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Release Day–Perfectly Unscripted

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BLURB Rilleta Northcliffe’s world has already been turned upside-down with her father’s arrest. While traveling to Colorado as a mail-order bride, she is traumatized by a gang of thieves. Only the steady green gaze of a stranger keeps her sane. Dairy farmer Wit Vanderveer wished he could have done more to prevent the blonde’s involvement with the gang. Safely in Jubilee Springs, neither can stop thinking of the other. Is the shared danger the lure between these individuals, or did Rilleta and Wit discover they have much more to offer one another?

This story is book 9 in the multi-author Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs series and features the younger sister of the heroine from book 1, Perfectly Mismatched. Readers who enjoy clean romance set from 1820-1929 might be interested in the Sweet Americana Book Club on Facebook.

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EXCERPT

Where is the southbound train? He had to get back to Jubilee Springs to handle the evening milking. Straightening to his full height, he looked over the majority of the heads of the milling crowd. The lines of passengers at the ticket windows were three or four people deep. He added himself to the back of the closest one and bit back a groan. Inactivity never sat well. Nor did time away from the land he’d worked so hard to improve and nurture. While he waited, he glanced around, interested at the travelers who appeared to come from all walks of life.

Outside, a black carriage with gold filigree accenting the doors drove up to the front curb of Union Station and stopped. The driver hopped down and jogged around the back of the carriage.

The matched pair of chestnut horses caught Wit’s eye. Nice form and confirmation, well muscled with luxuriant manes and tails. Someday, he’d add a matched pair for pleasure riding to his stable of Belgian draft horses. Someday.

The driver pulled open the side carriage door, and three well-dressed ladies stepped out in quick succession—a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. They moved toward the entrance with the driver bringing up the rear as he juggled several satchels and valises.

His gaze was caught by the slender blonde lady with ringlets that swayed and bounced with each step. Wide-eyed, she glanced in all directions, like she’d not traveled much and the comings and goings of the depot were as entertaining as a circus. For a moment, he lost sight of her through the narrow arched windows as she ascended the steps, even though he rose onto the balls of his feet. Then he spotted her silhouetted in the doorway and couldn’t break his stare. A small straw hat with a white ribbon perched on her head. The cut of her blue dress fit her figure well, and the full skirt swished along the polished parquetry floor.

A throat clearing from behind snapped his attention to where he stood. The line had progressed while he’d been occupied—more like gawking—with the lovely stranger. With one long stride, he closed the gap.

A hiss of brakes sounded followed by three sharp blares of a whistle.

Finally. Wit stepped out of line to check on the engine’s number. As he moved toward the conductor calling passengers for points south, he collided with someone who stepped into his path. The heady scent of lavender tickled his nose, and he reached out his free hand to steady her. “Pardon me.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, sir.” A giggle sounded. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. I’m anxious to find my train.”

The sweet sound, light and airy, rang like a tiny bell in his head. Wit wrapped his hand around a feminine elbow, thin enough his fingertips touched his thumb. Vaguely, he registered this woman was the same young one whose arrival he’d been watching. He looked down into a pair of bluish-purple eyes the color of a Rocky Mountain columbine that grew at the highest elevations of his meadows. When he finally registered the lady’s expression had changed from wide-eyed surprise to frowning concern, he released his grip and gestured his abdication of the right of way. “Please, proceed.”

The woman dipped a curtsey. “I’m obliged. Would you know if that’s the train to Jubilee Springs?” A hand covered in a lace glove waved toward the train. But her gaze roved his face, eyebrows winged high.

His heart stuttered in his chest. This lady is traveling to my town? Not used to being the object of female scrutiny, Wit shuffled his boots and nodded. “That it is, miss.”

“Thank you.” Then she turned and waved a hand. “Missus Millard? This train is the one.” She scurried to rejoin the other two ladies.

Within a few seconds, Wit lost sight of her in the passengers gathering around the conductor. Then he shook his head. Just as well. All his energy should be focused on streamlining the dairy procedures for optimal output. After moving through one car with no aisle seats, he claimed one in the next passenger car. A quick glance at the other passengers located the group of three ladies sitting together at the far end. All he saw of the blonde were the ringlets dangling below her hat. Again, not his business.

Guest Interview–Gemma Snow

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Hi! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! I guess I can say I’ve always been a writer, since I’ve been telling stories my whole life. I come from a family of artists and the support I needed to turn a passion into a career always kept me on the track towards authorhood. I studied journalism in college, and that’s been an incredible asset to me as a fiction writer. I also lived in a castle for several months, which I consider equally as important.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

 So I’m actually an automotive journalist, which is a world away from romance in many ways, but similar too. Most of the things I love, love stories, classic cars, baking, art history, travel, share a certain theme, a celebration of the world and beauty and romance over the years, albeit in unique and different ways. I’m also very active, a die-hard yogi, a hiker and an amateur runner. #Ravenclaw #Feminist

Do you start a new story with plot or characters first?

 It’s actually funny, because it’s been so long that I’ve started from scratch, I really couldn’t tell you. I love writing series and worlds for my books. In the Triple Diamond series, I have whole other offshoots of characters that I know I could play with once the first four books are finished. Seduction en Pointe is a series, as are both of my WIP and coming releases for my other pen name. Because writing isn’t always a linear process, I tend to know the characters and overall action of books two, three and four while writing book one.

Is your writing planned or freestyle?

