Monthly Archives: July 2013

[ARC Review] Disconnected by Bethany Daniel

Disconnected by Bethany Daniel

Release date: August 12, 2013

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Series: Connected #2

Blurb:  
This is the retelling of Reconnected from Liam’s POV, however it CAN be read as a standalone.

Find Reconnected here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C…

A Fast Paced Love Story!

Liam and Katy were high school sweethearts. Shortly after they graduated they ran off to Vegas to get married. Liam does theater acting and it’s there that he is discovered by Excite Entertainment and flown to L.A.

Once he’s in L.A his marriage takes the backseat to rubbing elbows with Hollywood’s biggest and brightest. One night Liam throws a big party and Katy comes into their house filled with half dressed women. When Katy says she’s going to leave, Liam doesn’t believe her until he comes home from filming and finds a note that tears him apart.

Four years later, he’s tried to move on but never let go of the love he has in his heart for his Katy. It’s in a little town they are filming in that their paths cross again and Liam has to try and convince Katy that their love is worth fighting for

My Review: 
4.0 Star Review –

I recommend this book.

This book is a retelling of Reconnected written in Liam’s POV. 

If you have not read “Reconnected” I would recommend reading it first.  If not you might be confused about really how Katy is feeling.

Liam Warren and Katy Parker high school sweethearts eloped to Vegas very young at 18.  Liam is acting in a local theater when he is discovered.  As Liam is making a named for himself he doesn’t realize that he is pushing Katy away.  One night Katy tells him she is leaving but he doesn’t believe her.  The next day he goes about his day working on set.  When he gets home he finds her note that states she has left him.  He looks all over for her at the house and at their hometown but cannot find her.


Months after she left he has a drunken encounter with a co-star and regrets it right away as he feels as if he cheated on Katy.  The co-star does not believe he does not want her.  She continues to bother him for years.


4 years later—-


Liam and his best friend Scott are sharing a house.  Scott tries to get Liam to date and attend parties but they end up leaving the parties early and playing video games.  Everywhere Liam goes he looks for Katy.  He doesn’t want someone new he just wants his Katy back. 

They go to Georgia to shoot a film and while on the college campus he sees Katy.  He chases her down and introduces himself to her boyfriend as her husband.   After stating she wants a divorce she runs off.

Liam spends time while not shooting trying to get Katy to take him back.  He tries to prove he has changed and the only person he wants to be with is Katy.  Liam and Scott take Katy and her best friend Krista out on a double date that gets cut short.

As he continues to film his movie Katy is freaked out when the pap take photos of her and her best friend Krista.  Liam and Scott decide to hire bodyguards for the girls.

But Liam’s co-star Alexia is really beginning to become a problem as every chance she gets she touches him.  She also thinks Liam will be with her if Katy was not around.

When Alexia has a meltdown and runs Katy, Krista, and Lucas off the road. Liam blames himself, for the accident and the fact Alexia thinks if she got rid of Katy he would be with her.

As the book goes on you really get a feel for Liam. In the first book at time he seemed a little stiff and at other times cocky I was not sure if I even liked him. But by the end of this book I really liked him.

 

***ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review***

 

Contact Info for Bethany Daniel


 

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About Bethany:

 

Bethany Daniel is a new Contemporary Romance Author. Her first book is Reconnected, a story about Liam and Katy Warren. Her second book, Disconnected, that is the story from Liam’s POV is set to release August 12th. She’s currently writing Krista and Scott’s story. She lives in Texas with her husband and 2 sons and enjoys reading, photography, spending time with her hubby and chasing after her boys!

 
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Filed under 2013, ARC, August, Bethany Daniel, Connected, Review, Romance

[Review] Smoky Ridge Curse by Paula Graves

Smoky Ridge Curse  by Paula Graves

Publication date: August 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Bitterwood P.D. #3
Pages: 217

Back of the book

 
Two former partners find their feelings rekindled when they’re forced to uncover the truth in Paula Graves’s Bitterwood P.D. trilogy! 

Assistant FBI director Adam Brand is out of time. His attempt to expose a domestic terrorist hiding in plain sight has left him with more questions than answers. Still, asking his former FBI subordinate Delilah Hammond for help is even more dangerous.
Once before, the unexpected heat between them drove her back to her mountain hometown-and Adam to the heights of the Bureau. And now, as a new sheriff, Delilah has much more to lose…even as her skills and determination leave Adam breathless all over again. Staying two steps ahead of their ruthless quarry reignites a desire neither can resist. But as Delilah puts herself on the line to set a lethal trap, will they survive to explore the future neither has given up on?



My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Bitterwood P.D. series

I recommend this book.


As always I enjoyed this book by Paula.  Have yet to be disappointed by Paula as she adds plenty of drama, passion, and romance.  She captures the small town feel and you really feel as if the characters in her books are real.  Look forward to the next book in this series.

I can’t wait for the next book in the Bitterwood P.D. series due out in 2014.
Delilah Hammond starts her new job as detective on the Bitterwood Police department in a week. Before starting the job she is trying to keep her mother from drinking. Her mother has tried to stop drinking for years but has not been able to stop.
Special Agent Adam Brand is on the run from the FBI who thinks he is a traitor. He has been framed for espionage and murder. He has run to his former protégée, Delilah. She is former FBI but left after Brand and her had one night of passion. They both had their own reasons for not fighting for more than one night.      
As they decide what to do about Brand’s predicament someone goes after Delilah’s brother Seth. They rescue Seth and Rachel from danger and get them hidden away while they try to get Brands name cleared.
As they work together on putting the pieces of the puzzle in order the passion that is below the surface overflows.  
They are working against the clock and Delilah assumes once Adam’s name is cleared he will go back to the FBI and she will be picking up the pieces of her heart once again. 
Once they think they have the main player in the frame up. They decide to confront them in a roundabout way. Delilah decides to meet the man and play as if Adam has left her and she will give him up. But there is an explosion and Adam is wondering if Delilah is even alive.
As they uncover the players of the frame up a few of them come as surprises.  You reconnect with a few characters from the Cooper Justice Cold Case Investigation and the Cooper Security series.  If you want to get technical you also get one of the characters from the forbidden series.    

You can feel the chemistry between the two throughout the book.

To find out the answers to the below pick up the book:

Who is behind the framing of Adam?
Who does Adam see who everyone believes died years before?
What happened to Delilah and why?

 

A few of my favorite parts of the book:

He laid his hands on her cheeks, studying her face. “You have to know you’re brilliant and capable.”

“I do know,” she admitted with another little laugh. ”But I’ve never heard anyone else say it.”

He laughed in response, pressing his lips against her forehead. “I never knew you needed anyone to say it.” He pulled away, smiling down at her. “You walked into my office like you owned the place and told me what you intended to do and how I was going to help you make it happen, remember?”

She nodded, cringing a little at the memory. “That’s what you fancy educated people call bravado. I was scared out of my gourd but I didn’t dare let anyone know it. So I pretended I was a big ol’ bitch on wheels who wasn’t going to let anyone tell me no. I kept hoping that if I did that long enough and loud enough, one day I might believe it myself.”

 

“We can set up something really high-tech. We know the stuff to get. Maybe a button mike with a remote receiver. He’d never spot it.”

“This is my mess, Delilah, not yours.”

She stared at him, frustrated. “You called me Delilah.”

“It’s your name.”

 “You only call me Delilah when you’re putting your foot down.”

“It’s too dangerous.”

“No. Quinn’s bought a big building in Purgatory, Tennessee.  Turns out that’s where the old bastard grew up.”
“He wasn’t spawned, fully grown, from some alien space pod?”
Brand gave her hip a little slap.
 

 

Contact Info for Paula Graves

 

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About Paula:


Down here in the American South, we don’t hide our crazy people. We showcase them. I’ve always thought it was because eccentric people make for the best stories, and we Southerners love our stories. Faulkner, McCullers, O’Connor, Porter—these are our chroniclers, writers steeped in the slow, steady pulse of the South’s pride, suffering, honor, madness, venality and redemption. I grew up in Alabama, the heart of the South, and live here still. The need to tell stories has been a driving force in my life from a very young age.

When I was younger, my favorite books were Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and Harlequin Romances. When I realized there were books that featured both romance and mystery, I knew I’d found my calling. Now I write for Harlequin Intrigue, where I get to play both matchmaker and murderer and get paid for it.  I’ve also recently self-published a couple of romantic suspense ebooks, available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Smashwords.

I work a full-time day job at a Birmingham ad agency, where I’m a copywriter and graphic designer, a background that comes in handy when it’s time to redesign my website and create promotional materials for my books. I’m also known among certain circles as the Cat Whisperer, but that’s a whole other story. I love to hear from readers, so please click the contact button and tell me what you think about my books.


 
 

Read an Excerpt

Winter had come to Bitterwood, Tennessee, roaring in on a cold, damp wind that poured down the mountain passes and shook the remnants of browning leaves from the sugar maples, sweet gums and dogwoods growing at the middle elevations. Delilah Hammond remembered well from childhood the sharp bite of an Appalachian November and dressed warmly when she headed up the winding mountain road to her mother’s place on Smoky Ridge.

Reesa Hammond was on day three of her latest hop on the sobriety wagon, and withdrawal had hit her hard, killing her appetite and leaving her shaking, angry and suffering from a persistent headache no amount of ibuprofen seemed to relieve. Frankly, Delilah was surprised her mother had bothered trying to stop drinking at all at this point, since her previous eight attempts at sobriety had all ended the same way, five fingers deep in a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Delilah didn’t kid herself that this time Reesa would win the battle with the bottle. But Reesa had taken a hell of a lot of abuse trying to protect Delilah and her brother, Seth, from their sick creep of a sperm donor, so a little barley soup and a few minutes of company wasn’t too much to offer, was it?

Her cell phone beeped as she turned her Camaro into a tight curve. She waited until the road straightened to answer, aware of how dangerous the mountain roads could be, especially at night with rain starting to mix with sleet. “Hammond.”

“Just checking to make sure you hadn’t changed your mind.” The gruff voice on the other end of the line belonged to a former leatherneck named Jesse Cooper, the man who’d been her boss for the past few years, until she’d given her notice two weeks earlier.

“I haven’t,” she answered, tamping down the doubts that had harassed her ever since she’d quit the best job she’d ever had.

“You’re overqualified.”

“I know.”

“You’re no good at small-town politics.”

“I know that, too.”

“You should have held out for chief of police, at least.”

She grinned at that. “Talk about small-town politics.”

“I can keep the job open for a month or two, but that’s it. Our caseload’s growing, and I can’t afford to work shorthanded.”

“I know. I appreciate the vote of confidence in me, but I’m ready for a change.” She tried not to dwell on just how drastic a change she’d made in the past two weeks. Going from a global security and threat assessment firm to a detective on one of Tennessee’s tiniest police forces was turning out to be a shock to the system even she hadn’t anticipated.

She still wasn’t sure why, exactly, she’d decided to stick around Bitterwood, Tennessee, after so many years away. She only knew that a few weeks ago, when the time had come to go back to work in Alabama after an extended assignment in her old hometown, her feet had planted firmly in the rocky Tennessee soil and refused to budge. She’d returned to Maybridge just long enough to work out her two-week notice, talk her landlord into letting her break her long-term lease, and gather up her sparse belongings. Two days ago, she’d moved into a rental house off Vesper Road at the foot of Smoky Ridge. In a week, she’d start her new job with the Bitterwood Police Department.

“I don’t suppose you’ve heard anything else about Adam Brand?” she added as the silence between her and her former boss lingered past comfort.

“Nothing yet. We have feelers out. I know you’re worried.”

“Not worried,” she denied, though it was a lie. “More confused than anything. Going AWOL is not an Adam Brand kind of thing to do. And there’s no way in hell he’s a traitor to this country. It’s not in his DNA.”

“Your brother still won’t tell you anything more about the work he did for Brand?”

“I don’t think Seth knows anything more,” Delilah said. “He didn’t ask a lot of questions, and Brand’s not one to shoot off his mouth.” Even when a few well-chosen words might do him a world of good, she added silently.

“Isabel and Ben have both been trying to reach him, but they’re not having much luck. They didn’t keep in close touch with Brand after leaving the bureau.”

“It happens.” Delilah ignored the stinging pain in the center of her chest. “I’ve got to go. I’m taking soup and sympathy to my mom. She’s on the wagon again.”

“Oh.” She could tell by Jesse’s careful tone that he wanted to say something encouraging, but he’d been around for three or four of her mother’s last brief flirtations with sobriety and knew better than to dish out false hope. “I hope she makes it this time.”

“Yeah, me, too. Say hi to everyone. And call me if you get any news about Brand. I don’t think this Davenport case is really over yet, and he seems to know something about it.”

“Will do.” Jesse hung up.

