Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Death of a Bachelorette (A Jaine Austen Mystery) by Laura Levine

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Freelance writer Jaine Austen thought working for a knock-off reality show in the tropics would be paradise. But when she and her kitty Prozac find themselves trapped between a dimwitted leading man, catty contestants, and a cold-blooded murderer, the splashy gig becomes one deadly nightmare...

Jaine’s life has been a royal pain since she started penning dialogue for Some Day My Prince Will Come—a cheesy dating show that features bachelorettes competing for the heart of Spencer Dalworth VII, a very distant heir to the British throne. As if fending off golf ball-sized bugs on a sweltering island wasn’t tough enough, Jaine must test her patience against an irritable production crew and fierce contestants who will do anything to get their prince...

But Jaine never expected murder to enter the script. When one of the finalists dies in a freak accident, it’s clear someone wanted the woman out of the race for good—and the police won’t allow a soul off the island until they seize the culprit. Terrified of existing another day without air conditioning and eager to return home, Jaine is throwing herself into the investigation. And she better pounce on clues quickly—or there won’t be any survivors left...

OUTSTANDING PRAISE FOR LAURA LEVINE’S JAINE AUSTEN MYSTERIES

MURDER HAS NINE LIVES

“Enjoyable . . . This outing will keep cozy readers amused and wondering what absurdity will happen next.” —Publishers Weekly

“Jaine’s flair for the well-turned phrase puts her in the top tier of do-it-yourself detectives.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Jaine pursues justice and sanity in her usual hilarious yet smart way, with Levine infusing wit into her heroine’s every thought. A thoroughly fun read that will interest Evanovich fans.” —Booklist

“Another expertly conceived whodunit.” —Fresh Fiction

KILLING CUPID
“Jaine is absolutely hysterical . . . this author continues to write the best cozies.” —Suspense Magazine
DEATH OF A NEIGHBORHOOD WITCH
“Levine’s latest finds her at her witty and wacky best.” —Kirkus Reviews

THIS PEN FOR HIRE
“Laura Levine’s hilarious debut mystery, This Pen for Hire, is a laugh a page (or two or three) as well as a crafty puzzle. Sleuth Jaine Austen’s amused take on life, love, sex and L.A. will delight readers. Sheer fun!” —Carolyn Hart

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Read an Excerpt From Jenny (Beach Brides Book 5) by Melissa McClone

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Grab your beach hat and a towel and prepare for a brand new series brought to you by twelve New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors…

Beach Brides! Fun in the summer sun!

Twelve heartwarming, sweet novellas linked by a unifying theme.

You’ll want to read each one!


BEACH BRIDES SERIES (Jenny)

Twelve friends from the online group, Romantic Hearts Book Club, decide to finally meet in person during a destination Caribbean vacation to beautiful Enchanted Island. While of different ages and stages in life, these ladies have two things in common: 1) they are diehard romantics, and 2) they’ve been let down by love. As a wildly silly dare during her last night on the island, each heroine decides to stuff a note in a bottle addressed to her “dream hero” and cast it out to sea!

Bestselling thriller author Jenny Hanford never expects anything to happen the night she whimsically throws her requirements for true love into the ocean. Thirteen months later, however, she hears back from the man who found her message in a bottle.

Exchanging carefree emails and texts makes Jenny smile and fills her days with anticipation. But when she gets word her bottle finder, a soldier named Dare, has been injured and is asking for her, she can’t deny her growing feelings for her online friend. Jenny wants to go, but she’s afraid Dare will turn out to be as make believe as the characters she creates. What are the odds he could be her real dream hero?

Except:

Jenny’s Message in a Bottle…

Dear Bottle Finder:

You have precisely forty-two minutes to complete your mission or life as you know it will end. If you happen to be color blind and can’t tell the red wire from the others, just crack open a beer or unwrap a candy bar and enjoy the next forty-one minutes before it’s all over.


Oh, wait.


Wrong mission.


Let’s try this again…


I’m on a Caribbean vacation with my girlfriends, and we’re tossing messages in bottles into the sea in hopes of finding true love. Please understand that alcohol was free flowing when we decided to do this. No, fruity rum drinks with paper umbrellas aren’t an excuse, but they were delicious! And who knows? Maybe dream heroes do exist, and ours are out there!


I’d love to say I’m a complete romantic, and that I believe in my heart of hearts whoever’s reading this is my soul mate, but I also think we’re one EMP away from an ELE. If those acronyms have you heading to Google to do a search, then you likely aren’t my other half.


If by some miracle, or alien intervention, you are reading this and think, hey, this could be the woman of my dreams, then your mission is to email me at the address below if you:


•Are single and male.
•Think something strange did happen in Roswell.
•Know your name will never be on the FBI’s Most-Wanted List.
•Aren’t allergic to cats or dogs.
•Prefer armchair traveling to jet-setting.


Or…if you’re certain I’m not the one for you, but want to let me know where you found the bottle and that you read this message, feel free to email me, too, so I can die of embarrassment.


Cheers,
JH
8675309@…

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Shopping Swap by Erin Brady

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Maggie Andrew has a problem. She needs to convince Richard, her attorney boyfriend of five years, that he’s finally ready for a commitment. How? By planning an unforgettable night starting with a romantic dinner for two and ending in the bedroom. And to help things along, Maggie has spent half of her salary on sexy black lingerie from Crandall’s Department Store that Richard won’t be able to resist. Except, once home, Maggie realizes she has someone else’s shopping bag and instead of her very expensive lingerie, she’s stuck with a housecoat that wouldn’t turn anyone’s head, least of all Richards. When Maggie goes back to the scene of the swap, she runs into Benjamin Saunders, a tall, dark and handsome stranger, who not only has what she wants but may also turn out to have what she needs. Suddenly what Maggie thinks she has with Richard is called into question and she’s not sure of anything.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A History of the Foundations of Catholic Education: A Philosophical Enquiry by Dr. Ant

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St John Neumann established the parochial school system in the United States of America! The Roman Catholic school system has been the pioneer of the national organized educational system in our country, as well as the standard of success in pedagogy! In AD 1950, there were more than eleven thousand Catholic elementary schools in America; sadly, there are only around twelve hundred still functioning. The title of this work serves as a hallmark and a means of exaltation for the contributions made by the Roman Catholic Church in the field of education!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Supernatural Pet Sitter: The Magic Thief by Diane Moat

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Every animal can talk to you. You just have to know how to listen.

Pepper Neely is better at this than most, especially because she is in charge of pet sitting all the familiars in her neighborhood. A familiar is a pet magically linked to a witch or warlock. As a gnome, Pepper is no stranger to spells and sorcery. She also knows that, despite their special name, familiars aren’t all that different from regular animals. They get anxious when separated from their people, so Pepper uses her special gnome powers to calm them down. She watches Cranky the high-strung ferret, Frank the laid-back parrot, King Arthur the elderly tortoise, and many others.

