Spotlight – A Duke Like No Other



Who’s ready for a little historical fun?  Valerie Bowman is back with another in her Playful Brides series!


A Duke Like No Other

Playful Brides series

by Valerie Bowman


First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the other way around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides novels are:

“Wholly satisfying.”—USA Today

“Smart and sensual…readers will be captivated.”—RT Book Reviews

“Smoldering.” —Booklist

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Mark quirked his mouth into a half smile. Nicole had always been direct. It was one of the things that had first drawn him to her. She wasn’t about to let him get away with arriving unannounced without admitting that he wanted something. Good, because he liked to be direct too. “You’re right. I do want something from you.”

“Say it.” She crossed one leg over the other and for the life of him he couldn’t stop staring at how those breeches hugged her long legs. Outside, he’d been slightly obsessed with how they hugged another part of her anatomy. And that shirt . . . the one that was exposing her chest in a way that made the back of his neck sweat. Leave it to Nicole to have her hair down and to be wearing breeches while riding around a French château on a horse named Atalanta. She’d been besting the comte in the race they’d been engaged in. That was also like her. She adored competition and hated to lose at anything. If he had any hope of her saying yes to his proposal, he needed to make certain he didn’t become her adversary . . . again.

He glanced around the drawing room. Outfitted in rose and cream silks with the occasional hint of green, the room was tastefully decorated. The château itself was large and well appointed without being ostentatious. She had access to his money but had never spent a shilling of it. No, this was all a result of her own money or her family’s.

He spread his arms wide along the back of the settee. “No reminiscing? No catching up? No discussing the good times?”

Her dark red eyebrow inched even higher. “Were there good times? I seem to recall those being few and far between.”

“There were a few.” In bed. He tugged at his collar.

She poked at the chignon on the back of her head. Only she could make a quickly put-together hair arrangement look effortlessly gorgeous. Several tendrils of the long red locks fell to frame her face, which wore a decidedly disgruntled look. “Out with it. I’m quite busy. I’m attending a dinner party this evening and I must dress.”

Mark bit the inside of his cheek but ultimately he couldn’t keep the comment that had sprung to his lips to himself. “A cleaner pair of breeches?” Damn, she looked good in those breeches. She looked good altogether. Better than good. The years had been kind to her. The fresh-faced plumpness of her cheeks had given way to a slenderness that made her cheekbones prominent. Her lips were still full and pink and inviting. Her hair luxurious, soft and smooth. Her eyes looked more world-weary, to be sure, but their sea-foam-green depths were still astute and intelligent. Her body was still trim and fit. Her thighs looked even fitter, probably from riding astride. Ahem. What he wouldn’t give to see those thighs once more, to have them wrapped tightly around his—

“Despite my present appearance, I do own a gown or two.” Her words snapped him out of his indecent line of thought. She gave him another tight smile.

He stood, crossed to the nearby sideboard, and poured himself a brandy. “Going to meet the comte again?”

“Careful,” came her throaty voice from the settee. “It’s nearly sounding as if you’re jealous.”

Still facing the sideboard, he cocked his head to the side. “Jealous? Whatever does that word mean?”

“The comte is a friend, nothing more.” Her voice sounded dismissive. He didn’t believe her, however.

Mark splashed more brandy into his glass. “I’m certain you’d tell me if he weren’t.”

“I’m certain you’d care.”

Mark turned back toward her and took a healthy swig of his drink. “A man doesn’t like to think of his wife in the bed of another.”

She actually rolled her eyes at that comment. “Oh, you’ve been celibate all these years then?” she countered, her voice dripping with skepticism.

He had been, but he’d die a slow death back in the French prison camp before he told her that. However, he wasn’t so unrealistic as to think Nicole would have remained untouched. They had agreed to part ways, hadn’t seen each other in ten years. She was a beautiful woman in the prime of her life. Still, the notion of punching the comte dead in the face held a great deal of appeal at the moment. “I’ve never been one to kiss and tell, love.”

She gave him a tight smile, which clearly indicated she didn’t believe him, either. “You’re a general now?” she asked abruptly, clearly ready to change the subject.

“I am.” He moved to the window and looked out across the lavender fields, one arm held behind his ramrod-straight back as if he were surveying a battlefield. The stance was still comfortable for him even after all these years of working for the Home Office.

“I suppose congratulations are in order.” The tea arrived and Nicole poured a cup for herself and splashed in a liberal amount of cream. He remembered that about her. She took her tea with no sugar, just cream.

“No congratulations needed,” he intoned, taking another swig of brandy.

The silver spoon she used to stir her tea clinked against the delicate china teacup. “I must admit, I’ve often wondered when I’d get a missive that you’d been killed.”

His chuckle was humorless. He turned to face her. “Such little faith in me? Or wishful thinking?”

“Neither,” she replied, lifting the cup to her pink lips. “Just a profound knowledge of how reckless you are.”

He inclined his head. “Used to be.”

“Really?” She raised a brow. “Is that why you’ve come? To tell me you’ve changed?”

He chuckled. “I haven’t changed that much.”

“I’m not surprised.” She set down her teacup and crossed her arms over her chest. “Tell me, Mark, why have you come?”

He saluted her with his glass, the amber-colored liquid shining in the afternoon sunlight. “You were right. I need a favor from you.”

She didn’t so much as bat an eyelash. “Of course you do. What’s the favor?” She picked up her cup once more and took a sip.

He downed the final splash of brandy and met her gaze. “I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”

Copyright © 2018 by Valerie Bowman in A Duke Like No Other and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.


Author Info:

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.

Author Website

Twitter: @Valeriegbowman

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Spotlight – Stolen Kiss


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Who’s interested in a bit of a thriller on this fabulous Tuesday?


Stolen Kiss

Savage Security series

by Karen Tjebben

Psychological Romantic Suspense

Date Published: December 2017


A sociopath is on the hunt…

Bret Silva’s handsome face is plastered all over town on placards praising his success. But neither his eyes nor his friendly smile betray the dark beast that lurks within. A beast that requires sacrifices. But one mistake endangers Bret’s survival.

When the men from Savage Security discover a damning photo, they realize that someone has mastered the art of the perfect murder. As their hunt begins, Cole Savage must reconcile his desire for justice with the burning ache in his heart for Julia Romero. Enlisting her help as a realtor, they work together to find a new home for Savage Security while the hunt for the killer continues. As the men discover more victims, they piece together the clues and realize that one of their own may be in the sights of a ruthless killer.

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The siren call of nature flit delightfully through the crisp breeze and reminded Bret Silva why he loved this time of year. The warm days teased of an early spring, but he knew that winter could return with a vengeance at any time. But for now, he’d enjoy the fluttering of the birds as they danced from tree to tree with delight. The bright males puffed out their chests and sang their arias to pique a lover’s attention. The squirrels and chipmunks skittered through the park, chasing each other in a timeless dance through the ground cover until the females succumbed to the males’ charms.

Strength contrasted with weakness. Dominance blended with submission. The time-honored ritual that ensured the survival of life played out before him.

Bret had mastered his own ritual. The hunt.

Life had somehow transformed him into a predator. He wasn’t a pervert, but he did need to quell the nightmares that haunted him. Some nights he’d wake in a cold sweat, his heart pounding and horrible memories burning his eyes. It was those nights that propelled him into action. And so far, the only way he’d been able to achieve peace was by surrounding himself with beauty.

He never knew when he’d meet that perfect woman who’d ignite an overwhelming need in him to possess her. Sometimes the need was triggered by her mesmerizing eyes or the perfection of her curves. Sometimes even the brilliance of her mind. It didn’t matter what initiated the hunt. It only mattered that he finished it.


Author Info:

Karen Tjebben lives in central North Carolina with her wonderful husband, twin daughters, and two hamsters. When her girls left for kindergarten, Karen discovered that she needed to fill her days with something, and that was the beginning of her writing career. She loves to create worlds filled with unique characters that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and seeing the world through her daughters’ eyes.

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Spotlight – Veiled by Privilege


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Today’s book is getting some ah-mazing reviews, with readers calling it “face-paced”, “intense”, and “exciting”.  Check out the first chapter below and then go get your own copy!


Veiled by Privilege

Radical Book 1

by Anne Garboczi Evans


CIA field officer Joe Csontos is desperate to discover Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula’s next target before thousands of Americans die.

Atheist grad student in Middle Eastern studies, Kay Bianchi needs a dissertation project riveting enough to pass muster with her capricious professor. When Kay illegally travels to Saudi Arabia under a false identity, she has no idea the passport holder is betrothed to a high-profile terrorist, or that the passport holder’s male relative intends to marry Kay off in seven days.

The moment Joe meets Kay he is attracted to her, but she’s some tree-hugging liberal who doesn’t even believe in the Second Amendment. When the terrorists jeopardize both their lives, they have to work together.

Will Joe and Kay stop the terrorists in time? Can Kay’s love of Islamic culture survive an encounter with Al Qaeda, and if it does, can a leftist and a right-winger fall in love?

Get your copy at Amazon!

You can also books 2 & 3 are also available for preorder:



Chapter 1

Wednesday, September 28th, 3:05 p.m.

“I will not do it.” The black-clad female catapulted up from the metal bench in Harvard University’s Yard.

Shifting toward the thin woman, Joe Csontos, CIA Field Officer, extended the USB drive again. “We are prepared to offer you a green card if you send us intelligence about Abdullah El-Amin’s terrorist affiliations after you become his wife.”

“After?” Mariam Al-Khatani’s voice went shrill. Her sweater slapped against her bony arms as she gestured. “How many weeks or years after marrying a man whom I have no wish to marry?”

Joe swallowed. The crisp autumn air stung his throat. Poor woman. He handled her uncle, Muhammad Al-Khatani, a Saudi informant. Her uncle’s unfortunate choice to betroth Mariam to an Al-Qaeda operative had put her on the CIA’s radar. “My boss didn’t say.”

