Saturday, February 28, 2015

Long, Straight, Curly, Fuzzy – Hair! Guest Post by Author Patricia Green

Characters are made up of a lot of details: age, weight, eye color, and hair pop to mind immediately. Do you put much stock into a character's hair? Don't you think it says something about them if their hair is long or short, dark or light, streaked or plain, curly or short? Does it say something about their family, or their independence and confidence?

One of my books, The Girl with the Thistle Tattoo, has a heroine with black hair with blue streaks. Astraea is rebellious and has a Goth bent. Her blue hair says something very particular about her.

But men's hair can be just as telling. Imagine how you'd feel about a guy who visited the salon to have his hair streaked every month. Or a guy with really long hair that he wore in a braid. Would these things give you hints about their personalities? 
 
I've read any number of books with heroes whose hair I didn't like. I don't go for blond guys, for example, so in my mind I changed them to brunettes. That might be cheating on my part, but I figure the author might rather I continued buying her books, even if I had to play with a few details. 
 
I'm a natural redhead, and when I was growing up and first started reading romance novels, so many of the heroines had red hair! It was much easier to put myself in their shoes when their hair was the same as mine. Do you feel that way, too? These days, I'm hesitant to make my heroines redheads because I don't want them to be too much like me. Weird how the screw turns.

So what kind of hair do you like to see in romance novels? Do you have a favorite hair type, or are you enraptured with any hair that seems to fit the character the author designed?

Murder at Twin Oaks: Victoria James Mystery Novella 1 by C.Z. Brackett

$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members

Journalist Victoria James usually only writes about crime for the Bennettsville, Ga. Herald. When two of the town's most influential people are killed and clues start showing up on Victoria's doorstep, she's forced into the investigation and must come face-to-face with part of her past she'd rather forget.


There are no graphic depictions of sex or violence in this novella.

Excerpt:


“I’m sorry ma’am, but you can’t - ” started one of the deputies from another county.
“She's fine,” interrupted Deputy Jefferson Hawes of the Bennettsville Sheriff’s Department who saw her pull up and had been awaiting her arrival. “You can’t stop Victoria James when she’s on a story. I’ll handle Ms. James' questions.”
The other deputy nodded and backed away, and Victoria smiled at Jeff.
“What took you so long, Vic?”
“Couldn’t get past all of the police cars, Jeff. What is going on?”
Jeff shook his head.
“We were trying to keep this one quiet,” he said.
 Victoria laughed.
“Then, you‘ve failed miserably. Besides you should know you can’t keep anything quiet in this town. People know what color my underwear is, and you think you can hide a murder? I got a phone call the minute three deputy cars passed Myra Evans’ house.”
“Good old Miss Myra. God love her,” he replied. "And how do you know it's a murder investigation?"
“You know you really should hire her. I think she solves most of your cases. She said there are two dead bodies in Twin Oaks.”
 
“Shh. That’s between you and me, but it’s going to take a lot more than the town busybody to solve this one. And that is off the record so don’t quote me on that.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

eBooks Deals for February 27th

At His Service: Part 1 by Suzanne Rock
$1.99

First in an exclusive and red hot mini-series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Rock.
 
Leo Perconti's  life is spinning out of control. As head of his family’s hotel conglomerate, it’s his job to save his family from bankruptcy. At the center of his turmoil is Karin Norell, a quiet, alluring housekeeping manager who compliments his dominating personality and lets him feel in control once more.

As Karin explores her passion her feelings for Leo deepen. Unfortunately, Karin and Leo come from  different worlds, and when the two worlds collide, the cost can be devastating. As the service staff at The Palazzo rise up against the Perconti family, both Leo and Karin are faced with losing what each of them holds most dear. Together they must learn that true power comes from vulnerability and trust that can only happen when you let your insecurities go.


The Cowboy (Hot Aussie Heroes Book 1) by Margareta Osborn
$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members (Regularly $2.99 or FREE for Prime Members)

Carina Chapman wants a vacation. Somewhere hot. Somewhere decadent. Somewhere far, far away from her complicated life in New York. Somewhere in Australia appears to be the answer, until Carina discovers her PA has booked her into the wrong resort.

Cowboy Jake Richardson can cook a mean camp-oven roast, track wild horses, breed cattle and knows Australia’s rugged High Country like no other, but he needs to diversify if he wants to keep his land. Tourism seems like the answer, but his housekeeper just quit, the rooms aren’t ready and he doesn’t know a short black from a cappuccino.

Then his first guest arrives.

City slick Carina is smart, classy and disgruntled that her dreamy five-star retreat has been replaced by a rustic homestead beside the Barcoo Creek. Jake has seven days to convince Carina he can deliver all the items on her vacation checklist – including the five-step method to an everlasting relationship…

With him. 


Seduce Me Tonight by Katherine Garbera
$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members (Regularly $2.99 or FREE for Prime Members)

WOO ME…
Designing and running a unique and successful family oriented South Carolina resort has been Alexandra Haughton’s passion. She’s not about to allow her crown jewel to be bought and revamped by a huge conglomerate even if CEO, Sterling Powell, personally arrives, champagne and contract in hand to try to persuade her to change her mind. He’s handsome, smart and wields a devilish smile that promises serious bedroom skills. Alexandra’s interest is caught, but not for making a sale. Her body may be on offer but not her hotel so Sterling needs to up his game.


RESIST ME…
Sterling Powell is determined to add Alexandra Haughton’s celebrated resort to his balance sheet, and the minute he sees her sexy lips mouth ‘no,’ the red flag of challenge has been waved. He’s never backed down from a challenge, and it’s clear that his persuasive skills need to extend outside the boardroom. Alexandra Haughton requires some serious exploration of reintroducing to life’s most delicious pleasures---moonlit beach walks, candle-lit dinners and skin scorching kisses. No one said he had to play fair, and he doesn’t intend to. Only when sizzling sex isn’t enough and Sterling wants a more permanent merger, does he realize this is one challenge he can’t afford to lose.

The Secret (Seacliff High Mystery Book 1) by Kathi Daley Excerpt

$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members

Alyson Prescott moves to Cutters Cove, Oregon, after being placed, along with her mother, in the witness protection program. In her previous life, Alyson was an A-list heiress with the excitement of a trend setting lifestyle and the security of old money. After witnessing a murder executed by two members of a powerful gang family, she is forced to leave her old life behind and become a middle class girl, living in a middle class town. Alyson struggles with the duplicity in her life as she strives to reconcile her new life with the old.

In the first book in the series, The Secret, Alyson and her mother buy a dilapidated old mansion on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Alyson soon finds that the house holds a secret that only the recently deceased resident of the property seems to know the answer to. Alyson and the new friends she meets at Seacliff High, set out to find the answer to a fifty-year old mystery that will reveal a trail of murder, embezzlement, lies, and deception. As the journey intensifies, friendships are forged that will last a lifetime.

Excerpt:

Though he’d been dead for nearly four years, he stood at the end of the bed, silhouetted in the darkness. His features were faint, like a blurry watercolor that hinted at images not clearly defined. Eyes that were felt more than seen beckoned her toward him. Alyson didn’t believe in ghosts, but somehow she wasn’t at all surprised to find him standing there. She’d felt his presence for days, watching her, judging her, waiting to make his presence known at just the right time. He looked just like she’d pictured him, gnarled and wrinkled, his back curved with age.

“Barkley?”

The image faded into the darkness. Alyson rolled over onto her side and switched on the bedside lamp. Nothing. Old houses tended to be temperamental and unpredictable. This wasn’t the first time the electricity had failed.

Fumbling around for some matches, she lit the candle she kept for just such occasions. The flickering light illuminated the room, casting eerie shadows on the faded wallpaper. A Prada wrap dress tossed haphazardly across a three-legged chair came alive as the breeze from the cracked window caused it to flutter and sway. An empty coatrack, abandoned by a previous resident, reached out to her, arms broken and splintered like a frail old man.

