New Release: Excerpt | Giveaway – The Bachelor Auction (The Bachelors of Arizona #1) – Rachel Van Dyken

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Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn’t entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn’t she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes—or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire—maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn’t anyone’s dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk—even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it’s karmic retribution that he’s tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can’t have. But while they can’t have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy . . .
 
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Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

 
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Excerpt…

“Jane.” It was a whisper, it was a question, and then his mouth was on hers—harsh, forceful, but so inviting she whimpered at the contact and leaned into him, begging him with her body to take what she couldn’t voice aloud.

It was a bad idea.

He was a bad idea.

Taken.

Ready to be married off.

But here, in this moment, he was hers.

So she kissed him back with as much passion as she possessed, her hands digging into the front of his shirt while his teeth nipped at her bottom lip.

His hands slid beneath her shirt, unhooking her bra with ease as he nudged her thighs apart.
“You feel so soft,” he murmured against her mouth. “Perfect.” Another plundering kiss, his tongue flicking hers before his lips slid down her neck. “So damn good.”

With a moan, she pressed as close as she could against him, nearly riding his leg in an effort to get more of him.

“That’s it,” he encouraged while she clawed at him.

“Brock!” Bentley’s voice pierced the air. “Did you need help?”

Brock froze above her, his face filled with irritation. “Open that door, Bentley, and I’m selling every car you own and replacing it with a Honda!”

Silence.

“You don’t mean it.” The knob turned.

Jane’s eyes widened in alarm as Brock quickly moved away from her and tossed the blanket…over her head. Right, like that was going to look normal. She pulled the blanket off her face and tried in vain to fix her bra while frantically pulling her hair back into a ponytail.

Bentley entered, took one look at both of them and smiled. “Clearly this room was dirtier than we thought?” He tilted his head at Jane. “Or maybe not dirty enough?”

“Out!” Brock barked.

“But—”

“Go!”

“Fine,” Bentley grumbled. “I’m leaving. I just thought you should know that Grandfather called and wanted to know how the maid was working out. I told him that you’ve been helping her since she sprained her ankle. He was concerned about her finishing the job.”

“What did you say?” Brock grabbed Bentley by the shirt and gave a little shake.

Bentley held up his hands. “Chill. I told him that she would make a full recovery, that she refused to sue, and that you were taking care of the situation. Because that’s all you’re doing, right, Brock? Taking care of the situation…” He peered around Brock at Jane.

Feeling suddenly more naked than she actually was, she covered herself up with the blanket.
What had she been thinking?

It was beyond unprofessional.

Tears burned the backs of her eyes.

“Thanks, Bent.” Brock sighed, running his hands through his already mussed hair.

Bentley saluted him then added quietly. “For the record, any girl that can get Boring Brock to bend the rules is a keeper.”

Brock bit back a curse as Bentley shut the door.

“Boring Brock?” Jane asked.

“It’s about as bad as it sounds.”

“Well, I’m Plain Jane, so…I understand.”

He turned. “You’ve never been plain a day in your life.”

“I think you’ve already learned that you don’t need to give me pretty compliments to get me to kiss you.”

“You have seven freckles. You press your lips together to keep yourself from saying things you shouldn’t. You hum when you clean, and though I’m not sure what the tune is, it’s familiar. When you eat, you watch people rather than your own food, and I’m just going to come out and say it: you eat like an animal, the most erotic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Jane covered her face with her hands. “It was flattering until you said that last part.”

Brock laughed. “Seeing a woman dig into her food like she hasn’t eaten in weeks? It’s one of the most erotic visions I’ve ever had.”

Emotion flashed across his face as he made his way over to her and kissed her again, pulling away with her name on his lips. “Jane, I want you.”

“Thought I was just the help.” The walls around her heart started to slip; she felt it in the way her body rose against him. He’d noticed things about her nobody ever had, he was helping her, and he was beautiful. Was it so wrong to want this? For herself? Once in her life?

“You’re more than that, and you know it.” His eyes locked on to hers as his deep voice washed over her.

“You’re getting auctioned off in two weeks and you know it.”

He paused, his expression going completely ice cold before he looked away and then back at her. “And if I wasn’t? What then?”

“Then…” She bit down on her bottom lip. “I’d ask you to kiss me again.”

New Release: Excerpt & Giveaway | Safe from Harm (Protect and Serve #2) – Kate SeRine


 
Elle realizes she’s losing her heart to a man who will risk it all to keep her safe from harm.
 

 


 
There’s something about prosecuting attorney Elle McCoy that Deputy Gabe Dawson just can’t get enough of. Even with Gabe’s family legacy in law enforcement and promising career, Elle’s smart, sassy rejection of all his charm makes Gabe want her even more.

But Gabe’s confidence is shaken when he’s shot on the steps of the courthouse, protecting Elle from a terrorist intent on revenge. Worse, Elle isn’t out of danger yet. But as they race to counter the terrorist’s next move, Gabe determines to prove to Elle—and himself—that he’s a man worthy of her.
 
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Kate SeRine (pronounced “serene”) is a hopeless romantic who firmly believes in true love that lasts forever. So it’s no surprise that when she began writing her own stories, Kate vowed her characters would always have a happily ever after.

Kate lives in a smallish, quintessentially Midwestern town with her husband and two sons, who share her love of storytelling. She never tires of creating new worlds to share and is even now working on her next project—probably while consuming way too much coffee.

Kate is also the author of the award-winning Transplanted Talesparanormal romance series and the Protect & Serve romantic suspense series.
 
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Excerpt…

“Well, you’d better get going,” Gabe grumbled. “Don’t want to miss your ride.”

Elle took a few steps forward, coming to the side of his hospital bed. “I’m going. But first, I wanted to make one thing very clear to you, Gabe Dawson.”

“Yeah?” he said. “What’s that?”

She narrowed her eyes and leaned over him, caging him with her arms on either side of his head. “Don’t you ever again treat me like I’m some delicate flower who can’t handle the truth.”

Damn.

Having her that close was tempting as hell. For the first time, he noticed she had tiny flecks of gold in her eyes and a few more freckles on the bridge of her nose than he’d realized. God, she was beautiful—stunning, really. He had to muster all his willpower not to drag her into his arms and kiss the full lips that were currently pursed in irritation. But he forced himself to meet her gaze and lifted a single brow.

“Oh, I know you’re no delicate flower,” he said, his voice going deeper, betraying the effect of her nearness and giving his words a weight he hadn’t intended.

Her cheeks went a little pink, but she didn’t back away. “We’re in this together, whether we like it or not. And I’m not going to be kept in the dark just because I’m not a cop.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said, not bothering to suppress the grin tugging at his mouth. “You might like being in the dark with me, Elle.”

She blinked, her mouth opening and closing as if she wanted to say something more but was clearly speechless. Then she pressed her lips together and gave him a frustrated look. “You know what I meant, Gabe.”

At this, the little devil on his shoulder got the better of him, and he chuckled, letting his gaze drop down to those gorgeous lips. “Yeah, I know what you meant, Elle. Doesn’t change what I meant.”

When she didn’t immediately pull away at his advance, he took a chance and reached up, gently taking hold of her chin and guiding her lips down to his. But before he could make contact, she suddenly broke away from his tender grasp and straightened, staring down at him with a look of confusion and panic in her eyes.

Okay, well, that wasn’t exactly the reaction he’d been hoping for…

“I have to go,” she breathed. But she didn’t take a single step. “I really… I should go.”
He met her gaze, waiting, wondering at her next move. “You sure?”

She licked her lips, looking as if she was truly torn between going and staying. But then she lifted her chin, giving him that defiant look he’d grown so used to seeing from her. “Yes, I’m absolutely positive.”

Without another word, she turned on her heel and strode toward the door without so much as a glance over her shoulder.

But the little exchange was enough to offer Gabe the encouragement he needed. Maybe the brilliant, beautiful, iron-willed woman wasn’t quite as unaffected by him as she wanted him to believe…

{Release Day | Excerpt | Giveaway} A Fool for You (Foolproof Love #3) – Katee Robert

It’s just a belated goodbye, right? No harm, no foul.

A FOOL FOR YOU
Foolproof Love #3
Katee Robert
Releasing Oct 3rd, 2016
Entangled: Brazen

It’s been thirteen years since Hope Moore left Devil’s Falls, land of sexy cowboys and bad memories. Back for the weekend, she has no intention of seeing the man she never got over…or the two of them getting down and dirty. It’s just a belated goodbye, right? No harm, no foul.

Until six weeks later, when her pregnancy test comes back positive…

Daniel Rodriguez hasn’t forgiven himself for how things went down with Hope all those years ago. He knows she’s better off without him, but when she shows up on his doorstep, panicking because she’s pregnant with his baby, he can’t help seeing it as a chance to make up for the past.

Too bad Hope has no intention of going along with his plans.


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Excerpt…
He turned to find Hope standing behind him. Again. “You sure move quiet when you want to.” Especially for a woman with a bum leg. Not that he could say as much without sounding like a jackass.

“You mean since I had my knee replaced.” Of course she knew what he meant anyway. Apparently damn near reading his mind was one annoying habit she hadn’t outgrown.
“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to.” She leveraged herself down next to him, the move not quite as smooth as it’d been when she was eighteen.

Daniel almost cursed. He had to stop doing that. Comparing her now to how she was then wasn’t fair to either of them. It was another lifetime completely, and thinking about it was just fucking depressing. “Hope—”

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

He was so surprised by the question that he answered honestly, “Why the fuck would I bother?”
“Oh, I don’t know, because you don’t want to be a creepy old man who lives in the middle of nowhere and has to run off silly high school kids with his shotgun because they tell ghost stories about him?”

He looked at her, half sure that she was the one who’d lost her damn mind. “That’s not a thing.”
“It is most definitely a thing.” She leaned back on her hands and stared at the sky. The most move arched her back and pressed her breasts against the fancy tank top she wore. It was made of some kind of drapey fabric that looked soft and shiny, and it highlighted the fact that he seriously doubted she was wearing a bra. “You’re too young to just give up.”

“It’s not about giving up.” Though he didn’t expect Hope to understand that. He’d checked up on her a few times since the accident, and every single time he was amazed at the things she’d accomplished. Life had kicked her in the teeth and she’d come back swinging. She’d taken two years off and then attended the University of Texas and graduated with honors. She ran her own successful consulting business to work with companies that wanted to set up scholarships and nonprofits.

