Excerpt, Giveaway, & Review: Can’t Stop Lovin’ You (Maverick Junction #3) – Lynette Austin

Brawley must find a way to convince Maggie  
that their one true home is with each other.
CAN’T STOP LOVIN’ YOU
Maverick Junction #3
Lynnette Austin
Forever

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Maggie Sullivan can’t wait to get out of Texas. Luckily, she just got the break she needed to make her big-city dreams a reality. But then Brawley Odell swaggers back into Maverick Junction, looking hotter than ever in his dusty cowboy boots and well-worn jeans. He’s the guy she still dreams of at night. The guy who broke her heart when he left her behind.
Fed up with city life, Brawley jumps at the chance to return home and take over the local vet’s practice—and get back to the smart, sassy woman he’s never been able forget. He couldn’t be prouder of Maggie’s new wedding-dress business . . .until he realizes it may mean losing her all over again. Determined to win her back, Brawley must find a way to convince Maggie that their one true home is with each other.

NOW AVAILABLE IN PRINT!!

ANGIE’S REVIEW: I absolutely LOVE this series, but am sad that this is the final book! I love the setting, which is a small town in Texas where everyone knows your business and they aren’t afraid of accepting outsiders.

I have long adored Maggie, a talented seamstress who helped Annie look stunning in Somebody Like You. She is a spirited woman who has attracted the powers that be in New York, the fashion mecca of the United States.

It took me quite a bit to really like Brawley, but it was hard NOT to like him as he’s a vet…animals are my weakness.

Though they had a falling out years before and couldn’t make their long distance relationship last, it was obvious they still cared for each other, no matter how much Maggie tried to convince everyone, including herself, that she didn’t care for Brawley.

Though this is billed as a standalone, I highly recommend reading the previous books to get to know both of them, and the other characters.

Well done, Ms. Austin. Your writing is beautiful and you’ve created characters that were mostly easy to like, and towns to fall in love with. I look forward to seeing what is next.

ANGIE’S RATING: ****
DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy so that I could participate in the review tour through Tasty Book Tours. All opinions are my own.

Lynnette Austin, a recovering middle school teacher, loves long rides with the top down and the music cranked up, the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing, chocolate frozen custard, anything by Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Thomas Rhett, and sitting in her local coffee shop reading and enjoying an iced coffee. She and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse. Writing for Grand Central and Sourcebooks, she’s published twelve novels and is at work on a new series.

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Excerpt:
Brawley Odell figured his life wouldn’t be worth one plug-nickel the second he stepped foot inside Maggie’s shop. Too damn bad. He hadn’t driven the thirty miles from Maverick Junction to back out now. He was goin’ in.
After all this time, he’d come home…and she was leaving.
He grasped the brass knob and shoulder-butted the oak door. It flew open, the bell overhead jangling. Maggie Sullivan, all that gorgeous red hair scooped into a jumbled mass, stood dead-center in the room. Dressed in a skirt and top the color of a forest at twilight, she held a fuzzy sweater up in front of her like a shield. Those amazing green eyes widened as he stormed in.
“We need to talk.” He ignored the woman at the back of the store who flipped through a rack of tops.
“What the—?”
He held up a hand. “Don’t speak. Not yet.”
Her mouth opened, then closed.
Anger boiled in him, but he needed to find some modicum of control. Taking a deep breath, he held it for the count of ten, then slowly released it. “Did you plan on telling me?”
Her eyes narrowed, but she said nothing.
“You’re invited to New York City for a showing of your new line, and you don’t share that with me? I have to learn about it secondhand?”
“Last I heard this wasn’t about you, Brawley. In fact, my life, my business has absolutely nothing to do with you.”
His jaw clenched. “Anything that affects you is my business, Mags.”
She snorted. “Get real, Odell. You gave up any and all rights years ago.” Her head tilted. “Why are you even interested? You want to attend so you can show off your latest Dallas Cowboy cheerleader? Maybe order her trousseau?”
He shot her a deadly look, one that had made grown men back away.
Not Maggie. She actually took a couple steps toward him. The woman had no survival instincts. Another reason she had no business heading off to New York alone.
She tapped a scarlet-tipped finger on her chin. “Oh, that’s right. There’d be no trousseau for your honey, would there? Maybe a weekend-fling outfit for your date du jour? A one-night-stand set of lacy lingerie.”
“Shut up, Maggie.”
“Make me.” Her eyes flashed.
This time the look in his eyes must have warned her she’d treaded too close to the edge. She stepped back.
“You challenging me, Maggie?”
When she wet her lips, his gaze dropped to her mouth, followed the tip of her pink tongue as it darted out.
“Only one way I could ever get you quiet,” he said.
Her hand shot up. “Don’t even think about it.”
“No thought required. Been wanting to do this a long time now.” He closed the distance between them and dropped his mouth to hers. Fire. Smoke. Hell, a full-out volcanic eruption.

Release Day, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Monster Among the Roses (Fairy Tale Quartet #1) – Linda Kage

Will you dare to gaze upon the monster among the roses?
MONSTER AMONG THE ROSES
Fairy Tale Quartet #1
Linda Kage
Releasing July 24, 2017

“Do you know how to get to the rose garden?”
“No, you can’t go there. A monster lives there.”

Shaw Hollander is desperate.

Broke, unemployed, and determined to help his ailing mother, he falls on the good graces of a wealthy benefactor who is willing to give Shaw a job at his mansion in order to pay off his mother’s debts. Suddenly finding himself surrounded by lavish riches, he has no idea what his duties truly entail until he’s sent to the rose garden and meets the tragically mutilated Isobel.
This Beauty and the Beast story holds true to the core of the fable while shaking off the element of fantasy and dragging it into present day reality. Shaw and Isobel are ready to let you climb into their four-wheel-drive pickup and take a ride with them into their version of happily ever after, but only if you first dare to gaze upon the monster among the roses.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the Midwest as the youngest of eight children. Now I live in Kansas with my husband, two daughters, nine cuckoo clocks, and a cat named Holly. My life’s been blessed with lots of people to learn from and love. Writing’s always been a major part my world, and I’m so happy to finally share some of my stories with other romance lovers.
I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, and I’ve been through a writing correspondence class in children’s literature from The Institute of Children’s Literature, and then I continued my writing lessons by majoring in English with an emphasis in creative fiction writing from Pittsburg State University.  

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Excerpt:
Great. I was lost. Shading my hand over my eyes, I decided the far right should take me in the general direction I wanted to go. So I went that way, only to end up at the edge of the house, but not where I’d started, and not close enough to the rose garden to get me inside.
Strangely enough, however, a boy played outside, using sidewalk chalk to color a picture of…what the hell was he drawing? Maybe some kind of dying animal with blood gushing from its side and an arrow sticking out of its back.
It didn’t look right, whatever it was.
I shook my head and jerked my gaze from the disturbingly morbid sketch. “Hey, kid.”
The boy jumped and looked up, hopping to his feet and backing away from me as I were the scary one.
No idea who he was; he looked too young to be Mr. Nash’s son from the photos I’d seen, plus he had white blond hair, the complete opposite shade of the young man in all the pictures in Mr. Nash’s office. But he was here, so he’d have to do.
Wanting to appear as non-threatening as possible, I smile and waved. “Hey. Sorry for bothering you, but do you know how to get to the rose garden?”
That must’ve been the wrong question to ask. His face drained of color. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “You can’t go there.”
What? “Why not?”
“A monster lives in there. Half her face is melted off. She eats the thorns from the roses so she can spit them at people, stabbing them in the neck to slice their throat open until they bleed out and die.”
O…kay.
Somehow, I’d stumbled across one of the children of the corn. Nice.
Lifting my eyebrows, I drew my own step in reverse. Time to retreat. “Dude, that’s gruesome.”
Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.
He gave a serious nod. “It’s true. My mom’ll tell you she’s real too.”
“Oh yeah?” Relieved he wasn’t claiming he’d sprouted from Satan’s cabbage patch but actually had a mother, I glanced around for this wise, all-knowing parent of his. Maybe she could tell me how to get to the conservatory. “Who’s your mom?”
“The cook,” he said, puffing up his chest as if that were the most important title in the house. “She’s worked here for fifteen years. She knows everything about this place there is to know. So…don’t go into the roses. You won’t come out alive. Lewis, the groundskeeper, doesn’t even go in there.”
Aha! So this place did have a gardener. I knew it.
I took a second to ponder why I was being sent to garden then, when Mr. Nash already paid someone to maintain the place. But if Lewis refused to go into the roses, as the kid had said, maybe it was rumored to be haunted or something, and that was where I came in. Then again, why wouldn’t Mr. Nash just hire a new groundskeeper who wasn’t so scared and superstitious? Then I stopped pondering the whys. It wasn’t my place to question strange, rich people and their strange, oddball orders. I was just here to do what I was told and save my mom.
Nodding gravely to the boy, I said, “Thanks for the warning, kid. But I think I’ll take my chances. Which way?”
He looked at me as if he’d never see me again because I was headed forth to my death, then he lifted his hand and quietly pointed toward another opening in the path of bushes.
“Thanks.” I nodded and got out of there before some of his creepiness started rubbing off.
Fortunately, he’d steered me in the right direction. I landed right at the outdoor entrance into the glass gazebo. Propping the door open, I carted my supplies inside and then paused to breathe deeply.
But fuck me, it smelled good in here. You didn’t have to be a flower enthusiast for this garden to amaze you. It was like the holy shrine of roses. A hallowed kind of reverence filled my chest. Haunted or not, I liked it. It felt peaceful and yet revitalizing.
Suddenly intimidated because I didn’t want to mess anything up in such a perfect place, my hands shook as I flipped back to the pages about rose care. The more I skimmed, however, the more confused I became.
These roses didn’t need a lick of my attention. They were all in excellent condition as if someone already tended to them. Maybe creepy kid had been wrong, and Lewis the groundskeeper came in here hourly to care for them.
Still…What the hell?
I frowned and slid my finger along the silken petals of a blood red rose. Perfectly pruned, weeded, and watered. It was as flawless as a thing could get.
But I couldn’t go tell Mr. Nash they didn’t need anything, could I? What if he fired me for lack of work to do, or because he thought I was lazy and lying about the roses not needing care?
I looked around again, searching for anything to water, or clip, or re-soil. It was crazy how thriving every single flower looked.
Maybe this was some kind of test, and Mr. Nash wanted me to fail. What if he’d never intended for me to work for him and the contract I’d signed to save my mom was being burned in the fireplace in this office as I stood here like a dumbass with nothing to weed.
Confused and worried, and growing a little angry, I scowled at a wall full of pink vine roses growing to my right. But they were honestly too pretty to be glared at, so my mood settled.
I bet Mom would love them. She was a fan of pink. And flowers. Plus, these were the good-smelling kind. I’d be a good son if I brought home such a flower to her. And it seemed as if they grew in abundance, not as if they were one of the rare breeds Mr. Nash had spoken of. So I reached for a bloom to pluck it from the vine without even thinking beyond how much it’d make my mother smile.
Behind me, a voice growled, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Jumping half out of my skin because I’d been certain no one had been in here with me, I whirled around only to gasp, “Shit!”
The creepy cook’s son hadn’t been lying.
In front of me stood an irate woman with half her face melted off.

