Iron Canuck

Sharing my love of reading and hope to help authors by promoting books I enjoy.

Book Blast: Resisting the Rock Star by Megan Slayer

 

Resisting the Rock Star
by Megan Slayer

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GENRE: Contemporary Erotic Romance

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

BLURB:

 

What the rock god wants, he gets—including her.

 

Mason ‘Kross’ Khan left the rock and roll stage to connect with the son he never knew existed. He’s used to electrifying crowds and romancing the ladies. Money’s never been an object. He’s not looking for a relationship, but when he meets the saucy brunette at a club, he’s smitten. Danya’s perfect—curvy, smart and has no idea he’s a giant in the music industry. The one-night stand is just what he needs and he’s convinced he’ll never see Danya again—until he attends conference night at the local high school.

 

Danya Littrell isn’t just his one-night stand. She’s also his son’s art teacher and the woman who sparks his muse. Can he balance parenthood, a relationship with Danya and his music career? Or will his secrets be too much for the relationship to withstand?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

©2018 Megan Slayer, All Rights Reserved

 

 

“You seem fine to me.” He held her close once again. “You seem pretty great.”

 

She tipped her head to the side to look at him. His eyes flashed, then he captured her mouth in a kiss. Electricity shot from her head to her toes. She pressed against him. She’d never been kissed so deeply. Sparks centered in her pussy. He threaded his fingers into her hair and held her tight without crushing her. When he broke the connection, her knees quaked. She sagged into him.

 

“Damn.” He smiled. “Better than I thought.”

 

She wanted to say something snappy, but the words weren’t there. Instead, she settled for honesty. “For me, too.”

 

She draped her arms around his neck. She didn’t want to leave the dance floor or for the night to end. She could almost hear Kelly encouraging her to leave with him and live a little. He hadn’t asked her to go home with him, but the better part of her wanted that to happen.

 

“I can’t offer you forever, but I want to give you tonight,” he said. He kissed her again then cupped her jaw in both hands. “Very much so.”

 

“Who needs forever when one night can be everything?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

 

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

 

Find out more about Megan and Wendi at: http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm

 

Sign up for the newsletter here: http://ymlp.com/xgjmjumygmgj

 

Website, http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm


Blog, https://wendizwaduk.wordpress.com/


Fan Page, https://www.facebook.com/wendizwaduk.meganslayer/


Amazon Author Page, http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Slayer/e/B008BJCFSC


Bookbub, https://www.bookbub.com/authors/megan-slayer


Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/wendizwaduk/


Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5330530.Megan_Slayer


Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/MeganSlayer

 

 

Buy Links:

 

B/N: https://goo.gl/DeeVfd


Amazon: https://goo.gl/HhTDkH


Google Play: https://goo.gl/tHTPNn


iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/resisting-the-rock-star/id1410019067?mt=11


Kobo: https://goo.gl/xtX5wQ


Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/162344134X/

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GIVEAWAY 

 

Megan Slayer will be awarding a prize pack featuring a necklace made by the author and signed swag to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 

Rafflecopter:

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2841/

 

 

Like to review books? Like to win free books, gift cards, and other fun stuff?

Have you ever heard of Lazy Day Library Reviews? Check this out. Miss Elizabeth Robbins loves when people write reviews and she awards people for this. Check this out. 

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1661741204056781/

 

Book Blast: LuLLaY by Freya Barker

 

 

LuLLaY
A Portland ME Christmas Novella
Freya Barker

******
Genre: Contemporary Romance


Release: November 1, 2018
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41721666-lullay

 

Blurb:


Faith failed him.

 

Ambition drove her.

 

Serendipity brought them together.

 

They’ve never met, but their paths run in the same direction—home for the holidays.
Yet their reasons for leaving are as different as the reasons they return.

 

Meeting by chance along a 1400 mile stretch of highway when a snowstorm grinds traffic to a halt, they have no choice but to jointly ride it out.

 

Exposing a common thread, leading them from the past to the present, it’s through the innocent eyes of a toddler, they discover a future.

 

 

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RooLoA


Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2CQ7L6N


Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2PESvRb


Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2PCFDek


Itunes: https://apple.co/2EToOrd


Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2Q4qP4N


Kobo: https://bit.ly/2ACKqnE

 

******

 

Author Bio:


Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about 'real' people; with characters who are perhaps less than perfect, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills, and some hot, sizzling sex in their lives.

 

A recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya has not slowed down.

She continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

 

Social Media Links:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FreyaBarkerWriter


Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/freya_barker


Web: http://www.freyabarker.com


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/freyabarker


Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/FreyaBarker


Newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/y1y4f2


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/freyabarker.writes/


Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/freya-barker


Email: freyabarker.writes@gmail.com


Release Notifications: https://www.subscribepage.com/FreyaBarkerReleaseNotification

 

 

In the Series: (stand alone)
From Dust (Portland ME Series #1)
Cruel Water (Portland ME Series #2)
Through Fire (Portland ME Series #3)
Still Air (Portland ME Series #4)


Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Oic4tu


Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2SzQ0y0


Kobo: https://bit.ly/2AEeCP9


Itunes: https://apple.co/2nkpeJW

 

 

Excerpt:


“Is that one for me?" she asks, more collected now that she's dressed.


Sort of. The tight yoga pants and fitted shirt leave more to the imagination than those bulky towels did.


"It is, and if you're hungry, there is food in the cooler. Courtesy of Syd."


"Did you call her already?" Tana asks, while digging to find herself something to nosh on. She pulls out a baggie of vegetables and some sliced cheese. "This good for you?"


"Perfect, and no, I forgot. I'll do it right now."


When I slip my phone from my pocket, Tana makes a move to get back up—presumably to give me some privacy—but I quickly reach out and press a hand to her knee just as Syd answers.


"Took you long enough. I thought for sure we'd have to chase you down again." I chuckle at Syd's mock scolding.


"We just found a room. It's mayhem out on the roads."


"We?" Trust her to get stuck on that little word and I roll my eyes heavenward. "No half measures for you. Clearly. The woman I had on the phone earlier?" Syd barely gives me a chance to respond, and her volume has risen such that the woman sitting next to me can hear her side of the conversation just fine, judging by the tensing of her muscles under my hand.


"Yes. We're stuck in a snowstorm and since the roads up ahead are closed, just about every bed in a fifty-mile radius was taken. We lucked out."


"I don't understand—you're traveling together?"


"No, Tana's car is at the bottom of a ditch. I just happened to pass by and spot it."


"Jesus! Are they okay?"


"They're fine, just shaken up. Flynn is already asleep."


"Is that the name of her daughter? It's pretty."


"So is she. Spitting image of her mother." Never mind that she's sitting right next to me.