Then, something terrible begins happening to the familiars. Someone is stealing their magic! It not only prevents Pepper from communicating with them but breaks their magical connection with their people. When King Arthur’s magic is stolen, his owner’s powers stop working too. Pepper can sense that the tortoise is very scared.

In order to protect the animal's magic, Pepper decides to track down the culprit. With the help of her best friend, Luna, and her brother, Jax, Pepper fights to protect all of the special pets.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Jellybeaners by Gene Scott


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The scourge of opioid addiction is deeply woven throughout world history, and our own Civil War produced roughly 200,000 addicts who spent their remaining years navigating shattered limbs and unstable minds. Fast forward a century-and-a-half. A 2014 report revealed that 1.9 million Americans were addicted to prescription opioids, and that 18,893 lost their lives to prescription opioids that single calendar year. Jellybeaners is a contemporary novel set in the heart of Appalachia, revealing the money ties, political corruption, wasted lives, and overall cash-churning nature of the prescription pill culture from perspectives spanning both sides of the law.

From the Midwest Book Review:

A compelling and impressively well crafted read from cover to cover, "Jellybeaners" is one of those all-too-rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended, especially for both community and academic library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jellybeaners" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fariidinus Book 1: Wings of the Exile by L.E. Parr

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Kirin, a young fariidinus fey, is judged and condemned to the knife. After her wings are removed, she is exiled to the mainland where she is rescued by Stone, a young man who is part of a group of Heartland expatriates. The expatriates have long had a plan to restore the wings of a fariidinus with the right gifts in order to send her back into the Heartland as a weapon against the evil Highmother, Letal. Kirin is bitter and angry and not sure she wants to be part of the plan until Letal brings her war to the mainland and there is no other choice but to fight back.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sweet Home Cowboy (Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 9) by Marin Thomas

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When Marietta newcomer Elena Puente is coerced into attending a speed dating event at the popular Copper Mountain Chocolate Shop, she's blindsided by a serious attraction to local cowboy, Wesley Banks.

Still recovering from a broken engagement, the first-grade teacher from Las Vegas isn't looking for romance. She's in Montana to get to know the great-grandfather she never knew existed until she found some hidden family letters. Judge Kingsley is a grouchy recluse and he's far from welcoming, but Elena is determined to stay in town long enough to give his neglected estate on Bramble Lane a facelift.

Elena's resolve to avoid romance is tested when she discovers Wesley is the caretaker of her grandfather's rural property. Soon, she and the cowboy are attending more speed dating events at the chocolate shop and she's seeking his advice on how to deal with his ornery boss. Local gossips wager the old Judge will run Elena out of town before anything serious develops between her and Wesley. But Wesley's a determined man, too, and he's betting Elena belongs in Marietta forever...with him
.


