All posts by carolkittie

I am a retired software developer, avid reader and reviewer. While I read all genres, I love romance and erotic romance. I am devoting this blog to the Authors of Romance, for now. I occasionally review books for Bea's Book Nook where you can catch my reviews for books that do not qualify under the Romance genre.

Alpha Wolf – Black Mesa Wolves Book 2 by J.K. Harper


Alpha Wolf
Black Mesa Wolves Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
J.K. Harper

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Winter Blog Blurb

As a Guardian climbing the ranks in the Black Mesa Wolf Pack, Sara Kenyon’s life is ideal. A sexy firecracker, she’s never regretted her carefree love-’em-and-leave-’em attitude. But when her one-time fling, smokin’ hot Rafe Bardou, wants the only thing she can’t give him—commitment—she starts to question if freedom is everything she desires.

Rafe’s patience is legendary. Yet for all his strength and control, Rafe craves something he can’t have: free-spirited Sara as his mate. Her red-hot kisses have eluded him for over a year, but he can’t stop thinking about how they once tangled the sheets together. Now he’s out of time. Her commitment to him is essential—not only for his own happiness, but for the future of the Pack.

Losing control isn’t an option. But it may be the only way to convince this sweet vixen he’s her alpha wolf.

Warning:
Hot springs and a dark alley are both defiled in this story. Read at your own risk.

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Sara believes she’s only seen as a fun-loving party girl. She wants, no needs to be seen as a serious Guardian of the pack.

With the Rogues possibly getting their own pack, Rafe, the Alpha’s oldest son is about to get an opportunity he didn’t see coming. Before that can happen, he needs to convince Sara to finally accept him. He knows she’s ready, but she seems to think she has something to prove to the pack.

After the Alpha announce the decision about the rogues, Sara decides she needs a run and maybe a soak in the hot springs. The last person she expected to see is Rafe and she certainly didn’t expect him to join her on her run.

This is a favorite scene.

A shaky laugh slipped past her lips. If only the rest of the pack could see her now. This was so unlike the playful, heel-nipping, flirtatious, seemingly confident Sara she seemed to be to all of them. This Sara was getting unnerved by a guy. It was almost as if she didn’t know what to do with one. Now, that was a silly thought.

Her wolf gave the equivalent of a quiet laugh.

“Sara?”

At least she didn’t jump. Instead, she turned around as if half surprised.

“Rafe! Hi! What are you doing here?”

Smooth.

His slow smile told her he knew she was pretending to be surprised. He knew perfectly well she’d scented him just before he spoke. Completely unprepared for his presence here, she hadn’t heard him come up behind her—even in human form, shifters could move startlingly fast and silent. But her nose could catch things before her brain had time to figure out what they were.

“I thought it was a nice night for a soak. Had to work on a report all day. My muscles are screaming at me.”

“Me, too.” Her voice came out kind of breathy. She pitched it lower and went on. “I actually wanted to go for a run. But I thought a little dip first would be nice.”

She looked around the parking lot. Theirs were the last cars. Rafe’s big silver truck was a dark shadow several spaces away.

“What do you say?”

She looked back at him. Even without a moon and no artificial lights in the lot, she could see Rafe’s face and his eyes. The intensity that usually underlined his manner, the strong work ethic, the loyalty to pack, was there. Yet his particular expression hinted at something deeper.

Whatever it was, it sent a shiver down her spine. When she answered, though, she tried to keep her tone playful.

“What do I say to what, wolf?”

He didn’t crack even a grin. The moonlight silvered the chiseling of his features, shadowed his cheeks and forehead, made his blond hair shine where it snared the light. He looked like a stern pack leader, with an edge of contained wildness underneath. Sara shivered again. Caught in his gaze, she felt her wolf rise close to the surface. Pacing the corners corners of Sara’s mind, her wolf whined softly. She, for one, was very clear on Rafe’s half-hidden promise.

Silly human thinking, her wolf whispered.

Sara knew her wolf looked out of her eyes. She spoke quickly to stave off the invitation most likely beckoning there.

“Okay. Let’s go. I came here for a dip, and I’m going in.”

Without blinking, her nose telling her no humans were nearby, Sara shed her clothes and let them drop to an untidy pile at her feet. Rafe’s lake-blue eyes grew darker as he watched her.

“Race ya,” she said. She whirled, dropped to the ground, and shifted in the space between one heartbeat and the next.

“Sara,” she heard him say behind her. But the light breeze felt so good in her dark silvery-gray pelt, tickling its way through the individual furs, that she ignored his voice and flew over the ground, paws hitting then instantly leaping away again. She headed for the back of the main building, toward the hottest spring located at the rear of the property.

Sara’s breath came easily as she loped along. With each inhale she took in the scents of the pine trees, the junipers farther west in the desert, the hot waters bubbling from the earth just in front of her. She flicked back an ear and heard Rafe’s steps padding swiftly behind her, his wolf running light and sure over the ground. He ran close enough to encourage her to go faster.

The thrill of the chase, Sara’s human whispered. Sara grinned and did a half-spin to the side so Rafe could see her tongue hanging out. She didn’t slow down. He smiled back at her before leaping ahead, his larger frame overcoming her speed. Sara’s night vision still allowed her to see him as he wove in and out of the pines.

“Hey!” she called out. “Not fair.”

At his provocative tone, Sara put on the speed as well. As usual, she couldn’t keep up with him merely by speed, fast as she was. Her bag of tricks included thinking fast and plotting a new course as needed, even in a split second. Quicker than thought, her paws veered to the right. She cut straight across a patch of ground just sprouting new grass. The delicate scent rose up as she crushed some blades in two bounding steps before landing back on pine needle carpeting.

Running felt good. The earlier restlessness urged a spurt of energy that took her racing away from the hot springs, over the back fence, and into the darkening woods behind.

“Sara!” Rafe said, his voice a mix between a bark of surprise and—pleasure? Ears flicked back, she could hear him pause for the briefest moment. Then a light whoosh disrupted the air behind her, followed by a thump as he hit the ground after vaulting over the fence.

Faster, Sara’s human urged. She wasted no time stretching out, lengthening her body to the maximum speeds it could reach. Her muscles flexed and worked, eliciting a happy mental groan at how good it felt.

Sara raced through the dusk-covered forest. She leapt over downed logs, dodged a low-hanging branch or three, whipped around trunks bristling with new piney growth, and absorbed a beautiful maelstrom of scents from millimeters to miles away. When she rounded a small yet thick stand of Douglas firs, she almost collided with a sudden ponderosa. Her shoulder and fur scraped by and released an intoxicating scent of vanilla and butterscotch from the tree.

Smells like baking cookies, her human thought. Sara wrinkled her nose a bit and shrugged mentally. Sometimes, her human mentioned things that had little place in the mountain forests or the desert cliffs and buttes. Sara found it best to simply continue racing and leaping and hunting and running, letting her human giggle quietly somewhere in the back of her mind.

Rafe’s scent whipped into her nostrils: sharp and wild, he also smelled like crushed fern and a whiff of aspen bark where he must have rubbed too close to one. She imagined sensible Rafe having an unexpectedly close encounter with a tree and twisting madly to avoid crashing into it. Her tongue lolled out for a moment even as she ran, a grin splitting her jaw. Her canines must have gleamed for a moment, because a short huffing noise somewhere to her left let her know Rafe was nearby and quite aware of her presence.

Sara always found running an activity that cleared her mind, whether as woman or wolf. Everything else fell away. Worries, thoughts, fears all melted off when she ran, when she exercised her muscles hard. Her mind soothed to a simple mechanism of action and movement.

Even Rafe briefly left her mind. Air sucked into her lungs, rich spring earth and a mingling of smells both wild and human from the trees and mountains and scattered homes zipped by as scents detected in mere seconds. The promise of renewed life about to burst from the ground invigorated Sara’s legs even more. She flowed over the earth in that state of singularity between thought and doing, losing herself for joyous moments as merely a creature peacefully and completely at one with her surroundings and her own simple being.

This Sara had nothing to prove. This Sara simply lived to run and exist and enjoy this moment.

Although the hot springs would feel very nice after such a great run, her human thought somewhere deep inside. Her voice sounded a little wistful yet teasing. I wonder how long this run has been?

Sara snorted softly. Time had no meaning to wolves. Only to humans.

Someone has to get up in the mornings and show up for duty. Running isn’t everything. Her human shrugged, then started picturing the hot springs.

Soothing billows of steam rising, deliciously hot water to sink into, Rafe naked and willing in the spring with her….

Sara took a misstep at the fierce longing in her human’s mind. Finally, she was showing some sense.

A cocked ear and sharp inhale let her know Rafe easily kept up about ten yards away, now to her right and just behind her tail. Slipping through the trees with her, enjoying the run as much as she did. She wondered if he, too, forgot about everything else when he ran.

Never, her human whispered. He’s going to be an alpha. Alphas never forget anything.

Sara looped around the next tree and began loping back to the hot springs. The lights of people’s houses glinted through branches here and there. Sara ignored them and let the smell of the hot water guide her back. All she needed was her nose and her sure feet.

And maybe a certain wolf.
Harper, J.K.. Alpha Wolf (Black Mesa Wolves Book 2). Kindle Location(447-514). Sable Moon Books. Kindle Edition.

To me it seems that Sara is her own worst enemy when it comes to Rafe. She knows they’re mates but she won’t back down on her stance that she has to prove herself worthy of the respect of the pack.

Rafe seems to be up to the challenge, but he is giving her time to realize she already has that.

A fun read with lots of ups and downs and plenty of sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for J.K.!

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Winter Blog About Author

USA TODAY bestselling author J.K. Harper lives in the gorgeous southwest, which is a great place to let her imagination run wild.

She is the author of Black Mesa Wolves, Dragon Mates, Wicked Wolf Shifters, and Silvertip Shifters.

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Guardian Wolf – Black Mesa Wolves Book 1 by J.K. Harper


Guardian Wolf
Black Mesa Wolves Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
J.K. Harper

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Winter Blog Blurb

Being a Guardian for the Black Mesa Wolf Pack meant everything to Lily Bardou. Until the night she made a fatal mistake. Since then, she’s kept her wild side tightly leashed, denying her responsibilities to both her pack and her own sensual needs.

Until Kieran Rendall stalks into her life.

Kieran’s wanted Lily for two long years, and he’s finally done waiting. Convinced she’s part of his destiny, he’s back in town with a plan: to help Lily let go of the past—and to unlock her caged passions.

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Doing a re-read and actually reviewing this time. I have so many books that I’ve never reviewed and I was in the mood for some shifters so the Black Mesa Wolves are the beginning of fixing that.

