A New Series Beginning with Two Books in One: Hope City Duet – Hope City Book 1 by Kris Michaels & Maryann Jordan


A Hope City Duet
One City… Countless Stories.
By
USA Today Bestselling Authors
Kris Michaels
&
Maryann Jordan

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Brock – Book 1
Kris Michaels

It had taken five years for Detective Kallie Redman to become emotionally and psychologically available after her cop-husband devastated their marriage and her career. The Hope City Police Department offered her a new beginning and over a thousand miles between her old life and her new. Being partnered with Brock King didn’t hurt either. He was smart, generous—and too sexy for words.

Placed under a microscope and intense pressure to solve a high-profile murder, homicide detective Brock King didn’t need or want a new partner. He managed his stress-filled life via sleep deprivation, a metabolism fueled by sugar and caffeine, and an all-consuming passion for his job. He had little time for anything else—and he was soul-tired of that wash-rinse-dry-repeat cycle. He’d written off finding a woman who’d put up with the odd hours, physical danger, and emotional stress of his job—until Kallie Redman. The woman was wicked sharp, ran on caffeine, and rocked one smoking hot body.

Unfortunately, the profession they chose had a way of grinding people into the ground, and the high-profile nature of this murder case guaranteed scrutiny from the press, the victim’s extremely wealthy family and politicians at the highest levels. He’d begun to question if he’d have a job at the end––or a shot at a life with Kallie.

Sean – Book 2
Maryann Jordan

The last thing arson detective Sean McBride expected while entrenched in the ongoing investigation of a serial arsonist was to meet a feisty insurance company fire investigator. But when she landed at his feet, breaking her wrist, he had more on his mind than just finding the elusive fire-starter. Picking her out of the ashes was easy. Needing to work with her…not so much.
Harper Walsh was stunned when the handsome detective insisted on taking her to the ER…even more stunned when he suggested they work together. But the stoic detective gave mixed messages…did he want her arson experience or something more?

Finding a woman who understood the demands of his job quickly had their partnership grow into love. He even introduced her to his large, crazy, but loveable family. But the arsonist was not as hidden as they suspected, and Harper gets too close to danger before Sean has a chance to smoke him out.

Will Sean be able to save Harper before the arsonist goes up in flames, taking her with him?

Note:
Scenes and language similar to an R-Rated movie. 18+ readers only.

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Brock by Kris Michaels

As this series opens we will meet many people with roles in future books. Brock King is a homicide detective and is called to the scene of a fire that is suspected to be arson. The body discovered didn’t die from the fire, he was already dead, his wallet nearby and though devoid of cash and credit cards contained his driver’s license.

The victim, identified as one Samuel Treyson. His family owns half the city, ensuring a media circus that would involve both the homicide and the arson. While Sean McBride the arson investigator calls his Captain, Brock calls his Lieutenant, then his father, Chauncey King, the police commissioner. While the brass head off the media, both Brock and Sean finish collecting evidence to go to the lab. Neither one of them happy with the pressure that was sure to be put on this case.

Brock’s partner, Jordan Wyatt had been working vice when the call came in, now he’s with Brock to follow some leads until the feds decide to pull him into a different mess of a case. They had just begun tracking Samuel’s day by receipts found in his wallet when that call came. Now Brock would be getting a new partner for the duration. He’d been assured his new partner would be a good fit but that remained to be seen.

I like the way we’re introduced to this partner. Not at the station but at the diner across the street. It’s a peek at the thoughts flowing through Kallie Redmond’s mind prior to reporting for duty. It also gave a glimpse her past prior to moving to Hope City.

Brock says goodbye to Jordan and assures him he will take care of his cat Fester, and check on his apartment and car while he’s working with the Feds. Then heads inside to meet his new partner.

This is a favorite scene.

They stood sheltered behind the precinct in a small walkway that led to the parking lot, neither one inclined to turn and go their separate ways. “You’ll probably get shoved onto another team. They won’t keep putting you with a slew of temps. Don’t let them assign you someone permanently.” Jordan shoved his hands in his pockets and looked up at the heavy clouds that hung over them. “It would fucking suck to have to break in a new partner when I get back.”

He tipped his eyes up, too. It was going to snow, just a matter of when. He spoke to the clouds, “Never. I don’t think anyone else could put up with me.”

“Damn straight.” He chuckled when his partner immediately agreed.

“Seriously, you take care of yourself. Check in when you can.” Because they both knew it would be impossible for him to reach Jordan.

“I guess I’d better go.” Jordan glanced toward the parking lot and his car. “You sure you’re okay taking care of Fester?”

He shrugged. “Sure. That cat is chill. I’ll move him over to mine tonight.”

“You have to actually feed him, so you have to leave the damn precinct at least once a day.”

“Got it. Feed the cat. He survived me watching him when you went to see your folks.”

“That was a week, Brock. This could be… a lot longer.”

“Fester and I will be fine.” He’d enlist his little sisters to help cat sit if he needed to, but he’d make sure the thing made it through.

“Check on my apartment and car?” Jordan said.

“You know it.”

“Okay, so…”

“Yeah.” He extended his hand one last time. Jordan took it, and God help him if he didn’t feel like they were saying goodbye, not ‘so long’. He watched Jordan until he turned the corner before he entered the building. He nodded to people as he passed through the lobby and made his way to the sixth floor. The case and Jordan’s departure weighed equally on his mind. He wasn’t happy with either situation, but for now his focus had to be on the case. He glanced at his watch. If his new partner wasn’t a complete idiot, he could get him up to speed, interview Chloe and maybe Garrett, and make it to Miriam Treyson’s home by 3:30. He’d instructed patrol to bring both individuals to the precinct. He’d rather talk to them in their homes, but there was no time to waste. If it turned out his new partner was an idiot, well, he’d just tell the guy to shut his mouth and take notes. He didn’t have time to waste on an idiot partner. He had to solve this murder. The stakes were too damn high. His father’s career was on the line. Fuck, there wasn’t any time to waste.

He did a drive-by and snagged a tankard of coffee before he headed for Lieutenant Davidson’s office. The door was closed, so he knuckled the frosted glass and waited. “Enter.”

He pushed the door open. “Jordan punched out.”

“Ah, King. Come in. This is your new partner, Kallie Redman.”

A woman in the corner stood. Wow. She was tall and a fucking knock-out punch type of striking, not beautiful in the classic sense, but fuck him, he’d notice her in a crowd. Dark brown hair held away from intelligent brown eyes. He’d describe her vibe as… athletic. No makeup but vibrant and… striking. Oh, yeah, there was a feisty spirit in this lady. He could see the challenge in the way she sized him up. Not an idiot, either. Those eyes were sharp and inquisitive. She extended her hand.

“Brock King.” He introduced himself, grasping her hand. The woman had a firm handshake, and she met his eyes. Damn, she struck him as… razor sharp. “Have you been brought up to speed on the case we are working?”

She nodded. “The basics that the Lieutenant had.” She nodded at the case file on Davidson’s desk.

“Perfect.” He turned away from her and addressed Davidson. “We tracked down several key people in Treyson’s life. He was in a polyamorous relationship that his wife knew about.”

“Jealousy as a motive?” His new partner interjected.

“At this time, we don’t believe so. The interview we just had with a Miss Ava Dall suggested the wife has lovers, too. Patrol have brought in two of Treyson’s three lovers, and we have an appointment to speak to his wife at 3:30.”

His partner blinked twice. “Excuse me? Appointment?”

Oh, fuck, yeah. She was sharp but obviously not from Hope City. An accent was immediately distinguishable. Southern, but not in that twangy backwoods way.

He nodded and then chuckled, “The Treysons own half the city. I tried to talk to the wife this morning after processing the crime scene. Besides the horde of press at the residence, I was met with a wall of lawyers.”

“What time was that?” She glanced at her watch.

“About 6:00 a.m.”

She glanced at him and narrowed her eyes. “So…” She glanced at the lieutenant and then back at him. She shrugged and finished, “You’ve got a leak, and someone told wifey that the husband was dead—or she’s involved and knew you’d be coming.”

Brock smiled. A real, show-your-teeth smile. Fuck, yeah, he’d drawn a winner. “Exactly.”

“The file listed the evidence gathered, and I saw the crime scene photos. What about your examination of the scene? Did the fire destroy evidence? Was there any indication as to why this guy was at the warehouse or how he got there?”

“None. Of course, the first responders annihilated any tire tracks around the building. There was little physical evidence on scene. No tracks. The floor was concrete, and it was dry ground. Fingerprints were nonexistent. The arson investigator on scene told me the accelerant used was probably gasoline. The person who torched the warehouse wasn’t a professional. More than likely the fire was an attempt to try to hide the crime. The ME has orders to push the tox and histology to the front of the queue, but we have a couple weeks minimum to wait for those. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a ping off of one of his lovers or the wife. We’ve got the techs downloading his phone information, and we are tracing his moves based on the apps and the receipts in his wallet to build his last twenty-four to forty-eight.”

“What does this guy do? Is he a socialite or a businessman? If he is a businessman, does he have enemies?”

“On the list of avenues to travel down and explore. Come on, I’ll show you where we work, and then we’ll head out and talk to his lovers.”

“Perfect, but I’m going to need coffee. How much is the coffee fund, and where did you get that thermos impersonating a mug? I gotta get me one.” She nodded at his cup. He glanced at Davidson. “Boss, I like this one.”

“Well, she’s not yours to keep.” Davidson moved a stack of paperwork toward him. “Jordan will be back, and we are finally getting Couch back from deployment. Get out of my office, and find me the bastard who killed this guy. Shut my door on your way out.”
Michaels, Kris. A Hope City Duet (pp. 55-59). KMRW LLC. Kindle Edition.

There are many ups and downs in this investigation, Kallie is sharp and as they work together they also find an attraction. It’s a good thing they wouldn’t be permanent partners and that their isn’t a policy in place to prevent them from seeing each other outside of work.

We meet the King family in this one, since it’s all about the police investigation and their family is mostly police. I anticipate seeing all these folks in future books of the series.

This is an edge of your seat tale and just when things are wrapping up, the past looms up to bite Kallie. Lots of action, suspense, a simmer to sizzle romance and a whole lot more!

I’m just going to keep reading now with ‘Sean’. I like that the first two books are together in one.

5 Contented Purrs for Kris!

Sean by Maryann Jordan

In this book we go back to the fire scene we saw in ‘Brock’. Detective Sean McBride is with the Arson Division. Hope City is one of few places fortunate to have that special unit of detectives. Especially now with a serial arsonist on the loose. This warehouse fire was different though. We get a bit of a replay as Brock, Sean’s best friend arrives at the scene before we settle into the Arson investigation.

