Tag Archives: Contemporary romance

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?

A Semi-Sweet Summer - aug 18

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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.

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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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.

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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?

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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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Guest Interview with Sheryl Winters

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

Research is a tricky subject. I can get lost for hours so I now use a simple technique to keep the story flowing. In my first draft, I type the word RESEARCH in big bold letters when I need a solid fact. An example of this is in Harper’s Place. Since the story is set in New York City, the snow fall accumulation had to be right. I wrote the story, added a realistic amount of snow for a snow storm and upped the believability Harper and Patrick’s romance.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Writer’s block involves smacking my head against the table, repeatedly until the blood vessels in my head have opened up. I’m just kidding. When writer’s block hits, I will find myself reading the story over again from the beginning, letting myself feel all the emotions the characters feel. Usually, this is enough to clear up any writer’s block and let me proceed.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

Editing and revision can be fun. I like to restructure the story after I’ve made a rather terrible first draft. Each editing pass brings the story I’m working on closer to the original vision I intended. So I think I am most surprised at how much I enjoy editing something I’ve created.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

Baby name sites are wonderful for character naming, and I’ve more than one bookmarked. I can get stuck for hours finding the perfect name, so Baby Name sites become invaluable.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope my readers enjoy the stories I write for them. I want them to forget about reality as they roam through the worlds I’ve created.

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

I’d love to say I can devote an entire day to writing. I try to maximize the time I have. If I only have an hour or so, I’ll do light editing. I find that real creativity takes time and quiet and the ability to let myself be bored so that my imagination can explode.

Harpers Place

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Harper Grey is fed up with over-bearing men.

Her father wants to sell the family hamburger joint to her brother because a woman could never make it successful.

Harper knows she has the same flair for business as her mother, and sexy Navy SEAL Patrick O’Brien dares her to prove it to the world.

When duty calls and Patrick must leave her side, will Harper be strong enough to make her dream a reality?

BUY LINKS

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EXCERPT

“How would you bring in new business, though?”

I’m amazed that he seems to find our conversation interesting. He’s an audience willing to listen and I’ve not had that in a long time. Damn this crush of mine. It won’t be easy to tame after tonight.

“New menu items, specials, things like that. Start serving dessert, like pies. Easy cook items. With the new burgers, I’ve created and a new décor, I’d open in the summer when the air is fresh and everyone is happy to be out of the snow, hungry for grilled food. I think we could do fine.”

“What’s your hold up?”

“Tony, Dad. It’s complicated.” I shrug. His arm feels good, and I have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle against it. “Did you kiss Amy Parker when you were twelve? She still brags about it.” Did I just ask him about kissing? What is wrong with me? Will this mouth of mine never shut up? Stop it, Stop it, stop it!

“That I did, in a closet over at Robert Anderson’s house.”

“Ew.”

“I was twelve and desperate. You can’t blame me. I do blame that stupid soda bottle.  And your first kiss?” There is a challenge in his voice.

“Kevin Monroe at the Klines Movie Theater. He sent me a six-page note the next day about how much he loved me, and I freaked out and dumped him.”

“Any regrets?”

I choke back a giggle. “Naw, ‘cept I remember I liked his cologne. It could have been aftershave, but it was nice.” It’s not half as nice as the Aramis that Patrick has on. Something about it sends a shiver up my spine that has nothing to do with the zombie waiting in Dad’s office.

“The dark isn’t so bad, now is it?”

“I guess not.”

Silence surrounds us. The fear that enveloped me seems to disappear.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“No.” It sounds terrible now that I’ve said it out loud. Like I’m admitting to being a desperate and dateless leper.

“So,” he drawls out, “ever thought of dating a military guy?” He squeezes my fingers.

Is he serious?

His fingertip smooths over the rough callouses I’ve gained from years of hard work. Suddenly my wasted evening of not going out to celebrate is starting to look better. “I think it would depend on which military guy.”

“You’re killing me. You know that, don’t you?” His strangled tone only sets off a case of the giggles.

“Are you asking me out, Patrick?”

“Trying to, but you’re not making it easy.” The challenge is back in his voice.

“I wouldn’t mind a date or two,” I manage to squeak out. Breathe, Harper, just breathe, calmly through your nose, out your mouth. Sainted Mother of God, Patrick asked me out! I hit the jackpot! Now all I have to do is not hit him.

