Book Review – Governess Gone Rogue


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There is so SO much to love about this book.  Get your copy and discover them all!


Governess Gone Rogue

Dear Lady Truelove series

by Laura Lee Guhrke

Genre Adult Historical Romance

Publisher Avon Books

Publication Date January 29, 2019


Dear Lady Truelove . . .

My twin brother and I need a new mother, though Papa insists he’ll never marry again. Must be nice, brainy, and fond of cats . . .

Lady Truelove may be London’s most famous advice columnist, but James St. Clair, the Earl of Kenyon, knows his wild young sons need a tutor, not a new mother. They need a man tough enough to make his hellions tow the line, and James is determined to find one.

Miss Amanda Leighton, former schoolteacher and governess, knows she has all the qualifications to be a tutor. And while female tutors are unheard of, Amanda isn’t about to lose the chance at her dream job because of pesky details like that. If Lord Kenyon insists on hiring a man, then she has only one option . . .

Jamie isn’t sure what to make of his new employee, until he realizes the shocking truth—beneath the ill-fitting suits, his boys’ tutor is a woman. An unconventional, outspoken, thoroughly intriguing woman. Despite Amanda’s deception, he can’t dismiss her when his boys are learning so much. Yet Jamie, too, is learning surprising lessons—about desire, seduction, and passionate second chances . . .


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Chapter 1

London, 1893

“And she’s off.”

Ten-year-old Owen St. Clair moved to stand alongside his brother, propped his elbows on the windowsill, and rested his chin in his hands as he watched their now-former nanny, a stern, black-clad widow named Mrs. Hornsby, step into the hansom cab at the curb below. “We’re to blame, you know.”

“Stuff.” Colin, older than his brother by exactly eighteen minutes, shook his head, a decisive move that sent the unruly strands of his carrot-red hair into further disarray. “It’s not our fault the Hornsby doesn’t like frogs.”

“Well, we did put it in her hatbox.” Owen sighed as

the cab containing Mrs. Hornsby turned at the corner and vanished from view. “Three nannies in six months. I think that’s torn it, Colin. Papa said one more nanny and he’d send us to Harrow.”

At the ghastly prospect of being sent off to school, the twins turned, sliding down to sit on the floor of the library, their backs to the wall beneath the window as they contemplated what could well be their immediate future.

“We can’t let Papa send us away,” Colin said at last.

“He’d be lost without us. And what would happen to Oscar?”

Both boys looked up at the gray tabby cat that was sitting on the arm of a nearby chair, a cat they’d rescued from a tree in the park two years earlier. Oscar was twitching his tail and blinking his green eyes sleepily, seeming unaware of the dire future that lay ahead for his two human friends.

“He’ll be lonely,” Owen said. “Papa’s away all the time, and the servants think he’s a nuisance because he doesn’t chase mice. They don’t like him. They might forget to feed him. They might give him away.”

“We’ve got to do something to stop it.”

“Maybe we could take him with us? It’s probably against the rules to have a cat at Harrow, but—”

“I’m not talking about Oscar.” Colin turned to his brother. “I’m talking about us and being sent away.

Oscar has nothing to worry about if we can convince Papa to let us stay here.”

There was silence for a moment as both boys considered the problem.

“Maybe,” Owen said at last, “we could find our new nanny ourselves before Papa knows what’s happened. Someone we like. Someone fun. If we do that, it’s a fate . . . fate—what’s the word?”

“Fait-accompli,” Colin supplied in carefully enunciated, very British French.

“That’s it.” Owen’s nod was decisive. “And if we’ve already found someone, Papa can’t be too angry about Nanny Hornsby leaving, can he?”

“Maybe not, but the thing is . . .” Colin paused, his freckled face scrunching up with distaste, as if he’d just eaten a persimmon. “We don’t really want another nanny, do we?”

“No, but what other choice have we got?”

“Maybe we should find what we really want.”

“You mean . . .” Owen stared at his brother, his expression one of both excitement and doubt. “You don’t mean a new mum?”

“Why not? We’ve been talking about it for ages.”

“I know, but—”

“Another nanny would be tiresome. School would be worse.”

“That’s true, but—”

“Papa’s sure to marry again sometime,” Colin interrupted.

“What if he picks someone who doesn’t like us?”

“We’d be off to Harrow like a shot. But still—”

“If we find Papa someone who likes us, she could convince him to let us give school a miss altogether.”

“Possibly,” Owen said, his voice making it clear he wasn’t optimistic about such a plan’s chances of success. “But Papa won’t ever marry again. He’s said so a thousands of times.”

“We’ll have to find him a girl who’s smashing enough to make him change his mind. Someone pretty, of course.”

“Someone nice. Someone who won’t put pomade in our hair and lecture us when our trousers get torn.”

Colin nodded. “She’ll have to be brainy, too, like Mama was. And fond of cats.”

Oscar meowed, as if giving his endorsement of this plan.

“There’s just one problem,” Owen pointed out.

“How do we find her?”

“That is the sticky wicket.”

Both boys fell silent again, thinking hard.

“We could put an ad in Auntie Clara’s paper,” Owen said after a moment. “Men are always advertising for wives in the papers.”

“Gentlemen don’t, and Papa’s a gentleman. Wait—I know!” Colin jumped to his feet and crossed the library to the writing desk. As his brother watched, he opened the center drawer, retrieved a sheet of notepaper, and closed the drawer again.

“What are you doing?” Owen asked curiously, standing up and moving toward the desk as his brother reached for the pen that was reposing in a silver holder on the inkstand.

“Who are you writing to?”

“Who does everyone write to when they want to solve a problem?” Colin countered as he inked the nib of the pen. “I’m writing to Lady Truelove.”



This book made me happy.  I loved the rascally twins and their inventive (and sometimes) disgusting pranks, which is hiding a deeper pain (of course).  They are adorable as only fictional scamps can be.  I also loved how much Amanda understood them and worked to redirect them in a positive manner, winning them over.  But most of all I love how she manages to break Jamie out of the prison he’s locked himself in.  With the death of his wife he’s pretty much shut down, throwing himself totally into his work, which unfortunately has meant that his sons have suffered from a bit of neglect.  Of course, Amanda proves pretty hard to ignore.

The timeline of this story is pretty short.  I think the whole thing happens in just a couple of months, and Jamie & Amanda hardly spend any time together, so you have to be OK with an insta-love kinda situation.  But it worked for me.  I liked the two of them together and I was totally in to a quick romance.  If I end the book with a smile, it’s a good read in my mind.