There's nothing I'm saying I don't want her to know. Besides, if she is half as observant as I suspect she is, she already knows how I feel. No way my hard-on will let up with her squirming in her seat.


"You sound smitten." I can hear the smile in her voice.


"Quite possibly," I admit with a sideways glance at Tana.

 

Book Blast: His Tempting Love by Anya Summers

 

His Tempting Love
by Anya Summers

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GENRE: Contemporary Erotic Romance

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

BLURB:

 

Cora Roberts has a plan: move to a new town and make a better life for herself and her son. As a single mom, she’s not looking for a relationship of any kind. But then she never expected to have the sexy Garrett offer her a night of uninhibited pleasure with no strings attached.

 

Garrett Brooks never expected Cora’s surrender to his touch to be so sweet – or tempt him to want more than just a single night with her. But as he pursues a deeper relationship with Cora, a threat from his past emerges.

 

Will Garrett be able to tempt Cora with his love, or will outside forces tear them apart?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

EXCERPTS:

 


It was midnight before the crowds started to thin out. Once couples had performed scenes, they tended to leave shortly afterward. Which was fine by Cora. It made her job easier.

 

“If you want to do your nightly prep, then I can let you get out of here,” Matt said.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yep. You won’t always work until we close at two. We’ve got enough coverage, so get your prep done and then you can cash out and leave,” Matt said with a wink.

 

“Thanks,” she said. The sooner she got home, the sooner she could get a few hours of sleep. In her world if she scored more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep, it was a damn miracle. Cora printed out receipts for each of the tables with an open tab, including Garrett’s. She stopped by each one and gave them their checks, promising to be back shortly to pick them up.

 

When she reached table ten, Garrett was still sitting there, watching her. His friend, Jackson, was in one of the scene areas and she blushed at the sight of him thrusting into a tall blonde restrained on the saddlehorse.

 

“Here you are, Sir. If you want to keep your tab open, just let me know and I will tell Matt. My shift is ending for the night.”

 

“No, I can close out with you,” Garrett said and tossed a few bills into the black billfold, not even glancing at the total. He’d given her a far too generous tip. “So you’ll be free in a bit?”

 

“Um, yes, I guess so,” she replied, wondering where he was headed with his question.

 

“Then why don’t you join me for a drink?” he offered, his blue gaze deepening, making her think of the ocean at sunset with its dark mysterious waves.

 

“I have prep work I still need to do,” she said in response, ignoring his question, and zoomed away from his table without a backward glance. Her heart hammered in her chest at the blatant invitation.

 

Cora tried to ignore that her hands were shaking or that she was giving some serious thought to turning around and taking him up on his offer. She took the tray with her prep work—rolling silverware—over to a back table and sighed once she was able to get off her feet.

 

She ignored the symphony of moans and groans, concentrating on the task at hand. The sooner she finished this, the sooner she could get home. She was in the middle of rolling one set of silverware when someone took the seat across from her. Lifting her gaze, she saw Garrett sitting confidently, the subtle flexing of muscles and sinew of his shoulders and chest making her mouth water.

 

“What are you doing, Sir?” she sputtered, stunned and slightly aroused by his presence, as Garrett picked up some silverware and began rolling it into a napkin, mimicking her actions.

 

“Helping, so that you can have a drink with me,” he explained with a dark brow raised, as if it should be obvious what he was doing.

 

“But I’m not—”

 

“Cora, it’s a drink, not a marriage proposal,” he chided. His fingers were fast and efficient at rolling the silverware, like he’d done more than his fair share of nightly prep work in restaurants and bars. Which made the man who’d given her a forty-dollar tip all the more interesting.

 

She chewed his offer over in her mind. Would it be so wrong to have one drink?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Anya grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Anya never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.


Anya is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance under the name Maggie Mae Gallagher. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

 

Visit her website here:
www.anyasummers.com

 

Visit her on social media here:

http://www.facebook.com/AnyaSummersAuthor


Twitter: @AnyaBSummers https://twitter.com/anyabsummers?lang=en


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15183606.Anya_Summers


Anya Summers Newsletter
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Anya-Summers/e/B01EGTVRKC/


Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/anya-summers


Instagram https://www.instagram.com/anyasummersauthor/

 

Don’t miss these exciting titles by Anya Summers!

Dungeon Fantasy Club Series
Her Highland Master, Book 1 https://www.amazon.com/Highland-Master-Dungeon-Fantasy-Club-ebook/dp/B01E9UB8SO/

 

To Master and Defend, Book 2 https://www.amazon.com/Master-Defend-Dungeon-Fantasy-Club-ebook/dp/B01FNG23HI/

 

Two Doms for Kara, Book 3 https://www.amazon.com/Doms-Kara-Dungeon-Fantasy-Club-ebook/dp/B01GXGOAK0/

 

His Driven Domme, Book 4 https://www.amazon.com/Driven-Domme-Dungeon-Fantasy-Club-ebook/dp/B01IIUY8Y2

 

Her Country Master, Book 5 https://goo.gl/YWhLqm

 

Love Me, Master Me, Book 6 https://goo.gl/QlTE9u

 

Submit To Me, Book 7 https://goo.gl/Or8pYr


Her Wired Dom, Book 8 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MRJY9TF/

 

Pleasure Island Series

Her Master & Commander, Book 1 https://www.amazon.com/Master-Commander-Pleasure-Island-Book-ebook/dp/B06Y5SVVB9/

 

Her Music Masters, Book 2 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0711R9D1H/

 

Their Shy Submissive, Book 3 https://goo.gl/ufyJLn

 

Her Lawful Master, Book 4 https://www.amazon.com/Lawful-Master-Pleasure-Island-Book-ebook/dp/B073SRDNNT

 

Her Rockstar Dom, Book 5 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075VSGP8Q

 

Duets & Dominance, Book 6 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075TG9RYC

 

Her Undercover Dom, Book 7 https://goo.gl/HKhVba

 

Ménage In Paradise, Book 8 https://goo.gl/qce2BD

 

Her Rodeo Masters, Book 9 https://goo.gl/HDZw6v

 

Cuffs & Spurs Series

His Scandalous Love https://www.amazon.com/Scandalous-Love-Cuffs-Spurs-Book-ebook/dp/B079GBB57Z

 

His Unexpected Love https://www.amazon.com/His-Unexpected-Love-Carter-Beginning-ebook/dp/B07C2NBGLQ

 

His Wicked Love https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B661RP1

 

His Untamed Love https://www.amazon.com/Untamed-Love-Cuffs-Spurs-Book-ebook/dp/B07D9ZDHMH

 

 

His Tempting Love releasing October 15, 2018 https://goo.gl/MrESgd

 

His Seductive Love releasing November 2018

 

His Secret Love releasing January 2019

 

His Cherished Love releasing March 2019

 

The Alcyran Chronicles

Taken by the Beast https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYNT21L

 

Claimed by the Beast releasing Fall 2018

 

Loved by the Beast releasing Winter 2019

 

Book Links

Amazon https://goo.gl/MrESgd

 

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/books/his-tempting-love-cuffs-and-spurs-book-5-by-anya-summers

 

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42141468-his-tempting-love

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GIVEAWAY

 

Anya Summers will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 

Rafflecopter:

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2846/

 

 

A married couple take an emotional journey.