Mariam whipped her hand through the air, sending her long skirt flapping against the yellow and orange leaves that littered the grass. “You know how the Kingdom is. A woman needs her male guardian’s signature to leave the country. Green card or no, this man I am to marry will never grant me an exit visa.”

Standing, Joe closed the distance between them. He rested one hand on the bronze foot of the massive statue of some pretentious socialist that towered over Harvard Yard. As the chill air whistled past him, a weight descended on his chest. Mariam calculated correctly. The state department issued travel warnings to even native-born U.S. women marrying Saudis, telling the women they’d never make it home.

Mariam clenched her fingers, digging her nails into the visa rejection letter. “Abdullah El-Amin wants me to become his third wife. I refuse. USCIS rejected my grad school visa, but I’ll file for a work visa.”

Joe coughed into his shirtsleeve. The pressed white fabric lent credence to his undercover identity as a technical specialist looking for interns at the Harvard job fair. “My boss spoke with Citizenship and Immigration Services, Miss Al-Khatani. He had them blacklist you.” Burning a source based on his boss’s orders. He clenched and unclenched his hand. Back in his Green Beret days, he’d never have tolerated doing this to an indig.

“You work for the CIA. You could get me extension, but you don’t care.” The hysterical woman spat. “My uncle will force me to marry this man. You are aiding rape. Does not that bother your American principles?”

Fallen leaves whipped across the empty yard, their shriveled bodies brown as the dirt beneath the bench. He’d tried to get Mariam an extension, spent hours appealing to the powers above him. His old boss might have bent, but Brian Schmidt, the chief of station at the Saudi Arabian embassy, wanted a new source following Abdullah. If that meant forcing an innocent girl to marry a known terrorist, Brian didn’t care.

“I’ve converted religions.” Mariam wrung her chapped hands, her voice frenzied as her Arabic accent made her rapid words almost unintelligible. “I am Christian now. You know the penalty for that in the Kingdom. Would you do this to your sister?”

Hand on the cold metal of the statue base, Joe moved his gaze across Mariam’s face. She reminded him a little of his twin sister, the same desperate look in both their eyes.

Joe dragged his finger across the toe of the statue’s boot. He couldn’t defy Brian and help Mariam defect. He’d lose his job, his security clearance, even go to jail for mishandling classified assets.

Also, he couldn’t suggest defecting for fear Brian would find out. At least, he couldn’t directly suggest defecting. Joe studied her. “Don’t do anything stupid like try to disappear into the U.S. without a visa.”

She looked up, surprise in her brown eyes.

“The CIA would track you down.” Joe gripped the metal base of the statue and prayed no Patriot Act device recorded this conversation. Brian had Mariam’s entire apartment bugged.

Mariam twisted a brilliant oak leaf between her fingertips, her face as expressionless as the grave.

“I know Canada’s only a four-hour drive, and if you left your identifying documents behind, you could disappear into Canada.” Paralipsis, the rhetorical device of saying without saying. He’d lost sleep learning that word for his online rhetoric class while camped out in the Iraqi desert.

Mariam widened her eyes.

“We would still find you with the tracker on your phone though, so don’t try illegally immigrating to Canada.” Joe brushed his fingers against the concealed Glock inside his jeans as he said the words, face stern enough to please Brian Schmidt.

Would she try defecting?

His guts churned. Perhaps he shouldn’t have given her that idea. If the CIA caught her defecting on an expired visa, things would go even worse for her.

Heels clicked down the sidewalk.

A girl as lovely as Pyramus’ Thisbe turned the corner. “Coming to the international student dinner tonight, Mariam?” She spoke in flawless Arabic. “Your fiancé Hamed is invited too.”

Joe couldn’t help but stare. Those tight jeans and the tattooed letters peeking out from a deeper v-neck than any Koranic sura would recommend did not signal a Saudi girl, yet she spoke faultless Arabic. Know how many times he’d met a non-coworker American girl who spoke Arabic? Never.

“I can’t, Kay.” Mariam shifted her feet on the asphalt, swishing the leaves with the edge of her dress. “Hamed and I, we need to talk.”

“You look shaken.” The woman glanced at him, brilliant-colored lips pressed together as if she considered blaming Mariam’s woes on him. She spoke again in Arabic. “Do you want me to take your shift at the refugee advocacy center? I’m taking this crate of diapers over there.”

Were those partially exposed tattooed letters six inches below her neck Greek? What did the letters spell? Joe tilted his head and made out an epsilon letter. Was that a sigma after it?

On second thought, she’d probably get the wrong impression if he kept staring at that part of her body. Neck heating, he jerked his gaze to the face of this woman who was skilled in Arabic and Greek.

“Thank you.” Mariam clasped the girl’s hand with both of hers. “You are a good friend.”

“It’s nothing.” The girl shook off Mariam’s hand. The sunshine shimmered on hair the color of midnight. “Pass the word that we need more children’s clothes, boys’ size six to twelve especially.”

“I will.” Mariam lifted her floppy sweater collar and dabbed at her eye. “The refugees need more housing too.”

“I could probably take in a family. I have that extra bedroom.” The woman’s face possessed an air of mystery, an other-worldliness in her every movement. Her dark eyes held an intelligent light, an almost imperceptible asymmetry in the lines of her face that made one unable to look away. Rumi, the Sufi mystic of thirteenth-century Afghanistan wrote a poem about a girl with a face like that.

Her boot heels plunged into the sodden grass as she walked on without a backward glance. Even her stride had grace.

“Who was that?” Joe looked to Mariam and said in English. He’d never revealed his Arabic fluency to her.

“Kay Bianchi, a PhD student in Middle Eastern studies.” Mariam wiped at her nose. “I have not told her anything.”

“American citizen?” Joe held his breath as he watched Kay’s departing back. Her walk possessed vigor, an intriguing attitude in the way she held her shoulders. The border of her shoulder blades just showed through the yellow fabric of her shirt. CIA operatives weren’t allowed to date foreign-born nationals.

“Yes.” Mariam brought her chin down.

Do you have Kay’s phone number? Joe stiffened. No, he pondered insanity. He knew nothing about that woman.

How often did one meet an American fluent in Arabic? How often did one meet a woman who liked Greek? Had she read Aristophanes? Euripides? Sappho? Though incomplete in its preservation, Sappho’s “Love Shook My Heart” still ranked among the most captivating poetry he’d ever read.

Joe shoved the thoughts away. “I need to see you tomorrow morning, Mariam.”

“I am busy.” Mariam drew in her thin elbows.

“Your uncle sent you a plane ticket for two days from now. I need to see you tomorrow night too. Six-ish?” Brian Schmidt had ordered him to keep an eye on Mariam. When she did end up in Saudi Arabia, he would do as he promised and try to get her that American green card ASAP. A weight descended over Joe. Brian wouldn’t want to give up such an essential operative as the wife of Abdullah El-Amin, the man who ran most of AQAP’s Yemen terrorist camps.

“I have Bible study with my friends.”

“Text me the address.” Joe pulled out his phone and swiped open the calendar app. Kay was Mariam’s friend. Did Kay come to this Bible study? Please, dear God, let Kay come to that Bible study. God’s views on romantic relationships with non-Christians about equaled the CIA’s view on dating foreign nationals.

Wait, was Kay even single? He tightened his thumb against his phone screen and looked back up. “Hey, Mariam. Is your friend—”

But Mariam Al-Khatani, niece of intelligence asset Muhammad Al-Khatani, and soon-to-be third wife of terrorist Abdullah El-Amin had walked on.


Thursday September 29th, 2:15 p.m.

Kay leaned over the table as Professor of Middle Eastern studies and graduate chair Dr. George Benson spoke. A stack of index cards slid under the pressure of her arm.

“Today I will decide which of your dissertations are worthy of this university’s estimable reputation.” Dr. Benson turned his thin lips up. No matter how many books he’d published or grants he’d won, technically the other three professors sitting on this PhD committee all had equal say in accepting or denying her dissertation prospectus. Ha. With all the accolades Dr. Benson had earned, he could intimidate even the dean.

Sweat moistened her white collar. Would Dr. Benson approve her dissertation? Kay bit into her nail. She had only her mother’s unending persistence to thank that she’d gotten back into this PhD program after the idiot decision she’d made.

Kay shook her head, suppressing a tear before it could well up to smear her mascara. She’d never fulfill her dream of becoming a professor at Harvard now.

Dr. Benson brushed his graying hair back. “Every year I tell students to write something exceptional. Every year I am appalled. Nevertheless, let’s hear your offal.” He waved his left forefinger.

Today marked the single most important day of her entire academic career. A tight feeling banded Kay’s chest as she gripped the index cards. Rumi, the Islamic poet, encouraged his followers to embrace what they loved. She loved making a difference for impoverished women and fighting discrimination such as with her work with refugees and at the domestic violence shelter. This PhD would give her the standing to do that.

The dim overhead lights shone against the room’s dark paneling. Dr. Benson’s administrative assistant had slotted her for the second presentation. She had half an hour and ten PowerPoint slides to condense months of work. Each year, Dr. Benson rejected more students than he let graduate.

Dr. Benson clasped the lip of the podium on either side. “I will recommend the graduate with the best dissertation for a teaching position here.”

A teaching position at Harvard? Her heart thumped against her shirt. Ink rubbed off from her note cards onto her slick palms. After last year chasing Felipe, a Berkeley-educated planetary scientist, and his pot-inspired visions of a world beyond what she could experience with her senses, she’d thought she’d lost all chance to follow in her parents’ footsteps as tenured professors at Ivy League universities. Kay steadied her hands on the desk. She had to write the best dissertation.