Lily is the only daughter of the Alpha and a strong Guardian Wolf. She made a huge mistake that she paid for in a way that sort of broke her. Now she’s ready to move on, she hopes.

Kieran is from the Silver Mountain pack and he had witnessed Lily’s punishment and the aftermath. He’s hoping she will recognize him for what he is, her mate.

This is a favorite scene.

Kieran Rendall watched with hidden bemusement as the Black Mesa guardian came toward him with the deliberate, sinuous motion of a hunter. An enticingly kissable package of nerves, predatory hunger, and a touch of wariness, heading straight for him.

Long dark red hair tumbled down her back. A fierce red wolf, this one. He’d known that since the first time he’d ever seen her. He could also sense her deep hunger for sex.

He could smell it, sizzling off her in waves that tempted and tormented him. Her wolf was hungry, and so was the woman.

Finally. He’d been waiting for Lily for a long time. Ever since the night she’d put to death the human she’d turned with her own unthinking lust, Kieran had been watching her. An emissary from the Silver Mountain Pack to the north, he’d been sent down by his father to observe the Black Mesa Pack’s adherence to ancient law. Tradition demanded all regional Packs sent official observers when an errant wolf broke a law, to be certain justice was still served accordingly. It was an excellent method of checks and balances. Besides which, without laws, shifters eventually went totally wild.

He could still recall that cold night. Lily’s eyes had gleamed with unshed tears, her back ramrod straight, as the punishment was read in front of the entire Pack and all attending regional members. The turned wolf, like Lily just barely into his twenties, had been in the center of the circle, naked and shivering in human form. He’d refused to become wolf even though told he could fight for his life. He refused to harm Lily.

Kieran remembered the suddenness with which Lily changed, her lithe red wolf gliding along the edges of the circle before she leapt onto her silent, unmoving prey. The naked human looked right at her the entire time, unflinching. With one terrible snap, it was over. She broke his neck with ease. The death blow was clean, immediate, and as humane a kill as a wolf could do. Kieran was impressed at the sight, and thoughtful. It had been planned. She likely had told her doomed one-time lover he had two choices: become wolf and fight her to the death, or accept as easy a passing as she could deliver. Kieran understood that. He would never have fought her either, if he’d had a chance to love a woman like Lily.

He couldn’t have borne the thought of killing such a beautiful wolf.

Lily had stood for a moment over the unmoving body of her lover, utterly still herself. Then she turned and leapt in a graceful arc right through the circle of spectators, her brothers howling after her, her father silent yet watching with an outstretched arm as if to stop her. Lily bounded into the winter-cold high desert, the flash of her red fur disappearing into the moonlight-silvered branches of the junipers and the shadows of the canyon walls.

No one saw her again until the following spring.

Kieran gave himself a mental shake. The woman was here, now, and she was ready. Oh, was she ready.

The sway in her walk as she approached told him a fire banked between her legs. He knew exactly how to answer it. His wolf simmered beneath the surface, as eager as he to stir the qualities in this she-wolf that would catapult her back to her rightful place. She was a born leader.

He fingered the glass in his hand as Lily drew near. With a tremble of her lip, she stopped before him. He let his nostrils flare, taking in her scent. No fear. Sheer anticipation made her skin shiver, her mouth quake as if she could already taste him.

Practiced at the art of concealing his emotions, Kieran gave an internal snort at his arrogant fancy. Lily wanted him, of that he was sure. Her arousal was being broadcast loud and clear to any wolf within a few miles. But he highly doubted she was already playing every move in her head. He knew she hadn’t touched a man in two years. With this one, he would have to go very, very slowly. He already knew she was more than worth it.

Lily parted her lips as if to speak, then wet them with her tongue instead. Kieran’s hand tightened on the glass and almost broke it. Holy… He internally shook himself back to a semblance of respectability. Well, hell. She was going to test his control indeed.

“You’ve been looking at me.” Her voice came out pitched low but clearly audible to his heightened hearing in the loud bar. She paused as if to gauge his reaction—or censor herself—then plunged on. “And you like what you see.”

She tilted up her chin and gave him a bold stare with her green eyes. This close, he could see the purity of their color. He imagined them smoky with desire, and finally let a grin tug up his lip again. Let her see a bit of his very male appreciation.

“I do. Have a seat. Please,” he added with soft insistence when she still regarded him with just a touch of that wariness she wore like a cape.

Never once looking away, she slid onto the barstool beside him. Obvious from her naturally confident bearing, as a one-time Pack Guardian she simply oozed alpha female. Despite her tight self-control and refusal to be a formal part of Pack hierarchy since that night, she couldn’t conceal her true nature. And Lily was meant to be a leader. She was meant to mate with an alpha male for life and help guide the Pack, keep it strong. Whether she knew it or not, her innate talents were recognized by other wolves. Even ones not in her Pack. Especially ones not in her Pack. The wolves outside the Black Mesa Pack stood the most to gain by winning Lily as a mate. Her status as the only daughter of Alpha of the most powerful pack in the region just about guaranteed another strong offshoot pack one day. And those outside wolves had been sniffing around recently, which was why Kieran decided it was time to make his move. He would never let this woman—this wolf—belong to another. She was far too precious in many ways. His only goal now was to convince her of that truth.

“Can I get the lady a drink?”

Lily still looked directly at him. It was a light challenge, one she was unaware she made, and it was hot as hell. Kieran’s balls tightened in response, and he curbed his wolf as it practically sat up and salivated. Not yet. Slowly.

“Only if it tastes as good as you look,” she said. Her saucy words were matched by her tone and stance. One hip cocked, head tilted, those eyes arrowing right through him.

Kieran almost swallowed his own tongue. He instantly felt his wolf leap into his eyes, smelled his own pheromones charging off of him as if they were warriors vaulting into battle. Maybe slow wasn’t what she wanted?

Lily suddenly laughed, an infectious and even more hormone-inducing sound. The smile that cracked wide across her features was genuine, and all for him.

“I can’t believe I just said that.” She glanced away and shook her head, sending red waves of hair undulating across her cheeks. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me tonight.” She raised her eyes to Kieran’s again, her expression slightly self-deprecating. “My friend had to practically push me over here, and then I just said to hell with it. That sexy cowboy’s been looking at me, he’s Pack, and I deserve to say hello to him.”

With each honest word, Lily’s voice deepened with instinctual need. Kieran’s entire body stiffened from the effort to keep from grabbing her, leading her out of the bar and across the lobby to the attached hotel, into his room. He could still go slowly.

Sure.

“But I’m being rude. My name is Lily. I’m from the Black Mesa Pack.” She reached a hand out to him.

Kieran steeled himself for the electric snap he knew would happen when he let her touch him. Even so, when their palms met in an oddly formal yet insanely intimate handshake, the shock of it ran up his arm and exploded into every nerve ending. Lily felt it too, judging from her sharp inhale and widening of those amazingly clear eyes.

“Kieran. Silver Mountain Pack Guardian. It’s very nice to meet you, Lily.” He was ridiculously proud of his steady voice despite the hungry wolf clamoring to growl through it.
Harper, J.K.. Guardian Wolf (Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance) (Black Mesa Wolves #1). Kindle Locations (85-144) Sable Moon Books. Kindle Edition.

Of course nothing goes quite as planned, as Rogue wolves interrupt them before they can take anything further. It’s her brothers, all three of them showing up that saves the entire evening form being ruined.

Even though this is a short book there is much that happens. Plenty of sizzle, some action, laughter and tears too.

5 Contented Purrs for J.K.!

Winter Blog More Books

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Winter Blog About Author

USA TODAY bestselling author J.K. Harper lives in the gorgeous southwest, which is a great place to let her imagination run wild.

She is the author of Black Mesa Wolves, Dragon Mates, Wicked Wolf Shifters, and Silvertip Shifters.

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The Buried Secret – Candlewood Falls Book 2 by Jen Talty


The Buried Secret
Candlewood Falls Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Winter Blog Blurb

A broken heart that needs mending…
A wounded soul that needs answers…
And a buried secret that could destroy everything…

After years of fighting with her mother, Riesling decides it’s time to mend fences, even if it means she has to admit her mother was right. Moving back to Candlewood Falls is a big step. Dating her boss is an even bigger one and Riesling’s meddling mother is up to her old tricks, making things difficult, as usual. When another buried secret surfaces on The River Winery it will not only test Riesling and her new relationship, but it might just destroy everything that the River family holds dear.

Doctor Treyton “Trey” Jefferson wants answers as to where he came from and no one seems to be able to tell him that. Not his parents and not the doctor who made the arrangements for the closed adoption because he’s dead. Trey’s only clue is a piece of paper from the doctor with an address that came from The River Winery in Candlewood Falls. Trey will do whatever it takes to find his birth parents, including using his new physician’s assistant, who happens to have a stake in the winery, to obtain information about the doctor who facilitated over thirty adoptions in the area. He has no idea he’s about to unearth a scandal that holds the power to destroy the woman he’s falling in love with and her family’s business.

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Treyton ‘Trey’ Jefferson gets a bit of surprise at the beginning of this book. While he always knew he was adopted, he didn’t know the circumstances of it. When his mother died, she left him a letter and a request. A plea really, to find his birth mother. He hadn’t opened the letter right away and he kind of blindsides his father with it since it’s been a year.

The details of his adoption are sketchy and his only lead is the doctor who died long ago. Fortunately for him that particular town is looking for a doctor to buy the retiring doctor’s practice. Who better than him?

Riesling is a Physician’s Assistant and she will be working with the new doctor. She’s trying really hard to make peace with her mother. The hurt of being more or less exiled when she chose to follow her child’s father instead of staying home still burns though.

Trey stops at the winery his first day in town. He wants to buy his co-worker a starting gift. Then he realizes it’s her family’s business. He meets her brother Malbec first and then the matchmaking Weezer, her mother. He also realizes they Reisling could be the source of information he needs about the doctor who also had an office on the Winery’s property.

When he arrives at the farmhouse that holds the office and his upstairs apartment, Riesling was heading up to be sure things were in order for his arrival.

This is a favorite scene.

She was halfway up the stairs when she heard the door creak open. She turned.

“Hello? Can I help you?”

“Are you Riesling?”

“I am.” She paused at the bottom of the stairs and desperately tried not to stare at the man standing in the lobby holding a basket from her family winery while sporting a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved black shirt, and a sexy unshaven face. “Treyton Jefferson?”

“In the flesh.”

“You’re a couple of days early,” she said. “I was just about to go upstairs and make sure everything was ready for you.”

“That’s awfully nice of you and totally not necessary.” He set the basket on the desk. “This is for you.”

She covered her mouth and laughed. “You do know that’s my family’s winery, right?”

