Lifeless in the Lilies – Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 12 by Dale Mayer


Lifeless in the Lilies
Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 12
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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Riches to rags. …
Chaos calms. …
Suddenly it’s quiet. …
Too quiet if Doreen’s involved!

What was supposed to be a leisurely stroll through a peaceful cemetery after a recent funeral turns into the start of a new case. Someone clobbers Doreen over the head and leaves her facedown among the funeral flowers.

Is it random violence?
Revenge?
A warning of worse to come?

No one knows, not even Doreen, but one thing is certain: the attack enabled the disappearance—perhaps the abduction?—of Doreen’s beloved African gray parrot, Thaddeus. Frantic, Doreen foregoes a trip to the emergency room in favor of heading straight home, where she hopes Thaddeus will return sooner rather than later.

But when he does, the bird sports an SOS message fastened around his ankle, leading Doreen to a odd corner of town and a curious little boy who know one will talk about.

Now someone is leaving threats on Doreen’s doorstep and then delivering threats in person …

Between birds and boys and Corporal Mack Moreau’s brother, the lawyer looking into her divorce situation, Doreen has her hands full. And that’s before her former lawyer shows up unexpectedly at her home! Off-balance by all these events, Doreen opens her door to someone with a serious grudge to take her down …

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As this book opens, Nan and Doreen are attending Rosie’s funeral, as it ends, Doreen feels the need to reflect on that case which took so many lives. After replacing a lily she picked up to smell, she’s straightening up sensing someone approaching. Then she’s out cold.

When Nan can’t reach her, Mack finds she’s not home, her car’s not there either. He takes Thaddeus, Goliath and Mugs to the cemetery where he sees her car, but not her. It’s Mugs who finds her unconscious, quickly joined by Goliath but Thaddeus wanders off. Now Doreen is prickly at the best of times, but injured and learning Thaddeus is missing just makes her more so.

Mack isn’t taking no for an answer, she’s going to the hospital to be checked out and he will take care of Goliath and Mugs. Everyone else will be looking for Thaddeus.

Thaddeus does however manage to find his way home, but not without Doreen assuming he needs rescue from the log he’s riding down the river. Of course she ends up in the river much to Mack’s dismay.

She’s also hoping to delay the meeting with Mack’s brother who’s now her lawyer. Mack isn’t going to let that happen though and the beginning of this meeting is downright hilarious.

This is a favorite scene.

Doreen couldn’t stop glaring at him. Finally Mack sat her down in the living room and told her in a sharp tone, “Be nice.”

She upped the wattage of her glare and shoved her chin even higher. He shook his head and shook his finger in her face. She wanted to reach out and snap it off.

“No, I did not set you up,” he said. “No, I did not trick you either. And, yes, you need to deal with this.”

She gasped. “I was dealing with it.”

“Ignoring the whole thing is not dealing with it,” he thundered.

That shut her up, but she crossed her arms over her chest and tried to glare harder, but she’d reached her limit. When she heard an odd sound, she shifted her gaze. Looking over, she saw Mack’s brother leaning against the front doorjamb. He wore a huge grin on his face, and his shoulders were quaking. She gasped and jumped to her feet. “Are you laughing at me?” she cried out.

He immediately wiped the smile off his face, but he couldn’t hold it and started to laugh again. “No. I’m definitely not laughing at you,” he choked out, “but I am absolutely loving the interaction between you and Mack.”

She frowned. “What has that got to do with anything?”

“Everything,” he said, with a gentle smile. He stepped forward into the living room, then stopped, and, in the softest voice she could imagine from a guy his size, he asked, “May I come in?”

She frowned and then nodded grudgingly. “You’re already here, so you might as well.”

“Oh, gee, how very polite,” Mack said. “You might remember that he is my brother and that you do owe him at least some respect.”

She crossed her arms over her chest again and said, “Fine, but remember. I’ll be true to myself and not to you.”

He closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, and said, “What on earth does that mean?”

“It means that I’m no longer listening to what men like you say.”

His eyes snapped open, and he glared at her. In an ominous voice, he said, “Men like me?”

She shoved her hands on her hips and went up on her tiptoes, so she could be a little closer to looking him in the eye. But she had failed miserably and couldn’t even reach his chin. “Okay, men like my ex.”

“Surely you’re not lumping me in with him?”

“Fine.” She raised both hands in surrender. “Of course not,” she said, “but I spent an entire lifetime of marriage being told what to do and how to act.”

“Being polite to somebody who’s gone out of their way to help you is just being a decent person,” he said, obviously striving to keep his temper under control.

She sighed, her shoulders sagging, as the stuffing went out of her. “Fine,” she said. Then she looked at Nick and said, “You’ve apparently caught me at a bad time. I apologize for being impolite.”

At that, Nick burst out laughing. “Nope,” he said, “I wouldn’t miss this for anything.” She narrowed her gaze as he held up a hand. “I’m not Mack, and I’m not your husband. I am simply someone who might be able to help you.”

“Lots of people have helped me in the last few weeks,” she said, clearly trying to be more gracious. “It would be very nice if you could too.”

“I’ll take that as an olive branch,” Nick said. “Now Mack said you make great coffee.” She stared at Nick in shock, then turned to Mack and said, “I make what?”

He sighed. “You do make great coffee now.”

She rolled her eyes at him, as she stormed into the kitchen. “Meaning, after you taught me.”

“Hey, everybody has to learn from somebody. No reason not to have learned from me.”

She groaned, then stepped back into the living room with a glass of water and said, “You can come through to the kitchen.”

“Thank you,” Nick said in that same gentle voice.

“How come you guys come so big?” she complained.

“We’re a matched set,” Nick said, “with two years between us.”

“Are you older or younger than Mack?” She held up her hand. “No, wait. I already know you’re younger.”

“Why would you say he’s younger?” Mack asked in surprise.

She glared at him. “You are far too dominating to let anybody be older than you.” And, on that note, she turned and huffed off into the kitchen. She heard them talking in the background and knew that they were probably laughing at her again. She honestly didn’t have a reason for being so upset, except that she had thought that she could get out of this. She knew she was being difficult, but there was just something about seeing Nick all of a sudden like that, without warning …

Joining them, she looked over at Mack and said, “You know we don’t have time for this now.”

His eyebrows shot up. “We have to make time for this.”

She turned to Nick. “We do have a rather important case to be working on.”

Nick looked at her in delight. “That’s wonderful,” he said. “What’s it about?”

At that, Mack stepped in. “There is absolutely no end to this discussion,” he said, “so we’re not even starting down that path.”

She glared at him. “It involves me, so that makes it important.” Just then, Thaddeus, as if awakened, came from where he’d been sleeping in the kitchen, flying right toward her. When he saw Nick, he stopped, landing on the ground. He looked up at Mack, then at Nick. “Big guy, big guy.”

She chuckled, then bent down and scooped him up, putting him on her shoulder. “Thaddeus, this is Nick, Mack’s brother.”

“Nick,” he said. “Nick.” And then he reached out a foot, as if to shake his hand.

In absolute delight, Nick gently touched his finger to the bird’s foot. “Hi, Thaddeus. Nice to meet you.”

Thaddeus immediately bounced his head up and down, up and down, up and down. “Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.”

Nick chuckled. “He’s quite the character.”

“He is, and he disappeared yesterday for a few hours and came back with a message on his ankle, which was a cry for help,” she said quietly. “So we’re supposed to be”— and she turned to glare at Mack—“ looking for this person.”

Almost defensively Mack said, “Remember? There’s a whole team in my office.” S

he nodded. “But I bet they haven’t done anything about it, have they?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “but we have to trust them to do their jobs.”

“What if the person is dead?”

He thrust his chin toward her. “If they’re dead already, we can do nothing to help them, so we’ve got some time.”

She rolled her eyes. “What if they’re dying? What if they’re gasping for their last breath, just waiting for us to come rescue them?”

“Since we don’t know where they are, that’ll hardly be helpful,” he growled.

She knew she was being ornery again, and it was only the good manners she’d been raised with that slowly pulled some of the stiffness out of her response as she turned to Nick. “Well, we don’t need to air our dirty laundry in front of you.”

“Hey, the fact that you even have dirty laundry is interesting,” he said, waving his hand at her. “Too bad none of this is related to your husband.”

“I only wish nothing were related to that man,” she said, with an eye roll. “I don’t know how much Mack has told you, but he isn’t a very nice man.”

“I’ve learned quite a bit about him in the meantime,” Nick said. “I have to investigate each person before we can make any decisions on what to do.”

“I don’t even have any money to pay you, so I have no business talking to you about it in the first place,” she said. “Lawyers are expensive, and this conversation has got to be costing somebody hundreds.” She stopped, looked at him, and said, “But not me, right?”