The Davenport case was at least part of the reason she’d stuck around Bitterwood. Two months earlier, the murders had started—four women found stabbed to death in their beds, though they’d clearly been killed elsewhere. A Bitterwood P.D. detective named Ivy Hawkins had made the first clear connection between the murders—all four women had been friends with a woman named Rachel Davenport, whose dying father owned Davenport Trucking in Maryville, Tennessee, a town twenty minutes from Bitterwood.

When Ivy had caught the murderer, he’d admitted he’d been hired to kill the women. With his cryptic dying words, he’d hinted the killings had everything to do with Rachel Davenport, as Ivy had suspected. Someone had wanted to torment Rachel until she broke, and only after several close calls had the police discovered a struggle for control of Davenport Trucking was at the heart of the campaign of emotional torture. 

If there was anything good to come out of the whole mess, it was that Delilah’s black sheep of a brother, Seth, had ended up a hero and even won the girl—he and Rachel Davenport were already talking rings and wedding dates, which seemed pretty quick to Delilah. Then again, she was thirty-four and single. Some might say she was a little too cautious about affairs of the heart.

Her mother’s house was a small cabin near the summit of Smoky Ridge, prone to power outages when the winter storms rolled in. But she had a large fireplace in the front room and a smaller woodstove to warm her bedroom, both of which seemed to be working based on the twin columns of smoke rising over the fir trees surrounding the small cabin.

A thin layer of sleet had started to form on the hard surface of the narrow driveway next to the cabin, crunching under Delilah’s boots as she crossed the tiny concrete patio to the kitchen entrance. She had to bend into the wind as it gusted past her, slapping the screen door against the wall of the cabin.

It swung back as she passed, crashing into her with an aluminum rattle.

She stopped short, skidding on the icy pellets underfoot, and stared at the offending screen door. It hung sideways, still flapping in the cold wind, as if someone had tried to rip it from its hinges.

Moving slowly, she stepped back and reached into her pocket for her keychain, where she kept a small flashlight attached to the ring. She snapped it on and ran the narrow beam across the patio beneath the door.

Dark red splotches, still wet and glistening beneath the thin layer of sleet, marred the concrete surface. Another streak of red stained the aluminum frame of the broken door.

Her first thought was that her mother had gone back on the bottle, taken a spill, and was laid up inside somewhere, drunkenly trying to patch herself up. It was the most logical assumption.

But a lot of bad things had been happening in Bitterwood in the last couple of months. And between her FBI training and her years working for Cooper Security, Delilah always assumed the worst.

Setting the bag of takeout soup on the patio table, she pulled her Sig Sauer P229 from the pancake holster behind her back and tried the back doorknob. Unlocked.

She eased the door open. Heat blasted her, a welcome contrast to the icy breeze prickling the exposed skin of her neck. Somewhere in the house, a vacuum cleaner was running on high, its whine almost drowning out the whistle of the wind across the eaves.

She shut the door quietly. Keeping her eyes and ears open, she moved as silently as she could, checking each room as she went. If there had been blood splotches inside the house, they’d been cleaned up already. The rough wood floor beneath her feet was worn but spotless.

In the den at the front of the house, the sound of the vacuum cleaner roared with full force. Reesa Hammond was running an upright vacuum with cheerful energy, dancing to whatever tune she was singing beneath the noise of the cleaner.

She swirled the cleaner around in the opposite direction and jumped when she saw Delilah standing in the doorway, weapon in hand.

Reesa shut off the vacuum cleaner and put her hand over her chest. “Good lord, Dee Dee, you scared me out of my wits!”

“Are you okay?”

Reesa’s brow furrowed. “I’m fine. Are you okay?”

After a pause, Delilah reholstered her Sig Sauer. “Did you know the screen door to the kitchen’s been nearly ripped off its hinges?”

“Really?” Reesa looked surprised. “It was fine when I got back from the mailbox this afternoon. I guess the wind’s stronger out there than I thought.”

“I don’t think it was the wind,” Delilah murmured, remembering the blood on the patio. “You didn’t hear anything?”

“I was in the shower for a little while, then running the hair dryer, and I’ve been vacuuming the place ever since. I reckon half the mountain could have come down out there and I wouldn’t have heard it.” She cocked her head. “You look tired.”

Delilah gazed back at her mother through narrowed eyes. “I thought you were feeling bad.”

Reesa looked sheepish. “I was, this morning. But when you called and said you were coming over, I didn’t want you to see what a mess the place was, so I started cleaning up. And before I knew it, my headache was gone and I was feeling so much like my old self, I thought maybe I’d surprise you by having dinner ready for you when you got here.” She sighed. “But you’re early. I haven’t put the casserole in the oven yet.”

“I brought barley soup from Ledbetter’s Café.” And left it out in the cold, she realized, where it had probably reached refrigerator temperature by now

“And I’ve ruined it for you by feeling better.” Reesa patted her cheek. “I’m sorry. I know I must seem such a mess to you.”

Unexpected tears burned Delilah’s eyes. She blinked them away. “I’m just glad you’re feeling better.”

Reesa’s smile faded. “This is the farthest I’ve gotten, you know? I’ve never reached the point where I actually feel better not drinking. It’s a surprise, I have to say!”

“Well, good.” Delilah couldn’t keep a hint of caution out of her voice. She could tell her mother didn’t miss the inflection, for Reesa’s green eyes darkened with shame for a moment.

But she lifted her chin and smiled at her daughter. “I think it’s havin’ my kids around me again. I’ve missed you both so much.”

“Seth’s been by?” Delilah asked as her mother unplugged the vacuum cleaner and started looping the cord around the hooks in the back.

“He stopped in with Rachel earlier today.” Reesa slanted a quick look at Delilah. “She’s good for him.”

“She’s great for him,” Delilah agreed. “She’s crazy about him, too. Go figure.”

“What about you?” Putting the vacuum cleaner away in the living room closet, Reesa paused to look over her shoulder. “Met anyone you like?”

“Not recently,” Delilah answered. Actually, she’d met her share of men over the course of working for Cooper Security, but none who’d interested her enough to keep seeing him long-term.

There was only one man she’d ever really wanted, and though he’d never be hers, she still seemed to measure every man she met against him.

“Maybe you’ll meet someone when you start work.”

“Maybe,” Delilah agreed in order to end this particular topic of conversation. She’d already met everyone in the Bitterwood Police Department without a single spark flying. Most were married, and of those who weren’t, only Antoine Parsons was remotely interesting. But he was seeing someone in Maryville, and Delilah had never been a poacher.

Even when the man she wanted was married to his career.

“I can put the casserole in the freezer and make it some other time, since you brought soup.” Reesa nudged Delilah down the hall to the kitchen.

“No, the soup will keep in the fridge. I’m curious to see this casserole you’ve cooked up.” Delilah spotted a foil-covered glass casserole dish sitting by the refrigerator. She sneaked a peek under the foil, recognizing green beans, carrots, chicken chunks and whole-kernel yellow corn, topped with cheese and fried onions. “You made pantry casserole!” She turned to her mother, a smile playing at her lips.

“I didn’t have much in the pantry, but I thought it would be nice to fix something for you.” Reesa’s smile held a hint of apology. “Maybe next time you come, I’ll go shopping first and make something from scratch instead of out of cans.”

Impulsively, Delilah hugged her mother. “Pantry casserole is my favorite. I make it at home all the time.”

Reese’s thin arms tightened around Delilah’s back. “You do?”

“I do. Can’t go wrong—”

“With a casserole,” Reesa finished in unison with her.

“I’ll go outside and get the soup. You get that in the oven and then we can talk while it’s cooking.” Delilah let go of her mother and opened the back door. “Mom, you need to start locking your door.”

“Nobody ever bothers me up here.”

“Famous last words,” Delilah muttered as she stepped out onto the sleet-pebbled patio to fetch the soup.

But the paper bag was gone.

Delilah froze, scanning the area behind the house for any sign of an intruder. Visibility wasn’t great, between the steady needling of sleet and the cold mist swallowing the top of the mountain. Seeing nothing out of place, she pulled out her flashlight and checked the ground around the patio table. No sign of the bag of takeout soup, but the layer of sleet on the patio had been disturbed.

She couldn’t say the streaks of bare patio were definitely footsteps—she supposed it was more likely that a hungry raccoon or opossum had grabbed himself a ready-made meal—but a thin film of blood on the edge of the table was troubling enough to send her reaching for her Sig again.

“Hello?” she called, loudly enough that a faint echo of her voice rang back to her from deep in the woods.

No answer.

The cabin door opened behind her, making her jump. “Dee Dee, is something wrong?”

“The soup is gone.”

“Oh.” Reesa looked nonplussed.

“Probably a raccoon or something.”

“Hope it’s not a bear.” Reesa shuddered. “Pam Colby said she saw a black bear in her backyard just last week, looking for a place to nest for the winter. She shooed it off by banging some pots together.”

“I don’t think it’s a bear.” Delilah’s gaze settled on the film of blood. “I’m going to take a look around, okay? I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“It’s freezing out there. I’m sure it was just an animal, Dee. Why don’t you come back in here where it’s warm? Let the raccoon have the soup. He probably needs it more than we do.”

“I’m just going to walk the perimeter. There’s some blood on the table—maybe it’s injured and needs help.”

“Oh, poor thing. Okay, but hurry up. The temperature’s dropping like crazy out here. They’re talking about maybe our first snow of the season.” Reesa backed into the house, closing the door behind her.

Stamping her feet to get some of the feeling back into her cold toes, Delilah headed out into the yard, keeping the beam of the flashlight moving in a slow, thorough arc in front of her.

She discovered more blood, spattered on the grass in a weaving line toward the tree line. Following the trail, she spotted a white birch tree with a dark streak of red marring its papery bark about four feet up. The mark seemed to form a long fingerprint.

She paused and checked the magazine of her pistol, reassuring herself that the Sig was loaded, with a round already chambered. If her mother was right and their intruder was a bear, she didn’t want to face it unarmed.

Though she listened carefully for any sounds that might reveal an animal or other intruder nearby, all she heard was the moan of the icy wind through the trees. But she felt something else there. Something living and watching, waiting for her to turn around and leave.

What would happen if she did just that? Would the watcher let her go? Or would he pounce the second she turned her back? Not caring to find out, she backed toward the clearing with slow, steady steps. She kept her eyes on the woods, trying to see past the moonless blackness outside the narrow, weakening beam of her flashlight.

Only the faintest of snapping sounds behind her gave her any warning at all.

It wasn’t enough.

She hit a solid wall of heat. One large arm curled around her, pulling her flush against that heat, while a hand closed over her mouth.

“Don’t scream,” he growled.

She didn’t.
 
But he did.

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Filed under 2013, August, Bitterwood P.D., Harlequin, Intrigue, Paula Graves, Review, Romance, Suspense

[Review] Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris

Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris

Release date: July 17, 2013

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Series – Hostile Operations Team , #1

Pages: 778

Overview: 

The last man she ever wanted to see…

Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.
But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.

Might be the only one who can save her…

Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.

But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

Hot Pursuit is available to order from the below:

Amazon
iTunes
Kobo
B&N
Smashwords

My Review: 
4.5 Star Review – Hot Pursuit – Hostile Operations Team #1

I highly recommend this book.



I enjoyed this book by Lynn Raye Harris.  Look forward to the next book in this series.  Lynn managed to stuff betrayal, a kidnapping, murder, a car chase, an explosion and hot sexy passion all in the same book!!  So really the book has something for everyone lots of twists and turns you don’t see coming. 

On a side note the cover is drool worthy.

Evangeline “Evie” Baker’s stuck as shampoo girl in her mother salon.  She is back in her home town Rochambeau, Louisiana after trusting the wrong person, her ex-partner; David West.  She was betrayed and lost her small bistro in Florida, and her money.  She also found out after he disappeared he might possibly have organized crime ties.  Really how could her life get worst?

Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard is on leave from the Army after a mission went horribly wrong.    He was running an OP for HOT “Hostile Operations Team” when he was captured and two of his team members were killed.  He has a bad feeling about the OP and felt it should have been called off but he followed orders and lost two men.  It is eating away at him. 

Matt has returned to town for his sister’s wedding.  He needs to stay out of trouble.  Just attend the wedding and keep his head down.  Matt goes into Evie’s mother’s salon to get a haircut.  These two have history as they were once best friends.  She offered him her virginity and after they were together he got drunk and bragged and she was shattered by his betrayal.  Then he left town and so she had to deal with all the bullying from the kids.

She decides to go out, the first time since coming home, and shots are fired at the lake party.  Someone pulls a knife on her and Matt has to save her.  He apologizes to her and although she is still hurt for the way he treated her she knows he was only 17 at the time and really just a kid.