BIO

In a small town outside of Anchorage, Sheryl Winters can be found penning her next novel with her two cats and one dog at her side. On sunny days, she can be found in Hatcher’s Pass about an hour outside of Anchorage.

Sheryl is a firm believer that superheroes are among us—regular people whose actions “create beauty out of chaos.” Sheryl is an advocate in the fight against bullying.

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Guest Release Promotion–Hill Country Homecoming by Julie B Cosgrove

HillCountryHomecoming-1202

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Sarah has the dollars and sense. Travis possesses the horse sense. When tragedy befalls the Bar-M one Christmas, can they put aside their differences to save it?

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EXCERPT

Live rich, marry richer.

That had been Sarah Mansfield’s goal since grade school. Now, after years of plotting and planning, it lay within reach. She angled the two-carat round-cut solitaire, surrounded by a myriad of smaller stones, to catch the light streaming through the car window. The facets glimmered in the warm, winter sun as it bounced off the bare cypress branches swishing overhead.

Her fiancé, Tucker Simpson, sat next to her in his shiny, new Italian convertible. As he shifted gears and pressed the clutch, his hand-stitched, never-stepped-into-manure boots gave off a soft whiff of saddle-soap. Outside the window, the glistening emerald Guadalupe River wound along the state road like a lazy rattler seeking shade.  “It is the one you wanted. From Harrison’s, right?”

“Yes. I should have known you’d dare not shop anyplace else.” She gave him a teasing wink.

“Only the best for my girl. As soon as I signed the Henderson account with the firm, it proved my worth.” His diamond-eyed, eighteen-carat gold longhorn tie tack blinked in her direction. Symbol of graduating in the top of his Texas law school class.

She grinned.

He slipped his hand from the gearshift and laced his fingers through hers. “After only six months with Abernathy, Smith and Firth, I am the newest junior partner, at $300K a year. Now, I can almost afford you.”

“The ring is perfect. Just like you, honey.” She fluttered her mascara-laden eyelashes and pecked his golf-course-bronzed cheek in response.

His French aftershave, at $129.95 an ounce, swept her into euphoria. Yep, all the effort and waiting had paid off.  Born into one of the wealthiest horse breeding families in Central Texas, Sarah spent her summers galloping across the plains in the morning, lounging on rafts in the river through the afternoons, and kicking up dust at the rodeo dances until midnight, all the while tantalizing the local boys she kept at arm’s length. While they offered a certain amount of fun, they didn’t fit the bill. Too uncouth and prone to spit chewing tobacco.

The school year, spent in San Antonio, sequestered her in an upscale parochial girl’s school away from the inner city sharks, though a few boldly circled the posh pond trying to lure a socialite with their good looks and slumming charms. Nice playthings on which to practice her femininity, but long ago, she’d set her sights on far larger fish—Dallas or Houstonian guys with daddy’s money bulging from wallets in the back pockets of their too-tight jeans.

After she graduated, she attended one of the top private colleges in the state and pledged a sorority—the one of her mother and grandmother. Next, she spent the obligatory year touring Europe with the other debutantes, per time-honored protocol, in order to round out her cultural repertoire and to catch the eyes of rich and eligible cosmopolitan bachelors. The fact she had enough brains to make straight A’s all the way through school hardly mattered. Graceful flirtations, the right haircut and perfume, and a flawlessly tanned body did.

Her best friend, Emma Rose, landed a minor British duke, but Sarah’s attention fell on Tucker as he volleyed the beach ball while summering on the Italian Riviera. His rippled abs captured the Mediterranean sunbeams and ricocheted into her heart. She used every feminine wile in her well-bred arsenal to convince him to snare her instead of one of the other girls, and then played a mild hard-to-get to reel him in. She convinced her father to pay for her to get her Master’s in Renaissance English Literature at the university in Dallas so she could keep Tucker wiggling on the hook once he landed employment at the prestigious law firm. It was also where she made her debut into society, accumulating well-established names and addresses for her future wedding invitations.

Yep, her plans had fallen in place. Sarah laced her arm through Tucker’s and leaned into his shoulder blade. She raised her left hand higher. “Everyone at the Christmas Dance tonight at the Bar-M Ranch will wish they were us. You are going to drool over my dress.”

