Fall of the Trident -Special Forces: Operation Alpha – Seasoned SEALs Book 3 by KaLyn Cooper


Fall of the Trident
Special Forces: Operation Alpha – Seasoned SEALs Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
KaLyn Cooper

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Can the love of your life happen twice?

Vice Admiral Cade Lister had continued to function for five years after losing his much-loved wife to cancer, but he hadn’t been living. His work hadn’t changed so it had become his life. He went from one command to another, wherever the Navy sent him.

His world was focused on the SEALs he commanded…until the day in his exuberance over a highly complicated operation, he hugged his administrative assistant.

Marta Merkel had been a force to be reckoned in the SEAL world. For over twenty-five years, since her SEAL husband had been killed on active duty, she could make or break a career.

Even though they were single adults past fifty, she worked directly outside his office, controlling his work life.

With years of baggage, could they make this work?

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There is much that is happening in this book, I loved the way it opened with us in the ops room as Dylan’s team is involved in a final rescue mission in Afghanistan. Marta is there along with the commanders as she had just brought in food as things started to go down.

This is a favorite scene.

After passing along the vital information to other teams in the area, Dylan had gotten the woman and her five children on their way to safety. He and the remainder of his team had reconned the school and developed a strategy to rescue all the captured men but needed reinforcements to implement the plan.

Lieutenant Chaney is going places, not just because he’s the father of Evan’s grandson, but he’s a damn good officer.

The door to the conference room opened and Marta Merkel, administrative assistant extraordinaire, at least in Cade’s opinion, slid in with trays of food stacked three high.

The woman was his lifesaver. She certainly knew what she was doing as the civilian assistant to the commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare. Sure, she had worked in that office for over twenty-five years, the last decade at the desk directly outside his office, but the woman knew his job better than he did. He was her fourth NSWCO and regularly shared her experience making him look fucking good.

Marta set the trays on a credenza and had just turned back toward him when Dylan announced, “Blue one-seven alpha, two-niner alpha, and two-five charlie ready and in position. Do we have a go?”

Cade felt her gaze on him. That’s Dylan, she mouthed. May I… She pointed to her feet. He gave a slight nod knowing this wasn’t her first experience watching a team in live action. Her security clearance was equal to his. Besides, as best friend to Evan’s new wife, Genevieve, she personally knew Dylan and his four-month-old baby, Ian.

“Blue one-seven alpha, two-niner alpha, and two-five charlie, you have a go. I repeat, you have a go.”

Everyone’s attention went to a side screen where the eerie green of night vision technology made it difficult to discern images.

“On my count.” Dylan counted backwards followed by an explosion that rocked the building in front of them. Someone pointed to the drone footage that showed explosions at the four outer doors.

The barrage of bullets was so loud Cade felt as though he was in the building with his men.

Shouting in English and Pashto filled the air when not drowned out by the echo of gunfire. It took less than a minute to sort out that every local man was on their lists as HVTs.

What felt like a lifetime later, which in truth was less than six minutes, men moving in a line could be seen through the green haze on the screen. Once outside, Dylan reported, “Blue one-seven alpha, two-niner alpha, and two-five charlie, moving to extraction site. Eight targets down. No casualties.”

The conference room erupted. The four team commanders present leaped out of their seats shouting and pumping their fists in the air. His relatively new Executive Officer, Rear Admiral (lower half) Paul O’Connor, joined in the excitement.

Cade realized he was on his feet when he was embraced in a bear hug by his friend, Captain Evan Hubbard. When the big man turned to congratulate someone else, Cade watched Marta trying to hold in her jubilation, smiling ear to ear. Caught up in the excitement, he turned to his administrative assistant and wrapped his arms around her picking her up off the ground.

“He did it.” Marta threw her arms around his neck. “Dylan did it.”

“Damn straight he did.” Cade leaned back to look at the beautiful woman in his arms. He hadn’t held a woman in over five years. It felt so fucking good. Leaning forward, he placed an excited kiss on her lips.

Heat rushed through him, awakening body parts that had been dormant for years. His cock twitched as it started to fill.
What the fuck? He hadn’t had an erection since his wife had passed away. Not that it was anywhere close to its full size, it had still shocked him.

Setting Marta back on her feet, he made sure she was steady before he released his arms from around her.

Suddenly realizing what he’d done, Cade quickly glanced around to see if anyone had seen him kiss her.

Whew. Everyone else was caught up in their own excitement.

The stunned look on her face made him take a step backward. He couldn’t read her eyes because his gaze was darting everywhere reassuring himself that no one had seen his moment of indiscretion.

He was the fucking commander of all Navy SEALs, West Coast to East Coast and those stationed around the world. It was his job to set an example and kissing his administrative assistant was completely unsatisfactory. Hell, she could stride back to her desk and write up an EEO complaint against him, and rightfully so. He could be court-martialed for several things starting with conduct unbecoming an officer and ending in sexual assault.

One glance back at Marta told him everything he needed to know. She was in shock. She hadn’t moved since he’d let her feet touch the ground. Her fingertips were at her lips as though holding in a scream.

He stepped close enough to her so only she could hear. “Marta, Ms. Merkel, I don’t know what overcame me. I sincerely apologize. I am so very sorry.”

She blinked and it was as though she had regained all her senses. “Don’t worry, Admiral, I’m equally at fault. I was caught up in the moment.” She then smiled at him but it wasn’t her normal admin to boss show of white teeth. “And I’m not a damn bit sorry.” She winked at him before turning on her heel and striding up out of the room with a little bit more swing in her step than he’d ever noticed before.
KaLyn Cooper. Fall of the Trident (Special Forces: Operation Alpha): Seasoned SEALs, Book 3 (Kindle Locations 103-148). Aces Press, LLC

This is just the beginning of things for Cade Lister and Marta Merkel. There’s quite the attraction there and they both get a bit conflicted because of their jobs.

The main plot focus is on those human traffickers, they’ve taken down much of it but haven’t gotten the head honcho. That SEALs were involved and that there are hints of people high up in command have everyone on edge and wanting it all resolved.

Things start coming to a head when Cade travels with Marta to Little Creek to welcome the teams home.

I couldn’t put this book down, there is always something happening that either answers a question or creates a new one. The slow but steady development of the relationship between Marta and Cade is perfect and definitely sizzling.

I can’t wait to see what KaLyn has up her sleeve for her next offering in this world!

5 Contented Purrs for KaLyn!

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KaLyn Cooper KaLyn Cooper

KaLyn Cooper’s romances blend fact and fiction with blazing heat and heart-pounding suspense.

Twenty-two years as a military wife has shown KaLyn the world, and thirty years in PR taught her that fact can be stranger than fiction. She leaves it up to the reader to separate truth from imagination.

She, her husband, and Little Bear (Alaskan Malamute) live in Tennessee on a micro-plantation filled with gardens, cattle, and quail. When she’s not writing, she’s at the shooting range or on the river.


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Black Swan Ladies Book Club

Bullard’s Beauty – Bullard’s Battle Book 8 by Dale Mayer


Bullard’s Beauty
Bullard’s Battle Book 8
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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Bullard’s barely aware of his surroundings, as he slowly emerges from a coma and months of slow healing. He recognizes the general area but not the facilities or the woman attending him. Neither does he remember exactly what happened.

Leia, a gifted surgeon in her own right, hadn’t expected this giant of a man to wash up in the shallows by her beach, nor to call on every trick she’s ever learned to keep him alive. Her instincts tell her to take a leave, to keep him hidden, even as she struggles to answer his questions. The longer he’s with her, the more she realizes how hard it could be to let him go. But he has turned the corner and is healing quickly.

Only the real world intrudes faster than expected, as one of Bullard’s team shows up on her beach, bringing others, who’d been watching and waiting for the team to find Bullard for them—and now swoop in for the kill …

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If you are following this series you know that Dave is checking on reports of unidentified men to find Bullard dead or alive. He’s on his way to a really good possibility on a push from Terkel. Unfortunately Quinn has also gotten a message from the boss who’s been leading them on a wild goose chase around the world. He knows too.

This book opens showing Bullard waking although still a bit foggy and his memory isn’t what it should be. Leia won’t fill in details, she knows only time can bring things back. She’s done the nearly impossible in keeping him alive, that he’s healing so well is a tribute to her ability.

As Bullard gains his strength and memory, his feelings for Leia also increase. When he returns to his world he wants her with him. Leia has secrets too, some that she really doesn’t want to come out.

Leia obliges his request for a phone and the first person he calls is Dave. This is a favorite scene.

“Once you go back to your real world,” she said, “I’ll be a blip on your radar. Just something that happened, and, sure, you’ll remember, but soon it’ll be a distant memory.”

“I don’t want you to be a distant memory,” he said roughly.

“That’s what you say right now,” she said, “but, once you get back to that world, it will be completely different.”

“Maybe,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for you in it.”

“I’m not sure there is though,” she said, “because I don’t know that I could handle it.”

“If you want to get back to your medicine,” he said, “I do have a full-on clinic, with all the equipment you could ever want.”

She frowned. “But I’m not licensed to practice in Africa.”

“And I’m sure we could make that happen, if you wanted it to.”

“I’m not sure I do,” she said. “That was part of the world I walked away from.”

“But you don’t have to keep walking away from it.”

“Maybe,” she said, “but I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of change.” He frowned. “No,” she said. “Listen. My reasons are sound, and I’m just not sure I want to give people a chance to get back at me again.”

“All you’re doing is making it so I’ll have no choice but to look into what happened to you,” he said. “It’d be easier if you just told me.”

“Maybe, but I don’t know that I want to,” she said, pulling away from him. “I’m going for a walk. Please don’t follow me.” With that, she turned and walked away from him.

He stared after her in frustration, trying to figure out what had happened to her. The thought that her medical skills weren’t being utilized horrified him, since he came from a world where there were not nearly enough people with those skills. Those they had were worth their weight in gold. He knew people changed careers all the time, finding they didn’t have the temperament for the type of work they were doing or something else, but, in her case, she had been hurt. He just didn’t know why.

Just then Paolo returned, walking up and handing over a cell phone. He smiled at the newcomer, and Paolo said, “He had it. I had asked him to get it, but I didn’t ask him if he’d gotten it before I brought the fish.” He shrugged, then, with a big grin and a wave of his hand, he disappeared into the trees.

Bullard wondered how that worked. Was it all so nice and simple here on the island? Were people really that trusting? Part of him looked at the phone, wondering if it was being tracked. Were they that sensitive to life? Did they understand what was going on in the greater world, or were they innocent of the ways of deceit? Then again, they weren’t innocent to the ways of money because that’s what made the world go around. They may not have the same need for it that other people did, but most cultures didn’t turn down money when it was offered.

And people would pay if Paolo had something they wanted, such as knowledge of Bullard’s whereabouts. That could be both good and bad because his own team was likely looking for him as well. At least he sure as hell hoped so. He had to hold on to the faith that what was happening was the fight between good and evil, and, as always, he would win that war. It was pretty damn hard to even consider that it wasn’t an option.

He looked again at the cell phone, but his instincts prodded him to quickly take off the back and to look for anything added to it. But, no, it was all clear. He sighed with relief at that. He sat down and noted it had a battery, with prepaid minutes. He didn’t have a clue how many he had or what the charges would be. He also didn’t know how a cell package out here worked or even where the service came from. Thailand maybe. Thinking about the various phone numbers he could call, and knowing that it was important to calculate in time zones, he sat here for a long moment, considering who to call.

