Saturday, April 20, 2019

MATCH MADE IN MONACO

With: Shana Gray

Giveaway and FREE book alert!

Hi everyone!

I’m thrilled to be here and give you an excerpt and tell you a little bit about my newest release A MATCH MADE IN MONACO. It’s the final, in the 4 book series GIRLS WEEKEND AWAY. This time we’re jetting off to Monaco for a wedding. I won’t tell you who’s wedding, because that would be a spoiler. This is Fredi and Zayn’s story, but all the girls and their sexy men are back together to celebrate the big day.

Check out my contest info after the excerpt!

Fredi peered through the old glass panes when she heard the sound of tires crunching on the driveway and saw a sleek, very sporty car emerge from between the trees.

She left the greenhouse and shut the door behind her. The top was down on the sports car and Zayn looked very enticing behind the wheel. That damn earlier flutter in her belly came back with a vengeance. It was one thing to see him on the screen of a movie theater or her laptop, but in person? Whew. When he spotted her, the look of delight on his face gave Fredi a little thrill. She tried to hide it behind a poker face. Stones crunched and flew from beneath the wheels as he pulled to a stop in front of her. Fredi stared down at him and, for the briefest moment, liked the little flutter inside her.

But here he was, the man behind the phone, tablet and silver screen. He looked totally dashing in his car, like an old-style movie star, handsome, mysterious. His skin was deeply tanned, his dark hair windblown, and a pair of very stylish and obviously expensive pewter-colored sunglasses shielded his eyes. But it was his smile that made her almost melt into a puddle – which surprised the hell out of her – a smile she grudgingly accepted she’d been eager to see in real life.

She had just reached for the handle of the passenger side door when he hopped from the car and swept her into a bear hug, before pulling back and kissing her cheeks in greeting. She barely had time to register the feeling of his body, hard, warm and solid, against hers before he was opening the door for her.

“You look absolutely gorgeous, as to be expected. Hop into my chariot, ma chérie.”

Fredi felt slightly stunned as she gazed at this sexy man. He oozed a sensuality that was tangible and it draped over her in a wonderfully erotic wave. Fredi sucked in a steadying breath, taken aback at her heightened attraction to him. There was no doubt she was very in tune with him and it almost made her want to drag him back to her room in the château and get him naked. She slid on to the leather seat. He gently closed the door and, as he walked around the car, she took a moment to collect herself and watch him. Wowza – he moved with a stealthy grace that made her heart pound. If Ava was here, she’d be babbling about love. Tilting her head away, she shook it a little. More like lust, am I right? Good God, he was way hotter in person.

~~
Givewaway Alert:
To celebrate the finale of GIRLS WEEKEND AWAY series, I’m having a big contest. How would you like a chance to win a Kindle and a whole bunch of books by some of my author friends? Click on over to my blog for details and the entry form HERE My wish is that you enjoy Bonni, Celia, Ava, and Fredi’s adventures.

FREE Book Alert:
Oh! Right now, WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS is #free in US and Canada, so go and 1-click before you forget! https://amzn.to/2DzflT1

BIO
Shana Gray writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction that just might make you laugh. With 30 books behind her, some translated into multiple languages, she’s always eyeing the next story line. She lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada, is a mom of two grown sons, a brand new daughter-in-law, and is her black cat’s human. When she’s not writing or at her day job, she can be found daydreaming about life, usually with a glass of wine or cocktail in hand and making travel plans to far off lands to feed her wanderlust. Her newest series – Girl’s Weekend Away – is out now.




Friday, April 19, 2019

Promise Me


Hello and thanks for having us at Just Contemporary Romance! Robin Bielman and I are so excited to share an excerpt from our new release, Promise Me, with your readers. It’s a book of firsts! Our first time writing together, my first time writing new adult, Robin’s first time working with a crazy person, and it’s our heroine, Kendall’s, first time…um…well…let’s cover that in the excerpt, shall we?

***
As the waiter retreats, Vaughn turns to me. “So, you’re a virgin.”
I almost choke on a swallow of water. “’Fraid so,” I manage, and set the glass down.
“Virginity pledge?”
“No.” It’s so far off base I actually smile. “Is this your idea of interesting dinner conversation?”
He’s utterly complacent as he shrugs. “I’m interested. Very interested. Religious reasons?”
I shake my head. “No again.”

