Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bluebonnet, Texas

With: Amie Stuart

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It's release day!!! I'm so excited.

Believe it or not, the Bluebonnet series has actually been around for a long time. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I wrote the first draft of The Cowgirl Rides Away more than ten years ago (and getting it in shape for prime time so many years after the fact has given new meaning to the phrase Revision Hell…trust me on this). I epubbed the second book in the series (Once In a Blue Moon) in 2005, then wrote some more Bluebonnet stories. And then life got in the way and they got set aside while I published other books and then…I had teenagers (do I need to explain this one?) and took a long break from writing …whew! It's GOOD to be back. 

Seriously, you have no idea how good it is to get back to my roots and get back to writing small town contemporaries (and hearing voices in my head)! I'll actually be putting out FOUR Bluebonnet, Texas books (that's three novels and one novella) and at least 2 more Bluebonnet books next year. 

But here's the problem…you know those voices I mentioned? Well, this isn't the only series I want to work on. It's not even the only small town series I want to work on. I know, I know, don't tell the Boudreauxes. They'll I'm thinking of cheating. I'd hate to hurt someone's feelings but these towns pop up out of nowhere and it's like everyone has a brother! And cousins....lawd the cousins! 

I swear that I'm not one of those authors who writes a series just because readers like 'em. I write 'em, cause I like 'em, too! I like playing in that same world with my friends…er characters *cough*, I like catching up and visiting the new babies and, well, … you get the picture. 

In the mean time, here's a peek at THE COWGIRL RIDES AWAY. On sale now—free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers: 

Las Vegas, Nevada

"So…you finally decided to wake up?"

I looked up into eyes the same pale blue as mine, my brother’s eyes, and blinked, trying to push past the drug and pain induced fog. I inhaled through my nose then winced, groaning deep in my throat.

"Yeah, that’s broken, too."

"Hurt," I croaked. My nose was broken. 

"What the hell did you expect, Jessa?" Jace frowned at me, then moved out of my line of vision. I blinked again and slowly turned my head, watching him pour water into a small plastic cup. Suddenly I realized just how thirsty I was. Jace held the straw to my lips and I drank. A gasp of air set more pain radiating through my chest to all extremities. 

"What happened?"

"Duster’s Twister kicked your ass."

Talk about a bad draw. I sighed and sifted through my thoughts a minute, trying to remember, filter and take stock. Trying to orient my new reality with memories and impressions, but the last thing I could remember was me in the chute on Duster’s Twister’s back, adrenaline coursing through my veins as I raised my free arm and gave the ready nod. 

"How long ago? How long have I been out, Jace?" I rasped after taking another painful sip of water.

"You’ve been in and out, mostly out, for a couple of days."


“The Cowgirl Rides Away is one woman’s journey  to find herself after every gauge, every tool—” Wait, that makes me sound like a mechanic. My name is JESSALYN STRATTON.  I’m the only female World Saddle Bronc Champion in PRA history.  Rodeo is an unforgiving sport, and living in a man’s world makes you tough-as-nails, makes you forget how to be a woman.  Then, if you’re lucky, someone special comes along and reminds you why you’re glad to be one.

And make no mistake, ZACK BOUDREAUX was special.  An old-fashioned man who believed in love and loyalty and wanted someone who felt the same, old-fashioned enough to wish for a virgin.  I qualified on all fronts.  And maybe the internet wasn’t a bad place for a woman who’d never had a real relationship to stick her toe in the water.

An artist who also came from a large ranching family, Zack also felt like the odd man out among his siblings, and his emails were the only bright spots in my life as I struggled through rehab.  He was a deep thinker and I found it easy to open up to him, sharing things I’d never told a living soul, not even my best friend.  Eventually, Zack issued an open invitation for me to visit, wanting to discover if we had something beyond our emails and eventually, I said yes.

About the author:
Amie Stuart is the last of a dying breed, a native Texan, and still makes her home there, where cowboys and music (her other two loves) abound. Growing up, she wanted to be a lawyer and a psychologist. No doubt the shrinks would have a field day with her head, but she's seen the error of her ways and considers all those other jobs 'research' for the writing gig. 