Excerpt:
Chapter One

If Elena Kingsley was a first grader instead of a first-grade teacher, being stranded on the side of the road would be the beginning of a grand summer adventure instead of a grand annoyance.
White smoke escaped from beneath the hood of the rental car, but calling for a tow was out of the question. She cursed her stupidity for leaving her phone charger plugged into an outlet at the Denver airport. If she hadn’t been determined to master Math Bumpies to impress next year’s students, she wouldn’t have drained the battery on her iPhone playing the game during the flight from Denver to Bozeman.
She shielded her eyes from the late-afternoon sun and stared down the highway—a strip of asphalt bordered on both sides by grassland. It wouldn’t be smart to be caught alone in the boonies after dark. Rural Montana was a far cry from her hometown of Las Vegas, and this city girl had seen her share of scary movies—there was no happy ever after for the woman who hitched a ride with a friendly rural psycho. Besides, after teaching a unit on stranger danger, how could she look a first grader in the eye if she accepted a lift from a person she’d never met?
You don’t have to tell them.
Until researchers discovered why seven-year-olds had trouble recalling 2 + 2 but no problem guessing when teachers fibbed, Elena was smart to follow the stranger-danger rule:
Don’t go with someone you don’t know.
According to the road sign she’d passed before the car had died, the Marietta, Montana fairground was less than five miles away. She’d just have to hoof it. After removing her suitcase on wheels from the trunk, she locked the vehicle, dropped the keys into her purse, and then began walking.
A dose of clean country air would clear the fog that had shrouded her brain since she’d broken off her engagement to Brad Wertheimer three months ago. A stupid argument over dress socks had morphed into him confessing that he’d been having an affair with a married coworker.
Brad’s betrayal had hurt Elena deeply. How could she have been so wrong about someone who had seemed so right? He’d been the first man she’d had a relationship with who, like her, hadn’t wanted children.
Her ex-fiancé wasn’t the only person who’d disappointed Elena. She was also miffed at her mother for guarding a family secret she had no right to keep. Elena planned to use her mini-vacation in Marietta to discover if the great-grandfather her mother neglected to tell her about was, in fact, the sourpuss she made him out to be.
If not for the unopened letters Elena discovered hidden in a dresser, she’d never have known the old man was alive. Even though her mom insisted she had good reason to keep them apart, Elena was angry she’d grown up believing she had no other family.
She had traveled less than a hundred yards when a vehicle crested the hill in the distance. She scurried into the gully alongside the road and ducked into the tall grass, then crossed her fingers and prayed the driver wouldn’t stop. After the car whizzed by, she waited an extra minute before checking to make sure the coast was clear. As she climbed out of the ravine, the heel of her sandal sank into the soft dirt. Her foot popped free and landed on a prickly weed. “Ouch!”
She’d wanted to look nice today in case she ran into her great-grandfather, but circumstances had changed. Hiking five miles in strappy sandals and a long skirt was stupid, especially if she had to run from an attacker. She unzipped the suitcase, then removed a pair of running shorts and a pink tank top she’d packed in case she had an opportunity to hike nearby Copper Mountain.
Elena slipped out of her peasant skirt but as she removed her blouse, a gust of wind tore the material from her grasp. She’d paid forty dollars for the shirt and darned if she’d surrender it to a cow pasture. Clad only in her matching black bikini panties and lace bra, she ran onto the road and snatched the garment off the pavement—then froze when a pickup appeared on the horizon. The voices of first graders screaming run sounded off in her brain, and she raced back to the ditch and dove out of sight.
The rumble of an engine reached her ears before fading to a gentle purr. Without looking, she couldn’t be sure, but it sounded like the driver stopped on the road. After the longest ten seconds of her life, the engine roared and the vehicle sped off.
Heart pounding, Elena stuffed the skirt and blouse into her luggage, then slipped into the shorts and tank top before sliding her bare feet into her running shoes. She dragged her suitcase up to the road and walked at a fast clip. Five miles was a bit of a hike, but at least she was in Montana and not Las Vegas. Early June temps in Vegas were already stifling compared to the Treasure State’s daytime highs in the low seventies.
Despite her predicament, the breathtaking beauty of the area wasn’t lost on Elena. The serene glow of the purple mountain peaks in the distance was at odds with the glittery brightness that lit up the Las Vegas strip at night. Miles of land enclosed by barbed wire went on for as far as the eye could see. A constant breeze stirred the dust on the pavement, but not enough to mask the fresh smell of pure sunshine and clean mountain air.
By the time she reached the fairground, dusk had descended. She’d booked a room at the Bramble House Bed & Breakfast on Bramble Lane because her grandfather lived on the same street, but she had no idea how to get there. When she reached the train tracks at the edge of town, she turned at the railroad crossing and walked behind the Graff Hotel. At the train depot, she took a side street and stopped at the corner of Third and Main. The Dalton Law Office was to her right, and the Big Sky Credit Union was to her left. Both businesses were closed. Farther up the block, a group of young women dressed for a night on the town entered a shop that apparently remained open on Saturday night. She’d ask one of those women for directions to Bramble Lane.
As she drew closer to the store, she detected a hint of chocolate in the air, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten anything since the bag of chips she’d purchased from the vending machine at the rental-car agency in Bozeman.
She paused in front of Copper Mountain Chocolate and studied the fancy confections in the display window. Should she bring a gift when she showed up unannounced on her grandfather’s doorstep? A box of pink Himalayan-salted chocolate caramels might ease his shock.
A bell jingled when the door next to her opened, and a masculine voice asked, “Going in?”
Eyes as dark as the chocolate candies on display in the window peeked at her from beneath a black cowboy hat. His heavy-lidded gaze conjured up images of moonlit walks and romantic dinners. His blue western shirt was tucked into a pair of freshly pressed jeans, which sported a belt buckle the size of a drink coaster. The cowboy’s chest moved, drawing her attention to his broad shoulders. Elena was small in stature, and this man stood an inch over six feet. There weren’t any men like this in Vegas. A chuckle escaped his mouth, and he flashed his pearly whites.
Good grief, he’d caught her gawking like a first grader. She couldn’t remember what he’d asked. “I’m sorry?”
“Are you going inside?”
She nodded. “Thank you.” Towing her suitcase behind her, she stepped past him, catching the scent of sandalwood and musk. Hopefully, the heavenly smell of chocolate would mask the outdoor freshness clinging to her after her trek into town.
The shop was crowded with pretty young women and handsome men who appeared to be in their twenties. A row of numbered tables for two covered in white cloths took up most of the space in the store. Notecards, pens, and a plate of chocolate treats sat on each table—someone had booked the business for a party. Before Elena had a chance to ask for directions, a woman in dark jeans and a cobalt-blue shirt covered by a reddish-gold apron emerged from behind the candy counter.
“Wesley, you made it!” The brunette weaved through the crowd, but stopped short when she noticed Elena. “Hi, I’m Rosie.” Her gaze dropped to the luggage. “I didn’t know we had someone coming to the speed dating event from out of town.”
Speed dating? “Oh, no, I—”
Rosie grabbed the suitcase handle and rolled it into a corner. “We’re running behind schedule. Otherwise, I’d give you time to freshen up,” she said. “But don’t worry, you still look great.” Rosie peered behind Elena. “Right, Wesley?”
The cowboy who’d held the door for her kept a straight face, but his eyes twinkled. “Yes, ma’am. You look great.”
Elena’s long hair was a snarled mess. She was sweaty, dusty, and dressed like she’d come from the gym—she did not look great.
Rosie took her arm. “What’s your name?”
“Elena.”
“Since you already know each other…” Rosie handed Elena and Wesley a sticker with a number one on it. “Sit together at the first table.”
Rosie leaned over and whispered in Elena’s ear. “You can pay the twenty-five-dollar fee later.” She turned to the man named Wesley. “I put aside a box of chocolate-covered nut clusters for your boss. Don’t forget to take it when you leave.” Rosie went off to hand out numbered stickers to the remaining daters. When she finished, she clapped her hands. “Find your table and take your seat.”
“I just came in here to get directions,” Elena muttered.
Wesley pulled out a chair for her and grinned, obviously finding her predicament amusing.
She supposed it wasn’t every day that a crazy, suitcase-towing woman hiked into Marietta and crashed a speed-dating party. Not wanting to make a scene, she sat down. “Thank you.”
“Welcome to Marietta’s first ever speed-dating event at Copper Mountain Chocolate. My cohost, Portia, is at home tonight taking care of her newborn son Zavy.” Rosie smiled. “The little guy is so darn cute, and his mother can’t stand being away from him for very long. But rest assured I have everything under control.”
“Hey, Rosie.” The pretty brunette at table five spoke up. “Is it true you and Brant are planning a September wedding?”
“We are, Siena.” Rosie blushed. “Nothing in this town stays a secret.”
Elena reminded herself to use caution when speaking to people about her grandfather.
“I heard the TV series you’re working on with your brother got picked up again and you’re writing more episodes,” the woman seated by Siena said.
“Nadia”—Rosie’s gaze narrowed—“I would think a nurse at the May Bell Care Home would be too busy to gossip about my brother and me.”
Nadia laughed. “Blame Sara Maria. She stops by at least once a week and updates us on you and Brant.”
“As long as were gossiping…” The woman next to Elena pointed down the row of tables. “How come you came tonight, Wren? Portia said you’re not in town for long.”