Alyson slipped out of bed and wrapped a white silk robe around her body. She curled her toes against the cold as she made her way across the scuffed wooden floor, pausing to listen, as she turned the knob on her battered door and opened it just an inch.

Peering into the inky darkness, she searched for any sign of her nocturnal guest.

“Barkley? Are you out here?”

Taking a deep breath, she listened. A steady ticktock as the grandfather clock at the end of the hallway marked off the minutes. The muffled sound of waves crashing on the rocky shoreline beyond the thick walls of the ancient house. The thundering of her own heartbeat as she slowly released the breath she’d been holding. She looked toward the sanctuary of her bed, then opened the door an inch further. A sliver of light from the third-floor window pierced the darkness, casting shadows that appeared to waltz across the landing.

Opening the door enough to squeeze through, she crept into the hallway, shining the light from her candle toward the narrow staircase. Glancing toward the haven of her mother’s closed door at the other end of the hall, she edged toward the stairs with her back to the wall.

“Barkley?” she breathed.

She paused and listened with each step she took. One, two, three, four, remember to breathe, only nine stairs more. Stepping over the third stair from the top, which tended to creak under your weight, she reached the landing and looked around. Four doors, all closed. Three led to bedrooms, one to a bath. Glancing up the staircase, which continued toward the fourth-floor attic, she hesitated. The attic had been securely locked ever since she and her mother had moved in three weeks earlier. They’d tried to open it several times, but it had obviously become solidly rusted over the years, like a weathered seal on an ancient tomb. The handyman had informed them that the door would need to be removed; sometimes old locks became frozen with age.

Taking a step toward the first closed door, she looked again toward the impenetrable entrance at the top of the rickety stairs. It beckoned her to try once again. It wasn’t rational; rusted locks don’t suddenly free themselves to reveal their treasures. Alyson turned and stepped cautiously onto the first wobbly stair leading to the attic. She’d always been more curious than rational, and more often than not that had landed her in trouble.

The stairs were uneven and decaying; one wrong step and . . . Alyson didn’t want to think about that. She wondered about residents past. Had anyone stumbled on them? Maybe even fallen? A trip down the steep wooden stairs wouldn’t be pleasant at all. Gripping the wooden railing tighter, she stepped over a broken floorboard and scampered safely onto the fourth-floor landing.

Pausing in front of the door, she slowly turned the knob. The door opened effortlessly, groaning under the strain of years without movement. The windowless room, damp and musty with age, echoed the silent voices of lives past and secrets long buried. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling, their intricate patterns crisscrossing across the doorway. Standing on her tiptoes, she tried to peer over the boxes and furniture piled from floor to ceiling as far back as her limited view could discern. She wondered about the owners of the long-forgotten cache, the generations of men, women, and children who had once stored their most precious memories and prized possessions within these very walls.

Barkley had led her here; she felt it in her gut. Somewhere among the discarded remnants of lives past was a secret he wanted her to find. Tiffany would love this—a mystery to solve. Tiffany had always been the more adventurous of the two of them. Too bad she was dead.

Alyson closed the door, being careful not to trip the rusty lock. Barkley’s secret would have to wait. Tonight she needed her sleep. Tomorrow her new life would officially begin. A life that would be totally different from everything she had ever known. Alyson smiled as she pulled her robe more tightly around her shivering body and started back down the stairs. Ghosts and hidden secrets; who would have thought that her life could get any crazier than it already was? Her court-appointed shrink would have had a field day with this.

Free eBooks for February 27th

Paradox - The Angels Are Here by Patti Roberts

Two mysterious strangers arrive just in time to help Grace Connors as she struggles to cope with the death of her father. But are the intentions of these strangers as innocent as they first seem, or is something far more sinister on their agenda?

Meanwhile, in a faraway realm, a race of fallen Angels clash with a ruling house of Angels. Their battle changes events in the Ancient World and the New World forever. A realm where a year can last centuries and an ancient, magical people still rule... A realm where even the immortals face danger.

A story that will indeed leave you asking... Who, When, Where? WHAT!

My name is Juliette. Nine hundred years ago, I died. Today, I am alive... This is my story.


Hammers in the Wind by Christian Warren Freed
(Regularly $2.99)

Exiled millennia ago, the dark gods have tirelessly sought to return and bend the world of Malweir to their will. Their agents roam the world in search of weak willed men, knowing that only through corruption and chaos can their masters return. It begins in the northern kingdom of Delranan the night King Badron’s castle is attacked and his only son murdered and his daughter kidnapped. Angered, he leads his kingdom to war against the neighboring Rogscroft.

A small band of heroes is assembled to find the princess and return her safely but all is not as it seems. Badron falls under the sway of the Dae’shan, immortal agents of the dark gods, and unwittingly begins the final campaign that will reduce Malweir to willing servants of evil.

The hour of the dark gods return is now at hand.


Vampire Dead-tective by Mac Flynn
(Regularly $0.99)

Paranormal romance thriller episodes revolving around a pair of unlikely partners in their quest for truth, justice, and a pint of blood.

There are those who hunt the night, and then there's Liz Stokes. She's a normal woman with an abnormal roommate until he up and gets himself murdered. Now she's inherited his unique ring and even more unique business partner, and the world of the paranormal is sprung on her like a surprise birthday party nobody wants. Together the pair find out that they don't like each other. A lot. The catch? They can't kill each other or the survivor will die, too.

Now Liz has to navigate this new and frightening world while dealing with her equally new and frightening companion. It's a mad chase with mad scientists, men in black, and cop werewolves who want to take more than a bite out of crime.

The Marked Bride (Romantic Military Suspense) (Shadow Watchers Book 1) by Vicki Hinze

$3.99

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

THE SHADOW WATCHERS RETURN!

In Seagrove Village, former Shadow Watcher, Tim, receives a stunning text from his ex-fiancé, Mandy, on their secure phone. She’s in trouble and needs help. Against objections—she’d broken their engagement to marry another man—Tim responds, and discovers NINA, Nihilists in Anarchy, an international terrorist group the Shadow Watchers have faced before, is after the team again. This time, through Mandy.

The breakup had devastated Tim, but what he discovers now forces him to work with Mandy to reveal yet another layer of operatives in the NINA organization. A layer that, for Mandy, strikes close to home and makes her The Marked Bride.

Few are who they seem. Facts are mercurial. And even those fighting this enemy on the Shadow Watchers’ side are withholding vital information that endangers all the Shadow Watchers’ lives, leaving Tim and Mandy wondering. Can they reveal the truth and protect the nation’s interests? Can the team succeed at fighting the enemy and its own side?

When all is done, who will survive? And of the survivors, if Tim and Mandy are among them, will they stand together or be robbed of their future once again and be forced apart forever?


The Shadow Watchers were introduced in Crossroads Crisis Center series:

Book 1: Forget Me Not (Ben)
Book 2: Deadly Ties (Mark)
Book 3: Not This Time (Joe)

And continue in their own Shadow Watchers series:

Book 1: The Marked Bride (Tim)

Coming Next:
Book 2: The Marked Star (Nick)
Book 3: The Marked Gentlewoman (Sam)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Her Sister (Search For Love series Book 7) by Karen Rose Smith

$3.99

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

When Clare Thaddeus' sister was abducted, she was five and her family fell apart. Now, twenty-seven years later, there's a chance Lynnie could still be alive! Divorced parents, a rebellious daughter, and a devoted sister find their lives in turmoil once again. This time, will crisis tear them apart or will forgotten love knit them together once more?









