Posts Tagged With: contemporary romance

Exclusive First Chapter of Lucan by Kim Black – Reckless Anthology

Hey All! I have been dying to share my piece for the Reckless Anthology and I am so happy to be able to give you all a pre-view!

This piece is completely different from anything I’ve written before.

I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

 

CHAPTER ONE

Thamar

“Day one hundred and thirty six,” I mumble to myself as I gingerly cross from the bedroom into the bathroom. That is the number of days I have been in remission since beginning my new treatment plan with my doctors.

It has been a long road, but somehow—through much research, tears and groveling to the big guy upstairs—I have finally found a way to keep my condition in check. Or, at least, somewhat in check.

Remission for me dO’t mean that I didn’t still get the occasional lump here and there, but for the most part I have gotten my HS in control. Who would have thought?

My secret? Stress free living and a new diet regimen that seems to be keeping whatever triggers that had plagued me for years at bay. It’s a tough route to take and many HS sufferers don’t even consider doing what I do, but I have made the choice to try this plan. So far, it’s been beneficial, although I am so dying for a slice of pizza or my favorite… Vanilla bean ice cream.

The change of my diet has been the roughest on me. I have always been a very picky eater, but nonetheless, I am a foodie through and through. There is nothing like a good bacon cheeseburger or the right Caribbean style bake macaroni and cheese. All my absolute favs, but I can’t have any of it.

Why? Because of fucking HS.

Many people aren’t even familiar with the disease and those who suffer from it tend to be a bit embarrassed by it. I happen to be one of those people. Nothing is more embarrassing than having a huge abscess like golf ball between your legs or under your arm. Or when it’s so bad that you can’t even close your legs and walk.

How the hell do you explain it to people? I can’t really say, ‘Oh, I’m walking like this because there is a huge baseball sized lump in between my legs, right next to my lady bits.’ Yeah, right!

I don’t bother explaining anymore. I just ignore the stares when I get a flare up and silently curse them out because they are all normal and have never dealt with such a debilitating disease that shows no signs of ever being cured. No, I am not going to explain any of it to anyone anymore.

I even stopped dating a few years ago. Really, what the hell is the point? What man would want to deal with the fact that you can’t always have sex and that you are in pain all the time? That’s way too much to ask of anyone. So, I have decided to just remain single.

It’s not so bad, really. I mean, it would be nice to have someone that understands all that I am going through while fighting this disease. But after my ex broke up with me and specifically told me that he just couldn’t handle my being sick all the time, I figured I’d better cut my loses and fit myself for a chastity belt made of reinforced steel.

As I turn on the water in the bathroom, I sigh as I think back to how much Jason had hurt me. We’d only been going together for a few months, nothing too serious really so I wasn’t upset about it ending. It was the reasons behind the break up that messed me up. It still affects me till this day if I am to be very honest with myself.

But in the end, I realize now that he had done me a favor and made me see how selfish it is to take someone else down this journey through HS with me. It’s my disease, my broken body and I have to deal with it on my own.

Shortly after starting my new regimen, I quit my job. I loved being an accountant for one of the biggest banks in New York, but the stress of the job proves to be too much on my body. Often times, I would get three or four HS flare ups, making just getting out of the bed difficult. So, despite the fact that I had no means of making money doing anything else, I resigned.

Three months later, I began working from home as a virtual assistant for a few small businesses in the Brooklyn – Bedford Stuyvesant area. It isn’t as fast pace and hectic as my last job, but it pays the bills and that’s all I can ask for.

Stepping out of the shower, I make my way back to my bedroom, opening the top draw to my dresser and pull out my daytime pajama set. I chuckle as I throw it on, since it makes absolutely no sense to have two different levels of pajamas. But since I rarely leave the apartment, I feel the need to differentiate between the PJs I wear during the day while I worked and the ones I wear at night to go to bed. It’s silly, I know, but it works for me and that’s all that matters.

Strolling to the kitchen, I hit the button on the coffee machine and go through the process of starting up my computer. I have a lot of work ahead of me today and only eight hours to get it done. Two of the companies I work with have recently began increasing their revenues, which in turn mean more work for me, organizing all their documents and spreadsheets.

Once the computer is turned on, I head back to the retrieve my coffee as there is absolutely no way I can start my day without it—even if it’s the decaffeinated stuff. Freaking HS took that away from me too. Still, I pretend it’s the good stuff and need it just as much as I would the real deal.

Pouring the dark liquid into my ‘Hello Kitty’ cup, I mentally do a rundown of my to-do list, reorganizing in my mind what takes priority. Placing the glass coffee decanter back, I reach for the refrigerator to retrieve some vanilla soy milk. Looking on the both the top shelf and the side compartments of the door, I groan when I realize that I have run out.

Closing the refrigerator door, I eye the dark liquid in my cup suspiciously. I’d never been one to drink black coffee, but I wonder if my dislike for the taste will win over having to go to the grocery store.

I bring the cup closer to my face, smelling it and then blowing on it gently, all the while mentally preparing myself.

Just pretend it’s not black, I tell myself just as I bring the mug to my lips and tip it over only to immediately twirl around and spit it back up into the sink.

“Shit,” I grumble as I place the mug down on the kitchen island and make my way back to my bedroom.

