One Contemporary in a Sea of Historicals #romance #contemporary #BoraBora

I’ve often been asked why I chose to break from the historical romance sub-genre for my fifth novel, The Parking Space.

Honestly, the reason is I just wanted a break. Historical romance novels take a lot of time and research and having just come off writing four of them—one of which was extremely difficult . . . cough, When the Black Roses Grow, cough . . . set during the Salem Witch Trials—I just needed a break. I needed easy.

For the most part, this book was a breeze to write. Yes, I still have to do research when it came to veterinary medicine and accurately describing the islands of Bora Bora. However, it wasn’t near what I had to do for the other novels and was a nice break.

I have to say that while I still prefer the historical sub genre of romance, writing a contemporary or chick lit every now and then would probably be fun for me. I have a few ideas for other stories in mind. Unfortunately, for them, they always seem to get pushed down the list. Perhaps after another number of historicals, I’ll find that I need easy once again and they will get their chance in the sun. I guess we shall see.

    

 

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Welcome Carrie! #paranormal #romance #amreading #paranormalromance

Carrie Pulkinen is a paranormal romance author who has always been fascinated with things that go bump in the night.

Of course, when you grow up next door to a cemetery, the dead (and the undead) are hard to ignore. Pair that with her passion for writing and her love of a good happily-ever-after, and becoming a paranormal romance author seems like the only logical career choice.

Before she decided to turn her love of the written word into a career, Carrie spent the first part of her professional life as a high school journalism and yearbook teacher.

She loves red wine and chocolate, and in her free time, she likes to read, take pictures, and spend time with her family.

For more information on Carrie and her available titles, visit her WEBSITE or other social media outlets. To Catch a Spirit (Spirit Chasers Book 1), To Stop a Shadow (Spirit Chasers Book 2).

A second-chance romance where the past isn’t the only thing that’s haunting…

Paranormal investigator and IT genius Gage Dawson sucks at dating. Ten times out of ten, his relationships don’t make it past dinner. But when his childhood best friend comes back into his life, he’s determined to take her all the way to breakfast. He never told her he loved her in high school. Hopefully he won’t make that mistake again.

Psychic medium Erica Miller is struggling to make her haunted community theater a success. She’s never had a problem with ghosts before, but when black-outs, confusion, and headaches plague her rehearsals, she’ll need the help of a certain paranormal investigator to find the culprit.

Erica hasn’t seen Gage since high school, and the nerdy boy-next-door she once called her best friend has grown into a mouth-watering specimen of a man. Will sparks fly between them, or will the spirits drive them apart?

“This is me.” She pointed to a dark gray Saturn. “I better get home.” She opened the door, but hesitated to get in. Instead, she turned and pulled him into a hug. “It was good talking with you again.”

Damn, she felt good pressed against him. “Yeah, it was.”

She touched her lips to his cheek, a friendly gesture she’d done many times when they were kids. But this time, she didn’t pull away. Her mouth lingered near his jaw, her breath warming his skin. She pulled back ever-so-slowly, her nose brushing against his cheek as her lips neared his own.

His heart pounded in his chest. She glanced into his eyes and lowered her gaze to his mouth. Leaning toward him, she brushed her lips to his. Softly. Cautiously, as if she wasn’t sure kissing him was the right thing to do. She pulled back slightly to catch his gaze, and then, cupping his face in her hands, she kissed him again, this time, like she meant it.

The taste of lime on her lips made his head spin, and he fought the urge to crush his body to hers and kiss her harder. He’d let her take the lead for now. Rushing her into something she wasn’t sure she wanted was bound to backfire.

She inhaled deeply and pulled away, a smile curving her lips as she looked into his eyes. “Hmm.” She lowered her gaze and blinked up at him. “That was nice.”

“Yeah.”

She slid into the driver’s seat. “I hope I’ll see you again soon.”

“Me too.”

She closed the door and waved as she drove away.

Gage shoved his hands in his pockets and watched until her car disappeared around the corner. What had happened there? Had she really kissed him? He played the moment over in his mind. The way her breath felt against his skin. The softness of her lips brushing his. That had been way more than a friendly kiss.

“So, you and Erica hit it off.” Lindsay grinned at him from the sidewalk, pulling him from his thoughts.

He sauntered toward her. “We’re just friends from high school.”

“Just friends don’t kiss each other on the mouth.”

He chuckled. “No, I guess they don’t.”

It’s all about keeping it personal . . . #romance #contemporary #humor #cat #amreadingromance

I get asked a lot if I ever put personal information or stories in my novels. Well, the answer to that is “of course”! I love putting personal touches in my writing. It makes it extra fun when friends and family notice and send me messages about it too.

So what is an example of this? Well, actually here are two.

In my novel, The Parking Space, Helen shares a story about her orange tabby cat named Charlie with Rick. Not only do I own a fat, orange tabby named Charlie, but the funny story Helen shares actually happened to my late cat Tuffy.

I still remember that night like it was yesterday. My husband and I laid in bed laughing for at least 30 minutes before going to look for him. So what’s the story? Well you gotta read the book to find out! *wink wink*

Helen Wright is done with love. Left at the altar then stood up by a blind date, her only ‘significant other’ is her real estate career and her fat, orange tabby, Charlie. When her wealthiest client fires her then bad mouths her all over the city, Helen’s professional life turns just as pathetic as her love life. Her only consolation is a much-needed vacation to Bora Bora to attend a friend’s wedding.

Single again, veterinarian Rick Stark needs only three things: a new practice, a new city, and a new place to live. He’s desperate to move on from his cheating ex-fiancée. Tired of spending the night on a friend’s couch, he jumps at the opportunity to apply for the perfect job on the beautiful islands of Bora Bora. Little does he know how boring a vacation alone can actually get, so upon meeting the shy and introverted Helen, he finds himself oddly determined to help her have fun instead of letting her hide in her overwater bungalow.

Could both of them been wrong about finding love again? And if so, what are they supposed to do when her old flame pops back into the picture wanting to reignite the engagement he once ended?

    

 

Welcome Gwen! #romance #amreading #amreadingromance #contemporary

Born and raised near the Puget Sound in Washington State, Gwen and her family now live in Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Prior to that Gwen lived in Los Angeles and had careers in directing, acting, and singing while performing at the piano. After years in academia, writing one research article followed by another, Gwen turned her talents toward writing fiction and found she happily could not stop.

In addition to writing romance, Gwen also has two published non-fiction books on the work she does in conjunction with her business, Expressive Voice Dynamics: Soul of Voice and Soul of My Voice.