Excerpt:

Where is Lynnie?  Where did she go?
In her mind, five-year-old Clare Thaddeus called to her little sister—Come back, Lynnie.  Please come back.
The huge policeman crouched down in front of Clare's mother at the sofa and said in a deep, slow voice, "Mrs. Thaddeus, I know you're terribly upset.  But I need details.  We've got an hour before daylight.  If your daughter wandered outside—"
Clare's father, who'd been talking to another man in blue, glanced at her, and Clare huddled down deeper into the big green armchair.  Her dad didn't come to her but rather went to her mom, sank down beside her and wrapped his arm around her.  Then he spoke to the officer.  "Our daughter, Lynnie, is three.  She would never go outside into the dark on her own."
"Tell us again where you were last night," the policeman demanded in a not-so-nice voice.
"I worked late, preparing a brief."
"Until five a.m.?"
"Yes, until five a.m.  As I told you, I always check the girls' rooms before turning in.  Lynnie wasn't in her bed.  I woke my wife.  We looked through the whole house and then we called you."
Clare had been sleeping in her brand new room.  They'd moved in here—she studied her hand and counted her fingers—five days ago.  Boxes were still stacked down here and upstairs.  The house was okay.  There were more rooms for her and Lynnie to play hide and seek.  But she didn't like being alone in her own room at night.  She'd liked it better when she and Lynnie had slept in the same room.  She was supposed to watch her sister.  She was always supposed to look out for Lynnie.  That's what big sisters did.

Lazar's Tempest (Jack Lazar Series Book 7) by Kevin Sterling

$2.99 or FREE for Prime Members


Action and Suspense Have Never Been So Sexy
Readers say the Jack Lazar Series "is like James Bond Meets Fifty Shades of Grey"

In this seventh edge-of-your-seat thriller, Jack is in desperate need of a break and heads to Hawaii for a little fun and relaxation. But instead, he stumbles upon a malicious conspiracy against the US and finds himself sucked into the middle of the action. As the details unfold, it’s painfully clear that the threat is real, imminent, and horrifyingly lethal.

Could this be the end of the United States as we know it? Is there really a weapon out there, against which the country has no defense? Apparently so, and it’s up to Jack to stop it.

The problem is, NCIS and the police both suspect Jack is the bad guy in all this—a murderer with some sort of plot against the Pacific Missile Range Facility—and there’s a ruthless terrorist organization that wants him dead, too. Then, as if all that weren’t enough, add a raging hurricane, an infiltrated Navy missile cruiser, and a maritime war exercise to the mix.

At least there’s one bright spot. Enter Leilani, a stunning girl of mixed Chinese and American heritage who opens Jack’s eyes to new experiences and extraordinary ideas about sex. But when she’s taken away by the worst terrorist of them all, can he possibly rescue her?

The Chariot: Caitlin's Tarot - Episode 2 by L. j. Charles

$0.99

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

It was going to be a witchy kind of day…

Working at the Ola Boutique wasn’t in Caitlin’s plans, but it provides the perfect opportunity to build a following for her Tarot readings, and to search for whoever killed Ted Thatcher. Her destiny, standing for truth and justice, demands she find the murderer, and free Ola Boutique’s owner, Hannah Matthews, from being convicted of a crime she didn’t commit.

New to working with her Wiccan heritage, Caitlin accidentally summons an apparition of Thatcher. His only message is a single word—witch. Like Hannah. And like Caitlin.

How will Caitlin find the guilty witch when she’s barely dipped her toes into the Craft? And what if the guilty witch really is Hannah? 

At His Service: Part 4 by Suzanne Rock

$1.99

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

The thrilling conclusion to the exclusive and red hot mini-series from New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Rock.

Leo Perconti's life is spinning out of control. As head of his family's hotel conglomerate, it's his job to save his family from bankruptcy. At the center of his turmoil is Karin Norell, a quiet, alluring housekeeping manager who compliments his dominating personality and lets him feel in control once more.

As Karin explores her passion her feelings for Leo deepen. Unfortunately, Karin and Leo come from different worlds, and when the two worlds collide, the cost can be devastating. As the service staff at The Palazzo rise up against the Perconti family, both Leo and Karin are faced with losing what each of them holds most dear. Together they must learn that true power comes from vulnerability and trust that can only happen when you let your insecurities go.

Read all four parts of this sensational e-series—and look for the full volume of At His Service in June 2015 from St. Martin's Paperbacks.

Duffel Bags and Drownings (A Haley Randolph Mystery) by Dorothy Howell Review

Title: Duffel Bags and Drownings
Series: A Haley Randolph Mystery
Author: Dorothy Howell
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 116
Price: $4.99
Thoughts: Fun mystery.

Book Synopsis:

Fashionista and event planner to the stars Haley Randolph is staging a St. Patrick's Day bash for one of Hollywood's biggest couples. When she visits the catering company to check on preparations, it looks like the green ice sculptures will be the hit of the party -- until Haley finds a server floating face down in the water tank.

Haley becomes the prime suspect in the murder. With a killer -- and a giant leprechaun -- on the loose, she must do some fast sleuthing to find the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. Will she kiss the Blarney Stone -- or the hot new detective on the case?

Haley will need the luck of the Irish to find the killer -- and the hottest handbag of the season!

Review:

Started out a little slow, but quickly picked up. I couldn't help but shake my head at the hilarity of some of the scenes. Haley is a great character and all her little ways of avoiding work are awesome. If you like fun mystery and interesting female sleuths, you'll enjoy this book. Can't wait to read more from this author.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cowboy (The Harmony Series, Book 1) by Staci Stallings Excerpt

Cowboy (The Harmony Series, Book 1) by Staci Stallings
$2.99

Life has done its best to knock Beth McCasland to the ground, and the truth is: it’s done a pretty good job of keeping her there. Stuck in a minimum-wage job with a young daughter counting on her, Beth does her best to stay standing under the weight of it all because she knows God is on her side. Then one night she gets the chance to be an angel to another of life’s weary travelers. For once hope has never looked so real.

Timothy Ashton Raines has worked himself to the very top of the country music charts, but the loss of his wife has him questioning if life is even worth living. When he walks away from it all, a chance encounter saves him from the abyss, but does he have enough faith to hold on to love a second time around?

Cowboy is a grace-filled love story about the power of giving everything to God and how a simple act of compassion can change lives forever. Emotional, soothing, and heart-wrenching, Cowboy is infused with the message that no matter who we are and no matter what life has thrown at us, we never have to walk alone.

An inspiring Contemporary Christian Romance novel, “Cowboy” is an Amazon Best Seller with a heart that is both captivating and mesmerizing. This novel is truly Christian romance at its very best. Filled with faith, hope, and love, Christian romance kindle books aim to inspire women and men alike while giving them an exceptionally romantic love story they will not soon forget. With down-to-earth characters who have real lives and real struggles, “Cowboy” will soon find a place among the most inspirational books you own.

Excerpt:

The burden of fatigue and heartbreak he’d been carrying for months pulled Ashton's gaze to the table just as the bells at the door jingled. Although he never looked up, he heard her slide from the booth. 

“Finish your breakfast.” She pointed to his plate. “If you need someone to listen, all you have to do is ask.” 

And with that she left his booth to go help the other customers. 

Let others help, he thought as sarcasm dripped from his spirit. Yeah, right. 

He couldn’t trust anyone with this pain. He couldn’t let them in. Besides, they didn’t want to listen—not really. They wanted him to say everything was fine and keep going as though nothing in the world had happened. They wanted him to be Ashton Raines, superstar, and as far as what happened to the real Ashton Raines, they couldn’t care less. 

Loneliness descended on him again, and his whole body slumped toward the table with the weight of it. It was becoming more and more difficult to keep himself upright. All he wanted to do was lie down and go to sleep forever. If he could just think of one friend. One real person he could call, one real person he could talk to. 

“If you need someone to listen, I’m here,” he heard her words again in the depths of his soul, and he looked up to see if she was actually standing there. But she was across the restaurant helping someone else. 

“I can’t tell her.” He shook his head and clutched the top of his cap, rolling it down around his face at the absurdity of the very thought. “I don’t even know her.” 