“I do.” He nodded. “Your mom and brother helped me put it together.”

She peered over the side. “Oh God. That pie. It’s sinful and I’m going to gain like ten pounds eating it.”

“Why don’t you let me cook you dinner, and then I’ll be happy to help you polish it off.”

“That’s very sweet of you, but I take it my mom and brother didn’t inform you that I also have a six-year-old little girl.”

“I was not informed of that piece of information. Though your mom did ask if I liked kids.” He shook his head. “That said, I make a mean mac and cheese and we need to talk about how I do business and that can’t all be done during working hours and I wouldn’t want you to have to get a babysitter. So, what do you say?”

“I can’t tonight. But you’re on for tomorrow.” She held up her index finger. “On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t know what my mom may have said to you or implied. But I’m not interested in dating you or anyone else for that matter.” A thick lump formed in her throat as the word dating rolled off her tongue. Oh, in the looks department, Trey was all that and more. His eyes were this deep blue color, like the Mediterranean Sea. They were so intense it was nearly impossible to look away. He had light-brown hair that wasn’t short, but she couldn’t describe it as long either.

And he hadn’t shaved in what appeared to be a couple of weeks.

But she suspected he kept his beard and mustache that length at all times. It was a good look for him since he had a bit of a baby face, so it aged him just a tad.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be social that way,” he said. “I’m sorry if I implied otherwise.”

“No. But I bet my mom did.”

Trey laughed. “She might have a little. Does she do that a lot?”

“To every single man between the ages of thirty and forty who sets foot in this town.” Feeling a little less on edge, she leaned against the counter. “I do appreciate the basket. That was kind of you and so very not necessary.”

“If I had been smart enough to put two and two together, I would have stopped somewhere else.”

“No. This is perfect. I do love everything the family business offers, except my own name.”

“I heard that too.”

She cringed. “Well, just don’t believe everything my mom has to say about me. Or my siblings for that matter. Hell, this entire town has an opinion, and every single one of them enjoys expressing them.”

“I’ve never lived in a small town, so this should be interesting.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and glanced around. “Where is our receptionist and all our patients?”

“Anna has the day off. It was easy to give it to her because everyone rescheduled until they could see you.”

He tilted his head. “And why didn’t they want to see you?”

“Some did.” Her stomach filled with doubt. Theo had taken money from half the people in this town and promised to double it in one of his early get rich plans. This was back when she was pregnant with Ashling and he was turning over a new leaf. He even had the blessing of Weezer and Carter and that meant something in this town.

But the company Theo had gotten involved in was nothing more than a small-time Ponzi scheme. Thankfully, because of her father, no one lost too much money, but still. It had tainted her name because she’d followed the father of her child out of this town as everyone had done him wrong.

And not the other way around.

“But there are a few who don’t trust me.” She felt she should be honest. “In part because of my ex and in part because when I was little, I used to try to undress all the little boys in town to play doctor. That didn’t go over too well with all the parents.”

Trey tossed his head back and let out a hearty laugh. It was deep and rich and it filled her belly with warmth like hot fudge smothering ice cream. “I hope you’re joking about the latter.”

“I am,” she admitted. “But I did chase everyone around with a stethoscope, trying to listen to their heart or get them to lie down so I could push on their belly. I had two strikes against me as a kid. My mother being The Weezer and me being the weirdo who actually had people believe they might have some rare disease.”

“You’ll have to explain to me about The Weezer but I get the whole diagnostic thing.” His expression turned serious. He ran a hand over his beard. “The worst part is when playacting becomes a reality.”

She was about to ask what he meant by that when the front door flew wide open. “Riesling,” old man Koontz said. “I need your help.”

“What is it? What’s wrong?” She raced to Koontz’s side.

He had to be pushing ninety at this point. He was hunched over, clutching his right side and panting for breath like a dog. “It’s Ella. We were in town enjoying the warm weather. She got stung by a bee and we don’t have her EpiPen. She’s in the truck.”

“Did you call 9-1-1?” He shook his head. “I don’t have my cell. Forgot it. I swear I’m as bad as she is these days.”

“Don’t you worry.” Riesling pushed past Trey and into the first exam room where she found what she needed. “Trey, call an ambulance. Tell them we have a sixty-year-old woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s having—”

“I got it.” Trey held up his phone.

She nodded as she stormed out the front door. Ella should be in a long-term care facility. Hell, so should her father at this point, but they were all each other had and who was she to lecture either of them. She pulled open the passenger side of the vehicle and stabbed Ella in the leg before climbing into the truck and cradling the woman in her lap.

Trey was one step behind with an IV drip. “Ambulance is eight minutes out.” He began checking her vitals and finding a vein while she rested her cheek against Ella’s forehead.

The older woman’s breaths were shallow, but Riesling had seen her in a worse state before.

Koontz stumbled out of the old farmhouse and down the steps. He leaned against the hood of the pickup. “Is she going to be okay?”

“I believe so,” Trey said.
Jen Talty. The Buried Secret (Kindle Locations 469-526).

These find they work well together right from the start. However, Reisling is very guarded when it comes to relationships.

The mystery he’s trying to solve, is one that could hurt a lot of people including the River family. He really doesn’t want to hurt anyone but as clues come to light, it seems there may not be a way not to.

Between the search for answers, the building attraction, and the ex-boyfriend showing up in town, there was no way to put this book down.

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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Simon Says…Ride – Kate Morgan Book 3 by Dale Mayer


Simon Says…Ride
Kate Morgan Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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Detective Kate Morgan is hot on a new confusing case. A cyclist is killed at the main intersection to the University of British Columbia. At first glance it looks like a hit-and-run, but, as details emerge, it gets much more complicated.

From one day to the next, Simon is blinded by an overload of senses and noises. It’s impacting his regular business day, and he seems unable to control when and how these moments occur. Angry and frustrated, he tells Kate but knows she’s unable to help. How can she, when he can’t help himself?

As Kate struggles to work her way through a gang of arrogant university students, reluctant parents, a defensive dean, and way too many unobservant witnesses, she finds a disturbing pattern of more “accidents” and more victims …

Then finally Simon understands why his senses are on overload … and flips the investigation around.

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As Kate and her partner Rodney begin the investigation of a woman cyclist seeming hit by a passing motorist. Simon gets a vision of not one but five bicycles. It’s not a surprise to Kate since Rodney’s already come up with the fact there have been five cyclists killed on this day in the last five years. Not exactly something he wanted to find but definitely relevant.

Simon begins his day as he frequently does, stopping to give much needed cash to some very worthy places. First a shelter of sorts, then a community church and finally a food center. While those stops lifted his spirits the same cannot be said for his projects. Supply problems have them going off schedule and adding to the cost of the rehabs. Finished he stopped to eat, but the overwhelming smells had him getting his meal to go. At home the headline about the accident near the collage catches his eye and he wonders if that’s Kate’s new case. He murmurs the word ‘Traffic’ and looks out the window over the city when the vision hits. As always it doesn’t tell him much at all.

In the meantime, Kate has dealt with witnesses including a group of students seemly unconcerned about the seriousness of the situation. Something feels off about this case and she can’t seem to pinpoint why.

She takes a call from Simon and he doesn’t like the way she sounds.

This is a favorite scene.

Simon didn’t like to hear the defeat in Kate’s voice, that negativity. He also had not been invited over, which made him a little worried because of the tone of her voice. Giving her a bit of space to get over whatever was bothering her was one thing, but giving her the space to decide that she didn’t need him in her life was something completely different. Grabbing leftovers from his lunch today and checking the fridge, finding a bottle of wine, he grabbed that too, strolled to his penthouse elevator and took it all the way to the lobby. As he walked toward the front entrance, he saw that Edgar, on nightshift, was manning the front door and immediately opened it for him.

“Have a good evening, sir.”

“I hope so,” he said.

“Hey, you’re bringing wine and food. What every woman needs tonight is to be looked after.”

Simon stopped and stared out, realized it was pouring down rain. He swore.

“You want a cab? Do you want to drive? I can get your car brought around.”

Simon looked at Edgar. “Grab me a cab, will you?”

After that, as he waited a few minutes for the cab to pull up, Edgar said, “What about the Ubers? Are you happy with them?”

“They’re fine, and, if they’re faster than cabs, that’s good too. Normally I’d just take the Aquabus.”

“At least she’s worth it,” Edgar said, with a beaming smile.

There was some truth to that. When Simon said good night to Edgar and walked out, he got into the back of the cab, gave the address to the driver, and was there in no time. “Too wet to walk tonight.”

The cab driver laughed.

Simon nodded, then dropped in the fare and a tip, and headed up to Kate’s apartment. When he knocked on the door, there was no answer. He swore at that, realizing he should have checked to see if she would stay home or would go for that workout. When it opened suddenly a few moments later, he was startled.

She looked at him in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

He held up the food and the wine and watched as her eyes lit up. “That’s all it takes, is it?” he said, with a smile.

“Nope, not at all.” She reached for both and snatched them from his hands. “I’m not that easy of a lay.”

“Hell, there’s nothing easy about you.” She was already walking back into the kitchen, but she turned and tossed him a grin. He checked her out carefully. “You sounded despondent earlier.”

She stopped, looked at him, and shrugged, and he almost felt bad for bringing it up. “Sometimes I just hate the senselessness of what’s out in the world right now,” she said quietly. “People should have every moment of joy coming to them, not get cut down in the prime of life over nothing. Less than nothing. It’s like a whim of some asshole who deems at that moment in time that a person shouldn’t be allowed to exist anymore. Who gives them the right?” She grabbed a dinner plate and slammed shut the cupboard.

“Nobody, which is why it’s so important that you’re there.”

She stilled, looked over at him, and finally nodded. “I was depressed and upset today, so thanks for this.” She held up the silverware she had grabbed. “I haven’t eaten.” With her dish and knife and fork, she sat at the kitchen table.

“Maybe that’s partly why you were depressed.” He took a seat across from her.

“Maybe.” She had the bag open, reaching in without looking. “I also interviewed this kid at a pizza place today, and his attitude bothered me and hung with me all day. He was just one in a group of six, and it shouldn’t have really been a problem, but it seemed like, the longer the day went on, his attitude just got to me more and more. So that it’s all I can think about.”

“You need to get him out of your head because you know that guys like him exist everywhere.” “I know, but it’s like he felt he didn’t have to answer my questions. He didn’t have to talk to me at all. Like, he was somebody, and I should damn well know it. He didn’t need to stay at the crime scene, much less answer my questions or give me the straight truth.” She snorted, then shook her head, dumping whatever food she had retrieved onto her plate.

