A Scandalous Desire for the Duchess Wallflower: A Steamy Historical Regency Romance Novel by Scarlett Osborne


A Scandalous Desire for the Duchess Wallflower
A Steamy Historical Regency Romance Novel
By
Scarlett Osborne

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Winter Blog Blurb

His touch is the only thing that can save her from insanity…

All Julia can remember are the horrid sounds that still haunt her to this day.

Found on the verge of death, Julia wakes up with a shocking realization; she doesn’t know who she is. Unable to walk, she finds herself at the mercy of a handsome Duke, and though merciful in his care, the desire he stirs up inside her is utterly merciless.

Douglas Wilson, Duke of Langston, has been living in despair ever since his mother left him. Deemed a scandalous child, he has spent his days alone, avoiding all notions of love. But when the alluring Julia comes under his roof, she ignites a dangerous fire in his soul.

With Douglas destined to marry another, Julia is convinced she has no place in his life and flees. When her trail runs cold, Douglas’ last clue is the description of an infamous hired killer. A contract signed in blood by a familiar stranger…

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Douglas Wilson, Duke of Langston frequently hunts his lands with his butler and friend Edward. On this particular day as they approach the Crag they see what appears to be a body. Dismayed by the though of some unfortunate falling to their death, Douglas approaches the body. What he finds surprises him and he immediately takes action. The young woman was injured yet alive.

The Duke’s housekeeper Mary tends the young woman and finds only a handkerchief with the embroidered initial J as a means to identify her. When the mysterious woman wakes it’s to find she has no recall of her name, where she’s from or what happened to her.

In spite of not knowing if she is betrothed or married ‘J’ finds herself falling for the Duke and he for her.

This is a favorite scene.

‘J’ could see the Duke’s internal battle unfolding as his brow drew down heavily over his eyes again, and so, she decided to thank him for saving her life now that the air was clear. “Mary told me of your heroism on the Crag. You have surely saved my life and I cannot thank you enough for your kindness, Your Grace. I will see to it that my debt is paid in full once I am recovered.”

“I did what anyone would have done, ‘J’. You survived what many a man has not,” he replied, feeling flattered by her suggestion of his heroism.

She thinks me a hero—

This softened Douglas’ reservations and he continued to answer her previous question as they stood by the edge of the grassy lake. “You know, I spent a lot of time here as a boy. It was welcome relief from a life of cruelty. I haven’t brought another soul here since I was eight-years old.” He explained to her as she looked on patiently.

“I’m so sorry, Your Grace,” ‘J’ replied, unsure of what to say, but maintaining her approachable and patient sense of calm. She wanted to hear more.

“It was not all sorrow, ‘J’. I was blessed with a devoted Mother before… certain things took their toll upon her. She tutored me extensively in philosophy and astrology. We would walk along this very lake and watch the birds, much like we are doing now. She was wonderful to me. I suppose I still treasure those times,” Douglas replied, trying to avoid becoming emotional.

“What happened to her?” ‘J’ asked, rather bravely.

“I fail to see how it matters, ‘J’. I haven’t seen her in 20 years.”

“Did your Father not look for her? Perhaps she’s still out there, Your Grace, waiting for you,” ‘J’ softly replied, trying to shed an optimistic light upon the grim conversation.

“I do not discuss my Father.”

‘J’ was struck by his stalwart constitution and hardy resolve. She thought it incredible that a man who had seen so much misfortune, although he refused to expose it in its entirety, could refrain from any self-pity or grim desolation. He impressed her, both in body and spirit.

As he spoke, she let herself contemplate his handsome features; how his dark eyes and thick eyelashes sat proudly on his face, how his perfectly defined jawline tensed as he spoke in earnest about his hardships.

His broad shoulders did not look like those of a nobleman and it was clear that he did not shy away from assisting Edward with the heavier side of housekeeping. She felt a keen flush of excitement as she regarded his physique. Was her corset too tight? Or was she developing a desire for this incredible, unexpectedly complex man? I should calm myself. The Duke saved my life and I should not think of him this way.

Correcting her curious thoughts, ‘J’ decided to disclose her admiration of his character. “You have lived through many pains, yet you do not pity yourself. I admire you, Your Grace,” she pronounced as they gazed over the sunlight that waltzed over the surface of the lake. “I only wish I could tell you tales of my life, yet I find there is nothing to share.”

Douglas enveloped her hand inside his, charmed by the authenticity of this strange, wise girl. “You speak of knowing so little, ‘J’, but I have never witnessed such wisdom, sincerity, and grace residing in a single soul. You know more than you think,” he replied, gazing deeply into her eyes with an unexplainable gentleness.

‘J’ felt her cheeks flush with his suddenly tender words, they seemed to take her breath away. “You are too kind, Your Grace, but I assure you I am most likely no different from any other girl.”

“On the contrary, ‘J’… though this garden sees many a beautiful flower, it has never seen a rose quite like you. In fact, I think I shall call you ‘‘ J’ Rose’.”
Scarlett Osborne. A Scandalous Desire for Duchess Wallflower: A Steamy Regency Romance (Kindle Locations 331-362). Scarlett Osborne.

Now the Duke is betrothed and when she is to visit he sends ‘J’ off to the hospital to be tended to by a doctor who specializes in thing like her amnesia.

Many things begin to unfold when ‘J’ returns to the Duke’s home including the increasing attraction between them.

A very interesting tale, with intrigue, suspense and simmer to sizzle heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Scarlett!

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Winter Blog About Author

Born in the Sunshine State of Florida, but of both British and Nordic descent, Scarlett Osborne grew up reading historical romances from the land of her ancestors. Fascinated with the British society of the 1800s and armed with a wild imagination, she obtained a degree in Creative Writing and immediately started her career as a Regency romance author.

A daydreamer extraordinaire, Scarlett likes to jump in the shoes of her heroines, immersing herself in her own stories, living the adventures that she wished she had experienced as a child. An avid reader and fan of the outdoors, Scarlett spends her free time either reading or going on long horseback rides along with her two sons.

Get lost in a land of enchantment, where adventure and love await around every corner…Scarlett hopes that through her heroes, you too will get to live a whirlwind romance in the Regency era, when fairytales were real and all dreams possible!

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2020 Christmas Countdown: Undercover Santa – Small Town Secrets Book 5 by Cat Johnson


Undercover Santa
Small Town Secrets Book 5
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Cat Johnson

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It’s Christmas in Mudville and Morgan’s Farm Market is all decked out for the holidays, but the man in the Santa suit isn’t who he says he is…

ELIZABETH

I recognized him right away. The boy I’d met and fell in love with one summer twenty-three years ago, before he’d disappeared completely from my life. Now he’s back . . . and dressed as Santa. And lying about who he is. The question is why? The bigger question is, will he stick around this time?

CHRISTOPHER

The last thing I expected was to inherit my uncle’s farm in Mudville. No, actually, the last I’d ever expected was to be dressed as Santa Claus and see Lizzy Murphy again after all these years. She’s all grown up and goes by Elizabeth now. And she’s making me want to stick around, just when I’d been all set to go.

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On his way to meet with the lawyers of his great uncle’s estate, Christopher gets lost. He hasn’t been to the farm since high school and has never traveled here alone. One thing was certain where he was is not the farm or the attorney’s office. After trying unsuccessfully to contact the lawyer, Christopher gets back on the road and continues on, hoping for signs of civilization. Not far up the road he does find a Christmas tree lot. At least he should be able to get directions. What he didn’t expect was a wealth of information on the real estate and the town’s economy while he waited to be noticed. He also didn’t expect to react to their assumption the way he does.

However, just going along with being Santa for the afternoon has him seeing Lizzy again. His first love and the woman she is now attracts him even more.

This is a favorite scene.

I sighed at one of the many daily reminders of why I’d wanted to move out of this town and to a real city since I graduated high school.

Yet here I was, still in Mudville at thirty-nine years old. And, apparently, still waiting for Santa.

This whole thing had turned out to be a lot more work—and stress—than I’d bargained for. But the Winter Wonderland was for a good cause. No doubt. The Santa photos sold here this month would benefit the local school’s grossly underfunded arts programs.

I couldn’t not have Santa in our Santa Station—the money-maker of this event. Everything needed to go as we’d planned. Not only did the school really need the money, I didn’t want the Morgan family to regret letting us set up the fundraiser at their farm market.

The idea was that families coming to buy a Christmas tree would stop for a photo. Conversely, those bringing their kids for a picture with Santa would probably make a day of it and pick their tree while they were here. Win-win for all of us. Or at least that was my hope. But not if the damn Santa didn’t get here.

I whipped out my cell phone. I’d already texted Stone and asked him to get me the volunteer’s phone number from Agnes.

My bad that I didn’t have Agnes’s or the volunteer’s number myself, but since Stone was dating Agnes’s niece Harper, I figured he could get the information for me.