“I’m starting grad school in the fall.” Wren winked. “I’m here purely out of intellectual curiosity.”
Rosie opened her mouth to speak, but then frowned at a woman two tables away from Elena. “Gretchen, I thought you were dating someone?”
“As I keep telling people—my sister in particular—one date does not a relationship make.” Gretchen bent over and fussed with the strap on her sandal.
“Especially when the female half of the equation disappears without leaving so much as a glass slipper behind.”
Gretchen’s spine snapped straight, and she stared at the handsome man who sat across the table from her. “Hi, Cinderella. Fancy meeting you here,” he said.
“Daniel. What—”
“Let’s save the chitchat for the event,” Rosie said. “Each date will last three minutes, and the lady will ask the first question. After the gentleman answers, he’ll ask the next question and so on and so forth.”
“What are these for?” Gretchen’s new tablemate asked, holding up a notepad and pen with the chocolate shop’s logo on them.
“Feel free to use the paper and pens to jot down names, phone numbers, or anything else that will help you remember each other,” Rosie said. “When the timer goes off, the ladies will remain seated and the gentlemen will move down one table, then we’ll begin another date.”
“When do we get to sample Sage’s chocolate candy?” Wren asked.
“After the first round, we’ll take a break. Sage picked out a lovely Cabernet Sauvignon donated by the Two Old Goats wine store to go with her coconut-stuffed dates covered in chocolate wine.” Rosie held up the plate of chocolates from Elena’s table. “Sage would like to know what you think of her chocolates, so please fill out the questionnaire before you leave.”
Rosie returned the dish to the table. “I forget to mention the chocolate shop will host a second speed-dating event a week from today. If you’re interested, there’s a sign-up sheet on the counter.” She twisted the knob on the timer. “Ready…set…begin.”
“What’s your last name, Wesley?” Elena asked.
“Banks,” he said. “Where are you from, Elena?”
She frowned. “You’re not going to ask my last name?”
“You can’t answer a question with a question.”
“Las Vegas.” She pointed to his hat. “Are you a real cowboy?”
“Born and raised on a ranch north of Livingston. How old are you?”
“Twenty-five. How old are you?”
“Twenty-seven.” He narrowed his eyes. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“I had a fiancé but not anymore.” She ignored the questions in his eyes and asked, “Do you live on your family’s ranch?”
“No. I’m the caretaker of a rural property outside of Marietta. What do you do?”
“I’m an elementary schoolteacher. What’s your favorite color?”
“Brown.”
“Then why are you wearing a blue shirt?”
He shook his head. “My turn.”
The cowboy was a stickler for rules.
“What grade do you teach?” he asked.
Surprised he cared, she said, “First. What’s your favorite food?”
“Barbecue. You?”
“Macaroni and cheese.” She had her room mothers to thank for her obsession with the comfort food. There were at least four or five different macaroni-and-cheese casseroles at every class party. “Favorite hobby?”
“Skiing.”
A cowboy who skied? Interesting.
“What’s your reason for visiting Marietta?” he asked.
“I’ve never been to Montana.” Although she suspected Wes wasn’t the kind to gossip, she’d rather not reveal the true reason for her visit. “How long have you lived in Marietta?”
“Since I turned eighteen.” Elena resisted squirming under his warm gaze—he’d yet to take his eyes off her face. “Was that your car I passed on the side of the road outside of town?” he asked.
“Yes. Do you wear your cowboy hat when you ski?”
He chuckled. “No. What’s wrong with the car?”
“The engine began smoking. Why didn’t you stop?”
“I didn’t see anyone. Where were you?”
“Hiding in the ditch. Would you have offered me a ride?”
His brown eyes warmed. “Of course. Why didn’t you show yourself when I slowed down?”
“Because I was only wearing my panties and a bra.”
The timer went off, saving Elena from answering any follow-up questions about her lingerie. A man walked up to the table and nudged Wesley’s shoulder. “Move over, buddy.” Wesley sat at table two after a nod and a muttered, “Bobby,” in greeting, but his gaze remained on Elena until Rosie set the timer for another three minutes.
The dates flew by. Less than a half hour later, Elena had answered the same questions ten times: her name, age, what she did for a living, where she was from, and how long she’d planned to remain in town.
“Ready for wine and chocolate?” Rosie stood behind the candy display case, pouring wine into plastic glasses.
Elena accepted a cup and finished her wine in three swallows.
“Slow down, outlander.” Wesley’s words drifted into her ear.
“I’m thirsty from my hike into town,” she said as a shiver passed through her body. She’d done a whole lot more with Brad than ask and answer questions, and she’d never felt this off-balance when he’d stood close to her.
“I’ll be right back,” Wes said to Rosie before disappearing through a doorway behind the counter.
A moment later, he returned with a glass of water. The man wasn’t only good-looking—he was considerate, too. “Thank you.” She locked gazes with him as she gulped it down.
#
“Would you like to try a chocolate?” Wes held the plate out and waited for her to select a piece, then helped himself. Before he had a chance to sample Sage’s latest recipe, Elena clutched his arm.
“Wow. This is delicious.”
His stomach clenched when she took another bite and her lips closed around the treat. Her dark lashes swept down as she moaned—a long, deep sound, which made him want to turn off the store lights, back Elena into the corner, and nibble the smudge of chocolate that clung to her lips.
“I haven’t eaten,” she said, “since my flight arrived in Bozeman earlier today.”
Mesmerized by her mouth, he waited until she swallowed, but then they both spoke at once.
“Why—”
“What—”
“You go first,” he said.
“Okay. Why are you here tonight? A cowboy as good-looking as you should be able to find a date on his own.”
Wes grinned. “Are you always this blunt?”
“It’s a trait I picked up from teaching first graders.”
He had a suspicion nothing fazed Elena. The women he’d dated in the past would have run the other way if they’d been shanghaied by Rosie and forced to attend a speed-dating event while wearing shorts and a tank top. But Elena didn’t seem to care that she stood out like a sore thumb among the women in pretty sundresses, high heels, and makeup.
“Aren’t you going to have another one?” She picked up a second chocolate.
“I’m not a huge fan of candy, but my boss is. I buy Sage’s chocolate-covered nut clusters for him whenever I’m in town.” The sweets were about the only thing that made the old man smile.
“Why are you here tonight?” she asked.
“I lost a bet to a fourteen-year-old.”
“Brother? Cousin?”
“A teen I’m trying to steer back onto the right path.”
Her eyebrows dipped. “So you’re a caretaker of rural properties and delinquent troublemakers?”
He laughed. “You could say that.”
“What was the bet you lost to your young charge?”
“Ricky finished mucking horse stalls before I cleared debris from a stream.” Wes rubbed the side of his nose. “He thinks I don’t know how to get a girl.”
“Is he right?”
Wes rolled his shoulders. “I’m between girls right now.” Elena didn’t need to know he hadn’t had a date in almost a year. “You mentioned an ex-fiancé?”
She nodded.
“What happened?” He winced. “Forget I asked the question. It’s none of my business.”
“I’m used to being put on the spot. Six-year-olds have no filter.” She licked her lips clean, and it was all Wes could do not to stare at her mouth. “My ex cheated on me.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Thanks.”
“You’re better off without him.”
“I’ve moved on.”
She sounded confident, but there was no way to tell if she was still nursing a broken heart. He noticed the shop had emptied out and Rosie was cleaning up, making trips back and forth to the kitchen. She stopped at their table and reached for the empty candy dish. “You liked Sage’s coconut-stuffed dates covered in chocolate wine.”
“Very much.” Elena opened her purse. “I owe you twenty-five dollars.”
“I’ll take care of it.” Wes pulled out his wallet and handed Rosie the cash.
“Thanks, but I have money,” Elena said.
Rosie ignored Elena and snatched the cash from his hand, then hurried into the kitchen.
“Will you still be in town next Saturday?” Wes asked.
“If things go as planned, I hope to be in Marietta for a few weeks.”
He wondered what things Elena referred to, but decided he’d asked enough questions for one night.
“No…no,” Rosie said, speaking into her cell when she walked out of the kitchen. “Don’t get upset with her. I’m on my way.”
The alarm in Rosie’s voice drew Wes to his feet.
“Stay with Sara Maria and don’t leave her alone. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Rosie ended the call and slipped her purse over her shoulder. “I have to go.”
“Is everything okay?” Wes asked.
Rosie looked at Elena. “My fiancé’s sister is autistic and can get quite agitated. Brant needs my help to calm her down.” Rosie glanced around the room. “I’ll return later tonight to clean.”
“We’ll finish up for you.” Wes looked at Elena for confirmation, and she nodded. “I’m in no hurry to get home, Rosie,” he said. “I can put the tables back where they belong and sweep the floor.”
“And I’ll wash the dishes and take care of the garbage,” Elena said.
“You wouldn’t mind? Sage is coming into the store tomorrow to work on a new recipe, and I’d hate for her to see the place a wreck.”
“We’ve got it covered,” Wes said. “After I lock up, I’ll stop by your house and leave the key under the front mat.”
Rosie removed the lanyard from around her neck and handed it to him. “Thank you.” She turned to Elena. “Enjoy your stay in Marietta. I hope to see you again.”
As soon as Rosie left, Elena pointed to the key in Wes’s hand. “Is everyone so trusting in this town?”
“I’m friends with her fiancé.” He set the key on the counter and removed his phone from his pocket. “I’m hungry, and I know you are.” He dialed the number for the local pizza joint. “It’s Wes Banks. The usual but deliver it to Copper Mountain Chocolate. Yeah, I’m sure Sage doesn’t mind. Thanks.”
“What’s the usual?” she asked.
“Cheese, pepperoni, and sausage.” When she crinkled her nose, he said, “What?”
“That’s a lot of meat.”
“You’re a vegetarian?”
“No, but I like more than meat and cheese.”
“Next time, I’ll let you order the pizza.” He began folding the chairs. “While we wait for dinner, I’d like to hear more about the panties and bra you mentioned during our speed date.”
She laughed. “I bet you would.”