Looks like I have to head to the store first before beginning my work day. Trust me, my employers will thank me for it. There is nothing worse than me without my morning Joe crunching numbers in excel.

~~~

Lucan

The tension in the air intensifies as Petrov advances to the center of the room. His posture is straight, his steel blue eyes void of all emotion and his moves are purposeful.

Straightaway, Vladimir and his men are on high alert, standing around the dimly lit room awaiting to hear the purpose of this impromptu meeting. Each knows that Petrov is not a man to request your presence without cause, as speaking to anyone below the rank of Vladimir is beneath him and for the others to be called in meant the boss is not happy.

I look around the room, and take in the selected few before us. The air of the room is charged in anticipation and wariness. I know something isn’t right. From the second I was called in this morning, my stomach has been churning.

On the rare occasions Petrov has called a meeting, it has never ended well—almost always ending in bloodshed. So it isn’t a matter of what he has to say tonight. No, it’s a matter of who would die and why. But that isn’t what bothers me as I stand to the right of Petrov, and Alexandrov—aka Alexander, his brother, to his left.

I’ve spent the last ten years working for The Petrov Crime Family, one of the most ruthless Russian organizations in New York. I’d started as a Byki, a bodyguard under the Vor, Vladimir, a man as heartless as a stone. This is where Petrov started most men. Only with Vladimir’s seal of approval did you advance.

Swarm too much and you were killed. Seem too eager and you were also killed. He only picks the best of the best and after working under him for three years, I’d been advanced to a contractor. Lethal, brutal and the best. This earned me favor with Vladimir and then finally with Petrov.

Faithfully, I served Petrov until my talents and skills positioned me to where I am today—the place I’d set my sights on from the time I’d entered the family. As Petrov’s Councilor or the Sovietnik as the Russians calls it, I am his right hand man.

Standing beside Petrov as his second in command, despite the fact that I am not a full blown Russian—a transgression Alexander seems to hold against me at every cause—I am not in the position where a meeting is called without my knowledge. The fact that I too am left in the dark does not sit well with me, but of course this is of no concern to Petrov. And so, I keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open.

“Do you know why I have called this meeting?” Petrov asks once he’s situated behind his desk.

The room grows eerie quiet as all eyes are trained on the boss. Despite the fact that each one of us know the outcome of this meeting, not one of the men show a single sign of fear. They know better. Fear has no place in the presence of Petrov. He both detests it and thrives on it.

Petrov eyes each man penetratingly before continuing, “I received a phone call last night from my contact within the authorities. I am sure you all remember Andrei. It seems the FBI has been investigating our shipments and he has reason to believe that one of my men may be an informant.”

Petrov kept his voice devoid of emotion and calm even though I know he is anything but. If there is any sin one is capable of committing against the brotherhood that Petrov despises it would be a rat and I can’t help but swallow down the rise of panic in my chest.

I can’t deny that today’s meeting should have me worried, but I have done everything possible to remain fully infiltrated within the family. I’ve done every task asked of me, without question or hesitation. No, Petrov couldn’t have known, but that didn’t stop the bead of sweat from falling from my brow.

If Petrov has gotten wind that an informant has infiltrated the brotherhood then my time here is nearing an end and I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s true that my mission is to get as much information as I can about the brotherhood so that the FBI can build a strong case against us, but therein lies the problem. Somewhere along the way I have stopped referring to the brotherhood as them and more as us. The lines that divide good and evil are so blurred when you are made to do the thing I’ve been ordered to do.

I have killed, mercilessly. I’ve tortured the enemies of the brotherhood with no remorse and if I were to be completely truthful, I’d do it again. For them. For us.

“Lucan.” He calls my name as he turns his head to face me. Raising my sweat covered brow only slightly as my heart pounds violently against my chest, I regard him as well. “Has the brotherhood not treated you well?” he asks as he leans forward in his chair and claps his hands together on the desk.

I give him a curt nod, “Of course, Petrov. The brotherhood is my life.” My answer is sure, strong, but not defensive just as it should be. It is also true, but only partially since I am not completely sure where my loyalty lies.

I have trained for this mission for well over five years before infiltrating. I know all that there is to know about the Petrov Bratva and most importantly, I am the best liar in the bureau. Trained to pass any lie detector test both manually and electronically without worry, so I know he suspects nothing from my answer.

He nods his head and regards his brother next, “And you Alexandrov, have I not been well to you?”

Alexander jerks his head in confusion, turning to face his only brother before answering, “Of course, brother.”

Petrov turns to face Vladimir next and I can see a silent exchange between the two men. Most would miss it, but not me.

The eyes.

You can tell a lot about a person just by looking into their eyes. Vladimir’s show acceptance and Petrov, understanding. Though I am not sure what their exchange is in regards to, I know it is not him who will fall before Petrov today.

Still, I force myself to remain stoical even though their exemption of me in this manner would be considered a slap in the face. I am the second in command and therefore should be made aware of what is going on.

Alexander is the next to speak, “Brother, what is all this? Are you going to hold us here all day while you ogle your men?” His annoyance is clear in his voice and his eyes, hold something I can’t quite place. Fear? Maybe…

I don’t understand it. I know for sure Alexander isn’t with the bureau, but his demeanor is questionable.

“All in good time, my brother.”

Petrov stands to his feet and rounds the desk. His movements are as sure as they always are when he stands in front of his safe, enters a code and pulls out his gun. I have seen that gun many times and still it puts me on edge each time he removes it from his safe.

The spravedlivost, justice. It’s what Petrov calls the steal in his hands—the gun a gift from his father before passing the Bratva over to him. Many of men have stared into the barrel of the stainless, prized weapon, begging for mercy. But mercy has no place in the brotherhood. Petrov doesn’t issue second chances and absolution to those he deems the enemy and anyone who crosses the brother is in fact an enemy.

“The brotherhood takes second place to nothing. I am the beginning and the end for all those who fall under my rule. You have no mother, no father, no sister—”

The sound of justice going off the second he turns around cuts him off and much to everyone’s surprise Alexander stumbles to the ground, blood pouring from his chest.

“And, no brother,” he finishes before turning swiftly and replacing the gun in the safe. “Lucan, be sure that his replacement is trust worthy, yeah?” is all he says before he exits the room.

~~~

I hope that you enjoyed the sneak peak!

You can pre-order this wonderful #99cents anthology now!

HBOOK003

★ BUY LINKS ★
✔AMAZON US:➜ http://amzn.com/B019AG3PUG
✔AMAZON UK:➜ http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019AG3PUG
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✔KOBO:➜ https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/reckless-a-bad-boyz-anthology
✔BN:➜ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reckless-a-bad-boyz-anthology-kim-black/1123129945;jsessionid=4146DD23A92FADF4514F8305EB6ED25F.prodny_store01-va03?ean=2940152250770

Categories: .99 Sale, 69 Shade Of Smut, anthology, Boxed Set, charity, Excerpt, Kim Black, pre-order, Reckless Anthology, romance, Sale, Sexy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brand New Cover! — Jasmine Haynes

My reincarnation tale, Twisted by Love, has a brand new cover! It’s sexy and gives a bit of that other worldly feel. You’ll also note it’s by my alter ego Jennifer Skully. To celebrate the new cover, Twisted by Love will be free on August 29th and 30th. So don’t miss out.  Here’s a blurb for this sexy reincarnation tale:

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A love that spans lifetimes, an evil that has followed them through the ages…

Bern Daniels doesn’t believe in ghosts, UFOs, or reincarnation, but when he sees Livie Scott, it’s as if he’s known her forever. Now he can’t get her out of his mind. He wants her in his bed and in his life. For keeps. He’s even starting to believe they’ve lived past lives together.

Will jealousy out of the past come back to destroy their future?

Livie is unaccountably drawn to the tall, dark stranger. He literally sweeps her off her feet. And she’s oh so willing to let him. But her sister Toni is planted firmly in her path to happiness. Livie has been forced to choose between a man and Toni before; is she destined to play the same twisted game with her sister over and over?

Livie and Bern soon discover there are shadows lurking from their past, past lives that is, which threaten everything they believe in, everything they want. And even their lives.

You can find Twisted by Love free for your Kindle on 8/29 and 8/30.

And if you belong to Kindle Unlimited, you can read it anytime for free through the end of August.

Categories: Books, Free Book | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How about a little naughty business by Jasmine Haynes

Berkley, my traditional publisher is having a fabulous sale on a couple of my e-books! They’ve never put these books on sale before. I’m totally amazed and very happy about it.

First up, we’ve got The Principal’s Office. This is the third book in my DeKnight Trilogy, but you don’t need to have read Past Midnight or What Happens After Dark to enjoy The Principal’s Office. The story stands alone, but you’ll see reference to characters from the first two books. Here’s a blurb for this sexy story:

The Principals Office photo 97804252471672-1.jpg

Desire is in session…

Rachel Delaney, divorced mother with two boys, isn’t complaining. Her life is fine. Really. There is one thing that could make it better, though: a strong, warm, male body to help her make it through the occasional lonely night. No strings, and no relationship, thanks. Just a little fun with a perfect stranger. And there’s no more perfect a stranger than Rand.

He’s tall, blond, unattached, smokin’ hot, and looking for the same thing Rachel is: wild, abandoned sex with no limits, no last names, and no complications—until Rachel’s eldest son gets in trouble in class.

Only then does Rachel discover that her down-and–dirty, dangerously sexy mystery lover is also the new school principal. They’re not exactly the ideal role models for a troubled student acting out his own frustrations. With Rachel’s life turned upside down, Rand’s the only one who can make it right—by maybe taking their hot-bodied hook-ups into a warm-hearted new direction…

The Principal’s Office is on sale for $3.99. Regular price for the e-book is $7.99. Here’s where you can find it for Kindle Nook, iBooks, and Kobo.

Up next, is The Naughty Corner. This is the first book in the Let’s Misbehave series (which is followed by Teach Me a Lesson). And here’s a little description of The Naughty Corner:

The Naughty Corner photo NaughtyCornercover_zps4897abd1.jpg

Somebody’s been a bad girl…

Writer Lola Cook is on a deadline. Meeting it gets twice as difficult when she finds herself in the unwelcome role of babysitter for her nephews. Six weeks with the twin teenage terrors is too much for Lola—until she has a brilliant idea: send the boys to football camp. That’ll at least get them out of her hair for five hours every day. Perfect.