She's a multiple contest finalist as well as a trained contest judge and is affectionately know as The Terminator by her critique partners. She's written as CELIA STUART for Black Lace Books, & Liquid Silver Books, and as AMIE STUART for Kensington Aphrodisia, she has a short story (PEACHES 'N CREAM) in Zane's CARMEL FLAVA 2, and launched Cobblestone Press's new short erotica line,Wicked.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Coming face-to-face with an ex-lover…

Don’t we all have a memory tucked away of someone we once loved, or someone we just might have fallen in love with if the circumstances had been right? And what would happen if we came face-to-face with that person today? Would the magic still be there? Would our hands tremble, our knees knock together just the way they did back then? Or would we just stare, appalled, wonder how we could once have been so silly.

For me, the idea of meeting up with a romantic ex was just intriguing enough to write about. And so, Felicity Powers came to life. She’s a strong, determined woman, just the sort who fights for what she wants. And she wants Marek Sumner to fall in love with her. And because he’s a smart guy, a romantic, he realizes how wonderful his life will be with Felicity in it.

But love doesn’t solve everything, and that’s the problem. If the relationship is going to work, it will mean sacrifice. Too much compromise. Marek wants security, a family; Felicity wants adventure. So, after living together for almost two years, the love story is over.

Well…in a way it’s over. Because, even after years of separation, Felicity has never forgotten Marek. She has spent her life as a foreign aid worker, has been in danger countless times, has done exactly what she set out to do, but she knows Marek was the love of her life. And because she’s a fighter, she’s going to see if their relationship can start all over again.

What does Marek think? Sure he’s never forgotten Felicity. Sure it’s great to see her again. Sure she looks wonderful. And sexy. And exciting. But start over? All these years later? Risk having his heart broken again? He’s older and wiser now. Too smart for all the turbulence and drama. But that’s definitely not how Felicity sees things.

So let’s go to the moment when Marek and Felicity come face-to-face again after all those years. Let’s see if the magic is still there…


He didn’t look in her direction, not even once, Felicity saw. If he’d looked up, he probably wouldn’t even have noticed her anyway, half-hidden, as she was, behind the bookshelves. Fading into the scenery, she sneered at herself.
   All his attention was directed toward the people he spoke with. He’d always managed to do that: give his all to whomever he was with at the moment, as if what they had to say was of utmost importance. He was really classy looking. Elegant in that sports jacket, in those dark gray, beautifully cut trousers. His glasses underlined the intelligence in his face. Even over this distance, the influence he was having on her was astounding—and it had nothing to do with the past. Admit it! Didn’t she now have the answer to the question that had been plaguing her for so long?
   Would he still have the same effect on you now that he had before?
   She felt as if she’d been thrust into a dangerous, highly volatile, situation. Cool down, Felicity. He has a wife here somewhere.
   Fine laugh lines crinkled around the green of his eyes. His mouth was resolute, impatient. A curl of salt and pepper hair had tumbled over his forehead, and she’d have given just about anything in the world to have the courage to go over, touch it, brush it back. You don’t have the right to do that anymore! You gave up that right a long time ago.
   Still, the thought didn’t stop the tingle in her fingers, the desire to reach out. He had aged. Of course he had. But he’d done it wonderfully. He glowed. Whereas she was looking like she’d just managed to crawl out of the swamp. She’d better get out of here. And fast. Before anyone noticed her, weak coward that she was. Besides, wasn’t it better to leave a dream intact? The dream of the wonderful things that would happen if she and Marek came face to face again after all this time. That was only a dream. A real encounter would destroy everything, all the illusions. Is that what she wanted? Of course not.
   So what did she want? She knew now—now that she’d seen him again. She wanted to know he loved her. Still. She wanted him to desire her madly. She wanted to be with him, skin against skin, his beautiful mouth on hers, telling her it wasn’t too late. That the intervening years had been as empty for him as they had been for her. Her heart thudded with the violence of her hopes. Fool!
   Was she going to make a run for it? Yes? No? Of course not. She couldn’t.
   There was a temporary lull around the table. Marek bent to sign a book.
Move! Felicity shoved herself out of her hiding place. If only her legs didn’t feel as weak as wet noodles. How, in heaven’s name, did you cross a room on noodles?
   If only he didn’t look so…so beautiful. Yes, that’s what he was. Absolutely beautiful—but then, he always had been. Sexy as hell!
“Hi.” Brilliant starter, Felicity! That should impress him all right.
   Hi? The hand on the page he was signing, stopped. He didn’t move, didn’t look up. Not immediately. What was going on? What was he thinking?
A few seconds passed—just a few seconds while reason fought with hope in her heart. She braced herself…
Then, so very slowly, he raised his eyes. “Felicity?”
   Stunned surprise tugged at her heart. He’d recognized her voice. After all this time.
“I must be dreaming,” he said softly. “This isn’t possible.” He straightened, shook his head in wonderment, stared at her as if she were a ghost. “But here you are. Felicity Powers.” 
   She stared back more boldly now, searching his face just the same way he was searching hers. Looking for messages.
   Then, he was moving. Was on her side of the table. Reaching out, pulling her into his embrace as if time had never intervened. She enlaced him, melted against him. Closing her eyes, she wished time could stop, leave her here forever. Here, where she belonged.
   Holding tightly in a world containing only the two of them, the noise of the crowd receded, became a vague murmur, the sigh of a distant wind.
Until he finally managed to let her go. Stepping back, he looked slightly abashed.
“Your husband is going to have something to say about a hug like that.” His voice was almost light, teasing. Almost. Had the word “husband” bothered him? She hoped so.
“No husband. I’ve been divorced for ages.” What did she see on his face? Surprise? Pleasure? She’d been right. He had minded. Then she told herself to cut out the dreaming. Swallowing, shaking her head slowly, she sank down in the depths of his green gaze. “Your wife will mind, though.”
“No wife.”
“But I read—” She stopped, stared up.
“Ex-wife.” His smile was faint. “A long time ago too.”
He was divorced! Free! The news shook her, leaving her stunned. Instantly it was as if a bright light had snapped on allowing life to take on colors she’d never seen before.