“Just haven’t met the right guy?”

My smile wilts. We’ve reached a conversational cliff. The next step is going to be a doozy. I tip my head to the side and look him in the eye. “You sure you want to know?”
He takes my hand. “I’m sure. You can tell me anything, Kendall. You can trust me.” Then his expression kind of freezes, and his fingers squeeze mine. “Shit. I’m a dumbass. Somebody hurt you.”
Once again, his concern makes me feel like a fraud, but this time I have to speak up instead of running away. “No. Nothing like that.” My chin trembles, and there’s a painful clog in my throat, so instead of elaborating, I pinch my lips together and wipe the corner of my eye with my free hand.
“Tell me,” he whispers.
I’m not sure if it’s a question or a request, but the patient words push us closer to the point of no return. Even though I’m terrified he won’t be there when I land, it’s a risk I’m ready to take. If I keep holding Vaughn at arm’s length he’ll definitely back off. There was a time I never shied away from people, and I miss that girl. If I tell him the truth he’ll either think I’m an awful person and this will be the last time I see him, or...
He’ll understand.

***
If you love Robin Bielman’s stories, or mine, or you’re a sucker for a virgin heroine with a complicated past and a playboy hero who’s going to have to up his game to gain her trust, we hope we’ve enticed you to try a first too, in the form of Promise Me! It’s available now at your favorite e-book retailers.

PROMISE ME

Instead of soaking up the SoCal sunshine while housesitting for my aunt, I’m dealing with a Pomeranian who thinks she’s a Pitbull, two half-sisters who would happily prune me off the family tree, and him. Vaughn Shaughnessy. Hot model about to go nuclear, dangerously sexy flirt whose perceptive green eyes promise he’s more than just a pretty face. He’s the kind of walking, talking temptation I should avoid, but that’s impossible because he also happens to be my extremely lickable—I mean likeable—neighbor.
He’s turning me into a hot mess.
Thing is, I can’t handle more messes in my life. I’m still trying to come to terms with the monumental ones in my past, and getting involved with Vaughn—even for temporary summer fun—is guaranteed to get messy. I don’t dare risk it, but I’m not sure I can resist…




Wednesday, April 17, 2019

TOMBSTONES


Giveaway of a $10 gift card!

Happy spring!! April showers, bring May flowers, and what’s better than spending a rainy spring day with a good book? I knew from the start that there would be three main parts to the Beekman Hills series, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that the characters in TOMBSTONES would run away with the story like they did!

TOMBSTONES is the final full-length stand alone in the Beekman Hills series, wrapping things up <snickers and snorts> with Jack and Kate. Sure, TOMBSTONES sounds like nothing but doom and gloom, but you will laugh and gasp, with tears rolling down your face… all before the tears really set in. If you’ve read the other Beekman Hills books, you’ve already met Kate way back in Troubles and her hot mess shows up all along the way. She and Jack have fantastic chemistry and couldn’t be more perfect for each other.

I absolutely loved writing this book, the characters burrowing their way into my soul! Grab a blanket, a cup of tea, and dive right into TOMBSTONES, where forever is found between tragedy and tombstones.


Book Info
Tombstones, the final standalone novel in the Beekman Hills series by KC Enders is ready to set your heart on fire. Fans of military and secret baby romance will love this angsty yet humorous read. It was supposed to be just a month of fun, but neither of them thought they’d find forever between tragedy and tombstones.

Find out more: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | EdenBooks

No strings. No mess. No complications.
It was supposed to be just a month of fun.
But two blue lines have them both considering a future that neither of them knew they wanted.

KATE BEARD


Kindergarten teacher.
Tequila connoisseur.
Expert in finding Mr. WRONG.
Ever since Kate discovered the man she thought she’d marry macking on his boyfriend, she has had nothing but bad luck in love.
What she needs is a fresh start.
When MURPHY and his damn LAW drop the perfect man right in front of her, it’s just her luck that he’s only there temporarily.

WYATT JACKSON


Captain, Special Forces.
Confirmed bachelor.
In the running for uncle of the year.
One month stateside to enjoy top-shelf tequila, lose himself in a gorgeous woman, an
to try and forget the desert.
What he needed was a reset. What he got, was a sassy southern woman hellbent on bringing him to his knees. 