Dr. Benson issued a summons and a dorky-looking thirty-year-old removed his deerstalker hat and bumbled up to the podium. Alex.

The committee members, all graduates of Ivy League schools, swiveled toward him.

Sweat trickled down Alex’s pimpled forehead. He extended the PowerPoint remote. Click. Slide one glared on the overhead screen, showcasing the curled letters of Arabic words.

A handful of Benson’s other PhD students sprinkled the room. No sound penetrated the mahogany walls.

Alex’s swallow reverberated. “I will analyze poetical meter in the Koran and compare it to the Biblical Psalms. In this slide—”

Dr. Benson snorted. “Fail.”

“Shouldn’t we listen to his presentation before deciding?” Dr. Colbert touched the table and his watch slid down his substantial wrist. His yellow sports jacket scuffed against the chair back as he slid his thick shoulders uneasily.

“No.” With a may-you-rot-and-worms-devour-your-carcass glance, Dr. Benson turned to Alex. “Transfer your credits to some Podunk Midwestern university. You are not worthy to have the Harvard seal on your diploma.”

Gut rolling out of his suit, Alex slunk off the podium, shoulders stooped.

“He could try again next semester.” Dr. Colbert toyed with his watch. Like mere jackals appearing before the king of beasts, the PhD committee members turned their meek-eyed gazes to Dr. Benson.

Dr. Benson twitched his thin nose. “Or the dean can learn to no longer assign me inferior students.”

Kay gulped. Fear tingled through her fingers. Surely Dr. Benson would like her presentation better? She’d not so much as had a drink with friends for six months as she labored over it.

“Ms. Bianchi.” Dr. Benson pointed at her.

Steadying her hand on the bench-like desk, Kay pushed herself to a stand. Each tap of her heels against the stone tiles sounded loud as a drumbeat. Sweat soaked her stomach, her blouse sticking to her skin.

Dr. Benson handed the remote to her.

The white plastic slid between her trembling fingers. If Dr. Benson took a dislike to her dissertation, he’d ensure she never graduated from Harvard. All her hopes and dreams hinged on today. She clicked slide one, her voice raspy. “I have translated a collation of Princess Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi’s work and am contrasting it to the Canterbury Tales.”

“A comparison of medieval Sufi poetry to Chaucer, really Kay?” With a sneer, Dr. Benson pointed behind her to Alex. “At least his comparison to a religious book introduced some element of modern relevancy.”

What? Kay shook.

A woman shifted in the front row. “I know my slot’s not until 4 p.m., Dr. Benson, but may I take Kay’s time since you’re throwing her out of the program anyway.” An oversized plaid suit hung on Sandra Herrick’s gaunt ribcage. Her flat hair descended in strings around her shoulders.

Kay’s heels wobbled beneath her. The scent of books and old wood stuck in her throat. She had to convince Dr. Benson to give her another chance.

“Depends, will your topic lull insomniacs to slumber?” For Dr. Benson, that sounded respectful.

Sandra straightened her glasses on her thin-bridged nose.

Kay dug her teeth into her lip. Rumor had it that Dr. Benson had his eye on Sandra for a professor post. His recommendation carried so much weight with the dean it might as well be a job offer.

Laying both hands on her desk, Sandra spoke with the confidence of one who’d been the valedictorian of her class since kindergarten. “I volunteer at the Refugee Advocacy Center and plan to write about the historical roots of hospitality in Middle Eastern culture versus Western culture.”

Volunteered? Kay choked back a snort. Sandra had made a token appearance at the refugee center twice. Every time she’d asked Sandra for donations for the refugee food drive, Sandra said people who can’t feed their kids shouldn’t have children.

“I work at the refugee center several days a week, Dr. Benson.” Kay tried to put confidence in her mumble.

Dr. Benson turned to Sandra. “Now that, Ms. Herrick, is exactly what I’m looking for. Real, gritty, truly engaging the intricacies of Middle Eastern culture.” Dr. Benson’s voice held admiration. “Looks like I can tell the dean to start etching the name sign for the office by mine. Clear the floor, Ms. Bianchi.”

No! Kay dug her fingernails into the PowerPoint remote. A teaching position at Harvard was her family legacy. Her mom was on the senior faculty of women’s studies at Yale, Dad taught Western literature at Albertus Magnus, and her grandparents had been educators too.

“Please, Dr. Benson. Let me finish the presentation. My dissertation does have ties to modernity.” Her throat constricted, barely passing air. If Dr. Benson rejected her from Harvard, she’d never get into a half-decent grad program anywhere. She’d never get to do research to fight discrimination and improve the lot of Muslim women in America.

Tap, tap.

All eyes turned toward the classroom door.

Dr. Benson allowed no one to interrupt his classroom, not even the dean. When the state of Massachusetts had issued a tornado warning two years ago, his administrative assistant had shaken in fear to cross that threshold.

The crystal knob twisted. Dr. Benson glared at the swiveling mahogany.

Sucking in breath, Kay pitied whatever new hire hadn’t gotten the memo. More to the point, she pitied whatever PhD committee member earned Dr. Benson’s wrath by the new hire’s summons.

A woman stuck her face through the doorway. “Kay.”

Mariam. The remote fell from Kay’s hand. Slowly, she turned to Dr. Benson.

“Not satisfied with suggesting a dissertation project worthy of a middle-schooler, also need to disrupt everyone else’s intellectual pursuits?” Dr. Benson drew his nose into a pointed line.

“But Dr. Benson, surely I can rework this dissertation. I’ll include modern Middle Eastern poets.” The strength of desperation swelled Kay’s voice. “What if I compared the princess’s personal life to modern women authors?”

Dr. Benson pointed to the door.

Her pearl necklace turned to lead around her throat, the weight yanking down her neck. Her knees quivered. Years she’d gone to school for this PhD.

A cough sounded from the PhD committee table. “I always review my students’ dissertation ideas beforehand. Give them a chance to succeed.” The bags under Dr. Colbert’s eyes sagged.

Nails bearing into her skirt, Kay hung on Dr. Benson’s response.

“Fine.” Dr. Benson let out an exasperated huff. “Submit a new one paragraph idea to me by 6:00 p.m. tonight. I’ll give it a look.”

Kay’s shoes cemented to the ground. Tonight? Dr. Benson planned for her to fail.

“Now, go.” Dr. Benson pointed to the door, his outstretched arm unwavering.

Her brain thumped against her skull. This couldn’t be happening. Kicked out of Harvard? What would her parents say? Kay scrambled off the podium, through desk aisles. Sandra sat at the foremost desk, smugly contemplating her success. Kay fisted her hand. She’d volunteered at the refugee center, not Sandra—

Her shoe caught. She stumbled over Sandra’s leather laptop bag. Feet sliding, she plummeted toward the floor.

The stone tiles came up at her with a thwack and slammed against her hip. Her shoes slid off her feet as her pencil skirt trapped her twisted legs. Her Ann Taylor blouse rumpled up above the waistband of her panty hose.

“I believe you’ve entertained us quite enough, Kay.” Dr. Benson stared down from his podium. He’d had the same disdainful look the day she sat in his office with her mother post-Felipe and begged him to allow her back into the PhD program. Now after all her work, would she fail?

Despair sagged through her. She reached for the edge of Sandra’s desk. The stone felt cold against her stocking-clad legs.

The door creaked open further. A man moved past Mariam.

He reached down and gripped her hand. “Okay, there?” Strength radiated from the pressure of his hand and the muscles that swelled out the sleeve of his polo shirt looked far too impressive for anyone who’d passed high school.

“Um, sure.” She struggled upright. The man touched her back as she attempted to maintain balance while jamming her feet into kitten heels. He’d cut his blond hair so short as to lose all character, like those punk rednecks who aspired to join the Army someday.

As her twisted ankle throbbed, Kay glanced into the man’s eyes. His blue eyes lent intensity to his fair skin. His blond eyebrows cut across his face in a line and he had square cheekbones worthy of movie stars. She’d seen him with Mariam yesterday.

Dr. Benson’s peeved voice rose. “Feel free to ogle each other, outside.”

A sick feeling overtook her. Kay shook off the man’s arm and shoved past him to the hallway before she started bawling like a middle schooler. Her hair caught in the Velcro of his windbreaker.

Pain shot through her scalp as her hair ripped. Touching his chest, she pulled at her hair. This guy did pump iron. He even felt like iron.

“Sorry about that.” He smiled at her as she got the last strand out.

Grabbing his arm, she hustled him out of the door and away from her entire PhD committee’s diversion.

The door swung closed, shutting off Dr. Benson’s disapproval and the dissertation mess she’d made inside. Five feet down the hall stood Mariam, head down, hyperventilating.

“What’s the matter, Mariam?” Kay brushed at her now tangled hair.

Mariam glanced around her. “Shh. No one must record this.”

What? Outside, the frosty wind bent the colorful tree boughs as it hissed through the open courtyard, bringing rain. Kay patted Mariam’s back in what hopefully was a soothing manner. “It’s not legal to bug rooms. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Since the Patriot Act?” Arms folded, the man leaned back against the picture window. He stared straight at her cleavage.

Casting a glare at him, she yanked her blouse straight, white fabric sliding over her black tattoo.

“He knows.” Mariam lowered her voice to a whisper. Only the faintest sheen of Chap Stick colored her trembling lips.

“Knows what and who is he?” Kay gave the man, who for some unknown reason was tagging along after Mariam, a sideway inspection. While she’d told Mariam for the last six months that she thought Mariam was rushing things with Hamed, this new man of hers seemed even worse.

Mariam inclined her head and gestured toward the man. “Kay, meet Josiah Csontos.”

The man held out his hand.

With a groan, Kay shook it. “Pleasure to meet you.”