Friday, May 19, 2017

Read an Excerpt From A Stranger She Can Trust by Regan Black

$4.49


Heart-racing romance, breathless suspense!

In USA TODAY bestselling author Regan Black's new Escape Club Heroes thriller, a guarded man builds a future with a woman without a past…

Outside of one of Philadelphia’s busiest nightclubs, a woman stumbles from her taxi. Beaten and bruised, Melissa Baxter is an amnesiac with a target on her back. Gun-shy, Melissa relies on a handsome hero to help her uncover who she really is.

Carson Lane—a paramedic with his own dark history—can’t help but bring this beautiful, vulnerable woman under his wing. Still reeling from his partner’s murder, he's no stranger to risk. But as he and Melissa begin unraveling the mystery of who she really is, Carson realizes falling in love could be the biggest risk of all.

Escape Club Heroes: Off-duty justice, full-time love…

Excerpt:

Carson paused, breathing in the cool spring air rolling off the Delaware River and sighing it out again in an attempt to let go of the past. Up and down the pier, businesses were bustling with customers cutting loose and making the most of Friday night. From this shore and on the far bank of New Jersey, lights sparkled and danced in the reflection of the water. Boats cruised slowly, leaving ghostly trails behind them. From his vantage point, the traffic on the bridge was little more than a murmur of white noise.
His best friend Sarah had died on a hot and humid summer night. He’d survived winter and the holidays without her, made it through Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, too. Didn’t people connect hope and fresh starts with springtime? Maybe this new season could break the cycle of grief plaguing him.
He searched out the brighter stars in the sky, trying to recall the constellations. Maybe he should pull out the old telescope and set it up again. It would be one positive way to pass the dark, lonely hours. “Be in the present,” he said aloud, coaching himself. “Let go and start living.”
The advice didn’t bring an immediate result. He supposed it was absurd to think a deep breath and a few new words would offer any relief.
Turning at the sound of an engine, he held up a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of headlights as a big car pulled to a stop at the side of the club. He saw a typical white city taxicab with a familiar logo on the back door. Then a slender woman pushed it open and stumbled out.
“Hey!” The driver jumped out, as well. “You owe me money, lady.”
“I…” The woman frowned at her empty hands. “I don’t have money.” She wobbled, looking around. “Where—”
“Wait right there!” The cabbie rushed around the car to confront her.
Sensing trouble, Carson dashed forward as the woman tripped and started to fall. He caught her, willing his knee to hold up for both of them. “Back off,” he warned the cabbie.
“She owes me the fare.”
“I’ll cover it.” Carson eased the woman down to sit on a discarded pallet. Despite the shadows, he could tell she wasn’t well. Drunk or stoned, the visible fresh scrapes and bruises on her face and arms implied someone had taken a few swipes at her recently. “What happened to her?”
“How the hell do I know? She got in the car that way.”
Carson looked at the woman. “Is that true?” She only stared up at him, shying away from the cabbie. “Bring me her purse.”
“No purse.” The driver gestured at the empty backseat. “Just her.”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

White (The Wings Trilogy Book 1) by Angelina J. Steffort

$2.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

Amazon

“I love you,” he said with a smile on his lips. And then his eyes snapped open, flashing green. A radiating white blur shot out from between his shoulders, smashing everything within reach. I was thrown to the ground by the force of it and something hard hit my head. The last thing I saw was Adam’s shape against the white radiating light that seemed to have its source inside him...

When 18 year old Claire Gabriel meets Adam, her life takes a drastic turn. He seems to have stepped right out of a fairy tale and he is beautiful – more than anything. On the way to discovering his secret, Claire soon finds herself in love with the mysterious boy.

Unable to evade the dark shadow their feelings for each other draw up, Claire becomes a target in the eternal war between good and evil; because Adam isn’t the only mysterious creature hovering around Claire . . .

White is Angelina J. Steffort's debut novel and the first book in The Wings Trilogy, the story about the impossible love between a girl and an angel.

___

Praise for White:

“Angelina’s first novel is virtually unputdownable: a delightful, wicked, deeply seductive fantasy with characters that leap off the page and a love story that has its reader yearning for more. Thank God there will be more installments to come. Read at your own peril - because you are going to get stuck and burn the midnight oil with this one: Angelina J. Steffort has crafted a deeply engaging world with a level of astounding detail. For an author’s debut, this is world-building at full power and romance writing as it should be.“ (Toni Weiss, Creative Partner & director @ Little Lights Studio)

“White is a thoroughly entertaining tale of Good vs Evil. Claire and Adam are two young adults living ordinary lives. When they meet, Claire unknowingly becomes a catalyst between the forces of good and evil. People and events are not always what they appear to be. The ending came as a complete shock! I can’t wait to see what happens next.” (Donna Wolz, editor @ Wise Owls)

“I read, no, I swallowed the story. White has a great flow and the ending brings together nicely the storylines Angelina builds up throughout the whole book. It was easy to fall into the mystical love story between Claire and Adam. White is captivating and suspenseful. A real page turner.” (Katharina Sabetzer, coach & writer @ erzählbar)

---

About the author:

“Chocolate fanatic, milk-foam enthusiast and huge friend of the southern sting-ray. Writing is an unexpected career-path for me.”

