Deep Beneath – Psychic Visions Book 15 by Dale Mayer



Deep Beneath
Psychic Visions Book 15
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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You might think you know what lurks below,
… but do you really?

A kayaking incident off Seattle’s shores sends Whimsy into a coma, where her nightmares are a revolving repeat of her drowning. She wakes to life on an isolated island, involving her strange savior, two dogs with unique identities, and voices, sounds, emotions that aren’t hers alone.

To a mystery that makes no sense …

Samson heard the cry to save the woman washed onto his shores, and the dogs were already on the job before he arrived. But he had no idea how much impact this woman would make in his life … and his brother’s.

However, the mystery is so much bigger
than him and her …

Plus another element is involved. A research group has been illegally conducting tests on the tectonic plates, … with unexpected consequences … deep beneath.

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This is one of those stories that once you finish reading, you have to stop and breathe. The thing is the tale is not all that far-fetched with today’s technologies and frankly is downright scary.

Whimsy Connor, our heroine, is a newly minted PhD. She’s out kayaking with her fiancé Mark and another couple of friends to unwind before deciding her next step. That’s when all the chaos begins.

A violent squall hits the sound, and no matter how hard Whimsy tries she can’t seem to make it to shore. She loses the kayak and then her lifevest in the turbulent waters. Then the unusual happens, something helps her and she’s hearing voices.

On his private island, Dr. Samson Cartwright not only has a lab where he is studying some strange occurrences within the sound, but it is also his retreat from the boardroom and the city. His dogs King and Queen are as much part of the island as they are his home. The storm has messed with his satellite connections, causing him to stop his work. It’s the sudden pain and screaming in his head that has him running into the storm with the dogs.

This is a favorite scene.

Samson Cartwright fiddled with the dials of his ham radio, trying to get reception but finding only a noisy buzz filling the air. “Damn weather.”

His dogs, King and Queen, barked in agreement. The storm had knocked out the power, and, of course, Samson’s satellite internet was hit-or-miss at the best of times. But given that he was here for as much peace and quiet as possible to do his research, the slow spotty internet was sufficient for his needs. Except for now when, absent the internet, he needed his radio to work for sure.

He rubbed the back of his neck, a pricking there quickly turning to an ache that then slammed into a throb without pausing.

His groan ripped free. He got up, gasping as the cry ripped into his mind. He clasped his head, desperately trying to handle the influx of noise and pain.

Through the din, he heard the urgency. The screams ordering him to obey. Unable to move, he yelled, “Stop!”

But the voice didn’t. It got worse— louder, more demanding— until Samson was crippled, slowly crumpling to his knees. “Stop,” he roared. “I can’t help if you do this.”

Silence finally came.

Samson stood, shuddering as his body slowly recovered. Then, understanding the urgency, he raced outside, thankful he was mostly dressed. The sky was dark, the rain had gone from a light soaking to the ugly promise of so much more. The storm crackled above— the sky would open soon, and walking would be treacherous. Running off an island cliff, lethal.

But he had no choice. The noise in his head started up again. He needed it to stay calm before it killed him as he navigated the rocks. He couldn’t function when that voice took over. The rain pelted his head, blurring his vision, making the rocks slick under his bare feet.

The cliff edge loomed in front of him. The dogs, silent this whole journey, stopped on either side of him. Then turned and headed along the cliff edge. He trusted their senses over his. He could barely see for the gray sheets of rain blinding both his long and short vision, and the lightning cracking overhead gave him a partial but eerie look at his world in intermittent flashes. It was late afternoon, yet it looked like minutes from midnight.

King barked once.

The more dominant dog and the more psychically connected of the two, King led the way to the beach. Queen, her nose in the air, was the better physical hunter. And much more compassionate. The beach was too far away for Samson to see if anything was there yet.

Samson made his way to the outcropping that jutted into the sound. The waves rose and crashed over the rocks, soaking him. The noise was deafening as Mother Nature unleashed her fury at the world, and, boy, was she pissed. He squinted at the angry waves that churned close to him. Then noticed … movement. A darker mass in the water. But was it just something harmless the storm had swept in or something else?

And, if something else, … what? He’d been searching for months now, not finding what he sought.

“Focus,” roared the voice in his head.

“I am,” Samson shouted against the storm, but the wind picked up his words and tossed them behind him. In the distance he heard Queen howl.

She was never wrong.

Samson turned, slipped and slammed into the rocks. He straightened, used the rocks to stabilize himself and moved as quickly as possible toward the beach. There, close to the rocks, a rag-doll form was pushed forward with the tide, then pulled back as the sound refused to give up her prize.

The dogs reached the form first. Both dove into the water, grabbed hold and backed up, dragging the form with them.

Samson hit the beach, running now on sure footing to the dogs’ sides. He reached down and scooped the tiny woman into his arms. Enough water twisted around his ankles that he had to fight its pull to drag him and his burden back into the water. Farther inland on the beach he laid her down. He collapsed at her side, reaching for a pulse. There wasn’t one.

The dogs whined beside them.“And?” the voice roared through Samson’s mind as he started to work on her. Finally she coughed up water several times before collapsing again.

“She’s alive,” he whispered. “Barely, but she’s alive.”

“You need to keep her that way,” the voice roared, splitting the words into white noise as they crashed through Samson’s mind. “She’s important. Don’t lose her.”

For the first time since this latest intrusion had started, the noise in his head disappeared, replaced with a sense of peace.
Dale Mayer. Deep Beneath (Kindle Locations 229-265). Valley Publishing.

As Whimsy recovers there are more strange occurrences, and when they head back to the mainland things intensify.

So much in this book, from theft, to abilities that aren’t easy to explain. As Whimsy’s memories return, there is also an unknown entity.

Her meeting Jamie was fortuitous for Samson, and the relationship between the three of them is both interesting and informative. Although the growing emotions between Samson and Whimsy are destined to become romance.

I am loving this series, and I can’t wait to see what Dale comes up with next. I’m beginning to think her mind is a very scary place to be.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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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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Trouble in Action – Familiar Legacy Book 10 by Susan Y. Tanner



Trouble in Action
Familiar Legacy Book 10
By
Susan Y. Tanner

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REENACTORS, VINTAGE WEAPONS,
and TWO DEAD BODIES!

Kylah West has faith in her horses and her skill to ride them in a reenactment of the Civil War battle of Albrecht Creek. Still suffering from her husband’s suicide, Kylah’s only focus is work. But her concentration is broken when she meets U.S. Marshal Wolf Stockton and the body of a young reenactor is found, shot through the heart with a vintage rifle.

Is it revenge, an accidental shooting, or a hint that opposing forces in the community are boiling over? Those questions turn personal for Wolf and Kylah when her life is endangered. Into the exciting world of stunt riders, tension between the university sponsoring the reenactment and a Cherokee nation tired of being wrongly blamed for everything, strolls Trouble, black cat detective.