When she’s not reading, writing, or playing with her two black pugs, Buster Keaton and Emmett Kelly, Gwen works in the theatre, teaches college students how to muster the courage to follow their dreams, or assists psychotherapy clients in discovering more joy and meaning in their lives.

Keep up with Gwen by visiting her websites at www.gwenoverland.com and www.cunigundavalentine.com or other social media.

Bailey Anderssohn, one-time international opera star, inherits the family ranch near Salmon Run, Washington. Seeking a creative outlet, she jumps at the chance to ghost-write the autobiography of a retiring German soccer star.

It’s a difficult few months for Bailey, since the young man’s widowed father, Bastien Steinholz, is not only rude, but also refuses to divulge needed information about the family’s past. Still, the attraction between them slowly dispels their initial apprehensions about each other.

Can these two seemingly unsuited people escape their loneliness and into one another’s hearts? Will they find a way to trust each other enough to fall in love again? And if they do, how will they manage living continents away from each other?

 

As soon as the ovation had subsided, Paul leapt up onto the platform where the grand piano and his father stood.

“Thank you, father. As always, that was beautiful—one of my favorites, as you well know,” Paul said, placing his hand on his father’s shoulder. “Ladies and Gentlemen, friends,” he continued. “I have a bit of a surprise for all of you. Our dear Bailey Rogers has not always been a writer but has had a notable career in the past as a soubrette. Many of you may have known her as Bailey Anderssohn. Her sister Sonja Anderssohn is the celebrated mezzo at the New York Met. It may be an imposition, but would you be so kind, Bailey, as to favor us with an offering this evening?”

Oh shit! How do I get out of this?!

Bailey face froze into a grimace. She loved Paul and his family, but to come out of retirement on such short notice was nothing short of torture. And she would have said no thank you or something else to beg off, but then she saw a glint of joyful comeuppance surface on Bastien Steinholz’s half-smiling face. That did it! No way was she going to give that old fart a minute’s enjoyment at her discomfort.

Bailey softened her expression and stood. “I would be delighted.  Although it has been some years since I performed, I accept your request, but only if the illustrious Herr Steinholz will accompany me on the piano.” The crowd clapped in unison and sang out, “Bailey! Bailey! Bailey!” And then “Bastien! Bastien! Bastien!”

Touché!

She had Mr. Grumpy Pants right where she wanted him. And from the look on Bastien’s face, he knew it.

“It would be my pleasure, Fräulein.” He nodded and smiled. Well not exactly smiled, but allowed the corners of his mouth to rise ever so slightly as his forehead furrowed, and his feet made a strange and unfamiliar motion.

He didn’t actually just click his heels, did he?

Bailey tried not to laugh but as usual had little success at squelching her sense of humor.

Paul met Bailey at the edge of the small stage and assisted her onto it. The women that evening had all dressed in their finest ball gowns, and Bailey was no exception. She was short and muscular, but the floor length pale blue dress gave her the illusion of being much taller than she actually was. That and the neckline which did not fail to show off her best physical feature—two full round breasts. Standing between the two Steinholz men made her more aware of her figure than she’d been in several years, particularly since it was obvious to her that Herr Steinholz senior was having difficulty keeping his gaze up and forward.

“Herr Steinholz, …” she began.

“Bastien, please!” he interrupted.

“Bastien, might I trouble you to accompany me on “The Laughing Song” from Die Fledermaus? Somehow I feel the aria is most appropriate for this auspicious occasion.”

Bastien lifted his left eyebrow and took a step toward her. As he bent to place his mouth close to her ear, her body responded with a small shudder.

What the hell is this all about? I don’t even like the man, let alone feel attracted to him. Do I?

“Fraulein Rogers,” he whispered, “are you sure you want to choose that particular aria? It isn’t the easiest thing to pull off if you are no longer concertizing.”

Bailey placed her hand on his arm. The man’s body warmed hers. “I was going to ask you the same question, Bastien. And by the way, my name is Bailey. Bailey, Bastien. Bastien, Bailey.”

Bastien immediately stood up straight. It was obvious to Bailey that he was trying his damnedest not to look down her dress. And if she wasn’t mistaken, he was aware that she knew his blush had more to do with his desire to take in her womanly charms than her most recent reprimand.

“Yes, Bailey, I am quite aware of your name as well as my own. And so, Adele’s “Laughing Song”, as you wish!”

He turned and seated himself in front of the keyboard. He knew this aria backwards and forwards and so did not need the music in front of him. Bastien had trained himself over the years to watch every movement and nuance of his singers so as to support their performances as professionally and as personally as he could. Bailey would be no exception.

As Bailey internally prepared for her performance, Bastien could not help but stare at her standing alone in the curve of the piano. She was beautiful, he had to admit, in an American sort of way—independent, strong, self-assured. Except then he saw the slight twitch of her fingers—a sure sign of nerves—and his heart leapt into his throat. She was vulnerable after all, and not the nosey brassy busy-body American he had initially thought her to be. A world of discovery was held in those fragile, child-like fingers of hers. Bastien knew the woman to be in her early thirties, if not a few years older, but in that moment Bailey seemed more like a lost child in search of a loving adult to love and be loved by. He could only imagine what she would feel like curled up on his lap hidden in the strength his arms.

Bastien shook his head in an effort to dismiss whatever his brain was doing to his male parts. He wasn’t ready to fall in love again, for love meant but one thing—loss. And in his experience loss only brought self-reproach and pain. And he had had enough of that to last a lifetime. Bastien’s only recourse was to push the woman away before he had the chance to destroy the two of them.

“Bastien?”

Huh?

“Bastien?” She softly called to him a second time and nodded to let him know that she was at last to perform the aria. Which he now wished he had not challenged her to do.

Gott in Himmel, get your head out of your ass and stop embarrassing yourself!

Once he got a hold of his bearings, Bastien’s fingers flew across the keyboard as he skillfully played the introduction. Bailey came alive as she stepped into the character of the saucy maid, teasing then scolding her aristocratic master for misinterpreting her behavior.

It had been years since Bailey had performed this aria, let alone performed. For the first time in years she felt a freedom that she had not experienced since before the death of her child and her subsequent nasty divorce. It didn’t take her more than a few measures to understand why. This audience had no expectations of her, nor did they demand perfection. They merely wanted to experience yet another facet of the woman who had written about their beloved native son.  They were listening not only for their pleasure, but for hers.