After the initial evidence collection the lab requests some additional samples in different containers. When Sean gets to the site he’s stunned and angry to see a woman there.

Harper is the fire investigator for the insurance company, just like Sean she needs to collect evidence. She brings it to an independent lab for analysis and adds those results to her findings for or against policy payout.

Sean yelled at her causing her to startle and fall injuring herself. He immediately offers assistance and insists on accompanying her to the hospital to be checked out.

This is a favorite scene.

Harper Walsh focused on the task, never hearing anyone approach. She let out an undignified squeal when a man’s angry voice sounded out just behind her. Whirling around, she landed awkwardly amongst some of the concrete that she had stepped over. A sharp pain shot through her hand and wrist, reverberating up her arm as she stared up in shock.

She blinked for a second, noting that his dark hair and blue eyes, square, stubbled jaw, and tall, obviously fit body combined to create a gorgeous man. But as he towered over her, his eyes snapping and his hands planted on his hips, it was equally obvious that he was furious. Her gaze dropped to where his hands pulled his jacket open, and she saw a badge hanging on his belt.

Damn, I was told the police were finished with the scene. Trained to not get in the way of the police when collecting evidence, she was careful to always follow protocol. She placed her hands on the ground next to her in an attempt to stand. The stabbing pain in her wrist caused her to cry out, plopping back down on her ass, now cradling her injured wrist with her other hand. Shit, shit, shit!

The man dropped to kneel by her side, his large presence seeming to surround her. “Let me see.” No longer scowling, his voice still held an irritated edge.

Fighting the embarrassment of her clumsiness, she started to lose the battle of keeping her tears at bay from the pain. “Why did you have to sneak up on me and then bellow?”

“Sneak? I wasn’t sneaking.”

“Well, you certainly bellowed.” Still cradling her wrist, she looked up, stunned to see him so close. She could now see that his eyes were not just blue but a shade that reminded her of the water in the harbor on a bright, cloudless, sunny day. He did not just have stubble but had a neatly trimmed beard. His hair was dark, almost black, just as neatly trimmed. The breeze blew a few strands, but she wondered if his hair would not dare to mess with the commanding man.

“I don’t bellow,” he refuted, not as confidently as he had sounded a moment earlier. He reached out and took her injured arm in his hands, his touch gentle but causing her to wince. His voice softened. “It might be broken.”

She feared he was right. “Damn it, I don’t have time for this.” Tears sprang to her eyes. The back of the hand he now held was covered in burn scars from long ago, extending from her fingers to several inches above her wrist. Uncertain if he was staring at her new injury or old scars, she pulled her hand from his, wincing again at the pain.

“You need to have that looked at. I’m serious when I said it might be broken.”

Glancing toward her evidence kit on the ground next to her, she gritted her teeth. “My samples. I have to get my samples to the lab.”

Still kneeling, he looked down at the labeled bottles and bags. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Breathing through the pain, she gritted her teeth. “I’m a fire investigator.”

His brow lifted as he cocked his head to the side. “And who do you work for?”

“Eastern Mutual Insurance Company.” She met his glare with one of her own.

“Okay, then answer the first question I asked you. Who are you?”

Frustration at her situation stabbed through her, almost as painful as her wrist. “My name is Harper. Harper Walsh. I’m a certified Evidence Collection Technician as well as working on my final certification to become a Fire Investigator. Eastern Mutual sent me here, and I had been given clearance to come to this site. I was told the police were finished with their evidence collection and that’s why I was here. I had no problem with the policeman letting me in.”

With a curt nod, he stood. “Here, let me help you.” He placed his hands underneath her armpits and with little effort lifted her to her feet.

“Oh, now you want to help?” Looking at her wrist, she observed the swelling as well as bruising and felt lightheaded. No, no! Always fainting at the sight of blood, she could not believe she was going to pass out, considering her injury was not bleeding. Her stomach roiled. God, don’t let me throw up on him. She tried to maintain her dignity, breathing deeply, but weaved, and her knees buckled.

Strong arms grabbed her shoulders to keep her from staggering, and she face-planted against his broad chest, her head foggy.

“I’ll take you to the hospital.”

The last thing she wanted was to be indebted to the grumpy detective. She sucked in a deep breath in an attempt to clear her head and pushed away from his support. “I’ll just gather my samples and leave. I can drive myself to have my arm checked out.”

“Nope.” He deftly bent, picked up her evidence bag in one hand, and with his other hand at her elbow guided her carefully toward the front of the warehouse, pointing out the rubble she needed to step over.

Ignoring his care, she focused on his one word response. “What do you mean by ‘nope’?” He looked down at her, and she tried not to stare at his lips, which were now very close to hers.

He held her gaze then sighed loudly. “Nope. No. Nix. Negative. Not going to happen. Not going to let you. Any other questions?” She blinked, her mouth opening but no words came forth, and he continued. “I feel responsible for your injury and would like to make sure you arrive at the ER safely to get your arm checked out.”

“I don’t even know who you are.”

He had the grace to look chagrined. “You’re right. I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Detective Sean McBride. Arson Division. HCPD.”

“And are you always so bossy?”

“When I think someone needs help, then yes.”

She glanced over, seeing the policeman by the yellow tape staring narrow-eyed at them. Great, it looks like I’m being arrested. Bypassing her car, he continued toward a large SUV. He opened the door and placed her evidence collection bag onto his backseat, then reached into the front seat to grab a large paper sack, placing it into the back as well.

The scent of greasy sausage met her nostrils, and with the pain in her arm, another wave of nausea moved over her. Blowing out a deep breath, she battled the desire to throw up again.

He assisted her into the seat, his movements gentle. “Do you need help with the buckle?”

She reached over to take the seat belt, but pain shot through her left hand as she attempted to pull it down. He leaned over to buckle her, and she sucked in her stomach in an instinctive response to make herself appear smaller. Her gaze dropped from his eyes to his mouth. God, what would his lips feel like against mine? She tried to block out the idea and blurted, “Your vehicle smells like a diner.”

His lips curved into a grin, and his rugged good looks morphed into just pure handsome. Speaking softly, his breath whispering across her cheeks, he said, “That’s because I’ve got a dozen sausage biscuits in that bag.”

He leaned back, threw the door closed, and jogged around the front of his SUV. Calling out to the policeman still standing by the tape, he said, “I’ll take care of getting her vehicle later.”

They drove in silence for a moment, and Harper’s mind raced. How could everything have gone so wrong within a matter of moments? Following all proper procedures, she was almost finished with the evidence collection that she would need for both her certification and for her employer when she had suddenly landed on her ass with a possible broken wrist. And, of course, the cause of both had to be an infuriating—albeit gorgeous—detective.

Sighing, she knew that she needed to make amends. She had been sure that the police were finished with the scene or she would have waited. “While I had every right to be where I was, I’m sorry if I got in your way. I’m also sorry that you’re now having to take your time to drive me to the hospital. I’m sure I could’ve made the trip myself.”

“Apology accepted.”

His deep voice glided over her, sounding sincere. Twisting her head around to look at him, she asked, “That’s it?”

He shrugged. “You apologized. I accepted.”

She was quiet for a moment, wondering about the ease of his acceptance, and he continued, “I was taught that a heartfelt apology should always be accepted. If not, then it reflects on me, not the other person. And while we’re at it, I’m sorry to be the cause of your fall.”

She leaned her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes. His words were spoken in a soft voice, but the sincerity rang out clearly, something she had not expected considering his earlier arrogance. Her mother’s similar words ran through her mind. “Funny, I was taught the same thing… apology accepted.”
Michaels, Kris. A Hope City Duet (pp. 280-284). KMRW LLC. Kindle Edition.

Not exactly the best way to meet someone, but one that quickly spread to colleagues and friends providing a never ending source of amusement.

With the results in on the warehouse proving it wasn’t their serial arsonist, Sean and Jonas get back to work sifting through possible suspects.

Harper and Sean have an attraction that only grows as they continue to cross paths in there investigating. As much as he may try to avoid it, Sean can’t help but admire Harper’s tenacity and investigative instincts.

In spite of or perhaps because of the intensity of the investigation, Sean falls in deeper and deeper with Harper. Their attraction sparks into flame as things heat up with the arsonist. Yes, pun intended.

I enjoyed this book immensely and since I’ve already read and reviewed ‘Carter’, I have to wait for the release of ‘Brody’ later this month.

5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!

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Coming Soon!


Kris Michaels

USA Today and Amazon Bestselling Author, Kris Michaels is the alter ego of a happily married wife and mother. She writes romance, usually with characters from military and law enforcement backgrounds.

Kris was born and raised in South Dakota. She graduated many years ago from a high school class consisting of 13 students (yes that is thirteen, eleven girls and two boys…lucky boys). She joined the military, met her husband, and traveled the world. Today she lives on the Gulf Coast and writes full time.

Kris is an avid people watcher and dreamer. The stories she writes are crafted around the hopes and dreams of a true romantic. She believes love is essential, people are beautiful, and everyone deserves a happy ending.

When she isn’t writing Kris enjoys a full life revolving around family, friends, laughing, whiskey, and cold red wine. (Yes cold…don’t judge.)

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Maryann Jordan

I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).

I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.

I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.

I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!


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Under the Boardwalk – Costas Sisters Book 1 By Carly Phillips


Under the Boardwalk
Costas Sisters Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Carly Phillips

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Ariana Costas may be a college professor in Vermont, but she’s still a Jersey girl at heart-at least according to her lovable, eccentric Greek family. Then her twin sister, Zoe disappears an dher Jersey roots tug hard. Soon Ari is back home, ducking bullets and, to her chagrin, getting rescued by a hunk in a black leather jacket.

Detective Quinn Donovan takes one look at the windblown beauty-and then looks again. If this lady isn’t Zoe Costas, it’s someone who looks exactly like her. Suddenly, Ari’s in trouble deeper than the Atlantic at high tide, and Quinn is trying to protect her without spilling his well-guarded secrets … as déja vu just might become the love affair of a lifetime.

When Ariana finds out her twin sister is missing she takes a leave of absence from her Professorship in Vermont to return to Hope City. Her family is a bit wacky and part of that is normal for them the rest was to keep from breaking down over their missing daughter and niece Zoe.

Needing a break Ari takes a walk to the beach with memories flooding her as she stops under the islet pier. Someone calls out Zoe’s name and instinctively she raises her head to look for her sister.

Quinn who is working undercover at the casino where Zoe was last seen is on the pier above her when a shot rings out. He immediately jumps to the sand below and covers her. When he rolls away Ari runs and he follows, what occurs is a very interesting conversation in which he reveals Zoe is alive but can’t tell her anything else. He also extracts a promise from her that she would return home to Vermont.