Before We Say Goodbye - JN Welsh

Wow, this one kept me on a roller coaster of emotions. Olive and Nigel have been married for 15 years, and life has happened to them. Both of them have lost sight of why they got married and lost their way. As they journeyed into their past, I cried and laughed along with them. The author did a wonderful job getting across the feelings of two people trying to find their way back to happiness. I recommend this story.

I received a copy of the story through Candid Book Reviews, and this is my unsolicited review.

New Release: Leopard's Run by Christine Feehan

I enjoy this author when I choose shifters.

 

New Release: Stealing a Rogue's Kiss by Amanda Mariel

Take a chance on this author, another of my favorites.

 

New Release: Shipwrecked with a Suitor by Emily Murdoch

Another author I read.

 

New Release: Kiss of a Duke by Erica Ridley

One of the authors I enjoy. Take a chance.

 

Book Blast: Soft Clay by Megan Slayer

 

Soft Clay
by Megan Slayer

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GENRE: Contemporary Paranormal Erotic Romance

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

BLURB:

 

Two souls trapped—can they find freedom in each other’s arms?

 

Nike, the goddess of speed can’t move. She’s the goddess of strength and she can’t shatter her curse. The goddess of victory has lost her weapons—her shield and spear. She put her faith in a human, only to be cursed. Can another human be the key to her salvation and freedom from the clay?

 

Charlie needs someone who can understand him. A person to cherish him. Male or female, he doesn’t care. He’s intrigued by Nike’s statue. Call him infatuated. But she’s a statue and they don’t come to life from true love’s kiss, do they?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

EXCERPTS:

©Megan Slayer, 2018, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Nike wished she could move. She longed to shiver into his touch and lean into his kiss. She wished her heart could beat again and she could enfold him in her wings.

 

What he wore and his makeup didn’t matter to her. Men in women’s clothing could be pretty. He had the eyes and body to pull off the look. If being different made him happy, then wonderful. She wanted to make him happy, too. With the curse in place, all she could do was listen and watch.

 

Damn the magic. Damn her curse. She wanted to be free. Her brothers and sister were there, but they couldn’t hear her. Couldn’t they tell the human how to break the curse?

 

She stared at the human male. He reminded her of the servant men on Olympus. He was so pretty but masculine. He’d defer to her, wouldn’t he? He struck her as glamorous, yet off-limits like the servants. Not that she’d held back before. Her desire to sleep with the servants had gotten her into trouble so many times. When she found someone she liked, she wanted to sleep with them. So what if her father deemed her lovers beneath her?

 

She turned her attention back to the man. His kiss delighted her. She’d never tasted anything so delicious in her life. More than that, she’d been able to feel him. Her hope increased. If she could feel him, not just assume she could, then perfect. She wanted another kiss from the quirky man.

 

Could he break the curse? She wasn’t sure, but she wanted him to keep trying.

 

Please, don’t stop trying.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

 

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

Find out more about Megan and Wendi at: http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm

 

Sign up for the newsletter here: http://ymlp.com/xgjmjumygmgj

 

Website, http://wendizwaduk.com/indexMegan.htm


Blog, https://wendizwaduk.wordpress.com/


Fan Page, https://www.facebook.com/wendizwaduk.meganslayer/


Amazon Author Page, http://www.amazon.com/Megan-Slayer/e/B008BJCFSC


Bookbub, https://www.bookbub.com/authors/megan-slayer


Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/wendizwaduk/


Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5330530.Megan_Slayer


Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/MeganSlayer

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

GIVEAWAY 

 

Megan Slayer will be awarding a Prize Pack featuring a Necklace made by the author and signed swag to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 

Rafflecopter:

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2837/

 

 

New Release: Mesmerizing the Marquis by Madeline Martin

 

Available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks. Get your copy today.

Release Blitz: Ravished River by Lindsay Cross

 

 


Ravished River
A Mercy & Mayhem Series Novel
Lindsay Cross

******
Genre: Romantic Suspense

******
Release Date: November 6, 2018

******

 

 

BLURB:

 

As a Special Forces operative, Aaron Spears treated relationships like Tangos. He’d seen the wreckage of his Task Force brothers' attempts and had no desire to put any woman through the hardship. He had one purpose – serve his country and protect his teammates. Then Celine Latimer walked into his life and turned his world upside down.

 

Celine Latimer thought she’d hit the jackpot when hunky SF operative Aaron Spears asked her to accompany him to the high-profile wedding of Senator Cotter’s daughter. They’d get to spend two weeks together while Aaron pulled guard duty for Caroline Cotter and Celine intended to use every spare minute, seducing the man she’d had a crush on for over a year.

 

The time and place proved to be more of a barrier than either of them realized. With his commander watching his every move, Aaron couldn’t afford to show any weakness. That meant ignoring Celine.

 

Rejected and hurt, Celine packed to leave only to be caught in a kidnapping plot against the Senator. Here she sat, in a hut in the Middle East, waiting on a rescue that may never come.

 

He'd sworn to protect and he'd failed. Now Aaron lived for one purpose- to rescue the woman he lost before she’s sold into slavery and spend the rest of his life making her see how much he loves her.

 


GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42186704-ravished-river

 


PURCHASE LINKS

US: https://amzn.to/2SJr2MA


UK: https://amzn.to/2yRu9d9


CA: https://amzn.to/2PFQ6W6


AU: https://amzn.to/2AIsQyn

 

Free in Kindle Unlimited

 


EXCERPT

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Camp Eagle Claw, classified location Afghanistan…

 

The Afghanistan desert would have made the devil himself sweat, not that the devil was brave enough to set up headquarters in this godforsaken land. Only the United States Special Forces would be sick enough to pick the meanest valley in the Middle East as its home away from home.


Even the insects were AWOL. The only creatures crawling across the sand were the death dealers – scorpions, snakes and Special Forces.


Operative Aaron Speirs, assistant medical sergeant and weapons expert, bent over and gripped the metal bar in front of him, working on his fourth set of dead lifts in the spotted shade provided by the camo net over Task Force Scorpions, TF-S, camp.


