Friday, April 29, 2022

Read an Excerpt from The Courage to Love (The Man in the Arena Book 2) by Taylor Lee

FREE

Amazon

•Ava refuses to share her painful secret driving a formidable wedge between herself and Luke

•The handsome Native American healer is kind, thoughtful and unassuming. Quite a contrast to the commanding, arrogant Sheriff.

•A gruesome hate crime turns the love triangle upside down


Excerpt:

Ava Patel stumbled down the stairs of the Marin County Sheriff’s office. The red haze in front of her eyes nearly blinded her, made it likely that she would fall before reaching the bottom step. Her breath was coming so hard it hurt to inhale.  Gasping for air, she clung to the post on the landing. Kicking herself for her weakness, and knowing what she’d see at the top of the staircase, she couldn’t help but look back. 

There she was in all her slutty splendor: Amethyst Capra, the tall voluptuous blonde with the bright streak of purple in her hair, standing on the top step sneering down at Ava. A satisfied smirk curved her collagen-enhanced lips.  Her eyes sparkled with a mix of satisfaction and malice. 

Amethyst’s six inch miniskirt that ended scant fractions below her curvaceous butt revealed long dancer legs.  They would have stopped shows anywhere--particularly in the unassuming northern Minnesota town of Chicadia Falls. Her scanty halter barely covered her bodacious breasts that were straining to be free of the stretching material containing them. It was a costume befitting the self-described town tart.

Amethyst’s taunt rang in Ava’s ears, echoing painfully through her shocked brain.

 “You’re late, Darky Doctor. If you want to be first on the Sheriff’s list, you need to arrive earlier.  You obviously don’t know that the Sheriff likes ‘treats’ with his morning coffee.  But then, if you don’t mind being a variation on ‘Sloppy Seconds’….Go right in. He should have recovered from me by now.”

 Gathering what strength she had, Ava staggered toward her car. She knew she looked like one of the inebriates who’d spent the night in the drunk tank and were dragging themselves back to the land of the living.  She clung to the door handle of her ridiculously out of place Prius and willed herself to shut out the sound of Amethyst’s triumphant laughter. Closing the car door, Ava sank into the leather seat and rested her head against the steering wheel, hoping that by pressing her eyes against the rim of the wheel she could obliterate the memory of Amethyst coming out of Luke’s office. It was useless.  The image was imprinted on her brain.  Ava acknowledged with a groan that it would likely be there for life. Fortunately the din in her ears somewhat muffled the sound of her nemesis’ taunting words—if not the impact.

Glancing up, Ava tried to blot out the sight of Amethyst sauntering to her rust-pocked Ford sedan, swinging her long leather shoulder bag jauntily in concert with the audacious sway of her curvy hips. Ava fought to remember why she’d come to Sheriff Luke Lang’s office at eight o’clock on a beautiful summer morning. She forced herself to mentally retrace her halting steps down the long corridor to Luke’s office.  She felt again the excitement that she could never contain at the thought of seeing the commanding man, the man who’d taken over her heart and her mind—not to mention her body. She remembered her trepidation, knowing that she was about to change his life forever.

This morning she’d answered the question that had been haunting her.  Filling her with a contorted mix of excitement and dread.  She’d known the answer for six weeks.  In truth, she admitted that at some intuitive level she’d known the very night it happened.  She was pregnant.  With Luke’s baby.  She shook her head, acknowledging the truth. No one else could be the father.  There was one man and one man only in her life. The problem that Amethyst had painfully underscored was that far from being the only woman in Luke’s life, Ava was one of many. 

Ava wasn’t a fool.  She knew that Luke didn’t love her. No matter how extraordinary that propitious night had been, the aftermath underscored how fruitless it was to think that Luke could ever be a one woman man.  She’d promised herself that she could live with a broken heart as long as she never let him invade her soul.  She’d kept the agonized promise to herself until two nights ago. A pitifully inept novice sailor, she’d foolishly sailed her brand new Hobie Cat into the most ferocious storm Whitefish Lake was capable of. She could have… should have drowned.  But Luke had seen her go overboard and rushed to her rescue.