Felicity’s Power
By J. Arlene Culiner
Contemporary Romance from The Wild Rose Press

San Francisco, 1971: hippies in the streets, music and revolution in the air. The evening Marek Sumner opened his door to the wild-looking Felicity Powers, he knew nothing would ever be the same again. But even love and passion couldn’t keep them together. 

Forty-three years later, having lived in the world’s most dangerous places as a foreign aid worker, Felicity is back, still offering him love, passion, and adventure. But why would Marek risk having his heart broken a second time? Now a well-known author, he loves his calm, solitary life in an isolated farmhouse. He and Felicity are just too different; their relationship could never work. 

But Felicity is just as fascinating and joyful as ever, and that wonderful sexy magic is still there too. As for love, perhaps it’s even deeper and more delightful the second time around.

Author’s Biography
Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone's dismay, she protects all living creatures — especially spiders and snakes — and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve. 

In her perfectly realistic contemporary romances, heroines are funny, and heroes are dashingly lovable. All are proudly over the age of forty.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nice Girls Don't Ride

With: Roni Loren

Giveaway Alert!


Natalie Bourne thinks she has the perfect night planned for her twenty-first birthday. But when her car breaks down and her boyfriend bails on her, she’s left stranded in an auto shop dealing with a way too cocky, way too hot mechanic, who seems to be intent on pushing every button she has.

Monroe Hawkins knows he shouldn’t be messing with a girl from the uppity private college. Especially when he can tell she sees him as the help. But he’s having trouble resisting the redhead with the smart mouth and the killer legs. So when Natalie’s night goes from bad to worse, there’s no way he’s letting her spend her birthday alone. He makes her a deal—he’ll take her home but not until the sun comes up.

Ten hours, one motorcycle, and the city of Austin at their fingertips…things are about to take a major detour. And soon, there may be no U-turn in sight.

Purchase links:
Barnes & Noble:

Chapter One

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, dear . . .

I groan and lean back against the guardrail, shielding my eyes from the piercing sunlight. How exactly should I finish that?

Girl who currently smells like sweat and roadkill?

Girl about to go broke paying for this mess?

Girl whose boyfriend will not answer his goddamned phone?

My fingers move over the screen as I text Caleb again. Where r u???

I stare at my phone, willing a response out of it, but the screen goes black before there’s any answering ding. Caleb had warned me that he was going to be cutting it close for our date tonight. And I know his internship at the local campaign office sometimes runs late when they’re prepping for a rally, but he should be out by now.

My fingers move over the screen again. R U secretly Superman in ur off hours? Come on, u can tell me. If ur saving the world, I’ll understand.

Of course, there’s still no response. And now my neck is prickling with not just sweat but anxiety. What if something happened to him? What if he was in an accident? What if—?

I stop myself before the thoughts spiral, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. Cool it, Nat. But that little exercise only gets me a lungful of the dead skunk that’s roasting in the heat a few yards away from me on the side of the highway. Blech. I press my fingers over my mouth, fighting a wave of nausea.

