Spotlight – This Is Love

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Today we have the release week blitz for Melissa Foster’s This Is Love! Check out this fantastic new contemporary romance and be sure to grab your copy today!

*****

This Is Love

Harmony Pointe series

by Melissa Foster

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

Fall in love in Harmony Pointe, where hearts are lost, found, and sometimes misplaced…and everyone get a happy ever after.

If a woman can’t find love in the quaint town of Harmony Pointe, it’s sure to find them—whether they’re looking for it or not. Here, the remaining single Dalton siblings are about to discover that they’re next in line to get swept away by love. A sweet and sexy spin-off of Melissa’s beloved Sugar Lake series.

Actress Remi Divine is sick of bodyguards, sick of stalkers, and sick of feeling like she is always under a microscope. But this movie star isn’t helpless by any means. She’s got a rebellious streak and she knows how to use it. First order of business: Getting rid of the overbearing bodyguards who are sticking to her like glue.

Mason Swift has made protecting others his life, and when Remi ditches his two best men, he takes over and gives it everything he has. Having grown up in the foster care system, and as an ex-special operative, he knows all the tricks. Nothing gets by him, especially not gorgeous, sneaky, and rebellious, Remi.

He thinks she’s a diva. She thinks he’s arrogant. But when sparks turn to flames and their walls come down, their hearts are revealed and their connection is unstoppable. But when tragedy strikes, Remi realizes that being protected isn’t the worst thing in the world—but losing Mason just might be.

The Harmony Pointe series is published by Montlake Romance and will be available in paperback and audio formats, and exclusively in digital format for Kindle and Kindle apps. Download a free Kindle reading app here: http://bit.ly/FreeKindle_App

Get Your Copy Today!

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Also available in audio

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**This book is published by Montlake (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE Kindle ereader app.

*****

Excerpt:

“You have to eat, Remi. You can’t exist on an apple when you work as hard as you do.”

She looked at his large hands gripping the steering wheel, deep-set eyes focused on the road, biceps twitching, and her insides got hot. Now, those were sparks.

He glanced over, and his lips quirked into an almost smile. She really liked his almost smile. It was mysterious, like him, and it was real, unlike most of the smiles she saw on people’s faces.

“What’ll it be?” he asked. “Burger? Eggs? We can hit the grocery store.”

“Didn’t anyone ever teach you that when a woman says no, it means no?”

That earned a rough laugh that skated beneath her skin. “Princess, the word no hasn’t come out of your mouth, and you have to eat something. You expended thousands of calories today, and you can’t weigh more than a buck ten soaking wet. You’ll wear yourself out at this rate.”

She stared out the window and said, “Spoken like a man who has probably never been told what to do.”

“I spent years in the military. If you think I haven’t been told what to do, you’re sorely mistaken. How about a protein shake? You don’t even have to chew.”

“No, thank you.”

He stopped at a red light on the corner and pointed to Chapter One, Aurelia’s bookstore. “Doesn’t your friend own that place? She sells baked goods from your other friend’s bakery. How about a cupcake?”

Shocked, she said, “How do you know about Aurelia and Willow?”

He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and said, “It’s my job to know who you’re in contact with. I’d rather have you put some meat in that smart mouth of yours instead of sugar, but at this point I’d be thrilled to get anything inside you.”

Her mind went straight to the gutter, and the way his eyes locked on the road and he white-knuckled the steering wheel, she had a feeling he was thinking the same thing.

“I’m fine,” she said quickly. “Let’s just get home, please.” Before the images your comment conjured get me even hotter.

When they got home, Mason checked the house while Remi waited by the door, which seemed ridiculous to her, but whatever . . .

She needed to get him out of her head, and the farther away he was, the better. The man sucked the oxygen right out of her lungs when they were alone.

“All clear,” he said as he came down the stairs. “Why don’t I whip up one of those boxed meals you’ve got in the fridge?”

The image of Mason wearing nothing but a pair of leather briefs and carrying a whip slammed into her. Holy crap. She was definitely losing her mind.

She pushed past him, heading up the stairs, and said, “I don’t need you to whip anything, thank you. I’m going to change and relax in the hot tub. You can eat my box if you want.” It wasn’t until she reached the landing that she realized what she’d said. Mortified, she spun around and said, “The meal! I meant the boxed meal!”

He chuckled.

Damn him for having that effect on her!

*****

Author Info:

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented.

Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website.

Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.

Connect with Melissa:

Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Fan Club | Pinterest | Google Plus | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | Website

*****

Giveaway:

2  ecopies of Trails of Love

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4cf78adb878/

*****

Book Review – Becoming Us

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We’ve met Scott and Davis in I’ve Got You and I was so excited to have the chance to find out how things are going for them. (If you haven’t read any of the previous books I highly recommend the whole series!)

*****

Becoming Us

True-Blue #3

by Becca Seymour

Publisher: Rainbow Tree Publishing

Release Date: Saturday, November 23 2019

Blurb:

Catch up with Kirkby residents Scott and Davis as they navigate through the ups and downs of fatherhood, relationships, and juggling… balls.

In two years, it’s clear love can last, just as it can grow.

Davis’s business remains successful, Scott’s clinic is going strong, and Libby is happy and content.

But that doesn’t mean real life is always perfect, nor does it mean fatherhood isn’t as exhausting as it is wonderful.

Needing a break from their daily routines, Davis and Scott head away for a weekend of uninhibited fun. With lots of laughter and dancing, Davis has never seen Scott so relaxed and comfortable in public.

And he’s not quite sure how to handle that.

Worried that life in Kirkby is holding Scott back, Davis nearly makes the biggest mistake of his life.

But Scott has other ideas. He doesn’t need saving. What he needs is his man to step up and fight for their family and their future.

And he has just the plan to do it.

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2m8I6Ab

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2mWlnHX

Amazon CAN: https://amzn.to/2orVmkj

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2nERsUN

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2otoMPb

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2m7YDo0

iBooks: https://apple.co/2nOMlBl

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48084966-becoming-us

QueeRomance Ink Link: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/becoming-us/

*****

Excerpt:

A wide smile broke free on Ian. “Dancing would be great. I look forward to getting out once a week, blowing off some steam. Sometimes a dance floor is all I want, you know?” He downed his drink. “Work can be hell, so it’s good to wind down.”

I eyed his tight tee over his larger-than-average muscles, wondering what he did for a living and if those muscles were part of it. I also wondered why Ian didn’t kick the other dude’s ass.

Davis, as if reading my mind, said, “Yeah, it is. We’ve a little girl and both work long hours, so we know all too well how important it is to get away.” Davis placed his hand on my thigh and squeezed a little. Heat touched my cheeks at the contact. “We don’t do this enough, that’s for sure. What is it you do?”

“Oh wow, a daughter, huh. Bet she keeps you busy.” Genuine interest lifted his tone. “And I’m a nurse. I work at the local hospital here, in the emergency room.”

Huh. I cast a glimpse at Davis and saw his eyes widen a little.

“No shit,” he said. “Honestly, I’d never have guessed it.” His eyes roamed Ian’s broad chest. I got it. I did. I coughed lightly and raised my brow in Davis’s direction. He looked at me and laughed. “As if you weren’t doing and thinking the same.” He rolled his eyes at me. Bastard was spot-on. Asshole.

A snort had us both looking at Ian. “I like to work out.” A shit-eating grin greeted us. “But I’m also a healer and a lover.” He shrugged. “I don’t do aggressive bullshit.”

“Yeah, for sure. Scott here is a veterinarian. Owns his own practice.” My chest puffed out a little at the pride I heard in his voice. “Though he can be a real asshole as well as a healer.” His loud laugh followed.

“Hey.” I quirked my brow at him.

*****

Review:

When we originally got to know Scott, he was newly out and not very comfortable with it. While hiding from who he was, he’d been taking out his negative feelings about himself on Carter but luckily Davis saw that there was a better man underneath the fear. The two grew close, Scott learned to accept himself, and they’ve been happy together for two years. But as things become too comfortable Davis wonders if their little world is enough …

Being a shorter story doesn’t stop Seymour from delivering on the feels. There’s so much love between them and they’ve managed to make a nice, happy, comfortable life for themselves. It doesn’t keep them from having issues but they are addressed in realistic and satisfying ways.

(One of my favorite things is when we can catch up with couples from previous stories. With Becoming Us, we not only get a chance to get an update on Scott and Davis but a little bit of a look at what is coming next. And I’m SO looking forward to that one.)

*****

Author Info:

Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.

Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.

Author Website: http://www.beccaseymour.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/authorbeccaseymour

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/beccaseymourauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/beccaseymour_

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorbeccaseymour/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18745264.Becca_Seymour

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/becoming-us/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Becca-Seymour/e/B07NYXX6JP

*****

Giveaway:

Becca is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour.
Enter via Rafflecopter:

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*****

Spotlight – Shelf Awareness

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“Don’t miss this hilarious and sweet adventure in the Green Valley Library series. Five Stars!”–Aleatha Romig, New York Times bestselling author

Shelf Awareness, an all-new hilarious romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Katie Ashley is available now!