Ava knew at the time that raw adrenalin was the primary cause of the sexually torrid aftermath of her near drowning.  It was adrenalin that stoked Luke’s fear and then his anger at what she’d done. No doubt the combustible combination of adrenalin and testosterone catapulted his passionate reaction to the dangerous event… and to her. He’d threatened to spank her, punish her for her foolish escapade. Even now she was stunned, remembering her response to Luke’s scandalous warning.  She’d actually taunted him.  Dared him to make good on his threat. That he did in ways she never could have imagined, Ava was sure, would fuel her erotic dreams for years to come.  At least she’d been sure of that until today.

Seeing the positive result on the test stick this morning, she knew that she had no recourse but to tell Luke that not only had he saved her on that passionate night, but he’d also saved their baby.  Wrenching herself back to the present, Ava shuddered at the irony. In the space of two days, with his willing accomplice Amethyst, Luke had saved her… and then, once again, destroyed her.

Fleeing Amethyst, she’d nearly run into Sgt. Charlie Masterson, Luke’s right hand man, and a friend of hers. Charlie caught hold of her and asked why she was leaving without seeing the Sheriff.  When she could only shake her head unable to answer, he asked if he could give Luke a message from her.  Ava had responded the best that she could. 

She’d said, “No, Charlie.  It’s… nothing.  Nothing that concerns Sheriff Lang.”

Even as she spoke she wondered if God would strike her down dead for telling a lie, a childhood threat that had kept Ava from uttering a lie until she was thirteen years old.  But now the lie and the potential strike from on high were pitifully insipid.  The truth that she would live with was far worse.  Even now it was excruciatingly painful to admit that her predicament ultimately wouldn’t involve Sheriff Lang. Leave it to Amethyst to bring Ava’s pipedream smashing to smithereens.  Ava forced herself to ignore the memory of Luke’s lips on hers, his passionate whispers in her ear, telling her how beautiful she was, how much he craved her body, how much he longed to be with her.  Unfortunately, the only words that she’d never heard him say, were “I love you.”

 

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Family History Mystery Series Elaine Orr

 

$0.99

Digger Browning looked forward to spending time with Uncle Benjamin after damaged pipes put her kitchen ceiling on the floor. She didn't expect to find his body at his Western Maryland home, the Ancestral Sanctuary. Who would kill the parsimonious octogenarian? Sure, some people were mad about him pushing the historical society to find a new abode, but they got over it, right? And then she finds out he had a new 'foxy lady,' and she's not his usual type. Antsy before the funeral, Digger delves into family history, but makes an unexpected find. Between trying to figure out who keeps breaking into the Ancestral Sanctuary, avoiding an ex-boyfriend, putting up with cranky relatives, figuring out who busted her pipes, and losing her job, it's a rough week. If she doesn't watch out, Digger could end up next to Uncle Benjamin in the family plot. Spooky times in the Western Maryland mountains. 

 

 

$2.99

Kobo     Nook     Google     Amazon US    Amazon UK   Smashwords   Paperback  ibooks

Digger is bouncing back from a tough year. With the new graphic design firm she and her friend Holly started, things are looking up. But then life throws her a curve when she trips over a body while she and her friend Marty are taking photos at an abandoned train depot.

As she tries to piece things together, Digger begins to think the body she found is linked to a long-ago disappearance in her town of Maple Grove. Did Daniel Stevens abandon his family in 1963, or is there a more sinister explanation?

When she tries to learn more about Daniel’s life, Digger ends up raising more questions than answers, and she alienates her biggest client. Marty wonders if her odd mutterings mean she’s losing it. He gets more convinced when Digger seems to call to her uncle as someone takes pot shots at the two of them near an abandoned mine.

What happens when an apparition’s medium tells others about the ghost that she alone sees? Will Digger have to lose Uncle Benjamin to get close to anyone else?

Intriguing times in the Western Maryland mountains.

 

$2.99

Kobo     Nook     Google     AmazonUS    Amazon UK   Smashwords    Paperback   Ibooks

Mountain Rails of Old, third book in the Family History Mystery Series.

Digger Browning never paid much attention to the abandoned cottage and its long-gone occupants until she accompanied her friend Marty, who wanted to photograph it for a news story. Everything changed when Uncle Benjamin made a huge discovery nearby. What really happened to Samantha and her eight-year old daughter twelve years ago? If it hadn’t been for a growling raccoon, Digger might not have badgered enough people to find out.

