Hello everyone, please welcome Robin Michaela back to my blog with her book, The Santa Bargain. First, lets find out about her dog named Cheyenne!
Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog today, Connie.
Years ago, we had a yellow lab named Cheyenne. When my kids were young, we would all head over to the elementary school when it snowed because they had a nice hill that was perfect for sledding.
One day, we took Cheyenne with us. In her mind, the kids were her pups, so she was frantic for their safety when they started sledding away from her, screaming in glee.
She yanked the leash out of my hand and bounded down the hill after my son. When she got to him, she knocked him off the saucer he was riding and accidentally landed on it herself.
Some dog’s faces are very expressive and you could usually tell what Cheyenne was thinking. As the saucer rotated with the weight of her impact, the look in her eyes was priceless. She totally understood why the kids were enjoying the ride. Instead of jumping off, she hunched down and rode the saucer to the bottom of the hill, then grabbed the edge with her teeth and tried to haul it up the hill again. My son didn’t get to ride much that day because Cheyenne kept knocking him off the saucer and trying to take his place!
Labs are great dogs. The Santa Bargain is a contemporary holiday romance that features a tiny, black puppy named Elf. I was thinking of our sweet Cheyenne when I wrote his character.
Before you meet Elf, though, you’ll meet Maria - a relationship-phobic single mom. She pleads with Joe, an equally commitment-shy guy, to help her out and play Santa in their small town’s holiday parade. In order to get him to agree, Maria has to strike a bargain that promises to heat up the holidays.
The Santa Bargain is just 99 cents through 12/20/2018 or FREE to read on Kindle Unlimited.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a merry and bright holiday season!
That is so adorable. I love labs, they are a great dog.
So, tell us a little about The Santa Bargain.
Santa’s gifts can be both nice…and naughty.
Coffeehouse entrepreneur, Maria Thompson, has sworn off men ever since her young son’s father walked out of their lives. But, when she literally runs into sexy carpenter, Joe Sinclair, she wonders if it’s time to rethink her plan.
Joe Sinclair doesn’t need or want romance or a family. He was raised in the foster care system and learned long ago not to get attached to anyone. Now, if he could just remember that, he could put the sensual owner of Copper River, Colorado’s new coffee shop out of his mind.
After Maria and Joe volunteer to work together on the town’s first Christmas festival, their attraction lights up brighter than a new a string of holiday lights. When Santa comes to town, will they finally find everything they’ve ever wished for under the tree?
Let's see if we can get a hint to whether Joe and Maria will get what they wish for....
Every warning she'd ever heard about texting and not paying attention hurtled through Maria Thompson's mind in the seconds after she buried her face in the man's muscular pecs. Her phone catapulted from her grasp but she barely registered that fact. She also didn’t catch the sound it made when it hit the concrete because her hearing was muffled by the sinewy arm that shot out and wrapped around her head, pressing her even harder against the guy’s decidedly powerful chest.
Instinctively, she reached out to brace herself, then felt a blaze of heat course through her body when her hands splayed against his muscular thighs.
Best. Day. Ever.
A flash of desire spiked along her nerve endings. Even though she really should back away, she couldn't stop herself from inhaling a deep breath. His masculine scent – wood shavings with a hint of spicy aftershave – nearly made her moan.
"Wow," she heard herself say. So, apparently her mouth still worked even though her brain had momentarily gone off line. Still, it would have been nice to have said something a little more intelligent.
"”Wow” about sums it up," Sexy Pecs agreed. He let go of her head, allowing her to back away before the rest of her body melted into a puddle at his feet.
"Sorry…I'm really sorry," Maria sputtered, her face burning. "I was checking my texts and—"
His gorgeous blue eyes glinted mischievously as he grinned down at her from two rungs up on the step ladder. "No problem. I probably wouldn't object if you wanted to run into me again."
Well, she wouldn’t object much either. Okay, not at all.
I can feel her embarrassment.... Yum. I want to walk into him too!
Let's see what we can find out about Robin!
Robin Michaela writes heartfelt, small town contemporary romances in all levels of heat, from sweet to steamy. Her stories combine family, pets, hope and friendship – all the elements that bring her readers emotional and enduring love stories.
By day, she’s a dental hygienist. By night, Robin can be found crafting her next novel - often while trying to type around her black cat, Boo. She's a runner and breast cancer survivor and happily married to her own Handsome Prince.
Thanks so much, Robin, for stopping by and sharing your story. I hope you have great success with it.
Visitors, please leave us a comment letting us know you've stopped by. We love to hear from our readers!
Hello everyone, please welcome Caroline Clemmons to my blog today as she shares her book, Mail Order Moriah.
How many of us can relate to Caroline's mother?
Mom was a cautious driver, good in forward gear, who could barely back up well enough to get out of our driveway. She and I went to visit Mom’s sister, brother, and mother, who lived near one another in a rural area about thirty miles from our home in Lubbock, Texas. Recently, there’d been heavy rains but that day was sunny.
First, we stopped at the home of Mom’s sister. To reach my grandmother’s, Mom took our usual short cut on a back road. But—she’d never driven it after a heavy rain.
The dirt road was deeply rutted from previous traffic. Halfway there, we turned a corner and encountered what looked like a shallow lake across the road. Mom stopped. She couldn’t back up well enough to risk slipping into the bar ditch. She decided to continue and slowly drove into the water. In the middle of the lake, the car stopped. What should we do? What would Dad say?
Her brother saw us stranded and pulled our car out of the lake/playa with his pickup truck. He teased mother but was actually very nice about having to wade into the muddy water to hook a chain to our car. He explained that she should have driven faster so the car wouldn’t stall. The incident was embarrassing for her. Later we laughed about it—much later. I used this in HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME, with the heroine driving and the hero rescuing her, with mishaps.
Poor Mom, sometimes I think it's something with us women who seem unable to back a car up, or get through a mud puddle. LOL
Tell us a little about Mail Order Moriah!
A sweet western historical romance, first of the Pearson Grove series.
Moriah Singleton faced hardship to get from England to America but met more problems once she arrived. The only solution she could find was to become a mail-order bride in far away Texas. How will she ever save enough to bring her sister to America?
After a disastrous brief engagement ended badly, Scott Ferguson sent for a mail-order bride. He needs her help in his mercantile. He hopes his wife will also be his life’s helpmate.
Danger, family entanglements, and disaster await the couple. Will the problems bring them closer or drive them apart?
Let's take a peek and see if the problems can bring them closer or drive them apart!
Everyone stared at them, even more than the previous evening. Moriah thought they might as well be specimens on display at a museum. To make things more uncomfortable, Scott didn’t speak and she couldn’t think of anything to say either.
By the time their food arrived, she thought she would explode from tension. “Tomorrow I’d like to mail my parents a letter. Where’s the post office?”
His eyes held a glint of humor. “The store is the post office. I’ll give you a tour when we get home.”