“I’d prefer to see you out of it, but I know you are the wait-until-the-honeymoon type.”  She lifted off his chest and protruded her lower lip as she twisted to face him. “Which you’ve agreed to abide by.”

“Anything for you, angel. You just keep reminding me you’re worth the wait, okay?” He winked.

She snickered. “My daddy will, for sure. He’s won awards for his rifle shooting.”

Tucker cleared his throat. “How many folks are you expecting tonight?”

“Oh, around two-hundred I guess.” She scrunched her nose and swished back her palomino-blonde hair. “Dad insists on letting the ranch hands and their families join in the holiday festivities. Which, unfortunately, means Mr. Righteous will be in attendance.” She mimed a gag, dipping her finger to the back of her tongue.

Tucker’s eyes twinkled in response as he draped an arm over her shoulders and pulled her close. “You mean your dad’s right hand man, Travis?”

She snuggled into his ribcage and yawned. “That’s the one. Hope he leaves his Bible in the bunkhouse. I don’t want religion spoiling my Christmas.”

He reared his head back, revealing a protruding Adam’s apple peeking from his starched and professionally pressed Oxford shirt collar. A laugh exploded from his lips.

“Turn down that road up ahead on the right, honey, where you see the large oak and the Texas flag.”

“Yes’m.” Tucker twisted to face her as she rose off his torso and smoothed her hair back into place. “Sarah. Am I seriously supposed to get on this Travis’ good side? I mean, could he prevent our wedding if he disapproved?”

She brushed a piece of lint from her French designer jeans. “Daddy always values his opinions about raising horses, so sometimes he gets his nose a bit too high, if you get my meaning. But”—she lifted her gaze and narrowed her blue eyes—“if that cowpoke hisses, you ignore him. He’ll slither back into his hole where he belongs as soon as he realizes Daddy’s happy as long as I’m happy.”

“Good to know.” His eyes returned to the road winding through the prairie grass ahead of them.

Julie Cosgrove

Julie B Cosgrove has ten contracted novels and novellas published or in the works. She also writes for seven devotional publications and websites and is a professional speaker who leads women’s religious retreats and writers’ workshops. Julie lives in Fort Worth, Texas but her heart is at her family’s property in the Texas Hill Country on the Guadalupe River.

 

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Guest Interview—Willa Blair

Welcome to my friend I met while living in Texas. Tell us a bit about you and your background

A life-long student and reader, I’ve been a stained glass artist and instructor, a foreign language teacher, a computer scientist, an analyst, a manager and an executive. I’ve visited five continents and can get by in several languages. Scouting new settings for books is lots of fun, and being an author is the best job I’ve ever had.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

“Romance and Adventure”. I add “…in the Highlands of Scotland” for my Scottish books!

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What does “away from the computer” mean? ;^)

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

Plot, always the plot. I get to know the characters as I write.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Both. I wrestle with an outline and bare-bones synopsis to get the flow of the plot figured out. Then the characters step in and do all they can to wreck the plan.

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

Again, both. I may need to do a lot of historical research if I’m starting in a new time period, then fact-check or look for amplifying detail later.

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

Yes – for my Scottish books—historical and contemporary—I’ve traveled through a good deal of central Scotland and the Highlands, but have plenty left to see and do! I’ve also been to Hawaii several times which came in handy for Sweetie Pie, and just went on my first cruise. Now I have 5 more countries to use as settings if my imagination decides to go there.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

Go away from it for a few days—or weeks—and work on something else.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

That much to my editor’s dismay, I’m enamored of commas.

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

Yes. I also write Scottish historical romance.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A summer in Scotland, a month each in Australia and New Zealand, a summer in Europe, shall I go on? I have lots of dreams.

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BLURB

Widow Lara MacLaren hungers for the hunky architect she hires to restore her derelict Scottish manor, but is she ready for a relationship…and is Ian ready for her twins?

Ian Paterson is eager to awaken Lara’s passionate side. Yet, if he reveals his ancestral claim to her estate, he risks losing her and his job. His clan’s history, lost over the years, may be hidden in the walls—along with a ghost waiting for the laird’s return.