She shifted to look at him. “It looks like giving up from where I’m sitting.”

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and they changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

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{Promo | Free Novella} That Night With the Billionaire – J.S. Cooper

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“I have a proposition for you. Spend the night with me and I’ll tell you more.”

Henry James is the hottest, sexiest man I’ve ever met. He’s also the cockiest and most alpha. I knew as soon as I met him that I should stay away. I knew that he would be bad news. But the fact that he was dominating and funny was a bit of a turn-on to me. I enjoyed our interactions. I was intrigued by his flirtation. I wanted to succumb to his games. The only problem was that I didn’t know exactly what game he was playing.

NOTE: This novella is a free steamy prequel to the full-length standalone novel, Falling For The Billionaire, that will be released on October 20. It will also be included in Falling For The Billionaire when it is released, so you can read it first as a free download, or you can read it as part of the novel on release day.

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{Excerpt | Giveaway} Crushing on Love (The Bradens at Peaceful Harbor #4) – Melissa Foster


 
A Sexy Mountain Man with a BIG Ax….Meet “Grizz”!
 

 
CRUSHING ON LOVE
The Bradens at Peaceful Harbor #4
Melissa Foster
Releasing Sept 21st, 2016
World Literary Press
 

 
Steve Johnson is living his life’s passion watching over the Colorado Mountains as a ranger and wildlife consultant. But his peaceful life is upended when overzealous and insanely beautiful Shannon Braden flits back into his life after returning from a brief trip home to Maryland. He thought his attraction to her was under control—after all, she’s only in Colorado temporarily, and he doesn’t do casual affairs.
 
Shannon’s return to Colorado has as much to do with the game of cat and mouse she and Steve have been playing as it does the data she’s been hired to collect. But despite her efforts to explore the undeniable heat simmering between them, Steve’s intent on keeping his distance.
 
When a ranch abutting the national park goes up for sale, Steve will do whatever it takes to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. And when all his attempts fail, he’s left with no alternative but to follow Shannon’s guidance into the online world he abhors in order to raise the funds. The more time they spend together, the deeper their attraction becomes, and a game of cat and mouse turns into an unstoppable connection. But when Shannon’s assignment comes to an end, will it mean an end to them, too?
 
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Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance, and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic, perfect beach reads, and always family oriented.
 
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Excerpt…
Steve Johnson took off his sweaty shirt and guzzled a bottle of water. Nothing beat a predawn run, especially after a shitty night’s sleep. He set the empty bottle and shirt on the steps leading to his rustic log cabin and crossed the yard to the chopping post, determined to work the remaining tension from his body. A six-mile run on the rough terrain of the Colorado mountains should have worked out all his piss and vinegar, but not this morning.
 
Sun beat down on his shoulders as he centered a slab of wood on the tree stump that served as his chopping post, trying to ignore the reason he’d been unable to sleep last night. He filled his lungs with the scents of nature and tranquility. He knew every sound and smell of the area, could differentiate every species of animal and plant in the forest, and anticipated inclement weather well before it hit. His body was attuned to the mountains as if he were a part of them.
He hoisted the ax over his shoulder, thoughts he was trying to ignore pushing back in like adamant thieves. He swung the ax. A loud crack echoed in the forest—and in his head—rattling the truth of his angst free. Shannon Braden was back—and she’d come home last night wrapped around Cal Hayden on the back of his horse.
 
He ground his teeth against that reality and set another log in place.
 
Smart, sexy-as-sin, talks-a-mile-a-minute Shannon. He’d known her for years. His sister, Jade, was married to her second cousin, Rex. Shannon had spent weeks doing research on red foxes in the mountains. She’d been staying at her uncle’s ranch in Weston, but he knew the company she was working with had made arrangements for her to stay at the vacant cabin just around the bend for the remainder of the project. He swung the ax, thinking of the weeks she’d spent flitting in and out of his peaceful life, full of energy and never-ending conversations—mostly one-sided, which she didn’t seem to mind. Truth be known, neither did he. Listening to Shannon rattle on about anything was hot. She tangled up his thoughts in ways no other woman ever had, which was just his luck. Steve wasn’t into meaningless hookups, and Shannon’s life was in Maryland, while his was there on the mountain, which rooted Shannon Braden firmly in his off-limits zone.
 
The past couple of weeks had been quiet while she’d returned home to Maryland to attend her brother’s wedding, and the fact that Steve had noticed, and disliked it being quiet, had thrown him for a loop.
 
His mind reeled back to last night again. He’d heard Cal riding back down the mountain about two hours after he’d arrived. As he swung the ax, he wondered if Shannon had done some hands-on research with Cowboy Cal last night.
 
He set another log in place, telling himself it was none of his damn business if she had, and split the log so hard the two halves flew ten feet from the stump. Another log, another split. And so became his stress-relieving pattern as the sun sailed higher, taking the bite off the chilly spring morning.
 
A mass of birds took off from the treetops. Steve paused midswing, a smile tugging at his lips. Shannon. He split another log, trying to ignore his accelerating pulse at the thought of her flitting back into his life.

{Excerpt | Giveaway} Embrace Me (Chasing Fire #3.5) – Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers

Return to the dangerous and seductive romance 
that got pulses racing in the Chasing Fire trilogy…
EMBRACE ME
A Chasing Fire Novella (#3.5)
Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers
Releasing September 20th, 2016
Berkley Intermix

Hudson Chase and Alessandra Sinclair’s heartracing romance continues in this hot, new novella in the Chasing Fire series.

Return to the dangerous and seductive romance that got pulses racing in the Chasing Fire trilogy…

It took ten years for Hudson Chase and Alessandra Sinclair to find their happily ever after, and they’re not about to let anything get in their way…

Nothing could stop the passion between Allie and Hudson—not time or distance. Not even tragedy, betrayal, and blackmail. But now they’re facing a new challenge: wedding planning. And while Allie’s social status demands she put on the event of the century, her well-intentioned family and friends have her doubting her walk down the aisle…

Hudson knows tensions are pushing Allie to the brink, but he’s not letting her throw everything away over some flowers and cake. He has plans for his new bride, and unlike their last adventure, he’s determined that this time there will be no unwelcome surprises. But for all his determination and control, there’s one element Hudson Chase has never been able to predict—and she has some adventurous ideas of her own…

Praise for the Chasing Fire trilogy



“Exceptional…Seriously sexy and sinfully steamy. Can’t wait for more from this writing duo!”–New York Times bestselling author Tara Sue Me

“Walker and Rogers strike the perfect balance between blistering physical desire and heartfelt connections…”–RT Book Review  

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Though thousands of miles apart, Ann Marie Walker and Amy K. Rogers are in constant contact, plotting story lines and chatting about their love of alpha males, lemon drop martinis and British supermodel, David Gandy. You can find them on twitter as @AnnMarie_Walker and @Amy_KRogers. 


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Ann Marie Walker
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Excerpt…
Hudson spun to face her and within seconds Allie was in his arms, the hard planes of his body crushing her against the alley’s brick wall. Both hands framed her face as Hudson sealed his mouth over hers. His tongue pushed passed her lips, taking her in a lush, deep kiss she felt echo to her very core. Allie’s hands found their way into his hair, her fingers twisting through the dark waves, trying in vain to hold him to her when he broke their kiss.
His face hovered mere inches from hers. “You’ve been a bad girl tonight,” he rasped.
Just those few, roughly spoken words had her heart racing with excitement. Hudson was in control and she wouldn’t have it any other way. In the boardroom she stood her ground, going toe to toe with her stubborn husband on a wide range of issues. But in the bedroom he was her dominant lover and although there was a time she would have never considered such behavior a turn on, there was no denying the effect it had on her. There was a freedom in surrendering herself to him, a liberating sense of self unlike anything she’d ever experienced. With Hudson she was able to let go of her inhibitions and explore the wanton lust only he could evoke.
A soft moan escaped her lips as he ran his tongue up the column of her throat.
She hadn’t expected him to show up at her bachelorette party and had certainly never imagined him dragging her out of the club cave-man style. But there he was, touching her, kissing her, and all she could think about was how badly she wanted him.
“Did you enjoy having those men rubbing themselves all over you?” The hard ridge of his erection pressed against her though the soft fabric of her skirt. Behind them a muffled bass beat a hypnotic rhythm through the club’s darkened windows. It pounded through them, urging her to grind her body against him.
“It’s only you Hudson. It’s always been only you.”
“You can prove it to me when we get home.” He stepped back, leaving her warm and wanting, to reveal their limo idling behind him. He reached for the handle and gave the door a hard yank. “After you.”
Allie slid across the leather bench with Hudson close behind. Before he had even settled onto the seat she was in his lap. “We don’t have to wait until we get home.”


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{Blog Tour: Excerpt | Giveaway} Jackson Stiles, Road to Redemption (Road to Redemption #1) – Jo Richardson

A lost soul and a seeker of truth travel down the road to redemption 
and discover more than they bargained for.

JACKSON STILES: ROAD TO REDEMPTION
Road to Redemption #1
Jo Richardson
Released Sept 21st, 2016
Jackson Stiles is used to having bad
days, but they’ve been especially bad since a certain tabloid reporter seems to have it out for him.
Emma Green doesn’t mean any harm. She simply sees it as her duty to report the misdeeds of certain Private Detectives who charge too much in a society where people need more superheroes and less villains; something even Jackson has convinced himself he deserves to be called, deep in his gut.
When the two of them realize they’re investigating the same suspicious circumstances, Emma makes Jackson an offer he only wishes he could refuse. But can the man who trusts no one allow the one woman he can’t stand help him get to the bottom of a murder he feels responsible for?
Exposed and unsure, these two unexpected allies come together to unmask the mysteries cloaked in plain sight while uncovering secrets within each other. A lost soul and a seeker of truth travel down the road to redemption and discover more than they bargained for.

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A movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.

I grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity – but it was too cold up North for this thin blooded girl. So today, I live in Florida with my two girls and a husband that shares my same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.
Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

I write both contemporary and paranormal stories that include mystery, suspense, humor, action, romance, and anything else I can think up.