Neither thought they’d find forever between tragedy and tombstones.

Giveaway:

KC is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and a digital copy Troubles, Twist or Tunes...winner’s choice to one lucky person leaving a comment or email entry!

Author Info
Karin is a New York Girl living in a Midwest world. A connoisseur of great words, fine bourbon, and strong coffee, she’s married to the love of her life who is also her best friend. The mother of two grown men, she is proud to say that they can cook and clean up after themselves, and always open doors for the ladies (you’re welcome, world). Even though her boys no longer live at home, the big dogs she’s rescued have taken up their empty space.


Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST April 18th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Carolyn Brown's Real Life Inspiration for Writing THE PERFECT DRESS


Giveaway Alert!


Hello, everyone and thank you for inviting me to your site today! 

My granddaughter is getting married this fall, and she’s not one of those size six girls who can walk into wedding dress store, try on a dozen dresses and find the perfect dress—especially when she has her heart set on a black lace dress for her wedding. When we began to shop for her dress, I wished for a custom wedding shop that catered only to women who wore a size fourteen or larger. So I created one called The Perfect Dress and set it in the little town of Celeste, Texas. This summer I plan to bring my old Singer sewing machine out of retirement, and make my granddaughter’s black lace wedding dress—just the way she and I will design it!

The Perfect Dress is not a real place so don’t go to the local doughnut shop in Celeste and ask about it, but the town, the characters and the shop were all very real to me while I was writing about it.

Speaking of characters let me introduce you to Mitzi. She’s and her two plus sized friends, Paula and Jody, have dreamed of putting in their own plus-sized wedding dress shop for years. Now it’s a reality. They’ve bought an old two story house at the edge of Celeste and hung out their shingle. 

Jody is a thin vegetarian now, but when the girls were in high school, she was a big girl just like her friends. She’s living proof that a woman will do anything for love, but when love goes awry, she’s sure glad that she’s got Mitzi and Paula to support her.

Paula is carrying a big secret. The three women have shared everything since they were little children, but she can’t talk about her secret, not when both her friends are in the middle of drama themselves. She has to be the strong one to share Jody’s sorrow and Mitzi’s happiness.

Fanny Lou, Mitzi’s grandmother, is an eccentric old gal with lots of advice that she’s not one bit shy about spreading around. She’s the mother role for all of them, constantly popping into the shop with a box of doughnuts, or the local gossip.

Lately Mitzi has been feeling like maybe her ‘perfect family’ is missing someone... perhaps the perfect man. She hasn’t seen him since high school, but that doesn’t mean that Mitizi’s heart doesn’t go pitter-patter for this awesome single dad. Graham towers above Mitzi, who is almost six feet tall. He has twin girls, who are also plus sized. He feels the sparks, too, but questions whether Mitzi could ever love some big guy who already has teenage daughters.

There is definitely a gap between the teenager girls, who help out in the shop, and Fanny Lou, the granny, and the three best friends. But true friendship knows nothing about age—it’s love, support, and unflinching loyalty towards each other, no matter what the age.

Excerpt: The Perfect Dress by Carolyn Brown


Mitzi rushed back to the sewing room, where the hum of two sewing machines filled the air. “Graham Harrison just came in the shop to set up an appointment for his two daughters. He said they only live a few houses up the street from us. He looked like a bull in a china shop sitting on that pink sofa. And of course he didn’t even recognize me, but I sure knew him the minute I laid eyes on him.”

At the mention of that name from the past, work jolted to a halt.

“All the girls in high school swooned over him, including Mitzi, but she hasn’t told us if he’s still as sexy as he was back then.” Jody took a bowl of salad from the fridge along with a plate of vegetables that she stuck into the microwave to heat.

“He’s aged very, very well, and I’m having cookies,” Mitzi said.

“Smart girl,” Fanny Lou said. “Life is short. Eat dessert first. So you had a little crush on Graham?”

“Everyone did,” Mitzi answered.

“Not me. I was always in love with Lyle,” Jody said.

“Well, according to what I heard at the church bake sale today, Graham moved his daughters here to Celeste because they were being fat shamed down in Greenville. One of them knocked a girl on her butt, blacked both eyes, and bloodied her nose with one punch. It was the last day of school and they said they were going to suspend her for the first two weeks of next year for fighting,” Jody said.