Pre-order, Excerpt, Giveaway, & Review: The Dress in the Window – Sofia Grant

A perfect debut novel is like a perfect dress—it’s a “must have”  
and when you “try it on” it fits perfectly.  

THE DRESS IN THE WINDOW
Sofia Grant
Releasing July 25, 2017
William Morrow

A perfect debut novel is like a perfect dress—it’s a “must have” and when you “try it on” it fits perfectly. In this richly patterned story of sisterhood, ambition, and reinvention Sofia Grant has created a story just right for fans of  Vintage and The Dress Shop of Dreams.

World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.  


Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.
Together, they combine forces to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.

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Excerpt: Jeanne

Nancy Cosgrove had seen the gown made up in taffeta in Vogue, and taffeta was what she had to have. Jeanne made a muslin first, at Nancy’s insistence, even though muslin could never stand in for the stiff, slippery hand of the real thing. The muslin’s skirt hung around Nancy’s lumpy hips like wet rags and Jeanne thought she’d finally come to her senses—but Nancy just went home to get her crinoline. It made only a slight improvement: the muslin spread out over the stiff underskirt like leaves floating on a pond. But Nancy took herself across the river to the city, where she found a bolt of emerald green moiré taffeta in a shop at the corner of Fourth and Fulton.
When she brought it back, the bolt of fabric sitting in the passenger seat of her garish two-tone Packard Clipper like a visiting dignitary, it occurred to Jeanne that Nancy might still be trying to one-up her, even after everything that had happened. Never mind that Jeanne slept in the unfinished attic of the narrow row house that she shared with her sister and her niece and Thelma Holliman. She suspected that there was a part of Nancy that was stuck back at Mother of Mercy High School, where Jeanne had sailed like a swan through adolescence, winning top marks and courted by a steady stream of St. Xavier boys. By contrast, poor Nancy had been as awkward as a stump, beloved by no teacher, no suitors, and none of the other girls.
Jeanne tried not to hold this belated vengefulness against Nancy: they badly needed her money. Still, Nancy had no head for sums, and there was not enough fabric on the bolt for the New Look dress she had hired Jeanne to sew for her. Unlike the wide bolt of unbleached muslin that Jeanne kept on a length of baling wire on Thelma’s back porch, the taffeta that Nancy brought back was only forty-eight inches wide—a scant forty-eight inches at that, the selvages taking up the better part of an inch on either side. Jeanne could barely cut a skirt panel from it—even with Nancy’s oddly short, bowed calves—and only by forgoing the deep hem she’d planned in favor of an understitched facing.
Jeanne had been up the night before until nearly three in the morning, hand-tacking that facing with a single strand of superfine Zimmerman and a straw needle. When she finally went to bed, she had an unsettling dream. It had been months since she’d dreamed of Charles, but suddenly there he was, wearing a hat that had hung on a nail in the carriage house of his parents’ estate in Connecticut, a western style of hat that his father had brought back from a trip to Montana.
But in the dream Charles frowned at her from beneath its broad brim, while he pressed his hands to his stomach, trying to stanch the blood pouring from the hole in his side, while all around him in the trenches of Cisterna, his fellow Rangers were felled by the German panzers. Only six of them came home, out of more than seven hundred—but
Jeanne didn’t care about any of them. She would have traded them all to have Charles back.
War had made a monster of her, and there was nothing she could do about it—except to sew. A stitch, another, another. In this way the minutes and hours passed.

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Adjunct Lovers (A Brewing Passions Novella) – Liz Crowe

A brew that brings two lovers full circle.

ADJUNCT LOVERS
A Brewing Passion Novella
Liz Crowe
Releasing July 18, 2017
Totally Bound

When Ross and Elisa open their new business in Detroit, they believe they’ve embarked on a dream life, complete with their beloved, precocious daughter. But owning and running a restaurant is not for the faint of heart, and Elle quickly becomes laser-focused and obsessed, while Ross spends his days consulting, or concocting new beers on his pilot system—and wondering why she won’t agree to set a date for their wedding. When their restaurant—named “Komfort” for its focus on the comfort foods of various cultures—is featured on a nationally televised tour of hot new eateries, its popularity shoots into the stratosphere, and Elle’s stress level reaches a breaking point.


Faced with a mutual inability to communicate beyond their robust sex life, Ross issues an ill-considered ultimatum: the restaurant or him. Stunned when she refuses to consider such a ridiculous demand, he’s forced to come to terms with his own selfish tendencies. Hoping to repair the damage he’s done, he concocts a new beer inspired by her, using a recipe for a classic German-style Kölch. He crafts the final product using a special ingredient designed to catch Elle’s attention. It does. But not necessarily the way he’d planned.

“Adjunct Lovers” fills in the story begun in LIGHTSTRUCK, and provides a closer look at Ross’s and Elle’s complex personalities as they make their sexy way toward happily ever after—with the help of a very special brew.

Catch up on ALL the 
Brewing Passion Romances


Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance: Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.

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Excerpt (Rated R for language):
He looked around his space, pleased with its level of tidiness. A glance up at the clock he’d placed on the old metal desk made him blink. He’d been here for over three hours, and he could barely remember an hour of it. It was as if he’d been moving in some kind of a dream-state or a weird, limbo fog. It sucked. His phone buzzed with a text from Austin, his oldest friend from brewing school and owner of Fitzgerald Brewing in Grand Rapids, where he and Elisa had met.
You need to come out, his friend had sent. Tomorrow. We’re going up for a guys’ weekend at Trent’s house. Make it happen.
I don’t know, he replied. I’m sort of afraid to go away that long right now.
I know. But she’ll be fine without you a few days. It will do you both some good.
Ross lowered himself into his favorite new furniture find—an old Eames-style chair he and Liesl had procured from the back of somebody’s garage sale in the past month and pondered the concept that his friend was referring to Elisa, while he meant Liesl.
Maybe, he typed, then waited to see if Austin replied. When the other man didn’t Ross admitted, It’s kind of shitty right now. I don’t know if I should go. I don’t know if I want to go.
That’s all the more reason TO go. Stop at my house. We’ll head up together from there.
He tossed the device onto his desk with a curse. He was always letting Austin railroad him into shit—most of which was pleasant but some of which got him into more trouble than he wanted. He leaned back and propped his booted feet up on the matching, somewhat rickety ottoman, hands laced behind his head. Maybe he could use some guy time, escape the nest of women he inhabited for a while.
Maybe he needed to talk to the woman who still wore his engagement ring, but who hadn’t exchanged more than five words in a row with him since their daughter had been released from the hospital. He groaned and swiveled the chair, putting his feet on the floor and leaning forward, relieving some of the pain in his lower body. He missed her so much it hurt him all over, but he’d dug this hole and had zero experience in how to pull himself out of it. The longer they went incommunicado, the worse it got. And the worse it got, the more he worried that it would never be good again. He was willing to own his part, but didn’t know how to explain that to her.
“Fuck,” he said, as he got to his feet. “Fuck. Fucking mother-humping shit-kicking ass wipe.”
“Poetic,” Elisa called from somewhere in the increasing gloom. He flinched, then winced when his body tingled at the sight of her shadow emerging from the door that connected his space with the restaurant’s storage room. The distinct sensation of a burgeoning erection under his cargo shorts made him curse again.
“Can I help you with something?” He turned to the desk and pressed his fists on it, hoping to distract himself with pain. It didn’t work.
“Did Austin get hold of you?” She was keeping her distance, which pleased and infuriated him in equal measure.
“Yes.”
“Okay. So, are you going?”
“Why?”
“Well, so I can make arrangements here, for Liesl.”
“I don’t know yet.” He stomped over to the cooler and walked in, willing his dick soft. After he’d gotten himself under a bit of control, he turned to exist through the flapping plastic barrier but found his way blocked. “Excuse me,” he said, not meeting her gaze but wanting to so badly he had to bite the inside of his cheek not to do it.
“Ross, look at me.” Her voice lacked its vague, ghostly quality. It held an edge he recognized. And one that his poor, neglected cock reacted to so fast he grunted and gripped the door frame. “God damn you, man. Fucking look at me.” She got a grip on his beard, something he’d let get a tad too scraggly lately, and pulled his chin down. Her ice-gray-blue eyes blazed. Her color was high and she practically oozed something he understood, something he wanted, something he had to handle, for them both.
“We need to—”
He yanked her to him, cradled her face between his hands and kissed her, gently at first, relishing it and her so much he got dizzy. She responded in turn, going up on her tiptoes and wrapping her arms around his neck. He got serious with the kiss as the sweet press of her body against his drove him, parting her lips, tasting the corners of her mouth, groaning when she met him halfway.