Trouble attaches to Kylah when he realizes her vulnerability. He works with Wolf to determine who is behind the murders—and who is attempting to ambush Kylah and her horses as she gives the key performance of the reenactment. As the feline races the clock to keep Kylah safe, he also realizes the two bipeds have another deep need—for each other. He must help solve the mystery while showing his humans the path to true love.

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Kylah is in town for the Civil War reenactment. On her first night she goes out on the town where she meets Wolf. Well sort of, she’s drunk and he secures her back in her hotel.

Trouble is actually with his bi-ped Tammy Lynn, she’s attending a book conference and out and about with authors and friends. When he gets bored he decides to follow Kaylah, just to be sure she stays safe. Tammy Lynn knows he’ll be back so doesn’t worry.

Now Wolf is a Deputy with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, and the morning that little escapade he’s called in to a murder scene. The victim was found by one of the tribe’s children. The unfortunate thing is the murder is on the grounds where the reenactment is scheduled.

This is a favorite scene when they meet face to face again.

“Either Jake or myself must be close to the horses at all times. He sleeps in that trailer so I’m not moving it.”

“I’ve laid things out very orderly so as to avoid clutter and chaos around the fairgrounds. I’m afraid I’ll have to require you to move.”

Kylah looked at Jake. “Hook up and we’ll load up. With luck, we can be home by dark.”

“What – no – you can’t.” Edmunds was brick red now. “I’ll sue for breach. We have a contract.”

She smiled. “Actually, we don’t. I brought it with me and it’s going to leave with me in that trailer I’m about to get moved for you.”

Edmunds hesitated before asking, “Can we speak in private, Ms. West?”

“Sure.” She glanced around. There was no one within hearing distance except Jake and a well-built guy in tee shirt and jeans, wearing dark, dark sunshades. Muscles without bulk, a strong jaw, high cheekbones, and a blade-thin nose. Once upon a time, the description sexy would have popped into her mind. But that was then and this was now. He didn’t look interested in their exchange, probably one of the organizers waiting to speak with the dean. “We can step into the living quarters of my trailer. Excuse us, Jake.”

The dean – and the cat – followed her into the trailer where she gestured toward the bench seat. “You may as well sit down or you’ll end up hitting your head.” She slid her sunglasses to the top of her head, the better to see in the dim interior, and propped one hip against the counter.

He took her suggestion and sat but launched right into his argument. “I’m sure you can understand the need for close attention to detail in an effort this large.”

“I can understand your nervousness about it,” she conceded. “I believe this is your first reenactment. Or at least the first for your college.”

“My wife and I are ardent reenactors and have been for some years. Those experiences as a participant have been invaluable in helping me … us … plan for this event. I can’t have everyone parking wherever they please. We worked weeks on our logistics plan.”

Since he hadn’t asked a question, she didn’t offer anything in response. He frowned at the brief silence. Like so many people, it seemed he didn’t like a vacuum and couldn’t avoid filling it. That almost always worked in her favor.

“I’m paying you a small fortune,” he reminded her.

“You offered me one but then my horses are worth that. And so am I.” When he met her comment with silence, she pushed away from the counter and reached for the door. “Seems we’re not going to move past this impasse. I’m sure you have better things to do and so do I.”

“Wait! Wait,” he repeated the word more quietly. He let out long breath. “Okay.”

“Okay?” She lifted a brow.

“The trailer can stay where it is. But I want that contract in my hand today.”

“I can work with that.” She held out one hand and ignored the reluctance with which he shook it. Some people, men more often than women in her experience, didn’t take defeat with a good nature. Then again, some men didn’t like shaking hands with women, as if that acknowledged them on equal footing. Which they already were.

She opened the trailer door, waiting until he and the cat stepped out before she followed. “So, any particular reason we’re surrounded by law enforcement?” She’d noted a mix of vehicles which appeared to represent everyone from city police to sheriff deputies to university officers. A mix she found very odd.

“There was an unfortunate incident in the area this morning, sometime around daylight.”

“Unfortunate how?”

“A death. Accidental, I’m sure,” he added hastily. “And, even if it proves otherwise, it didn’t occur on the fairgrounds proper. I’m sure you’ll all be safe enough here. But doubtless the authorities will be poking about and interviewing everyone who might have been in the area at the time, including your help and you, Ms. West.”

Before she could speak, a movement to one side of her trailer caught her attention. The man she’d noticed earlier stepped close, coming face to face with the dean. Even from behind the dark shades he wore, she could feel his gaze sweep over her. But it was to Dean Grant Edmunds that he spoke.

“It won’t be necessary for anyone to question Ms. West.” His words dropped into the sudden silence. “I’ll speak with the sheriff.”

“Wolf,” the dean said, “I didn’t realize you were here.”

Kylah closed her eyes as the two talked quietly for a moment. The face hadn’t been familiar but the voice was unmistakably that from the recorded message on the number she’d called earlier. If you’re gonna be dumb, she reminded herself as she opened her eyes and slid her sunglasses back in place. She didn’t finish the thought. She didn’t need to.

She couldn’t have cared less about the curious glance the dean sent her way as he was leaving but she did care about Jake’s lengthier perusal as he stepped to one side to wait for her. Jake kept up with dates, had known that yesterday was tough for her. She didn’t need him fretting about why a man he’d never seen thought he could speak on Kylah’s behalf.

Forcing a light tone to her voice, she smiled at the stranger. “I guess you’ve come for your cat.”

He smiled faintly. “That’s something we’ll need to talk about. He’s not my cat.”

“What do you mean he’s not your cat?”

Wolf suspected she was glaring at him behind those dark shades but there wasn’t much else he could say so he repeated the words. “He’s not my cat.”

She lowered her voice. “Then how did he get in my room?”

“The same way he got in my truck when I took you back to your room.”

She blew out a breath. “I do appreciate you getting me off the streets. Drinking isn’t my thing so I’m sure I made a fool of myself.”

“Not unless you count putting two jack-asses in their place – on the dance floor.”

He could tell his comment gave her pause but when she slid those sunglasses to the top of her head, her action gave him pause. More than that, he took a punch to the gut. In the dark of the bar, he’d thought her eyes were blue or even gray. They were neither. Or both.

For the first time, he could tell she wasn’t as young as he’d thought. Last night, he’d judged her to be early twenties which put her squarely off limits to him. Now he thought early to mid-thirties. Neon had given her beauty a touch of delicacy. Sunlight revealed the strength in high cheekbones and a strong jaw. Still beautiful but far from delicate. And not off limits.
Susan Y. Tanner. Trouble in Action (Kindle Locations 329-382). Kalioka Press. Kindle Edition.

Lots of suspense with Trouble sniffing out clues. I like that Wolf doesn’t doubt his sleuthing abilities.

Kylah’s horses are just as amazing as her riding abilities, I loved the interactions with her foreman and how she doesn’t back down from anyone.