Then he started to dial Dave. Just as he was about to punch in the last digit, he froze, realizing that connecting this call would change everything. He looked back in the direction where Leia had disappeared and knew how much change would happen in her world because of this call. He frowned, looking down at the number, and slowly let his finger off the last digit. Was he ready for that? He was stronger, and he was certainly to the point where he could leave. What would he say to the rest of the world out there waiting for him, if he didn’t go back now? Questions would be asked, like why had he held off letting them know where he was and that he was alive, recuperating, and would return as soon as he could. Knowing he couldn’t delay this, he quickly redialed, and, when a voice came on the other end, he spoke. “Dave?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“It’s Bullard.”

After a moment of shocked silence on the other end of the phone, then a roar ripped through it. “Bullard? Dear God, where are you?” he said, breathless. “I’m coming to get you right now.”

“I’m not exactly sure where I am, but I am alive and getting better,” he said. “Recovery has been rough. My memory is finally coming back. I just got my hands on a cell phone now too,” he added. “I’m on one of the smaller islands somewhere in the South Pacific.”

“I’m out here too,” Dave said, excitement and relief in his voice. “My God, after all this time …” He paused. “I’ve been going from place to place, looking for any man who had been picked up out of the water,” he said. “I had one more I was checking on, and I just hadn’t gotten there yet. We were trying to lock down a better location for him.”

“Well, it’s probably me,” he said, with a note of humor.

“I’m coming,” he said. “Can anybody there give me any directions?” As Bullard turned around, he saw Leia standing there, her bottom lip trembling. Immediately he closed his eyes and said, “I’ll get back to you on that. Just know that I’m getting better and that I’m alive. Hey, I still don’t know what happened, do you?”

“There’s a hell of a lot to fill you in on,” Dave said, his tone deep and dark. “Don’t presume that you’re safe even now. Most of the team has been hit as they’ve been chasing leads, trying to figure out what the hell is going on and what happened to you.”

“Well, nobody made it here.”

“No, the team has focused their energies on trying to figure out who was trying to take you out in the first place,” he said. “I’m the one who’s been tracking you down.”

“Ryland and Garret?”

“They’re both alive,” Dave rushed to assure him. “They were also badly hurt in the plane crash, but they’re alive.”

“Thank God for that,” Bullard said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You can’t understand how good it is to hear your voice and to know those boys are okay. The team means a lot to me.”

“And you to them,” Dave said. “You’re sure nobody there can give me information to help me find you?”

Leia must have overheard because she stepped forward and held out her hand. He took a deep breath and spoke to her. “It’s Dave, my best man.”

His wording was strange to her, but she accepted it and spoke into the phone. “My name is Leia,” she said, “and we’re on one of the islands outside of Thailand.”

“Where exactly are you?” he asked. She gave him directions that gave Bullard a much better idea of where he was.

“Did you find and rescue him?” Dave asked.

She handed the phone back to Bullard, then turned and walked away, not answering Dave’s question.

“It’s me again, Dave,” Bullard said.

“I’ll be there tomorrow,” he said.

“Make it the day after,” Bullard said. “I have a little bit of healing to do here yet.”

“I still can’t believe it,” Dave said. “Jesus.”

“I feel the same way, man. It feels like I’m connected to the world again.”

“You are. I promise I’ll be there as soon as I can.” With that, he hung up.
Dale Mayer. Bullard’s Beauty (Kindle Locations 736-800). Valley Publishing.

Little does Bullard know the forces that originally caused the plane to go down are waiting in the shadows and make their move as soon as Dave arrives. Not on Bullard directly but they take Leia.

It becomes a race to not only find Leia but also uncover the identity of the person behind it all.

Full of suspense, secrets, intrigue and some sizzle, you won’t be able to put this book down.

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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See No Evil – The Society Book 1 by Ivy Fox


See No Evil
The Society Book 1
By
Ivy Fox

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They thought they could get away with it, but they are sorely mistaken.
They have been judged. They have been sentenced. All that remains is their execution.
No one goes unpunished. We’ll make sure of it.
We are The Society and all who dare cross us will find their miserable end by our hand.
Don’t be fooled. This is not their story.
It’s ours.

Finn

As long as I can remember, I’ve played by the rules.
On and off the football field, I’ve done everything that has been expected of me.
Until that fatal night.
Now my life and the lives of my best friends hang in the balance, hung there by a sadistic sinister shadow forcing us to do their will.
And it’s just my damn luck that I’m the first to be put on their butcher’s block.
I must prove my worth by eradicating a certain pebble in their shoe.
The order is simple.
To save ourselves, I must ruin another—a life for a life.
Meaning Stone Bennett’s life is about to be forfeited in exchange for my own.
The poor girl never stood a chance.

Stone

He’s all American perfection.
I’m the poster child for this country’s rejects.
He’s old Asheville money and privilege.
I’m the Southie eyesore people stay clear from.
He’s caviar dreams and champagne wishes.
I’m the trailer trash his momma probably warned him about.
I doubt it can get any further away from the elitist’s social spectrum than the two of us.
So why the hell is Finn Walker, Richfield’s football god, suddenly all in my face wanting my attention?
Nothing good can come from this.
I can feel it.

NOTES:
*The Society is an Enemies to Lovers, New Adult College Romance.
*Each book can be read as standalones. However all four books in this series have an entwined subplot, that will only be resolved in the final book.
*Recommended 18+ due to mature language and situations.

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The prologue of this book gives us a hint of what’s to come. We are hearing the thoughts of someone at the funeral of Lincoln’s parents. Those thoughts are of revenge, not sympathy.

It’s the end of summer and the first of the guys we meet is Finn as he pulls up to the mansion where Lincoln lives. We hear his thoughts of a day back in May when all of them got blood on their hands.

He is joined first by Easton who pounds on his Porche, followed a bit later by Colt, Lincoln’s cousin. It’s finally Lincoln who yells at them to join him inside. He’s the one to tell them someone knows what they have done and want them to pay. The black embossed envelope and letter spell it out.

The Society will first put their claws in Finn. He’s to befriend one Stone Bennett only to destroy her later. It’s Easton who finds out enough about her for them to visit her place of employment, Big Jim’s Bar a dive biker’s bar on the South side of town.

This is a favorite scene.

“You’re Stone, right? Finn and I were just talking about how we’ve seen you around campus before,” Easton continues, feeding me a bullshit lie.

Like hell, they have.

Guys like them don’t pay attention to anything or anyone but their own reflection. I’d never be on their radar, so Easton suddenly knowing my name is all the warning I need to know they are definitely up to no good. I’m not sure what their intentions are, but I certainly need to make it clear I want no part of it. I have better things to do than waste my time with two entitled Northsiders looking to cause trouble on my side of town.

Screw that and screw them.

“And?” I quip back, unamused, hoping my resting bitch face is enough to dampen whatever game they’ve got going.

And my friend here is trying to be polite. How about you cut him some slack, huh?” Finn counters, the annoyed scowl on his brow deepening by the second.

“Oh, that’s so cute, you sticking up for your boyfriend. Is that why you boys came here? To hide your love affair away from your mammas and pappas? Chin up boys. It’s the twenty-first century. No one gives a rat’s ass if you like cock or not. Own that shit. I do,” I reply sarcastically, giving them a little wink and blowing a kiss to Finn to annoy him further.

I sway my way back to the bar, the tiny adrenaline from toying with those idiots putting a smile on my face. It will probably be the only amusement I’ll get tonight. But too quickly is my fun tarnished when Finn-fucking-Walker jumps over the bar counter like a stealthy cat, and corners me against the wall of liquor shelves behind us as if he owned the damned place.

“You are something else, you know that, little girl?” he growls, his chest heaving against mine.

Standing up to his full height, Finn really is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, I’m unable to appreciate appreciate all of him at the moment. My neck is craned so far back that the strain of it is actually painful. He’s twice my size, both in height and in width, but if he thinks he intimidates me, he’s got another thing coming. I’ve dealt with far worse than pretty boy here.

“Stone, you okay? Do you need me to pull that motherfucker out of there?” Lamar asks, promptly leaving his post at the door and walking toward the bar, ready to earn his bouncer paycheck.

There are a few curious eyes on us, but none of them are too concerned for my welfare. That’s because they know I can handle shit just fine on my own.

I hold out my hand, halting Lamar’s next step, and with resolve stitched into my expression, I state evenly, “I’ve got this one, Lamar. I’m good.”

Finn lets out a little arrogant scoff but doesn’t break eye contact with me for a second. From my peripheral vision, I watch Lamar go back to his post, all the while keeping one eye on us, just in case I have to tap out and let him deal with the heathen of a man before me.

Never going to happen. Like I said, I got this.

Most of the privileged brats who attend Richfield are all bark and no bite, and Finn is no different. The minute someone stands up to him, he’ll shrivel back into his little shell, running away with his tail between his legs and licking his wounds because a girl from the Southside got the best of him. He has an ego as inflated as his hatred of being challenged. Sad thing is, I’ve dealt with this brand of intimidation before—bullies relying on their size and not their brains to terrorize the weak. Someone should have warned him that I might be small, but I’ve got a damn big mouth ready to sling bricks and stones where it’ll do the most damage.

“Okay, pretty boy. You got my attention. Now what are you going to do with it?” I taunt, not one bit threatened by his size or his imposing form.

Finn’s brows push together on his forehead, revealing his confusion. His perplexed glare isn’t as irritating as witnessing him lose a bit of the angry steam that was fueling his drive.

So disappointing.

He’s already unraveling, and all I had to do was to give him a little nickname. I watch his Adam’s apple bob, his eyes still fixed on mine, and I have to give him props for not taking advantage of peeking down my shirt. Most guys here have gone to far greater lengths to see the goods, so I commend Finn on his restraint at least.

“Cat got your tongue, pretty boy?” I tease him again with his own line, biting my lower lip, triggered by the flicker of the furious fire in his eye ready to lash out.

“You talk too much,” he finally grunts and my smile only grows wider at the poor excuse of a comeback he came up with.

“Oh yeah? And how do you propose to shut me up?” I provoke, unimpressed, but before I have time to chastise him any further, he takes the wind out of my sails when he grabs the back of my head and presses his lips forcefully on mine.

Every other time an asshole dared to put his hands on me without my say so, he’d have been kneed in his family jewels so fast he’d need surgery to see his dick again. But my knee-jerk reaction is nowhere in sight because Finn’s warm lips come as a surprise to me in more ways than one.

His plump, rich mouth dominates my own, his tongue teasing my lower lip in a way that leaves me helpless not to open up and let him take whatever he wants. But Finn doesn’t take my red-carpet invitation as I expected. Instead, he leaves me frustrated, using his teeth to scrape at my lower lip and then extinguish the tiny ache by sucking on it with his full, luscious mouth. His kiss is a combination of both brutish dominance and alarming tenderness. His lips promise wicked, dirty adventures, while his tongue toys with me, hinting that I’m not ready for everything he’s capable of giving.

Well, I’ll be damned. The boy does have some moves, after all.

If this is Finn at his tamest, then I shiver in anticipation at what he’s like at his wildest. When I feel the tip of my toes starting to lift me of their own accord—just so I can lean into his kiss more fully—he pulls away, ending one of the hottest kisses I’ve had all year.

Maybe even ever.