Pre-Order: Ready to Run (I Do, I Don’t #1) – Lauren Layne

A reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: 
a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.
READY TO RUN
I Do, I Don’t #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 22, 2017
Loveswept

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.



PRE-ORDER TODAY!

Lauren Layne is the New York Times   bestselling author of romantic comedies.
She lives in New York City with her husband.
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she’s written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAYNew York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.

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Release Day, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Conditioned (Brewing Passions #3) – Liz Crowe

A man with nothing to left to lose. A woman hiding behind her past. 

CONDITIONED
The Brewing Passion Series #3
Liz Crowe
Releasing July 11, 2017
Totally Bound
Trent Hettinger’s turbulent formative years transformed him into a cynic—and into a man who realized he required something outside himself to control his temper.
Something he finds as a Dom—at least for a while. But he allowed himself to trust a woman once and was slapped back into reality with a vengeance and now devotes all his energy into building his real estate empire, raising his teenaged daughter…and avoiding anything resembling authentic attachments.

Melody Rodriguez kept her head down for years—working hard, making her own money, trying to get ahead with every deck stacked against her.  She’s determined to move beyond the ugliness that haunts her without anyone’s help. When a mutual friend sets her up with Trent, she’s determined to have some fun with him and move on.

A man with nothing to left to lose. A woman hiding behind her past. When two lives spent in emotional denial collide, it’s a perfect match—at least on the surface. But neither Trent nor Melody are prepared for the full force of their true feelings, once fate intervenes and blows a cold breeze into their white-hot relationship.

Now Available for Pre-Order
ADJUNCT LOVERS
Brewing Passions Novella

Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance: Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.


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Excerpt (rated R for language):
He grabbed the remote and handed it to me between bites. “Well? I thought I was getting subjected to that horrible game.”
I took the remote, stuck my tongue out at him and clicked on the telly. The match flickered on after a few seconds.
“Ah, right,” he said, sipping his beer, then tucking into the soup. “The pretty boys game.”
“Damn straight,” I said, taking a bite of my own carnitas creation. Pretty damn good if I say so myself. “These men are fine.”
“Guapo?” He raised a dark eyebrow at me, which intensified the heat gathering in areas of my body I’d forgotten I even had.
“No. They’re too prima donna to be truly guapo.”
“Good. I like that word being reserved for me.” He stood. “I need another one of those amazing tacos. And you’re right. I hardly miss the cheese.”
“Of course I’m right.” I winked at him, then felt my face flush so hot I put my hand to my cheek.
We sat in companionable silence, regarding the game and eating for a while. As we leaned back, our feet up on the table, finishing our second beers, the match got more intense. At one point I leapt up and started cursing a stream of Spanish at the official.
“Calm down, already. What happened?” Trent asked, amusement on his face.
“That hijo de puta claimed offsides and called back that goal! Are you blind? Mierda!”
I flopped back onto the couch, this time so close our thighs brushed together when I propped my feet back on the table.
“Offsides, eh?” Trent put his glass to his lips and eyed me over the rim. “I have no idea what that means, at least in this game.”
I shoved our plates aside, grabbed the salt and pepper shakers and the empty beer bottles and attempted to explain it. After ten utterly frustrating minutes, I gave up and threw my napkin at his face after he asked one more stupid question. “Mierda! El burro sabe mas que te!”
He leaned back in mock horror. “Did you just call me a burro? Is that like an ass?”
I dissolved into giggles at the look on his face. “¡Mira qué cabrón! There, I just called you a smartass.”
“Neat,” he said, grinning widely. We stared at each other for a few seconds too long, then both turned to the match.
“For the record, I did say a burro was smarter than you.”
“Ah, of course,” he said, getting up and stretching right in front of me. I swallowed hard and made myself not look at his ass. When he turned around again, his face had gone pensive. “Your poor, beautiful face,” he said, out of the clear blue. “It’s all I can do to look at you and not run out of here and kill that motherfucker.”
I blinked fast, covered by grabbing my beer and totally missed my mouth. A dollop of the brew landed right on my best Real jersey. I stared down at it in horror. Trent chuckled. I glared up at him, daring him to say anything. He tried to stop laughing, but that made it worse. By the time I’d gotten up for a towel and maybe a shot of that tequila, he was practically rolling around on the floor in hysterics.
“Are you quite finished?” I asked, brushing at the stain, my face so hot I could have warmed a whole house in the middle of winter. I’d kept my back to him, the tall counter between us. Mortification was making my vision blur. Or was that tears? Shit, I’d never get this right. I was ruined. Ruined for relationships with real men, anyway. I whirled around to tell him to take his funny bone and get the fuck out of my apartment.
“I think…oh…”
He was there, in front of me, too close for it to be in any way considered casual. His broad, black-cotton-covered chest filled my vision. His scent—a clean, fresh, outdoorsy odor—filled my nose. His voice—deep and musical—filled my soul.
“Melody,” he said, as he took my hands in his and brought them to his lips. Mi Dios, those lips! He kissed each one of my knuckles softly, keeping his eyes on mine. Then he turned my hands over and pressed his lips to first one, then the other of my palms.
“Trent,” I whispered, my mind awash with images and sensations, all of them good for a change.
“Sh,” he whispered, placing my hands on his shoulders, then sliding his hands around to the small of my back. “Sh, no talking.” His smile lit up my entire universe—corny, but true and I’m not ashamed to admit it. “I have wanted to kiss you since I saw you across that diner.”
“When… Oh, right,” I said, my voice breaking at the end like a silly virginal teenager’s.
Surely he won’t want me, when he finds out I’m spoiled goods. Surely he won’t…Surely he has got to be the best kisser in the entire known universe.

Release Day, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Digital Velocity (McAllister Justice #1) By: Reily Garrett

The deadliest weapons are the ones we never see.
DIGITAL VELOCITY
McAllister Justice #1
Reily Garrett
Releasing July 10, 2017
The deadliest weapons are the ones we never see.

Keyboard prodigy, Lexi Donovan has risen from teenage orphan of the streets to complete independence with little help along the way. When a pervert threatens her friend, she sends an anonymous message to police, leading to a firefight that leaves a cop wounded.

Detective Ethan McAllister’s well-ordered life turned upside down the day an obscure text message led to a sexual predator’s identity and arrest. Since then, Callouston PD’s finest can’t trace the elusive hacker. The latest tip leads him to a brutal mutilation and a riddle  indicating the identity of the next murder
victim.

The dark net houses a playground for the morally depleted and criminally insane. When Lexi discovers the killer’s digital betting arena, she finds herself centered in a cyber stalker’s crosshairs, a psychopath bearing equal talent.

Street life strengthened Lexi while toughening her protective shell, but nothing could shield her from the shrewd detective forging a path to her heart.
Digital
Velocity
 is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller that sophisticatedly weaves drama, excitement, grit, raw emotions and mystery. Garrett takes her readers on a journey where suspense and romance are taken up several notches as she unfolds and reveals the identity of a murderer that is on the loose. With her vivid prose, Garrett entices readers to see the bond that is brewing between Detective Ethan McAllister and his unlikely informant.
” – RT Book Reviews


Reily is a West Coast girl transplanted to the opposite shore. When she’s not working with her dogs, you can find her curled up with a book or writing her next story.
Past employment as an ICU nurse, private investigator, and work in the military police has given her countless experiences in a host of different environments to add a real world feel to her fiction.

Over time, and several careers, many incidents have flavored the plots of her stories. Man’s cruelty and ingenuity for torment and torture is boundless, not contained by an infinite imagination. Witnessing the after-effects of a teenager mugged at knifepoint for a pair of tennis shoes, or an elderly woman stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver for no apparent reason, left an indelible impression that will forever haunt her subconscious. In counterpoint, she has observed a woman stop her vehicle in severe, snowy weather to offer her own winter coat to a stranger, a teenager wearing a threadbare hoodie. Life’s diversities are endless.

Though her kids are her life, writing is Reily’s life after. The one enjoyed after the kids are in bed or after they’re in school and the house is quiet. This is the time she kicks back with laptop and lapdog to give her imagination free rein.

In reading, take pleasure in a mental pause as you root for your favorite hero/heroine and bask in their accomplishments, then share your opinions of them over a coffee with your best friend (even if he’s four-legged). Life is short. Cherish your time.

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Excerpt

I move frequently—but gain no distance.
I am warm, moist, and dark but give no comfort.
I can stretch and shrink, giving or taking at will, bringing both pain and pleasure with each.