Lots of fun as Wolf sneaks his way into her heart and Trouble solves the mystery all while keeping Kylah safe.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Susan Y. Tanner

Susan Yawn Tanner continues to blend her passion for horses with her passion for writing.

In Trouble in Summer Valley, she introduced readers to the rescue horses of Summer Valley Ranch where they prove their worth in the world of therapeutic riding. In Turning for Trouble, her own rodeo experience brings that rough and tumble world to life. Her third romantic mystery, Trouble in Action, showcases the risky world of stunt riding while giving a glimpse into historical reenactments. Published as Susan Y. Tanner and released by KaliOka Press, these books are part of the Familiar Legacy series written in concert with some very talented authors.

Two of her historical romances, Fire Across Texas and Winds Across Texas, have been rereleased by Secret Staircase Books, an imprint of Columbine Publishing. Soon to follow will be A Warm Southern Christmas, Highland Captive, Captive To A Dream, and Exiled Heart. All were previously published by Leisure Books. Her historical romances will all be rereleased as Susan Yawn Tanner.

Atlas’ Forbidden Wolf – Mystic Wolves Book 7 By Elle Boon



Atlas’ Forbidden Mate
Mystic Wolves Book 7
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Elle Boon

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Joni and Atlas are two shifters from different worlds…

But, when they find each other and realize they’re truemates, nothing short of an apocalypse will stop them from claiming each other.

Joni’s… wolf has been beaten out of her. Her friends have all found truemates. Mystic no longer feels like home, and to top it off, the shifter she knows is her mate has turned tail and ran from her. She’s tired of being the one left behind, this time, she’s going to be the one to leave and find her own destiny even if that means being alone for the rest of her life. However, she finds a crew who not only takes her in, they show her just what it means to stand and fight for herself.

Atlas… has always known his destiny was to become the alpha of the White Bear Clan. At the age of seven he’d not only lost his father; his bear became a beast that his entire family feared. For years, he searched for his truemate, finding her in a tiny package that was sure to set his clan on its ears. By the time he returned to claim her, she was gone.

When Atlas finds Joni with a menagerie of shifters, he’s ready to battle them all, until he realizes they’ve taken her in as one of hers. As his troubles follow him, her new pack fight alongside Atlas and Joni. But when the last shifter falls, will they still have the bond that brought them together?

***Warning*** Contains lots of action, crazy shifters, bears, wolves, and a crazy dragon named Lula along with Fey Queen and her two mates and even…babies in purple sparkly baby carriages “wink”.

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I love the Mystic Wolves but for some reason I have only reviewed the first two. I think it may have been because I inhaled those books and then got busy. Now I have to go back and re-read the rest because this book is awesome!

Joni’s wolf is in hiding of sorts, she can’t shift and her wolf won’t come out. The two of them have suffered so much abuse at the hands of her former Alpha. When Atlas leaves her it’s the final blow. Heartbroken she leaves Mystic and finds herself drawn to Wolf’s Run a small town with kind hearted folks. For some reason she doesn’t sense they are shifters.

Hollis and Annie are the Alpha pair of a motley crew of shifters, all types of shifters. They have helped all of them and are going to help Joni too.

Atlas, had to return home to claim his rightful spot as Alpha and take a mate. What he finds when he gets there is not what he expects and he is thoroughly disgusted with the former Alpha’s mate for even suggesting such a union.

As Alpha he can change things, make them better and best of all take his true mate, Joni. This is not going to be an easy task, his clan is about the White Bear prophesy and the purity of bloodlines and Joni is a wolf.

After an interesting visit with Niall, Lula helps Atlas get to Joni.

This is a favorite scene.

“Lead the way, Joni.” He knew where she’d been staying. Her scent was everywhere, making his bear crazy. However, the strongest place was above the barn not too far from the main house. Luckily for all of them, there were no males, other than Hollis, who he could detect having come and gone from there recently.

Joni jerked her eyes up to his, her green eyes weary. “Why are you really here?”

Her question startled him. “What do you mean? I came as soon as I settled things at home. I’d have come sooner if things weren’t such a shitshow, and I’d have known it was safe to claim you sooner.”

“Bullshit. You could’ve claimed me before you left. You knew I wanted you,” she gasped, covering her mouth with her hand. “Forget I said that.” Joni hurried up the stairs.

He wouldn’t allow her to run from him, not again, not ever. With speed, he swept her off her feet and into his arms, taking the stairs two and three at a time. “Put me down, you big oaf.” She beat at his shoulder ineffectually.

“Sweetheart, you can hit me, bite me, hell, even claw me if you’d like, but I won’t be putting you down until we get a few things settled.” He shifted her so that one hand was free, and he could open the door without breaking it down.

“Does this whole barbarian thing work with the ladies?” she asked, her green eyes shooting sparks up at him.

Atlas tugged her the scant inches closer so that their noses were almost touching, her breath fanning his face. “I wouldn’t know. You’re the first female I’ve ever almost had to kidnap,” he teased.

Her intoxicating scent flared, sweet orange and roses hit his senses, letting him know she wasn’t as angry as she let on. Oh, she was a little upset. There was no doubt about it, but she still wanted him. Now he just needed to prove to her he hadn’t left because he didn’t want her just as badly.

“Glad I’m the first for something,” she grumbled.

He tried not to smile at the tone of her jealousy, but damn, she was so fucking cute and sexy all rolled into one perfect mate. “You’ll be the first and last for many things, Joni,” he assured her, letting her hear the honesty in his words.

“You can put me down now.” Joni squirmed in his arms.

“I like you right where you are.” He let her slide down his body even though it was the last thing he wanted, her slight frame making his much larger one shiver. “See, that was a first. I’ve never felt that for a female, ever.”

Joni turned away from him, marching across the open space. With her back to him, he could see her stiffen. “What was a first, besides the kidnapping thing?”

“I’ve never felt like that from just holding a female. Dammit, Joni, look at me,” he ordered. When she didn’t, he took two steps toward her.

“Don’t, Atlas, give me a second to collect my thoughts. I can’t think with you…so close.” She held up her hand, her back still to him.

“Why?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” she asked, turning to face him.

“Why do you need a second? Why do you want me to stay away?” He knew the last was said with more growl than not, but fuck, he’d spent too long without without her.

“You didn’t seem to have any problem leaving me after we spent weeks dancing around one another. I all but threw myself at you when we were together. You knew I…I had feelings for you, but all the sudden, you were gone, and I was left with this big hole in my life. Once again, Joni was left with nobody to care for her. I was on the outside looking in while everybody else found their other half. I’m done being a—second class citizen. I’ll be damned if I’m your dirty little secret. I get it. You’re the big bad bear who can’t have some fucking female wolf shifter who can’t even shift anymore.”

Atlas watched as twin tears rolled down her cheeks. He couldn’t stand there and allow her to think he didn’t care. Screw her needing or wanting space, his bear was ready to tear things apart if he didn’t have her in his arms again. “That’s not how it was, if you would let me explain,” he murmured once he was close enough to hold her.