Up, down. Three hundred ninety-five pounds, nearly twice his bodyweight an extreme amount guaranteed to give him arthritis by retirement but he wasn't worried about that since most men in the Teams didn't live to see their fiftieth birthday. Sweat ran in rivulets down his shirtless chest, dropped to the scorched earth with a sizzle and evaporated instantly.


Up, down. One more round of lifts and he might fall out from weariness, which was exactly what he intended. He couldn't stop thinking about Celine Latimer with her perfect platinum hair and soulful eyes. He couldn’t forget the taste of her strawberry flavored lip gloss or the fact that it was his fault she’d been kidnapped.


Up, down. Another lift. Aaron's exhausted muscles screamed in protest, but he kept moving, ignoring the pain.


Why had he turned her away?


Because he knew what would happen if he let himself care about her – he’d lose her just like he’d lost his mother.


He yanked the weight up hard. How many people had to die before he learned his lesson?


He’d buried his mom ten years ago, someone else had dug the grave but he’d put her there. The memories crashed into him. Her blank stare when he’d found her on the bathroom floor, blood flooding from her wrists. Dammit, how could have been so blind? If only he’d been paying closer attention…


Aaron ground his teeth together and held the ungodly weight high, fighting the cold seeping into his chest. But no matter how hard he tried to resist another image flashed. Shane falling to his death in that ambush, his scream cut off when he hit the ground.


Celine.


The hurt in her eyes when he’d cold shouldered her…all because he couldn’t face the fact he’d been unable to hold his vow to never do to a woman what his father did to his mother.


Now they were all gone. Guilt bread and multiplied in him, taking over everything else.


“Dammit, Speirs, drop the weight before you crush your spine.” Ethan Slade, communications sergeant and Aaron’s best friend, strained under the weight of his bench press five feet away.


Aaron blinked the blinding brightness of the desert into focus, shoved the memories down and turned to Ethan with a blank expression.


Ethan racked his weight and shot upright. “Don’t give me that fucking look. I know exactly what you’re thinking.”


Aaron let the weight crash to the ground, ignored the sweat stinging his eyes and reached for the barbell again. “Giving up already?”


He had no intention of letting Ethan go at another one of his amateur counseling sessions.


Ethan ignored the barb and mopped the moisture from his face with a nearby towel. “You need to ease up, give yourself a break.”


“Celine’s not getting a break. Caroline’s not getting a break.” That dammed thought crept into his nightmares every single night.


“You drowning in guilt won’t save them either.” Ethan tossed the towel on the bench and stood.


He stood, pulling the bar up with him. “Who said anything about guilt? I’m out for revenge. Cold and simple. Guilt hasn’t got anything to do with it.”


Ethan strode to Aaron’s gym back and yanked out Aaron’s BDU jacket. “Really?” He ripped open the front pocket and pulled out two photos. “Then why do you carry their pictures over your heart?”


Ethan held the pictures up right in Aaron’s line of vision. His mom’s sad smile mocked him. The one screen shot he’d taken with Celine taunted him.


“Fuck you.”


Those pictures were the ghosts that haunted him daily for his fuck up.


Ethan didn’t relent, instead he shoved their faces closer. “You couldn’t have done anything to stop it, bro. She wanted to go after you dad left.”


His dad didn’t leave. He died. He took his thousandth fucking mission, ground his mother’s heart into their gravel driveway and never came home.


A growl built in his throat. “Drop it.”


“Stop blaming yourself.” Ethan’s voice dropped and he let the photo’s fall into Aaron’s bag. “Your mother wasn’t your fault back then and Celine’s not your fault now.”


Aaron slowly lowered the weight this time, allowing his comment to pass without reaction. His teammate was wrong on both counts. He’d seen the clues in his mom.

She’d started with the drinking first and then the anti-depressants. And then he’d gone and done exactly what his dad had done before he was killed in action, he’d left.


Just like he would always do.


He’d devoted his life to the Teams. His country. His brothers in arms.


A life in the special forces was not life for a relationship. His firsthand experience with the disaster of his parents failed attempt was enough to keep him forever away from giving his heart to any woman other than the Statue of Liberty.


He was man enough to admit that he’d been week with Celine. She’d been the first woman who’d ever tempted him from his duties. He’d actually thought about more than a one night stand with her – he’d envisioned a future together. And because he’d given into that weakness, she’d been taken by the one man who could do the most damage. 


Ethan would never understand, he had his woman. Kate was safe and sound, waiting on him to return home. At least until she wasn’t. “Let it go.”


“Not until you do.” Ethan faced off with him, hands balled into fists at his side.


Aaron straightened, for one second letting the pain show in his expression. “When Kate dies because of you, come talk to me about letting go.”


Ethan threw his hands up in the air and stomped over the weight bench. “Your mom’s gone, man. Celine’s not. You’ve still got a chance.”


“Not if I don’t find her.” Not even then. He hadn’t learned before but he had now. Fate had given him one chance – she wouldn’t allow another one. He’d find Celine, deliver her safely home and walk the hell away before he did more damage than he’d already done.


Ethan shot him a look of quiet anger. “We.”


“What?”


“We will find them. You’re not the only one on this team. We were all there when Celine and Caroline were kidnapped, in case you’ve forgotten.” Ethan fell back on the bench and lifted the barbell straight over his chest with a grunt. “If you aren’t willing to let go of the guilt, at least realize you don’t have the corner market on it.”


Aaron stared at him, testing his friend’s words, allowing them to roll around in his mind. Maybe with Shane, their teammate, he wasn’t alone in the feeling. They’d all fell for the ambush – set up by their very own CIA liaison. TF-S had moved in without question to motivation and still hadn’t realized they’d snuck right into a trap until they were right in the middle of a shit storm of combatants.


What about Celine? Could he share the blame of her kidnapping with them?


Hell, no he couldn’t. He hadn’t told Ethan about sleeping with her or about the fact he’d left his post because he couldn’t stay away from her. Only their commander, Colonel Grey, knew that he’d given in to the insurmountable temptation of Celine Latimer. He’d broken his vow to his mother that he’d never put a woman through her hell in one scorching night of passion that had permanently seared his soul.


Ethan snorted. “You’re skull’s as thick as that metal bar.”


Aaron grunted gratefully at Ethan’s change in conversation. His limit for talking about his failures had been reached a week ago. “Can’t argue that.”


“I can’t believe it.”


“What?”


“You agreed with me. What’s that – like the second time since we’ve been over here?” Ethan said.


