Spotlight – Christmas in Transylvania

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To celebrate Halloween (and remind you that Christmas is just around the corner) I’ve got a paranormal treat for ya … I mean, who can resist Viking Vampire Angels?  Huh?!?  What a fantastic mix of yummy-hero-goodness.  And the sneak peek totally has me stoked to read this book!

Plus, Sandra has a contest that will get you all caught up with her series.  Too cool!

*****

9780062117557Christmas in Transylvania

A Deadly Angels Novella

By Sandra Hill

Blurb:

For the first time ever the leader of the Viking Vampire Angels, Vikar Sigurdsson, has been talked into celebrating a traditional Christmas! The tree has been decorated, the gifts have been wrapped and the stockings have been hung. And that’s mistletoe, not cobwebs hanging from the ceiling of the creepy castle full of vangels…really!

The icing on the vampire cookie comes when vangel Karl Mortensen rescues Faith Larson, a battered young waitress, from her abusive boyfriend and hides her in the castle amidst the Christmas chaos. But what Karl thought was a frail young teenager is actually a very tempting woman. And she thinks his fangs are sexy!

But a strange “Christmas visitor” at the castle and demon vampires up to their old tricks could threaten the budding romance between Karl and Faith. It’s an impossible match: a human and a vangel, but Christmas is a time for magic.

Karl and Faith don’t stand a chance…

Available at Amazon

*****

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Santa with fangs?…

“’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the castle, not a creature was stirring, not even a bat–”

“Very funny!” Vikar Sigurdsson elbowed Karl Mortensen and almost knocked him off his kitchen stool. They sat side by side at the twenty-foot island counter in the huge castle kitchen. Karl’s halfbrained rewording of the famous yuletide story had been in response to Vikar’s telling him that Alex, Vikar’s wife, wanted them to have a traditional Christmas celebration this year, complete with holly, and decorated trees, and caroling, and feasts, and Santa Claus, and jingle bells, and gifts. All that ho-ho-ho nonsense.

‘Twas enough to give a thousand-plus-year-old Viking vampire angel a headache!

Yes, Vikar lived in a lackwit, rundown castle (more like falling down, if you ask me, which no one ever does) in lackwit Transylvania, and, no, not Transylvania, Romania. No, this was lackwit Transylvania, Pennsylvania (Don’t ask!). As for bats, three years ago when he’d begun the renovation of this hundred-year-old, seventy-five room monstrosity, they’d had to first remove ten tons of guano. (That’s bat shit, to you uninformed.) And they still hadn’t eliminated all of the irksome creatures. Try sleeping at night to the sound of flapping wings in the turrets. Not that vangels (Viking vampire angels, to you uniformed, again. Jeesh!), like himself, weren’t accustomed to the sound of flapping wings, but usually it was from St. Michael the Archangel, their heavenly mentor aka Pain In The Arse, whom they rudely referred to as Mike. (When he was not around.)

Vikar sipped at his long-necked bottle of beer. He and Karl were enjoying a mid-
afternoon break from battle training down in the dungeons while Alex was off somewhere, probably dreaming up more of her honey-do jobs for him. Not that I haven’t told her more than once that they are more like honey-damn-don’t chores.

This is how the conversations usually went:

“Honey, we need another bathroom on the fourth floor.”

What was it with this “we” business. Women always used the “we” card when trying to convince men of one thing or another.

“We already have two bathrooms on the fourth floor.”

Vikar recalled a time when the only toilet facilities were wooden holes in an outdoor privy or a private spot in the woods. It had been cold enough betimes to turn a cock into an icicle.

“I know. That’s why we need three. Whew! It is so hot today. I think I’ll go take a bubble bath. I don’t suppose…”

Alex knew sure as Eve tempted Adam that Vikar loved taking bubble baths with her. There was something about popping bubbles that appealed to the boy in him. Or the man.

Face it, she pays no attention to my complaints. All she has to do is smile in that certain way, or hint at some sexual play, and I am Norse putty in her hands. Like this most recent, brilliant idea of hers. Holy clouds! She will be turning us all into ridiculous Santa Clauses. With fangs!

He glanced over at Karl who was sipping with distaste from a bottle of Fake-O. Vikar could have told him it was better to just chug the crap down and cleanse the palate with a bottle of beer. Fake-O was the synthetic blood vangels drank when they’d been too long from feeding during a mission.

Karl was a quiet kind of guy, the type that didn’t feel the need to talk just to fill gaps in a conversation. A man’s man, modern folks would say. He did the jobs that were handed to him with competency. No whining or complaints, like Vikar’s brother Trond was wont to do, especially if it involved anything strenuous. Trond was a sloth if there ever was one, although he was working to reform himself from his grave sin, as they all were.

There was a sadness about Karl, too, but not like Vikar’s brother Mordr who for centuries turned his sadness into a berserk madness, killing practically everything that got in his pathway. Mordr’s sin had of course been wrath.

Vikar liked Karl.

Breaking the companionable silence, Vikar continued with his tirade, “It would be a sacrilege for us to celebrate such a commercial holiday, wouldn’t it? We’re practically angels.”

“Practically?” Karl snorted. “You didn’t look very angelic when I saw you coming out of your bedroom this morning.”

Vikar grinned in remembrance. Three years he’d been wed, with more than a thousand years of experience in the bed arts under his belt, literally, and still his wife could surprise him.

“Besides, Vikings back in your time celebrated the holiday season, didn’t you?”

In my time? Vikar mused. Makes me sound ancient. Which I am. Still, I like to think of myself as my thirty-three human years.

Karl was a Viking, too…all vangels were, by birth if not descent…but he was young for a vangel, having died only about forty years ago during the Vietnam War.

“Vikings celebrated the Yule season with great vigor. ‘Tis true. Yule logs and gift giving. Feasts. Not a religious holiday, more a commemoration of the Winter Solstice. It was nothing like the secular extremes evident today. Even though we did, of course, have reindeer in the Norselands. None with a red nose, though, that I recall.”

“It could be as secular or not, as you wish,” Karl said. “Besides, Alex is right. Kids should experience the holiday season. And this will be the first Christmas that yours are old enough to understand.”

The traitor! Vikar thought at Karl’s siding with his wife, but then he was probably right.

Gunnar and Gunnora, Vikar and Alex’s “adopted” twins, were three years old. For the past four days, ever since Thanksgiving…another chaotic holiday Alex had talked him into!…Gun and Nora had been yipping and yapping about Santa this and Rudolph that and jingle belling ‘til Vikar’s head hurt. It had all started when they’d gone to something called “Black Friggsday” at the mall. Rather, “Black Friday.” Betimes, he still fell into the old Norse words, like Friggsday for Friday, because, after all, despite being a vampire angel, he was a Viking at heart. Which should be good enough reason to not have to be reminded to ever fall for that trap again.