Like a wild animal, she beat at his chest. Atlas let her hit him, let her yell until he felt her calm, or run out of energy. Either way, he held her until she couldn’t stand on her own. “Can I speak now, Konese’?” he asked as he settled them on the sofa in the living area, ignoring the creaking of the furniture underneath him.

“If you break Hollis’s and Annie’s couch your gonna pay to replace it.” She rubbed her face against his plaid shirt, her tears wetting the material. “I’ll replace anything I break.” He ran his fingers through her hair, lifting the long locks up to his nose, inhaling her unique scent. She tried to push away from him. “Stop trying to move out of my arms, woman.”

“Some things you break can’t be fixed, Atlas,” she snarled.

He leaned back so that he could see her face. “Goddess, you’re beautiful, Konese’.”

“What does that mean?” She blinked up at him.

“What does that mean?” She blinked up at him.

“Beautiful in Mohican. My clan have strong roots from the Mohicans.” He bent and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

“Like Last of the Mohicans?” she asked.

“The telling of the story is like many things, not quite true. Do you truly think that three men and two women, one disguised as a bear, could truly do so much if one wasn’t truly a bear? And do you think that they would allow the capture of their female, without punishment? In times such as those, it would’ve been best to let them think they’d been killed, succumbing to death on a cliff, allowing them the ability to mourn through human funerals, do you not agree?” Atlas continued to run his hand up and down her back, feeling the tension leave her slight frame.

“So, you’re saying the history books are wrong?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I’m saying that it’s possible the situation wasn’t quite the way it was presented.”

She huffed. “Why are we even talking about this?”

“You brought it up, Konose’,” he reminded her.

“That’s right. Like I said, you can’t fix everything you break with your big bear ass. Let me go.” She took a deep breath.

“Tell me what I broke that I can’t fix. We’ll start there and work my way up, but there’s no chance in hell I’m letting you go, ever again. You’re my truemate, and you know it. You can feel it, just as I can. Why’re you fighting us?” Her anger was making his bear rake at him.

“Seriously? Atlas, you’re clearly an alpha. I’m not even a real wolf, not anymore.”

He gave her a slight shake, careful of his strength. “Listen to me, little one. Even if you were fully human, you’re mine. I don’t give two shits about your abilities. I only know you’re mine.”
Boon, Elle. Atlas’s Forbidden Wolf (Mystic Wolves Book 7) . Elle Boon. Kindle Locations (1603-1654.) Kindle Edition.

So many crazy and interesting things happen with their mating. There’s much intrigue surrounding Atlas’ clan and the feelings within it.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, with action, intrigue, and plenty of heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Elle!

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  Elle Boon

Elle Boon lives in Middle-Merica as she likes to say…with her husband, two kids, and a black lab who is more like a small pony. She’s known for her penchant of dropping F-bombs like a boss, needing coffee before she’s human, and blessing so many hearts, she is going for sainthood.

She’d never planned to be a writer, but when life threw her a curve, she swerved with it, being that she’s athletically challenged and all. She loves where this new journey has taken her. She writes what she loves to read, all things romance, whether it’s erotic, contemporary, or paranormal, as long as there is a happily ever after.

Her biggest hope is that after readers have read one of her stories, they fall in love with her characters as much as she did. She loves creating new worlds, and has more just waiting to be written. Elle believes in happily ever afters, and can guarantee you will always get one with her stories.


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In Two Weeks – NY State Troopers Book 1 by Jen Talty



In Two Weeks
NY State Troopers Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Ryan O’Conner has the world at her fingertips. She’s strong, feisty and has everything she’s ever wanted, except the right man. Jared Blake represents everything Ryan doesn’t want. He’s controlling, overbearing and now he’s moving. Having had a crush on him for years, Ryan decides to seduce Jared. A goodbye thing. However, her plans change when someone starts stalking her. With her life on the line, she turns to Jared for protection and finds the not so perfect man is the perfect man for her.

Restless and bored, NY State Trooper Jared Blake accepts a transfer from his position in Lake George, NY. Jared craves the rush of adrenaline and his current post is too tame. As soon as he moves, his career will take off, but his plans are put on hold when a friend is threatened by a stalker. Jared has exactly two weeks to find out who is behind these treats.

And in two weeks, Jared will lose his heart forever…

I couldn’t resist getting this book. I have lived in New York State and have known a few troopers. They are very awesome people.

In this book Ryan O’Conner has a stalker who is escalating. She lives in the carriage house on Jared Blake’s property. Jared is a State Trooper and also Ryan’s brother Pat’s best friend.

Now Jared has quite a few personal issues, and part of his solution for them is to accept a new position away from Lake George where he has lived his whole life. He’s thinking that distancing himself will solve them.

Ryan on the other hand has had a crush on Jared since she was a teenager. He rescued her from a very sticky situation and he blames himself for not being there quicker. Now that he is leaving in two weeks, she is determined to at least have one night with him.

This is a favorite scene.

Whoever this was knew they had the wrong number, so why did they keep trying? “Buzz off.” She tossed the phone back in her purse.

“Who?” Her brother sat down at the table with a concerned look on his face. Considering everything she and Pat had gone through, she knew that he meant well. But his overprotective ways were almost as annoying as Jared’s.

“No one.” She grabbed a handful of popcorn from the basket. “You hear from Jared?”

Pat’s face scrunched even more. “Why?”

“Because he said he’d be here.” Mindlessly, she raised a single buttered kernel to her lips. Over the past few months Jared had been sending her mixed signals. She’d finally had the courage last night to call him on it.

“Then he’ll be here. Did he put the house on the market yet?”

She shrugged. Finding a new place to live did concern her. Jared charged her next to nothing for rent and she loved the area, even though it took forever to get to work in the snow. “He didn’t say.”

Pat leaned closer. “I know Jared’s move has upset you. But it’s about time you got him off that pedestal you’ve had him on for the last few years.”

“I don’t have him on a pedestal.” She grabbed a napkin, wiped the grease from her fingers, and tried to ignore her brother.

“Come on. I see how you look at him.” He tried to bat her nose with his finger, but she swatted it away.

“Oh shut up, will you? I’m not twelve, if you hadn’t noticed.” She gave him the evil eye.

“Could’ve fooled me,” he grumbled, crossing his arms. “You can’t possibly have real feelings for the man. He’s my age.”

She tossed the napkin on the table. “Of course I have feelings for him. He’s been a dear friend to both of us, or do I need to remind you of everything he’s done.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about. You have to let him go.”

“Get off it. I’m just worried about moving. I’ve lived in that carriage house since I was seventeen.” She waved to a couple of girls she had gone to high school with.

“Didn’t Jared say the realtor was listing the property with a money-making tenant?”

“Jared has no control over what the new owners would charge, or do with me. I’m better off renting an apartment near the hotel in Bolton, anyway.”

Pat took both her hands in his. “You could always come live with Marcie and me.”