“She should get a medal, not suspended,” Mitzi fumed.

Fanny Lou took a gallon jug of sweet tea from the fridge. “Who all wants a glass?”

Three hands went up.

She filled four glasses with ice and then tea and carried them to the table. “I remember when he went to work for his dad at the Cadillac dealership—right after he and Rita got married. His dad gave him a job on the lowest level, and he had to work his way up. Rita was furious because she thought they’d get a big house and a new Caddy every year. Stupid woman figured since his folks had money that he had an open bank account.”

Paula took the ham and cheese containers from the fridge while Mitzi pulled a loaf of bread from the cabinet. “You eating with us, Granny?”

“I’ll eat with you and Paula, but I don’t want any of that stuff Jody is having. I don’t eat fake meat. I’ll eat what I want and die when I’m supposed to. Slice some of them tomatoes I brought in here earlier. And I’d rather have bologna instead of ham and mustard instead of mayo,” Fanny Lou answered.

“Me, too,” Paula said. “I want one like hers.”

“I was thinking the same thing.” Mitzi set about making three sandwiches.

So Graham was divorced and raising girls on his own. Bless his heart for getting them away from a school that bullied them because of their size. Mitzi could relate to the girls. But then, so could Jody and Paula. She’d always figured that Jody adopted her own modern-day hippie style to combat those feelings of insecurity. Paula had retreated into superstition. Mitzi had just plowed her way through emotions and other kids, spending a lot of time in the principal’s office for fighting.

She pushed all that to the back of her mind, put the sandwiches on plates, and carried them to the table. “Y’all know that this job for Ellie Mae could turn into a big thing. I bet her older sister will be the maid of honor and her mother will want a fancy dress.”

“That’s what you’re in business for, isn’t it?” Fanny Lou said. “Man, this brings back memories. Friday night was bologna sandwich night when I was a kid.”

“Why?” Jody asked.

“Because Mama always cleaned house on Friday, and she didn’t have time to make a big meal,” Fanny Lou answered.

“Funny how an hour of beading takes forever and our noon hour goes so fast.” Jody pointed to the clock.

“Good Lord!” Fanny Lou finished off her sandwich and grabbed a cookie. “I’ve got an appointment with my CPA at one and it’s a fifteen-minute drive to Greenville. See you girls later. You have my permission to flirt with Graham, Mitzi.”

Mitzi’s cheeks began to burn. “I had a teenage crush on him. I’ve grown up since then.”

Fanny Lou winked as she headed for the door. “Paula, since you live with Mitzi, I’m putting you in charge of being sure she takes her birth control pills every morning.”

Mitzi felt even more heat in her cheeks. “Granny!”

“When you get old you get to say whatever the hell you want to.” Fanny Lou closed the door behind her.

THE PERFECT DRESS
Releases April 16 from Montlake Romance

In the small town of Celeste, Texas, Mitzi Taylor has never quite fit inside the lines. Nearly six feet tall, flame-haired, and with a plus-size spirit to match every curve, she’s found her niche: a custom wedding-dress boutique catering to big brides-to-be with big dreams. Taking the plunge alongside her two best friends, she’s proud they’ve turned The Perfect Dress into a perfect success.

Just when Mitzi has it all pulled together, Graham Harrison walks back into her life, looking for bridesmaid dresses for his twin daughters. A still-strapping jock whose every gorgeous, towering inch smells like aftershave, the star of all Mitzi’s high school dreams is causing quite a flush.

For Mitzi, all it takes is a touch to feel sparks flitting around her like fireflies. She can just imagine what a kiss could do. Graham’s feeling it, too. And he’s about to make that imagination of Mitzi’s run wild. Is it just a hot summer fling, or are Mitzi’s next designs for herself and seeing her own dreams come true?


