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What to Read Wednesday with Melanie Hansen ~ Giveaway

Thanks for coming back for another round of What to Read Wednesday :) Today author Melanie Hansen has stopped by and she’s sharing an interview she conducted with her characters from her book UNQUIET. You won’t be disappointed :)

Don’t forget to enter her giveaway, too!

Let’s get started …

 

The coffee shop is warm and inviting, one of those little boutique places with comfortable chairs and even a fireplace.  White lights are strung throughout, and the aroma of pumpkin spice washes over me.  I settle in a leather wingback chair not too far from the crackling fire, clutching a peppermint mocha, to wait for my guests.  I’m a little early, but that’s okay; this way I can observe them together in the split second before they notice me.

A few chocolatey sips later, and the door swings open to admit two men, obviously the ones I’m waiting for.  One of them is very tall, his navy-blue peacoat doing nothing to disguise his muscular frame.  He has dark hair, and a lean scruffy jaw I find very appealing.  His companion is a few inches shorter, blond, with bright green eyes that scan the room and fall on me.  They immediately light up with a delightful enthusiasm, and he approaches me with his hand out.  I stand to take it.

“Mrs. Hansen?” he asks, his voice deep and pleasant.  I squeeze his hand warmly and smile.

“Yes, but please call me Melanie, or even Mel.  All my friends do.”  That makes his eyes crinkle even more, and he pulls me into an impulsive hug.  I’m startled, but since I’m a hugger too, I return it.

“You can never have too many friends, right?” he says, and before I can reply, goes on, “You said you’d be wearing a really colorful scarf, and that’s the first thing I noticed.  It’s beautiful.  The colors are woven together so nicely, and I love the way it goes with your red hair.  Who would have thought purple would—“

“El.”  The taller man touches him on the shoulder, breaking into his speech.  “You didn’t even tell her your name.”  His voice is gently teasing, and the blond man’s eyes widen before he shoots me a grin so beautiful it hurts.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he says cheerfully.  “I’m Eliot Devlin, and this is my partner, Loren Smith.”

“Ma’am,” Loren murmurs, shaking my hand as well.

“Mel,” I correct him, and then sit back down in my chair, watching as they both remove their coats and drape them with care over the back of the loveseat opposite me.

Eliot perches on the cushions for a moment and then jumps back up.  “You want some coffee, honey?” he asks Loren.  “I’ll get myself an herbal tea.”  Without waiting for an answer he heads off to the counter.

Loren watches him go, then stretches his hands out toward the fire, quirking his lips at me.  “I’m always surprised by how cold it gets in Phoenix this time of year.  Hard to believe a few short months ago we were burning in hell.”

“I know, right?” I reply, returning his rueful look.  “And we’ll complain about the cold like we complain about the heat.  Arizonans are never happy.”

We share another grin before a loud shout of laughter captures our attention.  I glance toward Eliot, who’s talking with the barista in an overly animated tone, waving his hands.  She looks a little overwhelmed, but seems to be going along with the conversation gamely.

“He’s been a tad elevated this past month or so,” Loren remarks, watching me watching Eliot, as if looking for signs of judgment.  “But he’s okay.”

I give him a reassuring smile.  “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.  My cousin was bipolar.”

Loren’s face shows surprise.  “Oh.  I didn’t know.  When you said you wanted to write our story, I honestly wondered why you’d take on such a challenge.  It’s not an easy story to tell.”

I shrug, unable to meet his eyes.  “My cousin—she used to say how she’d never find anyone to love her.  She had a hard time seeing that she was loved.  So much.  She was brilliant, accomplished, beautiful…”

“Was?” Loren asked, his voice soft.  I suddenly find myself blinking back tears.

“She’s—she’s at peace now.”  My voice is a whisper.  “But I miss her.  I guess in writing your story I’m trying to show her that no matter what she thought, she was worthy of love.  Everyone is, no matter their challenges.  She never believed it.”

Loren reaches out to touch my knee.  “I’m sorry.”

I take another determined sip of my mocha, sitting up straighter.  “But tonight isn’t about that, it’s about finally meeting you and Eliot in person.  I’ve waited so long for this.”

All of a sudden Eliot’s voice gets even louder, and a few profanities drift to our ears.  Loren doesn’t get up, but he calls out, “El!”  When Eliot looks at him, Loren pinches the bridge of his nose as if staving off a sneeze.

Eliot nods, taking the drinks from the clearly relieved barista before heading back over to Loren and me.

Loren sips the coffee Eliot hands him, then grimaces.  “I think I’ll add a little sweetener,” he murmurs, getting up and walking over to the creamer table.

Eliot puts his tea down untouched and leans toward me.  “So Mel,” he exclaims, “how’s it hanging?”

“Fine,” I say with a smile.  “How are you?”

“Great!”  He launches into a detailed explanation of the decorating he and Loren have done on their home so far, and it sounds enchanting.  I tell him so.

“It is really fucking beautiful, Mel, just fucking awesome!”

I’m married to a sailor so I’m not fazed in the least by the F-bombs, but there are a couple of families with small children around us who shoot us dirty looks.  Loren catches Eliot’s eye as he returns to the couch and pinches the bridge of his nose again, and I realize it’s some kind of signal between them.

I ask Eliot about it, and he gives me a little smile.  “Busted.  If I’m getting too loud or profane, Loren will do that to remind me to tone it down.  A lot of times when I’m hypomanic, like I am now, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”

“I never want him to feel as if I’m reprimanding him,” Loren explains, putting his hand on Eliot’s leg, which is jiggling wildly up and down.  “So we decided on a way for me to alert him to what’s going on, and once he’s aware of it, he can usually correct it.”

I nod, and Loren continues, “We want to lead the most normal lives possible.  Hiding out at home isn’t an option for us, and we’ve developed our own ways of coping when things get…interesting.”

“Mentally interesting, that’s me,” Eliot chimes in, and Loren bends down to give him a gentle kiss.

“The most interesting guy I know.”

They nuzzle their noses together for a moment, the affection between them palpable.  I sip my mocha and gaze into the fire to give them some privacy, until Loren sits back again, his hand still resting on Eliot’s leg.   Eliot reaches down and twines their fingers together.

“All we can do is take things one day at a time,” Loren says quietly, his eyes haunted.  “This past year has been a little…rough.”  Eliot squeezes Loren’s hand, his thumb caressing the back of it.

I wince, knowing the word ‘rough’ is the understatement of the century.  I can’t deny they’ve been through hell.