“If God wanted you to tie the knot, he’d give you a near-death experience to better appreciate life, along with a craving for procreation. Then he’d smother your soul with the essence of venison, squirrel, frog legs, taters, or beer, to attract a likely counterpart from the sticks. No, wait. The latter has already happened, hasn’t it? Sorry.” Ethan narrowly kept his balance on the green-slicked, handmade bricks leading up the two-story, mauve-colored Victorian. If his 210-pound mass ended up sprawled on the steps, no doubt the picture would be splashed all over the precinct by noon with various unsavory captions.
“Maybe you should try it. The stick up your ass has to cause at least minor discomfort.” Larrick’s early-morning snark was a common greeting.
“Hey, I’m a normal guy.” Ethan glared over his shoulder.
Larrick snorted.
“Still wet from our early-morning storm. Watch your step, it’s slippery.” Scanning the myriad amorphous shadows lurking in the wood line, realization struck that he and his partner were sitting ducks if a sniper perched among the loblolly pine and oak trees lining the front and side yards.
Larrick’s reply came in equal measure of soft tones. “Either that or a large flock of birds dropped in recently to help her redecorate. Great detective work.”
“Bird droppings are—”
“Sought after for facials. Especially the Japanese Nightingale shit.” Larrick grinned.
“Only you would know that.” Ethan adjusted his tie, an acknowledgment of the apprehension filling his mind.
“Are we whispering because your paranoid gut can’t assimilate food well enough to distinguish indigestion from an outside threat? This woman lives alone, gonna think we’re a couple of perverts and liable to shoot us.”
“Word has it she’s a pacifist.”
“Fine. You’re one to talk about signs—dragging my ass to a stranger’s house at this ungodly morning hour. I love knocking on a stranger’s door and asking, ‘Lady, are you all right? We’re police detectives who received an anonymous tip that you might have a hangnail. Perhaps we could lend you a pair of nail clippers…’ then ask if she needs the gutters cleaned.” Derision and humor warred for dominance in Larrick’s tone, yet his sharp gaze continually scanned the perimeter in consideration of his partner’s unarticulated hunch. Yin and yang, they fit together, a clean-cut detective and his partner whose hair length had passed regulation specs weeks ago.
“You know this isn’t the first tip we’ve gotten, not to mention the fact that the other leads were solid and led to arrests. And while we’re at it, why don’t you step to the side? Standard police procedure when approaching an unknown situation.” Ethan turned sideways, standing by the door with his hand poised to knock on the solid oak. He hesitated. Moisture coated his palms, a rare occurrence. Scrutinizing the interior through the narrow sidelights yielded nothing more than expected. Elegantly upholstered furniture, gleaming hardwood floors, and delicate bric-a-brac adorning the thick mantle and each side table completed the sophisticated picture. “Don’t see any problem. Maybe she’s fallen and can’t get to a phone.”
“You expected an old lady brandishing her curling iron? As for leads, I get mine from three-dimensional people while you get yours from a bunch of ones and zeroes. Why can’t our IT department trace your anonymous texts further than the loony bin? Though that’s probably appropriate since your secret admirer’s last present consisted of a flower basket bigger than my TV along with fur-lined cuffs. I’ve never laughed so hard I pissed myself. I thought that was hogwash, a myth made up by old ladies.” Larrick leaned over the iron railing to peer through the window. “Can’t see squat, bottom sill’s too high.”
“As my partner, you’re supposed to have my back, not stab me in the back. You didn’t have to broadcast it through the whole department by hanging the cuffs from the sprinkler system with a bunch of roses twined in them. Now my brothers won’t let up, and I’ve been subscribed to every kinky magazine known to the publishing world. You think I should know why some whacko chose me for their personal marionette?” Ethan suppressed a shudder before his partner gained more verbal ammunition. If his suspicions were correct, his informant was in fact a beautiful enigma with waist-length, chestnut hair and an emerald gaze capable of melting steel.
“Maybe because you were the youngest to make detective? Rising star, golden boy, and all that shit.”
“No. Probably afraid your redneck ways would rub off on them, or maybe because I’m the biggest sap.” Ethan’s gut rumbled, more of a warning sign from a well-heeled intuition than hunger. “Larrick, this doesn’t feel right.” Behind him, the slide of metal on leather let him know his partner just palmed his Glock. Three years of working together circumvented the formality of dissecting gut reactions.
A creak of leather sole betrayed Larrick’s backtracking to scrutinize the surroundings. “Side windows are lower. I’ll take a look.”
“Hood of her BMW is cold. Didn’t go anywhere recently.” Larrick’s harsh whisper halted a nearby squirrel scampering up a tree, its head cocked to one side while studying the strange human interlopers.
Sunshine warmed the first spring buds on the low shrubbery bordering the walkway to complete the idyllic setting. Nothing but peace and serenity, yet Ethan’s heart hammered against his ribcage like an aggressive punk drummer. With his partner disappearing around the corner, he again scanned the perimeter while the morning’s corrupted equanimity formed a sour wad in his chest. A lazy March breeze combed its cool fingers through his short hair while the deep foreboding received with the initial text message blossomed into multiple horrific scenarios, leaving one of them a corpse, their life’s essence forming macabre shapes on gleaming hardwood floors.
“I see bare feet beyond the kitchen island. Toes up. Probably female.” Larrick’s disembodied whisper just provided probable cause. “Backup?”

Book Sale: After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) – Lauren Layne

She needed him for a story. He needed her for a bet.
Wanting each other? Not part of the plan.
AFTER THE KISS
Sex, Love & Stiletto #1
Lauren Layne
Loveswept

Lauren Layne kicks off her Sex, Love & Stiletto series with a delightful short novel! In After the Kiss, the star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything . . . except fall in love.

Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.

Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants.

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Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.


A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.

She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL’s ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books. 

New Release, Excerpt, Giveaway, & Review: Something Borrowed (Lone Star Match # 2) – Megan Ryder

Three Bridesmaids. Three lost loves. One matchmaking bride.
SOMETHING BORROWED
Lone Star Match #2
Megan Ryder
Released June 22, 2017
Tule Publishing Group

Three Bridesmaids. Three lost loves. One matchmaking bride. With just a week before the wedding, can a bride-to-be reunite her bridesmaids with the ones who got away?

Brigid Anderson is a second year lawyer on a fast track to making partner. With the weight of her siblings’ success on her shoulders, Brigid feels like she needs to prove something–to herself and to her parents. Her life is running smoothly and all according to plan…until she meets Grady. 
 
Grady Coughlin understands focus and ambition, having taken over his father’s contracting business and building it into a successful historic preservation business on his own. After a blind date with Brigid that ends in explosive passion, they embark on a friends with benefits relationship. But as Grady establishes himself in the business world, he decides he wants more and wants it with Brigid. 
 
On the eve of her best friend’s wedding, with her promotion to partner dangling within reach, Brigid believes Grady isn’t the best partner to suit her career ambition. But Grady and her heart don’t agree and she must decide if she should stick to the safety of the plan or find the courage to pursue what she really wants.

ANGIE’S REVIEW: Off the bat I have to say that I prefer sweet romances over sexy ones. This was way out of my comfort zone, but I am a sucker for wedding stories and just had to read this. The chemistry between Brigid and Grady is out of this world insane.

Also? Ms. Ryder is a huge fan of Jude Deveraux and I absolutely LOVE her.

I haven’t read the first book in this series (yet), but from glancing through other reviews, it seems that Brigid isn’t well liked by some readers due to how cold she appears to be. Having goals is a great thing, but when you sacrifice your happiness and close yourself off to someone whom you love, and who loves you and comes from a damaged background that you know about?

In a nutshell? I wanted to slap her. I wanted to drag her by her hair and show her what she was doing to Grady.

It was like being on an emotional roller coaster at times, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can empathize with the both of them, just more with Grady.

Overall, this was a good read with some steamy scenes that you may want to be sure you’re sitting next to the air conditioner or fan to keep cool.

ANGIE’S RATING: ****
DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy so that I could participate in the review tour through Tasty Book Tours. All opinions are my own.

Ever since Megan Ryder discovered Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught while sneaking around the “forbidden” romance section of the library one day after school, she has been voraciously devouring romance novels of all types.
Now a romance author in her own right, Megan pens sexy contemporary novels all about family and hot lovin’ with the boy next door. She lives in Connecticut, spending her days as a technical writer and her spare time divided between her addiction to knitting and reading.

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She headed for the stairs, knowing that she should be working but was honestly too tired to do any more that night. As she headed up the stairs, Grady invaded her thoughts. Suddenly, memory flooded back and she flung open the bedroom door and hurried in. Her foot kicked something soft.
“Hey, watch where you’re going.” Grady’s voice came from somewhere south of her, on the floor. The unknown pile of stuff on the floor wasn’t her luggage but was a makeshift pallet where Grady had already settled for the night.
Brigid flicked on the light. “How was I supposed to know you would be camping out right in front of the door?”
“There isn’t much room anywhere else.” He sat up, the sheet falling away, exposing his firm sculpted chest that felt as amazing as it looked. Brigid would know. She had always been obsessed with his chest, tracing the muscles with her eyes and hands when they were in bed together.
She closed the door behind her. “I thought you were going to talk to Caroline about this.”
He yawned and stretched his arms, arching his back. “I tried. She refused, saying there wasn’t another bed. I can’t stay at the cottage or the surprise will be shot. So, here I lay, stretched out on this poor, hard floor like a forgotten dog.”
“Oh cripes, Grady. I’d expect such melodrama from Anna, not from you.” But she laughed anyway and he grinned in response, the look taking her breath away momentarily.
She studied the floor. “That’s hard wood, not carpet. You’re going to be stiff and sore tomorrow, not able to finish the cottage. We’re both adults and the bed is big enough. Besides you don’t have anything I haven’t seen or touched before.”
He stood, wearing only his boxers, his erection tenting the material in front of him. Her mouth went dry and she curled her fingers in her palms in an effort not to reach out and touch. He shook his head.
“I think it’s a bad idea, Brigid. We’re not together and I don’t think we should muddy the waters again.”
She frowned, her only thought focused on touching him, feeling him hard and hot around her, in her. She shivered as the cool air conditioned air touched her heated skin.
She bit her lower lip. “Would it really be so bad? I mean, we’re not attached to anyone, so what can it hurt?”