Author Info:

LAURA LEE GUHRKE spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned over twenty historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is the recipient of romance fiction’s highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband (or, as she calls him, her very own romance hero), along with two diva cats and a Golden Retriever happy to be their slave. Laura loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her via her website:







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Spotlight – I’m Coming Home



Who else loves a man in uniform?


I’m Coming Home

by Chianti Summers

Genre: Military/Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer: Dark Water Covers

Release Date: 2/7/2019


Zayda has never been in love, never felt pulled to anyone, until the day she met Lex. Their whirlwind romance has left them both breathless. Nothing can come between them.

Or so she thinks.

Lex is a military man, which has suited him just fine until he met Zayda. She has waltzed into his life, claimed his heart, and pushed away the loneliness he didn’t even realize he’d been feeling.

Everything was perfect until Lex received deployment orders. They will be separated for months, and neither one is looking forward to it. Leaving has never bothered Lex before, but things have changed.

Love and military. Life and honor. Separation and desire. Zayda prays that Lex will come back to her. Lex fully intends on returning and claiming Zayda as his forever.

Amazon US:

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Amazon AU:




“Hello?” I hear a voice in the Jeep, “Hello?” My eyes dart to my phone, and I swiftly realize that it’s Lex I’m hearing. Oh shit! No! No! Damn touchscreen phones. I reach for the phone and hit the end button. Oh my, that was awkward. I’m staring at the phone when it starts to ring. Now, what do I do? I hit reject. Damn, I’m a bitch! The phone begins ringing again. He is determined. Okay, time to take the bull by the horns.

“Hello,” I answer, my tone nervous.

“Zayda?” A deep husky voice comes through the other end of the call.


“You finally decided to call me? It’s nice to hear that sweet voice of yours,” Lex says, sounding confident.

“Well. Maybe. Shit. Yeah, I called you, but it wasn’t supposed to dial you.” Shit! I can’t lie to him, I don’t know how to lie.

“Good. I’ll pick you up after your shift on Friday.” Before I can say anything, Lex hangs up and I’m left in a fog of what just happened. I should call him back and tell him no. My hand thumps against the phone and I smile, deciding against calling him back. I deserve to have a little fun, and Lex may be the perfect outlet.

Putting the Jeep into drive, I head home, grinning all the way there.


Author Info:

Chianti Summers is a military spouse, a mother, a lover of music and wine.  She is also passionate about sports and that is why she pursued and obtained her degree in Sports Medicine.

She decided to take a chance on writing in 2016.   One day she would love to travel to Italy and mark it off her bucket list.  Until that day comes she will continue to be taken away by reading and writing with a nice glass of wine.




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Also check out these other books by Chianti Summers:
Renovate My Heart
Georgia Peaches Series (co-written with Colbie Kay)
Sweet Southern Secrets
Sweet Southern Satisfaction
Sweet Southern Summer





Book Review – How to Seduce a Bad Boy


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How to Seduce a Bad Boy

A Point Beacon Romance

by Traci Douglass

Melody Bryant has heard it all before. Sure, she’s the epitome of the stereotype for a librarian. Loves order. Loves rules and deadlines. Loves books. But what she doesn’t love is still being a virgin at twenty-four. Unfortunately, the only guy she’s ever been interested in turned her down flat. And then left town. Eight. Years. Ago. Ugh.

Now her birthday is fast approaching and she just can’t take it any longer. She’s finding a guy before her birthday in five weeks or she’s adopting two more cats and fully embracing becoming “the crazy cat lady.”

But when her latest date ends in epic failure–everyone thinks of her as the “proper librarian,” she realizes what she needs is to ruin her reputation. And she knows the perfect guy to help her: the baddest bad boy in town. This Army vet won’t know what hit him…

While there are a lot of stereotypes/tropes covered here, I felt like Douglass handled it well.  While there isn’t anything new, what we are given is well written – with likeable characters and an enjoyable storyline.  My only complaint is that we didn’t get to see their interactions as a couple.  We got the back and forth of them getting together, the stress over being together, and what happens afterward.  But we didn’t get to see them actually being together, in order to get that warm & fuzzy about their coupleness.  Instead we spend most of the book in their heads.  And I liked them so much from those peeks at their thoughts that I really wanted that.  Overall, though, a good read and I’m looking forward to seeing what Douglass has in store for Melody’s brother & her best friend.

Spotlight – Waiting for Willa


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People luh-uhv the Big Sky series!  Get your hands on them and find out why.


Waiting for Willa

Big Sky series

by Kristen Proby


Max Hull left Cunningham Falls a long time ago. Thanks to his killer instincts and business smarts, he’s come back to town richer than anyone’s wildest imagination. Now he’s closer to his family, living in his dream home, and at the top of his career—it sure looks like he has it all.

All but one thing. And she’s not interested.

Willa Monroe and Max were childhood sweethearts. She daydreamed about their wedding day and named their children, but Max’s dreams were bigger than her. After high school, he left her behind without another word. Now, Willa is a single mother and a successful business owner, and the heartbreak of losing Max was a very long time ago.

She’s moved on.

But when he walks into her shop and back into her life, suddenly it feels like no time has passed at all. He’s as handsome as ever, and more charming than she remembered. Once he makes friends with her son and turns his attention on her, how long will she be able to resist him?

And does she really want to? Sometimes you do get a second chance at first love.

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Author Info:

Kristen was born and raised in a small resort town in her beloved Montana. In her mid-twenties, she decided to stretch her wings and move to the Pacific Northwest, where she made her home for more than a dozen years.

During that time, Kristen wrote many romance novels and joined organizations such as RWA and other small writing groups. She spent countless hours in workshops, and more mornings than she can count up before the dawn so she could write before going to work. She submitted many manuscripts to agents and editors alike, but was always told no. In the summer of 2012, the self-publishing scene was new and thriving, and Kristen had one goal: to publish just one book. It was something she longed to cross off of her bucket list.

Not only did she publish one book, she’s since published close to thirty titles, many of which have hit the USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists. She continues to self publish, best known for her With Me In Seattle and Boudreaux series, and is also proud to work with William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, with the Fusion Series.

Kristen and her husband, John, make their home in her hometown of Whitefish, Montana with their two pugs and two cats.







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Book Review – The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride


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It’s been a long time since I’ve read a historical western romance and this one was definitely a great way to start again.


The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride

Outlaw Mail Order Brides, #1

by Linda Broday

Pub Date: January 29, 2019

ISBN: 9781492651048


When the West was wild

And man’s law favored the few

These extraordinary women could be found…

…in the heart of an outlaw.