“That just means that, one of these days, he’ll get his comeuppance, whether it’s from you or somebody else,” he said.

“Maybe, and maybe not. It seems like these kids born with a silver spoon in their mouths always get an easy pathway ahead of them.” She took a big bite of whatever.

“Did you ever have an easy pathway?”

She stopped, looked at him. “I told you about my brother, right?” He nodded. “A little bit.”

“Right, well, I’m sure you can fill in the rest.”

“Sure, I probably can, but it’s not the same thing as hearing it from you.”

“And that is one of the topics I really don’t want to discuss tonight.” For added emphasis, she pointed her fork at him. “Talk about a life cut short.”

“I’m sorry.”

She shrugged. “You see? That’s why I didn’t invite you over. … I’m in a shitty mood. I get moments of clarity— where I’m okay for, you know, ten or fifteen minutes, like now,” she said, lifting another forkful of her food. “And then everything just comes back down again, and I crash.”

“You know that you don’t always have to be on. You don’t always have to be perfect.”

She stopped, stared. “It’s a damn good thing, since I’m a far cry from being perfect.” Her tone was harsh. She narrowed her gaze at him, and he shook his head.

“You can’t scare me off. I’ve seen way worse than you,” he said.

At that, she burst out laughing. “I don’t know what it is about you, but that sense of humor gets me every time.”

“And here I wouldn’t have said I even had one.”

She chuckled again. “See? It’s shit like that. And you don’t shoot me down for being in a pissy mood, but neither will you indulge it either, so that works.”

“Yeah, we work.”

She glared at him. With some heat this time. And not the good kind.

“Oh no, you don’t. I get that it’s not a conversation for right now, but neither is this a conversation about shutting us down.”

“It was part of my earlier mood,” she snapped. “And it’s something I have to consider.”

“No, you don’t. Remember that part about we’re all good?”

“We’re good, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”

He stared, the anger inside him growing. “What the hell is unhealthy about it? What the hell are you even talking about?”

“I don’t know. I told you it’s a shitty day. Just leave me alone.”

“Happily.” He stood now. “Absolutely. But stop getting inside my head then too.”

She stared at him. “You mean that literally?”

“No, I don’t mean it literally.” He groaned, sat back down. “Why are we arguing?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you didn’t bring enough food.”

He stopped and stared, and, sure enough, she had almost all of it on her plate. And for some reason it struck him as completely funny. When he stopped laughing, he said. “Oh my God. You know what? I didn’t even think about it. It was my leftovers. So I just grabbed it and came over.”

“And it was leftovers, and it was good,” she mumbled, as she shoveled another forkful in her mouth. “But now I feel like shit because I’m eating your food, and there isn’t enough for you.”
Dale Mayer. Simon Says… Ride (Kindle Locations 711-772). Valley Publishing.

Plenty of strangeness to this case, and far more to it than Kate even imagined.

This one kept me at the edge of my seat as the investigation heats up and twists in some very interesting ways. Then of course there’s Simon and his visions that do more than a little for the investigation and the solving of it.

I love Simon and Kate, I just hope she manages to stay with him. They are fun, intriguing and when they come together, they sizzle off the pages.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Winter Blog About Author

Dale Mayer

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

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

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


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Christmas Countdown: Christmas Wolf – Holiday Bundle – Black Mesa Wolves Book 5by JK Harper


Christmas Wolf
Holiday Bundle
Black Mesa Wolves Book 5
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
JK Harper

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Three Black Mesa Wolves Holiday Stories:

Christmas Wolf
Solstice Wolf
New Year Wolf

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Once upon a time, wolf shifter Lia Woolsey fell in love. More specifically, she met her mate and settled down with him in a small town far from the bustling big city she’s always known. But she never thought she’d be the kind of woman to give up everything for a man–not even Connor, the mate of her heart, soul, and body. Five years later, she’s been offered a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity she can’t turn down. Not even if it means leaving Connor behind and shattering her own heart.

Connor Lowe has everything a wolf shifter could want. His place in the Black Mesa Wolf Pack is secure, his deeply committed work as a doctor running a low-income medical clinic fills his days, and his mate, Lia, lights up his entire life. He’s the world’s happiest wolf–but his mate isn’t. And he loves her too much to stop her from leaving to follow her own bliss, even though he knows his days will darken into nothingness each moment she is away from him.

As the frozen longest night of the year approaches, Connor and Lia face an impossible choice…the kind only winter solstice magic might be able to fix before it’s too late.

Lia is leaving Durango for her dream job, unfortunately for Connor that job is across the country.

He knows he has to let her go or he will lose her forever, but this is so very hard and he is going to make this time fun.

This is a favorite scene.

Fun is good, her wolf insisted again, urging Lia to fly faster downhill. Fully giving in to the moment, Lia complied. After all, she had to catch her mate. He definitely, she decided, had something up his sleeve. And the part of her that had been missing his touch really wanted to find out what that might be.

She caught up to Connor as they slipped back onto the groomed slopes of the resort. They slowed their pace as they neared the buildings at the bottom of the hill, which were spitting out more skiers. Sliding into an expert stop just before the little island of plastic deck chairs randomly set out on the snow in front of the small cafe in the main building, where people lounged with drinks in hand as they idly watched others skiing down the slopes, Lia took off her helmet and ruffled her hand through her hair. “Do you want—”

“Lia, watch out!” Connor shouted, looking past her with sudden alarm.

Too late. Someone smacked hard into her with a shriek, sending her tumbling into Connor, who tripped under her weight and fell over backward. They landed in a pile of limbs and tangled skis, Lia’s face pressed firmly into the snow above Connor’s shoulder.

Her body also was pressed firmly against Connor. Despite the fact the man was her own mate, it had been so long since she’d felt his entire body next to hers she inhaled with surprise and a tingle of arousal. Unfortunately, she also inhaled snow, which set her to coughing and choking. Connor struggled to right them both, cursing at his skis.

“Do I need to smack you on the back?” he asked her, his tone half worried, half joking. She heard his wolf in his voice. Always surging to the forefront if he thought she was at all endangered.

“No,” she wheezed, well aware they were giving the bystanders a show. Especially since she was still tangled up with him. After Lia finally managed to breathe normally again, much to Connor’s relief, they stood up. She waved off the vocal worries of the distraught newbie skier who’d lost control on the landing and slid right into her.

“Did you hurt anything?” Connor asked her, his amber-gold eyes a shade darker with his concern as he ran practiced doctor hands over her body.

A light shiver rippled through her at his touch, which was purely professional and detached, if more casually personal than he would be with strangers. Well. This was interesting indeed. Her wolf sashayed through her mind, shamelessly wanting to show Connor her tail. Ahem. “No, I’m fine, I told you,” she said, keeping her voice collected by habit.

Since when had she gotten into that habit with Connor? Right. Since…probably years now. Damn. Twisting her lip with her teeth, she tried to soften her voice as she said, “Let’s just go home, hmm? I think I could use a soak in the hot tub.”

He abruptly stilled his hands on her. She sensed his sudden, keen interest. Mouth suddenly drying, she licked her lips, which made him go even more still. She’d been right. This morning’s little playtime on the mountain was a ploy to get them both into a space they could share together. A mixed surge of hope and the sweet tickle of arousal lifted in her, making her heartbeat kick up a notch.

“Connor?” she asked, her voice suddenly a bit lower than usual. She felt her wolf hovering just below the surface, very intrigued with her mate’s reaction to her, adding the depth to her voice. “Was it something I said?” she added, deliberately making her words sound seductive just to see what that might do to him.

Connor’s wolf leapt into his eyes, which were still covered by his goggles, though he’d taken his helmet off just before they been slammed to the ground. The flood of his pheromones shot out to her, and she inhaled his musky scent with a shivering need that had her wolf pawing for control.

Ah. So her mate had planned this, indeed. The control she liked to hold began melting off as her mate’s intentions carried to her on his increasingly intense, head-rushing scent.

“You’ve been saying it to me all day, Lia.” His voice had dropped as well, the faint undertones of his wolf lending it a rough edge that skittered along all her senses, rousing her to new awareness.

The bone-deep knowledge that she and her mate were going to go home and straight to bed shortened her breath and made her lightly tremble all over. Connor was the only person in the world who could make her lose control, who could make her tough outer shell crack with a single whisper.

Mine, her wolf snarled softly in her head. But she didn’t mean Connor. She meant Lia. She wanted to take over, to guide Lia’s movements through the wilder side. To make Lia let go and roll around with abandon in the moment with her mate.

Now, she thought, caught in Connor’s heated gaze, which she could feel down to her naked skin. Yes. They’d needed this for months now. Badly.

“Home, love,” she whispered.

“Yes,” he said, his eyes promising her things. She could sense his own control being pushed at by his wolf as well.
Harper, J.K.. Christmas Wolf Holiday Bundle (Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance) (Black Mesa Wolves #5) Kindle Locations(1266-1301). Sable Moon Books. Kindle Edition.

Instead of being able to spend Solstice enjoying the festivities with her pack her new boss calls her to start earlier than agreed.

She discovers some very interesting information in all the files they gave her to go through. At the same time Connor makes a discovery of his own.

A fun read with romance, sizzle and thinking outside the box.

5 Contented Purrs for JK!

Omega wolf Ana Lyall knows she is essential to the Black Mesa Wolf Pack, despite being its lowest-ranking member. She knows her place, and she’s content in it–until she met Mason Pearce and he opened her heart. His seductive touch roused her to possessive heights of ecstasy she’d never before felt, and he believes in her more than anyone ever has. But Mason is human and therefore forbidden. Claiming him as her mate would mean his death. Even though it shredded her heart, she walked away and didn’t look back.

Mason Pearce never felt passionately about anything–until he met Ana. She stirred up his wild side and marked his heart as hers. When she inexplicably dumped him, he knew there was more to it than she was telling him. He’s tried almost everything to get her back, with no luck. But then he runs into her during the holidays, and seeing her again clarifies one truth: He won’t let her go again. No matter what it might cost him.

Note:
This is an expanded version of a story previously published as “The Night Before Christmas.” For the most enjoyment, consider reading it after Wild Wolf #4, although that is not strictly necessary in order to enjoy this holiday tale.

Ana knows she has to break it off with Mason. He is human and she is wolf, they can’t be mates even though that’s what her wolf is telling her.

Mason is sure of one thing Ana is his and he will settle this tonight.

This is a favorite scene.

Tall, dressed in a tux like all the other wolves here—except he wasn’t a wolf, he was a human in a dangerous position surrounded by wolves—a thought at which her own wolf huffed at her—he filled it out with his broad shoulders and lean hips and and those muscled legs she could see slightly bulging out in the dark pants. His stance was casual but assured, and he didn’t seem too concerned as he talked to the Alpha. Ana had long ago introduced him to Alpha as her boss, which was the cover story all the wolves used around humans. Since it was also true, no one got upset at having to make something up. Mason had surprised her, though, when he told her his grandfather and Alpha went way back.