I check the clock on my phone for what seems like the hundredth time. The roadside-assistance lady said they would contact a local garage and get me a tow right away. But it’s been over an hour, and the only cars that have passed by have either ignored me or sent catcalls flying my way. Because, of course, my piece-of-crap car had to break down when I’m all dressed up in a low-cut dress and heels for my birthday dinner. Yay for timing.

One guy had at least offered to help and had seemed nice enough, but I’ve seen how those horror movies end. Girl on the side of the road accepts help from a seemingly harmless stranger, only to have her organs carved out later that night. No, thanks.

Author Bio:
Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. 

If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. She is the National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat. 

Places to find Roni Loren:

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Make Every Minute Count

Congratulations to "Laney4" the winner in Beth's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I think our lives are little bit like our brains… You know the little fact about how we only use 10% of that gray matter? In my life, sometimes it seems like I’m only using 10% of my time. I make a goal, intending to keep it, then find myself distracted by so many alternate activities!

Have you caught yourself on Facebook recently? Or Twitter? Or Pinterest? Or Tumblr? What about Instagram? See what I mean? It’s a sticky web out there. You don’t have to be a writer to understand it. You can totally be a reader, too…or a parent, or an employee. :D Sometimes that television show is too tempting! Or that trip to the coffee shop with friends is long over-due. 

As a reader, I’ve been lucky enough to have found a great series, and in the past week, I’ve read more than I’ve written. Maybe that’s okay, but the truth is, if I’d been writing inside all those minutes that seem too short to bother with, I might have done both.

So this year, I made a pact with myself…. MAKE EVERY MINUTE COUNT.

Five minutes before the carpool? Sit and write—and then take the laptop with me.
Twenty minutes left while the baby sleeps? Sit and write.
An hour after everyone’s in bed? Sit and write.

Even if my goal was to read more, crochet, paint, go to school, or clean my house, I would still need to squeeze it in between all the other important stuff—6 kids, 1 husband, a million housewife chores, errands, bills…the list goes on. If I don’t make every minute count, I lose.

Life is short; make every minute count!

With Love,
Kevin and Valerie
Growing up the proverbial military brat, Valerie Standish has shed her old ways. Yet, she’s been around long enough to recognize that familiar arrogance when Kevin Morgan walks through the door. This time she is drawn to the persistent captain like she hasn’t been to any man before, making it harder to keep her promise—never get involved with an officer. 

Kevin doesn’t have a problem with her unwillingness to commit long term. He isn’t quite ready to settle either. For years, he’s worked hard to earn a promotion to Major. He wants one last fling before tying himself to a wife for the rest of his life. 

But time proves them both liars as they begin to fall for each other. Neither is prepared for the ache of betrayal as they come face to face with the truth about one another. 

Will either of them be able to walk away unscathed or have the trenches of love already been dug? 

Zack and Lena

An Army doctor, Lena Rodriguez has always been too busy with school or the Army for romance. But the letters she received during deployment have captured her heart. Back home for the holidays, she awaits Christmas morning to meet the man who has turned her life upside down.

When Zack Benson watched his best friend's sister Lena leave for Afghanistan, he knew he had to tell her he loved her. So he sent her anonymous love letters. Now that she’s home, he realizes he's made a tactical error. Lena has fallen for the man in those letters but still thinks of him as a brother. He has to convince her otherwise because if he succeeds, he’ll get the best Christmas present ever. But if he fails, he could lose her for good.

Morgan and Samantha 
Samantha Hollister is done relying on other people to take care of—or abuse—her. Her ex-husband is out of the picture now…like her family home, the haven she intended to seek. Her father just sold it to her high-school sweetheart, the man who abandoned her many years ago for the army. The man who still makes her heart flutter. But Samantha has vowed to never be led astray again. She has a daughter. 

Despite being injured in action, Morgan Lawrence lives life to the fullest. Each day is a gift, and after five years he is finally one step away from opening a resort for wounded veterans like himself. Unfortunately, a woman stands in his way. And while she has changed, Samantha remains everything he’s ever wanted. Now it’s a matter of helping her see which promises are meant to be broken, and that being strong doesn’t mean one has to fight alone. 

Beth Rhodes is a wife, mother, friend, and lover. She lives with her Army husband and their six children at the base of the mountains in Colorado. She loves the cold, coffee, camping, and sunshine. 

Her stories are full of life, family, and love. You can find her reading just about any genre of romance, but her favorites are fast-paced suspense, where life is on the line and love is the only saving grace. She wants a book that makes her heart pound and her pulse race. 