Former outlaw Clay Colby is abuzz with his mail order bride’s expected arrival. He’s fought long and hard to drag Devil’s Crossing out of lawlessness…so when his homestead is set ablaze by a bitter rival, he’s heartbroken. There’s no woman in the world who’d stand by him now.

But Tally Shannon is no ordinary woman.

After escaping the psychiatric hospital in which she was wrongfully detained, Tally only wants someone to protect her and the little girl under her care. She doesn’t mind that Clay’s home is dang near burned to the ground—not when he makes her feel so safe. So cherished. But it’s only a matter of time before the ghosts of her past come calling…and her loving cowboy must defend his new bride—and the family they built together—to his very last breath.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Indiebound | Walmart



Clay and Tally stood on the rim of the bluff overlooking Devil’s Crossing. The outlaw town was invisible below, cloaked by the rocks and brush. He turned to face the woman he would vow to care for and protect with his life.

Tall and graceful, Tally wore the sunny lemon dress she’d arrived in the day before. And Clay had nothing fancy either—just plain, everyday clothes, which were good enough.

Eyeing her dress, Clay could see a place where she’d mended it. There were probably others as well. He made a silent vow to buy her the prettiest dresses he could find the next time he went to a town of any size. And he’d make her a new pair of boots to replace the shabby ones she wore. Although she tried to hide it, he could tell by her limp that her feet killed her.

Something had happened. While his lady was held in Creedmore? Maybe.

His lady. The words didn’t seem real yet. He reached for her hand and found it a chunk of ice. But the scared angel he’d held last night had vanished. In her place stood the bold, self-assured woman he’d first met. She didn’t smile.

He studied her proud profile, facial bones delicately carved. A full, lush mouth. And her hair—wind-whipped strands of fire. Something stirred inside him.

“Are you sure about this, Tally?”

“This is my path to follow, and follow it I will.”

“So will I.” Maybe this once the bride wouldn’t walk away and leave him before the ceremony. But they had yet to speak their vows. At least she’d left off her gun and holster, although he suspected she was rarely without the hardware.

He’d guard her and the child with his life. They’d given him a reason to keep breathing.

Ridge Steele, tall and somber in his black frock coat, stood before them with his tattered Bible, his gun hanging from his hip. He hated to be pressed into service—a reminder that he still couldn’t reconcile his past deeds with his teaching. Like them all, he struggled to find his way.

“We’re gathered here on this fine morn to join Clay and Tally together as one mind, one heart, one purpose,” Ridge began.

Violet, wearing a crown of braided daisies, removed her hold from Bullet and clutched Tally’s dress. Clay glanced down at her upturned face and winked before he remembered she lived in darkness. He ached for the pretty little golden-haired girl. He couldn’t imagine such a life with peril at every turn that she couldn’t even run from.

He swung his attention back to Ridge and repeated his vows. His eyes misted as he realized all a marriage entailed. From now on, he had to put Tally and Violet before his own needs. That was the true mark of a man.

“Do you have a ring, Clay?” Ridge asked.

“Of sorts.” Clay fumbled in his pocket for the ring he’d found nestling in the sack of coffee beans. He took Tally’s right hand and looked deep into her eyes. “This isn’t much, but it’s all I have right now.”

He slipped the silver band on her finger. The small, sparkly stone glittered in the sun, but he stifled a curse when he realized that it was too large. “Sorry about the fit.”

“It’s perfect.” Tally gave his hand a reassuring squeeze but still didn’t smile. “I’ll wrap string around the band and it’ll be fine.”

“Just until I can do something better.” She was clearly used to settling for less but Clay would one day get her a ring that fit or die trying.

Ridge concluded the ceremony. “You may now kiss the bride, Clay.”

Swelling with emotion, Clay pulled his beautiful Tally close and lowered his mouth. At the touch of her lips, warmth swept the length of his body.

“This is my path to follow, and follow it I will.”

“So will I.” Maybe this once the bride wouldn’t walk away and leave him before the ceremony. But they had yet to speak their vows. At least she’d left off her gun and holster, although he suspected she was rarely without the hardware.

He’d guard her and the child with his life. They’d given him a reason to keep breathing.

Ridge Steele, tall and somber in his black frock coat, stood before them with his tattered Bible, his gun hanging from his hip. He hated to be pressed into service—a reminder that he still couldn’t reconcile his past deeds with his teaching. Like them all, he struggled to find his way.

“We’re gathered here on this fine morn to join Clay and Tally together as one mind, one heart, one purpose,” Ridge began.

Violet, wearing a crown of braided daisies, removed her hold from Bullet and clutched Tally’s dress. Clay glanced down at her upturned face and winked before he remembered she lived in darkness. He ached for the pretty little golden-haired girl. He couldn’t imagine such a life with peril at every turn that she couldn’t even run from.

He swung his attention back to Ridge and repeated his vows. His eyes misted as he realized all a marriage entailed. From now on, he had to put Tally and Violet before his own needs. That was the true mark of a man.

“Do you have a ring, Clay?” Ridge asked.

“Of sorts.” Clay fumbled in his pocket for the ring he’d found nestling in the sack of coffee beans. He took Tally’s right hand and looked deep into her eyes. “This isn’t much, but it’s all I have right now.”

He slipped the silver band on her finger. The small, sparkly stone glittered in the sun, but he stifled a curse when he realized that it was too large. “Sorry about the fit.”

“It’s perfect.” Tally gave his hand a reassuring squeeze but still didn’t smile. “I’ll wrap string around the band and it’ll be fine.”

“Just until I can do something better.” She was clearly used to settling for less but Clay would one day get her a ring that fit or die trying.

Ridge concluded the ceremony. “You may now kiss the bride, Clay.”

Swelling with emotion, Clay pulled his beautiful Tally close and lowered his mouth. At the touch of her lips, warmth swept the length of his body.



I usually stick to the lords and ladies of England when it comes to any historicals that I read but every once in a while something else will catch my eye.  And I have to say I’m really glad that something was this book.

Things have been really, really hard for both Tally and Clay (and their friends).  Horrible circumstances and maybe some bad decisions by themselves and/or others have led them down a difficult path.  Clay’s life as an outlaw has left him with a price on his head but he’s intent on starting over and creating a new life for himself.  One that involves a woman to share it with.  Unfortunately Tally has her own demons to fight and she brings a bit of trouble with her to Devil’s Crossing.

I loved that both Clay and Tally are determined to find a way to have a good life.  They don’t turn away when things get difficult, or if they do they quickly figure out that they need to stand up for themselves and what’s right even when it’s challenging.  Neither of them are coming to this relationship whole but they know they want better and they are willing to work at it.  There are people that depend on them and they are making a new family, a new life, together and it requires them to learn to trust each other and work together.