Our conversation turns to future plans, then Loren and Eliot’s upcoming trip to Hawaii as guests of a friend of theirs.

Eliot grins at me.  “I can’t wait!” he exclaims, his leg jiggling faster.  “As kids, Loren and I used to dream about going, and it’s finally going to happen.”

“I know you’ll love it.”  We talk briefly about my experiences living there, and with each passing moment I dare to relax a little more.  I’ve been so worried about them…

Eliot seems to be having trouble reigning in his pressured speech again, so I stand up to leave, not wanting to keep them.

“Is that all, Mel?” Eliot looks up at me, his beautiful green eyes enquiring.

“It is,” I tell him.

“You can ask us anything, you know.”

“I know.  But I don’t need to.  Seeing you together like this is enough.  That’s all I really wanted anyway.”

They both stand for hugs and kisses on the cheek, and then they walk me out.  I watch as they head off down the street arm in arm, blond head and dark head bent close together.  At the end of the block, Loren roars with laughter at something Eliot says, and he wraps him up in a hug so tight he lifts Eliot clear off his feet.

“I love you, Eliot Devlin,” echoes back to me on the crisp night air.

I think about all they’ve been through already, about how the future stretches before them in all its uncertainty, and I know Loren’s right…

One day at a time.

 

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UNQUIET
Resilient Love #3
Melanie Hansen
Releasing on January 22, 2016.
Dreamspinner Press

 

Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.
 
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a
constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.
 
Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe
they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all. 

EXCERPT

When they woke the next morning, they packed an overnight bag and headed north on I-17. Eliot was amazed at the view out his window, craggy rocks and towering saguaro cactus eventually giving way to the pine trees of the Coconino National Forest.

In Flagstaff they stopped for gas, and both of them shivered at the cold bite in the air. They ran by a sporting goods store to buy some fleece pullovers, and Eliot goofed off with a couple of plaid hunting caps, complete with fuzzy earflaps. He grinned at Loren, trying to keep the hat from falling forward into his eyes.

“You look about twelve years old,” Loren said drily. “That hat swallows you whole.”

As Loren reached out to take it off of him, he stroked his thumb along Eliot’s cheek.

“I love to see you smile, to see you happy,” he whispered. He grabbed a simple knit cap and pulled it over Eliot’s head, fussing with it a minute before saying, “Much better.” Eliot scanned the room and, not seeing anyone, stretched up to give Loren a kiss.

Soon they were on the road again heading north, and Loren took Eliot’s hand, twining their fingers together and resting their joined hands on his knee. Eliot could sense Loren was turning something over in his mind, so he just waited.

Are you happy, El?” Loren finally asked. “I’ve seen so many different incarnations of your moods, but I honestly don’t know if I’d recognize happiness in you.” His voice held a faint note of apology for asking, and Eliot glanced at him, surprised but pleased by Loren’s candor.

“I don’t know if I’d recognize happiness either, Loren,” he admitted, rubbing his thumb over the back of Loren’s hand when he threw Eliot a stricken look. “Hey, hey,” Eliot said reassuringly. “I don’t mean that the way it sounds.”

Eliot blew out a breath, thinking about how to explain this. Loren waited, but his lips were pressed together in a tight line, and Eliot squeezed his fingers.

“Usually when I wake up in the morning, I’m afraid,” he said slowly, and Loren opened his mouth to speak but then didn’t say anything. Eliot glanced at him again, then continued, “I feel the craziness, the madness lurking, just waiting for me. It feels like it’s attached to me, that when I get out of bed, I’m dragging it with me. It’s always there, ready to pounce and swallow me up.”

“Oh, El,” Loren whispered achingly.

Eliot stroked his hand. “And this morning when I woke up, I wasn’t afraid. I think that’s what it feels like to be happy. It’s enough for me.”

Loren didn’t say anything, but a lone tear slid down his cheek. Eliot reached up and wiped it away with his thumb, stroking Loren’s jaw tenderly.

“What’s the matter, honey?”

Just then the sign for a scenic lookout appeared, and Loren took the exit, parking the truck. He stared through the windshield, blinking fast, more tears welling up.

“The thought of you for all those years, waking up afraid,” he whispered brokenly. “And I wasn’t there, Eliot. I wasn’t there.” Eliot could see Loren’s throat working as he fought not to cry, and with a soft exclamation, Eliot opened his arms, gathering him close. He stroked Loren’s hair, feeling the hot wetness of tears against his neck.

“But you were there, Loren. Shhh,” he murmured.

When Loren calmed a little, Eliot pulled back and took Loren’s face in his hands, forcing him to meet his eyes.

“I’ve been in a lot of therapy over the years, and they always ask me the same thing, what my best memories are, what memories do I have of feeling happy or safe. I’m supposed to bring them to mind when I’m stressed or scared or angry. It’s part of cognitive therapy, learning to readjust your thinking, to focus on good things and not negative things.”

Eliot caressed Loren’s face. “And Loren, there’s a lot I don’t remember, but what I do, every single one of those types of memories is about you. Being kids, riding our bikes, playing with toys, laughing at stupid jokes. Then later the way you held me in the dark after a nightmare or sat with me when I was so sad and hurting that I wanted to die. The way you—the way you loved me, loved my batshit crazy and fucked-up mess.

“You’ve always been with me, Loren, through my memories. Always.”

Loren completely lost it then, and Eliot let him cry it out, murmuring to him, rocking him, reveling in being the one to comfort, to soothe, of being able to shore up the man he loved when he needed it.

Finally the storm passed and Loren pulled away, sitting up and scrubbing his hands over his face.

“I’m glad, El,” he said hoarsely, clearing his throat several times before starting the truck and pulling back onto the interstate. “I’m glad I’m your best memories.”

 

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Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer
who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
 
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring
these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
 
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She
currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
 
 
Don’t Miss the other Resilient Love Romances

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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What to Read Wednesday with Sophie Barnes author of The Earl’s Complete Surrender ~ Giveaway

I’m so excited for this round of What to Read Wednesday. Please help me welcome author Sophie Barnes to the blog. She’s talking Regency Christmas and sharing her release The Earl’s Complete Surrender along with a giveaway.

The link for the giveaway is toward the end of the post. Don’t forget to enter after you check out her cover and read her blurb/excerpt!

Take it away Sophie …

 

A REGENCY CHRISTMAS

 

While Christmas trees traditionally form the centerpiece of modern Christmas celebrations, they were not as common during the Regency period as they are today. Although it is true that Christmas trees were introduced to England in 1800 by Queen Charlotte (the German-born wife of King George III), they were only popular amidst the upper classes. Additionally, they were not decorated with sparkling glass balls and tinsel, but with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods instead.

