Congratulations to Faye Hill and her new release, Heart of Stone
Isabella Miley was trapped. Her brother and protector was dead – murdered on a slave traders ship. And now the man she feared most, Samuel Buchanan, had papers placing her in servitude to him. She needed to get the signet ring and ruby necklace she’d hidden away if she were to be able to prove who she was. When Samuel threatened to make her his wife and offer her out as payment to all the debt collectors that were calling, she ran for her life and straight into the arms of Ruben Stoneheart. Before she could ask for his help she found herself dragged back to Samuel and into bondage.
Ruben wanted a peaceful life, far away from the blackbirding slave trade he had once been involved in. He had watched too many people die on those ships and all for a man’s own greed and want of a ruby necklace.
This wasn’t the life he wanted. He wanted peace. A wife. Family.
When the Irish beauty Isabella ran into his arms down on the docks, she stirred feelings in him unlike anything else. Never could he have imagined her to be as passionate as she was mysterious – or to be the wife of his once business partner Samuel Buchanan.
Curious how such a wondrous woman could end up entangled with a brute like Samuel, Ruben went delving into her past, eager to know more about this woman he was quickly losing his heart to. What he found was a slave contract with her name on it.
Hurt that she would hide such a thing from him, he confronts her with an ultimatum – Samuel or him.
Isabella’s fear demands that she must stay with Samuel until she could get back her freedom, but her heart is willing to risk it all on Ruben – a man rumoured to have a heart of stone.
He shrugged. “People will always gossip, Bella.”
She pulled her hand away. “Why did you call me that?”
“I didn’t mean to overstep my place, but I had to say it,” he explained. Reaching to her, his fingers ran along the soft, pale skin of her cheek. “Bella means beauty, something you most definitely are.”
She lowered her face from his, but not before he saw the blush filling her cheeks again.
“Please stay, Isabella,” he invited her again.
“I really must go,” she said, hesitantly leaning into him and kissing him on the cheek near his lips. “Thank you again, Ru,” she uttered softly before turning and stepping away from him.
She had just reached the door when she glanced back at him. “Bellymena.”
“What?” he asked, confused by what she had just said.
She smiled. “You asked where I grew up in Ireland. I grew up in Bellymena.”
Watching her leave his office, Ruben knew he wanted more than anything to see this woman again. There was something about her that was so hypnotic.
Driven by the need to know she was now safe from the men chasing her, he followed her from his office and back into the alleys that led to town.
Losing sight of her momentarily, his steps quickened. Hearing a scream up ahead, he ran toward it. As he rounded the corner, he saw her being captured by two burly men; men he had seen act as deckhands on his father’s blackbirding ships.
“You’re a slippery little thing, aren’t you?” he heard a familiar voice say as a third man approached a very terrified-looking Bella.
His gaze going to the man who had spoken, his gut clenched.
“Let me go, Samuel,” she yelled. “Please let me go.”
Hiding in the shadows of the alley, Ruben watched as the old sailor walked toward her. He couldn’t believe the woman he had just been with was connected to the same man he was trying to prove a criminal. Samuel stopped in front of Isabella, his hands going to her chin, and Ruben found himself wondering exactly what kind of relationship lay between these two. As the older man’s lips connected to her, he couldn’t ignore her struggle to be free.
“I will never let you go,” Samuel said when his lips finally left hers. “Without your brother here to protect you, you are mine to do with as I please.”
Thinking now was the time he should again jump to this woman’s rescue, Ruben started to step around the corner toward those holding her captive. He’d only taken a few steps when a carriage pulled up and Samuel threw her inside before turning to his henchmen.
“Find Ruben and convince him to give me that ruby necklace. Now!” he ordered before instructing the driver to take off quickly.
Cursing himself a coward for not going to Bella’s rescue earlier, he kicked the earth beneath his feet. Everywhere he turned it seemed Samuel was there, his deception bleeding into every inch of his life.
Even Isabella. But how was she connected to this evil man?
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Faye Hall's passion driven, mystery filled books are set in small townships of North Queensland, Australia during the late 1800's.
Each of her novels bring something symbolically Australian to her readers, from Aboriginal herbal remedies, to certain gemstones naturally only found in this part of the world.
Each of her books tell of a passionate connection between the hero and heroine, surrounded and threatened by deceit, scandal, theft and sometimes even murder.
These romances swerve from the traditional romances as Faye aims to give her readers so much more intrigue, whilst also revealing the hidden histories of rural townships of North Queensland.
Faye finds her inspiration from the histories of not only the township she grew up in, but the many surrounding it. She also bases most of her characters on people she has met in her life.
Faye was able to live her own passion driven romance, marrying the love of her life after a whirlwind romance in 2013. Together they are raising their 9 children in a remote country town in northern Queensland, Australia.
Genre: Steamy Contemporary Romance
On sale for $2.99 for a limited time or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
Welcome to Shadow Valley where the Dirty Angels MC rule. Get ready to get Down & Dirty because this is Zak’s story…
After spending the last ten years in prison, Zak, former DAMC president, has a few priorities: to reconnect with his “brothers,” to get drunk, and to get laid. Not necessarily in that order. When he spots a stunning woman in the clubhouse and mistakes her for one of the club’s strippers, those priorities get a bit skewed.