Excerpt
“Morning, Stiles.” The five-and-a-half-foot brunette that likes to make my life miserable is easily five-eight, maybe even five-nine, in the heels she’s got on today. Combined with the dark blue power suit she’s wearing; she comes off as all business despite the fact that she doesn’t make eye contact with me. She’s too busy scrolling through a bunch of bullshit on her smartphone.
I growl a response so it comes out as more of a warning than a greeting. Is it a bit much for this time of day? Maybe. Considering our history, I’m not exactly worried about her impression of me, though.
Emma Green is the latest and greatest “crime” reporter for our friendly neighborhood tabloid. And I use the term “reporter” loosely, by the way. Very loosely.
Doesn’t care about getting the story right in certain cases, if ya know what I mean, loosely.
Her name’s been on nearly every article the Redemption Chronicle has put out since she arrived from somewhere down in Florida. She shows up at most crime scenes, from burglaries to homicides, and has very much become a royal pain in my…
“You’re late, by the way. They were just talking about you.” She mutters and points, blindly, down the hall as she steps into the elevator. Which is my cue to get the fuck out.
My one and only cigarette calls to me from the front pocket of my button down. Thank God I remembered it. But quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to pull it out. Not that I wouldn’t get arrested if I did, but . . .
“And you look like hell.” She’s full of compliments today, I see.
“Fuck you very much, Green.” Not that I’m complaining. It makes it easy to respond to her in like fashion. And bonus: I’m feeling pretty good about getting the last word in on this battle of the banter, as the doors close but then they open again.
“Maybe you shouldn’t stay up so late playing around with your buddies over at the police department.” I look back to see her foot blocking the sensors that would normally allow the doors to close. She still can’t be bothered to look up. She’s too busy burying her nose into the iPhone.
Let’s be real here. Flirting is not her forte.
“I appreciate that enlightening bit of useless advice, Green.” Despite my attempt to be nice sarcasm spills out of every word. It’s only when she pulls her foot all the way in and the doors are halfway shut that I ask myself─ how did she know I was downtown last night?
Emerald eyes peer up at me as the question enters my mind. And I swear, she’s fucking smirking.
Between the pleasant smile and the way her expression lights up like she’s about to pounce, I’m not sure what the hell to think. I haven’t seen her smile like that since the day I briefly met her on the scene of a break-in I was hired to investigate. First thing I noticed was her smile. She seemed…new.
The next thing I noticed was her eyes.
Deep green. The grab-a-hold-of-you-and-don’t-let-go kind that make you wanna know everything that’s going on behind them.
And don’t even get me started on her ass. It begs for mercy because she, no doubt, runs it every day, then follows up with a pint of fat free yogurt and a jug of water.
Not that I’ve thought about it.
But I digress.
She was polite enough. Or so I thought. Asked me if I had any insider’s information on what had gone down that day. It’s not like I was rude or anything. All I did was tell her I wasn’t doing her fucking job for her.
I paid the price for that comment in the article she ran the next day. The headline read, “Local P.I. steals more from family than burglar.” I won’t bother you with the details, but let’s just say, the article was less about the break-in and more about what an asshole I am.
I mean, what the fuck?
I can assure anyone who has the balls to ask, I charge less than ninety percent of the dicks working the tri-state area. Just ask the bill collectors.
The asshole thing is still up for debate…in most circles.
Lesson learned here? Never trust a woman with eyes that stunning or an ass that tight.
Basically, I fucking hate her.

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{Review | Excerpt | Giveaway} A Sister’s Wish (The Charmed Amish Life #3) – Shelley Shepard Gray

A respectable young woman finds herself falling for 
an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

A SISTER’S WISH
The Charmed Amish Life #3
Shelley Shepard Gray
Releasing on Sept 27th, 2016
Avon Inspire


In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

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Prologue

Thirteen years ago

He had almost made it.
All he had to do was make it another two miles, then he’d be able to catch the bus to New Philly and eventually Mansfield. After that? Simon Hochstetler reckoned it didn’t really matter. He would be free and that was good enough.
But for now, all he had to do was ignore the pain in his side, make it over the next bend, then finally hike through the northern edge of the Kinsingers’ property. Once he did all that, the road would be flat. A whole lot easier to walk on.
He winced as he shifted his stuffed army-green backpack on his left shoulder, wishing that his right one wasn’t as bruised as it was. ’Course, if he was making wishes, he should probably start with wishing that he didn’t have a black eye or cut lip. From there he could wish his ribs weren’t hurting, either.
His father had been in fine form tonight.
He walked on, patting his pocket, feeling for the wad of money he’d been saving for the last year and kept hidden in an old coffee can near the woods. How long was it going to last? He had no idea how far eighty-eight dollars lasted in the city, but he was fairly sure it wouldn’t be far enough. He was going to need to figure out a way to make some cash, quick.
Feeling panicked, he stopped to readjust his backpack.
“Simon? Hey! I thought that was you,” Amelia Kinsinger called out, her voice ringing through the empty field like a bright, merry cowbell. “Whatcha doing?”
He froze. Then, attempting to gather himself, he turned to watch her trot closer. A bright smile was on her face. She looked really pleased to have spied him.
Though he knew better than to stay, he remained where he was. Even at only nine years old, little Amelia was the prettiest thing he’d ever seen. White-blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, and pale skin that never seemed to tan, she was everything delicate and perfect. She was also sheltered and his best friend’s baby sister—and the only person who seemed to think he was worth something. Both of her brothers had confided that Amelia had a terrible crush on him. They’d thought it was embarrassing. Levi had even apologized for her.
He hadn’t needed an apology, though. Simon had always thought Amelia’s infatuation made him something special. He’d never let on that he noticed the way she always looked at him. He never acted annoyed when she rushed over to tell him about her day. Instead of making fun of her, he’d been patient and often sat with her when her older siblings were too busy.
But that said, he’d always taken care for her not to see him like this. He wanted to look worthy in her eyes. Not beaten and bruised.
“Can’t talk right now, Amy,” he bit out as he started forward. He took care to keep his gaze fixated on the ground in front of him. Maybe then she wouldn’t catch sight of his eye.
But, as usual, she didn’t listen to his warning. Instead, she picked up her pace. “Did you know that the sun is almost set? Where you going? It’s going to be dark soon.”
“Ain’t none of your business.”
She stumbled, then caught herself before he reached out to steady her.
“Slow down, wouldja?” she said.
“Can’t.”
She sighed. “Why are ya being like this?” she asked, hurt in her tone. “All I asked is—”
“Simon! What happened to you?”
Unable to help himself, he drew to a stop. Then, because he probably was never going to see her again anyway, he allowed himself to lift his chin and let her look her fill. As he’d expected, she was staring at him in concern, her pale pink lips parted in wonder. And, he suspected, pity.
“Go on home, Amelia.”
“Did you . . . did your daed do that?” she whispered, letting him know that his secret had never actually been one. “Do you need something? Do ya need some help? ’Cause my daed’s home. If we went to him, I bet he’d help ya.”
That was why she meant so much to him. Here he was, bruised and battered, running away from home, and she thought he could still be saved. “Your daed can’t help.”
Tentatively, she held out a hand. Then, to his shock, she swiped at a patch of skin just to the side of his lip. When he flinched at her touch, she looked at him with sad eyes. “Sorry, but your lip is bleeding.” She held up her finger to show the stain.
Seeing his blood on her hand was one of the worst things he’d ever experienced. It symbolized everything that was his life . . . and everything he didn’t want it to be. Unable to help himself, he grabbed her hand and roughly swiped it on his shirt. “Wash your hands when you get home, hear me?”
“Oh. All right. But . . . but, Simon, won’t you come with me? You could wash up, too.”
“Nee. I’ve gotta go.”
“You’re leaving, aren’t you?” she asked softly. “Just like your brother and sister did.”
He couldn’t lie to her. “Jah. I’m leaving. Just like Jeremy and Tess did.”
“Please, don’t.”
As much as he would have liked to do anything she asked, he couldn’t do that. “Listen, do me a favor, wouldja? Don’t tell nobody you saw me.”
Her bottom lip trembled. “But—”
“They’ll find out soon enough. Just . . . just let me go, okay?” Then he did what he’d sworn he’d never do. He looked at her directly in the eyes and let her see his pain. “I have to do this, Amy.”
Around a ragged sigh, looking so very sad, she nodded.
“Okay.”
“Bye, Amelia. You take care of yourself.”
He started walking before she could reply. Before he did something stupid and followed her to her house. Before he thought about staying just a little longer so he could see her again.
He started walking because no matter how difficult and scary it was to leave, he knew for certain it was always going to be a whole lot worse at home.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Hold Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

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Angie’s Review: I was so excited to get my hands on this book as I’ve read and reviewed the first two books in the series and HAD to know Amelia’s story as she’s so spunky and not like her brothers and sister.

I have read several comments/questions about the cover and how it isn’t a authentic Amish vibe. In order to understand why the male on the cover looks the way he does, you have to read Simon’s story to learn about his past and how Amelia fits into his past, his present, and his future. If you’re one of those who judge a book by its cover, don’t give it another glimpse and just READ.

The Amish are often portrayed as nearly perfect beings this side of heaven. Ms. Gray rips that veil off and the reader learns quickly that while their culture is far different than what we experience daily, they’re still sinners just like the rest of us.

Amelia Kinsinger is, in my mind anyway, the most spirited of the Kinsinger siblings. Though her family has taken advantage of her and treat her as if she’s a mindless child who doesn’t know what’s good for herself for far too long, Amelia is pretty headstrong and isn’t afraid to say it like it is and to put someone in their place. If you’ve read the first two books and think that she’s the meek and mild girl we’ve met before, you’re in for a real treat.

Oh how I adore Simon! I connected with him right off the bat as some of his past reminds me of my own. He is stronger than he gives himself credit for and it was an absolute pleasure to watch him grow with each passing page. He meets every roadblock head on and learns each lesson in time.

While there’s not a lot of mention of God//Jesus in this book, you can still sense the Lord’s presence in what each person is going through. Forgiveness is the key to the overall storyline and I applaud Ms. Gray on keeping things authentic and not getting sappy.