“Quit with the chick talk and start talking about how we are going to gut J and I’ll talk all day.” Aaron emphasized the we just for Ethan’s benefit.


He could feel Ethan rolling his eyes. “I get it. No more talking about anything but the mission.”


“And killing Mr. J.,” Aaron finished for him.


“We’ll find them. We’ve already narrowed their location down to this area of the desert.”


“You mean this hundred-square mile radius of ISA loyalists protecting our old liaison? Mr. J wants nothing more than to make us pay.”


The Islamic State of Afghanistan, the lead terrorist organization in the world, along with the help of Mr. J, was responsible for kidnapping Caroline Cotter during her high-profile wedding to General Rainer. A relationship crafted in the hallways of JSOC themselves and a bargain struck between the senator in command of JSOC and his four-star General. It was a match made in Department of Defense, DOD, heaven.


Senator Cotter would take complete control of JSOC with the General at his side, carrying out his tasks. “You get the feeling the whole wedding was orchestrated by Mr. J?”


Task Force Scorpion’s former CIA liaison turned traitor. Caroline Cotter had been the bait to seal the deal and Celine Latimer had been collateral damage.


Ethan said, “Or it was a deal Mr. J couldn’t afford to allow to go down.”


Aaron paused mid-air. “You think he wanted to stop it?”


Ethan shrugged and racked his bar. “Makes sense, why else kidnap her before the wedding could take place?”


“You talk to the commander about this?”


“Yeah. He said he’d starting kinda thinking the same thing. But without proof, the girls or J, we won’t know anything for sure.”


Aaron grabbed his towel and wiped his face. He’d been so focused on his failure he’s never stopped to consider that J wasn’t pulling the strings, but trying to cut them. “It should never have gone down like that.”


“Exactly. The senator vetted his own security. He pulled us in for extra detail, that’s it,” Ethan said.


“It was a cake mission. How hard could it be to pull security at Caroline’s wedding?” He’d gotten complacent. He should never have taken Senator Cotter’s word that he’d fully vetted his own staff. Aaron grabbed the bar, needing the physical exertion to tame the internal battle.


If he’d approached the mission with the same intensity he did all others Celine might still be here.


Up, down. The barbell bowed under the heavyweights stacked onto the ends every time he lifted. He was going to make Celine's kidnapper bend like that, right before he snapped the bastard in half.


“You’re right, we knew better, but we both trusted the Senator. It was his fuck up, too, and his daughter that was kidnapped because of it,” Ethan said.


“Not just Caroline. Celine was kidnapped, too. Don’t forget her,” Aaron ground out, jaw clenched under the pressure of holding up the extreme weight and guilt.


“In case I need to remind you, my girlfriend, Kate, was almost taken. Don’t talk like I don’t understand, man. We nearly lost all of them.”


“I’m not, I just- I was the reason Celine was there in the first place,” Aaron said, careful to keep his emotions on the back burner.


“Yeah, so what? You invited her because you you’d vetted her and we needed a makeup artist and stylist we could trust. Someone who could be close to Caroline that we wouldn’t have to worry about. You were just doing your job.”


Oh, he did his job alright. He’d fully vetted Celine Latimer, but not as a stylist for the bride. “If you say so.”


He wanted her. He’d wanted her for nearly a year. He’d wanted her so bad he’d forgotten the cardinal rule – no relationships in the special forces. Not that he enjoyed one-night stands, but he wasn’t about to put a girl through the shit of being in a relationship with a man who was never there, or one who may never come home from a mission.


He’d seen the toll it took on his mother. Each and every time his dad left on a mission, Aaron would watch another batch of light in his mother’s eyes dim. Then the painful forced reunions with a man none of them knew anymore. Hell, his father didn’t know his wife and kids either and how could Aaron blame him for just doing his duty. He couldn’t fault his father for signing his life over to the military, but he could sure as hell make sure he never put a woman through that kind of pain. His dad didn’t come back from his last assignment. His mother lost it, broke apart into a million pieces. The one woman Aaron had loved above all others slipped right through his hands and took her own life.


He’d thought about blaming the military – but how could he? He blamed his father for falling in love and committing to a relationship he could never hold. No matter what, Aaron had vowed to never do that to a woman. Either they understood that they came to his bed for one night only or they didn’t come at all.


And that life creed had held him rock steady for his entire career – until Celine Latimer made him want more.


He wasn’t in the mood to talk about it anymore. Aaron dropped the heavy metal bar with a satisfying clank onto the concrete at his feet.


Ethan wiped the sweat from his face and dropped the soaked hand towel on a nearby metal chair. Their workout facility had the necessities. Water enough so they wouldn’t pass out from dehydration. Weights heavy enough to work off the steam. All the outdoor circulation the desert could provide.


Hell on earth.


They’d been stationed there for two weeks, searching and pulling recon non-stop. They'd tapped all their contacts in the area, searched satellite photographs and even done some door-to-door searches only to come up with nothing. Not even a blip. It was as if the two women had vanished.


“I saw Hoyt and Jared pull in a few seconds ago. Let’s head back out. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a lead,” Ethan said.


Aaron left the barbell on the concrete pad for the next guy who needed to bend some metal. “Five minutes.”


After a quick shower and uniform change, the two checked in with the commander and then headed out on their knock and talk mission, which was a complete waste of time, but it was also their only hope for a lead right now.


“Just got a call from the rest of the team, they'll be here in the next hour. Top has some new intel he wants to show us.” Ethan pulled the Humvee to a stop at the end of Mississippi Street, in Shorawak, a medium sized town near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Square built white stone buildings lined the dirt road, some with metal doors and other with burlap covering the opening. Kids kicked soccer balls down the end, but stopped the second they got out of their Humvee.


“Looks like we weren’t expected.”


Ethan snorted. “We were expected, not welcomed.”. Mississippi was one of the safer streets to patrol, and one that they hadn’t covered yet in their door-to-door search for Caroline and Celine.


“OK,” Aaron got out of the Humvee, heading to the first door on the street. He banged hard, waited a sec and knocked again. A man answered, his gaunt face haggard with deprivation and dirt. Aaron held up the headshots of the girls. “You see them?”


“No.” The man slammed the door in his face and Aaron forced himself to back up a step and move down the street.


No had been the standard response from those who had any English vocabulary. Most of the time, they just got angry retorts in Farsi, followed by a door slam.


Ethan trailed behind, guarding Aaron’s back as he stopped at every single door on the street. They questioned twenty households on Mississippi and then moved on to Arkansas Street. When they reached the end of that, about fifty doors of no new news of the girls later, Aaron reached the end of his patience. “I hate not knowing.”


“Me, too, brother. Maybe the new intel will be something we can actually use,” Ethan scanned the now deserted street behind them, keeping his rifle at the ready.