Divorced father Gray Barnett has coached summer football camp long enough to know he’ll get saddled with misfits, but William and Harry exceed all expectations. They’re impossible, they’re disruptive, and when he meets their hot aunt Lola, they’re worth the trouble. That is, if Lola accepts Gray’s conditions. Every time the twins misbehave, it’s Lola who must take their punishment. With every naughty infraction, Lola gets more and more accepting—of the penalties. She has no idea just how bad a girl she can be—or how much fun it will be to get what she deserves.

The Naughty Corner is also on sale for $3.99. Here’s where you can find it for your Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo.

And for freebies, I’ve also got Dead to the Max, Max Starr Series, Book 1 free right now. Kindle Kindle UK Kindle CA iBooks iBooks AU iBooks UK iBooks CA Kobo All Romance Coffee Time Romance Smashwords.

And just a reminder that my new contemporary romance series with Bella Andre will be debuting on June 10th.

Preorder Breathless in Love, Maverick Billionaires, Book 1, at the following retailers. Nook iBooks iBooks UK iBooks CA iBooks AU Kobo. It will be available for your kindle on the release date.

 photo Beathless in Love - Ebook 1333 x 2000_zpscsu84lip.jpg

Categories: 69 Shade Of Smut, Erotica, Free Book, Sale | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Celebrate Mother’s Day with dozens of books for only .99 each!

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From May 9-12th you’ll be able get dozens of books from some of the hottest authors around for .99 or LESS!

Click HERE for the complete list!

I personally have 4 books discounted for the sale:

Watching SinWatching Sin 1600x2400

After fifteen years as a bland housewife, Alana is ready to shake up her life by fulfilling her darkest fantasy. She wants to be watched. Her exhibitionist streak is ready to break free, and she knows exactly whom she wants for her voyeur.

Doug would give his wife, Alana, the moon if she asked, so he’s more than willing to participate in a public threesome at a fetish party if it makes her kinky wishes come true. His business partner and best friend, Killian is the wild card in their plan.

A businessman first, and a trained Dominant second, Killian never gets tied down to one submissive. He’s a lover with commitment issues, but he doesn’t hesitate to help fulfill Doug and Alana’s fantasies. Once the fantasy is set in motion, the three players must decide if watching sin is enough…

Warning: Adult Themes-For Mature Audiences. M/M/F, graphic language

http://tinyurl.com/WatchingSin

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Submission DanceSubmission Dance 1600x2400

Marley Saltzman has a secret fantasy. She wants to let go of everything, and submit to a Dominant. Intrigued by her friends BDSM lifestyle, she convinces him to put her on the guest list for his monthly fetish party. She had no idea how far out of her element she would be until she came face to face with an experienced Dom.

Lex Gregory has been nursing heartache and raising his daughter alone for so long he barely remembers what a submissive feels like at his feet. When he meets Marley, he can’t believe that the naïve woman ever thought she could handle kink. All too quickly his need for her refreshing innocence and lack of preconceived notions grows, and he has to have her.

The two begin a subtle dance of sexual submission and wit that leads to a night of passion and unanswered questions. Will this dance end in heartache, or will they both find their darkest fantasies fulfilled?

Warning: Adult Themes-For Mature Audiences.

http://tinyurl.com/SubmissionDance

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Mistress HedonismMistress Hedonism 1600x2400

Ana Gregory and her submissive Foster Craft are happy together. They enjoy a relationship that indulges their hedonistic desires, as well as gives them the security of a partner in real life. Until another submissive shines a light on the cracks in their foundation by asking to join their pairing.

Foster’s in love with Ana, and he would do anything to please her, but sleeping with a man who hurt them both is a huge test of trust; even if he wants the man in question, with every fiber of his being.

Four months ago Wyatt Marks made a huge mistake, but it brought him to some life-changing realizations. Now he has the opportunity to right his wrongs with Ana and Foster, as well as indulge the secret fantasies he’s hidden from himself all his life.

When the triad comes together the fires are hot, but will they all get burned in the process? Or will this one night of pleasure, fulfill a lifetime of fantasies for all of them?

Warning: Adult Themes-For Mature Audiences. F/M/M, graphic language, M/M intercourse

http://tinyurl.com/MistressHedonism

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Forget Me Knot

(Crawley Creek 1)

forgetmeknot 1600x2400Lacy Denvers has lost her job, and lost her way. All she wants to do now is get her career back on track and find some stability again, but first, she wants to mark something off her bucket list: She wants to learn to ride a horse. Her dream vacation to the Crawley Creek Cattle Ranch turns into a lesson in patience when the North Dakota winter proves unpredictable as ever. Wrapped in a cocoon of snow, Lacy finds the ranch to be a hidden treasure trove of cowboy eye candy, and her mouth is watering even as her brain is telling her to run.

After a devastating tragedy, a young Drannon Russo ended up fostering with the Crawley family, and found a home. He’s only moved away once and had to lean on family for support when his dreams were shattered. Being a cowboy on a ranch is a pretty lonely existence. When a beautiful redhead shows up looking for a fresh start he’s determined to give them both what they want.

Will this vacation into the heart of cattle country turn out to be a mistake, or will Lacy and Drannon find their future in each other?

Warning: Explicit romance

http://tinyurl.com/FogetMeKnot

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You can find all of the books on sale here:

https://lorikingbooks.wordpress.com/99-mothers-day-sale-may-9-12/

Categories: .99 Sale, Books, Free Book | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breathless in Love

I’ve got the most amazing announcement to make! Writing as Jennifer Skully, I’ve teamed up with my good friend Bella Andre to bring you an exciting and emotional new contemporary romance series. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed working on this series with Bella. Bella and I grew up together (as writers, that is) in our local San Francisco RWA chapter. I’ve loved every single one of her books. And now it’s the greatest pleasure to be writing with her. We spent hours and hours brainstorming the characters and stories, and I have to say we both fell in love with these gorgeous men. And for each of them, we found the perfect woman they never saw coming. Keep in mind, these stories are contemporary romance, sexy but not erotic. Just great stories!

And enjoy these fabulous covers! The first three books with be Will, Sebastian, then Matt.
 photo Beathless in Love - Ebook 1333 x 2000_zpscsu84lip.jpg photo Reckless in Love - Ebook 1333 x 2000_zpsqaag2wcl.jpg photo Fearless in Love - Ebook 1333 x 2000_zpsn5iadl0h.jpg

 

Meet the Maverick Billionaires. Will, Sebastian, Matt, Evan, and Daniel. Sexy, gorgeous, self-made men from the wrong side of town. They survived hell together, and now they’re taking on the world.

Breathless in Love, Book 1

Coming June 10, 2015

Will Franconi has a dark past that he’s kept a closely guarded secret―very few people have ever heard his real story and he plans to keep it that way. After surviving a hellish childhood, he’s now living the dream life where everything he touches turns to gold. But something’s missing. He doesn’t quite know what until a simple letter from a teenage boy brings Harper Newman into his life. A woman who just might fill up the empty places inside him…if only he could ever be worthy of her love.

When a man has more money than he could possibly spend in five lifetimes, Harper has to ask herself what Will Franconi could possibly want from a woman like her? She’s learned the hard way that rich men always get what they want no matter the cost. If it was just herself she had to worry about, Harper would manage, but she’s guardian to her younger brother who depends on her for everything. After nearly losing his life in a car crash, she’s vowed never to let anyone hurt him ever again.

Still, sometimes Harper can’t help but long to change her story from one of an always-cautious woman to an adventurous tale of a heroine who’s wild and free…especially when Will’s kisses and caresses make her utterly breathless. And as he begins to reveal his story to her, she discovers that he’s so much more than just another wealthy, privileged man. He’s kind and giving, and he fills up all the spaces inside of her heart that have been empty for so long. Together, can they rewrite their stories into a happily-ever-after that neither of them had previously thought was possible?

And we’ve got so much more to come! Look for Sebastian to be enchanted by the beautiful but independent Charlie in Reckless in Love, coming Oct 14, 2015. Then Matt will be captivated by his motherless son’s pretty, young nanny Arianna in Fearless in Love, coming March 16, 2016.