“Honey, would you drive us to the mall? Gun and Nora need new shoes. It will be fun.” Hah! If I never hear “Alvin and the Chipmunks” again, it will be too soon!

“Did you celebrate Christmas when you were growing up?” he asked Karl.

The young man…even though Karl had forty-two vangel years on top of his twenty-
two human ones, Vikar still thought of him as young…rarely spoke of his past. His situation had been unique amongst the vampire angels since he’d left behind a young wife who lived out her human years until she died two years ago at age sixty-two. Imagine staying the same age yourself but watching a loved one grow older and older and then perish of a wasting disease!

Karl smiled. A sad smile, Vikar noticed. “Yes. I grew up on a small farm in Minnesota with a brother and two sisters. We were poor as church mice, even though my Dad worked from dawn ‘til dusk milking cows and growing corn and hay. Mom had a big vegetable garden and put away hundreds of Mason jars filled with different things every fall. String beans, carrots, peas, corn, limas, beets, pickles, chow chow, peaches, pears, applesauce. If it grew, she preserved it.

“We had a Christmas tree, of course, with strings of ancient lights that were probably a fire hazard. And old ornaments. Homemade ones, too. We believed in Santa Claus, early on, anyhow. We even believed the old tale that animals talk on Christmas Eve. Many a night, us kids snuck out of the house to the barn to listen. I swore I heard old Bessie say, ‘Moo-rry Christmas’ one time.” He laughed.

And Vikar laughed with him. It was a revelation hearing Karl talk about his background. He hardly ever talked about himself.

“Mostly our gifts were practical ones. Maybe a handknitted sweater or mittens or socks. Nuts, hard candies, and some fruit that was out-of-season for us, like nectarines, would be in our stockings, which we hung without fail over the fireplace.”

There are thirty fireplaces in this friggin’ castle, Vikar mused, and had a sudden horrifying image of stockings hanging from every one of them. Some of the younger vangels were often like children themselves and would sure as sin be wishing for gifts from the fat man in the red suit. Images of Armod, the sixteen-year-old vangel from Iceland, immediately came to mind. Armod fancied himself Michael Jackson reincarnated. (You do not want to see a Viking vampire moonwalking! Trust me!)

“Each of us only got one present,” Karl continued.

Over the holiday there could be as many as a hundred vangels in residence at the castle, especially if his brothers came with their contingents. Knowing Alex, she’d probably already issued invitations. Surely, he wouldn’t be expected to go gift shopping for all of them. Would he? Vikar shuddered with mall tremors.

His headache felt as if it were growing. Maybe he was developing a brain tumor. Good idea. That might be sufficient excuse for Alex to get the Christmas bug out of her…um, head.

“One gift only, but, man, it was always something special. I remember the year I got a BB gun.”

“And your parents didn’t worry that you would shoot your eye out?” Vikar asked, referring to the famous line from “The Christmas Story,” a movie some of his vangels loved.

“Nah! Growing up on a farm, we were used to hunting and stuff. I got to be a pretty good shot, too. That’s why I was recruited to be a sniper in the Army, and–” Karl’s words trailed off. He never spoke of his time in Vietnam, the time of his great sin. “Anyhow, there’s nothing for a kid like those weeks leading up to Christmas. The smells of evergreens in the house and the baking. Ma made a dozen different kind of cookies, and pies, even homemade fruit cake. And the Christmas dinner was a regular feast with turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rutabaga and corn, string bean casserole, cranberry sauce, fresh fruit salad, and rolls warm from the oven dripping with butter.”

At the mention of all that baking and food preparation, their cook’s head shot up. Lizzie Borden had had been sitting at the far end of the counter skimming through a recipe book. He hadn’t realized they’d been speaking so loud. And, yes, it was that Lizzie Borden, who wielded her axe these days chopping vegetables and beef carcasses. Lizzie was the most sour-dispositioned woman Vikar had ever met. She exchanged a look with him that said loud and clear, “Don’t even think about it!”

Karl hadn’t noticed Lizzie’s expression. Instead, he was still lost in childhood memories. “The excitement, that’s what I remember most. The anticipation of Christmas was almost as special as Christmas itself.” He shrugged as if helpless to explain it all.

Actually, he’d done a pretty good job, not of convincing Vikar that he should go all out with Christmas madness as Alex’s plan would surely be, but showing a more simple view of the holiday. “Is the farm still there?”

Karl nodded. “I’ve not been permitted to make myself visible to any of my family, especially while Sally was still alive.” He bit his bottom lip for a long moment before going on. “Mom died a long time ago, but my Dad is still alive. Finally retired at eighty-nine. My little brother Erik works the land now. Quite a prosperous operation these days.” He laughed. “I say little, but Erik is fifty-eight now, and has not just grandchildren, but one great-granddaughter.”

Just then, Vikar heard the loud bang, bang, bang of little feet stomping down the uncarpeted back stairs. Laughing (Was there anything sweeter than the sound of a child laughing?), excited chatter (Do children know how to talk below a shout?), shrieking “I’m first, I’m first.”

Gunnora rushed through the doorway of the servant’s staircase, shoving her brother aside with a swing of her tiny hip. Her blonde braids were half undone and she had a dirt smudge on her freckled nose. “Papa, look what I found in the attic.” She was carrying a wooden soldier nutcracker almost a tall as she was. “Gimme a nut, Lizzie,” she ordered.

“I’ll give you a nut, you little tyrant,” Lizzie muttered and went back to reading her recipe book.

Close behind Nora was her twin Gunnar who carefully held a wooden stable inside of which Vikar could see what appeared to be painted wood Nativity figures. Gun put it on the floor and began to arrange the little statues of the Holy Family and animals. “I need some straw,” he said to himself. “Betcha that Amish man at the farmers’ market has some.”

And then there was Alex, his wife, who could still make his heart leap (and other body parts), despite their being married three years now. “Honey, wait ‘til you see what I found for you,” she said, placing a dust-covered box on the counter in front of him.

Uh-oh. There is that “honey” again. Best I raise my shield and prepare for battle.

Gun and Nora were jumping up and down with excitement. Open it, Papa. Open it.” And the gleam in Alex’s eyes was much like that of a Norseman just home from a long trip a-Viking, offering some treasure or other to a loved one. Maybe she was not asking another favor of him, but granting one. He would be open minded.

“Thank you, love,” he said graciously.

But then he saw what was inside and thought, Screw open-minded.

He said, “Holy shit!” before he could catch himself. Alex did not like him to use foul language in front of the children. But this required a “Holy shit!” if anything ever did. Inside the box, was a moth-holed, old-fashioned Santa suit, with a black leather belt, big boots, and a ridiculous peaked cap.