As Bastien played, Bailey danced around him, pretending he was the opera’s Marquis. She teased him, provoked him, and sensually invited his attention to her womanly virtues. When she leaned in behind him allowing her breasts to push against his back, she sensed his sexual response as his breathing became more rapid.

The laughter in the aria brought Bailey around to the front of the piano once again.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”

Then as the end neared, Bailey seductively leaned forward over the keys. When she took his face in her hands, he grinned at her in return.

That rare smile momentarily caught her off guard. For a moment she actually slipped out of character, oddly shaken by the Baron’s obvious attention. In that brief moment she felt as through the two of them had connected in such a way that they saw each other for the first time as who they truly were. Battered but not beaten survivors of great loss and pain. Instead of scaring her, that lightning bolt realization felt good, perfect. As if it was meant to feel when one meets the love of their life. The electricity in that nanosecond felt eternal—as if it had always been and would always remain.

I must be losing my mind. If that isn’t the corniest thing I’ve ever …

The sound of applause broke Bailey’s attention. She inhaled sharply and spun out to face her audience. As if on autopilot she executed a deep curtsy. She then motioned for Bastien to stand and take a bow. Later when he tried to recall this moment, absolutely nothing came to his mind.

And Bailey was no better off. She immediately recognized the connection between her and her host and fought against allowing herself to go there. Tomorrow she would be leaving Schloss Steinholz and Germany all together, probably never to return given her duties at the ranch. Especially now that her father had gone on to be with her mother. This whatever it was should not be happening now!

Before she knew what was happening Bastien pulled her into his arms. “You are something, Ms Bailey Rogers,” he whispered. “And not at all what I had earlier assumed. Please accept my apology for any rudeness you may have felt.”

He let her go, looking down her dress as he did. And damn, if he didn’t again smile, this time with his entire face.

Welcome Jeri! #romance #YA #author #amreadingromance #amreadingYA

Jeri is a native Californian that found her storytelling voice while walking home from elementary school. Long walks with a hyper imagination led to all sorts of wild ideas. Her debut novel, Wildflower, finally came to fruition after she was laid off from her full time job as Human Resources Manager.

She now works part time as a substitute High School teacher, which is a constant source of fabulous material. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband of 28 years, her teenage son, their dog Sam, and cats Sparky and Lilly. The whole time missing her daughter who’s away at college. Jeri does her best writing still while walking, but now Sam goes as well.

 When not writing she is an avid reader, of course. She also is an equally avid tennis fan and can be found watching the Tennis Channel most nights. Definitely, do not bother her during Grand Slam tournaments. She is currently working on several Romantic Suspense novels, plus another Young Adult book is brewing. Stay tuned she’s just getting started.

For more information on Jeri and her writing you can visit her WEBSITE or other social media.

I wrote this book because teenagers have to deal with so many heavy issues in life. I wanted them to read this and know that they do have control over there own lives even if their home life is chaotic. I wanted them to have hope and understand that they are not responsible for their parents actions. They can be successful if they stay focused on the good things like doing good in school and by doing good I don’t mean having to get A’s. Instead its just being present and trying by connecting and reaching out to teachers, counselors whoever is present in their lives. People want to help you just have to be brave and reach out.

Jesse learned early not to trust a soul, but what if he was her soul mate?

Senior year of high school should be about friendship, boyfriends and graduation, but for seventeen-year-old, Jesse Barnes, it’s about escaping the shame of life with an alcoholic mother.

Jesse’s goals are clear, keep a roof over her head, avoid the revolving door of leering men her mother brings home, graduate from high school, and do everything possible to keep her home life secret. Friends, boyfriends, not an option. Who would understand?

Then, perfect, popular Derek Aames, sits with Jesse at lunch. How can she discourage him? How can she keep him from intruding on her life and discovering her secret? And most of all how can she keep him out of her heart?

Will his persistence finally break down her walls, or just break her?

Women of the Klondike #romance #historicalromance #amreadingromance #writing #Klondike

I remember reading a review for my novel IN THE LAND OF GOLD once that stated that a woman couldn’t have made it up the Klondike trail during the gold rush—especially living through the unbelievable and harsh conditions that I unrealistically created for my character. Women just didn’t do those types of things back then.

I gotta say, that review actually made me laugh.

Not only did I use actual events that happened to people back then as events in my novel (more on that at a later date), but apparently, this reviewer doesn’t know about women like Kathleen Rockwell (best known as “Klondike Kate”), Mollie Brackett, Kate Carmack, Belinda Mulrooney, Ethel Bush Berry, Mary Evelyn Hitchcock, Edith Van Buren, and Marie Riedeselle, just to name a few.

These women not only trekked the Klondike trail, but they mined for gold, owned hotels and restaurants, wrote novels, as well as built several other businesses, both alone and with their husbands.

Say what? Women actually lived and worked up in the Klondike?

Yes, they did. And it wasn’t just the ones I named. History is full of wives who followed their husbands up the trail, some of them finding out they were pregnant along the way, or some even giving birth in the trees and campsites, and others who dragged their already born children along with them, children that ranged in ages from a few months to several years. These women shared the same harsh living and working conditions, overcoming the sam hardships. They hiked the Chilkoot Trail. They prepared food over fires. They all faced sub-zero temperatures, sleeping in wool blankets or animal hides with only a layer of spruce boughs between them and the frozen ground.

And it wasn’t just the married women who did this.

Single women, both alone and with friends also made the journey. Most for the gold, wanting to make their own way and their own money in life. Women who didn’t want to live by the rules a man gave them. Some even did so because they were widowed and wanted the adventure.

Stories about these women are often ignored, and most of the ones that are told, were either about dance-hall girls, prostitutes, or nuns. Unfortunately, because of this, we have missed countless accounts from the women themselves. Stories of how some faced difficulties that the men didn’t like hiking in high-heeled boots, corsets, bloomers, ankle-length skirts, blouses, and jackets. Of course, some ditched such impractical apparel and dressed like the men.

It was in these stories that I found my novel and I found my heroine Cora. I have to say that I can’t wait to get my rights back to the story so I can add to it, and perhaps, even publish the sequel idea that I can’t seem to shake from my head.

I can’t wait to share the new story . . . or stories with all of you!

Looking down upon Christopher Payton, Cora Colton can’t believe she even doubts saying yes to his proposal. From a good family, wealthy, and charming, Christopher is perfect for her. However, staring down at the band of gold and diamonds, she hesitates. Something is missing, something is wrong, but she just doesn’t know what that something is.