Of course Ari isn’t going to listen and the next time he sees her he definitely isn’t pleased.

This is a favorite scene.

She’d promised to get her ass on a plane. She hadn’t. By walking in here, she’d shown she wasn’t scared of the repercussions. She should be, Quinn thought as he rose from his seat.

But before he could intercept Ari and prevent Damon from seeing Zoe’s twin, Damon put a hand on Quinn’s shoulder. “Is that the woman you were talking about?” Damon nodded toward Ari.

“That’s her,” Quinn muttered.

As if Damon’s date sensed competition, she hung on more tightly to his arm.

The fact comforted Quinn, while he tried to figure out what to do about this newest complication. “I thought she was leaving, but don’t worry. I’ll get rid of her.”

“Let’s see what she wants first,” Damon suggested.

Quinn watched through gritted teeth as Ari strode up the three steps to the bar and greeted them with a wide smile. Thank God Damon preferred blondes, Quinn thought.

“Hi.” Her gaze encompassed both men and Damon’s date.

“What are you doing here?” Quinn asked, to hell with preliminary niceties.

She shrugged but didn’t flinch at his angry tone. “I thought I’d check out where my sister works.” She motioned around the room with one elegant sweep.

“Worked,” Quinn reminded her. “You wanted to see where your sister worked.”

She lowered her gaze, the confidence in her demeanor not as strong now. “I’m just not used to thinking of Zoe in the past tense.” She drew a deep breath. “But you’re right. I wanted to see where my sister worked.” When she looked up, her grin was nowhere to be found.

A punch in the gut would have been a gentler way of hurting her, Quinn thought. But if she trusted him at all, which she had no reason to do, she’d play this game through. In the end, she would see her sister again.

“So now you’ve seen. Don’t you have a plane to catch?”

Damon stepped forward. “Tsk, tsk, Quinn. That’s no way to speak to a beautiful lady.”

Damon’s arm candy started to whine, but Damon cut her off by pulling cash out of his pocket. “Go play,” he ordered his companion.

The blonde whose name Quinn hadn’t bothered to learn treated Damon to a kiss on the cheek and sashayed off.

Ari raised an eyebrow Quinn’s way. “I’d appreciate an introduction to your friend.” Her sultry gaze settled on Damon.

Unlike when she’d convincingly lied to Quinn, now he detected traces of nervous energy as Ari made a show of fingering her purse and tapping her foot.

She was scared. Of Damon, he hoped, because that would mean the professor did indeed have the brain Zoe credited her with. And then Quinn could count on her to behave, at least while she was in the casino.

“Yes,” Damon said from beside him. “I believe introductions are in order.” He oozed charm. Slimy, not-to-be-trusted charm.

“Ariana Costas, I’d like you to meet Alec Damon. Mr. Damon owns this casino, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years.” Or in Vermont. “Damon, this is Zoe Costas’s twin,” Quinn said pointedly.

Damon smiled. “I thought I noticed the resemblance. Nice to meet you, Ariana.”

“Same here.” She swallowed hard. “I’ve heard so much about you, Mr. Damon. Not from my sister, since we . . . we hadn’t been in touch in a while, but my mother talks about you often.”

“Only good things, I hope?” She nodded. “That’s another reason I came by. I wanted to meet you. To thank you in person for lending my mother money when she was in need.” Ari held out her hand and Damon took it.

“My pleasure.” He released his grasp, his astute gaze raking over Ariana’s body. “Your mother was a hard worker and a very talented dancer.” He inclined his head. “Do you share her ability?”

She laughed. A full-blown, light and airy sound. Quinn’s groin immediately tightened. Damn the woman, anyway.

“No. I’m sorry to say I have two left feet.”

“Somehow I doubt that.” His gaze traveled the length of her body, beginning with her long legs and remaining on her cleavage before finally landing on her face.

She did her best not to squirm, but failed. Still she faced Damon head on. “Thank you again for helping my family. And it was nice meeting you,” Ari said, all but ignoring Quinn.

“The feeling’s mutual. And . . .” Damon paused. “I’m sorry about your sister. Zoe was beautiful inside and out. She worked hard and we at Damon’s valued her.”

Ari tipped her head. “That means so much.”

“Quinn, why don’t you show Ms. Costas around the casino.” The suggestion was nothing short of an order.

Despite Damon’s civil veneer, Quinn didn’t want her staying around unchaperoned. Quinn would follow his order with pleasure. Not just to find out what the hell was behind Ari’s agenda, but to get closer to the sultry beauty for reasons he didn’t want to name.

Putting his arm around her waist, he led her down the stairs and away from Damon. She was smaller than she looked, and her waist fit snugly against his body, feeling too good considering he wanted to throttle her.

He left the casino behind, entered the hotel lobby, and steered her directly to the office area and a vacant hallway. He paused only long enough to unlock the door and nudge her in. Entering his private domain, he slammed the door shut behind him and locked them inside.

He turned on the light before folding his arms across his chest and facing Ariana. “Well?”

“Well what?” She batted her eyes and forced the most innocent look she could manage.

It had to be forced considering she must be quaking in her stiletto pumps. “Does this look like Vermont to you?” He gestured around the state-of-the-art office, with its new computer, expensive desk, sophisticated phone system, and both audio and video bugs recording everything that was said.

She shrugged, taking in the sterile environment where he spent many of his days. “Not particularly. My office is a lot more musty and not as bright.”

He closed his eyes and counted to ten. She was baiting him on purpose, and she was more like Zoe than he’d given her credit for. He wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
Carly Phillips. Under the Boardwalk (Kindle Locations 477-528). CP Publishing.

In spite of her not listening or maybe because of it, Quinn finds himself falling hard and fast for Ari.

Then there’s Sam, a teenage foster child he helped get placed in a good home. She keeps testing everyone’s patience by running off.

She takes to Ari and the craziness of the Costa’s family. Which just happens to now include a monkey named Spanks.

This is a convoluted tale, with tears, suspense, action, surprises and some sizzle as well.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

5 Contented Purrs for Carly!

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Carly Phillips

Carly Phillips is the N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of over 50 sexy contemporary romance novels featuring hot men, strong women and the emotionally compelling stories her readers have come to expect and love.

Carly’s career spans over a decade and a half with various New York publishing houses, and she is now an Indie author who runs her own business and loves every exciting minute of her publishing journey. Carly is happily married to her college sweetheart, the mother of two nearly adult daughters and three crazy dogs (two wheaten terriers and one mutant Havanese) who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. Carly loves social media and is always around to interact with her readers.


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Defending Raven – Mountain Mercenaries Book 7 By Susan Stoker


Defending Raven
Mountain Mercenaries Book 7
By
NY Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author
Susan Stoker

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A missing woman leads the alpha heroes on their boldest mission yet in New York Times bestselling author Susan Stoker’s searing Mountain Mercenaries novel.

It’s been ten years since Rex’s wife, Raven, disappeared from a Vegas casino. Never losing hope, he even formed the Mountain Mercenaries to help find her—and other missing wives, sisters, and children. Now Rex and his fearless team are following a lead to Lima, Peru, where the rescue operation is greater than they imagined.

A day at a time. That’s been Raven’s motto for a decade. Once held captive by an elusive sex trafficker, she has an indomitable will to survive. But Raven’s not ready to leave Peru. She can’t. Not yet. Because her liberation from the barrios comes with devastating consequences. One wrong move and all hope will be lost to an unimaginable hell.

For the Mountain Mercenaries, the stakes have been raised. The threats are escalating. But Rex hasn’t searched this long, risked so much, and come this far to lose Raven all over again.

Once again Susan Stoker had me up all night reading although I can probably put some of the blame on Amazon for the book showing up on my kindle just as I was heading to bed.

The entire team and Zara are headed back to Peru. Zara is going to help Daniela set up a real clinic and also act as a translator for the team. She also knows the Barrio like the back of her hand so navigating it will be much easier.

One of the most poignant moments in this book is when Dave first lays eyes on Mags, his Raven. It is also one of my favorite scenes.

Mags looked back at Dave . . . and once again couldn’t breathe. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her. It was as if he was drinking her in. But instead of his gaze comforting her, she felt exposed. Naked. She felt as if he could see straight through her to her deepest, darkest secrets. Things she’d never speak of. Not to him or to anyone. They were her shame to carry.

Zara was acting as a translator, but Mags couldn’t even hear what she was saying with the rushing sound in her ears.

Dave didn’t get off his knees. He stayed on the floor, looking at her intently. Mags knew if she had to endure it for one more second, she’d go stark raving mad.

“Raven,” Dave said softly. “I wanted to believe Zara. Wanted to believe that the woman she knew as Mags was really you . . . but I also didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. I’ve been disappointed so many times, I knew I couldn’t handle it again. But it’s you. It’s really you.”

Mags stared at him without blinking.

“Can I . . . Are you all right?”

She wanted to snort at that. Was she all right? No, of course she wasn’t.

“It’s a lot to process, Dave,” Arrow said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You need to give her some time.”

“I can’t leave,” Dave said, his voice breaking. “I just found her. I can’t go!”

Mags stiffened. He couldn’t stay. She had to make him understand. “I don’t want you here,” she said in as hard a voice as she could muster. Unfortunately, it came out more like a plea than a demand from the in-charge woman she’d had to become over the years.

She was shocked when tears formed in Dave’s eyes and spilled over his cheeks. He didn’t reach up to wipe them away, simply continued to stare at her.

“Ten years,” he said softly. “Ten years, twenty-two days, four hours, and thirty-six minutes. That’s how long you’ve been missing. And I’ve been searching for you for every single second of that time. I’ve prayed to hear your voice again . . . and the reality is so much better than my dreams.”

His words both soothed a hurt she didn’t know she’d harbored and stung like a thousand bees. Dave had obviously suffered. The man she used to know never would’ve cried. Especially not in front of others. She couldn’t talk through the lump in her own throat.

“You should go. Just for tonight,” Zara said. “Mags needs time to process everything.”

Dave opened his mouth to protest, but Gray spoke before he could.

“That sounds like a good idea. We can come back tomorrow.”

“You’re not staying here,” Meat told Zara.

“I’ll be fine,” she told him gently.

“No.”

Mags approved of Zara’s man. He was protective and obviously concerned about her safety. As much as Zara was a product of the barrio, it wasn’t safe. Not even for her.

“Maybe they can all come to the motel with us?” she asked.

“If we’re gone too long, Ruben or someone else might take over our house,” Maria said.