Just then, Alpha turned and gestured directly toward Ana, drawing Mason’s attention to her. The entire room faded away, all the noise disappearing under a hum Ana recognized and desperately wished would go away. Desire bolted through her at Mason’s gaze, which speared her with his bright blue eyes even halfway across the large space. Her limbs felt heavy even though she felt light overall. The confusion of it made her laugh a little, even as she felt her breathing shorten.

With a cursory nod good-bye to Alpha, Mason turned and strode to her.

Her wolf rolled in Ana’s mind, welcoming her mate as he prowled toward her. This time, Ana couldn’t argue against the word mate again, too caught by Mason’s clear intentions as he came closer. Humans didn’t broadcast their lust the way wolves did. But lust clearly was on Mason’s mind, and the sweet, enticing wave of it hit Ana straight on, threatening to steal her thoughts and melt her brain. Rooted in place, she didn’t protest when he reached her, caught her hand in his, and pulled her toward the door.

“We’re talking, babe,” he said. “Right now, before I damn well explode right here in front of all your co-workers.”

“Uh,” was all she could get out as he grabbed their coats from the entry way, shrugged his on and helped with hers, and let them outside into the frozen winter night. Feeling a few curious stares on their backs, she didn’t dare turn around. Her thoughts were so fuddled she didn’t know what else to do but follow him. It felt as natural as breathing to be following him again.

Frosted snow crunched beneath their feet as Mason firmly propelled Ana toward her small house, several hundred yards from the main den. The nearly full moon meant they could easily navigate the path without light, although that wouldn’t have been a problem for Ana even if it were darker. Aside from the noise of their footsteps and the blood thrumming in her ears, silence encased them.

Her thoughts whirled, even more confused and excited by the racing antics of her wolf, who hovered very close to the surface. Ana could still sense Mason’s tremendous desire. She could feel its power warming her thighs, settling low into her belly with that deep, pleasurable ache that meant she so desperately needed to be touched. Bowled over by the feelings, she gave in.

One last time, she vowed, trying to ignore her wolf’s snarl at that limited thinking. One last night, and then she could really let go of him.

She had no other choice.
Harper, J.K.. Christmas Wolf Holiday Bundle (Paranormal Shapeshifter Romance) (Black Mesa Wolves #5) Kindle Locations(433-453). Sable Moon Books. Kindle Edition.

Only that one last night turns into something so much more. Now her Alpha merely requests the two of them at his home for his decision on Christmas morning.

Lots of heat between these two and big surprises in this short tale.

5 Contented Purrs for JK


With devoted mate Rielle at his side, disgraced wolf shifter Caleb Bardou is slowly piecing back together his recently shattered life. He’s a fighter at heart–but when he was justifiably stripped of his Pack Guardian status, it about knocked him out cold. Throwing his energy into a successful new business training other shifters to circuit fight with Rielle cheering him on all the way, Caleb has found a new path in life.

Then his arch nemesis unexpectedly threatens to take the shine off their bright new year. Caleb’s answering jab will determine the course of the rest of his life…if only he can overcome a burning anger at his old enemy.

Caleb has made many mistakes, the biggest of which had him removed from being a Guardian of the Black Mesa Wolves. That ruling came down from the Alpha, his father. Now it seems Caleb has found something that helped to not only rein in his temper and impulsiveness, but also gives back. He is competing and training young wolves to fight in the somewhat controlled atmosphere of sanctioned Cage Fighting.

His mate Rielle, is steadfast in her devotion to her mate. She’s been beside him the whole way and is more than just a little proud of him.

As Caleb and his trainee Bran celebrate their wins that have them heading to regional championships, Luke Rawlins a reformed rogue wolf approaches Rielle.

This is a favorite scene.

“Oh, no,” Rielle managed to murmur the second she realized Caleb saw Luke. Her mate’s face went thunderously dark. The kind of expression that usually scared his opponents so badly they tended to lose half the fight right then. Her wolf whined in agitation, circling Rielle’s mind in nervous steps.

Caleb leapt back out of the ring and steamrolled his way right through the throngs toward them. Rielle heard Lily sigh with just a touch of exasperation and felt Kieran stand more rigidly, although neither one moved an inch to prevent the black storm racing pell-mell in their direction.

Luke didn’t move either. There was exactly zero love lost between him and Caleb, although they’d never actually come to blows as far as Rielle knew. Luke was a former rogue wolf, who’d really just been trying to escape his extremely unstable home pack under circumstances that were still mysterious. He was now under the explicit protection of the Black Mesa Wolf Pack, under the direct orders of its Alpha. In fact, he’d shown such undeniable leadership qualities after he’d dropped the life of a rogue that he’d been tapped by Alpha to lead an adjunct pack.

Luke Rawlins, the former rogue wolf and avowed enemy of Caleb, would be alpha of his own pack, so appointed by the alpha of the Black Mesa Pack. And Caleb, who would never be an alpha wolf himself, had been stripped of his own pack role by the very same alpha—his own father.

Rielle and every single other wolf in the pack knew it still rankled Caleb like a weeping sore, despite his otherwise successful efforts to focus his energies and volatile temperament on his training business. She’d managed to keep the two of them apart as much as possible ever since she and Caleb had been mated. Darn it, she’d had no idea Luke was into these fights. Caleb had never once mentioned seeing him at one.

Her wolf whined in even greater nervousness as Caleb barreled down on them. Almost holding her breath, Rielle tried very hard to send soothing thoughts to Caleb through their Pack bonds.

“You will remove your paws from my mate,” Caleb said the second he neared them, his barely checked anger reaching the tense little group before he did. He didn’t even have to raise his voice above the noise of the oblivious crowd. His light blue eyes glowed with the strength of his wolf behind them, which also pulsed out of his already naturally deep voice and sent it throbbing into their heads. He looked, Rielle thought from some slightly awed place far away, like an enraged, ridiculously sexy Viking about to go all berserker. “Now,” he snapped, when Luke didn’t release his light grip on Rielle’s upper arm.

Hmm. Apparently the Pack bonds were not going to work very well at this moment. Rielle thought about reaching out her actual hand to him, but Lily’s almost imperceptible nudge against her side stopped her.

With the tiniest of bows, really just inclining his dark head, Luke easily pulled his hand away from her. He’d barely been touching her. Rielle knew in an instant he’d done it on purpose to provoke Caleb.

Really. Men. To herself, she shook her head, while her wolf gave a small huff of agreement before resuming her watchful glow out of Rielle’s eyes.

A pure wolf growl slipped from Caleb’s throat. The random shifters immediately beside them heard it and stepped away with exaggerated, slightly drunken exclamations of “Ooh, better watch out! Don’t piss off Caleb, yo!”

She felt Lily and Kieran both tense even more in the charged silence between the two wolves facing off.

“What makes you think you can ever touch my mate, rogue?” Caleb’s snarled words were almost hard to distinguish. Rielle knew how much more control he had over his wolf now than mere months ago. But as usual, any perceived threat to her made that control slip a little. Nothing like an overprotective mate to keep the instinctual wolf at the forefront rather than the more rational human.

“Because,” Luke said in that deliberate drawl he sometimes used, “I wanted to see your reaction.”

If steam could come out of Caleb’s ears, it would. Rielle swallowed against a suddenly parched throat. She could feel Lily’s tensed muscles on one side of her, Kieran’s coiled strength on the other. They were prepared, if it became absolutely necessary, to stop her mate from doing something stupid.

Again.

The winter wind outside sent in another chilly blast through the flimsy doors of the club. Rielle shivered in sheer reflex to the situation rather than the cold. Shifters could handle cold temperatures much better than humans, even when in their own human shapes. But the icy blast made the situation seem more fraught with sudden danger. Please, Caleb, relax, she begged silently, imploring him with her eyes.

Caleb’s eyes were granite, his expression murderous. Even the half-drunk shifters nearby sensed the change in the air and abruptly shut their yapping mouths, watching the scene with suddenly wide eyes.

Rielle opened her mouth to say something, anything, to lighten the situation. Before she could, though, the one sound she never expected fell from Caleb’s mouth.

Laughter.
Harper, J.K.. New Year Wolf: A Black Mesa Wolves Holiday Short Story . Sable Moon Books. Kindle Locations (169-213). Kindle Edition.

Luke’s reasoning is much more than just to find out Caleb’s reaction.

Plenty of surprises and lots of sizzle between Caleb and Rielle.

I have to go back now and re-read this series, I’d forgotten how much I like this pack.

5 Contented Purrs for JK!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

USA TODAY bestselling author J.K. Harper lives in the gorgeous southwest, which is a great place to let her imagination run wild.

She is the author of Black Mesa Wolves, Dragon Mates, Wicked Wolf Shifters, and Silvertip Shifters.

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Ugly Truths – Astrid Scott Series Book 2 By Blake Blessing


Ugly Truths
Astrid Scott Series Book 2
By
Blake Blessing

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Four guys. One girl. Dangerous truths.

Now that I maneuvered my parents into giving me the future I wanted, life seems easy. I finally have some freedom to enjoy my senior year without feeling like I’m slowly suffocating under the twisted morals and warped expectations of my parents.

But it’s not long until everything starts to fall apart. The pretty lies that kept my world tied up in a pretty red bow? They’re starting to unravel.

And not just for me. Something’s wrong with Jonah. No matter how I push, he’s not letting me or the guys in to help.
Then there’s the tension between Thatcher and Beck. Not to mention the sudden change in my friendship with Rhys.

How do you stay afloat when the ugly truths emerge from the pretty lies?

After the events at the end of the last book, Astrid can finally do things like a normal teenager, but her life is truly anything but normal.

Thatcher wants to spend time with Astrid like the others do, he’s been hesitant because of his role as her art tutor. He does manage not to put his foot in asking her out too badly.

Now Astrid has effectively eliminated the threat of the cheerleaders that they started because of Trey. However, Trey becomes even more of a problem when he corners Astrid. That puts Rhys’ plans for his future in jeopardy. The thing is while it does matter so does Astrid’s safety and he quickly moves to get Beck, Thatcher and Jonah involved in doing just that.

Jonah becomes somewhat distant due to his aunt’s manipulative boyfriend. He feels he’s between a rock and a hard place with nowhere to turn. Things take an unexpected turn when a couple of goons show up at Beck’s show.

Of course, Astrid isn’t about to let things go and all of them get involved. Including Beck and he isn’t going to be happy about it.