After her little sister; Sarah is kidnapped they find out David was also skimming money from the mob and they want the money and the records he took back.  They have to figure out what those records are as the people who kidnapped Sarah have killed David and injured her mother.

Matt’s team is pulled into the book as he calls them for help and advises them they could get into trouble by helping but as “brothers” they all pitch in anyway and help out.

Read the book to get answers to the below: 

What are the records the kidnappers are looking for?

Will Matt’s team get into trouble from helping him?


Will Evie and Sarah be reunited?


Some favorite parts from this book:

“Stay on my six,” he said, nuzzling the hair at her ear and breathing deeply the sweet scent of her.
You remember what that is, right?”
“It’s your ass.”
He bit back a chuckle.
“Yeah, that’s right. You watch my ass and I’ll watch yours.  That’s how a team operates, got it?”
“So we’re a team, huh?”
“We’re a team”
“Then let’s go get ’em.”
“Easy, tiger.  We’re going through the back door, but only after we’ve set up a perimeter.”
“Lead on, Superman.”
Matt bit back another laugh. “It’s Richie Rich, actually.”
“What?”
“My team name. Richie Rich.”
He saw the flash of her teeth in the darkness. “Of course it is.”

“If you admit to that, then I got to admit I authorized it. And then Kev and the boys will have to admit they were involved. That cell’ll get mighty crowded out there in Leavenworth. And if you think I’m sharing a shower with you, stud, you’re crazy. You’ve been eyeing my ass since you came to work here.”

Matt couldn’t help laughing. “Respectfully, sir, you ass notwithstanding, I’d rather shower with a rabid monkey.”

She regarded him seriously. “No, I don’t think you’d make a good chef. Better stick to being the muscle babe.”

His head dropped for a moment, his eyes closing briefly. When he looked at her again, his smile lit up her world. “I’ll move heaven and earth to make you happy, Evie. I want you there when I wake up every morning and there when I go to sleep at night. I love you, even if you don’t do a damn thing I tell you to do.”

 

Contact Info for Lynn Raye Harris

 

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 About Lynn:

Lynn Raye Harris read her first Harlequin Mills & Boon romance when her grandmother carted home a box from a yard sale. She didn’t know she wanted to be a writer then, but she definitely knew she wanted to marry a sheikh or a prince and live the glamorous life she read about in the pages. Instead, she married a military man and moved around the world. She’s been inside the Kremlin, hiked up a Korean mountain, floated on a gondola in Venice and stood inside volcanoes at opposite ends of the world.

These days Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome husband and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, shop for antiques, cook gourmet meals and try new wines. She is also an avowed shoeaholic and thinks there’s nothing better than a new pair of high heels.

Lynn was a finalist in the 2008 Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® contest, and she is the winner of the Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction contest. She loves a hot hero, a heroine with attitude and a happy ending. Writing passionate stories for Harlequin is a dream come true.

Read an Excerpt
“I think you lost your drink.”

Evie knew that voice. It slid over her like hot silk and she spun to find Matt Girard standing behind her, holding the bottle she’d just ditched. Why did her heart skip the second he showed up? And why did he have to look so delicious?


“I didn’t lose it.”


He stood there in faded jeans and a dark T-shirt that molded to his hard pecs and biceps. But it wasn’t his clothing that got her attention so much as his eyes. There was something in them, something she didn’t remember seeing when he’d been seventeen. He’d been part of this crowd long ago, much more than she had, but he no longer looked like he belonged—in spite of the longing looks some of the women cast in his direction.


His gaze dropped over her before rising again, slowly, and her body reacted as if he’d brushed his fingers over her. There was something hot and sharp and thrilling in that gaze—and she was way more susceptible to it than she wanted to be.


Once, she would have given anything for him to look at her like that. Now, she wasn’t certain she’d survive the experience.

“Great dress.” His voice was silky.

Evie swallowed. She was tingling and that wasn’t a good thing. The last time she’d tingled over this man, it had not turned out so well. “Thanks. I think.”

He grinned. “It’s definitely a compliment.”

Evie crossed her arms and tried to look cool. “Thought you weren’t coming tonight.”

“Now what made you think a thing like that?”

Her blood slogged like molasses in her veins. “I believe you said ‘probably not’ in response to Julie’s query.”

His teeth flashed. “Yeah, but that’s before I knew you’d be here.”

“What do you want, Matt?” Her heart thrummed like she was sixteen again.

His gaze dropped once more. “Maybe I might like to see what’s under that dress.” His voice sounded low and sexy. It pooled in her belly, sent hot waves of need spiraling outward.

“Forget it,” she said with a conviction she didn’t quite feel. “As I recall, the last time didn’t turn out so well for me.”

“I know, and I’m sorry.”

“You said that earlier.”

“I did.”

She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “So why’d you come then? I heard you the first time.”

He sighed. “Evie, Jesus.” He raked a hand through his hair, and her blood hummed at the ripple and flex of muscle. “I just got back from the desert. Life out there is…unpredictable. It makes a man think. And I’ve decided that I don’t like feeling like a shithead for something that happened ten years ago. I want to clear the slate.”

Evie let out a breath. She’d been so hurt, and then she’d been angry. But it was a long time ago and she couldn’t hold a grudge forever. Even now, she recognized that most of her feelings about the incident were still tied up with having her love so cruelly flung back in her face. The other stuff, while definitely unpleasant at the time, hardly mattered anymore.

“We were kids, Matt.”

“I hurt you.”

She didn’t flinch from his gaze. “You did. But I’m not sixteen anymore. And like I said today, it was my fault too. I asked you to do it. And I told a couple of my friends about it, so it wasn’t just you telling the boys.” She shrugged with a lightness she didn’t quite feel. “What happened was probably inevitable. The guys thought I was easy. The girls who were jealous said I was a slut. They made my senior year difficult in some ways. But what hurt the most was never hearing from you again.”

There, she’d said it. She’d told him what really hurt, and she’d given him a window into her feelings back then. He’d have had to be an idiot not to know, but it was always possible he hadn’t.

“I should have called you.”

The music changed, the beat slowing. Evie took a step backward instinctively, but Matt caught her hand and held it tight. She tugged once, and then stopped. They faced each other across a few feet of space. Around them, couples began to slide together, fitting into each other like pieces of a jigsaw.

Evie’s pulse beat harder. Her skin sizzled where they touched, his big hand engulfing hers, his palm calloused in a way that shocked her. He was a Girard, rich, entitled—and he had a workman’s hands.

“One dance.”

Her insides melted a little more. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”

But what she really wanted to do was say yes.

His eyes were bright. “Why not? We’re adults now, Evie. No one’s getting hurt here.”

He said it like it was so easy, but was it really? Wasn’t she still vulnerable on some level? She was down on her luck right now, feeling like a loser, and here he was, the same gorgeous, cocky, beautiful creature he’d always been.
Except, no, he was more than that, wasn’t he? There was something behind his smile now. Something dark and sad. Pain flared in his grey eyes and then was gone so quickly she wondered if she’d imagined it.

It shocked her. She suddenly wanted to know what had happened to him. She’d heard about him being held captive by terrorists. How could he not be affected by something like that? Of all the things she’d expected Matt Girard to do with his life, putting himself into danger had not been it. He had everything. Why would he want to risk his life that way?

She remembered when his mother had died. He’d been twelve. Mama had taken her to the wake out at Reynier’s Retreat. There were so many people crowding the beautiful rooms of the mansion. The house was heavy with sadness and thick with grief and it had scared her. She’d escaped to run down the wide lawn. She’d known where to find Matt. He’d been curled inside the hollow of a tree they’d found a few years before.

He’d been dressed in a black suit, his dark hair slicked back carefully, his grey eyes wide and wounded as he looked up at her. Her heart had lifted into her throat then. She’d only been eleven, but she’d felt something in that moment that rocked her world—and would continue to rock her world until she was sixteen and shattered by his casual cruelty.

But not that day. That day, she’d slid into the hollow and sat down beside him. When she’d put her arms around him, he’d turned his face into the crook of her neck and wept.

Evie sucked in a breath. How could she walk away from him now, knowing there was something behind those eyes? Something that hurt him?

“One dance, Evangeline,” he said softly when she hesitated. “Make a soldier’s night. I just got back from the desert a few days ago. I’d like to dance with a pretty woman and forget about that hellhole for a while.”

Evie swallowed. “That’s not fair.”

He grinned. “Because you can’t say no now?”

She nodded.

“Good for me then.”

“Just one dance and we go our separate ways, got it?” Because she didn’t want to feel this tangle of emotions again. This tiny blossoming in her heart that said she was going to be in so much trouble if she didn’t shut it down quick.

“If that’s what you want.” His voice was rough.

He took her other hand then, ran his palms up her arms to her shoulders. Little sparks of sensation swirled in her belly, lighting her up like the fourth of July. He pulled her into his arms right there on the edge of the floor.

Evie braced her hands against his chest, pressed back when he tried to bring her closer. It was already overwhelming to be so close to him. To feel his heat and hardness next to her body.

To feel everything she’d once wanted so much…

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Filed under 2013, Hostile Operations Team, July, Lynn Raye Harris, Review, Romance

Winner announced for Escaping Reality/Revealing Us Canvas Bag

Winner announced for Escaping Reality/Revealing Us Canvas bag.

Congratulations Entry #59 Lori J.

I have sent out an e-mail to the winner. 

Thanks everyone for taking time out to enter the contest.  I hope you enjoy Lisa Renee Jones’s books as much as I do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Giveaway, Winner

[ARC Review] Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones

Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones

Release date: July 22, 2013

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>
Blurb: He is rich, famous, and secretive and he will become her passion, her desire, her escape from a dark reality she so desperately craves… At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loves to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten-even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets down her guard down, the ghost’s of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run. On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give? And what if there is more to Liam than meets the eyes?

Read the first chapter of Escaping Reality on Lisa’s Website! Here
Pre-Order Escaping Reality Here!

My Review: 
5 Star Review – Escaping Reality

I highly recommend this book.


As always I enjoyed this book by Lisa. 

This is really a steamy sexy book with some suspense.  A little advice, don’t try to guess what is going to happen next as Lisa loves to throw you off and keep you guessing.  She moves on as you are sitting there saying WHAT?  I could not put the book down.  At the end I was still trying to turn the page…..   I thought there is no way Lisa would leave us hanging…..

The suspense pulls you right in from the start.  Amy who is in hiding has been in danger and needs to get out of town.

For the past 6 years Amy has believed she is doing good and hiding well.  She is working at a museum in New York and has good friends and also believes she is safe.  One night during a party she finds a note taped to a mirror from her handler.  She must go on the run.  Leave everyone behind and move to a new city.  Her handler who has previously saved her has left her instructions in a locker to go to Denver with a new identity.  Her new name is Amy Benson.

While waiting in the airport for the plane she notices a handsome man that she wishes is she was different and not on the run she could get to know.  After getting on the plane is realizes that they are sitting next to each other.  Liam Stone is an architect.  He is nice and doesn’t push when she doesn’t open up.  She can feel herself getting attached and trusting him which terrifies her.   She escapes off the plane before him as he was going to go to baggage claim with her but he finds her outside the airport.  He takes her to her apartment to verify it is okay and no one is going to get her as he can feel she is running from something.

When she gets to her apartment her handler has not supplied her with the usual information about work and money.  She gets information from the leasing office in a package about a job but wonders if the job is even real.  She starts to question is she can trust her handler.

Jared Ryan her neighbor from across the hall seems familiar.  While talking to him he mentions he is from Texas which is where she is from originally.  Is he out to hurt her?

She is so afraid to like or be friends with anyone as everyone she has ever loved has been killed.  If she pushes everyone away at least they will be alive.

Every time she is out shopping or running errands in the town she feels as if someone is watching her.   

She tries to push Liam away but he can see through her and knows she does not really want to be alone.  Can she hope that Liam will be someone she can trust? 

As she remembers more of her past with her mother, father, and brother (Chad) she has more blackouts.  You find out her name was Lara.  Can she spill her secrets to Liam and depend on him?  Or is he out to get her also?

Okay for the ending I just have to say cliff hanger of epic proportions.     

I cannot wait see what happens.  Hurry Lisa we are all waiting for the next book….

***ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review***

Excerpt: “Do you have a ride to wherever you’re going?”


“A friend is picking me up,” I croak out, and the lie is like wet cotton in my throat. He wants this…this whatever we started to continue and so do I, but I can’t know his real motivation any more than I can risk his safety by being seen with him. 

“Male or female?”

I blink, snapping back to the present. “What? Male or female?”

“Your friend picking you up. Male or female?”

I know the safe answer is “male”. I know that if his motivation for the question is simple male interest, it will discourage him, and still I hear myself say, “Female.”

His eyes darken, heat, and I think he’s pleased with my answer. “I’ll help you with your bags.”