After her father’s untimely death, Cora travels to Tacoma and learns that she is now the owner of his gold claim in Dawson City, Canada. Throwing caution to the wind, she leaves her ring on the table, and departs for Canada and the adventure of a lifetime.

amazonbarnes-and-noblegoodreadsArriving in the canvas tent town of Skagway on edge of the Klondike trail, Cora catches the attention of Flynn O’Neill, an Irishman who has lived on the trail guiding stampeders for a few years.

A bond thrusts them together, but their pasts threaten to tear them apart—if they can even survive the hardships and death on the trail to the land of gold.

    

 

Ah, the luck of the Irish #romance #historicalromance #amreadingromance #amreading

One particular question that keeps being asked about my hero, Flynn O’Neil, in my novel IN THE LAND OF GOLD is why did I make him Irish.

Honestly? I did it because I love the accent.

Yep, that’s why. It’s just that simple.

I actually have a few accents that I love to listen to and quite frankly, I can’t between the Irish, Scottish, Australian, and New Zealand accents, tell you which is my favorite. I love them all and can listen to both men and women talk in those accents all day long.

Of course, it wasn’t until I sat down and started putting him in the story that his nationality and accent came out, but once it did, that was it. I was hooked. The heroine was hooked. We all were hooked. He was an Irishman. Period.

Looking down upon Christopher Payton, Cora Colton can’t believe she even doubts saying yes to his proposal. From a good family, wealthy, and charming, Christopher is perfect for her. However, staring down at the band of gold and diamonds, she hesitates. Something is missing, something is wrong, but she just doesn’t know what that something is.

After her father’s untimely death, Cora travels to Tacoma and learns that she is now the owner of his gold claim in Dawson City, Canada. Throwing caution to the wind, she leaves her ring on the table, and departs for Canada and the adventure of a lifetime.

Arriving in the canvas tent town of Skagway on edge of the Klondike trail, Cora catches the attention of Flynn O’Neill, an Irishman who has lived on the trail guiding stampeders for a few years. A bond thrusts them together, but their pasts threaten to tear them apart—if they can even survive the hardships and death on the trail to the land of gold.

  The bartender set a shot glass in front of me and filled it, spilling a few drops. I grasped the glass and downed the whiskey in one gulp.

“So wat’re yeh hidin’ from?” A deep voice with a heavy Irish accent, from behind me somewhere, invaded my thoughts.

“I beg your pardon?” Turning to face the speaker, I spun a little too far in the chair, and the room pitched and rolled.

The unshaved ruggedness of the stranger’s chiseled jaw line exaggerated his perfect, broad smile. In my whiskey-induced haze, his devilish grin nearly knocked me off my stool. With piercing, dark brown eyes, and black messy hair, his utter deliciousness captivated me.

“Wat’re ye hidin’ from?”

Not in the mood for casual conversation, I desired nothing more than to tell him to leave me alone. To shout at him for approaching a woman he didn’t know and asking such a ridiculous, personal question, but the coy, seduction in his voice stopped me. He left me breathless, and for a brief second, the absurd thought of kissing him crossed my mind—annoying me even more.

“What sort of a question is that?” I asked.

“Apparently, one ye don’ want t’ answer,” the Irishman laughed as he sat on the barstool next to mine. “Only two kinds of women walk int’a a bar and get drunk in the first five minutes. One, be lookin’ for male company,” he paused and gave me a wink. “And the other be hidin’ from somethin’ she don’ wish t’ face.”

“I’m not drunk,” I snapped. “And, I’m not the sort of woman who is looking for male company.”

He laughed again. “No, I didn’t think ye were.” He leaned in to whisper the last word, and the gentle roll in his voice over the letter ‘r’ sent a chill down my spine.

    

Welcome Susan! #romance #timetravelromance #amreading #amreadinromance

Susan writes second chance romances with a touch of magic as Susan B. James and children’s books as Susan J. Berger.

She writes older heroines because she is chronologically gifted and enjoys creating characters who remember that change is only on the outside. Inside our older shells is a much younger psyche.

In her debut romance, Time and Forever, two women in their sixties inadvertently travel back to London in 1969. Time and Forever was a 2015 Golden Quill finalist for Best First Book and a 2015 RONE finalist for Best Time Travel Book.

Maybe This Time, the companion book, was published July 2017. Currently it’s available in eBook and paperback. The audiobook will come out in late February, 2018.

.Susan’s other career is acting. Comedy roles like Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories’ Mama Pantone, which went viral, are her favorite kind of roles. But drama can be fun. In 2016, among other things, she killed Kathy Bates on American Horror Story. In 2017, among other things, she got stabbed by a pen on Future Man played the victim on Major Crimes and a court clerk on This Is Us. So far in 2018 she played a babysitter on Lucifer in the episode The Last Heartbreak.

   Who knows what’s next. The joy is in the journey. For more information on Susan and her titles, visit her WEBSITE or other social media.

Their Happily-Ever-After is over before it begins unless they can change time. 

Forty-nine-year-old actress Jennifer Knight would rather eat worms than face her first husband. But when her niece Kat accidentally time travels them to 1988, she needs his help.

Lance Davies is more comfortable with computers than people. He never knew how to handle his beloved, mercurial Jen. But now her future self is here in front of him and he wants another chance.

Jen finds herself torn. Her traitorous body insists that home is in Lance’s arms, but her heart has trust issues.

Can two people whose timelines are thirteen years apart find a future where they can be together?

Jen looked into the face of the man she’d adored since she was nine, and actively avoided for the last twenty years. Lance looked almost the same as the day they’d parted. A few more lines framed his hazel eyes, now sea-dark with concern. His brown hair showed no trace of gray. It was still too long, with the same stupid lock falling over his forehead. She automatically reached to brush it back. Stopped herself. Her throat was so dry. Where was a cough drop when you needed one? “You’ve aged well.” Jen’s knees buckled.

Lance kicked out a chair and sat, pulling her into his lap. “It’s okay. Whatever it is, we can fix it.”

His warm, strong hands sent shock waves shivering through her body. She shook her head mutely.

Lance’s voice sharpened. “Is it Jeremy? Kathryn? Has something happened to them?”

“Uncle Lance!” Kathryn stopped in the living room archway, eyes child-solemn. “Why are you hugging Aunty Jen?”

Jen slipped out of Lance’s arms and landed on the floor. Could this get any worse?

“Aunty Jen says you are a stupid head with a big brain and no feelings.”