Broday doesn’t make things easy for anyone here but she definitely gives readers a page-turner of a story.  With every new hardship or threat that comes knocking at their door, Clay and Tally do their best to meet it head on.  They’ve had rough times in the past and the future isn’t coming easy, but they are going to face it together.  Moments of danger kept me glued to the pages but so did the more tender moments as they work together to make a family of their little band of misfits.  It’s as heart-warming as it was suspenseful, and I look forward to having Broday take me for another ride.

(Note: This is the first in this series, which is a spinoff of an existing one.  It can stand alone but I’m curious how much I would have already known about these characters if this wasn’t the first book I’d read by this author.  I don’t think it impacted much but may have added some depth.)


Author Info:

At a young age, Linda Broday discovered a love for storytelling, history, and anything pertaining to the Old West. After years of writing romance, it’s still tall rugged cowboys that spark her imagination. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda has won many awards, including the prestigious National Readers’ Choice Award and the Texas Gold. She resides in the Texas Panhandle where she’s inspired every day.



Five copies of The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride


Spotlight – Hearts Abroad


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Hearts Abroad is book one in Skye McNeil’s contemporary romance series, Atlas. Each book contains a millionaire to envy, snort-worthy comedy, and visits to many beautiful cities in the world. Yes, all of that, plus each novel ends with a fabulous HEA.


Hearts Abroad

Atlas, Book 1

by Skye McNeil

Genre: Millionaire Romance

Word Count: 75k


When a fun-loving American nanny turns a millionaire British single dad’s world upside down, it’s inevitable life is going to get complicated.

Taking a break from screenwriting in New York City, Londyn Bellerose takes a nannying job in Colorado to get away from the hubbub. A summer to live without regrets is all she wants. While her boss is British, gorgeous, and a millionaire, he has no clue how to have fun. Determined to mend the relationship between father and daughters, Londyn doesn’t expect to fall for the museum curator.

Londyn is American and everything Callum Archer swore to never fall for again. With her carefree spirit and energetic smile, she’s perfect to nanny Callum’s two daughters. The problem is she’s also perfect for him. She’s sassy, musical, and tends to speak her mind more than she means to.

When old history and new dreams threaten her happily ever after, will Londyn and Callum’s love survive?

Purchase your copy!
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Author Info:

Skye McNeil began writing at the age of seventeen and has been lost in a love affair ever since. During the day, she moonlights as a paralegal at a law firm favoring criminal law.
Skye enjoys writing romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels that leave readers wanting more and falling in love over and over. Her books range from sweet and sassy to steamy and sultry.

Her constant writing companions are two cats and two dogs. When she’s not writing, Skye enjoys spending time with family, photography, volleyball, traveling, and curling up with a cup of coffee and reading.


Spotlight – Flare Up


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Stacey has been setting things on fire with this series and you’ll definitely want to get a copy of her newest!


Flare Up

Boston Fire #6

by Shannon Stacey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: January 29, 2019

Publisher: Carina Press

Format: Print / Digital eBook

Print ISBN: 9781335924599

Digital ISBN: B07GBC1TP2


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey kicks off the new year with this steamy must read addition to her Boston Fire series! Fireman Grant Cutter is debating on packing up his Jeep and leaving Boston Fire’s Engine 59 to start a new life and nurse his shattered heart. But when a 911 call concerning her possessive ex-boyfriend brings Wren Everett back into his life, Grant knows he won’t be able to leave her in his rearview mirror.

Nursing a broken heart while everybody around him seems to be drowning in happiness has Grant Cutter wondering whether staying with Engine 59—or even Boston Fire—is in his future. It’s tempting as hell to pack up what fits in his Jeep and hit the road. But then a 911 call brings the woman who shattered his heart back into his life, and he knows he won’t ever be able to fully leave her in his rearview mirror.

For a few months, Wren Everett had thought the nightmare of her past was behind her and she might live happily ever after with Grant. Until she got the phone call letting her know the time her ex had spent in jail for assault hadn’t cooled his temper or determination that she belonged with him. Cutting ties with Grant was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do, but it was also the only way to keep him safe.

Now that Grant is back, he’s not letting Wren push him away again. And even with the trust issues between them, Wren dares to hope she and Grant might have a future together after all…if they’re willing to fight for it.

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes



The apartment was small—one room and probably barely legal—so it only took a few seconds to follow the coughing to the person on the floor near the window. While Aidan did a quick check of the bathroom and under the bed to make sure there was nobody else, Grant crouched down next to the person he was pretty sure was a woman, despite having a throw blanket over her head.

“Fire department,” he said. “Let’s get you out of here.”

Her cough was so weak and ineffectual, he didn’t bother asking if she could get up and walk. Instead he rolled her, intending to lift her and carry her out.

Then the throw blanket slipped away from a sleep-tangled mess of blonde curls, revealing dark blue eyes he saw in his dreams, and Grant’s world stopped.


He hadn’t seen her in five months, since she’d told him on the phone she didn’t want to see him anymore and then ghosted. No explanation. No compromise. Nothing but five months of a broken heart that hadn’t even begun to heal yet.

What the hell was she doing in this place?

Grant. Her mouth formed his name, though no sound got through her constricted throat. The grayish cast of her skin and lips terrified him, and he started to hoist her up.

Aidan was at his side. “I’ll carry her out.”

“I’ve got her.” Despite the shock and pain from seeing her again, Grant wanted to hold her. He wanted to cradle her in his arms and feel that sense of contentment holding her had always brought him in the past.

There was no time for that. After draping her over his shoulder, he stood and headed for the door. It wouldn’t be a comfortable ride for her, but the only thing that mattered right now was getting her out of the building and to an ambulance, where they could give her oxygen. Her body had gone totally limp by the time he reached the stairs, but he refused to consider the possibility she’d need medical care beyond that.

They’d gotten there in time, and that’s all there was to it.

He heard voices in his radio and was aware Aidan stayed right behind him, but Grant didn’t stop moving until he hit the clear, frigid air.

He paused to get his bearings and then headed for the ambulances on standby. Some of those voices in his radio must have warned them he was coming, because Cait opened the back of her truck and waved at him.

Cait Tasker was not only an EMT, but she was engaged to Gavin Boudreau, who was Grant’s best friend and with the Ladder 37 crew. E-59 and L-37 were parked side-by-side in the firehouse and always rolled out together, so Gavin was on scene, too. And Cait knew Wren. The four of them had spent a lot of time together before Wren walked away from him and didn’t look back.