Angelina J. Steffort was born in 1984. She has mul- tiple educational backgrounds, including engineering, busi- ness, music and acting. Angelina writes YA fantasy with a strong romance component, and is the author of The Wings Trilogy, currently working on the second part. Angelina lives in Vienna, Austria with her husband and her son. Learn more about Angelina on www.ajsteffort.com or follow her on Twitter @ajsteffort.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Get Rough Ride by Cynthia Rayne for FREE

FREE for a Limited Time!

Amazon

Buckle up, Kate, it's going to be a rough ride.
MALCOLM

I've wanted Kate since I first laid eyes on her, which is insane--she's half my age and my employee, but I can't stop wanting her. Needing her.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Love to Last Forever by Linda Wisdom - $0.99!


$0.99 Until May 20, 2017

Amazon

Once Stacy McAllister had been Carver High's Most Likely to Succeed, and Mike Harper has been the class outcast. But at the reunion a devastating new Mike Harper, a man she'd never known, swept Stacy off her feet. With the sadness and failures of her past, Stacy felt worlds removed from her golden days. Love seemed a luxury she could no longer afford. Mike had become an astonishing social and professional success, the talk of the town. Soon he'd go back to St. Louis, taking a chunk of her past and a piece of her heart with him. She'd already given him a lot, but Mike wanted more. But she was a two-time loser. Did she dare to dream of a love that could last forever?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Caution: Man at Work by Linda Wisdom - $0.99


$0.99 Until May 20, 2017

Amazon

Cole Bishop had appeared in her hour of need and she'd done it--hired him--a male housekeeper! Perhaps now, with her twin boys in his care, she could get back to her demanding career in advertising.

In no time her chaotic household was running smoothly. The boys were in heaven. But Kelly Connors hadn't counted on Cole insinuating himself into her life so personally...so passionately. Nor was she prepared for her ex-husband's intrusion on their newfound domestic bliss or his vicious threats to take the children from her. And when the boys suddenly vanished, Kelly was terrified, torn.

Had she asked too much, wanting her children, her career, her independence--and the man she loved? Could Cole--a journalist doing "undercover" research on house-husbanding--help her find both her boys and all the answers?

A Linda Wisdom classic contemporary romance, now a Joyride Books exclusive!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sometimes a Lady by Linda Wisdom - $0.99!

$0.99 Until May 20th

Amazon

SHE COULD NOT BELIEVE HER EYES

He dressed like a biker, talked like a thug, and looked like a ruffian. And he was the man assigned to protect her!

When Elise opened the door of her secluded California home to Detective Dean Cornell, she thought maybe she was safer without police protection.

Dean thought that moving in with the lady vet was a choice assignment–heck, there were worse jobs than guarding a sexy woman. But life in the Carpenter household was anything but normal. With three squabbling girls, two snoring tortoises, and a loudmouth macaw on his tail, Dean feared even he wasn't safe here.

Then, after long nights in close quarters, they discovered that the biggest threat wasn't from the killer on the loose at all.

The Happiness Memo by Shrewdhippo - $0.99!

$0.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

Happiness is a state of mind, a way of life and an art that must be practiced daily. In this digest, you will learn the secrets to successful and happy living.

The Happiness Memo brings 17 ways in which your heart, mind and soul come together to create a happier and more meaningful life. Reading it will recharge your mind, boost your self-motivation and give you courage to live life more fully and on your own terms.

Grab your copy here:http://bit.ly/2happinessmemo

Check out other Shrewdhippo Digests here: http://bit.ly/shrewdhippodigests

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Man for Mom by Linda Wisdom - $0.99!

$0.99 Until May 20th

Amazon

Parenting a teenager was trouble enough, but when the teenager turned matchmaker, it added up to hormone overload. Chelsea Brennan was satisfied with her life as a single mom. Her days were spent in Hot Stuff, her shop of classy lingerie, and her nights...well, she liked sitcoms. Only the summer separated Chelsea's seventeen-year-old daughter from a college far from home. Three short months to set her mom up with Mr. Right. Enter Mark Harrison--via the back door at midnight. When he showed up on the doorstep with teen Colleen, Chelsea nearly blew a gasket. Of course this hunk was too old for her daughter, but was he the man for Mom?

The Favored Son by Catherine Chen

$0.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers - LIMITED TIME for Three Weeks!

Amazon

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/catherinechen
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thefavoredson
twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinechen04

The Favored Son tells two parallel stories - the rise of Jason Chen, a Chinese-American con-artist, and the fall of his traditional immigrant family - a family that he rips apart forever.

Accustomed to a quiet life in the mid-west, the Chen family moves to California in search of a better life after they immigrated from China. Following the tradition of their homeland, Jason's parents pour all of their money and attention into their son. He is the only son among five daughters, and they hope that he will be successful and bring honor to the Chen name.

Jason wants to make his family proud, but his ambition draws him into to a life of deception and crime. He uses his family’s money to buy his way through MIT and, after graduating, becomes a professional con-man. This lifestyle soon draws unwanted attention.

As the police begin to close in on him, Jason decides to fake his own death and flee the country. He then begins an extraordinary adventure. His escape takes him to distant corners of the world: back to his ancestral home in China, and an obscure city in South America.

Jason is desperate to outrun his past and the tragedy of a broken family he has left behind - a family now completely changed forever by his actions.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Her Secret, His Son by Linda Wisdom

$0.99

Amazon


It was a day she'd never forget...

Sara Murdock was pumping gas in Henderson, North Carolina, when she heard about the new preacher. He was reputed to be a quiet, thoughtful man. His name was Jess Larkin.

That evening Sara walked around the hillside town--the town that had been her home in name only. She watched the people who had never accepted her as one of their own when she'd returned fifteen years ago with an infant son. Then she went home and looked at the boy, and saw again the heart-wrenching smile and stubborn pride Tim had inherited from the father he never knew. How would Sara cope when everyone discovered the truth about Tim's parentage?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Read an Excerpt From Viable Threat by Julie Rowe

$3.99 - COMING MAY 22, 2017

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

Amazon

Special Forces soldier and medic Walter River would give anything to snatch more than a few seconds of down time to see if he can rattle the no-nonsense and incredibly hot Dr. Lloyd he's protecting, but dodging explosions, snipers, and student radicals who've unleashed a lethal bio-engineered microorganism have made that almost impossible. Maybe he'll get a chance—if he can figure out how to keep them both alive.