Just then, Nora let out a little squeal and set aside the nutcracker. Running over to the window facing the back courtyard, she said, “It’s snowing! It’s snowing!”

And Gun said, “Maybe we can make a snowman, just like Frosty.”

And Alex, who was tone deaf or close to it, burst out into song, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

And Karl said, “I’m outta here.”

“Can I come with you?” Vikar asked.

“Hell, no, Mister Scrooge!”

Once Karl was gone and the children had gone off with a grumbling Lizzie to find some coal and carrots and a cap for Frosty, he and Alex were alone. He glanced pointedly at the open box and said, “Surely, you don’t expect me to…come on, Alex, sweetling…Santa with fangs? Ha, ha, ha.”

She didn’t laugh. Instead, she gave him that little secret Mona Lisa smile…and, yes, he had met the model for the Mona Lisa painting one time and knew exactly why she had been smiling. “Honey,” Alex purred.

Beware of women who purr. “No, no, no!” he said. And he continued to insist, “No, no, no,” until Alex yawned and mentioned taking a little nap. He did so enjoy afternoon “naps” with his wife.

Still, he protested, “A Viking Santa?”

Somehow Alex managed to hop up onto his lap, straddling his hips. With arms looped around his neck, she said, “Please?”

“I will be the laughingstock of Vikings throughout this world and the other,” he said on a groan of surrender.

Oddly, he found that he no longer cared.

*****

Sandra Hill Author PhotoAuthor Info:

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.

https://www.sandrahill.net/

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHillAuthor

Join the author’s mailing list

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/177305.Sandra_Hill

*****

Giveaway:

1 print set open to US Shipping containing KISS OF WRATH, KISS OF PRIDE, KISS OF TEMPTATION, KISS OF SURRENDER by Sandra Hill

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc812/

*****

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Spotlight – Laying Low in Paradise

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I’ve had a chance to check out some of Laying Low in Paradise and from what I’ve seen it is a great start to a new series.

*****

Laying low in Paradise-FINAL coverLaying Low in Paradise

The Casteloria Series Book One

by Kristy K. James

Genre: Romance

Number of pages: 191

Cover Artist: Vila Design

Blurb:

He’s hiding out because someone wants him dead…

Cameron Rafferty is keeping secrets. Dangerous secrets that could endanger the lives of everyone around him. His plan was simple…keep a low profile until the would-be-killer was found. And it was working – until an accident changed everything. Before he knows it, he finds himself becoming more involved with the family next door, and wishing for things he shouldn’t. Things that will put their lives in jeopardy, too.

Her summer plans didn’t include secrets and danger…

Spending summers on Bois Blanc Island was a tradition for author Laura Keane and her young son. Filled with special memories of the husband she’d lost to war, she looked forward to days of reminiscing, playing, and working on her newest novel. She didn’t expect this year to be any different – but that was before their sexy neighbor came to her rescue like a knight in shining armor. Will that armor be tarnished when she finds out what he is and why he’s living next door?

Available at Amazon

*****

Excerpt:

“It’ll be okay, Cameron. I know it will,” Laura whispered, reaching over to place her hand on his. Cameron turned it over and gently squeezed hers.

“Thanks, Laura. I’m sure it will be. It just feels so…mean.”

“Sometimes we parents have to take the hard road. None of us like it, but… Well, you wouldn’t let Brendan run around in the middle of a busy street, or drink bleach, would you?”

“Of course not,” he said, flashing her a smile.

“We keep them from hurting themselves, Cameron. It’s our job.”

“I think I’m going to have to demand a pay raise then,” he teased. “This was not in the job description.” Laura snickered.

“There’s a whole lot of stuff that never made it into the parenting handbook that I wish I’d known about.”

“Would you have made any different decisions?”

“Knowing what I know now? Of course. It’s easy to look back and say, ‘Well I sure screwed that up.’ But, if we learn from our mistakes, it’s okay. Kids tend to be very forgiving of our shortcomings.”

Laura figured she was talking too much, probably too fast, too. Cameron was still holding her hand, and she was finding it a little hard to breathe. She hadn’t held hands with any male, except Sam, since Jake died. And she was realizing that she liked it. Liked the fact that it was Cameron’s hand anyway.

“So when are we going to break out the food, Mom? I’m starving.”

“You’re always starving,” Laura said with a chuckle. She squeezed Cameron’s hand before letting it go. Reaching in the cooler beside her chair, she pulled out a covered container with the hot dogs. “These are for those who are lacking in class. For those with more discriminating taste,” she announced, pulling out the other two, “I also packed some grownup food.”

“What’s this?” Nolan asked, taking the one filled with the cut up roast. He held it nearer the fire, then looked at Laura like she was his hero. “I think I love you.” She laughed again.

“You just hate hot dogs, hard as that is to believe,” Finley said, reaching over and ruffling Sam’s hair. “Guess it’s you and me, kid. I love hot dogs.”

“Smart man,” Sam said, getting up to haul the bucket of water with the dowels to a more convenient spot. “Us classless guys have to stick together.”

*****

Kristy K. James author picture2Author Info:

Kristy K. James’ first goal in life was to work in law enforcement, until the night she called the police to check out a scary noise in her yard. Realizing that she might someday have to investigate scary noises in yards just as dark as hers if she continued on that path, she turned to her other favorite love…writing.

Since then her days have been filled with being a mom and reluctant zookeeper (7 pets), creating stories, and looking for trouble in her kitchen.

http://kristykjames.net/

https://twitter.com/KristyKJames

https://www.facebook.com/kristykjames

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5051855.Kristy_K_James

*****

Giveaway:

5 digital copies A Cool Summer in Paradise (book 2 The Casteloria Series)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc814/

*****

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Spotlight – The Publicist Book 3

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I love these cover reveals and this one is a ton of fun.  Guaranteed to get you in the mood for Book 3!

*****

 

It’s finally here, the long-awaited sequel to The Publicist! CLIMAX by Christina George is the final installment in the series. It comes in two parts:


The Covers

 

 

Here is the Bundled set version:

 


About the Book

Release date: December 15, 2014. You can pre-order now!

 

Kate Mitchell has never forgiven herself for breaking Nick Lavigne’s heart. Now he’s back and he’s moved on, and it’s affecting Kate’s life more than she’s willing to admit.
Kate Mitchell has everything. She’s the head of a crazy successful publishing house, engaged to the traffic-stopping sexy Mac Ellis and she’s about to sign one of the biggest authors of her career.
And that’s when everything falls apart.
Everything is perfect…until it’s not.
In a city of 8 million people Kate manages to run into someone she never expected to see again.
Nick is handsome, impossibly kind, every girl’s dream, and Kate’s former fiancé. He’s also the brother of the rising star author she’s trying to sign. Now that Nick’s back in town and has moved on he insists he’s over Kate, but part of him still can’t get past how amazing they were, and his sister won’t let anyone forget how brutally it ended.
When Mac is dealt a life-changing blow, it forces Kate to question every single choice she’s made.
Follow Kate as she embarks on a journey of life and love, navigating through the decisions that will change it all forever.