“That will be helpful.”
“Do they know you’ve come west to be married?”
“I sent them a letter the evening before I left Massachusetts. In case they’d mailed me one before it reached them, I left postage, an envelope, and your address with my landlady at the boarding house where I stayed. She promised to forward my mail here.”
“You said you’re from Kent, but I don’t know how far that is from London.”
“The village where my family lives is about thirty miles south of London. My father grows hops. Where is your home?”
“If you mean my parents’ home, it’s about a hundred and fifty miles south-southwest near the Brazos River in McLennan County. My older brother helps our father farm.”
“Do they know you sent for a mail-order bride?”
Scott shifted on his chair. “I’d give anything if I hadn’t written them I was engaged. Now I don’t know how to explain what’s happened.”
His attitude annoyed her. “How hard could it be, Scott? You just write them and tell them the facts. Are they likely to visit?”
He rested his wrists on each side of his plate. “They plan to now that cold weather is here. Hard to leave the farm most of the year.”
“Don’t you think you should warn them?”
He toyed with his fork. “I thought maybe you could write them and explain.”
“Me? Is it a coward I’ve married? Are you afraid to tell your family the truth of your situation?”
He held up his hand. “No, that’s not the problem. My older brother Sean is always lording it over me about how much better he is at everything than I am. He’s one of the reasons I chose to buy a business away from where my folks live. Sean will lap up the news that I sent for a mail-order bride like it’s a gift from heaven.”
His eyes widened. “Not that there’s anything wrong with a mail-order bride, mind you. That’s not what I’m saying.”
She spoke very quietly. “Exactly what are you saying, Mr. Ferguson?” Her facial muscles ached from keeping a pleasant expression when she wanted to toss her coffee in his face and storm off.
“Look, all I’m saying is… well, you see… I might have bragged about my fiancée being from the wealthiest family in town and how she’d chosen me even though there were other eligible bachelors here.”
She met his gaze and arched an eyebrow. “And now you have to eat humble pie and it’s not going to taste good, is it?”
“You’re right. I don’t know how to go about wording the letter. I don’t want to seem ungentlemanly toward either you or Alexandra. I can’t explain why she broke the engagement without putting her in a bad light.”
“And you’re ashamed to admit to your family you have a mail-order bride.”
“No, no, I’m not ashamed of you or sending for you. All right, I admit I’m embarrassed in light of the bragging I did, but there’s nothing wrong with my having sent for you or your having come.”
She offered her sweetest smile. “I’m glad you feel that way, dear husband. When we get back to our rooms, we can both write letters to our parents. I’ll let you read mine. Do you dare let me read yours?”
Muscles clenched in his jaw. “You have a bargain, Mrs. Ferguson.” He scooped up the last bite of his apple pie then dabbed his mouth with the napkin.
She took her time dawdling over her dessert, more to annoy him than for any other reason. He was one of the best looking men she’d ever met and he had manners outwardly. Inside, she was afraid he had no spine. He’d soon learn she meant what she said.
Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To compensate for this illogical error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won several awards. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.
Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.
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Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?
She loves to hear from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please welcome Mageela Troche to my blog today with her book, Highland Scandal. First, she shares with us her humorous (and embarrassing) voice change.
Years ago when I was a teenage and New York City was my playground, I went out to a club with my friends. While I danced the night away, I met a guy. He was handsome, well-dressed and could dance. Of course, we started talking. And I found I really liked talking to him. Well, we spent the night talking as we danced. Not an easy thing to do when the music is so loud that the floor jumps from the bass and the building shakes.
By 4 am when the club closed, I had taken his number. I never gave out my number because of an older brother, protective mother and a lot of male relatives that made dating a difficulty for me. With his number in my pocket, I went home.
The next day, I decided to call him. I picked up the phone and dialed. A woman answer who no doubt was his mother. I opened my mouth to ask for Charles (let’s call him that for his privacy). Instead of my normal high-pitched teenage girly voice, the voice of a forty-years-old man who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day came out.
I almost hung up the phone. I sounded like a dude. I didn’t want Charles to hear me like that. But his mother called out for him and said, “Some man is on the phone for you.”
Charles came on the phone and I told him it was me and that I had lost my voice. He laughed and told his mom that it was a girl. I heard her scream back, “That is the manliness girl I ever heard. Are you sure she’s a girl?”
Well, I ended up dating Charles for a few months and I even met his mother. He told her that I was the girl with the man voice. Yeah, that became how I was known. I sometimes wonder if he thinks of me and if he does, does he say something like “you remember the girl with the man voice.”
If he does, I’m doing good.
LOL, manly voice! Oh those things that happen to us so totally out of the blue!
Tell us about Highland Scandal!
How long does happily ever after take?
They call her banshee. The taunt has pursued strong-willed Rowen Mackenzie through the glorious Scottish highlands. One man sees beyond the superstition—Lachlan Gordon. This brave highlander is the man she loves but duty requires her to wed another.
Wickedly charming, Lachlan Gordon has loved Rowen Mackenzie since his first glimpse of the ethereal beauty. As bastard of Chief Gordon, Lachlan can never claim her as his own. When his father, Laird Gordon, is murdered, Lachlan becomes the clan chief…too late to marry the woman he loves.
Years later, Rowen is now a widow and mother and her son is in danger. She jeopardizes her life and most importantly, her heart to protect her son. Lachlan is the only man who can help her. For a second chance at love, he must risk all—his clan, his life and his love to win even as secrets threaten their happiness and their very lives.
Will Rowen and Lachlan have their own happily ever after?
Well, let's read an excerpt and see if we can get a hint of whether Rowen and Lachlan will find their happy ever after!
Lachlan lingered in the courtyard. He refused to step inside. No doubt, he could find a widow to warm the night with. He just had to stay away from the Great Hall and Rowen. Damn, she was so beautiful sitting upon her horse. She was so near to him. He could have snatched her up and run away. He couldn’t go near her. He kicked at a rock. Why did MacLean have to permit the marriage here? MacKenzie Castle was fitting enough. But the lairdess had to be pregnant. Murray’s lands were just as fitting, but lacked a female touch. Och, weren’t there women in the clan? Such ruminations failed to matter. She was here.
He peered up at the tower. She was in there and tonight he would be also…unless there was an attack or a raid. He prayed for a raid.
Lachlan leaned against the wall. He straightened as Caelen took his spot beside him, as he had countless times before. They watched the castle people stroll by them.
“All is good?” Caelen asked.
“Aye. Your wife?”
“Fat with child again. She wishes for a daughter.” He crossed his bare arms.
“You wish for a son.”
“I know what men do with women.” Castle folk hurried on at Caelen’s scowl.
“This marriage should happen soon.”
“Aye, Father Murray is here. I heard about Father Sullivan.”