CDC microbiologist Ava Lloyd races to find a cure for a bio-terrorism organism sweeping El Paso. The few stolen moments with her very hunky bodyguard River have been explosive, but no matter how alluring he is, she can't afford to get distracted. The clock is ticking, people are dying by the hundreds, and once this crisis is solved, they'll both be off on their next assignment, thousands of miles apart.

Excerpt:

She rested her head against the back of the seat and gave him a strange sort of sad smile. “You know what I’d like to do right now?”
He grunted and wagged his index finger. “That is a trick question.”
She laughed. “Yeah, I guess it is.”
He liked seeing the smile on her face. He liked seeing her face, period. “Tell me, Mouse, what would you like to do right now?”
She waved him closer, and he leaned toward her. She did it again, then put a hand on his shoulder and pulled herself up so she could whisper in his ear, “I’d like to take that respirator off you and kiss you, silly.”
She let go of him and resumed her previous position on the seat. He sat perfectly still. It took just about everything in him to not rip the mask off and grant her wish.
“I’m sorry,” she said, with as close to soundless as a voice could get. “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”
He looked at her and realized she thought he was embarrassed or some shit like that.
“I’m uncomfortable,” he murmured. “Because I’ve had a damned hard-on since I bandaged you up.” Her pupils widened, and her mouth dropped open. “When this is over, you can kiss any part of me you want for as long as you like, just as long as I can return the favor.”
“Oh,” she breathed out. When her tongue licked over her lips, he had to chain his hands to his sides to keep from grabbing her.
Though a blush heated her cheeks, tears filled her eyes until they spilled over and tracked down her face. “Chances are, that’s just a dream.”
It just about killed him to see her so sad. “Hey.” He couldn’t keep the growl out of his voice. “No Negative Nancys allowed on this trip.”
“I’ve got a headache, River. A fever can’t be far behind.”
“That happy bastard Henry is going to come up with some kind of magic potion that will kick this bug’s ass.”
“If that were possible, we’d know.”
“We’ve been so busy blowing shit up, we might not have been told.”
She slanted a disbelieving glance at him. “You just spoke with our boss. I think she would have mentioned any magic potions, if they’d been available.”
He ran his hands through his hair. “Could you work with me, Mouse? We’ve got a mass murderer to catch, and I need you ready and able to help reel in the son-of-a-bitch.”
“Ah, I see what you’re doing. Trying to put me in a good mood.”
“Jesus fuck, woman, you think I’d tell you how much I want you just to put you in a good mood?” He leaned down, grabbing the top of the seat on either side of her head. “Do I look like a motivational speaker?”
She studied him, her gaze flicking across his face and uniform. Covered in dirt, debris, and blood, he looked like a walking nightmare. “You look like a soldier on a mission.”
“That’s true, but not all of it.” He whispered, “I’ve got another mission. A personal one. You.”

Saturday, May 6, 2017

FREE! - The Space Invader by Karen Musser Nortman

FREE

Amazon

A cozy/thriller mystery! The starry skies over New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment," may hold secrets of their own. The Shoemakers and the Ferraros, on an extended camping trip, find themselves picking up a souvenir they don't want and taking sidetrips they didn't plan on.


Chapter One
Tuesday Evening

Badger's back throbbed from the perpendicular metal wall, his butt hurt from the metal bench, and his arms ached from the forced restraint of the handcuffs. He shifted on the uncomfortable seat as much as he could within his limited range of motion. And he still had several more hours to go.
The van lurched to a stop. The glare of gas station lights seeped through the small mesh window separating Badger from his guards.
"I'm first," the driver said. "Those burritos are tearing my insides up." There was a pause, and then, "Mike! Stay awake! I said I'm going to the can!"
Mike groaned. "Yeah, yeah. You try staying awake after getting up at 3:30 in the morning. These double shifts are killing me."
"Tell it to someone who cares. I've done my share. Keep your eyes open 'til I get back. Then you can go get some coffee." The door slammed.
Badger couldn't see the other guard. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, trying to give his back a little stretch. The floor was littered with small bits of trash—leavings from earlier riders. Gum wrappers, a plastic bag, a bit of wire—he examined the wire, and then the mesh window. Soft snores filtered back—Mike didn't stay awake, as he'd been ordered.
Badger picked up the wire and maneuvered it around toward the lock in his handcuffs, glancing up frequently toward the mesh window. He fiddled with it only a few minutes before he heard the click of freedom. The handcuffs unlocked so easily, that his first thought was that it was a trap. He stared at the window and listened intently. The snores still filtered back.
He wasn't home free—his ankles were shackled and the door was bolted. But the success with the handcuffs spurred him on. What did he have to lose? He was already in for life with no possibility of parole, so they couldn't extend his sentence. The prison shrink had labeled him with a bunch of gibberish that Badger only understood enough to know he was considered hopeless and worthless. That was nothing new. Everyone he'd ever come in contact with had told him the same thing. The old van was headed for a higher security prison than he'd been in the last seven years, and he knew things would only get worse.
He laid the handcuffs on the bench and got on his knees to peer underneath. One support was attached to the bench but not the wall. He grabbed hold and twisted. A grinding screech sounded as the old screw gave way.
Badger jerked his head up and watched the mesh window. Still no sound, other than the snoring. He lumbered to his feet and shuffled to the back. Again, the door jimmied open with the old piece of metal so easily, that he expected a waiting posse outside. But when he eased the door open a crack, empty pavement was brightly lit and stretched over to a row of pines, shrubs, and small trees skirting the edge. The only obstacles were a motorhome and a pickup with a long travel trailer parked at the curb.
He edged the door open further. The other guard could come back from the can at any time. It was now or never. He opened the door far enough to sit on the floor and slide to the ground. At previous stops, the guards hadn't checked on him before pulling out, so he closed the door and fastened it. Maybe they wouldn't check this time either, and it would gain him some extra time.
Crossing the open space was slow, because his ankle shackles constricted his steps. He expected a shout from the guard. He went between the back of the trailer and the front of the motorhome, worked through some shrubs, and got down on his hands and knees facing the parking lot, so he could peer under the trailer.
It wasn't long until the guard's feet crossed from the convenience store to the prison van. The other guard got out of the passenger side and headed to the restroom.
Badger surveyed his surroundings. The trees and shrubs separated the parking lot from a drainage ditch, which was lined with stones. He scooted toward the ditch and picked up the first rock he saw that looked easy to handle. He sat up, separated his feet as far as the chain connecting his shackles would allow, and used the rock to work on the chain. Traffic noise from the nearby highway masked the pounding, and in minutes the chain broke.
He returned to watching the convenience store lot. The store was one of those with an attached fast food joint—a Subway—and a few people came and went before the second guard returned to the van. Neither man checked the back of the van, and it pulled away from the gas pumps.
Badger let out a breath. These guys worked for a service that the state hired to transport prisoners. It was obvious they just wanted to put in their time and get home—or to the nearest bar.
He weighed his options. He could follow the ditch and possibly get out of town that way. Maybe find some clothes and get the shackles completely off. He probably wouldn't have any luck hitching a ride until he did that.
More people came out of the convenience store, and two sets of feet headed toward the trailer and pickup. Badger edged further into the underbrush. A man opened the driver's door of the pickup.
"Think I'll put my rain gear back in the storage cubby. Doesn't look like I'm going to need it anytime soon around here."
"Good idea," said a woman's voice from the other side of the truck.
The man pulled a rain slicker and pants from the back seat of the truck, wadded them into a bundle, and carried them to a long oblong hatch near the end of the trailer. He used his keys to unlock the hatch and propped it open while he stowed his bundle.
Badger wished he had a weapon. That truck would be just the ticket out of here. He thought about the rock he had just used with his chain. The guy was old—maybe 50 or 60. Badger was sure he could take him, but the woman would raise an alarm. Besides, he didn't know how to unhook a trailer, and towing it would make him pretty easy to spot by the cops. He could probably figure it out but not fast enough.
The man closed the hatch and climbed into his truck. He started the engine but didn't pull away. Badger figured he must be waiting for the owners of the motorhome.
Badger thought about the hatch in that trailer. There was quite a bit of space in there, and the man didn't lock it—just slammed it shut. It would be a way to get away from the area. He started to get up from his crouch but ducked back down when the driver's door opened again. The man got out. He walked around the front of the truck and yelled, "Hey, Mick! I left my coffee mug in there!"
From his hiding place, Badger saw two other sets of feet coming toward the RVs. They stopped and the man from the pickup walked toward them. They argued in low voices, but Badger focused on that hatch. When all of the feet headed back to the store, he made his move.
He crouch-walked to the trailer, hoping the woman, who was still in the truck, wouldn't glance over and notice him in the side mirror. As quickly and quietly as he could, he opened the hatch and crawled in. The quiet part was hard, what with the chains from his shackles and some poles stored in the hatch, but maybe the general noise around the station would cover it. The hatch was not designed to be closed from the inside for obvious reasons, so Badger fiddled with the latch until it seemed like it might stay closed. Then he lay still, taking a full breath for the first time since he started his escape.