This is a favorite scene.

Thatcher crossed his arms and readjusted his stance. It looked casual, but after spending so much time with him during class and watching him paint, there was a slightly noticeable tenseness along the lines of his shoulders and spine. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You see, Rhys is the golden boy of Silver Ranch. Not only can he skin your asses like a blanched tomato, his father practically owns this town. That would be a bad enemy to make, don’t you think?”

Although I couldn’t see his face, Rhys turned toward Thatcher and I imagined he was thinking, really? Rhys hated the connection to his father, and even more when people acknowledged it as if it made him untouchable.

Thatcher shrugged as if to say, it’s working.

Both men had already started backing away, then ran to the end of the alley where two black motorcycles roared to life. In a blink, they were gone and we were alone. That was close. If either of them tipped even a little bit more into the crazy side of the scale, they’d have tried their hand in a fight.

I ran to Jonah, who was holding his head in his hand, moaning quietly.

“Jonah, are you okay?” I smoothed sweaty hair away from his forehead, but he wouldn’t look at me.

“I need to go.” He mumbled through his fingers.

“Like hell you will.” Thatcher yelled. “What was that? Don’t tell me it was a misunderstanding or a mistake. They were giving you a message. What was it?”

“How do you know it was a message?” I glanced up at Thatcher towering over us, but stayed glued to Jonah’s side. Since coming through the door, maybe three minutes had passed, tops. And we hadn’t really witnessed anything, unless you counted Jonah landing on the door.

“Come on, Astrid.” Rhys crouched down on Jonah’s other side. “They were a motorcycle gang. Did you see their patched vests? The only reason they would pull Jonah, specifically, out of the club was if they were making a point. Delivering a message. And the only way Jonah,” he paused and sent an indecipherable look his way before continuing, “would have left with them, was if he understood what was going on. Or knew them at the very least.”

I gulped. My gut had been telling me for days Jonah was in trouble. But outright knowing it, versus lazily suspecting it, were two completely different things. “Jonah?” I waited until he raised his head and I couldn’t have stifled my gasp if Jesus had commanded it.

One eye was already swollen shut and even under the gritty yellow light illuminating the alley, the whole left side of his face was beginning to darken and swell. It would be one nasty bruise by morning. I lifted my fingers to touch the side of his face, to convince myself tonight had really happened, but he jerked his head away.

“Why were those men out here with you?” I kept my questioning short, on the off chance he actually answered, I didn’t want him to be bombarded and answer only what he chose to.

His jaw flexed but he remained eerily silent.

“Dude, it’s not like you can pretend we didn’t just save your ass. Talk to us.” Rhys demanded.

“Fuck you all. Fuck. You.” He jumped up, swaying to the right and bracing himself against the rough brick wall.

“Come back inside and we can clean you up and go home. My parents are gone for the weekend so you can stay at my place.” I touched his arm and he blindly stumbled away.

He was being ridiculous. The idiot was hurt, and we might even need to take him to the hospital to make sure he didn’t have a concussion.

“No. I’m going home.”

“We need answers, Jonah. How else are we supposed to help you?” Thatcher blocked his way and we essentially had him boxed in on every side.

“Don’t you get it? I don’t want your help. I’m done with this farcical friendship. It was never going to last anyway. Don’t follow me. Don’t call me. Fuck off.” He stormed passed us and disappeared around the side of the building.

None of us moved. I was so shocked and even a little hurt.

“He didn’t mean that.” I whispered. I hoped he hadn’t meant it. But what did I know? It wasn’t like we had this deep bond tying us together.

No one responded, we just continued to stand there in silence.

I tried again. “He’s trying to push us away on purpose. But we can’t let him deal with… whatever is going on, all on his own.” “What about his other friends? Would he lean on them?” Thatcher sounded genuinely curious.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but they each had their own set of friends outside of our little group. Didn’t they? Thinking back, I’d seen him chat to people in the hallways, and work in study groups and other similar settings, but I couldn’t pinpoint a single friend he talked to on a regular basis. He always had lunch alone before me. Alone, alone, alone. He was always alone.

I looked at Rhys, wondering if he was thinking the same thing.

“He has acquaintances at school he runs the debate team and student body government with, but I’ve never actually witnessed him with a real friend.”

“Then he needs us.” I nodded. The decision was made. We’d go after him, show him he couldn’t be a dick and push us away. Then we’d get the details and work out how to solve his problem. And then I’d have a good long lecture with him on how to never again get into this brand of trouble again.

Jonah was insanely smart. What was he doing with those types of people? My mind wandered back to the conversation where Beck tried to tell me what a bad person he was. But he hadn’t had any proof, only biased speculation because of where he grew up. I shuddered to imagine what he would say when he found out about this. No doubt, he knew there was something incredibly wrong.

“I don’t know, Astrid.” Thatcher came to stand directly in front of me, maneuvering Rhys out of the way with his shoulders and hips. “If the local gangs are after him for some reason, you shouldn’t barge into his life right now. They’ll see you and not see an innocent person. They’ll see leverage and a way to make Jonah do whatever it is they want. Or if they don’t want anything, they’ll hurt you just to hurt him. I’m not okay with that.”

He wasn’t, was he? That wasn’t his call to make.

“If I was in trouble, would you leave me to swing on my own because you were afraid of getting targeted?” I raised my brows in challenge. I expected him to say no, but what would I say if he said yes? It would prove just how superficial our friendship actually was. And I would be heart broken. Utterly devastated.

Thatcher’s mouth popped open and Rhys chuckled under his breath.

“She got you there. I’ll help you, Astrid. Jonah’s a good person and if he needs my help, I’ll give it to him.”

Thatcher spun around and squinted at Rhys.“Really? You will help her go against those crackheads, with the possibility that something would happen?” He expected Rhys to agree with him.

Rhys shrugged uncomfortably. “I’m not saying I would put her out there, but there has to be something we can do. She’s right. We wouldn’t abandon her, and we shouldn’t abandon Jonah.”

My heart warmed from his words and some of the adrenaline left my system. There was still a healthy dose of fear for Jonah lingering, but I was comforted that at least Rhys would help me.

“That’s settled. Let’s go grab Beck and get a game plan together. He’s not going to let us interfere easily.”

The door cracked against the wall, and Beck stood in the open doorway, every inch the avenging angel. It was a good look for him. He didn’t know it yet, but he was about to be Jonah’s guardian angel. He had the most information after all.
Blessing, Blake. Ugly Truths: A Contemporary YA Romance (Astrid Scott Series Book 2). Kindle Locations(1184-1245). Kindle Edition.

That turn of events means they aren’t letting Astrid be alone, since her parents are away they stay the night.

Now there’s a rude awakening as we see Astrid’s mother in her true form.

So many OMG moments in this book as the guys become closer and Astrid finds herself falling for all of them.

I am already reading the next book, I can’t seem to stop.

5 Contented Purrs for Blake!

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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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Countdown to Christmas: Thud – Christmas Special: Catnip Assassins Book 8 by Skye MacKinnon


Thud
Christmas Special: Catnip Assassins Book 8
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye MacKinnon

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This kitty loves playing with baubles…

Four years into being a mother, Kat needs a break. She’s barely killed anyone since she gave birth and the panther within her is frustrated. She needs blood, murder and mayhem.

When she’s offered the chance to infiltrate a strange cult’s annual festivities, there’s no stopping her. Along with her three devoted mates, Kat will have to look beyond the holiday cheer to find a serial killer. Not to arrest him. No, to make him her friend.

NOTE:
A Christmas sequel to the bestselling Catnip Assassin series, an urban fantasy reverse harem romance featuring a bloodthirsty cat shifter assassin and her hunky mates. A book to warm you in the depth of winter.

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First let me say that in Kat’s world there are no religions per se.

In this book Kat and her guys are supposed to be relaxing, instead they are restless without their kittens around. Aunt Rose has taken them so Kat can have some real alone time with her guys.

Now Lily is the one now in charge of the business, Kat only consults. When Lily calls with a murder, she’s a bit vague about the cause of death other than to say the weapon is a tree.

The investigation of the crime scene is followed by information gathering at MEOW headquarters with Lily.

This is a favorite scene.

What interests me more is the quick summary about the victim.

Name: Geoffrey Baker
Age: 46
Relationship status: divorced
Profession: Cook

A cook. Not exactly a job that gets you killed. Unless you give a crime boss an overly salted meal, I suppose.  

“Who did he work for?” I shout.  

“Give me a second!” Lily sounds annoyed. Hey, I never asked her to make us tea. She could be sitting here with us. Instead, she’s treating us like guests or clients rather than family. We should have met at our house instead.  

“I’ll have the cats scout out his home,” Ryker says, his eyes fixed to the page. “Maybe they’ll pick up any strange scents.”

“Good idea. If we can’t get more information from his place of work, we can go to his home and take a look ourselves.”

Lily finally returns with a tray stacked with mugs and a chipped tea pot. Since when do I care whether crockery is chipped? I groan internally. I’m turning into a housewife. Worst. Nightmare. Ever.

“Let me do that,” Gryphon offers helpfully. Always the good samaritan. “You tell us what we need to know.”

Lily looks like she’s about to argue, then shrugs and takes a seat. “Alright. He’s a full-time employee at an organisation calling themselves the Womb of the Tree. Yes, you heard that correctly. The others are still collecting info on them, but it looks like they’re some sort of cult. On the outside, they portray themselves as a retreat and self-improvement centre, but everything I’ve seen so far screams cult to me.”

“What do they worship?” I ask. “Are they basically tree huggers?”

“It’s surprisingly hard to find out. I’ve got one of their brochures, but it only talks about going back to nature and how spending time in the forest can help you relax. How it can help in putting one’s life back together. It doesn’t go into more detail. I think we’ll have to do our own research.” She grins widely. “How do you feel about infiltrating a tree cult?”

I exchange a look with the guys. That sounds a lot better than lounging at home with nothing to do. I’m sure we’ll be done by the time the kids return.  

My mates all nod their approval. Lennox looks as if he’s ready to jump up right away. I know the feeling. This adventure can’t start soon enough.
Skye MacKinnon. Thud (Kindle Locations 168-188).

Now infiltrating this cult was interesting to say the least. The whole Father and Mother tree thing intriguing and a bit creepy. Taking tree decorating to a whole new level.

While not a traditional Christmas themed story, this was different, fun and sizzling.

5 Contented Purrs for Skye!

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Skye MacKinnon

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

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

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

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Pretty Lies – Astrid Scott Series Book 1 by Blake Blessing


Pretty Lies
Astrid Scott Series Book 1
By
Blake Blessing

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New town. New school. Same lies.