Jen rose with all the dignity she could muster. “You shouldn’t repeat things grownups say, Kitty-Kat. It’s not polite.” She reached for the packet Mrs. Flannery left behind, willing her hands not to tremble. “Here are the papers, you came for. Nice to see you. Goodbye.”

Lance glanced from Kathryn to Jen. “Where’s Jeremy? I know he and Kitty-Kat went to Sussex. Why is she back without him, and what are you doing here?”

“We couldn’t get home, Uncle Lance. So we came here.” Kathryn scuffed her foot, now shod in a plastic Jelly shoe, against the wood floor. “I thought Jen would like the machine, but I don’t like being young again. My brain is too small. I want to go home.”

Lance’s hand tightened on the papers he held. “Kathryn,” he said carefully. “How old are you?”

“I’m nineteen and I want to go home.”

Lance catapulted out of the chair. “It worked. By all that’s good and beautiful, it worked. I didn’t think he could do it.”

“You knew? You knew what he was working on?”

Lance’s grin changed to the expressionless mask she used to hate so much. “Of course, I knew. I divorced you. Not your brother. I was helping him with the theory. He probably would have told you about it, had you been interested in anyone but yourself and your career.”

Jen resisted the urge to punch him. One of them reverting to childhood was enough. Too bad. Her boxing trainer said she had a fantastic right hook. She kept her tone smooth and even. “I don’t know when we are, but I turned forty-nine yesterday, Lancelot, and you don’t know half as much about me as you think you do. I am very interested in my niece, and she’s standing there listening to every word we say.”

Lance turned to Kathryn. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. Your aunty and I won’t fight anymore.” He crooked his little finger at Jen the way they used to do when they were children. “Pax?”

Resisting the temptation to break it, Jen hooked her little finger in his. “Pax,”

Kathryn curved her little finger around theirs. “Pax. Now can we get ice cream?”

 

Happy 12th Anniversary to Us! #anniversary #12thanniversary #marriage #wedding

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our 12th Anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been 12 years.

We met in 2002 at my sister’s work birthday party at Claim Jumper. They worked together and her boss had invited me to the lunch they were having to celebrate.

He likes to tell the story that he’d been looking forward to the lunch that day because he wanted the ribs. Claim Jumper has some good ribs and is still to this day one of our favorite dishes to get when we go there for dinner. Of course, they don’t have one in our town, or even the state we live in, but when we go home from time to time we will go.

But back to my story, he was looking forward to getting the ribs, until I walked in and sat down. As soon as he saw me the ribs went out the window as he didn’t want to “look like a pig in front of me”.

We were both dating other people at the time, but later when I started working for the company too, we instantly formed a friendship. It wasn’t long after we both found ourselves single, and so we decided to go out on our first date.

And the rest is history . . .

    

It’s time to give the book blurb some lovin’ #writing #amwriting #romance #fantasy #paranormal

Nothing. I repeat NOTHING is more hated in the career of being an author than writing the synopsis and the book blurb. Nothing. Well, perhaps writer’s block, but some of the authors I’ve talked to say they’d take writers block any day over having to write their book blurb.

Why is it so hated?

Several reasons that I believe are best described in the book “How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis“, which if you haven’t purchased and read this book you should! Trust me. It will help you.

For some it’s a loss of those utterly and deliciously poetic flowing sentences that capture the essence of our writer voice. Short, choppy, and to the point is not how one writes a novel. Well, perhaps, a children’s book, but not a ‘what you hope is going to be a New York Times Best Seller’! For others it can feel like we aren’t the authors at all, but more like the pictured image of the used car salesman complete with Elvis hair, a banana yellow suit he bought from 1970, and gold chains around his neck. ‘Buy this book! Ain’t no better book then this here book. She reads like a beauty and hasn’t given me a lick of trouble.’ Instead of feeling like the author, you feel like someone trying to convince someone else to buy a product you have nothing to do with, you just want the paycheck. And lastly, for some, there is no point A to point Z in a blurb. We cut major plot lines, delete important dialogue, and gloss over world details.

OUCH! But that’s all the important stuff!!

Let’s face it, authors don’t like cutting our hard work and the book blurb is just that: our work cut up like a piece of paper when a kid is trying to make a snowflake.

So what is an author supposed to do? Well, for starters go read that book. Then take what you’ve learned and get to writing your blurb. While I won’t go into detail about the steps learned, I will give you two examples of what it taught me and how my blurbs have improved. Are they perfect now? Probably not. But they sure are a lot better then they were. It’s no wonder that they weren’t selling. I wouldn’t have bought them either.

Old

After her fiancé leaves her at the altar and a blind date stands her up, Helen Wright is done with love. Married to her real estate career instead, the only thought on her mind is selling a top listed house in San Francisco so she can finally afford the home of her dreams.

After her wealthiest client fires her, Helen’s vision of moving away from her cramped apartment and the person stealing her parking space vanishes. Her professional life is now feeling just as pathetic as her love life. So when her best friend, Lisa, informs her that she’s getting married in Bora Bora, Helen packs her bags for a much-needed vacation and boards a place with the excitement of leaving all her Mr. Wrongs behind.

A new practice and a new place to live, those are the only two things that veterinarian Rick Stark needs after finding out his fiancée cheated on him. With his trust in women shattered, he jumps at the chance for the perfect job, leaving San Francisco in the dust. However, while visiting his possible new boss on the islands of Bora Bora, he finds himself in the company of a familiar face—the attractive owner of a patient who he once thought he wasn’t interested in.

Could it be that maybe he was wrong about her? And if so, what’s he supposed to do when her old flame falls into the picture wanting to rekindle what they once had?

New

Helen Wright is done with love. Left at the altar then stood up by a blind date, her only ‘significant other’ is her real estate career and her fat, orange tabby, Charlie. When her wealthiest client fires her then bad mouths her all over the city, Helen’s professional life becomes just as pathetic as her love life. Her only consolation is a much-needed vacation to Bora Bora to attend a friend’s wedding.

Single again, veterinarian Rick Stark needs only three things: a new practice, a new city, and a new place to live. He’s desperate to move on from his cheating ex-fiancée. Tired of spending the night on a friend’s couch, he jumps at the opportunity to apply for the perfect job on the beautiful islands of Bora Bora. Upon meeting the shy and introverted Helen, he finds himself oddly determined to help her have fun instead of letting her hide in her overwater bungalow.

Can they both find love again? And if so, what are they supposed to do when her old flame pops back into the picture wanting to reignite the engagement he once ended?