 I am one ball of yarn away from full-on, recently fired FBI agent with a cold case and a hunch. The bulletin board up right now is a six book series, including all the characters, excerpts, images and folders for books I haven’t even outlined yet. I have the rest of Triple Diamond planned out and already know how Full Swing is going to go. I think a lot of that is the world building that goes into a series, and a lot of that is just because I’d lose my mind if I didn’t.

Have you traveled to any of the locations that appear in your books?

 This is a great question! When I first started with Triple Diamond I’d never even flown over Montana, so the process for staging a whole full-length series there included a crash course in ranch life and Montana as a state, which was fun and challenging. Several of my books have been very heavily influenced by location, though. Seduction en Pointe is Paris, which I visited a few years ago and currently long for, haha. I’d say the biggest one is a book set in Amsterdam, heavily centered around the Rijksmuseum. I studied art history in Amsterdam and I couldn’t have had more fun writing those scenes.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

 I’m a Pinterest nut. Honestly, it’s a ton of fun to look for character inspiration, so I have a bunch of secret boards of really attractive people. But the Triple Diamond series, for instance is full of images of ranches and mountain ranges. Since it’s a seasonal series, The Lovin’ is Easy is summer and my current WIP is fall, I get to go exploring for the feel and look of each new season. It’s such a fundamental part of my planning process that my boyfriend just rolls his eyes when he sees my screen filled with half-naked cowboys or pirates.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

 Names are tricky for me. Like titles, they’re either set in stone from the very beginning or close to the last thing I figure out. The historical books are definitely harder—they named all their boys after kings and all their girls after kings, but with an a at the end. For modern books though, it’s more about how the hero and heroines names sound together, or if they’re a team, how they’ll sound in a group. I also think about nicknames and how they might refer to each other, as well as name origin, so sites like BehindtheName.com have been incredible. I’d say one of my biggest challenges is in my current book, because Micah’s Native American, and I wanted to follow the specific naming customs for his heritage, but they weren’t easy to find. Suffice to say I’ve learned a lot.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I love animals. Right now, we have a big white and brown mutt named Houdini. We got him around Passover when he was still a baby, and my folks were dead set on naming him Moses. The great joke I’ll ever make in my life was that we named him after another famous Jew who escaped… And then there’s Vinnie, who we named for Vincent Van Gogh, because he’s white and ginger and had a small part of his ear missing. He’s the most loving cat I’ve ever met, except he’s now figured out that I’m watching the screen on my computer and not the keyboard, so he’ll just stand in front of it until I pay attention to him.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

 I mean, I love the idea of a reader using one of my books for escape, during all the madness of our current world. Romance has been an escape for me during many challenges in life, and it would be a real honor if I could help even one reader through their own or the world’s obstacles. I’m also pushing for inclusivity of all types in my books, regarding race, sexuality, age, relationship type, physical and mental capabilities and more. It’s really fundamental to my ideology that feminism isn’t feminism unless it’s intersectional, and I hope my writing reflects that.

 

New Release! (3)BLURB

When successful TV star of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Nicco Castillo, finds his boyfriend in bed with another man, he goes full-on Hollywood trainwreck that lands him in ER. Next thing he knows, the producers are shipping him off to Paris to shape up and learn to dance for the next season’s story arc. But his incredibly tempting Parisian ballet instructor, Isabelle La Croix, makes that all too difficult, especially when he learns about her decadent desires–desires Nicco is all too pleased to indulge in. Against the ballet barre, the balcon railing, and wherever and for however long Isabelle is willing to have him.

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EXCERPT

“What is it you’re reading?” he asked, thickening his Spanish accent. As long as he’d been chasing lovers, the Spanish charm had always worked wonders. Hell, it did wonders for getting him starring roles too.

“Who wants to know?” Her accent was light, as though she’d learned English alongside her French, studied in Sweden or London or New York City. But for all of the softness that came spilling out of those pale-rose lips, there was a steel core that told Nicco she wasn’t having any of his charm. Her words came out strong, self-possessed, and confident, and they made him curious about the woman below the slight frame. Despite appearing so soft, she held her head at a tilt that signified power, kept her neck straight, her shoulders arched. Everything about her stance told Nicco exactly how she felt at his intrusion into her space. Normally, he took his cues and left the obviously uninterested alone, but this woman was enchanting and mysterious, and Nicco found he couldn’t quite look away from her, even as he knew that he tempted the serpent, perhaps because he did.

“Niccolo.” He extended his hand. “Here for a meeting with Monsieur La Montagne.” According to the terms Parker had laid out, Nicco would be working alongside La Montagne’s office on a PR tour of Paris while he took his dance classes, giving a few interviews here and there, a signing or two, onward and upward.

The woman beside him, however, appeared abjectly unimpressed. He liked that, liked that she didn’t buy into his bullshit the way everyone else did, the way he’d been doing for so long.

“That is a remarkable coincidence,” she replied, her eyes taking on a sardonic glint he knew came at his expense, “given that you are in his office, after all.” Feisty, this one. She obviously enjoyed goading him, and Nicco felt a wash of something dangerous at the thought that men probably attempted to charm her quite often. For some reason, his visceral reaction to this strange, nymph-like woman grew stronger each time she stabbed him with her barbed tongue. That was inconvenient, to be certain, but it didn’t stop him from wanting more.

But there was something about his—well, he wouldn’t necessarily call it just an attraction—to this woman that went deeper than lust. Nicco had had lovers, more than his fair share of them since everything with Antonio had gone so royally tits up, and he’d never lacked for a partner if he wanted one. No, whatever had him suddenly desperate to learn more about this mysterious woman went deeper than that, to some fundamental part of himself that might even long for redemption.