By the time he reached the ambulance doors, he could feel her stirring. Not a lot, but she had to be breathing in order to regain consciousness and that was enough for now.

Because it was so damn cold and she was small, they didn’t bother with the stretcher. He handed Wren up to Cait’s partner, Tony, who turned away with her.

“Oh my God, Grant.” Cait looked at him, her expression mirroring his thoughts. “What the hell was Wren doing living here?”

“I don’t know. She’ll be okay, right?”

“We’ll take care of her. Are you okay?”

He didn’t answer. As he watched Tony fit a mask over Wren’s face, her eyes met his and, no, he wasn’t okay.

Questions tumbled through his mind. Why was Wren living in this place? Why had she disappeared from his life so abruptly? How could she still be in the city and not miss him enough to at least send a text message?

Had she known he’d been days away from buying her a ring and asking her to spend the rest of her life with him?

Copyright © 2019 Flare Up
Shannon Stacey


Author Info:

New York Times  and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website,, as well as sign up for her newsletter.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  BookBub



In celebration of the release of Shannon Stacey’s FLARE UP, Carina Press is offering ten (10) lucky winners their choice of a paperback copy of a backlist Boston Fire title! Applicable titles: include Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Fully Ignited, Hot Response, and Under Control.


Spotlight – The Whole Package


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Looks like Marie Harte’s newest has two covers – one for print and one for ebook.  Take a look … which do you like best?

The Whole Package

Movin On series

by Marie Harte


Vets on the Go!

They didn’t plan to become heroes…

When former Marine Reid Griffith started his moving company, hiring only veterans, he just wanted to help his brother Cash adjust to civilian life. But when Cash is caught taking down a thief mid-robbery, the video goes viral. Suddenly Vets on the Go! are local heroes…and Reid’s phone explodes. He needs help handling the deluge of interest—fast.

When PR expert Naomi Starr sees the news spot of a muscular vet expertly apprehending a bad guy with duct tape, she knows Vets on the Go! is just the thing to revive her career. There’s just one problem. Naomi has vowed to never mix business with pleasure. Ever. Again. And tall, dark and brawny Reid Griffith is a whole package of temptation.








No way in hell his body should be so keyed up at eight-thirty in the morning sitting across from Naomi Starr.

Two days after first meeting the woman, Reid swore under his breath and subtly uncrossed his legs, growing uncomfortable. Sitting across from Naomi at her desk in her tidy little office, he took a moment to glance around.

The place fit her. Frames of local businesses accented the slate blue walls of her office. Bold, clean lines in her furniture and in the way the small room seemed to be so much bigger than it actually was indicated a woman who knew how to show her best side. And that was to say nothing of the woman herself.

Naomi sat in a navy jacket and form-fitting skirt that reached her knees. Personally, Reid wouldn’t have minded if she’d hiked the thing higher, because damn, but she had some nice legs. The understated blouse she wore under the jacket covered her from the neck down while giving tantalizing impressions of the full breasts beneath.

Sadly, Reid had always been a breast and leg man, and Naomi continued to tick off all the boxes on his “ideal woman” list.

A knock at the door interrupted them, fortunately before Reid got caught staring.

“Sorry,” her assistant apologized. “Naomi, I need your help with something that’s urgent. It won’t take long.”

Naomi frowned.

“Take care of whatever you need to,” Reid said to her and held up the decadent coffee she’d offered him. “I’m just going to nurse this for a while.” Because he needed the caffeine. Who the hell voluntarily scheduled appointments before nine if they didn’t have to?

She gave him a tight smile. “I’m sorry about this. I’ll be right back, and while I’m gone, take a look at my proposal.” She pushed a blue folder toward him.

He looked through her ideas, agreeing with the direction she intended. Yet his concentration remained on the woman who’d left, as well as the amazing cup of coffee he’d been given upon arrival.

In his office, when Reid had asked if he could get her something to drink, he would have offered her bottled water or some crap coffee from the tiny refreshment station he’d insisted they add to the office. It was a step up from car dealer coffee but several steps down from Storyville, one of his favorite coffee bars in the city. Naomi could give them a run for their money with her gourmet coffee, served in a fancy ceramic mug. He’d also noticed the spring water in the hallway in a water cooler she no doubt paid through the nose for.

Probably why her fees were a little on the high side. To him, at least. According to Evan, she had more than reasonable prices for what she offered. Her clients couldn’t say enough about all she’d done to help their businesses. The woman was a workhorse, no doubt about it. They had that in common. And, if he wasn’t mistaken, a mutual attraction.

Or that could just be wishful thinking.

She returned, appearing as poised and put-together as she’d been before the interruption. “I’m so sorry for that. A new client panicked about something we’d already agreed upon then wouldn’t speak to anyone but me about it.” Naomi shrugged. “But it’s no big deal. Now, back to you.”

He watched her saunter back to her seat, enjoying the sight. When she sat and faced him, he kept his gaze above her chin at all times.

She nodded to the folder open in front of him. “This is the proposal I’ve outlined for you. Like I said, we’ll do three months and revisit the terms. But I think this is what you need to get started.”

He glanced back down at it. “Looks solid. I wanted to ask what you thought about TV ads, too.”

“They can be expensive but worth it. I’d definitely like to see your people on television. Cash and Hector stood out on the news, because they sure as heck grabbed my attention. If I needed movers, I’d hire them from that segment alone.”

Of course she would. Cash had that kind of presence about him. Competent, protective, mission-oriented… So long as he kept his big mouth shut, they might make things work.

“Yeah, about that. I’ve had a request for an interview, a spotlight on our company.”

She grabbed a pen and pad of paper. “When did you schedule it for?”

“I didn’t, not yet. Thought I’d see what you thought.”

“Do it.” She stared at him. “From the small group I saw at your office, you’ll represent well. Now, if you’re all photogenic too, we’re golden. We know Hector and Cash look great on camera. Hector is much more charming than your brother. As appealing as your brother may be as the strong type, he’s not exactly silent. A lot of censoring in that piece the news ran on your company.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

Her continuous stare made him a little uncomfortable. “Something wrong?”

“Hmm. I think we need to brand you as a family company first. You and your brother, together, would really work to sell Vets on the Go!.”

“My cousin’s also a partner. We all kind of look alike, so you’d see the family resemblance.”

“Even better.” She made a few notes. “So we highlight you three, then pepper the interview with your brawny, good-looking employees. And bam, you’ve already made an impression on the hundreds and thousands of single women needing to move.”

“Now we’re targeting women?”

“Yes. And families, and veterans themselves. You have an original appeal, and not just because you’re handsome.” She flushed and hurried to add, “And by you, I mean your team and your business.”