*****

Shelf Awareness

Green Valley Public Library series

by Katie Ashley

Blurb:

After catching her husband in a compromising position, Finley Granger finds herself in a new hell: reentering the dating world. When she moves in with her grandmother, her great-aunt, and their best friend, Finley finds herself surrounded by a trio of well-meaning yet bumbling matchmakers.

In spite of their efforts, Finley only has eyes for one person, and that’s Zeke Masters—the 6’4”, impossibly built, and ridiculously good-looking new man in town. Along with her nether regions, Finley’s journalistic spidey-senses tingle as to why he’s on sabbatical from Seattle. Is he on the lam or escaping a bad breakup? What’s his story?!?!

As Finley finds herself reluctantly drawn to the gorgeous IT guy, she can’t help but wonder: should she indulge in a rebound tryst with the mysterious Zeke, or has she finally met her match?

‘Shelf Awareness’ is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, can be read as a standalone, and is book #4 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/33YjLhr

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/ShelfAwarness

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2m2NkNC

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2lAahaG

*****

Excerpt:

As Zeke worked on uploading the census records, I hoisted one of the many boxes from the Henderson’s donation onto the table. It kicked up an epic dust cloud. I reached inside to pluck out one of the moldering tomes of historical literature. Wrinkling my nose, I fought the urge to sneeze. Instead, I cleared my throat. When it still felt like I had swallowed a wad of sawdust, I coughed. And that was my grievous mistake.

The force of the cough dislodged the Ben Wa ball, sending it into an epic downward dive. Yes, ladies and gentlemen the Ben Wa ball had left the building. Whirling away from Zeke, I used my hand to try an inconspicuous crotch shuffle to send the ball back to its point of origin. What happened next was truly against the laws of motion. Because the universe apparently hated me, the ball escaped the confines of my thong. As it started its descent down my thigh, I squeaked and clamped my knees together.

“Are you all right?” Zeke asked behind me.

I threw a glance at him over my shoulder. “Uh, yeah, I . . .” Okay, I had no idea how I was going to get out of this one. It wasn’t like I could say, “Well, here’s the thing. The Ben Wa ball I was using to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles to keep my vagina healthy for the D just slipped out and is about to make a very unhappy trail down my leg.”

“I think a bug bit me or something.”

“Oh no. Want me to take a look?”

“No!” When Zeke’s eyes widened at my outburst, I said, “Sorry. I’m okay.”

“If you’re sure.”

“Totally.”

“I think I might’ve found something interesting for your research.”

The only thing I was interested in at the moment was getting the Ben Wa ball out of my pants without Zeke seeing it. “Oh?”

“I definitely see some Native American female names.”

Damn him for being enthusiastic about my research. The last thing I wanted to do was walk the couple of steps back over to him while trying to keep a Ben Wa ball from rolling down my pants leg. Since I couldn’t see any other way out of it, I nodded. Gritting my teeth, I started shuffling over to him.

When I started lurching like Frankenstein’s monster, Zeke tilted his head curiously at me. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yep. Totally fine,” I muttered.

Just as I reached his chair, my knee shifted because of what I imagined was panic sweat overtaking me. As the ball became dislodged, I bit down on my lip to keep from squealing again. There was no saving the ball now or my humiliation for that matter.

As soon as it plopped onto my shoe, I flung my foot, sending it ricocheting into the desk. Of course, it’s size caused it to make a tremendous ching-ching noise, which in turn caused Zeke to rip his attention away from the screen. “What was that?”

“What was what?” I questioned innocently.

He furrowed his brows at me. “You didn’t hear that noise?”

“Uh, no.” Plastering a smile on my face, I said, “I’m sorry. I was just so into what you were saying.”

Ignoring my response, Zeke quickly assessed the area around us. After I’d flung the ball away, it had come to a rest to the right of his desk chair. When he bent over to examine the ball, I inwardly began screaming noooooo while at the same time cursing Estelle for even bringing the Ben Wa ball into my orbit.

Since the universe hadn’t tortured me quite enough yet, Zeke picked up the ball. “Interesting,” he murmured as he twisted it between his fingers.

I decided it was best to play absolutely and completely clueless in this situation. “What is it?” Silently, I prayed he wouldn’t respond with, “It looks like one of those sex balls you shove up your cooch.”

“I don’t know. Maybe a part off one of the desks or chairs. I should probably give it to maintenance, so they can check all the furniture in here.”

Oh hell no. Without a second thought, I snatched the ball out of his hands. Since I did it rather abruptly, Zeke’s surprise was apparent on his face. Waving my free hand dismissively, I said, “Don’t bother yourself with that. I’ll take it to them.”

“Thanks, Finley.”

After wheezing out a breath, I replied, “You’re welcome.” I jerked my thumb over my shoulder. “I’ll go do that right now.”

I didn’t bother waiting for Zeke to reply. Instead, I power walked right out of the history room. I’m sure if he was watching me he would have been puzzled at my miraculous recovery, considering I’d been limping earlier.

At the first trash can I could find, I deposited the Ben Wa ball. It seemed abundantly clear that neither I nor my vagina were quite ready to handle the responsibility.

*****

Author Info:

Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Top Five Best-Selling author of both Indie and Traditionally published books. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her daughter, Olivia, her two rescue dogs named for Disney Princesses, Belle & Elsa, an out-numbered cat, Harry Potter, and one Betta fish. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, and Star Wars.

Connect with Katie Ashley

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2kuMzMP

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

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2klaIWg

Website: http://bit.ly/2lXWIlu

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Book Review – What Heals the Heart

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What Heals the Heart is an interesting look at life in the post-Civil War Old West, perfect for those looking for something a little different and who enjoy a slow burn romance.

*****

What inspired you to write What Heals the Heart?

Durned if I know! Some of my novels have grown out of news items, whether current events or accounts of scientific or technological advances. At least one started as a dream. But my earliest recollection of the seed for this book is a saved text file in which the protagonist was not a doctor but a private detective.

What led you to self-publish your novels?

Once I finished the rough draft of my novel Twin-Bred, I began reading every blog and Twitter feed I could find, as well as several books, about the publishing process. At first, I was learning how to query agents and publishers, and how to format a manuscript for submission. But the more I read, the more I realized two things:

–Self-publishing was eminently feasible and would give me much more control over content, marketing and timing.

–In the current state of the industry, there are serious risks involved in the traditional route. More and more agency and publication contracts include language that can seriously limit an author’s future options, while offering relatively little in exchange. Nor will the publisher who’s preparing your book for publication in eighteen months necessarily be in business that long.

Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter have inspired you?

Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow and Children of God are brilliant treatments of the theme of human-alien communication difficulties, the subject of my Twin-Bred series. Like me, she started with science fiction and then turned to historical fiction. Her books inspire me even as their excellence intimidates me.

I have also tended to gravitate toward novelists who explore themes such as the irrevocable impact of actions and decisions, whether obviously momentous or seemingly trivial – novelists from the 19th Century author George Eliot to current YA author Caroline Cooney.

What do you like best about being a writer, and what do you dislike most about it?

I love it when the story decides to write itself! It’s a bit like being a medium and channeling some spirit. I also find it extremely rewarding when readers tell me that one of my novels has moved them or even helped them through a difficult time.

My greatest ongoing gripe is the amount of work involved in trying to increase my visibility in the crowded literary landscape. However, as that difficulty is inextricably connected to the greater opportunities for authors these days, I try to focus on the positive.

Do you plan to write more historical romance? More historical fiction in general? More about Cowbird Creek and its inhabitants?

Having taken the plunge into historical fiction – which I hope readers will consider an apt description of this novel, despite its belonging in the subgenre of historical romance – I think it likely I’ll paddle around for a while. First up will probably be a second romance set in Cowbird Creek, focusing on a couple of the secondary characters in What Heals the Heart. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of dealing more thoroughly and seriously with the impact of the Great Grasshopper Plague of 1874-1875, about which I learned only late in the process of writing this novel. After that – who knows?

I will, however, strive to finish editing another near-future SF novel, Donor, and may well publish it before the second Cowbird Creek book.

Why are most of your previous novels science fiction?

I’ve been reading (and to a lesser extent, watching) science fiction for so long that I tend to view experiences, such as walking my dog and wondering what she’s smelling, and new information, such as news stories about conjoined twins or womb twin survivors, through a science fiction lens.

Which of your previous novels are most likely to appeal to readers who enjoy What Heals the Heart?

I hope that even readers unfamiliar with science fiction will, if they give my SF novels a try, find a similar style, sensibility, and thematic focus in those stories. That said, perhaps the novel closest in tone to, and whose subject matter has most in common with, What Heals the Heart is Wander Home, a family drama with mystery and romance elements set in a re-imagined afterlife. This afterlife has features which lend themselves to the confrontation of lingering personal issues and unfinished business. For example, you can relive any memory in perfect detail – and if someone else who took part in the remembered scene is there with you, you can trade places and remember the events from the other person’s perspective. There are other aspects of the afterlife that, while serving this same purpose, are also just plain fun. You can be any age at any time, and visit any place that you remember or that anyone you meet – from any time in Earth’s history – remembers.