“I’d heard about the French,” he said. He should just turn around and leave her to her magazine, but he just couldn’t seem to do so. “Seems the rumors about witches and the smell of cheese aren’t so terribly off.”

She raised an eyebrow, and he took some satisfaction in the small quirk at the corner of her mouth that told of a repressed smile. He’d bet a week’s pay that her smile would light up the city, and he promised himself that at some point, he would be the cause of it. He didn’t know how or why, just that it would happen one way or the other.

“American, is it?” she asked, ignoring his slight.

“Mostly,” he replied. “Spanish sometimes. Occasionally English.”

From her confused expression, Nicco wondered if he had been spending too much time in California. Normally, folks didn’t question his various origins. Of course, the French were reputedly distrusting of anyone who wasn’t French. Still, he had to admit that there was something simple and altogether enjoyable about flirting with a woman who didn’t want to sleep with him just because he was a celebrity or because she angled to get her face in the papers. It felt good to just be himself for what seemed like the first time in a very long time.

“Of course,” she replied, breaking his train of thought. “All that ego can’t be exclusively American, can it?”

Nicco almost laughed out loud.

“You already know me so well,” he said. “Would you care to know me better? Dinner, perhaps?” It was bold, and the moment the words were out of his mouth, Nicco knew it had been too audacious. Something flitted across her eyes, and he could almost see her folding into herself. No, he didn’t like that, didn’t enjoy seeing this confident person turn into something else so quickly. He might be an ass about recognizing the signs in his own life, but someone or something had clearly hurt her—recently, if the ache across those beautiful pale-blue eyes was anything to go by.

“No smart remark,” he commented, hoping to bring back some of the devil he’d seen in her expression. “I’m surprised.”

She squared her jaw, and Nicco found himself happy to see even a little of the fight fill her eyes, even if it was at his expense. And, as he had anticipated, she turned a cold tongue in his direction, murmuring low under her breath.

“You don’t know the first thing about me, so I’ll ask you kindly to take a walk.” Fury, for all it was leashed and low in her whisper. And it made him ache, made him feel some of the hurt in his own chest, because the first week after he’d discovered Tony with his lover, Nicco had lashed out at everyone and everything, taking the whole wide world down to his level of hurt and sadness.

He didn’t doubt that he was nothing more than the proxy for her fury, and it made him feel bad, made him ache for her and for himself a little too.

“Miss La Croix?”

Before she could say anything that might cut him to the quick—would most definitely cut him to the quick—the woman beside him nodded in answer to the receptionist and stood without another word. If he had thought the slope of her neck enticing, he wasn’t prepared for the way her long, powerful legs, visible below her light-blue dress, mesmerized him. She didn’t so much walk down the hall as glide, her body so completely under her command that it made him wonder about putting his body in her hands too. She didn’t give him a second look as she slipped away, and that made Nicco’s heart ache in a way he didn’t want to analyze.

Her magazine still sat on the corner of the table, one of the pages bookmarked with a thick, folded corner, as if she planned on going back to it. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a pen and scribbled a note down on the back cover.

If you ever need a stranger for a friend, give me a call. There are some things we don’t heal from so easily.

Below that, he jotted his e-mail address and then took a short jog down the hallway to catch up with her. The simple note, just like the few extra moments he had spent with his fans outside, felt like color returning to the black-and-white version of himself. He still couldn’t see the full picture, not yet, but just being out of LA helped him focus.

She looked surprised and not all that happy when he drew level with her.

“You left this,” he said, handing her the magazine but not letting go.

She pursed her lips. “And what do you want in exchange for it?” Her tone sounded almost resigned. Bored, almost. He knew better, though. Her expression had a fire—blue and burning—and he rather enjoyed inspiring a reaction in her, whatever it was.

“What’s your name?” he asked her, suddenly desperate to know. By the smallest amount, her expression softened, and Nicco had to wonder what she had expected him to ask. He’d never push a person to do anything they didn’t want to do. He had retained some standards over the last few months of going full-on Hollywood.

“The catch?” she asked, her lips still pointedly pursed in his direction. And what lips they were.

Nicco shook his head. “No catch. I just want to know your name.” He really, really did. She sighed and nodded, sending the white-blonde ponytail swishing across her shoulder. Then she squared her jaw and lifted her chin.

“Isabelle La Croix.” She offered nothing else.

“Isabelle,” he repeated, because he couldn’t seem to stop himself from doing so. “A pleasure.” He handed her the magazine with his note facing down and watched as she gave a sharp nod and continued down the hallway, watched her far after there was nothing left to watch. What about this woman set his body to flame and his mind to far more carnal images than would ever be appropriate for a chance encounter in a producer’s waiting room and so, so much more?

Something hidden that came in bursts of emotion across her pale-blue eyes, something that came in the cut of her shoulders and the grace of her walk.

Miss La Croix. It fit her. She was so utterly French, petite, graceful, sharp around the edges and beautiful beyond the pale. Nicco trod in dangerous waters. He had only just left California behind, and already he panted after a woman he would never see again, unless her facade cracked and she actually decided to contact him. He could hope, kind of had to hope, because there was something about her that was so unlike anyone he had ever met. She had a self-possession, a self-awareness that almost made him envious, would have, if it hadn’t impressed him so.

The whole thing made him…a little relieved. He’d had lovers since Antonio, of course, men and women to waste the lonely nights with, to party with and get drunk with. But to actually find himself feeling a deep, intense connection—and with a person he had only just met—it gave him hope that he might not be on his own forever. Maybe Tony’s infidelities hadn’t completely destroyed who Nicco had been before, after all.