When they uncover a room full of Jacobite treasure, proof of his ancestry, Ian realizes he’s out of time. If the ghost is real, it could expose his secret and destroy his romance with Lara. Ian must convince her she and her twins are the future he truly wants.

BUY LINK

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EXCERPT

“Are ye okay?” Ian felt Lara’s ribs expand under his hand as she breathed.

“I am now,” she murmured. “I could have sprained an ankle, or fallen and hit my head.”

“You needn’t worry,” he answered softly. “I’ve got you.” Pressed against his hard length, right where he needed her. Though he knew holding her was a mistake, he couldn’t let her go.

Her face flushed. “You do at that. I…I…” She glanced at the ceiling, then returned her gaze to his. “Thank you…”

“You’re welcome. I don’t mind a bit,” Ian teased. Her body was firm, yet soft against his. She made no move to escape his embrace. He lowered his gaze to her mouth. Her lips were so close. So tempting.

Lara’s breath warmed his face. Her gaze met his, then dropped quickly to his mouth.

He was certain she meant to allow his kiss…and to kiss him back. He parted his lips, drinking in her scent, eager to taste her.

Something moved in the darkness below them, soundless, but stirring the cool air and whispering across his hands. The back of Ian’s neck prickled.

Lara stiffened and cocked her head, as if listening.

“Just a draft,” he murmured. Ian could have sworn it was only moving air, nothing more. He hoped. He’d grown up hearing tales about Cairn Dubh—and its ghost. If Cairn Dubh did have a ghost, this ancient space would be a fine place for it to haunt.

Review Snippets

Waiting for the Laird by Willa Blair is a delightful romance and unexpected adventure set in Scotland.” Books & Benches Reviewer’s Choice Seal of Excellence

“Willa Blair spins a beautiful romance set in the Scottish Highlands full of suspense, history and mystery…This is an absolutely wonderful story to read while curled up in a comfy chair with a nice hot drink, I highly suggests you pick it up and enjoy.” Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Willa Blair

Willa Blair is an Award-winning, Amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 Bestselling author of Scottish Historical, light Paranormal, and Contemporary romance. Her books have won numerous honors, including the Marlene, the Merritt, National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, The Reader’s Crown finalist, Historical Romance finalist and Honorable Mention in InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE Award, NightOwl Reviews Top Pick, Books & Benches’ Readers’ Choice Seal of Excellence, and InD’tale Magazine Review’s Crowned Heart.

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My Sexy Ex–The One Who Got Away

 

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Enjoy an excerpt of seven paragraphs from On With The Show

The man who’d spoken had his back to the door, a broad back that stretched the black t-shirt imprinted with Reinhardt’s Hardware, family owned since 1854. A fact the Reinhardt family was immensely proud of, but the crux of the reason she and Dietz had gone their separate ways. “Hello, Dietz.”

With a slow move, the tall, black-haired man turned and ran his gaze over her face. “Well, Franziska Mueller…to what do I owe this pleasure?”

The smile on his lips didn’t reach his blue eyes. A fact she knew was totally her fault. “I just came in on the westbound train for my Thanksgiving visit and nobody was there to meet me. Erich Bruno happened by and he was driving me out to the ranch when he had to respond to a call.” Again, both her tale and her voice sounded pathetic. Inside her coat pockets, both hands drew into fists. God, facing Dietz one-on-one was harder than she’d thought the interaction would be. “Can I use your phone?”

“Pay phone’s outside the front door.”

Frustration tightened her body. All she wanted was to get to the ranch. “What is with this town and pay phones?” She paced away a couple of steps and back to face him. “Normally, I’d use my cell but the battery needs charging. I don’t have coins for a call.” Could she sound any more unprepared for life?

“So, you’re askin’ me for a favor?” Black eyebrows arched over crystal blue eyes, and he leaned an elbow on the counter. “Is that what I’m hearing?”

Connecting with that oh-so-familiar expression brought back too many memories. As much as she hated doing so, she pasted on her friendliest smile. “Yes, Dietz, I’m asking to…pretty please”—she added a fluttering of eyelashes—“use the store’s phone to call the ranch.”