The smoldering look he gives me is enough to build a small fire in my core, leaving me needy for more. I’d rather die than let on he’s affected me so much, so I instantly school my features as best I can to feign annoyance. It’s awfully hard to maintain the charade since Finn seizes the moment by running his thumb over my lower lip, making my tongue ache to come out and play with it. And since shame is not part of my vocabulary, I give in to temptation and wrap my lips around his digit, his throbbing cock immediately responding to the gesture by the way it’s poking at my midsection. With his eyes fixed on mine, Finn lets out a suppressed moan when I finally let his imprisoned thumb out of my hot cage with a loud pop. I’m pretty sure the term ‘panty-melting stare’ was coined from sexy smolders like the one Finn has plastered all over his face.

“See you around, Stone,” he rasps huskily, biting his lip as if restraining himself from stealing another kiss from me.

“I doubt it, pretty boy,” I retort, licking my lips to make sure I leave him just as hot and frazzled as he left me.

The corner of his mouth deviously tugs upward as he leans his head down, low enough that I can feel his warm breath tickle my neck. My face is still cool and collected, but the shiver that runs down my spine is unavoidable. I’m sure the bastard knows he got to me.

“Oh, you’ll see much more of me, little girl. Count on it,” he threatens, biting my lobe so deliciously, my lids shut just so I can relish this one touch.

When sense finally sets in and I open my eyes, Finn is already at the door with his buddy Easton trailing right behind him. The cocky sidekick even has the nerve to throw me a conspiring wink.

Northside bastards.

Hmm. I wonder what that was all about.
Fox, Ivy. See No Evil: A Secret Society Enemies to Lovers College Romance (The Society Book 1). Kindle Locations (871-935). X-Factory. Kindle Edition.

It’s almost amusing to watch these two fall for each other. I love Stone’s snark, she’s not taking anything from anyone.

Finn on the other hand, starts feeling guilty and finds himself deeply conflicted with what he wants and what the Society wants him to do.

There’s plenty of suspense and intrigue as we learn bits of what these guys have done and the way the Society is going to punish them, one at a time.

I’ve already started the second book in this series, I need to know everything.

5 Contented Purrs for Ivy!

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Lover of books, coffee, and chocolate!

Ivy lives a blessed life, surrounded by her two most important men – her husband and son. She also doesn’t mind living with the fictional characters in her head that can’t seem to shut up. Books and romance are her passion. A strong believer in happy endings and that love will always prevail in the end. Both in life and in fiction.

For more news on upcoming projects, get the inside scoop and sneak peeks by stalking Ivy on Social media!

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Simon Says…Jump – Kate Morgan Book 2 By Dale Mayer


Simon Says…Jump
Kate Morgan Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer

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Detective Kate Morgan has settled into her position and, although straining under her new caseload, is working hard. Simon is still a big question mark in her world—and his “gift” even more so. Dealing with a frustrating series of drive-by shootings has brought a three-year-old drive-by case to the forefront …

Simon had hoped that his visions would have stopped, especially now that the police had solved the pedophile murders. No such luck. But these new visions are confusing, chaotic, and nonsensical. Unwilling to share yet more disjointed and meaningless information with Kate, he keeps it to himself. Until he sees a pattern and connects to a woman, … one who is suicidal.

While Kate understands his physical and mental torment, she’s underwhelmed by the lack of detail in his latest visions—until she looks into another issue and finds out that the number of suicides are higher than normal, as in way higher …

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This book opens with Kate at the scene of a suicide, a jumper off the Lion’s Gate Bridge. She notices a pair of heels neatly placed where the woman had jumped and wonders why. Speaking with the officer in charge of the scene they both note that suicides have been much higher this year. With nothing really to be done there she heads out to get coffee in the False Creek area. She’s sitting watching the sunrise when she’s joined by Simon.

While Kate doesn’t understand his psychic gift, and seriously he doesn’t either, there is an undeniable attraction there. They just really need to get to know each other.

This is a favorite scene.

She looked over at this man, someone she was struggling to keep at arm’s length. But the more she tried to do that, the less it worked. After all, she’d found her way to his corner of the world, hadn’t she? As if her body had a mind of its own. She sipped her coffee and studied him over the rim of her cup. “Why are you up so early?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” he said. He spread his arms along the back of the bench, studying her. “Why are you?”

She shrugged. “I was awake already and heard news on the scanner about a jumper.”

He winced. “That’s always tough, isn’t it?” Then his gaze sharpened. “But you’re a homicide detective,” he said. “So surely suicides don’t come under your domain.”

“All unattended deaths are investigated.”

“So you just follow police scanners for fun? Don’t have enough cases now, so you have to go find new ones?”

She laughed.

“You’re just not ready to tell me.” She shrugged. “It’s probably nothing. I guess I’m wondering if there’s anything to be done for the mental health problems we have in town,” she murmured, giving him a partial answer.

He looked over at her, then reached a hand across to cover one of hers. “You know that you can’t help everyone, right?”

“Wasn’t planning on it. Yet I care about a lot of things,” she said, “and kids are number one.”

“Missing kids, you mean.”

She glared at him. She still couldn’t believe she had opened up enough to tell him about Timmy. Then, given Simon’s history, it had seemed like a good idea at the time.

“That’s better,” he said, with a nod. “I was wondering what was going on that made you look so maudlin.”

“I wasn’t,” she protested.

“Were too.”

“Was not,” she snapped back. He left it at that. After a moment, her shoulders eased. He was right. “I guess just seeing another jumper …” she said. “I mean, it’s like there’s one every day right now.”

He looked startled at that. “Is it really that high?”

“Not quite. If I were to count all the bridges on the Lower Mainland, it’s especially bad,” she said. “It seems much higher than normal.”

“Well, last year was bad overall, and this year has been a pretty ugly one so far too.”

“I know,” she said, “and I get that people are losing their loved ones, their businesses, their homes, plus their families are breaking up. We didn’t even need the pandemic for all that to happen, yet just so much else is going on all the time. The pressures of today’s world are immense, and handling it all seems to be a special skill set that a lot of people don’t have. And, all too often, I think drugs and other enabling issues help bring it all down too.”

He shrugged. “And again, there’s only so much you can do.”

“I know,” she said. “A whim sent me down there. I hadn’t been there at that wee hour of the morning in a long time.”

“Why would you ever be in that area at that hour?” he asked in surprise.

“When I was a teenager,” she said, “sometimes I would go sit on the bridge.” He sat back and stared. It wasn’t hard to understand what he was thinking … She shrugged. “I never really considered suicide,” she said, “but I did know several people who had completed the job, and it always shook me to realize that death was the best answer they saw. I’d sit there and ponder what the attraction was. That water is cold, dark, and often rough. What a way to go.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t know.”

“You didn’t know because I haven’t told you. I haven’t told you much,” she said, with a shrug. “It’s not like we know each other.” He snorted at that. “Knowing each other requires taking time to be with each other.”

“You mean, not just screwing like minks when we’re together?”

“Well, okay, that’s pretty damn nice too,” he said. “But getting to know each other, that’s a process that takes time.”

“Well,” she said, “it’s also a process that requires I open up a little bit— and you too.”

At that, his lips turned down, and she nodded. “Right,” she said, “not exactly your style either.”

He frowned. “Maybe,” he said, then turned the subject away from him. “Was there anything different about this suicide scenario?”

“No, not really,” Kate said. “She was pretty close to the shore and got caught up in some driftwood. So, instead of floating past or sinking, she was held right there for the divers.”

“At least her family will get some closure and can lay her to rest,” he said.

“True, yet it still makes me angry.”

“Except anger isn’t the emotion I’m seeing on you right now,” he said. “It’s more what I would call defeated. As in, already too emotionally involved.”

She shook her head. “I’m definitely not,” she said, with half a smile. “But maybe weary. I just turned in which was a long and difficult case.”

“You solved it pretty damn fast, considering.”

“It should have been solved a long time ago,” she said, staring off into the distance. “So many more victims because it wasn’t.”

“And again, not your fault. You weren’t even a detective then. What’s it been? Four months now?”

She nodded slowly. “Four and a half.”

“Well, you’ve already shaken things up in the department and earned a commendation for having done so well.”

“Yeah, and I appreciate that,” she said, “but I wish instead that the kids had been helped.”

“Don’t we all,” he said heavily.

She smiled at him. “See? You’re no better.”

“Hey, you’re the one who’s making me depressed this morning.”

She laughed. “Well, I’m heading off to work anyway.”

“Did you get any sleep last night?”

“I did,” she said, “but it was a …” She shrugged. “It was a rough night.”

He frowned, as she got up and walked away. “You could say goodbye, you know.”

She reached up a hand and, without turning around, called out, “Bye.”
Dale Mayer. Simon Says… Jump (Kindle Locations 105-157). Valley Publishing.

Arriving at the office she gets a strange e-mail. A picture of her on the bridge looking at the shoes. It’s strange and disturbing. Her boss has her open a case file with it just in case it turns out to be relevant.

The other case they are working on is a drive-by that possibly connects to another a few years earlier.

Simon’s first involvement is when the number 13 pops into his head. He has no other reference so he just sends it to Kate. The next thing connects him to the suicides, one of his long time friends has jumped, it both surprises and saddens him.

In this journey we feel both the frustration and intensity of the investigations. Needing to find answers and following every lead regardless of how thin.

I love the way these stories develop and the relationship with Kate and Simon, well, it’s certainly sizzling but Kate really has to come to terms with his visions as she gets a close up look at what’s begun to happen with him.

I couldn’t put this book down and I can’t wait for the next one in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Coming Soon!

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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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Malachi’s Mystic Assignment – Mystic – Hot Hunks Steamy Romance Collection Book 3 by Jen Talty


Malachi’s Mystic Assignment
Mystic – Hot Hunks Steamy Romance Collection Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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Malachi Bale, a Liaison Army Intelligence Officer for Homeland Security is sent to the scenic town of Mystic, Connecticut on a temporary assignment with the Defense Investigative Service to gather and analyze intel on a possible terrorist attack. Malachi is looking forward to the trip. Not just because he’s excited about the task at hand, but because growing up, his family vacation every summer in Mystic. It’s been a good ten years since he spent a summer eating the best pizza on the planet and taking a late-night stroll on the sandy beach with the cutest girl in town. He’d never forgotten Winona, but he never expected to see her again, or that she’d land herself right smack dab in the middle of his investigation.

Winona Lambert lost her father six months ago to a freak boating accident. She knew deep down that her dad had been murdered, but she couldn’t prove it. And now whoever killed him was threatening her if she didn’t hand over the documents. Only, she had no idea what they were talking about. When Malachi strolled into her ice cream shop asking strange questions about her father, and possible connections to terrorists, she realizes she has two choices. She can take her chances with a bunch of criminals. Or she can put her trust in a blast from the past and hope he’s as good at his job as he was at charming her into her first kiss all those years ago.

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Winona Lambert is being threatened. Men who had at one time worked with her father at the CIA want something they believe is in her possession since her father died in a boating accident. The latest threat comes as she’s opening her ice cream shop

Malachi Bale is currently an Army intelligence liaison to Homeland Security, they sent him to investigate intel that could possibly be a terrorist attack in his hometown of Mystic. The link is his ex-girlfriend Winona. However Malachi’s suspects he hasn’t been given all the information. He’s afraid for Winona and her father’s fiancé so he’s going to stay with them while he helps her look for the paperwork or whatever it really is they want from her.

Of course that also leads to a rekindling of their attraction so along with all the intrigue and suspense there’s some sizzle.