Then his gaze lit on the all-but empty plate in front of him. She had given him a meal and asked for nothing in return. She had shared a piece of her heart with him and expected nothing. It was by far the greatest act of kindness he’d experienced in a long time. He looked down at the empty coffee cup, closed his eyes, and raised it off the table. “Miss, could I get a refill?” 

eBook Deals for February 25th

Supernatural Hero by Eran Gadot
$0.99

Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014 - Winner
Reader's Favorite Book contest 2014 - Silver Medal
IPPY Book Awards 2014 - Bronze Medal
Purple Dragonfly Book Awards 2014 - Honorable Mention
Indie Excellence Book Awards 2014 - Finalist
London Book Festival 2013 - Honorable Mention

Supernatural Hero and the Witches (Book 2) is out!

Don't try to be someone else, be yourself!
Reading this book will make you see that being yourself is the only way
for success, all you need is to believe.

Andy is the nerd everyone makes fun of. He's really skinny, wears glasses and talks to himself, but he falls in love with the prettiest girl in the class. One day Grandpa dies and turns into a ghost. Then, Andy discovers a new power, he can see ghosts and talk to the dead.

Join Andy's journey and find out how a nerd can become a hero.

Supernatural hero is a great children's book with an outstanding story, for the whole family to enjoy.

This book series will stay with you forever.


Little Suckers Bite Too (San Francisco Vampires #6) by Jessica McBrayer
$0.99

Series Order -
Sucking in San Francisco
Hell Hounds are for Suckers
Sucking Bites
Suckers Go To Hell
Suckers Bite Back
Little Suckers Bite Too

Hannah is pregnant beyond her wildest dreams. She feels like she might explode from her happiness. But all is not hearts and baby booties. When Hannah is forced into bed rest, in Hell, her bestie, Lily comes to her side.

Manipulating in-laws and pregnancy complications begin as her due date looms in the not-so-distant future. Causing chaos and a fire-barking Hell Hound.

But there is a surprise in store for Hannah and Diel. Only a Djinn, Vampires and WereVamps can come to the rescue and ring in the joyous event of Hannah’s and Diel’s baby. 


Promises, Promises (Alluring Promises Series Book 1) by Josie Bordeaux
$0.99 (Regularly $2.99)

**Adult Content 18+ Only**
Isabella “Izzy” McKenna just came out of a two year, well, she couldn’t really call it a relationship. It was more like two years of being dominated and controlled by him, a handsome and powerful man. When she finally decides to leave him, after he finally pushes her too far, she revives her friendship with her best friend from college.

Little did Izzy know that rekindling her friendship would also throw her into an amazing loving relationship with a gorgeous fun, but at times jealous, bar owner named Z.

Will Izzy’s horrible childhood and past controlling relationship keep her from finally finding the love that she’s always searched for? Or will he ruin the love that is finally just in her grasp?


Seduce Me Tonight by Katherine Garbera
$0.99 (Regularly $3.99)

WOO ME…
Designing and running a unique and successful family oriented South Carolina resort has been Alexandra Haughton’s passion. She’s not about to allow her crown jewel to be bought and revamped by a huge conglomerate even if CEO, Sterling Powell, personally arrives, champagne and contract in hand to try to persuade her to change her mind. He’s handsome, smart and wields a devilish smile that promises serious bedroom skills. Alexandra’s interest is caught, but not for making a sale. Her body may be on offer but not her hotel so Sterling needs to up his game.

RESIST ME…
Sterling Powell is determined to add Alexandra Haughton’s celebrated resort to his balance sheet, and the minute he sees her sexy lips mouth ‘no,’ the red flag of challenge has been waved. He’s never backed down from a challenge, and it’s clear that his persuasive skills need to extend outside the boardroom. Alexandra Haughton requires some serious exploration of reintroducing to life’s most delicious pleasures---moonlit beach walks, candle-lit dinners and skin scorching kisses. No one said he had to play fair, and he doesn’t intend to. Only when sizzling sex isn’t enough and Sterling wants a more permanent merger, does he realize this is one challenge he can’t afford to lose. 

Much Ado About Mavericks (Hearts of Owyhee Western Romance Book 4) by Jacquie Rogers

$2.99

Amazon

Hearts of Owyhee, book 4

Against the sweeping backdrop of the Owyhee Mountains, Benjamin Lawrence meets the one woman who'll rattle his derby forever.

Ben is a highly respected attorney in Boston, but in Idaho Territory, they still think of him as that gangly awkward boy called Skeeter. When he goes back home to settle his father’s estate, he’s confronted with two surprises: an outlandish will, and a fiery redheaded head wrangler who just happens to be a female.

Janelle Kathryn O'Keefe, affectionately called "Jake," can out-ride, out-shoot, and out-rope any cowboy on the Bar EL, which is why she was promoted to foreman. She's not at all amused that she has to teach an eastern greenhorn how to work cattle, no matter how handsome he is. If she's not careful, he just might lasso her heart.

Seducing Manhattan by Kristina Shook

$3.99 or FREE for Prime Members

Seducing Manhattan
Decca, a suddenly single woman, is given a membership to a secrete club for her birthday. She finds herself swiftly thrust into the hot, steamy kinky world of Alpha dominated sexual passion with a Manhattan Billionaire.

Will the sexual bondage lead her to desperation or sexual freedom?

Is this Alpha Billionaire only using her for sexual exploitation or for something more?

Free eBooks for February 25th

Witchwood Estate - Going Home (bk 1) by Patti Roberts

There is something very evil lurking in the woods surrounding Witchwood Estate... Witches, spells, ghosts, sprites, shape-shifters, wolves and more... For all those young at heart... Equal measure of both Magic and Evil.

Alexandria Santorini learns as a child that she comes from a long line of Harvey witches. Now, as a teenager, Alexandria must say goodbye to Catnip Cottage and the Barnabys, her loving guardians for the last twelve years, and go home to Ferntree Falls to claim her inheritance. Witchwood Estate. The home where she was born and her parents were murdered. Her journey home becomes somewhat sinister, however, when she discovers that there are those who have other plans for her and her new friends…

Grab your broomstick/dustbuster out of the closet and come along for the ride!


Macaron Murder by Harper Lin
(Regularly $2.99)

The Introductory Book of the Paris Culinary Mystery Series! Includes 5 Special French Macaron Recipes.

French native Clémence Damour returns to Paris after traveling around the world for two years. She’s dog-sitting for her parents in the posh 16th arrondissement and overseeing the family patisserie, a famous franchise known for their delectable gourmet pastries and sweets in Paris and around the world.

To get off on the right foot with la gardienne, the caretaker of the apartment building, Clémence gives her a box of their luxury macarons. The next morning however, the half-eaten box of macarons is found near la gardienne's dead body. An incompetent inspector accuses Clémence of being the killer, which prompts her to clear her name and solve the case herself.

Follow Harper's Pinterest board for Paris locations, fashion, and inspirations from each book: http://www.pinterest.com/harperlinauthor/

If you like Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mysteries or Leighann Dobb's Lexy Baker series, you'll love The Patisserie Mysteries.

Join Clémence and her friends as they solve murder cases, bake macarons and other treats, and fall in love in The City of Lights.

Macaron Murder is the first book (25k novella) in this new culinary cozy mystery series set in France, featuring delicious recipes of French pastries and desserts. They don't have to be read in order, but it is recommended since the characters' relationships develop throughout the series. 


Slightly Stalky: A Romantic Comedy Walks Into a Bar... by Amy Vansant
(Regularly $2.99)

Emily never expected to find love in a dart bar, but the moment she spots tall, sexy Sebastian, she’s determined to catch his eye.

Ex-girlfriends, perpetually shirtless rich boys, frantic best-friends and a mysterious orange handbag converge to stop her.

No one said stalking was easy, but if romance was left to the boys, the human race would die out while they logged fantasy football points and punched each other in the balls.

Everyone knows that.

Emily’s not stalking Sebastian...she’s saving the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To Russia With Love (Countermeasure #2) by Chris Almeida and Cecilia Aubrey

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To Russia With Love was The TBR Pile's August Book of the Month.
TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE is a recipient of the indiePENdents's Seal of Good Writing.