BUY LINKS

All Romance ebooks

Amazon

The Wild Rose Press

Barnes & Noble

Google Play

KOBO Books

To read excerpts from the other authors participating in this week’s My Sexy Saturday, click here

Sharing My Titles with a Halloween Connection

My stories featuring bits and pieces of Halloween are varied. From most recently published to a bit more seasoned, they are:

 

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Wandering Home, Book 1 of “Dorado, Texas” series (a 19,000 word historical novella)

Widow Vevina Bernhard sees mysterious lights at night and believes her Texas ranch Shady Oaks is haunted. She needs protection for herself and her 4-year old son but the town’s sheriff offers no help. On hiatus from his Texas Ranger duties, Kell Hawksen hires on as a farrier at the ranch while keeping an eye out for clues to a stagecoach robber in hopes of collecting the bounty. On Samhain, fire erupts and Vevina and Kell battle both the danger and the depth of their feelings.

http://amzn.com/B0190RNROY

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Unlocked Treasure, a 15,000 word contemporary novella

Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion–sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden at the Halloween Midnight Organ Recital forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

http://amzn.com/B00O0EQ754

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Unlocked Treasure also appears verbatim in Hauntings In The Garden, Vol 2, a 4-author anthology http://amzn.com/B015AOHAD0

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Bewitching Gypsy (a 7,700 word historical story) in Spooktacular Seductions, an 8-author anthology

Fiona Mikolas is an outcast—branded by her fiery red hair and a purple birth mark—forced to live a solitary life, traveling a circuit of southern states in America and selling healing potions. Until the night of All Hallow’s Eve, when her lonely life is changed by the arrival of two strangers in her camp.

Beaten and robbed, rancher Hagan Fletcher tracks his stolen stallion and stumbles toward a campfire in south Texas. He awakens, suffering from amnesia and is intrigued by the mysterious beauty to look beneath the surface to who she really is.

http://amzn.com/B00OWJJ09C

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Cowboys, Creatures and Calico is the 6-author anthology where Wandering Home first appeared in a shorter version as Wanderer, Come Home

http://amzn.com/B00NVX5Y2C

Character Interview from Love, Lies, and Fireflies by Jan Elder

How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

Thank you, Linda, for having me on your blog today. My name is Jake Montgomery and I’m a middle school teacher in central Maryland. I live in a little town in the country where just last week I spied a possum in my garbage can. With babies! Nothing much cuter than a baby possum. I grew up in Baltimore so I love it here—all this peace and quiet soothes my soul.

The last year’s been tough, though. I’ve been out of commission, really just sort of withdrew from life when my fiancée died. Got angry at God, angry with myself, the whole bit. I know there’s a grieving period and that’s healthy. But I guess you could say I was wallowing. I didn’t know what else to do. Thirty is way too young to pack it in, don’t you think? After a while, I had what I would describe as a “defining moment.” I wanted to live again and enjoy life. And then, praise God, Didi came into my life, but more about that later.

Are you athletic?

I used to be. I was fortunate to get a tennis scholarship at the University of Maryland. I’d even squeaked (and I do mean squeaked) into the international top hundred list. I was pretty proud to see that number 98 next to my name. And then I did a dumb thing… staircases and tequila straight up just do not mix. Last time I did that darn fool thing! I had to switch to getting a degree in education. I still play some tennis for fun, though, to keep in shape.

Did you always want to be a middle school teacher?

Not exactly, but it seemed like a good fit at the time. Most days I love being a history teacher. Looking at our past can teach us so much about the future. I also coach several sports and working with the kids fills me with joy. There are limits, though, as to how much teacher can do for their students. And of course, we are forbidden to talk about God. Those limitations bring me down. These kids need to know that they are loved unconditionally by a God who sees them and knows them through and through.

Are you a pet person?

I have a cat by the auspicious name of Lucille Ball ‘O Fun. Yes, she has red hair and no, I didn’t name her. I didn’t plan to bunk with a cat—not that I’m against them mind you—but it worked out for the best for both of us. The day I woke up and found her wrapped around my head in earmuff fashion, I figured she could stay. Or rather, if you want to know the truth, she’s a very discriminating Siamese, so I guess I’m lucky she deigned to stay with me!