“Not.” At twenty-three, Ryan had been living on her own since her brother had married five years ago.

Pat leaned back in his chair and scanned the room. “So, how’d your date go last night?”

“How did you know I went on a date?” She glared at her brother. It seemed she couldn’t do anything without dear old brother and Jared knowing about it. Or having a say in it.

“Jared told me.”

“Figures. He was hanging out on the back patio when Tom brought me home. I have to say the date wasn’t anything to write home about, but thanks to Jared, well, let’s just say I won’t be going on a second one with that guy, ever.” Jared had made telling Tom to take a hike a little easier, but it drove her nuts that he acted more like an older brother than a friend. He had this horrible habit of scaring off her dates before they even began.

“Jared said the guy looked like a moron.”

“He thinks everyone I date is a moron.” She rolled her eyes. “Where is he? He should’ve been here by now.”

“I’m sure he offered to stay late or something,” Pat suggested.

He better not have. She glanced at her watch.

“This week will be hard on him,” Pat said. A sudden sadness washed over his face. “I told him. Too much change around this time of year wouldn’t be good for him, but he’ll never listen.”

“He listens to you, and he’s getting better every year,” she said softly.

Pat rested his hand on her shoulder. “Now that I’m about to be a father, I can have a little empathy for what he must go through.”

“It’s not his fault his son died,” she whispered.

“That’s not what he believes.” Pat rose and pushed the chair in. “Look, I’ve got to get back to the kitchen.” He nodded toward the door. “Jared’s here.”

Ryan rose and stood next to her brother as Jared approached. His broad frame stood well over six feet, and his emerald colored eyes sparkled with mischief. She took in a deep breath, trying to simply smile without letting her eyes roam over his perfect body.

An electric pulse shot up her spine when Jared touched the small of her back. Staring into his jewel like eyes, she swallowed. His full lips brushed her temple the same way they always did when he said hello. It was just his way, but it always sent her ability to speak on a temporary vacation.

He chuckled as if he knew the effect he had on her, then ran his hand across his freshly buzzed head. “Sorry I missed the big surprise.”

“She wasn’t surprised, but she faked it nice,” Pat said. “I’m short-handed tonight, so I’ve got to get going. Don’t you go running off to the western part of this state without letting me get you good and drunk for old times’ sake.”

“You’re on.” Jared smiled wide.

“Come on, Ryan, I’ve got a surprise for you.”

She swallowed, then chomped down on her tongue, making sure she didn’t sound like a schoolgirl when she spoke.

“Jared, you didn’t need to get me anything.”

“Don’t spoil my fun,” he drawled, slipping his arm around her waist.
Jen Talty. In Two Weeks (Kindle Locations 72-117). Cool Gus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Jared’s surprise for her birthday is stunning, but the party doesn’t end on a high note.

This book takes us through Ryan and Jared’s relationship, as it goes from simmer to sizzle and it is also very descriptive crime scenes as Ryan’s stalker escalates.

Plenty of suspects as tensions rise, and Jared’s date to leave town approaches.

I couldn’t put this book down, I had to know everything. This is definitely a series I will be continuing.

5 Contented Purrs for Jenn!

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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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Defending Harlow – Mountain Mercenaries Book 4 by Susan Stoker



Defending Harlow
Mountain Mercenaries Book 4
By
NY Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal
Bestselling Author

Susan Stoker

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Lowell “Black” Lockard, former Navy SEAL, has watched his fellow Mountain Mercenaries settle down with the women of their dreams, but he’s convinced he doesn’t need love. Then he gets a call from Harlow Reese—a chef at a local women’s shelter—and begins to reconsider his decision.

After being continually harassed by a local band of punks, Harlow asks Lowell to give the women of the shelter lessons in self-defense. She doesn’t expect him to take such a special interest in her safety, but he insists on escorting her to and from work, never taking no for an answer. Not that Harlow minds the personal touch…especially when it’s coming from her former teenage crush.

Despite her long history of bad dating luck, seeing Black again makes Harlow rethink her self-imposed celibacy. Easy on the eyes and hard to forget, the man has morphed into an alpha stud. And Harlow may be exactly the type of woman Black is looking for. Making her feel safe isn’t only a duty; it’s a pleasure. But the threats are escalating. The motives are a mystery. And as the danger burns almost as hot as their passion, there’s much more at risk than their hearts.

Harlow has given up on dating, she’s had so many terrible, and some positively atrocious first dates, it’s just not worth it anymore. She ran into Lowell ‘Black’ Lockard as he volunteered at the women’s shelter where she’s one of the chefs. She had a crush on him in high school, but they are both very different now. She had asked for his number since she wanted to take gun safety lessons at his shooting range.

Black was surprised when Harlow calls him, he thought she changed her mind about the lessons. Although he finds out there is something else bothering her. She is being harassed by men near the shelter and so are the women and children who live there.

As the guys start stepping up with more security at the house, Black also steps up his game. He wants to date her but somehow he has to convince her it’s not a date.

This is a favorite scene, the first surprise, ‘not a date’.

She hadn’t slept well the night before. She kept having nightmares about the shelter blowing up and watching from the outside as everyone burned to death inside. So when her alarm went off at three thirty, she was tempted to roll over and ignore it, but had a feeling that Lowell would drag her out of bed if he had to. She could tell he was excited about wherever they were going.

Besides . . . she was curious.

And she was looking forward to whatever he had planned.

It had been a long time since anyone had surprised her with anything. Generally, she didn’t like surprises, but she had a feeling whatever Lowell had up his sleeve would be epic.

She’d told him she trusted him, and she hadn’t lied.

So here she was. Four in the morning, tired as hell, but game for whatever Lowell wanted to do.

Harlow hadn’t had much time to explore the area, so when she finally thought about paying attention to where they were going, she was already lost. The darkness didn’t help her orientation either.

“Can you tell me where we’re going yet?” It was the first thing she’d said other than a mumbled “Good morning” when he’d knocked on her door.

“You’ll see.”

Too tired to complain, Harlow put her drink in the cup holder and her head back on the seat and closed her eyes.

“Sleep, Harl,” Black said quietly.

She felt his hand on her thigh and looked at him. “I didn’t sleep well last night,” she apologized.

He looked upset at her words, but merely said, “I’ll wake you when we get there.”

She wanted to tease him by saying of course he’d wake her when they got to the mystery destination they were headed toward. It wasn’t like he was going to drive her somewhere, then let her sleep in the car while he got out and did whatever. But instead she said, “I’m just going to rest my eyeballs for a bit. I’m not going to sleep.”

He grinned at her. “Okay, baby. You rest your eyeballs.”

She shut her eyes again, and the last thought she had was how nice his hand felt on her leg and how glad she was that he hadn’t removed it.

What could’ve been seconds or hours later, Harlow felt a hand on her shoulder and heard Lowell’s low voice. “Wake up, baby. We’re here.”