“So I’m not handsome, then?” he asked to tease her, loving that blush.

Naomi cleared her throat and said dryly, “I think you’re well aware of your looks. My point is we use every weapon in your arsenal. You have fit, appealing employees who’ve served our country. That’s three for three. Now looking at your rates…”

She swiveled her computer monitor so he could see it. “Leo, our data guru, sent me a comparison to see who your major competitors are.”

“We went through this before we started the company,” he said.

“Bear with me.” They went over more numbers, enough to make his head spin. In certain demographics, they seemed to hit the mark, while missing entirely in others. “So you see, if you raise this rate but drop this fee, you’ll still come out even.”

“That’s if this marketing works.”

She gave him another of those penetrating looks that caused the sparks in his belly to start up and dance. “Oh, it’ll work.”

“Confident in your abilities, huh?”

“You know what, Reid? I am. Now, I’ve got the same issues as most women.” Her charming smile disarmed him. “I often wonder, does this outfit make me look fat? Is my hair the mess I think it is? Will he call like he said he would?” She smiled then turned uber professional between one breath and the next. “But one thing I’m not is deluded about my professional abilities. I won’t promise what we can’t deliver. I know how to help businesses grow and flourish, and yes, I’m damn good at what I do.”

He believed her a hundred percent. “Okay then.” He studied her right back, noticing the plump curve of her lips. The sparkle in her blue eyes.

He took his pen and signed the contract, then pushed the folder back to her, irritated that he had to work to maintain control, aware of his racing pulse. Reid was man enough to handle being attracted to a beautiful woman. Didn’t mean he had to follow his dick where it led. “But for the record, the outfit is flattering, your hair is beautiful, and if he’s dumb enough not to call back, he doesn’t deserve you.” He stood before he made a bigger fool of himself. “I’ll set up the interview with the news station and let you know.”



If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that moving SUCKS. It seems like everyone’s got a moving gone wrong story—did your car break down halfway across the country? Or all of your dishes broke in transit? Or you get there and the place is infested with bugs? No matter what happened to you, we want to hear it!

We’re celebrating the release of the first book in Marie Harte’s new Movin On series, The Whole Package, with a sweepstakes! Learn how to participate below, and you’ll be entered to win an awesome gift package!

Spotlight – The Conspiracy



I absolutely love getting this little peek into the writing process – thanks, Kat!

(And make sure you check out the Publisher’s Weekly review –


Researching Columbia

Sometimes what you think is going to be a great idea for a novel turns out to be a whole lot of work!  That’s what happens when you realize the idea you are now in the middle of isn’t going to work the way you thought it would.

In THE CONSPIRACY, I got the idea for a book that started in Texas, moved to the Caribbean, and ended up in Venezuela.  With all the trouble country is having, I thought it would be a great setting for a Romantic Thriller.

Unfortunately, after I was well into the book and started doing the necessary research for that segment of the story, I realized the geography I needed and the rural setting didn’t exist in Venezuela.

I spent days digging around in South America, looking for a rainforest that could be reasonably reached from the Caribbean island of Aruba.  Nothing worked.

Finally, I realized there actually was spot that exactly fit the image in my head.  (This happens to writers all the time.  No one knows why.) The spot was in Colombia, a place I had no desire to write about, but fit the story exactly.

So I went to work researching a remote area of Columbia accessible from Aruba.

Chase Garrett, the hero of THE CONSPIRACY, with the help of Harper Winston, the woman who hires him to find her missing brother, wind up in extreme danger in the  Columbian tropical forest.  It’s a very unusual place that required hours of research, but in the end, it was worth it.

I had my work cut out for me, finding which animals, reptiles, and birds lived in the area.  Reading about the customs of the indigenous tribes, and the politic.  Rebel armies inhabit the forest and they don’t like intruders.

The research made THE CONSPIRACY one of the most challenging books I’ve written, but hopefully its one of my most interesting.  I hope you’ll look for THE CONPIRACY, the first of my Maximum Security series, and that you enjoy.

Until next time, very best wishes and happy reading,



The Conspiracy

by Kat Martin


Harper Winston’s brother has disappeared. Pursuing his dream of sailing the Caribbean, Michael hasn’t responded to texts or emails in days. When even the Coast Guard can’t find him, Harper is forced to take desperate measures. Which means going to Chase Garrett, once her brother’s best friend, now the only man she can trust…or so she hopes.

As the successful owner of Maximum Security, Chase has learned to trust his gut. He knows Harper’s father is mixed up in a deadly business, and suspects there’s more to Michael’s disappearance than meets the eye. Getting involved again with the Winstons goes against everything he stands for, yet old loyalties die hard. As the case draws him closer to Harper and deeper into the Winstons’ snarled crime family, he is forced to put everything on the line to keep Harper safe…and both of them alive.


BN –







Chapter One

Dallas, Texas

She knew who he was. The only man at the gala in a black tuxedo and shiny black alligator cowboy boots. Chase Garrett. The man she intended to hire to help her find her missing brother.

Harper Winston had known Chase since the day her father had thrown an obnoxiously extravagant party in honor of her sixteenth birthday.

Chase had attended with her older brother, Michael. She had spotted Chase in a swimsuit standing next to the pool, tall, with a lean, hard-muscled body, whiskey-brown eyes and thick, dark blond hair. In the sun it had gleamed like pirate’s gold.

Aside from the close-trimmed beard along a jaw that had hardened with maturity, Chase hadn’t changed. He still had the perfectly symmetrical features of a movie star combined with a toughness that appealed to a legion of women.

Now that she was thirty, Chase thirty-five, Harper still found him ridiculously attractive, though he’d never given her more than a passing glance.

He didn’t notice her tonight, though she wore an elegant strapless black gown that hugged her slender curves and set off the pale blond hair she wore long and slightly turned under. She glanced over to where he stood next to a stunning brunette, a successful lawyer in Dallas, the typical sort of woman Chase dated. Self-made career women, professors, bankers, stockbrokers. Not someone like her, the daughter of a wealthy Texas businessman, a woman who had attended Sarah Lawrence along with a bevy of other rich socialites from around the country.

It didn’t matter that she was nothing like they were. That she hadn’t the least interest in society. Her interests lay in the business world, in Elemental Chic, the company she had started, a line of affordable, stylish and well-made casual clothing and accessories.

She wasn’t cut out for teaching or social work, she had discovered during a year of volunteer work in South America, an adventure she had undertaken mostly because her father disapproved.

Harvard Business School was where she was meant to be, she had grudgingly conceded. As her father had insisted and was eager to pay for—business being one of the few interests she and Knox Winston, a self-made multimillionaire, had in common.