Almost an hour later, I still had no Santa and no word from Stone.

I glanced toward the parking lot and blew out a breath. If the volunteer didn’t arrive in the next five minutes, we were screwed. I was going to have to send out an SOS to the Rotary members and beg for someone to get me another volunteer because without Santa, the Santa Station was going to flop.

Just when I was starting to really panic, a flash of red and white caught my eye.

He was here. Dressed and ready. Thank God.

I stepped forward, more than anxious to show him to his sleigh and get this fundraising event started.

I extended my hand with a smile and said, “Hi. You must be our Santa volunteer for today. Thank you for helping out. I’m Elizabeth Murphy.”

He paused, a frown forming between the eyebrows he’d sprayed white. I saw his mouth open and then close again behind the fake beard and mustache.

Finally, he drew in a breath and said, “Nice to meet you, Elizabeth. Um . . . does anyone ever call you Lizzy?”

I laughed. “Not since I was a teenager. Why do you ask?” It seemed like an odd question.

“Uh, no reason.” He shook his head.

“I’m sorry. What’s your name?” I asked, embarrassed I didn’t already know it.

His name was probably something I should have asked for weeks ago, in addition to getting his number. Then, all of my stress over his being late could have been avoided. Lesson learned.

“Uh, it’s, ah, Chris.”

It had taken him longer than it should to answer that simple question. Maybe he was nervous about this Santa gig. Stage fright or something. I decided to lighten the mood and hopefully put him more at ease.

“Chris, as in Cringle?” I smiled at my little joke.

“Yes, coincidentally.” He smiled too and somehow it felt familiar. Like I knew this guy.

Heck, maybe I did know him. This was a small town, surrounded by small towns. Although, I couldn’t remember any man I knew specifically named Chris.

Well, except for Christopher Nunes. My first kiss. My first crush. My first heart break.

Christopher had only been here for one summer, staying with his uncle at the Hatchett place next door to my house, but three months was all it took. He’d walked away with my heart when he left that September.

I’d heard Mr. Hatchett died last month. The farmhouse had been empty since he went into the nursing home last year. He’d rented the fields out to a local farmer years ago when he’d gotten too old to work them himself. Poor guy didn’t have any kids of his own to take over—

It hit me. Slowly at first and then all at once. Like puzzle pieces coming together until suddenly the complete picture was there. And once I saw it, it seemed so obvious, so clear, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it immediately.

His dark eyes. The dark hair peeking out beneath the wig. His hesitation when I’d asked his name.

Chris was Christopher.

The sixteen-year old girl’s crush still alive inside me had my heart speeding. The memory of that first kiss hit me so strongly it was like it had been yesterday. I remembered it well. It had been the day before he was due to leave. I was already completely in love with him. Already mourning Christopher’s departure. Missing him before he’d even left.

Where he lived seemed a million miles away to me then and I’d been determined I was going to leave a lasting impression on him, if it was the last thing I did.

I’d gotten him alone in the barn under the guise of us taking one final horseback ride before he went back home to Long Island for the start of the school year.

We were standing close. I was helping him tighten the cinch on his horse. That’s when I made my move, leaning in to press a quick kiss to his mouth.

I was scared to death, not knowing if he liked me that way.

It seemed he did. After that first awkward kiss had surprised him, he’d pulled me close for our second kiss. That one had blown me away. The memory of it, glorified over time until it was branded in my mind as pure perfection, had ruined me for all other men since.

That had been a real kiss. A tongue tangling, hand groping, so long my lips got swollen kind of kiss. And I would have ripped off my clothes and begged him to take me right then and there in the barn if the sound of his uncle’s truck hadn’t interrupted us.

Even now, so many years later, standing next to him and reliving that moment caused a twinge of desire deep inside me.

As far as I knew, he hadn’t been back since that summer. What was he doing here in Mudville wearing the Rotary’s Santa suit now? 

The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced he’d recognized me too. His asking if I ever went by Lizzy seemed proof of that. So why hadn’t Christopher owned up to who he really was? I had no idea, but I decided to play it cool.

If he wanted to pretend, I could pretend.

I pasted on a smile. “Well, I’m happy to have you here, Chris. Let me show you to your sleigh. All right?”

“That’s great. Thanks.” He nodded, acting casual, but I saw it now. There was nothing casual about his stare as his eyes met mine.

There was definitely nothing casual about how I was feeling now that Christopher Nunes was finally back after disappearing from my life completely so many years ago. And this time, I wasn’t a girl anymore.

I was a woman. He was a man. And man oh man, what a man he was, if what little I could see in spite of the suit was any indication.

It was confusing, but I knew one thing with certainty. I intended to take full advantage of his being back before I let him leave here again.

With that in mind, I called to the photographer. “Nicole! We’ve got our Santa.”
Johnson, Cat. Undercover Santa: A second chance holiday romance (Small Town Secrets Book 5). Cat Johnson. Kindle Locations (114-170). Kindle Edition.

An interesting photoshoot, and a visit to the lawyer’s later has Christopher staying longer than he anticipated in Mudville. He was finally going to see if there was more to the attraction he had with Lizzy, now Elizabeth.

A delightful and fun Christmas story. I think I’m going to have to read the others in this Small Town Series.

5 Contented Purrs for Cat!

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Coming Soon!

catjohnson340x413 Cat Johnson

Cat Johnson is a top 10 New York Times bestseller and the author of the USA Today bestselling Hot SEALs series. She writes contemporary romance that usually features hot alpha heroes (who often wear combat or cowboy boots) and the sassy heroines brave enough to love them. Known for her unique marketing she has sponsored pro bull riders, owns a collection of camouflage and western wear for book signings, and has used bologna to promote romance novels.


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Sail With Me – With Me In Seattle Universe Book 2 By Jen Talty


Sail With Me
With Me In Seattle Universe Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Winter Blog Blurb

Darcie Bowie spent the last year of her life putting the pieces of her shattered heart back together while trying to get her family off her back about her chosen career in the yachting industry. The last thing she needs is for her ex-boyfriend to show up as a surprise guest.

Reid Carson is going on this charter for one reason and one reason only: to take back his company. He never expected to see the woman he let slip through his fingers nearly a year before. Nor could he anticipate the deadly game of deception and betrayal that will put him and Darcie right in the line of fire.

NOTE:
Sail With Me is a stand alone novel set in Kristen Proby’s With Me in Seattle Universe.

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Darcie is looking forward to taking the last part of her Captain’s exam. This has been her goal for a long time. It was put on the wayside while she got over a broken heart. After this charter she is planning on taking the week to study. Unfortunately her boss takes on an additional charter and the guests are not ones Darcie is ready to see. At least she has the time to see her family for her parent’s anniversary before that. A single night turn around is the pits, but she has a good crew and knows they’ll get the job done.

She didn’t expect to run into said guests on the way to her car. Reid Carson looks as good as ever and her heart, well she still loves him. He just can’t accept her chosen career goal. His business partner Preston is another story entirely, he never liked her nor she him.

Reid knew Darcie was living on a sailboat here at the marina, seeing her was a surprise though. He still loves her and realizes he made a big mistake breaking up with her. He needs to apologize and maybe get another chance with her, but first he needs to figure out what’s going on with the company.

After an initial greeting where Reid and Preston were having a drink, Reid finds himself waiting for her return by her boat.

This is a favorite scene.

It took a fair amount of pizzazz to impress Reid, and Darcie had done it in spades.

“Stalking me?” Her sweet voice rolled through his ears and slid down his throat, coating his stomach with the most decadent flavor. Who knew sound could be so tasty?

“Not you, the boat. I saw you get off here, and with the name and all, I assumed she was yours.”

“That’s a lot of dangerous surmising for a man who likes facts and nothing but the facts.”

“I’m also a man who likes to live on the edge, so this is me being wild and out of control.” He shrugged his shoulders and leaned against the post. The last time he’d seen her had been a random meeting in New Orleans that hadn’t gone well at all.

At least, what he remembered of it. Honestly, it had been an encounter he’d prefer to forget.

She laughed. “I bought her a few months ago. When I’m not on a charter, I live on her.”

“I was surprised to see you, and even more shocked you’re running charters out of Seattle and not some exotic port. It’s not like you to be in a mundane city such as this one.”

“I wanted to be close to home for a bit.” She waggled her index finger under his nose. “And don’t you go knocking my hometown, or I’ll start picking on your Southern drawl, Mr. Texas.”

“You always loved when I got all cowboy on you and did the two-step.” He looped his fingers into his belt buckle and did a little kick with his feet.

She laughed, shaking her head.

He couldn’t help but wonder if she was lying about wanting to be close to home, or if the family had put the pressure on. While she was tight with her siblings, she struggled with being overwhelmed by anyone encroaching on her space.

Something he could relate to.

When he’d last seen her, she’d been in New Orleans with her brother, visiting an old friend.