Wander Home concerns a mother who desperately wanted a child, but who left that child in the care of her parents and grandmother for unknown reasons. The child, grandparents, and great-grandmother die in an auto accident four years after the mother’s mysterious departure; the mother dies of stress cardiomyopathy (“broken heart syndrome”) some time later, and is reunited with the family she left behind.

*****

What Heals the Heart

Cowbird Creek Book 1

by Karen A. Wyle

Genre: Western Historical Romance

Print Length: 266 pages

Publisher: Oblique Angles Press

Publication Date: October 15, 2019

Blurb:

Joshua Gibbs survived the Civil War, building on his wartime experiences to become a small town doctor. And if he wakes from nightmares more often than he would like, only his dog Major is there to know it.

Then two newcomers arrive in Cowbird Creek: Clara Brook, a plain-speaking and yet enigmatic farmer’s daughter, and Freida Blum, an elderly Jewish widow from New York. Freida knows just what Joshua needs: a bride. But it shouldn’t be Clara Brook!

Joshua tries everything he can think of to discourage Freida’s efforts, including a wager: if he can find Freida a husband, she’ll stop trying to find him a wife. Will either matchmaker succeed? Or is it Clara, despite her own scars, who can heal the doctor’s troubled heart?

Add to Goodreads

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“What Heals The Heart is a time-machine in a compact tome.. . . If you love period pieces, Karen A. Wyle’s book will satisfy even the most discerning reader. This elegant novel is an exquisite example of romance at its finest!” — Indies Today

“Ms. Wyle’s understanding of the time period described in the book is impressive. . . . The love story that develops is endearing and timeless. . . . My world felt right while reading this book, as if I’d found an old friend and sat for a while to drink coffee and chat about life or love. I give What Heals the Heart five out of five stars. It is one of the best modern historical romances I have read in recent years. Fans of historical romances will enjoy this book. Ms. Wyle, if you’re out there reading this, just know I’m a huge fan now.” — Kathryn Blade, author and reviewer

“Brilliantly connects the reader to the characters reliving collective trauma . . . . She was able to bring a perfect amount of lightness (small town matchmaking and quirky friendships) to balance a tough subject. The friendships in this novel were phenomenal and I loved every single one of them. Wyle is able to create characters who I wanted to befriend. . . . Characters I fought for, cheered for, loved, and in all honesty, cried for and with.” — Honestly Austen

“This one is a must read for historical fiction buffs. Ms. Wyle has done her homework and it shows as the dust gets in your eyes, and the smells of horse and prairie fill your nostrils. A wonderful atmosphere that feels like stepping back in time as the manners, the speech and the neighborly attitudes come alive. Truly a hidden gem . . . that shares a slice of one man’s life, loneliness and caring ways.” — Dianne Bylo of Tome Tender

“”The resolution scene is worthy of Jane Austen. . . . Wyle’s writing is equally excellent throughout. . . . Word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, Wyle does not let the reader down.” — Danusha Goska, author and scholar

“Wyle’s historical romance is a fantastic tale of life on the prairie for a country doctor still dealing with his war experience. . . . [H]umorous, touching . . . a wonderful read that kept me interested from the first page.” — Teresa Grabs (author of Wish Upon a Leaf)

*****

Excerpt:

Joshua made the blacksmith drink down the first glass of water and powder before he left with a pouch holding six more doses. Whether he’d keep taking it, well, that was the blacksmith’s problem, for now anyway.

There was no one waiting, but before Joshua had time to do more than take a book down from the shelf, the door opened and a woman walked in. No, more like sailed in, a proud vessel, a four-master. She took off her coat to reveal a well-tailored dress, fitting snugly on her large, well-upholstered frame. Her graying, wavy hair peeked out from under a truly astonishing hat.

He hadn’t met this woman, but he believed he’d heard about her. Another newcomer to town, from somewhere back east; a widow; and apparently Jewish. That’d make her the first Jew he’d met.

She held out her hand. “Doctor! I’m so pleased to be meeting you. I’m Freida Blum.”

He shook her hand, studying her. He’d never heard her accent before, or not quite. It wasn’t as thick as the accent of that German he’d tended the last year of the war, when he’d turned medic; he could understand her without straining. But “Doctor” ended in a rough, husky sound, and “meeting” sounded more like “meetink.” There was something different about her vowels that he couldn’t put a word to. And her speech had a rhythm and a melody to it, almost like singing, or chanting anyway.

But here he was standing and gawking when he needed to be doctoring. “Please come through to the back and sit up on that table. Then you can tell me what brings you in today.”

She strode after him, passed him, and got on the table with a little jump, the wood creaking as she landed. “Oh, I’ve just had some aches and pains, here and there. And I get tired by afternoon. My age, you don’t expect to feel like a spring chicken. But I thought I’d stop in.”

She was studying him quite as much as he’d studied her. Whatever she’d heard about him, he guessed it was her curiosity more than any medical need that had sent her his way. But he’d check her over. He picked up his stethoscope.

“So young, for a doctor! But that’s just an old woman talking, I suppose.” (He wouldn’t call her old, exactly. Not quite. She might be in her middle fifties or a little older.)

Speaking of talking, she would need to stop. “If you could just take a deep breath, and then another, while I listen to your lungs.”

“Of course, of course. How can you do your job —” (“yure chob”) — “when I’m rattling on like a freight train? Samuel always said to me, Freida, the way you talk, when do you manage to breathe?”

“Mrs. Blum. Please.”

Praise be, she stopped talking and took deep breaths as he commanded. Her lungs sounded good. But she winced as she took the third breath. And she put a hand to her back as if it was paining her. She might have her reasons for being there, at that.

Or she could be lonely. Lonely people without enough to do sometimes felt sicker than they really were. “What do you do during the day, generally?”

The woman beamed at him as if rewarding the question. “I sew for so many people! This dress, I made it. All I have to do is walk around town, it’s as good as putting an ad in the paper. And I’m setting up the social library in the schoolhouse, me and the teacher, such a bright young woman. And my little neighbor, she’s like a daughter to me, I take care of her babies sometimes so she can get her rest.”

Not idle, then.

He pressed the stethoscope to her ample chest, giving thanks once again to the inventor who had spared him the even more awkward necessity of putting his ear there instead. Her heart sounded good — or did it? There might be a faint suggestion of a galloping rhythm.

Laudanum would help her with those aches and pains. He reached for a bottle, but Mrs. Blum stopped him, exclaiming, “Oh, I have that at home! May I come to you for more when I run out?”

Joshua pointed next door. “I get mine from the pharmacist. You can do the same.”

A shade of what might have been disappointment crossed her face. For whatever reason, she apparently found doctors more interesting than druggists. Her next questions suggested as much. “How did you learn so much about medicine? Did you go to one of those new schools?”

He shook his head. “I picked it up during the war, to start with.” And that was all he was going to say about those years of floundering and failing, the lives lost all around him, the suffering he could do little to ease.

The bell on the front door jingled a welcome chance to escape more questioning. Maybe he’d be summoned to some nicely far-off homestead to attend a stolid farmer, someone who had less to say for himself. “Excuse me, Mrs. Blum.” Without waiting for an answer, he stepped back into the front room to see a familiar face, a farmer’s youngest son, shifting his weight from foot to foot, his hands clutched together in front. The boy’s hair was wet — it must have started to rain since Joshua’s sunny morning walk. Good news for the farmers.

“Please, doc, we need you to come see to Paw. He was sharpening the coulter for the plow, and it fell over on his leg. It’s cut something awful.”

Joshua’s lips tightened, and he barely avoided a frown. That’s what wishing brought you. You’d think he’d learn. “I’ll get my bag.”

*****

Review:

Joshua suffers a lot from his time in the war and headed west to try to find a bit of peace.  I really enjoyed his portrayal, how he became a doctor, and some of his struggles in the small town.  He finds an unusual friend in Mrs. Blum, a charming Jewish widow new to town, and even is willing to put up with her matchmaking.  While I enjoyed Clara, it is definitely this relationship that brings the most charm to the story and I looked forward to every time that Freida showed up on the page.

Clara definitely has a bit of mystery about her but as she slowly reveals more about herself you definitely see where Wyle was going in making her a good match for Joshua.  Their similar backgrounds and her self-sufficiency will allow them to support each other well.

I’m not usually a big reader of western historicals and I’m not sure why because I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve read, including this one.  I will add a warning, though, that Wyle’s story feels more like historical fiction that it does romance.  We spend a lot of time getting to know Joshua and how he views the town, its people, and the time, especially the fall out from the Civil War.  It makes for a very interesting read but those looking for a love story might be disappointed that most of that happens at the end (and at a pretty quick pace).

*****

Author Info:

Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle’s childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9.

Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon * Goodreads * Smashwords * Newsletter

 *****

Giveaway:

$20 Amazon

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/23d974a91691/

*****

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Spotlight – No Whisk, No Reward

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No Whisk, No Reward, an all new romantic comedy with twists and turns from Ellie Kay, is  available now!

*****

No Whisk, No Reward

Donner Bakery, book #3

by Ellie Kay

Blurb:

How do you know if a risk is worth taking? If you knew, there wouldn’t be any risk.

Following a disastrous appearance on a televised baking show, Sophie Copeland is certain things can’t get any worse. Several calamities later, Sophie finds herself in Green Valley, Tennessee with no plan, no place to stay, and no prospects. But at least she has a temporary seasonal arrangement with the famed Donner Bakery. And that’s something, right?

It’s not permanent, and it’s not a home, but it’s still something.

Enter Joel Barnes, a Green Valley mystery, wrapped in rumors, and a whispered connection to the local notorious biker gang. Joel’s got a name for being bad news, but he also has an apartment for rent.

Intrigued by the dichotomy of Joel’s reputation and sexy southern pull, Sophie can’t help but be tempted, even though she knows—given her (bad) luck—she should stay far, far away. . .

Yet as everyone knows, without risk, there’s no reward.

‘No Whisk, No Reward’ is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, can be read as a standalone, and is book#3 in the Donner Bakery series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/31zMc3a

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/NWNR

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2lCqhZJ

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2lyEQ0z

*****

Excerpt:

That’s when I saw Joel sitting alone in a booth by a large window, eating a sandwich, and reading a newspaper.

Oh. Hello, conflicted feelings. You’re looking extra conflicting today. Did you do something with your hair?

His gorgeous brown hair was a mess and the sleeves of his gray shirt were pushed up revealing his forearms which looked even thicker than I remembered them being, as he worked to fold the gigantic pages of the newspaper into neat manageable folds.

This man was seriously hotter than a melting ice-cream analogy.

And also, possibly involved with a crime organization! I reminded myself as I continued to stand uselessly trying to find somewhere to sit.

I tried not to stare, but it was impossible not to smile at the indelicate way he shoved the corner of his sandwich into his mouth and then proceeded to chew as though it might try to escape.

He picked up his coffee and was mid-sip when his eyes rose up from the rim of his cup and saw me standing by the entrance staring at him.

Busted.

“Take a seat wherever you can find one, hon, I’ll be along shortly to take your order,” a lady with a nameplate that read Janice, instructed me as she hurried by with a tray of coffee and doughnuts.

I looked back over at Joel who was watching me and gestured to the empty seat across from his.

My mind immediately went to Joy and Tempest’s reaction when they found out he was my landlord, but I quickly reminded myself that he’d done nothing to warrant any rudeness on my part.

Despite their apprehension, I figured this was a good opportunity to try and get more insight into whether I thought their response carried any weight.

Plus, I really needed coffee.

I made my way over, feeling his eyes on me as I crisscrossed around tables while trying to be ever vigilant of any sudden movements from other patrons.

My good sense will not be thwarted by your blue-green eyes and frowny brows, you magnificent biker beast.

“Good afternoon,” he greeted in a smooth as hot honey drawl. I was glad that I was already halfway into the seat because I felt my knees completely give out.

Traitor knees.

My armor of detachedness was not as hefty as I’d hoped.

“Taking a break from work?” I inquired, proud of my cool, even tone.

“Yep, just grabbing something to eat. You?”

“I’m done for today,” I replied reaching for a menu and unfolding it as though it were just as informative as his newspaper.

“Nice. Got any plans?”

“Not really, I was going to check out the bookstore downstairs, but that’s about—”

I was interrupted by the feeling of fingers gently stroking my cheek and looked up to find him reaching across the table, his eyes focused on a spot as he gently swiped at something on my face.

“Sorry, you got flour or something on your cheek it was driving me crazy,” he said before pulling away and leaning back coolly against his seat.

I’m gonna get thwarted, aren’t I?

*****

Author Info:

Ellie Kay is an Australian born living in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada who honed her creative writing skills in the colorful, and imaginative world of Corporate Insurance.

Socially awkward, she loves to respond to theatre ticket vendors who say, “enjoy the movie” with, “Thanks, you too,”, but she also likes to cook, travel and spend time with her partner and cat Taako.

Ellie is on a mission to help change the stigma surrounding the Romance genre and hopes to see a day when they are no longer considered “guilty pleasures,” but rather, just a pleasure.

Connect with Ellie Kay

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2kmkvLJ

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2lCpYOz

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2lByBcl

Connect with Smartypants Romance

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Website: https://smartypantsromance.com/

*****

Book Review – Crime and Periodicals

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A sweet new read for those looking for simple, heartwarming, and low on angst.

*****

Crime and Periodicals

Green Valley Library #2

by Nora Everly

Blurb:

In Green Valley, Tennessee everybody knows everybody, but nobody knows Sabrina Logan.

Sabrina has been hiding in plain sight for years. Living her life inside of books, dutifully helping her family, and hoping no one will notice her. So far? Mission accomplished!

Yet when sexy—and distrustful—sheriff, Wyatt Monroe returns to town with his daughters, he definitely notices the quiet librarian everyone else overlooks. The single dad can’t seem to shake thoughts of shy Sabrina. Without quite understanding the impulse, Wyatt makes his mission finding her again, so he can . . . well, he’ll just have to reckon with that later.

What Wyatt discovers is a woman who trusts too easily, but who’s afraid to live. Trust doesn’t come easily to Wyatt. But living? That’s never been a problem.

And he’d sure like to show her how.

‘Crime and Periodicals’ is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, can be read as a standalone, and is book#2 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Download your copy today or available in Kindle Unlimited!

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

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/CrimePeriodicals

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2kx29rb

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2kxGGhZ

*****

Excerpt:

“Wow, he can dance,” I observed.

I gasped when Wyatt’s hand on my waist slid up my side then up the underside of my arm to take my hand from his shoulder and link our fingers together. It was just like in Dirty Dancing, except I was facing him instead of away like in the movie. His grin grew a little bit wicked right before he used both of my hands to turn me. His front was now at my back with our arms crossed in front of us.

I felt his warm, hard body behind mine and I felt…way too much. Tingles covered every square inch of me. The air felt different against my skin; I was burning up.

His chin dipped low to rest on my shoulder. “Are you okay?” he whispered into my ear. His breath ruffled the hair against my neck, and I shivered.

“Yes,” I whispered. Then I nodded in case he didn’t hear me. I felt his stubbled jaw graze the side of my face and I began to experience heretofore unknown feelings. My perception of what was possible for my life shifted. My brain had disengaged, and I floated along on pure sensation.

We rocked side to side like that—closer than I’d ever been to anyone in my life. His chest rose and fell against my back as his arms tightened around me and he sighed against my hair. The last of my conscious thoughts dissolved and I succumbed to pure feeling. His body moving against mine became my world. His hands in mine kept me tethered, lest I float away on this cloud of sensation that was gradually becoming overwhelming.

I had never felt anything like this. I never even thought feelings like this were possible in real life. In romance novels, sure. But to feel such contentment laced with giddiness right now was something I had not expected. Before I could succumb to the spreading tingles and dwindling brain power and embarrass myself, he raised our arms up high and twirled me around and around underneath them. I giggled and squealed. Apparently, I was that girl—a squealy, laughing, girly girl. But maybe we were all that girl in the right circumstance.

He was right. I did not need to know how to slow dance when I was with him. We danced close; so close his knee was between my legs. I delighted at the feel of his soft, warm skin when he placed one of my hands on the back of his neck. He moved his free hand low on my waist, hooking his thumb in my belt loop to guide me in slow, small circles over our spot on the dance floor, then back and forth using his hands to push me out and pull me back into his body. He coaxed me where I needed to go. I felt weightless and graceful.

The whole bar and everyone in it disappeared until it was just us dancing together, bathed in the moonlight filtering in through the high windows, and the little lights—so much like stars—illuminating the dance floor with their tiny rays. As the song ended, he spun me out and then back up against his body to dip me low with his arm wrapped tight around my waist. He grinned down at me with those gorgeous lips and beautiful chocolate brown eyes and I—I would never forget this moment—not ever.

*****

Review:

You might expect that a book with the word “crime” in the title, and featuring a man in uniform, that there were be a bit more action involved, but Everly’s newest is pretty low key.  That’s not to say that it isn’t enjoyable – sometimes it’s nice to sit back and let things unfold gently.  It’s just that those expecting more might be disappointed that there are only a few moments of tension.

Instead readers are given a slow burn story as Sabrina learns to trust Wyatt, herself, and those around her.  She’s painfully shy and has been hiding from the world, but a chance meeting with the sexy sheriff’s deputy changes pretty much everything.  Before she really even realizes it, she’s making small but meaningful changes that add up to a pretty big deal.

With very little drama, Crime and Periodicals is a sweet story about growing, changing, and finding your way.

*****

Author Info:

Nora Everly is a lifelong bookworm. She started reading the good stuff once she grew tall enough to sneak the romance novels off the top of her mother’s bookshelf and it has been non-stop ever since.