“I’m letting you take the next one.” Aaron knocked on the beaten up green metal door. “I swear, if another asshole slams the door in my face, I’m gonna kick it down.” A man in a white tunic and pants answered, his gaze raking over Aaron a second before the man spit on Aaron’s boot.


Aaron gritted his teeth and held up the worn photos of the girls. His boots had been through worse shit than this. “Have you seen them?”


The man cursed and made to shut the door. Rage rode through Aaron on wings. He slammed a hand to the door and yanked the man out, pinning him to the wall. “You hear me? I asked you a question. Where are the girls?!”


The man threw his hands up, waving in front of his face and shouting back in Farsi, “Man nemefahmam. Man nemefahmam.”


Ethan grabbed Aaron’s shoulder, pulling him off the local. “He doesn’t know. What the hell are you doing?”


The man ran inside and locked the door. Ethan grabbed Aaron and threw him against the wall where the villager had been. “What’s going on, man? I know you, and this isn’t like you. And don’t give me another line of shit about how you feel guilty for screwing up the mission, because we all screwed that one up and you know it. We’ve all failed missions before and moved on. What’s eating you alive over this one?”


What was so different?


Maybe it was the fact that he’d cornered Celine in her bedroom and tried to devour her whole. Or maybe that she’d returned the favor full force in an explosion of passion neither of them had been prepared for. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that Aaron had thrown out his training and experience on pure instinct and lust. He’d known the digs of getting involved with Celine, or at least he’d thought he had. But once he’d had her, the moment he buried himself between her sweet, honey drenched thighs, he’d realized his mistake.


Celine Latimer was his one. The One. He wouldn’t be able to quit her after a one nighter. She was like a drug. Her kisses. Her moans. Her need for him.


And fuck all if he’d ended up killing her like his father killed his mother.


Colonel Grey walking in on them going at it like two teenagers in the back of his father’s car when Aaron should have been on patrol, was just the steel shovel to bury the relationship coffin.


Aaron had tucked tail and turned away from Celine, pointedly ignoring her for the rest of the week despite the wounded expression she shot him whenever they were in each other’s vicinity. “I should have paid better attention. It was my job to protect them.”


“And mine. And the Team. And the Secret Service.”


“But-”


“No buts.” Ethan kept him pinned. “You've been on edge since we got here and I've tried to stay out of it, but I'm not gonna sit back and watch you lose it. You've been taking chances lately; chances you never used to take.”


Celine was at the mercy of a murderer and in a den of monsters who treated women worse than dogs. They wouldn’t hesitate to hurt her. Bile clawed its way up his throat at the thought of another man's hands on her body.


“Just let it out, brother. Get whatever is eating you alive off your chest so we can get to work.” Ethan crossed his arms.


If he'd pushed harder, tried to pick him apart, Aaron might have clamped down, but the obvious concern in Ethan's voice broke through Aaron's wall of anger; straight through to his fear.


“Shit.” Aaron shoved a hand through his thick sweaty hair. “I'm trying, you know. I can't get her out of my mind long enough to concentrate. Every time I think about someone hurting her…” He wanted to punch something. To break something. To kill someone.


“I get it. You know I get it. But you got to find a way back to zero, brother. This edge you’re riding puts us all at risk.”


“I know you understand, but that doesn't stop the fact that Mr. J has them. We know that. He's already tried to murder our team twice. If he can find a way to use the girls against us, you know he will. We have to find them before it comes to that.”


Ethan put a hand on Aaron's shoulder. “We both know what Mr. J is capable of. Just like we both know that if you don't get your center back, Mr. J will win. Again. Your greatest weapon is your training. Take that rage filling up your insides right now and compress it into cold hard hate. You figure out a way to get it under control and we will find Mr. J and Celine. But you keep letting the anger rule your decisions instead of logic and you'll get us all killed.”


Aaron blew out a long sigh, knowing Ethan was right, but at a complete loss as to how to tame the raging beast inside him. “I know that’s what I need to do. I just don't know if I can.”


“Oh, you can, brother. Trust me. Just think about how good it's going to feel to put a bullet in Mr. J's skull. If it hadn't been for Mr. J, Shane might still be alive, and ISA sure as shit wouldn't have had the resources to attack us on our own soil.”


ISA made the Taliban look like amateurs. They had ambushed Task Force Scorpion's headquarters, nearly killing the entire team and their families. They'd turned Shane Carter, TF-S's first sniper, against his own team, resulting in Merc having to put a bullet in his teammate.


All that, and now Senator Cotter's daughter. “This is going to sound corny, but my instincts are telling me he's up to something else, something so twisted, we can’t even imagine it, but, dammit, I don't know if that's really my instincts or the fact that I'm scared to death he's going to hurt Celine.”


Ethan went silent. Finally, he took a step back and gave Aaron a look of dawning horror.

“That’s it. This was not a random kidnapping – Caroline Cotter's father is head of Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC. The general she was supposed to marry was in charge of the Special Forces. If Mr. J can get control of those men, he'll be able to manipulate United States SF to do his bidding and the forces would think they were just following orders.”


Aaron froze, the truth of Ethan's words way too possible. “If Senator Cotter puts in orders to deploy an attack and the general signs off, it will look totally legit.”


Ethan nodded, “He could order the takeover of a small country and make it look like it happened with the blessing of the United States.”


The words sunk deep and heavy in Aaron's gut, pulling the plug on his fury as a heavy dread settled over him. “If Cotter really worships his daughter above all else, he'll do whatever Mr. J demands to ensure her safety.”


Aaron, on the other hand, was the only one who worshipped Celine Latimer.

Unfortunately for her, the desires of an expendable Special Forces agent didn’t bear a whole lotta weight when it came to striking a deal with the devil.

 


AUTHOR BIO

 

Lindsay Cross is the USA Today bestselling author of the Men of Mercy series. She is the fun loving mom of two beautiful daughters and one precocious Great Dane. Lindsay is happily married to the man of her dreams - a soldier and veteran. During one of her husband's deployments from home, writing became her escape and motivation.


AUTHOR LINKS

 

Website: http://www.lindsaycross.com


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindsaycrossauthorpage


Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/203321623348970


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lindsaycrossauthor


Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bDbFNb


Twitter: https://twitter.com/lindsaycross101


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8292030.Lindsay_Cross


Amazon: http://amzn.to/293aMCR


Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lindsay-cross


Book+Main: https://bookandmainbites.com/lindsaycross

 

Steamy read with danger and a little bit of a mystery

Her Desert Doctor - Marie Tuhart
Quick read with a little BDSM but a lot of sparking and emotion. Sara was a strong woman, meant to help others, and it was how she overcame her past. Hassan took too much on, trying to save his country and have a job. He was protective of and drawn to Sara, yet his past almost brought him down. The caring of both these characters made this a good read.