“I received this.” Mariam held out a sliced-open envelope. A creased plane ticket protruded from the paper, the words Saudi Arabia Airlines emblazoning it in black ink.

“Going to visit home over Fall break?” Kay attempted an encouraging smile. If only she could go instead. A few weeks in Saudi Arabia would certainly give her material for a dissertation rooted in modernity.

Shoulders slumping, Kay glanced back at the classroom. What kind of dissertation idea could she come up with by 6 p.m.?

Casting a nervous glance at Josiah, Mariam switched to Arabic. “My Uncle Muhammad has ordered me home, but I thought I would get a visa for grad studies. The State Department denied my extension.” Mariam pressed her hands together.

“Oh.” Kay glanced at her again. On closer inspection, crusted streaks ran down Mariam’s cheeks and her eyes looked bloodshot. Perhaps she should hug her friend? No. She patted Mariam’s shoulder. “Don’t stress. I’m sure there’s another way. An H1B visa, a J1? I’ll go down to the Citizenship and Immigration Services office with you tomorrow.” Modernity, Dr. Benson had said. Could she write about Yemen’s economics?

A cell’s ring exploded from behind. Punk redneck extracted his phone and walked away from them. If only she’d chosen Sandra’s topic, but now that Sandra had announced it, Dr. Benson would never let her do a dissertation based on her work with refugees.

“My uncle says when I return home, I must marry a Muslim. He will not allow me my faith.” Mariam dropped her head to her hands and started sobbing.

Sighing, Kay attempted an awkward side hug. “I’d be a little more worried about the arranged marriage, than freedom of religion. Anyway, I’ve helped dozens of refugees with visa issues. We’ll get this fixed.”

Unlike her PhD. Now Dr. Benson would be looking for a reason to reject her. What could she come up with in four hours that would convince him to let her stay in the program? Also, the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi had beautifully expressed the Islamic tolerance of all forms of religion.

“None of the Saudi men see women like you do. It is your Jesus here, his book teaches Americans to respect women.” Slipping her hand into her skirt pocket, Mariam held up the faded New Testament she carried with her everywhere.

“Ha! Christianity’s chock-full of patriarchal garbage. Saudi Arabia’s probably more feminist than Southern Bible culture.” Kay re-tucked her blouse into her skirt. Her head pounded. In four hours would she really lose everything she’d tried for since her parents had enrolled her in the dual-language elementary-school Arabic program?

“You do not know what it is like.” Mariam lifted her head up from tear-soaked hands.

Poor woman. Pathetic how America treated immigrants. Kay picked up her purse. “I’m sorry I’m distracted. It’s school stuff. Anyway, don’t fret. Go home, take a warm bath, read a book. I’ll fix it all for you tomorrow. I’ve got to get home and write.” Make one last stand, try to gain Benson’s approval as she sympathized with the three hundred at Thermopylae.

Mariam shrank into her oversized sweater. She didn’t wear the hijab anymore, but she’d pulled her dark hair back tight against her scalp. Her light hands trembled. “My uncle will be so angry. I have refused to obey his order to come home for six months.”

“The guy’s in Saudi Arabia. What’s he gonna do? Spam you with emails?” Kay studied the worried lines of her friend’s face. If only she had time to sit with her friend tonight. Working with USCIS could stress out the most sanguine mind, but she had to at least attempt this thesis before Dr. Benson’s timeline expired.

Something moved behind her. Punk redneck had returned. Seriously, the guy could give Channing Tatum a run for his money in the looks department. Why did all the hot guys have to be dumb pervs? She’d swear he’d just glanced at her cleavage again.

Kay looked to Mariam. “I’ll get you a new visa tomorrow. Promise.” Tugging her Android out of her purse, Kay typed in “dissertation ideas.” Desperate try. That hadn’t even worked for Isla Fisher in Confessions of a Shopaholic.

“May I stay at your place this afternoon?” Mariam shifted a wary glance to Josiah. “It’s important.”

“Of course.” Kay pulled her extra key off her key chain. “I just have to type up this dissertation idea, then I’m completely at your disposal.”

A wan smile rose through Mariam’s tears. She took the key.

Crisis averted, now she needed a dissertation project. If only she had a ticket to the Middle East like Mariam did. Only Saudi Arabia didn’t grant tourist visas, ever. Kay glanced up. She’d picked up that fact last year when she’d dreamed of visiting the birthplace of the female poet Al-Khansa who’d written the beautiful poem I See Time about how death comes to each and every one.

Still standing, arms crossed, Josiah looked at her.

What kind of name was Josiah anyway? It sounded like something from a religious freak show set in Alaska. “Don’t you have a job to be at?” Instead of eavesdropping on her conversation with her friend.

Mariam turned bright red. “He works here.”

Josiah startled, as if he didn’t expect Mariam to say that.

“You’re a professor?” Kay stared skeptically at the man’s knit shirt.

“He’s a …” Mariam ran the tip of her tongue over her white teeth, her breathing rapid.

“I don’t work here,” Josiah said. “I’m a technical—”

“Security guard.” Making a little jump, Mariam beamed as if she’d just recalled an answer from a test.

“What the heck is a technical security guard?” Kay looked from her friend to Josiah.

He clenched his jaw.

Lifting her shoulders, Mariam gave him a helpless look. “I forgot.”

He sighed. “Let’s just say security guard.”

“Well, nice to meet you.” Kay summoned a respectful tone. She truly did value blue collar workers, and had marched in protests before for those suffering from income inequality. “Dr. Benson’s been looking for someone to unlock the basement storage area for him. Though what he needs with fertilizer and flower seeds, I don’t know.” Maybe she’d earn some brownie points helping Dr. Benson with that.

What was so wrong with analyzing Princess Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi’s work? She had worked for months on that idea. She wasn’t an idiot. Then again, only an idiot would have run off with Felipe like she did. Maybe Dr. Benson judged her correctly. The heat of tears squeezed against her eyelids.

“Perhaps he’s building a fertilizer bomb to teach his students a hands-on lesson on original Islam.” Josiah stuck his thumbs in his pockets.

“What are you, a Fox News anchor?” She glared at him. “Jihad is in the heart, a spiritual experience. The only people who say differently are hick talk show hosts.”

“And actual Islamist jihadists.”

“I’ve achieved meritorious grades in a PhD program in Middle Eastern studies. I think I know a little more than a security guard about Islam, Josiah.” Standing tall on her kitten heels, she gave him an incinerating glare. Earned meritorious grades before failing the entire program, that is. She was such an idiot. A scratchy lump formed in her throat.

Josiah took a step closer. “We should get together again. We can talk Islam.” He flashed a smile, showing perfect teeth.

“Um?” Her heel scraped against the tile. Was he asking her out? She didn’t date biased rednecks who thought of all Muslims as terrorists.

“Mariam and Hamed’s Bible study meets tonight. Will you come? And I go by Joe.” He smiled again, a sparkle in his blue eyes.

“Thanks—” She took a step down the hall. “I’ll think about it.” Never. She hadn’t darkened a church door since she was dedicated as a baby at New Haven’s Unitarian Universalist.

What could she research for her dissertation project? Cost didn’t matter anymore. She’d try anything.


Author Info:

Anne Garboczi Evans writes intellectual romances set in unique locales and eras.

Book Review – Royal Treatment


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Who’s in the mood for another of His Royal Hotnesses …


Royal Treatment

A His Royal Hotness Novel

by Tracy Wolff


Once upon a time I was being groomed to sit on the throne of Wildemar. Now I’m lucky they let me into the palace through the front door. After I was kidnapped and tortured by extremists, my reward upon my release is that nobody trusts me enough to let me be king. And since my twin brother, Kian, has assumed all my responsibilities, I figure why not take over as the black sheep?

But after breaking things off with my betrothed—we never had much chemistry, anyway—and giving the jetsetting playboy lifestyle a try, I’m starting to wonder if I’m cut out for this s***. Then I meet Lola Barnes, a drop-dead gorgeous entrepreneur from the States who’s as refreshing as she is feisty.

It’s supposed to be a one-night-stand—until the press catches wind of my “new American sweetheart.” Trouble is, Lola’s no sweetheart. But the more I see our names together in the headlines, the more I find myself craving another taste. . . .

Ballantine Group; Loveswept | On Sale: April 24, 2018 | ISBN: 9781101884898| Pages 285 | Price: $4.99



“My flight leaves in a little over three hours, Garrett, and I am going to be on it.”

“Don’t you understand? No one will believe a woman in the first stages of a relationship goes running off to another city.”

“Maybe not in your rarified world where half of everyone’s job is learning how to manipulate the press and the public. But in the real world where I live, nearly everyone will believe it. People have relationships and manage to go to work all over the world.”

I think of the months of being chained up, of sleeping sitting up with my arms above my head while my body screamed from pain and exhaustion. “My world’s not that rarified.”

“Dude, your world is as rarified as it gets. And you’ve got three security guards sitting outside to make sure it stays that way.” Lola swings her suitcase off the bed with a roll of her eyes. “And I get it. I understand that you were raised to believe the sun rises and sets on you, and that every time you so much as breathe it’s national news. But really. You aren’t that special.”

Things are getting tense between us and I know I’ve got two choices. Continue down the road to a full-blown fight that will get me nothing or try to defuse the situation.

I settle for the latter as I raise my brows at her. “That’s not what you were saying an hour ago.”

Surprise flickers in her eyes, then is gone as quickly as it came. “An hour ago I was under duress,” she answers with a sniff.

I waggle my brows at her. “And here I thought you were under me.”

She snort-laughs, then slaps a hand over her mouth like she wants to pull the sound back in. But it’s so unexpected that I kind of love it. The same way I love that she talks in her sleep and has a star-shaped cluster of freckles on her left hip. The same way—

And fuck. Just fuck. I really am falling for this woman and, apparently, there’s not a damn thing I can do to keep her from walking away in three hours. It shouldn’t matter, but it does.