If you love reading about the Amish, I highly encourage you to give this series a try. I can’t wait to see who’s story is up next in this riveting series, especially with the new introduction of characters that we were treated to in this installment.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy in exchange for my participation in the review tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Angie’s Rating: ****

{Excerpt | Giveaway} Meant to Be Southern (Heat #2) – Jenna Harte

Will they both allow resentments and misunderstanding spoil 
their chance of discovering what was meant to be?

MEANT TO BE
Southern Heat #2
Jenna Harte
Releasing Sept 27th, 2016
Penner Publishing

Charming and sexy, detective Mitch McKenna lets women into his bed—not into his heart. When his first love left him in a lurch, crushing his soul, Mitch swore off relationships and love. After all, any woman who chooses what her parents want over what she wants is not worth fighting for.

Or is she?

Successful New York doctor, Sydney Preston left the only man she ever loved to follow the path that her parents paved for her. When a tragic incident at the hospital threatens her life, Sydney moves to Virginia to rekindle the spark with her ex-fiancé.

But Mitch isn’t interested in reigniting the flame that fizzled out long ago. Will they both allow resentments and misunderstanding spoil their chance of discovering what was meant to be?

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Jenna Harte is a die-hard romantic writing about characters who are passionate about and committed to each other, and frequently getting into trouble. She is the author of the Valentine Mysteries, the first of which, “Deadly Valentine,” reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She is also the author of the contemporary romance series, Southern Heat, with includes Drawn to Her, and upcoming September 2016 release of Meant to Be. She has a bundle of stories filled with romance, mystery and even time travel rattling around in her head and is eager for the day when a device is invented allowing her to download what’s in her brain onto her computer. When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. She lives in central Virginia with her husband, two college-bound children and two fat cats.


5 Things You Didn’t Know About Jenna
1) Writing always terrified me, so I’m baffled to how I got here.
2) My favorite fiction involves mystery and romance, but I prefer a mystery with romance as opposed to a romance with mystery, if that makes any sense. In either case, there should be at least one hot love scene!
3) My favorite authors are J.D. Robb, Janet Evanovich, Sandra Brown and Carl Hiaasen. I also love Jane Austen, but tend to stay away from literature unless I know it will end well.
4) Like my character Tess, I love good chocolate and old R&B tunes. I’m still working on getting Carine Gilson lingerie to see if I’d love them as much as Tess does. A set can cost several hundred dollars, so I have to wait until more books sell.
5) I long for the day when Apple or Microsoft invents a doodad that I can plug into my head, preferably when I’m sleeping, that will download my stories to my computer. My stories come to me when

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“You need to get laid.”
Mitch McKenna cast a suspicious glance at his partner and best friend, Kevin Taggard. “You get laid too much.”
Kevin grinned. “I’m married. It goes with the territory. Besides, is that even possible?”
Mitch laughed. “God, I hope not.” He pulled the unmarked police car into a parking space outside Charlotte Tavern General Hospital. “But it’s a little sappy that every day we have to stop by and see the missus.”
“I know it and I don’t care. Someday you’ll be in love, and you’ll see.”
God, I hope not. Mitch shuddered.
“Besides, there are plenty of hot nurses who would love to find out if the Mitch McKenna reputation for stamina and prowess is true.”
Mitch stepped out of the car, grinning at his friend. “Oh, it’s true.” His smile faded, as he realized Kevin might be right—maybe he did need to get laid. It had been a while. If he’d cared at all about his playboy reputation, he would have remedied the situation. Except he didn’t care. In fact, it bothered him. It suggested that he engaged in one-night stands with women he didn’t know or was cavalier with their feelings. Granted, he kept his relationships with women short, but he was always upfront with them about his position and most accepted it. A couple cried when they hadn’t been able to change his mind. One had keyed “Bastard” into the side of truck.
“Hey Mitch.”
Mitch’s gaze swung to the feminine coo of Becky Lancer. She might be willing to help him with his sexual dry-spell. He smiled and waved but kept moving. He’d once gone out with her sister, and he knew better than to date siblings.
He and Kevin walked into the hospital and took the elevator to the maternity department on the fourth floor.
“I guess it won’t be long until Jenny is a client here instead of a nurse.” Mitch patted Kevin on the back. He enjoyed razzing his friend about his wife, but deep down he was happy for him.
“A year maybe. Right now we’re just practicing.” Kevin waggled his brows.
Mitch rolled his eyes as the doors opened, and they stepped out into the hall.
“There’s my gal now.” Kevin snuck up behind a dark-haired woman in pink scrubs with rainbows on the shirt and wrapped his arms around her, lifting her off the floor. She let out a squeal. When he set her on her feet, she laughed.
“Great day, baby cakes. You scared the life out of me.”
He gave her a kiss. All in all, it was sappy. It was the same type of stuff he had to endure when he visited his sister, Lexie. Even after nearly two years of marriage, she and her husband, Drake, were sappier than Kevin and Jenny, which was saying something. It was a wonder they didn’t already have a whole brood of kids.
“I’m nearly ready for my break.” She turned her smile toward Mitch. “If you’re tired of feeling like a third wheel, I can snag you a date. There’s a new doctor I’ve been meaning to introduce you to. You can see if the McKenna charm will work on her.”
“I like being a third wheel.”
“No, you don’t, but you’re nice to put up with Kevin and me. She’s really, really nice. She’s been giving me articles and tips and encouraging me to get my midwife certification.”
“You’d be good at that.” Mitch meant it too. She was one of the sweetest, most generous hearts he’d ever met. There’d been only one other person he’d known who he’d thought was as good. He shook his head to rid his thoughts of another sweet, generous woman, who, in the end, turned out to be neither.
“Thank you. I wonder how much longer before Lexie and Drake will need a midwife.” She raised her eyebrows, hoping for gossip.
“I imagine once they start, they’ll need one fairly often.” His sister wanted a whole passel of kids, and Drake would give her whatever she wanted. Mitch thought he’d be a good father, but since having a family was out, he’d settle for being the coolest uncle ever.
All of a sudden, the air around Mitch changed, causing the hair on his arms to stand. It wasn’t the type of sensation that triggered danger, but it was definitely a warning.
“Oh, look, there’s Doctor Preston. She’s the one I want you to meet, Mitch.”
“I don’t need you to set me up—”
“I know that. The whole county knows how easy it is for Mitch to get a lady.” Jenny laughed. “But I still want you to meet her. Doctor Preston?” Jenny looked behind him and waved.
The warning grew more intense until Mitch couldn’t help but turn around and stare right into the beautiful hazel eyes of Sydney Preston.
His heart stuttered in his chest as a wave of conflicting emotions; anger, love, bitterness, joy crashed through him. His first instinct was to leave, which only pissed him off. He’d stared down insurgents in the Middle East. He could survive seeing Sydney Preston. Another, equally strong, part of him wanted to touch her, to hold her close and see if she felt as soft, smelled just as sweet as he remembered. But he wouldn’t succumb to her charm again. Like a steel gate, everything inside Mitch closed.

{Excerpt} Fool For You (Foolproof Love #3) – Katee Robert

It’s just a belated goodbye, right? No harm, no foul.

A FOOL FOR YOU
Foolproof Love #3
Katee Robert
Releasing Oct 3rd, 2016
Entangled: Brazen

It’s been thirteen years since Hope Moore left Devil’s Falls, land of sexy cowboys and bad memories. Back for the weekend, she has no intention of seeing the man she never got over…or the two of them getting down and dirty. It’s just a belated goodbye, right? No harm, no foul.

Until six weeks later, when her pregnancy test comes back positive…

Daniel Rodriguez hasn’t forgiven himself for how things went down with Hope all those years ago. He knows she’s better off without him, but when she shows up on his doorstep, panicking because she’s pregnant with his baby, he can’t help seeing it as a chance to make up for the past.

Too bad Hope has no intention of going along with his plans.