Zara’s shoulders drooped. “Yeah.”

“We’ll come back first thing in the morning, and we’ll bring food,” Meat reassured both Zara and the other women. “If there’s anything else you can think of that you need, we’ll go shopping again tomorrow and get it for you. We need to visit Daniela as well.”

The women all agreed, and Mags knew they were anxious to go through the bags of supplies the men had brought them and talk about exactly what was happening.

“I don’t want to go,” Dave argued.

Meat put his hand on Dave’s shoulder and squeezed. “She needs time,” he said quietly.

No one said anything for a long moment.

Then, from his position on his knees in the doorway, Dave said, “I love you, Raven.”

Mags braced herself to look at him again.

“I love you. I know enough about what happens to young women who get taken without their consent to know your life has been hell. But I’ve found you—and I’m going to do whatever it takes to prove you’re now safe. That my love for you hasn’t stopped simply because you’ve been gone.”

“People change,” she said softly. “I’m not the woman you once knew.”

“And I’m not the same person you married,” Dave countered. “I’m harder. More stubborn. A hell of a lot less trusting. But one thing will never change, and that’s how much you mean to me, and how much I love you.”

“I don’t love you anymore,” Mags lied.

Dave didn’t even flinch. “You will.”

Frustration rose within her. She needed him gone. Why wasn’t he getting mad? Leaving? She had too much to lose if he didn’t go. “My life is here in Peru,” she said as sternly as she could manage. “I’m not leaving.”

Dave eyed her for a long moment, and Mags refused to squirm under his scrutiny. Then he slowly stood, and Mags forced herself to stand her ground and not cower from the intensity of his gaze. The tears had dried up, and a very determined man stood in front of her now.

“I didn’t tell your parents that I was coming to Peru. They’ve had their hopes raised too many times and dashed just as many. And my parents have suffered right along with me. But they don’t matter. No one matters but you. My life is wherever you are,” Dave said without a trace of irritation or insecurity. “If I have to move to Lima in order to be with you, I will.”

At any other time, Mags would’ve thrown herself at her man and begged him to take her away from the barrio. From Lima. From Peru. But she couldn’t.

She was in hell. This was like being offered everything her heart desired, but she knew if she dared reach for it, she could lose something else she loved just as dearly.
Stoker, Susan. Defending Raven (Mountain Mercenaries) (pp. 39-43). Kindle Edition.

Like everything else in life this gets far more complicated than just talking to Mags and bringing her home.

The bullies in the Barrio learn a few lessons from this dedicated team, lessons that start making life for the residents a bit better. The horror of del Rio’s mindset had me both cringing and crying as Susan takes a horrific part of human trafficking and intertwines it with a love story for the ages.

So much suspense as Dave breaks down the walls Raven has erected to maintain her sanity. Her reason for needing to stay in Lima, while shocking to Dave only cements his determination to bring her home.

Some laughter, lots of tears, and an ending you won’t soon forget.

This is the last book in this series and I will miss these characters. Thank you, Susan it’s been a wild ride.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army non-commissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, or find her on Facebook. Links below.


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Stroke of Death -Psychic Visions Book 17 by Dale Mayer


Stroke of Death
Psychic Visions Book 17
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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Cayce’s art is well-known and respected among her peers, and, as such, has spawned forgers, copycats … and enemies. But when her favorite model and best friend is murdered—the masterpiece painted on her skin cut off her body—Cayce knows she’s up against a collector of a very different sort.

Detective Richard Henderson doesn’t know much about art, but he knows what he likes. Of all the art mixed up in this case, it is the artist, Cayce, who fascinates him the most. While he understands her work contains an element of something extraordinary, he just doesn’t know what that is exactly or how she embodies it in her creative works of art.

But, when other models show up dead, with more souvenirs taken from their bodies, both the artist and the detective realize much more is involved in this than just Cayce’s art … It’s all about Cayce’s soul.

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Cayce is an artist with a unique gift, she does mural size masterpieces and incorporates models into the scene. The models disappear into it until the moment they are to move away. Cayce’s gift is more than this though, she calls upon positive energy when she paints using it to create with the perfect colors and blending.

As this book opens the client has insisted on a new model, Naomi exudes negativity and Cayce is having trouble getting around that but she manages, and reaches a point for a break for both herself and the model.

It’s then a visitor enters the area, something that Cayce hates since it interferes with the energy and this stranger has a darkness about him. The news he brings devastates Cayce, Elena her bestfriend and favorite model has been murdered and besides her life the killer took something else. That something is not only part of Elena but of Cayce as well.

Detective Richard Henderson is assigned to the case and with so few clues he turns to the artist as he talks to other friends of Elena.

This is a favorite scene.

Cayce had been working three hours already. She had this massive, expansive wall— twenty by sixty feet. It wasn’t that she particularly liked this size, but it was something she was certainly capable of doing. She put the roller back down and relaxed her shoulders, rotating them and her neck to ease up the tension. She had a base color on the back wall, and she had the sky with the clouds working in. She was doing the foreground in this one, and that was tougher— a fantasy forest winter design.

“That’s quite a job,” a man said behind her.

Cayce stiffened, then turned to look at Detective Richard Henderson. “Are you back to bug me some more?”

“Do I bug you?”

She narrowed her gaze at him. “What do you want?”

“I have a few more questions,” he said. He looked at the many trays of paint all around her. “Good Lord,” he said. “Are you really doing this whole wall?”

She shrugged her shoulders several times, again feeling her muscles cramp. “Yes, and I have to do the background first, before I start doing any of the fine detail.”

“And how long does something like this stay up?”

“Weeks, months sometimes,” she said. She walked to where she’d placed her coffee, realizing it was lukewarm at best right now. She took a big slug, nearly spitting it out. “Back to the questions, Detective,” she said pointedly.

She was caught by the way the light played along his cheekbones. Just the way he stood there. She moved a little to the left, so she could take a look at him from a different angle. Her mind immediately filled in all the details of this man and realized he had unforgettable features. But, of course, that sent her mind spinning, only to wonder what the rest of him looked like. Just from a model’s perspective, she assured herself.

He frowned at her. “What are you looking at?”

“Your cheekbones,” she said bluntly. His eyebrows shot up, and she grinned. “I am an artist.”

He shrugged uncomfortably and said, “Well, I won’t be part of your installations anytime soon.”

She nodded, smiled, and said, “That’s fine too, considering you weren’t invited anyway. So, questions?”

He glared at her. “Joe Johnson.”

“Good model,” she said instantly. “I really like him.”

“Personally?”

“No,” she said. “Not personally. But he’s a very good model. He could hold the position and stand for a long time, but he wasn’t cut out for the actual cutthroat part of the business.”

“Isn’t that a little hard to believe?”

“Every business is cutthroat, if somebody stands to gain a ton of money,” she said. “There are always markers that define success, fame, or wealth. But knowing that your face will be on every magazine is a thrill for a lot of people.”

“True,” he said, “and Joe wasn’t cut out for it?”

“No, not at all,” she said. “But that didn’t stop him from being damn good at what he did.”

“Would you use him again, if you had a chance?”

“I don’t body-paint men very often,” she said, “but, yes, I would.”

“And did Elena have anything to do with him?”

“You’d have to ask him,” she said. Cayce hated talking about her friends, particularly the ones who were no longer here to answer any questions.

“We have to pry into Elena’s life,” he said gently. “Somebody took it from her. No way I’ll let that happen to anybody else.”

Her eyes widened as she thought about that. She took several steps forward, her voice dropping as she whispered, “Do you think other models are in danger?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “You tell me. Was this dedicated just to her, or is there something about her that somebody wanted?”

“It depends if they were trying to kill her for revenge,” she said, “or if it was because of the masterpiece.”

“Why do you keep calling it a masterpiece?”

“Not because I’m an egotist,” she snapped, “but because it was a copy of a masterpiece that she was in.”

He stopped, stared, and said, “Really?”

She nodded. “A van Gogh.”

“Oh, God,” he said. “That adds a whole new layer of shit to the case.”

She nodded slowly.

“We have to get to the bottom of this and fast. Do you have any other masterpieces coming up?”

She stared at him in horror; then she nodded slowly. “Tomorrow night,” she said. “I’m doing one tomorrow night.”

He waved at the wall behind her. “This one?”

She shook her head immediately. “No. I’m doing one at the big art museum,” she said. “It’s different. We’re bringing in the canvases that will be the backdrop, and then the models in the front. So, I’m doing them in pieces.”

“Not that I even begin to understand that,” he said, “but I’ll have some added security on the place.”

“You can do that,” she said, “but will you look after my model too? I don’t want her to turn out to be a second masterpiece for some creep collector who’s found something new to collect.”
Dale Mayer. Stroke of Death (Kindle Locations 554-597). Valley Publishing.

One of the things I love about these books is we get a look at the bad guy, not the name but insight into the twisted reasoning.

As more bodies turn up so does Sebastian, I love the way he just pops into the fray. This case has intertwined with one Sebastian is working on so the stakes are even higher. Richard has to embrace his talents as does Cayce as this nail-biting story continues.

Plenty of suspense, intrigue and a simmer to sizzle romance.

I had started this series in the middle and I am now going back to the beginning. I really need to know more about the characters that show up to help in every book.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Coming Soon!

Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.


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Saving Love – Brotherhood Protectors World: Saving Series Book 1 By Jen Talty


Saving Love
Saving Series Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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The only thing Alabama Love wanted was to provide a safe home for her son, Wyoming, away from her abusive husband. When she landed in Eagle Rock, Montana, she thought just maybe, she might have found the perfect place to start her life over and give her son the kind of future he deserves. But sometimes the past has a tendency of catching up to the present.

And in her case, the past could prove to be a deadly future.

Only one thing really matters in Wayne “Dakota” Newark’s life, and that’s family. When his wife passed away from breast cancer, he left the military and joined the Brotherhood Protectors in order to provide a more stable life for his two little girls. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his kids. But when his nanny quits, he finds himself having to trust a woman he doesn’t know and that doesn’t settle right in his gut. All in the name of protecting his family, he does some digging into Alabama’s past.

Unfortunately, his prying into her background disturbs a hornet’s nest that has the potential to destroy both their worlds.

And now he’s tangled up with a woman who has not only stolen the hearts of his precious girls but has taken his hostage and now he wants to spend the rest of his life protecting her and her young son.

That is if he can keep them all alive.

 

Alabama needs a job to support her son, this last interview hadn’t worked out for her either. With no real experience she was having a difficult time finding anything. She was fortunate to have this tiny house on Dakota Newark’s Broken Spur Ranch and he had offered to help her find a position. Now she was going to have to talk to him about that. While deciding whether to wait for the nanny Candice to leave, she’s witness to said nanny being fired.