I can’t wait to read more of this multi author series.

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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Cyle – Starlight Highlanders Book 3 By Skye MacKinnon


Cyle
Starlight Highlanders Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye Mac Kinnon

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An alien scientist desperate for answers

Cyle is the only Albyan alive who knows who was responsible for their females succumbing to the Sleep: his father. Ever since he discovered the truth, he’s been trying to find a way to wake the females.

He vowed to himself that he’d never accept a mate until he succeeded. But that’s easier said than done when he meets the female of his dreams and his mating instincts kick in.

The only way to stop himself from getting distracted is to push her away – but she has no intentions of leaving.

A human woman strong enough to match him

Before her accident, Beth had everything she’d ever wanted: a doting husband, the house of her dreams, a promising career. Now she’s a widow scarred inside and out, jobless and on the verge of being kicked out of her home.

She only registered at a dating agency because her therapist thought it was a good idea. She didn’t expect to be matched to a kilt-wearing Highlander – especially not an alien. He embodies the chance of a new life, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in her.

It’s time to cheat fate and take her life into her own hands. He will become her mate – even if she has to resort to unusual measures.

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In the last book we saw Eron meet his mate June and all that entailed. We also saw more of Thorrn’s brother the lead scientist Cyle and Thorrn’s mate Jenny.

While that meet and greet was going on Cyle was working, as he always is, looking for more matches. His assistant Vhom didn’t want to even observe that meeting, not wanted to be jealous of those fortunate enough to get mates through the process. Instead he checks on the control sample of females in the sleep. No one expects any change but they must be monitored for any detrimental changes.

Beth has met her supposed mate Obi. She feels no attraction to him, even a kiss was extremely distasteful to her. He gets arrogant and demands she go home with him, but she’s not having any of that. She gets escorted to the hotel reserved for those who want more time to get to know their mate. One thing she’s sure of, Obi is not her mate.

Cyle is dedicated to not only finding mates from the Peritan data provided but also finding a cure for the sleep. Before his father died he told him something that shaped his path, he can’t fail in this and he won’t mate until he accomplishes his goal. He takes Jenny with him to do some scans on Eron and June had as they too had such a strong reaction to each other. It’s while they’re doing that that Jenny gets a message that Beth has runaway. After reviewing the tapes of her and Obi meeting there is concern that he has taken her against her will.

While the authorities are looking for her, a couple of things happen. First he finds there is a second marker in all the successful mate pairs, and when compared to Albyan mates only the male has it. Second Beth and Obi are not mates, which is an overall relief.

When Cyle adds that second marker to the process to find mates, he is matched to Beth. Now he has to explain to her why he can’t mate with her, at least not yet.

This is a favorite scene.

It was the stuff of dreams. Beth was a miracle. Holding her in my arms, kissing her, was more than I could have asked for.

Her slender body fit mine perfectly. We were made for each other. Mates.

But the longer we kissed, the faster my conscience returned. It had been dimmed by the uisge beatha and Beth’s touch, but now it was back, screaming at me to stop.

I’d made a vow. I couldn’t have Beth. Not yet.

The thought of not having her by my side broke my heart. My eyes stung at the same time as my antennae started burning with fury. A single tear escaped, falling onto Beth’s cheek.

She stilled. Our lips were still fused together, but she’d stopped moving, even stopped breathing.

How such a miniscule group of hydrogen and oxygen molecules could destroy everything.

The tear was the signal to stop. This had gone far enough.

“You said forever,” Beth whispered. “And now you’re already changing your mind?”

I groaned. I wanted her so much it hurt. But I had to stay in control.  

“I meant it,” I said, my voice hoarse and dry. “But not yet. Not now. I have to find the cure. Then I can be the mate you deserve.”

She moved backwards, but I didn’t let go of her. I couldn’t.

“And how long will that be? Months? Years? Will we both die before you even find a cure? This doesn’t make sense, Cyle, and you know it.”

She’d said my name. For the first time. I liked how it sounded in her Peritan accent. A little harsher, but I could listen to her saying my name all day long. And all night.  

Not helping. I wanted to push her away and at the same time keep her pressed against me. Now I knew why Thorrn kept carrying his mate around. It was hard not to touch her.  

“I can’t.” I had to force the words out. “If I give in, if I claim you, I won’t be able to focus. You’ll be all that’s on my mind. I want to give you all my attention. I want to spend every click with you. But I have to think of more than just my needs. Our species is dying and I can’t rest until I find the cure.” I sighed deeply. “Until now, I’ve never considered giving up my mission. Know that you make me want to throw it all away. You’re so close to breaking my conviction.”  

Her eyes shone with tears. “I can’t go. I won’t leave you. I only just found you.”

There was no way around it. I’d have to break the delicate thread spun between us.

“You don’t know me,” I said and finally let go of her. I stepped back fast as if touching her would burn me. “This is an illusion, nothing more. We’re more than our genes. We can control this temptation.”

“We,” she scoffed, her smile fading. “You mean you. I have no desire to resist. When I met Obi, I felt nothing for him, but I saw all the other women react to their matches. Their bodies leant towards each other without them even realising. And now that’s exactly how it is with you. I won’t give this up. I won’t.”

“You have to,” I said as gently as I could. “I can’t give you what you need.”

She looked close to punching me. It would be in her right. I deserved it.

Every single male in Albya would be grateful to get a mate. Me? I refused the match. I was an absolute idiot. When my brother found out, he’d have a few choice words to say. And Jenny, his mate… I was scared of her fury. She was a bundle of feminine energy ready to strike whoever went against her and the other Peritan females. She wouldn’t understand. Neither would Thorrn. They didn’t know what our father had done. They didn’t feel the guilt I’d been carrying around ever since I discovered the truth.

My father had been selfish. When he’d burned the lab, himself in it, he’d destroyed all his research. Any data that could have helped me find a cure was gone. I still didn’t understand why he’d done it. End his life, yes. I got it. He’d sentenced our species to extinction. But why destroy the lab? He could have found other ways to kill himself. And he must have known that my mother would die the instant he did. In all the years since that horrible moment, I’d still not found an answer. He’d loved her. I’d expected him to fight for her, not give up on both of them.

“I give you a month,” Beth suddenly said, ripping me from my thoughts. “One month to find a cure. After that, I’m organising the handfasting ceremony and you’re mine.”

“One month?” I echoed. “That’s not enough. It could take years. The data is promising, there might be a cure hidden within you Peritans, but I need more time.”

“One month. Twenty-seven Albyan days. Or wait, I’ll be generous. You get an Earth month. Thirty days. And I’m not saying you have to stop your research after. Not at all. But I won’t wait longer than that to officially become your mate.”

The burning heat in my antennae lessened to a warm tingle. They approved. Was I really going to let these two tiny appendages dictate my life?

I looked down at Beth and decided that yes, I would. Her deal gave me a goal, an ultimatum. A month was different now than it had been a rotation ago. Back then, we’d not discovered Peritus. We didn’t know that there were compatible females across the stars. Now, everything was different.

Maybe I could do this.

Beth was encouragement enough.

“One month,” I agreed. “And we will meet once a day for lunch.”

A smile spread across her face. “Will there be kissing?”

“Are you trying to kill me, lass?”

The smile turned into a wicked grin. “It’s you who’s making me wait. The least you could do is sweeten the deal.”

And I did. I pushed away all doubts and worries and kissed her like she deserved it.
Skye MacKinnon. Cyle: Starlight Highlander Mail Order Brides 3 (Kindle Locations 862-911). Peryton Press.

With that ultimatum Cyle knows he has to find the cure, and Beth gets the other Peritan women to help.

It’s Vhom who brings some information to Cyle after having checked the data on the control group, there had been a change to their brain waves. This is a major break through.

Beth is supportive and being with Cyle isn’t difficult as she makes sure he eats and rests. Oh and the attraction here is not a simmer, it’s sizzling.

I truly love this book and I really want to see more of the Albyan’s we’ve met get their mates.

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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Ruthless Traitor – 82nd Street Vandals Book 3 by Heather Long


Ruthless Traitor
82nd Street Vandals Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Long

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At the heart of it all was a secret and a lie.

A secret we didn’t tell her.

A lie we told ourselves.

Emersyn Sharpe is more than just the girl we watched over. She’s very much the woman who fits us.

The last thing we should have done was take her and the worst thing we did was keep her, but she needs us. I think, more than one of us—myself included—needs her.

The secret wasn’t ours to share and the lie?

I bought into the lie that keeping her was saving her. The lie that persuading her to trust us was needed. The lie that falling in love with her was as natural as breathing.

It didn’t matter if I wasn’t alone in falling into this trap. It mattered that when the trap closed, it put her on one side and us on the other.

Damn and we were so close too…

My name is Vaughn Westbrook and I’ll be damned if I give up now.

NOTE:
RUTHLESS TRAITOR is a full length mature college/new adult romance with enemies-to-lovers/love-hate themes. This is a reverse harem novel, meaning the main character has more than one love interest. This is book three in the series.

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The first thing I have to say here is if you haven’t read the first two books STOP and go read them first!

This books does start where Vicious Rebel ended, but not right away. You see we need to know about Milo (Raptor) and Ivy (Emersyn), the guys and how they came to be such a unit, and Emersyn’s past as well.

All these things are interspersed perfectly with the present and make this book full of so much emotion. Emersyn is not only dealing with the possibility of a brother but Milo separates her from the others by sending her to Liam’s.

I love Miss Stephanie, she was instrumental in these boys staying together as they went through the system. That she’s also Doc’s sister was an interesting twist.

We meet Emersyn’s best friend Elaine ‘Lainey’ Benedict in flashbacks and in current texts. She’s pretty much the only one Emersyn trusts without reservation.

Two other people we meet are Lainey’s step-brother Adam Reed and his friend/sidekick Ezra Graham. These two are very important in that they are part of the reason Liam is not ‘with’ the Vandals.

There’s just so much going on with the guys and Liam that Emersyn gets isolated again, something she hates. Getting to see them really becomes something to fight for.

My favorite scene doesn’t have Emersyn in it but it is about her.

Squaring his shoulders, Freddie put his hands on his hips. While he was probably the leanest of all of us and a good two inches shorter than Milo, he lifted his chin and stared at him.

“Let’s start with how you’re treating Boo-Boo.”

Oh. Fuck.

Instead of blowing up, like he’d done just about any other time Emersyn had been mentioned, Milo just stared at him as he sipped his coffee and waited.

“She belongs here, not at Liam’s. She belongs with people who care about her— not saying Liam doesn’t—” Right on cue, Jasper let out an exasperated growl and Vaughn ground his teeth. Rome snorted again and when he caught me looking at him, he just gave a shrug. “The point is,” Freddie pressed on, ignoring the responses he’d gotten so far. “Boo-Boo is one of us. You may not like it, but that doesn’t change facts. You didn’t want me to be one of us either, but look how delightful I make life.”

Milo held up a single finger and Freddie paused. “I’ve never said you weren’t one of us. The only thing I ever wanted for you was for you to be safe and to make safe choices.”

The silence grew taut for a moment, then Freddie relaxed a fraction and spread his hands.

“Fine, I’ll accept that. But there were plenty of times when it felt like you didn’t want me.” That was news to me and apparently to Milo, but not Jasper, who just pulled out a cigarette and lit it. The flame illuminated his bruised face. Fuck that made me hurt for him. He and Raptor had fought every single fucking day, until the last two.