At that, he laughed out loud. “No, not you. I’m not charging you for this conversation.”

“Oh, good,” she said, “because otherwise the door is right there. I’ve got no money,” she said. “And, if your brother doesn’t stop drinking all my coffee, I won’t be able to have coffee for myself, much less anyone else.”

“Oh, for the love of Jesus!”

She turned and glared at Mack, as he raised his hands in frustration.

“Yes, I know Thaddeus is listening.”

She nodded. “And you’ve already taught him enough bad language, thank you.” Again Nick burst out laughing. She sniffed, turned, and said, “The coffee is ready.”
Dale Mayer. Lifeless in the Lilies (Kindle Locations 1050-1121). Valley Publishing.

Nick outlines what he’s already done and what he intends to do on her behalf, all she has to do is sign the paperwork. Which she eventually does, then she and Mack head to the station to look at some stills from the cemetery security cameras. What she finds surprises her, but also makes her realize that not only is she in danger but her friends may be as well.

The note they found on Thaddeus’ leg also brings surprises as they investigate further into where Thaddeus had wandered. People from Doreen’s past also start popping up, making her very worried for Mack’s brother.

I love these stories, trouble just finds Doreen even when she’s not looking. The arguments she has with Mack are hysterical in that they sound like an old married couple. Seems everyone realizes there’s something there except them. Of course she’s still not divorced so we can’t expect more than friendship between them yet.

I really can’t wait for the next book in this series!

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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The Duchess Gambit – A Historical Regency Romance By Patricia Haverton


The Duchess Gambit
A Historical Regency Romance
By
Patricia Haverton

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Behind the mask of ice that people wear,
there beats a heart on fire…

Rudolph Yardley, valet to the Duke of Upton, hides a dangerous secret.

His real name is Sue and he’s not by any means a man. After her family’s tragic death from a fire, Sure had but one choice in order to survive: disguise herself as a man and take her later brother’s place in the Duke’s employ.

Vernon Wade, Duke of Upton, feels lost after his father’s passing. Already struggling with his newfound responsibilities, his carefully constructed mask of composure crumbles when he comes across a shocking sight: his very own valet is in fact, a beautiful young woman.

Lost in their budding feelings for each other, Sue and Vernon fail to see the viper in their midst. When a fire breaks out, a face emerges through the flames. A face that has been haunting her nightmares all her life.

First off I have to note that in the blurb for this book, it states Rudolph Yardley’s name is Sue, yet throughout the entire book the Duke’s valet is Samuel/Sue. Also the only fire occurs in the prologue as part of the past not in the present. It was a bit confusing as I began reading, as I was expecting something quite different having read the blurb.

It’s been five years since Sue fled into the night. Escaping the fire that took the lives of her parents and twin brother. In a move of despair, she gathered clothing from her father’s business and disguised herself as her brother, Samuel. He was to become valet to Vernon, son of the Duke of Upton and she would fill that position. She had no other choice if she is to survive. Her nightmare is the first thing we learn about, and that is where we learn she saw the face of the man who started the blaze she survived.

The book continues with the sudden death of the Duke of Upton and his son Vernon about to attend the funeral. His first public appearance at the Duke. As expected, he is not really in the mood to attend, knowing he would have to make an effort to entertain the people who come to pay their respects. It’s his valet and friend Samuel who helps him prepare for the day, giving him the encouragement to acknowledge he is the new Duke and is more than ready to take on the responsibilities of that task.

While many of his father’s business partners were known to Vernon, some were not. He did find some interesting conversation with one of those men. It appears Wilson Yorke, the Earl of Eallesborough, knew his father prior to his marriage to Vernon’s mother. He also found consolation in the presence of his cousin who informs him of his recent engagement to help brighten his mood.

We get our first glimpse of Anabelle Yorke at the funeral. The Earl’s daughter is more than a little eager to be noticed by the Duke. Even though she acknowledges it would be improper for any romantic overtures at the funeral. The confrontation she has with Samuel shows her true attitude and it’s not a nice one.

It’s while looking for his valet at the reception at his home following the funeral, that Vernon learns the truth about Samuel. He’s stunned to hear the conversation only knowing for sure the one voice was that of Samuel. This causes him to withdraw from his guests to think about what he’s learned. It also leads to some concern from the staff as he throws things in his chambers, leading to the confrontation with Samuel.

This is a favorite scene.

“How did you find out, Your Grace?” she asked quietly.

“How did I find out that you’d been deceiving me for years?” he asked. He laughed bitterly. “I wish I could say I had been clever enough to figure it out. The truth is that I simply overheard you. I was walking by the door to the servants’ part of the Manor and heard you speaking with someone. She called you Sue. And of course I knew that Sue must be short for Susan.”

A tear tracked down Sue’s cheek. So this was her own fault. She had known that it wasn’t safe to talk about her true identity with Flossie out in the open, even in the back of the Manor. But she had allowed herself to do it anyway. And now she had been found out.

“Just tell me why you lied to me,” the Duke said.

“What were you trying to accomplish?”

“Nothing,” she said. “I needed work. Nothing more. I swear it.”

“You could have found work as a young woman,” the Duke said. “I have plenty of women in my employ. You didn’t need to lie.”

She shook her head. “When my family was killed, my brother had already accepted a position working in your household,” he said. “He was to come to Upton Manor just days after the fire that killed him. I was alone in the world, with no place to go. I was hardly more than a child. And the only thing I could think of was to come here, to say that I was Samuel and that I was here as your new valet. That Susan was the one who had died.”

“I suppose I can understand that,” the Duke admitted. “You were alone in the world, and frightened.”

“Yes,” she said. “But you continued the lie,” he said. “Even when you had secured you position here, you never came to me and told me the truth.”

“I wanted to,” she said. “I thought of telling you many times.”

“Then why didn’t you?” he asked.

“Because I didn’t know what would happen,” she said. “What if you became angry with me? What if you turned me away?”

He shook his head. “I can’t believe you’d think that of me,” he said. “Even today, you were prepared to leave the Manor when you knew I had discovered the truth. Is that how you see me? As a cruel person who would turn someone out of my home like that?”

“I didn’t think of it as cruelty,” she said. “You thought you had hired a young man to be your valet. I’m not a young man. I’m not what you need. It’s that simple, isn’t it?”

The Duke shook his head. “Nothing about this is simple, Sam— I mean, Susan.” He rubbed a hand across his face, and Sue could see how tired he was from the day’s stresses. “This is going to take some getting used to,” he said.

“Your Grace,” she said, “you have to know that everything else I have ever said to you has been genuine. I lied about my identity because I needed to. But in every other way, I have been honest with you these past five years. I haven’t pretended to be someone I’m not. You know my personality. If you’ve trusted me… well, perhaps you still can.”

It seemed too much to hope for, and yet she waited with bated breath, hoping anyway. Was there any possibility that he would give her a second chance to earn his trust?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know whether I’ve ever known who you are.”

“You have,” she said. “When you confided in me about your grief at the loss of your father— that was me. The trust you felt in me was real. My ability to relate to what you were feeling was real. The only thing that was a lie was my name.”

“The most fundamental thing of all,” the Duke said.

Sue couldn’t argue. He was right.

The Duke sighed. “I don’t want to lose you,” he said. “I don’t want to lose our friendship. I don’t want to hire a new valet. Samuel was the best valet I ever had.”

Her heart fluttered. “Do you mean that?” she asked.

“Of course I mean it,” he said. “You surely know the quality of your own work. You saw firsthand how helpful you were to me, how often just your presence was enough to ease my burdens. It was especially true after Father died, of course, but even before that, the pressures and responsibilities of a gentleman’s life could be overwhelming, and it was always good to have somebody I knew I could confide in.”

“I was glad to be that person,” Sue said.

“But Samuel was never real,” the Duke said. “That’s the part that hurts the most. My trusted confidant— my friend— was never a real person at all.”

“Samuel was real, Your Grace,” Sue said. “He was my brother. And when I came here in his name, I was real, too.”

“I don’t know how we’re going to explain this to anyone,” the Duke said. “The disappearance of Samuel, after so many years of my favoring him. The addition of a new maid to the household without involving the butler or housekeeper in her hire.”

Sue waited quietly. Perhaps he was deciding that keeping her on was too much trouble, that she wasn’t worth it. Perhaps he couldn’t forgive the lies she had told.

Whatever he decides, I will accept it with grace.

But if he sent her away, she knew the problems would be more than just those of how to survive.

Her heart would be broken.

She had already lost one family. But here, in the household of the Duke, she had found a second family. If she lost them, too, she would be devastated.