Lachlan chuckled. “A skeleton of a man. Why they sent that man—I do not know. He had been here for two days. He stuttered whenever Duncan laid his gaze on him. When he saw me, he looked like he smelled something most foul.”
“Sin, so I guess the daughters of Eve left a certain smell only priest can catch whiff of. He fled in the morning.”
“Did you really chase after him?”
“Aye, he said, ‘you are the devil’. Me and Duncan were standing like this, so I had to find out which one of us he spoke of.” Lachlan chuckled. “I ran beside his animal. He kicked his heels harder, but I stayed alongside him. When I asked him, that poor holy man paled and then reddened. He proclaimed we were both devils. I thanked him and told him I wouldn’t want to lose my reputation.”
Caelen laughed. Lachlan felt a lightness that had been missing since the wedding negotiations began. It was the damn hardest thing to make Caelen laugh.
His laughter cut off at the approaching riders. The Murrays arrived. Lachlan stared at Eacharn riding among his father’s men. Bile rose in his throat and its foul taste filled his mouth. He gulped back the burning spew.
He should hate that man. He was getting to spend the rest of his days with the woman Lachlan loved. But Eacharn, the plump bastard, was a good man. He was always in the center of a fight. He was sharp-minded and loved Lachlan’s humor. Hell, Lachlan admitted it—he liked him. Not that he’d say it to him.
One more thing denied Lachlan. Nay, he was not feeling pity for himself. Never. His temper roared like a hundred Highlanders on a charge. He pushed away from the wall, only realizing Caelen had left him. Halfway out of the courtyard, he turned back. His duty was to stand with MacLean.
Ooohhh, sounds so intriguing.
What do we know about Mageela?
An Air Force brat, Mageela Troche has lived throughout the world then landed in New York City. She wanted to leave the same day she arrived. Yet, with her stubbornness, Mageela learned to like the place and the libraries were the main reason. Since she was a little girl, Mageela wanted to be an author and an actress, however, once in college, she changed her life plan in the pursuit of money. After all, college loans must be repaid.
With life’s twists and turns, she returned to writing and focused on the romance genre. Mageela Troche’s first break came when she sold a short story to a magazine. She sold two more before the publication of her historical romance novel, The Marriage Alliance. She has gone on to write four more novels and a novella.
Mageela is currently writing in the cramped corner of her Big Apple apartment. She is the proud owner of a Black-masked lovebird named Boobula. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found online at MageelaTroche.com
Social Media Links
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mageela-Troche/e/B00CHTIRFW/
Thank you, Mageela, for stopping by and sharing your story. It certainly sounds intriguing and can't wait to read. I hope you have great success with it.
If you're visiting, please leave us a comment and let us know you've stopped by. We love to hear from our readers!
Please welcome Lexi Post to my blog today with her release, One of a Kind Christmas!
One of a Kind Christmas
A Christmas Carol Book #4
By Lexi Post
Desires of Christmas Present (A Christmas Carol Book 2) Sometimes not knowing is betterâ¦for everyone.
He set out to prove the future was far worse than she imagined. Now he wished it wasnât.
About the Author:
Lexi's Social Links:
Thank you, Lexi, for stopping by and sharing your new holiday release.
Visitors, please leave us a message and let us know you stopped by. We love to hear from our readers.
Please welcome Stephanie Berget to my blog today with her book, Silver Dreams On A Tin Can Budget. Let's hear about Toughie, the family goat!
We are a rodeo family. If you’re a rodeo family and have girls, you are going to have goats. Each spring, my husband would go to the cow sale and buy a goat or two for my daughter and her friends to practice goat tying. One year, several friends asked him to get one for them. He came home with eight goats, seven sweet little ones and a Pygmy billy goat of indeterminate age.
I’ll give you one guess which goat we ended up with.
Toughie was a pain from the moment he became ours. He climbed on cars and haystacks, ate the neighbor’s flowers, and stood in the middle of the road and dared cars to make him move. Butting anyone who got close enough was his favorite pastime. He could chew through any rope we used to tie him up in ten seconds flat. After resorting to a light chain, we made him a home beneath the big cottonwood tree out the back door. Even then, he couldn’t keep himself out of trouble.
One day, I was feeding him and watched as he walked to the garage, stood on his hind legs and peered in the window. Then, he reared back and butted the glass, shattering it.
He apparently saw himself in the reflection and wanted to show that other goat who was boss.
Despite that, he lived with us for many years.
I haven’t written a goat into any of my books yet, but the sequel to Silver Dreams will feature Toughie
What a little troublemaker! LOL. He could probably get his own book!
Let's find out about Silver Dreams On A Tin Can Budget....
She’s found her dream… He’s losing his…
Reed is desperate to save the family ranch and can’t afford to be distracted by a fun-loving blonde who delights in making him laugh. But Catie is determined to leave tragedy behind her and reach for her dreams—no matter what. Working with silver and gemstones calls to her creative soul, and so does the quiet cowboy with a lot on his mind.
Can love bridge the gap between their two worlds?
Join Reed and Catie in this “opposites attract” cowboy romance where city meets country and sparks fly.
Come Visit Copper Mills, Arizona--a small town with a heart as big as the wide-open spaces and a long history of making dreams come true.
Reed watched as Catie’s eyes went wide. Softer looking than her twin, but alike in every other way. His heartbeat picked up, and he almost reached out and pulled her into his arms.
“Is there anything else I can help you with, Mr. McCoy?”
Her voice changed from determined to that of a giggly high school girl in a scant second, and she batted her lashes fast enough to take flight.
He studied her for a moment longer. How could two women look exactly alike and give off such different vibes?
From what he’d seen of Eleanor so far, she was self-sufficient and studious, calm and contemplative. Totally focused on her new business. From what he’d heard, she succeeded in anything she undertook.
Catie appeared to be a little girl lost. The corners of her full, pink lips quivered as he stared, and he pulled himself from his musings. If she giggled one more time, he was out of here.
There was nothing about this woman that was what he was looking for. Catie was not the woman for him. There was no way he was going to be a caretaker to another person as long as he lived.
“Never mind. I’ll talk to Eleanor later. Good luck with those beads.” Now, why in the hell did he say that? Keeping his eyes on anything but Catie’s pretty face, he turned and walked out the door. Once in his truck, relief covered him like a blanket.
Too bad it was immediately replaced by disappointment.
Eleanor Kershner was the type of woman he’d always been attracted to, but when he closed his eyes, it was Catie he saw. Catie’s sweet expression. Catie’s tempting body. Catie’s wicked grin. After talking to her today, he couldn’t imagine why people couldn’t tell them apart.
He slapped his palms against the steering wheel. It must be the stress of worrying about the ranch that was messing with his mind.
A movement caught his eye, and he looked up to see Eleanor striding down the wooden walkway the town had restored in front of the shops in the original part of town. It didn’t take a genius to know which twin was walking toward him. Eleanor’s no nonsense walk ate up the distance from her car to the antique store. So different from the fluid way Catie moved.