It looked more like a pity vacation, and she’d looked like shit.

Not that he’d looked any better. He had gone to Bourbon Street with one thing in mind: to get shitfaced every night and try to forget that Darcie ever existed. He’d thought he’d been hallucinating when she rounded the corner. He’d actually poked her in the center of the chest to see if she were real.

Jagar hadn’t liked that.

Her friend, Asher, liked it even less.

Reid rubbed his jaw. “The last time I saw you, I said some things I shouldn’t have.”

“I’m surprised you even remember that day.”

“A lot of it’s still fuzzy, and that is both embarrassing and sucky as well as a bit of a saving grace at times.” He let out a sarcastic chuckle. “But I owe you, your brother, and his friend a huge apology.”

“Yeah. You do,” she said. “And for more than just being a jerk in New Orleans. Your list of transgressions is long.”

“I guess I walked into that one,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “We both made mistakes in our relationship.”

“Some of us made more than others.”

“Wow. You’re just not letting go of any of it, are you?” He tossed his hands to his sides, slapping his thighs.

“Sorry. You’re the last person I expected to see. You kind of ruined my plans this week with this charter.”

“What plans? Did you have a hot date? Are you seeing someone? In a long-term, committed relationship?”

“Wow. And what if I am?”

“Are you?” he asked.

“No. But I did have plans.”

“Doing what, exactly? Because isn’t being on charter what you live for?” He groaned. “Sorry. Old habits die hard.”

“I guess they do,” she said. “I’m taking the written portion of my captain’s test next week. I wanted to use this time to study. You ruined that for me,” she said.

“I’m shocked you haven’t already taken it. You wanted to be a captain by now when we were together.”

“Another thing you fucked up for me.”

“How am I responsible for you not taking your test?”

“You’re not.” She huffed. “Other than it took me a little while to get my head on straight after we broke up.”

“I can relate to that,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll ace it. You’ll make a great captain.” He desperately wanted to pull her into his arms, hold her close to his chest and kiss her sweet, tender lips. Letting her go had been the dumbest thing he’d ever done.

No. Telling her to leave her career had been.

“You didn’t have that much faith in me when we were a couple.” She wrapped one arm around her middle and brought her thumb to her mouth. She swayed back and forth.

That always drove him mad with desire. “Yes, I did.”

“Really? Because near the end of our relationship, I seem to remember you telling me that my job was a waste of time and energy.”

“I didn’t mean it.”

“Then you shouldn’t have said it.”
Jen Talty. Sail With Me (Kindle Locations 665-706). Lady Boss Press, Inc.

That conversation almost led them to bed but common sense prevailed. At least for the moment.

Darcie enlists her brother Jared’s aid and he has better ways of finding out what Reid wants to know. Of course Jager is also going to get all protective of his sister with regard to Reid.

Once the charter leaves things get even more interesting. Not only in the information Reid finds but also with regard to Darcie. Let’s just say these two sizzle off the pages.

I couldn’t put this book down as the pieces come together, implicating more than just Preston.

I can’t wait to see what Jen comes up with next in this Universe.

5 Contented Purrs for Jen!

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Winter Blog About Author

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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Limited Edition – 1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology


1001 Dark Nights Press
is excited to present the winners
of the 2020 short story challenge.

1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology
Featuring
Fiona Archer ~ Louisa Bacio ~ Laura M. Baird
Kait Ballenger ~ Asa Maria Bradley ~ Eden Bradley
Boone Brux ~ C.G. Burnette ~ Cara Carnes
Caraway Carter ~ Sierra Cartwright ~ S.A. Clayton
Katana Collins ~ Janie Crouch ~ Patricia D. Eddy
Zoey Ellis ~ Zoe Hill ~ Sara L. Hudson
Tracey Jerald ~ A.D. Justice ~ Terri E. Laine
Michelle Mars ~ Gina L. Maxwell ~ Kayt Miller
Dani René ~ Gen Ryan ~ Blue Saffire
Ella Sheridan ~ Mayra Statham ~ Delancey Stewart
Jen Talty ~ Mary Ting ~ Reina Torres
Magan Vernon ~ Jennifer Woodhull ~ Khloe Wren

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When we started 1001 Dark Nights back in 2014, it was with the goal of discovery—creating a way for readers to find new-to-them bestselling authors and fall in love with their stories and their worlds.

This year, we held a contest where romance authors could submit a short story to be included in a 1001 Dark Nights anthology, and we were blown away by the results. We received hundreds of entries, and while we wish we could include everyone, we’re thrilled to introduce you to these thirty-six incredible authors.

We hope you love the stories as much as we do. If so, we encourage you to check out the other books by these wonderful authors. Each and every one is unique and special.

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Free On All Venues!
This anthology will only be available
for three months!

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I am only spotlighting a few of the stories in this AWESOME anthology. It’s huge and I can’t believe it’s free. Every story I’ve read so far is a 5 Purr Read!

Shadow Lover
Louisa Bacio

Toni had joined Carnevale to escape her parents and their choice to be her husband, Zoro. Zoro was the definition of evil, and she’s sure he’s killed all his previous wives. She would not be next.

Marco came to have his cards read by her, when she touches him for a closer look she’s thrown into a vision and throws him out.

The next day they meet up in public and the attraction is still there. For some reason she feels safe with him.

This is a favorite scene.

Hand on his chest, she pressed him into the darkened alleyway, marveling at his crisp features. He placed one hand on her waist, drawing her tightly against him. The other hand wound through her curls, cradling the back of her neck. He cast his eyes down, staring at her lips, and the moment stretched in time. Her breath hitched. Whatever was to come, her future would be forever altered.

Raising on tiptoe, she tilted her head and brushed her lips against his. Mouth against mouth, they let their lives seam together.

A hunger rose between them. Desire flamed from low in her belly and spread throughout. From this kiss, she imagined being with him, celebrating their union of bodies.

Something shifted, and the more they kissed, the more lightheaded she grew. His kisses felt like they possessed the power to suck her energy, along with her good sense. They broke the connection. She swayed.

“Whoa, hold on there.” Marco steadied her. “Maybe we should slow down.”

“Give me a moment.” Even to her own ears, her voice sounded drunk, floating in and out of volume.

“It’ll be all right.”

She focused on a point of light and watched as it grew smaller and smaller until everything went black.

And she felt herself falling.
Bacio, Louisa, Shadow Lover. 1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology 2020. 1001 Dark Nights Press. Kindle Locations (5706-5716). Kindle Edition.

Marco knows he needs to protect Toni, it’s more than just an urge. It’s something he has to do and is proven when Zoro shows up.

I loved this tale of shadow, light and love.

5 Contented Purrs for Louisa!


Exit Wounds
The Arsenal

Cara Carnes

Callista Yate’s husband Owen was MIA, the company he worked for wouldn’t send in a team to get him out. At her friend Kayla’s insistence, Callista Yates goes to the Arsenal accompanied by Boomer her guard dog. She wasn’t sure what her reception would be but she needed them to get her husband out of wherever he was. Time was running out.

This is a favorite scene.

The door behind Callista opened. Boomer shifted at her feet as a brunette and a tall man resembling Jesse entered. The latter knelt near the dog and smiled.

“Hi there, Boomer. You and I ran a couple of ops together.”

They had? Callista glanced down at the dog, who’d somehow become the focal point since her arrival. Fear clawed its way up her throat. “My husband was Army but left the service so he could be home more.”

For her.

“It’s always about what you want, Callista. What about me?”

“What about you?”

“We keep chipping away on my dreams to make this work between us. I’m not sure how much I have left to give.”

“Don’t say that.”

Owen turned and headed toward his truck. “We’ll talk when I get back. Maybe you’ll pull your head out of your ass by then and see I’m doing the best I can.”

Regret soured her stomach. The argument they’d had before he left for the mission recycled in her brain, an unwanted reminder that she’d put him in this situation. He never would’ve signed on with Jaxsun if she hadn’t demanded he leave the service.

“He contracted with Jaxsun after he left. Are they planning a retrieval?” the woman asked.

“No.” Callista pulled out the crumpled check from her pocket and tossed it on the table as the woman and man sat. “They knocked on my door less than a day after they received word of his capture and offered their condolences, along with this. Five thousand dollars dollars is the going rate for an operative’s life, in case you didn’t know.”

The two men regarded one another. Jesse fisted his hands while the other man cursed. The woman took the folder and shifted through the contents. From what Kayla had said, The Arsenal was the best private paramilitary organization around. They never failed on a mission.

“We have some money in savings, and I can get an emergency mortgage on our house. My friend said she could cover the rest of whatever your fee is.” Her eyes burned as she watched the three people rifle through the scraps of intel she’d accumulated. “Please. You’re his only hope.”

“Your friend is Kayla Dunn? Her father is a colonel.” The woman shut the folder and looked at Callista. “Why didn’t you involve him?”