In reference to the tree that Queen Charlotte had placed in the Queen’s Lodge at Winsor Castle, Dr. John Watkins, the Queen’s biographer wrote:

“In the middle of the room stood an immense tub with a yew tree placed in it, from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins in papers, fruits and toys, most tastefully arranged, and the whole illuminated by small wax candles. After the company had walked around and admired the tree, each child obtained a portion of the sweets which it bore together with a toy and then all returned home, quite delighted.”

Based on what I’ve found, it would seem that mistletoe was of greater importance during that period. Found on orchard and forest trees in England (as opposed to oak trees in the US), it was collected in the weeks leading up to Christmas (especially during the month of November), ornamented with ribbons and hung on chandeliers, above doorways and from the ceiling in general – any place beneath which a kiss might have been made possible. And if an unmarried girl happened to be standing beneath it, she would not have been able to refuse such a kiss. In fact, receiving a kiss beneath the mistletoe was thought to foreshadow her prospects for the coming year. In other words: no kisses = no likelihood for marriage, which might have been true since it would have probably have proven her unpopularity with the gentlemen.

Other Christmas traditions during this time period included plum-pudding (a boiled pudding consisting of dried fruit) and wassail (hot mulled cider) which would have been served during the holiday season. Collecting a Yule Log for the hearth was another popular custom, perhaps more important than the others I’ve mentioned according to an excerpt from New Monthly Magazine, December 1, 1825. Granted, this was five years after the Regency had ended, but I’m sure it would have been just as relevant ten years earlier, and, at any rate, an interesting reflection of the early 19th Century:

“I remember we had a discussion that time as to what was the great point and crowning glory of Christmas. Many were for mince-pie; some for the beef and plum-pudding; more for the wassail-bowl; a maiden lady timidly said the mistletoe; but we agreed at last, that although all these were prodigious, and some of them exclusively belonging to the season, the fire was the great indispensable. Upon which we all turned our faces towards it, and began warming our already scorched hands. A great blazing fire, too big, is the visible heart and soul of Christmas. You may do without beef and plum-pudding; even the absence of mince-pie may be tolerated; there must be a bowl, poetically speaking, but it need not be absolutely wassail. The bowl may give place to the bottle. But a huge, heaped-up, over heaped-up, all-attracting fire, with a semicircle of faces about it, is not to be denied us. It is the lar and genius of the meeting; the proof positive of the season; the representative of all our warm emotions and bright thoughts; the glorious eye of the room; the inciter to mirth, yet the retainer of order; the amalgamater of the age and sex; the universal relish. Tastes may differ even on a mince-pie; but who gainsays a fire?”

 

 

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THE EARL’S COMPLETE SURRENDER
Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #2
Sophie Barnes
Releasing December 29th,2015
Avon Books
An unexpected passion ignites as secrets are exposed in Sophie Barnes’s captivating Regency-set romance
Despite the diversions offered at Thorncliff Manor, former spy James, the Earl of Woodford, has one purpose in staying there. He must find
an encoded book that exposes a conspiracy within the British aristocracy. And he must do so without revealing his purpose to the clever, tempting Chloe Heartly. The lady has a knack for appearing wherever it is least convenient. In the library. In the salon. And, especially, in his arms . . 


Somewhere within Thorncliff’s labyrinth of rooms lies the journal Chloe desperately seeks. When she realizes the brooding, handsome earl is hunting the same quarry, Chloe enters into an uneasy partnership. But in the face of public danger and enemies hiding in plain sight, both must decide how much they’re willing to risk to solve the mysteries of the heart.

EXCERPT

They reached the front door where the coach was being unloaded by footmen. The men who’d occupied it, however, were nowhere in sight. The butler on the other hand, was very much present, issuing orders to each of the footman as they carried trunks into the house.

“Excuse me, Mr. Caine,” Chloe said as she and Fiona walked up to him.

Raising his chin in the typical butlery manner that conveyed that his complete attention had been drawn, he spoke a succinct, “Yes, Lady Newbury?”

“My sister and I were out walking when this carriage drove past.” Angling her head, Chloe indicated the carriage in question. “I immediately recognized the Marquess of Hainsworth, but I failed to place his companion. Perhaps you can enlighten us regarding his identity?”

Mr. Caine hesitated only a moment before bowing his head in acquiescence. “I believe you must be referring to the Earl of Woodford, my lady.” A brief pause followed. “Will that be all?”

Chloe blinked. “Yes. Thank you, Mr. Caine.”

The butler nodded before turning away and resuming his duties.

“Isn’t he the one whose parents—”

“Yes,” Chloe said, silencing her sister. It was as if her heart had suddenly been filled with lead. Shaking off the melancholy that had swooped down upon her the moment she’d learned of Woodford’s identity, she placed her hand against Fiona’s elbow and guided her through the foyer and toward the hallway beyond, no longer surprised by the solemnity with which Woodford had regarded her from the carriage. Somewhere, trapped inside that man, was the little boy who’d once suffered the tragic loss of his parents, and Chloe found that her heart ached for him.

 

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Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parsons. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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What to Read Wednesday with Elle Wright author of His All Night ~ GIVEAWAY

Thanks for coming back for another What to Read Wednesday :) Please join me in welcoming author Elle Wright to the blog. Elle is talking super couples and sharing an awesome blurb and excerpt for her release His All Night!

Don’t forget to enter her fab giveaway, too! The link is toward the end of the post :)

Take it away Elle … 

 

Thanks for having me on your blog today!  I appreciate it!

The Super Couple – Jared Williams and Calisa Harper from His All Night

It’s cold outside! And not just any cold. It’s the type of weather that warrants a blanket, fuzzy socks, and a steamy romance. The novel doesn’t have to be a typical romance either—guy meets girl, girl plays hard to get, they can’t resist each other and get busy, fall in love, and live happily ever after.  It can be a thriller, historical fiction, Sci-Fi…anything as long as it has some sort of romantic relationship—a HOT couple scorching the pages.

I’m always drawn to super couples:

  • Fred and Wilma Flintstone (Yabadabadoo!)
  • James and Florida Evans from Good Times (Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em)
  • Danny and Sandy from Grease (what can I say, I love musical romances)
  • Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert from A Different World (Baby Please!)
  • Pacey and Joey from Dawson’s Creek (OMG! Love me some Pacey Witter!)
  • Galeno and Hester Vachon (Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. I LOVE this book)
  • Will and Jada Smith (in my mind, they will never separate)
  • Not to toot my own horn, but Morgan and Sydney from THE FORBIDDEN MAN? HOT!
  • And my new Power Couple, Jared and Calisa from HIS ALL NIGHT!