If nothing else, having someone to torture seemed to be bonding them again. Maybe we should pick up a spare, in case we needed it after this one expired.

“Boo-Boo has been alone for way too long and fuck knows Liam is not the most entertaining guy. No offense, Rome,” he said over his shoulder and Rome just shrugged.

“None taken.”

I couldn’t help it a chuckle escaped me. “See,” Freddie said, pointing at me. “I’m entertaining. Vaughn is entertaining. Even Jasper, when he’s not being a grumpy puss, is entertaining. Liam’s just a dick. No offense, Rome.”

The twin in question just flipped him off, but there was a hint of a smile around his mouth. A door creaked open on the far side of the warehouse and Doc stepped in out of the sunshine.

“The point is, here, Boo-Boo is with more of us. She’s not stuck locked up all by herself, which for your information she hates. She hated it here. She’s going to hate it there. For a second thing, we were getting her up to speed on movies. Do you have any idea of how many movies she hasn’t seen? Dude, she didn’t even know what Lord of the Rings was until we watched it. She doesn’t like horror movies, but she will watch them if we warn her about the bloody parts.” Freddie made a face then grinned. “Though, I don’t think it bothers her as much as she says it does.”

“No,” Vaughn said, agreeing with Freddie. “She always peeks between her fingers or hides behind one of us and watches over our shoulder.”

Jasper huffed a laugh. “Or uses one of our hands to hide her eyes and then peeks around it.”

“Exactly,” Freddie said. “And when she’s here, there’s real food and she’s trying to learn to cook. She’s absolutely horrible at it.”

Hey… “She is not,” I argued. “She’s never had anyone show her how before. She grew up with servants. What the hell do we expect?”

“A really prissy bitch who couldn’t be bothered to do dishes,” Freddie countered and he faced me instead of Milo when he said that, and it was a good thing. Cause at the words ‘prissy bitch’ Milo’s face turned to the thunder. “But she’s not. She likes trying to figure things out.”

“Yeah,” I admitted with a sigh. “She does. She almost had scrambled eggs down.” Which had been kind of cool. I liked that she listened when I showed her how to do things. She didn’t argue that there had to be another way. “It was the same when she came to the shop. She’s never seen the inside of engine before.”

Her excitement had been a delight.

“She likes painting,” Rome admitted and that pulled everyone’s attention. “Not doing it. She liked watching me do it. She doesn’t ask a lot of questions, even when she wants to. She adjusts to the people around her. Like she doesn’t need me to tell her I prefer it quiet when I work, she’s just peaceful.”

Milo frowned.

“She is curious when she has questions though,” I said. “If she thinks we’ll answer, she’ll ask.”

“And she’s fun,” Freddie pointed out. “Boo-Boo works hard even here, she trained in the studio every day after her bruises and broken bones healed. She watches what she eats. A little too much, but she’s not fussy if we don’t have what she wants. I mean, we’d get her anything, but she doesn’t ask.”

“Except when there are too many carbs,” Vaughn grumbled and Jasper snorted, then even he nodded.

“I swear to fuck— if it has too many carbs, and she adds an hour to her workout or more. It makes me fucking tired watching her.”

“Liar,” Freddie said, calling Jasper out. “You’re a greedy fuck about watching her dance. You don’t want to let the rest of us, but you went in there all the time.”

That was true.

“Do you blame me?” Jasper retorted.

“Nope,” Freddie said. “Just like I loved the fact she read to me.”

I hid a smile, because not everyone knew about that.

“While I was detoxing and in hell, she sat outside that door on that cold floor and read me books through the door. Crazy series, chick ends up with all these guys, who form their own gang.”

Milo made a sound and Freddie spun to face him.

“I didn’t buy her the book, I don’t even know where she got it. But it’s a cool story. We’re not done with it yet, Aaron’s missing and we haven’t gotten him back.”

“Who the fuck is Aaron?” Doc asked.

“Guy in a book,” Jasper said, before Freddie could go off on a tear.

“Exactly.” As if that summed it all up, Freddie faced Milo. “We know Boo-Boo. We care about her. She belongs here, with us. So why won’t you bring her back?”

“Because she doesn’t belong here, Freddie,” Milo answered him in a soft voice. “She belongs to a better world.”

“Well, the one she was in wasn’t better,” Doc said before any of us could interject. “If it had been, they wouldn’t have brought her to me all busted up and broken.”

I held my breath, and I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one.

“You can tell yourself all you like that world is better for her, Milo. But she didn’t want to go back to it. She had the chance. She asked me to help her and I said I would, but she got out of here on her own.”

That was news to a few people, Jasper’s entire demeanor changed and he glared at Doc, but didn’t move.

“I found her walking, in the cold, just away, and I picked her up. Took her all the way back to her hotel… and at the last minute, she walked away from there, too. So, I brought her back to my clinic so she could think.”

Doc had everyone’s attention. I got it. I knew she’d left, she’d admitted as much. She’d also told me she chose to come back and if we were where she wanted to be, then I wouldn’t fight her on it. Even if I wanted her somewhere safer. Her choice.

“She chose to come back here. To these fuckers.” He gestured to all of us, and Rome wasn’t the only one who flipped Doc off at that statement. Not that he gave a damn. “If she wants to be here, Kid. You gotta stop pushing her away and punishing her.”
Heather Long. Ruthless Traitor ARC: 82nd Street Vandals (Kindle Locations 2493-2555).

We learn a lot more about Liam, who up until now has only been on the periphery of the story. Now he’s becoming an integral part.

Pretty much anything I could say about this book is a spoiler, so let me say there are some close calls, action, mistakes, OMG sizzle and holy moly, that ending!

I really need the next book, sooner rather than later…

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Heather Long Heather Long

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

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

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


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The Commoner and the Correspondent – The Royal Agents of MI6 Book 3by Heather Slade


The Commoner and the Correspondent
The Royal Agents of MI6 Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Heather Slade

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What could be sexier than British-accented spy?
Put him in a tuxedo and hand him a brandy.

A commoner buried in his work.
A correspondent in over her head.
Fiery and furious, they dig deep into the throes of passion.

THE COMMONER

Reporters need to back off. I’ve got a job to do. Being overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated, the last thing this M15 agent needs is a sexy and incredibly persuasive journalist knocking me off my game. But the terror in her eyes tells me she needs me—in more ways than one.

THE CORRESPONDENT

The byline of a lifetime. Every reporter wants to unearth the biggest news story to hit the globe. And I’m close—so close. But when a body is left on my floor with a note, “You’re next!” I know I’m in over my head. Can this correspondent let down her guard and let the commoner take over?

While each book in the Royal Agents of MI6 series is a standalone with its own HEA, they may be more enjoyable read in order.
______________________
NOTE:
Previously released as Pinch.

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Pinch and Darrow always had an on and off relationship. Now it’s truly over and they are both moving on. However the way Darrow is moving on is just a little bit different since at the moment no one knows where she is. Well that isn’t exactly true, some folks know, just not Esland.

Esland is Darrow’s best friend and she’s concerned about her, but she also has a problem. Darrow told her if she ever needed help she should go to Pinch. When she does, well lets say the first encounter doesn’t go well. The second one, gets his attention.

This is a favorite scene.

My father and grandfather before him were the head groundskeepers at the abbey. As a child, the three Whittaker siblings and I had explored every nook and cranny of the vast estate. While my father lived in a modest cottage rather than in the abbey itself or in one of the other manor houses, I’d always considered the estate my home in the same way the Whittakers did.

“I thought that’s where you were taking me.”

“No.” I didn’t tell her about Wilder’s offer, or that I preferred being farther away from London.

“You understand that your life was threatened, Esland?”

She looked out the window even though it was too dark to see anything.

“You’re not surprised.”

“I’m a journalist. Many of us are threatened or even killed for the injustices we expose.”

“This is personal. Whoever is issuing the threat knows you as Ezzie.”

She wouldn’t look at me, which was to be expected. Her hand went to her throat, indicating her subconscious was in protective mode.

“There will be an investigation into the murder. MI5 will take over and can keep it out of the media. However, if there’s anything I need to know before we’re involved in an official capacity, this is your opportunity to tell me.”

“Are you going back to London tonight?”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

That surprised her enough that she turned and looked at me. “Tomorrow?”

I shook my head. “You are, for all intents and purposes, under protective custody.”

“I’m in custody?”

“Listen to what I say, Esland. Under, not in. It means I’m keeping you safe.”

“There must be others who could do that.”

Right. There were presently three others on Kingham grounds who could very well do the job. However, until I was able to gain clarity on why my gut was insisting I be the one to protect her, I’d listen to instinct alone.

“You don’t even like me.”

True statement, although it was more the job she did and how it impacted my investigations that I didn’t care for.

“Why did you say you were at the pub to see me earlier?” I asked. “Were you already aware of the dead man in your flat?”

“No.”

“So why?”

She shrugged.

“You’re not a child, Esland. I’ll ask again. Why were you at the pub to see me?”

“I wanted to talk to you about Darrow. And then you dumped me in the street. Nice move, by the way.”

“First, sarcasm has no place in our conversations. Second, you’re lying to me. Lastly, as I said before, I didn’t dump you anywhere.”

“Why did you do it?” she asked. “Am I really that horrible of a person, or that much of a nuisance?”

I honestly couldn’t tell her why I’d picked her up and carried her out of the pub. Even I had to admit it was a wanker’s move.

“I’m sorry I did that.”

“Are you refusing to answer my question?”

“To be honest with you, I don’t know why.”

I saw a slight nod of understanding.

“Thank you for the apology.”

She did rub on my nerves, but was it her job or was it something else entirely? When Pique offered to take over Esland’s detail, my reaction had been inexplicable as well. I’d immediately felt an overwhelming need to protect her, even from my colleague. When she asked if I was returning to London, a feeling settled in my chest like a heavy stone. The idea of entrusting her safety to anyone else was unacceptable. Why? I couldn’t explain it.

“Tell me about your parents.”

She sighed, taking a long time to answer. “I miss them so much.”

“I’m sure you do. What were they like?”

“I never doubted they loved me.”

“But?”

“They were a unit unto themselves. I was the third to two who didn’t need one.”

I didn’t hear hurt in her voice; I heard acceptance.

“They were on their way home from visiting you when the accident happened.”

“Yes. I was at university.”

“Must’ve been rough. You said earlier that you have no other family.”

“Both my parents were only children. I don’t think they ever tried to have another child.”

So no aunts, uncles, or cousins, also like she’d said earlier.

“Why journalism?”

“My mother was a reporter, albeit a very different one than I am.”

“How so?”

“She was more of a social reporter.”

“How would you describe yourself?”

“Investigative.”

“As I well know.”

When I saw a slight smile from her, I smiled too.

“I never told a soul about Wren’s true identity.”

I nodded.

“I told you earlier that I found out from Darrow.”

“Yes.” I shook my head. One would’ve thought Darrow, of all people, would’ve known better.

Esland stood. “Where am I sleeping?”

“Bedroom.”

“I can sleep on a sofa somewhere. I don’t need to take the only bed.”

“Not up for discussion.”

“You’re very intransigent, aren’t you? Your way or no way?”

“Sometimes.”

“Right. Only sometimes. I wonder if Darrow would agree?”