Sighing, Harlow sat up and opened her eyes. If possible, she was even more tired than she’d been earlier. She looked out the windshield and blinked in confusion. They were sitting in front of a fairly large building. She didn’t recognize it and had no idea where they were, but a sign over the door said CHALLENGE UNLIMITED.

Running a hand over her face, she said the first thing that came to mind. “Um . . . I don’t like challenges. This isn’t one of those superhuman workout things, is it? Because I’m telling you right now that I’ve never done a burpee in my life, and I’m not about to start now.”

Lowell let out a loud guffaw, and she turned to look at him in surprise. She’d seen him laugh before, but it was a rare thing.

“I thought you trusted me,” he said when he had himself under control again.

“I do. But you also told me that you worked out every morning, and since we’re up at the crack of dawn parked in front of a business with the word challenge in the name, what else am I supposed to think?”

“I’m coming around,” he told her instead of answering the question. Harlow picked up her now-lukewarm coffee—they must’ve been driving for more than a couple minutes—and took a large sip. She figured that she would definitely need the caffeine for whatever Lowell had planned.

He opened her door and held out a hand. “You don’t have to chug that. Bring it with you.”

“You mean they allow coffee in hell?” she quipped.

He chuckled, and once again, the sound went straight to her belly. She accepted his hand to help her out of the low car, then clutched her travel mug in her other hand as he shut and locked the car door before they headed for the entrance to the building.

They walked hand in hand, and he opened the door for her. They entered a brightly lit retail space with everything from bicycles to clothing for sale. She looked at Lowell in confusion, but he simply strode to the back of the room, where a desk of sorts was set up.

“Lowell Lockard and Harlow Reese, checking in,” he told the teenage girl behind the large wooden kiosk.

The teenager greeted them with a smile and said, “Hi! Welcome to Challenge Unlimited. We’ve got a continental breakfast set up in the back room. There are waivers you’ll need to sign, and once everyone checks in, we’ll play the safety video. We should be ready to go in about thirty minutes. If you need to use the restroom, make sure you do so before we leave. You won’t have another chance once we get to the top.”

Harlow blinked. Top? Top of what? She opened her mouth to ask the girl in front of them, but Lowell spoke before she could.

“Thank you. We’ll be ready.” Then he pulled her in the direction the teenager had pointed. T

hey were almost through the door to the back room when Harlow tugged hard on Lowell’s hand, bringing him to a stop.

He turned to look at her, and she almost melted at the concern in his eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing’s wrong. I just want to know right this second what we’re doing here and what’s going on. Why can’t I pee later? And what are we going to the top of?”

Lowell looked at her for a beat, then said, “I’m a little stunned that you don’t like surprises.”

“I just never have. Especially not when it comes to doing something with someone of the opposite sex. It’s never turned out well for me, which you’re very aware of. I’m two seconds away from sitting on that bench over there”—she pointed at an uncomfortable-looking wooden bench along one wall—“and just waiting for you to be done with whatever it is you came here to do.”

“We’re going to be driven up to the top of Pikes Peak, and then we’ll come down on bikes,” Lowell told her without hesitation.

“Um . . . you do remember that I’m, like, the most uncoordinated person ever, right?”

“You don’t actually have to do much other than steer,” he tried to reassure her.

“Lowell, the last time I got on a bike, I was ten,” she told him.

He frowned. “You’re really worried about this, aren’t you?”

“Yes!” she practically shouted. Then took a deep breath. “Pikes Peak is, like, really high. I look at it outside my window at home. I’m going to fly head over heels over the handlebars or something. How fast are we going to be driving—er, biking? I’ll kill myself if I crash at high speed.”

Lowell took her head in his hands. “Breathe, Harl.”

“I told you once that I’m not an outdoorsy girl. I thought you understood. I just . . .” Her words trailed away.

“What?” he urged.

She’d never admit what she was about to say if they were on an actual date. The last thing she wanted to do was admit to something that would turn him off. But since things between them weren’t like that, she threw caution to the wind.

“I don’t want to embarrass you. I saw a few of the others who’ve already checked in milling about.

They’re all . . . athletic looking. Like you. My butt probably won’t even fit on the seat. I won’t be able to keep up with everyone, and then you’ll feel like you have to hang back with me, and you’ll be miserable.”

“Harlow, you could never embarrass me. I’m proud to hang out with you. You’re an amazing person and beautiful to boot. Even half-asleep, you’re exquisite. I thought you would enjoy this. There’s really no athleticism involved. I swear. I saw the bikes we’ll be using, and they aren’t anything professional. They have big, cushiony seats. Hell, you think I like sitting on bicycle seats? That shit hurts a man’s junk. Our balls get all squished and shit. And as far as keeping up, we’ll get on the bicycles at the top of the hill and coast all the way down. It’s not a race, just a nice, easy ride downhill. We’ll be wearing safety gear, and you only have to go as fast as you’re comfortable with. I just figured you might like to do something fun. To get your mind off what’s been going on. But if you really want to leave, we will. I’d never force you to do something you don’t want to.”

Harlow stared into his eyes and could see the sincerity in them. He had a point about the small seats and his manly parts. Thinking about his dick made her feel all squirmy inside, so she tried to distract herself. She licked her lips, and saw his eyes dart down to her mouth before meeting hers once more. She liked the look in his eyes, but she still wasn’t sure about this.

“I’ll make you a deal,” Lowell said. “We’ll watch their safety video, and if you still have doubts, we’ll bail. We can go out to breakfast instead. Then I’ll take you home.”

“But you already paid,” she protested.

He shrugged. “It’s not a big deal.”

Hating that she was being a chicken, Harlow took a deep breath and nodded. “I can do this. I’m not going to wuss out. I just had a momentary freak-out. But if something happens, I get to say I told you so.”
Stoker, Susan. Defending Harlow (Mountain Mercenaries Book 4) (pp. 109-114). Kindle Edition.

Black plans many ‘surprises’ for Harlow in the process of protecting her. So much fun and the whole not dating thing kept made me chuckle every time.

I thoroughly enjoyed her bad date stories, they made me yearn for that HEA.  It was great seeing the rest of the crew while also finding out some surprises, plus learning more about the mysterious Rex.

Lots of suspense, intrigue and a few confrontations with more than one person as they find the instigators. With just enough heat in more ways than one.

5 Contented Purrs for Susan!

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Susan Stoker - Photo Susan Stoker

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


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Hot SEAL, Hawaiian Nights – SEALs in Paradise Book 11 by Elle James



Hot SEAL, Hawaiian Nights
SEALs In Paradise Book 11
Brotherhood Protectors Crossover
By
NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
Elle James

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Former Navy SEAL’s first assignment as a Brotherhood Protector is to secretly guard an Hawaiian cattle baron’s daughter from a kidnapping threat

Jace Hawkins (Hawk) thought he was headed home to Montana after leaving the Navy SEALs, but his first assignment as the Montana-based Brotherhood Protectors is to fly to the Big Island of Hawaii to secretly protect a cattle baron’s daughter. His goal is to keep the lady alive while pretending to be a ranch hand. The ranching is second nature since he grew up on a ranch in Montana. Protecting the daughter is where the challenge lies.