Her friend Holly doesn’t like the ancestors Digger found for her, and Marty thinks she’s distanced herself rather than level with him about how she feels. Digger doesn’t realize that her search for a station on the Underground Railroad will cross paths with efforts to find out what happened to Samantha. And that path doesn’t lead to a safe haven.

Join Digger, Marty, and Uncle Benjamin as they sometimes operate at cross-purposes to solve old mysteries and unlock the mountain’s secrets. Western Maryland at its elusive best.



 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Read an Excerpt from Ruby: Book 2 Ladies of the Night Series by Taylor Lee

FREE

Amazon

Praise for Ruby …
Book 2 in Taylor Lee’s NEW Sexy Suspense Collection: Ladies of the Night.

“USA Today best-selling author Taylor Lee soars with Ruby, the second book in Lee’s provocative new series, Ladies of the Night. The Ladies are covert agents in a secretive, off the grid security organization. Highly trained fighters, they’re as gorgeous as they are dangerous to the evil men they’re hired to bring to justice. The only thing these formidable women are NOT is “ladies.”

Chloe Harper, Code Name: Ruby is a diminutive, red-headed vixen. But don’t let her size fool you. The fierce firebrand is as accomplished with a knife and Glock 19 as she is bringing men to their feet with her womanly wiles. Noah Walker, the stunning black former Army Ranger, is no slouch when it comes to attracting women, but even he is no match for Ruby. Both agents are more than equipped to take on what appears to be a rogue operation in the command structure of the national agency that hired them. The twist and turns of this surprising mission will have your head spinning. The only thing more riveting is the passion that flares between the two indomitable agents.

Love Kaylea Cross's heart pounding romantic military thrillers? Sylvia Day’s and Maya Banks red hot sexy heroes, feisty heroines and high adrenaline action? Fern Michael’s compelling characters? Grab Ruby and prepare to be addicted.

“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”  Malcolm X



Chapter 1

 

 Glancing across the expanse of the ornate ballroom at the upscale Continental Club, Agent Chloe Harper’s heart skipped a beat.  To be more accurate, it damn near came to a dead stop.  Ditto on her breath.  Chloe, aka Ruby, comforted herself with the knowledge that sans breath and a beating heart, she had only seconds left in this lifetime--if that.  Managing a dry snort, she reassured herself that if her last conscious sight was a glimpse of Noah Walker, at least her life would end on a positive note.

When her heart started pumping again and she was able to draw in a ragged breath, confirming that she would have to live through this challenging night, Chloe chided herself that if anyone could cause a woman’s heart to skip a beat, it was Noah Walker.  

It didn’t help that the tall, warm-skinned man was a colleague and, she admitted, a man she’d lusted after ever since she met him, it was also likely that he was on the top ten list of “hottest men alive” of every woman in attendance at the posh affair.  How could he not be?  It was as though the gods had thrown Idris Elba and Columbus Short into a male beauty blender and turned it on high.  The result was, without a doubt, one of the sexiest black men Chloe had ever seen. She guessed that few people among the crowd of makers and shakers, and maker and shaker wannabes knew that the smiling man was neither who he seemed to be, nor how he introduced himself.

No, the problem was that Chloe did know who Noah Walker was, in all of his many charming iterations.  Worse, he knew all of hers.  While that could be a problem, given that they were undercover agents with two of the most secretive off the grid agencies working in the shadows, Chloe didn’t fear Noah unmasking her—any more than she would unmask him. No, the problem was that the last time she’d seen him, Chloe was stark naked and having as close to an unraveled panic attack as she’d ever endured.

 Chloe felt her cheeks flame as she searched for a hiding place. To get to the ladies room she would have to walk by the crowd of people who were intent on getting as close to her colleague as possible. No matter how she chose to steal by, she was certain he would spot her.  She had to admit, that even in this crowd or perhaps especially in this crowd, she would be hard to miss.  Bright red hair and a sinfully tight emerald green dress were sure to draw the eye of even the most besotted fans trying to get the attention of the superstar holding court in the center of the throng. 