Unlike her father, Chase Garrett came from big money, which he disdained, though he and his two brothers had inherited a not-so-small fortune from Bass Garrett, Chase’s dad.

Harper lifted a champagne flute off a passing waiter’s tray and took a sip. Chase might not notice her tonight, but he was the reason she was there. She hadn’t seen him in years, but when she had read in the newspaper that he would be attending the gala, she’d seized the opportunity. She wanted to see the man he had become, the man she would be facing tomorrow morning.

It didn’t matter what he thought of her as a woman. She needed his professional assistance. Her brother was in trouble. She knew it deep in her soul. Mikey had disappeared, and Chase was among the few people she trusted to help her find him.

Chase owned Maximum Security, a firm that specialized in private investigation, bail enforcement, personal protection, business and residential security. She had done her homework, knew he had offices in Phoenix and San Diego as well as here in Dallas. Chase was wildly successful, his reputation impeccable.

No matter his opinion of her, he had once been a close friend of her brother’s, a man Michael trusted completely. She needed Chase’s help, and she was determined to convince him.

She wouldn’t give up until she did.


Standing next to Chase, Marla Chambers, his date for the evening, took a drink of her martini. “You don’t look like you’re having a very good time,” she said. “Should I be insulted?”

His mouth edged up. “Sorry. I was thinking about a case. I can’t seem to get it off my mind.”

“The missing teenage girl?”

He’d mentioned her earlier. He nodded. “Tammy Bennett. Her parents think she’s been kidnapped. They’ve managed to convince the police, who are in the middle of an all-out search. I think she’s a runaway.”

“Are you working for the parents?”

“No. I just happened to hear something on the street today. I’d like to check it out.”

She eyed him with speculation. “And you’re wishing you were doing that now instead of being here with me.”

He hated to admit she was right. His gaze ran over the attractive brunette he had been seeing for the past couple of weeks. He enjoyed Marla’s company. Enjoyed her in bed. But it wasn’t serious for either of them, and he kept thinking of the missing fourteen-year-old, a story that had been all over the news.

“She’s just a kid. If my source is right, she’s in very big trouble, and I might be able to find her.”

“I don’t suppose you could let the police handle it.”

“I could. I need to check it out first, make sure the tip is real.”

Marla shook her head, went up on her toes and kissed his cheek. “Then you’d better go.”

“What about you? You don’t look like you’re ready to leave.”

“I’m a big girl. I’ll stay awhile longer, catch a cab when it’s time to go home.”

Chase set his scotch down on one of the linen-draped tables. “Thanks, Marla. I appreciate this.”

“Call me tomorrow. Let me know what happens.”

“If I’m right, you’ll see it on the news.” Chase left Marla chatting with a friend and headed for the door. As he made his way through the throng of elegantly dressed men and women, an attractive blonde caught his eye.  Tall, with a slender figure, porcelain skin, and big blue eyes. She looked familiar.

As the puzzle pieces slid together, he recognized her, Harper Winston, the younger sister of his best friend in college. As a teenager, Harper had been pretty. Looking at her tonight, seeing her for the first time in years, he realized she had grown into a beautiful woman.

Unfortunately, she was a Winston. Her father, Knox Winston, was one of his least favorite people. Ruthless in business, his crooked dealings had made him a very wealthy man. But worse than his shady business enterprises was the mental abuse he’d heaped on his son that had put Michael on a downward spiral into drugs. And effectively destroyed his friendship with Chase.

Chase had steered clear of the Winstons ever since. He remembered hearing Harper had moved to Houston some years back. After that, he’d lost track of her and Michael, and he intended to keep it that way.

Though he had to admit as he took in Harper’s sleek curves and shiny silver-blond hair, he wouldn’t mind taking her to bed.

Even if the lady was of a similar mind, renewing his connection with the Winstons was the last thing he wanted. Besides, as he thought back on it, Harper had a reputation for being as cool and remote as she looked.

On his way out the door, he passed her. For an instant, her gorgeous blue eyes slid over him, and Chase felt a jolt of heat he hadn’t expected. He wouldn’t pursue it. Sleeping with Harper Winston, no matter how good it might be, just wasn’t worth it.

His thoughts returned to the task ahead, and Chase headed for the valet stand, a harsh October wind whipping against him on the way. He needed to get home and change. He couldn’t go to the Double Eagle dressed in a tuxedo—the bar was in Old East Dallas, one of the meanest sections of the city.

Earlier that day as a favor to Jason Maddox, a bail enforcement agent in his office who was looking for a skip, he had contacted one of his sources. During the conversation, his informant had mentioned the missing girl. Bennie had figured the tip was worth money, and if it turned into anything, Chase would gladly pay him.

It didn’t take long to reach the high-rise building on Pearl Street where he lived. He parked his silver Mercedes in the garage next to the brown Dodge Ram pickup he used for work.

Taking the elevator up to the seventeenth floor, he stepped into the entry and crossed the high-ceiling living room. An oversize sofa in a nubby cream fabric, dark brown throw pillows and lots of dark wood gave the condo a masculine tone that suited him. Stylized contemporary Western art hung on the walls.

With thirty-five hundred square feet of space, a spectacular view of the city, and a big terrace that opened off the living room and master bedroom, the condo was expensive and worth every dime.

Changing out of the tux, he pulled on a pair of worn jeans, a frayed blue denim shirt and a pair of scuffed cowboy boots. He retrieved the little .380 he carried when he wanted a weapon he could easily conceal, clipped the holster onto his belt behind his back and pulled his shirttail down over it.

It didn’t take long to reach the bar. The Dodge was ten years old, a few dents here and there, the paint a little faded, which helped it blend in. But the tires were new, and under the hood, the rebuilt engine ran like a scalded dog. He parked it on the street half a block from the bar and hoped the truck wouldn’t get jacked.

Looking at the trash on the sidewalk, broken beer bottles, used hypodermic needles, and drunks asleep in the gutter, part of him hoped his information was wrong and the girl wasn’t there.

The other half hoped like hell she was.

If he got lucky, maybe he could get her out of there.


Author Info:

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, BEYOND CONTROL, hit both big lists … NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST as well as the USA TODAY BEST-SELLING BOOKS LIST. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.







To CELEBRATE the release of THE CONSPIRACY, enter my new contest for a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB and a Kindle copy of INTO THE FURYINTO THE WHIRLWIND and INTO THE FIRESTORM. Contest runs from Jan 1, 2019 through Feb 28, 2019.