“He’s plans D through F,” Callista replied.

Amusement flickered across Jesse’s face. “I’m curious to know what these plans were.”

“I’m thinking Callista isn’t leaving without a yes,” the second man commented. “I’m Dylan Mason. My five brothers and I run The Arsenal.”

Two of the five head honchos in the meeting was a good sign. Right? “I’d say it’s good to meet you, but this whole thing is a nightmare.”

Dylan’s gaze cut to the woman at the head of the table. “Is it doable?”

“Anything’s doable with enough time,” the woman answered as she looked to Jesse. “Levi’s team is already nearby. You ran their last op. Are they usable for this?”

Callista’s pulse quickened. Hope bubbled to the surface as she held her breath and awaited an answer. If they said no…

No wasn’t an option. Owen needed them.

She needed them.

“Even if they weren’t, they wouldn’t turn away from this,” Dylan commented. “It cuts too close to the bone for them, and for us.”

Tension thickened the air as the two men regarded one another. The woman broke the silence. “It’s your call, Jesse. I’m only here out of curiosity.”

“They’re mission ready. We’ll need to restock supplies, but that’s doable. Since Lexi’s with them, we’ll have an easier entry and exfil if we commandeer a helo.” Jesse thrummed his fingers on the table and glanced at Callista.

Relief and shock filled her. Was that a yes?

“Which plan is Boomer part of?” Jesse asked.

Damn. They’d put two and two together quickly. “C.”

“I’m missing something,” Dylan said.

“Kayla is on the top of Marshall’s acquisitions list,” the woman said. “I’m Mary, by the way. HERA alerted me when your background flagged her. We’ll do what we can to get Owen home. Maybe when this is over, she’ll finally answer Marshall’s phone calls.”

Tears streamed down Callista’s face. She wiped them away and nodded. “Thank you. I-I can’t say that enough.”

“Before we forget, this one’s on the house. We won’t charge to bring one of our own home.” Jesse stood. “I’ll have Ellie get you situated and show you around.”
Carnes, Cara, Exit Wounds. 1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology 2020. 1001 Dark Nights Press. Kindle Locations (1318-1356). Kindle Edition.

This is yet another example of how the Arsenal takes care of not only their own but other former military.

The reunion between Callista and Owen brought tears to my eyes, and I fell in love with Boomer too. He is a very special dog.

Love, Laughter, Tears and a Touch of Sizzle in this quick and satisfying read.

5 Contented Purrs for Cara!


Some Day My Ranger Will Come

Jen Talty

Ella Cane really thought she knew what she was doing when she set out for the Black Park Island campground. Instead of finding it she ends up on a sandbar where Phillip Prince, the Ranger she really wanted to impress, found her.

This is a favorite scene.

The roar of an engine caught her attention. She glanced north and saw him heading her way.

Wonderful. Not how she wanted to see Philip for the first time on this trip. The entire idea had been to impress the hell out of him, not need him to save her. That would only perpetuate the concept that she was a high-maintenance female who only cared about her next mani-pedi.

She glanced at her toes and groaned. She was overdue.

“Looks like you’ve gotten yourself into a little bit of trouble.” Philip sat behind a steering wheel in a watercraft that looked like a blow-up toy with a motor. It reminded her of the tender on her father’s yacht that the deck crew used to taxi them back and forth from anchor to port.

“It’s just a little sandbar type thing. I can get out and push it and jump back in.” Yeah. She’d seen people do that on the private beach by her parents’ place all the time. It shouldn’t be too hard as long as Mr. Sexy Ranger Man stopped staring at her with amusement dancing in his teal-blue eyes.

“Ella, you don’t want to do that.” He shook his head. “The bottom isn’t like the beach. It’s more like quicksand. You’ll sink to your knees.”

She shivered. The only time she wanted to be caked in mud was at the spa.

“The mistake you made, besides passing the campgrounds a half-hour ago, was turning around back there. Had you just backed out, you would have been fine.”

Thanks for the lecture. “What do you suggest I do now? I’m supposed to go live to my followers…”—she glanced at her Apple Watch—“in a little over an hour. I’m doing a whole series on different parks and some of the history they have in our community, along with their great outdoor activities.”

He covered his mouth, and his shoulders moved up and down.

She scowled. “I don’t see what’s so funny.”

“I’m sorry.” He cleared his throat. “I’ve seen some of your YouTube videos, and camping on an island that you won’t be able to get off until the tide comes back in doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. Especially all alone. Unless we had some sort of holistic yoga healing studio with a juice bar.” He pointed to the sky. “And the storm’s rolling in.”

“Well, if you think that, you haven’t been watching enough of my live feeds.” She tilted her head. Dark clouds hovered a few miles away. The weather app mentioned it would most likely rain, but that was all supposed to happen north of Martin County. “That’s all moving out to sea.”

“If you say so,” Philip said. He maneuvered his boat, pushing his bow up against hers. “Hop on.” He held out his hand.

“What about all my stuff? The boat? We can’t just leave it here.”

“We’re not going to.” He patted the bench. “Think you can manage putting this in reverse and hang out in the open water over there while I unstick the rental?”

“Of course.” Instead of taking the help he offered, she stepped from her vessel. “Oh, shit.” She lunged forward, being flung into his arms. She dug her fingernails into his thick shoulders. “Well, hello, there.” He groaned, wrapping one arm around her and stretching out the other as he grabbed the steering wheel. His body twisted as his butt landed with a thud on the bench.
Talty, Jen. Some Day My Ranger Will Come. 1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology 2020. 1001 Dark Nights Press. Kindle Locations (3844-3867). Kindle Edition.

Ella struggles with even the simplest things as Phillip watches amused. He’s still wondering why she’s doing this but having seen some of her latest podcasts he wants to get to know the real Ella.

There’s more than one scene that has me laughing out loud and a twist in the weather that had me holding my breath.

A fast and fun read with a couple of twists and a touch of heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Jen!


Prince of Seattle

Fiona Archer

Kayla met her boss Adam Justice at Gabriel Prince’s home. What she didn’t expect was for him to leave her there to go over the vetting information. She and Gabriel have history and she’s not sure she’s forgiven him for that humiliation so long ago.

Gabriel is more than aware of the mistake he made years ago, he had Adam to thank for her being here today.

This is a favorite scene.

After seeing Adam off, Gabriel closed the front door of his Vashon Island home as a gust of wind sent fallen leaves dancing about in the front circular driveway. On the horizon, heavy gray clouds filled the October sky, bringing with them the chaotic energy of an approaching storm. The atmosphere was charged, prevailing conditions changing at a moment’s notice.

Gabriel shook his head. Not unlike the situation he was in right now.

Kayla was here in his house.

Whatever fates had aligned to make this miracle possible, Gabriel was grateful.

There was one life truth that had been rammed into him over the last few years: If you ever had the chance to right a wrong, grab it—or her—with both hands, and don’t let go.

An unfamiliar tension tightened in his gut. Nervousness? For a man known for conquering any stated goal, the sensation was a sobering reminder of what was now at stake: getting back the woman he loved.

Walking back to his living area, he studied Kayla.

Her blonde hair fell in a thick, sleek sheet past her shoulder blades. Years ago, she often wore her hair up in a ponytail, especially during the summer. Having it down suited her. Her cashmere sweater showcased beautiful full breasts, and the navy skirt her rounded hips. How many times had he dreamed of running his hands over her supple body, undressing her, and discovering what drove her to beg for pleasure?

Gabriel gave a self-derisory snort. Christ, those thoughts were a pathway to hell he should dodge for now.

Kayla looked up, her hazel gaze narrowing and distrust radiating from her.

He deserved no better.

Six years ago, Gabriel had kept his promise to Max. Force Kayla away, keep her safe from the playboy Max had known him to be before he dated Kayla.

He could see Max’s logic. Twenty-two. In his first year working for the family firm. No way could Gabriel guarantee he wouldn’t end up breaking Kayla’s heart.

At the time, Gabriel had believed that, in turning her away, he was doing the right thing.

That decision had become his biggest regret.

“It’s already past eleven. We should get moving here.” A tiny frown creased Kayla’s brow.

His finger itched to smooth the wrinkle away. Instead, he slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “How about some coffee?”

At her hesitation, he reminded her, “We’ve got hours of work in front of us, Kayla.”

She pressed her lips together, as if weighing his suggestion before giving in. “You’re right. Coffee would be good.”

Taking her agreement as a victory, he poured two cups and added cream to hers.

As he set the mug in front of her, she thanked him with no reaction to him remembering how she took her coffee.

He sat opposite her. There was so much he wanted to say, which could set Kayla off like a bomb. For now, sticking to business was safer. “Where do you want to start?”
Archer, Fiona. Prince of Seattle. 1001 Dark Nights Short Story Anthology 2020. 1001 Dark Nights Press. Kindle Locations (2810-2832). Kindle Edition.