Sophie has no idea what happened to her life. One minute she’s totally focused on building her bakery business, and the next? She’s delivering a cake to the Dirty Angels motorcycle club’s “homecoming” celebration for a member who just got out of prison. Little does she know baking that cake will change the rest of her life, not to mention, make her a target for a rival MC. Normally, Sophie wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like Zak, a tattooed, ex-con, badass biker.
When a decades old territory war threatens to rip them apart, Zak will do anything to keep Sophie, his club, and the town safe. But being from two different worlds, the threat they’re under may not be worth the risk.
Sophie had no idea what happened to her life. One minute she’s totally focused on building her bakery business, and the next?
She closed her eyes and groaned. Somehow the next, she’s being pulled through a crowd of rowdy bikers and their “bitches” in the cold night air, heading toward a roaring bonfire that appeared to be made up of a mountain of wood pallets. The flames licked halfway to heaven.
As Zak strode forward, Sophie leaned back trying to slow him down a bit. She was wearing her very favorite suede knee-high boots. The brown ones that had a really nice heel on them that made her legs look longer. And slimmer. Because that was important, too. However, the heel didn’t make it easy to walk in the dark over stones, dead grass and rough patches of dirt.
She had a feeling she would end up on her ass. She should have worn sneakers instead.
Especially since she wasn’t trying to impress anyone here.
She didn’t even want to be here in the first place.
How the hell did she even end up here tonight?
The man currently hauling her around left pissed off last night and she had no clue why he even insisted on pursuing her... pursuing this. Whatever the hell this was.
The worst part was she had shut down the bakery early, locked the door, turned off all the lights, and went upstairs to hide just in case he did show up at eight. Like he had threatened.
And when eight-oh-five came around and he hadn’t shown up, she had breathed a sigh of relief. But then, she should have realized that bikers probably weren’t prompt or watched the time. Life apparently revolved around them, not the clock.
Nope, fuck everyone else.
So, she left the lights off in her apartment, too, and wearing a pair of yoga pants and an old, soft sweatshirt, she sank onto her couch to catch up on some TV.
Well, that was until there was a man in black standing before her, hands on his hips.
And if that didn’t make her scream and her heart beat a million miles a minute, nothing would.
She had no idea how he got in or why she didn’t hear him. Maybe he was right about the shop needing better security.
She needed it just to keep him out.
But as he stood over her, her stomach dropped—once it stopped spinning. Holy Hannah, even in the glow of the TV he looked good with his badass clothes, his badass tats, and his badass bod.
He jerked his stubbled chin in her direction. “That what you’re wearing?”
“How did you get in here?”
“Told you I’d be here at eight.”
She raised her eyebrows in disbelief. “I locked the door.”
“I know. Diesel will be makin’ your place more secure.”
He knew someone named after fuel. Okay, then.
“Question was: That what you’re wearin’?”
She looked down at her clothes, then back up at him. He was judging her clothing choices? “Uh, no. I’m not going.”
He blinked slowly as if trying to keep his patience. “Babe.”
Maybe he should be more worried about her patience. “My name is Sophie.”
“Know what your name is.”
“Babe is a pig in a movie.”
She swore she heard him snort. Though, it sounded much sexier than a pig.
“Got wraps. We can stay here and fuck, or we can go to church.”
Sophie heard the silent, “And then fuck,” he was tacking onto the end of that in his mind.
Wasn’t much of a choice. “How about neither. I hate church.”
This time he definitely snorted. He leaned over and switched on the lamp next to the couch. Sophie squinted as her eyes adjusted to the light.
Hot damn, he looked even better in the light.
Fuck her life.
His beard was freshly trimmed tight to his jaw, his hair actually looked like he ran a comb through it even though it had a shaggy, sexy tousled look to it. His eyes were lit up with amusement.
Then there was the rest of him. He had a well-fitting pair of Levi’s encasing his long legs which ended at his black biker boots, of course. And on her way back up, she noticed the same belt as yesterday, and couldn’t forget that grimy black leather vest. Under it was a black thermal Henley that snugged his torso. And his muscular arms. And that muscular chest of his. She finally let her eyes rise to his and he wore a wide smile.
“Babe. Yeah, thinking stayin’ here and fuckin’ may be the choice you’ll be makin’. I brought a few.”
Sophie shook herself out of her daze. “A few what?”
“Wraps. Nothin’s gonna hold us back tonight.”
Well, that was a relief.
About the Author:
JEANNE ST. JAMES is a bestselling erotic romance author who loves an Alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing since it gave her an escape from teenage angst! Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine.
Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages. Want to read a sample of her work? Download a sampler book here: BookHip.com/MTQQKK
To keep up with her busy release schedule check her website at www.jeannestjames.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jeannestjames.com/newslettersignup
Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/JeanneStJames
Review & Book Crew: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JeannesReviewCrew/
The Viscount’s Seduction
Book Two, Sons of the Spy Lord
Regency Romance, 88,000 words
Heat level: 4 (sensuality and 2 open door love scenes)
Release date: Sepember 12, 2017
He’s in no rush to marry…until the dreadfully unsuitable Lady Sirena Hollister crosses his path.
An Irish lady from a scandalous family gets a chance at a Season in London and an opportunity for revenge, but her schemes stir up an unknown enemy and spark danger of a different sort in the person of a handsome young Viscount.
She’s lost everything, even her fey abilities. But when the fairies hand her a chance at a London Season, her schemes for revenge stir up an unknown enemy, and spark danger of a different sort, in the person of a handsome Viscount.