WARNING: Contains scenes of mature subject matter, graphic situations and language. Reader discretion is advised.

NSA tech expert Trevor Bauer is on the hunt for his missing parents who disappeared six years ago under suspicious circumstances. When a digital clue leads him and his new wife, Cassandra, a former CIA operative, to St. Petersburg, they must infiltrate the Russian mafia and outsmart a ruthless crime lord to get their hands on the critical information.

Their mission backfires, leaving Trevor a prisoner and forcing Cassandra to go on the run to protect him. Alone and in the middle of a gang showdown, Trevor must decide...will he do whatever it takes to escape the mafia and get to Cassandra before she flees the country? Or will he risk everything...including his life...to secure the clue he so desperately needs?

The suspense driven COUNTERMEASURE SERIES combines full-length novels and Bytes of Life short stories about sexy, technologically inclined men and women. The series is filled with heart-stopping danger and enough twists and turns to make a hair-raising rollercoaster seem tame. In the series, Trevor Bauer, a tough as nails NSA geek, and his even more tenacious love interest, Cassandra James, are on a quest for clues in the mysterious disappearance of Trevor's parents. Joined by fate, their search drops them into the mysterious and violent world of data espionage, one that tests their love as they sweep the world with romance, sex, and ingenuity to find answers that will have the power to change their lives forever.


Mistress Mischief by Susan Carroll Excerpt

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Left widowed and penniless, Frederica Barry resolved to become what her late husband’s relatives had always proclaimed her to be- a very wicked woman. Taking London by storm, Freddie put her wits to work to support herself and her unusual entourage of servants.

But losses at the gaming tables soon brought the merry widow to the brink of disgrace and debtor’s prison. Clearly there was only one solution, to find herself a wealthy protector. Drawing up a list of the richest and most eligible men in the city, one name stood out above the rest- her distant cousin, the handsome rake, Max Warfield.

Max had witnessed Freddie’s outrageous antics with astonishment and reluctantly realized something had to be done about the young woman. But to accept her offer to become his mistress? Out of the question! His aim was to save her reputation, not destroy it. If only the beautiful Freddie did not make her offer so very tempting. . .

Mistress Mischief is another light-hearted romance from the award-winning author of Brighton Road and The Sugar Rose.

Excerpt:

Max did not like to have to speak to anyone before breakfast, let alone bellow for his valet. He strode impatiently from the dressing room back into his bedchamber, only pausing in front of the glass mounted upon the wall. He wondered if he looked as hellacious as he felt.

He did. Dark circles cast shadows under his eyes, and the knot on his temple had formed into a bruise the most alarming hue of purple. Recoiling in disgust from his own reflection, Max did not glance up when he heard the door glide open softly.

"Bloody well about time, Georges," Max growled.

"I like the bruise. It makes you look like a prizefighter," a voice cooed.

"What the deuce!" Max whipped around, staring at the apparition leaning up against the frame of his four-poster--a golden-haired angel gowned in white, a crimson shawl draped around her shoulders. Her blue eyes glinted at him through the thickness of lashes in a manner calculated to fire his blood.

He caught his breath, wondering exactly how hard he had been hit over the head last night. As he stood gaping, the angel eased her shawl away, letting it drop to the floor, and Max felt an involuntary shudder rack through him.

He gave himself a brisk shake, bringing his wayward masculine senses to order. "Freddie," he croaked. "What—what the—"

"Hullo, Max."

"What the devil are you doing here!"

His explosive greeting did not appear to disconcert her. If she was at all nervous, the only sign of it was the way she played with one lock of hair, twisting it until it became a curl, resting tantalizingly along the ivory column of her neck.

"You said last night you were coming to call upon me. I thought I would save you the trouble."

"Have you lost your mind?" Max asked.

"I don't think so. How about you?" Freddie's head tilted regarding him with unabashed curiosity.

Max suddenly recalled that he was clad in nothing but his dressing gown. He fumbled with the belt, drawing the folds of the robe tighter as he blustered, "You little idiot. Have you no notion of propriety? You cannot come creeping into the bedchamber of an unmarried man in this fashion."

"Oh?" Freddie dimpled into a mischievous smile. "Would it be all right if you were married, then?"

Max glared at her. To his complete horror, she flopped back on his unmade bed, stretching out upon the sheets with a languid sigh.

"Why are you making such a fuss, Max? We are cousins, after all. I remember once after one of our outings, you even stayed late enough to tuck me in at night. You tickled me so unmercifully that I fell off the bed and I was not the least bit sleepy. Aunt Jameson was furious."

"You are now too old for tickling games, so I would appreciate it if you would get off my bed."

After their parting last night, he had half expected he would have to go in search of her. She had fairly told him to go to the devil. What, then, had induced her to turn up in this startling manner? Far from darting scorn and fury, she was almost playful. She was up to some mischief, that was certain, but what it might be, he could not think.

That might be because of her perfume. As he leaned over the bed, he caught a whiff of it. The sweet odor of violets seemed to curl around his brain, threatening to steal his reason.

The stirrings she roused in him were neither cousinly nor gentlemanly, but inevitable. Whatever devilment she contemplated, she ought to know what behavior such as this could do to a man. But then, Freddie did not think of him that way. He was just Cousin Max, one of her doddering relatives. And he needed to get her the deuce out of there before he was tempted to show her otherwise.

Reaching down, he seized her by both wrists and hauled her roughly to her feet. "All right, I have had enough of this nonsense, Freddie. Tell me what you are really doing here, and I warn you not to trifle. I am in a very dangerous mood."

"So am I." Her eyes glinted up at him, hard and bright as sapphires.




Living Victim (Delta Detective Series #1) by Stacy Green

$2.99


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Delta Crossroads reader favorite Cage Foster returns in this exciting new mystery/detective series.

When a hoarder is found dead in his bathtub, Cage Foster believes he's dealing with a natural death. A perimeter search reveals a hidden horror, and clues point to the kidnapping of a local girl once presumed dead.

Cage races to find the girl, but family matters interfere, pitting Cage’s loyalty to Dani against the sworn duties of his job. Complicating matters is the newly appointed Delta Regional Medical Examiner–a woman with no intentions of confining herself to the morgue.

A girl’s life hangs in the delicate balance of Mississippi’s Homochitto National Forest. Will Cage find the living victim before it’s too late, or will her death haunt his conscience?

The Fool: Caitlin's Tarot Book 1 by L. j. Charles - $0.99 Goodie!

$0.99

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You can never escape from murder...

 At least that's how it seems to Caitlin Connor. Blessed with funky DNA, she's able to see auras, read Tarot cards, and oh, yeah, she also packs the powerful ability to manipulate energy--the same energy that was instrumental in her mother's death.

 Ready for a newbeginning, Caitlin leaves her estate on the English Riviera in her aunt's
capable hands, and with a hefty dose of optimism, travels to Hawaii's NorthShore to practice her newly learned art of reading Tarot cards.


 Day one: Caitlin is faced with her personal prophecy. Day two: she trips over a dead body and hits the Honolulu PD's suspect list. Whoever said life in paradise was idyllic didn't
know Caitlin Connor.


 Can she find the killer and get on with living her dream, or will her future be limited to a jail cell? 

Before You: Sex on the Beach by Jenna Bennett Excerpt

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Part of the Sex on the Beach trilogy by Jenna Bennett, Jen McLaughlin, and Jennifer Probst.

Three books. Three authors. One series.

Three best friends. Three guys. A week in paradise they'll never forget!

It’s all fun and games...

Cassandra Wilder had a simple plan for spring break.

Sun, sand, and a hot guy. Sex on the beach, with no strings attached.

She got her wish when she met Tyler McKenna.

Until someone gets hurt.

But then young women start turning up at Key West landmarks – young women who look like Cassie, but with one crucial difference: they’ve all been drugged and relieved of their virginity.

And Cassie begins to wonder whether there’s more to Ty than meets the eye.