New Release, Excerpt, Giveaway, Interview, & Review: A Most Unlikely Duke (Diamonds In the Rough #1) – Sophie Barnes

He never thought he’d become a duke, 
or that the secrets of his past will cost him his greatest love…

A MOST UNLIKELY DUKE
Diamonds in the Rough #1
Sophie Barnes
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books

Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters.
But when a stunning reversal of fortunes lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…

After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelope them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

ANGIE’S REVIEW:I have been a fan of Sophie’s books for quite awhile now. I love how complex and well developed her characters are. Her writing flows smoothly and I rarely ever find myself distracted while reading one of her brilliant historicals.

Contrary to what her parents wanted from her, Gabriella helps Raphe’s sisters so that they are more acceptable in society’s eyes, and that was just to keep them from being made fun of and used as a verbal punching bag.

Raphe’s fierce honor and loyalty nearly made me swoon. Now many men, past or present, would be willing to take on their little sisters after their parents die? He could have walked away and led his own life without anything tethered to him, but he didn’t.

The chemistry between Gabriella and Raphe was fantastic. I can’t wait to read the next in what is going to be a fabulous new series!

ANGIE’S RATING: ****

DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy so that I could participate in the review tour through Tasty Book Tours. All opinions are my own.

Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes  spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.  

When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.

What is your favorite place to visit? Denmark. It’s where I’m from. My parents have a summerhouse by the beach in the southern part and a house near Copenhagen. I love it there plus I get to see the rest of my family.

What are 5 things you must have with you when you write? My laptop, a notebook, my Jane Austen Map of London, various pens in different colors and a hot cup of coffee.

Do you have any post-publishing regrets? Yes! In my first book, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back, Tchaikovsky is mentioned as a current figure. I meant to change him to a different composer since he wasn’t even born at the time when the plot takes place, but I forgot. Really wish I’d seen that during edits. I haven’t used ‘fillers’ since.

Can you tell us a little about your book? It’s a fresh spin on Pygmalion featuring a bare-knuckler boxer from the slums of St. Giles who suddenly becomes the Duke of Huntley. Navigating high society can be troublesome – especially with two younger sisters in tow – but thanks to his next door neighbor, the alluring Gabriella Radcliffe, he comes up to scratch while losing his heart in the process.

What are some books that you enjoyed recently? I LOVED Julia Quinn’s The Girl With The Make-believe Husband. Right now I’m reading Sarah MacLean’s The Day Of The Duchess. Both authors are auto reads for me.

What types of scenes are your most favorite to write? Definitely dialogue. When the characters are interesting and there’s a bit of tension, the dialogue pushes the story forward in a fun and interesting way. Describing what people are doing sometimes gets me while Love scenes are the hardest.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book? The sequel to A Most Unlikely Duke is called The Duke Of Her Desire. It releases December 27th and features Raphe’s sister, Amelia, as she struggles to renovate a house on the edge of St. Giles and turn it into a school. Contending with her brother’s friend, the Duke of Coventry who’s been charged with protecting her, leads to a lot of quarreling, tension and high passion.

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Excerpt:
London, 1818
Thick clouds darkened to shades of gray as they rolled across the London sky. Beneath them, standing in the middle of the Black Swan courtyard, Raphe Matthews drew back his fist, his muscles bunching tightly together—just long enough for him to assess the angle and speed with which to release all that power. Instinct made it a brief calculation. Less than a second, and then he sent his fist flying. The punch snapped his opponent’s face sideways, producing a spray of spit and blood that painted the air with specks of crimson. A cheer erupted from those who’d come to witness the fight—a motley selection of hardened individuals. This place was not for the weak or the wealthy. It reeked of filth and the daily struggle to survive. This was St. Giles, but it might as well have been the bowels of hell for all the difference it made.
“Come on!” someone shouted.
Raphe’s other fist met a hard chest with a crunch. His knuckles ached, the force of the punch vibrating through him.
“Matthews, Matthews, Matthews . . .” The chant shook the air while Raphe shifted his footing, regaining his balance just in time to accept the blows that followed. He didn’t mind, for it only revealed his opponent’s sudden desperation.
Raising his fists to block the attack, Raphe bobbed to the side, turning away, just out of reach. And yet, he was close—so close he could smell the sweat on the other man’s skin, see the fear that shone in his eyes, the beads of moisture clinging to his hair that dripped onto his brow.
More shouts flooded the air, drowning him in a cacophony of unintelligible noise. The wave of encouragement shifted, alerting him that support had changed—no longer in his favor.
Forcing it into the background, Raphe focused on the man he was meant to beat. Today his name was Calvin Butler. Raphe launched himself forward, surrendering to the rage, and let the punches fly, beating back pain and anger until Calvin Butler lay stretched out on the ground, hands covering his face in surrender. A fleeting second of silence passed, just long enough to be sure of the outcome, and then the spectators sent up a roar in response to Raphe’s victory.
Exhausted, he stumbled back, a light drizzle dampening his skin. A coat was draped over his shoulders while Butler was helped to his feet—a sorry sight, with his blackened eye and swollen lip distorting an otherwise handsome face.
Turning away, Raphe pushed his way in the direction of the taproom. All he wanted right now was a drink. Fast.
“Butler ain’t lookin’ too good,” Raphe’s friend, Benjamin Thompson, said as he came up beside him. A couple of inches shorter than Raphe, his green eyes were a handsome complement to his ginger hair and freckles. He was without a doubt the kindest and most dependable person Raphe knew, besides his own sisters. Together, they made their way to the bar, where Ben promptly called for a server. “Give us a couple o’ pints.”Resting his elbows on the counter, Raphe grunted his response to Ben’s question. “He knew what ‘e was in fer.”
Ben nodded. The beer arrived, and both men took a healthy swig. “Ye could ‘ave been gentler, though. The man was done. No need to keep beatin’ at him like that.” Stilling, Raphe slid his gaze toward his friend. “I couldn’t ‘elp it.” The rage had burned its way through him, driving him forward and filling his mind with one singular purpose: The need to win. “I don’t know ‘ow to fight any other way.”
“I know,” Ben said softly. No, you don’t. You have no bloody idea.
In this, he’d never been completely honest, not even with Ben. “In any case, the blunt’s pretty good—lets me keep a roof over me sisters’ heads.”
“Aye, an’ a decent one at that.”
Raphe couldn’t argue. He’d visited Ben’s home once—an overcrowded single room that he shared with his parents and five siblings. By comparison, Raphe and his sisters lived like royalty. “Have ye ever thought of gettin’ out of this place? Out of St. Giles?”
Ben shrugged his shoulders. “An’ go where?”
“Somewhere better. Christ, Ben, anywhere’s betterthan this. Ye’re a likeable man. Ye could probably snatch up a job at one of ’em fancy ‘ouses in Mayfair.”
His friend snorted. “An’ ‘ave some nob lookin’ down on me, demandin’ I polish ‘is boots—or worse, empty ‘is chamber pot? I’d rather stay by the docks, thank ye very much. At least there I can take some pride in me work.”
“Understood. But the pay there’s never goin’ to afford ye with yer own home. Don’t ye wish to marry one day?”
“Sure. But there’s a limit to what I’m willing to do for a bit of blunt, Raphe.” He took another sip of his beer. “I’ll not lose me dignity by workin’ for a class o’ people I can’t abide, nor by lowerin’ meself to doin’ demeanin’ work.”
The words speared Raphe to his soul, filling him with shame. “I know,” he muttered with admiration. If only he could be more like him, not wanting anything beyond what life had tossed his way. Perhaps, if he didn’t have his sisters to consider, he wouldn’t care so much.

New Release, Excerpt, Giveaway, & Review: Primrose Lane (Harmony Harbor #3) – Debbie Mason

Love is the best medicine.
PRIMROSE LANE
Harmony Harbor #3
Debbie Mason
Releasing June 27, 2017
Forever

Love is the best medicine.

Olivia Davenport has finally gotten her life back together. She’s left her painful past behind, started over in a new town, and become Harmony Harbor’s most sought-after event planner. But her past catches up to her when Olivia learns that she’s now guardian of her ex’s young daughter. With her world spinning, Olivia must reconcile her old life with her new one. And she doesn’t have time for her new next door neighbor, no matter how handsome he is.

Olivia may act like she’s got everything under control, but Dr. Finn Gallagher knows a person in over her head when he sees one. He’d really like to be the shoulder she leans on, but Olivia makes it clear she doesn’t want his help. Since he’s returned to town, his waiting room has been full of single women feigning illness. Yet the one woman he’s interested in is avoiding him. But with a little help from some matchmaking widows and a precocious little girl, Finn might just win Olivia over.


ANGIE’S REVIEW: Straight up, I haven’t read a Debbie Mason book that I haven’t fallen in love with. She is an auto-buy from Amazon and I find myself wanting another book before I’ve even turned ten pages in her current.

Harmony Harbor is one of my top five favorite series. Between the goings on at the Manor, so many secrets all over town and in the family, and just…one minute you’re laughing, the next you’re pretending you have something in your eye.

…I don’t recommend wearing makeup when you read this unless you like looking like a raccoon after laughing or crying so much. Well, unless you’ve got some amazing setting spray or waterproof cosmetics.

Olivia is the kind of woman that you have very strong feelings for. You want her to own up to her addiction. You want her to bleed out all of her pain instead of walking around as if there’s a cloud of doom hanging over her. You want to hug her one second, shake her the next. After all, she is responsible for her deceased husband’s young daughter.

Finn…ah, he is just so…he can be such a jerk one moment, completely lovely the next. He made Olivia own up to her lies and face her addiction. They’re so good for each other.

While Ms. Mason’s books run a tad predictable, I enjoy that comfort in all of her books. But just when you are feeling comfortable with what you think is happening, she throws you for a loop.