Chapter Two
Tuesday Evening

Frannie Shoemaker examined the atlas map of New Mexico with a penlight. Oncoming headlights brightened the cab of the truck briefly, before it returned to the subtle glow of the dash lights.
"How much longer do you think? It looks like about fifty miles to me."
Her husband Larry ran his hand over his crew cut. "Maybe an hour. I hate setting up in the dark—damn that flat tire, anyway."
She reached over and rubbed his neck. "You'd better sleep in tomorrow. It's been a long day."
He grinned. "I think Mickey's planning on hunting aliens first thing tomorrow."
"Let 'im. He can even borrow the truck."
"What if it gets beamed up when the aliens come for him? How would we get home?"
"Easy—take his motorhome. You or Jane Ann can drive it." Frannie's phone chirped for a text message. She picked it up from its niche in the console. "Text from Jane Ann. Mickey says one of our storage doors is flapping."
He winced. "I bet I didn't lock it when I put my rain suit in there." He flipped his turn signal on and slowed, easing over to the shoulder.
Frannie handed him her trailer keys, and he swung down out of the truck.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Chocolate Touch by Melissa McClone

$2.99

Amazon
Nook

Chocolate expert Chantelle Cummings arrives in Marietta, Montana with two goals—sign copies of her new book and research a quaint local chocolate shop. When she meets a gorgeous guy passing out chocolate samples, her visit turns sweeter than she ever imagined. The man melts her heart, but her dream of working in France with her family makes her hesitant to pursue a romance.

Former Air Force captain York Parker has one month before embarking upon a consulting career. He never expected to be selling chocolates, but he’s happy to help his sister and her boss. He also likes spending time with sassy, pretty Chantelle. His new coworker may have the chocolate touch, but he’d rather taste her decadent kisses… until he learns the real reason she’s in town.

Will the truth harden his heart, or will love pave the way to a sweet future?

Excerpt:
 
Walking into Paradise Books in Marietta, Montana, York Parker was a man with a mission. He might not be a captain in the air force any longer, but he was the big brother of two incredible women—Dakota and Nevada—and one needed his help tonight. He was used to scanning code on his computer screen and watching trajectories on monitors, so he went into surveillance mode to find Dakota.

Rows of chairs and a wooden podium suggested a reading or some other event had taken place recently, maybe tonight, but his sister wasn’t there. She also wasn’t among the bookcases or with the customers who stood in a line along the left-hand side of the store.

Where could she be?

The place wasn’t that big.

Someone crashed into his back, and he took a step to maintain his balance. He was fine, but he couldn’t say the same about the person clinging to his left arm and shoulder like a dead weight.

Oh, no.” The voice was feminine and breathy. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”

That’s okay.” And man, was it.

Soft curves pressed against York. The scent of vanilla surrounded him. He couldn’t see her face, but everything else about her was near perfect. If he were looking for a hookup.

Which he wasn’t.

He went into big-brother mode, turned, and put his free hand on her waist to help her balance. “Are you hurt?

No, just a big ball of nerves.” She straightened, and he missed her warmth and scent. “Though don’t tell anyone I said that please.”

Your secret is safe with me.” He took a good look at her.

Hello, gorgeous.

She was in her mid-to-late twenties with a beautiful face that could stop a convoy of Humvees and long, blond hair that belonged spread over a pillow or a man’s chest.

Like his.

York’s pulse kicked up a notch. Okay, more than one.

She wore a pale blue above-the-knee skirt and matching jacket. Attractive and well dressed. A combination that was hard to resist.

Thanks, but…” A big, blue-eyed gaze—the color of the sky on this fine day in May—met his.

His breath caught in his throat. Something twisted in his gut. He stared, captivated.

Not the reaction he was expecting, nor like anything he’d felt while charming scantily clad women on the beach last week.

Did I hurt you?” she added.

Reality returned in an instant. He bit back a laugh. If she could hurt him, he needed serious help. She was average height to his six-two. Not skinny by any means. She had curves a man could hold onto or sink into. Just his type. And too small to do much damage to someone as big as him by accident… or even if she’d tried.

But he heard her concern and appreciated that she knew she was the one at fault. “I’m fine, Miss…?”

York wanted to know her name.

Good.” She glanced around the store instead. “I need to find the restroom. Do you know where it is?”

Sorry, first time in here.”

Well, I’d better keep looking. Thanks for keeping me from hitting the floor. That would have been more embarrassing.”

No need to be embarrassed. You can bump into me anytime.”

With a quick smile flashed in his direction, she hurried away.

The sway of her hips and heels that showed off her long legs had him watching her go. He didn’t get her name, but that was probably for the best.


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