By the time they finished going over the files, the weather had changed and now Kayla is stuck in Gabriel’s home overnight. The storm had flooded the ford at the end of his driveway and the back exit was still blocked by fallen trees from the last storm.

Kayla’s boundaries come down and then go back up. Gabriel has much explaining to do if she’ll listen.

A fun and sensuous read.

5 Contented Purrs for Fiona!


Louisa Bacio’s Bio and Links

Louisa Bacio Louisa Bacio

A Southern California native, Louisa Bacio can’t imagine living far away from the ocean. The multi-published author of erotic romance enjoys writing within all realms – from short stories to full-length novels.She shares her household with a supportive husband, two daughters growing “too fast,” and a multitude pet craziness: Two dogs, five fish tanks, an aviary, hamsters, rabbits and hermit crabs. In her other life, she teaches college classes in English, journalism and popular culture.


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Cara Carnes’ Bio and Links

Cara Carnes

Born in small-town Texas, Cara Carnes was a princess, a pirate, fashion model, actress, rock star and Jon Bon Jovi’s wife all before the age of 13. In reality, her fascination for enthralling worlds took seed somewhere amidst a somewhat dull day job and a wonderful life filled with family and friends. When she’s not cemented to her chair, Cara loves traveling, photography and reading.


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Jen Talty’s Bio and Links

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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Fiona Archer’s Bio and Links

Fiona Archer

Fiona Archer is an Aussie author who writes contemporary romance spiced with suspense. Her books feature masterful alpha heroes teamed with sassy heroines who limit their submissive side to the bedroom.

Her favorite hobbies include watching Nathan Fillion on television, shopping for that ever-elusive perfect shade of lipstick, and drinking iced coffee.

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Shattered – Psychic Visions Book 9 By Dale Mayer


Shattered
Psychic Visions Book 9
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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When something happens that shatters a life beyond recognition, what becomes of the soul?

Trapped in a gilded cage for as long as she can remember, Hannah has tried to escape numerous times, in countless ways. She’s been told all along that there’s something wrong with her, something that her doctors can’t diagnose. But what is life without freedom? Hannah would rather die than stay imprisoned forever.

Another escape, once more the door slams shut with her locked behind it. Then Trevor offers her a way out, one that might actually mean permanent liberation for her. But at what cost? Trevor doesn’t know the truth about her. Despite her fear that he’ll be like all the others and turn away from her in horror, she longs to share her secret with him.

Trevor has worked hard to make up for all the mistakes he’s made in his life. Helping Hannah feels like the right thing to do – more than anything else he’s ever done. But, to free her, the risks he takes asks more of him than he thought possible.

After all, enemies aren’t only outside in the world. Some are inside us… we just don’t know it…

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After showing up on Stefan’s doorstep bloody and believing him to be dead, Hannah wakes in the hospital. She’s not certain how she got there but knows it’s only a matter of time before her father finds her and locks her up again. She doesn’t want it to happen but knows it’s inevitable, her father always gets his way.

Stefan is intrigued because Hannah’s energy is coiled so tightly against her and not just anyone can get to his home. He calls in Dr. Trevor Johnson, a psychologist who works with energy, and also a lawyer which will come in handy in this case. After an initial greeting and then being dismissed by Hannah when the nurse arrives. From the hallway they watch as Hannah devours the food, but its once she’s done that they see it a dark shadow, a someone they need to identify.

When Hannah’s father shows up, Trevor immediately steps in to prevent him from moving Hannah. He does take this a bit to the extreme though and I have to admit it was brilliant. With Stefan and Celina as witnesses, Trevor marries Hannah which overrides her father’s wishes.

This is a favorite scene.

In a firm hand she signed the papers, then several others Trevor handed her. She didn’t even read them, but inside she knew she could trust him. She had no reason to, and the lawyer in him was probably rolling over in his grave, but she had no time. Her father was storming down the hallway, ready to destroy the building if they didn’t produce his daughter now.

“Let’s get you back to your room,” Trevor murmured.

“That would be good.” She thanked the minister. As she turned to thank Stefan and Celina it was to see them holding the door open for Trevor to wheel her out.

“Not too many brides get married in the hospital,” she muttered low enough only Trevor could hear her.

“You’re wrong. For many reasons hundreds of weddings are performed in hospitals every year.”

She thought about that and realized how many scenarios were likely a whole lot more serious and devastating than hers. “Thank you.”

He laughed. “Don’t thank me yet. We have some rough patches to get through first.”

“Maybe, but for the first time I don’t feel quite so alone.”

“While I’m here you won’t be.”

Out in the hallway he took her to a large elevator. “This is a different way than I was brought down.”

“We took you the back way to make sure no one saw you. Your father and his men have been tearing the place apart looking for you.”

“And why is it they didn’t find me?” she asked curiously. She couldn’t imagine something as simple as getting lost having stopped her father from doing what he wanted to do.

“He couldn’t find the chapel.”

“But why not? It’s on the signs.”

He chuckled. “Well, it was there, but apparently they couldn’t see what was right in front of their eyes.”

He exchanged a knowing look with Stefan that she really wanted to ask about, but he was already wheeling her into the room. Her very full room.

“There she is,” her father cried. “What did you do with her?”

Stefan and Trevor stiffened, their glare locked on her father. Trevor was the first to speak. “Just what are you implying?”

“I’m not implying anything,” her father roared. “I’m accusing you of kidnapping my daughter.”

“Kidnapping,” Hannah gasped. “What are you talking about?”

Her father glared at Trevor then turned his temper on her. “You weren’t here when you were supposed to be. We were told you were in the chapel but couldn’t find it either. Then when one of my men found the chapel, you weren’t there,” he shouted.

She stared at him. Had she ever seen him lose control like this? No. She wondered just what the hell he’d do when he found out the truth.

She wouldn’t have long to wait.

“Sorry if you had trouble finding the room. It’s a popular place, and being on the main floor, I was sure there’d be no trouble finding it,” Trevor said helpfully. “I’d have sent someone to show you the way if I thought you’d get lost.”

Her father’s face turned red, and it appeared he was ready to have a stroke.

“Daddy, calm down,” Hannah cried out. “You look like you’re going to have a heart attack or something. For heaven’s sake, I got married, that’s all.”

Silence.

As in not even a spider dared take a step.

And her father went from beet red to a pure icy white. In a very soft, very scary voice, he asked, “You what?”

Well, she was in the soup now. And she’d damn well better make this look good. “I got married,” she cried. “We wanted a simple ceremony first and thought that we could do a bigger celebration later for the families.”

She beamed up at him. “That’s why I was hoping you’d make it to the chapel. We were so short on time we couldn’t wait for you. But you’ll be there for the second one and can give me away then.”

“And the urgency?” Will asked in a deadly voice.

“You and Daddy of course,” she said smoothly. “Do you really think I’m going to be locked away in an asylum for the rest of my life at your whim?”

“You were going to marry Will,” her father roared. “It was all planned out.”

“Did you also plan to ask my permission in that deal?” She gasped in shock. “Or was I going to be railroaded into that as well?”

Her father straightened his back. “Make no mistake,” he snapped, “you will regret your decision here today.”

And he strode out.

Will stopped in front of Hannah. “Nice try. It won’t last.” He bent down and whispered, “And you will be mine but will no longer hold a position of respect, bitch.”

He turned and walked out behind her father.
Mayer, Dale. Psychic Visions: Books 7-9 . Valley Publishing Ltd. Kindle Locations (9126-9165). Kindle Edition.

Life for Trevor and Hannah gets very interesting as they discover with Maddy’s help, large blocks in her mind. Some were old but others were newer. Her father also brings Trevor’s past to the fore, one he’s already proved his innocence in, it just makes things annoying.

Stefan also hints at Trevor and Hannah having history together, but Trevor can’t imagine where or when he might have met her before.

There’s something that happens with Hannah that is unique and as she begins to break down the barriers in her mind it is even more apparent.

Plenty of suspense, some interesting interactions with her father’s henchman Will and a revelation that will wrap everything up very nicely.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, it’s on my TBR pile and I really want to catch up on this series before the new book in January.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Winter Blog About Author

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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2020 Christmas Countdown: My Christmas Fiancé – Love Comes Later Book 1 by Serenity Woods


My Christmas Fiancé
Love Comes Later Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Serenity Woods

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If you write an email to a friend about a fantasy involving your gorgeous boss, don’t send it to All Staff…

Meg

It’s not easy to reinvent yourself, but my thirteen-year-old son and I are ready for a new start. Old Maggie was a magnet for disaster, but New Meg is going to be elegant, sophisticated… and blonde. I’ve landed a dream job at the other end of New Zealand as PA to three rich directors who spoil me rotten, I’ve found a beautiful new apartment, and I feel reborn.

Then I write an email to a friend describing in vivid detail what I want to do to the sexiest of the directors—involving melted chocolate and/or whipped cream—and mistakenly send it to All Staff. It turns out that New Meg is pretty much just Old Maggie with different packaging. Some things never change.

Stratton

I’ve wanted Meg since she first walked into my office with her soft lips and sexy curves, but she wears another man’s ring, so I’ve steered well clear… until now. My mind’s been occupied anyway since I broke up with my ex, Natalie. She’s desperate to have me back and won’t take no for an answer—so I’ve come up with a brilliant plan, to hire a fake fiancée for Christmas to prove to her that we’re done.

After sending her hot-as-hell email, Meg confesses the truth about her past, and it gives me an idea. She can pretend to be my fiancé, and I can protect her from the guy she’s running from. Sounds like the perfect plan, right? Her teenage son’s no problem because we get on great. Sharing her room? That’s more of a challenge, but I’ve always had excellent self-control.

Yeah, I know. I keep forgetting about the melted chocolate. What an idiot.

Stratton thinks he has the perfect solution to the problems with his ex. He’s getting married, at least that’s how he announces it to his sister Teddi, his best friend Rich and his PA Meg at their morning meeting. This leads to an interesting discussion of his ex Natalie and how she’s harassing him. He get’s Meg to set up appointments with prospective ‘fiancés’ only instead of a modeling agency she calls an escort service. The results are hilarious.

As Meg is preparing to leave for the day she sends an email to her best friend, only it goes to the entire company.

This is a favorite scene.

I start packing up my things, glance at my computer screen, and smile when I see an email from Alyssa. She’s a new friend I’ve made since moving to Auckland. We met at the local swimming pool and got on well, as we have a lot in common, including that we’re both single mums with teenage boys.

In her email she chats about her family and her day job at the kindergarten. The email subject shows we have been back and forth about twenty times and the message is as long as my arm, so I start with a fresh one and begin telling her about my day. Not about the call girls—I decide to leave that part out—but I tell her a bit about work, just general chit chat.

Then, because he’s on my mind, I tell her about Stratton.

I’m just crazy about him, I type. He so gorgeous he makes my mouth water. I’ll have to introduce you soon. He has thick dark hair touched with gray and the most amazing eyes—one blue, one green. A stunning smile. He’s six foot three and a big guy, but he’s very unassuming and self-deprecating. You’d like him a lot. It’s not easy working for him every day. I find myself sitting in meetings and instead of typing minutes I daydream about covering him in melted chocolate—or whipped cream, it varies—and then licking it all off. It passes the time.

I finish it with a smiley face, sign it Meg, click the arrow where it says ‘To’ and choose her name, then hit send. Briefly, I wonder whether the IT team ever monitors my emails, but it’s too late now, it’s gone, so I suppress a sudden feeling of unease and rise to get my bag, ready to go home for the day.

A ping tells me I’ve received another email, though, and I sink back down to check it. I stare for a moment as I realize it’s the one I’ve just sent. What? Why would it come back to me? Has it bounced? Has Alyssa closed her email account or something?

I look at who I’ve sent it to, and my jaw drops. Cold filters through me. Disbelievingly, I quickly start up a new email and click the down arrow that shows me the list of people I send to regularly. Oh no. I thought I’d clicked on Alyssa’s name. But I haven’t. I’ve clicked on All Staff.

My head spins, and I feel faint with horror. I’ve just told everyone in the building about my secret fantasies. Everyone who works here will have gotten that email. And that’s bad, but it’s not the worst of it.

Rich will get it, and so will Teddi.

And it’s currently pinging up in Stratton’s inbox, too.

Panic washes over me. What have I done? I’ve ruined everything with one hit of a tiny button. What an idiot. What a fucking stupid idiot I am.

I can’t stay here—I’ve got to get out before everyone reads it. At least it’s Friday—I can take the weekend to work out how the hell I’m going to deal with this.

I grab my handbag and run out of my office. Head down, I stride through the large workroom housing the secretarial pool, heads turning as I pass. Nigel from accounts stops me to talk about an invoice and drones on and on, and in the end I tell him I have to leave and just walk away. I ignore the elevators and take the stairs, running down them, my high heels tapping. I’m not sure if I’ve breathed in yet, and my head’s still spinning. I have to be careful not to fall and break my neck—and yet a little part of my brain muses that such an accident might be a relief.

Exiting into the foyer, I run across it. My face is hot and my eyes are stinging with tears. What have I done? Holy fuck. I’m going to be a laughing stock, and as for Stratton… He thinks I’m married. I don’t know whether he’s going to be flattered, amused, or angry. Maybe he’ll think it’s hilarious. Oh my God, I’ll never be able to look him in the eye again.

I can’t bear it. I want to die.

I’m halfway across the foyer when I hear him call my name. “Meg!”

God, no! Anyone but him! I don’t stop and continue running.

“Meg, for Christ’s sake. Stop her, Andy!”

Obediently, the security guard closes the glass door and refuses to let go as I reach it. I hit him with my handbag, almost sobbing in panic. “Let me out!”

“Meg, it’s okay.” Stratton catches up with me and tugs my arm. I wrench it away and stumble back. I can’t bear to look at him. “It’s okay,” he says again, bending to try and catch my eye. “Come on, it’s not the end of the world.”

“Don’t.” My face must be scarlet, because it’s burning as if I’ve been out in the hot sun all day. “Just… don’t.”

“Hey.” He obviously realizes I’m genuinely distraught, takes my arm again, and leads me across to the side of the foyer. Luckily, there’s only Andy to witness the scene, and he averts his gaze as he takes up his place by the doors again, although I know he’s listening.

“Let me go.” I dash away a tear that’s run down my face.

“Meg, sweetheart, come on. It was a mistake. You clicked on the wrong name, didn’t you? It happens.” I cover my face with my hands. “I can’t believe I did it. I’m so embarrassed.”

He gives a soft laugh, moving closer to me and resting his hands on my upper arms. He rubs them gently, trying to offer comfort. “It’s all right. Did you think I didn’t know how you felt?”

I still refuse to look at him. I want to curl in a corner and sob. “I can’t believe I sent it to All Staff. Everyone will know. I can’t stay here. I can’t come back.”

“Meg, come on. Let’s get it in proportion. There’s no way I’m losing the best PA I’ve ever had just because she has a thing about chocolate sauce.”

Oh. My. God. My face could melt lead it’s burning so badly.

“Oops,” he said. “Too soon?”

“Please, just kill me now.”

He laughs and wraps his arms around me. “Sweetheart, we’re grownups, and we like each other. You’re gorgeous—you don’t think I wonder what you look like naked ten times a day?”

“Oh, Stratton, please, don’t. You’re just making it worse.”

“I’m saying that it’s normal when you fancy someone. It doesn’t mean anything. And it’s hardly a huge shock to me.”

I press my hands against his shirt and bury my face in it. “I thought you might be angry.”

“Jesus, why? You made my day.” He kisses my hair.

“Because I’m… m-married.”

He slides a hand beneath my chin and lifts my face so he can look into my eyes. For a moment I think he’s going to kiss me, but instead his green and blue eyes search mine, as if he’s in an attic rummaging around in a trunk. “Are you?” he says.

A breeze washes across my legs, but I’m only half aware that the front door has opened. It’s when I hear my name called—my real name—that I realize someone’s come in.

“Maggie?”

I turn my head, and for the second time in the space of about five minutes my heart stops. I inhale sharply, feel my eyes widen, my jaw drop, and I push away from Stratton and stumble back.
Woods, Serenity. My Christmas Fiancé (Love Comes Later Book 1). Kindle Locations (801-868). Kindle Edition.

From having to face Stratton to her ex showing up thinking all would just be forgiven leads Meg to agree to be Stratton’s fake fiancé. With concern for her and her son’s safety, Stratton suggests they stay the weekend at his home. This is just the beginning of a very interesting relationship, that simmers before it sizzles.

I look forward to reading Rich and Teddi’s stories, one is New Year’s the other is Valentines.

5 Contented Purrs for Serenity!

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Serenity Woods

USA Today Bestselling Author Serenity Woods lives in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand with her wonderful husband and gorgeous teenage son. She writes hot and sultry contemporary romances with a happy ever after, and she would much rather immerse herself in reading or writing romance than do the dusting and ironing, which is why it’s not a great idea to pop round if you have any allergies.


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Blog Tour! Silent Night, Deadly Night – Suspense Series Book 6 by Kaylea Cross


Silent Night, Deadly Night
Suspense Series Book 6
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Kaylea Cross

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Winter Blog Blurb

It’s Christmas in Charleston.

Luke and Emily Hutchinson are hosting the entire crew at their home in Charleston’s historic district for an early Christmas celebration. It’s the first time they’ve all been together since Em was captured and Luke almost died taking down his nemesis in Beirut a year ago, and everyone is looking forward to sharing some Christmas magic together. Except one of them has unknowingly brought a deadly threat to their doorstep.