 

A Super Couple, as defined by Wikipedia, is a popular or wealthy pairing that intrigues and fascinates the public in an intense or obsessive fashion. Yeah, not quite how I would define it because I believe the couple doesn’t have to be wealthy to fit in this category.  My main requirement is they should love each other above all else and be willing to do anything so that their love will survive.  They have to be each other’s one. Oh, and they have to look good together (I’m all about the visual).  When I’m reading romance, I get a rush when a couple falls in love: the first touch, the first kiss, the first… well, you know. Whether real or fiction, I find myself rooting for their love to survive the many things thrown at them.

While writing the Edge of Scandal series, I wanted to make sure that my couples were Super Couples. I think Calisa and Red fit the description. They are both intelligent, successful people in their own right. Check. They love each other unconditionally (even if they get on each other’s nerves. LOL) Check.  They are both attractive.  Check.  They have each other’s back.  Check.  They both agree that their lives would be empty without each other. Double check!

Jared (Red) and Calisa (once they are on the same page) can overcome all the odds.  Believe me, there are a few stacked against them—mostly in Cali’s mind.  I hope that readers will identify with them and root with them like I do.

 

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HIS ALL NIGHT
Edge of Scandal #2
Elle Wright
Released Nov 24th, 2015
Forever Romance
THE PRICE OF PLEASURE
In relationships, Calisa Harper has clear rules: no expectations, no commitments, no one gets hurt. She doesn’t need a diamond ring to bring her happiness. She just needs Jared. Fine, fit, and ferocious in bed, Jared is Calisa’s ideal combination of friend and lover. But the no-strings status they’ve shared for years is about to get very tangled.
Jared Williams is the kind of man most women long for: sexy, successful, and ready to settle down. He knows convincing the commitment-phobic Calisa that forever is nothing to fear won’t be easy—especially when his ex turns up with a daughter she never told him about. In a heartbeat, Jared and Calisa’s passion goes from fiery to fragile. He wants to hold on to the love they share but is terrified that their next night
together could be their last…



EXCERPT

“Why don’t you get rid of the stiff and come up to my room?”

Tempted as she was, Cali wasn’t going out like that. “No,” she breathed, suddenly feeling very…hot. “I have a date.”

Slowly, Jared edged closer to her. She retreated until the hard doorknob dug into her back. Reaching behind her, he flipped the lock on the door, the click echoing in the empty bathroom. Sucking in a deep breath, she waited, anticipating his next move.

His fingers flitted across the hem of her dress and he inched it up a bit. Kneeling down, he slipped his hands under her dress and slowly pulled down her underwear. She held her breath, wondered what he would do next.

“Step out of them,” he ordered in a low, deep voice.

Bracing her hands on his shoulders, she stepped out of her lace panties. With a smirk, he stood up, tucked the thin material into the inside pocket of his suit jacket, and pulled out a tiny key card. He placed it in her hand and closed her fingers around it. “Room 1179,” he murmured, his lips a mere inch away from hers. Closing her eyes, she took in the smell of cognac on his breath and leaned closer.

His soft laugh brought her mind back to their location and she opened her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but he placed a finger over her lips.

“Shh. Try not to think about what I’m going to do to you, while you’re on your date.” Swinging open the door, he walked out, whistling.

She hated him—in the best way.

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As a little girl, I loved to be holed up in my room creating stories with my Barbie Dolls. There was no subject I didn’t tackle. It was
always my dream to write a soap opera. As I grew older, I assumed that dream was just that… a dream.
 
Born and raised in Southeast Michigan, near Ann Arbor, my mother always instilled in me the importance of reading. There was never a time when I wasn’t going to read, in the process of reading, or just finished reading a book. It was also my mother who, later on in my life, gave me my first romance novel: Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. From that moment on, I became a fan of Ms. Jenkins for life and a lover of all things romance.
 
I’m living my dream now.
Looking for more Edge of Scandal Romances?
THE FORBIDDEN MAN is Now Available!
 
 
 
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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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What to Read Wednesday with Samanthe Beck author of Compromising Her Position ~ Giveaway

I’m so glad it’s Wednesday because that means it’s time for What to Read Wednesday :) Please help me welcome the amazing Samanthe Beck to the blog. She talking about naming her characters–one of  my favorite subjects–and then sharing her release Compromising Her Position. I love, LOVE this cover and the blurb sounds amazing.

And, don’t forget to enter her wonderful giveaway :)

Take it away Samanthe …

 

First off, a big THANK YOU to the lovely and talented Christine Warner for having me here to talk about my latest Brazen, Compromising Her Position. It’s a super-sexy story, (it’s a Brazen, after all!), involving hotel executive Rafe St. Sebastian, competitor Chelsea Wayne, a Santa suit, and an epic case of mistaken identity. Basically, Chelsea shoves the wrong Santa into a supply closet during the company Christmas party and wishes him a happy holiday that is definitely NSFW! Oops. Talk about a compromising position.

 

What inspired me to do such a naughty thing to my characters? Well, I’m not saying I sit around Googling “David Gandy naked” all day, but I did happen upon an image of the insanely photogenic Mr. Gandy in bed, naked, save for a Santa hat. My initial reaction, of course, was, “Holy crap! Imagine the line at the mall to sit on Santa’s lap if he were in the suit.” Then I thought about the iconic costume, and everything it entails, and wondered if we’d even know there was a hottie beneath.

 

Boom. Inspiration for all sorts of naughtiness. I had a perfect vision of my hero. Now all I had to do was name him. Names are important. A good one grabs a reader’s interest, while a bad one can pull her right out of a story. Admittedly, it’s highly subjective. Maybe I don’t like a certain name because it reminds me of the kid who used to freak me out with his rubber snake in first grade? I can’t know everyone’s name peeves, but I can know my characters. For Rafe I wanted something that sounded as worldly as the man himself. I also needed a name that would work as the masthead for a chain of luxury resorts. Sadly, David Gandy was already taken, but I thought Rafael St. Sebastian had a nice ring to it. Rafe is only one letter away from rake, and that worked for me. The St. Sebastian sounded like somewhere I’d have to cough up $500.00 a night to stay. Done.