Talk about your favorite setting for a date. (or favorite way to court a woman)

I’ve never been much of a ladies’ man. Kinda shy I guess, so I’m going to go with the tried and true. Nice dinner, good conversation, a bouquet of flowers, you know, thoughtful things that let a woman know she’s special.

Since I was a little rusty in this area after Victoria died, I tried asking a few of my friends for advice. Can you believe they said I should just take a woman out for coffee and then not call her for a few days? What’s this world coming to when a man can’t even spring for dinner?

What attracts you first to a woman?

I know it might sound cliché, but I do believe the eyes are the windows to the soul. I like a woman who isn’t afraid to show what’s in her heart—one who’s emotions are reflected on her face and in her features. No game playing.

Are you talking about a particular woman?

You betcha. Didi O’Brien…Didi well, I can read her like a fortune cookie and that’s a good thing. I always know where I stand and I don’t have to guess if I’m pleasing her. And talk about sweet! Yes, that’s a good description of her. Sweetness and light. With Didi, the glass isn’t just half-full. It’s filled to the brim and overflowing. I am a lucky man.

Love Lies and Fireflies

BLURB

Didi O’Brien is engaged—at least she was an hour ago. Now she’s not so sure. Her fiancé, the suave Kevin Cabot, has just revealed that he’s been unfaithful, and he’s not the least bit sorry. Reeling from the betrayal, with her plans for a happily-ever-after life in doubt, she prays for direction. The answer comes as a complete surprise. God has someone better in mind.

Middle school teacher, Jake Montgomery, is struggling with some issues of his own. Sadly, a year previously his fiancée had been killed in a car crash. Battling anger and despair, in a mountain-top experience, Jake wrestles with the Almighty, and is ready to live again. In his youth, he’d felt an unmistakable call to the ministry but, like the prophet Jonah, since then, he’s been running hard in the wrong direction.

Through a crisis of faith, and glimpses of mercy, Didi and Jake find each other. But can they find the strength to resolve the many obstacles that conspire to keep them apart?

BUY LINK

Amazon

EXCERPT

“But, Kevin, I don’t understand. What do you mean you went out with another girl? What girl?” Didi O’Brien’s swiped at eyes brimming with tears.

Kevin sipped his single malt. “Her name’s Mindy, and she relocated here from the Midwest a few months ago. She’s a Pilates instructor at my gym.” He squirmed in his chair and shrugged. “Look, she’s just a kid of twenty-four, and she doesn’t know anyone here in the area.”

Stomach churning, Didi shoved her dinner away, barely noticing when the sauce from her beef bourguignon splashed onto the white tablecloth. She swallowed, words refusing to come.

Kevin continued in a monotone. “It’s not like I planned it. I was just being a nice guy and showing a stranger around town. You know, being neighborly. Believe it or not, she’s a real nut for baseball, and last night the Nationals were playing the Cardinals….”

“You took her to a baseball game? Last night?” Didi managed to squeak out the words despite the block of granite in her throat.

“Oh, come on. Stop getting so defensive here. You don’t even like baseball. When I saw her last Friday….”

“You went out with her last week, too? On a Friday?” Didi’s voice started out shaky but managed to rise over the conversational hum of the other diners.

“Shhh. Pipe down. Don’t go getting all ‘female’ on me.” Kevin picked up his fork and speared a green bean almondine. “So what if we’ve been to a baseball game, the museum, and had coffee a few times? Last Friday, the Smithsonian had this cool special exhibit on the life of Roberto Clemente. You probably don’t know this, but he’s a Hall of Famer who won the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1966. He led the league in batting average.”

“Have you slept with her?” She had to ask, though she didn’t really want to know the answer.

Kevin didn’t deny it. Instead, he growled, “So what if I did? I told you it’s not serious. Plus, you had some ridiculous church thing going on last Friday, so you weren’t available.”

Her breath caught as she lowered her voice. “That’s hardly the point, Kevin. Did you tell her you’re engaged?”

“Why would I?”

“I’ll take that as a no. Do you love her?”

“Of course I don’t love her, and I’m getting tired of this tête-à-tête. I knew you were going to overreact. Mindy’s a cute kid from Dubuque who needed someone to show her around, and now you’re getting all weird on me, when I was only being considerate.”

