Guest Promotion–Saturday In Serendipity by Margo Hoornstra

Saturday in serendipity

3 Stories in 1 Anthology–A 20 year high school reunion changes the lives of former classmates & leads to unexpected futures.

Three Strikes Thursday

BLURB

Barry Carlson had it all, a successful pro baseball career and the adoration of any woman he wanted. Except one, Amanda Marsh. Twenty years ago, in high school, Barry won Amanda’s love only to crush her heart. Forced to retire in his prime, he’s back in their home town of Serendipity, Vermont determined to earn a second chance. Recently divorced, Amanda is happily single until Barry slides back into her life. She isn’t interested in a repeat performance. Turning him down should be easy, if only he wasn’t still the love of her life. Barry and Amanda must put aside old wounds and new misunderstandings to find their forever love.

EXCERPT

The solution was simple. Get out of the car, walk up to the house and ring the bell. Apologize for the intrusion when her father came to the door, and ask to see Amanda.

Only for a couple of minutes. Please.

Then he could fall all over himself telling her how sorry he was.

“Yeah that’s gonna fly.” His whisper filled the emptiness around him, and he dropped his head. “Face it, asshole. You blew it.”

In an odd way, talking to himself, he didn’t feel quite so alone.

He turned his gaze back to stare at Amanda’s window. The shade was still down. Her light was out.

So that was it.

Moving like a rigid, soulless robot, Barry put the car in gear and drove slowly away. Picking up speed as he left Amanda’s subdivision, he floored it once he hit the highway. With the windows down, the warm night air cooled as it roared around him.

He flicked the headlights on high. Their beams lit up the trees, telephone poles and bushes as they whizzed by. Nothing could stop him as long as he kept his foot down hard on the gas pedal. Then something did.

Pulling to one side of the deserted road, he jammed the gear shift into park, jumped out, ran around to the back bumper, bent over.

And puked his guts out onto the warm asphalt.

Two On Tuesday

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Blane Weston’s construction company needs the venture capital Matt Durand is more than willing to provide. But with his reputation for hostile business takeovers, she makes it clear she wants no part of what he has to offer. Especially when he shows up at one of her building sites, unannounced and early to negotiate terms. Besides, Blane has other plans for the next few days. Alone and single for far too long, she’s ready to hook up with a former flame at her high school reunion in Serendipity, Vermont. Not used to being denied, Matt follows her only to find her destination holds memories and unfinished business for him. How can Blane possibly enjoy a journey back to her past when Matt is determined to dictate her future?

EXCERPT

Sparks flashed in those bright green eyes that had so captivated him from day one. Except, just now he was sorely tempted to dodge out of the way so he wouldn’t get scorched by escaping flames.

“It’s my job to remember a lot of things.” Her gaze dropped away from his. “The appointment with you wasn’t one of them. I thought you understood that had been cancelled.”

“Guess nobody told me.” Though he couldn’t let her see him sweat, a frantic voice screamed at him this wasn’t going to work. Ignoring it, somehow he kept his composure as he slowly shut the door. “I had some questions.”

“About Weston?” She picked up some papers she moved to the left corner of her desk. “Galloway, or do you still represent the Dorman involvement with Advanced Properties.”

“None of the above.”

Leaning forward, she leveled a wary gaze on him. “What do you want then?”

With a deep breath and a prayer, he pushed off from the doorway. “You.”

One Fateful Friday

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His twentieth high school reunion in Serendipity, Vermont leaves hospital CEO Jake Holbrook feeling lonely and alone. So when a special woman from his past tumbles back into his life—and his bed—he’s determined to keep her there. Family practice physician Bethany Thomas knows it’s a bad idea to sleep with her late husband’s best friend—even if he is the only man she ever loved. After years of marriage to the wrong man, she isn’t looking for an entanglement with her future boss. Clashing philosophies on patient care lead Bethany to betray Jake. As the holidays approach, his job is on the line. Can Bethany and Jake overcome their lack of trust to find their own Christmas miracle?

EXCERPT

“There’s something we need to discuss.” Jake’s strangled exhale drew Bethany’s attention.

One fateful Friday night had progressed to an inevitable morning after. In contrast to the heat of a late August day outside, their cozy Palm Springs hotel room took on a sudden chill. Her rock of security stirred. Their perfect existence tilted. Reality hit with the subtlety of Dorothy being blasted out of Kansas.