Ruby Small

Gemma Snow is the author of several works of erotic and romantic fiction in both the contemporary and historical genres, and enjoys pushing the limits of freedom, feminism, and fun in her stories.  She has been an avid writer for many years, and recently moved back to her home state of New Jersey from Boston, after completing her education in journalism and creative writing.
In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent a semester abroad living in a 14th century castle in the Netherlands. When not exploring the world, she likes dreaming up stories, eating spicy food, driving fast cars, and talking to strangers.

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Enter Gemma's Raffle

Seduction en Pointe Raffle! 

As a thank you to everyone who checked out Seduction en Pointe, I’m raffling off a stack of fantastic romance novels, bookmarks and other fun treats – and it’s super easy to enter!

All you have to do is send confirmation of purchase for Seduction en Pointe to GemmaSnowRomance@gmail.com with the subject line Raffle Entry, before 11:59 p.m EST on August 31st! It’s that simple!

More info: https://gemmasnow.com/raffle-entry/

 

Guest Interview–Min Edwards

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a retired archaeologist, archaeological illustrator and former owner of an independent bookstore, A Thirsty Mind Words & Wines (books and wines, what’s not to love!). I’ve lived in some rather eclectic places in my life; the high plains of Texas, the Philippines during the Marcos regime (I had more shoes than Emelda Marcos), London during the Northern Ireland unrest, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba before the prison was established there, Downeast Maine, Austin Texas and now back to a small farm on the shore of Cobscook Bay, Maine with my own private beach which since I began writing I haven’t visited much.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading, reading, reading. However, I’d like to say cooking but although I do it every day I’m awful at it. The kitchen was my mother’s domain when I was a kid. In fact, she wouldn’t even let me in there to do dishes (we had a dishwasher, but she didn’t trust it). I loved her for this. But a few months before I married I tried to make a Thanksgiving dinner for my fiancé. I should have started my writing career then because that Thanksgiving was a date to remember, a true tragedy. I didn’t know the turkey had to be thawed so I got out a hammer and big flat-head screwdriver and tried to hack out the giblets (thank goodness I knew there were giblets inside wrapped in waxed paper!). All day I wrestled with that bird until about 6 pm, then threw the bird into the kitchen sink and left him there until 10 pm and threw it in the over regardless of its defrostedness. When we sat down to eat at 3 in the morning, I have to say the turkey was tasty… not like my mom’s but my fiancé liked it. But then he’d eat roadkill if he was hungry enough. Faint praise for sure.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I’m a dialogue person, so usually I start jotting down dialogue, then I figure out what type of person is saying these sentences, then somehow the story fleshes out from there. Of course, I find myself spending way more time doing drafts than in writing the initial story. My debut novel wasn’t finished until the 17th draft. However, now I can have a finished manuscript to my editor after 3 drafts normally.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Freestyle, for sure. I can’t even plan a meal much less a novel!

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

I’m still working on my writing process, but with my recent work in progress, I found myself researching as the story unfolded… not the optimum step for sure. Now that I’m in the 2nd draft stage of that historical novel, I’m scrabbling for trivia to enrich my scenes. And unfortunately, I sometimes get lost in the research… bookmarking way too many sites on-line which have no bearing on the current scene or even the current book!

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, so far all my books carry memories of places I’ve been. In PRECIOUS STONE I’ve gone rather far afield though. Of course, I live in the village where the story begins, but after that my journey is merely wishful thinking. I’ve only dreamed of visiting the land of the painted caves in France and Scotland as well is just at the moment a number in my bucket list. However, in one scene in my novel STONE FALL, book 3 in the High Tide Suspense series, I describe a large snake, a constrictor. That snake didn’t come out of my imagination or from watching Animal Planet. Oh no, that snake, a reticulated python, showed up in my drainage ditch during rainy season when I lived in the Philippines, all 18 feet of him. He’d washed down from Mount Pinatubo… yes the one that exploded and covered Clark Airbase in central Luzon, in feet of ash… the mountain (which we didn’t know was an active volcano) stood at the end of my street. But I digress, a neighbor or someone must have seen this snake slither into the ditch because I was made aware of his presence only when a big base maintenance truck parked and many men jumped out and wrangled the huge thing into the back of the truck and took him away… probably to the base ‘jungle survival school’ where animals such as this were kept and we heard that men trained for jungle warfare there (this was during the Vietnam war). Of course, we didn’t know for sure. It was the military after all. Loose lips, you know.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I get up, put on the coffee, and eat a light breakfast while reading. I can’t start or end my day without a story. Most days I get interested in the story and when I look up it’s almost lunch. I eat again, do some chores, then by about 2 pm I’m ready to write… and do other things related to publishing, like marketing (Yuck). I try to write 1000 words every afternoon, sometimes it’s more, sometimes less, but I write every day. I know lots of writers do their work in the mornings, but I’m not my best then. It has to do with being a night owl. Most nights I don’t go to bed before 1 or 2 am. This aggravates my old dog to no end. He has a schedule and expects his human to adhere to it. Buy hey, I’m paying for his kibble and dog treats so I can do what I want without his input.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Yes, PRECIOUS STONE is a romantic suspense but I also write straight contemporary romance, historical women’s fiction and am co-writing a new archaeological thriller series with a long-time friend and retired archaeologist.

In what genre do you read?