Back Cover Blurb
Searching for the Truth
Lady Sirena Hollister has lost her family, her home, and even her fey abilities, but somehow the fairies have handed her an unexpected chance at a Season in London. From her place on the fringes of high society, she resolves to find the truth about her only brother’s vanishing, and settle her family’s score with the wily English Spy Lord, the Earl of Shaldon. Soon enough, her schemes stir up an unknown enemy…and spark danger of a different sort, in the person of the Earl’s handsome heir, Viscount Bakeley.
Seducing the Beauty
The impertinent hoyden Bakeley met years earlier was as wild as her Irish roots, and just as unlucky. And she’s still an Irish traitor’s sister! But Lady Sirena has grown into a beauty whose charm and courage intrigue him. When danger threatens, Bakeley comes to her rescue, risking scandal, the ton’s disapproval, his interfering father’s ire…and his own heart.
He snatched up her hand. “You look lovely tonight. Stay. Keep me company.”
She tried to pull away but he reached for her other hand.
“Do not do this, sir.”
The anger was giving way to fear, though whether it was real or feigned he couldn’t tell. He drew her closer to the light. Her eyes glowed with that same luminosity he’d noticed at Hackwell’s ball, her lips were plump and inviting, and gold highlights bounced off her dress and her hair. She was a beauty in daylight. By candlelight, she was a goddess, a golden siren. No wonder she’d had to run away from her cousin.
And that thought brought him up. He didn’t ravish women, unless they wanted it. This girl didn’t want it.
Unless he convinced her she did.
He eased in a breath. No. At least, no, not tonight.
“You and I, my lady, we’re looking for the same thing.”
She swallowed hard, her lovely throat jumping. “You are mistaken.”
“Am I? What do you think I’m talking about?”
She pursed her lips. Opened them. “A liaison.”
“An improper one?”
Her brow furrowed. “You’re mocking me now. Let me go.”
“First we should search together.”
“I don’t know what you mean, and we’ll be missed. Both of us gone? Together?” Her eyes became shiny. She’d drummed up some tears. “I’ll be...on the street. I’ll be fortunate if I’m sent back to serve as my cousin’s, my cousin’s—”
“Files, Lady Sirena. Files that say Hollister on them.”
A tear ran unchallenged down her creamy cheek and her mouth dropped. “Oh.”
He swept the tear away with his finger. So soft her skin was, as he dragged the moisture down to her lips and traced a path over them. Her chest rose, her breasts straining the modest bodice of the yellow gown.
He yanked her closer and settled his lips on hers, and a sharp gasp escaped her before she clamped her mouth shut.
“Just one kiss,” he whispered. He nibbled around her locked lips and stroked the line of her jaw until she shivered in his arms and her lips parted, allowing him entry.
He kissed her then, sweeping his tongue against hers, for long minutes, then tasting her skin, following the path of his fingers along her jaw and down to her neck, inciting a sharp gasp and a moan, and more wriggling. He wanted her, and she wanted him, and--
“Stop.” Her hands locked on his shoulders, pushing.
Heart pounding, he froze. He was a gentleman. Even if she had been no lady—which she most definitely was—he would have stopped. No matter how hard his cock screamed for release, as it did now. “Right.” He stepped back and straightened his neck cloth.
Sirena’s heart pounded so wildly she could barely find breath to speak. “The files,” she said finally.
“Yes. He wouldn’t keep them here in so accessible a location.”
Oh, he was lathered, she could tell, almost as much as herself. This was what was meant by seduction—not the graspy, slobbery, forced thing her cousin had attempted. If not for the housekeeper and butler and a strong dose of laudanum...oh, this was very different, and this man a far more powerful lord than her cousin.
She’d be lucky to survive this night with her maidenhead intact. But she wanted that file. She needed to know what happened to Jamie. “His study then? My father had a room like that.”
“Yes. We’ll look there.” He gazed down that bored nose, straightened his neck cloth, though not so much as a hair of the man was out of place, while inside herself, every nerve was dancing a jig. She pressed a hand to her throat and hoped her heart hadn’t pounded her bodice askew.
Author Bio and links:
Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.
She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!
Visit her at:
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Caris Roane's September $.99 Flame Series BLOOD FLAME and AMETHYST FLAME The Flame Series, Books #1 and #2
A Red Wire-Wrapped PNR Bracelet (International Winner Receives Gift Card) and A $25 Amazon Gift Card
The âWowâ Prize:
Just leave a comment for a chance to win!
Caris Roane here and I'm so glad you're touring with me. As a bonus, Iâm giving away a Reader Care Package to one lucky winner just for leaving a comment on any or all of the blogs on my tour. Whatâs in the Reader Care Package: Truffles, Ghiradelli Chocolate, print copy of GATES OF RAPTURE, scented lotion and soap, a journal and other goodies! Be sure to visit as many blogs on my tour as you can. The more blogs you comment on, the greater your chances of winning. The Reader Care Package is US only, but an international winner will receive a gift card. How I choose the winner: I will choose the winning blog then choose the winning comment sometime after midnight, October 5th, Arizona time. I will use Random dot org to make the selection. Good luck!