“Which is?” She braced for his response.

Like everyone else, was good old reliable Jake about to bail on her?

Nestled beside her in the bed they shared, he took another breath. “We need to talk about what just happened.”

Each word sliced through her heart. “And?”

“Difficult as it is for me to admit stupidity, we, ah, didn’t exactly practice safe sex.”

“There’s no chance I could become pregnant if that’s your concern.” She made sure her tone was solid and direct. “I’ve been—I’ve taken care of that.”

Mostly at her late husband’s insistence since he never wanted children. Another philosophical difference which drove them apart. True to his selfish nature, Brian made it clear the responsibility to ensure they didn’t procreate fell to her. Rather than argue, she took her birth control pills as prescribed. No matter how much she loathed doing it. A practice she’d maintained out of habit, even after the man she’d been married to for nearly twenty years was gone. The one she’d begun divorce proceedings against shortly before his unexpected death.

“That’s not what I’m asking, Bethy. It’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m not capable of getting anyone pregnant.”

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Guest Release Promotion–Haunting of Hotel LaBelle by Sharon Buchbinder

Haunting

BLURB: When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.

Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.

With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can’t help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again.

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EXCERPT

Every muscle in her body screamed for a hot bath. Tallulah cranked on the faucets of the claw-foot tub, plugged her cell phone in to charge, and stripped out of her travel clothes. She stepped into the steaming water and sank down into the bubbles, closing her eyes with a sigh of contentment. Franny plopped on the rug next to the tub and snored. An hour later, Tallulah awoke to a yapping pug and tepid bathwater. She stepped over the dancing dog, dropped her flannel nightgown over her head, and brushed her teeth while the little beast cocked her head and watched. “Let it never be said that a pug allowed its owner to brush their teeth alone.” Franny snorted.

 

The nightlight cast a small yellow glow when Tallulah opened the bathroom door, headed to the bed—and stopped. A drop-dead gorgeous mustachioed man with brown wavy hair falling to the collar of his old-fashioned suit perched on the edge of her four poster. The scent of cigar smoke and whiskey wafted to her on the breeze from the overhead fan, and his shadow stretched across the quilt in an extended parody of his height. Franny leaped at the man’s legs and barked. He reached down to pet the dog, murmured something, and she wagged her curly little tail. Rooted to the spot, heart thrumming in her throat, Tallulah debated running back into the bathroom and calling Will on her cell phone to get his butt up to the room and explain how this stranger got past her dead bolted and chained door. She took a deep breath. Flight wasn’t an option since he blocked her path from the room. Besides, she’d have to unwrap her pug from around his ankles or leave her here with the intruder. Not a chance. Time to put up a good fight. “Who the hell are you?” She wanted to snatch Franny away from him, but didn’t want to get too close to this stranger. “What are you doing in my room?”

 

The man’s dark, intelligent eyes widened and his eyebrow quirked. “You can see me?”

 

“Of course I can see you. I repeat. Who the hell are you? You’re sitting on my bed as if you own the place.”

 

“I’m Lucius Stewart. I do own the place. I’m the proprietor of Hotel LaBelle.”

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Guest Release Promotion–Fill the Stadium by K.M. Daughters

Fill The Stadium

BLURB  

Nikki Lambert’s husband purposely stalls his truck in the path of the midnight freight on the same day her eldest son, Jack, is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder.

Injured NFL quarterback, Ramsey Delaney, is benched from his starting position, leaving him ample time for more hands-on involvement in The Good Sports Club, a community center he established where Nikki’s sons, Jack and Rocky, are enrolled.

Jack’s deteriorating motor skills concern Ram’s employees who bar Jack from attending the club without Ram’s knowledge. Nikki wants nothing but normalcy for Jack, and she heatedly confronts Ram for depriving her son of a beloved activity. Ram immediately reinstates Jack, forging the fateful bond between Nikki and her boys’ number-one sports hero. Ram is instantly attracted to Nikki. He wants to win her heart more than he’s ever wanted to win a game. But after her husband’s terrible abandonment, will Nikki trust Ram’s motives and open her heart to love again?