Beth is a member of Romance Writers of America, Pikes Peak Romance Writers, Colorado Romance Writers. She is signed with Entangled Publishing and Boroughs Publishing Group, but loves to self-publish, too. For more news about up-coming releases, giveaways, and just plain stuff, SIGN UP for her newsletter

Find her online! Drop her a line because she loves to hear from readers. And don’t forget to enter to win the $20 Amazon Gift Card and one of her books.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Do the Voices in my Head Bother You?

With: Alexia Adams

Congratulations to "Shanon R.", the winner of Alexia's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I have children. Lots of children. So more than once I’ve been woken by the words, “Mommy, I wet my bed…” or “Mommy, I don’t feel good,” (quickly followed by heaving noises). But prior to becoming a writer I’d never been woken by a voice in my ear saying, “Write my story next. I deserve love, too.” But that’s what happened after I finished Played by the Billionaire. Helen Winston, a secondary character in that story woke me one morning demanding that I write a romance for her. His Billion-Dollar Dilemma was conceived.

Helen presented some challenges to write, which is why at first I didn’t think to write a follow-on story starring her. In Played by the Billionaire, she was a frumpy-dressed, mild-mannered woman who had a massive crush on Liam, the hero in the original story. However when Liam met Lorelei that avenue of romance came to a crashing halt. How could I change Helen into a heroine who would catch the eye of a billionaire Indulgence hero? I had to provide a catalyst that would propel Helen out of her comfort zone and make her take on the world—more specifically, the hero’s portion of the world. 

I knew Helen was a sweet soul who put others before herself, so that provided the spark. I made the hero threaten not only her job but her colleagues and friends livelihoods. Enter Simon, corporate pirate, about to destroy the company Helen works for. As chief design engineer she takes on the task of convincing him that keeping the company intact will be more profitable than slicing and dicing it. To do so, she has to transform from a geeky engineer to intriguing ingĂ©nue. Yup, Simon’s about to meet his match. However it’s Helen’s secret that really draws them together. And thus a romance is born. Here’s how the final story played out:

Never judge a geek by her cover...

Simon Lamont is an ice-cold corporate pirate. He buys companies, strips them of their assets, and moves on. With money. Lots and lots of money. But when he arrives in San Francisco to acquire a floundering company and is accosted by a cute engineer with fire in her eyes, it takes all Simon has to maintain his legendary cool. 

Helen Winston has mastered hiding behind geeky clothes and an obsessive dedication to her job. So what’s with her desire for the arrogant—and sexy as sin—Simon Lamont? He may have only been wearing a towel when they met, but he’s planning to destroy her company, and Helen will do whatever it takes to change his mind. If that means becoming the sexy woman Simon didn't know he wanted, so be it. If only she wasn’t about to walk into her own trap...

I’ve now gotten used to my characters talking to me. It’s when I talk back that my husband starts to worry. But if it turns into a great romance story, then it’s all good in the end as far as I’m concerned. Do the characters in any of the books you read ever invade your head?

I will be gifting a $5 Amazon gift card to one random commenter. 


Never judge a geek by her cover...

Simon Lamont is an ice-cold corporate pirate. He buys companies, strips them of their assets, and moves on. With money. Lots and lots of money. But when he arrives in San Francisco to acquire a floundering company and is accosted by a cute engineer with fire in her eyes, it takes all Simon has to maintain his legendary cool. 

Helen Winston has mastered hiding behind geeky clothes and an obsessive dedication to her job. So what’s with her desire for the arrogant—and sexy as sin—Simon Lamont? He may have only been wearing a towel when they met, but he’s planning to destroy her company, and Helen will do whatever it takes to change his mind. If that means becoming the sexy woman Simon didn't know he wanted, so be it. If only she wasn’t about to walk into her own trap...

Available from April 14 at all online book retailers, including:

Entangled  | Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Alexia Adams Author Info:
Alexia once traveled the world, meeting new people, experiencing new sights and tastes. She’s lived in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, and France, as well as spent time in Panama and Russia. When life demanded that she stay rooted in one place, she took to vicarious voyages through the characters she created in her romance novels. Her stories reflect her love of travel and feature locations as diverse as the wind-swept prairies of Canada to hot and humid cities in Asia. To discover other books written by Alexia or read her blog on inspirational destinations, Journey to Love at and sign up for her newsletter to keep up-to-date with new books and adventures.

Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: 

His Billion Dollar Dilemma (a Guide to Love novel): 
Miss Guided (a Guide to Love novella):  
Played by the Billionaire (a Guide to Love novel):  
An Inconvenient Love:  
An Inconvenient Desire 
Singapore Fling

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST April 17th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rescued By The Rancher


Starting over and starting a whole lotta trouble...

Meredith Anderson left her difficult past behind to create a new life for herself in Tall Pines - where she can be the independent, confident woman she always dreamed of being. Now she's a partner in her sister's wedding planning business, helping brides realize their happily-ever-afters...even as she promises herself to never fall in love.

Meredith's sweetness and vulnerability brings out the protective side of rancher Gage Mackenzie - even though their worlds are miles apart. All it takes is one night for desire to take hold of them both, a sizzling encounter that can only lead to the promise of more. But Meredith isn't looking for more, and even if she was, Gage is set to leave Tall Pines behind him...


Gage Mackenzie was a dead man.

Or he would be by the time this night was over. The person who was slowly, painfully, killing him was perched on the barstool next to him—Meredith Anderson. His best friend’s sister-in-law was the one woman in the entire bar he couldn’t have, and she happened to be the only woman he’d wanted this last year. She had no idea the effect she had on him.

Instead, she was sporting a giddy smile that held not an ounce of desire in it as she twirled in her seat to face him. Her manicured hands were splayed wide on the wooden counter and she spun like a kid who’d never been allowed to sit on a swivel chair in her entire life. “I can’t believe I’m finally at the Horseshoe tonight with all of you.

It was so nice of the boys to invite me along.”

Gage bit down hard with his back teeth, stifling his comments, and then took a long swallow of the icy beer he was holding. By “boys” Meredith meant the ranch hands at the Tall Pines ranch, and their invitation was clearly given because one of those idiots thought he stood a chance with Meredith. Gage was here to ensure that wouldn’t happen.

He’d been called many things in his life, but chaperone was a first.

If he couldn’t have her, no way in hell was he letting one of them have her. And it was that very line of thinking that was killing him. He and Meredith could never be together. She needed someone nice and stable. She didn’t need a one-night stand with some young, overconfident cowboy. Again, this shouldn’t be bothering him.

Since when did he care who a woman went home with?

Since Meredith had fallen into his arms at the Tall Pines last winter.

“Don’t you think, Gage?”

Gage focused on her green eyes. Rich, deep emerald-colored, with a soul to them that pulled at him, rattled him.

Every time he was with Meredith he wanted to know the real her, the woman she was before she came to Tall Pines. He wanted to know the woman under the perfect facade, beneath the impeccable manners and the gorgeous smile. He wanted to know her in a way that he’d never wanted to know anyone before. And that very desire should have sent him running. Instead it made him protective. A part of him worried that she was still fragile, that there was still that vulnerable woman that he met last year. So it was his duty to make sure no one ever hurt Meredith again, including him, which meant he needed to keep his mind off his irrational need to find out more about her, and his sexual need to—

Find Victoria James on:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Dare to Hold
Carly Phillips Dare to Hold 4/14/2015

Dare to Hold CoverSome women always get it right. Kindergarten teacher, Meg Thompson, on the other hand, consistently makes the wrong decisions — and she is currently single, pregnant and alone. Meg is determined to make changes in her life, to be a better mother than her own had been. No revolving door of men. No man, period. Just a single-minded focus on her baby. Her resolution would be easier to keep if not for hot cop, Scott Dare. He insinuates himself in her life, making Meg want to believe in happily ever after, even if history has taught her to know better. 

When Scott Dare hears Meg’s friends are determined she have a night of hot sex, before her life changes forever, he decides that man must be him. Their one night is mind blowing and life altering. And Scott, a man already burned by his ex-wife, finds himself all in anyway. While protecting Meg from her violent ex and becoming part of her increasingly complicated life, he’s falling hard and he can’t seem to find distance. Not when their bodies respond to each other with such heated intensity and he’s drawn to her unique combination of strength and vulnerability. 
But Meg’s future is one Scott has accepted he’ll never have, even if his growing feelings say otherwise …  


Some women always managed to get it right. To make the right choices, to pick the right man, to nail this crazy thing called life. Meg Thompson, on the other hand, managed to end up single and pregnant. But she couldn’t regret the baby growing inside her, and from now on, she was determined to get things right.