About the Books:
Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for the powerful witch, Iris Meldeere. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions. But as they battle together to stay alive, and love begins to consume them both, will the witch be able to forgive the dark secrets of his past â¦
Hunky Nathan Vaughn, six-six, and one muscled vampire warrior, has had a lot of trouble in his life and needs a good woman to help even things out. Vaughn and Emma met once in the past, the night they rescued three teenage girls from a kidnapping ring. But a vampire and a witch canât have a relationship in Five Bridges. So, they parted, determined never to see each other again. Emma was desolate, then the phone rang. Vaughn called and kept calling and she kept answering. But the rescue they shared turned out to piss off one very bad wizard who decided they both needed to die. Now theyâre in it, fighting to stay alive and working oh-so-hard NOT to fall in love. Will they survive when so much is against them?
Books in the Flame Series:
Book 1: Blood Flame
Book 2: Amethyst Flame
Book 3: Dark Flame
Book 4: Amber Flame
Book 5: A Touch of Flame
Holiday Novella: Christmas Flame
Excerpt from AMETHYST FLAME:
From Chapter One ~ Vaughn and Emma found three dead teenage girls in the Graveyard of Five Bridges. Emma, an alter witch has helped the girls to transition to the next life.
All three ghosts seemed to be communicating with each other and a moment later bits of clothing appeared, though more like smoke than real fabric. Colors as well. The center girl, who had the strongest personality, now wore a red tank top, blue jeans and running shoes. The one to the right donned red shorts, a dark blue crop top and navy sandals with flowers at the top of the t-strap. While the third wore a red plaid short dress, dark stockings and black Mary-Jane shoes. The girls seemed to like red.
They were lovely, each with long, curly, light brown hair and large, blue eyes.
The blue-jeans ghost drew close to Emma, then addressed her telepathically. You saved us once. I remember now. You, and this man, took us home the night we were abducted the first time.
The ghostly voice in Emmaâs head made her feel dizzy, but she responded immediately. We did. It was the finest night of my life since becoming an alter witch.
Oh, youâre a witch. She shifted to look at Vaughn. But this man canât see me, can he?
I donât think so. And in case youâre wondering, Officer Vaughn is a vampire.
The ghost swept backward, rejoining her sisters. But she continued to talk with Emma. There was a lot of pain from what that madman was doing to us and he ordered vampires to take our blood. I think maybe the vampires were the ones who killed us. I remember getting weaker and weaker. And now weâre here.
By the pallor of their skin, Emma knew she was right. Once more, a terrible grief assailed her that these young women had been robbed of their lives. Yet, it cemented her determination to do what she could to prevent Loghry from continuing his abduction of innocent teens.
The girls, almost as one, shifted their attention upward to the ditch ridge. Emma started to turn to see what they were looking at, but suddenly the three spirits flew around both her and Vaughn. They cried out in loud voices, almost wailing.
The one with the blue jeans got in front of Emma and tried to speak, but no words formed. She seemed really distressed.
Emma attempted to make telepathic contact with her, but only static returned.
The wailing grew louder until Emma finally had to cover her ears. She didnât understand what was wrongâ¦
I hope you found yourself caught up in this excerpt from Chapter One of AMETHYST FLAME. To Read More and For Buy Linksâ¦
Caris Roane is the NY Times Bestselling author of Paranormal Romance. She began her career with Kensington Publishing and for eighteen years wrote Regency Romance as Valerie King. In 2005, Romantic Times Magazine honored her with a career achievement award for her Regency Romance work. To-date, she has published eighty-nine books. Thirty-nine of those are paranormal romances. Most of her paranormal stories are self-published while several in the early days were penned for St. Martin's Press.Though her stories conjure up hunky PNR warriors, like vampires and wolf-shifters, the romance is everything, including a satisfying Happily Ever After. Her hope is that the reader will come away engrossed in the lives of her tortured heroes and her worthy women as they wage war, as they make love, and as they face the tough issues of life and relationships! Caris lives in the Phoenix area, in a growing town called Buckeye. When not writing, sheâs a real homebody. She loves gardening, sewing, and cooking. She also enjoys creating jewelry and offers her handcrafted, PNR bracelet giveaways to her newsletter and blog subscribers. Her motto? Live the fang! If you want to know more about Caris, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Zumba teacher Isabella Ramos moved from Miami to quirky, small town Calusa to open a restaurant. Luc Girard arrives on the Florida island to become a painter, or so he says. The attraction is instant. But the secret he’s keeping threatens to deflate their relationship like a fallen soufflé. It takes just the right mixture of ingredients for dreams to come true.
One step closer to her dream.
Isabella Ramos drove her refurbished van across the drawbridge and towards her home in Calusa. After catering a breakfast at a golf club on the mainland, she had already dropped off the two women she hired for larger jobs like this one. She yawned and let go of the steering wheel long enough to rub her eyes. It was only noon, but she had risen early to prepare three varieties of Cuban pastries along with the hot items she had served.
The society women who belonged to the club had oohed and aahed over her food, and many had taken her business card, promising to call her for future high-profile events around town. The manager of the club was a valuable contact too. Isabella was certain he had a vast network that she hoped to tap into when she finally opened her restaurant.
Isabella had loved to bake from the first moment she stood on a chair before her abuela’s kitchen counter back in Miami and wielded a miniature rolling pin. As she got older, and taller, she learned how to prepare the Cuban dishes that made her grandma’s home the place to be when mealtime rolled around. The seed of the dream to open her own restaurant was born.