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 Chapter One
Hope Moore held her breath as she passed the sign declaring Welcome to Devil’s Falls. She hadn’t crossed the town boundary in thirteen years, not since she sat next to an open grave as they lowered her brother into the ground. Not since she turned her back on her entire life here, whisked away by her parents to the best medical facilities Texas had to offer.
She touched her knee. She’d never cheered again, never run track, never done any of the things she’d had planned when she was eighteen and had graduated high school with stars in her eyes.
Stars in her eyes, and love in her heart.
Neither had lasted past that car crash.
Oh, it had taken the love a lot longer to die than it had her knee, but Daniel Rodriguez made sure she knew where she stood with him.
She caught herself taking her foot off the gas and picked up speed again. There was no telling if she’d see him while she was here, but it couldn’t matter. She’d moved past what happened that night, moved past the disappointment that she’d almost let sour everything else about her life. It might not have happened like she planned, but she’d made the best of her college experience, and she’d gone on to create a successful little niche for herself, helping people and institutions with too much money on their hands create trusts and scholarships for those in need.
And now Hope was back in town to finally do that in her brother’s memory.
She pulled onto Main Street, heading for the only lodgings someone out of town with no relatives to stay with would consider—Sara Jane’s B&B. It was a nice little place, but Sara Jane was nosy to a criminal degree and gossiped more than anyone Hope had ever come across. The second she checked in and went up to her room, everyone with a phone would be getting a call letting them know that she was back in town.
It wasn’t that it was a secret, but she couldn’t help but feel that she’d always be John Moore’s little sister, the one who survived when her older brother—her better in a lot of ways—didn’t. She knew that was her own insecurity. She’d had too many years of therapy to believe anything else, except in her darkest heart of hearts, the place she didn’t let see the light any more than strictly necessary.
But it was hard to ignore that little voice when driving through Devil’s Falls. No, not through. To. This was her destination.
Her parents hadn’t been too thrilled about her coming back, even for a limited time, but even they couldn’t deny that this scholarship she was here to set up was a good thing—the right way to honor John. He’d been in the middle of a full ride at the
University of Texas when he was killed, and it made sense to set it up to allow other kids the opportunity he’d never be able to realize.
She pressed a hand to her chest and pulled into the nearest parking spot against the curb. God, even after all this time, it still hurts. Most days it didn’t. He’d been gone long enough that she’d processed her grief as much as one person could process grief, and she was able to focus on the good memories.
Most days.
Her eyes focused on the sign she’d been staring blindly at, and she frowned. Cups and Kittens. That was new. In a town as mired in the past as Devil’s Falls, change was something of a novelty. Or maybe she was biased in a negative way, because the only thing this town held for her was memories. Some bad, mostly good, all dust now.
Pathetically grateful for something external to focus on, she climbed out of her car and looked at the cheery window painting depicting kittens frolicking in between flowers.
The B&B could wait a little while longer. Her meeting with the town board wasn’t until tomorrow, so there was no reason she couldn’t do a little poking around in the meantime. Thirteen years was a long time. If anyone had asked her, she would have joked that she hadn’t expected anything about Devil’s Falls to change while she was gone.
Apparently she’d been wrong.
She pushed through the door and froze in the face of a pair of cats staring at her from their perch on a table overlooking the big window in the front. The sight surprised a laugh out of her. “Cups and Kittens, indeed.”
“In the most literal sense.”
She glanced over at the woman behind the counter, a third cat lounging near the register. Familiarity rolled over Hope. “Jules Rodriguez.” Daniel’s little cousin. Not so little anymore. Last time she’d seen Jules, the girl had been lanky to an almost awkward degree and had braces with bright green bands. She’d grown up pretty, and there was more of Daniel about her now than there had been when she was a kid.
Or maybe I’m just back in Devil’s Falls and seeing Daniel wherever I look.
Jules’s dark eyes cleared. “Hope? What are you doing back in town?” She hesitated. “I don’t suppose you’re here to sweep my brooding cousin off his feet and shove him back into real life?”
Her mind tripped over itself trying to keep up with the other woman’s verbal gymnastics. Jules had always been like that, now that she thought about it—a bright and bubbly steamroller. She tried to weed her way through what the woman had just said, but there was only one thing she could focus on. Daniel. Always Daniel. “What do you mean, back into real life?”
“Well, you know.”
No, she really didn’t. She studied Jules’s face, the way she wouldn’t quite meet her eyes. “Is he okay?” She hadn’t missed the way Quinn Baldwyn had frozen up when she’d asked that same question a few weeks ago at his sister’s wedding, and worry had
been simmering in the back of her mind ever since, no matter how many times she told herself it wasn’t any of her business. Daniel was a grown man, and he had always been more than capable of taking care of himself—and everyone else around him. Things changed, but she couldn’t see that changing.
Jules shifted, her hand darting out to pet the calico on the counter and then darting away when the cat swiped at her. “Define okay.”
It was none of her business. It stopped being her business a very long time ago.
But that didn’t stop her from clearing her throat and asking, “Is he…is he married?” Did he build the house we always talked about and have those two wild boys and one sweet girl? Does he bring his wife waffles for breakfast in bed on the weekends?
Oh my God, stop.
But Jules was already shaking her head, her mouth turning down. “Nope. No wife, no kids, no serious relationship in, well, thirteen years.”
Hope blinked. “You’re joking.”
“I wish I was.” A calculating look came into her eyes, but then she shook herself and it was all guileless enthusiasm. “What are you doing for dinner?” She rushed on without waiting for a response. “We’re having a little thing with Quinn and my friend Aubry, and, well, I kind of went and married Adam Meyers.”
Some things really do change. She remembered Adam, the wild-eyed boy who’d grown into a wild-eyed man, better than she remembered Jules. No one had expected him to come back to Devil’s Falls after he blew out of town that last time, let alone to settle here and…get married. “Wow. What’s Daniel have to say about that?”
“He was best man at our wedding.” Jules laughed. “Though he was pretty furious at the beginning. Here, sit down. You look like you could use a coffee, and I’ll tell you the story since we’re generally pretty dead Thursday nights. Then I’ll close up and we can go to dinner. The boys will love to see you. Quinn was just talking about you the other day.”
Hope wasn’t sure she actually agreed to any of it, but the next thing she knew, she was drinking coffee while a cat curled up in her lap and listening to Jules’s wild tale about a fake relationship that turned into a real relationship. Somehow in the middle of that, she was bundled up into Jules’s truck, and by then it was too late to change her mind.
She settled into her
seat, consoling herself with the fact that Jules had very specifically not mentioned Daniel’s name. There was no reason to think he’d be there, but it would be nice to reconnect with some of her old friends. As much as it had hurt when things went south with Daniel, knowing that she’d lost Quinn and Adam, too, had just been salt in the wound. She’d chased them around since she could toddle after her big brother and his friends, and they’d turned into true friends over the years. She understood why they hadn’t reached out, but she wasn’t going to turn down a chance to catch up with them.
It would probably be the only nice thing about being back in Devil’s Falls.
“Not interested.”
“You haven’t even heard what I’m asking.”
“Don’t need to.”
Daniel Rodriguez leaned down and unbuckled Rita’s saddle and hefted it off the horse’s back. They’d had a good run today, the hot sun making it impossible to think too hard about anything other than whether a human being could roast alive in Texas in August. He hadn’t yet, so that put the odds ever so slightly in his favor.
All he wanted was to finish here and head back to his place for a cold shower and an even colder beer.
It would just fucking figure that the universe had other ideas. He glanced up, but Aubry Kaiser hadn’t moved. In fact, with her arms crossed over her chest and her chin up, all signs pointed to this adding up to an argument he couldn’t possibly
win.
Damn it.
“No.”
She frowned harder.
“It’s your birthday. You can’t just sit at home by yourself.”
“Since it’s my birthday, this is the one day a year I should be able to do exactly that with no one bitching at me.” He regretted the harsh words almost as soon as they were out of his mouth, but Aubry wasn’t like his little cousin. She was
meaner than a rattler and twice as likely to bite.
She narrowed her amber eyes at him. “Your cousin misses you.”
That explained why she was out here when he knew for a fact she thought horses were akin to goats—as in, the devil’s own creatures. Hell, she was giving poor Rita a suspicious look even while guilt-tripping him using the one person in his life
he couldn’t say no to.
Which doesn’t explain why Jules herself isn’t here.
“She sees me on a regular basis.”
“This is your birthday.” Aubry sighed and rolled her eyes, looking put-upon. “Look, it goes like this—Jules has worked really hard to put together a surprise birthday party for you, and if you don’t show up to be surprised, she’s going to be crushed.”
He stared. “I don’t want a surprise birthday party.” The fact that it was no longer a surprise said a whole lot about Aubry’s priorities, and he couldn’t blame her for that.
“Look at my face. This is the face of a woman who doesn’t give two fucks what you care about. What I care about is Jules, and that means you’re going to go shower off the smell of that animal and show up at their house in an hour, right on time.” She paused, her brows slanting down in an expression that was downright forbidding. “You helped me out not too long ago, so I’m going to do you a solid and give you the lowdown. Ready?”
Fuck, no. “Sure.”
“Jules is worried about you. Really worried. If you don’t show up tonight, she’s going to take that as a sign to go forward with plan B.”
He knew he was going to regret it, but he still asked, “What’s plan B?”
Aubry gave a tight smile. “A full-scale intervention with everyone in your life, including your parents. The kind where they sit you down in a circle and each speak their mind in the most uncomfortable way possible until you’re ready to beg the ground to swallow you whole.” Her smile dimmed. “She’s worried about you, Daniel.”
Everyone seemed worried about him, though they usually did him the courtesy of at least trying to hide the looks exchanged when they thought he wasn’t looking. The whispered conversations with his various cousins and his parents. The never-ending work that was only there because they were throwing him a goddamn bone. It didn’t seem to matter that he hadn’t done anything requiring an intervention. He’d just stopped enjoying the company of people, mostly because he was such shitty company these days. But try telling that to the family, and they acted like he had just confessed to being an ax murderer.
At least Jules had mostly stayed out of it. Up until today.
He grabbed the curry brush and went over Rita’s back. Aubry was right. Showing up to a party he didn’t want on a day he sure as fuck didn’t feel like celebrating was vastly preferable to the alternative. “Explain to me what the plan is.”
She gave a grin that did nothing to reassure him. “Dinner and drinks. It’ll be nice. Adam and Quinn miss you.”
“I see those assholes every day.” Kind of hard not to when they worked the ranch alongside him. It felt right to have Adam back, to have Quinn there, but at the same time it was a constant reminder that they were a man short.
And it was his fault.
“It’s different and you know it,” Aubry continued, obviously enjoying how miserable he was. She’d always been a mean one, which never failed to amuse him because Jules was her polar opposite—as bright and happy as a spring day. Rita shifted in her stall, and Aubry went even paler than she was normally. “Dinner starts at six. Don’t be late.” Then she was gone, moving at a clip fast enough that a less cautious man than Daniel would call it running.
He waited a good five minutes before he followed, hauling the saddle into the tack room and sorting out the bridle. He didn’t begrudge Quinn his happiness—or Adam, for that matter—but sometimes it sure as fuck was hard to be around them and their women. The fact that one of those women was his little cousin barely entered into it.
He headed for his truck and took the pitted dirt road leading around the edge of his parents’ property to the little house he’d built a few years ago. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it got the job done, and it was far enough outside town that most people thought twice before stopping by unannounced.
Most people not including his family.
The shower did nothing to ward off the feeling of pending doom. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Jules or Adam or Quinn or whoever the fuck else was going to be at this damn party, but he wasn’t in the partying sort of mood. Truth be told, he hadn’t been in that mood for over a decade. It was almost enough to make him call the whole thing off, but the knowledge that Jules would have no problem bringing the party to him got him moving again. Not to mention the potential intervention he needed like he needed a hole in the head.
At least if he went there, he could hang out for the appropriate amount of time, make his excuses, and slip out while everyone else was occupied. Two hours, tops.
Feeling significantly better, he pulled on a pair of his favorite old jeans and a T-shirt and grabbed his keys. It struck him as he walked out the door that he was thirty-fucking-four years old. How the hell did that happen? He shook his head. He knew damn well how that happened. One day turned into a week, a month, a year, a decade. All while he kept on keeping, the world changing around him, but never changing enough.
He glanced at his watch. “Two hours starts when I get there.”