Dakota is immediately faced with a dilemma of being in two places at the same time and Alabama steps up to solve that problem for him. This leads him to hire her as his nanny, it also brings into question how deep to look into her background since he’s pretty sure she’s running from something or someone.

She clutched at her pendant dangling around her neck. It carried a picture of her and her son on the day of his birth. But behind that was an image of her parents and her when she’d been five years old. It was the only thing she’d kept from her past. The only thing she had linking her to her old life. She missed her parents. She wondered if they hadn’t died her junior year in college if she would have fallen so hard and fast for Josh. Maybe they would have seen what a heartless bastard he was and saved her from five years of hell.

“I don’t mean to pry, but the girls didn’t mention what your wife died from?”

“Breast cancer.” He scratched at the side of his face and let out a puff of air. “She was diagnosed when River was two and died two years later. River only remembers her being sick, which breaks my heart. I try to give them all the good memories of their mother as often as I can, but they are my memories, not theirs.”

“But they had a loving mother, and they have pictures and videos.” Her son, thankfully, would have nothing to remember his father by. “And they have you. They think you walk on water.”

“They also think all dads should have wives and have made it their life mission to find me a good one,” he said with slight chuckle.

“I’m aware. They showed me a list they have compiled of potential women for you, but they told me they haven’t vetted them all yet.”

“Vetted? They actually used that word?”

“Oh yeah. Sky even said your boss, Hank, was going to help her with the process.”

“Oh, good Lord.” He tossed his head back and laughed. “And dare I ask why they showed you this list?”

“They started by crossing Candice off the list.”

“Oh, thank God. Besides her basically being a child, she’s so not my type,” he said.

“She’s only five years younger than me.”

He arched a brow and glanced to the ceiling. “That makes you twenty-eight?”

“I’ll be twenty-nine on Valentine’s Day,” she said, wishing she hadn’t enlightened him on the date of her birthday, much less her age, though now she wondered his and hoped maybe she was under what he considered too young. Sadly, she’d always preferred older men. That’s one of the reasons she fell so quickly for Josh.

“I’ll have to remember that and treat you to something special.” He winked.

She waved her hand. “Oh, no. Please don’t. I hate birthdays. And this one is just one shy of a big one.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I just turned forty, so you don’t get to say that to me. Besides, knowing my girls, they put you on the dating list, so even if they don’t know that Valentine’s Day is your birthday, they will be up to playing cupid.”

“Wonderful,” she mumbled. “No offense to your daughters, or you, but I’m not looking.”

“Neither am I, but Sky and River have it in their heads that I need a girlfriend. I’ve explained that I don’t. However, they have my stubborn streak and their mother’s inability to let things go. I will have a little chat with them, but can we humor them for your birthday? We kind of make a big deal about birthdays because that’s a celebration of life and having lost their mother, well, we like to make the living feel important.”

How the hell could she say no to that? “As long as it’s nothing too fancy, got it?”

“Got it,” he said.

The oven dinged.

“Of course, you might fire me after this meal.”

His laughter was cut short the second he opened the oven.

She stood and peered over his shoulder. “Oh no. How did that happen?” She stared at the goop that had bubbled over the rim of the metal pan she’d put all the noodles, meat, sauce, and a couple different kinds of cheese in. She’d followed the directions, for the most part, so she wasn’t sure why half her concoction was burnt on the bottom of the oven.

He snagged some hot mitts and pulled out the so-called lasagna, setting it on the rack next to the stove. “You overfilled the pan and might have put in too much sauce and cheese, but it smells good.” He took a fork and a cut out a small portion. Holding it up to his mouth, he puckered his lips and blew.

For the last few months she’d lived on takeout and the occasional microwavable meal. Back in the day, her palate couldn’t tolerate such things, but today, all she cared about was putting calories in her body. Her stomach knotted as she gnawed at her fingernail.

“You look absolutely terrified,” he said with an amused smile.

Fear crept up from her toes all the way to the tip of her tongue. If this were Josh standing in front of her, she’d already be on the floor with a few bruises for ruining the oven.

“It would be such a waste if that meal isn’t eatable. And I’m so sorry about the oven. I will clean it tomorrow.”

He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Once it cools, I’ll scrape what I can, and then it will self-clean. You don’t need to worry about it at all.” He gave the pasta one more good blow before he shoved it between his teeth. His eyes grew wide before he turned and spit the contents of his mouth into the sink.

She covered her mouth with a gasp, taking two steps back. Her hands trembled. She resented how quickly certain situations would send her spiraling into the scared woman Josh created. When she left, she promised herself she’d never let another man make her feel the way Josh had.

“I can honestly say I’ve eaten worse.”

Panic took over her mind. No matter what she told herself about how kind Dakota had been since she’d moved in, he was still a man, and he still had fists.

He glanced over his shoulder as he tossed a napkin in the trash. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you, but you did say it could be bad.”

She nodded, trying desperately to control her breathing. She’d never had a panic attack until after she’d gotten married. And in the last couple of years, they came regularly. While in the underground, she developed strategies on how to deal with them, but currently nothing was working. As he closed the gap between them, her lungs burned while she tried to take in a deep breath.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” He held his hands up.

Clutching her necklace, she pushed her back against the wall. “I know,” she whispered. But she didn’t know anything except she felt as though she were still a caged animal.

“You’re safe with me,” he whispered. “It’s just a dinner that didn’t come out right and a mess that can be cleaned up. Nothing to get upset over.”

Intellectually, she knew that.

But her past reality dictated something entirely different. She opened her mouth but all that came out was some high-pitched strange noise that made her sound like some pathetic person. She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry. I’m just tired. It’s been a long day,” she managed to croak out in what she hoped was a strong tone.

He reached out and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. “You still need to eat dinner. I’m going to order pizza, wings, and salad. Does that work for you?”

“You don’t have to feed me. I’ve got some—”

“I insist.” He rested his hands on her shoulders. “I don’t know what happened to you, and I’m not going to ask you a lot of questions about it right now, but I want you to know that I will make sure you and Wyoming are always safe in my home.”

A burst of rage moved through her bloodstream. “You keep saying that, and I don’t understand why. I don’t need your protection.”

“I’ve seen this kind of thing—”

“I’m not a client of yours. I haven’t hired you to protect me from anything.”

“I understand that,” he said with an arched brow. “But I’ve seen women on the run before and—”

“On the run? That’s what you think? Wow.” She sucked in a deep breath, hoping it would give her some courage as she patted his chest and maneuvered around him. “I suppose your job puts those kinds of ideas in your head. Now, it’s getting late, and I need to put Wyoming down. Sorry my dinner didn’t work out. I’ll do better next time. See you tomorrow morning.”
Talty, Jen. Saving Love: Brotherhood Protectors World (Saving Series Book 1). Twisted Page Press LLC. Kindle Locations (491-554). Kindle Edition.

Things get pretty intense as Candice with her boyfriend start harassing Alabama. However it’s her boyfriend’s family that concerns Dakota and the Brotherhood Protectors the most.

This is a quick read because you won’t be able to put it down. There are plenty of twists in this tale along with action and some frustration. All that and some laughter, tears and a simmer to sizzle romance.

I love seeing the Brotherhood Protectors and the new additions to the crew. I have to go back now and read the others Jen Talty has written in this world.

5 Contented Purrs for Jen!

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More of Jen’s Brotherhood Protectors World Books

Jen Talty

Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.

I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.

I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.


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A Taste From Love under Lockdown: Heart-stirring Sweet Romance Isolationship Stories – The Gold Digger by Melissa McClone


25 Heart-stirring Sweet Romance Isolationship Short Stories

Love Under Lockdown
Featuring:
Kari Shuey, Lorana Hoopes, Melissa McClone, Jessie Cal,
Ellie Hall, Nikki Larson, Kayla Tirrell, Cindy Ray Hale,
Susanne Ash, Poppy Pennington-Smith, Laura Burton,
Gigi Blume, Christina Butrum, Dobi Daniels,
Nadine Millard, Rimmy London, Jacqueline Winters,
M. Dalto, Laynie Bynum, Ginny Sterling,
River Ford, Hillary Ann Sperry, Molly Zenk,
Anna Johnson, Milla Holt, and Jessica Avary
The Gold Digger
Billionaires of Silicon Forest Prequel
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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Enchanted Quill Romance is thrilled to present this huge anthology of sweet romantic shorts guaranteed to warm your heart.

This collection features 25 short stories about finding love while locked down in one place. It has a wide variety of all your favorite tropes including:

Friends to lovers
Second chance
Insta-Love
Enemies to lovers
Forbidden love

And so much more. Laugh, cry, sigh and swoon during this beautiful collection of short stories by sweet romance authors handpicked by Enchanted Quill Romance.

This heart-stirring boxset is a limited edition, so pick it up now to avoid missing out.

In the middle of a torrential rainfall, Adam Zeile and his friend Henry Davenport were heading out to look at a property. According to Henry the other interested buyers wouldn’t come out in the storm so it was Adam’s best change to purchase the property if it meets his specifications. One particular photo had caught his eye and if the view was the same he would buy it.

Unfortunately Henry had a meeting to attend so he left Adam at the property with the promise take a look at it when he got back. Adam was hopeful this would be the perfect property and even though the agent Cambria Baker was honest about the condition of the cabin he only needed to see the view. Once he had it was off, this was not the place for him.

While he was waiting for Henry to return, Cambria cleaned up the snack she had prepared and changed into clothing more appropriate for the weather.

This is a favorite scene.

A protectiveness welled up inside him, which was stupid when he was the one who’d made her feel bad. The least he could do was not make her wait.

“Go ahead and lock up the cabin.” He was still damp from when he arrived. A little more rain wouldn’t hurt him. “I’ll wait outside.”

Her forehead wrinkled. “Listen to the rain. It’s pouring again. You’ll get soaked out there.”

“My friend will be here soon,” he countered. “You should get on the road, given the weather.”

An uncomfortable silence descended.

Come on, Henry. Adam shifted his weight between his feet.

A noise sounded.

Henry and Frank must be here. Adam blew out a breath before opening the door, but no SUV was parked next to the other car.

Rain pelted the ground, and water poured like a sheet from the roof. But the noise he’d heard became louder— rumbled.

Her face paled.

Adrenaline surged. “Earthquake?”

“Slide.” Cambria pushed him aside, slammed the door, and grabbed his hand with her free one. “Upstairs!”

The rumble turned into a roar— deafening and frightening and all-consuming.

The bag on her shoulder swung and nearly took him out, but he stayed upright.