Suddenly, sex on the beach doesn’t sound so good anymore...

Excerpt:

Chapter One


This was the life. Sun, sand, and hot guys, and an unlimited supply of alcohol, thanks to Mackenzie Forbes, who was bound and determined that her friends have a good time.
Spring Break in Key West. What could be better?
I put my half-empty glass on the bar and turned to survey the room.
It was only Sunday night. We’d been here just over twenty-four hours, and Mackenzie had already homed in on the guy she’d decided to spend the week with. He was local, not one of the college guys down for spring break. Older than us by a few years, and dressed in ripped jeans with tattoos visible under his shirt. All the things America’s Sweetheart should stay far away from, but didn’t.
Looking at Mackenzie, I was very glad I was just plain Cassie Wilder from Nowheresville, Ohio. Fame and fortune sound great on paper, but try losing your virginity with the paparazzi breathing down your neck. Try falling in love, and having your relationship splattered all over the tabloids.
Try breaking up and having everyone in America weighing in on whether he cheated or you did, and how you’re coping with being dumped again.
No thanks. If Mackenzie had found a guy who wasn’t gonna sell her out to the press, more power to her.
Quinn had already left, with some Ivy League dude hot on her trail.
He’d been staring at her for an hour, from the table where he’d been sitting with his friends, and when she got up to go, he took off after her. Neither of them had come back, so either he’d talked her into going somewhere with him, or she’d made it back to the hotel in one piece and was up in her room spending quality time with her television boyfriend. With Quinn, it could be either.
That left me here by myself.
Luckily, there were still plenty of guys to choose from, and plenty of time left. Key West was stuffed to the gills this week, and I had five and a half days of vacation to go.
This was it. I was going to find a guy and join Mackenzie among the ranks of the devirginized.
The Ivy Leaguers didn’t appeal, though. Nor did the guys with tattoos. And I’m not that big on jocks. It didn’t leave a whole lot of options.
I turned back to my glass. But before I could reach for it, someone whisked it away. “How about I get you a fresh drink?”
It went into the hand of the bartender, who carried it away.
The guy who had spoken had green eyes and hair that straddled the line between dark blond and light brown. The streaks through the front could have been sun, or just expensive highlights. He was wearing jeans—good quality but not designer; faded but not ripped—and a navy blue T-shirt, one that said FBI in big white letters across the chest. I had to lean closer to see that below, in much smaller letters, it said, Female Body Inspector.
“Nice shirt,” I said.
He glanced down and up again. “Thanks. I’m Ty.”
Good name. Cute guy. Sense of humor. Check, check, and check.
I smiled. “Cassandra Wilder. Wanna inspect my body?”
He grinned. “Maybe later. Where d’you blow in from, Cassie?”
“Chicago,” I said. “University of. You?”
“Washington.”
“State?”
He shook his head. “D.C. But I’m from Florida originally.”
“Key West?”
“Jacksonville. North Atlantic coast.”
“I’m from Ohio,” I said. “Small town in the middle of nowhere. Lots of cornfields and cows. Chicago’s a lot more exciting.”
“Sounds like.” He folded his arms on the bar. Nice arms. Nice smile. Good teeth and a dimple. “So how long have you been in Key West?”
I told him we’d flown down the day before and arrived in the afternoon. “We’ve been here about,” I checked my watch, “thirty-two hours.”
“You come down with friends?”
I nodded. “There are three of us. Mackenzie is over there in the corner. Quinn already left.”
His brows lowered at that. “Alone?”
“She had some guy following her. Part of that group over there.” I pointed to where some of Ivy League Dude’s friends—just as Ivy League; Abercrombie and Fitch all the way—were still hanging out, knocking back shots of Tequila like there was no tomorrow.
Ty watched for a second and then turned back to me. “How long ago did they leave?”
“I don’t know. Twenty minutes? Why?”
He shrugged. “No reason. There’s a lot of people in town this week. Safer not to go off alone.”
“She wasn’t alone. Ivy League Dude followed her.”
He tilted his head, and a hank of blond hair fell across his forehead. “But she doesn’t know Ivy League Dude, does she?”
“Same way I don’t know you,” I said.
Dammit, was he just talking to me as an excuse to find out about Quinn? I mean, I know she’s pretty and all, but I’m not that bad. Am I?
He grinned. “Wanna see my driver’s license?”
“I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.”
“Deal.” He fished in his back pocket and pulled out a wallet. I dipped my fingers into my mini-purse and pulled out all the glossy cards, sorting them on the counter.
“Room key, credit card, license.” I pushed the license toward him.
He picked it up. “Nice picture.”
Not so much. Official photographs are rarely that good. And I’d had a zit on my chin that day. Although the picture was so small it didn’t matter too much, I supposed.
I looked at his. Tyler Jackson McKenna, with an address in Washington, D.C. Born a year before me. Probably about to graduate, unless he’d skipped a year somewhere, or was taking things slowly.
Hair: Brown. Eyes: Green. Height: 5’11”. Weight: 174.
The picture matched. It was definitely him.
I handed it back. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” He put it back in his wallet, and the wallet back in his pocket, before nudging my room card, with the hotel logo prominently displayed. “This where you’re staying?”
I nodded.
“Nice digs.”
“Mackenzie is paying,” I said, my tongue a little looser than usual from the drinks. Not that I was drunk or anything, just a little tipsy. “Quinn and I wouldn’t be able to afford it on our own.”
Going to Key West for spring break had been a last minute decision. All the cheap places had been sold out. Quinn and I had talked about sharing, to cut costs, but Mackenzie had put her foot down on that idea. If we had any hope of getting laid, she told us, we needed separate rooms.
Ty peered into the corner again. “That’s Mackenzie Forbes, isn’t it?”
I nodded.
“You go to school with her?”
Yes, I did. Mackenzie had become a country music star at sixteen, and by the time eighteen rolled around, she was ready for some peace and quiet out of the public eye. So she’d enrolled at the University of Chicago, just like a normal person. We’d bonded in English 101 and been close ever since.
“She can afford it, I guess,” Ty said.
Yes, she could. She’d just finished up her new album over Christmas break, and now she was in the process of finalizing her summer tour schedule. All she had to do to recoup the cost of Quinn’s and my rooms, was sell a handful of extra tickets to one of her concerts.
That didn’t mean I wasn’t grateful, of course. She was going above and beyond the call of friendship. After all, she could have just gone to Key West by herself. She didn’t have to bring Quinn and me along.
“And I guess it makes sense that she’d want somewhere with good security,” Ty added.
I hadn’t thought about that, but yes. Sure. She’d told us stories about some of the more persistent of her fans, and I didn’t blame her at all for wanting to feel safe. If someone was willing to break and enter to get his hands on my underwear, I’d want good security, too.
“D’you think maybe you should try to get in touch with your friend who left,” Ty said, “and make sure she got there safely?”
Here we were, back to Quinn again. He seemed happy to talk about both my friends, but not so much interested in talking about me.
“What if she’s with Ivy League Dude?” I said. Naked, in bed?
“Unless he’s a total asshole,” Ty answered, “he’ll understand.”
“Even a nice guy might object to being disturbed under those circumstances.”
But I fumbled for my phone anyway. It couldn’t hurt just to make sure. I hadn’t been worried before—I wasn’t really worried now—but Ty seemed so concerned about everyone’s safety that I’d gotten a little concerned too.
And besides, until I made sure, he probably wouldn’t stop asking me to, so I may as well get it out of the way.
Usually we just text each other—it’s easier—but this time I actually dialed and waited for the phone to ring. If that didn’t work, I’d try texting later.
But the phone rang twice, and then Quinn picked up. “Cassie?” She sounded worried. “Are you OK?”
“Fine,” I said. “You?”
“Sure. Why?”
“Just checking. I met this guy—” I slanted a look at Ty across the bar; he grinned, “and he convinced me to call and make sure you got back to the hotel in one piece.”
“Oh.” There was a pause. I could tell she wanted to ask me more about the guy, but wasn’t sure whether now was a good time. With him standing right next to me, I’d have to say it wasn’t.
“So are you at the hotel?” I prompted.
“Um... not yet.”
“You left a while ago.”
“I decided to take a walk on the beach,” Quinn said.
“On your own?”
“Um... not exactly.”
Ah. “Did Ivy League Dude catch up with you?”
“Ivy League Dude?”
“The guy who’s been staring at you for the past hour. Tall; dark curly hair. The one you’ve been pretending you don’t know.”
“I don’t know him,” Quinn said.
“Then why are you walking on the beach with him?”
She sighed. “Fine. I know him a little bit. I met him yesterday, when I ended up at that party I told you about.”
“The jackass.”
“Yes,” Quinn said. “Him.”
“Is he there now?”
“Yes,” Quinn said, “he is.”
“And you’re fine.”
“Yes,” Quinn said, “I am.”
“Tell me the guy’s name. That way, if something happens to you, I’ll know who to tell the police to look for.”
There was a moment’s silence. Or not silence, exactly; I could hear them talking, they just weren’t talking to me.
Then Quinn came back on the phone. “His name is James Hunt. He’s renting a house on Gardenia Street.” She gave me the number. “He wants to know whether you want his blood type, too.”
“Not right now. But if something happens to you, Mackenzie and I’ll want his head on a stake.”
“I’ll let him know,” Quinn said. “Good night, Cassie.”
She hung up without letting me speak. I guess she must like the guy more than she wanted him to know.
I dropped the phone into my bag and turned to Ty. “She’s fine. Mostly sober, and walking on the beach with Ivy League Dude. He’ll make sure she gets to the hotel afterward.”
He nodded. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Don’t you think you should think about getting back to the hotel, too?”
“It’s still early.” Only ten thirty. “And I didn’t come to Key West to sleep.”
He smiled. “I’ll go with you.”
Oh, really? Well, that was a different matter, wasn’t it?
I slid off the bar stool and onto the floor—it only heaved a little—and turned to catch Mackenzie’s eye. She was wrapped up in her new guy, but not so much that she didn’t see me standing there. I hooked my thumb toward the door. She nodded. And gave Ty a quick up and down and me a discreet thumbs up.
I grinned and turned back, and caught Ty grinning too. “That mean she approves?” he asked me.
I ducked my head so my hair covered my cheeks. “Seems that way.”
“If we have Mackenzie’s approval, let’s get outta here.” He nodded to the bartender as we headed for the exit. The bartender nodded back, busy swiping a wet rag over the bar.
“Friend of yours?” I asked, when we were outside in the street.
“I’m a friendly guy.” He grinned, and then nodded to a cop hanging out just outside the door. “Evening, Officer.”
The officer nodded back, and I could feel his eyes following us as we walked down the street.
There were plenty of cops out and about. Every block or so, we passed another. I had no idea why Ty was so worried. Key West during spring break looked like the safest place on earth.