In the coming weeks, look for excerpts of Breathless in Love.

Preorder Breathless in Love, Maverick Billionaires, Book 1, at the following retailers. You can order the book for your Kindle on June 10, 2015. Nook iBooks iBooks UK iBooks CA iBooks AU Kobo

Preorder Reckless in Love, Book 2 on iBooks. iBooks iBooks UK iBooks CA iBooks AU Kobo

Preorder Fearless in Love, Book 3 on iBooks. iBooks iBooks UK iBooks CA iBooks AU

And don’t miss my free book, Dead to the Max, Max Starr Series, Book 1.

Kindle Kindle UK Kindle CA iBooks iBooks AU iBooks UK iBooks CA Kobo All Romance Coffee Time Romance Smashwords

Categories: 69 Shade Of Smut, pre-order | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Serendipity! Two Releases this month

I’d been planning for months to release the third book in my Princes of Danislova at the beginning of March.  Then, I had the very great fortune to be a Kindle Scout Winner.  My humorous, and very sexy, romance was released for pre-order this week and will go live next Tuesday.  Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

I probably ought to stick to one subgenre instead of doing contemporary, historical, paranormal, and frankly erotic.  But when I fall in love with a story, it makes my fingers itch until I start writing it.  And when I fall in love with the hero, I’m a lost cause.  Rick and Jason are both good guys, but they have mistaken ideas about how they ought to approach love.  Luckily, they both fall for strong women who know what they want

Alice-Gaines_bEAUTY-aWAKENED_Front

Rick VonRamsberg is the family scamp—the Prince of Danislova from whom no one has ever expected much other than a smart remark and a decided talent with women. He’s met his match in Dixie Ann Beaumont. For some reason, the fiery Southern belle is willing to share his bed but reluctant about emotional intimacy. What’s up with that?

Dixie Ann Beaumont thinks the youngest prince of Danislova is as cute as a bug, but after a bad marriage, she’s shy about being burned again—especially because her overly-critical family won’t let her forget about her failure as a woman. Rick VonRamsberg is for fun only, as long as she can keep him at arm’s length.

Luckily, the physical connection between Rick and Dixie proves stronger than her fear of attachment, and he finally seems to be winning her heart as well as her body. When Dixie’s family shows up in Danislova, they’re unable to break the couple up. Unfortunately, Rick’s secret plans for their relationship may.

http://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Awakened-Princes-Danislova-novel-ebook/dp/B00TGOAONO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1425593946&sr=1-2&keywords=beauty+awakened

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beauty-awakened-alice-gaines/1121209345?ean=2940151399371

CC_Alice Gaines_Cover (1)

In this sensuous Regency romance, Jason, Lily, and Bess become engaged to the wrong people.

Captain Jason Northcross desperately desires his sister, Lily, to marry into noble society. To achieve a duchy for his sister, he needs a proper marriage for himself. His status guarantees an easily achieved betrothal, and he should have no trouble selecting one of the eligible young ladies during his party in the countryside. However, distracted from his goal, he has a hard time keeping his hands off his neighbor, Lady Rushford.

The late Earl of Rushford’s widow, Bess Webster, believes romance has passed her by. So why can’t she keep Captain Northcross out of her dreams? And how does he inflame passions she didn’t know she had? While she should be focused on penning novels and finding husbands for her friends, her thoughts center on broad shoulders and laughing green eyes.

Will these misaligned engagements be set straight before the final vows have been spoken?

http://www.amazon.com/Captain-Countess-Alice-Gaines-ebook/dp/B00RUP60TI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1425594201&sr=1-1&keywords=captain+and+countess

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New release: Kiss the Frog

Alice Gaines_Kiss Frog_500x750Pity sex with the shyest student in the lab?

That’s what Felice Larson’s friends have blackmailed her into. Dev VonRamsberg seems nice enough, if you can see past the hair that hangs in his face, the glasses, and the corduroy slacks. It’ll be embarrassing for her and possibly humiliating for him, but if Felice doesn’t follow through, the others will let their professor know she ditched on a critical research trip. So she borrows a key and lets herself into Dev’s apartment in the middle of the night and promptly gets the surprise of her life.

Christian Devlin Philippe Pascal VonRamsberg, Crown Prince, and Heir Apparent to the Throne of Danislova, has lusted after his co-student, Felice Larson, for months but hasn’t followed through because of his obligations back home. But now that she’s literally snuck into his bed, he takes full advantage, much to their mutual delight. Dev’s been hiding out in plain sight in the United States so he can get his graduate degree and enjoy a more or less normal life before he has to return to Danislova to fulfill his duties to his country. He never expected to fall for an American woman, but now that he has, how can he give her a happy ending?

Christian Devlin Philippe Pascal VonRamsberg, the Crown Prince and Heir Apparent to the Throne of Danislova slept lightly. The trait had persisted in his family from centuries ago when missing the subtlest clues from one’s surroundings could mean death by any number of gruesome means. The threat no longer persisted, but vigilance still served him well. He’d realized the moment someone came into his room. The soft footfalls and the pitch to her breathing told him the intruder was a woman. Until she neared the bed, he hadn’t fixed her identity, but the moment he caught her scent, he recognized his visitor. Felice.

Fascinating. A woman only crept into a man’s bedroom for mischief, and with any luck, she’d come here with the best sort of naughtiness in mind. He’d held himself back from approaching this particular woman for months, and now she’d come to him.

Lying perfectly still, he allowed her to crawl into his bed and press her body against his. Her naked body. More and more fascinating. The perfume that belonged only to her surrounded him. Roses, with a hint of spice and musk. Whether it came from her soap or her cologne, the scent always drew him to her. And it always produced the same reaction. An embarrassing one for a classroom or the lab. It fit much better in his bed.

He’d already been half-hard from a dream that had evaporated the moment she woke him. Now, his cock swelled to full length and readiness. She could have only one reason to be here, obviously. He’d have to find out later why she’d taken it into her head to seduce him. He had more pressing matters to deal with now, namely, taking full advantage of what she offered. He’d do that, certainly. He’d give her a lot more than she’d bargained for.

Though he kept his eyes closed, he’d memorized her appearance well enough to picture how she looked lying next to him. Her straight, blonde hair would hang over her shoulders to the swell of the breasts that blue sweater of hers showed off to such good effect. In the dim light, the green of her eyes wouldn’t show, but he could imagine them glowing with the heat of arousal. And her pale skin would have flushed along her cheeks and throat. She always looked and smelled like a confection, one he’d finally get to enjoy, if only for tonight.

He smiled inwardly as she began some tentative explorations. Her breast nestled against his ribs, the nipple stiffening, as her hand wandered his back. Fingertips traced a path down the center to his waist and back up to the base of his skull. Her lips pressed against his shoulder and then traveled along the top to his neck. She had to stretch to reach his ear. Once there, she nibbled on his earlobe. Her breath went into his ear, and he let out an involuntary moan. Too late to pull it back. She must realize he was awake. He’d take over now.

Giving into temptation he’d resisted for so long, he lifted his arm and pulled her beneath him. Her gasp of surprise sounded exactly how he‘d imagined. How many times had he awakened in the middle of the night to a fantasy of doing exactly this—of fitting their bodies together, her softness against him everywhere? He claimed her mouth in a kiss, finally tasting the lips that had distracted him so much during seminars. She had a way of pursing them when lost in thought that made him ache to ease them apart with his tongue.

He’d imagined how sweet she’d taste, but he couldn’t have anticipated how quickly she’d respond. She ran her hands under his arms and around his shoulders to raise herself to him while she explored his mouth. When she let out a sigh, he took the opportunity to slide his tongue along the seam of her lips. Their breath mingled as the scent of roses filled his nostrils and fogged his brain. Already, he’d slipped from reality into a world of rising arousal, and the way her fingertips dug into his shoulders told him she’d followed.