Once upon a time she was a substitute teacher and an educational assistant. Now she’s a writer and stay at home mom to two small humans and one fat cat.

Nora lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and her overactive imagination.

Connect with Nora Everly

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2kuJmwL

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2kxjtwa

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2kx2f21

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2kuLMeI

Website: https://www.noraeverly.com/

Connect with Smartypants Romance

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2kvDnb4

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

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Website: https://smartypantsromance.com/

*****

Spotlight – Prose Before Bros

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Another fun librarian and biker romance is available now thanks to Smartypants!

*****

Prose Before Bros

Green Valley Library series

by Cathy Yardley

Blurb:

Nothing about being a librarian prepared Thuy Nguyen for such a wide variety of casseroles. Or life in a small town. Or becoming a farmer.

But what can she do when her catastrophe-prone best friend begs her for help? After all, Maddy has always been there for Thuy. It’s time to return the favor.

It’s simple really, all she has to do is: learn everything about farming ASAP, save her BBF’s family business from disaster, and avoid being caught staring at Maddy’s biker brother, and his muscles, and his smile, and his soulful, sexy eyes.

Oh yeah, and she should definitely not fall in love with him.

Easy, right? . . . Right.

‘Prose Before Bros’ is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, can be read as a standalone, and is book#3 in the Green Valley Library series, Green Valley World, Penny Reid Book Universe.

Download copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JMpFd9

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/Prosebefore

Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2m2K8S8

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2m3pzFj

*****

Excerpt:

“Tell me: what kind of books do the men you sleep with read?”

She blinked. Not what she expected him to say. She felt herself smile, slowly. “It’s not like I have a required reading list,” she said, then paused. “Although now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea.”

He chuckled. “Probably classics, or ‘literature’, or whatever smart people read,” he said, and there was a note of self-deprecation that somehow broke Thuy’s heart. She quickly shook her head.

“I don’t read a lot of lit fic — nothing too snobby,” she said. “I mean, I don’t just read literature or classics, although I appreciate them. I read lots of genre fiction, too. Romance, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, thrillers. I think it’s important to read outside of your comfort zone: different authors, different experiences. I have comfort reads, too, but I… well, if you hadn’t guessed, I read all the time,” she finally said, as she realized she was rambling.

He was staring at her like she was something brand new, something he’d never experienced before. She felt embarrassed, and quickly finished her drink.

“You know,” he said, his voice tinged with amused surprise, “I don’t think I’m as passionate about anything as you are about books.”

She let out a half-laugh. “They are my favorite thing ever. They gave me a place to go when my life was shitty, and they have continually given me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I read every single day. They’re my lifeline.”

“Now I envy you,” he said, and she got the feeling he wasn’t just bullshitting her — he sounded like he meant it. “What do you think a guy like me should read?”

She felt warmth, and it had nothing to do with the amaretto she’d consumed. This was the sort of challenge she loved. She scooted a little closer, so they could talk over the music without yelling. “What kind of movies do you like? What kind of stories?”

By the end of their talk, nearly two hours had gone by. She found out he liked adventure stories, and that he liked stories with justice and questionable heroes and things that had puzzles. She could think of several books, across several genres, and started to list them all.

“Whoa, whoa,” he said, holding up a hand. “I’m not going to be able to remember all of them. Which one of those is your favorite?”

She paused, thinking about it. “For a true book junkie,” she said slowly, “that’s like asking ‘which one is your favorite child?’ or ‘what appendage would you like to keep?’”

He laughed, and she smiled back at him.

“But, based on what you’ve told me,” she said, “I’d say The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.”

“Okay.” He nodded. “I’ll read it.”

She must’ve looked skeptical, because he chuckled.

“I mean it. I’ll give it a try.”

“It’s like seven hundred pages long,” she warned him.

His eyes widened, then he shrugged. “Okay, it may take a little while. But hell, I’m game.”

“Why?”

He was silent for a long moment, staring into her eyes. She squirmed as the heat from his gaze seemed to seep into her very bones.

“Do you really not know?” he asked, so matter-of-factly that she felt like an idiot.

He’s volunteering to read a book for you.

She felt heat suffuse her cheeks. That might be the single sexiest thing a guy had ever offered to do for her.

*****

Author Info:

Cathy Yardley is an award-winning author of romance, chick lit, and urban fantasy, who has sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide. She writes fun, geeky, and diverse characters who believe that underdogs can make good and sometimes being a little wrong is just right. She spends her time writing in the wilds of East Seattle, riding herd on her two dogs, one son, and one husband.

Connect with Cathy Yardley

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2m3BItN

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2m3qaa1

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2lGZk75

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2lEE8io

Website: http://cathyyardley.com/

Connect with Smartypants Romance

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2kvDnb4

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

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2kwKsYK

Website: https://smartypantsromance.com/

*****

Spotlight – Three Dog Night

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A sexy Greek chef and three adorable puppies might be the missing ingredient to melt her heart – check out Roxanne St. Claire’s newest today!

*****

Three Dog Night

The Dogmothers #2

by Roxanne St. Claire

Release Date: November 8, 2019

Blurb:

Alex Santorini puts his family first and foremost, and that’s going to keep him behind the grill at the family restaurant for the rest of his life, especially if his Greek grandmother has anything to say about it. But when a local winery needs a chef to step in to cook for a celebrity wedding, Alex jumps at the opportunity to showcase his culinary skills…and a chance to get closer to the winery owner who has captivated – and refused – his attention.

Grace Donovan is in a bind and knows that the answer to all her problems is one sexy Greek chef who has everything she needs…and everything that scares the hell out of her. Raised in a series of ever-changing foster homes, Grace has spent her life using science and logic to surround herself with protective walls. With all his passion and intensity, Alex could burn those walls down and, like everyone else in her life, leave her broken and alone.

As Alex and Grace join forces to land the wedding of the year, they also launch a search for the mother of a three puppies abandoned at the winery…only to discover a shocking connection to  Grace’s own mother and her shadowy past.  When the truth comes out, their romance faces its greatest test. Will Grace choose the family she’s wanted her whole life…or the love she may never find again?

Goodreads: https://smarturl.it/TDN-Goodreads

Amazon: https://smarturl.it/TDN-Amazon

Apple: https://smarturl.it/TDN-Apple

Nook: https://smarturl.it/TDN-Nook

Kobo: https://smarturl.it/TDN-Kobo

Google Play: https://smarturl.it/TDN-Google

*****

Author Info:

Published since 2003, Roxanne St. Claire is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty romance and suspense novels.  She has written several popular series, including The Dogfather, Barefoot Bay, the Guardian Angelinos, and the Bullet Catchers.

In addition to being an ten-time nominee and one-time winner of the prestigious RITA™ Award for the best in romance writing, Roxanne has won the National Reader’s Choice Award for best romantic suspense four times, as well as the Maggie, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the HOLT Medallion, Booksellers Best, Book Buyers Best, the Award of Excellence, and many others.

A mother of two but recent empty-nester, Roxanne lives in Florida with her husband.  She loves dogs, books, chocolate, and wine, especially all at the same time.

Website: http://www.roxannestclaire.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/roxannestclaire

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/roxannestclaire1/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/roxanne-st-claire

*****

Spotlight – Shadows At Dawn

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I just love it when Kat Martin stops by to share her latest book with us!

*****

Story Ideas

I’ve always loved a good plot.  People ask me how I come up with ideas for my novels, but the truth is, I really don’t know.

Sometimes the kernel of an idea grows out of a newspaper article or something I see on Facebook or just some old movie.  Most of the time, it’s so long ago I don’t actually remember, but my mind does.

The novella, SHADOWS AT DAWN, blossomed the way most of my stories do, basically out of nowhere.  Jaxon Ryker first appeared in THE CONSPIRACY, a former Navy SEAL, now a detective working for Chase Garrett, the wealthy owner of Maximum Security, an extremely successful private security firm in Dallas.

I liked Jax right away.  He was definitely hero material, but at the same time, Jax was different, kind of soft-spoken, not arrogant, just a really nice guy.  Unless you pissed him off.

Turns out Jax had a protective streak a mile wide and the sweet little receptionist at The Max was his weakness.

When Jax happens upon three men attacking her in the parking lot after work, his hero instincts kick in–big time.

Jax is convinced the attack isn’t random and that even after the fight that saved Mindy and drove the men away, she might not be safe.  And no way is Jax letting anything happen to her.

I liked the two of them together from the start.  These days, readers want kick-ass women, but there are other ways a woman can be strong.  What Jax sees is a sweet girl he believes would never be able to handle a tough guy like him.  But Mindy proves him wrong.

As the danger unfolds, Mindy and Jax are forced to work together to find the men who want her dead and figure out why.

I hope you’ll give this fun read a try and that you like Jax and Mindy as much as I did.  If you do, you can also find them in THE DECEPTION, book #2 of my Maximum Security Series after THE CONSPIRACY.

Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat

*****

Shadows at Dawn

A Maximum Security Novella

by Kat Martin

Blurb:

Don’t miss this scorching novella, part of what Publishers Weekly is calling Kat Martin’s “tantalizing” new Maximum Security series!

Private detective Jaxon Ryker swore to himself he would keep his hands off Mindy Stewart. No matter how much Jax might secretly wish otherwise, his colleague at The Max is strictly off-limits. But when Mindy is the victim of an attempted kidnapping, everything changes. With both of them thrust into danger, Jax swears to protect her. As they work together in search of answers, it becomes clear Mindy’s life is on the line, so a trap is set—with Mindy as bait. Jax and Mindy have to put aside their overwhelming attraction, but if they live through this, all bets are off…

“Martin keeps the twists and turns coming in the sensuous and spirited Maximum Security romantic thrillers.” —Publishers Weekly

AMAZON / Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Shadows-at-Dawn-Maximum-Security-ebook/dp/B07Q43F8KZ

Barnes & Noble / Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-at-dawn-kat-martin/1131045486?ean=9781488058714

KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/shadows-at-dawn-2

GOOGLE https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kat_Martin_Shadows_at_Dawn?id=Y1mPDwAAQBAJ

ITUNES https://books.apple.com/us/book/shadows-at-dawn/id1457964026

*****

Excerpt:

Finally satisfied with her progress for the day, Mindy shoved her round tortoiseshell glasses up on her nose, slung the strap of her purse over her shoulder, and headed for the door to the parking lot behind the office.  She managed not to glance at Jax, but it wasn’t easy.

The early April weather was humid, warm but not hot, the last of a pinky gold sky fading to darkness.  She spotted her little red Volkswagen Beetle, one of the few vehicles left in the lot, and started in that direction.

If she hadn’t been working for a security firm, listening to crime stories on a daily basis, she might not have noticed the white Chevy van whose motor sparked to life and began idling in the shadows not far from her car.

When her steps unconsciously slowed, she told herself she was being ridiculous, a paranoid response to the guys’ sometimes gruesome, often frightening tales.

Pausing to dig her car keys out of her purse, she took a deep breath and tried to calm her racing heart.  When the effort failed, she forced her feet to move, closing the distance between her and her vehicle.  She had almost reached her destination when the van doors slid open and three men dressed head-to-foot in black wearing black ski masks jumped out and started running toward her.

Terror struck.   Mindy let out a high-pitched scream, dropped her purse, whirled, and started running.

 

Jax’s long day wasn’t over yet.  Before he picked up a pizza and headed home for a couple of beers, he had a meeting with a client on the other side of Dallas, a cold case he had been working where the mother of a murder victim had discovered new evidence she believed would help find her daughter’s killer.  The police weren’t convinced, but Mrs. Donahue had hired Jax to prove it.  Or at least find out the truth.

He checked his heavy black wristwatch.  If he wanted to make his appointment on time, he needed to get on the road.  Grabbing his laptop off the desk, he headed for his dark blue Dodge Ram pickup, parked in the lot behind the office, his mind on the case he figured would earn him a nice fat fee–and maybe help bring a killer to justice.

He had just stepped out the backdoor when a blood-curling scream cut through the sticky night air.  A petite young woman with long dark hair and glasses struggled with three masked men.

Adrenaline shot into his blood.  Mindy!  Even as he bolted into a run, Jax registered their appearance: one tall and lean, one average height and weight, one big and beefy, thick-shouldered and muscular.  He was flat out running by the time Mindy spotted him and started screaming his name.

“Jax, help me!  Jax!”  Kicking and biting, she fought like a wild thing, but she was no match for the men.  As they hauled her toward the open van doors, Jax grabbed the tall man and pulled him off her, pounded a fist into his face and slammed another into his stomach, doubling him over.  A hard right sent the guy careening backward, hitting the ground on his back and sliding across the asphalt.

The second man, Mr. Average, stepped in and swung a punch Jax ducked.  He shot out a kick, knocking the assailant into the side of the van, then heard the sound of a switchblade snapping open behind him.

“Jax, watch out!”

Whirling toward the threat, he dodged the flashing blade and shoved Mindy toward safety, then went back in for the kill.  Rage burned through his usual calm.  She worked with him, as far as he was concerned, was under his protection.  More than that, she was kind and sweet and he cared about her far more than he should.  Jax wanted to end the bastards who were trying to hurt her.

“Run!” he shouted.  “Go back to the office and lock the door!  Call 9-1-1!”  The knife flashed.  Jax dodged the sweep of gleaming silver wielded by a big, thick-fingered, extremely capable hand, jumped back from out of the way of another slashing attack as he and the big man crouched and circled each other.  From the corner of his eye, he saw the tall, thin man back on his feet and rushing toward him.

Jax looked up to see Mindy swinging her purse like a ball and chain, smashing the bag into the side of the tall man’s head, sending him staggering, grunting as he landed on his hands and knees.

“Bitch! he screamed, shaking his head to clear it, providing the distraction Jax needed.  He kicked the knife out of the beefy man’s hand and threw a punch that sent him reeling.  Mr. Average had already climbed into the van and shoved the vehicle into gear.

“Come on!” the man shouted through the open passenger window.  “Let’s go!”

The tall man turned and ran, leaping through the open van doors, and the big, muscular man shot in behind him.  Tires burned and smoke rolled up from the wheels as the vehicle screeched away.

*****

Author Info:

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s next hardcover, THE DECEPTION, a Romantic Thriller, will be released on September 10th.

Website: https://www.katmartin.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katmartinauthor

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43705315-the-deception?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/KatMartinAuthor

*****

Giveaway:

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Spotlight – Angel in a Devil’s Arms

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From USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long comes the second book in an exciting new historical romance series, the first since her beloved Pennyroyal Green series.

*****

Angel in a Devil’s Arms

A Palace of Rogues Novel

by Julie Anne Long

Genre Adult Historical Romance

Publisher Avon Books

Publication Date October 29, 2019

Blurb:

He has devil’s blood in his veins. At least, that’s always been the legend. How else could the Duke of Brexford’s notorious bastard son return from the dead? The brutal decade since Lucien Durand, Lord Bolt, allegedly drowned in the Thames forged him into a man who always gets what—and who—he wants. And what he wants is vengeance for his stolen birthright . . . and one wild night in Angelique Breedlove’s bed.

Angelique recognizes heartbreak when the enigmatic Lord Bolt walks into The Grand Palace on the Thames, and not even his devastating charm can tempt her to risk her own ever again. One scorching kiss drives home the danger.

But in the space between them springs a trust that feels anything but safe. And the passion—explosive, consuming—drives Lucien to his knees. Now his whole life depends on proving his love to a woman who doesn’t believe in it . . . because his true birthright, he now knows, is guardian of Angelique Breedlove’s heart.

Amazon  https://amzn.to/2VpBmLF

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Barnes & Noble  http://bit.ly/2Mp3GK4

Kobo  http://bit.ly/31VXZcZ 

iBooks  https://apple.co/31WwXSK

*****

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Mrs. Angelique Breedlove stared at the little token—a sort of half unicorn, half lion—nestled in the man’s palm. The firelight nicked a glint off the signet ring gleaming around one of his long fingers.

The kind of fingers poets and musicians are said to possess.

And excellent lovers.

Also, probably stranglers and pickpockets.

For God’s sake. Fingers were just fingers. It was just that staring at the token was easier than looking into the man’s face. She still had vertigo from the last time she’d done it—thirty seconds ago.

“I don’t know what he is, Mrs. Breedlove, but I don’t think I shall ever forget seeing him” was how their maid Dot had described the man when she’d admitted him to The Grand Palace on the Thames all of minutes ago.

Normally Angelique and Delilah would meet with potential new guests in the reception room, but in the parlor across the foyer the party celebrating three marriages was still underway, and everyone was just drunk enough to think that a round of pianoforte and singing was a good idea. She turned her head and was treated to a view of the vast dark O of Mr. Delacorte’s wide-open mouth, through which a surprisingly decent, albeit loud, baritone poured. Everything Mr. Delacorte did lacked nuance.

She’d warrant the man in front of her was all nuance.

Suddenly the black-and-white marble foyer floor between her and the party and the parlor seemed like an ocean.

She cleared her throat. “I’ll allow this token bears a close resemblance to half of the token Mrs. Hardy and I have in our possession here at The Grand Palace on the Thames, sir. Of course, I suppose it’s always possible you’ve murdered our mystery guest and stolen his half of the token, and then came straightaway to The Grand Palace on the Thames to take up our best room.”

Well. That emerged a little more waspishly than she’d intended. Apparently her senses were overwhelmed and were mounting a defense.

“Do I look as though I’m capable of such a thing?”

He sounded as though he genuinely wanted to know.

Angelique raised her eyes and found his expression oddly grave. His eyes were a crystalline green, like moss agate, or mist over a moor. It was as peculiarly difficult to hold his gaze as it was to hold a lit coal. It was far too . . . alive . . . and complicated. He aimed this gaze out over cheekbones that called to mind a pair of battle shields arrayed side by side. His mouth was a long, sensual curve. Not a classically beautiful face. It was something better, or perhaps worse: it was fascinating.