But evil doesn’t take holidays.

When a shocking threat suddenly shatters the calm, Luke and his team must risk everything to save two of their own. And when the rescue attempt goes wrong, the consequences are more costly than they ever could have imagined.

NOTE:
This book is a follow-up to the Suspense Series and is not meant to be read as a standalone.

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Winter Blog Review

I confess I’m behind on this series but I couldn’t pass on this book. I love when all the characters in a series come together to celebrate the holidays. Although this one has more than just a couple twists and turns and surprises too.

As the book opens Luke and Em are leaving her doctor’s office, we are going to be challenged to keep all this in the back of our minds like they are trying to do. Em is very much looking forward to everyone being together this year and is putting together the perfect festivities.

First to arrive are their son Rayne and his wife Christa. Of course Rayne senses something is wrong but is wise enough to keep it to himself.

We meet up with Sam and Ben as they are preparing to head to the airport. An envelope arrives that once the content is decrypted will add an unsavory twist to this story.

Dec’s mission has a frustrating end but he will be able to join his wife Bryn at Luke and Em’s in Charlotte and he’s looking forward to it.

Ben’s twin brother Rhys and wife Neveah would be joining them as well and Luke is thankful since Nev is a doctor and would look out for Em.

Sam and Ben almost immediately set up shop in Luke’s study also reading him in to what’s going on. It’s not until Dec arrives that they actually figure most of it out including who’s involved. Then all hell breaks loose. See the excerpt below, it’s a favorite scene.

I loved this book, I laughed and cried and enjoyed the heat between these couples even as I nibbled on my nails. I’m going back to do a re-read of this series, I forgot how much I loved it.

5 Contented Purrs for Kaylea!

Christa’s heart shot into her throat when a man materialized out of nowhere and grabbed Sam.

She opened her mouth to scream, instinctively turning to reach for Bryn, but someone grabbed her from behind, jerking her to a halt. A muscled arm locked around her waist, and a hard hand covered her mouth.

Instinct took over.

She sank her teeth into the hand over her mouth and whirled, momentarily breaking the man’s grip. “Get away from me!” She lashed out with her foot, managed to catch him in the knee, making him stumble.

She’d been assaulted and kidnapped before. Never again.

She twisted around, terror forking through her. Bryn and Sam were both being dragged toward the road. Behind her, she could hear the man she’d kicked coming after her.

Christa turned and ran down the sidewalk, yelling for help.

An SUV sped up to the curb in front of her, its headlights off, and plunged to a halt. She spun to the left, veering away from it. She could hear the running footsteps behind her, her pursuer coming closer.

Her skin prickled. “Help!” she screamed, and glanced over her shoulder.

The guy holding Sam was already dragging her toward the vehicle, and Bryn was struggling valiantly against her attacker.

A hand shot toward her. Christa wrenched away and spun hard, then sprinted for the hedge lining the sidewalk. But the guy chasing her was right behind her. Too close.

She hurdled the hedge, her heart slamming in her chest as she raced back toward the visitor’s center. Nev and Emily. Were they okay? She had to attract attention and get help.

A strong hand caught the back of her jacket. She let out a scream and shrugged out of it, almost tripping before she regained her balance and kept running.

The man chasing her cursed, his closeness sending a rush of terror down her spine. No! He was right on top of her. She’d never be able to outrun him, and the visitor’s center entrance was still too far away.

Her gaze landed on a hefty branch lying on the ground under a tree. She ducked to snag it as she ran, but her legs felt wobbly, the fear sapping her muscles and slowing her down.

The man behind her was right there, an arm’s length away. Any second, he would grab her. She had to fight him off. She was Sam and Bryn’s only chance to get help.

Gripping the end of the branch in both hands like a bat, she stopped suddenly and whirled to face her attacker, swinging it with every ounce of her strength.

The dry wood slammed across the side of the man’s head, and shattered. He grunted, grabbing at his head as he fell sideways into the bushes.

Skin crawling, Christa dropped the branch and ran, but he was already up and after her again. The sidewalk ahead was empty.

“Help! Someone help me!” she screamed, hoping someone would hear her.
From The Website of Kaylea Cross

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Winter Blog About Author

Kaylea Cross

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kaylea Cross writes edge-of-your-seat military romantic suspense. Her work has won many awards and has been nominated for both the Daphne du Maurier and the National Readers’ Choice Awards. A Registered Massage Therapist by trade, Kaylea is also an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, belly dance enthusiast and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and family.

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2020 Christmas Countdown: A Taste from A Very Alien Christmas Anthology! Alien Abduction for Beginners – Christmas Assignment by Skye MacKinnon


A Very Alien Christmas

Featuring

Harpie Alexa
Margo Bond Collins
Skye MacKinnon
Aurora Cassini
Nova Alexa
J.A. Cummings
E.J. Powell
Tricia Schneider

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It’s beginning to look a lot like … aliens for Christmas!

Get ready to set your holiday thrusters to hot! If you love alien romances, you’ll adore this brand-new collection of steamy alien novellas and short stories by New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors.

Available for a limited time only, so get your copy now!


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Alien Abduction For Beginners
Christmas Assignment
The Intergalactic Guide to Humans Book 1.5
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye MacKinnon

Sisters A-Vay and A-Ven are close to finishing their course in Alien Abduction at the prestigious Intergalactic University. To stay top of their class, they need to perform the best abduction Earth has never seen.

After weeks of monitoring the planet’s communications, they’ve set their eyes on Earth’s most famous man, a guy with a white beard and red coat. He may be old but he’s ho-ho-hot and his bells still jingle!

Now if only the sisters knew what to do about the reindeer in the cargo bay…

NOTE:
A steamy standalone story set in the Starlight Universe. If you want a hilarious book involving insatiable alien twin sisters and a Santa with a very large candy cane, scroll up and read this book today. Beware, you may be abducted at any moment, so don’t waste time.

A-Vay and A-Ven want a really good score on their final exam. They have chosen the subject for abduction very carefully. He’s not your typical human either.

I started laughing on the first page of this book when I realized who they were abducting…

This is a favorite scene and one that I can post without the sizzling and funny heat that ensues.

My skin flashes bright green as I stare at the man on the screen.

“It’s him!” my sister cheers, her colouring changing just as rapidly as my own. “Finally.”

We’ve been looking for him for over a week, but now our scanners have finally found him. Our future mate.  

I take him in, all six feet of humanness. I don’t want to be called speciesist, but humans are one of the sexiest aliens out there. Karangi may come close, although I think their reputation for beauty is exaggerated. This male, however, is truly stunning. His long red coat highlights his white hair and beard. His coal-black eyes are hidden beneath bushy grey eyebrows that almost seem like tiny lifeforms clinging to his face. His nose is strong with wide nostrils begging to be touched. He’ll be a pleasure to kunik with.  

He’s surprisingly tall for a human, although he’d barely reach my chin. And soon he will. I’ll have him pressed against my chest…

“A-Vay, focus,” my sister snaps. “Set a new course. Let’s get to his location before he moves again. This male is slipperier than a walmop.”

She’s right about that. Our sensors are top range, yet whenever we thought we’d spotted him, he was gone by the time we had a fix on his whereabouts. He moves fast, faster than their primitive human vehicles should allow. His vehicle is made from a native material they call wood, but we’ve not been able to find any details on why this wood would be superior to more advanced technologies.  

My six fingers dance over the keyboard, changing our spaceship’s trajectory. A-Ven prefers to use voice control, but I’m old-fashioned. I like to touch things.  

I wonder what our human will feel like beneath my finger pads. I’m sure he’ll be soft. Squishy. I’ll be able to…

“Focus,” A-Ven hisses, clearly knowing that I’m dreaming again. She knows me better than any other being in the universe. We shared the same egg and sometimes, it feels like we share the same mind, too.  

I push away all thoughts of how our future mate’s beard might feel when it brushes against my face and concentrate on our ship’s controls. Our target male is far away from civilisation now, making it easy to intercept him. We don’t want to break the rules by showing ourselves to the locals, but I’m also desperate to finally catch him. He won’t slip through our fingers this time.  

“Stealth mode engaged,” I mutter as we enter the atmosphere. “I’ll park us a short way from his dwelling, then we can walk the remaining bit. I don’t want to alert him to our presence.”

“Good thinking, sis. Let’s be stealthy like our ship.”  

A-Ven turns to the fabricator and scrolls through a list of local garments. We’ve been scanning Peritus long enough to find out what native females like to wear. It seems to vary a lot between regions, so I take a quick look at the weather conditions at our destination.

“Make it something loose and airy,” I tell my sister. “It’s almost four hundred glyptons there. That’s positively scorching.”

“Let’s not stay there for too long or my skin will melt. I hate hot climates. Why couldn’t he have chosen somewhere colder to live?”