Up ahead, she spotted a man standing on a ladder next to a utility pole. She didn’t recognize him, and he wasn’t dressed in an official uniform of any kind. She didn’t see a truck, only a rusty bicycle that lay flat on the adjoining bike path. Who was he? Was he up to some mischief?
But what if he was in trouble? Before she could stop to think twice, she pulled the van over to the side of the road and got out.
The man shaded his eyes against the Florida sun as Izzy approached. The light glinted off his brown hair, gathered in an untidy man bun. A beard obscured the bottom half of his face making his expression unreadable.
“Can I help you?” he called.
He spoke with an intriguing accent. French?
“Oh, no,” Izzy said. “I wondered if you needed help.”
“You mean you wondered what I am doing,” the man replied. He gestured to several open cans at the foot of the ladder, half hidden in the weeds. “I am painting.”
“Painting on that pole? Why?”
He chuckled. “Because it is there. Is that not what people say when they climb Mount Everest? Simply because it is there.”
About the author:
Fran Thomas is a transplanted Pittsburgher now living on an island off the coast of Southwest Florida. She once was the editor of the newspaper in a small, quirky town not unlike the one in her Calusa Town Tales series.
Talk about the worst day ever! Lara lets her friend Carrie talk her into a blind date, only it turns out the handsome stranger waiting for Lara after work isn’t Carrie’s cousin after all. And, when they’re chased through a portal to another world, Lara realizes Rhys really is out of this world.
Lyra, her alternate in another dimension, has left clues to the whereabouts of the Book of Secrets explaining the mystery of time travel in Lara’s subconscious. Or so Rhys thinks. Power-hungry telepaths who pursue them will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means breaking Lara’s will. To complicate matters, Lara gets tangled up in her feelings for Rhys while exploring her connection with Lyra.
With Rhys as her guardian, a bear of a man named Azle to guide her, and the spirit of Lyra haunting her dreams, Lara must find the Book of Secrets before it falls into the hands of those who want its power. Only then can she return to her world safely.
A frantic sprint down the hall from my office brought me skidding to a stop in front of the elevator doors just as they whispered shut. The clock on the wall read half past five. Damn. Too much time spent in the restroom trying to make myself presentable. All because Carrie had conned me into another one of her blind dates. And with her cousin, no less. Why today of all days? I’d overslept and come to work resembling the undead from a zombie apocalypse movie. Tension knotted in my stomach. I punched the button beside the stainless steel doors and paced, remembering my conversation with her over lunch.
“I know losing your dad has been awful,” she’d said. “But, maybe it’s time you started moving on with your life.” Carrie couldn’t possibly have understood the burden of guilt that seemed to grow heavier every day. Dad and I had a terrible argument just before he died, one we never had the chance to resolve, and it still ate at me. Carrie hadn’t given up until I’d agreed to meet her cousin in the lobby after work, a decision that plagued me for the rest of the afternoon.
What was the guy’s name again? I couldn’t even remember.
When the doors finally opened to an empty elevator, I hurried inside, pulled out my cell, and stared at the screen. Carrie hadn’t returned any of my calls. She probably didn’t want to give me the chance to back out. My friend knew me only too well. Unlike her, I was no good at small talk. What if her cousin wasn’t either? My stomach twisted even tighter. If that’s all we have in common, it’s going to be a long evening. By the time I got to the ground floor, I’d chewed my bottom lip raw.
The lobby was empty, and my heels echoed against the marble tiles. Her cousin must have gotten tired of waiting and left. I squeezed my eyes shut and pinched the bridge of my nose. Carrie’s going to kill me. She’d never believe I hadn’t done this on purpose just so I wouldn’t have to go out with her cousin.
Someone coughed. I jerked my head around to see a man standing near the reception area, a canvas duffel bag at his feet. That’s got to be him.
My heart thudded with relief. “Sorry I’m late. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.” I motioned toward the rain spattering against the windows. “This weather is awful, isn’t it?”
The man watched me with a self-assured air that left me feeling like an awkward teenager.
So much for witty conversation. At least Carrie hadn’t exaggerated when she said he was good looking. His sensitive mouth held the only trace of softness in a finely chiseled face. Broad shoulders and powerful hands. He would have been right at home on the cover of a sports magazine. Was I drooling? “Umm…” His intense stare made me squirm. “I should introduce myself. I’m—”
“Lara. My name is Rhys.” We shook hands briefly while his eyes flickered over me. My height intimidated some men, but it didn’t seem to bother him. “I never imagined you’d be so—”
“Don’t bother with flattery. Surely Carrie told you I’m immune.” The grin across my face was so he would know it was a joke, but his stern expression remained unchanged.
Doesn’t this guy know how to smile? “Umm…My car’s across the street. We really should go before it starts pouring again.”
Without a word, he grabbed his bag and followed me through the big glass doors. The wind had picked up, and thunder rumbled in the distance. Streetlights flickered on, a halo of light crowning each pole. We crossed the street and hurried toward my car parked beneath one of the lights in the middle of the empty lot.
I stuck my umbrella under my arm and dug in my purse for the keys. “Do you like Italian food?”
Rhys drew his eyebrows together and frowned slightly.
Doesn’t he understand plain English? Funny how Carrie never mentioned he was the silent, brooding type. I’d get even with her for this. “Okay, what about Chinese? There’s this great little place not too far from here…”
He jerked his gaze away from mine and stared into the darkness behind me.
A finger of cold traced its way along my spine. “Did you hear something?” We were alone in an empty city parking lot after dark. Not the safest place in the world.