There his traitorous mind went again.
It was time for him to find a wife and start a family, and Catie wasn’t right for either position. That would be Eleanor.
Eleanor would have the business sense to help him regain ownership of the family ranch his father had pissed away. And the confidence to not be needy.
Babysitting dear old Dad, when the man finally gave up any pretense of work, had drained Reed.
Eleanor’s smile was so small he wasn’t sure her lips had moved after all. It occurred to him that he’d never seen her smile. He hadn’t seen her show much expression at all as opposed to Catie whose thoughts played across her face in Technicolor.
Just as he reached Eleanor, Catie came through the door of the Turquoise Moon. “Ellie, did you get the mail? Did my package come?”
Reed shook his head. She was like a kid at Christmas.
He stepped in between the sisters and faced Eleanor. It was a boorish move, but he didn’t have time to wait around while Catie got whatever bright bauble she’d ordered. “Do you have a minute?”
He felt a soft tap on his shoulder and heard the whispered word. “Jerk!” When he turned to answer, he found Catie wearing the same smile she’d had in the shop, bright and sappy.
He suspected it was the one she bestowed on her few customers and on jerks. To give her credit, he had been rude, but still… “Excuse me?”
“Oh.” She giggled after the word, but there was no humor in her gaze. “You are definitely excused. Now, Eleanor, if you’ll hand me my order, I’ll leave you to take care of Mr. McCoy all alone. He has something really important to discuss, and he’s made it clear it would be over my silly little head.”
Uh oh. I can feel the conflict coming..... This sounds like a great read.
Let's find out a little bit about Stephanie Berget.
Stephanie Berget was born loving horses, a ranch kid trapped in a city girl’s body. It took her twelve years to convince her parents she needed a horse of her own. She developed a lifelong love of rodeo when she married her own, hot cowboy. She and the Bronc Rider traveled throughout the Northwest while she ran barrels and her cowboy rode bucking horses. She started writing to put a realistic view of rodeo and ranching into western romance. Stephanie and her husband live on a farm located along the Oregon/Idaho border. They raise hay, horses and cattle, with the help of Dizzy Dottie, the Border Collie and Cisco, barrel and team roping horse extraordinaire.
Stephanie is delighted to hear from readers. Reach her at http://www.stephanieberget.com
Amazon: Stephanie Berget
Thank you, Stephanie, for dropping by. I hope you have great success with your book.
If you're a visitor, please leave us a comment and let us know you've dropped by. We love to hear from our readers!
Please welcome back Beverley Oakley as she tours the circuit with her new release, Keeping Faith. Let's find out about the book.
Fair Cyprians of London Series (Book 3)
By Beverley Oakley
Beverley has a print copy of Her Gilded Prison to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win a print copy of Her Gilded Prison. You may find the tour locations here.
About Keeping Faith:"My beautiful Revenge." Four years ago, Faith’s mysterious benefactress falsely accused her of stealing and deposited her in Madame Chambon’s exclusive brothel. There, Faith was to learn how to entrance London’s noble gentlemen with her learning in philosophy, politics and art. Her body was to be saved for the greatest enticement of all: revenge. Faith doesn’t care what she has to do. She lives only to fulfil a bargain that will set her free. But when Faith is recruited as the muse of a talented, sensitive painter whose victory in a prestigious art competition turns them both into celebrities overnight, she discovers the reasons behind her mission are very different from what she'd been led to believe. Now she is complicit in something dark and dangerous while riches, adulation and freedom are hers for the taking. But what value are these if her heart has become a slave to the man she is required to destroy? Genre - historical romantic suspense Heat Level - Medium Keep Faith Buy Links: https://www.books2read.com/u/bP5pGY Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Dg70UP
Excerpt:Chapter One “What did you learn last night?” “A gentleman must always believe he knows best.” Confident that her answer was pleasing, Faith reached across the table to help herself to a macaroon but a sharp slap across the back of the hand stopped her progress by the silver teapot. Her smile of feigned contrition was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Madame Chambon. Not an invitation to partake of a macaroon, unfortunately. The table laden with eclairs and petit fours in Madame’s private sitting room was merely for show. “Greedy girl, Faith! You can eat at the Dorchester tomorrow and I daresay you won’t even spare a thought for the other girls who are justified in being somewhat jealous of your cossetted life.” Madame sniffed as she patted one of the grizzled, orange curls of her elaborate coiffure. Faith suspected a squirrel’s pelt had made its contribution. “I’m sure they wonder every day why you never have to stir yourself – or anyone else, for that matter – to get your fine clothes or a roof over your head.” Madame Chambon piled three macaroons onto her already laden plate before making a sweeping gesture that encompassed the furnishings of her surprisingly decorous private sitting room with its gold tasseled green velvet curtains and flock wallpaper. “What have you told them, Faith? About why you are here, I mean?” Faith’s stomach rumbled as she gazed from the prints of the famous artists that lined the walls to the fine fare in front of her, ordered from Fortnum and Mason. These monthly sessions in table manners were supposed to give Faith the practice she needed to deport herself like a lady when eating in public. However, under Madame’s guardianship, Faith never actually got to try the specialties. “Answer me, Faith. In all the three years that you’ve been here, you’ve had to do precisely nothing to justify your existence. Surely the girls have questioned you? I have my own version of the truth for them, as you know, but I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.” Faith didn’t answer. She already knew how lucky she was, but Madame was not ready to drop the subject, despite having just crammed an entire chocolate éclair into her mouth. Faith just managed to make out the muffled words, “Every night you lie peacefully in your bed while the other girls have to earn their livings.” Lying peacefully in her bed was not how Faith would describe the restfulness of her slumber. She was kept awake every night by the grunts and cries of ecstasy that penetrated the thin walls of her attic chamber. Still, she’d finally learned when it was wise to respond meekly, so she bowed her head and stared at her neat kid gloves while dreaming of the delicacies Mrs. Gedge would order for them when Faith really was dining with her at the Dorchester Hotel the following afternoon. The Sacher Torte Mrs. Gedge had ummed and aahed over before finally choosing the baked Alaska from the sweets trolley last month still haunted her. However, since part of Faith’s tutoring included how to win over reluctant gentleman ‘and make them wild with wanting’ which is how Madame phrased it, then surely Faith could persuade her American benefactress to order the Austrian chocolate specialty? She was so busy rehearsing her words for tomorrow that she almost missed Madame’s prophetic and appalling statement. “Well, Faith, the time has come for you to start earning your way, now.” Faith brought her head up in shock. Was Madame teasing? When it appeared not, she gripped the table edge as she struggled for composure. For so long she’d known the reckoning would come. Yes, and with three years preparing for it, she’d believed she could meet it head-on with the necessary fortitude. But there’d been no warning. She began to