Author Biography

Carolyn Brown is a New York TimesUSA TodayPublisher’s Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books. Her genres include romance, history, cowboys and country music, and contemporary mass-market paperbacks. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when . . . and reads the local newspaper every Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Rough and Ready


Hi everyone! I’m Cathleen Ross, and I am delighted to be joining you on Just Contemporary Romance. For an ebook giveaway to one reader, read on:
I write hot erotic romance for Entangled's Scorched line. My latest release is ROUGH AND READY.
Here's a peek at what you'll be getting:

Before special ops soldier Hugo Boudreaux can move on, he has one last thing to do–fulfill a wartime debt to the friend who saved his life. He must infiltrate a vicious Louisiana MC club to stop their next illegal weapons shipment and send the president to jail. What he didn’t plan on was ending up an unwilling bodyguard to the man’s daughter–innocent and attractive nurse Alice Kaintuck.
Alice wants a normal life with a nice guy. But her rough-edged bodyguard is the sexiest man she's ever met. Suddenly she can’t stop thinking about just how hot he makes her. Before she knows it, she’s tumbling into his muscular arms…though she'll be damned if she'll fall in love with a man as dangerous as her father. Only Hugo doesn’t make love, he consumes her and turns her life upside down with his carnal, erotic sex. Dreams of nice guys vanish when her enemy becomes her obsession…


Excerpt

Alice adjusted the pillows so she could stare straight into Hugo's sea-green eyes, needing answers. Rough sex. What the hell was that? He was still befuddled by his orgasm, so she knew it was the time to drill down to the truth.

He frowned and looked away from her, but she put her hand on his cheek and steered his face to hers. "Talk to me. I need answers. I want to understand what you mean by rough sex."

He shifted onto his side, regarding her warily as if he was cautious of letting her in. "I'm an adrenaline junky. My teachers hated me. They did a psych evaluation on me because I couldn't concentrate. Turned out I was smart but a high-risk individual, attracted to danger."

"Why doesn't that surprise me? I swear you lit up in that bar like you wanted to fight. You goaded Beast. Even a knife to the throat didn't stop you. You're nuts."

He grinned. "I enjoy pitting myself against an enemy. I love the feel of flesh on flesh. Of punishing the opposition. Someone I can fight until he has nothing left, until I'm exhausted too, but I have to get up again."

"You don't seem to have any fear." Intrigued, she wanted to know: what kind of man was he?

"I'm not proud of it, but you're right. I get off on danger. I'm not a desk-job man. Normal everyday stuff bores me, but I have to find a way to fit back into society."

"So what are you telling me? You've had sex once, and now you're bored. Am I some sort of experiment to help you settle?"

He stroked her cheek with feather-light fingers. "No. That's not what I'm saying. This job, protecting you, is exactly what I like. He grinned. "Along with the special benefits. I'm fine with normal sex, too, but it doesn't give me a high. I like to play games. Edgy stuff. That's what gets me off."

"Edgy. What's edgy?"


Friday, April 12, 2019

An Accidental Date With a Billionaire


Hello, I’m Diane Alberts (though I also write under the name Jen McLaughlin), and I’m very excited to be here at Just Contemporary Romance today! I’m here because I have a new release coming out, and I wanted to talk a little bit about it. In An Accidental Date with a Billionaire, the hero (Taylor) and heroine (Sam) don’t exactly like one another when they first meet.

Okay, more specifically, the heroine really doesn’t like the hero, and the hero isn’t sure why. It’s dislike at first sight for her, though.

I think we’ve all been there before, when you meet someone and just don’t like them. Maybe that changes as you get to know them—maybe it doesn’t. In this case, it changes, and in the best way. In this excerpt, she’s very much still in dislike of our hero, and here’s their first encounter.

Of course, even with her adverse reaction to our hero Taylor, she still feels a certain something toward him…

Because it wouldn’t be a romance book without that, now would it? ;)

--Diane

Somewhere between candy explosions, two more men, and a finished glass of champagne, Sam lifted her head, and her heart stopped beating for a second. The last man strode out, and he walked onto the stage like he owned the place—which, if she didn’t know any better, she just might believe. He was incredibly handsome, in that he-must-be-an-actor-because-he’s-too-pretty-to-be-normal kind of way.

His muscles were huge and hard. His brown hair was slicked to the side with a hard part, and his square jaw spoke of a stubbornness only someone with equal stubbornness such as herself would recognize.

He wore a black tuxedo with a deep blue bow tie, a cocky expression, and walked onstage with his phone in his hand, typing furiously and ignoring the crowd of ladies who watched him with bated breath.

Hello, Izzy’s brother.

Even she had to admit that, despite being totally not her type and way too sure of himself, he was hot with a capital H. Of course, he probably used those looks and his money to get pretty much anything he wanted, whenever he wanted it. It was what men like him did.