He grabbed my arm. “Quiet.”
I flinched in surprise and pulled away. Rhys was beginning to give me the creeps. “What is it? Did you hear something?”
He pointed toward the back of the parking lot where lightning flashed, touched the ground and disappeared. Two dark shapes burst from the shadows and advanced across the asphalt without a sound.
Rhys dropped his bag and stepped in front of me. Chills raced across my arms. I backed into my car with a thud and gripped my umbrella so tight it made my hands hurt. No time to call for help. We’d have to defend ourselves. But how?
One of the men threw a punch at Rhys, who caught it with his open hand. He used the momentum to throw his attacker off balance and slammed him against the car beside me. Before the guy hit the ground, Rhys whirled to face ninja number two, who charged. With his left forearm, Rhys blocked and returned his kick. The man sidestepped, and Rhys’ foot missed the mark.
By this time the first guy had stumbled to his feet. He staggered over to Rhys and grabbed him from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. The other guy slammed his fists into Rhys’ stomach, making him double over and gasp for breath.
It was up to me to do something fast, or Rhys was going down. With my heart pounding in my ears, I darted behind the guy holding him and kicked him in the back of the knees. He buckled and released his grip on Rhys. Before his attacker realized what had happened, Rhys had grabbed him by his collar and head butted him with a sickening crunch. The man howled, blood spurting from his nose.
Both men turned and fled back into the darkness. My umbrella slipped from my shaking hands and clattered to the pavement. Who were these men with strange tattoos covering their faces? Gang members? Muggers?
This time it was me that grabbed Rhys’ arm. “Are you all right?”
“Don’t worry about me. Let’s go.”
After I fumbled with the keys and unlocked the car, he yanked the passenger door open, threw his bag in the back seat and jumped inside. The automatic locks clicked while the engine coughed and sputtered to a start. With my hands in a death grip on the steering wheel, I drove through the entrance and made a hard right, my rear tire rolling over the curb.
A few blocks away I tried to hand Rhys my cell phone, but he wouldn’t take it. “Didn’t you see those guys?” They had eyes like sharks, their pupils almost completely dilated. “They must have been on something. We need to call the police.”
He shook his head.
“What, then? Have you got a better idea?”
“Drive to your place.”
He didn’t get any argument −something totally out of character for me. Shock, maybe? Everything had happened so fast, it almost didn’t seem real. Accelerating, I switched lanes to pass a slow driver and watched my passenger from the corner of my eye. He should have been breathing hard after being punched in the stomach, but he wasn’t even winded. And he didn’t seem upset or surprised by anything that had happened. He only stared through the car windows, focusing on the darkness around us.
Carrie, you’ve got one strange cousin.
* * * *
We rushed inside my apartment. I slammed the front door and twisted the deadbolt, listening to its comforting click. The shadowy apartment was filled with normal noises like the hum of the refrigerator, water dripping from a faucet and the furnace running. I flattened a hand against my chest as my thudding heartbeat slowed to normal.
Home safe. Everything’s okay.
Someone pounded the front door three times, rattling the hinges. Every nerve in my body hummed with electricity. I tiptoed closer, placing a cautious eye against the peephole. A man well over six feet tall stared back, his pale skin a contrast to the wild, dark hair falling past his shoulders. Wide shoulders under black leather gave the man a lean look. He had classic features and a narrow face. Very handsome, except for eyes that glittered with something cold and unyielding. Shivers began at the nape of my neck and traveled over my entire body.
“Lara, let me in. I must speak with you,” he said, but the words didn’t come from his mouth. They came from within my own mind.
I gasped and turned to Rhys. “H-he’s talking to me…from inside my head.”
“Block him.” Rhys dug his fingers into my shoulder. “The longer you allow him access to your mind, the more dangerous it becomes.”
“Is that you, Guardian?” The man’s mouth split into an evil grin, revealing blinding, white teeth. “Are you taking up new duties these days?”
“Leave her alone.” Muscles bunched along Rhys’ jaw. “She doesn’t know anything.”
The man’s chuckle seemed to vibrate from somewhere deep inside his chest. “If that is true, then why are you protecting her?”
I narrowed my eyes at Rhys. “What the hell’s he talking about? Is he high on something?”
“Ignore him.” Rhys grabbed my arm and pulled me into the kitchen.
Inside my head, the oily voice took on a coaxing tone. “Rhys is being overprotective. He takes things far too seriously. I mean you no harm, Lara. All I need is a little information.”
Rhys stretched out his hand. An orange dot appeared and hovered above his palm. In an instant, it became a streaking light, burning into my refrigerator and creating a jagged hole. “My God, this can’t be real.” I gasped and moved closer, staring. “W-what’s going on?”
My visitor hammered at the door once again, so loud my temples throbbed with the sound. This time, the distraction was welcome, because it helped drive the sound of his voice from my mind and served another purpose as well. I lived in a quiet, respectable part of town. Surely one of my neighbors had already called the police. All we had to do was hold off a little longer.
Only Rhys had other ideas. He shouldered his bag and made his way toward the gaping hole he’d somehow created. Just before he passed through, he turned. “Give me your hand.”
I hesitated and raised my eyes to his. Let’s face it. Just the idea of stepping through my refrigerator made my heart bounce like a yo-yo.
“Come on. He isn’t going to leave until he gets what he wants.”
“What does he want?”