Romance, Romantic Suspense, Action/Adventure/Thriller and hard Science Fiction… not much fantasy.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Yes, since the age of 2. My current love is a 90 pound 11-year-old rescued black German Shepherd… neurotic and so funny. He’s actually too big for my current house. When he decides to leave the comfort of his huge leather club chair and stretch out on the floor, he fills up the space between my fireplace and the opposite wall. I’m not kidding! And in the past, he’s been a detriment to my health. Two broken shoulders (mine not his) when he was in his middle years and still pretty peppy. Thank goodness, he’s slowed down because I’m not getting any younger and broken bones shouldn’t be in my future!

Thanks so much for having me today, Linda. I found romance writing rather late in my professional career, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. I hope your readers enjoy a peek into my process and my life.

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BLURB

PRECIOUS STONE: Book 4 in the High Tide Suspense series by Min Edwards

A gift of thanks to a young girl from the Tsar more than 100 years ago… and now the Russians want it back. 

Collee McCullough, the owner of The Bakery in Stone Bay, Maine, has a perfect life until early one morning men in suits come calling. She has something someone dangerous wants. Something that her Russian great-grandmother Natasha took when she fled Russia in 1913. Too bad great-gran never told her son or anyone else what she had or where she left it.

Jake Elsmore, visiting Stone Bay to sell his mother’s house, walks into The Bakery for a cup of Earl Grey tea, but gets more. There she is. Collee McCullough, stepping out from behind the Chief of Police, a lovely, fiery-haired fairy toting a shotgun while two men lay insensate on the floor of her shop. Looks like that tea will have to wait.

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EXCERPT

Collee McCullough stood at one of her wall ovens in The Bakery. She knew she needed to begin coordinating her day, it was after all 5 a.m. But this morning wasn’t working for her. She was fuzzy, confused, thinking of anything but baking. That was so unlike her, but she’d had that dream again last night… the one about running through snow, someone chasing her, knowing she was going to die. Since childhood that dream of fleeing in the snow haunted her nights, not every night, and after her teens not often. But when it came, it messed her up like nothing else. She’d never figured out where the damned dream came from. When she remembered details, which wasn’t often, the images in the dream weren’t familiar. The forest wasn’t the woods around Stone Bay, the snow was even different. She’d never figured it out.

Why couldn’t she dream of standing before an audience naked? That dream was supposed to be the worst, but that one never crept into her sleep… just snow-running.

Behind her the bell over her door jingled out its merry tune. Someone needed their coffee, or a sweet roll, or bacon. She needed to yank up her big-girl panties and get to work.

“The Bakery isn’t open yet, but what the heck. Come on in and find a table. I’ll be right out,” she yelled still trying to concentrate on the muffins coming out of her oven. Not the most professional thing to do, the yelling, but her customers and friends in tiny Stone Bay, Maine, thought it normal for her to bellow at them.

There was no sound from the dining room though, not even the scrape of a chair across her newly mopped floor. Some people don’t take direction well, she thought.

Collee shook herself, trying to knock last night’s dream out of her head. She didn’t need this distraction today. It was Friday, her busiest day of the week. She opened early but not at 5 a.m. as her customers seemed to think.

Walking out of the kitchen and up to her service counter, she was startled to see two men standing just inside her door. That was odd. Why were they merely standing there? What did they want? They certainly didn’t look like locals. Nope, no overalls, no foul weather jackets, no rubber boots, no gimmee caps on their heads. These men were city men, tailored suits, shiny shoes which of course wouldn’t stay shiny for long now that mud-season was in full swing. Mud-season, now that was an apt word for a Maine spring.

Being a safety-conscious person, Collee reached down under the counter and put her hand on the stock of the shotgun her brother Nick, the police chief, insisted she keep there. He said just the sound of cocking the damned thing normally scared the bejeesus out of people… unless they were high on something. But here on the coast of Maine, the edge of America, she didn’t see too many druggies. She knew some kids smoked pot… jeez, she’d done that herself in her younger years. But without a pharmacy in town, there weren’t any places to steal the bad stuff. And the clinic was down the road, five miles at least from her shop. There wasn’t much there to steal either.

While the men stood silently, staring at her with what she interpreted as mean, cold eyes, Collee slowly gripped the stock tighter and pulled the shotgun above the level of the counter, cocked it, then pointed it at the intruders, thinking to herself, Damn, I should have loaded it.

“What do you want? As I said, I’m not open yet.”

The man in front gave her a brief and not at all friendly smile, then began slowly walking toward her across the old oak-planked floor, leaving the other man behind guarding the door. Guarding? Why did she think that?

“Stop right there. My brother is the police chief. He comes in about this time every morning to pick up his coffee. He’ll kick your ass then throw your skanky butt in jail.” This was a load of hogwash because Stone Bay didn’t have an actual jail. Her brother, Nick, processed prisoners quickly and transported them to the sheriff’s department in the county seat. The only cell was his back spare office, which he kept bare of any furniture except a chair and a card table. He called it his conference room. The Stone Bay Police department was relatively new, and Nick had only been the chief for a little more than eighteen months. However, a jail extension on the police/fire department building on the hill was planned to begin in a month. She didn’t think this situation could wait a month though.

“Colleen Onegin?” The bigger of the two men asked with a small crooked grin, almost sinister-looking.

“No, Collee McCullough. You must have the wrong woman.”

“I don’t think so, my dear,” the man growled low in his throat as he came closer.

She kept her eyes glued to him but noticed in her peripheral vision her brother stepping up onto the sidewalk just outside the door. He noticed the interlopers because he gave her a wink, the rat, and nodded his head slightly. Then she watched him slowly reach for the handle on her front door.