Glancing down at his Rolex, Kevin huffed out a sigh. “Maybe we should talk about this after you decide to behave like an adult.” He flagged down the waiter and signaled he was ready for the check. “I decide to be honest, as a courtesy to you, and you put me through a Spanish Inquisition.”

With a hot flush pricking her cheeks, Didi slipped out of the booth, storming toward the exit. She refused to hear any more of his flimsy excuses.

Dodging the other patrons leaving the restaurant, Didi sprinted across the asphalt to her car. She fell into the driver’s seat, jammed her key into the ignition, and zoomed out of the parking lot. She had to get away from that man! On autopilot, she drove through town, barely remembering to stop at the stop signs. Leaving Chez Monte Carlo far, far behind, she headed to the safety of home.

She came to a fork in the road. In no mood to dally, she chose the shortcut home, veering left onto Deer Hollow Road.

Bad decision.

She drove way too fast, but right now, she didn’t care. Sliding on shallow gravel down the first steep hill, she missed the deep ditch on the right side of the road by a narrow margin. Instead, she slammed into a mud-drenched pothole, skittered sideways, and careened toward an ancient oak.

Stamping hard on the brake, she yelped as the car jarred to a halt. Maybe she did care after all. “Please, Jesus, help me get home in one piece. And if Kevin’s still on the road, crash him into the biggest tree you can find!”

Deer Hollow, slippery and dangerous when wet, was rarely her route of choice. Now she remembered why. She shoved her two-door coupe into gear and edged her way toward home. The tires slowed, but her mind raced in circles like an Olympic speed skater. In one tortured hour, her balanced world had been tipped topsy-turvy. She closed her hands tightly around the steering wheel, desperate to make it home before this crazy country lane tore her little red car apart.

With great caution, Didi drove down a steep slope, eased over the one-lane bridge, and rounded a curve. She’d nearly made it to the end of the road when a rabbit darted in front of her. She had just enough time to wrench the wheel hard to the left to avoid it. She braced herself for that horrifying “thump-thump” announcing she’d killed one of God’s furry creatures, then sighed with relief. Missing the bunny was the only happy event in what was otherwise a thoroughly rotten evening.

A cavernous empty space grew in the pit of her stomach as waves of fury crashed over her. Heat crept up her face and tears trickled from her eyes. Why did she always cry when she was mad? Kevin’s announcement had left her reeling. With her adrenaline surging from the near bunny-cide, Didi breathed in and tried her best to calm down. She pulled to the side of the road and stopped the car before she did something stupid. Resting her head on the steering wheel, she slumped deep into her misery. After this terrible night, did she have a clue where her life was going? The uncertainty was unnerving.

A dreary, gray sky hung heavy with unshed moisture. Sheets of rain had drenched the area for three days straight, and another whopper of a storm had been threatening for the past few hours. As she headed again for home, the first drops came splashing and splattering down. Great. Just great. As if to match her mood, wicked forks of lightning streaked across the sky, static electricity crackled in the air, and the rains crashed down with a vengeance.

Didi breathed a quick prayer her car would start and turned the key. Her trusty vehicle purred to life on the first try, even with 138,567 miles and an oil filter that should have been changed a thousand miles ago. She patted the dash and glanced up to the sky. Thank you. Tonight, she would have crawled the three miles home in the driving downpour rather than call Kevin Francis Cabot, a.k.a. The Rat, to come and rescue her.

How could he do that to her? Didn’t she deserve better?

The problem was…she loved him. Until an hour ago, she’d have sworn he loved her, too. What was wrong with her that he’d wanted someone else?

She didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to try and understand it tonight. With a heavy heart, she banished the conflicting thoughts from her mind and pointed her car toward home.

Jan Elder

Jan is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling stories other women can relate to on a deep level. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. Love, Lies, and Fireflies is her third novel. The book delves into weighty subjects such as betrayal, suicide, lost dreams, and the magnitude of God’s mercy and grace. The reader is introduced to a loving and forgiving Lord who walks beside us in our daily lives.

Besides writing romance, she enjoys the occasional hazelnut cappuccino as well as tuning in to Turner Classic Movies. Always an avid reader, she devours books voraciously, both Christian and secular. She was born a cat-lover and all books will, no doubt, feature a feline in some way or another.

Happily married for thirteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a chubby black and white tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a willowy tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.

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