And if she lost the Duke himself…

No. I never had him. He should push me away.

“I want you to remain my valet,” he said at last. “I don’t want to give you up.”

“If I reveal myself as a woman, I can’t do that,” she said. “But…” she hesitated. Would he accept this offer? “If I continue to live as Samuel, you and I can go on as if nothing’s changed. The only difference will be that there will be no lies between us.”

He looked at her. “I don’t know if that’s brilliant or insane,” he said.

“It’s what I would like,” she said. “If that makes a difference.”

“You would choose to continue to live as a man, Susan?”

“Call me Sue,” she said. “It’s the name I prefer, and the one my friends use. And yes, I would choose to remain your valet,” she said. “Your confidant. Your friend.”

“I must be out of my mind,” he said.

She waited. Was he saying what she thought he was saying?

“All right,” he said. “Let’s give this a try. But you must be very discreet. No one can know.”
Patricia Haverton. The Duchess Gambit: A Historical Regency Romance Novel (Kindle Locations 1147-1204). Patricia Haverton.

Although their dynamic changes, they do manage through the visit with The Earl of Eallesborough and his daughter. Samuel in spite of knowing he won’t be able to be the Duke’s valet when he marries, encourages him to court Anabelle. Although Vernon sees things he most definitely doesn’t approve of in her mannerisms.

So much happens in this book, even before the Duke needs to travel to his cousin’s wedding. More revelations, secrets although not Samuel’s. A memory that still haunts and an ending worthy of a Duchess.

5 Contented Purrs for Patricia!

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Born the oldest of three children, Patricia Haverton grew up believing that she’d follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in science. However, her worldview changed when she decided to explore her British mother’s roots. The trip to her ancestral lands solidified her conviction that she had found her true calling in the romanticism of the Era of Kings and Queens.

A hopeless romantic and a firm believer in the idea of soulmates, Patricia changed the course of her life and decided to get her degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. As she jokingly says ever so often, “she lives in the past now, where love shows the way and Dukes save the day!”

When she’s not weaving tales of love that prevails, Patricia enjoys spending time with her husband, roaming the British countryside, where they have been living in for the past decade.

Now would be the time to let yourself go and experience the true magic of the Regency Era! Let your imagination run wild, live amazing adventures through the eyes of brave heroes! Like the legendary wise wizard, Patricia will be your guide!

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The Blind Duchess and Her Wicked Duke – A Steamy Historical Regency Romance By Scarlett Osborne


The Blind Duchess and Her Wicked Duke
A Steamy Historical Regency Romance
By
Scarlett Osborne

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“I don’t want your best. I want your everything.”

Everyone expects Lady Helena to marry her way up the social ladder.

Once scandal takes control, she’s forced to go against those wishes. After the accident that left her blind, she made a promise to herself; never marry for anything less than love. But she never expected the Duke of Hartwick to show up and steal her innocence…

David Barrington, the Duke of Hartwick, lives in the shadows of his past. Tainted by criminal ways, his present is miserable and his future looks bleak. When a single slip-up gets him But involved with Helena, the one woman he never wanted to see again, he’s forced to confront his old ways in the boldest way possible.

Refusing to even so much as touch each other, they soon find out that perhaps love and passion are more wicked than they thought. But fast they need to be because David’s criminal past is back. And this time, vengeance wants to sink its bloody teeth in the one thing that taught him to live again…

Lady Helena was seventeen when a fire burned down her childhood home. The fire took more than the home it also took her sight and the life of her mother. She’s been fortunate in she has recovered somewhat but still can only see shadows and colors, not enough to determine object or person though. Her maid and companion, Jenny, has been by her side since that terrible day, a true blessing because Jenny’s mother Ruthie was born blind. Ruthie is a wonderful cook at another estate and the knowledge of all that has proven invaluable to Jenny and Helena as well. Helena doesn’t think of her blindness as an affliction but more of an inconvenience, one she is most capable of handling.

David Barrington, the Duke of Hartwick, while busy with his estate and business, also finds the time to help at his club. At the moment he helps vet new members and approves the ordering of supplies. While he is of marrying age, he hasn’t given it much thought until he receives a letter from Octavius Bryton, the Earl of Sherriden requesting a meeting with regards to his daughter Lady Helena.

This is a surprise to David since he thought Lady Helena had also died in that fire 10 years ago. The meeting brought to light other facts about Lady Helena as well as the request for him to consider her a possible match. David wasn’t going to agree without meeting her and it’s arranged for the three of them to meet at a local teahouse for an afternoon tea.

This is one of my favorite scenes.

Lord Sherriden smiled, then looked over his shoulder in what was, to David, a very obviously planned move.

“Oh, look!” he said. “There is one of my dearest friends just across the room. Do you mind terribly if I just pop across and say good afternoon?”

David tried to stop the knowing smile from growing on his face. There was no friend— or, at least, he doubted it greatly. This was a ploy to give the two of them a few moments to themselves. Seeing the glint of hope in the Earl’s eye confirmed it.

“Not at all, My Lord,” David replied. “We shall be quite all right here, won’t we, My Lady?”

“Quite.”

“Excellent. I shan’t be long, and I’ll only be a few tables away.”

Lord Sherriden rose from his seat and threw David a last encouraging grin before moving away. Neither he nor Lady Helena said another word, and David found a sudden and deep interest in the stain his teaspoon had left on the tablecloth.

The lack of conversation was uncomfortable at best. David looked everywhere but at Lady Helena, not wanting her to sense him staring, while she looked only directly in front of her. Across the room, David saw the Earl talking to his friend, but also glancing their way every few seconds.

Eventually, David decided that he needed to at least make an effort, and when he spoke, he put an edge of cheerfulness to it.

“Have you ever been—”

“Don’t feel you have to make polite conversation, Your Grace,” Helena interrupted, still staring forward, still unmoving. “I think we can both admit that neither of us has any interest in what the other has to say.”

“I don’t think—”

“Your Grace, if you please. I am not here willingly, wanting only to please my Father. And this marriage, if there will be such a thing, will be one of convenience rather than consent. So let me reiterate, there is really no need to force a conversation where there is not naturally one.”

“Well!” David was outraged by her words and the brazen way she spoke them. She was far from the sweet, innocent young lady he thought her to be. “I don’t believe I have ever met anyone quite so rude and disrespectful.”

“And yet I know you agree,” she said simply.

“If you truly wanted to make your Father happy, My Lady, you would be eager to engage in conversation, as that is so clearly what he wants.”

“Except he is currently not at the table, and therefore there is no need for us to pretend.”

They sniped at each other in hushed tones, wary of neighboring ears that might pry on their business. Their words flew rapidly from one to the other, and David felt an irritated heat rising up in him.

“The longer I sit here, the more I wonder why I agreed to this meeting either,” he said, feeling the frown on his face deepening. “For I certainly wouldn’t want to live with someone like you for the rest of my life.”

“Well then perhaps you should refuse it,” she snapped back. “Why are you here, anyway? A Duke courting a lowly Earl’s daughter— and a blind one at that. What exactly is it you are after?”

“After!” He scoffed at her words, his eyes widening in fury and annoyance. “Your Father suggested this meeting to me, and I agreed on the notion that you would be at least a half-way decent young lady, not someone so cold and hard as you so obviously are.”

She turned to face him directly, and he could see the flaring of her nostrils as his words hit home. He couldn’t help but feel at least a little smug that he had succeeded in irking her as much as she had vexed him. He even smiled, and it was then that he realized he was finding the argument exciting. Enjoyable, even.

As curious as it sounded, he couldn’t remember a time when he felt even half as passionate and fiery as he did at that very moment. Infuriating and unfriendly though she may be, she brought out in him a heat he had not known existed within him. He had to bite back a laugh, knowing it would not be appreciated. He licked his lips and looked down at his hands instead, and their bickering stopped, simmering just beneath the surface.

“How is your tea?” he asked after a moment of gathering himself.

“The same as yours, no doubt,” she replied. “So you already know how it is.”

He couldn’t stop it then, the laughter that bubbled up inside him. He snorted, then immediately apologized, but when he looked at her, he found that she was giggling also.

“This is not quite how I imagined our meeting to go, I must admit,” he said softly.

“Me neither,” she agreed.

“It isn’t working, is it? Our getting to know one another.”

“I think it has at least shown how poorly suited we are for one another,” she said. “Something for you to report back to my Father.”

“Oh.”

The heavy stone in his stomach weighed him down with dread and worry. She was right, of course, they were far from suited. And yet his guilt pushed him on, refusing to allow him to give up. It would not be he would told Lord Sherriden they were not well matched. If Lady Helena had no desire to marry him, then she needed to tell her father herself.
Scarlett Osborne. The Blind Duchess and her Wicked Duke: A Steamy Regency Romance (Kindle Locations 751-794). Scarlett Osborne.

In spite of Lady Helena’s bristly attitude, David is determined not to be the one to refuse this match. Lady Helena also will not back down from it since it brings such joy to her father. He does want the best for her after all.

Now David makes several errors as these to enter matrimony. I think the biggest was not allowing her to bring Jenny with her to help adjust to a new household. One she would be responsible for running day to day. Another is not informing anyone other than his cook that he is bringing home a guest for dinner. That was very amusing although it does work out well, and provides some interesting information that ties in with something Jenny had mentioned regarding a trip to the market.

David’s part in said fire is something we get bits and pieces of as we listen in on his thoughts. This aspect of his life also colors the intimacy or rather lack of in his marriage.

An enjoyable, funny, intriguing journey into the past with a relationship that develops slowly to a simmer and eventually to sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Scarlett!

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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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Her Unbroken SEAL – Midnight Delta Book 11 by Caitlyn O’Leary


Her Unbroken SEAL
Midnight Delta Book 11
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Caitlyn O’Leary

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What happens when the man you love
is now a stranger?

Lydia Hildalgo has been engaged to Clint Archer for five years. He’d been the love of her life since he’d carried her on his back out of the Mexican jungle. She knew the risk of loving a Navy SEAL, and she’d been happy to take it.

After a harrowing mission, Clint wakes up with no memory of what happened, and a brain that doesn’t feel like his own, he doesn’t know what to do, or who to turn to.

When one of his teammates needs his brand of help, he can’t turn him down, but he doesn’t know if he’s the same man he once was. With his mood swings, can he be trusted to do the job? And what about Lydia? What happens when the man she loved with all her heart, is not who he once was? Is there anyway that they can find a way back to one another and finally create the future of their dreams?

NOTE:
This is a stand-alone, but having read book two, Lydia and Clint’s first story in the in the Midnight Delta series, will enhance your enjoyment.

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Midnight Delta, Mason’s team, is in the middle of an op as this book opens. From the moment they started Clint has had a bad feeling things were going wrong. Finn, Dare and Jack are in a crowd looking for the people they were sent to extract. A senator, two of his aides and two reporters are in danger as terrorists converge on this town in Syria. Time is of the essence and as they manage to gather the people things get hairier. The trucks with the terrorists have anti-aircraft guns mounted and if someone doesn’t do something quick they won’t get everyone out. It’s Clint who has the idea and while it works he gets injured and Drake’s the one who makes sure he gets out.

Lydia is Clint’s fiancé and she is determined to stand by him as he recovers from the severe TBI. Kept in a medically induced coma in Germany until he was stable enough to be transported to the US. Clint is experiencing major headaches and memory loss but hasn’t been awake long enough to assess any type of prognosis.

“I’m so glad you woke up. The doctors were talking about a feeding tube, but I told them to wait. I knew you couldn’t resist the idea of hospital food.”

“Feeding tube?” Even with the dim light, his head was pounding. Every word that he said hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but he needed answers.

“Yeah, you’ve been out of it for a while.”

“How long is a while?”

“Five weeks,” she admitted slowly.

Clint struggled to sit up, then realized one of his arms was in a cast. As soon as he moved, he groaned. His head felt like Quasimodo was inside, ringing a church bell. At least he’d let out a manly groan and held back the little girl whimper that was close to the surface.

“Jesus, Lydia, I hurt.”

“Well then don’t move your head,” she said tartly.

“Is there something wrong with my head?”

He watched as she bit her lip.

Okay, there’s something wrong with my head, hence the reason I can’t come up with the word ‘present’. At least I just thought the word, ‘hence’.

Fuck. Even that small internal grin of satisfaction hurt.

“I’m calling the nurse for pain meds.”

“Is that why I haven’t been awake? Drugs?”

She bit her lip again.

“Dammit, don’t be coy, tell me!”

Whoa, calm down, Sailor. Your head might split open.

Lydia looked at him with wide eyes. She looked hurt.

“I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry for. I know you’re impatient. I would be too in your shoes.”

“Doesn’t allow me to be an…”

Fuck, what was the word?

“… asshole.”

“Anyway,” she said briskly. “You’ve been out because of a brain injury. It was bad. They had to put you into a drug-induced coma.”

That triggered some memory that he couldn’t access. There were reasons to do that, but he couldn’t remember why.

Why can’t I remember? “Why did they do that?”

“Honey, they needed to stop your brain from swelling.”

Clint shut his eyes, finally putting it all together. “Traumatic brain injury? How bad? How long have I been ousht? When did it happen? What daysh is it?”

Why are my words slurred?

He watched as Lydia, his beautiful woman, paled. She took a deep breath. “Yes. TBI. They don’t know how bad. You were injured five weeks ago. You were out of the country when it happened, and you know I don’t know anything about that. Today is my best birthday ever.”

Clint involuntarily squeezed Lydia’s hand… hard. He didn’t notice until he saw her wince. He let go fast.

“Sorry.”

“It’s all right. Any kind of touch from you is a blessing.”

He smiled. “You’re full of shit, my Dork Queen.”

“Look here, Nerd King, I know what’s important, and that’s holding hands with you.” She gave him a steely glare. “Got it?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Now tell me the truth, how bad is your head hurting?”

“Not bad.”

“On a scale of one to ten.”

Ten.

“About a threes.”

“Okay, I’ll get the nurse.”

Clint frowned. “They don’t admin… admin… give drugs for a three.”

“You’re at a ten. Maybe you forgot with your brain injury and all, but you lost the ability to lie to me a year into our relationship.”

Clint felt his chest ease. Having Lydia tease about his injury made it less traumatic.

Traumatic. Good play on words, Archer.

He laughed.

“What are you laughing about?”

“You make me happy, Lydia. But no more lashing. It hurts my head.”

She leaned in and cupped his face. He looked into her brown eyes. Up close she was blurry but still gorgeous. Her thumb stroked along his lower lip. It felt so good. He parted his lips in anticipation. As she came closer, he could taste her cinnamon-flavored breath just before she touched her lips to his. Pain floated away as he was lost in the sensation of Lydia’s heated mouth and intimate caress. He felt loved and cherished. Safe.

When her tongue traced his lower lip, then pushed forward to tangle with his, he lifted his hands to hold her closer and was hampered by his cast. He tried lifting his head instead, and a shard of glass lodged into his temple. He gasped in pain.

Goddammit!

“Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh. It’s all right, Baby.”

Don’t call me baby!

Clint sighed. “My head’s really hurting. It might be up to a six now. Maybe you should ask for some pain meds,” he admitted reluctantly.

“Got it, it’s a twenty. I’ll be right back.”

She caressed the back of his hand and was gone. Clint squeezed his eyes tight and gritted his teeth. Even that hurt. He didn’t care. What hurt more was that kissing Lydia seemed beyond his ability. What the hell was wrong with him?
Caitlyn O’Leary. Her Unbroken SEAL, Midnight Delta, Book 11. (Kindle Locations 611-655). Passionately Kind Publishing Inc..

Most of this book is about Lydia’s handling of Clint’s recovery and of course Clint’s reactions and emotions with the TBI. This isn’t everything, there’s another sort of casualty from the Syria mission. Drake is being blackmailed by one of the senator’s aides. He hasn’t been told what he has to do, but if he doesn’t do it his career is down the tubes.

I loved this book, the relationship Clint and Lydia have is one for the ages. Their devotion to one another is very clear on every page. This is a journey for both of them, through the pain, hurts real and imagined, and adapting to temporary limitations.

The true brotherhood of the team shines through in this one as well, from all the wives sticking together to the handling of Drakes problem.

I really hope there will be more in this series and I have some catching up to do, I have most of the books and have read them but not reviewed. I think I need go back and do that now.

5 Contented Purrs for Caitlyn!

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Caitlyn O’Leary

Caitlyn O’Leary is an avid reader, and considers herself a fan first and an author second. She reads a wide variety of genres, but finds herself going back to happily-ever-afters. Getting a chance to write, after years in corporate America is a dream come true. She hopes that her stories provide the kind of entertainment and escape that she has found from some of her favorite authors.

Her Series Include:
THE FOUND:
It’s a bit Paranormal, a bit Sci-Fi and 100% Action/Adventure. The characters have special abilities, that make them targets.

MIDNIGHT DELTA
This is focused on a group of Navy Seals. What makes them special is their bond to one another, and the women they come to love.

FATE HARBOR
This is the series that started her career, it is a Menage Series that takes place in Fate Harbor Washington. It focuses on a tight knit community who live and love and care for one another.

She loves to hear from her readers. caitlyn@caitlynoleary.com

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Lethal Protector – Rifle Creek Book 3 by Kaylea Cross


Lethal Protector
Rifle Creek Book 3
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Kaylea Cross

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She unknowingly threatens his control.

Single mom Tala Baldwin is no stranger to sacrifice. After losing her leg while serving her country, she’s now training to become a competitive biathlete. With her daughter off to college, she’s able to shoot for her dream of making the national masters team. Even her Christmas break in Rifle Creek doesn’t slow her down. She’s asked her trusted friend Braxton to help her train—all while trying to pretend she doesn’t ache for him. Braxton was there for her during the darkest day of her life and he’s been there for her since…but only as a friend. In fact, he seems more determined than ever to hold her at arm’s length—until a deadly blizzard traps them in the mountains with a wanted killer hot on their trail. Now Tala once again finds her life in his hands as they face the lethal threats together.

Now he’s at his breaking point.

Sgt. Braxton Hillard is a master sniper, renowned for his ability to operate without emotion. Except with Tala. She’s all he’s ever wanted—but can’t have. For four long years he’s kept his distance. She’s way too good for him and she would realize that if he ever made a move. But the attraction between them is too powerful to deny, and once she makes it clear she wants him, he can’t keep his distance any longer. As they fight to survive in the mountains, all bets are off. Braxton is ready to sacrifice everything to protect the woman he loves—even his own life.


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From the reunion at the airport it was obvious that both Braxton and Tala have feelings for each other. We get to see flashbacks of when they first met, a meet-up overseas, the incident that injured Tala and pieces of her recovery.

From the previous books we know Tala’s daughter is going to school in Missoula and spends a lot of time with Tate and Nina. Tate and Mason are opening Rifle Creek Tactical and Brax, for now, is a silent partner helping with the financing. Mason’s ‘better half’ Avery is also Tate’s partner in the police force. At least until RCT is up and running.

It’s the present that’s pulling at them both, Tala wants to take their friendship further but not if he’s going to re-up. She doesn’t want to be second to his career. She also wants his help with her shooting, she’s training for Biathlon and she needs to place well in order to make the National Masters team and then hopefully qualify for the Paralympics. He’s the best to help her since he’s a Canadian JTF2 sniper.

Brax’s feelings for Tala go much further than friendship as well but he is reluctant to take things further. His track record with relationships isn’t good and mostly because of his frequent and often prolonged absences. Tala wants to be put first and until he’s ready to retire from active duty, he can’t give her that.

We have some interesting developments involving the death of a gang leader and the person suspected of the crime and a couple of avalanches.

It’s clear that being close is torture for Tala and Brax, circumstances will change that but not without cost. I loved the scenes with him training her for the shooting portions of the Biathlon. Even more so when they simulate both parts of it.

Friendship, laughter, survival, tears and a simmering relationship that bursts into flames.

I’m sorry to see this series end as I love these characters, but I know I’ll love the new one that’s coming soon!

5 Contented Purrs for Kaylea!


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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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Taste of Karma – Sinner’s Keepers Book 2 By Heather Long and Blake Blessing


Taste of Karma
Sinner’s Keepers Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Authors
Heather Long
&
Blake Blessing

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Death, Sin, and Vengeance walk into a bar…

They all want something from Karmen.

Bish wants to get even with Karmen for her interference in taking Dahlia away from him. Cipher wants to punish her for abandoning his arms and his bed. Váli has wanted her for centuries but she never seemed to see him.

When Bish and Cipher conspire to teach Karmen a lesson, Váli seizes the opportunity and offers his services—after all, Vengeance is his grace. Too bad for them, he’ll extract a little for his girl and eliminate them as competition at the same time. These bad boys are no angels.

Karma has no deadline…

I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of anyone.

Sin betrayed me, Death wants me to pay, and Vengeance? He’s all right, but we work together too much. Our methods are very different. When those three Keepers put their heads together, my spine tingles in warning. They’re up to something and it’s hard to miss. I’ve played this game for far too long. Are they really sure they want to mess with me?

Bring it on, boys. I’m patient and it’s hardly the first time I got my hands dirty.

*NOTE*
This is a reverse harem and the authors suggests you always read the forward in their books. Warning, this is a standalone tale with a fierce and feisty heroine, three anti-heroes who are forces of nature, and a tale as old as time, with elements of revenge, humor, and a little bit of karmic justice thrown in.

Welcome to Sinner’s a bar where keepers and humans alike can indulge in an evening of fun, camaraderie, drink, and yes, sometimes some violence. Okay so more than just some violence, since the book opens with Hattie literally pounding Sunny before they makeup. Before Karmen could even get to the bar, Váli wraps his arms around her until things settle with Sunny and Hattie.

Things interesting to note here, Váli and Karmen are good friends. Their Graces of Vengeance and Karma blend well into many circumstances and they have worked together often. It appears Váli wants to take this further but there is hesitancy from Karmen. She doesn’t want to lose his friendship if the relationship goes up in flames.

Then we have Quetta our feisty bartender and keeper of excess. She’s mad at Váli for some reason and it shows in every action. The owner of Sinner’s is Cipher (Sin), and he and Karmen have history, a long one with a painful ending. His friend Bish (Death) wants some vengeance for Karmen taking Dahlia from him or so he thinks. Dahlia is the new keeper of fate and mated to Seth (Judgement), Zhan (Justice) and Tarus (Punishment), we learned their story in ‘Kiss of Fate’. They fit each other and are fated to be together so Bish, is just deluding himself.

Cipher enlists Váli to aid him in said vengeance, that being his specialty and all, but Váli has his own ideas as to how this should play out.

From an ‘accidental’ meeting in Paris, back to the bar when Karmen is summoned by Quetta for an intervention, this tale begins with many twists, many involving Cipher.

This is a favorite scene when Karmen and Váli join Dahlia and her mates for a drink or two.

There was something really satisfying about orchestrating a genius plan to get exactly what you want. Váli had been planning this particular one for centuries, just waiting for the right opportunity to lay out all his cards. That he got to jerk on Cipher’s chain while he was at it?

Fucking. Bonus.

Bish was an extra that he hadn’t anticipated. Who would have thought he’d have such a hate on for Karmen? Seriously, so what? She’d played matchmaker and didn’t pick him as the knight in shining armor?

He just needed to get laid.

Scowling at Cipher, who happened to bring over an unsolicited pitcher of Nectar, Váli made his feelings known in an icy glare. As if any of the Keepers, save the newbie, wouldn’t know this was out of the ordinary. Cipher might be the owner and namesake of Sinner’s, but he never actually worked. That wasn’t one of his attributes, after all.

Oh, he was going to be a problem that Váli was really going to enjoy fixing.

Karmen poured him a glass of Nectar, completely ignoring Cipher. It was petty, but he winked at Sin, who ground his teeth and stalked off toward the bar.

Váli should have known the Keeper was behind Karmen’s mysterious call to Sinner’s. And Quetta hated Váli, so she definitely wouldn’t do him any favors. Crazy bitch. And not Karmen’s feisty and sexy as hell type of bitch, either.

“You know Cipher?” Dahlia asked with too much naïveté.

Everyone in the Keeper world knew of Cipher and Karmen once upon a time. And it was Váli’s goal to make sure every time Karmen’s name was uttered in the next eternity, it would be tied to his.

“Oh, darling. Let’s just say he was the one I should have dropped at the curb centuries and centuries ago.” Karmen waved a hand as she sipped her drink. “I should have known the Keeper of Sin wasn’t good boyfriend material.”

“Sin? Oh my god, he didn’t cheat on you, did he?”

Dahlia looked downright sick at the thought.

Váli slipped a hand under Karmen’s hair to stroke her nape as he listened to her conversation. The small shiver that racked her body encouraged him to press a little closer to her side. She wasn’t as unaffected as she had made him believe all those years ago. Cipher glared daggers at him as he slung dish rags behind the bar, and Váli smirked like the asshole he was.

When he turned around, Seth was still giving him the death stare. Come on, any idiot with two brain cells to rub together would see he was all about Karmen. Who cared what might have happened in the past? Only in this case, nothing had.

“Please. Do you still see him breathing?” Karmen’s husky laugh was the stuff sex was made of. He had to adjust his pants before it got a little too uncomfortable.

“If he had cheated on Karmen, I would have helped her deliver the best form of revenge possible. I would have pulled out all the stops,” Váli growled out as he pushed her hair to the side and pressed a wet, hot kiss to her neck.

Jerking in her chair, Karmen shot him a look so full of surprise and confusion, he couldn’t stop the heated grin that slid over his face. His hand still rested on the back of her neck, so he took advantage to slide his thumb over her pulse point. His little Keeper’s heart was fluttering so hard, it was damn near visible to the eye. His grin morphed into a full-blown smile packed with male satisfaction.

“Sorry, I was walking by and thought I heard you wrong. What type of revenge do you think you could have delivered?” Cipher popped into existence behind Karmen as if he used his grace to move across the bar.

Váli didn’t bother to look at Cipher, his gaze fixed on Karmen and the soft violet of her eyes which had locked on him. The fact she didn’t look at the Keeper of Sin at all pleased something deeply primitive inside of Váli.

The rapid rate of her pulse spiking played a soft tattoo under his fingertips. Cipher glared daggers at him, but Váli continued to ignore him. As long as Karmen had her eyes on his, he wouldn’t look away. The ripple of shock might have been insulting to a lesser man, but Váli knew his worth. More, he knew how much she valued him. Why else would she cast him in the role of best friend to keep him firmly planted at her side?

Even when Cipher captured her interest the first time, she’d never turned her back on Váli. And it had been Váli who had helped her collect the jagged bits of herself when she’d finally thrown off the jesses of the other Keeper.
Heather Long; Blake Blessing. Taste of Karma (Kindle Locations 636-671).

With all that history there’s even more going on as Bish comes up with his own idea since he didn’t like the one Váli came up with. This of course twists this tale in yet another direction with a sweet human named Sanibel.

We see Time again in this one and a couple of new folks, Kong the Keeper of Mischief and Morrie the Keeper of War, now there’s an interesting relationship for sure. While Karmen tends to get in trouble with Kong, Morrie really hates her.

Now an interesting thing is some unique occurrences with Karmen flashing to other books in both author’s books. Gives a bit of pause if you’ve read them.

I love Bish’s dogs and the way they love and protect Karmen when they are with her.

Lots of fun, fights, intrigue, surprises and OMG I swear my kindle was smoking from the flames of the relationship between Karmen, Váli, Bish and Cipher.

I think I’d like Quetta to have her story next, after all she’s been through a lot in these two books.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather and Blake!

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Heather Long Heather Long

USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.

From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.

When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.


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Blake Blessing is no longer new on the Indie scene, but she’s still ecstatic about this chapter in life. She is a mom, wife, art enthusiast, and author.

She attended ten different schools growing up, so books became her constant friend. Escaping into books of all different genres made life fun and exciting. Blake was also raised on music and still blasts it through the house and car at every opportunity.

She has a weird sense of humor and a penchant for chocolate milk. It only makes sense she would one day go on to write her own stories.

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Sweet Temptation – A Club Temptation Novella by Jen Talty


Sweet Temptation
A Club Temptation Novella
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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By day, Dixie Gaynor spends her time helping couples work through their relationship issues. By night, she writes a blog: Create the Dew, dedicated to helping women find their sexual groove. Unfortunately, Dixie feels like a fraud and decides she needs to take a walk on the wild side—or at least as wild as she’s willing to go.

Zane Pierce has worked at Club Temptation for the better part of five years. While he doesn’t have the sexual tastes the club is notorious for, he does hope to find an open-minded, non-judgmental woman willing to try new things—all while maintaining a modicum of privacy. Lucky for him, the stunning beauty who walks into the club appears to be exactly what he’s looking for—until details of their sex life end up on the internet.

Will Zane be able to come to terms with his love life being a teaching tool, or will he let the only woman he’s ever truly cared for walk right out of Club Temptation? And his life.

Dixie’s blog is one of empowering women to explore themselves and their sexuality. She finds she needs to make some changes in her own life if she’s to be honest with herself and her followers.

Zane works at Club Temptation, he’s the one who vets members and gives the tours. He is not in the lifestyle, he took the job because his brother is and he wanted to support him. When Dixie calls with the recommendation of her friend Nic, he does the usual searching but doesn’t come up with much in social media. But it’s when he sees her for the first time he really hopes the Club isn’t her thing.

This is a favorite scene.

“Yo, Zane. Some chick by the name of Dixie is here for you,” Erik, one of the security men, said. “She said Nic sent her?”

“She’s right on time,” Zane said. “What’s she like?”

Erik leaned against the doorjamb and fiddled with his wedding ring. They’d come to an understanding, but working together still had its awkward moments. “She’s a knockout for one. And as usual with anyone new, she seems a little nervous.” Erik handed Zane the interview forms.

“Did she say anything revealing? Anything that might help me guide her to what she really wants?” Most people who came to Club Temptation had no idea the sexual desires that hid in the corners of their minds.

Erik shook his head. “I trust my instincts, and I think she’s a tough one to crack. I doubt she even understands her wants and desires, and I suspect she’s searching for someone to guide her in the right direction.”

“Good to know,” Zane said. “And welcome back. I hope you and Lenny had an awesome honeymoon. I mean that.”

“I know you do.”

Zane nodded. “Send her back.” He smoothed down the front of his slacks and did a quick check in the mirror, tucking one side of his long, wavy hair behind an ear. Not that it mattered, but he always liked to dress to kill. And even though he’d only seen one black and white picture of Dixie, he more than liked what he saw.

He glanced down the hall, and the air in his lungs escaped. He tried to take in a deep breath, but he couldn’t. He gasped. His heart dropped to his gut like a ton of bricks as the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen strolled down the plum-colored carpet with her head held high. Her long, brilliant copper-red hair bounced over her shoulders with just the right amount of curl to drive a man wild.

Her hips swayed back and forth like one of those momentum ball things that his grandfather used to have on his desk. Like the rest of her body, her hips were round and voluptuous— like a lady’s form was supposed to be— with curves in all the right places.

And her plump, rosy lips?

Christ. All he could think about was how they’d feel pressed against his as he took them in a tender kiss.

Sweet temptation.

That’s what Dixie Gaynor was. And it would take all of his resolve not to talk her out of finding whatever it was she was looking for at the club.

“You must be Dixie,” he said, stretching out his arm. His blood raced through his body in anticipation of feeling her skin against his.

“I take it you’re Zane.” She blinked once, her long lashes fluttering over her bright teal-colored eyes that reminded him of the Caribbean Sea at sunset.

Tiny electric pulses tickled his fingertips and worked their way to his brain, sending him into momentary shock. He held her fingers for what he knew to be longer than appropriate.

Screw it.

He lifted her hand and kissed the back. “Welcome to Club Temptation.”

“Thank you.”

“What do you think so far?”

“I haven’t really seen much other than the entrance and the bar area. But I didn’t expect it to be so… large.”

“Would you like a tour of the place?”

God, how he loved the way her porcelain cheeks blushed with a hint of red, and how her green eyes widened with a combination of excitement, fear, and curiosity. A mixture that made him want to take her out of the club and to his bed.

“Can I ask a crazy question?” she asked.

“Of course.”

“What exactly am I going to see while on this tour?”

“Why don’t we start with a drink in the main bar, and we can go from there?” He placed his hand on the small of her back, resisting the urge to run his fingers up to her bare skin.

She wore a yellow dress with straps that fell off her shoulders. The material hugged her full-figured body in all the right places, and he couldn’t rip his gaze from her if he tried.

“How long have you worked here?” she asked.

“Going on five years.” He slipped into a booth in the main room. A few Doms entertained a couple of new young ladies while a dominatrix and her sub were having a drink with a couple who liked to have their fantasies played out in front of them. “My brother lives the lifestyle of a Dom and brought me on.” A few more members strolled in, and the excitement in the room built. Couples kissed and touched each other intimately as they waited for the fuel that would turn their fire into an inferno.

“Is your brother here?”

“His wife is pregnant. Due in two months. They haven’t been coming around lately.”

“Did they meet here?” “No. A mutual friend of theirs introduced them.” Zane tapped his finger on the table and pointed toward a couple. “Those two are into being in the dominant role together, so they often find a submissive here for play. Is that something you’d be interested in?”

Dixie shook her head quickly.

Zane didn’t want to admit it, even to himself, but that made him ridiculously happy. He hoped that whatever this sexy young woman was into, he might be able to fulfill the desire. Only he couldn’t do it on company time.

Not if he wanted to keep his job.
Jen Talty. Sweet Temptation: A Club Temptation Novella (Kindle Locations 178-221). Lady Boss Press, Inc..

Things heat up really fast for these two in the club and Dixie flees in embarrassment. Zane doesn’t give up though he texts her and eventually talks to her.

With the club out of the picture, this relationship slows but doesn’t waver in it’s heat since Zane’s interests are not what the club offers.

There is much growth for both Dixie and Zane throughout this story. While Dixie has overcome much in terms of her body, she still has issues when it comes to her mother interfering.

I really loved this story, it’s full of conquering self doubts and learning to trust and love in a healthy relationship.

This is a multi-author series and now I have to go explore the other books, links are below.

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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Kiss Me Ever After – Ever After Book 2 by Julie Archer



Kiss Me Ever After
Ever After Book 2
By
Julie Archer

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She has a lot of plans. None of them involved him. Until now.

Lennon Cole has it all mapped out, bright lights, New York and living the high life. Until a shady deal in her father’s business world brings everything she knows down around her. With nothing left, Lennon ends up in the one place she doesn’t want to be; at her grandparents’ holiday home in Ealynn Sands.

Justin Navarro has it all sorted. The bad boy of Ealynn Sands, his reputation precedes him. If there’s one thing he can’t abide, it’s tourists flying into his hometown and leaving again without a backwards glance. Like Lennon Cole. Sure, they’ve had moments… Near misses and almost kisses, but he could never be interested in a pampered princess like that.

Until the night he saves her life.

Now the tourist and the bad boy are seeing each other properly for the first time… but it’s just a summer fling… isn’t it?

Kiss Me Ever After is a standalone romance, where opposites attracting could just change your life forever.


Lennon was always part of the summer crowd in Ealynn Sands, spending that time at her grandparents home. Her best friend Amber lives next door and it was all about fun and parties. This year is different for Lennon, her father is under investigation and all their money is frozen. Instead of heading to New York for a fabulous internship, she’s back in Ealynn Sands, with a job so she can return to Uni in the fall.

Justin is Amber’s brother Alex’s friend, they work at the hotel bar together along with their other friend Curtis. It’s from them that Justin hears Lennon is in town and working at The Blue Goose Cafe.

Lennon is surprised to see Justin when he stops in after his shift, it’s not like they were friends although he was really nice to look at. The last time she saw him he was with Candace and she wasn’t letting anyone near him. When those two were on the outs with each other Justin was quite the flirt and there have been a couple of close but not quite kisses.

Things are much different now, Justin has made a final break from his toxic relationship with Candace and is now realizing there is far more to Lennon than the privileged princess he knew.

Things start to heat up quickly between these two as Justin confronts his home life and Lennon adjusts to the changes in her life.

A couple of scares for Lennon just intensifies the relationship, even as Candace tries to destroy it.

Julie takes on a couple of difficult topics in this book and does it very well. I loved the ups and downs, conflicts and the simmer to sizzle relationship.

5 Contented Purrs for Julie!

Keep reading for an excerpt and a favorite scene.

Copyright 2021 @Julie Archer

“Remind me why we’re doing this again?” I winced as a woman literally stuck a pin into me.

“We’re saving my mum’s skin,” declared Amber, my best friend.
Which was why I stood in a freezing cold corridor in a thin satin slip dress, having the bodice altered to make it fit properly.

“Keep still,” hissed the woman through a mouthful of pins. “I don’t want to get blood on this dress.”

I did as I was told, trying not to shiver and inadvertently get pricked.

Amber had roped me into modelling at the Ealynn Sands Annual Summer Fashion Pageant. Her mother worked in the hotel which hosted it, and two girls they’d lined up to model had dropped out at the last minute. So Sonya had spoken to Amber, who’d spoken to me, and before long we were trying on outfits and now being made up to within an inch of our lives.

While I enjoyed fashion, my interests lay on the other side of the industry in marketing and PR. This week, I’d got the news I’d been accepted for an internship next summer with a prestigious consultancy in New York. It was everything I wanted… Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Central Park and yellow cabs…you name it, I was ready. Anything to do with the Big Apple and I wanted it. When I’d told her, Amber had been excited for me, even though it meant missing out on our usual summer plans. Selfishly, I didn’t care. One summer away from here wouldn’t hurt anyone, well, except maybe Amber. She would miss me.

“Excuse me, ladies,” a male voice cut through the excited chatter in the corridor, “coming through!”

My gaze fell on the waiter pushing through the hallway with a tray full of empty plates and dirty cutlery.

Dark curly hair, brown and gold eyes, and a muscled body clad in the regulation uniform of black jeans with a black and white horizontal striped t-shirt. I practically drooled.

Justin Navarro.

For years, he and I had danced around each other every summer.

Almost getting together.

Almost, but not quite.

He brushed past me, his arm skimming my nipples, which tightened enough in response that he noticed and paused. The corner of his mouth quirked, his eyes catching mine.

“Sorry,” he murmured.

The low octave of his voice sent waves down my spine.

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Julie Archer

Author of contemporary romance featuring rock stars, small towns, a healthy dose of angst, some steamy times and always a happy ever after!

When not writing, I can usually be found binge watching teen drama series on Netflix, or supporting Spurs from my armchair, and running around after my two feline children, Corey and Elsa.

Real Angst. Real Romance.

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Dare to Stay – Dare Nation Book 4 by Carly Phillips


Dare To Stay
Dare Nation Book 4
By
NY Times Bestselling Author
Carly Phillips

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Willow James, athletic trainer for the Miami Thunder football team, knows abandonment and hurt. A child of foster care, she’s been moved around and left behind more times than she cares to count. Just when she was starting to let her guard down with Braden Prescott, he left for a two year stint with Doctors Without Borders. Now he’s back.

Dr. Braden Prescott always felt like an outsider in his family of professional sports players. He’s traveled the world and is better for it, but now he’s home with a job for the Miami Thunder. When he comes face to face with the woman he left behind, their chemistry still smolders. She’ll give him her body again but not her heart.

He knows leaving her once was the biggest mistake of his life. Can Willow learn to trust him not to leave, especially when adventure comes calling again?

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When Braden left to join Doctors without Borders or MSF as it was known, Médicins Sans Frontières two years ago, Willow didn’t give him a chance to explain just wished him good luck with his life and left. Now Ian is about to announce he’s the new head general doctor for the Thunder. Ian hasn’t made an internal announcement so everyone will hear this at the same time, including Willow.

Braden is a bit nervous, not because of the job, but because of Willow. He still loves her and never meant for his stint with MSF to be the end of their relationship. He knows he has his work cut out for him when it comes to Willow. He’s going to have to win her trust and that’s not going to be easy.

Willow is shocked when she sees him but knows she has to shield herself, he left her once what would stop him from doing it again. There’s also another complication, she’s been dating another team physician Cole.

This is just one of my favorite scenes.

He wasn’t about to let her get away that easily. “Sure.” He walked to the entrance of the gym and pushed the door open for her, following her out. His plan was to invite her to dinner so they could catch up and, he hoped, dig deeper than the surface conversation she’d allowed today.

They stepped back into her office, and once again he was in close quarters with Willow, surrounded by the delicious scent of coconut, his favorite smell since she’d always favored that in shower gel and shampoo. All he had to do was inhale and his cock stood at attention, which gave him a reason to shrug his jacket back on and cover the evidence of his arousal.

Had he been with other women in the last two years? Yes. Did he remember faces or names? No. And he’d always thought of Willow and wished it was her he was with.

“So I was wondering,” he began, intending to ask her if they could get together, as a knock sounded on the open door.

Not ready to share her yet, Braden turned to see who needed her attention. A man he didn’t recognize stood in the doorway. A blond-haired, brown-eyed, well-groomed guy wearing khakis and a short-sleeve Polo shirt.

“Am I interrupting?” the man asked.

Willow blinked, a flush on her cheeks. “No, of course not. Braden Prescott, this is Cole Walsh, one of the team physicians. You’ll be working together.”

Stepping forward, Braden extended his arm and they shook hands.

“My new boss.” The man took Braden in, obviously sizing him up, and Braden did the same.

“Good to meet you and looking forward to working with you,” Cole said at last.

“Same here. I’ll be announcing an official meeting in the morning, after I’ve been introduced to everyone this afternoon,” Braden said.

“Great.” Cole smiled and turned to Willow. “Are you ready for lunch? I know we don’t have much time, but I made a reservation at your favorite place.” His expression as he turned to her was of a man smitten.

That flush in her cheeks deepened as she looked at Braden beneath lowered lashes before glancing at Cole. “Sounds perfect. We’re finished here, right, Braden?” Without waiting for a reply, she opened a drawer in her desk and picked up her handbag.

Shit. She was with another man, one he’d be working with. That was a hiccup he hadn’t anticipated, and jealousy rose fast and furious inside him.

“Have fun,” he said as she walked past him without meeting his gaze.

Son of a bitch. Now what?
Carly Phillips. Dare To Stay (Kindle Locations 259-279). CP Publishing.