In the next moment, that front door slammed open shattering the glass, hitting the second man who’d remained at the entrance in the back and throwing him across the room. Chief Nick McCullough stormed through the destroyed door, gun drawn, a menacing look on his face. “Get back to the kitchen, Collee. I’ll take care of this.”

She didn’t have to hear another word. Her brother was beyond tough, serving four tours in the military police in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. He could take care of her and anyone else in his sphere with his hands tied behind his back, and by the story she heard from him one night while he was, as they say, in his cups, he’d once done just that.

BIO

Min Edwards is the pen name of retired Archaeologist and owner of A Thirsty Mind Publishing and Design, Pam Headrick. She toyed her whole life with writing but it wasn’t until she moved to her small seaside farm on the far eastern coast of Maine that she began her career in earnest. She’s published five novels with her sixth being released in just a few weeks, THE RUSSIAN PHOENIX, a women’s fiction historical novel and prequel to PRECIOUS STONE.

Drop in on her alter-ego, Pam at the business website at www.athirstymind.com where you can learn all about the book design business, and visit with Min at www.MinEdwards.com where you can learn about her writing life.

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Release Day–Hearts in Rhythm

Hearts.web

Injured ballerina Savina Lombard seeks refuge on her cousin’s ranch outside Morgan’s Crossing, Montana Territory until her foot heals. A dashing horse breeder/trainer arrives for his annual summer visit. Estefan del Vado comes from a family who raised championship trotters and his goal is to prove to his father the value of his cross-breeds. To accomplish that, he needs to win one of the season’s pacer harness races. On the Rolling M Ranch to train, he’s distracted by the delicate beauty who is determined that trick riding will be her new career. Using her dancing skills atop galloping horses is sure to win her a spot in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West exhibition. For a few glorious weeks, they share an enjoyment of the horses and getting acquainted. But when the time comes to pursue their separate goals, Savina and Estefan are split apart, geographically and emotionally. How will they discover a path they both can walk?

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Guest Release Promotion–Eagle Eye by Darcy Flynn

I had so much fun linking Jillian Jeffrey, a character from my first book, Keeper of My Heart, with the second book in my “Like No Other” Series. My readers wanted Jill’s story told, and I’m happy they insisted.

EagleEye2_July 7

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Could one little mistake derail everything she’s worked for?

Undercover journalist, Cameron Phillips, is known for his forthright exposé articles uncovering scandals of New York City’s rich and famous. Using the pseudonym Eagle Eye to hide his identity, he is free to wield his finger pointing, no-holds-barred articles at leisure.

Jillian Jeffrey, teen fashion industry’s latest darling, has a heart for the less fortunate. Her goal is to raise enough money for fashion icon Anna Delany’s, Like No Other charity foundation. The donation will not only keep the charity afloat, but will place Jill in the running for a coveted position on LNO’s board of directors.

In a moment of weakness, at the charity gala, Jill reluctantly accepts a bet from her ex-boyfriend and uses a homeless man to raise twenty thousand dollars. Unknown to Jill, the homeless guy is the cynical, undercover journalist, and Jill has just become his latest exposé target.

In a twist of fate, Cameron is soon hired to shadow Jill as she volunteers with the charity. Shorthaired and clean-shaven, he looks nothing like the bearded, disheveled man Jill had encountered the night of the gala. During their time together, he not only discovers the noble reason behind the bet, but witnesses first hand his article’s negative impact on her business. Faced with the prospect of losing her, will Cameron come up with an antidote for Eagle Eye’s toxic exposé before Jill loses everything she’s worked for?

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EXCERPT

“Okay. I admit it. I was having coffee in the bistro near the park when I spotted you. So, I followed you here.”

An incredulous expression crossed his face. “You do see the weirdness in this don’t you?”

“I felt badly for what Sandra said last week.”

“It was the truth, wasn’t it?”

“To a point, but—”

“Look. An abandoned subway is no place for a spoiled socialite. This place is dangerous.”

“You think I’m spoiled?”

“Yes and twenty thousand dollars richer.”

“The twenty thousand was for charity.”

“I guess that made what you did to me okay?”

“No. Of course not.” She sighed. “Look, I admit that I’ve done fairly well for myself. But it hasn’t always been that way.”

“You’re a Jeffrey. It’s always been that way, sweetheart.”

She pulled her hands away from the flame and clasped them to her chest. “What do you mean?”

“Wealthy, wrapped up in yourself, and according to the society pages, One of New York City’s wealthiest families back in town,” he mocked. “Everyone who’s anyone in this city knows about the Jeffrey girls of Scarsdale.”

“Girls?”

“Your sisters.”

“Oh, of course, them.” First Mark and now him. No wonder he had ill feelings toward her. He thought she was one of those Jeffreys.

“So, you think because of that you know me?”

“Not you personally, but…” He shrugged.

“When you’ve met one high society dame, you’ve met them all. Is that it?”

“Dame? Now there’s a word.” The corners of his mouth lifted. “First hobo and now dame. You and your friends should get out more.”

For one second, all she saw was his to-die-for half-smile. That along with his disheveled appearance was quite a package.

“Well, according to your earlier comment, my friends and I get out plenty.”

He gazed down at her. His crooked smile still played around his lips and his eyes held a sudden twinkle that disarmed her. But she couldn’t help notice the note of disdain behind that charming twinkle. She’d used him, coaxed him into a glamorous environment, then humiliated him. It probably wouldn’t make any difference as to what he thought of her, so let him think what he wanted.