For January, Kat Martin is giving away a signed hardcover edition of Book 3 in the AGAINST series, AGAINST THE SUN to celebrate the release of THE CONSPIRACY on Jan 22nd. NOTE: THE CONSPIRACY is not part of the prize.


Spotlight – One Tough Cowboy

Who’s looking for a new cowboy boyfriend?


One Tough Cowboy

by Lora Leigh & Veronica Chadwick


First in a brand-new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick about one man’s pursuit of justice—and unbridled desire. 


For as long as Samantha can remember, Hunter—a man as strong as steel, with a heart of gold—has been her hero. It came as no surprise to Samantha when she found out that the ranch-hardened cowboy who always protected her from bullies went on to become the town’s sheriff. What does surprise her is how incredibly hot he still is. And how much she still wants him…


And, lo and behold, Hunter still has feelings for Samantha. The long-smoldering heat of their innocent flirtation has grown into a full-raging fire. But when tragedy strikes, and their small-town community is shattered, Hunter vows to do everything he can to keep his childhood sweetheart safe. But can Samantha trust that Hunter has her best interests at heart…and that, after all these years, his love is true?

Buy this book:



He hadn’t changed much. He seemed bigger, his shoulders broader. His signature thick, black hair was cut in a shorter style. As he got closer, Samantha noticed his face had changed quite a bit. Any boyish softness he’d once had was all gone and had been replaced with hard planes and angles, except for his full, well-defined lips. There were fine laugh lines fanning out from the corners of his steel gray eyes. Those eyes were more intense, hard. The easy laughter that lit them when he was younger seemed to be gone.

“Ms. Bell.” He nodded in greeting to the diminutive lady.

“Good of you to come by, Sheriff. Little Samantha is handlin’ all this by herself.” She winked and patted his arm. “She could use a little help, I’m thinkin’.”

Samantha wanted to walk away. She also wanted to throw her arms around Hunter and hold on for dear life. Not just because he still made her heart pound, but because he was a part of her life she thought she’d lost. She wanted to hold on to a stable, warm part of her past where she was happy and safe. Seeing him again brought those memories and emotions all rushing back. “Hey, Sam.” The smooth, deep bass of his voice was

quiet and soothing.

“Hey, Hunter.” His name left her lips with more composure than she felt.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral, but I wanted to come by to extend my condolences, and to see how you’re doin’.” He stepped closer and rubbed her bare upper arm. “You holdin’ up okay?” His hand, a bit rough and callused from real work, was warm, reassuring.

She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m okay, Hunter, thank you.” She cleared her throat. “Everyone brought food. The dining room table is overflowing. Help yourself.”

He followed her through the living room to the dining room. She turned and almost jumped back. He was standing inches away, looking down at her. His brows furrowed, his gaze sharply assessing her. He smelled in- credible, and he stood so close she could feel the heat from his body.

She opened her mouth to say something but forgot what she wanted to say. She must look completely ignorant gaping up at him like that.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Sympathy and concern shadowed his expression, softening the harsher lines of his face.

“It’s been a long day. I’m fine, really.” She was a basket case, and not just because of her aunt’s death.

Hunter gave her a gentle smile and pulled out a chair. “No doubt. Sit and talk to me for a while. I haven’t seen you in what? Ten years?”

Samantha welcomed the chance to get off her feet and get away from the crowd for a bit. “Yeah, about ten years, I think.”

He pulled out the chair beside her, turned it toward her, and sat, staring at her solemnly. “I’m real sorry about Dottie.”

“Me too.” She looked into his eyes, assessing whether she could or should continue. “I really didn’t get enough time with her. I’ll always regret that.”

Hunter shook his head. “Sam, you know Dottie thought the world of you. She knew you loved her and she loved you.”

Had she? Samantha couldn’t help but question the observation. School, her career, and far too many emotions had seemed to always get in the way of returning to Deerhaven.

“Yes, I know, but I look around at these people and think of how some of them probably knew her even better than I did, her own niece.” Samantha frowned and gestured toward a blue-haired woman sitting on the couch sobbing, clutching another woman’s hand. “Mrs. Holt is devastated.”

She obviously had not talked to her aunt on the phone enough either, because Dottie had never mentioned the other woman.

A small smile touched Hunter’s far-too-sensual lips as he lowered his head and leaned closer. “Sam, Irene Holt never even met Dottie. She attends any and all funerals and wails and carries on like that at every one of ’em.” Amusement touching his gaze.

Samantha looked at him incredulously until he raised his hand and said, “Hand to God. Every one of ’em.”

“Wow.” No wonder her aunt Dottie had never mentioned the other woman.

“Yep.” Hunter’s smile broadened. “As for the rest of them, they’re just being neighborly or nosy. Most of ’em still remember your family and you. You were pretty hard to forget . . . Pixie Pest.” His brows lifted playfully. Teasingly.

Samantha narrowed her eyes. “Ugh. That nickname.

I don’t know which is worse, that or Sami Jo.”

She protested it. Just as she always had. That flare of warmth she felt whenever it passed his lips was still there, though.

“You earned it.”

“Psh, whatever.” She’d actually worked at it at the time.

Hunter chuckled and she nearly sighed. Lord, she’d missed his laugh, his smile, even the way he’d tease her. She’d missed him.

“Aw, you know I was always fond of you, Pixie. You were a great kid, even if you were a pest that was constantly following me around and giving my girlfriends hell.”

She had been such a tomboy with wild, young girl fantasies of being swept off her feet by the cutest boy in Deerhaven, or the whole wide world, for that matter. He’d called her his Pixie Pest whenever he’d seen her and tugged at her long, tangled hair.

“I’m not a kid anymore.” She held his gaze and couldn’t imagine how she’d gotten so bold.

Hunter’s gaze traveled over her body, a single black brow arching slowly in acknowledgment. “I’ve noticed. I’m trying really hard to remember what a pain in the ass you used to be.”

Samantha lifted a brow. “I can still be a pain in the ass.”

“I bet you can.” The look in his eyes was making her feel way too hot, way too needy.

She didn’t want to go there. Not now. After Tom Novak, the very last thing she needed was another relation- ship. Besides all that, she was here to get answers, not to get laid.

Clearing her throat again, she changed the subject to the one on which she had to keep her focus. “Hunter, what really happened to Aunt Dottie?”


Author Info:

#1 New York Times bestseller Lora Leigh is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.

Veronica Chadwick started storytelling when she was a little girl. She was first published in 2004. She lives in Tennessee with three cats, a very spoiled Shih Tzu and two grand dogs. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging out with friends, reading or badly playing video games.

Author website:

Author Twitter: @LoraLeigh_1

Author Facebook:


SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts
SMP Romance Website: