Sapphire Promise: Based on a true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love by Sally Brandle


Sapphire Promise
Based on a true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love
By
Sally Brandle

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Loyalty to family. Trusting instincts. The will to survive. These virtues are deeply embedded in a mature Dutch teenager, Annika Wolters. Her attributes prove useful as she navigates typical coming-of-age insecurities and a blossoming romance with a handsome lieutenant in 1939 Batavia, Java.

Nothing prepares her for the distress of Hitler’s attacks on European countries followed by Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, toppling her idyllic life in the Dutch East Indies colonial society and separating her from the man she loves. Uplifting events from a true story showcase how determination, nursing basics, and language skills keep a young woman and her mother alive in the worst Japanese internment camp in the Pacific. If you admire clever women and unfailing love in a tropical wartime setting, you will be captivated by Sapphire Promise.

1938 Batavia, Java. Threats of war brings them together. The Japanese invasion tears them apart. A true story of trust, hope, and enduring love.

I have always been a bit of a history buff and when you take that history and add to it a true life romance it’s an unbeatable combination. This book takes us on a journey through the eyes of Annika Wolters, with a view the pre-war island of Java and the life during and after WWII.

The book opens with the present and quickly reverts into the past with a scene that is part of the book later.

We first meet Annika as she is recovering from Mumps, not an auspicious beginning but also important as she first views Lieutenant Phillip Von Hoven from her bedroom window. To say she is immediately smitten is an understatement.

She has to wait to be introduced since she is under quarantine and she will finally have the opportunity after she dances at the celebration of her mother’s birthday. Her parents are hoping for a match between her cousin Emily and Phillip and have told her she should refrain from flirting. You have to know that’s not happening. She’s already decided he will be her husband not Emily’s.

Annika is a talented dancer and choreographed a number to perform at the celebration. Phillip couldn’t take his eyes off her as she danced and afterward they would dance the night away together. Although at this point Phillip doesn’t know her real age.

This is a favorite scene.

Luther came to the rescue. He approached, bearing a tray full of drinks, and stopped between them. “A cool refreshment, Meneer?”

“Thank you,” Phillip said, and lifted a Manhattan in a cocktail glass, garnished by the requisite Maraschino cherry. “And for the lady?”

Lady. He must assume her to be eighteen, the typical age of a graduate. “White wine, please.” Her hand brushed his wrist as she took the glass from him. Tingles shot up her arm. She sipped the cool, sweet Riesling, then placed her goblet on the little half-wall in front of the dining area. She drummed three fingers on her cheek. “About your offer to tutor me. I could use help in chemistry, physics, and calculus.”

He straightened his wide shoulders and threw her a mock salute. “I’ll do my best to convince your father I’m the recruit for the job. Wouldn’t want you to fail an exam if we can help it.”

Failing would never happen, an irrelevant detail. Pappie must agree, he simply must. She’d prove to Phillip she could be more than his student. “I’d be forever grateful,” she said quietly. For an instant, her world contained only the two of them, even while surrounded by family and friends. Ice clinked in cocktail glasses and laughter punctuated conversations.

Quick notes of a Samba rang out from the veranda. The trumpet player waved his hand to invite the dancers back to the floor. Phillip’s focus shifted to the musicians for a moment. “Ready to cut the rug?”

“I believe so,” she tried to sound non chalant, but grinned while he led her to the dance area. After a samba, they glided through a foxtrot, and then a wild sort of cake walk in a tapioca. After a fun mambo and a cha-cha, the guitar player strummed the first chords of a tango. Yes! Sparks shot through Annika’s body at the thought. Nothing could top the night like the most passionate and sensual dance partnered with Phillip. She stepped to a vase of flowers, broke the stem of a white chrysanthemum, and stuck it purposely behind her left ear to show she was not available.

Phillip led her to the edge of the marble area and stared straight into her eyes. Was this part of the Tango stance, or did he believe they belonged together? Annika kept her gaze locked on his, as the romantic dance required. They spun and dipped through the complicated steps. She arched her back and swished past him. No one else joined them on the floor, and Phillip utilized the entire area by swooping and twirling her. At the final chord, he dipped her low, her hair sweeping an inch from the floor. Annika’s chest heaved. She’d never danced romantically before.

His firm grip brought her upright. “My instructor from long ago lived for the tango,” he disclosed. Guests smiled and clapped from the edge of the dance area. Off to their left stood her frowning mother. Emily stood solemnly beside her.
Sally Brandle. Sapphire Promise: Based on the true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love (Kindle Locations 673-694). Copper Horse Publishing.

We follow these two through their courtship, with tours and dinners, to their engagement and marriage. Only to be separated by the war.

The invasion of the Japanese, the camps and the horrors that due to her nursing training is a bit more bearable for both herself and her mother. The hardships, family and longing for those who are off fighting the war or perhaps prisoners.

This book was as hopeful as it was heartrending. Truly a love story for all time.

5 Contented Purrs for Sally!

Sally Brandle

Dodging male offspring and her functionally adept engineer husband, Sally steals away to her office to free non-princess types residing in her brain. Her trusty Australian Shepherd rescue pup, Tallulah, gives her input as the adventures unfold.

Childhood in rural Michigan, family, friends, critters and travel stateside and abroad feed the speed of her fingers to the keys. When stalling occurs, she heads to Lance, her trusty steed stabled close to miles of wooded trails. Off they go for a head-clearing ride in fresh air, or a note session while the big gelding grazes.

Sally is a member of Romance Writers of America, Greater Seattle Romance Writers, Eastside Romance Writers and She Writes.

In 2014 she won the ECO Romantic Suspense category, and in 2015 finaled in Pages from The Heart, Hot Prospects and the Heart to Heart contests.
She invites you to sit back, get comfy and prepare to drop into her stories.


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Simply Scandalous – Simply Series Book 2 by Carly Phillips


Simply Scandalous
Simply Series Book 2
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Carly Phillips

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He runs in high society circles…
and he’s running circles around her heart.

In retrospect, it was all Gran’s fault.

Logan Montgomery has found his niche as an assistant district attorney. But Gran just revealed some worrying intel—dear old dad and his political cronies are about to maneuver him into running for mayor.

But Gran has a plan. A pre-emptive strike involving a pretty blonde caterer with supple curves—and a family history literally dripping with scandal. There’s just one flaw in his grandmother’s scheme: Logan’s not a player. And there’s delicious spark of attraction that makes him want to try for something special with Catherine Luck.

It’s a mystery to Catherine why Logan, who sits at the very top of the social ladder, would even look twice at someone like her. Maybe he has a thing for disgraced, overworked caterers. But his gentle concern, delivered in that velvety chocolate voice, can’t be real and Cat knows better than to mix business with pleasure.

Raw desire and genuine affection unexpectedly tip them into forbidden territory—love. Until Catherine gets a stark reminder that the Montgomerys never do anything without an ulterior motive.

Which means Catherine’s luck in love is about to run out…

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I love grandmothers and Emma Montgomery is at the top of my list. She’s more than a little feisty with a wicked sense of humor. She’s plotted something devious to help her grandson Logan not only escape the plans his father has for him but also with a bit of luck have him fall in love.

Catherine is overseeing this major party for Emma, it’s a huge stepping stone for her catering business. She never expected the grandson of the hostess to be interested in her. Let alone have her own libido go off the charts.

This is a favorite scene.

She edged past the few remaining guests and slipped into the wide entryway that led to the coatroom in the foyer. Yellow and white satin wrapped around the circular staircase in the corner and draped like border paper high on the walls. More than once, she cringed as her sneakered feet squeaked against the freshly waxed marble floor. She entered the closet that was larger than the room she’d shared with her sister growing up and hit the light switch on the wall.

Despite the ominous clouds, the day had started off with potential and the closet was empty of jackets and coats. Catherine’s rain slicker, brought more out of foresight than need, stood out in the empty room.

“Gran!”

Catherine turned at the sound of the deep, compelling voice in time to see Logan glance inside the walk-in closet. “Gran!” he called once more. “Is that you?”

“Not unless this party has aged me more than I thought,” Catherine said from the back recesses of the room.

He continued his path straight toward her. “Not a chance.” His gaze settled on her face, intense and focused. “Beauty and a smart mouth— you’re a lethal combination.”

She chose to detour around that remark. “I thought you already left.” She curled her hand around the soft plastic of her coat as if a solid grip would keep her safe from her rioting hormones and a sexy man.

“Keeping tabs on me?” he asked with a cocky grin.

“Guest awareness is part of my job.”

“Seems to me hiding behind your job is part of your job.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, although she already knew. Logan had obviously seen through her feigned disinterest.

He walked up beside her. His masculine scent tantalized and seduced. A swirling ribbon of desire unfurled in her belly and reached straight to her core.

“I meant every time I try to get close, you scurry behind the job description. Do I scare you, Cat?” His voice lowered a dangerous, seductive octave.

His gaze never wavered. Warm eyes she could drown in locked and held with hers. Did he scare her? More than he could imagine.

“Because that’s the last thing I want.”

“Then what do you want, Mr. Montgomery?”

He laughed deep in his throat. “Semantics won’t keep me at a distance. It’s Logan.”

“I…”

“Say it.”

She licked her dry lips. His gaze followed the movement. “Logan,” she murmured more to appease him than to become more intimate.
“Nice. Now, as I was saying… I want to erase that cynicism from those beautiful green eyes. I want to make your dreams come true.”

His words struck Catherine in her heart. Unfortunately, she still didn’t believe he saw her as more than an interesting diversion from the more cultured, more beautifully dressed women at the party. Women who would trip over themselves for a chance at landing one of the state’s most eligible bachelors.

“You want a good time,” she said.

He had the audacity to grin. “That, too.”

She wanted to give in to that handsome face and easy smile, which meant she had to get out of here, to her empty apartment where safety and reality would reassert themselves.

“Logan,” she said, not wanting to give him further reason to believe he affected her. “I think…”

A loud thud cut her off as the closet door slammed shut behind them. She jumped at the unexpected sound.

“Hold that thought.” He touched her lips with one finger. Heat traveled between her mouth and his skin.

A shiver took hold. Desire? Fear? Probably both. Though she liked to flirt, she’d never reacted to a man with such carnal, sensual awareness before.

Before she could think further, he strode to the door and jiggled the door handle. The muted sound of metal hitting the marble floor sounded from outside. He muttered a curse.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing as long as you aren’t claustrophobic.”

He held the doorknob aloft in his hand. “Looks like the old lady has her own agenda. Not that I mind.”

An uncomfortable feeling arose in the pit of her stomach. “What are you saying?” She eyed the doorknob he held onto and shook her head.

He banged on the door with his fist. “Open up, Gran.”

“What’s your hurry?” Emma called out. “The company’s good, and the way things look, you’ve got plenty of time. I’ve got to find someone in this house who understands hardware. I think I did serious damage.” The click of heels on the floor sounded as she walked away.

“She didn’t,” Catherine said, glaring at the door through narrowed eyes. She wasn’t claustrophobic, but she disliked the feeling of being trapped. Especially with this man.

“She did.” Logan shrugged. “Sorry. She tends to get carried away.”

“She?”

“You wouldn’t be suggesting I set you up?” Disbelief and humor lit his gaze. “I’m interested, not desperate. I can get my woman without Gran’s help.”

“Your woman?” She swallowed a laugh. “That has a Neanderthal sound to it.”

He shrugged. “I kind of liked it.”

“You would. So, how about breaking down the door, Tarzan?”

“If I give it a shot, will you have that drink with me?”

“You wouldn’t stoop to using your grandmother but bribery is okay?”

“Is that a yes?”

She believed he had nothing to do with their current predicament. The eccentric older woman would definitely pull a stunt like this. The only question was why. Emma certainly couldn’t think Catherine was an acceptable choice for her grandson nor could she believe Logan incapable of getting his own dates.

Speaking of dates, she had a decision to make. The closet, which had seemed so large when she’d first entered, was shrinking by the minute. She couldn’t breathe without inhaling the scent of spice and man, an erotic combination that stole her breath and threatened to take her sanity next. One drink in a public place was much safer than hanging out alone with him now.

She glanced at his handsome face and forced a casual shrug. “One drink,” she agreed.

She hoped she didn’t live to regret those two little words.
Carly Phillips. Simply Scandalous (Kindle Locations 392-443). CP Publishing.

Logan’s father wants him to run for mayor and he is most persistent about it. Logan, on the other hand, wants no part of politics. Although he didn’t want to involve Catherine his father makes an awkward move and they all get caught up in it.

Plenty of fun, laughter, a sniffle or two and sizzle in this book.

5 Contented Purrs for Carly!

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Carly Phillips

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

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


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Win Me Over – Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 5 by Heather Slade


Win Me Over
Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 5
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Slade

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Bullet Simmons never rides shotgun, but there is no question, Tristan McCullough has taken control of the wheel.

Bad boy, bull rider Bullet Simmons has a good heart, he just has trouble in the decision-making department. When he meets Tristan McCullough, he vows to win her over, and convince her that he is worthy of a Lost Cowboy sponsorship. But can he become the kind of man her family’s brand represents? Tristan says she doesn’t believe he can, but there’s something about the cowboy that makes her hope she’s wrong.

Hired as a hand with Flying R Rough Stock, Bullet Simmons, dreams of one day becoming a world champion bull rider. But after the death of his baby boy’s mama, he doesn’t know how he’s going to juggle raising his son, working for Flying R, and riding bulls.

Billy Patterson needs someone to convince his daddy to raise broncs on their ranch in Black Forest. Enter Bullet. If Bullet can help convince him, Billy says Flying R will not only sponsor him, but they’ll arrange for Bullet to have his own personal bull riding coach.

Tristan McCullough swore off bad boys in college when the bull rider she was certain was “the one,” broke her heart. When Lost Cowboy teams up with Flying R Rough Stock to sponsor competitors out on the rodeo circuit, Bullet’s twin sister, Lyric, challenges her to consider sponsoring Bullet. As much as Tristan tells herself she’ll never fall for another cowboy, this one particular bull rider becomes harder and harder for her to resist—especially when she finds herself alone with him for a week at Colorado Black Mountain Ranch.

As we follow Bullet and Tristan’s stories, we also take a peek into the history of beloved characters Bill and Dottie Patterson. What brought the two together, and why has Bill vowed never to have anything to do with rodeo for the rest of his life?

Favorite characters from the Rice and Patterson families pay us a visit, and also serve to help these two “lost” souls come together.

We’ve gotten to know Lyric pretty well in the previous books, we know she has a twin but haven’t really seen him. Bullet is Lyric’s twin, and he’s quite the character. He’s a bull-rider, a flirt, and he has two children, only one of which is with his wife.

As this book opens Bullet’s wife dies, she had bipolar disease and her mood swings were brutal. When Bullet left her sleeping, with her parents due back soon, he never thought she would take her own life. While he feels guilty, he has his child to think about. As such he accepts a position with Flying R Rough Stock and also their sponsorship for his riding.

Tristan and her father own Lost Cowboy, western wear for cowboys. She’s also the face of the company for many meetings. Such is the reason she’s heading to the Flying R to firming up a a sponsorship deal. She feels the almost magnetic pull to Bullet, yet she also recognizes the player in him. He isn’t the type for her company to sponsor. Perhaps though he’s the actual Lost Cowboy, one who needs to find his way.

This is a favorite scene.

The door opened and Bullet walked in, carrying Grey. He’d been standoffish to her since the other night even though she’d tried to apologize more than once. Each time, he’d waved her off.

“Mornin’,” he said, more to Liv than to her.

“Good morning to you, too. How’s my big boy today?” Liv walked over and took Grey out of Bullet’s arms.

“You sure about this, ma’am?”

“There are at least two things I’m sure about. One, you know my name. It’s Liv, and I expect you to use it. Two, Caden has been asking me for over an hour when her buddy Grey is going to be here. She’ll be thrilled to see him, which makes my life much easier.”

Liv unbuttoned Grey’s jacket and went in the direction of the family room, where Caden was playing. Tristan heard the little girl squeal when she saw her playmate.

“He loves comin’ over here.” Bullet shuffled his feet. “And she’s so great to make it seem like she ain’t doin’ me a favor when she watches him.” He looked at the floor, then the ceiling, then over her head, in the direction of the family room. Everywhere but at her.

“Bullet, I want you to know how sorry I am about what I said the other night. What you do isn’t any of my business. I don’t know the first thing about being a parent, or a bull rider. I’m in no position to judge you.”

“I told you before not to worry about it.” He still didn’t look at her. “My life is a mess right now, and I’m workin’ hard to get it right. As right as I can anyway, considerin’ my son no longer has a mama.”

Tristan’s eyes filled with tears.

“It ain’t nothin’ for you to cry about. We don’t need you feelin’ sorry for us.”

At least he finally looked at her. “I don’t feel sorry for you, Bullet. Or Grey. It’s just that I understand—”

“Forgive me for leavin’ in the middle of your sentence, but if I don’t, I’m gonna say somethin’ I’ll regret. I will say this, though.” He walked closer, his eyes boring into hers as he did. “You don’t understand anything about my life, or my son’s life. Nothing at all.”

When Bullet stormed out of the front door, Tristan closed her eyes and waited for it to slam behind him, but it didn’t.

It wasn’t her fault. It was his. But he couldn’t help it. Every time he looked at her, he saw his own shortcomings. He’d wasted a hell of a lot of the last couple of years having fun, not thinking about the consequences of his actions. He had two kids to prove it.
Slade, Heather. Cowboys of Crested Butte Boxed Set Volume 1. Kindle Locations (16672-16696). Sparrow Publishing. Kindle Edition.

As Bullet works to find his way, he and Tristen also bump heads. She’s watching him and he’s watching her a dance of a sort.

There are many twists and turns in this book and Bullet rises to the occasion once he realizes what he really wants. It’s not a surprise that he gets together with Tristen and the way it happens is almost typical for this plotting family.

We also get a close look at Dottie and Bill’s relationship, it’s quite the love story.

I wonder if we’ll see more of theses characters in future books. This author tends to have folks show up everywhere.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Collection Books 1-5!

Individually!

Heather Slade

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.

I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.

I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.


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Hot SEAL, A Forever Dad – SEALs in Paradise Holiday Edition Book 5 by Maryann Jordan


Hot SEAL, A Forever Dad
SEALs in Paradise
Holiday Edition Book 5
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Maryann Jordan

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Benjamin “Pops” Popovich has just finished his last mission and said goodbye to his SEAL team.

At thirty, he figured he had a few more good years left in him, but when family responsibilities call, he leaves the familiar to move back to Hope City. After years of missions and living in close quarters with his team, he’s living with his grandmother while fixing up her house while figuring out his next career move. Meeting the two irrepressible kids from next door weren’t in his plans.

Violet Mayfield is doing the best she can… uninteresting job with a lech for a boss and a townhouse that is in constant need of repairs. A widow, her joy comes from her two children. As far as she is concerned, their little trio family is all she needs.

Charlie and Lily Mayfield knew their mom was lonely. And they’d met the new neighbor. He was funny, grilled great hamburgers, and had a dog. And they noticed that his eyes always brightened when their mom was around. As far as they were concerned, he’d make a great forever dad. Now… all they need is to get the adults on board.

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Ben ‘Pops’ Popovich is moving home to his Babciu’s ‘grandmother’s’, she needs help to it fix up. She’s planning on selling to move into assisted living. It’s Ben’s hope that with him there she’ll change her mind and stay in the home he has so many memories of.

There’s a new owner to the townhouse behind theirs, his Babciu told him it had been empty for a long time. No one wanted to live in a home previously owned by a bank robber. Violet Mayfield is a widow raising two children. She works as a bookkeeper while taking classes to finish her degree in Management. Since the son of her former boss had taken over, her stress level at work had gone up mostly because of his constant dinner invitations. Her children Lily and Ben are her pride and joy though like most siblings there are arguments. Her first glimpse of Ben was him standing on Anna Popovich’s deck watching her children play in the yard. She remembered Anna had mentioned her grandson coming to visit, but hadn’t mentioned how handsome he is.

After a sort of funny introduction to Violet when she’s visited Anna, Ben starts on the repairs to the house. After several rainy days he starts on the deck. This is his first real interaction with Violet’s children and it was quite informative.

This is a favorite scene.

“Hey, mister! Whatcha doing?”

Twisting his head around, Ben spied a little girl and boy standing at the back fence staring at him. Actually, they weren’t so much standing as having climbed halfway up with their feet tucked between the space in the chain-link and their arms hanging over the top, their fingers dangling. The girl was dressed from head to toe in varying shades of pink from her sneakers, shirt, and to the headband pushing her dark hair back from her face. Her blue jeans were the only nod to a different color. Next to her, the little boy was in mismatched everything, looking as though he threw on the first rumpled clothes he found on his floor… something Ben remembered doing when he was little. At least until his grandmother made him change.

Sighing at the interruption, especially when he thought his activity was obvious, he called out, “I’m building a deck.”

He’d spent the first part of the week inside, sanding and painting the bathroom cabinets while the rain kept him indoors. During a break in the weather yesterday he’d managed to rip out the old, small deck that extended straight from the back door. Not even large enough to set up a grill, it was barely more than an off-the-ground place to wipe feet before going indoors. Yesterday evening he sank the new supports into the ground, filling the holes with concrete after making sure they were level. He wanted to give them another day to cure, but with the sun now out in the cloudless sky, he’d spent the day cutting the lumber for the frame.

“It looks like it’s going to be bigger than the one that was there.”

“Yep.” He offered a slight nod of his head and turned his back to them, the interruption causing him to relook at the measurements before reaching toward the piece of wood to place on the table with his circular saw.

“My name is Charlie. What’s yours?”

Calling over his shoulder, he answered. “Ben.”

“I’m Lily.”

Since he’d already given his name, he thought perhaps he could keep working and just ignore the kids. As long as they stayed on their side of the fence, they wouldn’t get in his way, and he wouldn’t have to worry about them getting hurt.

“Mom says that you’re Mrs. Popovich’s grandson,” Charlie called out.

“Yep.”

“Mrs. Popovich showed us a picture of you one time. You were wearing your uniform. You couldn’t really see your face very well because you were wearing sunglasses and had on a helmet. You also had a really big gun. My mom won’t let me have a gun. But I thought your uniform was cool. I think that’s what I want to be next Halloween. Do you think I can get a uniform in my size?”

“It would be a costume, Charlie, not a real uniform. Mom can find one at the store where we went last year.”

“Well, when I get older, it can be a real uniform. I’ll be bigger then,” Charlie announced.

Having looked at his measurements three times— and forgetting them each time— it became evident that as long as Charlie was going to continue his running monologue interrupted only by snippets from his sister, Ben was never going to get the piece of wood cut correctly. Standing, he turned and faced the fence, irritation flooding him over the interruption. “So, do you kids have anything else to do? I’m kind of busy here.”

“Nope,” Charlie declared, his smile wide as he grabbed the top of the fence and leaned his head back, letting the sunshine beam down on his face.

Lily shook her head, but her gaze remained on Ben. “Can we call you Ben, or do we have to call you Mr. Popovich?”

Jerking slightly at the unexpected question, he opened his mouth to reply then realized he had no idea how to answer. “Uh… well, Mr. Popovich sounds like my grandfather. But… uh… maybe you should ask your parents what they want you to call an adult.”

“Mom says we should be ‘spectful,” Charlie said, his gaze now back on Ben but his smile still as wide.

Lily huffed and turned her intense gaze from Ben to her brother. “Respectful, Charlie. It’s respectful.”

“Right! Mom says we should be reee… spectful,” Charlie parroted with emphasis.

Getting a closer observation of the children, Ben spied a missing front tooth in Charlie’s smile. He noted the thick, dark hair on both kids, so like their mother’s. From this distance, he couldn’t determine eye color but wondered if either had inherited Violet’s unusual hue. Or looked like their dad.

With the week’s rain chasing everyone inside, he hadn’t seen Violet since their last encounter and still hadn’t laid eyes on her husband. With another glance toward the peeling paint on their back door, he grimaced at the thought of the man who didn’t take pride in where his family lived.

“Can we watch?” Charlie asked. “We’ve never seen anyone use a saw before.”

“That’s not true, Charlie,” Lily corrected. “Mama had that man come in and fix the door that fell down and squished you.”

“A door fell on you?” The question slipped from Ben’s lips before he could stop himself. At this rate, I’ll never get the deck built.

“It was right after we moved in last year. Charlie pulled open the closet door and the whole thing fell down on top of him, and he cried.”

Charlie wrinkled his nose. “I was younger then. That’s why I cried.”

Inwardly grinning at the young boy’s defense of his tears, Ben wondered why their dad hadn’t fixed the door. “I don’t blame you for crying. I’ll bet that hurt.” He looked back at the deck before facing the kids again. “I don’t mind if you watch as long as your parents don’t mind. You have to make sure to stay on your side of the fence so you’ll be safe.”

“Mom won’t mind. It’s been raining, and we haven’t had a chance to be in the yard. Mom is cleaning the house today and told us to come outside. She said she’d like to get one mess cleaned up before we make another.”

A chuckle slipped out, Ben remembering days when he was growing up and his grandmother was doing the same thing, fussing that he needed to clean his room and then not get under her feet when she was doing the rest of the house. Unable to hold back his curiosity, he asked, “What about your dad? Is he helping your mom today?”

“We don’t have a daddy,” Charlie said. “He died.”

Ben’s gaze shot from Charlie over to Lily’s face, seeing a flash of something moving through her eyes. Gut punched at hearing their father was dead, the air rushed from his lungs as a deep memory of his parents hit him. He had no idea what to say to Charlie’s matter-of-fact pronouncement and simply stood dumbly in place with his arms hanging to his sides.

“Mama says he’s in heaven,” Charlie continued. “I’ve seen pictures of him. Mama says I kind of look like him, but everyone else says I look like her.” Tilting his head slightly to the side, he continued. “Who do you look like? You don’t look like Mrs. Popovich. She’s got gray hair!”

Still struggling with the news that their father was deceased, his gaze shot toward their back door as Violet stepped out of her house and waved. Her dark hair was pulled away from her face, and even though he couldn’t see her eyes, he could imagine them after having only discovered their unique color once before. Black leggings encased her legs, which appeared long despite her petite stature. The blue top was not form-fitting but flattering nonetheless.

“Charlie, Lily! Stop bothering Mr. Popovich. Anyway, It’s time for lunch.”

Lily twisted her head around to look at her mother. “He said we can call him Ben as long as you say it’s respectful.”

Violet was too far away for him to see her face clearly, but he could swear her lips curved slightly as her shoulders drooped. She suddenly appeared so different to him. Not just a beautiful woman, but one who knew loss. Shaking his head, he attempted to dislodge the myriad of emotions and shouted, “It’s fine with me. The kids aren’t bothering me.” Again, the words slipped out before he had a chance to think them through. Jesus, didn’t I just want to be left alone?

The matter was taken out of his hands when Violet once more called the kids in for lunch. With a wave, the kids jumped down from the fence and raced toward her. She smiled and ruffled their hair before lifting her hand and offering a little wave toward him. Before he knew it, he was once again alone, his gaze still lingering on the now-closed door where they had disappeared.
Maryann Jordan. A Forever Dad – ARC copy: SEALs in Paradise – Wedding Edition (A Hope City Crossover Novel) (Kindle Locations 474-540).

Now there’s quite a few things going on behind the scenes, and then there is Charlie’s nightmares.

The addition of a dog, some interesting interactions between Violet and Ben. Some help from folks from the Hope City series. All wrapped together with romance, sizzle and more than a few sniffles.

5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!

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Coming Soon!

Maryann Jordan

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

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

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

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


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Stay With Me – Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 4 By Heather Slade


Stay With Me
Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 4
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Slade

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Professional saddle bronc rider Jace Rice has a habit of falling in love with women who turn around and fall in love with someone else.

It had happened three times, and as much as he vowed to never let it happen again, it does. Although this time, the woman is in love with a guy Jace can’t possibly compete with—a dead man.

Comforting sad-eyed widow, Bree Fox, leaves Jace Rice with plenty of gaping wounds himself, and a pent up desire to get to know more about her, other than how much she loved her late husband. But he knows Bree is not ready for that, so he waits…and waits. When she never contacts him again, he takes that as a sign, but that sign doesn’t stop him from thinking about her, from wondering what could be if he just confronted her with how he felt.

The problem was confronting her would be almost impossible, since her sister was married to his brother, who hated him, and they all lived together in Crested Butte, where he wasn’t welcome. Going there would be like walking into a hornet’s nest where he would likely be stung.

Jace had been stung before, though, so many times he should be immune. And he wasn’t a coward–otherwise he wouldn’t be the fierce competitor he was in the rodeo arena. He knew he had what it took to go to Crested Butte and pound things out with his twin brother, if necessary. It wasn’t like it was the first time they’d come to blows. What he didn’t know was whether it would be worth it in the end.

Could Bree Fox ever feel about him the way she felt about her former husband? Or would she forever be just another woman Jace was rejected by when the dust settled?

I almost feel sorry for Jace Rice, he seems to fall for women who are in love with someone else. It started in the second book of this series with Renie, then continued on the same path with Blythe who is now married to his twin Tucker. Tucker hates him now and he has no idea how to make amends. Then there’s Bree, still mourning her husband but not even close to being ready for a relationship.

Jace needing to be far away and wanting something more than Bronc riding, got a tip to invest in a rough stock ranch. It turned out the family wanted to sell that part of the business in Montana. Now Jace and his parents own that ranch and the business and hope to merge it with the businesses in Crested Butte.

Bree is leaving Monument for a while, she needs to grieve for her husband. With everything going on she hasn’t allowed herself to think about him, although the nightmares bring it back, time and again. She’s going to go stay where she has the best memories of Zack. Then there’s the feelings Jace awakened in her. She not ready to move into another relationship or with her life right now and that needs to change.

Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is Bree’s destination, there she meets Red Dugan, who brings to her mind a grandfather figure. One who knows the best places for her to fish. Her nightmares still dog her but the days are filled with things she loved to do with her late husband.

In a rather sneaky move, Jace’s parents have him traveling to Idaho to see a man named Red about a bull he’s selling. When he arrives he’s told Red is away and they give him the cabin adjoined to the one Bree is staying in.

While waiting enjoying the surroundings he decides to take a ride around the nearby lake. It’s here he sees Bree with Red. The ensuing conversation reveals there’s no bull for sale and that his parents and possibly Bree’s had set this all up.

Red invites Jace to join them for dinner and left them to talk.

This is a favorite scene.

Dinner was served in the main lodge, and the food was as good as it had been the night before, but Jace wasn’t paying any attention to what he was eating. Bree’s cheeks were pink. Was it from the time she’d been spending outdoors or the wine she drank with dinner? Whatever it was, it looked good on her. Damn good. Somehow, her eyes were even bluer than he remembered. She kept her dark hair cut short, but it had grown some since he last saw her. It was just long enough that it curled around the edges of her face. He longed to wind his fingers through those curls and pull her close enough to brush his lips over hers.

He heard what sounded like live music coming from outside the dining room and saw other guests making their way in that direction.

“You wanna go see what’s goin’ on?” he asked her.

“I’m okay sitting here a while longer, unless you want to.”

“I’m good,” he answered. He leaned forward so he was only a couple of inches from her, rested his arm on the table, and looked into her eyes.

“How’ve you been, Bree?”

“I’ve been good,” she paused. “No, that isn’t true. I haven’t been good at all. I’ve been terrible, in fact.” She shook her head and laughed.

Jace laughed too, although he sensed the conversation was about to turn more serious. When she rested her hand on the table, he ran his fingers over her knuckles. “Tell me,” he whispered.

“I decided I couldn’t hide from it any longer. I had to face it.”

“Zack?”

She nodded. “He and I spent a week at this ranch. It was part of our honeymoon. I thought, if I came back here and let myself remember, maybe I could also let myself grieve.” Soft tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

“I have to do this, Jace. I can’t keep denying he’s gone.”

He could tell her he understood, but he didn’t. He missed his brother so much there were times he felt as though he’d die from the ache of it. But Tucker was still alive. If he wanted to see him, he could. He might not be welcome, but he could see him. Bree couldn’t see Zack.

“I’m sorry I never answered your texts.”

“Yeah, about that,” she laughed through her tears. “What the hell, Jace?”

“I just didn’t—”

“You don’t have to explain. I understand, and I’m not just saying that.”

“You were awful mad at me the last time I saw you.”

“I handled that badly, didn’t I?”

He leaned closer, so close he could almost kiss her. “You handled it honestly. Somethin’ I’m tryin’ to do more often.”

“Jace…I’m sorry about you and Tucker.”

“Nothin’ for you to be sorry about, darlin’. Did that all on my own. Can’t say as I blame Tuck for not wantin’ to see me. I wouldn’t want to see him if the situation were reversed.”

Jace looked up just as Red turned to leave the room. “Red? Can I help you?”

“Didn’t want to interrupt.”

Jace recognized the look on Red’s face as he gazed at Bree. He looked at her that way too. Red wanted to comfort her, help her through the pain, ease it if he could.

“You aren’t interrupting,” Bree told him. “What’s up?”

“Thought you might give an old fella a dance.”

Bree stood, put her arm through Red’s, and let him lead her into the other room. She turned back to make sure Jace was following. She didn’t want to leave him sitting in the dining room all alone.

He stood and stretched his leg. Just when she was about to turn around and go back to him, he looked up and waved her off.

“Go dance,” he said. “I’ll be right along, soon as I loosen my leg up.”

Red was a good dancer, just like her dad was. It felt good to have his strong arms lead her around the room.

“Seems like a nice young man.” He pulled back to look in her eyes.

“Yes, he is. He’s very nice,” she laughed. “Although I didn’t always think so.”

“No?”

“I can’t remember why not. Except that he was kind of pushy with my sister. She’s, uh, married to his brother now. His twin brother.”

“Why do I think there’s more to the story?”

“There is, but it isn’t very interesting.” She rested her head against Red’s shoulder. “The truth is, he comforted me. He helped me a lot right after Zack’s death. He didn’t have to, but he did. Even when I pushed him away.”

“Must care about you.”

“It’s a family thing. I love my sister; he loves his brother. We were thrown together, whether we wanted to be or not.”

“Uh huh.”

Was it that obvious? She supposed it was. Jace Rice made her heart beat faster, and she loved that he was here. She still didn’t understand why he was, but they’d get to the bottom of it eventually. In the meantime, she’d take whatever time with him she could get.

“Pretty moon tonight. Maybe you and your young man would like to sit out on the porch, take in the sky. Nothin’ like a clear night in Idaho for stargazing.”

When the song ended, Bree walked over to where Jace stood, waiting for her. “Red recommends the porch for stargazing.”

“I know just the spot he’s talkin’ about.” Jace took her hand in his.

No one else was out there, so they sat on the porch swing. Jace put his arm around her and pulled her close.

“Bree?”

“Yeah?”

“I know I said it before, but it bears repeating. I’ve missed you.”

She rested her head on his shoulder. “I’ve missed you, too.”

Should she tell him that she’d missed him as much as she missed Zack? He would think she was crazy if she did. Or he’d think the same thing she was. Missing Zack and missing Jace got jumbled up together. She couldn’t tell the difference between the two sometimes. And that wasn’t healthy. It also wasn’t real. What she’d had with Zack had been real. She hardly knew Jace.

“I’m here because I need to let myself mourn the death of my husband.”

“I know, and I won’t do anything to interfere with that. In fact, you say the word, and I’ll be in the truck back to Montana come sunrise.”

Pain bit her stomach. “No, Jace, that isn’t what I’m saying. Please, don’t misunderstand.”

“I’m glad to be here with you, Bree, but I know there’s a road you have to go down. I get it. I’m a detour. You’re gonna have to go down that road eventually.”

He’d articulated her thoughts perfectly. Jace was a distraction. A detour.

“Maybe you could stay another day?”

He smiled. “That could be arranged.”

The mountains, with their peaks illuminated by the full moon, took her breath away. Or was it Jace? Probably both. “Oh…uh, where are you staying?”

“I stayed in that cabin right over there last night.” He pointed to her cabin. “I think they might let me stay there again tonight if I promise not to disturb the ‘little lady’ stayin’ on the other side.”

Bree closed her eyes and felt heat flush her cheeks. They hadn’t booked anyone else on the other side of the cabin, and she’d wondered about that. It must have been intentional. “They’ve been so good to me here.”

“They’re very protective of you.”

“They are?”
“Yep. The only reason they let me stay, last night, was because you weren’t here.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. Think you can put in a good word for me tonight?”

“I’ll do that,” she said softly.

He wanted to tell her he’d be there for her, on the other side of the cabin. If she wanted him to, he’d hold her when she cried. He’d comfort her, like he had one other night, when she’d begged him not to go.

The door opened, and Red came out on the porch with a key in his hand. “You’re welcome to bunk in the same place you did last night,” he said and went back inside.

Jace tucked the key in his pocket. “You ready to call it a night?”

“Not yet.” She sighed and put her head back on his shoulder.
Slade, Heather. Cowboys of Crested Butte Boxed Set Volume 1. Kindle Locations (12508-12578). Sparrow Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Jace and Bree spend much time together it almost seems perfect except for the fact Zack is still between them. Jace can’t compete with a memory.

Jace and Bree are definitely meant for one another and it’s almost heartbreaking to watch the ups and downs in this book. There’s also Jace’s relationship with his brother that needs to be resolved. Both Jace and Bree need the connection to that part of the family and to be part of baby Cochran’s life.

Plenty of tears, laughter, surprises and that sizzling connection between Jace and Bree.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Collection Books 1-5!

Individually!

Heather Slade

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.

I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.

I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.


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Garrett’s Gambit – Bullard’s Battle Book 4 by Dale Mayer


Garrett’s Gambit
Bullard’s Battle Book 4
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Stronger than he had any right to be after the plane explosion and still angry about it all, Garret’s seriously unimpressed to fly to London to speak with an ex-fiancée who’d screwed him over with his own brother. But she had information on his missing brother, who was a link to the plane crash that sent Garret into the ocean.

Yet Astra, not Amy, waits in London for Garret, to explain the little she knows, hoping he’ll let go of some of his resentment and help her look for her sister, Amy—who disappears just before Garret’s arrival. Some coincidence there. Then her sister hasn’t faced the music for any of her actions in a long time. Today is no different. Too bad Amy and Garret hadn’t broken up much earlier. It might have given Astra a chance with the man she has loved since forever.

Still, if finding Astra’s sister leads Garret to finding his brother, who might be able to give them answers regarding the sabotaged plane, then Astra’s happy to play the game. However, it’s not that easy, as the men who failed to kill the two team members are still looking for their chance to finish the job. And to take out anyone who is close by …

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When they land in London, Garret and Kano are not even a little surprised to be met Jonas from MI6. If you’ve read the ‘Heroes for Hire’ series you’ll be aware how much Interpol and MI6 dislike either Levi’s or Bullard’s teams coming to town. It’s quite amusing to see Jonas get flustered with them.

Originally Garret and Kano were supposed to meet with Garret’s ex Amy to get information about his brother Gregg’s disappearance. Jonas, however, informs them that Amy is missing. Her sister Astra made the report and Jonas wants to know what they know. Surprise, they know nothing about Amy’s disappearance but tell Jonas about Garret’s brother. That’s something Jonas didn’t know.

They meet Astra at her hotel, with Jonas trying to get information none of them have. What Astrid does know is in an email from Amy saying she had information that may help find Gregg. Not very helpful at all now that Amy’s missing.

Astra and Garret talk more once Jonas takes his leave.

This is a favorite scene.

Garret didn’t know what to make of Astra at this point. She was so different, and it was hard to see the young girl he recognized from before, yet she came out in little glimpses. He took a deep breath. “Why do I feel like you’re holding something back?”

She hesitated and then nodded. “Part of the reason for Amy moving from Belgium to London was that she’d given your brother an ultimatum.”

“Why?” She sighed, then shrugged. “Amy’s pregnant.”

That news was like a punch to his gut. “Jesus,” he said. “Did my brother know?”

“I don’t know if she told him or not. What I do know is that she wanted a different life, and it was important to her.”

“So it’s my brother’s child?”

“It’s your niece or nephew, yes,” she confirmed.

He stared off in the distance, still getting his mind wrapped around it.

“So, whatever feelings you may still have for her,” she said, “you probably need to walk away from them completely.”

He waved a hand at her. “I walked away a long time ago.”

“But I still get the feeling that you’re emotionally affected.”

“Not by her but by her deception, her affair with my brother,” he said. “However, for my brother, a pregnancy would be a big deal.”

“Any reason why?”

“He’s always said he didn’t plan to be a father,” Garret murmured.

“Plans change when the facts hit the fan,” she said, her voice cool. “I wouldn’t think he’d be somebody to ditch his responsibilities though.”

“Oh, I don’t think he would either,” he said. “I’m not sure that we know what’s going on in their personal life, outside of the fact that a big change is happening.”

“Exactly,” she agreed.

“And, if my brother is missing and if it’s something suspicious, it would make sense that she would reach out to me through my team,” he said.

“Why not the cops?”

“Because of the type of work my brother does, which is very similar to what I do for Bullard— meaning we avoid local law enforcement at all costs and only communicate with the big agencies as a courtesy. Also we heard some suspicion or a theory that he might have had something to do with the plane crash.”

At that, Astra looked at him in shock. “The plane crash you were in?”

He shrugged. “I wouldn’t have thought my brother hated me that much, but honestly I don’t know. Maybe he does.”

“I would say that he did not, but you’re right. We don’t know because we haven’t seen them in years,” she said heavily. “I do talk to Amy at times, but only because she’s called me to complain. And you have to take her words with a grain of salt.”

Garret nearly growled.

Astra nodded. “People change, but I would hope not to that extent.”

“You and me both,” he said, with a hard look.

She nodded and said quietly, “I get that you don’t like hearing about any of this going on between Amy and Gregg, but it’s still totally possible that Gregg had nothing to do with it. I’d like to believe he’s better than that. Especially as I heard he wanted to reconcile with you.”

Garret was still dealing with the shock of thinking of his brother as a father. Gregg was younger, a little wilder, and didn’t have quite the reasoning ability that Garret had. But they’d always been close— until Amy came between them. And, for that, he would always hold Amy off to the side because she’d been the thorn that festered.

Kano, quietly listening from the corner, joined the conversation. “That also explains why she may have disappeared now,” Kano interjected.

“How so?” Garret asked.

“Hormones. Pregnancy sets off a storm of hormones, and she may well be seeing things that aren’t there,” he said, “or interpreting them differently that she would otherwise. Or seeing her life as it is and wanting more. Needing maybe time alone to think.”

Astra winced at that. “I get that whole raging-hormones thing with a pregnancy,” she said, “and I know my sister is on the border of being neurotic in many ways already. But I would hope that she’s erring on the side of safety, for the baby if not for herself.”

Garret agreed. “I would say she’s definitely protecting the safety of the baby, no doubt about it. Probably in a manner that’s way over-the-top, knowing her.” That statement prompted a snicker out of Astra. “Now it’s a matter of figuring out how we find them,” Garret said.

“Well, I’m doing what I can do,” she said. “But I fear I’m in way over my head. My question is, what will you do?”

“Get them back,” Garret said. “Let’s just hope we can do it before something bad happens.”
Dale Mayer. Garret’s Gambit (Kindle Locations 269-308). Valley Publishing.

Of course Astra did leave one little detail out, Amy had been staying in this hotel. They get a bit of a break when a couple of men enter Amy’s room while they are there.

Kingdom Security keeps coming up in this a wild game of hide and seek. Still no sign of Bullard but no one is giving up.

More than a little bit fun of finding out Astrid has always been in love with Garret. Then of course Garret eventually realizes Astrid is really the one for him.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

BB2 Cains_Cross

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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Kiss Me Cowboy – Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 3 by Heather Slade


Kiss Me Cowboy
Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 3
By
Heather Slade

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Blythe Cochran is a woman who’s never been treated the cowboy way—and Jace Rice knows he is just the man to teach her what that means. Unless his twin brother, Tucker, gets in the way.

The last place Blythe wants to spend Thanksgiving is at the Flying R Ranch in Crested Butte, Colorado, but that’s where she’s headed. She and her best friend’s family have always celebrated the holiday together, so it was go along, or spend the holiday home alone.

Feeling sorry for herself because she’s dateless and her best friend is newly engaged, Blythe asks Renie to fix her up with a hot cowboy. When she arrives and meets not one, but TWO of the hottest cowboys she’s ever seen, Blythe decides the holiday might not be so bleak after all. When both men compete for her attention, it’s hard for her to choose. Who would win her affection—easy-going, bronc-riding, cowboy Jace, or brooding artist Tucker?

Regardless of whom she chooses, there is a secret being held between the brothers which could drive a permanent wedge between the two men, who each touch a different part of her soul. When the hidden truth is finally exposed, will it tear a family apart, or heal past wounds?

Blythe is Renie’s best friend and Paige’s daughter. She never expected to meet two very different twin brothers when she joined the families for Thanksgiving.

Jace and Tucker Rice are cousins to Ben and his family. We met Jace when he was falling for Renie but realized her true love was always Billy. Now Jace is a cowboy through and through, but Tucker is a very talented and often reclusive artist.

Tucker takes her to dinner and things sort of escalate from there. At the very first contact Blythe knew Tucker was for her, but there’s something strange going on, and he takes off from Thanksgiving dinner without so much as a thank you to the hosts.

Billy takes on Jace to train him for Broncs and we next see Tucker when he comes to watch Jace compete. Blythe isn’t sure how she feels about seeing Tucker again. It’s while they are at the Grizzly Rose at the end of the Rodeo that bad news comes in. Blythe’s sister Bree’s husband has been killed in Afghanistan.

Blythe becomes Bree’s rock and once everything is over, Tucker more than comforts her and this leads to more questions from Bree and even more strangeness from Tucker.

This is a favorite scene and also a turning point.

His phone pinged. Whoever it was, whatever they wanted, he didn’t care. He had nothing to give to anyone else right now. As hard as he tried not to look, he couldn’t help himself.

Blythe.

Where are you?

What could he say? Around the corner?

Are you at the inn? I’ll come over. I have to see you, Tucker. Please don’t leave me again.

He stared at the phone. It was one of those moments. He could be stubborn and ignore her. But would that get him anywhere? Would it get him what he wanted? Did he even know what he wanted?

He realized he wasn’t standing still any longer. He was walking toward her house. If he cut through the woods, he’d be there in less than two minutes.

Meet me outside, he texted back.

“What?” asked Bree.

“He’s coming back.”

Bree got up to go inside.

“Wait, you don’t have to go.”

“Do this, Blythe. Talk to him.”

Blythe walked to the end of the driveway and watched for his truck to come back down the road. She was so focused on watching for him, she didn’t hear him walk up behind her.

“Blythe,” he breathed into her hair.

She spun around and he caught her. “Tucker,” she cried. “I’m so sorry.”

“I’m sorry, Blythe. I don’t know what—”

She didn’t let him finish. She reached up and brushed her lips across his. She opened her mouth to him, and he took it. They stood at the end of her driveway, bodies intertwined, mouths locked together, as though they were a couple of teenagers with nowhere else to go.

“Where’s your truck?”

“I didn’t get very far. I was too pissed to drive, so I pulled over.”

“I’m sorry,” she said again.

He kissed her forehead. “Blythe, this isn’t easy for me. I want us to talk. There are things I want to tell you.”

“Okay.”

“Okay, what?”

“Let’s talk. Do you want to go back to the inn, or do you want to go somewhere else?”

Tucker looked out over the valley in front of them. On the other side of the highway, he could see what looked like a fire road going up the side of Mount Herman.

“Ever been on that road?” he asked.

“Many times. My dad and I go up there and shoot.”

“When’s the last time you were up there? Is the road open?”

“I don’t know, maybe three weeks ago. We haven’t had much snow since, so I’m sure it’s open.”

“Do you need to let anyone know you’re leaving again?”

“Nobody saw me, except Bree. She won’t say anything.”

“Why not?”

“Because she was the one who insisted I tell you I wished you hadn’t left.”

Tucker nodded his head and took Blythe’s hand in his. “Let’s go.” He led her back through the woods to where he’d left his truck.

What would he say? He wanted to talk, but where should he start? He wanted more in his life; he wanted Blythe to wipe away the bad and replace it with good. He’d spent so many years believing he was incapable of loving or being loved by a woman that, now, he didn’t know how to ask for it. It was his damage, as Jace called it.

His brother felt it, that’s how Jace knew how to name it. Tucker was damaged. He hadn’t allowed himself to consider it would be possible to repair his heart, or his soul. But since he’d met Blythe, he’d felt hope. Even in the light of a tragedy that hit too close, he’d felt hope.

She was quiet, looking out the window as he made his way toward the remote mountain road. She’d practically begged him to come back to the house, to give her another chance. Now that he had, she was waiting for him to talk, to tell her what was so important that her unwillingness to hear him had set him off, made him angry, made him leave.

He was scared; that was the truth of it. What would happen when he talked about the one thing he vowed he never would? Allowing himself to share his past would mean the wound would be ripped open. Would he be able to get through it without breaking down? He doubted it. And when he did, how would Blythe react? Particularly now. She hadn’t had any time to process through the grief of the last week.

stop. His truck hit a rock, and he knew they were going to roll. He looked at Blythe. Her terror-filled eyes bored into his. He knew that look. He’d seen it before. The nightmare was repeating itself.
Slade, Heather. Cowboys of Crested Butte Boxed Set Volume 1. Kindle Locations (10045-10091). Sparrow Publishing. Kindle Edition.

With Blythe seriously injured Tucker once again takes off. This time to parts unknown.

Blythe recovers but she also gets a real big surprise. Once again it’s Jace who stands by her even though he knows she will never be his.

Very emotional read with lots of tears, some laughter and of course that sizzling heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Collection Books 1-5!

Individually!

Heather Slade

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.

I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.

I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.


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Natural Born Killers – Sick Boys Book 3 by Lucy Smoke


Natural Born Killers
Sick Boys Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Lucy Smoke

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Rule No. 3: Never let anyone think they can hurt you and get away with it.

I thought I’d seen and felt the worst of it, but there’s nothing worse than betrayal.

Corina knows who’s behind what happened to me and she may think hiding will keep her safe, but after everything that’s happened, nothing can keep her safe from me and the Sick Boys. She’s a pawn in all of this, but I’ll get that information even if it means I have to cut it out of her – piece by fucking piece.

This little charade is about to end. They thought they could drag me down into the dirt and grind my soul into the dust. What they failed to realize is that there’s nothing left of my soul and I don’t mind getting a little dirty if it means getting my revenge. I may have let her fool me once, but there’s no way in hell I’ll let her fool me twice.

After I’m done with her, I’m going after the big boys.

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This book opens where the last one left off. Avalon is in the hospital and not happy about it but she also knows who’s behind the things happening to her. Her mother and Corina. She’s vowed to get revenge but she has yet to figure out why of everything.

Dean’s father Nicholas knows something and he’s being real cagey about talking. Dean has let his father know in no uncertain terms he loves Ava and the two of them will get their revenge on all parties involved. No matter how high up in the echelon they are.

This is a favorite scene.

Exhaustion pulls at my every muscle. The aches and pains have been so consistent that they’ve become nothing but background noise now. After several long minutes, the door opens and Dean comes back in with a frown on his face and a gym bag in his hand. With that expression, it doesn’t take a genius to know something’s wrong.

“What happened?” I demand, straightening even though it makes my muscles scream in protest.

Dean lifts his chin and looks at me, but instead of answering, he merely shakes his head and moves towards the bed. “Come on, baby,” he says before setting a bag on the end of the bed. “Let’s get you dressed and get home.”

“What about your dad?” He shakes his head again, making my chest clench. “Dean?” I reach out and touch his shirt. There are so many questions swirling in my head that there seems to be some sort of disconnect, and I can’t voice any of them.

“I’m sorry, Ava,” he says. “He’s not going to tell us.”

What?” I had to have heard him wrong. “He was just in here,” I state. “He was going to—”

“He doesn’t want Abel or Braxton to know,” Dean cuts me off sharply, his brows lowering. “And he knows if either of us know, then they’ll know.”

That makes no fucking sense. “Of course they’ll know,” I say. “Because we’ll tell them.”

“And he’s well aware of that,” Dean grits out, a scowl playing at the corner of his lips. “He thinks it’s too risky, and he wouldn’t explain why.”

Confusion and anger swirl within me. I sink back onto the edge of the bed. Every single time it seems like we can catch a fucking break, it’s ripped out from beneath us. Nicholas Carter is pulling the strings. He knows who’s behind this. Why wouldn’t he want Abel and Braxton to know?

I sit there, perched on the hospital bed as Dean opens the gym bag he must have grabbed from Brax and starts to dig through it until he pulls out an oversized shirt with no sleeves. My mind riots and rolls over itself. Anger and frustration. Suspicion and mistrust. Have we gone about this all wrong? I thought this was about Dean, but maybe it’s not. Nicholas seemed to think it was all about me. But why? What the fuck is so goddamn special about me?

Dean tugs on the clasp of my gown. He pulls off the plastic-y hospital gown I’d been given and tosses it into the corner before pulling the shirt over my head, sans bra, and gently helping me maneuver my arms through the correct holes.

“Did he tell you anything?” I finally ask.

He moves back and goes to his knees as he takes a pair of drawstring basketball shorts and starts sliding them up my calves. “He did say something,” Dean admits as he urges me off the bed so he can finish pulling up the shorts and tying them at my waist so they won’t fall off. “He said he knew your father.”

So, it is about me.

“My father?” I gape at him. “That’s impossible.” I shake my head. “Even I don’t know who it is. I figured Patricia probably just slept with one of her drug dealers or even a guy from the strip club. A drifter.” A brief thought enters my mind, a disgusting possibility. Roger Murphy was far older than me, closer to Patricia’s age. He very well could’ve been my father. I can’t stop the physical shudder that moves through me. Dean stops what he’s doing.

“Ava?”

I turn my head away from him. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

I stiffen. “I’m not. It was just a bad thought.”

“What was it?” he presses.

A scoff leaves my lips and I turn back to him with a glare. “Do you need to know every-fucking-thing that goes on in my head?”

He doesn’t even blink. “Yes.” He says the word with such conviction, I don’t know how I expected anything less.

My eyes roll. “I just thought that Murphy could’ve been my…” I grimace. Shit, I can’t even finish that damn thought out loud. It’s too revolting.

Dean shakes his head. “I doubt it.”

“Why?” I frown. “Do you know something?”

“Everything I know, Ava, you know,” Dean replies. “My father—he’s…” Dean’s teeth clench as if the thought of his next words anger him and then he continues. “He’s given us his permission”—there it is, I think. The reason for his anger. Dean isn’t the type to get permission from anyone—”to go after Corina and the other man, what did you say his name was?”

“Ace,” I repeat. “His name was Ace. I didn’t exactly get a last name, though, what with all of the torture and shit.”

Dean’s eyes darken. “It won’t happen again,” he swears, pulling me close.

I pat his shoulders. “I know, D-man,” I say. “I know.” The door to the room opens again and Abel pops in the doorway.

“Hey, we’re good to go,” he says. “Brax went back down to get the car. He’s waiting at the exit.”

“Do I need to sign anything?” I ask.

He shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it,” Abel replies. “It’s all taken care of.”

Money, I think. It’s the only explanation for my hasty check out and lack of paperwork, and for the first time, I’m thankful that Dean is as rich as he is. I’d always thought it a hindrance before now, but I’m starting to see how money holds power and power makes the world go ’round. Right now, I’m willing to pay anything to get the fuck out of here.

“Come on, baby,” Dean says, taking my hand. “Let’s go home.”

Home, I think. A place I’ve never known before. Now, though, when he says the word “home,” I can only think of one place. The house where three annoying assholes live and sleep … and where I do too.
Smoke, Lucy . Natural Born Killers (Sick Boys Book 3). Kindle Locations (464-509). Kindle Edition.

Ava and Dean finally get to talk to his father. What he has to say is surprising but not.

Ava will get her revenge but it goes far deeper than even she or Dean could guess.

There is plenty of intrigue and an uneasy alliance with Luc Kincaid begins in this book. Able and Brax face more than a couple of surprises themselves. As expected there is plenty of violence and Ava and Dean sizzle off the pages. I think there’s even a hint of romance between Abel and Rylie.

I really can’t wait for the next book in this series, although this book marked the end of Ava and Dean’s story.

5 Contented Purrs for Lucy!

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Coming Soon!

  Lucy Smoke

Lucy Smoke, also known as Lucinda Dark for her fantasy works, has a master’s degree in English and is a self-proclaimed creative chihuahua. She enjoys feeding her wanderlust, cover addiction, as well as her face, and truly hopes people will stop giving her bath bombs as gifts. Bath’s get cold too fast and it’s just not as wonderful as the commercials make it out to be when the tub isn’t a jacuzzi.

When she’s not on a never-ending quest to find the perfect milkshake, she lives and works in the southern United States with her beloved fur-baby, Hiro, and her family and friends.

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Dance With Me – Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 2 by Heather Slade


Dance With Me
Cowboys of Crested Butte Book 2
By
Heather Slade

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Wherever he was, Billy owned the air. It belonged to him, and he took it.

Last year saddle bronc rider Billy Patterson reached the pinnacle of success in his sport and had the championship buckle to prove it. He needed that flashy reminder this year, because now nothing seemed to be going right in his world.

He couldn’t manage an eight-second ride to save his life; the girl he’s wanted forever, his best friend Renie, is oblivious to how he feels about her; and her mother sold him a ranch that he was incapable of taking care of alone. But the worst of it was, with no anchor at the ranch other than her horse in his boarding stable, Renie was probably leaving too, if he couldn’t convince her to stay.

That becomes the least of Billy’s worries, however, when he suddenly becomes a single parent to a child he didn’t even know about. That complicates everything, but he can’t regret having the daughter he quickly falls in love with. The question was—did that mean the end of his chances with Renie?

At her age, asking her to become an instant mother would be selfish, even if she would entertain that absurd idea after her own mother was tied down around the same age. As much as Billy knew letting Renie go was the right thing to do, he also realized letting her go would mean allowing her to run right back into the arms of a man she didn’t belong with…and he didn’t think he could do that.

Renie has been in love with Billy forever. He’s been a part of her life for a very long time and a few people thought he was in love with her mother Liv.

Now Billy on the other hand has just realized he’s in love with her. He’s ten years older and now owns the ranch where Renie grew up. He boards Renie’s horse and he expects her to continue treating the ranch as her home.

Renie and Billy take their time coming to the conclusion they should give this relationship a try. She also convinces him to get back on the rodeo circuit. It’s after the second night of competition the almost unthinkable happens.

Billy is confronted with the grandfather of a girl he remembers hooking up with a couple of times. The information the man has for him is quite the surprise. Apparently Roxanne had a baby that she said is his, and now she’s died in a car accident. Her grandparents can’t take on the responsibility of raising the baby and are asking Billy to take custody. Something he won’t do without a paternity test.

Renie isn’t sure about anything when Billy tells her about the meeting. She wants to see and talk to her Mom.

This is a favorite scene.

At noon, Renie’s phone buzzed.

“Hey, Mom, is Ben on his way?”

“No, honey, they’ve been at the airport, waiting for the weather to clear. It doesn’t look as though it’s getting any better. I’m sorry, sweetheart. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”

“It’s okay,” she answered, knowing her disappointment sounded through her words. “We’ll talk in the morning, then. Bye, Mom.”

“Bye, sweetheart. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“What’s up?”

“Bad weather in Gunnison. Ben can’t fly out today.”

“I’m sorry. I know you wanted to see your mom. It’s my fault for talkin’ you into stoppin’ here.”

“You saved me. I might have been stuck on the pass if I hadn’t stopped.”

“Thanks for makin’ me feel better about it. I wish you could…”

“What, Billy?” As much as she hoped he wasn’t about to ask her to go with him, she knew that was what he was about to say.

I know I’m a selfish prick. You know I’m a selfish prick. I can’t imagine doing anything this big without you with me.”

“You’ve done lots of big things without me.”

“This doesn’t feel like me, Renie. This feels like us. Whatever I find out in Texas affects both of us.”

“Billy—”

“Please go with me, Renie,” he begged.

How could he ask this of her? Because he was Billy, that’s why. If he wanted something, he took it. He also knew that she’d be powerless to deny him. Renie put her head on his chest, and sighed, knowing she was about to let go of what she wanted in order to give Billy what he needed. “Okay.”

He held her tight and closed his eyes, saying a silent prayer of thanks.

“Your mom still needs to go with us, Billy. I can’t go if Dottie doesn’t.”

“My mama will still go with us, darlin’. Don’t worry.”

He knew he shouldn’t have asked, but he needed her with him.

It cost him a fortune to get her ticket, and theirs, at the last minute, but he would’ve paid ten times more to have her with him.

Renie sat next to him. Dottie sat across the aisle.

“I didn’t realize we were flying first class, Billy.”

He often flew first class, and even if he didn’t, he would’ve this trip. He was about to ask his mother and the love of his life to help him bring his baby girl home. He didn’t need a paternity test; he felt it in his bones—he was Willow’s father.

He closed his eyes, wishing he could sleep, but knew he wouldn’t.

He lifted the armrest between them and brought Renie closer to him. “Sleep, darlin’. Get some rest.” She was asleep before he finished his sentence. He doubted she’d gotten much more sleep than he had the last couple of days.

The Johnsons had suggested they meet at the hospital the following day. Billy had gone, right after they landed, and given the lab what they needed to run the test. They were waiting in the lobby when he walked in with Renie and his mother. Sophie Johnson was holding the baby.

Billy knew as soon as he looked at her. It didn’t matter what any lab or doctor told him; that baby was his.

Renie saw it too. Billy saw it in her face. He watched her, afraid to look away, afraid he’d miss something. Her look went from shock to…something he didn’t have words for. But when he looked back at Willow, he hoped Renie was feeling the same thing he was. It was indescribable.

“Here,” said Mrs. Johnson. “You hold your girl.”

Billy hesitated, not sure what to do. Willow started kicking her legs, leaning toward him.

“Hold tight, Billy,” said Dottie, smiling through her tears. “She’s a squirmer…like you were.”

“Why don’t you have a seat?” Earl Johnson motioned. “Your mama’s right. Willow’s a squirmer.”

Billy could hear him, understood what he was saying, but he couldn’t move. He and Willow stared at each other as though they were looking in a mirror. He was sure that, any minute, his heart would burst right open. When he did look away, it was at Renie, and he had no idea what the expression on her face meant.

It was as though all the air left her body when Billy took the baby in his arms, and she watched him fall in love. In that moment, she realized she would never hold his heart the way she’d hoped she would. She’d dreamed of Billy holding their baby. Only in her nightmares did she see him holding a baby he had with someone else.

Why had she come with him? She wasn’t part of the scene playing out in front of her. She was a bystander, and not an innocent one. She was a damaged bystander, feeling the worst pain she could imagine.

When Dottie rested her hand on Renie’s back, she flinched, as though the touch burned her.

“Renie?” Billy was walking toward her, with the baby.

“Billy—” Her voice caught. “I can’t do this.”

She felt the walls closing in on her. She couldn’t breathe. Things were happening too quickly for her to explain or even understand the way she felt. All she knew was she had to get away from this…Billy and his baby, as fast as she could. It might make her the worst person on the planet, but this time, she couldn’t put Billy first. This time, she had to take care of herself instead of him. Her heart was broken so badly, she felt as though she was bleeding—soon she wouldn’t be able to contain the tears of her pain.

She turned and ran out of the hospital, and jumped into the cab parked outside the entrance. “Take me to the airport,” she said. “Hurry.” The cab sped away.

She couldn’t look back at Billy, standing outside the door, baby in his arms.
Slade, Heather. Cowboys of Crested Butte Boxed Set Volume 1. Kindle Locations (5330-5384). Sparrow Publishing. Kindle Edition.

It’s not just Billy’s life that changes at this point. Renie too does a complete turn around from what she had planned for her life.

Both of them have so much to think about and ultimately come to terms with.

I did a lot of sniffling reading this book. Plenty of emotional ups and downs, right along with the sizzle between Renie and Billy.

I’m already reading the next book since I bought the collection.

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Collection Books 1-5!

Individually!

Heather Slade

My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.

I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.

I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.


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Irish Whiskey – It’s All In The Whiskey Book 8 By Jen Talty


Irish Whiskey
It’s All In The Whiskey Book 8
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Irish Whiskey left his cousins farm years ago to join the Army and he never looked back. That was until he gets a phone call from one of his relatives informing him that one of the many broken hearts he left behind showed up at Whiskey Ranch claiming to be carrying his child.

And she won’t leave until he comes back and decides if he wants to be a father, or he’s going to do what he’s always done—run from his responsibilities.

Lorelei Sheldon knew the second the sexy Special Forces officer walked into her diner she was in trouble. But she hadn’t expected it to be the kind of trouble that would change the course of her entire life. With no way of reaching him, except through his family’s ranch in Buhl, Idaho, Lorelei packs up her things and sets off to find the man who she knows without a doubt she wants to start a life with, but also understands he might want nothing to do with her.

But she has to try. She owes it to their unborn child.

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Irish left Whiskey Ranch and joined the Army right out of high school. It was a good fit at the time. Now he’s getting out, he wants something more but he’s not sure what that is.

Before his last deployment he goes to dinner with Gunny but Gunny really had other plans if someone showed up. Left to his own devices and because of prompting from her boss and best friend he has pleasant conversation with the hostess Lorelei. He’s determined to not do the whole love ’em and leave ’em thing, but when Lorelei finds him trying to sleep in his jeep, he ends up in her studio apartment.

Lorelei is recently divorced and everyone is pushing her to move on. Her ex has remarried already, his wife pregnant. Lorelei has had two miscarriages and that really added to the hurt. Now faced with the extremely sexy Irish, she wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity for one night. Irish really didn’t fight her too hard on that.

The outcome of that night has her trying to reach Irish but all he leaves is a note for her instead of facing her. With no other choice left she travels to Whiskey Ranch to talk to him.

I love the Whiskey family, their names are funny, their love intense and family is everything. Irish and Lorelei have much to resolve.

Lots of ups and downs in this emotional and sizzling read.

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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