It’s better to read this series in order so that you’re up to date with all that has happened and taking place.

ANGIE’S RATING:****
DISCLAIMER: I requested a review copy so that I could participate in the review tour through Tasty Book Tours. All opinions are my own.

Debbie Mason is the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series and the Harmony Harbor series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their three wonderful children and son-in-law, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

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Olivia smiled and nodded while saying, “You know, George really took a shine to you. So I was thinking, you should move into the manor.” She’d read somewhere that if you nodded during a conversation or negotiation the person would automatically agree with you. In Finn’s case, it didn’t have the desired effect.
He emphatically shook his head. “No. No way.”
“You don’t have to be so cross.”
He ducked to look her in the eyes. “Seriously? How old are you? You sound like you’re sixty-five when you say that.”
She gasped, offended. “I can’t believe you just said that to me.”
“I can’t believe I’m the only one who ever has. Some friends you’ve got.”
“I have very good friends, thank you very much. And maybe they don’t say anything because, first, it’s unbelievably rude, and second, you are probably the only person I’ve said it to because you are the only person whoever gets cross. . . ticked at me.”
“Really? That surprises me. Because, Sweet Cheeks, you can be annoying.” He grinned, and then headed for Stanley’s Audi.
Her cheeks heated, but as she watched him walk away, she got a little panicked about dealing with George without him by her side. “Finn, if I promise not to annoy you, would you please stay at the manor?”
“Nuh-uh. No way.”
“What if I pay you?”
He turned and walked backward. “How about that? You just proved my earlier point. Rich girls really do think they can buy everything. Sorry to disappoint you, Sweet Cheeks, but I’m not for sale.”

New Release, Excerpt, & Giveaway: King of Clubs (Aces & Eights #2) – Sandra Owens

Passions—and tempers—flare as one star-crossed couple gets a second chance at love.

KING OF CLUBS

Aces & Eights #2

Sandra Owens

Releasing June 27, 2017

Montlake Romance


In the second novel in acclaimed author Sandra Owens’s Aces & Eights series, passions—and tempers—flare as one star-crossed couple gets a second chance at love.

Covert FBI agent Court Gentry loves his brothers, his job, and his Harley-Davidson. Once he loved a girl, too, but when she broke his heart, he put his emotions on lockdown…until she crosses his path again.

On vacation six years ago, free-spirited Lauren Montgomery fell hard for Court Gentry. She returned home happier than ever, only to descend into a spiral of abuse by her ex-husband, Stephan. When Stephan threatened to kill any man who touched her, Lauren cut Court from her life—but not from her heart.

When Lauren and Court reunite after her friend marries his brother, Court guards himself against the person who made him feel such intense passion and pain. Except the undeniable spark between them is impossible to contain and heating up fast. Six years ago, it was love. Now, it’s just lust. Keeping it merely physical is a foolproof plan…right?
When Stephan is released from prison, Lauren can’t outrun her past anymore, and Court vows to protect her. But with Lauren in imminent danger, Court must question his heart and risk his life to save the woman he never stopped loving.

A best-selling, award winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.

A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll, Sandra is a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.


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Excerpt:
Court had wanted to let her know he was here, but Madison said if he did, Lauren would just kick him out. According to Madison, Lauren intended to go straight to bed. He tilted his head, listening to the sounds coming from her bedroom. She was moving around, opening and closing drawers. She definitely hadn’t gone straight to bed. What was she up to?
Suspicious, he waited. An hour later, the floorboards in the hallway creaked. A dark-clothed person walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, took out two bottles of water, and stuffed them into the backpack she carried, and then headed for the door.
Lauren. Lauren. Lauren. “Going somewhere my little midnight ghost?”
She yelped, the backpack falling to the floor with a heavy thud.
“Easy, G.G.” He pushed off the sofa.
“Court?” She pressed her forehead against the door. “Why are you here?”
“Guarding you. Going to be kind of hard to do if you’re not here, don’t you think?” He picked up the backpack. “Where you headed?”
“None of your business.” She slipped around him, backed up to the kitchen light switch, and turned it on. “You can leave now.”
“Don’t think so.” He frowned at the sight of a gun barrel in the partially unzipped bag. He pulled it out and held up the Glock 26, also known as a Baby Glock, preferred by women because of its smaller size. “You planning on shooting someone?”
“Again, none of your business.”
He shouldn’t like that fire in those golden brown eyes so much. “I’m making it my business. Do you even know how to shoot this?” When her gaze shifted away, he had his answer. Christ, she was clueless. About everything. How to use the weapon she’d been careless enough to let him find, how to disappear, and she probably didn’t know how to fight off an attack.
What to do about that? As he saw it, he had two choices. Either let her go and hope she somehow managed to safely disappear or make her his project. He wasn’t stupid enough to tell her that last part since he doubted there was a woman in the world who’d appreciate being any man’s project.
“Are you that afraid of him?” he asked even though he was sure of the answer.
“Feeling like a broken record here because again, none of your business. I’d like you to leave now.”
She crossed her arms over her chest, probably to show him she meant business. It wasn’t working since she’d managed to push up her breasts so that the material of her T-shirt stretched against them, leaving her nipples outlined.

He’d had those beautiful breasts in his mouth, had explored every inch of her body, had known all her sighs of pleasure. He’d once thought she loved him. Until she’d told him in a phone call it was over, not even having the courtesy to tell him to his face.
Nor had she given him a reason. Just, “Don’t call me again or try to see me.” That had happened only days after she’d told him she loved him. He’d learned the hard way women couldn’t be trusted, the first lesson on that coming from his mother. The one time he’d forgotten that lesson had been with Lauren. But never again.
“What are you looking at?” She lifted one arm, snapping her fingers. “My eyes are up here.”
Irritated with himself and her, he kept his gaze on her breasts to prove… What? That he was an ass? “So they are,” he said, lifting his eyes to hers. “Here’s the deal.”
“There is no deal, Court. You have no say so over my life. I’ll ask you one more time to leave.”
“Or you’ll what? Call the cops?”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ll do.”
He chuckled, amused that she had no clue she was threatening to call the police on an FBI agent. “Let’s sit, and I’ll tell you the deal.” Ignoring the little growl deep in her throat, he settled on the sofa. “Come on, G.G. Just hear me out.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“Why? You used to like it.” She’d been his Gorgeous Girl for six days. It must have been the sun and beer and salty air that had tricked him into mistaking lust for love. He had to admit the woman had a lot to do with that, too. All six years had done to her was turn her from a cute college girl with a love of life into a beautiful woman afraid of her own shadow. He could appreciate the physical change in her, but he didn’t like the fear her ex-husband had put in her eyes.
And when did she have that husband? Before he met her or after? Or even during? No, he couldn’t believe that she would have given herself to him so freely, showing no sign of guilt during their time together if she’d had a husband waiting in the wings. He wanted answers and he planned to get them.
“Lauren, please. Sit and hear me out.” Her cat jumped onto the sofa, climbed onto his lap, and peered up at him with curious blue eyes. “See, even… Hemingway, is it?” At her nod, he said, “Even Hemingway wants to hear what I have to say.”
Like a wary crab, she inched sideways to the nearest chair. “You have five minutes.”
Little did she know. He had as long as he wanted because she wasn’t going anywhere. She might not like it, but it was for her own good. As an officer of the law, he couldn’t stand by and watch her get herself hurt. From all the signs she’d unknowingly given him, she fully expected bad trouble was headed her way.
“I have an offer for you.”

Release Day, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Beware the Ranger (In the Long Arms of the Law #1) – Debra Holt

Will they be able to lay the past to rest and rekindle their love from the ashes?

BEWARE THE RANGER
In the Long Arms of the Lawman #1
Debra Holt
Releasing June 28, 2017
Tule Publishing

Twelve years ago, Kaitlyn Russell had a dream: living happily ever after with Clay Morgan. Except her grandmother had bigger plans for her beloved granddaughter and they didn’t include life in the small town of McKenna Springs as the wife of a young, poor deputy. Kaitlyn’s heart was broken when Clay and her grandmother convinced her to pursue her second love, Broadway stardom.
Texas Ranger Clay Morgan is a widower with a young son to raise. A dozen years before, he had to make the most difficult decision of his life when he agreed to let go of the only woman he’d ever loved so that she could pursue her dreams.
Now, fate and an old woman’s guilty conscience conspire to bring Clay and Kaitlyn back together once more. Will they be able to lay the past to rest and rekindle their love from the ashes?

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra Holt grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most. She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!) When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure. She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre.
Writing contemporary western romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs… to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.

Debra invites you to visit her website. She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via her email.