“Trust me, we’re lucky he’s in that part of the planet. There are much hotter areas. We’d need survival suits to even leave our ship.”

A-Ven shudders. “And that’s why I prefer to be in a spaceship with good air-con. How long till landing?”

“Almost there. Better sit down, the ground here is covered in frozen liquid. I’m not sure how our landing gear will cope with that.”

My sister takes the seat next to mine – we had the ship modified to have two captain’s chairs – and straps in. I know she trusts me to give us the smoothest landing possible, but we’ve both got enough experience with travelling to strange planets to know that physics can work differently than we’re used to. Before we decided to become approved abductors, we were traders. After years of travelling the galaxy, we got a little bored though without having anyone around. We tried giving hitchhikers a lift, but they rarely wanted to stay for long and always fussed around with their towels. Then we abducted our first male, only to find out it was an infertile female. We dropped her off at the nearest space station, where A-Ven saw the advert for the Intergalactic University.  

Thirty lectures and four assignments later, only one abduction stands between us and a degree in Alien Abduction. And because both of us are high-achievers, we went for the most powerful male on the entire planet. We scanned their news and one male kept popping up around the world. His name varies depending on the local language, but his outer appearance doesn’t change much. I can’t wait to see what he hides under his long, red coat! I hope he’s as packed there as his strange vehicle always is. He transports a lot of bags from one place to another, but we’ve not quite figured out why he does it himself. He’s so powerful and well-known, why doesn’t he have servants? Even the poorest male back on Ank wouldn’t be seen doing hard manual labour like that. At least it should have given him excellent muscle mass. I do like males who can pin me down…

“A-Vay!”

“Sorry, sis. Landing in three… two… one…”
Skye MacKinnon. Alien Abduction for Beginners – Christmas Assignment: The Intergalactic Guide to Humans – Christmas special (Kindle Locations 39-80). Peryton Press.

Santa is more than just human he’s special, and well, he has reindeer and his sleigh. They use his sleigh to get him to the ship and let me tell you the ‘probing’ is both hot and hysterical.

Of course his reindeer wouldn’t be left behind no matter what the sisters thought.

This is a hysterical read with sizzling heat that will melt any ice in the vicinity.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye!

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Skye MacKinnon

Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.

She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.

When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.

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2020 Christmas Countdown: More Than A Christmas Cowboy – A Sweet Holiday Novella by Rhonda Lee Carver


More Than A Christmas Cowboy
A Sweet Holiday Novella
By
Rhonda Lee Carver

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She needs a holidate. He has a soft spot for feisty redheads. They’re a perfect match…until he kisses her under the mistletoe…

Rona Collins has wanted Stone for too long, but the time has never been right to tell him how she feels. When her sister plans a Christmas wedding at a private resort, Rona feels the time has finally come to plan her secret reveal. She’s single. He’s single. What could get in the way?

Then he shows up with a beautiful woman clinging to his arm, and Rona must find herself a holidate fast.

Kai Grey needs a break from the family ranch so a few days at a resort to watch his best buddy get married sounds like an opportunity for some peace and quiet. From minute one, his plans are turned upside down. Not only must he share his cabin, but his new roommate lassos him into pretending to be her Christmas date.

From the second he agreed to help her, he knew he’d live to regret it. Too bad she wants his best friend…or does she?

Kisses under the mistletoe and snuggling up to soft curves are definitely some perks to being a holidate, until a drunken fool and a dead fish ruin the Christmas cheer.

Rona’s sister Marti is getting married and she chose a very beautiful and romantic setting for it. This would be Rona’s chance to tell Stone how she feels about him, he’d broken up with his latest fling so he’s free again. However, Rona didn’t expect that her car wouldn’t make it all the way to her cabin. She wasn’t exactly dressed for a hike through the snow with her suitcase.

Kai is the groom’s irritating best friend. He’s really the last person Rona wanted to run into, but she knew he’d be here for Taylor.

This is a favorite scene.

The lane curved up another incline and she followed the snow-covered roadway, her boots slipping and sliding but she kept her balance. The curls that she thought were contained in the updo were starting to make a bid for freedom and bounce around her cheeks. She could also feel sweat beading up under her arms and between her breasts. The satin blouse would start to wrinkle.

The rattling of an engine caught her attention. A Jeep turned the curve and she anticipated that she could catch a ride the rest of the way, but all hope vanished when she saw the driver. Holy smokes. Of course, he’d have to be here for the week also.

She quickened her pace, hoping he wouldn’t stop.

No such luck.

He slowed and she looked back, cringing.

Kai Grey, Taylor’s obnoxious best friend, smiled from ear to ear behind the dirty windshield. The wipers swished back and forth, mimicking the sudden whooshing in her body. She didn’t like him. Not one bit.

She stared ahead, hoping he continued on his way, but she should have known better. He rolled down the side window.

“Need a lift, Red?” Kai was equally as handsome as Stone with sandy hair that he usually hid under a white Stetson and eyes the color of a top-shelf whiskey surrounded by absurdly long lashes for a man. Over six feet of broad shoulders, wide chest, and thick muscles he’d earned from working on his family’s horse ranch, he certainly did look good. Unfortunately, his attitude rubbed her the wrong way. He seemed to enjoy targeting her with his lame jokes and using the nickname he’d bestowed upon her when she met him. Red.

“I’m fine walking.” She didn’t even look at him as she attempted to stride confidently ahead.

“You’re going to ruin those fancy boots,” he said in a slow, drawn-out accent.

Keep your eyes ahead. Keep your eyes ahead.

She couldn’t resist.

Glancing over, her breath caught. His hat was now missing, exposing a mass of tousled hair that was a bit longer since she saw him last. His lopsided grin was present and his broad, clefted chin was cleanly shaven. His arm leaned halfway out of the open window and the rolled-up sleeve of his white T-shirt showed off most of the intricate tattoo of a cross wrapped in barbed wire on his flexed bicep. She heard him say once he got the ink while he was serving in the Marines.

“It’s too late. They’re probably already ruined,” she finally answered.

“Come on. It’s just a ride, not a marriage proposal. Your nose and cheeks are as red as your hair. By the way, is your hair redder?”

Lifting her chin and shoulders, she frowned. “Here we go with the insults. My name is Rona, not Red. Do you think it’s possible that you could manage not to make wisecracks about my appearance every time you see me?”

“How about that ride?”

“Not on your life.”

An easy grin turned up his full lips, engaging deep dimples. His irises reflected the snow making them brighter than usual. “Suit yourself.” He gave her a casual wave and a wink before he sped off. The Jeep’s tires kicked up slush, splattering her face. Grr.

The heat building inside helped her to momentarily forget the freezing temperature. Why did he infuriate her so much? Why did she allow him to affect her? Why had she allowed the schoolyard bullies to bother her when they made fun of her wild curly hair, her early-puberty-curves, and too-large glasses? By the time she reached high school she’d embraced her unique looks and all those kids who made fun of her wanted to be her friend.

Kai didn’t make her feel like those kids had. He made her feel…what exactly?

Angry.

Irritated.

Like she was on fire.

Huffing, she scrambled up the hill, her feet now wet in the leaky boots, pushing the infuriating cowboy out of her mind. This vacation would be pleasurable.

Finally she came to the tin-roofed cabin set back in the woods. Lighted garland wrapped around the railing of the porch and a large wreath hung on the red door. A swinging sign posted next to the shoveled sidewalk had the name “Kismet”.

This was her cabin. Relief spread through her, until she saw the Jeep parked in the driveway.

What is Kai doing at my cabin?
Rhonda Carver. More-Than-a-Christmas-Cowboy-with-TOC (Kindle Locations 146-179). Kindle Edition.

Sharing a cabin with Kai? So not happening, or was it. They really couldn’t impose on the couple about to get married. They had to reach a compromise.

When Stone shows up with a date Rona immediately takes action to get Kai to be her date. She didn’t want anyone to know how much she had hoped to be with Stone.

This book is so much fun as Kai and Rona figure why they irritate each other. A perfect Holiday read!

5 Contented Purrs for Rhonda Lee!

Rhonda lee Carver Rhonda Lee Carver

Rhonda Lee Carver is a published book writer with a collection of print and eBooks under her wing. She is also a freelance editor. Her first book was published with Wild Rose Press in 2010.

She writes everything from contemporary to steamy to paranormal to suspense…you name it, she’s written it. Her specialty is writing men who love to get their hands dirty—hardworking, blue collar, heroes in everyday life.

When Rhonda isn’t crafting edge-of-your-seat, sizzling novels, you’ll find her with her children and husband watching soccer, watching a breathtaking movie, traveling to exotic places (with Bora Bora on her bucket list), doing (or trying) yoga, saving cats and dogs, and finding new ways to keep life interesting.

Rhonda thrives on making her readers happy. She believes life can be a challenge, but reading is a place where fantasy comes to life. Her motto: “Everyone deserves romance—one page at a time.“

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