She flicked her thoughts away from that notion the way she would flick her skirts away from an open flame.

“Rather,” she said shortly. “But then, I suspect we all are, given the right circumstances,” she added. “Humans are capable of so many things.”

“You begin to interest me, Mrs. . . .”

She tipped her head pityingly. “Begin?”

Was she flirting? Surely not. She would no sooner do that than blithely step out in front of a runaway barouche. In her life, the consequences would have been identical, at least metaphorically.

But all at once she could feel the difference in the quality of his attention. As if someone had lit a candle in a pitch-black room.

When he began to smile she redirected her gaze to a safer place, which turned out to be the flowers in the vase on the mantel, which were drooping as if they’d all been dosed with laudanum. She enjoyed a bracing dose of exasperation for Dot, whose job it was to make sure they were fresh.

Where the devil was Dot?

Ah, she could hear her now, as a rattle of teapot and cups on a tray approaching. It was a perilous journey for Dot every single time. Dot and gravity had an uneasy alliance.

At last she appeared in the doorway.

Thus began the slow, delicate journey to settling it on the table between the settees.

The man watched this with apparent fascination.

“I don’t believe you mentioned your name, Mr. . . .”

“It’s Lord, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, of course it is. Who but a lord would find it amusing to communicate through tokens.”

“Necessary,” he corrected evenly, sounding as insufferable as that supercilious little man who’d appeared one night weeks ago with half of a token and paid them three guineas to hold a room for a mysterious stranger. “Necessary to communicate through tokens. My name is Lucien Durand. Viscount Bolt.”

The tea tray crashed noisily into place.

The perfidious Dot’s shoes were already clicking across the foyer at a run.

Leaving Angelique alone with a madman.

“I agree that humans are capable of nearly anything, given the right set of circumstances,” he said conversationally, as though he hadn’t just claimed to be someone the entire ton knew had been dead for a decade, and who, before that, had taxed the broadsheets’ ability to come up with hysterical adjectives. “Although murder certainly seems a good deal of effort to go through for an opportunity to stay here at the . . .”

A faint puzzled frown settled between his eyes as he took in the pretty but well-worn settees facing each other before the fire, arrayed atop the thick but faded rug (frays artfully hidden beneath furniture legs); all of those in shades of rose, the hearth facade fashionable decades ago, the table with its nick out of one leg, also skillfully disguised.

Since they’d combined talents a few months prior, Angelique and Delilah had seen any number of people glance around just that way: bemused, but not necessarily censorious. As if wondering at the source of the room’s charm. One could not place a finger on its source any more than one could bottle sunshine or air. Its charm was that it was well-loved and it knew it.

Madman or not, it seemed her pride was at least as powerful as her sense of self-preservation. She would not sit idly while someone criticized their beloved room.

She cleared her throat. “Lord . . .”

On the off chance she’d heard him wrong the first time.

“Bolt,” he confirmed, pleasantly.

Hell’s teeth. She drew a sustaining breath.

At best he was a charlatan.

A gorgeous, gorgeous charlatan.

“The comfort and security of our guests is paramount at The Grand Palace on the Thames, so Mrs. Hardy and I—we are the proprietresses—typically like to have a conversation with a potential guest to ascertain whether someone is mad or otherwise unsuitable before we invite them to stay.”

He studied her.

“Invite them, do you?” His tone was skeptical. But his voice was suddenly startlingly soft.

Instantly, alarmingly, it was easy to imagine that voice in her ear, from the next pillow, whispering the things he’d like to do to her.

“Yes.” The word emerged absurdly huskily. It sounded rather like she was giving permission to something. “Yes,” she repeated firmly. “Ultimately we give careful consideration to who we invite to stay, as we’d like all of our guests to feel comfortable and safe. And our business is thriving, much to our gratitude. We’re even contemplating a little expansion. And in case you’ve any doubts, the king himself sat just there not long ago.”

His eyes followed her gesturing hand to the pink settee.

He examined it a moment.

He turned back to her.

“Now who’s mad?” he said gently.

 

“Excuse me, Lady Der—Mrs. Hardy.”

Delilah—the former Lady Derring and new Mrs. Hardy—gave a start when Dot stage-whispered hotly next to her ear. She was panting as though she’d come at a run.

“What is it, Dot?”

“A man has arrived to inquire about a room and Mrs. Breedlove is speaking with him, but . . .”

She sank her teeth worriedly into her bottom lip and said nothing more.

Delilah’s eyebrows arched aggressively, prompting Dot to continue.

“Well, I think perhaps you ought to join her.”

Delilah exchanged a swift glance with her husband. He was planning to leave for Dover with Sergeant Massey for a short spot of business in an hour or so, and she wanted to soak up his presence.

But Dot was not in the habit of making recommendations. Cheerfully following orders, and occasionally getting them right, was her forte.

She had proven to be rather a savant at describing guests, however.

“Is he behaving in an . . . ungentlemanly manner, Dot?”

“Well, no. He is one of the most gentlemanly gentlemen I’ve seen, but not in the way you’d expect. His kit is very fine and his boots, well, they’re Hoby, and the way he stands is very . . . and you know how they are, Lady Derring—I mean Mrs. Hardy. Gentlemen, that is.”

“I do indeed know how they are.”

“He has only said a few words. His voice is very fine and low. He is merely standing there, mostly.”

“So the trouble is . . .” Delilah coaxed. She could feel the fine strands of her patience groaning like the buttons on Mr.Delacorte’s vest.

“Well, there are two troubles. Mrs. Breedlove’s cheeks have gone pink.”

Well.

This was fascinating.

“Where are they pink?” Delilah asked swiftly.

“Here and here.” Dot pointed to places high on her cheekbones.

Angelique typically sailed through her days like a swan on a sea of jaded wit and cool aplomb, all born of worldly experience. Very little occurred to change the color of her face, unless it was the heat of the kitchen on baking day.

“I see. What was the second thing, Dot?”

“Oh, you’ll think me silly . . .”

“I would never dream of thinking such a thing,” Delilah lied.

“I believe I saw the letter ‘B’ on his ring!” she said excitedly. “Oh, Lady Der—that is, Mrs. Hardy—do you suppose he could be . . .” she lowered her voice to another stage whisper, pressed her knuckles to her lip “. . . the Lord Bolt? It’s just he looks so . . . so . . .”

She clasped her hands together and gazed at her mutely, blinking her huge pale blue eyes.

Apparently not even the broadsheets—which Dot read with religious fervor—could provide her with a sufficiently hysterical word.

Delilah silently counted to three to fortify her patience. Ten would have been better but time seemed of the essence.

“That poor misguided young man drowned in the Thames a decade ago. A life wasted. Unless you’re a newspaper that peddles gossip, in which case they profit from him still.”

“But the broadsheets said someone who looked just like him walked into Mantons last week and shot the heart out of every target and walked out again without saying a word. Scared everyone silly, they said!”

“But, Dot—”

“And that someone who looked just like him walked into his favorite glove maker in the Galleria and paid for a pair that Lord Bolt had ordered specially just before he died, black with brown wrists, and walked out again! Right dear they were, too.”

“Dot—”

“And that Lady Wanaker claimed her loins had started up a burning out of nowhere like they always did when Bolt was—”

“Dot, please!”

“. . . and that a mysterious wager appeared in the betting books at White’s, signed and dated with the word ‘Bolt,’ and it said ‘I wager every penny I possess I will have revenge.’ I ask you! It fair made me shiver, it did! And no one saw who did it.” She pressed her knuckles against her teeth.

“DOT.”

Dot raised her eyebrows as if she’d made her point.

Delilah sighed. “Oh, Dot. Didn’t we discuss the wisdom of believing all the gossip you read? I admire your enthusiasm for reading, but might I suggest something more calming? Mr. Miles Redmond’s book about the South Seas usually puts me right to sleep. It might be just the thing.”

Dot looked crestfallen. “Yes, Mrs. Hardy. Of course you’re right. It’s just he told Mrs. Breedlove that his name was Lord Bolt, you see. So I just assumed.”

Delilah went still.

She darted another glance at her husband. Who arched a brow.

“We won’t be longer than a few minutes,” she told him.

And if they were, he would be there in moments, because Captain Hardy’s unique gift was knowing when she needed him.

 

Lucien was accustomed to the stares of beautiful women. Countless times he’d watched conclusions made and discarded scud across their faces like clouds on a breezy spring day. They noted the flawlessly sleek black coat, clearly sewn by the lads at Weston. The gold watch fob. The signet ring. The English accent so elegant and precise every consonant seemed to have been turned on a lathe. The exquisite manners, the charm precisely calibrated to weaken feminine knees.

But then there were the contradictions: the childhood French that haunted the contours of his words and syntax. The long, lean body clearly not raised on great platters of English roast beef. And no proper Englishman went around with eyes like his: Vert, comme un chat, one woman, tangled in his sheets, had purred on a memorable occasion. “Like a devil,” another had hissed on a very different memorable occasion. There was indeed something just shy of feral about him, something that implied that one could never predict what he’d get up to, and the fact that this unpredictable man was dressed up in aristocratic finery made them deliciously uneasy.