She pulled on her favorite pair of jeans, tugged them up over her hips, and unsuccessfully attempted to close the button. She grunted and lay down on the bed, pulling the sides closer together but no luck. She wriggled, sucked in a deep breath, and tried again, only to end up huffing out a stream of air in frustration.

“Didn’t these fit just last weekend?” she asked herself, peeling the denim off her legs and tossing them onto the floor with a groan.

She glanced down at her still-flat stomach, placing her hand over her belly. “How could something I can’t see or feel cause so much upheaval in my life?” And how could she love the baby growing inside her so much already?

A vibrating buzz told her someone was sending her a message. She checked her phone.
Lizzy: Almost ready?

Meg sighed. Her best friend, Elizabeth Cooper, was due to pick her up in ten minutes. Girls’ night out. Or, in Lizzy’s words, hookup night and Meg’s last chance for a hot, no-holds-barred fling before she started to show and her sole focus became being a new mom. Meg was up for girls’ night, but no way would she be picking up a stranger for a one-night stand. Her days of choosing the wrong men were over. Mike was the last in a long line of sucky choices. So not only didn’t she trust her judgment when it came to the opposite sex, it no longer mattered. She was finished relying on men to define her or make her happy.
“Right, baby?” She patted her belly and headed to her closet for a pair of elastic-waist leggings.
*     *     *
Meg and her friends settled into their seats at Mel’s, a popular spot for casual drinks after work and on the weekends. Mel’s was a dimly lit bistro with a wood-fired oven and grill in the back, dark mahogany-looking tables throughout, and a funky bar where people gathered. Meg loved it here.

She waved to the waiter, who stepped over to their table.

“What can I get you ladies?”

The girls ordered alcoholic drinks, and the good-looking waiter turned to Meg.

“I’ll have a club soda. With a lime.”

“Going for the hard stuff, I see.” He winked and scribbled down her order.

Meg smiled. “Designated driver.” Which wasn’t a lie. Lizzy might have picked her up, but Meg would be the one driving home.

She glanced around at the women she’d ignored for a long time in favor of her asshole ex and, unfortunately, her baby daddy. She was grateful these women were here for her now because Meg had a bad habit of dropping friends in favor of men. Men she looked to for the love and acceptance she’d never received from her own father she barely remembered. Meg sighed and rested her chin on her hands. Her childhood memories included a string of Alicia’s boyfriends who came and went from her young life.

Her mother had set a pattern Meg unconsciously followed. First she’d latched on to Dylan Rhodes, the one and only good guy in her life. He’d been her high school boyfriend and her rock until they broke up before going to college, and then Meg began emulating her mother’s taste by choosing men who always took advantage one way or another.

Luckily she and Dylan had reconnected when they’d moved back to Miami years later, but Meg had over-relied on Dylan instead of standing on her own two feet. It took Dylan falling hard for another woman to wake Meg up to her too-needy ways. Dylan was her friend, but he was now Olivia Dare’s husband. And Meg was determined to be independent. Everything the way it should be.

“Earth to Meg.” Lizzy waved a hand in front of her eyes.

Meg blinked, startled. “Sorry. Just got lost there for a minute.”

“Nowhere good, from the look on your face.” Lizzy tilted her head to one side, her long blonde curls falling over her shoulder. “Everything okay?” Her friend studied her, her brown eyes soft and concerned.

Meg smiled. “Couldn’t be better. I was actually thinking about the changes I’ve made—that I’m determined to keep making in my life. And it’s really good to be out with you guys,” Meg said, meaning it.

“It’s great to be out with you too,” Lizzy said.

The waiter stopped by the table and passed out their beverages. Meg took a long sip of her cold soda, appreciating the way it eased her dry throat.

“Well, you must be doing something right because you’re glowing,” Lizzy said.

“It’s the pregnancy hormones,” Meg muttered.

“No, seriously. You look beautiful,” her friend insisted.

Meg smiled at her. “Thank you.”

Allie Mendez, the office secretary and the third woman in their posse, slipped her cell into her purse and leaned closer to join the conversation. “Maybe I should get myself pregnant, because Lizzy’s right. You’re gorgeous.”

Meg blushed. “And you two need glasses.”

“Not if the guys at the next table are any indication. Look. The blond one can’t take his eyes off you!” Lizzy said, her voice rising in excitement.

Oh no. All Lizzy needed was a target and she’d be aiming Meg his way all night. “I’m sure he’s looking at one of you. Not the pregnant woman in the elastic-waist pants.” Lizzy and her blonde beauty or Allie and her olive skin and luscious curves attracted men wherever they went.