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Excerpt:
“Miss Russell,” he said as he handed back her license. “Can you step out of the car, please?”
“What is the problem, Deputy…Trooper, I mean?” Angie asked as she leaned across the center console to look up at the man who turned his officious smile in her direction.
“There’s someone on his way that will let you know what it’s all about. Miss Russell, if you would please…?” His hand went to the door handle.
Popping the door’s release, Kaitlyn opened it and stood. Her patience was beginning to grow thin.
Not one to leave her friend without support, Angie exited her own side and watched the scene from there, lending her friend her support.
“How long is this going to take? I really would like to know what this is about.” Kaitlyn fought to keep her voice controlled. She never liked guessing games.
“Well, ma’am, I think you’re about to get some answers.” As he spoke the words, he nodded over her shoulder.
They all turned to look. What the—? She was surprised to see a sleek, dark blue helicopter moving swiftly toward them. Kaitlyn raised her hand above her eyes to block the glare of the sun. She tried to make out the markings on the craft, but to no avail. What on earth was going on?
“This day is finally getting interesting again,” Angie spoke up. “Do you think they could give us a lift to New Mexico?”
“I’m glad you’re finding this amusing because I’m not.”
“That’s because you always like to be the one in control,” Angie responded with a slight toss of her head and a knowing grin.
“Yes, I do. I admit it. This person better have a quick explanation so we can be back on our way.”
The helicopter made a pass overhead then descended and swung back in a wide arc. In a few brief minutes, the pilot had easily set it down a few hundred yards distant on the side of roadway.
As the blades began to slow, the passenger side door opened. Another trooper stepped down from the craft. She moved toward them, the other trooper acknowledging her arrival with a slight nod of the head.
She nodded to both Kaitlyn and Angie before moving to stand beside her male counterpart. Obviously, this was not the person with the answers for them.
“Well, well…hellooo, handsome!”
Angie’s comment, spoken in a low voice, made Kaitlyn swing her attention back to see what Angie was talking about or, more precisely, who had elicited such a breathless compliment from her friend.
In that moment, the world imploded. Everything she had trusted to not change was shattered. Time came to a screeching halt. She literally froze in place. It would be sometime later when she tried to remember if she even managed a breath of air. Everything waited…waited on the tall male figure who had stepped out of the pilot’s side door and was advancing slowly toward her.

Intrigued by an Ancient Pedigree (Thieves of the Ton Book 4) – Sandra Sookoo

Synopsis: In the hunt for relics of infinite value, perhaps the greatest treasure of all is family.

Three months after the birth of his son, Miles Lawrence Hawkins, the fifth Earl of Archewyne, is attempting to acclimate to fatherhood, but he longs for adventure. Someone is masquerading as the heir to a powerful and ancient ducal title with the anonymous backing of other members of the ton, and Miles is asked to investigate. It would mean leaving his wife and child, yet he refuses to return to London without them.

Emmaline Hawkins, the new Countess of Archewyne, is torn between wanting to be a good mother and wishing to recapture the excitement digging up relics and hunting treasures brings. Just as she thinks her adventuring days are over, she meets a young pawn broker questing after the legendary Lancelot Stone. Determined to retain the thrill of the chase, she stumbles upon solid proof the relic is in Paris, and convinces her husband they should investigate.

As Miles and Emmaline chase shadows and investigate macabre sites, their steps are dogged by unsavory characters. The closer they move toward unmasking the duke’s imposter heir as well as finding the fabled relic, the bolder a killer grows in attempts on their lives. As an unbelievable plot unfolds, their only recourse is to fight, side by side, and hope that leaving staid domesticity behind was the right choice.

AMAZON | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | iTUNES

AUTHOR BIO: Sandra Sookoo is a bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in Victorian America or snarky humor in the contemporary world. Reading romance is a lot like eating fine chocolates—you can’t just have one. Good thing books don’t have calories!

When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards, Sandra spends time with her real life Prince Charming in central Indiana where she’s been known to goof off and make moments count because the key to life is laughter. A Disney fan since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | AMAZON | GOODREADS | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Release Day, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Rock Star (A Bad Boy Homecoming Romance) – Stacey Kennedy

A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty 
and a whole lot more complicated!

ROCK STAR
A Bad Boy Homecoming Novel
Stacey Kennedy
Releasing June 27, 2017

A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new erotic romance from USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy.

Veterinarian, Rae Evans expects to attend a dreadful ten-year high school reunion. Instead, she’s confronted by a past she’s never gotten over. The love of her life, Travis Walker, has returned to Catfish Creek, and the now-famous rock star wants only three things: Her. Naked. And screaming his name.

Fresh off his last world tour, Travis has returned to town to get a dose of reality. With fame casting a superficial cloud over Travis’s life, he’s scrambling to stay afloat. He needs an anchor, and Rae is that for him. But as he finds himself, he’s determined to remind Rae of the heat that once burned between them.
Before they know it, their one hot night is three, and soon, just like ten years ago, Travis holds the strings to Rae’s heart. But Rae’s not that young girl who watched her high school sweetheart race off to become famous. She’s a woman who knows what she wants and realizes when a man needs her. She just has to decide if she should put the past on repeat, or walk away from it forever.

STACEY KENNEDY is the USA Today bestselling author of the Dirty Little Secrets and Club Sin series. She writes deeply emotional romances about powerful men and the wild women who tame them. When she’s not writing sensual stories, she spends her time in southwestern Ontario with her real life hero, her husband, their two young children, and her other babies: a mini labradoodle named Jax and a chocolate labrador named Murphy. Stacey is a proud chocolate, television show, Urban Barn, and wine addict. She likes her heroes in her books like she likes her coffee . . . strong and hot!

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PLEASE NOTE: The excerpt below contains coarse language and sensual themes.