Slinking behind a pillar, Chloe allowed herself to remember the last time she had seen Noah Walker.  Along with their partner Grayson Webb, she and Noah had been part of a group present when a despicable man had literally choked a young woman to death in an autoerotic asphyxiation sex scene gone bad.  That the monster hadn’t so much as looked back when Noah had cut the bonds holding the teenaged victim and confirmed that she was indeed dead had added to Chloe’s  angst.  It wasn’t as though she hadn’t seen hideous sights; Chloe had survived eight years in the jungles of Somalia and more Middle Eastern countries than she cared to remember.  A Staff Sergeant in the Army, Chloe Harper had served as an adjunct to several squads of Army Rangers who worked some of the most dangerous and most secretive undercover missions the Army assigned to the elite units.  Given her conspicuous physical characteristics, Sgt. Harper’s inevitable role was as bait to attract whichever high level target the Army wanted eliminated.

Chloe had been so successful that when she decided Army life was no longer for her, she’d had her choice from among the best of the security agencies that sought retired military hotshots. To everyone’s surprise, the esteemed Sgt. Harper turned down offers from the top tier companies and instead joined the incipient outfit known by its provocative name, Ladies of the Night.  The first hire in the renegade company, Chloe joined its founder, Riley Davis, in what many in the industry said was a time bomb, certain to explode.  Lt. Col. Davis, according to most of the men who’d worked with her, was as volatile and uncontrollable as she was beautiful.  Within a year after resigning from the Army, Col. Davis had been blackballed by virtually every prestigious security agency.  According to the companies she’d worked for, the unanimous conclusion was that the volatile Lt. Col. was unmanageable and therefore to be avoided at all costs.

Chloe disagreed.  She’d worked two active duty missions with Col. Davis and when she'd learned that the explosive Army hotshot was opening her own firm, Chloe had never looked back. Against the advice of everyone she knew, she approached Col. Davis and begged her to hire her.  It just so happened that begging wasn’t necessary.  Riley Davis confessed to her, after their five hour introductory meeting, that Chloe’s military accolades, appearance, and sheer verve made her a natural for the woman-owned, woman-only company that its founder was certain would leave the rest of the agencies in the dust. As Chloe signed the contract pledging her livelihood to the upstart company, her new boss christened her.  Col. Davis had determined that all of her agents would receive code names.  Setting the standard with her own code name, Diamond, the irascible leader gave the redheaded agent-to-be her code name. Chloe became Ruby.

.           It was as Ruby that she’d met Noah Walker.  Determined to contain her rioting emotions, Ruby forced herself to remember that fateful night.  It was the first time that she’d ever given in to the horrors that she routinely experienced in her chosen profession.  She was serving as a barmaid and stripper in the Caligula Club, the high-end BDSM club owned by their target. Ruby was present when the young girl had literally been strangled in front of her and the other two agents, as well as a group of leering men.  When the hideous club owner made no secret of the fact that the girl’s death had aroused him, Ruby had given in to her shock. Certain that she couldn’t breathe, she’d begun shaking uncontrollably.  Whisked out of the Club by her co-agents, Noah Walker and Grayson Webb, Ruby was so shaken that she barely remembered leaving the Club.

What she would never forget was Noah holding her in his lap as Grayson sped through the midnight streets of the Phoenix suburb.  Pulling up in front of Ruby’s condominium, Grayson made quick work of her elaborate security system.  Inside her prized sanctuary, Noah continued to hold her while Grayson grabbed the nearest bottle of Scotch and poured each of them a tumbler full.  While the Scotch served to at least to help her get breathing under control, it also made her aware of the man who was holding her on his lap. It didn’t hurt that he was also stroking her back as he held her against his strong body, crooning comforting words in her ear. Even now she could remember his masculine scent combined with the fragrance of one of her favorite colognes. 

What she had tried to forget the next morning, and for the many days that followed, was how he had put her to bed.  Carrying her into her bedroom, he’d laid her on her four poster bed and began rummaging in her dresser drawers. With a satisfied grunt, that could have been a suppressed chuckle, he returned with one of her many Marvel Superhero nightshirts, this one Batman.  Stripping off the miniscule scraps of material that comprised her outrageous Caligula Club "uniform," he’d slipped the colorful nightshirt over her head and pulled it down to cover her naked body.  When she woke up the next morning after a fitful sleep, she was horrified at the memory of a gorgeous hunk of a guy undressing her and seeing what he had put on her.  Why, oh why, couldn’t she have had silky sleep slips in her drawer instead of a bunch of juvenile cartoon characters?  Even now she groaned at the memory.