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EXCERPT

“It’s not funny Ram. How dare you hire people to tear up my house without my knowledge? What the hell were you thinking?”

Shrugging his shoulders he replied, “I don’t know. That I’m helping you?”

She dragged her fingers through her hair.

His stomach tightened. He yearned to thread his fingers through her silky hair, too. In the next second he questioned his motives once more, something he had done repeatedly since she had stormed his office the first time. Ram still remained satisfied that he wasn’t trying to buy or to manipulate her affections. Whether or not she’d ever see him the way that he saw her, Ram had to help Jack. The compulsion had become near obsession. He’d spend his last dime and would have fought anyone who had tried to stop him, including Nikki.

Nikki pinned him with a penetrating glare, tense and unsmiling.

“Say something,” he said.

“I can take care of my son.”

“I never said you couldn’t. No one could give Jack better care than you. I just want you to let me help you.”

She wagged her head, no. “It’s too much Ram. I can’t accept it.”

“I think it might be a little late to refuse.” He smiled but the dark stare she gave him had him back stepping, “Look,” he said, holding his palms up in supplication, “Let’s be honest. I have been paid an obscene amount of money to play football. More than I will ever need. I have the money to fix up your house for Jack, and you don’t have money to spare. It’s nothing. It’s what friends do for each other.”

“You’re out of your mind. It’s too much.” Her chest heaved. She sighed and he detected a slight softening in her eyes and a minuscule slackening of her shoulders.

Encouraged Ram paced a step closer. “What can I say? I’m just a dumb jock.”

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Guest Interview of Rolynn Anderson

I’m enjoying my new brand!  Nope, I didn’t get a tattoo and no cowboy sizzled my skin with his logo.  I’m talking about my new author signature: a suspense writer who spikes her novels with romance and exotic settings.  Call me an inexpensive travel agent, if you want to.  With my novels, I promise you exciting adventures in a new locale, every time.

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It took a friend to point out the obvious.  My characters and I enjoy adventures in far-away places with people and cultures that challenge our sensibilities.  Mix in mystery, danger, and romance.  Watch the intensity spike!

LAST RESORT, my first novel, published by Wild Rose Press in 2011, began my ‘trend’ by taking the reader to an isolated fishing resort in British Columbia, Canada.

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My three-book series (FADEOUT, FAINT, and SWOON), about a boutique funeral planner whose dead clients refuse to rest in peace, is set in Arroyo Grande, California, which was foreign to me when I first arrived from Washington State in 2001.  FEAR LAND’s adventures focus on San Luis Obispo, California, a sure bet for tourist fun.

Watch how far and wide I travel in my next novels:

LIE CATCHERS: Petersburg, Alaska, settled by natives first, and lots of Norwegians later

BAD LIES: Italy (Rome and the Amalfi Coast)

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CÉZANNE’S GHOST: Aix-en-Provence, France

FIRE IS NICE (coming soon): Sequoia National Park

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You see, when characters are out of their comfort zone, away from home and the homey, the suspense ramps up.  Soon we discover how resilient, flexible and confident we are, when faced with unfamiliar territory.

All this provides a juicy, boiling, embroiling stew stirred up by a writer like me.

How about you?  Do you enjoy/use unusual settings to challenge characters (and readers)?  Please comment for a chance to win a free e-version of CÉZANNE’S GHOST.  From those of you who respond to the question between today and Friday at 6AM, I’ll pick one winner at random.

I hope you’ll celebrate with me, the release of CÉZANNE’S GHOST, climbing aboard for a wild, suspense-filled ride in exotic Aix-en-Provence, France.

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BLURB  Three young American women vanish in Aix-en-Provence, France. The FBI suspects their American tour guide.

Leon Beaudet, formerly a U.S. Olympic wrestler, is proud of his five-star guide business, but when tourists disappear on his watch, the FBI dredges up a violent episode in Leon’s past and tap him for the crime. Worse, his new tour group includes Aline Kerig, who is as beautiful and carefree as the three missing women. Leon is fascinated and puzzled by Aline even while he fears for her safety. She refuses to go back to the States, forcing the FBI and local police to involve her in the hunt.

With the French tourist industry about to collapse and Leon as a prime suspect, how does he protect Aline and find his lost tourists?