shake, biting into her bottom lip and clasping her hands in her lap to try and keep secret the manifestations of her terror from Madame who’d only be spurred onto gloating and make her suffer even more. “Mrs. Gedge reported last month that she wasn’t entirely happy you were ready for what she has in store for you when she took you to tea, Faith.” Madame chewed noisily, unperturbed, it seemed, by the crumbs that landed on her gaudy vermillion skirts. Faith didn’t suggest that Mrs. Gedge’s dissatisfaction was perhaps the fault of Faith’s tutor – the one sitting in front of her - who knew nothing about deporting herself as a lady. With a dainty gesture using only her forefingers, Madame Chambon raised her plate and licked at the crumbs that had not been dislodged before saying, “Fortunately, Lady Vernon is recovered at last from her long indisposition and has agreed to forget your rudeness to her from six months ago. In fact, she’ll be here shortly. Yes, she’ll soon have you passing the scrutiny of the most discerning duchess.” Madame gobbled down another macaroon with as much finesse as the dogs Faith’s father used to goad into fighting each other after they’d fought over the scraps from the scrubbed wooden table at the farm. Not that there’d been many scraps with ten children to feed. “Should we not have waited for Lady Vernon?” Faith suggested, daringly. But she had to say something to stop herself from launching into a volley of querulous questions about exactly what form this ‘having to earn her own way’ might take. Madame Chambon pushed aside an untouched plate of bread and butter to reach for another chocolate éclair and sighed. “There was just so much food on the table it seemed unnecessary to wait if her ladyship was going to be late. Ah! And here she is.” Madame’s orange painted mouth turned up at a knock on the door. “Shoulders back, Faith! And make sure you don’t talk with your mouth full.” Since this was not a danger, Faith supposed there might be some compensation in having to face her former nemesis who surely must subscribe to the belief that learning table manners required one having to eat. Madame threw her arms wide in a welcome as the door opened to admit the new arrival. “Good evening, Lady Vernon. We’re so glad you’ve recovered from your chest ailment,” she gushed. “A good rest has done you the world of good. Why, you look ten years younger. Just as you do every time I see you, in fact. And we’re indeed humbled that you’ve consented to return.” Madame simpered at the elderly woman, dressed all in black who looked, Faith thought, even more wraith-like than usual as she pinned up the veil of her bonnet and took the seat at the table proffered by Madame who went on, “I’m sure you’ll feel even better once you’ve heard Faith’s heartfelt apology.” Faith blushed under the scrutiny of the two pairs of expectant, unforgiving eyes, and glanced longingly at the remaining macaroon. Yes, there were times when it was worth being abject. She mightn’t mean what she said, but if the last three years under Madame Chambon’s roof had taught her one thing, it was how to sound heartfelt and sincere when she felt anything but. “I’m sorry for my rude comments about…” Faith hesitated. Perhaps it was best not to stir up old memories. While it must be perfectly obvious to anyone who met Lady Vernon as to why an earl’s daughter could remain a spinster into her sixtieth year, it hadn’t been in anyone’s interest – Faith’s least of all, it turned out – for Faith to have gone into quite such specific and extensive detail regarding her thoughts on the likely reasons. “I behaved like a child, though it’s such a long time ago, now, I can barely remember what was going through my head at the time. I was only seventeen and, in those days, prone to losing my temper but now I’m eighteen and, thanks to all your efforts in teaching me how to act like a lady, Lady Vernon, I’m so far from the rude and impulsive young thing I was before, you’d not recognize me today. Thanks to your thorough tutelage, I am determined that I will never speak out of turn, to you, or anyone. Indeed, I have changed! I truly believe that, confronted by a table of delicacies like this, for example, I would certainly not embarrass you or Mrs. Gedge or any lovely young man or his mother who might take me out to tea by any show of greediness or lack of restraint.” Lady Vernon’s eyes remained fixed firmly on Faith for the duration of this speech with no indication of how forgiving or otherwise she might prove to be. After a long silence, she spoke. “Restraint?” She sniffed. “Restraint is the most important requirement of any young lady, Faith. I’ve told you this many times, so I’m glad it’s a lesson you claim to have finally learned.” With her eyes fixed on Faith, she reached towards the remaining macaroon that sat lonely on its plate just in front of them both, her long-fingered hand hovering just above. “Please pass that to me, Faith. I can’t seem to reach it.” Wordlessly, Faith complied, schooling her features into impassivity while she railed inside, I hate you! I hate you! as she watched Lady Vernon transport the coconut confection to her thin, bloodless lips. “Delicious,” Lady Vernon murmured. “In fact, I believe it is the best macaroon I have ever tasted? You must surely agree, Faith, since the plate is now empty.” She looked pointedly at the two remaining crumbs that clung to the edge of the fine china, as if to imply that Faith had eaten the rest. Then she indicated the plate of bread and butter near Madame Chambon. “Please eat, Faith. Madame Chambon and I have a leisurely afternoon at our disposal. She and I will partake of the remaining chocolate eclairs --” Her pointed chin wobbled slightly, whether from the suppression of mirth or the swallowing of bile, Faith could only guess, “while you make good work of the bread and butter with all the ladylike restraint you’re so anxious to prove.” Other Books in the Series: Saving Grace Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2z7rVGx Forsaking Hope Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2DlzV9M Beverley Oakley’s Bio: Debutantes, widows and the occasional courtesan test society’s boundaries in Beverley Oakley’s wicked, passionate historical romances dripping with scandal, intrigue, and suspense. Her Fair Cyprians of London series is about a group of determined and clever courtesans at a high-class Soho brothel who use their wit and beauty to avenge past betrayals - and who find lasting love along the way. How can there be a happily ever after? is a question many a reviewer has asked before admitting to being delighted and satisfied by the unexpected plot twists and surprise endings – just like in Beverley’s own life. You can read more on her website. Beverley's Social Links: Website: http://www.beverleyoakley.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeverleyOakley/ Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/beverleyeikli/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeverleyOakley Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5989577.Beverley_Oakley a Rafflecopter giveaway
The book sounds really delightful, Beverley, I hope you have a lot of great success with it.
If you are visiting, please leave us a comment to let us know you've stopped by. We love to hear from our readers.
Please welcome back Madison Michael with her release Moonlight & Moet on my blog today.
Moonlight & Moet
B&B Billionaire Romance Series (Book 2)
By Madison Michael Madison has put together some really awesome Prize Packages to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here (https://goo.gl/ESBmdA).
About Moonlight & Moet:
Exhausted and anxious to return home, Leigh wasn’t paying attention as she stepped out the door of the small law office at the end of the row of storefronts. Leigh went down hard on the cement, her skirt flying up, her brochures flying. A shook-up Leigh assessed the damage and caught her breath. Her dignity was beyond repair.