 

Naming Chelsea took a little more work. She’s a good girl…a people-pleaser working in an industry where those tendencies take her far, but on a personal level, result in her being taken advantage of. She’s ready to get tough with herself, though, and stop making the same mistakes. I liked the combination of Chelsea, (which sounds soft and sweet to me), and Wayne, (which calls to mind big, bad, take-no-bullshit John Wayne). It struck the right balance, to me.

 

I’d love to know what you think!  Is there a name that ruins a book for you, no matter how awesome the story might be? (But wait, if it’s Rafe or Chelsea, don’t tell me)!

 

Do have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

 

xoxo,

Samanthe

 

 

Enter to Win a
$50.00 Amazon eGift Card and 
a set of rare print copies of Samanthe’s 
Private Pleasures Trilogy

 

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COMPROMISING HER POSITION

a Compromise Me Novel
Samanthe Beck
Releasing November 16, 2015
Entangled Brazen
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

He’s not who she expected, but he’s exactly the man she needs…
When Chelsea Wayne drags Santa into a supply closet for a little office party nookie, she assumes the man in the suit is her on-again/off-again coworker boyfriend. Instead, it’s Rafe St. Sebastian, a man known for his hard-driving ways in business as well as the bedroom–and, kill her now, the brand spanking new owner of Las Ventanas–who grants her naughtiest Christmas wishes.
So much for her reputation, not to mention her career.
Rafe needs to close three acquisitions to prove to his father he’s ready to take the helm of St. Sebastian Enterprises. A hot interlude in a supply closet after deal number two seems like the perfect illicit Christmas bonus. Unfortunately, when that “bonus” becomes the key to the final deal, he finds himself back in bed–so to speak–with Chelsea, and after their steamy tryst, he’s not interested in keeping things professional…

EXCERPT

“There is nothing personal between us.”

“I beg to differ. In fact, I’m fairly certain I know your deepest, darkest secret.”

“I sincerely doubt that.”

He brought his mouth to her ear. “You knew I wasn’t Paul.”

“No.” The denial, though immediate, sounded slightly breathless, slightly desperate.

She had to have at least suspected, at some point. He refused to believe otherwise. “Not at first. But when I had you clinging to the tables, trembling so hard you could barely stand? You knew.”

“You-you’re delusional. If I’d realized you weren’t Paul, don’t you think I would have stopped you?”

“No. By the time you realized, you didn’t care.” The crowd around them erupted into a countdown.

Ten… He cupped her jaw in one hand…
Nine… and slid the other down her back. Then lower. Eight… “You didn’t care about anything except my tongue tracing the path of your thong”—he let his fingers do the honor now—“all the way down until I could taste your sweet, throbbing little—”

“I thought you were Paul!” Her wide eyes darted to his, pupils huge.

Five… “Remember how you used your body to beg for more? There’s no f-ing way you’ve ever begged like that for Paul Barrington. No f-ing way. I could have you begging again.”

Her breathing came in quick, shallow pants. The hands she’d rested lightly on his shoulders tightened, bunching his jacket in a white-knuckled grip. She shook her head. “Not going to happen.”

Three… He was risking getting his face slapped in the middle of a dance floor on New Year’s Eve, but he didn’t care. For some inexcusable reason, he needed to know she wanted him, not Barrington.

Two… He spread his palm over the perfect curve of her ass and hauled her against him, so she’d feel just how well he remembered every damn detail of their last meeting.

One

“It’s not?” he challenged, and then crushed her lips under his.

Cheers of “Happy New Year” echoed around them over the strains of “Auld Lang Syne.” A flotilla of black and silver balloons sailed down from the ceiling. Guests laughed, and sang, and jostled them while he kissed her. Sparkly, star- shaped confetti rained over everyone and everything, and he kept right on kissing her. Her arms twined around his neck. Her lips parted. She flattened one hand against the back of his head and held on. When he bent her over his arm and swept his tongue into her soft, yielding mouth, she wrapped her leg around his hip. The heat of her body practically seared his thigh through his tuxedo pants.

He trapped her lower lip between his teeth and nibbled. There went his no biting promise, but her shuddery moan told him she didn’t mind.

The song ended. The house lights came up a few notches. He slowly drew her upright, and even more slowly relinquished her mouth. She stared up at him, dazed, her lips plumped from their kiss.

“You’re a terrible liar, Miss Wayne.”

Giving her a grin he hoped didn’t reveal how much the move cost him, he walked away.

 
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Wine lover, sleep fanatic, and USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy contemporary romance novels, Samanthe Beck lives in Malibu, California, with her long-suffering but extremely adorable husband and their turbo-son, Hud. Throw in a furry ninja named Kitty and Bebe the trash talking Chihuahua and you get the whole, chaotic picture.
 
When not clinging to sanity by her fingernails or dreaming up fun, fan-your-cheeks sexy ways to get her characters to happily-ever-afters, she
searches for the perfect cabernet to pair with Ambien.
 
 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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What To Read Wednesday with Anna Banks author of How To Lose A Bachelor ~ GIVEAWAY

Welcome back for What to Read Wednesday! I’m excited to have author Anna Banks visiting today. She’s sharing 5 fun facts about herself that I think you’ll get a kick out of learning. She’s also giving us a sneak peek at her latest release How To Lose A Bachelor.

Don’t forget to enter her awesome giveaway by clicking the link below.

Take it away Anna…

Five Fun Things About Me

 

  • I’m trying to become a Diamond level cruise VIP with Carnival Cruises. They get the hookup, but I’m like 100 points away from getting Diamond status and each day you cruise is 1 point. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.
  • My neighbors let their dog poop in my yard, and I regularly return it to them on their doorstep in a festive gift bag.
  • I can always figure out when I’m dreaming, and then I can control what happens in the dreams. Might explain why I nap so often. #HenryCavill
  • I once broke my ankle by falling off a toilet. That is all.
  • I met my husband when I was seventeen at a restaurant where we both worked. We hated each other. I broke a dish over his head.

 

Enter to Win a 
$100.00 Amazon eGift Card

 

HOW TO LOSE A BACHELOR
Anna Banks
Releasing Nov 9th, 2015
Entangled: Bliss
When Rochelle Ransom auditioned for the dating show Luring Love, she had big plans for winning the prize money to help her favorite charity–and if she won the hot bachelor’s heart, even better. But at the last minute she finds out the hot bachelor is her ex-boyfriend, Grant Drake. Desperate to keep her distance from him, she’ll do anything–and everything–to get voted off.
Years ago, Rochelle broke Grant’s heart, and he’s out for revenge. There’s no way he’ll vote her off.  After all, vengeance
is a dish best served red-hot…and on live television.
When her hilarious antics to get kicked off the show escalate, Grant’s reminded why he fell in love with her the first time. Now he isn’t sure which might be more fun… Seeing how far Rochelle is willing to go to get away or how far he will to keep her forever.