“No, I—”

“I’m helping you with your bags, Amy.” 

There is command in his voice, and I am instantly, unbelievably aroused, and pleased at his insistence, when I should be running for the hills. I will run for the hills when the doors open. “Thank you,” I murmur and turn away from him, afraid he will read my intentions to flee. Quickly, I make sure my folder and bag are intact, sliding the leather strap over my shoulder, and I am ready for action. 

The plane parks at the gate, and Liam stretches his long, perfect body to retrieve my bag from the overhead compartment. Once he hands it to me, I lift the handle and tell myself to make my escape, but for a moment I am frozen in regret over leaving him. Too soon, he jerks his bag free, and I am out of time. A man moves between myself and Liam and I take the opportunity to dart for the exit. I don’t look back. I want to look back. 
A few minutes later, I am outside in a cab line that stretches a good fifteen cab lengths long, with no actual cars in sight. Thanks to several conventions and some Hollywood event, it appears I have plenty of time to savor my regret over leaving Liam behind. And I do. I savor it like I would water in a desert. 

I’m busying contemplating how good he might have tasted when a black Town Car stops directly beside me. The door opens and to my shock Liam steps out and grabs my bag. “Come with me,” he orders, and he doesn’t give me time to argue. 


I haven’t moved yet and he’s already at the trunk where the driver lifts my bag to deposit it inside. I consider leaving it behind and running. I should leave it and run. I charge toward him and meet him at the back door. 
My chin lifts and he is taller than I realized, and his sleek goatee is impossibly sexy, nearly distracting me from my anger. “You can’t just take my bag and demand I come with you.”

“And yet that’s exactly what I did. Get in the car, Amy.” 

I bristle at the command. “I don’t know you.”

His piercing blue eyes darken. “I have every intention of remedying that.” 


A thrill shoots through me at the obvious promise that he will be my lover, and there is no denying that I am seduced by this man, drawn to his confidence and dark good looks. To the gentle lion I believe will take control of everything around him, including me. The man who will demand much of me, and perhaps take more than I should give. And yet, beyond all reason, I want to experience those things. I want to experience him. It almost feels…necessary.

About The Author!
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT TRILOGY which has sold to more than ten countries for translation with negotiations in process for more, and has now been optioned by STARZ Network for a cable television show, to be produced by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland).

Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 30 books with publishers such as Simon and Schuster, Avon, Kensington, Harlequin, NAL, Berkley and Elloras Cave, as well as crafting a successful indie career. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.
Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her through her website and she is active on twitter and Facebook daily.

Connect with Lisa:
Website
Twitter
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Filed under 2013, ARC, July, Lisa Renee Jones, New Adult, Review, Romance

[Review] The Smoky Mountian Mist by Paula Graves

The Smoky Mountain Mist by Paula Graves

Publication date: July 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Bitterwood P.D. #2
Pages: 216

Back of the book

 
WHO WANTS RACHEL DAVENPORT DEAD?

Seth Hammond won’t stop until he gets answers. Tapped by the FBI to find out who’s targeting the heiress gives the former Tennessee bad boy the chance to atone for his past sins. But it’s his future he’s worried about when Seth finds himself falling for Rachel…who’s in graver danger than anyone in their small mountain town of Bitterwood realizes.

Ever since she was named CEO of her family business, strange things have been happening-terrifying incidents that could be tied to Rachel’s violence-shadowed past. Seth’s the only one who doesn’t think she’s losing her mind. Her intense, rough-around-the-edges protector has blindsided her with his passion. But Rachel also believes in Seth-believes he’s a good man looking for redemption…and possibly love?



My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Bitterwood P.D. series

I recommend this book.


As always I enjoyed this book by Paula.  Have yet to be disappointed by Paula as she adds plenty of drama, passion, and romance.  She captures the small town feel and you really feel as if the characters in her books are real.  Look forward to the next book in this series.

I can’t wait for the next book in the Bitterwood P.D. series.  The book is due out in August 2013 “Smoky Ridge Curse” featuring Adam Brand’s story.

Rachel Davenport is trying to grieve for her father and her friends in Bitterwood who have recently passed.   She wants to appear strong even while she is falling apart inside. 

Seth Hammond was a conman who is now trying to atone for those sins.  He feels bad for all the cons he pulled and is working on becoming a better man.  He has many secrets he still has to keep especially as he is secretly working for Adam Brand from the FBI and has been ordered to keep an eye on Rachel.   When he came back to town Rachel and her father gave him second chance and he is currently working for Davenport Trucking.  While at the same time trying to figure out who is killing the people around Rachel.  Why is she targeted and for what purpose?

After Rachel is drugged and almost went over a bridge Seth decides to investigate to figure out what happened.  

Rachel is on the phone with an ex-boyfriend who came to town for the funeral when he gets attacked.  She tries to track him down and comes across Seth who has also been attacked.   They decide to team up and investigate together to find out what is going on. 

Rachel has her own dark secrets of her past that she needs to overcome as someone is trying to make her think she is going crazy. 

Seth opens up about his childhood and how it shaped him into the man he is today. 
Everywhere Rachel and Seth go to get answers everyone treats Seth like he is still a conman and he has to defend himself.  Even his sister Delilah and his old friend Sutton don’t believe him at first about his suspicions about what is going on with Rachel.  That makes Rachel question his motives multiple times.

 

 

To find out the answers to the below pick up the book:

Will Rachel & Seth figure out why someone wants Rachel crazy or dead?

What shaped them both into the people they are today?

 

Can Rachel trust Seth?

 

A few of my favorite parts of the book:

The road into Bitterwood proper from the mountains was a winding series of switchback and straightaways called Old Purgatory Road. Back in the day, when they were just kids, Delilah, a couple of years older and eons wiser, had told Seth that it was named so because hell was located in a deep, dark cavern in the heart of Smoky Ridge, their mountain home, and the only way to get in or out was Purgatory Road.

 

“I thought the first rule of the con game was that you couldn’t con an honest man.” She wasn’t sure where she’d heard that, but she’d always considered it to be a reasonable assumption. Honest men didn’t fall for deals that where too good to be true.

Seth shook his head. “Honest man can be conned. Everyone has a price, even if the price is honorable.” He grimaced. “I guess never breaking the law if you don’t have to isn’t necessarily the first rule of the con game, but it was the first rule Cleve Calhoun taught me.”


Ah, Seth thought. Now we get to the grilling part. “I knew the murder victims. I liked them, and I like Rachel Davenport, too. Her father took a chance on me when he hired me at the trucking company when most people around here wouldn’t spit on me if I was on fire.”


He was beautiful, she thought, standing there in the middle of her haven. Beautiful and feral, constantly on the edge of flight. Despite the façade civilization, despite his obvious attempts to fight his own wild instincts, he would never be fully tame. He would never be genteel or domesticated. He’d always be a wild card.

“The people at a show know what they’re seeing isn’t real,” Seth answered slowly. “They’re willing participants in their own deception.”

Uncle Rafe’s well-lined face creased with a smile. “Damn good answer, boy.” He hooked his arm through Rachel’s and led her to the second row of tables facing the large stage. “Gotta go start deceiving this room full of willing participants in their own deception.” He said with a wink in Seth’s direction. “You’ll stick around after the show, of course?”

His gaze snapped back to hers. “You know what con men really do, Rachel? The kill you soul. You start out a normal person. Caring. Trusting. And then he strikes, and you’re never the same. You trust no one. Nothing. You’re afraid to be nice, because it makes you vulnerable. You’re afraid to care because it makes you an easy mark. You meet a nice guy, a good guy, a guy who would treat you right, and you can’t let yourself believe him because you know sweet words and a tender touch can hide a monster.” He leaned toward her, his gaze so intense it made her stomach quiver. “That’s what I did to Lauren Blount. It’s what I did to God knows how many people along the way.”

She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t even know what to feel.

“I did that.” He sat back, looking away. “I don’t know how a man can forgive himself for that. I don’t know how he lives with it. He can try to pay back the money, he can promise he’ll never do anything like that again, but he can’t change the fact that he had kind of evil inside him and he let it have free rein. How do I live with that?”   

 
Contact Info for Paula Graves

 

 

Down here in the American South, we don’t hide our crazy people. We showcase them. I’ve always thought it was because eccentric people make for the best stories, and we Southerners love our stories. Faulkner, McCullers, O’Connor, Porter—these are our chroniclers, writers steeped in the slow, steady pulse of the South’s pride, suffering, honor, madness, venality and redemption. I grew up in Alabama, the heart of the South, and live here still. The need to tell stories has been a driving force in my life from a very young age.

When I was younger, my favorite books were Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and Harlequin Romances. When I realized there were books that featured both romance and mystery, I knew I’d found my calling. Now I write for Harlequin Intrigue, where I get to play both matchmaker and murderer and get paid for it.  I’ve also recently self-published a couple of romantic suspense ebooks, available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Smashwords.

I work a full-time day job at a Birmingham ad agency, where I’m a copywriter and graphic designer, a background that comes in handy when it’s time to redesign my website and create promotional materials for my books. I’m also known among certain circles as the Cat Whisperer, but that’s a whole other story. I love to hear from readers, so please click the contact button and tell me what you think about my books.

 

Read an Excerpt

Rachel Davenport knew she was being watched, and she hated it, though the gazes directed her way that cool October morning appeared kind and full of sympathy. Only a few of her fellow mourners knew the full truth about why she’d disappeared for almost a year after her mother’s sudden death fifteen years ago, but that didn’t change the self-consciousness descending over her like a pall. 
 
She locked her spine and lifted her head, refusing to give anyone reason to doubt her strength. She’d survived so far and didn’t intend to fall apart now. She wasn’t going to give anyone a show.

“It’s a lovely gathering, isn’t it?” Diane, her father’s wife of the past eight years, dabbed her eyes with a delicate lace-rimmed handkerchief. “So many people.”
 
“Yes,” Rachel agreed, feeling a stab of shame. She wasn’t the only person who’d lost someone she loved. Diane might be flighty and benignly self-absorbed, but she’d made George Davenport’s last days happy ones. He’d loved Diane dearly and indulged her happily, and she’d been nothing but a caring, cheerful and devoted wife in his dying days. Even if Rachel had resented the other woman in her father’s life—and she hadn’t—she would have loved Diane for giving her father joy for the past eight years. “I sometimes forget that he touched so many lives. With me he was just Georgie. Not the businessman, you know? Just a sweet, sweet man who liked to garden and sing to me at night.” Fresh tears trickled from Diane’s eyes. She blotted them away with the handkerchief, saved from a streaky face by good waterproof mascara. She lifted her red-rimmed eyes to Rachel. “I’m going to miss the hell out of that man.”Rachel gave her a swift, fierce hug. “So am I.”The preacher took his place at the side of the casket and spoke the scripture verses her father had chosen, hopeful words from the book of Ephesians, her father’s favorite. Rachel wanted to find comfort in them, but a shroud of loss seemed to smother her whole.

She couldn’t remember ever feeling quite so alone. Her father had been her rock for as long as she could remember, and now he was gone. There was her uncle Rafe, of course, but he lived two hours away and spent much of his time on the road looking for new acts for his music hall.
And as much as she liked and appreciated Diane, they had too little in common to be true friends, much less family. Nor did she really consider her stepbrother, Diane’s son, Paul, anything more than a casual friend, though they’d become closer since she’d quit her job with the Maryville Public Library to take over as office manager for her father’s trucking company.

She sometimes wondered why her father hadn’t ceded control of the business to Paul instead of her. He’d worked at Davenport Trucking for over a decade. Her father had met Diane through her son, not the other way around. He had been assistant operations manager for several years now and knew the business about as well as anyone else.

Far better than she did, even though she’d learned a lot in the past year.

She watched her stepbrother edge closer to the casket. As his lips began moving, as if he was speaking to the man encased in shiny oak and satin, a dark-clad figure a few yards behind him snagged Rachel’s attention. He was lean and composed, dressed in a suit that fit him well enough but seemed completely at odds with his slightly spiky dark hair and feral looks. A pair of dark sunglasses obscured his eyes but not the belligerently square jaw and high cheekbones.

It was Seth Hammond, one of the mechanics from the trucking company. Other Davenport Trucking employees had attended the funeral, of course, so she wasn’t sure why she was surprised to see Seth here. Except he’d never been close to her father, or to anyone else at the company for that matter. She’d always figured him for a loner.

As her gaze started to slide away from him, he lifted the glasses up on his head, and his eyes snapped up to meet hers.A zapping sensation jolted through her chest, stopping her cold. His gaze locked with hers, daring her to look away. The air in her lungs froze, then burned until she forced it out in a deep, shaky sigh.

He looked away, and she felt as if someone had cut all the strings holding her upright. Her knees wobbled, and she gripped Diane’s arm.