I just wish I knew how I got here. Lola was supposed to be a distraction, a fun means to the ends I’ve been working toward my entire life. She sure as hell wasn’t supposed to be something more for me to care about. Something more for me to lose.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?



After reading Royal Pain I was so anxious to get Garrett’s book – he was bound to be dealing with a lot after his kidnapping and Wolff delivered.

Although I was a little surprised that Garrett’s dad didn’t show up more.  We get some conversations about him and a couple with him but he never actually appears.  And with how much of an a** he is to his kids, creating a LOT of issues along the way, I would have expected more.  Not that his actions don’t have consequences that are in play here – they are and often – but I wanted more like we got with Kian’s book.

Instead, Garrett is mostly (and totally understandably) dealing with the fallout from his months spent being tortured and his recovery afterward.  He’s been struggling and it takes meeting an in-your-face rule breaker to throw him off his game and out of his head.  As a bit of her free spirit rubs off on him, Garrett starts to really feel again … which also opens him up to the possibilities of finally coming to terms with what has happened to him in the last year.  It won’t be pretty but it is definitely needed.

I found Lola to be fun and sassy.  She’s got a big personality but she’s not overwhelming and I never found her to be overdone.  Instead she’s brash, but caring.  And totally not intimidated by Garrett’s title.  She definitely doesn’t let him get away with too much and instead helps him find his way back to the land of the living.

I will say that I got annoyed at the both a couple of times as they spent too much time beating themselves up for the exact same thing.  Something would happen and they’d both start taking responsibility and offering verbose apologies.  Before kissing and making up of course.  It wasn’t horrible but I would find myself thinking “ugh, get over yourself” a time or two 🙂

While I don’t think the daddy issues (for either of them) were properly resolved, I am pleased with the way Wolff handled Garrett’s issues.  He’s good at bottling things up and hiding behind his princely mask, but he was never going to get better until he finally opened up about his feelings.  It took someone coming in from the outside who could give him the care & understanding he needed and I’m glad Wolff gave him Lola for that.


Author Info:

New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff lives in Texas and teaches writing at her local community college. She is married and the mother of three young sons.


Spotlight – The Only Thing


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Awwww, this story sounds so sweet … and so very hot!


The Only Thing

The Donnigans series

by Marie Harte


What do you do when a “fake” relationship is so much better than the real thing?

Hope Donnigan is finally getting her life together. She’s working a job she likes, has some amazing friends, and is steering clear of Mr. Wrong. Now if only she could get her mother to understand that. Maybe a hot tattoo artist from the other side town is just the ticket to teach her mom a lesson.

J.T. Webster fell for Hope months ago at his sister’s wedding. So when she propositions him to be her fake boyfriend to get her mother off her back, he’s all in. The only problem is J.T. had no idea their pretend relationship would be better than anything real he’s ever had…






Hope lost herself in J.T. He smelled like an invitation to sex and tasted like honeyed caramel. Good Lord, but the man knew how to kiss.

The moment he’d touched her lips, she’d forgotten her own advice to steer clear of men and latched onto him. And now she could do nothing but enjoy a real man concentrating on her.

He moaned, slanted his mouth at an angle that gave him deeper access, and followed her tongue with his, dipping into the recesses of her mouth and stimulating every damn cell in her body.

He was hard. All over. His broad chest swelled. Arms that she could barely fit her hands around tightened. As did the rest of him when he drew her into his body.

She felt caged in his embrace, totally controlled by a man much more powerful than herself. But she sensed nothing but arousal and safety, oddly enough. Nothing overbearing, like what she’d experienced with a few of her exes.

A smart woman would put a stop to the kiss. Especially when he put his large hand at the small of her back and pulled her closer still, allowing her to feel the impressive bulge between his legs. Their disparity in size was evident, especially that big part of him she felt all too clearly when he rubbed against her belly. She gasped, caught between his kiss and his shocking dimensions.

He trailed his lips down her cheek to suck at her neck.

She moaned, tilting her head back, doing her damnedest to find the will to push him away. But her body had other plans.

Her breasts ached. The place between her legs throbbed. And the rest of her tingled, every part of her needing to lie down on the nearest horizontal surface so she could spread her legs in welcome…

“No.” She pushed weakly at his chest.

J.T. froze, panting. “No?” he choked out.

“Yes. I mean, no. We can’t do this,” she managed between large intakes of breath.

He slowly put her away from him and stared at her from under hooded lids. All she could think was that he looked kissable.


“Huh?” She shivered.

“Don’t look at me like that.”

She licked her suddenly dry lips, and he glanced away and swore.

“L-like what?”

“Like you want me to… Never mind.” He blew out a harsh breath. “Yeah, um. Good idea to stop that. We’re just pretending, right?”


“About dating. So we can fool your mom if we have to kiss in front of her to be believable.”

“Right. Yes. Uh huh.” Think, Hope. With more than your ovaries. “I’m sorry. I didn’t… I wasn’t trying to put out the wrong signals.” That I want you? That sex with you is on my must have list? “I told you I had some tough relationships in the past.” She swallowed the lump in her throat. “I’m trying to do better and be focused on me right now.”

“Sure. I get you.” He nodded and tucked his hands in his pockets, which did nothing to mask the raging hard-on under his fly. “Smart move. I met Greg. I feel you.”

She sighed. “Yeah.”

They all started out nice, then slowly morphed into monsters. J.T. seemed amiable, sexy, safe. What would he turn out to be in the end?

“Okay then.” He cleared his throat and guided her toward the front door. “We won’t do this again. But we know we can pull it off for your mom if we need to.”

“Right. I really do appreciate you doing this for me.” She stopped and faced him, feeling bad for pulling him into her mess. “You don’t have to, you know.”

“Um, yeah, I do. Where else will you find a tattoo artist with several baby mommas and jail time on his resume?”

She stared. “Really?”

“Well, no. That’s not all true.” He winked at her. “But to find out which parts I’m lying about, you have to buy me a beer at Ray’s.”

She gave him a smile, unable to help herself. Charming should have been his middle name. That and handsome. “It’s a date.”

“Wednesday at six work for you?” he asked. “It’s a little less crowded in the middle of the week, and less scary for a first timer.”

“I won’t be scared.” She’d heard from her brothers about the rough types who hung out around the place.

“Honey, I was scared my first time. And my second, my third…” They shared a laugh. “Ray’s is good people. Tough, but good. I’ll pick you up. Will that be okay?”

She thought about it and realized she didn’t care if he knew where she lived. “You’re practically family,” she teased. “I trust you.”

She couldn’t read the look he shot her as he walked her to her car and waited for her to belt up. Once all secured, she rolled down her window. “Okay. What’s with that look?”

“Just remember, Hope—we aren’t family.” He shook his head and bent to stare her in the eye. “Because I’m not down with kissing my family like I kissed you.” He stroked her cheek, sighed, and straightened. “Now go home before I forget why I shouldn’t give you what you’re asking for.”

Heck, she’d been the one to say no earlier. But when his eyes narrowed, she obeyed. Better to keep him happy since he’d agreed to help. Plus, she trusted what she knew of him. If he thought she should leave, she’d go. Because if she stayed any longer, she might assault the man and have her wicked way with him. And that would pretty much shoot her independent,  no-men stance all to hell.

Turning on the radio, she sang all the way home, feeling better about life than she had in a long time.

The next day, she arrived at work early, in a cheerful mood. She wore a business casual outfit of dress pants, heels, and a silk blouse. Even Linda would have trouble making an issue of her clothing, styled hair, and makeup.

Instead of annoyance at thoughts of her domineering mother, Hope smiled, recalling J.T.’s warmth, the feel of his firm yet soft lips guiding her. Melting her. She sighed as she took the elevator to the office on the second floor. “Dating” J.T. would prove to be a challenge, because everything in her wanted to be with the man for real. To see if he could make good on his reputation’s promise as a marvel in bed.



Marie Harte’s Prize Pack


Book Review – Total Bravery


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Piper J. Drake’s latest True Heroes novel brings readers a new team to get to know … and fall in love with.


Total Bravery

True Heroes series

by Piper J. Drake

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – Forever

Print Length: 304 Pages

Format: Digital and Mass Market Paperback


True heroes will do anything to protect the women they love…

As the newest recruit at Search and Protect, Raul has a lot to prove. Luckily, he’s got the best friend and partner a man could ask for: a highly trained, fiercely loyal German Shepherd Dog named Taz. Together, Raul and Taz make an unbeatable team. But their first mission in Hawaii really puts them to the test when an international kidnapping ring sets its sights on the bravest woman Raul’s ever met . . .

Mali knows her latest job has put one hell of a target on her back. And on this small island paradise, there’s nowhere to hide. With a service dog like Taz, Mali feels safe. Sharing close quarters with a smoldering muscle-for-hire like Raul, she feels something else – an unexpected wave of desire. Raul feels it too. But when the kidnappers make their move, he’s got to turn that slow-burning passion into hard-hitting action – and save the life of the woman he loves.

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | GooglePlay

More from the True Heroes series:

Extreme Honor

Hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the dogs that always have their backs. EXTREME HONOR is the first book in a high adrenaline contemporary suspense series from Piper J. Drake.


David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope’s Crossing Kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.

Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else-and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both . . .

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Ultimate Courage


Retired Navy SEAL Alex Rojas is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope’s Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.

Elisa’s past never stays in her rearview mirror for long, and she refuses to put anyone else in danger. But with Alex guarding her so fiercely yet looking at her so tenderly, she’s never felt safer . . . or more terrified that the secrets she keeps could put countless people in grave peril. The only way for both to fully escape their demons will take the ultimate act of courage: letting go and learning to trust each other.