About the Author

 

 

Christina George has worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn’t. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, cause it’s more fun to guess, right? George continues to work in publicity and helps authors because at the end of the day she does love books, she loves publishing, and she loves authors. She hopes you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as she enjoyed creating it.


Let’s Revisit the Characters…

 

 

Some Fun Stuff!

Head on over to Kate’s site and listen to a sample of the audio book version of The Publicist and enter her Amazon gift card giveaway. She also has a playlist of songs for the book!
So which team are you on? Want to know who Kate ends up with?

 

 

Want to win a signed copy of all three books? How about a $20 Amazon Gift Card?


And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spotlight – In The Dark

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Today we’re looking at another new paranormal romance series.  This time it is Jen Colly’s “The Cities Below”.  

*****

inthedark[1]In the Dark

The Cities Below Book 1

by Jen Colly

Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

Publisher: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press

Date of Publication: November 3, 2014

Number of pages: 190

Cover Artist: Renee Rocco

Blurb:

Soren and Faith must find a way to survive the evil and darkness.

Faith’s spur of the moment vacation, meant to free her and boost her spirits, has left her lost on the streets of Paris. And apparently, Paris is populated with something more than just humans. Vampires, suave, seductive and oh so sexy, and one such warrior vampire has set his sights on her.

When Soren hears Faith’s terrified screams, he rushes in and saves her life without considering the consequences. Two problems: one, she’s a human and clearly aware of his vampire qualities, and two, the men who attacked her were not men at all, but demons. Their target, his beloved underground city of Balinese. He can never let Faith go home again, but can she learn to love his people…love him?

Available at Amazon

*****

Excerpt:

Faith looked up at the silhouette of a man curled over her, his head barely blocking the raindrops pelting her face. She was moving, her feet were not, and the city was sideways. The foreign world passed by her, the images coming slowly, as if she were seeing everything through someone else’s eyes.

She was numb, her muscles from cold, her mind from shock. Her memories seemed intact, scrambled and hazy, but intact. She remembered being afraid of flying on the airplane, and the taste of the ginger gum that kept her nausea at bay.

She’d been lost in the rain on the way back to her hotel. Then two men had trapped her in an alley.

Her shoulders and ribs shuddered with chills powerful enough to make her teeth rattle.

She fought through it, lifted her head and looked down at her hands.

“My purse.” The words didn’t come out right. Her jaw refused to open, and her lips had difficulty forming the simple words. She tried again. “Took my purse.”

“I have it. You need to be warm and dry right now,” the man said, keeping up his pace, never once looking at her. By the sheer confidence in his husky tones, without a doubt, this was the man who had saved her. That intense look on his face was nearly the same as when he’d pulled the muggers off her, driven them into the wall. It was oddly comforting, at the moment.

Tall buildings, probably homes, surrounded her, swaying in her field of vision as he strode along. Light peeked through several arched windows, yellow and warm.

He entered one of the larger buildings as if he owned it and carried her past several numbered doors to the end of the hallway, where he started down a creaking set of stairs. Suddenly she feared falling down those stairs, but her shuddering muscles wouldn’t allow her to hold on tighter. She closed her eyes and trusted him not to drop her.

After the last step had been left behind, she took a deep breath, opened her eyes, and almost wished she hadn’t. The basement hallway was musty, and each bare light bulb they passed only revealed cracks chasing each other across the ceiling.

He stopped, pressed her against a green door as he fished for the doorknob with the hand supporting her legs.

“Put me down,” she said, trying to help, and fully expecting him to drop her to her feet.

He fought with the knob until it finally gave and carried her inside, then kicked the door shut behind him.

*****

4036083Author Info:

Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years.

Now she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series The Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.

Website: www.jencolly.weebly.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jen.colly.1

Twitter: www.twitter.com/collyjen

Blog: www.jencolly.weebly.com/the-jen-life-blog

*****

Giveaway:

3 ebook copies of In the Dark

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc816/

*****

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Spotlight – Soulfire

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We’re starting off the week taking a look at a new paranormal romance series by up-and-coming author Juliette Cross.  Early reviews look good!

*****

SF CoverSoulfire

The Nightwing Series Book One

by Juliette Cross

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press

Date of Publication: October 20, 2014

Number of pages: 109

Cover Artist: Renee Rocco

Blurb:

In a world divided by prejudice and hatred, only love can bridge the chasm. Tensions are rising in the Gladium Province. The boundary between humans and Morgons has begun to blur. While the human aristocracy strives to maintain distance between their daughters and the dragon-hybrid race, fate has other plans.

As the daughter of the corporate king, Jessen Cade is duty-bound to honor her arranged marriage to a man she detests. Feeling trapped by family duty and a loveless future, she longs for more, straying to the Morgon side of the city.

Lucius Nightwing is the eldest son of the powerful Morgon clan, and the greatest enemy of Jessen’s father. When a bar-room brawl thrusts Jessen into his arms, his dragon roars to the surface, craving to sate his carnal hunger in the brown-eyed beauty. The beast in Lucius recognizes her as his own, even if the man refuses to admit the truth.

Available at KensingtonAmazon | Barnes & Noble

*****

Excerpt:

Prologue

Thousands of years ago, Radomis, the dragon king of the North, took flight on the last full moon of winter. Beating great, black wings, he soared away from his mountainous kingdom, lured by some unknown force to the sultry lands in the west where humans dwelled. Dragons and humans had always lived apart.

On this same night, Princess Morga honored the fertility rite of bathing under the full moon the night before her wedding. As she stepped from the natural steaming pool, rivulets of water glistened over milk-pale skin, ebony hair slicked over her breasts and down her back. The dragon king saw her. Instant desire ensnared his beastly heart. He descended.

Shifting into human form, a man of might and beauty, he murdered her guards and handmaidens. Horrified, Morga could do nothing when the dragon king took her in his arms, hard lust in cold eyes. The moment his tongue licked into her mouth, she felt the burning of soulfire—the dragon elixir meant for his one and only mate. Golden heat melted through blood and bone, filling her with euphoric pleasure, bonding her to him forever.

Radomis took her on the ground among bloody bodies and moon-shadows, intent to sate his hunger. One night would never be enough. Shifting into dragon form, he carried her in his claws back to his kingdom. She would be his queen, trapped in a gilded cage of opulence as the object of his endless desire.