“What is it?” Diane asked softly.

Rachel closed her eyes for a moment to regain her sense of equilibrium, then looked up at the man again.
But he was gone.

“I DON’T KNOW. She looks okay, I guess.” From his parking spot near the edge of the cemetery, Seth Hammond kept an eye on Rachel Davenport. The cemetery workers had lowered the oak casket into the gaping grave nearly twenty minutes ago, and most of the gathered mourners had dispersed, leaving the immediate family to say their final private goodbyes to George Davenport.

“It’s not a coincidence that everyone around her is gone.” The deep voice rumbling through the cell phone receiver like an annoying fly in Seth’s ear belonged to Adam Brand, FBI special agent in charge. Seth had no idea why the D.C.-based federal agent was so interested in a trucking company heiress from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, but Brand paid well, and Seth wasn’t in a position to say no to an honest job.
The only alternative was a dishonest job, and while he’d once been damned good at dishonesty, he’d found little satisfaction in those endeavors. It was a curse, he supposed, when the thing you could do the best was something that sucked the soul right out of you.

“I agree. It’s not a coincidence.” Seth’s viewpoint from the car several yards away wasn’t ideal, but the last thing a man with his reputation needed was to be spotted watching a woman through binoculars. So he had to make do with body language rather than facial expressions to get a sense of what Rachel Davenport was thinking and feeling. Grief, obviously. It covered her like morning fog in the Smokies, deceptively ephemeral. She stood straight, her chin high, her movements composed and measured. But he had a strong feeling that the slightest nudge would send her crumbling into ruins.

Everyone was gone now. Her mother by her own hand fifteen years ago, her father by cancer three days ago. No brothers or sisters, save for her stepbrother, Paul, and it wasn’t like they’d grown up together as real siblings the way Seth and his sister had.
“Have you seen Delilah recently?” Brand asked with his usual uncanny way of knowing the paths Seth’s mind was traveling at any given moment.

“Ran into her at Ledbetter’s Café over the weekend,” Seth answered. He left it at that. He wasn’t going to gossip about his sister.

Brand had never said, and Seth had never asked, why he didn’t just call up Delilah himself if he wanted to know how she was doing. Seth assumed things had gone sideways between them at some point. Probably why Dee had left the FBI years ago and eventually gone to work for Cooper Security. At the time, Seth had felt relieved by his sister’s choice, well aware of the risk that sooner or later, his sister’s job and his own less savory choice of occupations might collide.
Of course, now that he’d found his way onto the straight and narrow, she was having trouble believing in the new, improved Seth Hammond.

“I got some good snaps of the funeral goers, I think. I’ll check them out when I get a chance.” A hard thud on the passenger window made him jerk. He looked up to find Delilah’s sharp brown eyes burning holes into the glass window separating them. “Gotta go,” he said to Brand and hung up, shoving the cell phone into his pocket. He slanted a quick look at the backseat to make sure he’d concealed the surveillance glasses he’d been using to take images of the funeral. They were safely hidden in his gym bag on the floorboard.

With a silent sigh, he lowered the passenger window. “Hey, Dee.”

“What are you doin’ here?” His sister had been back in Tennessee for two weeks and already she’d shed her citified accent for the hard Appalachian twang of her childhood. “Up to somethin’?”

Her suspicious tone poked at his defensive side. “I was attending my boss’s funeral.”

“Funeral’s over, and yet here you are.” Delilah looked over the top of the car toward the Davenport family. “You thinking of conning a poor, grieving heiress out of her daddy’s money?”

“Funny.”

“I’m serious as a heart attack.” Her voice rose slightly, making him wince.

He glanced at the Davenport family, wondering if they had heard. “You’re making a scene, Dee.”
“Hammonds are good at making scenes, Seth. You know that.” Delilah reached into the open window, unlatched the car door and pulled it open, sliding into the passenger seat. “Better?”

“You ran into Mama, did you?” he asked drily, not missing the bleak expression in her dark eyes.

“The Bitterwood P.D. called me to come pick her up or they were throwing her in the drunk tank.” Delilah grimaced. “Who the hell told them I was back in town, anyway?”

“Sugar, there ain’t no lyin’ low in Bitterwood. Too damned small and too damned nosy.” Unlike his sister, he’d never really left the hills, though he’d kept clear of Bitterwood for a few years to let the dust settle. If not for Cleve Calhoun’s stroke five years ago, he might never have come back. But Cleve had needed him, and Seth had found a bittersweet sort of satisfaction in trying to live clean in the place where he’d first learned the taste of iniquity.

He sneaked a glance at George Davenport’s grave. The family had dispersed, Paul Bailey and his mother, Diane, walking arm in arm toward Paul’s car, while Rachel headed slowly across the cemetery toward another grave nearby. Marjorie Kenner’s, if he remembered correctly. Mark Bramlett’s last victim.

“I know vulnerable marks are your catnip,” Delilah drawled, “but can’t you let the girl have a few days of unmolested grief before you bilk her out of her millions?”

“You have such a high opinion of me,” he murmured, dragging his gaze away from Rachel’s stiffened spine.

“Well-earned, darlin’,” she answered, just as quietly.

“I don’t suppose it would do any good to tell you I don’t do that sort of thing anymore?”

“Yeah, and Mama swore she’d drunk her last, too, as I was puttin’ her ginned-up backside to bed.” Bitter resignation edged her voice.Oh, Dee, he thought. People keep lettin’ you down, don’t they?

“Tell me you’re not up to something.”

“I’m done with that life, Dee. I’ve been done with it a few years now.”

Her wary but hopeful look made his heart hurt. “I left the truck over on the other side of the cemetery. Why don’t you drive me over there?”He spared one more glance at Rachel Davenport, wondering how much longer she’d be able to remain upright. Someone had been working overtime the past few weeks, making sure she’d come tumbling down sooner or later.

The question was, why?

“I DIDN’T GET to talk to you at the service.”

Rachel’s nervous system jolted at the sound of a familiar voice a few feet away. She turned from Marjorie’s grave to look into a pair of concerned brown eyes.

Davis Rogers hadn’t changed a bit since their breakup five years ago. With his clean-cut good looks and effortless poise, he’d always come across as a confident, successful lawyer, even when he was still in law school at the University of Virginia.

She’d been sucked in by that easy self-composure, such a contrast to her own lack of confidence. It had been so easy to bask in his reflected successes.

For a while at least.

Then she’d found her own feet and realized his all-encompassing influence over her life had become less a shelter and more a shackle.

Easy lesson to forget on a day like today, she thought, battered by the familiar urge to enclose herself in his arms and let him make the rest of the world go away. She straightened her spine and resisted the temptation. “I didn’t realize you’d even heard about my father.”

“It made the papers in Raleigh. I wanted to pay my respects and see how you were holding up.” He brushed a piece of hair away from her face. “How are you holding up?”

“I’m fine.” His touch left her feeling little more than mild comfort. “I’m sad,” she added at his skeptical look. “And I’ll be sad for a while. But I’m okay.”

It wasn’t a lie. She was going to be okay. Despite her crushing sense of grief, she felt confident she wasn’t in danger of losing herself.

“Maybe what you need is to get out and get your mind off things.” Davis cupped her elbow with his large hand. “The clerk at the bed-and-breakfast where I’m staying suggested a great bar near the university in Knoxville where we can listen to college bands and relive our misspent youth. What do you say, Rach? It’ll be like Charlottesville all over again.”

She grimaced. “I never really liked those bars, you know. I just went because you liked them.”

His expression of surprise was almost comical. “You didn’t?”

“I’m a Tennessee girl. I liked country music and bluegrass,” she said with a smile.

He looked mildly horrified, but he managed to smile. “I’m sure we can find a honky-tonk in Knoxville.”

“There’s a little place here in Bitterwood we could go. They have a house bluegrass band and really good loaded potato skins.” After the past few months of watching her father dying one painful inch at a time, maybe what she needed was to indulge herself. Get her mind off her losses, if only for a little while.

And why not go with Davis? She wasn’t still in love with him, but she’d always liked and trusted him. It was safer than going alone. The man who’d killed four of her friends might be dead and gone, but the world was still full of danger. A woman alone had to be careful.

And she was alone, she knew, bleakness seeping into her momentary optimism.

So very alone.

FOR THE FIRST time in years, Seth Hammond had a place to himself. It wasn’t much to talk about, a ramshackle bungalow halfway up Smoky Ridge, but for the next few weeks, he wouldn’t have to share it with anyone else. The house’s owner, Cleve Calhoun, was in Knoxville for therapy to help him regain some of the faculties he’d lost to a stroke five years ago.

By seven o’clock, Seth had decided that alone time wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Even if the satellite reception wasn’t terrible, there wasn’t much on TV worth watching these days. The Vols game wasn’t until Saturday, and with the Braves out of play-off contention, there wasn’t much point in watching baseball, either.

He’d already gone through the photos from the funeral he’d taken with his high-tech camera glasses, but as far as he could tell, there was nobody stalking Rachel Davenport at the funeral except himself. He supposed he could go through the photos one more time, but he’d seen enough of Rachel’s grief for one day. He’d uploaded the images to the FTP site Adam Brand had given him. Maybe the FBI agent would have better luck than he had. Brand, after all, at least knew what it was he was looking for. 

He certainly hadn’t bothered to let Seth in on the secret.

You have turned into a dull old coot, Seth told himself, eyeing the frozen dinner he’d just pulled from Cleve’s freezer with a look of dismay. There was a time when you could’ve walked into any bar in Maryville and gone home with a beautiful woman. What the hell happened to you?

The straight and narrow, he thought. He’d given up more than just the con game, it appeared.
“To hell with that.” He shoved the frozen dinner back into the frost-lined freezer compartment. He was thirty-two years old, not sixty. Playing nursemaid to a crippled old man had, ironically, kept him lean and strong, since he’d had to haul Cleve Calhoun around like a baby. And while he wasn’t going to win any beauty pageants, he’d never had trouble catching a woman’s eye.

An image of Rachel Davenport’s cool blue eyes meeting his that morning at the funeral punched him in the gut. He couldn’t remember if she’d ever looked him in the eye before that moment.

Probably not. At the trucking company, he was more a part of the scenery than a person. A chair or a desk or one of the trucks he repaired, maybe. He’d become good at blending in. It had been his best asset as a con artist, enabling him to learn a mark’s vulnerabilities without drawing attention to himself. Cleve had nicknamed him Chameleon because of his skill at becoming part of the background.

That same skill had served him well as a paid FBI informant, though there had been a few times, most recently in a dangerous backwoods enclave of meth dealers, when he’d come close to breaking cover.

But looking into Rachel Davenport’s eyes that morning, he’d felt the full weight of being invisible. For a second, she’d seen him. Her blue eyes had widened and her soft pink lips had parted in surprise, as if she’d felt the same electric zing that had shot through his body when their gazes connected.

Maybe that was the longing driving him now, propelling him out of the shack and into Cleve’s old red Charger in search of another connection. It was a night to stand out from the crowd, not blend in, and he knew just the honky-tonk to do it in.

The road into Bitterwood proper from the mountains was a winding series of switchbacks and straightaways called Old Purgatory Road. Back in the day, when they were just kids, Delilah, a couple of years older and eons wiser, had told Seth that it was named so because hell was located in a deep, dark cavern in the heart of Smoky Ridge, their mountain home, and the only way to get in or out was Purgatory Road.

Of course, later he’d learned that Purgatory was actually a town about ten miles to the northeast, and the road had once been the only road between there and Bitterwood, but Delilah’s story had stuck with him anyway. Even now, there were times when he thought she’d been right all along. Hell did reside in the black heart of Smoky Ridge, and it was all too easy for a person to find himself on a fast track there.

Purgatory Road flattened out as it crossed Vesper Road and wound gently through the valley, where Bitterwood’s small, four-block downtown lay. There was little there of note—the two-story brick building that housed the town administrative offices, including the Bitterwood Police Department, a tiny postage stamp of a post office and a few old shops and boutiques that stubbornly resisted the destructive sands of time.
Bitterwood closed shop at five in the evening. Everything was dark and shuttered as Seth drove through. All the nighttime action happened in the outskirts. Bitterwood had years ago voted to allow liquor sales by the drink as well as package sales, hoping to keep up with the nearby tourist traps. While the tourist boom had bypassed the little mountain town despite the effort, the gin-guzzling horse was out of the barn, and the occasional attempts by civic-minded folks to rescind the liquor ordinances never garnered enough votes to pass.

Seth had never been much of a drinker himself. Cleve had taught him that lesson. A man who lived by his instincts couldn’t afford to let anything impair them. Plus, he’d grown up dodging the blows of his mean, drug-addled father. And all liquor had done for his mother was dull the pain of her husband’s abuse and leave her a shell of a woman long after the old bastard had blown himself up in a meth lab accident.