With a soft snort, Ruby realized it was the same feeling she had about what she was wearing now. Knowing that there wasn’t a chance in hell that she and Noah wouldn’t run into each other sometime during the event, she tried unsuccessfully to stretch the tight fabric of her dress an inch or two lower to at least cover her upper thighs.  Her dismay at the dress she had chosen was confirmed when she saw the look on Stuart Mason’s face when he spotted her.  Unfortunately, it was a look that she had seen more than a few times in the past.  Which was problematic since Stuart Mason was her fiancĂ©. 

Stuart’s frown deepened as he approached her. His caustic tone underscored his distaste.  Without bothering to say hello, he grasped her arm and said, “Jesus, Chloe, why did you choose to wear that dress?  I told you specifically that this was a formal affair and that some very important people would be here tonight.”

His distaste was so apparent you’d have thought that she’d chosen to wear one of her many stripper outfits, that she wore routinely in her covert line of work, to a gathering of habit-clad nuns. For a guilty fleeting moment Chloe wondered why she had chosen this particular dress and if perchance she’d done it on purpose to annoy Stuart.  Deciding not to dwell on that self-aware insight, Chloe chose instead to placate him… and at the same time poke at him.  After all, Stuart could do with a little poking. His pompousness demanded it.

“And good evening to you as well, Mr. Mason.  I’m pleased to see you.  And may I say you look wonderful.  I like your tuxedo.  It makes you look impressive. I mean, even more impressive.”

Stuart had the decency to blush at her obvious taunt.  Still gripping her arm, he made an obvious attempt to explain his rudeness.

“I’m… I’m sorry, Chloe.  It’s just that I practically had to sell my left nut to get invited to this shindig.  Only partners at Grafton Summers were guaranteed tickets.  If I wasn’t on the Marshal case, there’s no way I could have wrangled a ticket.” He added with another annoyed glance at her dress, “I thought I’d explained how important this evening is.”

Chloe tossed her head and simpered. “You did.  What you didn’t do, because you knew it was unwise, was to tell me what I should or should not wear.” She added crisply, “Which is a good thing, Stuart, since getting tickets to this important event had more to do with my boss pulling a few strings than the particular case you’re working.”

Stuart’s flush deepened, this time with what looked like anger. His harsh tone confirmed that she had offended him. 

“That’s not the issue, Chloe.  The issue is why you chose, as you so often do, to wear an inappropriate dress.”

Ruby fought the anger constricting her chest.   Not for the first time she wondered what the hell she was doing agreeing to marry Stuart.  Forcing herself to take a deep breath, she began silently listing the factors that had made her accept his proposal.  He worked at a decent law firm and made an acceptable salary.  He wasn’t handsome by any means but he was slender and in reasonably good shape.  He was short--not sideshow short--but at five feet eight inches he was often the shortest man in the group. Chloe didn’t care. In fact, given her own size and the countless nicknames she’d borne all her life, she sympathized with Stuart and continuously told him that she preferred men she didn’t have to look up at.

Stuart didn’t share her passion for sports but then she couldn’t think of anything that Stuart was particularly passionate about except his reliance on manners and status. While that could be annoying, it also underscored what Chloe liked best about him.  He was predictable, almost to a fault.  His job was safe, not especially exciting, but dependable. Her life with him promised to be uneventful in the best sense of the word.  Enough money to live well, support a couple of kids, to buy a house in the suburbs.  You know: the kind of life that normal people had. Normal was something that Chloe (and now Ruby) had longed for her entire life.  Something she had never come close to having.

A deep voice interrupted her reverie.  Without turning, she knew who it was.  The fact that her legs were shaking, and that she had to lean against the pillar to keep from falling confirmed that the handsome man advancing on her was none other than her secret heart throb, Noah Walker. Before she could respond he reached for her hand.

“Chloe, I didn’t expect to see you here. It’s been much too long.”

He glanced at her dress, clearly appraising her audacious attire. Seeing his dark eyes light with mischief, Chloe decided that Stuart was right; the top of the dress was too low and the bottom was too high. Before she could choke out a response, Noah winked at her.

“Great dress, Chloe.”

When she muttered a barely audible “Thanks,” Noah pulled her up next to him and murmured conspiratorially, “It almost beats the Batman nightshirt.” 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...