I watched Esland walk away, knowing her estimation was dead-on. Darrow would say that I consistently refused to compromise, that I wouldn’t apologize, or even try to see things her way. I could hear her voice in my head, saying all of those things. Not that she was any less stubborn than I was.
Heather Slade. The Commoner and the Corresondent (Kindle Locations 346-401). The Royal Agents of MI6 Book Three.

I have to say getting information out of Esland was much like pulling teeth for Pinch. It doesn’t help that he’s falling hard and fast for her. She on the other hand has loved him for a very long time and her friendship with Darrow is holding her back.

Plenty of suspense and intrigue as we find out why the body and threat turned up in Esland’s apartment. We finally find out where Darrow is, we see some folks from K19 as well, I love that by the way.

Not an easy relationship but one that makes so much sense. Lots of memories, with a few twists and turns that may surprise you.

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

5 Contented Purrs for Heather!

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Coming Soon!

about-the-author-fall-cornucopia

Heather Slade

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

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

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


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A Taste of Holiday Fake-Out: 22 Fake Holiday Dates to Heat Up the Season


Holiday Fake-Out

Featuring

Bad Santa by Carmen Falcone
The Holidare by Laurel Greer & Dee Holmes
Marry Christmas by Kat Baxter
Mr. Right Under The Mistletoe by Kara Kendrick
The Billionaires Naughty Thief by Cara Carnes
And Many More!

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Bad Santa

Carmen Falcone

Julie Campbell needs to get Mr. McCarthy’s attention to pitch her business plan. But the man is not only busy, but an old fashioned, archaic oaf. She does everything for her job as the manager of an exclusive mall—she’s even dressed like an elf to help out one night. Her altruistic act leads her to the hot Santa… who she sees talking to Mr. McCarthy like they’re good friends. So, she comes over and pretends to be with Santa to get Mr. McCarthy’s attention—which ends up leading to a fake date.

All that Paxton Thurman wants is a holiday season without his family worrying about him since his breakup. When he’s disguised as Santa because of losing a bet, he meets a sexy blonde who summons him to go to a party with her, without knowing he’s a moneyed tech guru and nephew of the man Julie is trying to impress. She likes him for him, and he’ll take that any day. But a little lie snowballs into her mistrusting him on a much bigger issue. When he realizes she’s the one for him, he needs to show her where his loyalty lies—before he loses her for good.

Seeing the mall Santa speaking with the Mall owner, Julie Campbell makes a move that will mean some fast talking on her part.

Paxton doesn’t call her out on it, but thinks of a way to make it work for him as well. First he needs to know exactly what she wants to pitch to Alan McCarthy.

This is a favorite scene.

He straightened his shoulders, leaning closer, regarding her with interest. “Why does this mean so much to you? I can feel it in your voice.”

She bit back a smile. “I’m an only child, and my mom worked a lot growing up. I used to hang out with my cousins. They’re a few years younger than me, really sweet girls. Amy is on the spectrum and Carly has severe ADHD and some learning disabilities,” she said, affection softening her tone.

“We used to go to the parks, but whenever we went to the malls or stores, they’d feel overstimulated by the large number of toys stacking the shelves, the bright colors, the endless noise of an overcrowded space.”

“And they inspired you to build their own place?” he asked, a pang of admiration in his expression.

“Yes.” She knew she couldn’t do much for their cousin’s childhood now, as they were older—one of them attending college. But she could help the other kids and their parents who wanted a safe place to hang out. A place where their kids wouldn’t be judged or bullied.

The waiter returned, bringing him his drink and a couple of appetizers. She hadn’t paid attention when he’d ordered them. When the waiter took their orders and left, Paxton shifted his attention to her.

“Sounds like a good idea. Why do you need him? Can’t you find another investor?”

“Because Mr. McCarthy is a guru in the toy department,” she said, reminding him how Mr. McCarthy had amassed his wealth—by not only investing in toys, but creating a few very successful ones. Then, he’d branched out to malls and other assets. “He’s well respected not only in the community, but in the country. He’d be a phenomenal endorsement. Besides, I want to show him I’m intelligent and capable, and one day tell him how I had to ask a guy to accompany me to a pitch and make him regret he didn’t hear me out sooner,” she said. The latter was a selfish motivation, she knew, but she’d enjoy it just the same.

He raised his tumbler to his lips. “That’s ambitious. I like it.”

A surge of excitement traveled through her. She’d shared her dream with former boyfriends before, but she never felt like they listened or really believed in her. Something about Paxton encouraged her. “Good. Have you worked with him before? I forgot to ask where you know him from.”

He shrugged. “We kind of know the same people.”

“Ah. I get it.” She didn’t, but she got the sense he didn’t want to tell more. She also doubted that Mall Santa was the average mall Santa. He had a good knowledge about business and had picked this expensive restaurant. “Do you have any tips for me?”

“Look him in the eye. And don’t dim your light when you’re talking to him because you’ve heard he’s sexist.”

Good advice. She would have been more aggressive before but, also as a general manager of one of Mr. McCarthy’s properties, would hate for him to think of her as pushy and avoid her altogether in the future. But if she didn’t make herself heard, she’d never come through to him. “I’ve heard? He is sexist.”

“Yes, but you’re here to welcome him to the twenty-first century.”

She tilted her head to give him a good look. “What’s your day job? Motivational speaker?”

He chuckled. “Hardly. What do you think I am?”

“You’re one of those digital influencers. You post pictures about health and fitness and get paid for ads. But it’s not steady income, the reason why you take second jobs here and there.”

Amusement glinted in his eyes. An energy bounced between them, and she shuddered, like every part of her became super aware of him. Her breasts constrained against her bra, her breath caught in her throat.

“Not close. Software developer.”

Hmm… beauty and brains. She sank her teeth on her lower lip, to keep from voicing that thought. But when she glanced at him, his gaze dropped to her lips and she drew in a long breath. “Nice. How did you get the Santa gig?” Besides a few employees who had volunteered for overtime money, most of the Santas were hired by Bruce, the HR director, who usually used a local talent agency.

“I know Bruce. We went out drinking and had a bet. I lost and had to be Santa for one day. Though he did that so he wouldn’t have to find cover.”

As a general manager, she made a mental note to talk to Bruce about randomly recruiting people without previous experience to work on mall events. Though still… well played. “What would you have gotten if you had won?” she asked, taking a piece of bruschetta to her mouth.

“He’d have to dress as a clown while running some errands for me.”

A chuckle floated up her throat, and she almost spewed the bruschetta. “That I’d like to see.”

Paxton’s eyes searched for hers, and he curled his lip at the corner of his mouth. A silent exchange took place between them, and she hoped her body was signaling the right message. Because the way he stared at her twisted her insides, then melted them for good measure. “Meeting you makes me glad I lost the bet. And I hate losing,” he said, his voice dropping an octave.

A hot stir unraveled in her body, warming parts of her that usually didn’t feel hot. The area behind her ears, her neck… She swallowed. The sensation arrowed lower, at the pit of her stomach, then on her sex. Get ahold of yourself.

If she gave in, she’d be distracted. She wanted to be taken seriously and needed no extra drama. One thing was for Alan to believe she was dating someone to get her a leg up and an opportunity to pitch. Another thing, quite different, would be to indulge in the searing attraction to Paxton and lose sight of what was important.

Other dates would come. None like this, but they’d come.

Another opportunity to get in Alan McCarthy’s good graces? Hardly.

She placed her hands on her laps, her fingers fidgeting with the napkin. Then she pulled what she hoped was her most serious expression. “I’m flattered, but while I appreciate your help, I’m not interested in dating. I’m laser focused on this pitch, and I don’t want to get distracted.”

“Understood,” he said. “Tell me more about the project…”
Holiday Fake-Out: Bad Santa – Carmen Falcone Kindle Locations (803-848).

His reaction to her plan is more than positive and he tells her what he wants in return for getting Alan to listen. Julie will be his pretend date at his family Christmas in Tahoe.

A few ups and downs, tears, giggles and a quite a bit of sizzle!

5 Contented Purrs for Carmen!


The Holidare

Laurel Greer & Dee Holmes

Pro-hockey star Noel Beckett is determined to avoid his family’s holiday chaos and anything remotely festive. Enter his sister’s roommate Gwen Darling, a curvy artist with a heart of gold who lives for the season. Wanting to sprinkle some glitter over Noel’s Grinchiness, she dares him to be her holiday plus-one.

Noel’s not one to back away from a dare, and he expects his grumpy ways to be validated. But Yule shenanigans and flirty Christmas games with Gwen break through the hot athlete’s commitment to all things Scroogy. Why does she feel like the dash of magic he’s been missing? Is this a Holidare they both can win?

Hockey Star Noel ‘Beck’ Beckett hates the holiday season, he grumps through the whole time. However, he’s not one to turn down a bet especially if winning means he gets his sister Autumn and her best friend Gwen into a more secure apartment in his building.

It’s up to Gwen to convince him the holidays are fun and she’s more than up to the task.

The first event on the list is a corporate charity event run by the Renagades, Noel’s team. Gwen surprises him right off the bat and the rest of the evening goes off without a hitch and he has to admit he ended up having fun. Gwen does too, and realizes that it was really because of each other. She also recognizes she’s falling for Beck.

Next up is Gwen’s family’s Yule celebration, that one is so much fun, lots of laughter and more!

“Would you all just stop?” Gwen snaps. She’s rigid, stiff underneath all the soft layers of her clothes. “We are getting settled, then we’re finishing our decorations. That’s it. Nothing to see here.”

This is it.

The moment to take this mostly enjoyable gathering and make sure she absolutely doesn’t enjoy herself. I shouldn’t do it, not when this family has been nothing but kind since the moment I climbed out of the car.

But I play to win.

“Hey.” I cup her cheek. “They’re just teasing.” Granted, the Darlings are teasing in a ribald, interfering way, but there’s love under the jokes and gestures. A comfort with each other that makes me miss the days when things were easier between my sister, Mom, and me. We might not have had much—and Mom and I had to work hard to create something special for Autumn—but we made it happen.

Now I have lots, and I wish they’d still let me try.

Gwen’s cheek warms my palm.

“I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable,” she murmurs, gaze luminous and earnest, not resisting my thumb idly stroking her soft skin.

“My team spent many a season learning about inclusive locker-room conduct, but let’s be honest—it’s still eighty percent twig-and-berries related.”

Speaking of berries.

I glance pointedly up at the mistletoe. She grips my arm. “Don’t get any ideas, Beck. I was not kidding about the family legend thing.”

“You don’t want to kiss me?” Her lips part. “I didn’t say that, but—”

I lean down, taking her lips with mine.

Her small gasp is worth the gentle harassment her family dishes out behind us. She tastes like sage, tastes like more. With a hitching breath, she surrenders, rising on her tiptoes, melting into my embrace. I splay my hands on her hips, holding her to me, soaking in the pleasure rippling through my limbs. Building in all the places her soft body is pressing into mine. And I don’t give a shit that we have an audience and we’re just doing this because of silly holiday tradition. All I need to do right now is kiss this woman until it’s time to get back on the ferry and return to the city.

Wind teases my hair and curls around the back of my neck.

She jolts away from me, hands flying to hold down her skirt against the back of her thighs. “Beck. What are you thinking?

Shit, did she think I was going to start groping her or something?

I rock back on my heels, off kilter. I touch my fingers to my tingling lips and lift and eyebrow in what I hope comes across as that was fun and keeps the oh, and it also blew my mind part under wraps. Swallowing hard, I do my best to pretend it was no big thing. “You wanted to show me the magic of the season.”