Rhys clamped his fingers around my wrist. He bent his head as though moving against a hurricane force wind and dragged me through the opening. I struggled for air, but none of it reached my lungs. This must be what it feels like to drown. My heart accelerated, one beat at a time, and my vision clouded with spots.
No more than a few seconds could have passed before we burst through to the other side and stumbled across a thick carpet of leaves. Behind me, my kitchen wavered like a mirage, its familiar colors fading to gray. The tear Rhys had made grew smaller, shrinking until it disappeared and left me staring at a dense wall of foliage.
With my first few gasps, my lungs had felt like they were on fire, but at least I could breathe again. After being deprived of oxygen, the fresh air made my vision swim. My knees buckled and I would have fallen if Rhys hadn’t grabbed my arm.
“Relax. It only makes things worse if you fight it.”
“You’ve done this before?”
“Do you ever get used to it?”
“Sooner or later.”
Unsure whether to puke or pass out, I leaned over and braced my hands on my legs, waiting for the nausea to subside. After a few breaths, the dizziness cleared enough for me to raise my head. We were standing in a grassy clearing alongside a meandering gravel path that disappeared into shadows in both directions. Dense woods shrouded in darkness crowded the other side of the path.
We weren’t outside my apartment.
Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)
In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan shares a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town with a ghost who harmonizes with her son when he plays guitar. She is a mother of three and grandmother of five unique and special children. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Susan’s grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned all about growing up in the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.
Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On, and is working on book three. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.
Want to know more? Visit susanaroyal.wordpress.com for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.
Suspense with Romantic Elements
What was her husband hiding in the jungles of Mexico?
Rocked by her husband’s tragic death, Kendall Jackson strives to put her life back together. But Ryder, her nineteen-year-old stepson, is bitter and wants nothing to do with her. And she can’t keep the grief at bay. Sometimes, it’s so strong, she wonders if life is worth living.
A call from a cave diver in Mexico gives her hope of mending the relationship with her stepson. Before his death, her husband arranged a diving expedition as a birthday gift for his son. Kendall persuades Ryder to honor his father’s last wish.
From the campus of Western Maryland College to the woods of Camp David and the caves of the Yucatán, Kendall and Ryder take a journey to discover what her husband worked so hard to hide, and to protect his treasured secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The choices they make will decide their fate and the future of others. Will they risk everything for the truth?
Kendall, sat cross-legged on the bed, staring at her laptop. A glass of white wine, sat untouched on the bedside table. She put her iPod in, selected Jason Mraz and turned it up loud.
She turned off the Wi-Fi. Her mind was battling thoughts of hackers and computer surveillance.
She held the unusual memory stick in her hand before plugging it into the side of her computer. Black rubber surrounded the stick like the rubber on an underwater camera. Here goes. She watched it upload. Let’s see what this is all about.
Ten documents labeled by date flashed on her computer screen. Six documents dated years before Tim and Kendall met; the other four ranged from the beginning of their relationship to one dated three days before Tim died.
Inhaling deeply, she touched her mouse, pulling down to the right and clicking without hesitation on the last icon, a video file. She squeezed her eyes to hold back tears as Tim’s face filled the screen. The background was the upstairs office over the garage. She hit play.
“This message is for my wife. Kendall, if you’re watching this video, I’m so sorry not to be with you. Obviously, something happened to me for you to be hearing this. I know life’s been hard for you. I’m sorry, my love, I’m sorry I kept a secret from you, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy to protect a division of the US government. I hoped they will share this video with you. I can’t disclose the details about my job, but it’s not important to us. Something I did, not who I am. You know who I am, Kendall, you’re the only one who really knew me.”
She wiped the tears running off her chin.
“Stay close with Ryder, he’s not your blood, but he is a part of me and I want him in your life. UWMA, Kendall, UWMA I love you, Lambie.”
Her brows furrowed as tears ran down her face and her open mouth. She gasped for air. A division of the US government? Some type of CIA agent? The badge said Navy. UWMA. Was this truly happening?
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Nikki Lambert’s husband purposely stalls his truck in the path of the midnight freight on the same day her eldest son, Jack, is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder.
Injured NFL quarterback, Ramsey Delaney is benched from his starting position leaving him ample time for more hands-on involvement in The Good Sports Club, a community center he established where Nikki’s sons, Jack and Rocky are enrolled.
Jack’s deteriorating motor skills concern Ram’s employees who bar Jack from attending the club without Ram’s knowledge. Nikki wants nothing but normalcy for Jack and she heatedly confronts Ram for depriving her son of a beloved activity. Ram immediately reinstates Jack forging the fateful bond between Nikki and her boys’ number-one sports hero. Ram is instantly attracted to Nikki. He wants to win her heart more than he’s ever wanted to win a game. But after her husband’s terrible abandonment will Nikki trust Ram’s motives and open her heart to love again?
"It’s not funny Ram. How dare you hire people to tear up my house without my knowledge? What the hell were you thinking?"
Shrugging his shoulders he replied, "I don't know. That I'm helping you?"
She dragged her fingers through her hair.
His stomach tightened. He yearned to thread his fingers through her silky hair, too. In the next second he questioned his motives once more, something he had done repeatedly since she had stormed his office the first time. Ram still remained satisfied that he wasn't trying to buy or to manipulate her affections. Whether or not she'd ever see him the way that he saw her, Ram had to help Jack. The compulsion had become near obsession. He'd spend his last dime and would have fought anyone who had tried to stop him, including Nikki.