He’d never have gone to Smoky Joe’s Saloon for the drinks anyway. They watered down the stuff too much, as much to limit the drunken brawls as to make an extra buck. But they had a great house band that played old-style Tennessee bluegrass, and some of the prettiest girls in the county went there for the music.

He saw the neon lights of Smoky Joe’s ahead across Purgatory Bridge, the steel-and-concrete truss bridge spanning Bitterwood Creek, which meandered through a narrow gorge thirty feet below. The lights distracted him for only a second, but that was almost all it took. He slammed on the brakes as the darkened form of a car loomed in his headlights, dead ahead.

The Charger’s brakes squealed but held, and the muscle car shuddered to a stop with inches to spare.

“Son of a bitch!” he growled as he found his breath again. Who the hell had parked a car in the middle of the bridge without even turning on emergency signals?

With a start, he recognized the vehicle, a silver Honda Accord. He’d seen Rachel Davenport drive that car in and out of the employee parking lot at Davenport Trucking every day for the past year.
His chest tightening with alarm, he put on his own emergency flashers and got out of the car, approaching the Honda with caution.

Out of the corner of his eye, he detected movement in the darkness. He whipped his gaze in that direction.

She stood atop the narrow steel railing, her small hands curled in the decorative lacework of the old truss bridge. She swayed a little, like a tree limb buffeted by the light breeze blowing through the girders. The air ruffled her skirt and fluttered her long hair.

“Ms. Davenport?” Seth’s heart squeezed as one of her feet slid along the thin metal support and she sagged toward the thirty-foot drop below.

“Ms. Davenport is dead,” she said in a faint, mournful tone. “Killed herself, you know.”

Seth edged toward her, careful not to move too quickly for fear of spooking her. “Rachel, that girder’s not real steady. Don’t you want to come down here to the nice, solid ground?”She laughed softly. “Solid. Solid.” She said the word with comical gusto. “’She’s solid.’ What does that mean? It makes you sound stiff and heavy, doesn’t it? Solid.”

Okay, not suicidal, he decided as he took a couple more steps toward her. Drunk?

“Do you think I’m cursed?” There was none of her earlier amusement in that question.

“I don’t think so, no.” He was almost close enough to touch her. But he had to be careful. If he grabbed at her and missed, she could go over the side in a heartbeat.

“I think I am,” she said. Her voice had taken on a definite slurring cadence. But he decided she didn’t sound drunk so much as drugged. Had someone given her a sedative after the funeral? Maybe she’d had a bad reaction to it.

“I don’t think you’re cursed,” Seth disagreed, easing his hand toward her in the dark. “I think you’re tired and sad. And, you know, that’s okay. It means you’re human.”
Her eyes glittered in the reflected light of the Charger’s flashers. “I wish I were a bird,” she said plaintively. “Then I could fly away over the mountains and never have to land again.” She took a sudden turn outward, teetering atop the rail as if preparing to take flight. “She said I should fly.”

Then, in heart-stopping slow motion, she began to fall forward, off the bridge.

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Filed under 2013, Bitterwood P.D., Harlequin, Intrigue, July, Paula Graves, Review, Romance, Suspense

[Review] The Cowboy Next Door by Marin Thomas

The Cowboy Next Door by Marin Thomas

Publication date: July 1, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin American Romance

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>The Cash Brothers #1
Pages: 217

Back of the book

 

She Doesn’t Need His Protection!

Hardworking cowboy Johnny Cash has always been a protector to his little sister’s best friend, sweet but tough cowgirl Shannon Douglas. It’s pretty crazy for girls to ride bulls—yet it’s her life to live. Then he realizes he’s got some purely male instincts toward her, too. But absolutely no way can he fall for his boss’s daughter—if he loses his job, there’ll be hell to pay at home….

Shannon was raised to be strong and independent. She wants a national title so bad she can taste it—and she needs Johnny’s help. His protectiveness drives her crazy…the same way his kisses do. But she’s not about to hang up her bull rope because of him! Her heart says he’s the one—but her own stubborn streak might push away the only man who might actually understand her.

 
 



My Review: 

4.5 Star Review – Cash Brothers series

I recommend this book.

As always I enjoyed the book by Marin. Look forward to the next book in this series. Due out in October 2013 “Twins Under The Christmas Tree” Featuring Conway Cash. For more information on the Cash Brothers see The Cash Brothers facebook page.


Since Johnny Cash’s grandparents have passed he has been looking after his siblings since he is the oldest and took over the father responsibilities.  He believes it is his responsibility to save the ranch as he made a promise to his grandfather.  He also wants to help his brothers and sister stay on the right path.  His mother was always out on the fun looking for her true love always coming home pregnant.  Once she had the babies she left them with the grandparents and went back in search of her true love.

Shannon Douglas was abandoned by her mother when she was a baby.  She was raised by her father and brothers.  She was always a tomboy as she wanted to fit into the all-male family.  Since she was younger she has tried to take after her brothers in everything they achieved she needed to also get.  Now she wants the title of Cowgirl of the year by competing in the bull riding events.  She thinks if she gets that title it will make up for her mother not loving her.       

Shannon has known Johnny for years as she is best friends with his sister.  She has also spent a lot of time with his entire family a one time or another.

During a rodeo she is injured and breaks a bone in her leg.  Now she must work harder in order to heal and still get the title.   

Johnny is working for Shannon’s father as foreman on his ranch and after Shannon breaks down and tells him she has a fear of getting back on the bulls he agrees to help Shannon train.


 


To find out the answers to the below pick up the book:
Will he be able to train Shannon and still get his work done at the Ranch?


Will Shannon overcome her fear and get the title she desperately wants?

A few of my favorite parts of the book:

“It’s time for you to pull your weight.” They walked back to the cabin.
“You know what I think?” Conway said. “You guys ride my ass because you’re jealous of me.” 

Johnny chuckled. “Jealous?”

“You guys wish woman fawned all over you like they do me. I can’t help it if I.mn the best-looking Cash brother.” He got behind the wheel. “Watch yourself with Rodriguez. He’s a ladies’ man. If he wants Shannon, he’ll get her.”

Over my dead body.

 

“Before we say grace, I have an announcement to make.” Dixie shared a smile with Galvin, then held up her water glass.
“Spit it out, Dix, before the food gets cold,” Porter said.
“Gavin and I are expecting.”
“Expecting what?” Porter asked.
Johnny slapped the back of his brother’s head. “A baby, stupid.”
“You’re pregnant?” Buck asked.
Dixie leaned down and kissed Gavin then said, “We’re pregnant.”

 
Contact Info for Marin Thomas
 
   

About Marin:

Marin Thomas grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. She left the Midwest to attend college at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV. Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years she and her family have lived in seven different states but have now come full circle and returned to Arizona where the rugged desert and breathtaking sunsets provide plenty of inspiration for Marin’s cowboy books.
 

Read an Excerpt

On a hot, mid-August Saturday Johnny Cash stood in the cowboy ready area of the Butterfield Stage Days Parade and Rodeo in Gila Bend, Arizona, and watched the fireworks display between lady bull rider Shannon Douglas and all-around rodeo cowboy C. J. Rodriguez.

The hand-gesturing and boot-stomping drew a lot of notice and Johnny edged closer, ready to intervene if the argument quickly went south.


“You’re supposed to be my man, not Veronica’s,” Shannon said.

No surprise that the notorious buckle bunny Veronica Patriot had sunk her claws into another cowboy. The woman was hell on boot heels and took what she wanted—mostly cowboys in committed relationships. If that was the case, and Rodriguez had cheated on Shannon, then Johnny felt bad for her.

Shannon was his sister’s best friend and Johnny had known her most of his life. Nine years her senior, he’d been a big brother to the little girl who’d spent countless afternoons playing at the Cash pecan farm or trailing after him at her father’s spread where Johnny worked as a seasonal ranch hand.

Rodriguez jabbed his finger in the air. “I can’t help it if I attract women everywhere I go.”

Hands fisted, Shannon stood her ground. “You’re ticked off that I won last week.”

“You didn’t beat me.” Rodriguez glanced at his competitors, who pretended not to listen.

Shannon laughed. “You’re sore because fans are finding out you’re not the superstar you claim to be.”

The feuding couples’ audience showed no signs of intervening. Pretty soon the rodeo officials and cameramen would notice the confrontation playing out behind the chutes and broadcast the lovers’ spat on the JumboTron.

“Shannon.” Johnny stepped from the shadows and touched a finger to the brim of his black cattleman’s Stetson.

She flashed him a grateful smile. “Well, if it ain’t the Man in Black.” Rodriguez snickered.

Johnny’s hackles rose. What the hell had his mother been thinking when she’d named him and his brothers after country-and-western singers? It had been bad enough that they’d all been fathered by different men. From the day Johnny entered kindergarten, he’d been teased—not that his mother had cared.

When his biological father, Charlie Smith, had split after Johnny’s birth, Aimee Cash had become an absentee mom, gallivanting across the Southwest, searching for the next Mr. Right. She hadn’t been there when Johnny had come home from school with his first black eye—Grandma Ada had hugged him and insisted there was room in the world for two Johnny Cashes. Eventually he might have learned to turn the other cheek, but every year or two, another brother had been born and saddled with a moniker that needed defending until he grew old enough to fight his own battles. And Johnny had made his fair share of trips to the principal’s office during his school career.

“Back off, Rodriguez.” He leveled a sober stare at the cowboy.

“This is bullshit.” Rodriguez threw his gear bag over his shoulder and stomped off. The onlookers dispersed.

“You okay?” he asked Shannon.

“Yeah. C.J.’s just frustrated with his riding, that’s all.” She rolled a clump of dirt beneath her boot.

Johnny noticed she wore Dynasty Boots. He glanced at her gear bag—that, too, sported the Dynasty Boots logo. The last he’d heard, Wrangler Jeans was promoting Shannon and Rodriguez’s cross-country tour, highlighting women’s bull riding. He motioned to the boot stitched on her shirt. “I thought Wrangler sponsored you.”

“They did.” She watched the rodeo helpers load a bull into a nearby chute. “Dynasty Boots offered me and C.J. a better deal and bought out our contract with Wrangler.”

“What kind of better deal?”

“If C.J. and I continue to compete against each other and keep up our sham of a romance—fans love that we’re a couple—” she said, rolling her eyes “—we—”

“You’re not a couple?”

“Not anymore.” She shrugged. “Anyway, whoever has the most wins after the Tucson rodeo in January earns a fifty-thousand-dollar bonus.”

Johnny whistled between his teeth. “Where does the score stand between you two?”

“Dead even.”

“No kidding?”

“Did you think because C.J.’s a man he’d be ahead of me in the competition?”

“No…I…” Johnny shrugged. In truth, he believed bull riding was best left to cowboys, but if there was ever a cowgirl who could go the distance with the men, Shannon Douglas was that girl.

“If I want to win the title of Cowgirl of the Year, I need to beat C.J.” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, clearly agitated. The hotshot cowboy had rattled her.

“You sure you’re okay?” His gaze roamed over her body.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Rodriguez must be blind.”

Her cheeks flushed pink. Even though Shannon was a tomboy, the subtle signs of a pretty woman were evident. Her turbulent green eyes, fringed with thick black lashes, glowed with a vibrant, determined spirit. Then there was her mouth, plump lips that begged a man to… Startled by his train of thought, he cleared his throat. What the heck was he doing—cataloging his sister’s friend’s body parts? At least he’d stopped before he’d checked out her—

“I got to the rodeo late. Did you ride this afternoon?” she asked.

“Sandpiper tossed me on my keister.”

“Did any of your brothers compete?”

“The rest of the gang stayed behind to work on the bunkhouse.”

“I heard Dixie threw all of you out of the farmhouse after she and Gavin married.”

“You heard right.” He nodded at C.J. “Was that your normal warm-up routine?”

“Hardly.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re about to kick off the men’s bull riding event, but first, we have a special treat for you.” Applause and whistles filled the arena. When the noise died down, the announcer continued. “Shannon Douglas is about to show us that cowgirls are as tough as cowboys when it comes to bull riding!”

The crowd noise was deafening. Johnny had no idea Shannon had become so popular on the circuit. “You sure you’re okay?” She shot him a dark look, so he said, “Good luck,” and moved aside. He didn’t stray far—in case Rodriguez got it in his head to pick another fight with her. After she put on her Kevlar vest, protective face mask and riding glove, she climbed the chute rails while the announcer finished his spiel.

“Shannon Douglas hails from the Triple D Ranch near Stagecoach. She’s been competing in roughstock events since high school and you won’t find a tougher cowgirl in the whole state of Arizona!” The JumboTron displayed a close-up of her as she waved to the fans. “This cowgirl’s about to tangle with Boomerang, a veteran bull known for his tight spins.”