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Absolute Trust


After multiple tours of duty, Brandon Forte returns to his hometown on a personal mission: to open a facility for military service dogs like Haydn, a German shepherd who’s seen his share of combat and loss. It also brings him back to Sophie Kim, a beacon of light in his life . . . and the one woman he can’t have. But Forte’s success means he’s made enemies in high places. Enemies who are now after Sophie . . .

When Forte enlisted and left without saying goodbye, Sophie did her best to move on. But with her first love back in town, looking sexier than ever, she’s constantly reminded of what they could have had. Then after he risks himself for her, Sophie realizes she’ll have to put her life in the hands of the man who broke her heart, knowing the danger -and the sparks between them- could consume them both.

Get More information at: Goodreads  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes



A woman’s voice was on the other end of the line, strained and wary.

“Raul Sá.” He pulled the phone away from his ear to glance at the screen. No traceable caller ID.

“I was calling the Search and Protect Organization.” The woman hesitated. “I’m looking for Arin Siri.”

“She’s working right now. Must’ve forwarded her calls to my line.”

There was a long pause. “This is Mali, Arin’s sister. Please help me.”



Total Bravery is another installment in the True Heroes world but not really a continuation of the series.  Raul is starting a new job in Hawaii and has just become partners with Taz, a German Shepherd Dog that was trained at Hope’s Crossing.  That’s pretty much it for the crossover with the original stories 🙂  Well, that and the general feel of the story – sexy, smart, and bada** hero, a strong heroine in need of help, and a group of colleagues that are more than capable of helping out.

Mali is my kinda heroine – smart and level-headed.  When things go bad for her, she doesn’t freak out, listens to those with more experience, and does her best to stay out of the way when she needs to.  She may need help but she’s definitely no damsel in distress.  Raul is the kind of ex-military hero you’d expect.  He’s got the training but he’s also got the heart to do what he needs to do in any given situation.  It’s not always the easy thing but he tries his best to make it the best one.

I feel like Piper does a pretty good job delving into a difficult situation here, addressing human trafficking.  It’s an awful, heart-breaking, and so very real.  Between Mali’s research and what they come across while trying to find her missing teammates, we get an idea of how easy and dangerous it can be.  It’s not near as bad here as it is in real life but it gives you enough of a feel for it that your imagination can run wild.

I do kinda wish we’d gotten a little bit more about why Raul doesn’t feel worthy of being with Mali.  It seemed like ti would become an issue, and he flirts around the edges of his reasoning, but then he gets over it.  There are a few family issues between Mali and Arin that I think need a bit more exploration but I’m hoping that there will be ample time for that in a story starring Arin.  Overall, though, Drake does a good job of tying up her threads in a complete and satisfying story.  (Just like the Siri sister drama I’m anticipating more with the big bad from the story showing up in future books.)

A mix of intrigue, action, and smoldering romance, Total Bravery is well written, well paced, and just in general well done 🙂


Author Info:

Piper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and day job road warrior. She is often distracted by dogs, cupcakes, and random shenanigans.

Connect with Piper at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | GoodReads| Youtube



Enter to win a Piper J Drake Gift Basket (print copies of Extreme Honor and Hidden Impact, sports bag, fun Piper J Drake and Corbin swag)


Tour Schedule:

April 23rd
Nikkis book nook – Review
Romance Reviews Today Blog – Spotlight
Tantos Livros Tão Pouco Tempo – Spotlight
A Chick Who Reads – Spotlight
AlwaysReiding – Spotlight
Books A-Brewin’ – Spotlight
Crazy Beautiful Reads – Spotlight
Good Choice Reading – Spotlight
LadyTechie’s Book Musings – Spotlight
Sweet Red Reads – Spotlight
The World As I See It – Spotlight

April 24th
Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – Spotlight
Kiss Like a Girl – Review
Reading Reality – Review
Splashes Into Books – Review
The Book Quarry – Review
The Power of Three Readers – Review
The Reading Café – Spotlight
I Love Romance – Spotlight
Lilly’s Book World – Spotlight
OMGreads – Spotlight
TBR Book Blog – Spotlight
Victoria’s Thoughts and Reviews – Spotlight

April 25th
Book Loving Pixies – Review
Oh My Growing TBR – Review
RoloPoloBookBlog – Review
Romances Ever After – Review
BBBf-sizzlereads – Spotlight
Books to get lost in – Spotlight
Deborah Favorite Book Reviews, Spotlight and More – Spotlight
I Need to Read That – Spotlight
Lisa Book Blog @ LEL – Spotlight
Once Upon a Book Blog – Spotlight
Teatime and Books – Spotlight
We All Make Mistakes in Books – Spotlight
Romantic Reads and Such – Spotlight

April 26th
Adventures Thru Wonderland – Review
Caitlyn Lynch, Author and Book Blogger – Review
Jen’s Reading Obsession – Spotlight
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Book Addicts Reviews – Spotlight
Cat’s Guilty Pleasure – Spotlight
Dog Eared Pages – Spotlight
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Lisa Loves Books – Spotlight
Reads All the Books – Spotlight
The Reading Diaries – Spotlight
Yearwood La Novela – Spotlight

April 27th
Book Magic – Under a spell with every page – Review
Lit. 4 Ladies – Spotlight
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A small girl, her man and her books – Spotlight
Book Lovers Reviews and Recommendations – Spotlight
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Evermore Books – Spotlight
More Books Than Livros – Spotlight
Reese’s Review – Spotlight
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Books+Pastelitos – Spotlight

Spotlight – Until There Was Us


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I love me some Samantha Chase!!!


Until There Was Us

The Montgomery Brothers series

by Samantha Chase


He’ll have to play his cards just right for her to take a chance on him…

Megan Montgomery has always been careful…except that one time she threw caution to the wind and hooked up with a sexy groomsman at her cousin’s wedding. But that was two years ago—so why can’t she stop thinking about Alex Rebat?

Alex has been living the good life. He loves his job, has a great circle of friends, and doesn’t answer to anyone. The problem? There’s only one woman he wants and she ran out on him after one amazing weekend. But now that Megan’s coming back to town, Alex hopes he can convince her to take another chance on him…and on a future that can only be built together.






Fifteen minutes later, Megan felt like a wet noodle as she slid into Gabriella’s car. They’d already called in the massive dinner order, and really, all Megan needed to do was hold the box in her lap until they got to Summer’s. There were worse ways to spend her time.

Once they arrived, Megan was surprised to see that the guys were there already. Zach came out to greet Gabriella, and Alex came out to take the food. When Megan didn’t immediately move to get out of the car, Alex looked at her curiously.

“You okay?” he asked. “Shopping wear you out?”

She laughed softly. “You have no idea. Those two are lethal.”

Zach and Gabriella had already walked into the house when Ethan came out. “Everything okay?”

Alex handed him the box of food with a laugh of his own. “It seems like shopping took a little more out of her than she expected.”

For a minute Megan considered arguing that he didn’t need to talk about her like she wasn’t there, but she was too tired to.

“I can believe it,” Ethan said. “Next time, pace yourself. Summer and Gabriella are like Olympic medalists where shopping and girls’ days are concerned.” With a smile and a quick wave, he was gone.

Alex crouched next to the open car door. “You gonna make it?” he teased.

With her eyes closed, Megan couldn’t help but smile. “Go. Eat Chinese food. Save yourself. Just leave me here to sleep for a day or two.”

“No can do,” he said softly. “If you don’t join everyone inside for dinner, I’ll have to carry you in.”

Turning her head to the side, she opened her eyes and looked at him.

And almost forgot how to breathe.

Damn, why did he have to be so attractive? Here he was after moving furniture and painting all day, and he looked too good for words. She struggled to keep from leaning forward and tasting him. Her mind had to be playing tricks on her because Megan was fairly certain her memory of how Alex tasted and kissed was being overexaggerated.

He leaned in closer—or maybe she was the one who moved. Either way, they were a heck of a lot closer than they had been a minute ago.

Maybe it was the fact that she was feeling extremely mellow or maybe it was the fact that he was too damn tempting to resist. All Megan wanted was to know whether her mind had been playing tricks on her.

Alex whispered her name as he gently pressed his lips to hers.


One of Alex’s hands came up and cupped her cheek, and his touch was both arousing and familiar. Megan mimicked his move and marveled in the scratchiness of his jaw, the warmth of his skin. She sighed and moved a little closer, and the kiss went from chaste to inquisitive to a full onslaught in the blink of an eye. She wanted to pull him into the car or have him pull her out onto the driveway so she could feel more of him, but for now, this would have to do—the taste of him and being consumed by him.

No, her mind hadn’t been playing games with her.

There had been no exaggeration.

Alex Rebat was sexy and sensual and completely lethal.

She pulled back because she couldn’t breathe, but Alex’s hand stayed where it was, gently caressing her skin. Megan leaned into it as she tried to catch her breath.

“It’s still there,” he whispered.

Her eyes drifted closed even as she nodded in agreement because she knew exactly what he was talking about.

“I know now isn’t the time, but—”

“Did she fall asleep out there?” Gabriella called out from the doorway with a small laugh. “Come on, Megan! The food’s getting cold!”

Alex stood and held out a hand to Megan. She accepted it and had to bite her tongue to keep from groaning at how good it felt to touch him. He gently tugged her to her feet, and for a brief moment, she was pressed up against him. Slowly she looked up at him and saw the same emotion on his face she knew was on hers.


Plain and simple.

It would be so easy right now to reach up, wrap her arms around him, and pull him in for another kiss. As if reading her mind, Alex released her hand and said, “C’mon. Let’s go have some dinner.”

Mutely, she nodded, and they walked side by side into the house.



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Spotlight – Caught Up in a Cowboy


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A cowboy and a hockey player … yeehaw!