E-book & print on Amazon:  http://a.co/bQdl7jp

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Scandinavian, Army Brat, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author. With her experiences, Rolynn Anderson is fairly bursting with stories about extraordinary people and amazing settings, real and contrived. Now add her competitive nature and her love of ‘the makeover.’ As a principal, she and the staff she hired, opened a cutting-edge high school; as co-captain with her husband on INTREPID, she cruises from Washington State to Alaska and back. As a writer, she delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges. Her hope: You’ll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.

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Guest Release Promotion–A Deep Thing by A.K. Smith

A Deep Thing

BLURB What was her husband hiding in the jungles of Mexico?

Rocked by her husband’s tragic death, Kendall Jackson strives to put her life back together. But Ryder, her nineteen-year-old stepson, is bitter and wants nothing to do with her. And she can’t keep the grief at bay. Sometimes, it’s so strong, she wonders if life is worth living.

A call from a cave diver in Mexico gives her hope of mending the relationship with her stepson. Before his death, her husband arranged a diving expedition as a birthday gift for his son. Kendall persuades Ryder to honor his father’s last wish.

From the campus of Western Maryland College to the woods of Camp David and the caves of the Yucatán, Kendall and Ryder take a journey to discover what her husband worked so hard to hide, and to protect his treasured secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The choices they make will decide their fate and the future of others. Will they risk everything for the truth?

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EXCERPT

Kendall, sat cross-legged on the bed, staring at her laptop. A glass of white wine sat untouched on the bedside table. She put her iPod in, selected Jason Mraz and turned it up loud.

She turned off the Wi-Fi. Her mind was battling thoughts of hackers and computer surveillance.

She held the unusual memory stick in her hand before plugging it into the side of her computer. Black rubber surrounded the stick like the rubber on an underwater camera. Here goes. She watched it upload. Let’s see what this is all about.

Ten documents labeled by date flashed on her computer screen. Six documents dated years before Tim and Kendall met; the other four ranged from the beginning of their relationship to one dated three days before Tim died.

Inhaling deeply, she touched her mouse, pulling down to the right and clicking without hesitation on the last icon, a video file. She squeezed her eyes to hold back tears as Tim’s face filled the screen. The background was the upstairs office over the garage. She hit Play.

“This message is for my wife. Kendall, if you’re watching this video, I’m so sorry not to be with you. Obviously, something happened to me for you to be hearing this. I know life’s been hard for you. I’m sorry, my love, I’m sorry I kept a secret from you, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy to protect a division of the US government. I hoped they will share this video with you. I can’t disclose the details about my job, but it’s not important to us. Something I did, not who I am. You know who I am, Kendall, you’re the only one who really knew me.”

She wiped the tears running off her chin.

“Stay close with Ryder, he’s not your blood, but he is a part of me and I want him in your life. UWMA, Kendall, UWMA I love you, Lambie.”

Her brows furrowed as tears ran down her face and her open mouth. She gasped for air. A division of the US government? Some type of CIA agent? The badge said Navy. UWMA. Was this truly happening?

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Guest Release Promotion–All In For Love, an anthology

Why we decided to write All In For Love:

Late in 2016, a few of us started a conversation about forming a box set which featured short romances and romantic suspense stories. One had a ghost! We decided to place it in the vicinity of Buffalo and Niagara Falls so that we could also bring in an influence from Toronto, Canada. The casino resort setting came easy and voila! All In For Love came alive. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing each story.

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BLURB

Welcome to La Bonne Chance Resort & Casino!

With thousands of people passing through the casino’s doors on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that a variety of lives and loves are on the line there. It’s said that you’re more likely to lose your heart at La Bonne Chance than a hand of poker. Whether you are the Director of Casino Operations or the guy who created its software, a jilted bride or a black jack dealer, a past guest’s ghost or a sous chef–when it comes to love, the stakes are high.

Ready to roll the dice?

An Inn Decent Proposal, Sharon Buchbinder
Can an hotelier with a past and a chef with a future revive the grand dame in a neglected old inn?

Perfect Odds, Lashanta Charles
When a jilted bride meets the man of her dreams, will she embrace the new plan, or cling stubbornly to the old one?

A Ghost To Die For, Keta Diablo
She didn’t believe in ghosts…until one showed up in her room.