Shannon stretched a leg over the bull and settled onto his back. She wrapped then rewrapped the rope around her gloved hand and Johnny worried that she was thinking about her quarrel with Rodriguez.

He spotted her partner inching toward the chute and stepped into the man’s path. He wasn’t letting the rodeo playboy taunt Shannon. Only after the gate opened and Boomerang sprang free, did Johnny turn to the action inside the arena.

Shannon hung on through three spins. As the seconds ticked off the clock, the bullfighters moved into position, ready to help if needed.

Six…seven…

The buzzer sounded and Shannon waited for an opening to dismount. Boomerang chose for her. The bull kicked out at the same time he twisted his back end and she catapulted through the air. She hit the ground and skidded several feet across the dirt. His heart stalled when Boomerang turned on Shannon as she struggled to stand.

Head down, the bull charged and a collective gasp rippled through the stands. The bullfighters made a valiant attempt to intervene, but the beast was fixated on his rider.

Move, Shannon, move!

She must have felt the ground shake, because she rolled sideways in the nick of time and the bull’s horns missed her by inches. Scrambling to her feet, she stumbled toward the rails as the rodeo helpers guided Boomerang to the bull pen.

When Shannon’s boot hit the bottom rung, Johnny held out his hand and her green eyes flashed with relief. Adrenaline pumped through his blood and he yanked her too hard over the rails, her momentum carrying him backward. They tumbled to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs, Shannon sprawled on top of him. Damned if he couldn’t feel the soft mounds of her breasts through her Kevlar vest. His arms tightened around her and the first thought that popped into his head was how good she felt pressed against him.

“There you have it, folks!” the announcer bellowed. “Shannon Douglas has bested Boomerang!”

The announcer’s voice startled them and Shannon rolled off of Johnny. Another cowboy offered his hand and helped her to her feet. Her competitors congratulated her with fist pumps, high fives and hearty pats on the back. By the time Johnny stood, she was no longer smiling. A few yards away, dressed in a red-and-white-checked cowgirl blouse, Veronica Patriot hung on Rodriguez like a cloth over a picnic table. Obviously the cowboy wasn’t trying very hard to play up the romance between him and Shannon.

“Hey, Johnny.” Andy Kramer, a bareback rider, stopped by his side and nodded to Shannon as she removed her protective gear. “Bet you’re glad Dixie quit riding bulls.”

For sure. Last summer Shannon had convinced Johnny’s sister to compete in a few rodeos, but Dixie had turned up pregnant after the second one and scratched her final ride.

“You wanna grab a beer when we leave here?” Andy asked.

“Sorry, I’ve got a date.” He planned to stop at his girlfriend’s apartment and surprise her with a night on the town. He hadn’t seen Charlene in forever and the last time they’d talked on the phone, the conversation had been strained. He hated that they were growing apart, but he’d been forced to put their relationship on the back burner the past year in order to deal with family problems and the pecan farm’s financial crisis.

“See ya at the next go-round.” Andy walked off.

Johnny grabbed his gear and strolled over to Shannon, intending to say goodbye, but Rodriguez beat him to her.

“Can we talk somewhere?” Rodriguez nodded to the stands.

Shannon caught Johnny’s eye and he asked, “Want me to stay?”

“Thanks, I’m good.”

After she left with Rodriguez, Johnny headed for the exit. What the hell had gotten into him? It was one thing to look out for Shannon at the rodeo—another to hold her close when they’d crashed to the ground.

Cool off, buddy. No harm done.

Then why had X-rated thoughts drifted through his mind when Shannon had been sprawled on top of him?

He cut through the rows of pickups to his truck parked at the rear of the lot. Once he stowed his gear, he drove south toward Stagecoach. In an effort to put Shannon out of his mind, he listened to talk radio. Ten miles passed and he hadn’t heard a word the radio host said. Johnny pulled off at the next roadside gas station and bought a coffee in the convenience store, then sat in the truck and stared out the windshield.

When had he stopped loving Charlene?

He couldn’t recall the last time Charlene and the word love had occurred in the same thought. Johnny’s memory floated back in time…first one month…then two…then six and finally a year. He couldn’t blame the demise of his and Charlene’s relationship all on his siblings and the farm. His feelings for his longtime girlfriend had been gradually fading, but because he’d been comfortable with the status quo, he’d paid no attention to the signs.

He and Charlene had been together a little over seven years and he hadn’t asked her to marry him. The last time she’d brought up marriage, he’d recently found out Dixie was pregnant and then he’d gotten word the agricultural company leasing the pecan groves had gone bankrupt. Marrying Charlene would have added another person to his list of responsibilities.

Unbeknownst to his brothers, Johnny had made the mortgage payment on the farm for the past eight months, depleting his savings—funds that had been earmarked for a house once he and Charlene tied the knot.

Shannon. When she’d landed on top of him this afternoon, he’d felt a sharp stab of arousal shoot through his body. He hadn’t experienced a physical zap like that with Charlene in forever. He sipped his coffee and winced as the scalding liquid burned his tongue. If anything good had come out of running into Shannon at the rodeo, it was recognizing that tonight he had to end his relationship with Charlene. She deserved better than to be strung along.

He started the truck and merged onto the highway. An hour later, he took the exit for Yuma. He arrived at Charlene’s complex and parked in a visitor spot, then removed her apartment key from his key ring.

When he rounded the corner of the building, he bumped into a man. “Sorry.” Together they ascended the stairs to the second story where the guy stopped in front of Charlene’s apartment and rang the bell.

Stunned, Johnny gaped at the man’s dress slacks and polished wing tips.

The door opened and Charlene smiled. When she caught sight of Johnny, her eyes widened.

“Hello, darlin’,” Johnny said. The color drained from her face and he thought she might cry. “Mind if I have a word with you in private?”

She motioned for Mr. Businessman to enter the apartment, then stepped onto the landing and shut the door. “I can explain.”

“How long have you been seeing him?”

“This is our second date.” She sighed. “I was going to tell you the next time I saw you, but we haven’t spoken in three weeks.”

Had it been that long? “Don’t apologize.” His pride hurt that she’d moved on before they’d officially broken up, but in the grand scheme of things, he was relieved she was making this easy for him.

“I’m sorry, Johnny. I should have told you I wasn’t happy.”

She’d given off plenty of clues that her feelings for him had changed, but he’d been too distracted to notice.

After he handed her the apartment key, she said, “Wait here.” She returned a few minutes later—hair mussed. Obviously the new guy wanted him to know he’d staked his claim on Charlene.

She held out a cardboard box filled with his toiletries and personal items. “If you’d like, I can fetch the two necklaces and pair of earrings you bought me.”

They’d been together seven years and that’s all he’d given her? “Those were gifts. I don’t want them back.” He shifted the box in his arms. “Good luck with—” He nodded to the door.

“Sean. We met at work.” Charlene kissed his cheek. “You’ll always be special to me, Johnny.”

“Take care,” he said.

The apartment door closed and the scraping sound of the dead bolt ended their seven-year relationship.

Johnny left the complex feeling as if an enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He’d had good times with Charlene and she’d been the first woman he’d fallen in love with, but happy-ever-after hadn’t been in the cards for them.

Once he reached his truck, he decided he didn’t feel like being alone. He’d stop at a bar and properly mourn the end of his relationship with Charlene. She’d stuck it out with him for longer than most women would have, and the least he could do was drink a few beers and pretend she’d broken his heart.

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[Review] DEATHTRAP by Dana Marton

DEATHTRAP by Dana Marton

Publication date: June 1, 2013

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Broslin Creek #2
Pages: 201

About DEATHTRAP

 

She’d been “the sick girl” for most of her life. She refused to go straight to “the weird girl”. Heart-transplant recipient Sophie Curtis has been in her own antiseptic bubble for so long, she just might not be able to venture out into the real world again. Her spooky body memories are scary enough, but then she finds herself in the cross hairs of a killer.

“Love was blind, people said. But lust was blind, deaf and reckless.” Ethan Bing hadn’t been a great romantic before he became a cop. Whatever shred of optimism he had left after becoming Broslin Chief of Police had been seared out of him by the unsolved murder of his wife two years before. A new case brings the killer within reach just as Sophie pops into his life. She gets through his defenses like no other before, but soon it becomes clear that she’s been selected as the killer’s next victim.



My Review:

4.0 Star Review – Broslin Creek Series

I recommend this book.

If you have not read “Deathscape” the book comes before this one in the series that’s okay you don’t have to read it first.

As always I enjoyed books by Dana.   Her books have plenty of drama and romance and you really get a feel for the characters of her books.  Look forward to the next book in this series.

Sophie Curtis had a heart transplant 2 years ago from someone in Broslin.  She moved to Broslin about six months ago to her own house to live alone and take care of herself.

Captain Ethan Bing, of Broslin PD. met Sophie when she fainted on his door step.  She looks into his house and believes she has been there before.  He walks her home and gives her a business card in case she needs anything.  He is drawn to her and does not understand why.

Jeremy Denvil owns his own consulting company and is Sophie’s ex-fiancé.  He wants to get back with Sophie as he thinks she cannot take care of herself.

Sophie is afraid of dogs from a past mishap and one follows her home after walking at the park.  She has to learn to accept the dog and not be afraid of him. She names him Peaches as not dog can go to long without a name.

Someone is breaking into Sophie’s house and messing up her yard…..  Why?

Can Ethan and Sophie overcome all the destruction that comes their way to make a relationship work?

To find out the answers to the below pick up the book:

Whose heart did Sophie get when she got the transplant?

Who is the killer of Ethan’s wife and why is she dead?

 

 

A few of my favorite parts of the book:

A half smile came to play on his lips. “You’re easy to be around. And easy on the eye. That’s a bonus.” He caught himself. Took a step back. “I have no right to be saying that. I’m not in a place where—”

“I’m attracted to you too,” she blurted, then wished the earth would just open up beneath her and swallow her up along with the wave of embarrassment that washed over her. She had no idea how to act around a man she was attracted to. She was pitifully inexperienced when it came to dating.

He stepped closer with an intense, thoughtful look on his face. “We shouldn’t do this.”

Her heart gave a hard thud.

“You probably can’t kiss.” Another step closer. “What does the doctor say?”

“We never kissed,” she deadpanned. “Dr. Pratt and I are not interested in each other that way.”

The sound of his deep laughter broke the tension between them. He moved a little closer still.

“Dr. Pratt says intimacy is all right, unless the other person is sick.” She couldn’t believe she just said that. Why not put a neon sign on her forehead? DESPERATE FOR SEX.

“This isn’t going to work.” He leaned his forehead against hers, the skin-to-skin contact jolting. “This isn’t the right time for either of us.” His hands slid up her arms. “I shouldn’t kiss you,” he said.

And then he did.

Holy heavens.

He didn’t do more than brush his lips over hers, and her head was swimming. Her heart seemed to skip several beats, which gave her a moment of anxiety before she remembered that it might be normal. Things like that were frequently mentioned in romance novels.

She’d just never thought it was real, that she could ever feel a wave of desire as intense as this.

Bing slowly put his arms around her, drawing her closer, and suddenly her breasts were snuggled against his hard chest. Tingles ran across her skin. Then he nibbled on her lower lip gently, and her knees went weak. She lifted her hands to his waist, for support first, then they somehow slipped around him and moved up the rippling muscles of his back. His body felt like a work of art under her fingertips.

A long minute of bliss passed before he eased back to look at her.

She stared at him, dazed, then gathered herself.

“I’m not like this normally.” They barely knew each other, even if she’d felt an instant connection, almost from the moment she’d met him.

He raised an eyebrow. “Like what?”

“Brazen.” If that was the right word.

He shook his head, that half smile coming out again. “Think again. You just locked lips with the police captain on your front stoop for everyone to see.”

She felt her face flush as he watched her, conflicting emotions crossing his face. The half smile disappeared as he stepped back.

“Don’t say it,” she blurted. “Don’t say it was a mistake, or apologize or—” She wanted to keep that one perfect moment as it was, even if they never had another.

His gaze darkened. “Apologizing couldn’t be further from what I’m thinking.”

Did the air thin suddenly? She felt like it did. He watched her with an intensity that made it impossible to look away from him. As if he was wrestling with an important decision.

Then he turned from her, strode to his pickup, and drove away.



On his way back to the station, he stopped for some coffee at the country store. The drive-through would have been faster at one of the chains, but the country store had Mildred behind the counter. She was eighty-two, still worked most every day, and got a kick out of being the Captain’s favorite.

Bing ordered the daily special, which turned out to be hazelnut mocha with almond milk. He liked his coffee black, but Mildred was proud of her specials. Her friends came in and made a big deal about them, and it kept her happy.