Kalea Parkman has had free rein of the 130,000 acre Parkman Ranch since she was big enough to fit her feet in stirrups. She refuses to curtail her freedom just because she’s had a couple of near-misses with a potential kidnapper. But when a mainlander cowboy hires on as a ranch hand, he manages to shadow her every move. And the man has skills…with the animals…and with her. Even though he’s as sexy as sin, he’s no less annoying.

When attempts to take her increase, the new cowboy insists on spiriting her away to a remote cabin tucked away in the far reaches of the ranch. They must rely on each other to stay alive until the threat is neutralized, while hopelessly resisting a desire that rivals the heat of the Kilauea volcano.

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As Jace ‘Hawk’ Hawkin’s leaves the SEALs, he’s also got a job lined up with the Brotherhood Protectors. Hank Patterson has sent a plane for him, and he expects to be taken to Montana. Surprise!

As he’s boarding the pilot hands him a folder which contains his first assignment. In, of all places, Hawaii. Seems he’s uniquely qualified for this assignment.

The only daughter of the owner of largest and oldest cattle ranch in the US, is being pursued. She has narrowly escaped capture by quick thinking. Kaylea is not one to be caged, not by whoever’s after her and certainly not for her own protection. She’s slipped away from bodyguards before, so the goal here was for her not to know that’s what Hawk is.

This is a favorite scene their first day out.

Kalea was in the barn slinging a saddle over her horse’s back.

Maleko had a gray appaloosa tied to a post. He gave Hawk a nod. “Mr. Parkman said you wanted to ride Pain Killer. We call him PK for short.” The gelding was steel gray except for white stockings and white hindquarters speckled with spots of black.

PK pulled at the lead rope, trying to catch a glimpse of Hawk. He pawed at the ground and tossed his head, as if to say, Bring on your best.

Having ridden broncs in the rodeo, Hawk knew he could hold his own. And if he was tossed from the back of the beautiful animal, he’d get back up in the saddle and show PK he wasn’t afraid.

Apprehensive…but not afraid.

Hell, he wasn’t getting any younger at thirty-three years old.

Maleko handed Hawk a brush and disappeared into a tack room.

Hawk smoothed the brush over the horse’s body, neck and belly.

By the time Maleko returned with a saddle blanket and saddle, Hawk had the horse shining and calm. He laid the blanket over the animal’s back and settled the saddle over the blanket. When he tightened the cinch, PK puffed out his belly.

Hawk left the stirrup up and fit the bridle over the horse’s nose and slipped the bit between his teeth. After he had the straps in place, he returned to the leather strap around PK’s belly and tightened it another two inches. He wasn’t a green cowboy who didn’t know the saddle would be too loose once he’d gotten out of the barnyard. He adjusted the stirrups to a length that would fit his legs and led the horse out into the yard.

Kalea was already outside, mounted and heading for the gate to a pasture. She wasn’t going to wait on him. If he wanted to learn about the Parkman Ranch and what his duties would be, he had to keep up.

Hawk stuck the toe of his boot into the stirrup. As he swung his leg over the saddle, PK spun around. He was ready, holding onto to the saddle horn until his leg was completely over and he sat hard on the saddle. Once he had both feet in the stirrups, he felt at home. Yeah, he’d be sore after a day’s riding, but being back in the saddle was where he’d longed to be.

So, it wasn’t Montana. The lush pastures and blue skies of Hawaii were beautiful, and the powerful muscles of the horse beneath him promised to be a challenge he was prepared for.

Kalea leaned down to unlatch the gate, walked her horse through and paused briefly on the other side. She didn’t walk away, leaving the gate open. Other animals could get through if she did that. No, she had the sense of a cowgirl. No matter how confined she might feel about leading the new hand around, she wasn’t going to risk losing or injuring animals animals just because she was irritated.

Hawk gave PK a gentle nudge with his heels. The gelding leaped forward, nearly leaving Hawk behind. If he hadn’t been as skilled as he was in the saddle, he would have been left sitting on the ground.

Instead, he leaned forward and breezed past Kalea.

The ranch owner’s daughter closed and latched the gate. Then she took off at a trot across the pasture.

Hawk followed, urging PK to keep up.

Challenged by a horse in front of him, PK picked up speed and galloped after Kalea and Pupule.

Soon both horses ran neck-and-neck, one trying to get ahead of the other.

Hawk let PK have his head, the wind in their hair, the ground a blur beneath them.

As they approached another gate, Kalea slowed her horse to a trot then a walk.

Hawk did the same.

Kalea shot a glance toward him, her hair windblown and beautiful, her eyes shining bright. “So, paniolo, you can ride.” She gave him a brief, approving nod. “Perhaps you can get the gate, this time.”

Hawk nudged his horse forward, leaned down and unlatched the gate. PK danced backward. In order to hold the gate open, Hawk had to dismount. When he did, PK jerked his head high and pulled backward, slipping his reins free of Hawk’s grip. Caught between holding the gate for Kalea and catching his horse, Hawk held the gate.

Kalea and her horse moved through the opening, PK lunged, pushing past Kalea and her mount, and raced back toward the barn and house, which had been out of sight for the past fifteen minutes.

Kalea laughed out loud. “You might as well start walking. It takes a while to get back to the barn on foot.” Her laughter followed her as she rode away, leaving him standing there, without a horse and without his body to guard.

“Damn.”

PK had already disappeared over a hill, heading back to the barn.

Kalea was moving at a trot, quickly putting distance between them.

After promising her father that he’d take care of Kalea, Hawk couldn’t go back to the barn. That would leave Kalea unprotected for far too long. The only choice he really had was to follow Kalea and hope he could catch up with her sooner than later.
James, Elle. Hot SEAL, Hawaiian Nights: A Brotherhood Protectors Crossover Novel (SEALs in Paradise) (pp. 53-56). Twisted Page Inc. Kindle Edition.

Trying to keep information from Kaylea is next to impossible, especially since she set him up.After being shot at on their way back from Kaylea’s private little oasis on the ranch. She agrees to pretend they are a couple, and to listen to him where her safety is concerned.

I was mesmerized from the first page, from the travel to the ranch itself to the history of the island and so much more wound into this story. Lots of harrowing moments as Hawk protects her.

I loved seeing Hank and Swede two of my favorite Brotherhood Protectors.

5 Contented Purrs for Elle!

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Elle James Elle James

Award-winning author Elle James grew up as an air force military brat. She received her work ethic from her rock-solid father, her creative streak from her artistic mother and inspiration from her writing partner and sister, Delilah Devlin.