Raising Kane, Kat Henry Doran
Funny how a night in jail will change a woman’s outlook on life.

For Money Or Love, Margo Hoornstra
She’s the one woman he can’t afford to lose.

Take A Chance On Me, M.J. Schiller
Who do you count on when the chips are down?

GIVEAWAY  To add to the fun, we are giving away a gambling-themed handmade item to ONE lucky commenter who will be selected by a Random Number Generator.

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Guest Release Promotion–A Semi-Sweet Summer by Jan Elder

When Pelican Book Group asked me to write a “New Adult” novella for their Pure Amore line, I jumped at the chance. I had a story in mind that came from the heart. A large part of this book harkens back to my teenage years, to a boy I had a huge crush on. He was definitely in the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of.

In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Cassidy never really fit in, hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Can anybody out there relate?

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BLURB  

Cassidy Cooper is back in town. Ten years earlier, she’d given her heart to a boy who’d humiliated her deeply. As the beneficiary of her sister’s estate, she’s determined to accomplish her sister’s dream, a chocolate truffle shop.

Hunter Gray is intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it’s not the impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart.

With her unrequited love interest living so close, Cassidy prays for strength. Hunter? He just wants to get to know the pretty girl next door.

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EXCERPT

With weighted steps, Cassidy headed toward the car and crumpled into the passenger seat. “Where’d you get all that energy, Gabby? Don’t country people meander?”

She vaguely remembered when her life felt more like a brisk walk than the frantic gallop of her life in the big city. Vaguely.

“Us country-people tend to stroll through life and enjoy the journey—unless there’s fried chicken involved. Then it’s every man, woman, or child for themselves. Ready?” Gabby shifted into gear and prepared for take-off.

Out of the corner of Cassidy’s eye, something huge and decidedly bovine moved over by her property line. “Hold up.”

Gabby pulled up short and Cassidy stiff-legged it out of the car. She strode across the lawn, her heels sinking into clover with every step. When she was ten feet away from a mangled fence, she spied a man headed in her direction, picking his way across the field next door. His periwinkle-blue cotton shirt stretched across broad, muscular shoulders, his thick, dark-brown hair was ruffled by the light breeze.

OK, he had nice, wide shoulders, but she had a damaged fence. She stepped closer. The oxford button-down fit him as if it was made for his fine physique. Her ex-boyfriend’s London tailor couldn’t have done any better.

Cassidy moved another step closer. The man’s chestnut-brown eyes, with a hint of copper, zeroed in on hers as he swiped an errant lock of hair off his forehead.

Hunter Gray?

The blast from her past nearly slapped her to the ground. In high school, she’d pined for this man from afar. In her adolescent journal, she’d waxed lyrical about his many fine attributes. She’d lain awake countless nights dreaming of the dimples in his face, his broad chest…and his lips.

And then, at the end of her sophomore year, he’d ruined it all. Her passion swung the other direction—hatred for his despicable self.

Hunter whistled through his teeth, a slow smile gracing his lips. “Well, hello, neighbor.”

“Is that your animal on my lawn?” She knew a bovine when she saw one, and this one was impressive. Long, long legs, massive hooves, and…who knew cows could be so whopping enormous?

The cow turned dark, liquid eyes on Cassidy and she could swear the creature smirked. Wickedly. As if it were claiming the lawn as its own.

“Oh, you mean Marigold?”

He named his cows after flowers? “Yes. Why is Marigold on my lawn?”

“What can I say? She’s the adventurous type.” He pushed a hand through hair the color of brisk iced tea—that wavy, tousled hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix your fence.”

She screwed up her face until she found the semblance of a smile. “Fine. And I’d appreciate it if you’d get your cow off my turf. Now.”

Why wasn’t she over this stomach-clenching angst? She’d forgiven him years ago, so why did the rusty barb of humiliation pin her like a bug to a board?

She smothered a sigh just as the recalcitrant cow lifted her tail and plopped a cow-pie on spring-green grass.

Jan Elder aug 18JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. She lives in Maryland with her beloved husband and two pampered cats.

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GIVEAWAY

One ebook will be given away to a lucky person who leaves a comment on this post.

Release Day–Perfectly Unscripted

Perfectly.Unscripted.web

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/

 

by author Linda Carroll-Bradd