Leigh was brushing the dirt from her palms, scraped from trying to break her fall when a shadow blocked the sun, and a large, dirty hand, attached to a long, strong arm reached down to assist her. Leigh’s gaze followed the flannel covered forearm up over a muscled bicep and continued until her scrutiny was arrested by a pair of coffee-colored eyes surrounded by the deep laugh lines of an outdoorsman. He was staring vast expanse of creamy thigh and more than a hint of her magenta panties. His expression told Leigh that he liked what he saw.
Leigh clumsily scrambled to lower her dress, gather the brochures fluttering in the breeze, and take the proffered hand all at once. Several pamphlets escaped down the sidewalk, but she quickly forgot them as she was lifted like a feather against her mountain’s chest and too swiftly placed gently on her feet. She winced when the blisters made contact with the hard surface beneath them and the lumberjack buried behind a grizzly bear beard reacted.
“Injured, little lady?” he asked with concern. “Let me help you get you to urgent care.
"That won't be necessary," Leigh responded, smoothing her dress to cover her embarrassment and interest.
"Then at least let me help you to your destination.”
“I was just heading to my car, down the ways,” Leigh tried to gesture with the arm the man still held. “But, I’m fine. Really. I can take it from here.”
“Fine, indeed,” Grizzly Adams replied in a sarcastic, deep baritone.
He was tall, covered in a subtle sheen of dirt and sweat, but Leigh quickly realized the shirt under her fingertips was the finest wool and his boots, caked in an inch of dried mud, were Scarpa Phantom 8000's. He was a very wealthy Grizzly Adams, and a dedicated hiker too. Those boots were featured in the mountaineering store up the road for over $1000, way too rich for Leigh’s blood.
He stood still, his smile twitching as caught Leigh checking him out. Then, without warning, he swept her into his arms, carefully adjusted her dress to modestly cover her behind while managing to slide his hand all along them. The man was a pro. Leigh couldn't fault his effort, even as she realized he was copping a feel. Carrying her easily, he began taking long strides in the direction she had pointed.
“This is completely unnecessary,” Leigh repeated more than once, interspersed with “put me down, please” and “Really I can walk.” He ignored them all, speaking right over her repeated and flustered objections.
“You took a nasty fall there. People are always missing that last step." His face was too close and too handsome. He smelled of the outdoors - pine, sweat and sunshine. It was intoxicating.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer I took you over to the doc’s office or the urgent care?”
“Just to my car, thanks,” Leigh requested, done trying to argue with the hard-muscled man. Who was she kidding? It felt incredible to rest against his broad chest, his arms holding her securely and his minty breath blowing on her face. He may have been filthy, a bearded mountain man who was certainly not her type, but he was sexy as hell. Leigh wished her car was miles away. ,
“Will you be ok to drive, Miss…”
“Miss Leigh,” he repeated, caressing her name. “Are you sure you’ll be alright to drive?”
Leigh bobbed her head in the affirmative. She loved resting her head against the power of this man’s chest, secure in his firm grip. Leigh looked up at him from under her eyelashes, admiring what she saw. She could tell that under the caked on mud and scruff, he was handsome, with a cocky smile and those laughing eyes. She wished she could see more.
“This is my car,” she finally motioned. “Thank you, Mr…”
“You’re certain you can drive?” he asked in his slow, smooth drawl, ignoring her question.
“I’m not going far,” Leigh reassured him. “I’ll be fine.”
The mountain man placed Leigh on her feet, holding her by the waist as if waiting for reassurance that she was solidly standing. Leigh looked down as if to assure herself both feet were there and with a deep breath made eye contact. The man was a head taller, broad and powerful, and staring at her as if he wanted to devour her. A hot flush filled Leigh's cheeks, and she extended a hand to shake his.
“Well, thank you again. You certainly turned out to be my knight in shining armor today,” she jested.
“Well, Miss Leigh, then I guess I get my knight’s favor,” the man responded with a devilish grin. Leigh was still registering his warning when he lowered his head to hers and placed his warm lips upon her cooler ones.
Other Books in the B&B Billionaire Romance Series:
Desire & Dessert Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2Fg1qo5
About the Author:
Madison Michael is an indie publisher, blogger and the author of the Beguiling Bachelor Series as well as the novella Desire & Dessert, from her sizzling B&B Billionaire Bachelor series.a Rafflecopter giveaway
I love a billionaire romance story so I can't wait to get my hands on this book. Thank you Madison, for stopping by with your new book. I hope you have great success.
If you're visiting today, please leave us a comment and let us know you've stopped by. We love to hear from our readers.
Hello all, please help me welcome back Claire Gem, to my blog with her story, Hearts Unloched.
Thank you, Constance Bretes, for inviting me to your blog. The book I’d like talk about today is my first Haunted Voices novel, Hearts Unloched.
Okay, ask me how many times I’ve had to go back and correct the spelling of this novel! Autocorrect just won’t let me spell it “right,” which is, just as you see it, with an “h” and not a “k” in Unloched. My editors, my beta readers, my family members all had to timidly ask: isn’t that word spelled wrong? Except for my eldest son, Justin, because he’s the one who came up with the title.
The book takes place in a tiny burg in upstate New York named after its lake, Loch Sheldrake. The loch is a small but very deep lake and has its own macabre urban legend.
It’s rumored that the Mafia, back in the 1950s, chose Loch Sheldrake as their dumping ground—for bodies of their “hits.”
My husband grew up in the area and told me of the legend years ago. One day as we drove around the lake, the idea hit me: why not put a fictional hotel on the loch’s shores—and of course, make it haunted?
I was struggling to come up with a title that would include the word “loch” in it. My son wandered into my office, plopped down in a chair and said, “Why not Hearts Unloched? And so, Hearts Unloched was born.
Winner of the 2016 NY Book Festival, it’s on sale for a limited time only for .99.
I have to admit that when I was typing in the title above for this blog, I had to check the spelling a couple of times to make sure I had it right. LOL
Tell us a little about the story...
A psychic interior designer reluctantly agrees to renovate a sexy investor’s abandoned hotel on Loch Sheldrake, a lake rumored to have once been the mob’s body dumping ground.
Interior designer Kate Bardach loves her single girl's lifestyle, living in Manhattan and spending weekends at her lake house. She's passionate about her career, too—reinventing old buildings. But there are some projects she can't take on because of the spirits trapped inside. Kate is psychic—she sees dead people.
Marco Lareci is one of Wall Street's most successful investment brokers who's achieved all of his life's goals—except for finding his soulmate. His latest project, an abandoned resort on Loch Sheldrake, needs a savvy designer to transform the crumbling complex into a boutique hotel. When Marco meets Kate, he can't believe his luck. She's the perfect match for his business and his heart.
Marco's body excites Kate even more than does his renovation project. But he wants more than a casual relationship, and she's not willing to give up her freedom. Plus, the haunting at Marco's resort, a bonafide poltergeist, affects her on an intensely personal level. Kate's aunt disappeared from the place fifty years ago.