Caught Up in a Cowboy

Cowboys of Creedence, #1

by Jennie Marts

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Western


This cowboy plays to win

Rockford James was raised as a tried-and-true cowboy in a town crazy about ice hockey. Rock is as hot on the ice as he is on a horse, and the NHL snapped him up. Now, injuries have permanently benched him. Body and pride wounded, he returns to his hometown ranch to find that a lot has changed. The one thing that hasn’t? His feelings for high school sweetheart and girl-next-door Quinn Rivers.

Quinn had no choice but to get over Rock after he left. Teenaged and heartbroken, she had a rebound one night stand that ended in single motherhood. Now that Rock’s back—and clamoring for a second chance—Quinn will do anything to avoid getting caught up in this oh-so-tempting cowboy…

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He snuck a glance at her as he drove past the barn. Her wavy hair was pulled back in a ponytail, but wisps of it had come loose and fell across her neck in little curls. She looked good—really good. A thick chunk of regret settled in his gut, and he knew letting her go had been the biggest mistake of his life.

It wasn’t the first time he’d thought it. Images of Quinn haunted his dreams, and he often wondered what it would be like now if only he’d brought her with him instead of leaving her behind. If he had her to wave to in the stands at his games or to come home to at night instead of an empty house. But he’d screwed that up, and he felt the remorse every time he returned to Rivers Gulch.

He’d been young and arrogant—thought he had the world by the tail. Scouts had come sniffing around when he was in high school, inflating his head and his own self-importance. And once he started playing in the big leagues, everything about this small town—including Quinn—had just seemed…well…small. Too small for a big shot like him.

He was just a kid—and an idiot. But by the time he’d realized his mistake and come back for her, it was too late.

Hindsight was a mother.

And so was Quinn.

Easing the car up in front of the house, he took in the festive balloons and streamers tied to the railings along the porch. So much of the house looked the same, the long porch that ran the length of the house, the wooden rocking chairs, and the swing hanging from the end.

They’d spent a lot of time on that swing, his arm around her, talking and laughing, as his foot slowly pushed them back and forth.

She opened the car door, but he put a hand on her arm and offered her one of his most charming smiles. “It’s good to see you, Quinn. You look great. Even in a pirate outfit.”

Her eyes widened and she blinked at him, for once not having a sarcastic reply. He watched her throat shift as she swallowed, and he yearned to reach out and run his fingers along her slender neck.

“Well, thanks for the lift.” She turned away and stepped out of the car.

Pushing open his door, he got out and reached for the bicycle, lifting it out of the back seat before she had a chance. He carried it around and set it on the ground in front of her. “I’d like to meet him. You know, Max. If that’s okay.”

“You would?” Her voice was soft, almost hopeful, but still held a note of suspicion. “Why?”

He ran a hand through his hair and let out a sigh. He’d been rehearsing what he was going to say as they drove up to the ranch, but now his mouth had gone dry. The collar of his cotton T-shirt clung to his neck, and he didn’t know what to do with his hands.

Dang—he hadn’t had sweaty palms since he was in high school. He wiped them on his jeans. He was known for his charm and usually had a way with women, but not this woman. This one had him tongue-tied and nervous as a teenager.

He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Listen Quinn, I know I screwed up. I was young and stupid and a damn fool. And I’m sorrier than I could ever say. But I can’t go back and fix it. All I can do is move forward. I miss this place. I miss having you in my life. I’d like to at least be your friend.”

She opened her mouth, and he steeled himself for her to tell him to go jump in the lake. Or worse. But she didn’t. She looked up at him, her eyes searching his face, as if trying to decide if he was serious or not. “Why now? After all these years?”

He shrugged, his gaze drifting as he stared off at the distant green pastures. He’d let this go on too long, let the hurt fester. It was time to make amends—to at least try. He looked back at her, trying to express his sincerity. “Why not? Isn’t it about time?”

She swallowed again and gave a small nod of her head. A tiny flicker of hope lit in his gut as he waited for her response.

He could practically see her thinking—watch the emotions cross her face in the furrow of her brow and the way she chewed on her bottom lip. Oh man, he loved it when she did that—the way she sucked her bottom lip under her front teeth always did crazy things to his insides.

“Okay. We can try being friends.” She gave him a sidelong glance, the hint of a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “On one condition.”

Uh oh. Conditions were never good.


Author Info:

Jennie Marts is the USA Today bestselling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends. Find her online at

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Spotlight – The Nerdy Necromancer


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I’m SOOO getting this one today – only $0.99 on Amazon!


The Nerdy Necromancer

The Deadicated Matchmaker #1

by S.E. Babin

Genre: Paranormal Romantic Comedy

Age category: Adult

Release Date: 24 April 2018


Helen Reaper has a weird relationship with the dead. As in she can bring anyone or anything back to life, so she’s constantly bombarded by people begging her to restore their loved ones, their pet fish, that cute girl who fell off a building while taking a selfie. Super. Annoying. So Helen becomes a necessary introvert and a homebody, choosing to absorb herself in books instead of real life.

The Deadication Dating Agency comes to her this time in the form of a mysterious letter and a cute little puppy.

They know someone who’s already dead who won’t mind her talent one little bit. Can a woman who raises the dead find a love that stays alive?

You can find The Nerdy Necromancer on Goodreads:

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The Nerdy Necromancer is only 99cents! Today Only!

You can get your copy of The Nerdy Necromancer for only 99 cents today only! Get your copy here:



“Hello?” I said, slightly out of breath from trying to move the moose puppy.

“Miss Reaper?” a soft baritone rumbled in my ear. Not unpleasant.


“This is Hank from Midnight Blooms. You were supposed to be here an hour ago to pick up your order.”

It wasn’t a question.

“Oh, yes!” I slapped my forehead. “I’m sorry. I had an incident -”

“Don’t care,” he said abruptly. “If I have to hold these overnight, there will be a 10% upcharge. If you need me to put these back, there’s a 25% restocking fee. If you want me to deliver, I charge for gas and thirty cents per mile.”

A smile made its way unbidden to my face. Hank was always at one speed. Grumpy as hell. “A 25% restocking fee?” I asked. “That’s a little steep. You must think awful highly of your plants to charge that much.”

The reaction was immediate. One thing people in Midnight Cove knew was the epic rivalry of the two nurseries in town. Hank was a traditionalist. He liked blooms and veggies in their proper seasons. Nothing too outrageous. Nothing too tropical. Nothing that had the potential to suffer outside of its zone. This made Hank both a reliable gardener and plant provider, but it also made him a little bit boring.

The other nursery in the area, Pepper’s Perennials, had no such qualms. Ran by an uber friendly, adorable hedgewitch, she didn’t give a whit about the seasons, the zones, the kinds of plants she sold or anything else. She also didn’t care about Hank. Pepper was one of my few friends in this place and she was one of the most powerful hedge witches I’d ever known. So…Pepper didn’t have to care about that stuff because her plants never died. This, of course, enraged Hank. But it also helped him, too, because Piper tended to specialize in the exotic and unheard of, while Hank had the familiar beautiful blooms most of us knew and loved. Pepper also provided most of the herbs for my sister’s shop, so she was multi-talented.

“Pepper?” Hank practically spit through the line. “She wouldn’t know an azalea if one reached up and bit her in the ass,” he grumbled.

“Well,” I drawled, “she is my best friend so I’m sure she’d make a special order if I asked her to. And she would deliver too, if I asked her, for free, and probably show up with pizza or dessert or something like that.”

The line was silent for a moment. “Twenty cents per mile and gas for delivery,” he barked.

“How about ten cents per mile, half the gas, and you bring me a cookie from Sam’s?” I grinned knowing I’d gone too far, but honestly, screwing with Hank had been the highlight of my day.

“You can get your own cookie. I agree to the other part.” His voice trailed off but not before I heard, “and you should be offering me a cookie for accepting this sham of a deal.”

“Accepted!” I crowed. “But I’m not giving you a cookie for trying to take advantage of me.”


Author Info:

USA Today Bestselling author S.E. Babin has a passion for writing books with a paranormal twist. Whether it’s romance or mystery, she loves taking the norm and turning it into the extraordinary. Her love of reading turned into a curious exploration to see whether or not she could write her own novel. Beginning with discarded pages of angsty novels and a slightly popular reimagining of Beowulf’s Grendel in her high school English class, Sheryl spent way too much time in the library, killing any chance of her becoming a cheerleader or anything even remotely cool.

You can find and contact S.E. Babin here:

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Spotlight – A Heart Reborn


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With the season just getting started, who’s ready for some baseball?


A Heart Reborn

The Doctors of Atlanta, Book 3

by BK Harrell

Contemporary Romance

Date Published: 3/9/2018


Dr. Sarah Buckley is living her dream.  After completing her OB/GYN residency, she is now an attending physician with Atlanta Women’s Health Center.  Thanks to her bosses, Drs. Lincoln Montgomery and Cole Ryan, she has finally turned her life around.  However, she still harbors a deep dark secret that only those closest to her know.  Ten years ago, Sarah met the man of her dreams.  He was her first everything, first date, first kiss, first lover.  After running away from him, he has haunted her dreams as she has tried to avoid him and her secret.

Harrison Cooper has it all, or so he tells himself.  All-star third baseman for his beloved hometown Atlanta Braves, multi-million-dollar contracts and women throwing themselves at his feet, but it was the angel who flew away so many years ago that he can’t let go of.  He wears the ring that was to be hers as a reminder of the love he has held onto, but all of the searching in the world has not led him back to her.

The birth of his best friend Rhett’s first child finally leads him back to a chance encounter with the one person he can’t forget or stop loving.  As her usual actions, she runs away leaving Harrison with a stinging jaw and at a loss for words.  Committed to staying with his team until the end, he gambles his future with the new owners for a chance to talk to Dr. Sarah Buckley.