From their union, a child was born—an abomination. A human body with dragon wings and dragon strength. The boy, Larkos, was outcast among dragonkind, including his father. Only Morga showed him any love.

When Larkos reached manhood, he wielded his rage with an avenging sword, tracking and killing all of dragonkind. Even in beast form, his father could not match him, finally falling to the forgotten son’s sword. What Larkos did not know was that soulfire bonded his loving mother to the beast in such a way that when his dragon-heart stopped beating, so did hers.

This is the tale I’d been told when my body began changing from child to woman, a warning for young girls to beware of Morgon men.

“Never stray from your own kind, Jessen,” my mother would say, “or you could end up like Princess Morga, a slave and outcast to be abhorred.”

The problem was, I’d never been a very obedient daughter. Never the one to do exactly as I was told. And fairy tales have no meaning when the stars align and Fortune spins her wheel, weaving her own story for your heart.

*****

JCross Author PicAuthor Info:

Juliette calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories.

She has a B.A. in creative writing from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in gifted education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school.

Her love of mythology, legends, and art serve as constant inspiration for her works. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance–brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes.

Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

Website: https://www.juliettecross.com

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

Blog: http://www.juliettecross.com/blog

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Juliette__Cross

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/crossjuliette/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7795664.Juliette_Cross

*****

Giveaway:

5 ebook copies of Soulfire

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc805/

*****

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Book Review – How to Handle a Heartbreaker

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cover44578-mediumHE CAN’T GET HER OUT OF HIS HEAD

It’s lust at first sight when Brody Singer first lays eyes on Abby Dunn. The dark-haired beauty looks a lot like a woman he once knew, who died years ago. At first Brody fears his attraction is a holdover from that secret crush, but Abby’s definitely different. She’s a lot shyer, a lot sexier and, despite her attempts to dissuade his interest, absolutely mesmerizing.

SHE CAN’T GET HIM OUT OF HER BOOKS

Abby isn’t having it. She’s still trying to put her last disastrous relationship behind her and overcome the flaws her ex wouldn’t let her forget. But somehow Brody isn’t getting the hint. It doesn’t help that when writing her steamy novels, she keeps casting Brody as the hero. 

Brody is more than happy to serve as her muse and eager to help make sure her “research” is authentic. But when their research turns into something real…will she choose her own happily ever after?

I really liked both Abby and Brody.  They are regular everyday people with regular everyday problems and it is fun seeing them give in to their feelings for one another.  (I missed the first book in this series, but I think that it might only have given me a little more insight into the characters, that’s about it.) Abby had a bad relationship that has left her feeling less than sure about herself and her appeal.  Brody has some serious baggage from his childhood that causes him to feel unworthy and he hides any serious feelings behind a goofy facade.

I was completely captivated by these two as they worked thru these issues and figured out whether they can make a go of a real relationship.  You have to be ready for some heartache to go with the romance though because they have their troubles to go along with fun.

How to Handle a Heartbreaker is steamy and heartwarming and funny and sweet – a totally delicious package.  And even better we get (or continue) our introduction to the other McCauley brothers, who are guaranteed to delivery just as fantastic future stories.  I’m so looking forward to seeing the other two brothers find the women who are their matches.

Book Review – HOT Rebel

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6. Hot_Rebel_USA rebel on the run…

Victoria Royal is a traitor. Or so the U.S. Government believes. Victoria was once a promising sniper in the Army, but now she’s gone rogue—worse, she’s just landed in the middle of a Hostile Operations Team mission in the desert and blasted it all to hell. 

Nick “Brandy” Brandon doesn’t expect to run into Victoria when he’s bugging out from a mission gone wrong. It’s been more than three years since she disappeared from the sniper course they were in together, and he’s finally stopped thinking about her killer curves and smart mouth.

But now she’s back—and she’s far more dangerous than Nick ever believed possible… Is she really a traitor? Or is there something more at stake? He has to decide fast—because time’s running out and too many lives hang in the balance…

Take everything I’ve said about the first three books (HOT Pursuit, HOT Mess & HOT Package) and just hit repeat because once again Harris is totally on.  Full of alpha males and the sassy women who love them (and who they love), plus a ton of action and adventure, her HOT series is so much fun!

Victoria’s unusual upbringing and the trouble with her sister has definitely affected her life and her interactions with others.  She’s not soft and cuddly, but she has a big heart that she’s not sure how to share.  She’s always had a tumultuous relationship with Nick and, thrown together for a mission, he brings some extra complications she doesn’t need.  Not only is the action part of their story exciting but I was addicted to seeing these two work out their issues and find the answers they need AND their own happy ending.

I’ll be honest – I’ve skipped a couple of stories and I have absolutely no idea why.  They are fast-paced, engrossing and include a group of totally addictive characters.  There is some overflow in the plot but, speaking as someone who has missed books 4 and 5, it isn’t that big an issue.  It might make it a little interesting when I go back to read the others but Harris’s stories are so good that I’m definitely not going to let that stop me.

If y’all haven’t read anything in Harris’s HOT series, you are in for SUCH a treat with HOT Rebel.

*****

HOT Rebel is the latest of Lynn Raye Harris’s A Hostile Operations Team Novels

Book 1: Hot Pursuit (Matt & Evie)

Book 2: Hot Mess (Sam & Georgie)

Book 3: Hot Package (Billy & Olivia)

Book 4: Dangerously Hot (Kev & Lucky)

Book 5: Hot Shot (Jack & Gina)

Book 6: Hot Rebel (Nick & Victoria)

Guest Post – The Sins of a Few

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And now our second book of the day where an author is going outside the norm with her historical romances … and I have to say I’m totally hooked on the idea of Ballance’s Salem series!

But before she gives us a look into her books, Sarah was kind enough to share a bit about herself.

*****

*What do you like best about writing romances?

I swear, I think I fall in love with my husband again with every book I write. Each of my heroes has a borrowed trait or connection with him, so as I develop those hot, sexy characters I’m always getting butterflies for my husband. I’m so grateful for that. He’s an amazing man and I’m so fortunate to be able to see that in new ways with each book I write.

*Which of your characters/books was the most fun to write? 

Hands down, THE MARRIAGE AGENDA. It’s a contemporary romance with a lot of heat, and it’s the first time in my entire life that writing sex came easily. I really, really enjoyed that experience. :)

*If you weren’t a writer and could be anything you want, what would it be?