Delicious. Even better than he’d dreamed. She’d come to him on her own, and now, her body seemed to vibrate with the same need that built inside him. As heat rose between them and around them, he released her mouth and placed his lips against her ear.

“Felice,” he whispered, just to hear the sound of her name in his bedroom. As she’d done to him, he blew softly into her ear. In response, she arched against him, obviously as excited by the caress as he’d been.

“Dev?” His name came out on a gasp.

“Mm.” As he nibbled his way down her neck, he shifted so that he could cover one breast with his palm.

“Is that really you?”

“You were expecting someone else?”

“No…it’s just…oh, that feels so good.”

“That’s the general idea, I believe.” He rolled her nipple under his palm, and when she gave him another happy sigh, he slid lower along her body so that he could take the hardened tip into his mouth.

Making love with Felice was a hugely bad idea. He couldn’t become involved with anyone in the United States, not with his obligations at home. Still, she had invaded his bedroom. Refusing her now would amount to out-and-out rejection. He couldn’t do that to her, and honestly, his body wasn’t going to allow him to do it to himself, either. His hottest fantasy had come to life and was currently beginning to squirm beneath him. It would take the willpower of a saint to stop at this point, and he was no saint.

That resolved, he moved to the other breast and gave it the same loving, all the while skimming his hands over her ribs and down her side to her hips. She was soft everywhere, curved in the way he most enjoyed. How many times had he caught quick glimpses of her? The way faded denim caressed her ass, enticing him to cup her buttocks. He did it now, running his palms underneath and massaging the flesh. The action parted her legs, and he fitted himself between them. She did nothing to resist but only made more room for him.

Oh yes. This could get really interesting. He went exploring, pulling himself downward and running his tongue along the center of her body. He stopped briefly at her navel and planted kisses all over her belly. She had to recognize his destination. His deepest desire involved her pussy against his face, and by all appearances, he’d have it. He could eat her to his heart’s content, until she climaxed hard enough to make her scream. By God, after all these months of wanting and imagining and dreaming, he could finally hear the sounds of her orgasm.

Lower still, he burrowed his nose into the hairs that covered her sex. Her scent had changed to the perfume of an aroused woman…complex and heady. When he brushed her lips with his fingers, the tips came away wet. Such a gift, an honor. She wanted him.

Pride swelled in his chest. He wouldn’t disappoint her.

“Dev?” she whispered. “Are you going to…”

He took a breath of her incredible perfume. “I certainly hope so.”

“Oh.” The sound was half-gasp, half-cry. “I just wondered.”

He chuckled and then bent to his work…his utmost pleasure. Slowly, he dragged his tongue over her lips from the back to the front, probing for the hard nub. Ah, there. She stiffened, and this time her cry wasn’t half anything. After a moment, her hips relaxed against the sheet, her legs falling farther apart.

He continued, this time separating her lips with his fingers. Now more exposed, her clitoris fairly begged for his caress, so he flicked the tip of his tongue against it. Softly, barely touching the little bundle of nerves. Her hands found his head, the fingers burrowing into his hair while her breath grew rapid and harsh.

A highly aroused woman. The pride of any real man. And the more excited she became, the more his own sex craved entrance into hers. This may have started as an exercise in tantalizing her, but he’d need the inevitable coupling as much as she did by the time it finally happened.

“Don’t stop,” she said.

“Not until you’ve finished.” Of course, finishing her would nearly finish him. He’d watched and wanted this woman for months, although it felt as if he’d lusted after her for his whole life.

He continued, this time stroking her more firmly, still toying with her. She needed to climax, and he needed to hear her cries ringing in his ears. But for right now, he could enjoy listening to her breath coming in ragged gasps, rising in pitch. Signaling the approaching orgasm. Quickly, he slipped a finger inside her and probed while he continued pressing against her most sensitive flesh. Her muscles tightened around him as her releasing cry built. She’d reached the pinnacle, so he sucked her clitoris into his mouth to make it as good as he could.

The storm broke. The walls of her pussy gripped his finger rhythmically for long seconds. A powerful climax. And yes, she screamed. Exactly what he’d wanted for her first time with him. He stayed with her until she finished and then pulled himself up beside her.

When he tugged her into his arms, she sighed and pressed her face against his chest. “Oh. My. God.”

He stroked her back. “Good?”

“Amazing. I can’t believe…” She pushed herself back and stared into his face. Even in the dim light, he couldn’t miss her expression. Astonishment and confusion. “You’ve done that before.”

“Yes, I rather think so.”

She slapped a palm against his chest. “You’re not a virgin.”

“Who told you I was?”

“Well, everyone. I mean they assumed….that is…”

Hm. Everyone. That would mean the rest of the students in the lab. He ought to be angry, but he’d have to get over being highly aroused first.

“Assuming,” he said. “That’s dangerous, no?”

She stared at him for several more seconds. “You are Dev VonRamsberg, aren’t you?”

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/501302

http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Frog-Princes-Danislova-Novel-ebook/dp/B00QZCYEX6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kiss-the-frog-alice-brilmayer/1120976611?ean=2940150115606

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The June Madness Has Begun! #erotica #romance @decadentpub @8britbabes

Hi everyone,

I apologise in advance if my posts are rather too promo-like this month, but I have three releases out, so things are going to be utterly insane! I promise I’ll do my best to get back to some good smutty fun next month.

So… the madness has begun. Book #1 for this month was released on the 1st June. Calendar Men: Mr June – The Other Brother is now on digital shelves.

The Other BrotherHere’s the blurb:

Photographer Melodie Carr moved to New York City to escape and make a fresh start. Her soldier fiancé was killed in a friendly-fire incident in Iraq, and she has been struggling to come to terms with it ever since. She still feels strongly about needless death and those left behind, so when she sees a call for photographs for a calendar of topless men, with profits going to the Hero Family Fund, she’s eager to help out. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know any men that fit the profile, so she gives up on the idea. That is, until Patrick Brogan—her late fiance’s brother—turns up in New York. Seeing him brings up all kinds of memories, but she’s determined to push them aside and be friends with Patrick. She also realizes he’d be perfect for the calendar. But can she persuade him to take part?

And an excerpt:

“Hello?”

“Hi,” a male voice said. “Are you Melodie? Melodie Carr?”

“I am.” A caller looking for her? Had she ordered something and forgotten about it? “Who’s calling?”

“It’s Patrick,” the voice replied. “Patrick Brogan.”

“Patrick….” Speechless, she laid a hand on the wall to steady herself as the bottom dropped out of her world. Evidently, running to New York—albeit under the pretense of a good career move—hadn’t been enough. Her past still followed her, still tried to flood her with reminders of what she’d lost.

“Melodie?”

Damn, the man’s persistent. She never should have admitted her identity before asking his. She could have told him he’d gotten the wrong place and sent him away.

Not that it would have worked. There was only one place he could have gotten her address—her parents. And no way she’d get away with giving them a fake one. Plus, she did happen to be one of the few residents who had a name next to her button on the panel outside.

“Are you there?”

Damn her parents! Damn her late fiancé’s brother. Why couldn’t they just leave her alone?

A moment ago she’d been craving a familiar face, and now one waited to get in. She should let him come up—it wasn’t his fault his brother had died, after all. He’d been as devastated as her.

She pressed the button. “Come on up.”

*****

I’m currently on a blog tour with this book, so if you want to read more in depth information about the book and enter an awesome giveaway, be sure to check out the dates here.

Grab your copy of the book here: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/calendar-men-mr-june-the-other-brother/

Add it to your Goodreads shelves here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20554243-the-other-brother

Happy Reading!

Lucy x

*****

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Categories: 69 Shade Of Smut | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What if the only way to get someone out of your house is murder?