Will the spirit doom Kate and Marco's love, or drive them closer together?
Links: Hearts Unloched
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/cZOY6VHx-nU
All other digital formats:
Wow, this sounds very mysterious and intriguing. I'll be adding this to my TBR list!
Let's find out more about the author, Claire Gem!
Contemporary, Romantic, Soul-Freeing
Claire is an award winning-author of supernatural suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing. Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards.
Claire loves exploring the paranormal and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from Duke University’s Rhine Research Center. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University.
A New York native, Claire now lives in Massachusetts with her husband of 40 years. When she’s not writing, she works for Tufts University in the field of scientific research. She is available for seminars and media interviews and loves to travel for book promotional events.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2nabvbm
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO-vB7WDZhEQ8U4YpC937ng
Thank you so much, Claire, for stopping by and sharing this story with us. I hope you have great success with it.
If you're visiting, please leave us a comment and let us know you've stopped by. We love to hear from our readers!
Snatching Dianna Feisty Lawyers Book 1
By Seelie Kay
Seelie will be giving away some great ebooks for this tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win one of the prize packages. You may find the tour locations here.
The hours are counting down as investigators try to prove that Dianna Murphy has been snatched. Unfortunately, without witnesses and solid evidence, all the police really know is that she is missing.
When suburban Milwaukee law student Dianna Murphy fails to connect with her roommate, there is no real evidence that she has been snatched. Until Law Professor Janet MacLachlan, a former covert agent, discovers a single clue, one that points to a taking by a slave trafficking cartel. In a race against time, Janet recruits her husband, secret agent Cade Matthews, small-town Police Chief David Manders and his wife, criminal defense attorney Julianna Constant, and other law students to uncover the truth. Can they prove she has been taken, before Dianna disappears without a trace?
Romantic Suspense (Three Flames)
Barnes and Noble: Coming soon
After what seemed like hours in the sweltering van, it lurched to a stop.
Dianna heard a man bark orders. A door to the van opened and someone pulled the rope from her feet, then removed her hood. She took a deep breath. A man grabbed her by the arm, forced to her feet, and pulled from the van. Dianna stumbled when she hit the ground. The stones were hot and her feet were covered by athletic socks, no shoes. Show no weakness.
Dianna immediately surveyed her surroundings. It was still night, but she was in a well-lit courtyard. A large stone mansion stood in front of her. She looked to her right, then her left. The courtyard was enclosed by a large stone fence, at least eight feet high. A fortress. Fortunately, Dianna was a rock-climber. She could rappel over the fence with the right equipment. All she would need was something to serve as a pick, maybe a rope. A knife, a screwdriver, even a fork. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready.
A large black man, dressed in a white suit and a maroon turban, walked out of the front door and down the stairs. He stopped and flashed a malevolent smile. He flung his arms wide and in a cultured baritone boomed, âWelcome to paradise, ladies. I hope you enjoy your stay.â
Some of the guards laughed.
âCrikey,â Tillie muttered. âSounds like a blasted genie.â
Dianna glanced sideways and for the first time, got a look at her new friend. She was tall and thin, her body well defined. She looked strong and aware, almost fierce. Her eyes seemed to be studying the place, taking everything in. She showed no fear. Instead, she seemed interested. Something was off. Tillie did not act like a victim as the others did. She was not cowed. Was she a cop? Or like Dianna, someone who would not permit themselves to be broken?
There was only one thing of which Dianna was certain. She had found a friend. A useful one.
About Seelie Kay:
Seelie Kay is a nom de plume for a writer, editor, and author with more than 30 years of experience in law, journalism, marketing, and public relations. When she writes about love and lust in the legal world, something kinky is bound to happen! In possession of a wicked pen and an overly inquisitive mind, Ms. Kay is the author of multiple works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, and The Presidentâs Wife.
When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.
Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please welcome back Laura Haley-McNeil with her book, Imagine The Kiss.
“I touched him!”
Honest, I’m not trying to be dirty, but let me start from the beginning.
Growing up, we had cousins who lived near Hollywood. My cousins were very savvy and always knew which movie sets and television shows needed extras. Often times, when we’d visit, my cousins would be on their way to a set. They knew what we needed to wear, etc., to be included in a scene. We’d be on the set all day, which kept us out of trouble. The production companies paid well and provided fabulous meals.
One time, we went to a set that starred an actor who wasn’t that well known. One of my cousins decided to have some fun. When the actor walked past us, she reached out and touched him, then turned to us and exclaimed, “I touched him.”
He turned and stared at her for several minutes, before walking away. During that time, I think my cousin wished she could melt into the floor. Afterwards, we all laughed hysterically about it. It took a while but eventually my cousin realized the entire incident was funny.
How’s that for an inciting incident for a young adult novel, which I don’t write, but I might!
That's so cute. I bet she did want to melt away. LOL
Tell us about Imagine The Kiss
Imagine the Kiss
Two people open themselves to the truth and open themselves to each other.
Her marriage in ruins, violinist Teagan Whitloch Munroe escapes into her music and the solace she finds at the Crystal Creek Ranch. Practicing in the woods helps her piece together her life, but she isn’t alone. When she hears someone hiking nearby, she demands he reveal himself, but the only revelation she gets is a soothing voice that heals the pain in her heart.
Maimed by a crushing accident, the once famous architect Phineas St. Cyr protects the world from his disfigurement by sequestering himself in the woods on the Crystal Creek Ranch. When he hears the intoxicating strains from Teagan’s violin, he can’t resist the beauty that quiets his aching soul, and he yearns to know the woman who creates such beauty.
Teagan finds sanctuary in her friendship with this connoisseur of music, but soon realizes Phin’s hiding more than his hideous scars. As they become entangled with each other, Teagan is stunned to learn they share more than a love of music. They are caught in a web of deceit by someone threatening to reveal Phin’s secrets. His exposed past endangers Teagan, and he can no longer walk away. This time he must face the enemy determined to defeat him. He’ll fight to the finish to protect the woman he can never love. No price is too high to keep buried the secret that will mark Teagan for destruction.
Teagan Whitloch Munroe was trembling. She was trembling, and she couldn’t stop. She’d been trembling for more than two hours—since she’d left the downtown Denver condominium she shared with her husband, Dr. Wilbert Munroe. What she’d seen inside the condo—in their bedroom—made her want to vomit. A cold knot of disgust and revulsion gripped her stomach.
When she’d walked into the master bedroom, she must’ve gasped. Will was lying on the bed, but he wasn’t alone. He’d lifted his head from the pillow. He looked right at her.
He didn’t look surprised. He looked annoyed.
She’d pressed a hand over her mouth.
Blinded by tears, she’d backed into the doorjamb and stumbled into the hallway. She didn’t remember running out of the condo, but she must have. Her legs throbbed, and her chest ached. The only thing she remembered was her husband calling her name. What had he said? Let’s talk? She didn’t know if she should laugh or sob.