As a former member of the army reserves and a current member of the air force reserves, she’s traveled across the United States and to Germany, managed a full-time job, and raised three wonderful children. She and her husband have even tried their hands at ranching exotic birds (ostriches, emus and rheas) in the Texas hill country. Ask her, and she’ll tell you what it’s like to go toe-to-toe with an angry three-hundred-and-fifty-pound bird and live to tell about it!

Her adventures in the army and air force reserves, and the wild antics of her life on a small ranch in Texas give her fodder for mystery, suspense and humor in her writing. Elle writes gothic, paranormal mystery for the Harlequin Intrigue line and paranormal romantic comedy for Dorchester Publishing. A former manager of computer programming and project management professionals, Elle is happy she now has the opportunity to pursue her writing full time.

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Trouble Under the Mistletoe – A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery by Rebecca Barrett



Trouble Under the Mistletoe
A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery
By
Rebecca Barrett

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MAYHEM MEETS MISTLETOE–

Trouble, the Sherlock of black cat detectives, finds himself in Turnout, MS on Christmas Eve. Teddy Adamson, that heart breaker, has just walked back into Billie Dean Bailey’s life. But more dire happenings are going on under the mistletoe. Who ends up dead and why? Was it the maraschino cherries in the Tizzington sisters’ fruit compote? Or was it something more sinister?

No clue will go unturned by the suave, savvy, and sleuthing black cat! Find out all the answers in this short story of Trouble’s latest escapade in the Familiar Legacy Mystery Series.

Yes I know it’s July but everyone does a Christmas in July don’t they?

Trouble is staying with Billie Dean a cousin of his beloved Tammy Lynn. This time it’s Christmas and of course we need a mystery for him to solve.

Billie Jean works at her father’s used car lot. Trouble is waiting for her time there to be done, when a surprise visitor appears.

This is a favorite scene, through Trouble’s eyes.

I RAISE MY head from the countertop where I lie in languid splendor and a post lunch semi-stupor. Who would have thought I’d be spending Christmas Eve at a used car dealership but here I am, patiently waiting for Billie Dean to call it a day and close up shop.

The jangling of the bell above the door of Bubba Bailey’s Auto Sales draws my attention to the man in military fatigues entering the show room. My whiskers twitch as he zeroes in on first me, then Billie Dean.

Billie Dean reads to the end of the sentence of the novel, places her finger to mark her spot, and looks up. She stands abruptly and the book slips to the floor.

“Teddy.” The name is barely a whisper.

“Billie Dean.” He stops on the other side of the counter. “Merry Christmas.”

“You’re home.”

Well, now, what’s this? Who is this fellow that makes Billie Dean breathless? Tammy Lynn left her in my charge and I take my responsibilities quite seriously. I twitch my tail, waiting to see which way the wind blows.

“So it would seem.” He says

“How…I didn’t know.”

He smiles. “I didn’t tell Mom just in case things didn’t work out.”

Billie Dean takes a breath and releases it on a soft sigh. “She’s happy then.”

“She will be. I haven’t been home yet.”

“Oh.”

The clatter of rapid footfalls on the metal stairs that lead to the upper story gallery and the offices of Bubba Bailey’s Auto Sales draws my attention to Evan Russell, the number one salesman at the dealership.

“Oh,” Billie Dean says again.

I look from Billie Dean to the man she calls Teddy, and lastly at Evan. This could prove to be interesting.

Evan stops in front of Teddy, gives him a quick once over, and extends his hand. “You must be Mr. Higgins. I’m Evan Russell. How can I help you?”

Teddy shakes hands. “Hello,” he says. “But I’m afraid I’m not Mr. Higgins. I just dropped by to see Billie Dean.”

I detect a subtle change in Evan’s expression. So Tammy Lynn’s suspicions must be true. Bubba’s number one salesman is interested in Bubba’s daughter and only child.

Evan indicates Teddy’s uniform with a slight nod of his head. “You active duty?”

“Not today,” Teddy replies.

Evan looks from Teddy to Billie Dean, then back again. When no introduction is forthcoming, he gives another nod. “Well, Merry Christmas,” he says as he walks away and climbs back up the stairs. At the landing, he looks down at Billie Dean and Teddy once more before disappearing into his office.

Into the silence that falls between Billie Dean and Teddy, I rise from my prone position and walk along the counter on velvet paws to investigate the newcomer who renders Billie Dean speechless and Evan pea green.

Teddy runs his hand along my back. Ohhhh, I do like that.

“When did you get a cat?” he asks.

Billie Dean tickles me under the chin. “He belongs to Tammy Lynn.”

“Your cousin?”

“My third cousin once removed.”

“Right.”

I do believe I detect a note of humor in Teddy’s voice.

Billie Dean smiles. “She and Aiden have gone to New York on the Jingle Bell Tour.”

“I won’t ask.”

“They’re staying through New Year’s Eve.”

“So you’re cat sitting.”

Billie Dean laughs. “Not exactly. Let’s just say I feed, groom, and otherwise cater to the wishes of Trouble.”

“Difficult, is he?”

“Not difficult, just determined, and he knows his own mind. Among other things.”

“Sounds like my kind of animal.”

Another awkward silence makes Billie Dean blush and Teddy look down at his boots before giving her a lopsided smile and saying, “Well, Merry Christmas, Billie Dean.”

He turns toward the door and she finds her voice. “You’re coming tonight aren’t you? To the Christmas Eve party?”

He looks back at her. “You want me to come?”

The color in her cheeks deepens and she nods. “It’ll be nice. Like old times.”

Teddy watches her a moment. “Sure. If Mom wants to come, we’ll be there. Same time?”

“Same time, same place. Just like always.”
Rebecca Barrett. Trouble Under the Mistletoe: A Familiar Legacy Short Mystery (Kindle Locations 22-61). KaliOka Press. Kindle Edition.

It’s at the party where things get crazy, and I do mean crazy. With a spiked fruit salad most folks avoid, and plenty of fun. Including a murder.

I did a lot of laughing in this one, Trouble is a character for sure. There’s that romance with Teddy and Billie Dean, that her father wishes was his lead salesman Evan. Yeah so not happening.

Plenty of suspects, romance and suspense. A wonderful short story.

Oh, and rumor has it there’s a new book in this series coming out next week, watch for it!

5 Contented Purrs for Rebecca!

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Coming Soon!


Rebecca Barrett

Rebecca Barrett writes historical fiction, romantic mysteries, post-apocalyptic fiction (writing as Campbell O’Neal), children’s stories, and short stories of life in the South. An avid reader all her life and a product of “front porch” socializing, she became a story-teller at an early age.

Her current novel, Trouble in Paradise, features that handsome, sleek, black cat detective, Trouble. The game is afoot in Key West, Florida and there’s a dead body in the Toucan Suite of the Paradise B&B. This is Rebecca Barrett’s second book in this series written by multiple authors (The Mad Catters) who follow the antics of super-sleuth Trouble as he lands in first one crime scene then another. Of course, the humans help a little. These romantic mysteries are fun and light hearted and just perfect for a beach read or a rainy day.

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