“You must not have looked in a mirror before leaving the house,” Allie told her, a frown on her pretty face.

“Oh, look! He’s coming this way. Now remember. There’s nothing wrong with getting yourself some before your life gets serious.” Lizzy nudged her arm.

“I don’t want some,” Meg muttered. “If he’s so hot, you should—”

“Hi, ladies,” the man said, bracing an arm on the back of Meg’s chair.

“Hi!” Lizzy said too brightly.

“My friends and I would like to buy you all a drink.” He spoke to the table, but his eyes were on Meg.

She shook her head. “We were just having a private convers—”

“We’d like that,” Allie chimed in.

“Mind if we join you then?” he asked, making Meg wonder if he was dense, oblivious, or just that ego-driven.

In response, Lizzy slid her chair away from Meg, making room for the other man to sit. Which, after grabbing his chair and pulling it over to the table, he did. His pals joined them too.

Meg shot her friend an annoyed look.

“Give him a chance,” Lizzy mouthed behind the man’s back.

Rob, Mark, and Ken, they said their names were, as conversation began to flow. Ken was the one closest to Meg, and with his light hair and coloring, he definitely resembled his Barbie-doll namesake. Even if she were interested in a hookup, a preppy man who liked to talk about himself wouldn’t be her choice. She disliked his wandering hands even more.

He brushed her back.

She stiffened.

He sat forward so their shoulders touched. She shoved her chair in the opposite direction.
Somehow he ended up close beside her again, his thigh touching hers.

She was all too ready to go home, but her friends seemed to like the guys they were talking to, and she didn’t want to ruin their time by being rude to Ken. She wouldn’t leave with him, but she’d be pleasant while they were here.

“So what do you do for a living?” he asked.

“I’m a kindergarten teacher.”

He blinked, long lashes framing green eyes. “That’s … brave.”

“Don’t like kids?” she asked, none too sweetly.

He fake-shuddered. “Not for a good long while. But you must have a decent pension plan?” he asked, back on the subject he liked best. Ken was a stockbroker and investor, and soon she found herself listening to all the ways she could save more money by investing with the best of the best. Him, of course.

She hid a yawn behind her hand, and when her bladder informed her she needed a trip to the restroom, she nearly groaned out loud in relief.

“If you’ll excuse me, I need to go … freshen up. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Meg rose and Ken followed, helping her pull out her chair.

Allie met her gaze. “Gentleman,” she mouthed in approval.

Meg swallowed a groan.

“I’ll be waiting,” Ken said as she walked away.

“Oh, please don’t be,” she said to herself, making her way to the bathroom at the far back of the restaurant.

She spent a long time in the restroom, checking her phone, swiping some gloss on her dry lips, and washing her hands, twice, in her effort to stall returning to the table.

When she did, she paused by Lizzy’s chair and whispered in her friend’s ear. “I’m going to bail. I’m not up to this. I’m really sorry. Will you be okay driving?”

“Of course. I barely had a sip. But I can leave and take you home.”

She shook her head. “No need. You seem to be hitting it off with Mark. I can get Uber,” she said of the car service in most cities, including Miami.

“I’d be happy to drive you,” Ken said.

She hadn’t realized he’d left his seat and had overheard them.

“No, really. Stay and have fun. I’m just not feeling too well.” Which was a lie, but it was nicer than go away, I’m not interested.

Which was ironic, since not too long ago, Meg would have been all too willing to see where things went with a guy who showed her any interest at all. Maybe the baby really was changing her, making her more self-reliant and aware as well as giving her better taste in men.

“Then you really shouldn’t go home alone,” Ken said, grasping her forearm.

Oh no, he didn’t. She pinned him with an annoyed glare. “Let. Go.” And what was it about her that attracted assholes anyway? she asked herself, as she tried to extricate herself without resorting to insults or calling management.

Lizzy jumped up from her seat just as the jerk released her arm, and a familiar voice reverberated in her ear.

“Touch her again and you’ll answer to me.”

About Carly Phillips: New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels that today's readers identify with and enjoy. After a successful 15 year career with various New York publishing houses, Carly is making the leap to Indie author, with the goal of giving her readers more books at a faster pace at a better price. Her Serendipity books will still finish up in January/February 2014 via Berkley as planned. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She's a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she's a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find all information about Carly at her website and other social media sites ...
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