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and they changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

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{Spotlight | Excerpt | Giveaway} The Wallflower Weddings Series: Tempting Mr. Weatherstone, Daring Miss Danvers, Winning Miss Wakefield, & Finding Miss McFarland (Books #0.5 – 3) – Vivienne Lorret

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TEMPTING MR. WEATHERSTONE
Wallflower Weddings #0.5
Vivienne Lorret

Penelope Rutledge longs for passion, but only with the man of her dreams: the brilliant, dashing Ethan Weatherstone. If only her longtime neighbor would open his eyes and realize how much she loves him. If only they weren’t best friends with so much at stake. Penelope knows her future – and their friendship – is in her hands, but is she willing to take the biggest risk of all on the man she loves?

If it were up to Ethan, life and love would be as predictable as the figures in his ledgers – certainly nothing like the adventures Penelope longs for. Yet his childhood friend has grown into a beautiful, feisty woman blissfully unaware of the danger she causes when near. Ethan knows he must save Penelope-and her reputation…but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?


DARING MISS DANVERS
Wallflower Weddings #1
Vivienne Lorret

It’s all fun and games…until someone falls in love.

Oliver Goswick, Viscount Rathburn, needs money and soon. With time ticking away and his inheritance held hostage until he’s properly wed, Rathburn’s slim options point to just one solution: a mock courtship. In need of the perfect bride, he knows of only one candidate: his best friend’s wallflower sister. The plan seems flawless; except for just one thing…he can’t help falling in love with her.

Poised, polished Emma Danvers knows nothing good can come of Rathburn’s scheme. Spending the next two months engaged in a mock courtship is not what she’d imagined for her final season. Yet, charmed by his roguish ways and the inexplicable hammering he causes in her heart, she accepts his challenge.

For Emma, keeping the secret seems easy when it was just a game… but as Rathburn begins to see past her reserved exterior to the passionate woman within, the risk of losing her heart becomes all too real.



WINNING MISS WAKEFIELD
Wallflower Weddings #2
Vivienne Lorret

She’s got nothing left to lose…

With her fiancé suddenly engaged to another and her reputation in tatters, Merribeth Wakefield needs a bold plan to reclaim her life. She must be brave. Confident. She must… kiss a rake? The suggestion is ludicrous! Yet, when Merribeth finds herself alone with the dark and brooding Lord Knightswold, suddenly the plan doesn’t seem so farfetched. So she does something she never thought she’d do—she kisses him.

But he has everything to gain…

The Marquess of Knightswold—Bane to most—has no use for the affections of women. Well, none lasting longer than a single night. A plot for revenge weighs heavy on his mind, leaving no room for romance. So, when a shy, witty miss borrows a kiss from him in a darkened room, everything he thought he knew about innocent debutants vanishes along with her.

Yet when a twist of fate brings Merribeth within Bane’s grasp, he’ll have to resist her charms—or risk losing everything—for the sake of his heart.

FINDING MISS MCFARLAND
Wallflower Weddings #3
Vivienne Lorret


Fans of historical romance authors Lorraine Heath and Sophie Jordan will adore Vivienne Lorret’s latest Wallflower Wedding novel.

Delaney McFarland is on the hunt for a husband—preferably one who needs her embarrassingly large dowry more than a dutiful wife. After the unspeakable incident at her debut, Delaney knows marrying for love is off the table, but a marriage of convenience—one that leaves her free to live the life she chooses—is the next best thing, never mind what that arrogant, devilishly handsome Mr. Croft thinks. Delaney plans to marry for money … or not at all.

Ever since the fiery redhead burst into his life—in a most memorable way—Griffin Croft hasn’t been able to get Miss McFarland out of his mind. Now, with the maddening woman determined to hand over her fortune to a rake, Griffin knows he must step in. He must help her. He must not kiss her. But when Griffin’s noble intentions flee in a moment of unexpected passion, his true course becomes clear: tame Delaney’s wild heart and save her from a fate worse than death … a life without love..


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“I don’t understand you, Miss McFarland,” he said, studying her with new interest. “Last Season, I was nearly convinced you went out of your way to ensure that we were never seen in the same place, to avoid association to the—”

“The incident,” she supplied quickly. “That is the only delicate way to refer to what happened at my debut, Mr. Croft.”

He grinned at the haughty way she addressed him, saying Mr. Croft as if accusing him of a wrongdoing or misbehavior. “Then, a year after the incident, I cannot go three steps without running into you. Why, you practically laid your bonnet at my feet yesterday, daring me to pick it up.”

Her lips parted on a gasp, offering him a flash of her pink tongue. “I did no such thing. It was the wind and nothing—I repeat, nothing—more.”

A bit of deviltry flared to life within him. Now, he wanted to hear her haughty address again. He wanted to goad her into those three syllables. “Yet you came here to spare my mother’s feelings and then stayed long enough to encourage her, praising her in a way that gave every indication of your interest in her son.”

“Mr. Croft!”

He felt her admonition cover him, tightening the flesh over his bones. He could feel heat radiate from each drop of blood in his veins, feel the length of each hair on his body. His follicles contracted—released—contracted with those three syllables out of her small pink mouth.

Mis-ter Croft.

USA Today bestselling author, VIVIENNE LORRET loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order…but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is an Avon Impulse author of works including: Tempting Mr. Weatherstone, The Wallflower Wedding Series, The Rakes of Fallow Hall Series, The Duke’s Christmas Wish, and the Season’s Original Series.


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{Teaser Tuesday | Giveaway} Embrace Me (Chasing Fire #3.5) – Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers

EMBRACE ME
A Chasing Fire Novella (#3.5)
Ann Marie Walker & Amy K. Rogers
Releasing September 20th, 2016
Berkley Intermix

Hudson Chase and Alessandra Sinclair’s heartracing romance continues in this hot, new novella in the Chasing Fire series.

Return to the dangerous and seductive romance that got pulses racing in the Chasing Fire trilogy…

It took ten years for Hudson Chase and Alessandra Sinclair to find their happily ever after, and they’re not about to let anything get in their way…

Nothing could stop the passion between Allie and Hudson—not time or distance. Not even tragedy, betrayal, and blackmail. But now they’re facing a new challenge: wedding planning. And while Allie’s social status demands she put on the event of the century, her well-intentioned family and friends have her doubting her walk down the aisle…

Hudson knows tensions are pushing Allie to the brink, but he’s not letting her throw everything away over some flowers and cake. He has plans for his new bride, and unlike their last adventure, he’s determined that this time there will be no unwelcome surprises. But for all his determination and control, there’s one element Hudson Chase has never been able to predict—and she has some adventurous ideas of her own…

Praise for the Chasing Fire trilogy



“Exceptional…Seriously sexy and sinfully steamy. Can’t wait for more from this writing duo!”–New York Times bestselling author Tara Sue Me

“Walker and Rogers strike the perfect balance between blistering physical desire and heartfelt connections…”–RT Book Review  

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Hudson emerged from the water and caught Allie around the waist as she popped up. He took her mouth and thrust his tongue between her lips, their kiss flavored with the salt of the sea. Her arms looped behind his neck and her fingers teased the hair at his nape. He pulled her closer and she made a soft moan as she went lax against his body. She was his wife, his best friend, his lover, and his most valued treasure. She was the one who gave him strength in his most vulnerable of times, and who silenced the memories that haunted his mind. She had, in a sense, freed him from the darkness. They had freed each other.

Though thousands of miles apart, Ann Marie Walker and Amy K. Rogers are in constant contact, plotting story lines and chatting about their love of alpha males, lemon drop martinis and British supermodel, David Gandy. You can find them on twitter as @AnnMarie_Walker and @Amy_KRogers. 


Amy K. Rogers

Ann Marie Walker
Start the Chasing Fire Series Now

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{Review} Not the Boss’s Baby (The Beaumont Heirs #1) – Sarah M. Anderson

21471407

Synopsis: What the boss wants…

As the oldest son, Chadwick Beaumont has sacrificed everything for the Beaumont’s company, but he swore he’d never follow in his father’s philandering footsteps. So, for years, he’s dutifully kept his distance from the temptation outside his office door–his beautiful secretary Serena Chase.

But now everything has changed. The family business is in jeopardy. His personal life is in shambles. And his sexy assistant is suddenly single–and flirting. Chadwick is tired of doing what’s expected. It’s time for him to go after what he wants. And what he wants is Serena–even if she’s expecting another man’s child.

Angie’s Review: Steamy romance novels are no longer something I read much of, but the cover of this book grabbed my attention. Ms. Anderson knows how to keep her readers hooked and will be an author whose books will always be on my one-click list.

Having said that…

I absolutely disliked Chadwick Beaumont with a passion. He is a pompous, micro-managing ass who can be such a coward.

Serena, however, is a strong woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to stand her ground. Throughout the book, as she deals with the ever-changing hormonal influx that pregnancy brings, she gets stronger and stands by her convictions. She’d rather raise her baby alone, given the other options she comes across in this book.

Anderson’s writing is good and she definitely knows how to write a steamy love scene. Her characters throughout the book, both main and secondary, are fleshed out and well developed. It’s obvious that each Beaumont family member that we meet will have their own book and I’m looking forward to them.

If there is one complaint I have, it’s that the romance that should have been interlaced within the conflict that both characters face, with each other and in their own lives. Instead, within the first few pages Serena and Chadwick act on feelings that they’d otherwise kept hidden for who knows how long.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Angie’s Rating: ***

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{Excerpt | Giveaway} Run to You (Risking It All #1) – Rachel Lacey

ONE LITTLE LIE. A WHOLE LOTTA TROUBLE.

RUN TO YOU
Risking it All #1
Rachel Lacey
Releasing Aug 30th, 2016
Forever

ONE LITTLE LIE. A WHOLE LOTTA TROUBLE.

Moments after meeting the most gorgeous guy ever, Gabby Winters promptly gets stung by a zillion yellow jackets and falls-not gracefully-into a stream. Yup, Ethan Hunter is trouble with a capital “hot,” and Gabby definitely needs to keep her distance. Except in the small town of Haven, there’s nowhere to hide from Ethan’s sexy, infectious grin . . . and all the residents are conspiring against her.

At the center of the town’s matchmaking is Ethan’s grandmother, who’s convinced their relationship is a done deal. Rather than break her heart, Gabby and Ethan find themselves cornered into pretending to be falling in love. The problem: there’s serious sizzling attraction between them. And if this charade continues, they won’t fool just the entire town – they might fool themselves too . . .


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“I’m glad you brought me out here.” Gabby stepped over a tree root, lifting her skirt with her free hand so that she didn’t trip.