Welcome back to Cottonmouth! Woohoo, a new release! Can’t Forget You, Cottonmouth Book 3!Can't Forget You photo cantforgetyou2_3003_zpsc927c0cb.jpg

I hope readers are as happy to return to Cottonmouth as I am! You’ll meet Nick and Bobbie from She’s Gotta Be Mine Book 1, and catch up with Brax and Simone from Fool’s Gold Book 2! I loved coming back to Cottonmouth after so long! But just to keep things interesting, I’ve created a whole new set of characters to introduce readers to as well. Here’s a blurb to whet your appetite!

There’s something very special about the house Maggie grew up in. It’s sort of…alive. With a mind of its own.

And it has plans for the people living there now.

All Maggie Halliday has left after the divorce is the family dog and the home her grandmother left to her when she passed away two months ago. Maggie’s got no other choice but to run back to her hometown of Cottonmouth, California, only to discover her high school sweetheart, Cooper Trubek, is living in the house, along with four other boarders for whom Maggie is now responsible. And according to Nana’s will, Maggie can’t kick any of them out.

Unless one of them commits murder.

Still grieving for her grandmother and trying fix up the house that seems to be falling down around her, Maggie’s got more trouble than she can handle. Then things go from bad to worse when Samson the dog starts digging in the basement…

Samson so amused me. I loved writing in his point of view. I think my Star must have been a little bit like Samson, even though they look entirely different. I also fell in love with Principal Owen Sterling, and I think readers might find his story coming sometime in the future, too!

Here’s what The Book Sage had to say about Can’t Forget You!

“I’m used to Jennifer’s erotica (writing as Jasmine Haynes), which I thoroughly enjoy. This one is a humorous romantic mystery, with a few interesting elements thrown in. Do you want to know what a dog is thinking? How about a house that fixes itself and dispenses pages of a journal on an “as needed” basis? Or a romance that is strictly NOT erotic? Can’t Forget You has all of these things. Here’s something you need to know about Jennifer Skully/Jasmine Haynes. She can really write – no matter which genre she chooses.”

You’ll find great reading recommendations over at The Book Sage. I’ve loved every one of the books he’s recommended to me so be sure to check out his blog.

So I have to tell you about a special deal! She’s Gotta Be Mine will be part of a new romance anthology called Love is a Mystery: Six Novels of Love, Laughter, and Lawbreaking. A little mystery, a lot of laughs, and whole lot of romance! The bundle will only be available for 90 days, and we’re offering it for only .99. That’s 1400 pages of Kindle reading! So if you haven’t read She’s Gotta Be Mine yet, here’s the way to do it, plus you’ll get 5 other novels! Here’s a line-up of the fabulous authors. photo LoveIsAMysteryBundle_1400px2_zpse79b2c86.jpg

In FROSTED SHADOW by Nancy Warren, there’s nothing pretty about murder. When a cosmetics sales rep is murdered at the annual convention, only Toni Diamond, a sleuth who understands how to make appearances deceiving, can see into the mind of this killer.

In SHE’S GOTTA BE MINE by Jennifer Skully, what better way to show her ex what he’s missing in the made-over Bobbie Jones than taking up with the local bad boy—who’s also reputed to be a serial killer. That is, until a real murder rocks the little town of Cottonmouth.

In THE HONEYMOON COTTAGE by Barbara Cool Lee, Camilla Stewart finds too late that escaping her past won’t be easy. Because local sheriff’s captain Ryan Knight realizes that Camilla and her son Oliver may be the only people alive who can identify a serial killer… and they are next on his hit list.

In STEAMED by Holly Jacobs, cleaning is murder on the manicure. Quincy Mac is a maid in LA—a maid who’s accidentally cleaned a murder scene. Now she’s a suspect with only one option—find the real murderer before she ends up in jail.

THE ZEN MAN by Colleen Collins is a 21st-century Nick and Nora tale. It’s just another ho-hum Christmas party until a murder lands private eye Rick Levine in the slammer on first-degree murder charges. Released on bond, Rick and his girlfriend Laura have 30 days to find the real killer.

In CAUGHT YOU LOOKING by Shelley Adina, when it comes to love and crime, who’s catching whom? Hot on the trail of a technology thief, PI Duncan Moore thinks he’s found him, but he needs proof. So he asks Mallory Baines if he can do surveillance from her upstairs bedroom—which would be great except her family thinks he’s moved in and wedding bells are imminent!

You can find Love is a Mystery at all these retailers. And remember, it’s only out there for 90 days! Kindle Kindle UK Nook Nook UK iBookstore iBookstore AU iBookstore UK Kobo

Okay, one more thing! Then I’ll give you the first chapter of Can’t Forget You!

Now you can Somebody’s Lover, Somebody’s Ex, and Somebody’s Wife together in one bundle! The Jackson Brothers 3-book Bundle is available everywhere: Kindle Kindle UK iBookstoreNookKobo All Romance CoffeeTime
 photo jacksonbrothers_3003_zps3146b0f2.jpg

 

And now, here’s Chapter One!

Can’t Forget You

Cottonmouth Series, Book 3

Copyright 2014 Jennifer Skully

Chapter One

Her ex-husband got the new wife, the new baby, the house, the SUV, and their daughter Evie’s undying devotion.

Maggie Halliday got the dog.

“You’re such a good dog. What would I have done without you?” she crooned as she stroked Samson’s snout. Along with his snub pit bull face, stout bulldog body, and Australian shepherd markings, Samson had the sweetest of natures.

Maggie rolled down the windows to let the October breeze waft through the old minivan’s interior. At noon, the air was warm, but it carried the promise of a cooler season. She’d parked beneath a massive oak along a tree-lined lane on the outskirts of Cottonmouth, the hometown she hadn’t visited in twenty years. Less than three hours north of San Francisco, Cottonmouth was a lifetime away.

Across Garden Street sat the weathered Victorian house of her childhood. White shutters had aged to gray, and the roof was minus some shingles, like a faded old lady caught without her dentures. Crab grass, weeds, and gophers had long since choked the lush lawn out of existence. To the left of the front steps, the porch sagged, the support column sinking beneath the overhang’s weight. Its chains broken, the porch swing lay forlorn beneath the dining room window. The paint was peeling, and the dormer windows in the third-floor attic looked as if they’d been sealed shut with time and rot.

A man appeared around the corner of the house, a tool belt at his waist, a stack of two-by-fours balanced on his shoulder. She hadn’t ogled anyone in more years than she could count, but there was something about him. The T-shirt molded to his chest and the jeans hugging his thighs started a flutter low in her belly.

Dumping the wood on the scrubby earth, he went down on one knee to shove what looked like a car jack under the edge of the porch. As he cranked the handle, the sagging support column rose, lifting the overhang. When it was level, he nestled a wooden square between the base of the column and the concrete it rested on. The repair was a stop-gap measure in a slow decline that brought an ache to Maggie’s heart. The house was all she had left of her grandmother.

A black Lexus purred to a stop on the gravel shoulder behind her. Maggie waited for the lawyer to get out of his car. Stacked in the back of the minivan, the detritus of her life obscured most of the view out the back window. Boxes and suitcases filled with clothing, photos, kitchen gadgets, an ancient computer, and other odds and ends were all she’d claimed from her marriage.

The door of the Lexus banged shut. Samson chuffed like a steam engine. He didn’t like loud noises, hated to be yelled at, and was afraid of strangers—at least for the first fifteen minutes. After sniffing feet, pant legs, and various body parts, be they private or otherwise, he was friends for life.

Except for Ray, Maggie’s ex-husband. Samson had cowered before Ray from the moment she and Evie brought the pound dog home. Ray hadn’t even yelled at him yet. Ray Halliday wasn’t an animal person. He said they were too hard to control. Then again, Ray wasn’t a people person either. They were also too hard to control.

Maggie scratched the dog’s ear. “Be a good boy,” she crooned, then climbed out of the van.

Elton Cook was tall, gaunt, and pasty-faced. He’d have made a perfect undertaker. Or a cadaver. Instead, he’d been her grandmother’s lawyer, looking as ancient when Maggie was a child as he did now.