That was why she avoided them.

But those arms…

Forcing herself to stop admiring the way his jacket hugged his broad shoulders, she grabbed her orange flag off the table and waved it enthusiastically, happy to finally be at the part where she could bid and leave. Two hours was more than enough, thank you very much.

“One thousand, to the lady in red.”

Izzy’s brother lifted his head, checked out Sam, and returned his attention to his phone, typing even more furiously now.

A blonde lifted her flag, smiling at the guy on the stage.

He didn’t seem to notice.

“Fifteen hundred to the woman in gold.”

He didn’t even lift his head this time.

Just kept typing.

She was this close to not saving him and letting him suffer through a date he clearly didn’t want to go on, but she’d promised Izzy she would buy her brother, and she didn’t break promises.

Not even ones she really wanted to.

She lifted her flag again.

“Two thousand to the lady in red.”

Slowly, the man lifted his head again, locking eyes with her. For that brief second of eye contact, goosebumps rose on her flesh, and a surge of electricity tickled the nape of her neck.

What the heck?

The other woman raised her flag.

Sam stood, completely done with all this crap. She just wanted to finish bidding and get far away from Andrew and the weird way he made her feel. “I bid three thousand dollars,” she interrupted.

“Three thousand dollars to the lady in red!” the announcer called out, smiling at Sam gratefully. She was the hostess, and she clearly appreciated the high bid.

Andrew’s gaze turned intense.

She inhaled, her stomach tightening into a fist.

The other lady frowned and put her flag down, shooting Sam a dirty look.

“Going once, going twice. Sold, to the lady in red!”

Sam downed the rest of her champagne, ignoring the trembling in her thighs at the idea of approaching this godlike man, and gathered her purse. After she let him know he owed these fine people a bunch of money for the pleasure of spending an evening alone with himself—Izzy said she’d already arranged for her brother to cover the bid—she’d hit the road.

AN ACCIDENTAL DATE WITH A BILLIONAIRE

Samantha Matthews turned her back on her wealthy family to focus on social work. Those who know her think she’s the heart of kindness. Those who know her really well know she’s in a never-ending battle to make up for the harm her family’s companies inflict on the world. Which is how she finds herself at a charity bachelor auction of all places.

But oops, she was supposed to bid on her bff’s brother as a favor and accidentally bid on the wrong guy. Sue her for not being able to tell one stick-in-the-mud CEO from another.

Backstage, she goes to tell him not to worry about having to go through with a date or anything, but the oafish billionaire cuts her off dismissively. Looks her up and down, hands her a card with his assistant’s contact details, and reminds her that sex is definitely off the table. 

Oh, she’ll call the assistant all right and have her make sure he wears jeans and comfortable shoes and to pick her up at seven a.m. The only “hammering” this guy is going to be doing is at Habitat for Humanity.


Too bad he turns out to be nothing like she expected.



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Interview with Author Jamie Beck

With: Jamie Beck

Giveaway Alert!

1. Can you give readers a quick snapshot of your newest novel The Promise of Us


At its heart, this book is based on some favorite romance tropes (best friend’s older brother, unrequited crush, second chance-ish) although the circumstances are unusual. Basically, Logan returns to town to help his sister recover and, in his desire to help his sister mend fences with Claire, he hires Claire to redecorate his apartment. What starts out as a somewhat manipulative—though well-intentioned—plan flips on him. He remembers the version of Claire from before the gunshot wound and wants her to stop living in fear, so he sets about slowly challenging her limits to help her lead a fuller life. In the process, he falls for her, although his job and wanderlust (and Claire’s inability to forgive Peyton) conspire to make her push him away. Ultimately, they have to figure out how to compromise if they want things to work out.

2. What makes Claire and Logan’s story special to you?

Each book I write is special in its own way. I think what stays with me about this one is a sense of tenderness that developed in Logan that didn’t really exist before he spent more time with Claire. He was a fairly selfish guy (meaning he put his needs and career aspirations ahead of everything) for most of his life. His sister’s life-threatening illness was the first catalyst for change, but his relationship with Claire develops a new facet of his personality. I liked him so much by the end of the story. And I had fun writing Claire, despite her being a very nervous, conservative character at the outset.

3. Your heroine Claire has suffered tremendously (both physically and emotionally) yet she perseveres and has made a great life for herself. What gives her strength?