He had once cared that he did not fit anywhere.

Until he’d learned that he could use this to his advantage.

He was not in the business of making anyone feel more comfortable about anything.

So he let the beautiful ladies of The Grand Palace on the Thames stare, and he said nothing.

On the little table between them, the two pieces of the token lay locked together like lovers, reunited at last. Mrs. Hardy had fetched the other half from upstairs.

Mrs. Hardy’s dark eyes were soft and curious and she wore a gentle smile. Mrs. Breedlove seemed to actually be pressing herself back against the settee. Her chin was up a little, and her hands were folded perhaps more tightly than they ought to be, though her expression was decidedly cool. As though nothing ever surprised her. Their dresses, one red, one golden, overlapped in a shining spill of silk on the seat between them.

Mrs. Hardy’s eyes went to his new gloves, which he’d removed and laid aside on the settee next to him. Black leather, with brown wrists.

They fixed there for a time.

He spoke first.

“I should have thought you’d surround the settee with velvet rope and erect a plaque if the king sat here.”

“Ah. Well, we’ve only the two pink settees at the moment, you see,” Mrs. Hardy said.

She poured the tea from a pot painted all over with periwinkles.

“Ah,” he said, taking great pains to sound fascinated.

She eyed him sardonically as she handed his tea to him. They both knew this exchange was inane.

He took it with a gracious nod. He drank it without sugar, without cream. It was a habit of childhood he could not abandon and it niggled him a bit. It spoke to a time when such things, the niceties and enhancements of life, simply could not be had.

“I once, in fact, sat on the king’s knee. At the sort of party ladies such as you would certainly not be invited to attend. I was three years old.”

It was a deliberate, testing bit of wickedness.

Neither of them even blinked.

Which he liked.

“Lord . . .”

“Bolt.” He’d happily say his name just like that, all day long, knowing full well the impact it had and not giving a damn anymore.

“Very well. We thought we’d perhaps have a conversation before we admit you to The Grand Palace on the Thames, since we know only what we’ve read about you, you see,” she said.

“You have me at a disadvantage, then, as I have read nothing about you.”

They didn’t laugh.

Mrs. Breedlove gave him a tolerant little smile. “And it is such a struggle to remain out of the broadsheets.”

When he grinned at this, she turned her head away ever-so-slightly from him, toward the mantel. The line of her fine jaw and the slope of her throat, and the way her skin took the light like a pearl, suddenly struck him as almost insufferably lovely. It made him feel fleetingly restless, as if someone had dragged a hand over his fur backward.

“Perhaps the most pertinent thing we’re read about you is that you’re dead,” Mrs. Hardy pressed on.

“Boo, I’m a ghost,” he said mildly and fanned his fingers in mock fright.

Two strained smiles greeted this.

“Lord . . .” This was from Mrs. Hardy.

“Bolt.”

“May we presume that you’re claiming to be the very same Lord Bolt who raced a high flyer down Bond Street?”

“Not at all.”

There was a pause.

“You’re not claiming to be the same Lord Bolt who fought a duel with the Earl of Cargill and shot him in the shoulder?” Mrs. Breedlove also had an interesting recollection of his exploits.

“No.”

“And you’re not the Lord Bolt who wagered a thousand pounds by writing in the White’s betting book that a hummingbird would—”

“No.”

“Or that you wagered five hundred pounds that you could get a donkey to kick Lord—”

“No.”

“But . . . then . . .” This was Mrs. Hardy.

“It’s the word ‘claim’ I feel I must take issue with,” he clarified. “It rather implies a defense must be mounted, wouldn’t you say, in support of an assertion? Shall we choose a different verb? I was born Lucien Durand. My father is the Duke of Brexford. He was not married to my mother. My mother, Helene Durand, was beautiful, kind, and a bit of a fool. Hence my existence in the world.” He gave them what was meant to be a bit of a self-deprecating smile. “For which I am certain you are grateful.”

They regarded him with tiny polite smiles of their own.

He had the sense they wouldn’t have minded sliding the hairpins from their coiffures and jabbing him.

He liked their composure and their obvious intelligence. It wasn’t boring. He loathed boredom and he found it more and more difficult to tolerate dull people with anything like grace.

“To further expound, my father, the Duke of Brexford, persuaded the king to confer upon me the title and the modest lands when I was ten years old. I was in favor then, you see.” He said this very, very ironically. “It’s safe to say I am no longer. But I am still a viscount.”

“I feel I must point out that this portion of Lord Bolt’s . . . history is rather widely known in London and in other parts of England,” Mrs. Breedlove said gently. “Among those who read the broadsheets, most particularly.”

Bolt gave this the tiny taut smile it deserved. “Some weeks ago you decided to choose to accept one half of the token on the table and three guineas from a small, maddeningly efficient, nondescript, supercilious man, the sort who manages the sorcery of both blending into the wallpaper and nettling like a burr beneath a saddle, to hold your finest room for his employer, who would be me. His native dialect is irony, which you would probably come to understand if you spent a few years working for me as well.”

Their silence told him they remembered him well.

“I don’t believe that was mentioned in the broadsheets,” he concluded.

“Does this supercilious man have a name?” Mrs. Hardy said suddenly.

“Exeter. Mister Exeter.”

“Mister E,” Mrs. Hardy repeated, wonderingly, on a hush. The women shared a secret, a swift little mirth-filled glance he could not quite interpret. “And he’s your . . .”

“Solicitor. After a fashion.”

“Are we given to understand that you did not, indeed, drown in the Thames? There was a funeral, you know.”

“More after the fashion of a celebration, in some quarters,” he said calmly. He was certain he knew precisely who celebrated. Just as he knew precisely how he’d wound up in the Thames.

“It was reported that some women rent their garments,” Mrs. Hardy told him, dryly.

He smiled placidly. “They generally do when I’m about.”

Mrs. Breedlove had turned to study the flowers on the mantel with a little frown.

He knew this because he’d looked immediately for her reaction.

Mrs. Breedlove leaned forward a little. “Help us to understand something, Lord Bolt . . . If you didn’t drown, then . . .”

“As I was leaving a gaming hell I was accosted by two men and hurled into the Thames. I survived. Don’t know who the poor bloated soul was who was fished from the river and presented as proof of my demise, but it wasn’t me. I was on my way to China by then on a serendipitous clipper ship. Scooped from the water. I’m fortunate I did not wind up in a pie, like an eel.”

“This is London. One should never take for granted what winds up in a pie,” Mrs. Breedlove said evenly.

Frankly delighted by this, he transferred the whole of his attention to her. The later afternoon light through the window burnished her hair the color of an old doubloon, a shade or two darker than her gown.

“Words to live by,” he said gravely.

She turned ever so slightly away again, as though he were the sun, and not the great orb aiming beams through the window.

A silence ensued.

The room was comfortable, he’d grant it that. The proportions were gracious and pleasing. Through the sturdy closed doors came the strains of a muffled reel. A bit like the way it would sound if ghosts were having a party. Lucien had reached adulthood feeling both on the outside of things and at the center of things (usually gossip), and for an instant he felt that way again.

“As for that duel . . . It takes particular skill to avoid a target as big and black as the Earl of Cargill’s heart. He can still use his shoulder, but I’ll warrant he thought twice about using his mouth that carelessly again.”

They went perfectly still.

Mrs. Breedlove leaned forward just a little, and it took every scrap of breeding his father had insisted he acquire to keep his eyes on her face and not where they yearned to go, the expanse of creamy décolletage. “Lord . . .”

“Bolt. Or Viscount Bolt, if you prefer.”

“If you could help us understand why you’ve chosen to . . .” she paused ostentatiously “. . . favor . . . our establishment with your resurrection? And what are your plans for the future?”

Oh, well done, Mrs. Breedlove, he thought. He had a weakness for a good, irresistibly subtle piss-taking.

He met her direct gaze evenly. Her eyes were hazel, full of soft greens and golds, a surprisingly gentle color in such a coolly possessed woman. A bit like a spring dawn. The gears of time suddenly slipped. …

© 2019 Julie Anne Long

*****

Author Info:

USA Today bestselling author JULIE ANNE LONG originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up (and she has the guitars and fringed clothing stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it), but writing was always her first love. Since hanging up her guitar for the computer keyboard, her books frequently top reader and critic polls and have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Rita, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and The Quills, and reviewers have been known to use words like “dazzling,” “brilliant,” and “impossible to put down” when describing them. Julie lives in Northern California.

Website http://www.julieannelong.com/

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJulieAnneLong

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/julieannelong

Goodreads https://goo.gl/oZrpBG

Amazon https://amzn.to/2w6h28P

*****

Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of ANGEL IN A DEVIL’S ARMS by Julie Anne Long, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long!

http://bit.ly/2NiMNRD

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR. Giveaway ends 11/12/2019 @ 11:59pm EST.

*****