EXCERPT

“Aaaand rolling!” Chris said, retaking the director’s seat a few feet away.

Grant could practically feel the cameras focusing back on him. “I’ve decided to be America’s reporter for the day,” he said, having already memorized his lines. “So I have a few questions to ask that I think everyone will want to know—including me.” Their eyes locked. So did Rochelle’s jaw. Grant paused for effect. Then, “Why on earth would you choose to audition for a sleezy show like Luring Love?”

“CUT!” yelled Chris.

“I mean, have you really drained the dating pool already?” Grant continued, getting angrier with each word out of his mouth. These were, after all, valid questions. Never in a million years would Rochelle have chased after a man—so why the hell was she here? “What would your mother say? Coming on a show like this to paw at a man who’s already got nine other women doing the same thing?”

“I said cut!” Chris growled.

“Oh, are we going to talk about mothers, then?” Rochelle flung back her hair. “Instead of dating pools, let’s talk about gene pools—and the fact that you and your four siblings originated from separate ones!”

“Cut, cut, cut!” Chris had his hand on Grant’s shoulder, but Grant wouldn’t turn his eyes away from Rochelle. Her expression read Challenge Accepted.

Did she really just insult his mother’s…need for variety in life? He couldn’t let that low blow go unpunished. “Let’s do talk about gene pools and how we both know that cleavage of that particular magnitude doesn’t run in your family.”

Taken aback, Rochelle clutched at her shirt. Grant felt a win on the horizon, if hurling mother insults could, in fact, be considered winning at anything. “It’s a halter top, moron. It’s designed for cleavage. Besides, you didn’t seem to be complaining when I walked in!” she added.

His mouth fell slightly ajar. She noticed me noticing. Did the crew? Will America? “It doesn’t suit you,” he blurted.  A complete lie. It enhanced an already irresistible figure—so much so that he just might have been willing to change his general opinion on how much cleavage a woman should expose in public.  In fact, he suspected he’d change his view on world peace if Rochelle sat on his lap and asked him to.

“Really? Everything underneath suited the hell out of you before!”

“For God’s sake,” Chris said, standing in front of Grant to block his view of Rochelle. “Are we speaking the same language?”

 
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NYT Bestselling YA author of The Syrena Legacy series: OF POSEIDON (2012) OF TRITON (2013) OF NEPTUNE (2014). Repped by
rockstar Lucy Carson of the Friedrich Agency. I live with my husband and daughter in the Florida Panhandle. I have a southern accent compared to New Yorkers, and I enjoy food cooked with real fat. I can’t walk in high heels, but I’m very good at holding still in them. If you put chocolate in front of me, you must not have wanted it in the first place.
 
 
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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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What to Read Wednesday with Gayle Callen author of The Wrong Bride ~ GIVEAWAY

I’m so glad to have you here for another round of What to Read Wednesday! Today we have author Gayle Callen visiting. Gayle is giving us a quick history of her writing, and also sharing her latest release The Wrong Bride. Isn’t the cover spectacular? You know how I love covers? And don’t forget to check out her blurb and excerpt. You won’t be disappointed.

Afterward, please enter her giveaway!

Take it away Gayle…

From England to Scotland, With Love

By Gayle Callen, author of THE WRONG BRIDE

 

After twenty-one books set in England—every historical romance I’ve written—I’ve decided to go north and explore Scotland. I didn’t think this was going to be a big deal research-wise, but, boy, was I wrong. The Highlands of Scotland are definitely a different country, a different culture. First of all, I had to pick a time period. I’ve been writing 1840s, England, but in that time period, it was illegal to wear kilts. I can’t have a Highlander book without kilts! So I backtracked to a time period where they wore a belted plaid. Yep, the original words for a big long draping kilt. I did lots of research on how to wear those—come to find out, no one ever wrote down exactly how the men put them on, so the majority of researchers believe they arranged the plaid on the bed or the floor, laid down on it, wrapped it around themselves, holding it in place with a belt. Fascinating! But they’ve found one ancient plaid that had tiny loops in the inside. Some speculate that there was an interior belt, so the plaid would be hung on it almost like a curtain, hanging in the correct folds, and then belted again on the outside. Wonder what the truth is? Research yields some fascinating dilemmas.

 

So I’m in the Georgian era now, the eighteenth century, the 1720s. If you’ve read or watched Outlander, my trilogy is set within 20 years of that. I love that series, and it’s great to be able to explore the era. England and Scotland have only been united into one country for a few decades, and neither is happy about it. England believes Scotland is a savage primitive country, and in some ways it is. The first carriage only reached the Inverness in the early 1700s. Some of the Scottish people, the Jacobites, believed their true king wasn’t in England, but waiting for them to rebel and bring him home from Europe. My books are set between two major uprisings, the Fifteen and the Forty-five (during which occurred the final battle, Culloden, which the British won). I liked the feel of the 1720s, the dissatisfaction, the anger, the suspicion, because it gave me great conflict. The Scottish and the English can’t stand each other, and have been warring for centuries. My heroine is half English, raised in England, and knows nothing about the Highland ways. My hero, who’s been denied his rightful bride, kidnaps her to take her home and marry her. Problem is, he’s got THE WRONG BRIDE (the title is pretty descriptive, huh?). Hope you get a chance to read the book and see if I’ve brought to life the Scottish people, especially Hugh and Riona.

 

 

 

 

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Print Copy of THE WRONG BRIDE
(US Only)

 

THE WRONG BRIDE 
Highland Weddings #1
Gayle Callen
Releasing Oct 27th, 2015
Avon Romance
The first in a wonderfully engaging series set in the Scottish Highlands, USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen creates an unforgettable story of mistaken identity and irresistible attraction.
Shaken from sleep during the night, bundled off to the Highlands by a burly Scot, Riona is at first terrified, then livid. Hugh McCallum insists they were promised to each other as children to ensure peace between their clans. The stubborn laird refuses to believe he’s kidnapped the wrong Catriona Duff. Instead, he embarks on a campaign of slow-burning seduction…
At first, Hugh cares only what their marriage can do for his people. Now he’s starting to crave Riona for her own sake. But her true identity jeopardizes his clan’s contract. And unless she chooses to risk all to be his bride, he’ll lose the only thing he prizes more than the lands he’s fought so hard to save-the passionate marriage they could have together.