In my mind, Claire’s greatest strengths are her ability to be content with the little things and her gratitude for her family and friends. For the most part, she rarely laments her quiet life. When she had to give up her first love (tennis), she directed her energy into something else she enjoyed and made that a career. She feels that she is good at her job and she enjoys it, so that also gives her a sense of pride and accomplishment. I think her job (making old or ugly things pretty) is a bit of a metaphor for how she dealt with her injury.  

4. Claire has had love and lost it. How has her past experience changed her?

I think losing her boyfriend to a best friend rocked her to the core. Those two betrayals shook a fundamental sense of trust in all relationships. And in love. She recovered much better from her physical injury that the emotional ones, that is for sure. In any case, this cynicism about love and friendship definitely makes it hard for her to believe anything Logan has to say, or to believe that he could truly love her.

5. What is her reaction to first seeing her childhood crush Logan?

She’s caught unaware, so she reacts badly, especially because she suspects he is trying to manipulate her. Hostile might be how some would describe her mental state, although Claire tempers her feelings most of the time, so it is more of a quiet rage with a hint of desperation to flee!

6. It seems like Claire and Logan are complete opposites. She is cautious about new experiences, while he jet sets around the world. Was it difficult to write about two very different characters? 

No. They are opposites, but in a complementary manner. In other words, he is able to use his strengths (courage) to help her tap into her own, and she is able to use her strength (contentedness) to give him a sort of stability and affection sorely lacking in his life.

7. What common ground do your heroine and hero have? 

The have the common ground of growing up in the same community, with all the values and ideals that help form us as children. They also have mutual friends and some shared history, which binds them. In terms of their interests, they are both creatives—him with photographs, her with fabrics and such—so they understand that way of seeing the world.

8. A hallmark of your writing is the maturity that your characters find throughout their journey of falling in love. What are some lessons that Claire and Logan must learn for them to get their happily-ever-after?

The hallmark of any well-written romance (of which there are plenty) is that its characters will have a strong arc (they will grow and become better, stronger individuals). In this story, Claire needs to learn to take risks again, and to trust that, come what may in life or love, she will survive and be okay. Logan needs to learn to compromise, and to learn that the relationships he makes in the here and now are more likely to bring true happiness than achieving any aspirational goal.



The Promise of Us Excerpt


“What are you thinking?” Claire dropped her hands to the table.
Steffi shook her head, waving one hand. “Nothing.”

“Don’t lie. Is there another problem I’m not aware of?”

“No.” Steffi inhaled, held her breath, then exhaled slowly.

“I know of one project that would make a sweet profit and let you really stretch your talent. ‘Sky’s the limit’ kind of budget.”

Excitement lifted Claire’s spirit, straightening her spine. Anything that accelerated plans to open a retail outlet merited her attention. “Sounds amazing. What’s the catch?”

Steffi hesitated.

“Never mind. You won’t take it, so let’s move on.” Steffi spooned whipped cream into her mouth. “Oh! Molly says that Mrs. Brewster is thinking of remodeling her master bath.”

Mrs. Brewster’s late husband had left her comfortably well off, but you’d never know it. She clipped every coupon available to humanity—Claire had been behind her at the grocery store more than once. She put only two dollars in the collection basket at church each week, despite having enough money to leave more. And she gave out bite-size candy at Halloween. Bite-size!

“We can’t rely on Ryan’s mom as our major source of leads, and Mrs. Brewster spending big bucks on a remodel sounds improbable..” She leaned forward, elbows on the table. “Don’t make me beg. If you have a solution, I won’t dismiss it out of hand, I promise. I’m not an idiot. We need income. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep the doors open.”

Steffi went still, her chin just above the mug held midair. “Whatever it takes?”

Claire’s hair stood on end, but she motioned “Let’s have it” with both hands.

Steffi hesitated. “How would you like to redecorate a high-end condo in Chelsea?”

“In the city?” Her entire body prickled painfully at the thought of putting herself in the midst of that chaos and danger. She’d already been one madman’s random victim. Manhattan teemed with crazy people, not the least of whom were the ones who drove their cars like heat-seeking missiles. “Who’d hire us instead of any of the premier designers there?”

Steffi met Claire’s gaze. “Logan.”