Ethan squeezed her left hand. “Me, too. The rock face is right up this way.”

They came around a corner and the path opened up to a big rock looming at least thirty feet into the air. There were some creases and cracks in it, but how anyone could scale it with only their bare hands—or why they would want to—was completely beyond her. “You can seriously climb that?”

“I can climb it. Ryan can kick its ass, though.”

“Okay then. Show me.”

With a cocky grin, he reached up and hooked his hand into a crack in the rock. He pulled himself up, his biceps flexing most impressively as he climbed. Holy shit, that was sexy. Soon she was left with nothing but a view of his very fine ass. And by the time he’d reached the top, she was so turned on, she could hardly stand it.

“So?” he called from the top. “You going to join me or what?”

“Not a chance. But I will enjoy watching you climb back down.”

“Gotta give the lady what she wants.” His fine ass reappeared over the edge as he started back down. He took his time on the descent, and if she wasn’t mistaken, he might have reached for a few hand and footholds that made him flex his muscles a little more than was strictly necessary.

“You’re a show-off,” she said when his feet were back on solid ground.

He was a bit out of breath, his bronzed skin glistening with sweat, trademark smile still in place. “No clue what you’re talking about.”

“No? You really needed to reach all the way to that notch?” She gestured above them. “Instead of the one closer to your shoulder that maybe wouldn’t have shown off your lovely biceps quite as well?”

He flexed for her. “What, these old things? And for the record, I totally needed the leverage.”

“Mm-hmm.” For some reason, she put her hand on his biceps, and oh crap, that was a mistake. His skin was hot beneath her fingers, and his blue eyes blazed into hers.

“Killing me, Gabby,” he murmured. “Killing me.”

His words sent a bolt of red-hot desire right through her, and she must have made a sound because Ethan sucked in a breath, his gaze locked on her lips. His hands settled on her hips, burning into her skin through the thin fabric of her skirt.

Don’t miss ROCK WITH YOU, 
a Risking it All Novella


Rachel Lacey is a contemporary romance author and semi-reformed travel junkie. She’s been climbed by a monkey on a mountain in Japan, gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and camped out overnight in New York City for a chance to be an extra in a movie. These days, the majority of her adventures take place on the pages of the books she writes.

She lives in warm and sunny North Carolina with her husband, son, and a variety of rescue pets.

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{Review | Excerpt | Giveaway} At Fairfield Orchard (Fairfield Orchard #1) – Emma Cane

The first in Emma Cane’s sparkling new series, 
set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. 

AT FAIRFIELD ORCHARD
Fairfield Orchard #1
Emma Cane
Releasing Aug 30th, 2016
Avon Books

Emma Cane welcomes you to Fairfield Orchard, where new love blooms and romance is always in season.
For Amy Fairfield, the family orchard is more than a business. With its blossom-scented air and rows of trees framed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s her heritage and her future. But right now, it’s also a headache. Putting a painful breakup behind her, Amy has come home to help revitalize Fairfield Orchard. She doesn’t have time for the handsome-distracting-professor who wants to dig into her family’s history for his research.
Jonathan Gebhart knows he needs the Fairfields’ cooperation to make his new book a success. As for Amy-nothing in his years of academia could have prepared him for their sudden and intense attraction. He doesn’t want to complicate her life further, especially since she seems uneasy about him poking around in the past and he knows he’s not the sort of man built for forever. But some sparks can’t help but grow, and Jonathan and Amy may just learn that unexpected love can be the sweetest of all.

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Emma Cane grew up reading and soon discovered that she liked to write passionate stories of teenagers in space. Her love of “passionate stories” has never gone away, although today she concentrates on the heartwarming characters of Valentine Valley and Fairfield Orchard.

Now that her three children are grown, Emma loves spending time crocheting and singing (although not necessarily at the same time), and hiking and snowshoeing alongside her husband Jim and their rambunctious dog, Uma.

Emma also writes USA Today bestselling historical romances under the name Gayle Callen.

Angie’s Review: I have to say, other than the gorgeous cover, the reason I chose to read and review this book is because it’s set in an apple orchard. My family loves to go apple picking every fall and will be going in the next few weeks.

Amy is spunky and tells it like it is; I like that in a female lead character. She’s also vulnerable and nursing a broken heart, making her flawed; another favorite when it comes to characters in both books and movies. Perfection is unattainable, and Ms. Cane develops Amy’s character beautifully throughout the book as she gets to know Jonathan (historian AND a booklover? Yes, please!), and the same could be said for him as well.

We also meet Amy’s twin brother, Tyler, and other family members. While a lot of the secondaries aren’t really developed, we’re sure to meet them in other books in this series.

Another favorite of mine? Romance that is built up to over the course of the book, but doesn’t take until the end of the book for the leads to realize their feelings and act upon them.

Throughout the book we’re treated to history, romance, laughs, healing past heartache…a sweet book that you look forward to reading over a long weekend (which I did).

Emma is a new to me author, and I’m looking forward to reading other books by her, as well as the second book in the Fairfield Orchard series! Her writing style is commendable and flows with ease.

Angie’s Rating: ****

Disclaimer: I recieved a review copy in exchange for my participation in the blog tour All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Jonathan Gebhart got out of his car and breathed in the crisp air of Fairfield Orchard, ripe with the sweet scent of apple blossoms. In the distance, the Blue Ridge Mountains undulated into the disappearing mists of midmorning, their haze the mysterious blue they were named for. But everywhere else he looked, surrounding this oasis of buildings and a barn, the foothills were covered in the pink and white of blossoming trees, following long lines like the teeth on a comb. Had Thomas Jefferson known what would become of the land when he’d sold it almost two hundred years ago? Jonathan intended to prove it wasn’t what other historians said it was.

He’d driven the half hour west from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Fairfield Orchard, rehearsing his most persuasive speech over and over. He wasn’t known as the most outgoing of guys, but he was passionate about history and hoped that would be enough. But strangely, he didn’t see a soul. A huge old barn that looked well over a hundred years old stood open and deserted. It had a lower level made of stone with its own entrance in the back, and the soaring upper level framed in weathered gray boards was stacked with crates and bins for the autumn harvest. A food shack and small store were obviously closed. There were picnic tables and benches, all positioned to take in the beautiful view of central Virginia during the harvest season. But in the spring, the public grounds were deserted.

Past a copse of towering oak and hickory trees was a dirt lane, which he followed around a curve until he saw a big house with white siding, blue shutters, and a wraparound porch around the original building. A two-story addition had been added to the right side. A battered blue pickup truck was parked nearby. He climbed the front steps, but no one answered the door. Jonathan hadn’t called in advance, assuming that a request like his was better handled in person, but that had obviously been a mistake. There must be a business office or warehouse somewhere else on the grounds.

And then in the first row of apple trees next to the house, he saw a ladder disappearing up inside, and a pair of work boots perched on a rung, their owner partially hidden by branches and blossoms and bright green leaves. He’d done his research, knew that the owner was Bruce Fairfield, a Vietnam vet in his sixties.

“Mr. Fairfield?” Jonathan called as he approached the tree. “Bruce Fairfield?”

Sudden barking startled him, and a dog came up out of the straggly grass growing through a dark loam of what looked like fertilizer around the base of the tree. The medium-sized dog resembled a cross between a German shepherd and a coyote, its pointy ears alert.

“What’s up, Uma?”

The voice from within the tree was far more feminine than “Bruce” should have. The dog sat down and regarded Jonathan, her spotted tongue visible as she panted, her head cocked to the side.

A woman pushed aside a branch and peered down, wreathed in pink and white blossoms, her sandy brown hair pulled into a ponytail beneath a ragged ball cap with the Virginia Cavaliers logo. She had a delicate face with a pointed chin, and a nose splattered with freckles. She was already tan from working outdoors, with eyes clear and deep blue and narrowed with curiosity. She wore a battered winter vest over a plaid shirt with a t-shirt beneath, and a faded pair of jeans with a tear at the knee. She held clippers in one hand.

“What can I do for you?” she asked, then added apologetically, “We’re still closed for the off-season.”

“I know. I’ve come from Charlottesville to speak with the owner.”

Brightly, she said, “I’m one of them.”

That rearranged his conclusion that she was just an employee.

“Hope you don’t mind if I keep working while we talk,” she added.

He blinked as her face disappeared behind the branch she released. Soon, he could hear occasional snipping, and saw a branch drop to the ground. She seemed like she was examining, more than pruning. He was used to talking to students who tried to hide their texting during a lecture, but he couldn’t force this woman to pay attention to him. At least the dog watched him with expectation.

“My name is Dr. Jonathan Gebhart, and I’m an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia, with a specialty in colonial history, particularly Thomas Jefferson.”

She gave a snort of laughter. “Of course.”

He stiffened. “Of course?”

“Thomas Jefferson founded the university, right?”

Did anyone from the area not know that?

“I hear he might as well still be alive,” she continued, “the way some people refer to him. I guess you’re one of the worshippers.”
“If you consider historians worshippers,” he said dryly.

She peeked out from behind a branch and gave him an amused smile. “I didn’t mean to offend, but you caught me on a bad day. I’m trying to remember my pruning skills. It’s been a while, and it’s not exactly the season for it.”

“May I ask to whom I’m speaking?”

Her smile widened. “My, don’t you have a pretty way of talking. I’m Amy Fairfield.”

“Daughter of the owner?”

“Technically one of the new owners, remember?”

She disappeared behind a branch again and continued pruning. Bees buzzed about her, alighting delicately on blossoms, but she ignored them.

“It’s all a mess right now, of course,” she continued. “My parents have just retired and left to have the time of their lives in the RV they always dreamed of.” She peeked at him again. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for them, but they caught the whole family off guard, and now everyone has to decide who’s coming back when, taking leaves of absence or quitting their jobs altogether, so we can keep the orchard going. And though I always worked weekends in the fall, it’s been a long time since I was involved in the spring.” She wrinkled her nose. “Way more than you wanted to hear, sorry.”

And then she became silent as she examined her work critically. Her family problems were none of his business, though his curiosity began to formulate questions that he tamped back down.

“I’m here to ask a favor of you.” He paused, but she didn’t reappear. Taking a deep breath, he said, “I’m writing a book on the land Thomas Jefferson owned, and how selling it changed the course of Albemarle County and Virginia itself. As you know, your ancestors purchased this land from him.”