Darcy Flynn

Darcy Flynn is known for her heartwarming, sweet contemporary romances. Her refreshing storylines, irritatingly handsome heroes and feisty heroines will delight and entertain you from the first page to the last. Miss Flynn’s heroes and heroines have a tangible chemistry that is entertaining, humorous and competitive.

Darcy lives with her husband and a menagerie of other living creatures on her horse farm in Franklin, Tennessee. She raises rare breed chickens, stargazes on warm summer nights and indulges daily in afternoon tea.

Although published in the Christian non-fiction market under her real name, Joy Griffin Dent, the empty nest was what turned her to writing romantic fiction. Proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

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Backlist Promotion–Sparked by Fire

I have my very own Fourth of July story that contains more than one type of sparks. Sparked by Fire is the fourth (see a pattern?) story in my “Dorado, Texas” series of sweet historical romance stories.

sparked.fire.web

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Ivey Treadwell, cook at her family’s boarding house, wants to accomplish something big. For now, she satisfies herself with improving on the traditional recipes for the boarders by adding gathered herbs and spices. An incident with a broken pot causes her to see Berg Spengler, the town’s blacksmith, in a new light.

Stigmatized for his huge size and blamed for his brother’s injury, Berg has discovered being alone is safer for his heart. But when he sees interest spark in Ivey’s eyes, he decides to take a chance and approach her. The pair discovers an attraction that heats up each time they are alone together. Will Ivey convince Berg his wandering days are over and his home is here with her in Dorado?

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For those who love to read a series from the start:

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The collection titled A Year of Romance includes the first four holiday-related stories of the “Dorado, Texas” series: Wandering Home, Storybook Hero, My Heart Knew, & Sparked by Fire. (also available in print from Amazon)

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Guest Release Promotion–Escape to Africa Anthology

Escape to Africa_July 3

6 stories by 6 Authors for ONLY 99 cents!!

Take a trip to fascinating, breathtaking, beautiful Africa, without ever leaving your home! These stories will send you on a journey filled with danger, love, and excitement. Travel from Casablanca to Morocco, across the plains of the Serengeti, to the ruins of Carthage, from the desert of Algeria, to the shores of Tripoli. Six international romance authors share spellbinding love stories told across time.

PREORDER LINK  Amazon  Releases July 14th

Dangerous Liaison – Historical Romance by Denyse Bridger

In late 1942, Casablanca, liaisons can be deadly, especially those that involve intelligence the Germans are willing to kill for…

A Pirate’s Lady – Time Travel Romance – Lynn Crain

Amanda Hoskip, a Time Travel Bureau agent, is intent on discovering who is tampering with time. But when she’s captured, she must pretend to be the wife of fellow agent and rescuer, Trevor Haines, which seems impossible because he thinks she’s failed her mission.

 Dying to Love You – Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements by Alicia Dean 

To avoid purgatory, unloving and unlovable Autumn Baines is sent to the Serengeti where she must perform a selfless deed and find someone to fall in love with her. What she didn’t count on was falling in love herself, or that her selfless deed could save a life, but sentence Autumn to eternal damnation.

 Treasured Times – Romantic Suspense – Gemma Juliana

Nerissa Noir is a woman with many secrets. Leon Rizzo intends to figure them out, without revealing his own. From the shops of the exotic souk in Tunis to the ancient ruins of Carthage and beyond, deadly mysteries must be solved before time unravels… can they trust each other?

The Ravine of the Wild Woman – Historical Romance by Marie Laval

Algeria, North Africa, 1865.

Lenora Sharp is Azerwal’s perfect woman. Brave, determined and unconventional, she is also related to the man who stole his name, his childhood and his identity – the very man and he has vowed to destroy, even if it takes him all the way to hell. Will love get in the way of revenge, or will Azerwal lose his soul before he loses his heart?

An Object of Desire – Romantic Suspense by Jenny Twist

Two students on holiday in Morocco discover that two sinister looking characters are following them. They meet an attractive man who offers to take them to their next destination.  All seems well until one of the girls disappears.

Find excerpts and more here: World Romance Authors

Guest Release Promotion–Angels Fly By Donna Simoneta

Angels Fly is the third book I wrote, but it is the first one that was published. Prior to this I had written high fantasy romance—think fairies, were-creatures, witches. With Angels Fly I wanted to combine two genres I enjoy reading, a contemporary romance with fantasy elements.

AngelsFly_June 30

 

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After her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.

James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.

What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

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The Wild Rose Press (all formats)

EXCERPT

She flashed a bright smile at her old friend.  “I sent a friend request to Susie Davidson, and I want to see if she’s responded.”

“Susie Davidson,” Grace’s voice dripped with disdain, “we didn’t badger you into doing this so you could reconnect with Susie Davidson.”

“Hey, what’ve you got against old Susie? She was an integral part of our nerd squad in high school,” David said. “Right, Kel?”

When she didn’t reply, he glanced over at his old friend to see her frozen at her computer, all the color drained from her face. “Kel, what’s wrong?”

“I didn’t hear from Susie, but I did get a message from James Flynn,” she whispered.

David jumped to his feet and peeked over her shoulder at the computer screen. “Yummy James Flynn from Rye?”

Grace snickered, “Sounds like a sandwich. I’ll have a Yummy James Flynn on rye. Hold the mayo.”

Kelly and David swung their heads in unison to stare at her.

“What? It’s not my fault you two come from a town named after a bread.”

David shook his head mournfully and intoned, “Californians.”

“Native, baby.”  The blonde woman grinned playfully, “And don’t you New England Yankees forget it.”