Montana Maverick by Debra Salonen Excerpt

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Be careful what you wish for-
Meg Zabrinski wants a child. She's a successful scientist, a well-known environmental advocate, and a tenured professor. She doesn't need a man in her life to make this happen. But having a baby alone is a weighty decision, so she retreats to her isolated mountain cabin to write and think. When Henry Firestone--an old foe from her distant past--drops out of the sky on Christmas Eve with three young children and a baby, Meg tells herself she'd be crazy not to consider all her options--especially when she's always nursed a secret crush on the handsome rancher. Although the sparks between them ignite a mutual passion, Henry makes it clear he's done having children. Falling in love with Henry Firestone and his beautiful family would require Meg to give up her dream. Can the Lone Wolf assimilate into a new pack, or was this Big Sky Maverick meant to be alone?

They say timing is everything-
Henry Firestone doesn't recognize the "angel in snowshoes" who comes to his rescue in the middle of a blizzard, immediately, but Meg Z. knows him. Twenty years earlier, the media paired them as rivals to the death. Meg championed the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone, while Henry argued just as passionately that wolves would put ranchers on the Endangered Species List. She's still beautiful, independent and headstrong, and Henry's now free to admit that he always had a thing for her. Unfortunately, he's fighting for sole custody of his late daughter's four children. They are his biggest priority. He'd do anything to keep his family together--even sleep with the enemy in hopes that she might join his cause.