As she ran up the stairs and into the bathroom, she never let go of him. “Get in the tub.”

Adam’s pulse raced. He shouldn’t be winded, but his breaths came fast. “Isn’t that for a tornado?”

Cambria released his hand and climbed into the bathtub. She flashed him a stop-being-stupid look.

The rumbling continued.

He didn’t need to be told twice and got in next to her. “We should be safe here,” she reassured him.

Something crashed into the house with an earsplitting blast. The cabin shook.

She gasped.

Adam bounced against the wall and then fell. He held back a shout.

Cambria curled in a ball, so he covered her with his body. He had no idea what was happening, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know.

His heart pounded, threatening to explode, but that didn’t drown out the horrible sounds of breaking glass and splintering wood.

Is this how it ends?

He imagined his mom, dad, brother, and sister. A carousel of his friends followed.

Adam gulped in air as if it might be his last breath. Images of the future he wouldn’t have filled his mind— a wife, kids, and a forever kind of love.

“I think it’s over,” a quiet voice said from underneath him.

He straightened so that Cambria could sit up.

She was correct. Everything had stopped, but he had no sense of time or how long they’d been in the bathroom.

Her face was paler than before. Her lower lip quivered.

Adam touched her shoulder. “It’ll be okay.”

She raised an eyebrow. “And you know this how?”

Her sarcastic tone surprised him.

“I don’t.” Tired of cowering, he stood and found his footing in the tub. “But we’re alive. I wasn’t sure if we would be by the time everything stopped. And you look like you needed to hear it.”

She didn’t disagree. Nor did she say anything.

“Thanks for getting me upstairs. I had no idea what was happening.” Adam didn’t know the extent of damage on the first floor, but he assumed— hoped— the immediate danger had passed. “How did you know to run upstairs?”

“My grandpa was on our neighborhood’s Community Emergency Response Team. He stopped when he and my grandma moved into an assisted living center, but now he’s the head of the CERT he formed there. He taught my brother and me what to do in different, um, situations.”

Her voice shook, and her hands trembled.

Was she afraid or in shock? Perhaps both?

Adam hadn’t taken a first aid class in years. His security team included a medic, so he hadn’t needed to remember anything and didn’t. “You okay?”

She nodded. “Delayed reaction.”

That was a relief.

“You should check on your friend,” she added.

Henry and Frank.

Adam’s heart dropped. As he yanked out his phone and hit call, he held his breath.

One ring. Two…

“Are you okay?” Henry asked in a breathless rush.

Tears pricked the back of Adam’s eyelids. He exhaled, letting his tension go, and cleared his throat. “If by okay you mean standing in the bathtub on the second floor, then yes, I’m okay. What about you and Frank?”

“If we’d been two minutes earlier, we would have been caught in the mudslide.”

“Mudslide,” Adam repeated so Cambria would know she’d been correct. Not that he’d doubted her. She’d taken action while he stood frozen, unable to make sense of what was happening. “Something hit the house, but we haven’t been downstairs to see what. How bad is it where you are?”

“The road is covered with mud. There’s no way to pick you up.”

Adam let the news sink in. “But you and Frank—”

“We’re fine.” He needed to hear that again. “How long do you think cleanup will take?”

“Frank is on the phone with someone. But I doubt it’ll be fast. With this weather, calling in a helicopter isn’t an option.”

That meant… Adam scrubbed his face. “So, I’m stuck.”

“Yes, but at least you’re not alone.”
Melissa McClone. The Gold Digger (Kindle Locations 251-259). Cardinal Press, LLC.

Lots of mud, damage to the cabin and no way to get out until either the weather or the road is cleared.

Sparks begin to fly between them even as Cambria’s world starts falling apart more than it already had.

A wonderful romance that is fun and playful in difficult circumstances.

I will be reading more of this anthology, all but Melissa are new to me authors.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

Melissa McClone

USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.

With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.

Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!

Jim Beam – It’s All In The Whiskey Book 4 by Jen Talty


Jim Beam
It’s All In The Whiskey Book 4
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Nearly five years ago, Cheyenne Hawkins came to Whiskey Ranch for one thing: to train to be the best. When she left, she was confident she’d be at the top of the rodeo circuit until a dizzy spell landed her in the hospital and she found out she left the ranch with much more than she expected. However, Cheyenne was already engaged to someone else. Cheyenne told herself it was for the best if she stayed away from JB. She told herself she loved her fiancé, and she had a career to chase. And that’s exactly what she did. Five years later, divorced, she’s one of the best cowgirls in the circuit, and her four-year-old son, Jimmy, couldn’t be prouder. The last thing Cheyenne wants is to see JB Whiskey, but when he shows up at a rodeo and spots her with their son, she realizes she must face the music and tell him the truth.

She can handle his anger. She can even deal with JB not wanting anything to do with her or her son, but nothing could have prepared her for the idea that JB would demand she allow their son to come to the ranch for an extended visit so they could get to each other.

Jim Beam Whiskey never thought he’d be living alone. He always believed his brother, JD would be his roommate forever. They both shared one major common bond: a broken heart. But his brother went off and did the unthinkable and found himself the kind of love that heals a wounded soul.

Well, JB had done that once, and Cheyenne ran out him, leaving him to pick up the pieces for the second time. He vowed, there would never be a third. That is until he sees a young boy with a double shot of JB’s eyes and a hauntingly familiar smile. JB doesn’t need a paternity test to know he’s Jimmy’s father. However, he is going to need to find a way to forgive Cheyenne for leaving him all those years ago as well as proving to her that he can change and be the kind of father Jimmy needs and the kind of husband Cheyenne deserves.

Five years ago Cheyenne spent time at the Whiskey Ranch training with JB. During that time they fell into a relationship and when her fiancé shows up on the last day it very near broke JB. He wouldn’t let her explain and she married the man she left the ranch with. That didn’t work out for her once she discovered she was pregnant. There was no way it could be her husband’s child.

Cheyenne is been back on the Rodeo circuit, her goal is the same as it’s always been, win and beat the world record. This rodeo in Nevada is where she started her career and as of today she would end it.

JB has to pick up a couple of horses at the rodeo and he brings JD’s wife’s assistant Paget along to help with them. Normally he’d watch the events but his plans were to avoid Cheyenne. That is until he sees Jimmy and realizes he’s Cheyenne’s son and looks just like him.

After her ride there was some conversation until Jimmy joins them. The scores were about to be announced.

This is a favorite scene.

Cheyenne squinted, covering her eyes from the glare of the lowering sun’s rays stretching through the wide-open barn doors. “Who’s that?”

“Paget. She was a stall girl when you were at the ranch. We’re here picking up a couple of horses,” JB said. “Sorry. But look who I found. Paget is a fan.”

“It’s such an honor to officially meet you.” Paget stretched out her arm. “That was an amazing ride. I tried bronc riding a few times and realized I should stick with basic horseback riding lessons and training.”

“Well, those are the most valuable skills because without them, I wouldn’t exist.” Cheyenne tipped her hat. “I remember you, and you had to be the hardest working person in that barn.”

“She still is.” JB pointed toward the corral. “They are about to announce the scores.”

Cheyenne glanced around nervously for Jimmy. “Do me a favor. If, by a miracle, I did break the world record, please help Katie keep Jimmy away from the press. He’s never been photographed.”

“Why?” JB asked.

“Because I didn’t want reporters questioning his paternity on camera before I had the chance to come clean with his father,” she admitted.

“Who’s his dad?” Paget asked.

“I am,” JB said, puffing out his chest.

Cheyenne clenched her jaw. She knew everyone on Whiskey Ranch would know by daybreak, but she didn’t need him announcing it to the world now.

“Oh, Mylanta,” Paget said. “Everyone knew you two were an item back then, but I didn’t know—”

“And my son doesn’t know yet, so please, can you keep that piece of information to yourself.” Cheyenne sucked in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. She hadn’t meant to sound like such a bitch. “Jimmy expected to meet his father this summer; he just doesn’t know he’s already met him.”

Paget twisted her hair between her fingers. “Did you know?”

JB shook his head. “And I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m sorry, Cheyenne.”

“You have my word. My lips are sealed,” Paget said.

“All right. I have to go.” Cheyenne smoothed down the front of her chaps.

Jimmy strolled into the barn carrying a large bucket of popcorn. “Mommy. You better hurry. They’re about to call out the times.”

“Wish me luck, little man.” Cheyenne leaned over and kissed her son. “You’re my good luck charm.” Tears welled in her eyes as she turned her back and waltzed toward the corral.

No matter what happened, her life would never be the same again.

She took her place in the center of the ring. Bronc riding was very much a male-dominated sport, and she’d often been treated as the ugly stepchild, even when she’d proven herself as being the best of the best.

The announcer continued to rattle off the competitors and their scores.

“And now we have the last man, or shall we say, the last woman standing,” the announcer said.

Her cheeks hurt from smiling. Her heart beat so fast she figured everyone could hear it pounding in her chest. She didn’t need to beat the world record. Going out on top would be good enough. She kept her gaze on her son. JB had picked him up and held him on his hip, and it didn’t sour the moment.

Not even close.

It was actually a great weight off her shoulder to see her son with his biological father. A moment she’d been dreaming about since the day Jimmy had come into this world.

“It is with great honor that I not only present the winner of this year’s bronc riding competition, but more importantly, that I get to announce that you, Cheyenne Hawkins, just made history.”

She gasped, clutching her chest.

“You broke the world record with 93 points, and you are the first woman to take that title. Congratulations.”

The crowd roared and jumped to their feet. Cowboy hats flew in the air. She wiped the tears that burned a path down her cheeks. She turned in a circle, waving as one of the rodeo helpers brought a horse for her to take a victory lap. Wasting no time, she mounted the beautiful animal and made a beeline for her son.

What the hell. This was her last moment. Her final ride. She wanted Jimmy by her side. She wanted the world to see her pride and joy. After today, she could hide out at Whiskey Ranch until the shitstorm blew over.

If there even was one. Everyone knew she had a kid, and no one ever questioned who the father was, and since she kept her private life just that, it had never been a problem. Most people just assumed Jimmy’s father was her ex-husband, and she never corrected anyone.

“Whoa.” She pulled back on the reins in front of the stands where her son and JB stood. “Hey there, little man. Want to take a victory lap with your mommy?”

“Can I? Really?” He glanced between JB and her with wide eyes.

“Hop on,” she said.

JB lifted him over the railing and set him in front of Cheyenne.

“Congratulations. I had no doubt.” He reached out, cupping her chin. Leaning over, he pressed his lips firmly on her mouth, letting the kiss linger for what seemed like a good minute.