My first job is to be a mom to my kids, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. My husband and I have six of ‘em and we homeschool, so our lives are overrun by offspring. Writing comes second, and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m grateful for the escape I get in the evenings when it’s time to go to my cave (as they all say) and hang out with my characters for a while. :)

THE SINS OF SALEM SERIES

People often ask why I wrote a romance set during the Salem witch trials. It’s a good question as Salem, with a reputation of chastity and a history of hanging witches, isn’t exactly associated with romance. The truth is, I didn’t set out to write a Salem romance. In fact, when I landed this contract I’d never written a historical in my life, much less one set during Salem. But the time has always fascinated me, and when I mentioned to my editor that I should write about it, she told me to do it. So I did. The result is a series that explores three distinct points of the trials and how those current events affected the very real people who lived them. History relays the facts, but it loses the romance. The Sins of Salem series finds it, proving that love can happen anywhere, even in 17th century Salem.

Each of the books in the Sins of Salem series can be read as a standalone or in order:

Her Wicked Sin (book one) http://www.entangledpublishing.com/her-wicked-sin/

An Unexpected Sin (book two) http://www.entangledpublishing.com/an-unexpected-sin/

The Sins of a Few (book three) http://www.entangledpublishing.com/the-sins-of-a-few/

*****

SoaF-1600pxThe Sins of a Few

Sins of Salem series

by Sarah Ballance

Blurb:

Salem, 1692

The moment he steps off the boat and into his hometown of Salem, Nathanial Abbot knows the rumors about Salem are indeed true. For in the two years since he’s left Salem—disowned by his family and seeking a fortune of his own—the town has changed. It is dark with discord and suspicion… and accusations of witchcraft. Now all that remains for him is the woman he’s never forgotten.

But Faith Downing isn’t happy to see Nathanial. In his absence, his younger sisters have ignited the chain of hysteria that resulted in twenty deaths—including Faith’s aunt, to whom Nathanial owed his life. Yet through her acrimony, Faith can’t prevent herself from responding to the man Nathanial has become, handsome and kind. A man who kindles something in her that speaks of sin.

Check out an EXCERPT: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/the-sins-of-a-few/

*****

Sarah Ballance (2)Author Info:

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids.) When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or in search of that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her. To learn more about her work in contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense, please stalk accordingly.

Website http://www.sarahballance.com/

Blog http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Facebook http://facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance

Newsletter https://confirmsubscription.com/h/t/0B801D3AA4F986BF

Spotlight – Spy Fall

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I love the fact that we’re getting authors who are taking chances with historical romances.  And Quincy’s newest, Spy Fall, is VERY intriguing … and even better the heroine is influenced by a real life woman parachutist from the 1800s.  So cool!

*****

Spy Fall (final) 800 @ 72 dpi low resSpy Fall

by Diana Quincy

Blurb:

When a fiery French parachutist lands on a drunken Lord Cosmo Dunsmore, he surmises she’s an angel sent from above. But is she a spy after something far more sinister than his debauched soul?

A fearless parachutist is out of her depth …

Mari Lamarre is gaining fame for her daring aeronautic endeavors, but her riskiest adventure begins when she collides with the darkly charismatic son of the Marquess of Aldridge. If her mission succeeds, Cosmo’s father will be ruined.

A rakehell falls for a dangerous woman …

Surrendering to a fierce passion, the two embark on a torrid affair, even as Cosmo vows to protect his family at all costs. But in doing so, will he risk losing the captivating beauty who’s swept into his life and made off with his heart?

Buy Link: Amazon Exclusive for the first six months 

*****

Excerpt:

They reached the hot air balloon, where a stable groom stood waiting to assist her. She stooped to untie one of the thick cables tethering the contraption to the ground.

“What I have in mind will give you great pleasure,” she said quietly.

His inky eyes went alert. “Is that so?”

“Release that cable, if you please,” she called to the groom.

He tipped his cap. “Yes, miss.” And proceeded to do just that.

Gesturing toward the other cable, she said to Cosmo. “Untie that, will you?”

“Whatever for?” He glanced at it before frowning back in her direction. “If you completely untether it, the balloon will fly away, as you well know.”

“Exactly.” She leapt into the wicker boat. “Allons. Let us go.”

“Go where? You want me to go up in that?” He took a step back. “I most certainly will not.”

She leaned over the edge of the gondola. “Pour le plaisir, remember?”

Shaking his head, he backed away. Switching to French so the groom wouldn’t understand, he said, “This is most assuredly not the sort of pleasure I meant.”

“You can show me what you do have in mind,” she said in the same language, as she bent over to retrieve and throw sand-filled ballasts out of the gondola.

“Come away from there and I gladly will.”

“I prefer that you come in here.” She offered him the most wickedly sensual smile in her feminine arsenal.

He blinked. Then swallowed. “Angel, you will be the death of me.”

“Perhaps just a little death.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. La petite mort was the French term for the peak of sensual pleasure. “Is that a naughty French reference? Or are you teasing me?”

She laughed aloud, exhilarated at the thought of soaring into the clouds with him. “You shall have to fly with me to find out.”

*****

Diana-QuincyAuthor Info:

Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Diana’s reporting background is probably the reason many of her books are inspired by true-life events.

Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana visited many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.

Website: http://www.dianaquincy.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Diana_Quincy

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

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dianaquincy/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7045151.Diana_Quincy

*****

Guest Post – Return to Drake Springs

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Now we’re going to get a closer look at a new feel-good series by Cheryl Norman – with a special insight into her hero.  And with this kind of plot I don’t know how you can resist him:

Popular cheerleader Iris Porter had no time for geeky Lance George in high school, but much has changed in nine years. Lance has matured into a handsome, successful veterinarian while Iris struggles to pay bills working part-time jobs. Can they finally find romance together? Or can the quintessential miser tolerate her freehearted, generous nature?

First up … Amy Sawyer, Editor—The Drake Springs Democrat, chats with Lance George, DVM

AS: Doctor George, what brings you to Drake Springs, Florida?

LG: What brings me back to Drake Springs, Florida? Until nine years ago, Drake Springs was my hometown.

AS: You left for college and veterinary school, and then what?

LG: I worked in Tallahassee with another veterinarian until I earned enough experience and capital to open my own practice. Drake Springs needs a vet and already has a vacant animal clinic property. Seems a good fit.

AS: So you plan to locate in the location where Doctor Hodges had her animal clinic?

LG: Right. It’s been vacant for three years, according to the realtor. I need to buy equipment and supplies and do a bit of work.

AS: I’ll bet you’re excited to reunite with old friends and family, right?

LG: (shrugging) I don’t have many friends from high school. As for family, my father and stepmother are busy with my younger sisters. It’ll be nice to reconnect with them.

AS: Foster County is a close-knit community. So why would you say you don’t have former classmates that you’re eager to catch up with?

LG: I was a nerd in high school, long before “geek” became “chic.” I kept to myself and focused on making good grades so I could earn a scholarship to college. It worked, although Pops—my father—helped me through veterinary school.

AS: Does your mother live in Foster County?

LG: My mother lives in another county. I visit her when I can.

