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.

May and the Single Heart by Vi Zetterwall Excerpt

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Rachel Connor is a brilliant 34-year old writer with an optimistic attitude about life. She loses her job, lives with a port wine birthmark on her face and has a pile of manuscript rejection slips on her desk. Still she hopes for better times. An opportunity to write the biography of a rich software entrepreneur appears to change her love life and fortunes around but Rachel doesn’t see the storm coming and finds herself in a no-win situation. The coin of luck falls into her hands and a very quiet man steps in to turn the tide. But can she trust him anymore than the last man who did her wrong?

This is the fifth book in Vi Zetterwall's feel-good Single Heart Series. It is a stand-alone story independent of previous or later stories in the series.

Excerpt:

Several hours later, Rachel reached her arms up above her head, stretching both her back and her neck at the same time. The article was finished. Somehow, the article had gone from what gave her hope to what caused people to spend money buying lottery tickets and back to her again. She mused that hope was far too complicated to explain in one 800 word column. But she knew her boss, Nick, wouldn’t care about limitations like that so she did it anyway. She was about to attach it and send it on to him but decided it would be more prudent to read through one more time.
She leaned back in her chair and read silently to herself.

ON THE NATURE OF HOPE
By Rachel Connor
The mailman flashed a smile at me as I approached him in the lobby. I opened my box and pulled out a handful of envelopes. Two bills, three advertisements and one letter from a publisher. I tore open the last one and read the same words I have read so often: ‘We regret to inform you that we are unable to accept your manuscript for publication at this time.’
I’m never surprised when I read that sentence. Over the last eight years I have read that same line too many times to count. Disappointed? Yes. Surprised? No. What truly surprises me is how rapidly my hope that the next publisher will shower me with money and fame, is reignited. Hundreds of consecutive rejections and yet, before I am up the stairs to my apartment, I am already mentally spending my earnings that I will make when the first publisher says YES.
So, what is up with this thing called Hope? From where does it sprout? How can it be slayed on the business field so many times and yet rise again stronger than ever? What does this Hope eat for breakfast? And how do I get my hands on that?
Last week, the Powerball lotto rose to over $200 million. The little mom and pop convenience store near my apartment had lines out the door at 5 o’clock. I am happy for them because I know they make a nickel off of each sale. And more importantly, if someone wins on a ticket bought at their store, they get a split of the winnings—really big bucks! Hey, what’s going on here? I’m hoping they win. Am I wasting some of my own hope on the other guys? On a longshot? What if I have a finite amount of hope left in me? Now, I’ve just spent some of it on someone else. Yikes, I better rethink this.
Last week, I could look out of my corner window and see the lines of ticket buyers at the store. People like you and me, lined up in the drizzle, suffering the Seattle weather’s version of raining on their parade. ‘So you want to win the big one, huh? Well, try a little of this liquid sunshine.’ The Seattle weather gods seem to take peculiar delight in punishing those who eagerly spend their hope on a 250-million-to-one longshot. They lose, of course. Every one of them. No one from Seattle has ever won a Powerball drawing. The odds are enormously stacked against every person standing in line in the rain and yet they do it gleefully.
Why? What power is so mighty that nearly certain defeat does not dissuade millions of people from trying anyway? What marketing wizardry drives people to hand over their cash for a ticket destined for the waste bin? What supernatural force compels sane, rational beings to smile as they wait in long lines for one modest snowball of a chance?
Joseph Addison said, “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”
Humans need something to hope for. All those people braving the rain as they stand in line are there to buy a little piece of hope. If you don’t play, you can’t win. So they play and then they imagine a life of riches and mentally they spend it all between that purchase and the day of the drawing. I know, because I do it too. Sometimes with a lotto ticket, more often with my publishing submissions. And I find that when I imagine myself as a winner, I become a better person. I’m more giving, I’m more generous, I judge less and I laugh more. I become the person that I hope I can be. Without a financial care in the world, I morph into the person I know I should be anyway.
And in my quiet moments, I muse about hope and its nature. And I know in my heart that without hope, I would be rudderless, impotent, powerless to see a sunrise and smile, or view a sunset and marvel. Tomorrow is another day and I trust that resilient hope will swell in me again one more time, yet I worry that each person only has a limited amount of hope to expend. I can’t help but wonder if some day my spirit will be crushed as no new hope arises. Someone said that hope springs eternal. I hope that is true. But for now, I’ll go on hoping for the mom and pop store, or for my brother or for my mom or for all those people standing in line in the rain. I don’t know if hope is truly infinite, so all I can do is try to believe that I will continue to hope. After all, the mailman comes again tomorrow.

Not my best work, but waxing philosophical has never been my strong point, she thought. Joseph Addison, whoever he was, was correct. People need something to do. I write. It may not be what I want to write at this particular moment in time, but I’m still writing.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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

$4.99

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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

$2.99

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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.

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