So what exactly was wrong with the old one? Well for starters, I had the same word start the first paragraph and the second paragraph. HELLO! Second off, I had way too much detail about the plot. Remember the old saying: K.I.S.S ~ Keep It Simple Stupid. Did I really need to name her best friend? No. Did I really need to tell the reader her dream about selling a top listed house to buy her own? No. Did I need to tell the reader she was excited to go on vacation? No. Did I put in way too much unneeded details? YES.

And as if I’m not embarrassed enough by that one, here is another.

Old

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget.

With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park. After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging.

Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

New

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed. And the day Evelyn Ford will never forget.

With the untimely death of her parents and the mysterious disappearance of her brother, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can get it—even if that means becoming a bootlegger and illegally running hooch. Too bad her new boss ends up being none other than Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the city of New York. Thrown into the world of the mob, she finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, the only man she believes she can trust.

Unfortunately, the family’s Consigliere has secrets of his own. Secrets that could get him and those he’s protecting killed. The last thing he needs is a beautiful young woman messing with his well-laid plans—especially when her foolish choices get her entangled in the middle of the mafia crime wars.

Can he keep her safe? Or will both of their deceptions catch up with them in the end?

Again, what is the problem with the first one: details! Less is more, Angela. Less. Is. More. Did I really need to name her brother? No. Did I really need to tell the reader that they lived in a hovel in Central Park? No. Did I really need to tell the reader about her brother’s debt problems? No. Actually really no, because that is kind of a plot twist that I spoiled. Yay, me. Ugh.

So with sharing my bonehead moments, I say go forth, read the book I mentioned above, and finally enjoy writing your book blurbs!

    

Welcome Rayanne! #fantasy #romance #amreading #amreadingromance

Rayanne Haines grew up on a small horse ranch in Alberta. She spend most of her youth re-enacting scenes from Anne of Green Gables to attentive audiences that included pygmy goats and roan stallions. The horses were thrilled. Her father could never figure out why it took her three hours to clean the barn.

Her mother is an avid reader and instilled a love of literature in her at a young age. She has always been fascinated with learning people’s stories. She has a fondness for mountains and river and all the creatures that live within them. She believes in magic and the search for great love. She loves to write about strong women who will accept nothing less.

For more information on Raynne and her titles you can visit her WEBSITE or other social media.

When Alex Taleisin’s immortal DNA kicks in after a fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot, her Aunt finally lets her in on the family secret. They’re Immortal—Elementals to be precise. Only, Alex is a little something more, and until they discover what, her life is in danger.

Collum Thronus, Guardian of the Races and savage King of the Dragons has no choice but to protect Alex and find her father’s people. He made a promise and Collum always keeps his promises. Now, he needs to keep his hands off his charge.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction and soon Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for. But a battle is coming and Alex knows the only way to find answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she is destined to be.

Alex smelled oranges. It was a strong and tangy scent. It smelled clean, healthy. She opened her eyes to find herself in a garden surrounded by citrus trees. The light was intense. A slight breeze wafted crisply, yet her body felt heavy. Alex tried to raise her hand to her face. Everything appeared clean and clear . . . except her. Alex was weighted. She knew her body remained on the plane while her soul traveled here, wherever here was.

“Hello, Alex, welcome home.”

She observed the man standing a few scant steps away. He was the blood pounding under her skin, hot and fluid. There was feline presence to him. She had the distinct impression that he belonged to her. He was easily as tall as Collum, but in place of Collum’s muscle there was a lean and composed strength. She sensed he harnessed a dormant savagery. His yellow eyes glowed with secrets she didn’t want to know.

“Where am I?”

“You are home, Alex. We are waiting for you to join us.”

Alex weaved, tried to steady her mind. “Who are you?”

He approached her with ease, a slight smirk on his lips. “I am Neeren.”

“Why am I here, Neeren?”

“In England, I’ll be coming for you. Your father’s people want you home. When you see me, come to me.”

“Who are you?” She shook her head, tried to clear the cobwebs. “I know you.”

He grinned. “You family awaits, Alex.” He reached his hand to her arm and laid his fingers lightly against her skin.

For a mere second, Alex became corporeal. He leaned in and stared directly into her eyes. A half-moon glowed inside his eyes. A jolt reverberated up her spine and tingling sensation flowed behind her retina.

Neeren gently kissed her forehead before stepping away. “Come willingly to me, Alex.”

Welcome Abby! #YA #Fantasy #amreading #amreadingfantasy

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if.

She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, published in 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.
Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com.

Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.

 
REVIEWS:

“In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away. . . A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.” –Kirkus Reviews

“When Planets Fall” is a fast-paced, well-crafted and intriguing narrative. The world building is well done and believable, and details of the planet and its inhabitants’ are impeccable, making for a vibrant tale. The characters are definitive and distinctive, with very distinguished inner and outer conflicts, compelling the reader to turn page after page. . . The story is intricately crafted and a stunning catalyst for the reader’s imagination. The Stars Fall Circle series has gotten off to a promising start!
-InD’Tale Magazine
A gust of mountain wind swept through the valley and plastered my tunic against my back. The cold wind sent another onslaught of shivers across my body like static electricity. The clouds parted, and the rain
lifted as though someone flipped a switch. Light from the twin moons drizzled behind me.Suddenly, the night was quiet save for a remnant of trickling rain.

The hairs on the back of my neck saluted. I wasn’t alone. I could feel its presence.

I turned.

A silver and black machine monstrosity lay cradled and honeycombed in overgrown foliage. The drifting moons-light backlit its massive curves, sparking off its sharp angles and highlighting its scale-like pattern. As big as my apartment building, the machine practically glowed in the moons’ reflection. My jaw dropped and I breathed like I do on a sugar rush. It was striking. Striking and beautiful and otherworldly. Unlike
anything I’d ever seen. Unlike anything I’d ever dreamed.

The machine looked undamaged, though the thick curling plants blocked most my view. A walkway descended out of its belly on the right. The front end and very top was made of a glass-like substance, thick with dust. A disk-like structure jammed into the lower front end. The rear split into three exhausts, while the side exhausts rested underneath a bird-like wing. My head barely reached the bottom of the cylinders.

I was aware of the rain’s moisture on my skin. I was aware of my size in relation to the distant strip of stars. I was aware of, not just a void, but a huge gaping wound in my life I only now realized was there, but whatever caused the emptiness—this, this, whatever this was—was the answer to filling it.

I approached the side and rubbed my fist against the rust. The grit came off easy. Underneath lay a carved line, a nail-length deep. I rubbed more, following the traces of the etching upward, from side to side, until
I couldn’t reach anymore, and wiped the gunk on my pants.