“What does he say, Kel?” David asked with interest.

Kelly gulped, “He wanted to get in touch and maybe meet for a drink.”  She twisted her head to look up at David, her eyes huge on her pale face, “He lives here, David. In San Diego.”

Donna Simonetta_June 30

After working in business world for years, I became a school librarian, and am now living my dream as an author. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

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Guest Release Promotion–Exactly Like You by Lori Sizemore

I wrote this book for people who have lived through what Aidan calls their “worst things” that’s ever happened to them and come out the other side whole or want to come out whole. I wanted to write about hope and courage and, most of all, love in the face of grief, sadness, and loss. And I wanted to do it with some humor and dignity for the characters.

Exactly Like You-June 26

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Former social worker Roxie Fisher believes she’s cursed to never find happiness. An invitation to Cupid’s Café isn’t going to change that. All the same, what else does she have to lose?

Widowed accountant-turned-firefighter Aidan Craig never turns down a dare. An invite to Cupid’s Café is an offer he can’t refuse. He never expected the social worker who helped him through his darkest days. Now she’s the one struggling and he’s compelled to help.

They experience an immediate attraction, but Aidan swore never off relationships and Roxie can’t imagine daredevil Aidan being interested in her. Will they both lose out on a chance at true love?

BUY LINKS

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EXCERPT

When they climbed into the truck, he started it and she turned to him, a frown puckering her brow. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Of course not. You’ve been perfect. Why?”

“Because you’ve been really quiet since we started taking the camp apart. Is something bothering you?”

I might’ve screwed up and fallen for you. But, he couldn’t say that. He still didn’t know what to do and he didn’t want to lead her on. Wasn’t that what he’d been doing, though?

The first time they made love, it just happened. But, after that? He’d been actively pursuing her since then, trying to seduce her, to prove to her he wanted her.

Even though it would make him a lousy human being, he wished he could say it was because she’d presented him with a challenge. But that wasn’t it at all, no matter what he’d tried to tell himself.

He glanced over at her. “Nothing wrong here.”

Reaching over, he switched on the radio and they listened in silence for the better part of forty-five minutes.

They’d be at her house soon. She sat on her hands, looking down at her feet. She looked uncomfortable, and that was his fault. He hadn’t said a damn thing to her the whole way home.

When they arrived at her parents’ house, Aidan climbed out of the truck and fished her backpacks from the back of the truck.

“It’s fine. I can carry those,” she said.

“I’m taking them in for you, Rox. No arguments.”

“But… then I’ll have to introduce you to my parents.” She glanced back at the house, then back at him, shuffling her feet.

“So, let’s go. What’s your mom’s name?” He started up the concrete walk leading to the front porch, expecting her to follow.

“Meredith.” She hadn’t moved.

“What are you waiting for?”

“An act of God. Earthquake, volcano. A lightning bolt or something showy.”

He went back to her, put a hand on the small of her back and gave a nudge. “Come on. What about your dad?”

“Oh, you can’t meet my dad. Like, literally. He doesn’t talk to me, so if I take you in there, plant you in front of the TV and say, ‘Daddy, this is Aidan, the man I’ve been sleeping with,’ he’ll nod and say, “Uh-huh.’ There’s no point.” She stopped halfway up the walk.

“Why doesn’t your dad talk to you?”

“It’s complicated. He doesn’t know how to handle me being depressed. So, he… doesn’t handle it at all.”

It wasn’t that something seemed off here, it was all a little screwy. Like he wasn’t seeing the whole picture, just bits and pieces. He took her by the arm and tugged a little. “I’m carrying your backpack inside. Let’s go.”

“I carried it out of the house without your help when we left.”

“You weren’t my girlfriend then.”

She stopped, and even him pulling on her arm didn’t budge her. “So, I’m your girlfriend now?”

He inhaled, ready to deny it, to say he’d misspoke, but the words didn’t come. His lungs deflated like a balloon. Yeah, that’s pretty much where things stood. And maybe that wasn’t so awful. Maybe it could even be a good thing. “I… Let’s just get you inside. I want to meet your mom.”

Just then, an older woman stepped out on the porch. She looked like Roxie, with the curls and the green, almond shaped eyes. “Come on in, you two. You’ve been creeping up the sidewalk for ages.”

Roxie’s legs started working again, and Aidan followed her up on the porch. Her mom wrapped an arm around Roxie’s waist and pulled her close.

“Aidan, this is my mom, Meredith. Mom, this is my friend, Aidan Craig.” He couldn’t help but notice she didn’t call him her boyfriend. He should’ve talked to her before declaring them in a relationship, he knew that.

Meredith held out a hand to him and he shook it. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Fisher.”

“Oh Lord, don’t call me that. Meredith is just fine.”

“Meredith.” He gave a nod and a smile, while he berated himself internally. Why had he called Roxie his girlfriend? Because that’s what they’d been acting like, maybe. They’d made love again just hours ago. In a world where he hadn’t lost his wife, where he hadn’t sworn to never become involved with anyone again, he’d be happy to call her that. Now, it made him happy, but it also scared him.

GIVEAWAY

Author Landra Graf is joining me to give away two intertwined heart necklaces and two $10 Amazon Gift Cards.

Enter Rafflecopter contest here

Lori Sizemore-June 26

Lori Sizemore writes sexy and snarky romantic comedy. She adores all things story and geeks out about craft books, writing classes, and how-to blog posts daily.

When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family, playing video games, or crocheting. Sometimes all three at once, as she’s a master multi-tasker.

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