Claire’s tongue seemed to swell and turn sticky. Work with Logan … Her blood thickened like warm syrup. Tingles and terror all at once—a sensation she both loved and loathed. Her own brand of crazy. Maybe she did belong in New York, after all. “No.”

“You just said you’d do whatever it takes.”

“Not that. Never that.” Claire didn’t need to look into a mirror to know that her fair, lightly freckled cheeks now looked like someone had smeared them with ripe strawberries.

“As I suspected.” Steffi shrugged nonchalantly, as if she hadn’t just pulled the pin from a grenade and dropped it on the table. “So that leaves us a little tight until something else comes up. In terms of our social media presence, I just read an article …”

Claire heard Steffi talking, but the words ran together like white noise because Claire’s brain was still stuck on the idea of working with—no—for Logan Prescott. His obvious ploy made her want to laugh. Did he really think he could buy her forgiveness for his sister? Well, Claire would never, ever forgive Peyton. Not even if he paid her a million dollars to renovate his condo.

“Claire? Did you hear anything I said?” Steffi turned her hands out in question.

“Sorry.” She rubbed the scowl from her forehead. “I’ll find another way to turn up new leads. Working with Logan is a hard no.”

“Too bad. You’d have so much fun decorating his place. I’m sure he’d let you do whatever you wanted. Anything would be better than how it looks now. Guess he never cared before, since he was rarely around to enjoy it.”

Only a Prescott would own a million-dollar property that sat vacant as often as it was occupied.

“I’m not an idiot.”

“Did I call you one?” Steffi had the gall to look stunned.

“This has Peyton’s paw prints all over it. I’d bet my last penny that she put him up to it. I don’t know what I hate more, that she did it, that you took the bait, or that she knows we’re desperate for money.”

“It’s not a conspiracy. I mentioned that I felt bad about putting you in this situation because of this home. Logan tossed out the idea on the spot.”

“I can’t deal with the strings that would come with his offer.” Except now Claire couldn’t focus on anything else because thinking about Logan took up all the space in her head. If Peyton hadn’t stolen Todd, she might’ve pounced on a chance to work closely with Logan. Of course, then she wouldn’t have been free to act on her desire. Not that she had ever acted on it before Todd, either. The hawkish way Logan could stare at her turned her to jelly around him and—oh, just no. “I thought you finally understood that.”

“I do. That’s why I wasn’t going to say anything.” Steffi crossed her arms. “You forced me to tell you.”

True enough. Logan’s image flickered through Claire’s mind again, poking at the tender spot of her pointless longing, like always.

She shook her head, dislodging all thoughts of Logan. “I’ll catch up with Mrs. Brewster and pitch a proposal for her bathroom. But we also have to scrape together funds to advertise and update the website, and you need to scare up reno work pronto. Promise me we’ll earmark new revenue toward retail space—”

A knock at the door interrupted her monologue.

Steffi rose from the table and disappeared around the corner.

From the other room, Claire heard Steffi’s surprised voice say, “Oh, we didn’t expect you so early.”

“Hope that’s not a problem,” replied Logan, in his unmistakable baritone.

***
THE PROMISE OF US
Claire McKenna knows about loss. The bullet wound that ended her promising professional tennis career drove her to make a quiet life for herself working with fabric samples, chatting with her book group, and spending time with her parents in her sleepy coastal Connecticut hometown. Then there was the boyfriend who dumped her to pursue her adventurous childhood friend. Now, Claire’s business has hit a financial snag, but she’s up to the challenge. After all, she can survive anything. At least she thinks so . . . until her teen crush, Logan, returns to town with his sister, Claire’s traitorous friend.

Photographer Logan Prescott is more playboy than homebody. But his sister’s illness teaches him that there’s more to life than chasing the next thrill. Bent on helping her win Claire’s forgiveness, he turns his charm on Claire and offers her big bucks to renovate his multimillion-dollar New York City condo.

After years of playing it safe, Claire must now take some risks. The payoff could be huge, but if it all falls apart, can her heart recover from another loss?


Author Biography
National bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than one million copies. She’s a Booksellers’ Best Award and a National Readers’ Choice Award finalist; and critics at KirkusPublishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

For fun tips, exclusive content, and a chance to win the monthly birthday reader box, please sign up for her newsletter at jamiebeck.com.

Jamie also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks.

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