AS: So she knows you’re back?

LG: Uh, not yet.

AS: No old girl friends to reunite with?

LG: Maybe one. But, no, I don’t think so. And I’m not telling you her name.

AS: One last question. Do you have any hobbies? Aside from working with animals, what do you do in your leisure time?

LG: I’m not sure you’d call it a hobby, but I enjoy cooking.

AS: Tell me more. I can think of few things more attractive than a guy in the kitchen.

LG: It started out as an economy move when I was a college student. Soon I discovered I enjoyed it. It saves money, but it’s also healthier. (winks) I like being in control.

AS: Well, readers, there you have it. After three years without a vet, Foster County soon will have the services of former Drake Springs resident, Doctor Lance George. No more driving into neighboring counties for vaccines and pet care. We look forward to your grand opening. And a note to the single ladies: Lance George may have been a geek in high school, but he’s grown into a handsome man, one who cooks, too.

*****

DrakesSprings-FINAL-MDReturn to Drake Springs

A Next Door Category Romance

Drake Springs, Book One

by Cheryl Norman

Blurb:

Lance George debates his decision to return to his hometown, but the price is right on the abandoned veterinary hospital he hopes to buy. He’s saved his money to open his practice by living frugally and purchasing wisely. There’s no room in his life for wasteful spending. His alcoholic mother squandered everything she had when he was growing up, leaving him with an obsessive motivation to achieve financial security.

Iris Porter is unaware that she broke Lance’s heart in high school. She’s too busy trying to earn a living in a tough economy. She hopes to reclaim her old job as a veterinary assistant when Lance reopens the town’s only animal clinic. Popular and friendly, Iris is known to be generous to a fault. When a friend’s baby is stricken with leukemia, she organizes fundraisers and enlists Lance’s help.

Lance’s feelings for Iris rekindle when he realizes how much she’s changed. The high school snob is at odds with the caring, sensitive woman who wants to help a family in need. But can he reconcile Iris’s generous spirit with his overpowering need for penny pinching?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | KOBO

SMASHWORDS | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

*****

Excerpt:

Lance George cruised into town in a fog of black insects and misgivings. He’d had good reason to leave home years ago. Was returning a mistake? He’d debated during the entire three-hour drive from Tallahassee and still questioned his decision. But he was here now. The moving company had his packed belongings ready to deliver. Inhaling a breath for courage, he slowed at the Welcome to Drake Springs sign.

Searching familiar landmarks, he recognized the Hurricane Lantern, a rustic restaurant located on Highway 471. To his left stood the stately Wilson home, vacant and for sale. Five blocks past the city limits sign, Highway 471 became Main Street. He passed the First Foster Bank and Boyd’s Diner, both still in business. A left turn here would take him to the high school, but he’d skip that detour down bad-memory lane.

The stoplight at Main Street turned red and he applied his brakes. A flash of purple grabbed his attention. Was that—? No, it couldn’t be. What were the odds he’d return to Drake Springs and immediately see the girl of his adolescent dreams? In the flesh—and what beautiful flesh—Iris Porter stepped into the crosswalk walking a bicycle to the opposite side of Main Street. It may have been nine years since he’d seen her, but with her blond curls sticking out the edges of a bicycle helmet, she looked as adorable as ever.

She turned her head and met his gaze but kept walking. She wouldn’t recognize him, and even if she did, why would she acknowledge him? She had deemed herself too good for him. He’d been a bookworm. A nerd. His limited circle of friends didn’t include babes and jocks. No reason to hope her opinion had changed.

She continued toward the courthouse. She hadn’t lost that subtle but alluring sway of hip that drew the attention of every male student standing in the halls at Foster County High—especially him. Instead of mounting her bicycle and riding, she chain-locked it to an oak tree.

“What’s your story, dear Iris?” He eased forward with the morning traffic while keeping her purple shorts and T-shirt in his peripheral vision. She still had her cheerleader’s legs and slender shape. If anything, she was thinner now. She disappeared inside the Foster County Courthouse. “Doing a title search? Paying your taxes? Filing for divorce?”

Iris’s rejection in high school had driven him to succeed and improve himself, so maybe he should thank her for stomping all over his heart. He continued his drive through town, leaving behind Iris Porter and all conjecture about her.

When he reached Ortega Street, he turned left and pulled into the parking lot of his destination. A business property that once housed Hodges Animal Clinic faced Main. Behind sat a modular home included with the business property. The lot looked weedy, abandoned, and neglected. No wonder it had such an attractive price tag. The realtor must have taken the online photos in winter, before the spring foliage filled in the blackjack oaks. Now shade cast most of the lot in darkness, forming a thick barrier against the hot Florida sun.

A middle-aged, heavyset woman stood in the gravel parking lot. He parked his Transit Connect beside her late model Buick. He’d recently purchased the economical business van in preparation for his new practice. It was small enough to serve as his personal vehicle, too. Unlike his mother, Lance did his research and made practical choices. Impulse buying got people in trouble.

“Doctor George?” The woman approached him with outstretched hand even before he’d fully exited his van. “I’m Barbara Sinclair.”

“Thank you for meeting me.” He shook her delicate manicured hand.

Everything about the woman looked professional, from her perfectly groomed, chestnut hair to her business attire. A few years and a few pounds ago, she was probably a real babe.

“I feel as if we’ve already met, from your e-mails. I believe this property will suit your needs.”

“It looks less cheerful than in the online photos.”

She winced. “Weeds grow quickly in Florida. The reduced price should more than make up for the little TLC the place needs.”

“Right.” He’d reserve judgment until he inspected the buildings. He locked his van, an action that earned him a bemused smile from Ms. Sinclair. She probably thought it overkill for a small town like Drake Springs, but she refrained from commenting. “Could you show me the office first? If it doesn’t suit, there’s no need to tour the house.”

“Exactly my thought. Follow me.”

He fell in step beside her. “What happened to Otis Gibbons? I thought he was the listing agent.”

“You know Otis?”

“I’m originally from Drake Springs, hence my interest in opening a practice here.”

She opened the door, stepped aside, and motioned him in. The faint odor of antiseptic mingled with the woman’s cologne as she moved past him. She’d been a bit generous with her atomizer. “Otis sold me the business when he was elected county commissioner. He didn’t want any question of conflict of interest.”

“Right.” He shut the door against a swarm of love bugs. Those inescapable black insects that frustrated Floridians every May and September seemed especially thick this spring.

“It may be a bit warm. I turned up the air conditioning about thirty minutes ago when I opened the building.”

“Feels comfortable.”

“The air conditioner is fairly new. Four years old, I’d say.”

The office was a converted Florida Cracker style house, with porches and a breezeway. The reception area was in the former living room. A pass-through with added counter separated the public area from the office. A few animal carriers sat along one wall of the former dining room. “How many exam rooms?”