The letter E. Our language.

Exhausts and wings for flight. The strangeness of the machine
. The pieces fell into order. I took a couple steps back, and my makeshift harness wiggled.

A starship.

The word tasted like a kiss. Full, mysterious, left me wanting more.

How to share your Amazon buy link #writing #amwriting #romance #fantasy #paranormal

Wait . . . what is the reason for this blog post? You mean there is a right and wrong way to share my Amazon buy link?

Yes. The answer is yes.

Have you ever logged on to Author Central and noticed one of your novels was missing a review? Well, besides a multitude of reasons (which never are explained by Amazon itself), it could be that you shared the wrong link. And when you do it wrong, you are sending the information to Amazon that YOU shared the link. A message that flags the reviews because then they believe you paid for them.

If I were to go onto Amazon right now and look up one of my titles, say A Road Paved in Copper, the link the address bar would look like this: (I know I’m missing the https://)

http://www.amazon.com/Paved-Copper-Angela-Christina-Archer-ebook/dp/B0713N8T3V/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515588185&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Road+Paved+in+Copper

Now, if I were to go through my Author Central account to the book, then the link might look like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Paved-Copper-Angela-Christina-Archer-ebook/dp/B0713N8T3V/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

And here is where the problem is. Everything past the book code, B0713N8T3V, signals to Amazon that someone else looked up the book, meaning it was shared and that the particular person now coming to this page didn’t look the book up for themselves, but was sent there by someone. There first idea who? The author.

Warning! Warning! Warning! Red Alert! Red Alert! They’ve paid for a review. We must deny it!

So what is an author to do?

The link you should share is everything prior to the book code, plus the https://

http://www.amazon.com/Paved-Copper-Angela-Christina-Archer-ebook/dp/B0713N8T3V

That is your link and the safe link to share.

If you don’t understand this, here is a video that explains it by showing you.

 

Welcome Christine! #amreading #mystery #suspense #writing #amwriting

I’d like to introduce you to Christine Hart!

Located on BC’s beautiful West Coast, I write from my suburban Langley home on the border between peaceful forests and urban streets.  I love writing about places and spaces with rich history and visually fascinating elements as a backdrop for the surreal and spectacular.

In addition to my undergraduate degree in writing and literature, my background also includes corporate communications and design. I am a current member of the Federation of BC Writers and SF Canada.

When not writing, I have a habit of breaking stuff and making stuff – in that order – under the guise of my Etsy alter-ego Sleepless Storyteller.  I share my eclectic home and lifestyle with my husband and our two energetic children.

For more information on Christine and her other titles you can visit her WEBSITE for follow her social media.

 

Secrets from Myself

Twelve-year-old Katelyn has always heard voices and had visions. She’s long suspected she is hearing from past lives. But when she runs away from home and hides out with an old friend in Vancouver, her visions become more real. She finds herself writing the words of someone else in a diary, the words of someone whose fate was deeply impacted by the Komagata Maru incident. As Katelyn learns more about the Komagata Maru and the person communicating with her, she realizes that she must correct a wrong from the past.

“I think it’s time to talk about sending you back home,” says Jane.

I am sitting in her office for a session. I am anxious, torn about leaving Vancouver. Arbutus House is starting to suffocate me, but I am not finished. I can’t let Akasha down and I’m certain I can’t do anything for her from Nelson. Proving she was real and finding justice for her murder will take some form of hands-on evidence.

“I don’t really think I’m sick, mentally or physically. I’ve never believed that. I don’t have much control over my little ‘episodes’, but I would never run away from my mom again, I can promise that. I just don’t know if I’m ready to go home,” I say.

“I head what you’re saying, but given all the tests you’ve had, and all the therapy we’ve worked through, I think Arbutus House has exhausted what we have to offer you, Katelyn. That said, before we talk about ending your treatment, I do have some things to say I think you’re not going to like.” Jane is wearing a poker face. My skin prickles at the prospect of what she’s about to say. 

“I can’t imagine what you’re going to say that would bother me. I’m weird. I’ve heard it all before.” I give a dismissive shake of my head.

“Before, we talked about your attempts to seek attention with your behavior. It seemed to me that your mother had to be the intended recipient. But after meeting with you both, separately and together, I don’t think that’s the case. Then I met your friend Bryce at the barbeque and I started to put the pieces together. I think you have strong feelings for him and you haven’t been handling his move to Vancouver very well.” Jane waits for my reaction. I can feel heat flooding my face. If Jane could tell, in one meeting no less, that I have a crush on my best friend, who else has figured it out? I’ve worked so hard to make sure nobody knew!

“How is that any of your business? What does Bryce have to do with my ‘episodes’ and my mental health?” I can’t conceal the offence and anger in my voice.

“When did you condition worsen? When did you really start the strange writing in your diary and having these intense dreams?”

“I don’t know, exactly. I’ve always had blackouts, you know that. It all got worse a few months ago, maybe a little farther back.”

“I’m not saying you did this consciously or even targeted Bryce’s family . . .” Jane is still talking but her voice fades out of my hearing after the words “targeted Bryce’s family”—as though I’m a malicious stalker. I sit in my chair, folding and unfolding my hands, waiting for the noise to end and for her lips to stop moving.

 

“Do you think another two weeks here at Arbutus House would prepare you to head back home to Nelson?”

“I don’t know It’s hard to say. Can we talk about it again next time?”

“By all means. You’ve done some good work today. I know I challenged you and it was hard to hear what I had to say. You’re being very mature. So I have a homework assignment for you. Do you still have your diary?”

Oh no! She wants to read my diary! I frantically go over in my mind everything my precious book contains. It’s no use. There’s no way I could share even a part of it. In a flash, I picture being forced to hand over the book to Jane or Mariah.

“Yes, I do. I brought it with me when Mom and I left Nelson.”

“Excellent. I want you to write a new entry in your diary. I want you to say goodbye to Akasha. Tell her whatever you want her to know, anything that feels like unfinished business.” Jane’s enthusiasm for this task compels me to ball my fists.

“Do I have to show you when I’m done?”

“Not unless you want to. A diary is a private thing and it’s important for you to know you still have a private space. We would never cross that line unless we feared for your safety, or the safety of someone close to you.”

I do find it comforting to know that she won’t go through my things unless she thinks I’m potentially violent.