Which was fifty-nine seconds too long.

Hell, he shouldn’t be kissing her at all. Not with a million people watching both in the stands and at home.

And what the fuck. Why was she kissing him back?

“You better take the lap,” JB said as he patted the horse’s backside.

She made two full circles around the corral before making it back to the center. She dismounted, helping her son to the podium.

“So, Cheyenne. How does it feel?” the announcer asked.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said, holding Jimmy’s hand. “I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was about the same age as my boy here.” She glanced down at him and smiled. “As you know, this was the very first rodeo I competed at, and when I came here today, I knew that no matter what happened, it would also be my last.”

A collective gasp followed by deadpan silence filled the late afternoon summer air.

She scanned the stands. Everyone still stood, but now they all held their hats while they stared at her with open mouths and shocked gazes.

“Everyone here I’m sure is wondering the same thing I am. Why?” the announcer asked.

Her son tugged at her sleeve. “You’re not going to compete anymore?”

She shook her head. “I’ve loved the rodeo, and I’m sure I’ll always be a part of it, in a different capacity. But it’s time for my son to spend a little quality time with his father instead of being on the road with me all the time.”

“Really?” Jimmy jumped up and down. “When?” he asked as if they weren’t even in front of a sea of people.

She ignored his questions for now. “I want to thank all the fans. You have made my comeback the most incredible experience of my life.” She lifted Jimmy into her arms. “My son and I give you our deepest gratitude.” She handed the microphone to the announcer and stepped from the podium.

Jimmy palmed her cheek. “Mommy? I get to meet my dad?”

“You already have, honey.” She pointed to JB. “He’s your daddy.”

“JB?” Jimmy asked.

“Yes,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t know he was going to be here, or I would have prepared you both. I’m sorry, little man. I should have told you, and him, sooner.”

Jimmy wiggled and kicked. “Put me down, Mom!”

She did as her son asked, and he took off running with his little legs taking him as fast as he could go. His hat went flying off his head. “Daddy,” he cried with his arms stretched wide.

Cheyenne slowed her pace as JB jumped the fence, bent on one knee, and scooped up his son, hugging him tight.

As he should.
Jen Talty. Jim Beam: It’s All In the Whiskey (Kindle Locations 405-469).

Cheyenne makes two startling revelations to the crowd after taking her victory laps, first she’s retiring and second, JB Whiskey is her son’s father.

JB is more than willing to step into the role of father, but he really wants more. He still loves Cheyenne and she loves him, but the barriers they’ve both put up will be hard to break down. The interactions with Jimmy with JB and the rest of the family are full of love and fun. However, Cheyenne intends to return to Texas with Jimmy only to visit on long weekends and holidays. JB is determined to change her mind, but in order to do that he must say the words.

I loved this story with all it’s ups and down’s, the birth of a baby, some sizzling heat, and so much more!

5 Contented Purrs for Jen!

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Jen Talty

Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.

I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.

I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.


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Carter – Hope City Book 2 by Maryann Jordan


Two Authors… A New Series…
One City… Countless Stories.

Carter
Hope City Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Maryann Jordan

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Detective Carter Fiske has a homeless man’s death to investigate. Opioids are in the man’s system, but it is the bag of prescription drugs in his pocket that has Carter’s interest. Especially considering this is the third death of a homeless person this month with a bag of drugs in their possession.

Tara McBride Wilson, single mom and head social worker at Ever Hope Homeless Shelter, has little time to deal with the handsome detective who keeps popping up…at work and on her mind.

When Carter asks Tara out to gain more information on the shelter and the connected clinic, he does not expect to start falling for the beautiful, caring woman. Finding out she is the sister of Sean and Kyle McBride, two of his detective friends, does not make matters easier.

When she discovers his subterfuge, she does not want anything more to do with him, having trust issues after her ex-husband left her high and dry. Carter has his work cut out for him to prove that he is the man for her and her daughter.
But danger lurks close by and as they work together to find out where the drugs are coming from, can Carter keep Tara safe?

Hope City…a series created by two USA Today Bestselling Authors Maryann Jordan and Kris Michaels

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I have to confess, I’ve read  the ‘Hope City Duet’ but haven’t reviewed it yet. Now it’s at the top of my list because many of the people in this book are introduced in that duet.

Carter is investigating homeless deaths that have a connection to the drugs found on the bodies. It’s not easy to find clues or evidence. Two of his friends on the force, Sean and Kyle, start to tell him to contact their sister who might be able to help, but they are always interrupted.

Tara runs the Ever Hope Homeless Shelter, they have programs to help the residents get back on their feet. They are not a single night type of shelter. She meets Carter as he’s looking for clues as to the identity of the latest homeless man. When she recognizes the man in the photo Carter asks if she could identify the body. Although shaken she agrees. This wasn’t going to be the last she sees of Carter in the course of this investigation.

Carter visits again the next day, requesting more information.

This is a favorite scene.

Carter was not sure what he’d expected when he walked into Ever Hope Homeless Shelter yesterday but had hoped that Sean and Kyle’s sister worked there and would be able to help him. The idea of a detective’s sibling being more efficient with the police had settled in his mind. But since there was no McBride at the center, he had to admit the intrepid Tara Wilson handled herself with professional efficiency. Her composure at the morgue impressed him. And now, if it wasn’t for the slight shaking of her hands, he would never know that she was stressed.

Earlier, as he walked behind her down the long, tiled hall, his gaze was drawn to her ass even though there was nothing overtly sexual about her clothes. Plain, pale-yellow blouse paired with black slacks. Her feet tapped along the tiles, encased in low heeled pumps. Even her office was professionally efficient, both neat and cluttered at the same time. Files and papers were stacked on her desk, but as she sat in her chair and directed her gaze toward him, he had the feeling she could lay her hand on any report needed.

After she viewed the photograph of Carl, he pulled out a second picture and slid it toward her. “This is another young man found dead. Jonathan Rothberg. As far as we can tell, he also had no address, leading us to believe he may be homeless. Unlike Carl, he wasn’t a veteran. I’m hoping to see if there’s anything you can tell me about him.”

She took the old photograph from his hand and gave it the same careful scrutiny she had with Carl’s picture. Shaking her head, she said, “No. I don’t recognize his face.” Without another word, she opened her laptop and quickly began to type. She continued to shake her head as she looked up from her computer to hold his gaze. “Carl’s not in our system.”

“System?”

“There are multiple homeless shelters in Hope City. Those that are sanctioned and funded by the city, such as ours, and those run by private groups and churches. We do have a shared database for listing anyone who comes to stay with us, although it is not inclusive.”

“So, if he was homeless, he would be in your database?” he asked.

“The city shelters are very good about keeping track of the information. Some of the others are less… um… accurate.”

“Why would a shelter not be accurate?”

“Some are emergency shelters or cold-weather shelters run by churches. While we appreciate all efforts to aid the homeless, some do not keep records the way we’re required to. They may also hand out sleeping bags and food while not offering a bed.”

“Are you able to service most of the homeless through the city’s shelters?”

She tilted her head to the side, her expressive blue eyes peering straight into his. It was hard not to notice her beauty, but at the moment, her pink-tinted lips were stretched into a thin line.

“Detective Fiske, on any given day there are almost three-thousand persons considered to be homeless in Hope City. Seventy-two percent of those are men, and at least ten percent are veterans. Over twenty-five percent are considered to be chronically homeless, which means it’s not temporary. In our city, there are only about twelve hundred emergency beds. You can do the math. That means many, many homeless persons are either turned away because there’s not enough room or they never make it through our doors.”

“And Jonathan?”

Tara’s attention refocused on her computer. When she looked up and held his gaze, he was struck with the clearness of her blue eyes and beautiful face in contrast to the hard set of her jaw. She tilted her head and he realized he was staring. “Did you find anything?” His voice was rough, covering his perusal.

“Yes. Last year, he spent two nights at the emergency shelter over on 43rd Street. From what I can see, those were the only two nights that he spent at a shelter.”

“What about clinics for treating or offering prescription drugs for the homeless?” He watched her blink at the change in direction of his inquiry.

“Our center is next to a free clinic if that’s what you’re asking. It’s not the only clinic in the area that provides services to the poor and uninsured.”

“So, Carl Burnley or Jonathan Rothberg could have been seen at the clinic without ever having come to stay at this homeless shelter?”

She leaned back in her seat as she nodded. “What are you not telling me, Detective Fiske?”

He held her steady gaze, his admiration increasing. Smart, intuitive. And beautiful. He considered how much to reveal, then decided she might be more accommodating if she knew what he was up against. “All three men had opioids in their systems and pills in their possession.”

It took just a few seconds for her eyes to widen and she gasped. “Rocky? Rocky also?”

“Yes, Ms. Wilson. This is why we’re investigating. All three were carrying prescription pills in baggies— way more than they would be taking.”

She looked down at her hands clasped together on her desk as she pursed her lips together again. “I see. I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but over forty percent of those who seek shelters have a substance use disorder.” Lifting her head, she speared him with her glacial stare and added, “The streets are full of ways for them to get their next fix. I’m not sure looking at the clinics that offer needed services is the right place for you to focus your energies.”

“What can you tell me about Rocky? Was he being seen for a substance use disorder? Or given opioids for pain? Other drugs?”

A long silence ensued, and he wondered if she was going to answer his question. While she stared at her hands on her desk again, it gave him full access to study her discreetly. She didn’t wear a wedding ring, and he wondered if she, like him, was married to the job. A demanding job that probably at times seemed as thankless as mine. He noted the dark circles underneath her eyes, possibly indicating little sleep the previous night. A stab of guilt moved through him that he needed her at the morgue. I’ve no doubt that was sure as fuck not what she expected to have to do when she came to work yesterday. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead as though in pain. “Ms. Wilson, are you okay?” He blinked in surprise when her gaze hit him.

“I’m sorry, Detective Fiske. My mind wandered. All I could think about was Rocky finding a place out of the elements to stay warm but having the bad luck of being near a fire.” She opened her mouth as though to say more, then gave her head a little shake. Clearing her throat, she said, “You asked about drugs. I can’t tell you what he had taken. The times he came in to talk to me he was clear-eyed and coherent. I know he suffered from PTSD, and I referred him to the clinic. I spoke to Dr. Tiller about Rocky, and the last conversation we had about him I was told he was prescribing an antidepressant.”

“For those who can’t afford medication, how does the clinic handle that?”