This is my senior year, and not only have my parents moved me to a new place where I know nothing and no one, they are determined to make me fall in line with the life they want me to have.

Not the life that I want. But what fits perfectly into their world.

I’m looking for any possible way to escape this prison and leave them behind. Which has been harder than I thought.

An opportunity to escape appears. And I’m going to take it. I’m going to use four so-called perfect guys in this new town to make it happen. The ones that have it all, or so everyone thinks.

And they’re going to be my ticket out.

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Astrid is new to Silver Ranch, she’s a senior in high school and likes to stay out of the spotlight. She has a bit of a hobby taking candid pictures that no one seems to notice. What she doesn’t realize is how talented a photographer she is.

As the book opens, we get a glimpse of her relationship with her mother, since she’s forgotten to pick up the chicken for dinner and has to run to the store. It’s while she’s out that she meets Beck who saves her by fixing the headlight she breaks by colliding with a light pole in the parking lot. Although he calls her jail-bait, he will be part of the group that befriends her.

Now we all know there are bullies in high school and staying off the radar with them can be difficult to near impossible. Astrid managed a whole week before she was accosted near her locker. Four jocks approach her with a welcome she doesn’t need or want.

This is a favorite scene.

The door popped open easily and my steps echoed in the hallway as I headed toward my locker. First period was conveniently located next to the library, so that’s where I’d spend the next thirty minutes. I grabbed my books and slammed the door shut.

Shoes squeaking down the hallway caught my attention and I glanced through the strands of my hair. I tried not to be super obvious I was watching but I had just shut my locker. Frayed edges of stray papers were sticking out of my math book, I fidgeted with those so I wouldn’t be the weirdo kid facing the locker.

Four guys in gym shorts and wife beaters were strolling down the hallway like they owned the school. Hell, they probably did. Like every school, the jocks reigned at the top.

Someone said something funny because they busted up laughing, and one of the guys broke away to make some skating motion down the hallway.

“Dude, that party last weekend was killer. You think Remy will be able to host them on the reg?” The guy closest to me asked.

“Her parents are divorced now, so good chance.” Another responded.

“You would not believe the things she did with her mouth.” The first guy moaned under his breath. “Little Remy got some practice somewhere this summer.”

They were passing directly behind me, and my shoulders relaxed, because soon I could disappear into the shelves of books.

A shoulder collided with the locker next to me, scaring the ever-loving crap out of me. I jumped a foot in the air and backpedaled away from whoever invaded my space. Hands clasped my shoulders, stopping me in my tracks.

The guy in front of me leaned against the locker with his arms and ankles crossed, a cocky smirk gracing his lips. Nice, the four jocks decided I was a fun distraction. I’d seen him around. Brent, I think his name was, was a senior. The hands never left my body, instead sliding down to cup my arms. When I glanced up, a red head with a curly fro and gap-toothed grin stared down at me.

“You’re the new girl. What’s your name? Aslin, or Anna, or something?” The red head pursed his lips in concentration.

Note to self. Duck lips was not an attractive thinking face.

“Astrid.” I pulled away from his grasp but he held strong.

“What’s with the flowy pajama pants. Are those the in thing, right now?” Curly asked.

“It’s boho.”

“The training room is empty for a while, want to go with us and get to know each other better?” Smarm smothered his voice like southern gravy over fried chicken.

Like I would ever put out just because I was the new girl. Yeah, no.

“I don’t think so. I have somewhere to be, anyway.” I pulled away again, but the guy’s fingers dug into the meat of my arm. “You need to let go.” My voice lowered to barely above a whisper and my pulse sped up.

“We’re having fun. Want to welcome the new girl. Hasn’t anyone given you a warm welcome yet?” Brent pushed off the lockers.

“No, I can’t say I’ve had a welcome quite like this, and sorry, but I don’t want this one either.” I snark and stomped down on red head’s foot.

“Shit, you bitch!” he released me, and I immediately sidestepped the group, turning to face them.

The other two guys were hanging back looking uncomfortable. No, only the shrimp of the group looked nervous as he glanced up and down the deserted hallway. The other was at least half a head taller than the other three, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. He didn’t look uncomfortable; he was massively angry. His hands were clenched into tight fists at his sides and he was sending giant stabby daggers at curly and Brent.

“Don’t come near me again. Any of you.” I made eye contact with each guy.

Brent and redhead pierced me with a look that said I will end you, shrimpy blushed like he wasn’t sure how he got here. Then there was Ragnar. Not really, I didn’t know what his name actually was, but with his blond hair and blue eyes, he reminded me of a Viking. His thunderous expression also lent to that outcome.

I backed up slowly at first, testing to see if they would follow me. Brent and redhead started to take a step forward but Ragnar punched an arm out, knocking red head into Brent. He muttered something too low for me to hear and shook his head. Then they stopped and whispered back and forth.

Taking advantage of their distraction, I spun on my heels and ran toward the library. Did running make me look like a coward? Yeah, maybe. But I did not like being the center of attention and even more, I hated being the object of other’s jokes.

And those guys, they were trying to one, get some, and two, turn me into the next victim of their games. No thank you.
Blessing, Blake. Pretty Lies: A contemporary YA Romance (Astrid Scott Series Book 1). Kindle Locations (200-239). Kindle Edition.

I love her description of these guys especially Ragnar, he’ll be important later.

At the library we meet Jonah, Student Council President and serious geek. Then we meet her best friend so far, Ryan in art class and their teacher Mr. Music announces an art scholarship. This could change everything for Astrid.

Her parents throw a dinner party for neighbors and we learn a couple of interesting things about ‘Ragnar’ and Red-head from that confrontation. Ragnar’s name is Rhys and redhead is his cousin Trey. Rhys’ parents apparently are important to her father.

Photography is going to be Astrid’s medium for the scholarship competition, and Mr. Music has a professor friend who is lending her equipment. That’s where we get to meet Thatcher, who will also play a part in this series.

I love the way this tale begins, from the not so subtle aggression from Astrid’s mother, to the friendships that form under rather interesting circumstances. To the final OMG did that just happen ending.

I am already reading the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Blake!

Winter Blog More Books

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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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Persuasion – The Abcynians Book 1 by Frances Stockton


Persuasion
The Abcynians Book 1
By
Frances Stockon

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They have lived for centuries. An ancient, secretive race of were-panthers faced with near extinction. To assure their survival they must conceal their identities and abilities, while protecting mankind from an unimaginable, primordial evil.

As an Abcynian Elder, Garrick Forrester has survived wars, plagues, and arranged marriages. Nothing he’s experienced prepares him for the discovery of his mate living in his demesne, or for her resistance.

While aiding a child, Aisley Reeves is rescued by the Earl of Danford, whom a village healer should never dare approach without being summoned. At first, she is fascinated with the dark, mesmerizing lord who tempts her in a way no man has ever done. After he claims she’s to become his betrothed, she balks.

Already fearful her work and red hair might cause some to brand her as a witch, she believes it is best to keep her distance. When Aisley suffers a near mortal injury at the hands of his enemies, Garrick must gain her trust so that he can protect her. But can she trust her life to a man who is far more than…human?

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This series starts in 1453 and moves through the centuries. The jumps are of course because of the extremely long lives of the Abcynian’s and so we meet everyone necessary for peace to finally reign.

Garrick Forrester, Earl of Danford has finally returned home after years away, he’s surprised as he reaches his senses out over his lands to sense the presence of a female who could possibly be his mate. He’s deep in thought when he’s startled by the voice of his friend Lucien Montgomery, Lord Raybourne. Lucien has brought his son Valient to be trained as a knight.

Now this woman who could be his mate is also the healer Aisley. Her parents been Abcynian guards and so knew of the abilities of the Earl. What motivates Garrick to make a move is when she puts herself in danger to save a child from a shyster.

This is a favorite scene.

The villagers relayed their wishes and Aisley stepped back. She could not deny them a few moments pleasure. More coins hit the ground as Sedgewick demanded. Apparently pleased with the villagers, the visitor bowed once again in acceptance.

“Ah, at last my performers will grant your due,” Haywood pronounced. Proudly, he moved to the side.

Both the minstrel and the jester beckoned to the crowd and the curtain before them. Whispers filled the air, but they could not mask the eerie sawing drawing ever closer to the village. Did no one else hear the beast? It sounded as if he boomed from a mountaintop.

“Is someone cutting branches in the forest?” she asked.

“I hear nothing of the sort, Aisley,” Howard said.

Cease, little one, only you can hear me. I am close. Do not provoke the strangers, I will protect you and my tenants, someone said, a man, with a deep, gruff voice spoken so close to her ear, she swore his breath brushed her ear.

Unbidden, the scent of cinnamon tickled her nose, the memory it triggered bittersweet. Her father had always favored it in his porridge, a rarity to be certain, as it’d been a gift from Lord Danford in return for his physician’s fealty.

You like cinnamon, I shall procure some from the kitchens for you by the morrow. Ease your worry, it will be all right. Again, that voice, so compelling, so distinct and male, reached her.

“Who spoke to me of cinnamon?” Aisley demanded, glancing about. The villagers stared back as though she’d gone mad.

“Your attention, healer,” Haywood insisted. “To one and all, I give you living proof of werewolves in England!”

“Werewolves…are you mad, Haywood?” Andrew asked.

“Nay, I tell you true, feast your eyes on a werewolf’s babe.” Sedgewick swept his right hand toward the jester, who sliced a rope and the curtain shushed to the ground.

“Dastard!” Aisley cried as the villagers gasped. A little girl with large, rounded blue eyes stared at them and wept, pleading for love.

“What did you call me, woman?” Haywood questioned, his tone turning menacing.

“It matters not! How dare you cage a child?” she accused, her heart lurching painfully at the site of the girl’s dirt-strewn hair and face. Her eyes were different than most English children, though the fear within them reflected unspeakable cruelty.

“It is for yours and the villagers’ safety, dear lady.”

“Nay, this is an atrocity the likes of which none of us have seen.”

“All should know by now there’s no such thing as werewolves,” Howard said. “You show us an unfortunate child.”

“Can you not see her deformity? She is eight, practically mute with the mind of a babe,” Haywood insisted. “This occurs in the offspring of a werewolf.”

“You speak of what is evil!” Andrew White shouted.

“There is no evil here,” Aisley warned. Talk of evil could spread quickly amongst the villagers. “This little girl is an angel from God, not some mythical creature.”

“Mayhap the healer feels herself capable of speaking for God,” Sedgewick hedged, rounding on Aisley and marching toward her.

“There is nothing wrong in speaking of God.”

“Yet, you are certain you can dispel the existence of evil.”

“Evil is a man who can cage a child!” Aisley accused.