Chapter One:
Travis Walker made women’s panties disappear.
On most nights, anyway.
Tonight, sitting on a wooden stool set upon the stage at Catfish Creek High School’s conference center, only one woman was on his mind. His fingers strummed over the strings of the guitar, mouth rested near the microphone, and after he sang the final two lines of the chorus—I wanna kiss you under the moonlight. And love you ‘til the sun comes up—the applause from the crowd reopened his eyes.
Sparkling string lights and masquerade masks hung from the ceiling above him, reminding him that he wasn’t surrounded by thousands of his typical screaming and wild fans. In his Texas hometown, he stared out at teachers, old friends, and classmates, all dressed in formal wear and masquerade masks.
From his seat in the spotlight, he recalled playing for smaller crowds on this very stage back in high school. Those had been some of the happiest days of his life. Now, fresh off his last world tour, he realized he loved that scene, too. The energy of a smaller crowd, who knew him personally, and a larger crowd, who thought they were in love with him, was so different he couldn’t compare the two, but admittedly, he missed the intimacy that came from a smaller venue.
Done with his song, and with the crowd quieting, he slid the guitar strap over his head and handed the instrument back to a member of the band that’d been hired to play at Catfish Creek High School’s ten-year reunion. When he jumped off the stage, he sighed in relief, finding that all the cell phones pointed in his direction were now put away, and the flashing lights were gone.
That’s when he set his focus on what mattered tonight: finding her. Rae Evans—the muse behind the song he sang tonight, Moonlight.
He scanned the crowd overtop the decorated tables with their gold chairs, but the beauty had escaped him somehow. He recognized Annie Flowers, the librarian, who gave him a little wave, and Christopher Christianson, the principal, who was grabbing a drink from the bar. Travis could have sworn he spotted Rae entering the masquerade ball when he began his song. Desperation now clawed at his chest.
Determined to find her, he moved farther into the crowd, just as his cell vibrated in his pocket. Knowing exactly who it’d be, and that he couldn’t ignore the call, he reached for his phone and then frowned at the text from his manager, Scott Price.
Awesome job. The video is already up on YouTube. Fans are loving it. The mask was a nice touch. Don’t miss your flight in the a.m.
Travis shifted the black masquerade mask around his eyes, and the muscles along his shoulders tightened with the reminder of the weight they carried; of the need for him to always be on point, and the fact that nothing, not even his high school reunion, was sacred anymore.
Life had changed dramatically since the last time Travis stepped foot in the conference center. But he didn’t want to think about the shit weighing on him, so he fired off a response—I’ll be on it—then tucked his cell phone back into his pocket.
He had tonight to fix everything that was wrong with his life, and he wouldn’t waste it.
In the eyes of his manager, Travis had come to the reunion to put on a show and to look real to his fans. But Travis hadn’t come for the publicity; he had come for one very good reason: to find his anchor—the woman who stopped his world from spinning wildly out of control.
Lately, in a sea of chaos, he’d finally stopped drowning and saw a way back to the happiness he once had. That happiness had started with Rae, and surely, she was his way to find himself again.
One touch. One taste. He wanted to remember what that happiness felt like.
Again, he searched the crowd, ignoring the way some men glowered at him, and some women batted their lashes. Rae. That’s whom he’d come here to see tonight. Only her.
The band behind him started playing another ballad, and that’s when he found her, staring right at him from across the room. She wore a sleek, black, strapless gown around her slender figure with matching long, black gloves.
His muscles surged with adrenaline, and he went to move toward her when a hard voice came from behind him.
“Karly wants you to play another song.”
Travis slowly glanced over his shoulder to find the biggest asshole in Catfish Creek High School history, Jason, a blond-haired, slender, one-time big shot. Rae was best friends with Kate, and Kate had loved—and later married and divorced—the dipshit behind him.
Times had changed.
Travis didn’t owe Jason anything now, and he certainly didn’t owe the reunion’s event planner, Karly, shit. “You can tell Karly that I told her I’d play one song, and that’s exactly what I did. Bother me again, and we’ll have a problem.”
Jason didn’t make a move or say a word in rebuttal. Once a coward, always a coward.
Refocused on the only person who mattered tonight, and pulled by the energy only Rae conjured, Travis stretched out his fingers, shedding his frustrations as he moved with purpose through the crowd. Her pretty, hazel eyes surrounded by dark makeup followed his every move, and she yanked him forward with a simple look.
She’d always been a pretty girl, but she’d grown into a blindingly beautiful and stunning woman. Her gown fit her like a glove. A gold filigree mask somehow made the creaminess of her skin appear richer. She wore her shoulder-length, brown hair in big waves framing her round face.
Tonight, she didn’t look so fresh-faced and innocent. She looked sexy as hell, and just the sight of her again caused Travis’s cock to swell eagerly.
While he’d talked to her through email, text, and the occasional late-night, drunk phone call every birthday and Christmas over the last ten years, he hadn’t seen her. Not since that day on his parents’ porch. Sure, he’d kept an eye on her through the Catfish Creek Chronicle when they featured her for her charity work, and also on the website for the vet clinic she owned. But after he’d walked the path that led away from her, he’d never found his way back. Life got busy. New friends were found. Fame overtook him.
Now, he was…home.
When he finally reached her, the air between them felt charged. “Rae,” he said.
Her eyes warmed. Dark, red-painted lips curved. “Travis.”
Christ, he remembered how those lips tasted. How she tasted—every goddamn inch of her.
Beneath her mask, those pretty eyes now turned a little suspicious. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming to the reunion?”
Perhaps he should have called, but… “I wanted to surprise you.” Because there were important reasons he returned to his hometown, ones that he didn’t want her to know about. Yet.
It all began with an article in the Catfish Creek Chronicle.
Dr. Rae Evans feels she’s done what was needed to help the animals in Catfish Creek, and she’s ready to begin a new journey. She’s looking to open another clinic in one of the neighboring towns.
At twenty-eight years old, she’d achieved what she hoped to do by thirty, and that article reminded him of the guy he used to be when she’d first made those plans. He wasn’t the same man who left Catfish Creek all those years ago, and he didn’t know when exactly he lost himself. While Rae had likely found all the happiness she wanted in her success, he simply wanted to find his way back to the carefree guy he once was.
To do that, he had to come back to the place where he was the happiest. He had to come back to her. “But to tell you why I wanted to surprise you, I need to tell you a story.” He offered his hand. “How about we dance, and I’ll share it.”
For a second, he thought she might refuse him. She simply stared at his hand.
When her eyes met his again, and she slowly slid her palm into his, the tightening in his chest eased. He closed his fingers around hers and sensed her soften, making him smile.
Reliving that infectious energy she carried, he led her into the middle of the dance floor, then he spun her around and pulled her to him, nice and close, sliding his hand across her lower back.
She laughed softly, eyes twinkling behind her mask. “You’ve still got the moves, I see.”
“My moves will never fail me.” He grinned.
The band played the perfect song. Something a little sexy and slow, keeping her hips swaying perfectly with his. He did nothing to shield his erection, but one look into her eyes told him that was all right. With her breasts pressed against his chest, her cheeks a little pink now, he noticed the heat in the depths of her gaze. He’d recognize it anywhere. That fire felt like it belonged to him—always had, always would. Yet in the past, she’d shy away from that desire. Now, he noted how she firmly held his gaze, telling him she wasn’t the young lover he once had.
“How long are you staying in town?” she asked, in an obvious attempt to divert their attention away from his cock.
“Just tonight.” He stroked his thumb over the back of her hand, keeping her as close as he could, inhaling her flowery scent that had faded from his memory. “I fly out bright and early in the morning.”
“Only tonight?” She shot him a questioning glance. “You came all the way here from New York just for the reunion?”
“You seem surprised.”
She shrugged, seemingly unaffected when another couple bumped into her, her interest obviously centered on him. “Seems like a long way to come for only a few hours.”
A very good point, indeed. “Well, you see, that brings us to my story.” He sent her out, twirling her around before bringing her in close again and returning the smile she gave him. “But I think we need to go back even further for you to truly understand.”
“Go on,” she said, watching him closely.
He paused, collecting his thoughts, then he began. “You’ll never hear me complain about my life. I have far more than I probably deserve.”
“That’s a good thing,” she said firmly, even as a playful grin teased her lips. “You have a pretty amazing life, and you’d better not complain to me about all the fabulous trips you get to take around the world, or you might lose a tooth.”
He chuckled but leaned in, calling her out. “And how do you know so much about my life? Reading up on me?”
“A little,” she admitted.
That’s what he liked most about Rae. She was honest, through and through. The fact that she followed his life could bite him in the ass later, but at this point, there was no going back, so he pushed the conversation along. “So, then you know that I have a very good life. I travel. I stay in fancy hotels. I eat at amazing restaurants. I never have to lift a finger. I have everything that anyone should want.”
Her eyes searched his. “But it’s not the life you want?”
Of course, she caught on. He didn’t expect otherwise. That’s why he’d come to the reunion—to be with someone who truly knew him. “It’s not that I don’t want the life I live,” he explained gently. “It’s that something is missing. Something very important.”
“Which is?”
“The guy I used to be.”
She began nibbling her lip like she used to do in high school when she became confused. “What do you mean?”
“I can have anything I want, Rae. There is nothing that’s not available to me.” He slid his hand along her spine, pulling her in closer, leaving no room between them. “But the guy I was when we were together…I don’t know him anymore.”
Her eyes softened, and her voice grew quiet. “That’s really kinda sad, Travis.”
“It is what it is.” He shrugged, not wanting to get stuck on the things he couldn’t change. “My manager told me that I’d been invited to the reunion and saw it as a business opportunity. But I saw it as a personal one.”
The song shifted to something faster, and the crowd began to fill the dance floor, bumping into his back. He refused to let her go, holding her tightly against him. “Do you want to know the real reason I came to the reunion tonight?”
“Yes,” she said, a little breathlessly.
“I came to relive the past, Rae.” He released her hand, wrapping his other arm around her and bringing his mouth close to hers. “That’s the only reason I’m here. I want to remember what it’s like to be with a woman who knows the real me.” He was encouraged by her shiver. An involuntary movement that spoke of her willingness to give him all that he wanted and more.
Hot and hard, he dropped his head into her neck, inhaled the subtle hints of her flowery perfume, and said into her ear, “We have a chance that many people don’t get. To go back and feel what we felt before.” He dragged his nose across her neck in the way he knew she liked, feeling her quiver under his hands. “Tomorrow, our lives will return to normal. Nothing will have changed. You’ll live here, entirely focused on your clinic and your life, and I’ll live mine in New York. Tonight’s our one free pass to dip into the past, and I want to take it. Because tonight, Rae”—he brushed his lips across her neck, and a soft moan escaped her mouth as he murmured—“I want one more taste of you.”
She gasped and stepped back, blinking rapidly. “I…sorry, excuse me. I need to get some air.” Then those pretty pink cheeks and wide, excited eyes were gone, her dress trailing behind her as she ran for the door.
Travis shoved his hands into the pockets of his suit and grinned. He didn’t mind hunting her, it sweetened his reward.

Release Day Giveaway: Excerpt, Giveaway, Interview, & Review: Love with a Scottish Outlaw (Highland Weddings #3) – Gayle Callen

LOVE WITH A SCOTTISH OUTLAW
Highland Weddings #3
Gayle Callen
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books

Catriona Duff can’t remember who she is. Discovered in the midst of a raging thunderstorm, she has no recollection of how she came to be there or how the guards around her ended up dead. She certainly doesn’t remember that the handsome Highlander who saves her is her family’s sworn enemy. All she does know? She’s starting to fall in love with him.

Duncan Carlyle couldn’t believe his luck when he found Catriona, the daughter of the man who made him an outlaw and forced him from his ancestral home, stranded on the road with nothing to her name–including her memory. Speaking out against Aberfoyle’s evil practices of stealing poor and orphaned children to sell to the highest bidder has cost him everything, but now he has the opportunity to make the man understand the true price of a missing child. But as Duncan begins to know Cat, guilt over his actions wars with his irrepressible desire for her.

When Cat discovers the truth of her identity, she decides she can teach the outlawed clan chief a lesson, but in love, there’s more than one way to win.

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane. Discover more at her website.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

If you had to title your own life what would it be and why? “Lucky in Love.” I met my husband a year before we started dating, but once we dated, we married within six months. And I knew that first month that I was in love with him. So any time someone uses love at first sight in a romance novel, I think it could be true, because it happened to me. And we’ve been married 35 years, so it can work!

What is your favorite place to visit? It may sound cliché for a historical romance author, but I love England. I’ve visited three times now, and every time I see a different part of the country, I fall in love all over again. Last time, I visited my daughter who was studying for her semester abroad in London. The two of us rented a car and drove north—on the left side of the road!—all the way to Yorkshire. The countryside changes so much, from thatched roofs and abundant gardens, to bleak moors that roll to the horizon. Incredible!

Favorite writing place? Even though I’ve written most of my books from a small office on the lower level of my house, my favorite place to write is on my patio. I spent all last summer working outside 4-6 hours every day. My yard is mostly trees, but I have an umbrella to sit beneath when the sun is overhead. I planted begonias and impatiens, which do well in the shade. I put up my feet up, my laptop on a lap desk, and I write, listening to the sound of the bees, the birds, and distant lawn mowers. My neighbor has several bird feeders that spill seeds onto the ground, so sometimes birds, squirrels, bunnies, and chipmunks are all cavorting in the grass together, like my own private show. It’s so peaceful!

What are 5 things you must have with you when you write? Ooh, interesting question. I don’t think I’m superstitious about anything in particular, but there are some constants when I’m writing a book. A laptop is number one—a desktop computer can’t easily be moved, so I’ve used a laptop for years so I can set it aside to research, spread out my index cards, etc. And I want to be able to take it with me, too! Next, I always have ice water in a big insulated mug. I have index cards, because that’s how I keep track of all my scenes. I use a purple pen to write on them. And lastly, markers, because I highlight a corner of each index card to keep track of all my plotlines when I lay the cards out: purple for the heroine’s emotional growth, blue for the hero, pink for the romance plot, then green/orange/red for the various plotlines in the book. Yes, I love to organize and plot things out.

Can you tell us a little about your book? I was so excited to write LOVE WITH A SCOTTISH OUTLAW, mainly because I finally found a story to fit a plot I’d always wanted to write: amnesia. I opened the book with the heroine, Catriona, waking up in the Scottish Highlands, her head bleeding, not knowing who she is. It was such fun to write! The hero Duncan is the chief of an outlawed clan—and he knows exactly who she is, the daughter of his enemy. While Catriona thinks he is being kind enough to house her while she discovers who she is, Duncan is really holding her captive. And of course, the sparks fly!

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