And she remembered the dulcet laughter of the naked woman who was servicing him in bed. Teagan’s and Will’s bed. Teagan had thought Ginny Andrews was her friend.
Some friend. Ginny who was svelte and toned. A contrast to Teagan who’d struggled with her weight since she was seven years old.
A shuddering breath rocked through Teagan’s lungs. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She wiped them away.
She barely remembered driving to the Crystal Creek Ranch, throwing a saddle on her favorite horse, Champagne, and racing through the meadows until she reached the aspen forest covering Crystal Peak.
Fighting against the despair that filled her, she wrapped shaky fingers around the reins and urged the Arabian horse through the trees bursting with spring green leaves. Her vision blurred, and she tried to focus on the pink wild roses and purple elephant’s head mingling with the green undergrowth. The splashes of Crystal Creek tumbling over rocks sounded next to the trail. It was happy and musical and far from the darkness that crowded her heart. Her stomach roiled and begged to be emptied of the half sandwich she’d eaten during the orchestral rehearsal that afternoon.
She ran her hand over the horse’s neck damp from perspiration.
“How’re you doing, Champagne?” Her voice was husky, and she asked the question again.
The mare snorted. She shook her head. Her mane danced through the air before falling in soft waves about her neck.
“Did I run you too long?” She softened her tone. “I'm sorry. I had to get away. You’re lucky you’re a horse. You don’t have to worry about anyone breaking your heart.” Her voice cracked on the last word.
Her insides were shattered. She’d never heal, not after what she’d seen.
Fresh tears filled her eyes. The trees around her blurred. The sunshine pouring over her was warm but couldn’t melt the cold penetrating her chest.
She had thought coming to Crystal Creek would bring her peace.
She’d never find peace. Not when the image of Will pleasured by Ginny burned in her brain.
A branch cracked.
Her nerves jumped.
Fear sprang into her chest.
She looked around but saw no one. Had Will followed her? Was this his plan—talk to her in the middle of the forest? But how would he know she’d driven to Crystal Creek?
He’d know. She always went to the ranch when she needed to think things through or needed to escape the rat race of the city.
Champagne’s ears twisted, but the horse didn’t jerk. Instead, she tilted her head and stared through the trees as if she’d expected the sound.
Teagan turned in the saddle. “Will?”
“Hello?” she called out.
A breeze rustled through the branches. They swayed then stilled.
She peered through the boughs.
“Who are you? Tell me your name. I heard you. I know you’re here. Show yourself.” Her voice sounded thin and strained. She turned Champagne around.
The horse stepped like a ballerina over the flooring of pine needles and aspen leaves.
“Answer me,” she demanded.
“It wasn’t my intention to frighten you.” The voice was deep and rich and sent soothing warmth down her spine.
“I’m not frightened.” A swallow clicked in her throat. “I want to know who you are, and what you’re doing on my stepmother’s ranch. You’re trespassing, you know. Step into the clearing. I want to see you.”
Champagne stepped sideways, and Teagan listed in the saddle. She caught her breath and straightened. She patted the horse’s neck.
“It’s okay, girl.” She looked around. She needed to calm down. The horse was sensing her anxiety.
No one. No one appeared. No one spoke. The warmth she’d felt earlier slid away. Coldness wrapped around her.
“Hello? Are you still there?”
She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew this intruder had left. She urged Champagne forward. The horse pushed her nose against Teagan’s boot then took a reluctant step. Teagan peered through the trees. No human form appeared.
The intruder had left. She felt his absence the way she’d felt his presence. His presence was summer sun, his absence winter ice. He’d been near her and now he was gone, but she hadn’t heard him walk away.
As a violinist, she was tuned to sound. His voice had been pleasurable, a melting softness against her heart. It had been as pleasurable as the sounds coming from her violin. She wanted to hear him speak again. She wanted to capture his voice. She wanted to see his face.
She guided Champagne to the main trail that led back to the ranch house. She’d learn the identity of the forest wanderer. He must be familiar with the area. He’d slipped away too quickly not to know his way.
Occasionally, trespassers wandered onto the ranch, a massive acreage filled with meadows and brooks and rich green forests. The ranch was paradise, which was why she was riding her horse through woods colored with the first hint of spring. She’d find out about this trespasser.
Was he a trespasser? She dragged in a breath of the freshly-scented forest. Her heart thundered. This man knew the area. He’d disappeared without her seeing him.
An unnerving thought stirred in her mind. This wasn’t his first hike through the Crystal Creek woods. He knew the area well enough to avoid a face to face encounter with her. He didn’t want her to see him.
She had to know. She had to know what this man with the gentle but powerful voice had to hide.
* * *
Fool. That was the one word that described him—Phineas Bonham St. Cyr. He’d moved through the Crystal Creek woods often enough to avoid detection. But he’d been drawn to her. He’d heard her humming. The sadness in her voice was smooth and soft and felt as if velvet had brushed against his scarred skin.
The tune she’d hummed he’d heard before. What was it? A violin concerto. Mendelssohn, he thought. A concerto known for its melancholy, and its beauty. But it was her sweet voice that made him want to see this woman. Once he’d seen Teagan Whitloch Munroe, he’d recognized her instantly. Anyone who followed classical music would be familiar with this up and coming violinist who stroked the strings of her Stradivarius violin with artistic grace.
In his desire to see her, he’d been careless. He’d stepped on a twig and cracked it. She knew someone was near and she’d called out. “Show yourself,” she’d said. Would that he could. But had she’d seen him, the sadness in her voice would’ve turned to terror. She’d never have understood the deformed figure that would’ve stood before her.
Still, he couldn’t push out of his mind that wounded, demolished look in the most beautiful blue eyes he’d ever seen—startling blue fringed with thick, dark lashes.
If only he could know her, but he was a monster, a monster so badly disfigured no human being could bear his presence.
Wow, what a great excerpt. The story sounds very poignant. Let's see what we can find out about Laura.
A native of California, Laura Haley-McNeil spent her youth studying ballet and piano, though her favorite pastime was curling up with a good book. Without a clue as to how to write a book, she knew one day she would.
After college, she segued into the corporate world, but she never forgot her love for the arts and served on the board of two community orchestras. Finally realizing that the book she’d dreamt of writing wouldn’t write itself, she planted herself in front of her computer. She now immerses herself in the lives and loves of her characters in her romantic suspense and her contemporary romance novels. Many years later, she lived her own romantic novel when she married her piano teacher, the love of her life.
Though she and husband have left warm California for cooler Colorado, they enjoy the outdoor life of hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and snow skiing. They satisfy their love of music by attending concerts and hanging out with their musician friends, but Laura still catches a few free moments when she can sneak off and read.
Thank you, Laura, for stopping by and visiting with your book. I look forward to reading it and I hope you have wonderful success with it.
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