“How dare you speak to me with such disrespect! I see standing before me a woman of flame red hair, freckles, and a dark patch of skin right beneath her chin, one who shouldn’t be so outspoken.” Sedgewick looked at the villagers. “Your healer bears the marks of a witch.”

Unbidden, tiny bumps pricked Aisley’s skin as Sedgewick spoke of witchcraft. Because of her father’s teachings, Danford’s villagers and tenants did not believe a birthmark was the sign of evil. But such talk could sway minds, causing hysteria.

“My father and mother were good, decent Christians, as am I,” she said.

“She speaks the truth,” Andrew added in her defense.

The jester and the minstrel pulled long, sharp daggers from their scabbards. Andrew and others stepped forward to protect the women. Aisley turned away, rushing to the cage.

Realizing she shouldn’t have been so outspoken, she tried reason. “Please, free this child, let me take care of her,” she urged and reached for the door.

“Step away anon,” he sneered. “She was sold to me by a mother who’d have let her starve and has been in my charge for nigh unto three years. She is all but an animal that can only cry and bite if you venture too close. Would you care to see the teeth marks she’s left?”

“Mayhap she cries of hunger and defends herself out of fear. I am a healer. I can take care of her.”

Aisley faced the little girl, attempting to smile, to soothe as best she could from the slight distance. She would love to trace her wispy brown hair back behind her ears and wash away the dirt streaked across her sweet, plump face. Or, provide a warm meal and a safe place to sleep.

“You will be all right, angel,” she said, speaking gently so as not to frighten her further. “I promise to do right by you.” Paying no mind to the rush of voices warning her to stop, she rushed to the cage, seeking a key or a means to open it.

“Healer, take your hand from that door or I will smite you where you stand,” Sedgewick threatened, slamming her from behind into the cold, hard cage.

The sing of a sword echoed in her ear, still she showed no fear even as the stranger grasped her hair and jerked it so hard, her neck nearly snapped. From the corner of her eye, she saw the stranger raise his arm, the gleam of a blade frightening as she waited to die for the girl’s freedom.

“Touch what’s mine, knave, you will face a wrath unlike anything you could comprehend!” A man’s unexpected voice rumbled behind them, a haunting growl emanating all around her, within her.

Released at once, she looked about, discovering a man of considerable height and size for an Englishman hefted Haywood with a big hand wrapped about his throat. The stranger’s feet dangled from the ground, his eyes bulging.

Something within Aisley shifted, awakened, as if sensing her entire world would one day center upon her rescuer. Though she knew it was wrong to look right at a man whose finery marked him as a man of considerable rank, she couldn’t avert her gaze.

There was enough gray light left in the day to reveal his green eyes. Long straight hair fell between broad shoulders in a sleek black curtain. His face, free of beard growth, allowed her to see the sharp arch of his cheekbones, prominent nose, and strong squared chin.

Finding herself staring at his full, masculine lips, she felt an odd flutter low in her belly. There was no doubt that the man was strong, powerful, his bearing so proud she thought he was capable of standing just as he was for hours, mayhap days.

His long, muscular legs were encased in black braies and thigh-high boots. The expanse of his chest was apparent in a silver and blue cote-hardie. Though he’d not given in to gluttony, it amazed her to think such a big man could come upon the villagers without being heard.

As she stared, soldiers on horseback closed in on the common, joining their lord, swords drawn. Aisley knew who’d come to her aid.

The Earl of Danford maintained a lethal hold upon Sedgewick’s throat, and the rumbling growl continued, freezing her to the spot.
Stockton, Frances. Persuasion (The Abcynians). Kindle Locations (167-235). Kindle Edition.

This encounter not only saves the child, but also confirms that Aisley is Garrick’s mate. Although she is not exactly sure she can just accept that.

It also is the beginning of something far more nefarious. Sedgewick teams up with something far more dangerous than he could possibly imagine.

Aisley leads Garrick on a merry chase as he tries to keep her out of danger and eliminate an unimaginable evil.

Plenty of action, romance and sizzle in this book I couldn’t put down.

5 Contented Purrs for Frances!

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Frances Stockton

My love for storytelling began when I created my first fictional characters in kindergarten, convincing my family and friends that Red Henry and Green Henry were identical twin brothers in my school. They were mischievous, rarely did their homework, and even had girlfriends! Years later, I started to write, completing my first manuscript in middle school. I confess the heroine was a cross between a contemporary Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nancy Drew, who’d been dating one of the Hardy Boys, but when I wrote “the end” I’d known I had more stories to tell. Of course, life intervened, but whether I was in high school, working as a Veterinary Technician, earning a degree in history and secondary education, or teaching, I was always writing and reading romances.

Finally, I met and married my hero and moved to New England. Shortly after, I joined RWA and the New England Chapter and have been writing faithfully ever since. I invite you to come and meet the Panthera.

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Her Righteous Protector – Night Storm Book 8 by Caitlyn O’Leary


Her Righteous Protector
Night Storm Book 8
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Caitlyn O’Leary

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Navy SEAL Lieutenant Max Hogan has watched as every single one of his men has paired off. He is beginning to wonder if there is something more to life than just mission after mission.

He is surprised the moment he’s asked to attend the reading of a will and even more surprised when he discovers who has passed away. He was sad this woman he’d had a brief relationship with was dead, but he hadn’t seen her for five years, so why in the world would he be sitting in her lawyer’s office?

Ten minutes later Max is staring at the man, uncomprehending. The lawyer’s words don’t make any sense. His lips continue to move, but all Max keeps hearing is that first sentence.

“Megan wanted you to have custody of your son if anything ever happened to her.”

He has a son?

Once centered around endless missions and keeping his men safe, Max’s life is about to change in ways he never expected. Can he rise to this unexpected challenge, and will he have to do it alone? Or will his son’s guardian turn out to be his closest ally—and more?

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When Max Hogan gets the notification to contact a Chicago lawyer about the will of one Meghan Todd,he’s puzzled. He doesn’t recall the name at all so he puts Kane on it to find out what he can about the woman. His team is called up on a mission, so he doesn’t get the chance to respond to the lawyer.

Even before they go wheels up things get complicated. Kostya Barona, the lieutenant of Omega Sky is waiting in his office. He apparently has information vital to this extraction. While this mission goes pretty smoothly in spite of including the Nuri family along with Lark Sorenson, it’s Lark who will become important later on. I’m also pretty sure Kostya and Lark are going to be a thing.

Returning home, Max finally contacts the lawyer and travels to Chicago. There he gets the official word that Zephyr, the child Meghan gave birth to is his. Although a DNA test would also be done to confirm it.

There’s also the child’s current guardian, Hannah. She’s devastated that Zephyr will be leaving Chicago to live in Virginia with his father.

Max isn’t leaving right away there are many things to settle, including the way he’s attracted to Hannah.

This is a favorite scene.

She looked up at him from under her lashes. She spoke quietly. “We’ve been in limbo, waiting for the test. At least I have.”

She wasn’t making any sense. They’d both known he was Zephyr’s father. But he waited so that she could say what she needed to, in her own time. She pushed her chair back from her desk and clutched the arms, her knuckles turning white.

“I… I…”

What in the hell?

Her eyes started to well up with tears. He turned and locked the door as she gulped in a silent sob. He was at her side in a flash.

Her head dropped and her hands lost their grip. Tears streaked down her face and before she had a chance to slide out of her chair he caught her. She was biting her lip so hard he thought she would break the skin. He knew it was to stifle her sob.

“Hannah,” he whispered. He turned them so that he was sitting in the chair and she was in his lap. He cuddled her close and she clung to his neck, her silent shudders were heartbreaking.

Shit!

How could they have not talked about this? How could he have not realized that she’d been living on a knife’s edge?

“Hannah, you’re not losing him,” he whispered harshly. She wasn’t hearing him. Her grief was absolute.

Max pulled her arms away from his neck, trying to tilt her face up so she could look at him, but her eyes were shut tight.

“Look at me, Hannah.”

Her head shook so wildly, her hair came out of her ponytail.

“Hannah!” He gripped her chin, forcing it up. “Look at me. You’re not losing him. I promise you. He needs you. You’re not losing him.”

She tried to pull away from his hold and turn to the door. “He’ll wake up soon,” she gasped. “He can’t see me like this. He’ll get upset.” Hannah’s voice sounded like she’d swallowed broken glass.

“Hannah, did you hear me? You’re not going to lose him.”

She started to struggle. “I need to clean up.”

“Everything’s going to be fine,” Max said soothingly.

Hannah shoved at him violently. “How! How can it be fine?” she shrieked softly. “How can it ever be fine again?” She stumbled off the chair and shoved the heels of her hands into her eyes. He would have pulled her into his embrace, but she lurched across the room and sagged against the door.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry Max,” she whimpered. He stalked her carefully as she tried valiantly to pull herself together.

How had he fucked up so badly? How?

“Zephyr needs you. I know that. How could you ever think that I would pull the two of you apart?”

She was mere inches away from him and he once again pulled her into his arms. He breathed a sigh of relief as she fell against his chest, but she was still softly keening in pain. She hadn’t heard him.

He bent his knees and cupped her cheeks, willing her to open her eyes.

“Hannah,” he kissed her forehead. “Look at me.” He pressed a kiss to her temple. “Please, Baby, look at me.”

Her eyes fluttered open.

“I was going to talk to you about this. I swear to God, I was going to talk to you about this. I got so excited about being able to tell him about being his dad, I didn’t think about how we would work things out.”

“Talk about what?” the words tumbled out of her mouth.

“Right now it’s important for him to stay here. He has you, he has your parents, he has this house. I’ve talked to my commander. I’m taking emergency family leave. We’re going to figure this out.”

“But eventually you have to go home to Virginia,” she whimpered.

“Zephyr is my priority. He’s our priority. I’m staying.”

She threw her arms around his neck. “Oh my God, Max. Do you mean it?” Her beautiful green eyes beamed up at him.

Her eyes shimmered, her lips were wet with her tears.

“Yes,” he said hoarsely.

“Max,” his name was a mere whisper, and he was lost.

He bent his head and brushed his lips against hers, testing, tasting.
Caitlyn O’Leary. Her Righteous Protector: Night Storm, Book Eight (Kindle Locations 1598-1632).

With the DNA test done confirming that Max is Zephyr father, there is still much to be done. There’s another problem that Max doesn’t know about.

Meghan’s parents have hired a lawyer and are contesting the guardianship to get custody of Zephyr.

I love this book and the way Max works his way into Zephyr’s life, firmly but gently. I also love the way his relationship with Hannah grows in a simmer to sizzle.

I can’t wait to see who’s next to tumble into love in this series.

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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