Cole has no idea of her history with Braden and she really doesn’t want to tell him. That ship sails when they are preparing for a weekend out of town game and Braden outs the fact the had dinner together. However it’s not until she kisses Braden at the hotel that she knows she has to break off with Cole.

Braden isn’t the only one hired for the team, Ian also hired Braden’s friend Hudson who had been with Braden in MSF. As they both find their niche in the team they also find work outside at a clinic. It’s here that Braden meets Aurora, a pregnant young woman in living difficult conditions. This comes in handy when he wants Willow to come to his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. He decides to have Willow help convince her to come to the festivities as well.

Now a lot happens with Braden and Willow as she tries to trust him again. There’s also a bunch of surprises for Aurora, which helps lead in to a new series by Carly.

Plenty of ups and downs in this one, and it’s a simmer to sizzle second chance for Braden and Willow.

5 Contented Purrs for Carly!

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Coming Soon!

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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Cowboy Hank – Cooper’s Hawke Landing Book 3 by Rhonda Lee Carver


Cowboy Hank
Cooper’s Hawke Landing Book 3
By
Rhonda Lee Carver

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When he met her, she needed him…but he realized he might need her more.

Being on the run, homeless, and hungry, it seemed fate had led Helena and her daughter to Cooper’s Hawk where everyone was welcoming, especially one cowboy who took a protector role. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, but she wasn’t prideful either. She’d do anything to keep her daughter safe.

Hank Hawke wasn’t a stranger to challenges. His scars ran deep, but the invisible scars ran much deeper. Coming home from a tour in IRAQ after a bomb explosion killed men in his unit, and left him seriously injured, he had to rebuild and reshape his life. The last thing he needed was a woman with a lot of trouble showing up to breach the secure wall he’d placed around himself, and his heart. However, a cowboy was allowed to change his mind.

Trust wasn’t easy for Helena or Hank, but can they learn to overcome the past to have a future? Are they strong enough to combat the demons? Can Helena hide in a small town where everyone knows everyone…and everything. Someone from the past wants her to pay a price, but Hank will protect her, and her daughter, against all monsters.

Helena left the man her father wanted her to marry at the alter. She picked up her daughter, emptied her savings account and started driving. She’d pulled off the main highway to get gas and still hasn’t found the gas station the sign referred to, when her cell rings. She pulls to the side of the road and shuts the engine to answer. Her best friend is calling to be sure she’s okay. Helena wasn’t sure she and Freya are but she’s doing the best she can. Which right at the moment wasn’t very good, but they were safe and together. After the conversation Helena’s car won’t start and she’s contemplating what to do. The sign she saw said Cooper’s Hawke Landing 5 miles, but she isn’t sure how much of that she’s actually gone.

A truck stops and the driver and older man offers her a ride to town. It takes a bit of convincing but she agrees, at least to the edge of town, or so she thought. She was further from civilization than she realized when she refused to let the man take her further. Now walking in the rain carrying her daughter who had taken off her shoes again and is barefoot. She’s relieved when she sees the sign for Pelican Hawke a bar and grill. She couldn’t bring Freya inside but maybe there was some shelter in the back.

Hank is the owner of Pelican Hawke and when we meet him he’s having a nightmare flashback. He doesn’t get them often anymore thanks to medication and therapy, but it was a long day on Search and Rescue. When he goes downstairs to his office he’s watching the security cameras. He sees Helena enter the bar and realizes she’s a stranger in town. However when he sees her steal a sandwich he gets a bit angry.

Discovering her plight Hank asks her to come into the kitchen of the bar and have something to eat.

This is a favorite scene.

Hank hung up, left his phone on the desk and went back into the kitchen.

“All okay, my friend?” George whipped something in a glass bowl.

“Fine. Why?”

“You look a bit out of sorts.”

“Can you make some food—” The back door opened and Hank’s explanation disappeared with a hiss of breath. Helena and her daughter stepped inside. Now that the little girl was awake and standing on her own two feet, barefoot, Hank could see the similarity between mother and daughter.  “Hi,” he said to them both.

“I-I hope it’s okay.” Helena swiped a glance between Hank and George who if was surprised hid it well. Some of her natural color had returned but the suspicious element in her eyes remained.

“Ladies, this is George, best cook this side of Montana,” Hank introduced the man who greeted them with a smile.

“I’m Helena and this is Freya.”

“I’m Hank,” he told the child who stared up at him with wide doe-like eyes. She held her mom’s hand and partially hid. “Come and have a seat. George can make you whatever you like. Right, buddy?”

The man must have been in a semi-trance because it took him two seconds to answer. “Sure. Anything you want. I bet you like chicken tenders,” he said to Freya who answered with a nod that was so small it could have just been a movement.

“She loves chicken tenders,” Helena answered.

“How about you, ma’am?” George asked, already gathering ingredients.

“Don’t worry about me,” she answered quietly. “I’m not hungry.”

Hank studied her face. He didn’t know her, but he could see by the set of her jaw that pride kept her from accepting a handout. Was she scared he’d ask her for payment?

“Ah, come on,” George said. “It’s not often I get to prepare a meal for special guests. Can I interest you in a cheeseburger and sweet potato fries, not to toot my own horn, but it is my specialty?”

There was only a second’s hesitation. “Sure. I appreciate it.”

“Come and sit down.” Hank pointed at the bar stools organized around the wooden kitchen island.

Once they were seated, Hank washed his hands and dried them then nervously stuffed them into his front pockets. What had come over him? He’d met plenty of petite, pale, suspicious women in his day so what made her different?

Helena laid her hands politely in her lap while Freya stared at him.

Feeling like he needed to do something quick, he asked, “Can I get you both something to drink?”

“Can I have cherry pop?” The little girl asked with big eyes.

“We’ll take water,” Helena cleared her throat and resituated herself on the stool. Little, spirals of hair had stuck on her long, lithe neck and other curls had weaved their way around tiny, sparkling earrings which seemed out of place compared to her outfit.

Realizing he had steered off track, he stepped over to the refrigerator and grabbed two bottles of water and placed them on the table. Then he grabbed the bottle of brandy from the cabinet and poured a small amount, not enough to get a person drunk but enough to take the chill off. He pressed the small glass into the woman’s hand who looked at him like he’d grown horns. “Just enough to take the chill out of your bones.”

She made several swipes from the amber liquid back to him as if debating what she should do.

He started to get the idea she would hand the glass back to him. “It’s only a swallow but if you don’t want it—”

“What is it?”

“Brandy.”

She took a sip. Her slight quiver told him she savored the pool of warmth in her stomach that would soon spread to the rest of her body. He knew that look all too well from a time when he’d relied on the bottle to warm him too…but not from the cold weather.

“Can I have some?” Freya asked.

“If it’s okay with your mom I can make you hot chocolate,” Hank offered, receiving a nod of approval from Helena.

While he went about preparing a cup, she emptied the brandy. When he set the cup of steaming hot chocolate piled with marshmallows in front of Freya she appeared excited as if he’d just given her a bowl of candy. “Be careful,” Hank said. “It might be a little hot.”

When George placed their plates on the table, they dug in. Freya snatched up a handful of fries and rammed them into her mouth.

“Slow down or you’re going to choke,” Helena said to her daughter.

She slowed shoveling the food in but only slightly.

Helena went about eating with more refined control. She shook out a napkin and laid it over her lap, and Hank was caught by her proper manners. Not that anyone in her situation couldn’t have manners, but there was a quality about her behavior that told him she’d been taught proper etiquette.

Hank gave them a few minutes of uninterrupted eating before he finally asked, “Are you two just passing through?”

The creases around her eyes returned and he realized he’d crossed a line he didn’t even know was there.

“I’m going to take a break.” Whether George sensed the tension or truly needed a break, Hank couldn’t be sure but alone with the woman and her kid he felt a bit awkward. He couldn’t seem to get his communication right.
Rhonda Carver. Cowboy-Hank-Final-with-toc (Kindle Locations 658-700). Kindle Edition.

A warm dry place for the night in the form of Hank’s apartment over the bar, allows Helena and Freya to have a good night sleep. Now comes the hard part, her car, a job and a place to stay. All of these happen because of Hank.

Trusting isn’t easy for Helena but gradually and with some gentle persuasion from Hank, her story gets told. They also acknowledge the attraction between them. Helena still isn’t sure this is where she wants to stay but the signs are it would be a good place to settle with Freya.

A search and rescue and a fugitive add some intrigue.

I loved seeing Hank’s family together, it was a fun gathering.

A courtship, with fun, intrigue, some suspense and of course some sizzling heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Rhonda!

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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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