“Not that kind of magic.” Color spills into her kiss-flushed cheeks. “My skirt flipped up.”

“It was just a draft.” Swiveling my gaze, I check for an open window or door that could have been at fault. But everything seems secure, and it isn’t windy outside, so a sudden breeze makes no sense.

“No such thing as just a draft, Noel,” Rhiannon calls over her shoulder, and I notice she’s ushering the watching family members back outside. “Life and love don’t come with dress rehearsals.”

“Nope.” Stone gives me a clap on the shoulder. “You’re done, son.”

Another inexplicable breeze rushes through the closed window, as if to punctuate the statement. I stare at Gwen, at those perfect lips I’ve just kissed.

All the skepticism in the world doesn’t stop me from wondering if Stone is right. I’ve happily avoided relationships for the past few years.

But I have no idea how to walk away from Gwen.
Holiday Fake-Out: The Holidare – Laurel Greer & Dee Holmes, Kindle Locations (22033-22064).

With everything that is happening between them a hockey game before his family’s Christmas provides even more fun and games.

A fun read with laughter, a few tears and sizzling heat.

5 Contented Purrs for Laurel and Dee!


Marry Christmas

Kat Baxter

She’s the one who got away. The one I’ve never been able to forget. The one who can never forgive me for the mistakes I’ve made. Now, it’s my grandmother’s dying wish to see Maggie and I married. If we can stay married for year, there’s a fortune on the line. But first we have to spend Christmas with my family and convince them we’re in love. For me, that part is easy, because I’ve never gotten over Maggie. But I broke her heart once. Can I convince her that, for me, this isn’t about the money and that I don’t want her for just one year. I want her forever.

Years ago Maggie and Brooks were best friends on the way to becoming more. Brooks’ father put a stop to that and in the process two hearts were broken.

Now Brooks’ grandmother has asked Maggie to visit, she has something to discuss with her. Maggie loves Gran almost as much as her own Nana, the two of them had been best friends. She always meant to visit more often but since her Nana died it’s been difficult. One big surprise Brooks is there as well, and really Maggie doesn’t want to stay, but she does to hear out Gran. Of course she wants the impossible, for her and Brooks to marry. She doesn’t agree right away, having to think this whole thing through.

Not wanting to disappoint Gran, Maggie finally agrees.

This is a favorite scene.

I got the text from Maggie last night shortly before midnight.

Maggie: courthouse tomorrow at noon.

That was all she said, but I, of course, knew what it meant. It’s ten right now and I’m sitting in the conference room at the Sol-Com offices I share with my two partners, Jackson and Cooper. Jackson and his wife, Kaitlyn, who also works here look at me like I’ve grown a second head when I explain my afternoon plans. Cooper, the lucky bastard is home with a sick kiddo.

Jackson shakes his head. “You’re going to have to explain that again.”

“The bottom line is, I’m going to the courthouse at noon and getting married,” I say.

“Have you been dating someone and keeping it a secret?” Kaitlyn asks.

“No. It’s complicated.”

Kaitlyn gives me a side eye, waggling her pointer finger back and forth between Jackson and her. “We’re pretty smart. I think you’ll be able to explain it.”

So much for keeping this on the down low.

I sigh, trying to decide exactly how little information I can dole out. Because I do not want this to be a big thing.

“My grandmother isn’t doing well. It’s her dying wish to see me married.”

Kaitlyn leans forward, her eyes gleaming with mischief. “Oh, this is all very soap-opera-drama-y. Tell me more. Did you hire a stranger on the internet to pretend to be your wife? Because that could end very badly. I think I’ve seen a Dateline with that plot and the guy ended up dead in a ditch.”

“No, Jesus. I’m not marrying a stranger. It’s someone I know.”

“Oh, even better!” She rubs her hands together with Machiavellian glee.

“Better than Brooks ending up dead in a ditch?” Jackson asks, looking at his wife with amusement.

“Obviously.” She leans back in her chair, angling her body towards his so their shoulders brush with easy familiarity and she looks over at him. “They could end up realizing they’re perfect for each other and falling in l—.”

I cut her off with a slice of my hand. “No one is going to fall in love here. It’s not that kind of situation. We’re not you two.” I point at both of them, because they ended up getting together when he went with her to her parent’s house for Thanksgiving one year. I never heard the whole story behind that, and I don’t want to know. “This is just to appease my grandmother. She wants to include Maggie in her will, but she’s afraid my dad will throw a fit and hold everything up in probate. If Maggie and I are married, it simplifies things. That’s it. Now can we get back to—”

“Wait a second.” Jackson sits forward. “Maggie? The Maggie.”

Fuck.

“Yes, her name is Maggie. Maggie Prince.”

“But this is your Maggie?”

Fuck my life.

“No. She’s not my Maggie. She’s just Maggie.”

Kaitlyn, who’s been looking back and forth between us like she’s watching a damn tennis match, gestures wildly. “Will someone please tell me who Maggie is? I’m dying of curiosity over here!”

“Maggie is The One. His one that got away.”

“No, she’s not. I don’t have a one.”

Kaitlyn gives me a shrewd look. “Well, apparently, you do have a one.”

“I really don’t,” I say dryly.

Is Maggie special? Yes. Unforgettable? Yep. But it’s not like she’s the only woman for me.

Just because I haven’t found anyone better in the last twelve years, does not mean she’s The One.

“I think I need more details,” Kaitlyn says. Before I can protest, she shakes her finger at me. “Because I’m not sure I trust you to know whether or not she’s The One.”

Kaitlyn is feisty and tenacious and it’s pretty obvious I’m not getting out of this. So, I stifle a groan and start talking.

“Basically, she’s my childhood best friend. We grew up together and our grandmothers always wanted us to be together. But it wasn’t meant to be. End of story.”

“Obviously, that’s not the end of the story.” Kaitlyn makes a keep-it-coming gesture. “Were you ever together together? How is she the one that got away? Why did you let her go? I need more details.”

“No, we weren’t ever together.”

“Hmmm…” Kaitlyn makes a grumble of obvious suspicion. “So where did it all go wrong?”

“Basically, my dad is an ass and so I never pursued anything with Maggie because I didn’t want him to be horrible to her. And frankly, when I was nineteen, I wasn’t exactly sure that I wasn’t going to grow up and become him. I didn’t want that for her. So I walked away.”
Holiday Fake-Out: Marry Christmas – Kat Baxter, Kindle Locations (26879-26917).

Quite the tangled web here and lots of family drama. The thing is these two really do belong together.

A fun read with laughter, some tears, some anger and some sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Kat!


Mr. Right Under The Mistletoe

Kara Kendrick

I’ve always been a player. A football player, that is. In the dating game, though, I only have eyes for one girl. Sydney Porter, team publicist MVP, all-around hottie…and my ex-girlfriend. Christmas comes early for me and I’m traded back to my home team mid-season. Of course, I run straight into Sydney—and a big problem. See, I never actually told my family we broke up. Now my mom wants the happy couple home for the holidays.

After saving Sydney from a work snafu, she owes me. I sweet talk her into going along with my fake dating plan, but I only have until Christmas. Can I convince her we belong together or will the magic between us disappear forever once the mistletoe comes down?

Nick Milton and Sidney Porter had once been a thing. When he was traded to Arizona, Sidney broke up with him and took a PR job with the team he left.

Sidney was in a meeting with the team’s CMO and her boss when she hears Nick’s voice. She doesn’t want to see him or talk to him. Her feelings really are still raw. Yet when her boss asks about the Gala Nick gets her out of it.

Now he asks the favor he needs in order to survive Christmas with his family.

This is a favorite scene.

“You can’t be serious,” Sydney said, shaking her head as she pushed past me into the bright hallway. “This isn’t anywhere close to a fair deal. The Copley Gala is one night; you’re asking me to go home with you for a week!”

I tagged along beside her down the hall, keeping pace and grinning, pissing her off even more. “Yeah, I hope you can negotiate a better deal with the shoe company.”

She punched my bicep and I pretended to flinch.

“Watch it—these guns are worth a lot to this team.”

“Right, how could I forget? Can’t go injuring the talent.”

“Exactly. C’mon, Syd, please? I know you always stay in the city for Christmas. It would mean a lot to me if you’d do this.” I gave her my best puppy dog eyes, praying she’d agree to the deal.

Sydney rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe I’m even considering doing this with you. We work together now; it’s a huge HR no-no.”

“No one has to know and besides, it’ll be fun. Way better than the Gala.”

She paused, tipping her head to the side before answering. “Fine. Since you just rescued me from a solid twenty-four hours’ worth of work, I’ll go. But it has to be on the DL. I need this job.”

“I get it. I do, too. This is going to be fantastic, though.” I grinned at her, a quick blast of relief flooding through me. “I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning around nine. That way we can avoid rush hour. Be sure to pack something to wear for Christmas Eve service and the neighborhood party we go to every year.”

“Ugh. I hate you.”

“That’s the Christmas spirit,” I teased.

“One week, Nick. That’s it.” She waved her index finger in my direction as a reminder.

“I hear you. That’s the deal.”

She thrust her hand out and we shook on it.

“See you tomorrow morning,” I said, thrilled I’d actually convinced her to go with me.

Sydney rolled her eyes one more time for dramatic effect, then flounced away. My eyes followed her perfect ass until she stepped into the elevator. I shot her a quick wave as the doors slid shut; she just shook her head at me.

Christmas was coming early for me this year and I intended to make the most of our time together.
Holiday Fake-Out: Mr. Right Under The Mistletoe – Kara Kendrick, Kindle Locations (27799-27814).

Now Sidney has to play the girlfriend he never left and he’s out to win her back.

Another fun read, with laughter some confusion, and just the right amount of sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Kara!


The Billionaire’s Naughty Thief

Cara Carnes

King, aka the King Maker, was destined to rule a secret empire since childhood. He’s terrified world leaders and lorded over the world’s financial and political sectors from the shadows for years. No opportunity is too risky if it’s for Probus’ objective: to balance world power to protect humanity. The centuries old moral code was all that mattered. Until now. In order to save his one childhood friend, he must undertake a dangerous mission—one only one woman can accomplish. He was strong enough to walk away from temptation once. Surely he can do so again.

Joy “Diamond” Winniford was raised in a family of thieves committed to a cause: save humanity from the shadows by stealing whatever intel or asset Probus needs. Few know about her secret life. Only one man has the power to upturn her carefully constructed world. When he reenters her life with a job, she knows turning him down is the safest play. But she’s never played it safe and spending weeks pretending to be the infamous King Maker’s girlfriend is a temptation she can’t refuse. He may have escaped her once, but she’s not about to let him get away again.

As this novella opens we find Probus has a problem, some of their branches are getting out of control. It’s Joy ‘Diamond’ Winniford who brings this to King’s attention. That initial problem has now escalated a bit and it’s time to bring in some outside help, especially since they’re involved.

Joy isn’t happy and doesn’t think anyone could possibly be better than her hacker, Maze. She does agree to work with the King and the outsiders, but only if Maze verifies they are better.

This is a favorite scene for many reasons.

King had faced down presidents and world leaders his entire life, but nothing could have prepared him for this moment. The video image came to life on the screen. His adrenaline surged as an ache radiated in his chest. He rubbed the area and willed his mind to focus.

Ramon.

The young man he’d last seen wasn’t anywhere in the man’s face, nor his stance. He stood behind a blonde woman seated at a conference table. Emotion rushed across Ramon’s face for a second, then vanished beneath a hardness he’d never wanted to see on the only friend he’d ever had.