It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded for love.  Will they strike out or hit a grand slam, or will the secret Sarah’s been harboring tear them apart forever?

This is the third book in the Doctors of Atlanta Series.  Come back to share the laughs, tears and love with the gang as Marcie and Cole tie the knot and maybe Harrison and the Braves will finally be winners again…



Author Info:

BK Harrell is former Navy physician who has had a long love of writing.  He specializes in medical, military and sports romance writing.  He began seriously writing while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and has never looked back.  Whether he is teaching, serving his country, educating people about the fine art of cigars, practicing medicine or spending time with friends and family he uses his diverse background to shape the world around him through words.  Currently he writes the Doctors of Atlanta Series, Sapphire Kindle World Novellas and launching in late 2018 Ashton’s Ferry a small-town romance series.

He uses his unique experiences and love of all things Atlanta, University of Georgia and sports to weave intricately detailed stories focused on Atlanta and the surrounding areas.  His goal is to bring the same joy and excitement he sees in his own city to the readers and to allow them to experience the city through his eyes.

Dr. Harrell is married to his beautiful wife Erin, a proud graduate of Auburn University, which makes multiple appearances in his books, and their wonderful one son.  Dr. Harrell is a native of Augusta, GA and a proud graduate of the University of Georgia, Emory University, and proud to have been a member of the first ever graduating class of Georgia Campus Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  He currently resides in the Atlanta area where he practices medicine and raises his family.


Twitter: Cigardoc



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October 17th, 2013

Sarah loved her life as an attending physician.  Everything she had worked for had finally come to fruition.  As the attending on call and in charge of the general OB/GYN residents, Sarah took her responsibilities seriously, especially the teaching of the new residents and medical students.  Tonight, should have been an easy night, but as with everything related to babies, you could just never tell, and the full moon wasn’t helping.

As Sarah stood at the charge nurse desk, filling out paperwork from her fifth delivery of the night she smiled.  Five new lives and five ecstatic families.  Her motivation for wanting this job was simple.  She loved the look of joy on the new parents faces as they held their bundle of joy for the first time.  While she handled most of the deliveries when she was on call, Lincoln and a few of the more senior providers tended to handle the VIP patients and their deliveries, and tonight was no exception.  Sarah looked up to see Dr. Lincoln Montgomery stride into the labor and delivery area of the hospital.  He looked tired and a little haggard, but she knew it was from the lack of sleep since his wife, Nicole, was overdue and not making life easy on him.

“Good evening, Lincoln.  What brings you in tonight?”

“Hey, Sarah.  Rhett Akers wife went into labor, and he’s one of my VIPs and well between us, future employees.  I needed to come in and do the delivery.  They’re so excited about their first baby.”

Sarah smiled outwardly, but groaned inwardly.  Rhett was an all-star catcher for the Braves, but most importantly, he was best friends with one Harrison Cooper.  The one man she had tried to avoid for ten years, and had been pretty successful up to this point.  However, she felt like tonight her luck was going to run out.  “Well, boss.  Good luck with that.”

“Thanks, you don’t like the Akers?”

“No.  I think they’re wonderful.  His wife’s awesome.  No matter what, she always has a smile on her face and is so complimentary towards the staff.  She actually gives the wives and girlfriends a good name.  I just wish they were all like that.”

“So, what’s got you twitchy?   Before you say anything, I can see through you so I know it’s something.”

“I…hell, Lincoln I’ve been trying to avoid his best friend for ten years, also another future employee of yours, and I’ve been pretty successful.  His best friend is Harrison’s father, only he doesn’t know that he’s his father.”

“Well, shit.  That sounds…complicated.  Just out of curiosity, why doesn’t he know that he is the father?”

“I was told he was already a baby daddy when we were dating, I left him and never spoke to him again.  I didn’t find out I was pregnant until after graduation, and I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of leaving a trail of baby mommas all over the place.”

Lincoln studied her carefully before speaking.  “This is just friendly advice, but keeping a secret like that can come back to haunt you in the end.  However, you’re an adult, and I respect your wishes and right to privacy.  Just know that if you need anything we’re all here for you.”

Before Sarah could thank him, she heard Lincoln’s phone ring.  As she stood there waiting for him to finish the call, she noticed that his face went white.  She didn’t know what the other side of the conversation was, but she was pretty sure it was Nicole telling him that she had gone into labor.

Finally, Lincoln disconnected the call and looked at Sarah.  “So, I need a favor.  Nicole’s gone into labor.  Marcie is bringing everyone here, but I’ll be tied up with delivering Landon.  I’m so sorry to put this on you, and if you aren’t comfortable with it, I can call one of the other attendings, but I really need you to handle the deliver for the Akers.”

Sarah took a deep breath and thought about her options.  She felt that she had become the consummate professional and there was no need to inconvenience any of her colleagues.  Anyway, it wasn’t like Harrison was going to be in the delivery room with them.  “No problem, Lincoln.  I already know Mrs. Akers and it should be a smooth delivery.  I’d be happy to do this for you, so that you can go bring your own bundle of joy into the world.  Just remember when you have a girl, she gets named after me.”  Sarah said with a laugh.

A little while later, Lincoln took Sarah into see the Akers and explain the situation.  They were both very happy to have her do the delivery, but as she was about to leave the room, Rhett gently took her arm and led her over to the side of the room.

“I know you, don’t I?  I can’t place it, but I know we have met before and not at the doctor’s office.”

Sarah’s face blanched as she looked into the piercing green eyes of the all-star catcher.  She could either lie and try to live with it or tell him the truth and deal with the consequences.  After everything she had been through, the one thing that Dr. Cole Ryan had taught her and had stuck with her the most was to love yourself and embrace who you are.  Finally, she looked at Rhett and said, “Yes, we knew each other, many years ago when we were at Georgia together.”

Suddenly a look of recognition took over Rhett’s face.  “Shit, I mean shoot.  Sorry I’m trying to quit the cussing thing with the baby coming and all, but I work around ballplayers all day and they sort of use cuss words as a normal part of their vocabulary.  What I meant to say was, you were Harrison’s girlfriend.  You’re the one…”  Before he could finish his statement, his wife Alexa started screaming as another contraction began to wrack her body.

Sarah went to the bedside and checked the monitors.  Everything seemed to be progressing normally.  She called the anesthesiologists on call to get the epidural started.  Once she was confident that everything was as it should be, she left the room to do her follow-ups on the patients she’d already delivered, but as she walked away, something was niggling at her brain.  He had said ‘I was the one who…’ and never got to finish.  I was the one who what?  Broke his heart, turned him gay.  Sarah laughed at that last thought.  What did I do?  Because he sure as hell broke me and left me with a hole in my heart.  Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she proceeded to make her rounds and check in with her residents.

After rounds, she went back to check on Mrs. Akers and found that she was progressing nicely already dilated to 10 cm and at a +2 station.  She knew it wouldn’t be long, so she had the staff rearrange the bed and get the Akers ready to welcome their daughter into the world.  After twenty-five minutes of pushing, crying, and screaming, the Akers welcomed a very healthy girl into the world at 8lbs 7oz and 20 inches long.  She smiled as she watched Rhett cut the cord and then placed the baby on Mrs. Akers stomach.

Harrison Cooper had never been so nervous in his entire life, and it wasn’t even his baby.  At thirty-one he’d never had to deal with a pregnant female, well not one of his doing.  He paced the waiting room looking around at his teammates who were still in town.  At least the hospital was nice enough to have a VIP waiting room so they wouldn’t be bombarded with autograph requests and whatnot.  Harrison didn’t mind signing autographs and loved the kids at the baseball stadium because he remembered what is was like when he was a kid, but this was not about him or the guys surrounding him.  This was solely about Rhett and his baby.

As Harrison paced the room, his mind took an unhealthy journey back in time.  He wondered if he would ever find someone who didn’t just want him for his fame and fortune.  Sarah was the only one he’d ever been with who cared about him as a person.  He’d spent too much time over the last ten years wondering what went wrong with them.  For the life of him, he could never figure it out.  They’d been so happy, and then one night she slapped him, ran out the door, and never spoke to him again.  She was still the last thing he thought about before he went to sleep, and the first thing he thought of when he awoke, but still he wondered what could’ve been.  Would they have a child, or hell ten children?  Well, not ten children, but would there be a little boy that looked like him, or a little girl that took after her mother.  She was the reason he had screwed his way through the minor leagues and every away game they went to, but still none of them could erase her memory.  He loved women, but he had a die-hard rule, no brunettes and no doctors.

As he tried to shake off the melancholy mood he was in, he heard it.  The voice of an angel or devil depending on the mood he was in.  The voice he dreamt of, and had spent ten years looking for.  Could his luck be changing?  Could karma finally be swinging in his direction?  Harrison was unaware that his feet were moving him towards the voice, but in a matter of a few steps, he stood before her.  The one he desired, dreamed of and hated.  She had matured into her body.  She had the curves of a woman, not the girl he had known, but nonetheless she was right there in front of him.  All he had to do was reach out and touch her.

Sarah was speaking to her nurse when she felt her body’s temperature spike and a warm feeling suffuse her entire body.  She knew what it was and who it was.  God, she’d dreaded this day for ten years, and now, it was time to pay the piper for all the things she’d done.  That rich deep voice raised goosebumps on her flesh.

Harrison stood in front of her and valiantly restrained his hands from reaching out to touch her to make sure she wasn’t an apparition and that she was really standing right there.  Finally finding his voice, he softly said, “Sarah.”

Sarah didn’t know what to do or say as he spoke her name.  All her thoughts went back to her son and the fact that he didn’t know he was a father to her child.  All the anger surfaced again at what he’d done to her.  Unable to stop herself, she raised her hand and slapped him before muttering “Asshole” and running away.