CHAPTER ONE


"It was dark and stormy night."
The six words taunted Meg from the blank, white page of her new document. The curser flashed. Flashed. Flashed.
"Type more inanities," it silently mocked.
Meg Zabrinski shook her head.
"If I can't do better than that, I might as well not even start," she muttered.
She used the delete key to erase the words before she set her laptop on the low table beside her recliner and got up. She'd been sitting for fifteen minutes trying to find the right opening to the young-adult novel she wanted to write. The one she'd told everyone she planned to write while on sabbatical from her job as a tenured professor of science and ecology at the University of Montana.
She paced back and forth in front of the fireplace, rubbing her chilly hands to keep the blood moving.
So maybe hiding out in a snowbound cabin high on a mountain in western Montana wasn't the best idea, but she had to do something before her entire life passed her by.
Did that sound desperate? Probably.
Was she?
Yes. Yes, she was. Desperate to do the one thing she couldn't do alone. Have a baby.
And she knew herself well enough to know that if she'd been in Missoula right now, she'd have dumped the writing project by the wayside to begin the IVF--In Vitro Fertilization--process. She'd done the research. She had the money. She wouldn't be forty for another year. If she started soon enough, she could have a baby before her next birthday in November. But...
Did she really, truly, honestly want to be a single mom? That was the question she planned to answer while she wrote her book.
Am I cut out to raise a child alone? That was the other question she had to answer.
Not that she wouldn't have the support of her family. The Zabrinski clan rallied like few others when one of their own needed help. But at the end of the day, she'd be the one who had to handle all the demands--especially the emotional side of child rearing--without a mate.
Her sister was a single mom, now. And Mia would be the first to admit motherhood was tough and parenting alone sucked at times.
Both Mia and their younger brother, Paul, who also was divorced, had had partners when their children were babies. What Meg was considering involved purchasing sperm from an anonymous donor. If the procedure worked, she'd be alone from the conception to delivery...and everything that came later.
A fierce gust of wind hit the thick, extremely well insulated walls of her log home, drawing her attention away from her dilemma. She walked toward the picture window, now hidden behind heavy, lined drapes. She felt the temperature drop just by reaching between the folds of material to peek outside.
A blast of white hit the glass making her blink. "Oh," she said, shivering. "One of those."
Montana came by its reputation for fierce winter storms honestly. This storm first arrived as shaved ice pellets--the kind that burn when it touched unprotected skin. Meg knew because she'd been topping off her firewood when the first ice crystals hit.
She stepped closer to the glass and pulled the curtains tight behind her so she could see into the night without the reflection of the light obscuring her view. Thirty-foot pines encircled her home site. Smaller babies, some already ten feet tall, bowed to the weight of the snow like peasants stooped with heavy loads on their backs. The dusk-to-dawn light at the peak of her garage roof shown like a pale white strobe.
"What a terrible night," she murmured, hurrying back to the warmth of the fire. No one in his or her right mind would go into that tempest on purpose.
Suddenly, an idea for the opening of her story began to take shape in her mind. She added another log to the fire and closed the door of the energy-efficient stove then walked to her chair.
As she reached for her laptop, she heard a peculiar, unnatural, high-pitched whine that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.
The wind?
She opened her laptop to the blank page of her word processing program. She knew what she wanted to write but getting started was driving her mad.
Maybe all those people who told me I couldn't write a novel were right, she thought.
"Maybe I should stick to teaching," she murmured.
But her characters--children based on the Big Sky Mavericks--were so alive in her imagination. The four main protagonists may have been based on Meg and her siblings, but somewhere along the way, they'd become unique individuals with important stories to tell.
Some nights their chatter kept her awake. She'd filled a notebook with handwritten notes and scenes and descriptions. She'd ignored them as long as she could. Now was her time.
She rested her fingers on exactly the right place on the keyboard and started to type:
Jonah had a message to deliver.
Death was coming. Not the single act of the cold steely Grim Reaper. No. A massive fireball as loud and fierce as a small bomb. It would take out everyone in its path.
Suddenly, a boom, louder and scarier than the explosion in her imagination, made her house shiver. Added to the cry of the wind came a horrible screech of metal, like the hands of God twisting a bridge above her head.
Meg pressed backward into her chair, hands clenching the armrests.
Avalanche?
Her heart beat so loudly in her ears she couldn't distinguish between the natural fierceness of the story and whatever else was going on in the skies above her.
She bolted from the chair to race to the door off the kitchen. Bracing for the worst, she stepped into the unheated mudroom. The outer door handle burned with cold, but she wrenched it open and looked outside.
No distant rumble of ice and death shaking the ground. Whatever triggered that sound, it wasn't an avalanche.
She cocked her head and closed her eyes to listen beyond the wind. An engine. An engine in trouble. Whatever the engine propelled--an airplane or helicopter, she assumed, was falling from the sky.
Death was coming. And it wasn't the death of her imagination.
She cupped the sides of her eyes and strained to squint into the dark gray of the storm. Although she couldn't see a single thing, the hair on the back of her neck rose, as the horrible grind of an engine seizing grew closer.
The mechanical scream of rotors frozen told her the aircraft was a helicopter.
"Dear God, please let whoever is on board be safe. If it's their time, take them swiftly. Don't make them suffer."
The chance of a direct hit wasn't high, but she grabbed the wood railing with her bare hands and hung on tight. Seconds later the crippled chopper reached the trees.
The crashing sounds continued for longer than Meg thought possible. When the worst of the sounds had diminished she tried her other senses to get a bead on the crash site. If she had to guess, she'd put it at a mile or more to the north. Smell revealed nothing--hopefully, it was too wet to burn.
She hurried inside and raced for her phone. Her hands were too cold to function at first. She blew on them impatiently then, finally, managed to tap out: 911.
Luckily, the installation of two cell towers, one on her side of the mountain and the other on a peak directly across from her provided remarkably good cellular reception.
"Hello? This is Dr. Mary Margaret Zabrinski. I'm wintering in my cabin at seven thousand feet. There's just now been a crash nearby. Helicopter, I think. I couldn't see anything, but I heard it coming through the trees. There may be fatalities. Are you aware of an aircraft in this area?"
The dispatcher was calm, dispassionate, as she was no doubt trained to be. She was also honest. "Yes, ma'am, we had a distress signal from a helicopter in your area and lost communication a few minutes ago."
"I’m guessing the bird went down a mile or two north and west of me. Will a recovery team be on its way soon?"
The pause that followed made Meg look at her phone to see if she still had a connection. "Um...ma'am, I don't know how bad this storm is where you're at, but we got hit with ice like you wouldn't believe two hours before the snow started. Everything here is grounded. Even some of our plows are in trouble."
"But you have to do something. If they're alive, they'll freeze to death. "
"Ma'am, I'm sorry. There's nothing we can do."
"Well, there's something I can do."
"No." A man's voice came on the line, forceful and authoritative. "This is SAR Commander Kenneth Morrison. I am ordering you to stand down. Stay where you are. The last thing we need to do is recover another victim tomorrow, which will be the soonest anybody can get there. If there are survivors, they'll be sheltered from the storm tonight and we will get to them at first light."
Kenneth Morrison. Ken. How long had it been since she heard that voice? Twenty years? Her stomach flipped and a cold chill raced down her spine. He'd led a six-student wilderness survival course the summer after Meg's freshman year of college. He'd singled her out almost from the start. And she'd fallen for his line like the inexperienced, vulnerable nineteen-year-old she was.
She found out later that "Meg Z" had made his Summer Survival Hot Babes list--Ken's brag sheet that he posted for everyone to see. At the time, humiliation and embarrassment had added to the sense of disconnect she'd felt with her peers.
But she wasn't a nineteen-year-old virgin any longer. And she sure as hell wasn't taking orders from a minor despot like Ken Morrison. "You'll be too late," she said, hurrying to her bedroom.
"Oh, come on, Meg. What can you possibly do, except make matters worse?"
"Maybe nothing. But I sure as hell can't sit here twiddling my thumbs, Ken." Too snide? Not possible.
The man groaned. Loudly. "I know how pig-headed you are when it comes to wolves, Meg, but don't throw away your life on another hopeless cause."
That fall when she returned to classes, the realization that she'd let Ken Morrison make a fool out of her prompted Meg to get involved with a new cause: the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. In part, because she'd always felt an affinity for the wolf -- she must have read Julie of the Wolves a dozen times--but, the other reason for her newfound passion was remembering how Ken had gone on and on about how detrimental wolves would be to his part of south-western Montana.
His part. Like he owned shit.
"That helicopter had no business flying on a night like this," Ken said when Meg failed to respond to his jab. "It belongs to Henry Firestone. I know you'll recognize the name. He's the rancher who led--" Ken's voice crackled, saving her an unneeded explanation.
Yes, she knew Henry Firestone. In the mid-1990s, he'd been the charismatic, vocal, and surprisingly articulate figurehead of a grassroots campaign called Ranchers Before Wolves. She and Firestone had occupied seats on the opposite ends of several panels. They'd spoken to county and state officials from opposite sides of the same room. They'd acknowledged each other in various venues like modern gladiators, but, to her knowledge, they'd never had an actual conversation.
How strange that after all these years Henry Firestone would fall out of the sky into my backyard on Christmas Eve.
Ken's voice came back on the line. "We don't now who was onboard...could have been stolen. Drugs, maybe. Meg? Are you there? Hello?"
Their connection broke completely before Meg could reply.
She tossed the phone on her bed and tugged off her fleece pajamas. "What drug runner in his right mind would steal a helicopter on a night like this, Ken?" she muttered, pulling her thermals out of the drawer. "You truly are an idiot with delusions of grandeur."
And I let you take my virginity. "What kind of idiot does that make me?"
One who learned from her mistakes. One who didn't trust blindly or take orders well. One who couldn't stay put like a good little girl when someone needed her.
Since that initial survival course, Meg had participated in and led wilderness trips on three continents, including the South Pole. Every May she carved a week out of her busy academic calendar to refresh her Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician license.
Meg liked to be prepared. Back when her younger brother and sister recruited Meg to join the Big Sky Mavericks--their childhood game based on the Tom Cruise movie, Top Gun, Meg had been the one to rescue her fallen comrades.
"Lone Wolf. Come in, Lone Wolf. Nitro is down. Repeat. Nitro is down. This is Striker. Over."
Striker, Nitro, and Lone Wolf. The last had been her call sign.
Still was.
For a different reason.
She pushed Ken Morrison out of her mind and began the highly refined art of layering for the cold. She'd logged hundreds of miles of winter tracking over the years making sure her wolf families were safe and staying out of trouble. She had the right gear, the right training. If there were survivors--drug traffickers or innocent victims of a bad choice--aboard Henry Firestone's chopper, she'd find them and bring them back to safety.
If there were casualties, she'd leave a tracking beacon to make the Search and Rescue team's work of finding the wreck a little easier after the storm let up.
In the kitchen, she filled two water bottles and stuffed a fistful of energy bars into her pocket.
"In the morning," she muttered, repeating Ken's words. "What an ass."
Obviously, Ken Morrison had turned into a pencil-pushing desk jockey who couldn't read a weather report. From what she'd seen, this storm was the first of several predicted to hit the area, and the wind chill was going to be a huge factor.
If she didn't find that chopper tonight, there'd be zero survivors. She'd bet her life on it.
She paused on the porch to take a compass reading before she walked into the worse blizzard of her life.
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