EXCERPT

From Gayle: A first kiss is always such a fun scene to write. They’re usually filled with conflict and chemistry and confusion—the three Cs!

 

Riona shivered, but it wasn’t from the bathwater’s chill. It was from the frightening realization that there was something powerful between them, something that called to her, that made the risks Hugh had taken to have her for himself seem arousing, not just self-serving. There was a place inside her she’d never sensed before, surely a recklessness, a weakness.

“Ye’re strangely quiet, lass,” he murmured.

His gaze lazily moved over her face, dipping to her breasts, where the upper curves were displayed above the soapy water. Her skin felt … prickly, sensitive, even inflamed.

“I’m not done fighting you,” she said at last, almost wincing at how breathless she sounded.

A slow grin curved his mouth, even as he reached his hand to cup her face and tilt it toward him. The shock of his warm palm settling so gently on her skin made her tense, but she didn’t pull away, as if that would show that she’d given up, that she was afraid of what he could do to her … what he could make her feel.

He leaned over the tub and kissed her, his palm guiding her head. She wanted to show him he didn’t move her, that this display meant nothing to her. But his lips were warm, and glided over hers with purpose, parted gently as if he wanted to taste her. She’d never been kissed … She felt her head swim at the sensation that seemed to travel down her body, to her breasts, to the pit of her stomach and between her thighs as if he’d touched her in her most secretive places.

When his tongue traced her lower lip, she jerked back in surprise. He didn’t laugh, just studied her with those gray eyes that were considerably warmer. He kept his hand on her face, and his thumb caressed her cheek over and over.

“Our first kiss bodes well for the future,” he said.

He glanced down to her breasts again, and she stiffened. With a faint smile, he let her go and stood up.

“Dry off,” he said, back to ordering her around. “We have things we need to discuss.”

Not the topics she wanted to discuss, apparently, but she didn’t argue. He turned his back and went to the window, while she hastily dried herself and pulled on a dressing gown Mrs. Wallace had laid out for her, trying to forget the feel of his mouth on hers, and how instead of being afraid or disgusted, she’d felt … aroused. Her cousin Cat had told her one could feel overwhelmed when in intimate situations with a man, and Riona hadn’t been able to understand what she meant. She did now, and felt a new kind of fear—fear of her own reaction and response to this compelling persuasion of his.

 
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After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown hildren, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane. Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com.

 

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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What to Read Wednesday with Codi Gary author of I Need A Hero ~ GIVEAWAY

Thank you for coming back to the blog for another round of What to Read Wednesday! Today we have author Codi Gary visiting :) She’s talking heroes and sharing her release I NEED A HERO! The cover is gorgeous and I’m sure you’ll enjoy her excerpt as much as I did!

After you check out her guest post and her blurb, don’t forget to enter her giveaway :)

Take it away Codi…

Top Five Traits for the Perfect Hero

 

When writing romance (and reading it for that matter), the one thing that can make or break a story for me is the Hero. Sure, liking the heroine is important too, but not as much as him.

So what makes the perfect Hero? What makes you sit for hours reading when you should be doing laundry or dishes? Why do you fantasize about him long after the book is done or email the author to beg for a follow up story?

I can’t answer for everyone, but for me…

  • A Perfect Hero should be complex.

He doesn’t need to be an alpha or a dominant, bossy billionaire to be perfect for me. However, I do like my heroes with layers. Lots of layers. A tortured past or a close knit family bond, I need something that gives him a thousand different personality traits that pull me deeper and deeper into his psyche. He can be as cool and aloof as Mr. Darcy or as funny and warm as Colin Bridgerton or even a sexy, nerd like Glen from The Walking Dead. Just give me something more than a cookie cutter character.

 

  • A Perfect Hero should have a heart.

Sure, he may avoid the heroine or even say things that make you want to slap his face and call him a jerk. But underneath the steel wall is an ooey, gooey center that is brought to the surface during the course of the story. Maybe it’s when the hero rescues a litter of kittens and falls asleep snuggled with them on the couch.  Could be when he is carrying his three year old daughter up the stairs to bed and he can’t resist reading her one more story. Or when the heroine is injured and you watch him crumble at the thought of losing her. Some kind of weakness that makes you melt is always a must have for me.

 

  • A Perfect Hero should be HOT!

Let’s be honest, we don’t read romance so we can fantasize about “every day Joe.” (Although I do enjoy romances with realistic heroes because they can’t all be Navy Seals, right?) Here’s the thing though…hot is different to every woman. For instance, I happen to think Seth Green is insanely sexy. Sure he’s five inches shorter than me with red hair, but I still remember him as Oz from Buffy…and damn, when he stood there with his shirt off in a pair of cargo pants I had to seriously “take a walk around the block and cool my loins.” (Thank you Danny from The Mindy Project.) But I also drool like a mad woman over Stephen Amell and his 6 foot plus frame and steely blue eyes. Sexy is different to every woman, so when writing a hero, it doesn’t really matter what he looks like, he’s going to be irresistible to someone.

 

 

  • A Perfect Hero should be true.

That means he should be loyal to his friends and family, but above all, he should be trustworthy with the heroine’s heart. He should never cheat, EVER! They can make it through misunderstandings, they can fight and hurt one another, but what occurs should never be something unforgivable. No domestic violence. No sexual assault. A hero is a man with a good heart. (Unless he’s on Sons of Anarchy and then for some reason he can get away with everything and he’s still adored.) But in a romance novel, I don’t go for that and I will not forgive him. I remember reading an old romance novel from the early eighties where the hero forced the heroine and even though it was a historical and they were married, it was supposed to be okay because she eventually fell in love with him. Ummm…no.

 

  • A Perfect Hero conquers all.

Eventually, the resolution occurs and there is a happily ever after, but along the way, I want to see the hero grow. I want him to conquer his own demons and slay the heroine’s dragons. I want to squeal as he pours his heart out to her and begs her to be his. By the end of the book, I don’t want to have any doubts that he’s the one for our heroine, that he’s worth her giving up the cozy promotion in New York for or that he will spend the rest of his life making her happy. Sure they may fight, but I want to believe by the end of the story that no matter what happens, they’ll be getting their always and forever.

 

Again, this is only five item and it’s all based on my opinion. Someone else could think that the perfect hero needs to be funny, with a rapier wit, or have a magic carpet ride…so, what’s your idea of the perfect hero?