Nikki pinned him with a penetrating glare, tense and unsmiling.
"Say something," he said.
“I can take care of my son.”
“I never said you couldn’t. No one could give Jack better care than you. I just want you to let me help you."
She wagged her head, no. “It’s too much Ram. I can’t accept it.”
"I think it might be a little late to refuse.” He smiled but the dark stare she gave him had him back stepping, “Look,” he said, holding his palms up in supplication, "Let’s be honest. I have been paid an obscene amount of money to play football. More than I will ever need. I have the money to fix up your house for Jack, and you don't have money to spare. It's nothing. It's what friends do for each other."
“You’re out of your mind. It’s too much.” Her chest heaved. She sighed and he detected a slight softening in her eyes and a minuscule slackening of her shoulders.
Encouraged Ram paced a step closer. “What can I say? I’m just a dumb jock.”
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A novel of suspense, revenge and a love so deep that it can only be released through forgiveness.
Hollywood producer Trent Parker has one goal – to own the film option for the breakout novel Sunset in Maui. His problem? Actress turned producer Charisse Whitloch. She’ll do anything to produce the film. Trent can stop her, but not without getting close to her, a bond he can’t risk.
Charisse has found the film project that will prove she’s her own woman – not her father’s daughter. One person stands in her way – Trent Parker. She’s faced opposition before, but she isn’t prepared for Trent. Her charisma has softened Hollywood’s hardest hearts, but is she a match for Trent’s heart of stone?
Trent’s defenses against Charisse crumble - loving her will heal the darkness in his soul and open the door to a secret he buried long ago. When Charisse is threatened, she and Trent face her adversaries. They piece together a plot more sinister than any Hollywood movie, but the key to their survival lies in Trent’s past – the key that will lead to Trent’s destruction.
Guarding Her Heart is the 1st book in the Crystal Creek Series
Crystal Creek Christmas Book #2
A Ring Around Her Heart #3
Steeling Her Heart #4
Risking Her Heart #5
Crystal Creek Boxed Set Books 1 – 3
Want more romantic suspense? Download a free short story: laurahaleymcneil.com.
If you want romance and suspense, download a sample or buy Crystal Creek Christmas now.
An email popped into her inbox.
Her chest constricted. She could barely breathe. Her heart did one of those snare drum rat-a-tat-tats. The pounding felt as if it would break through her chest.
She held her finger over Trent’s email. It trembled enough to embarrass her.
This was ridiculous. She wasn’t afraid of Trent Parker. She touched the email.
To: Charisse Whitloch
From: Trent Parker
Subject: Sunset in Maui
“Like your lawyer said, the option to Sunset in Maui is mine. Save yourself the courtroom drama and back out of the negotiations. Enjoy producing films while it lasts. Within three months, most production companies fail.”
Charisse dropped the phone to her lap. “Fail.”
The words were a punch to the soft spot below her sternum. She grabbed the armrest. Her chest heaved and seemed to drag every air molecule in the car into her lungs.
Risking Her Heart Book Links
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Laura Haley-McNeil is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and women’s fiction in novel length and in short stories. Her work has been featured in several women’s magazines. She has studied piano and ballet and has been a board member for two community orchestras. She and her husband reside in Colorado. When she isn’t writing, she jogs, bicycles and crochets.
Laura Haley-McNeil Contact Links
Ever think about going back to study hall to face down the school bully?
The mean girls?
The brainless jocks who made your life a pure misery?
For Dru Horvath, gypsy orphan turned Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist; Rafe Archangeli, Scourge of Summerville who now heads a multi-million dollar trust; and Fiona “Fat Aggie” Thorpe who recreated herself into an A-list model with her own A-list agency, the opportunity to exact revenge is too good to pass up.
Will they find the vengeance they crave?
Or something more valuable?
“Tough way to find out about the other woman.”
“Other woman, hell,” Dru groused. “The assistant was some young stud from Tommy's gym with abs to die for.”
With that. she side-stepped him and reached for the knob on the bathroom door.
Fast on his feet, Rory's counter move brought them nose to nose. “Play much poker, Horvath?”
“I don't know what you mean.”
“Before you started trash talking the cheating ex-husband, your face lit up like the Fourth of July. That tells me you've got something stashed in the tote. Until you let me look inside, it stays out here.”
Clutching the canvas tote to her chest, she sneered, “The only thing in here is my outfit for tonight's event. If you think I'd go naked, one of us is a couple fries short of a happy meal.”
His response came in the form of another gimme motion with those thick, blunt fingers. “How about I close my eyes if I encounter any lacy unmentionables?”
She knew the instant he found the back-up phone. The screw-you look morphed into a smirk. “It's not smart to mess with Homeland Security, sweetie. Those guys eat small rodents for breakfast.”
To purchase Vengeance Is Mine, go to:
Legal nurse consultant, victim advocate, sexual assault nurse examiner Kat Henry Doran and her alter ego, Veronica Lynch, has been there and done that--many times over. She often travels to the wilds of Northern New York State, witnessing the wonders of mother nature at her best. From the shores of Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River to the historic Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, she creates stories featuring strong women and the men who love them.
When not writing, she can be found lashed to one of her sewing machines--or chauffeuring the four brightest stars in her life: Meredith and Ashlin, Owen and Kieran.
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