“I’ll go ahead and put the paperwork together for your release. We need one final meeting with Dr. Werdiger. He can refer you back to Dr. MacDonald in Nelson. We’ll have your mom come by as soon as she’s able. All we need is her signature and you can go home.”

“Great. That’s great. I’m looking forward to it.”

Welcome Sofie! #amreading #romance #regency #regencyromance

Sofie spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized that she was no longer satisfied with simply reading the books she loved, that she must write them, too, she decided to finish her degree and embark on a writing career. Mr. Darling and the boys gave her their wholehearted blessing.

When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco.

For more information on Sofie and her available titles you may visit her WEBSITE or other social media.

 

Paris, September 1824

Lord Nicholas Asquith needs his wife. Too bad he broke her heart ten years ago.

Can he resist a second chance at the love he lost?

When Mariana catches the eye of the man at the center of an assassination plot, Nick puts aside their painful past and enlists her to obtain information by any means necessary, even if it means seducing the enemy agent.

Even if the thought makes his blood boil.

Only by keeping his distance from Mariana these last ten years was he able to pretend indifference to her. With every moment spent with her, he feels his tightly held control slipping . . .

Can she trust the spy who broke her heart?

Mariana spent the last decade forgetting Nick. Now she has the chance to best him at his own game, an opportunity she can’t resist, even as her view of him begins to shift. Increasingly, she wants nothing more than to seduce her own husband . . . 

It’s only a matter of time before mad passion ignites, a passion never convincingly extinguished. A passion that insists on surrendering to the yearning of the flesh and, quite possibly, of the heart.

Nick watched Lady Mariana slip through a crack in the exterior French doors.

He paused. A man like him had no business following virgins into the night for he had no intention of ever marrying. Marriage and children crippled a man involved in espionage.

Yet the hesitation lasted only long enough for him to set down his brandy. In three short strides, he was through the doors and beneath an indigo sky dotted with a million stars, the sort of sky only possible outside the fog-bound city. He stood uncertainly on the stone portico feeling exposed and a thousand ways a fool.

Where had she gone?

Instinct guided him down the wide staircase and onto a crushed granite path lined with all manner of flowers. Montfort’s was the quintessential English garden with its riots of overgrown blooms of every hue, tonight rendered monochromatic by the stark rays of the moon.

He’d begun to doubt his instinct when he rounded a bend in the path and spotted her some ten yards ahead, seeming to be in no particular hurry. Her ease was apparent in the relaxed set of her shoulders and the way her hand trailed idly above the flowers, allowing their velvety petals to brush the bare flesh of her palm. The way the light washed over and embraced her called to mind Selene, goddess of the moon.

He should turn back before they ruined each other.

Just as he made to retrace his steps toward the house, she called out over her shoulder, “Are you going to skulk behind me all night?”

They were the first words she ever spoke to him. His heart kicked up a notch, and his tongue became a sodden blanket in his mouth as a series of facts occurred to him:

He’d followed her. He was alone with her. And he wanted nothing more than to touch her and know the scent of her. His stride increased in length to catch her.

“Do we need a formal introduction before you will speak to me?” she teased, presenting him her flawless profile. The moon above limned her features in a contradictory soft, yet crisp, glow. “Or are you simply shy?”

“You must know who I am,” he called out to her back.

“He speaks.” An enchanting giggle floated over her shoulder. “I know you are one of many young men who venture out to my uncle’s estate to discuss England’s politics. But who you are specifically, I can’t say.”

They reached the ha-ha, and he watched her clear its low wall with ease before turning toward the edge of the woods, him following at her heels like a lap dog hungry for the tiniest crumb of her attention.

He found himself close behind her, close enough to catch her scent of jasmine and neroli. It struck him that this wasn’t the one-note scent of a debutante. On the surface, the floral jasmine indicated the shallow innocence of her peers, but the deep bitter-orange neroli complicated that assessment and made for a more interesting conclusion. She was different.

“Why did you leave the house?” he asked.

His lips curved into a half-smile when she jumped at his words. Words so close she might have felt their dewy warmth on the nape of her neck.

“I was hot.”

Three simpler words didn’t exist in the English language. Yet that one simple word—hot—sent a spike of longing straight through him. “I suppose the air was a bit stale,” he rasped.

They climbed a short rise that overlooked a small pond, wavy beams of moonlight rippling across its fluid surface. What was he doing in the woods with this moon goddess? It wasn’t too late to turn back.

Then she spoke the next words, and he was lost.

“I wasn’t hot from stale air.” She faced him, her amber eyes, clear and unflinching, gauging his reaction. “It was you. I was hot because of you.”

No longer could he keep his emotions under a tight rein. She’d negated that control with a few careless words that struck his core with the precision of a well-aimed arrow.

“Did no one ever teach you not to say such things to strange men?”

“They tried,” she said with the assuredness of a woman with far too much experience, or maybe it was far too little. “There is nothing strange about you.”

“You should try those words on a different man,” he said, straining for a tone of paternal guidance. If she believed it, he might, too. “One who would marry you.”

“Oh, I care naught for that,” she said on a laugh.

Instinctively, protectively, he reached out and pulled her close, her upturned lips a hairsbreadth away from his, her playful eyes inviting him to bridge the distance. “Society doesn’t tolerate ladies who entertain loose morals.”

With feelings of longing, desire, and bewilderment warring inside him, he lowered his head and touched his mouth to hers, unprepared for the responding punch of electricity. His hands slid to her waist, and her fingers found the back of his neck, her nails tickling across sensitive skin, her body swaying into his in surrender.

Kisses had the power to reveal truths about two people that extended far beyond trivialities like compatibility and incompatibility. This kiss revealed a single unshakeable truth: she was the only woman for him.

It was a truth that shook him clear through to his bones.

His eyes flew open, and he broke the kiss, eliciting a tiny gasp of protest from her. He watched with a mixture of self-loathing and thwarted passion as she opened desire-glazed eyes and closed kiss-crushed lips.

“A girl like you is a girl one could marry,” he murmured. They were heedless and dangerous words that fell from his lips, and he couldn’t understand why he spoke them.

“A girl like me?

“You.”

“One could marry?”

“I.”

“Careful,” she whispered into the space between their lips. It was the only space that mattered in the universe. “I might hold you to such words.”

“I might hope you do.”

Again, words fell from his mouth of their own accord, and he’d proposed to her. There had been no biting it back.

And he hadn’t wanted to.

At least, not for another five seconds.

He’d proposed to Lady Mariana Montfort, a girl he didn’t know.

That wasn’t precisely true.

In the ways that mattered, he knew her.