 

 

 

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Digital Download Copy of I NEED A HERO

 

I NEED A HERO
Men in Uniform #0.5
Codi Gary
Releasing Oct 20th, 2015
Avon Impulse
Sergeant Oliver Martinez joined the military to serve his country—not plan parties. But after a run-in with his commanding officer, Oliver is suddenly responsible for the Alpha Dogs Training Program’s upcoming charity event. Worse, he’s got to work with the bossiest, sexiest woman he’s ever met—who just happens to be the general’s daughter.
When it comes to military men, Evelyn Reynolds is not interested. And with the opportunity to launch her new PR firm at the charity event, she doesn’t have time for some sexy, arrogant jerk with a hero complex. Evelyn is determined to keep things professional—if only she can ignore how Oliver’s muscles fill out a t-shirt and the infuriating way he makes her heart pound.
But when tempers flare and a scorching kiss turns into so much more, Oliver and Evelyn will have to decide if this attraction is forever…or just for now.

Excerpt

Oliver Martinez sat stiffly in the wobbly office chair, the room stifling despite the hum of the air conditioner above his head. He wasn’t usually the nervous type, being that military police didn’t allow time for panic, but facing off against General Reynolds, the man who pretty much held his career in the palm of his hand . . .

Well, he figured he had a right to sweat with the way the older man was staring him down.

“What do you have to say for yourself, Sergeant?” General Reynolds asked.

A thousand excuses ran through his mind, but none of them would appease the general, Oliver knew that. He hadn’t become an MP to be liked; even his family knew he wasn’t a people person. He was hardworking, sharp as a tack, and a mean son of a bitch when you got on his bad side—qualities that made him an excellent MP. And military police was exactly where Oliver belonged. He got to bust heads and keep order; it was structured, and there were rules. He was the good guy.

But this time, he had stepped in a big old pile of shit trying to play the hero.

“I did what I thought was right, sir,” Oliver said.

“You instigated a confrontation with a civilian that turned into an all-out bar brawl,” General Reynolds said. Although his tone and outward expression seemed calm, Oliver hadn’t missed the eye twitch on the left side of the general’s face. The man was beyond furious, and nothing Oliver did or said was going to make things better for him.

Why had he decided to go out with the guys on Friday? His buddies from group therapy, Dean Sparks and Tyler Best, had convinced him that he needed to get out and blow off some steam. He hadn’t expected to take down some rowdy kid or have the cops called on them. The civilian police had been cool, though, once he explained the situation, and as they hauled the kid off for drunk and disorderly, he’d thought that was the end of it.

Until he’d shown up for work this morning only to have Tate tell him he wasn’t on rotation and that the general wanted to see him. Oliver hadn’t had any idea what the meeting was about, but he’d never expected to get his ass chewed over something that wasn’t even his fault.

“It wasn’t a brawl, sir. I contained and subdued him too fast for that.”

Oliver regretted his words the moment they left his mouth. They sounded arrogant, and that wasn’t going to score him any points.

Especially since the civilian in question was the general’s son.

Despite knowing this, Oliver tried again to explain his side. “I just mean, and with all due respect, sir, that the civilian was drunk and harassing several women, and when I politely asked him to leave them alone, he threw the first punch.”

General Reynolds’s salt and pepper mustache twitched, and Oliver wondered for half a second if the general was messing with him and if he was secretly amused that his son had been taught a lesson in respect.

“I don’t care if he threw a hundred punches. You should not have engaged. You did not have to break his nose or sprain his wrist while you were restraining him.”

Okay, so he wasn’t amused. But no matter how angry the general might be, Oliver wasn’t going to apologize for roughing up the little punk. The kid had thrown a sucker punch that had lit fire to Oliver’s jaw, and it was still sore. And if the kid hadn’t fought him so damn hard, he wouldn’t have gotten hurt in the first place.

Would he have handled things differently if he’d known who the kid’s dad was? Maybe. But there was nothing Oliver could do about it now except take whatever punishment was meted out to him.

“It seems to me you could use a little time out of the field to learn how to channel your aggression . . . in other ways,” General Reynolds said.

Now the general was smiling, and unease swept over Oliver.

“Have you heard of the Alpha Dog Training Program?” General Reynolds asked.

“Yeah, I know a few of the guys running things,” Oliver said.

And neither Best nor Sparks had been happy about it at first. The Alpha Dog Training Program was the brainchild of some PR expert hoping to create a good public image for the military by training shelter dogs for specialty jobs like military, fire, police, search and rescue, and therapy. And if the animals-getting-a-second-chance angle didn’t just make you weepy, the dogs were being trained by troubled kids under the supervision of MPs.

It was meant as an alternative punishment for nonviolent juvenile offenders. Instead of being locked up in a detention center with months of community service tacked on top, they were sent to Alpha Dog. They shoveled shit, fed and cared for the dogs, and learned how to teach them basic obedience. The place was set up with barracks for up to twenty-five kids at a time. The goal was to give them a skill and refocus their energies. The program even helped them with job placement at several Sacramento veterinary hospitals and rescue organizations. It was a better deal than most kids in the system got.

“Well, I’m glad you’re familiar with it, because you’re going to help organize and promote their upcoming charity event,” General Reynolds said.

Oliver choked in surprise. “I don’t know anything about fundraising!”

The general’s eyes narrowed and glittered. “Well, this will give you a chance to develop a new skill.”

Oliver just sat there, weighing his options. If he pitched a fit and accused the general of abusing his power because Oliver had hurt his son’s delicate feelings, he’d be committing career suicide.

“How long will I be out of the field, sir?” he asked.

“Until I think you’re ready,” General Reynolds said.

Oliver nodded grimly. The only option open to him was to bite the bullet and do the job.

“You’ll report to the Alpha Dog Training Program today. The event coordinator will be there at eleven to give you instructions on what you’ll be doing. I do hope you take this time to learn some discipline, Sergeant Martinez.”

Fuck you.

Taking a deep breath, Oliver stood up and saluted the general. As soon as he barked, “Dismissed,” Oliver was out the door, wishing he was headed home to beat the hell out of his punching bag. This whole morning had sucked donkey nuts, and the last thing Oliver wanted to do was be around a bunch of teenagers or his friends.

Not that Best and Sparks weren’t good people, but he knew that the minute they found out about his little time-out, they were going to laugh it up.

Especially Best.

 
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An obsessive bookworm, CODI GARY likes to write sexy small-town contemporary romances with humor, grand gestures, and blush-worthy
moments. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading her favorite authors, squealing over her must-watch shows, and playing with her children. She lives in Idaho with her family.

 

 
 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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