“Three. The hall gives access both from the reception area and the operating room. There’s also a bathroom.”

“Hmm.” The equipment was gone, probably sold by Doctor Hodges’s estate after her death. Stainless steel tables, gleaming as if recently polished, dominated each examination room. “How long did you say this had been vacant?”

“About three years, but Otis has kept the power connected. He also hired a cleaning service to make regular visits.”

Too bad Otis hadn’t arranged for lawn service as well. “That’s been costly for Otis.”

“Frankly, he expected the property to sell quickly. It’s an attractive location, and Drake Springs is growing. But even Florida wasn’t immune to an economic recession.”

She led him around to the operating room, at one time the house’s kitchen. A door led back to the dining room/office, where the receptionist’s desk and file cabinets now stood. The rear of the house had a utility room, still equipped with a clothes washer and dryer. One wall held stacked cages. A breezeway led to fenced pens outside. He would have preferred more kennel room, but this could work.

“Well, Doctor George, what do you think?” She closed the back door and walked down the steps. “Want to see the residence?”

“Yes, I do.” He followed her past the fenced pens to the back door of the doublewide mobile home. “Where do people take their animals for medical care since this clinic closed?”

“Right now they’re driving twenty-five or thirty miles, to Lake City or up to Georgia. Trust me, this town will welcome you with open arms.”

He was counting on it. He’d saved a tidy sum of money and had qualified for a loan, but he needed equipment, supplies, and utility deposits. He wanted to make this property work, because it’s all he could afford.

The blue painted metal roofing on the home matched the roofing on the clinic. He’d guess the modular home to be less than ten years old, although the roof made it look newer.

“Is the roof new?”

“About four years old.” She unlocked the back door of the residence and led him inside. “Doc Hodges made several improvements before opening her practice.”

Not a fan of modular housing, he examined each room with skepticism. The floor plan was surprisingly open and pleasant, with vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows. A large great room separated two bedrooms and a bath from the owner’s suite and kitchen. The walls were painted or paneled, rather than the patterned wallboard he’d seen on older mobile homes. “Doctor Hodges lived here?”

“Yes. It was convenient, especially for emergencies with animals staying overnight.” She opened the blinds, revealing two windows overlooking the front porch and the front yard’s large crepe myrtle tree, just beginning to bloom. “Her mother sold all the furniture but not the appliances. Of course, if you prefer to live elsewhere, you could rent it out.”

He gave a noncommittal murmur, but he’d be nuts to live anywhere else. Living near the clinic made economic sense. He wouldn’t spend more than he needed to. The bedrooms were roomy enough, especially the owner’s suite with its own bathroom and walk-in closet.

“Cable and high-speed internet are available here, too.”

“Good.” He didn’t need television, but internet was vital to his business. “Immediate possession?” The sooner, the better, because he had no home. His mother had lost their house years ago, and Pops had no room to spare.

“Yes. Considering the amount of your down payment, you’ll have no trouble qualifying for the loan assumption. As soon as we can schedule the closing, you can hang out your open-for-business sign.”

“Well.” He chuckled. “It’s not that simple. I need equipment, for starters. And staff. You know any experienced veterinarian assistants?”

She led him into the kitchen. The appliances looked new. Doctor Hodges hadn’t been one to cook as far as he could tell. But Doc George enjoyed cooking. And he could make the most of this spacious, well-appointed kitchen.

“I know of one. She worked for Doc Hodges but lost her job, of course, when her boss died. She might welcome the opportunity to interview with you.”

“Thanks. First, let’s write the contract.” He followed her outside to the long front porch, additional construction to the original modular home, probably one of Doc Hodges’s improvements. It faced Ortega, a residential street with tidy, modest homes and mature shade trees. Empty except for a wooden swing, the porch could be a cozy retreat at the end of the day, assuming he wasn’t too busy to stop and relax.

Ms. Sinclair removed a ballpoint pen and business card from her purse. She wrote on the blank side of the card. “Here’s the name of the vet assistant when you get ready to hire your staff. You can probably find her at Miller’s IGA Market on Desoto, where she’s been working part time.”

He stuffed the card in his shirt pocket. “Thanks.”

They walked around to the front of the business via the sidewalk, which returned them to the gravel parking lot. “Let me get my brief case and I’ll meet you inside.”

Jittery with nerves, he went inside the building and paced the reception area. This was it. He was about to gamble—no, not gamble—invest his savings into his own practice. He’d have to start out conservatively, at least until he knew how many patients he’d have. One experienced assistant would be a good idea. He could hire more staff as his practice grew. He fished the business card from his pocket and flipped it over to read the name. His hand trembled. The card flew from his fingers.

He stooped to pick it up and read the name again. And smiled.

Iris Porter.

*****

IMG_0251Author Info:

Cheryl Norman grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and earned a BA in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After a career in the telecommunications industry, she turned to fiction writing and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort.  Her debut with Medallion Press, Restore My Heart, led to a mention in Publisher’s Weekly as one of ten new romance authors to watch. Running Scared, a romantic suspense set in Jacksonville, Florida, and Washington D.C., received a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today. Reviewer Harriet Klausner calls her writing “Mindful of Linda Howard.” She currently writes the Drake Springs series romance novels for Turquoise Morning Press.

Her passion for cooking and healthful eating led her to write four cookbooks and an award-winning blog, The Hasty Tasty Meals Kitchen (hastytastymeals.com). She also offers writers grammar help via her Grammar Cop blog, newsletter articles, and workshops.

In addition to writing fiction and cookbooks, Cheryl works with other breast cancer survivors to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of the disease.

Visit Cheryl at her Web site: http://cherylnorman.com, Twitter: http://twitter.com/cherylnorman and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cherinorman

Books by Cheryl Norman (Amazon):

RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS (Book 1: Drake Springs Next Door series from Turquoise Morning Press)

RUNNING OUT OF TIME (Turquoise Morning Press)

REBUILD MY WORLD (Turquoise Morning Press)

RECLAIM MY LIFE (Medallion Press)

RESTORE MY HEART (Medallion Press)

RUNNING SCARED (Medallion Press)

ROMANCE ON ROUTE 66 Anthology (Highland Press)

Short fiction by Cheryl Norman:

Coming soon: Hometown Blessings (Highland Press’s Christmas Blessings anthology)

The Christmas Prayer (Highland Press’s The Heart of Christmas anthology)

Veiled Threat (Turquoise Morning Press’s The Wedding Day Collection)

Twilight Time (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)

Bad Moon Rising (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)

*****

Giveaway:

signed copies of

the original Drake Springs novels,

RECLAIM MY LIFE and REBUILD MY WORLD

(US only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c7458f4348/

*****

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