An oak branch scratched the top of his gray hair as he stared at the crabbed lawn, the missing shingles, the sagging porch, and the handyman shoring it up.

“This isn’t possible.” He turned to Maggie, eyes deep and dark in his skeletal face. “Right?”

She guessed what he was driving at. “You didn’t hire the handyman?”

Maggie certainly hadn’t. Her grandmother had died two month ago, leaving Maggie the house and the boarders living inside it. She blinked away the pain at the renewed sense of loss. Officially divorced for six months, a week ago Maggie lacked even a home—the dingy apartment she’d been living in didn’t count. Ray had bought her out of the house, but with the second and third mortgages they’d taken out for remodeling and Evie’s college fund, there hadn’t been much equity to distribute. The trust fund her grandmother had left for maintenance wasn’t going to cover all this. And though she’d gotten money out of the divorce settlement, it wouldn’t last long if she had to spend it on house repairs.

“It didn’t need a handyman a month ago.” Elton Cook whispered, as if the house itself might overhear and fall down as a consequence.

In Maggie’s estimation, it had needed a handyman for a long time. Turning it into a boardinghouse obviously hadn’t earned enough for all the necessary repairs.

“I’m sure my grandmother did the best she could.” A hole opened wide in Maggie’s chest as she thought of all the lost years she’d let build between her grandmother and herself.

“No.” Elton flapped bony fingers. “You don’t understand. She had it painted last year. Then there was the new septic installed nine months ago, and she sodded the entire lawn afterward. There wasn’t a weed in sight when I was out here in the middle of August.” A month and a half ago, two weeks after her grandmother passed on August first.

The handyman hammered at the base of the column, the afternoon sun shining down on his hair in an odd halo effect. In the van, Samson whined. He needed a potty break.

Elton Cook stuck his hand out, straight-armed, a key ring jangling in his fingers even as he eased closer to his Lexus. “I have to go.”

Maggie made a side shuffle to close the distance between them. “You could come in.”

“There isn’t any need.” Mr. Cook took a giant spread-eagled step in the opposite direction.

“Shouldn’t you at least introduce me to the tenants?”

“I’m sure you’ll do fine on your own.” He jingled the keys when she didn’t take them.

“I don’t even remember their names.”

“Hopefully they do.”

Maggie grabbed her grandmother’s keys before he dropped them. Mr. Cook skipped sideways the rest of the way to his car as if he were afraid to turn his back on the house. It might be time to let his son take over the law firm.

“Don’t forget,” he called. “You can’t put them out unless they don’t pay rent or they get arrested and accused of murder.”

“Can’t forget that,” she muttered to the cloud dust he left behind as he peeled out. She’d inherited her grandmother’s house as well as the boarders living there. They could miss six monthly rental payments before she could kick anyone out. Unless they tried to kill her first. She’d have to read the will again; had it said get arrested and accused of murder or was that an either/or?

She tipped her head and gazed across the street. The house and its tenants might actually be worth it if she got the handyman, too.

She was forty, divorced, and it was high time she had some fun, right? Opening the van’s door, she snapped her fingers. Samson hit the ground running. He squatted on the edge of her new yard and christened the dirt for what seemed like a full minute as Maggie crossed the road. Despite being male, Samson was a squatter, not a leg-lifter. Ray said that made him a wuss. Maggie thought it demonstrated he was an individualist.

“Guess your dog didn’t see the sign on the lawn?” The handyman’s voice was deep, the kind of voice you felt vibrating on the inside.

Maggie stared at the crab grass, the weeds, the gopher holes, and the dirt. “We didn’t notice a lawn,” she answered, perfectly serious, not a funny-bone in her body.

He pointed to the marker, a picture of a dog squatting, the universal red not circle over its behind.

“Ah, that’s it. He doesn’t read sign language.”

His lips moved, but he didn’t crack a smile, and Maggie resisted pointing out that it was her nonexistent lawn. After all, he’d fixed the column so the porch no longer sagged. For that, he deserved a thank you. She shaded her eyes from the sun pouring over the roof, opened her mouth to offer it…

And looked up into the face of the man she should have married instead of Ray.

* * * * *

It took Maggie forever to find her voice over the crack in it. “What are you doing here?”

He crossed his arms, staring down at her with something that resembled a smile, but with the sun in her eyes, it could also have been a grimace. “A whole lot of nothing, Maggie.”

God. He recognized her.

Cooper Trubek had been her high school sweetheart. Had been, was, is. It depended on your definition of the word is. He still existed, she still existed, and she’d loved him with all her heart. So Cooper Trubek is her high school sweetheart might be the right way to say it. Despite the intervening twenty-two years, the girl she’d once been had never fallen out of love with the boy. That girl still remembered every precious moment with Cooper from sophomore to senior year.

She could have said all that but, thankfully, what came out was “Samson did number one.”

Cooper glanced at Samson, who sat on his haunches, giving him the mother of all stares.

Up close, Cooper’s dark brown hair was shot through with silver strands, and fine lines etched his eyes. The years had made him better, seasoned, overwhelmingly male, instead of a mere boy of eighteen. Tall, over six feet, he’d perfected a stone-faced demeanor she found daunting. In high school, he’d laughed a lot. Back then, she hadn’t hurt him yet.

His gaze tracked her face, her hair, her eyes, her lips, then down to the tight, low-waisted jeans and snug T-shirt. She wasn’t an eighteen-year-old girl either, and his gaze made her self-conscious, as if he thought she was trying to deny her age. It was just that she’d done all her shopping with Evie who’d always said that Maggie shouldn’t dress like an old lady.

“I live here,” he finally said, without inflection.

Deciding the man wasn’t a threat, Samson rose to his four paws, trotted to Cooper’s side, and sniffed his work boots, then his pant legs. He was heading north when Cooper stuck his hand in the way.

It took that long for Maggie to realize Cooper had answered her original question. “You’re one of Nana’s boarders?”

He nodded. This time, the smile made it to his eyes. “I’m one of your boarders.” Samson circled, and Cooper shoved him away before he sniffed the backside. “I’ve got the attic.”

When Maggie lived in the house, the attic was dusty and dark, one long room with a sloped ceiling, boiling in summer and freezing in winter. How could a person live in the attic? Elton Cook told her Nana had remodeled to make more space for boarders, turning the first-floor rumpus room into a bedroom and adding a shower to the half-bath by the stairs. There were now three full bathrooms. But Mr. Cook hadn’t mentioned the attic.

Maggie snapped her fingers, and Samson slumped in the dirt, laying his snout on his paws. “I didn’t know.”

“I didn’t expect you to”—his voice roughened, the first sign of emotion slipping—“since Cecelia never called you in the entire five years I’ve been here.”

And not for twelve years before that. Did Cooper think Maggie had deserted Nana the way she’d deserted him?

“I should have called her,” she admitted, the guilt like a lump of raw cookie dough in her stomach, the kind of thing you thought you could handle until it expanded. How much had her grandmother told Cooper about Ray and Evie? Short for Evangeline. Long ago she’d chosen the name for the little girl she and Cooper would one day have. She’d dreamed so many things that had never come to pass.

If she wasn’t careful, she’d become maudlin, something she’d tried hard not to do since the divorce. “What happened to the lawn?” And the swing, the porch, the paint? “Mr. Cook said the grass was just replaced.”

Cooper stared at the house, the brown of his eyes deepening. “It got sad.”

“The house got sad?”

“When Cecelia died.” He swept an arm across the expanse of dirt, and Maggie realized the elusive sentiment in his gaze was grief. He’d had a soft spot for Nana, bringing her a treat when he arrived, meringues or flowers or a cookbook. And he’d left her with a goodnight kiss on the cheek. “First week,” he said, “the grass died, second week the weeds and gophers took over.”