King’s eyes burned as his breathing quickened.

“I’m Bree,” the blonde said. “This is my friend Zoey, or Zero D. Beside her is Edge. Then Quillery. And I’m sure you know Ramon.” She paused. “And you are?”

“I’m Diamond,” Joy said. “To my left is Bridge. To my right is the King Maker, or King.” She squeezed his shoulder and pushed him into a chair. “We’ve conferenced in a friend of mine, Maze. I’m not sure what King shared with you, but he seems to think you’d be better help for what we need than Maze. I doubt that, but we’re here anyway.”

“Holy shit,” Maze whispered. Her eyes widened as she appeared on a split screen. “Diamond, I’m going to kick your ass when this is over.”

“Maze. What’s wrong?”

“Th-that’s…” The fuchsia-haired woman blinked a couple times. “Fuck. They’re still there. Okay, this is happening. Ease off on the attitude, friend. I can’t do a tenth of what they can.”

Joy didn’t comment. Her hand continued running down King’s back, moving in circles that calmed the shock rolling through him. Seeing Ramon after so long…

He ran a hand down his face and leaned back.

“Why don’t you tell us what you need,” Edge suggested as she leaned forward. “I’m not sure why you think we’d help you with anything, King. We were pretty clear in our last conversation that we didn’t want another.”

King’s gaze cut to Ramon once again. His heart thudded hard in his chest. He had so many questions. None of them involved the job.

“We have roughly three weeks to establish a cover for me as King’s lover so that I can get into a secured Knightwind location and procure intel and anything else they have about your tech. Since it’s my ass on the line here, I think that puts the ball in our court on deciding what we require to help you.” Joy leaned back in her chair. “You’ll be talking with me. King is here as a formality until he decides otherwise.”

Thank fuck. Concern flashed on Bridge’s face when he looked at King.

“This is what you meant with that vague message about a threat you’d handle,” Bree said. “What sort of intel could they possibly have we’d care about?”

“Great question. Given what little we know about your tech, most of what we’re working on are assumptions, but I’ll give you what I can prove.” Joy held up a finger. “First, we came into possession of a destroyed drone several of our U.S. based assets were very interested in. Rather than allow them the access they wanted, King took it upon himself to secure the tech by having me steal it from Cuban authorities who found it in the destroyed wreckage of a facility. Does that sound familiar?”

Joy didn’t give them a chance to answer. She held up a second finger and continued. “A seven-figure contract was put out to secure that asset from King’s possession. Few would dare attempt that job given who we are, yet many have attempted to force my hand.”

“They don’t know you’re Probus,” Quillery said.

“They don’t. My name within the underground is the Queen of Diamonds. There’s no procurement I can’t handle if the pay is good.” She paused once again and glanced over at King. “He has decided to share what happened next.”

He hadn’t, but he wasn’t going to stop her now. She’d taken the initiative for the conversation to cover his freak out.

“Maze helped me look into the job. It took a few not-so-fun intel gathering sessions, but we tracked the source as being someone from within Knightwind,” Joy said. “There was more, which we’ve since cleaned up on our end.”

“You had assets working with them,” Edge said.

“We did,” King said, finding his voice for the first time. “Several of our stateside assets became greedy and wanted to acquire power outside of our arena. Power that went against our Probus mission. As Diamond said, we’ve cleaned house. The drone we have will be returned to you if you wish. I locked it up and no one in Probus has looked at it, other than myself and Bridge.”

“It’s probably not even ours,” Bree said with a shrug. “Carlisle Industries stole old designs of mine and attempted to replicate our tech. Very poorly.”

King grunted. Interesting.

“Let’s assume the intel Knightwind has is worth obtaining,” Quillery said. “What do you want from us?”

“The new leader of Knightwind has invited me to a holiday dinner. Diamond will accompany me as my date. They will vet her thoroughly beforehand, which we will need assistance for.”

“You need a cover, one that will pass their investigation without appearing fake,” Zoey said. She nodded and tapped on her laptop a few moments. “Okay, Joy. Here’s the situation.”

Joy tensed beside him. He’d warned her they were good.

“Yes, we know who you are,” Zoey said. “Just like we know who Maze and Bridge are as well. Congrats, King. You’re the first person HERA can’t trace at all.”

He glared at the women. Keeping his gaze from Ramon made it simpler to focus on what mattered. “Can you help?”

King was used to world leaders cowering before him. He didn’t expect the women to ignore his question as the four chatted amongst themselves as though he wasn’t on the video call. Amused, he listened as they rattled off their thoughts like drunken squirrels. He understood very little of what they said.

“She needs a semi-dirty cover, one that would fit the presumed Probus mold of a lower-level employee,” Maze said amidst their conversation. “They clearly know King is the King Maker. I don’t even understand why they’d invite him, but this isn’t my world, nor do I want it to be. But that’s what I’d do. Make her fit the mold they expect, but not be who she is or what she does.”

“So not a thief, but still Probus.” Zoey nodded. “Smart.”

“We dug into Probus,” Edge said.

King tensed. He’d expected as much from The Arsenal. They weren’t the best in the private paramilitary arena without going the distance.

Those gits he’d taken care of had put Probus on The Arsenal’s radar—a fact he didn’t like.

“And?” King asked.

“Handlers are the lone known position within your organization,” Edge replied. “No one seems to question how you obtain your information or control assets. They should, but they don’t. Which means the safest cover for Diamond would be a handler.”

“Okay,” Joy said.

“Mimicking a known handler’s background would strengthen her cover,” Quillery said. “Is there a woman known to be a handler, yet not recognized when seen?”

“There are several,” King admitted. He glanced over at Bridge. “Who’s known by Knightwind?”

Probus rarely kept people on staff once they were exposed, but a few were necessary. That fell within Bridge’s territory more than King’s, though.

“Seven of Hearts,” Bridge said quickly. “We exposed her three months ago to handle the last of our internal intel issues. She’s still in play and known, but in the shadows.”

“Which means Knightwind knows there is a Seven of Hearts, but not who she is specifically,” King clarified. “Send her record to them.”

Bridge nodded and opened his laptop. Silence descended as he forwarded the asset’s record to The Arsenal.

“I trust what we share will be contained within this specific operation and not used for other reasons,” King said.

“Of course,” Quillery said. “We have no desire to cross your path as long as you stay out of ours.”

“Understood. Maze and Bridge can assist with whatever you need. What is the timetable for having the cover secured?” King asked.

“Two hours,” Zoey said. “Probably less, but I want to build deep enough so Knightwind can crawl all the way down and get lost.”

“She’s very good at what she does,” Edge said. “By the time she’s done, Joy’s cover will be good enough to truly exist.”

Excellent. King’s gaze moved to Ramon once again. “It’s good to see you in a good place, Ramon.”

“Life outside that world is worth living.” He touched Bree’s hair. “Hopefully we can have that ice cream very soon. It’s been too long.”

He remembered. Emotion clogged King’s throat as he blinked back the burning sensation in his eyes. “It has.”

“We’ll be in touch before the dinner,” Edge said. “We can assist from here.”
Holiday Fake-Out: The Billionaire’s Naughty Thief – Cara Carnes, Kindle Locations (25620-25693).

A very interesting relationship that further develops as this story progresses.

This is a fun and suspenseful read with action, family, a reunion, romance and some sizzle.

5 Contented Purrs for Cara!


 

Carmen Falcone’s Bio and Links

Carmen Falcone learned at an early age that fantasizing about fictional characters beat doing math homework any day. Brazilian by birth and traveler by nature, she moved to Central Texas after college and met her broody Swiss husband–living proof that opposites attract.

She found in writing her deepest passion and the best excuse to avoid the healthy lifestyle everyone keeps talking about. When she’s not lost in the world of romance, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, being walked by her three crazy pugs, reading, catching up with friends, and chatting with random people in the checkout line.

She loves to procrastinate, so please indulge her and drop her a line. For more info, visit her website.


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Laura Greer’s Bio and Links

Raised in a small town on Vancouver Island, Laurel grew up skiing and boating by day and reading romances under the covers by flashlight at night. Ever committed to the proper placement of the Canadian “eh,” she loves to write books with snapping sexual tension and second chances. She lives outside Vancouver with her law-talking husband and two daughters, and fills her creative well by continuing to stay up way too late reading, chugging vats of tea, and falling down Pinterest rabbit holes.

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Dee Holmes’ Bio and Links

A Canadian author obsessed with unlikely loves, Dee enjoys creating rich worlds and finding humor in unexpected places. In her other writing life, she explores monsters and their love lives in paranormal romance and urban fantasy—and might have a penchant for zombies. The characters she enjoys don’t sit in some narrow box and do what they’re told. Whether battling an office party or facing fantastical terrain on distant planets, her characters are defying expectations and finding true love.

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Kat Baxter’s Bio and Links
Kat Baxter is the pseudonym for a bestselling historical romance author. She lives in Texas with
her family and a menagerie of animals.

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Kara Kendrick’s Bio and Links

Kara Kendrick writes fun and flirty Contemporary Romance destined to give you all the feels. A reformed English major, she also has a master’s in counseling and was an elementary school counselor in her pre-mom life. She loves the beach, wine, and rock-hard abs, not necessarily in that order. When she’s not dreaming up Happily Ever After’s, you can find her chasing after her boy-girl twins, working out semi-hardish, or walking her adorable Shiba pups with her husband, who’s not too bad himself.

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Cara Carnes’ Bio and Links

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


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Secret Legacy – Legacy Book 3 by Jen Talty


Secret Legacy
Legacy Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Jen Talty

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She wanted to protect her brother…but she failed.
He’ll do whatever it takes to protect Vivian,
even if it means taking a bullet…
But will it be enough?

Vivian Rose thought she burned her family’s dirty little secret the day she laid her father to rest. Only, years later, when her brother is found murdered, it seems that secret might have been the very thing that got her brother killed. Now, Vivian finds herself in the middle of an internet game that she doesn’t understand and the target of a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to make her his.

Agent Cameron Thatcher has had his eyes on the sexy Vivian Rose for months. However, when his current case includes a sex club and her brother gets involved, he finds himself in a precarious situation. The more he digs, the more he uncovers, and the more he realizes that Vivian’s in danger. He’ll do whatever is necessary to protect her—including taking a bullet.

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Cameron Thatcher is working a case that has a very thin connection to some suicides. The investigation has brought him home to Lake George and he’s connecting with friends while he’s here.

Vivian Rose has been trying for days to reach her brother Oliver. It’s unlike him not to answer her calls or texts, but he’s been acting weird since he started seeing someone named Emma. She first runs into Cameron at the restaurant where she’s meeting friends for dinner. Her best friend Lily and her husband Ethan sort of lay into her about letting go of the past and taking a chance by going out with Cameron the next time he asks her.

At Cameron’s surprise birthday party another suspected suicide comes up, one that hits home for many people. Oliver Rose, from all accounts wouldn’t do that, not after his father.

For Vivian and her mother this is a huge blow. Vivian knows better but when she finds out Cameron had wanted to talk to Oliver things take quite the turn.

Even as these two get closer, the case ramps up and Vivian finds herself involved with things she believed well hidden.

There are so many twists and turns in this book as several things intertwine. Plenty of suspense, intrigue, nail-biting, all combine with a simmer to sizzle romance that you won’t be able to put 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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A place to read and relax