“I know the basics of how the clinic functions, Detective, but you would need to speak to them about the particulars. The free clinic is a completely separate entity from the homeless shelter. Their facility is adjacent to us, but we are not connected to them financially or procedurally. We make recommendations that some of our homeless visit the clinic, but we have no control over whether they do or what happens once they are there. Their medical records are private unless they sign for us to have access, which we only need if they are receiving counseling from us.”
Maryann Jordan. Carter – ARC copy – not for sale or distribution: Hope City (Kindle Locations 630-688).

Visits to the clinic next door to the shelter don’t yield much more than other leads to follow.

I really loved the way Carter gets a sort of lunch date with Tara using the investigation as an excuse. That begins an interesting relationship that will have a few ups and downs.

This book grabbed hold of me on the first page and kept me enthralled to the very end. There is plenty of suspense, intrigue and twists with a simmer to sizzle romance that rounds everything out.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this dual author series.

5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!

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Coming Soon!

Maryann Jordan

I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).

I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.

I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.

I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!


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Hot SEAL, Cold Feet – SEALs in Paradise Wedding Edition Book 4 By Becca Jameson


Hot SEAL, Cold Feet
SEALs In Paradise Wedding Edition Book 4
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Becca Jameson

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He’s a former Navy SEAL in financial straits.
She’s a bar owner in need of a bouncer.
Perfect, right?
Hardly.

When Jodi finds out her new bouncer is none other than Tucker, the man currently starring on a reality television show, she isn’t happy. She doesn’t want the publicity. Plus, she thinks he’s a fool. Who marries a stranger on television for money?Tucker isn’t happy either. He’s in over his head in a farce of a marriage, but he needs the money the network is paying him. It’s nobody’s business why he’s working a night job in a bar at the same time.

Too bad the heat between them is incendiary. Hooking up is a huge mistake for them both, but some risks are worth it..

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At the end of the last book ‘Hot SEAL, Runaway Bride’ we meet Tucker who saves the day for Nick as far as the reality show goes. Tucker needs the money and even after marrying Katia, he agrees to an additional sum to stay married for 90 days. Now as he’s counting down the days, he gets a job as a bouncer to help find the person dealing drugs in the bar.

Jodi and her father own Bridgman’s Bar, and she’s not at all happy with her father’s new hire. She doesn’t want the publicity that will follow Tucker around.

Tucker wants this job to get away from Katia, they are a marriage in name only made more difficult by the constant streaming of video in their apartment. Between the scripted dialog, the arguments and the conditions of the contract, Tucker is going out of his mind.

This is a favorite scene.

In any case, he didn’t like the way she was dismissing him as if he were nothing more than dog shit on the bottom of her shoe. He half expected her to shake off her tennis shoe and shudder, backing up a pace. He wanted to tell her to mind her own business and fuck off, but he bit his tongue instead. He needed this job. If she blew it for him with her judgmental attitude, he was going to be seriously pissed.

He gritted his teeth, trying to decide how he wanted to handle this situation.

Before he could think how to explain his predicament to Bill, Jodi continued, her head still cocked toward her father. “Tucker here is on that ridiculous reality television show filmed at that beach house. You know the one, Dad. Cold Feet.”

Bill shook his head. “Never heard of it.” He glanced toward Tuck, one half of his mouth lifted in a grin. “Is that true? You one of those Hollywood stars trying to get your big break?”

Tuck shook his head. “No, Sir. Not even close. I—”

He didn’t get to finish that sentence because Jodi interrupted. “He married this crazy, whiny woman on the show, Dad. And now he’s raking in the money because social media is eating this up. They even extended the stupid show to continue following his train wreck of a marriage to the star of the show, Katia. I’m not sure which one of them is more deranged.” She shifted her gaze to Tuck, tipping her head down again and staring at him, challenging him to refute her explanation.

He couldn’t, of course. For one thing, he was under contract with the network. For another thing, nothing Jodi had stated was inaccurate. Oh, wait, except the part about him raking in money. If he were, he wouldn’t be standing here today trying to get a job he desperately needed doing something he was far overqualified to do.

Bill slapped his hand on his thigh and chuckled, apparently amused. “Well, I’ll be. We’ve got us a star working here.” He sobered slightly as his eyes drew closer. “Your show gonna affect your work here, son?”

“No, sir.” Tuck was bewildered by the man’s apparent lack of concern where it came to Cold Feet. “Contrary to your daughter’s belief, I’m not making a significant amount of money to appear on the show, and I need this job.” He shot her a glare this time, daring her to continue arguing.

Too bad she was so cute. Jodi Bridgman was the kind of woman who hid her beauty under baggy T-shirts and a sharp tongue. Even though she was probably breathtaking when she let her hair down and lost the chip on her shoulder, he doubted many people had ever seen that side of her.

There were a few seconds of silence, during which Tuck feared Bill might change his mind and send Tuck out the door, and then Bill’s phone buzzed in his pocket and the older man extracted it, fumbling for a moment to swipe the screen. “I need to take this,” he apologized. As he stepped away, heading toward the door Jodi had presumably come from, he looked at his daughter. “Please continue showing Tucker around the bar. He starts tonight.”

Great. Just great.

Jodi sighed, her shoulders falling. “So which is it then?” “Which is what?” Tuck braced himself for whatever she was going to say next, knowing it was going to be good.

“Either you’re certifiable for being on that show, or you’re making a shit ton of money doing it. It has to be one or the other. Neither explains what you’re doing here in my family’s bar looking for work. We’re barely holding our heads above water here, and you look expensive.” She grazed her eyes up and down his body. The only thing she did not do was cross her arms.

What the fuck did she mean when she said he looked expensive? Tuck met her gaze. “Honestly, Ms. Bridgman, it’s none of your business how much money I make or why I want this job. If you really intend to judge me from what you’ve seen on television or read on social media, I can’t stop you. Or… you could set aside your preconceived notions and look at the facts.”

She continued to stare at him. “And what would those facts be?”

“I’m a Navy SEAL who served two tours. I was based near here in Coronado. One of my specialties was infiltrating behind the enemy lines to ensure who my target was before taking him out. You,” he pointed at her in particular, “have a serious problem that could cause you to lose this bar. You need to find out who’s dealing under the table here. I’m the man for the job. But if you’re so worried about what I do off the clock, I’ll leave now.”

Several seconds ticked by before Jodi inhaled long and slow. “I don’t want to trade one problem for another. You can’t bring cameras in here. This is my family’s bar. I won’t have it become part of some ridiculous reality TV show.”

Tuck decided it was his turn to narrow his eyes at her. “For someone who thinks Cold Feet is the dumbest show ever to air on television, you sure do know a lot about it. Were you watching the latest episode in the back before I got here, or do you enjoy the livestream from my apartment?” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, shit. That’s right. The livestreaming isn’t very interesting right now since I’m currently here.”

Suddenly, Jodi’s entire demeanor changed. She grinned, and then she started laughing. When she finally managed to pull herself back together, she asked, “Are you at least going to explain to me why a chiseled, sexy hunk of man who recently left the SEALs with brains and wit is starring as the groom on a stupid reality show?”

He jerked back a few inches. Shocked. It took him a moment to respond. The hard-nosed woman who’d entered this room with her fists raised to fight him was now soft and teasing and cute. The dimples on her cheeks made her seem almost human. Her eyes were dancing with humor.

Another lock of curls fell across her cheek, and he watched as she tried futilely to tuck the hair behind her ear. Part of him was mesmerized by her transformation and wanted to reach out and brush those curls off her cheek himself. He wondered if her hair was as soft as it looked.
Becca Jameson. Hot SEAL, Cold Feet: SEALs in Paradise (Kindle Locations 85-132). Becca Jameson Publishing.

The arguments with Katia, the growing romance between Tucker and Jodi, and the involvement with the show make for lots of amusement and angst. The investigation into the drugs suspenseful, and intriguing. However it’s the conclusion of the show that surprised me the most.

I really can’t wait to read the next book in this multi-author series.

5 Contented Purrs for Becca!

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Coming Soon!

Becca Jameson Becca Jameson

Becca Jameson currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and the various pets that wander through.

After editing for about five years she recently started writing. She is loving the journey, dabbling in various genres.

When not writing or editing she can usually be found taxiing kids to and from their activities, scrapbooking, and reading!

Late at night she can usually be found sequestered in her office creating fantasy with a glass of red wine and a bar of dark chocolate.


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The Stunning Series Conclusion! Pointed Arrow – Wings of Artemis Book 12 by Rebecca Royce


Pointed Arrow
Wings of Artemis Book 12
By
Rebecca Royce

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Sienna is lost…

With almost all of her guys missing and Artemis crippled, Sienna finds herself in a show down with Evander Corporation, fighting for all of their lives. But she wasn’t born to be a victim, she was born to lead. If saving the men she loves costs her life, it’s a price she’s willing to pay.

They’ve all been trapped in darkness…

The Super Soldiers who adore her, the pilot who is crazy for her and the doctor who won’t give up on her will be tested to their limits and push the boundaries to save Sienna not only from Evander but from the diseases threatening to ravage her body. They will take a chance to roll the dice with a little help from several familiar faces that the Artemis has been the site of miracles before. She can be again.

In the epic conclusion of Wings of Artemis, Sienna must take her life and her fate in her own hands and become the arrow that shoots through the heart of her enemies, rescues her men, and changes the future of the universe forever.

*PLEASE NOTE*
This is a 12 novel, 2 novella series for a total of 14 books. Don’t start with this one.

Not only is this the end of Sienna’s story it’s also the series conclusion.

When we left Sienna in Lost Star, her five super-soldiers were missing and with Trent and Wade she was fleeing the planet. A last message from Kellen has them ditching their tablets, as he confirms they had be taken by Evander.

When Evander manages to get a tracking beam on them to bring their ship on board, Wade thinks fast and hides Trent from their detection. Now it’s up to Sienna and Trent to free Corbin, Devil, Kellan, Blaze and Anders as well as find the cure for her.

A BOOM is the start of it all and in no time plans are being made. A journey to The Farm has us reuniting with everyone, plans that were made go totally astray, a surprise solution, and once again The Artemis plays a major roll.

An action-packed, suspenseful and very emotional conclusion to this awesome series; BRAVO!

5 Contented Purrs for Rebecca!

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Rebecca Royce Rebecca Royce

As a teenager, I would hide in my room to read my favorite romance novels when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I hope, these days, that my parents think it was worth it.

I am the mother of three adorable boys and I am fortunate to be married to my best friend. I live in Austin Texas where I am determined to eat all the barbecue in town.

I am in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and try to use all of these elements in my writing. I’ve been told I’m a little bloodthirsty so I hope that when you read my work you’ll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. I love to write series because I love to see characters develop over time and it always makes me happy to see my favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.

In my world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.

I’d love to hear from you!


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