Her grandmother’s house had always been…special. The scents of baking cookies and fried chicken lingered long after the kitchen should have aired out. If Maggie wanted a breeze on a summer’s night, she’d find a window open she was sure she’d closed. When she climbed out her second-floor window to meet the most beautiful boy in the world, the trellis suddenly reached right up to her sill. As if the house shared her feelings for Cooper. When she’d let him move to L.A. on his own following high school, the trellis vines grew thorns.

Over the years she’d been absent, Maggie decided she’d imagined all the strange things about the house.

“Maybe the septic’s failing again.” It could have contaminated the dirt and killed the grass.

Cooper went on. “Then the swing fell down, the porch sagged, the paint flaked, and the shingles fell off.” He kicked up one side of his mouth. “I don’t think that’s the septic.”

Her grandmother had loved the swing on a warm night, swaying, sipping homemade lemonade as they discussed the day. The torment when Timmy Tipton sent Maggie a love note only to have their fourth grade teacher intercept it and read it aloud. The tragic loss of Jimmy Howell when he was killed in the sixth grade as he crossed the big highway east of town. Susan Foster getting pregnant at fifteen. What Maggie should wear to the junior prom with Cooper.

All the memories, the years, the times she thought of calling Nana but never did. All the regrets and guilt. “I thought you were some big screenwriter in Hollywood,” she said, a catch in her voice.

His head bent to Samson, Cooper merely raised his eyes to meet his gaze. “You know I never sold a screenplay.”

She hadn’t known. For years, she’d searched movie credits for his name. When Cooper left to make his Hollywood dreams come true, she was supposed to go with him. Fear got the better of her, and she’d allowed him to board that train alone, deserting him with nothing but a note she’d sent via a friend. At eighteen, it had seemed the best way to let him down. Today, she saw it for the coward’s way out that it was.

After that there was college, Ray, then Evie. And now this, back at the house she’d started in as if she were George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. What would her life have been like if she hadn’t thrown away Cooper’s love?

“I’m sorry you didn’t make a movie.” What else could she say? She’d chosen security over a frighteningly uncertain future with Cooper. Two years later, when she’d gotten pregnant, Ray had represented her safety net. She’d chosen what she thought was security, even against her grandmother’s wishes and advice.

She’d lost it all when Ray no longer had a use for her. Even Evie didn’t need her after she went off to college.

She sounded disgustingly poor-poor-pitiful-me, but she’d made her own choices. “Thanks for fixing the porch.”

“Cecelia used to give me money off the rent for doing her odd jobs.” He turned, bounded up the porch steps, then threw over his shoulder, “I don’t expect the same thing from you.”

The message, she assumed, was that he didn’t want anything from her. He disappeared into the bowels of her grandmother’s house, the screen door banging shut behind him. One of the hinges dropped off, the screws pinging on the porch.

She’d deserted him, hurt him, hadn’t talked to him, or written him. She’d owed him more than a note. Yet she’d walked away and never looked back. Just as Ray had done to her over a year ago, the day after they’d settled Evie in her first-year college dorm room in San Luis Obispo. So Maggie knew how Cooper felt.

She shoved the house keys in her jeans pocket, snapped her fingers, and whistled. People didn’t like being snapped at, but to dogs, it was a sound, a command, and if they obeyed, they knew they’d get a treat. Samson followed her back across the lane to the minivan, and she carried the first of her boxes into her grandmother’s house. Her house now.

They say you can’t go home again; Maggie had no choice but to try.

Hope you enjoyed Chapter one of Can’t Forget You! Here’s where you can find the ebook! Kindle Kindle UK Nook Nook UK iBookstore iBookstore AU iBookstore UK Kobo Smashwords All Romance CoffeeTime

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Are we ready for Valentine’s Day!?

Happy New Year to everyone!

And wow, Jan 6 is here, and last night was the premiere of Downton Abbey’s Season 4 on PBS! If you haven’t gotten hooked, start with Season 1! If you like it, I guarantee you won’t be able to stop until you’ve gobbled up the entire series!

What I love about the series is the romance. It’s a period piece, sort of like Upstairs, Downstairs, where you have the lives of Downton Abbey’s owners and the lives of the servants. The series starts right at the time the Titanic sinks, goes through WW I, and on into the twenties. My favorite budding romance is between Bates, the earl’s valet, and Anna, a lady’s maid. But there are so many romances I felt invested in, the earl’s daughter and the chauffeur (egads!), and of course, the earl’s daughter and the heir to the earldom (no, this isn’t her brother!). But I also loved the touch of history that you could, how the first world war basically saw the breaking down of the barriers between the classes. Workers were no longer content to stay in their places. They wanted, and demanded, more. I read Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants, which is about the same period in history. Basically that war saw the fall of the ruling classes in Europe. The world landscape changed. But throughout it all, there were still great romances! I can’t wait for Downton Abbey, Season 4, has in store for us. It was certainly a great beginning last night!

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And speaking of romance, the stores are already filled with Valentine’s candy. And that’s what I’m here to talk about, my new Valentine’s anthology, with stories by me, Pamela Fryer, Haley Whitehall, Raine English, Lois Winston, and Melinda Curtis. Let me give you a little blurb and a taste of my contribution to Love, Valentine Style. It’s called Be My Other Valentine. You can read longer excerpts on my 12/29 Blog and my website.

Five years ago, Grace was given a sacred duty by a woman dying of cancer: Every Valentine’s Day, Grace must deliver a special cake to a girl named Valentine, addressed from the girl’s mother in heaven. But this year, Grace’s van gives up the ghost before she delivers her cargo.

His daughter Valentine is all Brian has left of his wife, but he’s forgotten the cake Valentine receives every year, and they’ve moved to a new house with no way to contact the baker who follows his wife’s wishes.

In their quest to fulfill a dying woman’s last request, can Grace and Brian find their own Valentine?

He reached over to open the door. “It’s cold, get in.” When she hesitated, he added, “If your car won’t start, you won’t be able to turn on the heater.” He smiled and patted the seat next to him. “And I have seat warmers.”

“Oh God, you’re evil. I’ll put the cake on the floor behind the passenger seat. It won’t slide as much when you’re driving.”

He kept the engine running and pushed the buttons for both seat warmers. Her van was visible around the corner, and they would see when the tow truck arrived.

Settling beside him, she asked, “So I’ve been dying to know if your daughter likes the cakes.”

He smiled. Valentine was the light of his life. “She adores them.”

“Which one did she like best?”

He supposed it was like a painter or a musician or a writer asking if you liked their latest work. Her cakes were an art form. “The lamb. Or maybe that was just my favorite. Because Valentine was very partial to the pink and red ladybug.” There’d also been an amazing butterfly, its wings topped with colored fruit jellies arranged to look like a pink monarch, and a Finding Nemo fish, which had been pink instead of orange and accented with red stripes instead of black. “You’re very talented.”

Even in the shadows of the car, he recognized her blush. “Thank you. Valentine? For her birthday? I didn’t realize that was actually her name. Her mother didn’t say.”

His mood immediately spiraled. He hadn’t known what Marilyn planned until she’d done it. And when he’d seen the credit card bill later, he almost choked. But she was gone by then, and over the years, he’d realized what she’d given Valentine was worth every penny. In fact, it probably wasn’t enough. This woman—he hadn’t even asked her name—had already provided far more than the money Marilyn had paid her. A childhood’s worth of cakes, a mother lode of love. Why would she go to such lengths for a woman she didn’t know and a child who hadn’t even been born when she made the deal?

“Who are you?” he finally asked.

Love, Valentine Style is available exclusively on Amazon.

So, have you seen Downton Abbey? Are you hooked? Or do you wonder what all the fuss is about?

Oh, almost forgot! Get your free copy of She’s Gotta Be Mine in ebook! Enjoy! Kindle, Kindle UK , BN, iBooks, iBooks AU, iBooks UK, Kobo, Smashwords, All Romance, Coffee Time.

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