I received a copy of this story through Authors XP, and this is my unsolicited review.
 
 

 

Danger, mystery, boundaries to cross, some steam, good read.

Kiss Me at Christmas - Valerie Bowman
Regina and Daffin were a wonderful, hot couple. She accepted the fact that she would have a loveless marriage dictated by family. I loved her determination to find some control to her life and to help end the danger she was in. Daffin was a man who wanted to protect Regina and resist her as best he could. Secrets could keep them apart, but their honesty with each other led the way to love. I recommend this story.

I received an ARC of this story through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
 
 

 

Blog Tour: First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett

 

First Earl I See Tonight

Anna Bennett

 

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Genre: Historical Romance

 

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ABOUT THE BOOK:


An heiress with a daring proposal. An earl who’s determined to resist her. And a love that just might be written in the stars, in First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett.

 

Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…

 

A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.


Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen.


Anna's books include the Wayward Wallflowers series and the Debutante Diaries series.

 

SOCIAL LINKS:


Anna’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/_AnnaBennett


Anna’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnaBennettAuthor/


Anna’s Website: http://annabennettauthor.com/


SMP Romance Twitter: https://twitter.com/heroesnhearts

& https://twitter.com/SMPRomance


SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/

 

 

BUY THE BOOK:


https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/historical/first-earl-i-see-tonight/

 

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Excerpt:

 

“Lord Ravenport,” Lady Callahan intoned, closing her fan with an expert flick of the wrist. “Please, allow me to present my daughter Miss Sophie Kendall and her friends Miss Fiona Hartley and Miss Lily Hartley.”


Gray exchanged the expected pleasantries, then turned to Fiona. A halo of loose curls crowned her head, and she worried her plump bottom lip. Her pink gown exposed the long column of her neck and the curve of her shoulders; he could almost see her pulse beating wildly at the base of her throat.


His instincts screamed for him to run right out of the ballroom, and yet his boots remained rooted to the floor. Worse, before he knew what he was doing he’d asked her to dance.


“It would be my pleasure,” she stammered, taking his arm.


As he led her to the dance floor he questioned his own good judgment—and not for the first time that day. He’d witnessed Miss Hartley trip and tumble into the orchestra at the Millbrook ball. He’d been dancing with Helena at the time but had paused to help her up.
So much had changed since then.


He had no idea if Miss Hartley’s dance partner had been to blame for the incident or whether she was prone to falling, but just to be safe he tightened his hand on her waist. And they began moving to the music.


The first measure had barely played before she asked, “You received my letter?”


“I did,” he said noncommittally, twirling her beneath his raised arm.


When she faced him again, she looked him directly in the eye. “What do you think of my . . . offer?” she asked, her voice cracking on the final word.


He tamped down an unexpected pang of sympathy. “I think that we hardly know each other.”


“True, but that is easily rectified, is it not?” There it was—an unmistakable hint of desperation. And a sense of urgency that even her letter hadn’t conveyed.


“It is,” he conceded. “However, I suspect that the more we know each other, the less we’ll like each other.” Cynical but true in his experience. His parents certainly hadn’t grown fonder of each other. Neither had he and Helena.


She winced and looked away before regaining her composure. “Perhaps. But we needn’t like each other.”


Gray chuckled at that. “I never thought I’d meet someone more jaded than I.”


“So, you’ll consider my offer?” she pressed.


“I will not,” he said firmly. Under different circumstances, her fortune may have tempted him. But she was clearly intent on using him for her own purpose—and he suspected that she’d set her sights on him for reasons beyond his title. After all, there were half a dozen peers in attendance right now who’d leap at the chance to marry a young and unconventionally beautiful heiress.


But he was not one of them.


“It seems rather closedminded of you to dismiss me summarily,” she shot back, displaying a boldness that was borderline rude—and refreshing.

 

"If I said I’d consider your offer, I’d only be giving you false hope. Delaying the inevitable.”


“The inevitable rejection, you mean,” she clarified.

 

“Yes.” He was still reeling from the sting of Helena’s rebuff and wouldn’t wish anyone that sort of pain and humiliation.


“Please,” she begged. “I realize that it’s highly unusual for a woman to propose marriage—”


“It’s unheard of.”


“Surely you must be curious—as to why I did it.” She looked up at him, her shining blue eyes challenging him to deny the truth of her words.


Gray shrugged. “You have your reasons for making the offer; I have my reasons for declining it.”


“Give me the opportunity to explain,” she pleaded. “Just a quarter of an hour to make my case. If, after that, you remain unconvinced, I promise I shan’t mention it again.” He must be out of his damned mind to consider engaging in further discussion with Miss Hartley. The very last thing he needed was another conniving, selfserving female attempting to interfere with his life. He had opened his mouth to tell her so when someone bumped into his back—hard.


Gray’s torso collided with Miss Hartley’s chest, and she stumbled two steps before he wrapped an arm around her slender waist, catching her just before she landed on the parquet floor. She gasped and clung to his jacket, her expression an odd mix of relief and mortification.


“Oh dear,” she breathed.


Their faces were so close he could see unexpected dark blue flecks in her irises and the individual freckles dotting her nose. “Forgive me,” he said.


“For what?”


For what indeed? Steering her into the collision? Gripping her waist too tightly? Or for staring at the swells of her breasts and having decidedly wicked thoughts while he should have been shielding her from further embarrassment? Ignoring her question, he asked, “Are you all right?”


“I am.” Her cheeks turned a charming shade of pink. She blew out a breath and shot him a shaky smile. “When it comes to dance floor mishaps, I confess I’ve survived much worse.”


Gray looked over his shoulder to see how the other couple fared, surprised to find Helena and her dance partner smiling apologetically.


And the truth struck him. For the last ten minutes, while he’d been dancing with Miss Hartley, he’d been completely, blissfully unaware of Helena and what she was doing.

Even more remarkable, he’d forgotten that she was in the room.

 

“Meet me in Hyde Park tomorrow,” he said to Miss Hartley, mentally cursing his own weakness. “I will listen to what you have to say, but don’t expect anything to
change my mind.”


The corners of her mouth curled in a triumphant smile. “Thank you. All I ask is that you allow me the chance to explain the advantages of the arrangement—for us both.”

 

 

“Forgive me if I remain skeptical,” he drawled. “I’ll meet you near the footbridge. Three o’clock?”


