it over dinner tonight? And before you get any weird ideas, this is in no way a date. I do not want to have sex with you. I am not flirting or leading you on in any way. This is strictly to help my brother.”

He just stared at her. Unfortunately, behind him, Reid and Smith stared at her as well.

She felt her cheeks heat and wished she could sink through the floor.

“Man, I heard that,” Smith just had to say. “She in no way, shape, or form wants you, Cash. Not fucking at all.” Smith laughed as he walked away. His shouted “Rejected,” followed by more laughter, boomed down the corridor.

“Please tell me I can hit him,” he said to Reid.

“No. But I’m curious to hear why Jordan thinks she has to have this conversation with you,” Reid said. Jordan privately thought of him as Cash-Light. He had the same good looks but not as concentrated. Reid had a more slender build than his bulky older brother, and he had gray eyes. Not the mysterious, deep green of Cash’s. The debonair Griffith as opposed to Cash’s raw, wild bad boy.

“I’m not harassing her. Jesus, Reid.” Cash ran a hand through his hair, which caused his massive biceps to bulge. “Tell him, Jordan.”

A sucker for a pretty body more than a pretty face, Jordan felt every time she looked at Cash as if she’d been hit by a two-by-four because he possessed both. She nodded, distracted, wondering how much he could really bench-press.

“He is harassing you?” Reid asked, frowning.

“What? No, not at all.” She felt like a moron and forced herself to meet Reid’s concerned gaze. “Sorry. I meant I agreed with Cash. He’s fine. I just wanted to make sure my offer of dinner wasn’t confusing.” She wryly added, “You know your brother does better when things are laid out on the table.”

“True. Subtle he is not.”

“I’m right here,” Cash growled.

They both ignored him. “So you’re good then?” Reid asked her.

“Dandy.”

“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow. Cash, I’ll be—”

“At Naomi’s. Shocker.” Cash shrugged, but Jordan had a sense his brother’s new relationship bothered him.

Reid didn’t seem to notice. “Have a good night, you two.” He started down the corridor. “Oh, and Cash, close up for me, would you?” Reid didn’t wait for his answer as he disappeared into the stairway.

“Why not? Not like I have a life or anything,” Cash muttered as he walked into the office. “Well? You coming?”

Jordan hurried after him and helped him turn everything off and lock up. They walked down the stairs and exited the building to the parking lot. She took a moment to watch the sun hide behind some purple clouds. Orange rays penetrated the sky-blue horizon and dotted through indigo and pink clouds, painting a picture. She wished she could bask in the moment, letting go of the worries dragging her down.

But Rafi hadn’t been around for breakfast this morning, and she knew he’d avoided her on purpose. Between yesterday’s conversation and the call she’d earlier received from his school advisor, she’d come to the end of her rope. And the timing couldn’t have been better, with her brother spending the next few days at their parents’ for a change.

Cash stopped at his car and turned to her. “Your place for dinner, you said?”

“Yes. Follow me. It’s a ten-minute drive. I’ll text you the address in case you get lost.” She sent it to him before getting into her car.

He followed without too much of a hassle since the hour had passed six. Once at her place, she parked and waited for him. The apartment complex didn’t look like much on the outside, but she had a furnished, one-bedroom unit for under a thousand in rent, and the landlord seemed like a nice lady. Since Jordan was ex-military, the woman had foregone the $200 nonrefundable cleaning fee and full rental deposit.

After letting them both in, Jordan took a glance around. The addition of Rafi to her tiny apartment made life cramped, but Jordan had lived under worse conditions. The place was clean, fitted out, and, if not to her taste, at least nothing to be embarrassed about. Yet she felt a case of nerves as Cash shadowed her, his large presence impossible to ignore.

***

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

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.

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