“I know.”

“You have an incredible inheritance here. One of our founding fathers walked this very land.”

“I know that, too. But he walked a lot of land around here. I spent the last thirteen years in Charlottesville, sometimes running campus trails. I’m sure I walked lots of places TJ walked.”

TJ? Though he corrected his students when they were so disrespectful, he found himself amused by Amy’s irreverence. He well knew that Jefferson wasn’t a saint, simply a flawed, though brilliant man.

But there were more important things on the line, like the book he needed to finish for his tenure portfolio. Without tenure, he could lose the career he’d worked so hard for, be let go from UVA. But even more important was his big hypothesis, the one that could turn his book into a bestseller and give him the prestigious career he’d always dreamed of.

“So what do I have to do with TJ?” Amy asked.

“I’d like your family’s permission to interview them and look through the historical records you’ve kept through the years.”

“Historical records?” she echoed. “Don’t you find that stuff at courthouses or online?”

“You cannot find family Bibles or original land deeds so easily, not to mention family stories passed down through generations.” He glanced at the house again, knowing it was far too recently built, and hoping Google hadn’t misled him. “I believe there’s an older house than this?”

“Yep, but we’ve closed it up to keep people from getting hurt.”

A headache started to form. “Is it in disrepair?” He hoped Amy Fairfield and her family appreciated their own history.

“Not really, but no one is living there now, and we don’t want vandals disturbing it.”

The pressure between his eyes eased. “You get many vandals out here?”

“I didn’t think so, but I’m not the one who made the decision. My father was. And then he left, leaving it to my siblings and me to continue family tradition—whether some of us wanted to or not,” she added dryly.

He wasn’t sure where she fit in on that spectrum, but it wasn’t his concern. “Can I reach your father by phone or email?”

“Sure, but maybe you’d rather talk to my grandfather.”

He smiled with relief. The elderly had a better grasp of the importance of the past. “Do you think he’d speak with me?”

Amy spread the branches and gave him a long look from head to toe. He felt an odd connection, her gaze almost a physical touch. He was baffled to experience an awareness of her as a woman, when he could barely tell she was one beneath her farmer’s garb. Those vivid blue eyes studied him as if judging him. He’d been judged and found wanting before, and he wouldn’t go through that again.

“I can’t speak for Grandpa, Jon, but—”

“Jonathan.” He withheld a grimace, knowing that he shouldn’t be correcting her when he needed her help.

“Sorry. I don’t know if now’s the best time to be stirring things up. The orchard … well, we have a lot of work to do this summer, and it’ll be time for the harvest before you know it. I just started working here again a couple days ago. How about next winter?”

“I can’t wait until next winter,” he said patiently. “This is the last section of the book, and I have to submit it by this fall to even have it ready in time for my tenure review next year. You do know what tenure is.”

Those dark blue eyes narrowed, and she cocked her head. “Gee, maybe you better spell the word for me.”

He briefly closed his eyes, knowing he was making things worse. “Forgive me.”

He took a step toward her, trying to find the right words. He startled the dog, who jumped up and hit the ladder, which began to fall sideways. Amy let out a yelp and grabbed a branch even as the ladder crashed through several branches and hit the ground. Her feet struggled to find a thick enough branch to support her, and Jonathan reached for her. She was still too high to grab around the waist, but when he ducked under a thin branch and stepped beneath her, her toes brushed his shoulders.

“Step right on me,” he urged.

For a moment, he thought she would refuse, but at last she let herself drop a bit, and her big muddy work boots settled on his shoulders. She wasn’t even that heavy, and he realized she was probably smaller than he’d imagined, being half-hidden by the tree and wearing layers of warm clothing.

“If I was still a cheerleader,” she said, “I’d have a spotter to help me jump.”

At least she didn’t sound upset with him. He needed her goodwill. “I’ll squat, and you should be able to jump easily.”

“You forget, I’m still in between all these branches.”

“I’ll go straight down, and you be careful.” He sank slowly onto his haunches.

Using the tree for balance, she swung away from him and landed lightly on the ground. Still bent over, he came out from beneath the tree and practically ran right into her. Straightening, he stared down at her and she stared up, not six inches away from each other.

“You’re taller than I thought,” she said.

“And you’re shorter.”

“I am,” she said ruefully.

Though smiling, she backed away as if he was contagious. To his surprise, he regretted that.

“I made a mess of your jacket,” she pointed out.

He looked down at his shoulders. “It’s just dirt. It’ll come clean.”

She flashed that teasing smile again, and he realized she might be flirting with him. The thought was surprising, a little disorienting.

“You’d say anything to get my cooperation,” she said.

He looked into those intelligent blue eyes, and imagined many a man would. He would, too—for his research. Right now, it had to come before anything else. “Your cooperation is crucial. I have a theory that Jefferson might have escaped to here during the American Revolution, instead of to his land to the south.”

She tilted her head. “But he didn’t have a house here.”

He widened his eyes in surprise. “No, he didn’t. You know more about TJ than you let on.”

He’d thought to put her at ease with a lighthearted tone, but those intriguing eyes suddenly seemed to shutter. He decided right then that going into detail about his research might put her off.

“No, I don’t know all that much,” she said, looking away.

“I’ll be conducting research at the library at Monticello, and also here, if you’ll permit it. I need to find proof that I’m right. Can I count on your cooperation?”

“I’ll think about it.”

She was already retrieving the clippers and righting the ladder. He tried to help, but she gave him a distracted smile.

“I can do it. This is my job now, you know.”

“What did you do before?”

“Real estate.”

He could see her as a friendly, outgoing saleswoman. “Did you always mean to come back to the orchard?” he asked, curious.

“Interesting question. I don’t really know. As for your request, why don’t you come back tomorrow, and I’ll give you my answer.”

And she maneuvered the ladder back into the tree and climbed up, disappearing within the spring blossoms until he could only see those muddy boots. He turned and strode back to his car.

{Excerpt | Giveaway} For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles #2) – Lauren Layne

Will a budding wedding planner and her bad boy neighbor 
stop banging heads and start hearing wedding bells?
FOR BETTER OR WORSE
The Wedding Belles #2
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 30th, 2016
Pocket Books

Will a budding wedding planner and her bad boy neighbor stop banging heads and start hearing wedding bells in the sexy second novel in USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne’s irresistible new series that marries Sex and the City with The Wedding Planner?

When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she’s determined to make it as one of Manhattan’s elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza…in five months’ time. Heather’s days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she’s really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbor’s apartment all night.

Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbor to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it’s Heather’s turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love.

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Don’t Miss Any of the Wedding Belles Novels

Lauren Layne is the USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart–cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.

In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.

In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.

For a list of all her works, please be sure to check out her official website!


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“So this is where the noise happens, huh?” she asked.
Josh’s eyes narrowed as his friend’s hand touched Heather’s back briefly. “Absolutely,” Trevor said. “We’re sorry it keeps you up though.”
“Oh, it’s okay,” she said, waving her hand. “I mean . . . it’s not. But tonight I couldn’t sleep anyway, so you get a free pass. What do you all play?”
“Donny’s bass, Felix is on drums. Josh is lead guitar, and I, as the most important member, have the pipes.”
“Oh! I thought Josh was the singer,” Heather said with a quick glance over her shoulder at him.
Their eyes locked, and Josh felt a flicker of . . . something.
“Ah, is that what he’s telling the women these days,” Trevor joked.
“No, I just . . . I hear him, singing sometimes,” Heather muttered.
“Our boy can carry a tune well enough, but wait until you hear me, love,” Trevor said.
Josh turned away in mild disgust, pulling a beer out of the fridge as Trevor and the other guys coaxed Heather into the practice room, thrilled to have any sort of audience, even a reluctant one.
“Yo, Tanner,” Felix called.
“What,” he called, popping the lid off the bottle and tilting the beer back to his lips as he tried to shake off whatever was bringing down his mood tonight.
“Let’s show Heather here that we’re more than a bit of noise coming through her bedroom wall.”
Josh turned around to see Donny dragging one of his kitchen chairs across the room, disappearing into the practice room.
“All right, love, you just sit down and get comfortable,” Trevor said. “Tanner! Come on, man.”
Josh heard the low strum of Donny’s guitar, heard Felix do a little warm-up rhythm, and knew there was no way of getting out of it. If he refused to play a song now, he’d look like an ass.
Still, his feet didn’t move, and he took another sip of beer.
Feeling eyes on him, he glanced up to see Heather in the doorway, leaning one shoulder against the doorjamb as she studied him.
“Okay, 4A?” she asked.
Her tone was lighthearted, almost slightly reluctant, as though she didn’t want to care about why he was out here alone, feeling oddly itchy with his life.
He appreciated it. He’d spent enough time in the past few years dealing with people who walked on eggshells around him, cooing sweetness. Some of it genuine, some of it not so much.
Heather’s no-nonsense question was refreshing—and exactly what he needed.
He was happy and healthy and living the dream, damn it.
Even if he was no longer sure it was his dream.
“You going soft on me?” he asked, taking one last sip of his beer before setting it aside and strolling toward her.
Heather’s eyes narrowed. “Hardly. I just wanted you to get your shit together so I can see your cute lead singer work his magic.”
He deliberately stepped into the doorway so she couldn’t move in either direction without brushing against him, grinning at her discomfort.
“You’re in a better mood tonight,” he said, his eyes skimming over her crazy curls and relaxed expression. “Why?”
“Believe it or not, I’m not a shrew.”
“Huh.”
Heather shoved his shoulder with a little scowl. “I’m not!”
“Does that mean you’re going to start making banana bread like Mrs. Calvin?”
“Yes, definitely. And coffee cake and sugar cookies and whatever other goodies you might like. All while wearing a frilly, feminine apron.”
“Dare I hope there’s nothing under the apron?” he asked, leaning in slightly.
“Right again!” she said, in mock delight. “I just love to bake naked.”
Josh’s pulse leapt, but Trevor interrupted before the sudden X-rated picture in his mind could turn into a full-fledged fantasy.
“Dude, we doing this or what?”
Josh looked at Heather.
“One song,” she said, holding up a finger. “I may as well see what the music sounds like on this side of the wall.”

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