“You won’t regret this,” she said earnestly, but the prickling sensation between his shoulder blades suggested he would. In spite of her naïveté and candor—or maybe because of those things—Miss Hartley could prove far more dangerous to him than Helena had ever been.

 

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Link to my review on Iron Canuck:

 

http://christinewoinich.booklikes.com/post/1803120/protecting-family-is-more-important-that-her-future

 

 

Blog Tour: Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

 

 

“Memorable characters, rich sensuality, and mystery will entice readers from the very first page.”
—Publishers Weekly


 

Kiss Me at Christmas
A Playful Brides Novel

Valerie Bowman


Not every leading lady finds love, gets married and sustains a domestic life. What about the ladies who were never swept off their feet? Do they take matters into their own hands? In the delightful addition to Valerie Bowman’s Regency-set Playful Brides series, Regina has written off the prospect of marriage, but she still would very much like a pleasurable distraction in her life. KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, October 30, 2018, $7.99), connects a headstrong spinster and a noble Bow Street Runner tasked with protecting her during Christmas time in London.


Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Caroling and holiday cheer only remind him of a dark time. When a close friend calls on him for help, Daffin is happy to capitalize on the distraction. But when he learns the lovely Lady Regina is the one in danger, he’s to become bodyguard to the captivating woman...

 

Regina has one mission: to find a night of passion in the arms of a gentleman. Considered firmly on the shelf, Regina has given up on marriage—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be denied the pleasure married ladies experience. Daffin has long captured her attention…and when a threat calls him to her side, the sparks between them ignite. But how can a hired bodyguard find his way into Regina’s reserved heart?


# # #

 


VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides series and the Playful Brides series.


KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS
By Valerie Bowman
Price: $7.99
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14752-3
St. Martin’s Paperbacks

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

      London, December 1818 Lady Regina Haversham’s thirtieth birthday was precisely one month away, which didn’t leave her much time to lose her virginity. Not that she wanted it lost. She wanted to know where it went and choose to whom she gave the dratted thing.

     Her coach came to a stop in front of the offices of the Bow Street Runners in central London, and she drew in a deep, unsteady breath. She pressed her hands deeper into the white fur muff that sat atop her lap and willed her pounding heart to slow its nervous beat. Christmastide was her favorite time of year. She was in high spirits, but she was also as nervous as a young lady making her debut on her way to see the queen. This particular outing had every chance to end in disaster.

     She glanced out the window. She probably should have hired a hackney. It would have been less conspicuous than her uncle’s resplendent coach. There were already several onlookers staring up at the black-lacquered conveyance with the Duke of Colchester’s seal on the side. She glanced down at her clothing. No doubt her ensemble was too elegant for marching into the offices of the best private investigative team in London, but she had no other clothing to wear, and this particular message was best delivered in person. She didn’t know Daffin Oakleaf’s home address, and she hardly thought a note to him for what she had in mind would be appropriate. No. Regardless of the stares, she had to see him in person.

     Regina had settled on the perfect birthday gift to herself. She would spend the night with a man. Not just any man. The finest candidate. One who had the face and body of a Greek god. Thirty years old. Tall, fit, and handsome. Blond hair and green eyes that held a twinkle she found irresistible. She’d met him last summer at her uncle’s estate. Her family had been gathered there for the unfortunate purpose of her cousin, the marquess’s, funeral. John had been murdered, and inappropriate or not, the man Regina had come to covet was the Bow Street Runner who’d helped investigate his murder.

     She hadn’t seen Daffin since he’d left the estate that hot July day taking away the two murderers in shackles. Rarely a day passed since that Regina didn’t think of him. She’d read about him in the paper, too. Lately, there’d been a series of articles in the Times focusing on his exploits. He’d caught criminal after criminal and, according to her cousin Nicole, made hefty bounties doing it. Now that Regina’s period of mourning was over and her uncle was forcing the issue of her marriage, Regina was here to ask Daffin Oakleaf, legendary Bow Street Runner, to make mad, passionate love to her.

     Her stomach performed a somersault. Could nerves make one physically ill? She suspected they could. Suspected hers would. She winced. It wouldn’t do to cast up her accounts in front of the man. That certainly wouldn’t attract him.

     She glanced at her maid, who sat on the seat facing her, back ramrod straight. If the proper young woman knew what Regina was thinking, no doubt she’d be scandalized. Precisely why Regina had said as little as possible about their outing today. Genevieve hadn’t asked many questions. Thank heavens.

     The coachman opened the door and Regina took one more deep breath. “Wait here,” she said to Genevieve. “I shouldn’t be long.”

     After all, how long could an indecent proposal possibly take?

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

     Daffin Oakleaf pushed himself away from his office desk and scrubbed both hands across his face. He was tired. Bone tired. He hated Christmastide. He’d been running himself ragged chasing a particularly nasty thief across London for the last fortnight. Daffin had nearly had him, or so he thought, when a clue he’d been pursuing had turned to nothing. He was back to the start of his investigation, and severely out of sorts.

     Daffin loved his work. It was perfect for him, and it had made him a wealthy man, but days like this were frustrating as hell. He much preferred to be taking down criminals and delivering them to gaol, instead of pacing his office with little to go on while they roamed free.

     He was obsessed with each one of his cases, but this one kept him up at night. This case made his blood boil. A child had been injured by the bloody thief, and if there was one thing Daffin couldn’t countenance, it was a grown man being violent with a child. He would track down this monster if it was the last thing he did.

     Most of Daffin’s investigations were done with the promise of a hefty purse at the end, but he was doing this one for free. He always took on a case or two for charity at Christmastide. It was the least he could do. Not to mention it kept his mind from the blasted season. Focusing on his cases made the holiday easier to ignore. Easier to forget.

     He pulled a notebook from his inner coat pocket and scanned the words he’d written on the case so far. Perhaps he’d missed something, some detail that would finally lead him down the right path to Henry Vickery.

     “Oakleaf!” came the voice of Paul, the secretary, who sat out in the offices’ main room and fielded inquiries from people who came in off the street.

     “I’m busy,” Daffin called back, not in any mood to be taken away from his case. It was probably someone else who’d read about him in the paper and wanted to make his acquaintance. The papers hounded him of late. One reporter in particular. Mr. H. J. Hancock.

     The man seemed obsessed with following Daffin’s cases. Week after week, for months now Daffin had been mentioned in his articles. The stories made him sound like a bloody hero. They described how he chased down bad men in the dark of night, vaulting over walls, climbing up to rooftops, and taking more than one bullet. He’d never have answered the reporter’s bloody questions if he’d known the man would go and write things like that. Being a hero wasn’t Daffin’s purpose. Never had been. He did his work to put the scum of society behind bars. To get evil people off the street. To spare their future victims.

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