“Best one yet,” he told her with a smile. “Given some more thought about running away with me?”

“Drive by the house Sunday morning.” She flashed her own come-hither grin. “Pull up to the back. One whistle and I’ll shimmy down the drainpipe.”

From anyone else her age, that would have been an impossibility, but if anyone could do it, Mildred would. She had that kind of spirit.

“Don’t you believe her.” Eddie Gannon, the town handyman, came up behind Bing. He was in his fifties, and lived alone above the diner, a man of many skills. He drove the big plow in the winter for the town and went around fixing whatever needed to be fixed for the rest of the year. He winked at Mildred. “She’s been leading me on like that for years.”

Mildred giggled.

“We can duke it out in the back,” Bing offered to Eddie. “I have to warn you. I’m not going to give her up easily.”

They joked on for another minute or two while he paid.

 

He held up two new locks when she let him in—one regular, one dead bolt. “I can install them. It’ll take ten minutes.”
“Thank you. Okay.”

He smiled. “Hey, that’s progress. At the very least, I expected you to arm-wrestle me for the drill.”

“You’re not helping because you don’t think I can handle it.”

“So why am I helping?”

“Some men can’t express their emotions, so they show that they care by doing things. It’s a manly thing.” She’d been reading her self-help books in the evenings.

His lips stretched into a grin. And there was a moment of connection between them, as they stood in her entryway, just looking at each other. Maybe he was right. Maybe the attraction was a natural thing. God, what woman wouldn’t be attracted to him?

 

“I’ll be right outside in the cruiser by the curb,” he said once they were finished and the dishes put away. “Just to make sure whoever broke in doesn’t come back to give you any more trouble.”

“I have new locks. I have Peaches. And just as a warning…” She put her fists up. “I float like a bee and sting like a butterfly.”

“I was going to point out that if we lived together permanently, you’d have unlimited access to this.” He gestured with a hand at his body like the hostess at the board on The Price is Right, while wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
 

 

 

Contact Info for Dana Marton



Twitter – @danamarton

 

About Dana:

 
Dana Marton writes fast-paced action-adventure romances that take her readers all over the globe. She is a Rita Award finalist and the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. She loves writing stories of intrigue, filled with dangerous plots that try her tough-as-nails heroes and the special women they fall in love with. Her books have been published in seven languages in eleven countries around the world.
She would love to hear from her readers.

Okay, the above version is the glamour version for press releases. The truth is that my path to publication was nothing but unglamorous. I wrote for 13 years and completed 4 books (as well as having others in various stages of completion) before I finally received a call from a Harlequin editor. I was beginning to wonder if I was being tenacious or just too dense to know when to quit. But it all worked out at the end! J I love, love, love writing and would spend all day in front of the computer if I could just break my family of the habit of wanting to eat and wear clean clothes. What’s up with that? But I must get up from the desk now and then, if only because my Internet connection goes down or my ancient PC overheats. Then I do enjoy cooking, knitting, hunting for treasures at the flea market, our Beagle, Peanut the Destroyer, and gardening.

I’d love it if you picked up one of my books and emailed me to tell me what you thought of it. I’ve been known to name characters after readers. Just ask Princess Judi. 

 

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Filed under Broslin Creek Series, Dana Marton, Review, Romance

New Adult Romance: Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones, Excerpt and GIVEAWAY!

Blurb: He is rich, famous, and secretive and he will become her passion, her desire, her escape from a dark reality she so desperately craves… At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loves to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten-even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets down her guard down, the ghost’s of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run. On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give? And what if there is more to Liam than meets the eyes?

Read the first chapter of Escaping Reality on Lisa’s Website! Here
Pre-Order Escaping Reality Here!


Excerpt: “Do you have a ride to wherever you’re going?”

“A friend is picking me up,” I croak out, and the lie is like wet cotton in my throat. He wants this…this whatever we started to continue and so do I, but I can’t know his real motivation any more than I can risk his safety by being seen with him. 

“Male or female?”

I blink, snapping back to the present. “What? Male or female?”

“Your friend picking you up. Male or female?”

I know the safe answer is “male”. I know that if his motivation for the question is simple male interest, it will discourage him, and still I hear myself say, “Female.”

His eyes darken, heat, and I think he’s pleased with my answer. “I’ll help you with your bags.”

“No, I—”

“I’m helping you with your bags, Amy.” 

There is command in his voice, and I am instantly, unbelievably aroused, and pleased at his insistence, when I should be running for the hills. I will run for the hills when the doors open. “Thank you,” I murmur and turn away from him, afraid he will read my intentions to flee. Quickly, I make sure my folder and bag are intact, sliding the leather strap over my shoulder, and I am ready for action. 

The plane parks at the gate, and Liam stretches his long, perfect body to retrieve my bag from the overhead compartment. Once he hands it to me, I lift the handle and tell myself to make my escape, but for a moment I am frozen in regret over leaving him. Too soon, he jerks his bag free, and I am out of time. A man moves between myself and Liam and I take the opportunity to dart for the exit. I don’t look back. I want to look back. 
A few minutes later, I am outside in a cab line that stretches a good fifteen cab lengths long, with no actual cars in sight. Thanks to several conventions and some Hollywood event, it appears I have plenty of time to savor my regret over leaving Liam behind. And I do. I savor it like I would water in a desert. 

I’m busying contemplating how good he might have tasted when a black Town Car stops directly beside me. The door opens and to my shock Liam steps out and grabs my bag. “Come with me,” he orders, and he doesn’t give me time to argue. 


I haven’t moved yet and he’s already at the trunk where the driver lifts my bag to deposit it inside. I consider leaving it behind and running. I should leave it and run. I charge toward him and meet him at the back door. 
My chin lifts and he is taller than I realized, and his sleek goatee is impossibly sexy, nearly distracting me from my anger. “You can’t just take my bag and demand I come with you.”

“And yet that’s exactly what I did. Get in the car, Amy.” 

I bristle at the command. “I don’t know you.”

His piercing blue eyes darken. “I have every intention of remedying that.” 


A thrill shoots through me at the obvious promise that he will be my lover, and there is no denying that I am seduced by this man, drawn to his confidence and dark good looks. To the gentle lion I believe will take control of everything around him, including me. The man who will demand much of me, and perhaps take more than I should give. And yet, beyond all reason, I want to experience those things. I want to experience him. It almost feels…necessary.

About The Author!
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT TRILOGY which has sold to more than ten countries for translation with negotiations in process for more, and has now been optioned by STARZ Network for a cable television show, to be produced by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland).

Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 30 books with publishers such as Simon and Schuster, Avon, Kensington, Harlequin, NAL, Berkley and Elloras Cave, as well as crafting a successful indie career. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.
Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her through her website and she is active on twitter and Facebook daily.

Connect with Lisa:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

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Filed under Excerpt, Giveaway, Lisa Renee Jones, New Adult, Romance

[Review] Confessing To The Cowboy by Carla Cassidy

Confessing To The Cowboy by Carla Cassidy

Publication date: June 1, 2013

<div style=”font-size:11px”>Publication date: 05/01/2013</div>Cowboy Cafe #4
Published by Harlequin Romantic Suspense 
Pages: 280

Back of the Book

 

The Price of Deadly Secrets…


Someone is killing waitresses at the Cowboy Café. Three women are dead, and Sheriff Cameron Evans means to find out why. But as he works to solve the case, the hunky sheriff must push beyond his feelings for the café’s owner. There’s a murderer on the loose. Passion has no place here.

For Mary Mathis, the crime is personal. Not only are the victims her employees, they may be a sign of something deeper. Eight years ago she came to Grady Gulch fleeing a violent past that has scarred her for life. Now she has to discover if that history is dooming the women who work for her. She already knows it has made new love impossible—no matter what she may secretly desire.

 

Read an Excerpt


Sheriff Cameron Evans was tired of finding women dead in their beds. He stood in the doorway of Dorothy Blake’s small bedroom and took in the tragic scene before him. It was definitely a bad start to a new week.

A light breeze fluttered the blue-flowered curtains hanging at the open window, blowing in the cold November early morning air.

Dorothy was clad in a pale pink nightgown and covered by a blue bedspread. Blood stained the spread around her neck but without that telltale sign it would appear that Dorothy slept peacefully. Her eyes were closed and her features showed no sign of stress.

Cameron tightened his hands into fists as two of his men wearing paper booties moved in to collect any evidence that might lead to a clue to the killer. He had little hope that they’d find anything. Two previous deaths in the same manner had yielded nothing. The murderer was smart and meticulous in his efficiency. Get in, slit the throat of a sleeping woman and then get out, leaving nothing behind for law enforcement to work with.

The window appeared to be intact, suggesting that it had been unlocked and had provided easy access. Cameron’s frustration grew as he thought of the town hall meeting where he’d cautioned all women living alone to make sure their windows and doors were locked at all times. Apparently there had been some at the meeting who weren’t paying attention.

“Where’s the kid?” Cameron asked. He’d been told before he’d arrived on scene that the body had been discovered by a teenage kid.

“In the kitchen with the dog,” Deputy Adam Benson said from behind Cameron. “He’s pretty freaked out.”

“I can imagine,” Cameron replied. He moved past Adam and headed down the hallway to the kitchen. There was nothing more he could do in the bedroom. His team was well trained and the coroner stood by to move in after the crime-scene team had taken their photos and done their work. In the meantime he had to speak to Jeffrey Lawrence, the young man who had found Dorothy an hour earlier.

Dorothy’s kitchen was painted a cheerful bright yellow, with white and yellow gingham curtains hanging at the window. Despite the day’s chill the sunshine streamed into the windows with welcome heat that battled with the cold air drifting down the hallway from the bedroom.

Jeff Lawrence sat at the small, wooden kitchen table, his blue eyes red-rimmed as he hugged a wiggly, small furry mutt close to his chest.

“I can’t get the picture of her out of my head,” he said as he swallowed hard in an obvious effort not to cry. “It’s like burned in my brain…all that blood and the smell.”

“I’m sorry you had to experience that. What were you doing here so early in the morning?” Cameron took the seat opposite the young man at the table.

“It’s my job…to walk Twinkie every morning before I go to school. I’m a senior and trying to save up some extra money for college.” Twinkie whined at the sound of her name and licked the underside of Jeff’s pointy chin.

“How long have you had this arrangement with Dorothy?”

“Since the beginning of summer. She and my mom are good friends and that’s how I know…knew Dorothy.” His eyes welled up with tears once again. “My mom is going to be so upset about all of this.”

Cameron waited a minute for the kid to get himself back under control and then continued, “How did you enter the house this morning?”

“I have my own key. Sometimes Dorothy worked the night shift at the Cowboy Cafe and she’d sleep in late in the mornings. If she didn’t answer when I knocked, then I used my key to come in and usually found Twinkie on the foot of her bed. Whenever Twinkie saw me she’d jump down and we’d go for our morning walk.”

“Is that what happened this morning?”

Jeff’s head bobbed like one of those big-headed dolls people put on their dashboards or desks. “Everything was the same as usual. I knocked on the door and when Dorothy didn’t answer I went ahead and let myself in. I walked down the hallway to her bedroom and Twinkie was curled up at her feet, just like usual. But this morning Twinkie didn’t jump off the bed when she saw me. She just whined and whined and I thought maybe she was hurt. So, I walked over to her and that’s when I noticed the blood…and the smell. I didn’t touch Dorothy, I knew she was dead. I just grabbed Twinkie and left the room and then called 911.”

“You did the right thing,” Cameron replied. There was no way Jeff was involved in the crime, at least not at the moment. The kid had the green cast of somebody on the verge of puking. He petted the dog as if the silky fur were the only thing holding him together.

“What’s going to happen to Twinkie? Dorothy doesn’t have any family, and I can’t take her. We already have a big dog, Zeus, who would eat this little girl for lunch.” Jeff looked distraught. “Twinkie is a great dog, friendly and well trained. I mean, I’m sorry about Dorothy, but you need to find a good home for Twinkie.” Jeff looked at him pleadingly.

Great, Cameron thought. Not only did he have another murder to try to solve, he also had the faith of a softhearted kid depending on him to find a tragically orphaned mutt a good home.

“Gather up all her doggie stuff, and I’ll see what I can do,” Cameron said. “Then go home. We’ll probably have more questions for you later, but right now I’d prefer you not talk to anyone about this crime except with your parents.”

Jeff nodded and got up from the table. As he began to gather up all things Twinkie, Cameron went back down the hallway where he met the coroner, who told him what he already suspected.

Time of death was between one and three in the morning, cause of death was a quick, clean slice across the throat. Dorothy’s hearing aids were on the night-stand. She’d never heard her screen being removed and the unlocked window sliding open. She’d never heard her killer’s approach.

“It’s just like the other two,” Deputy Benson said. “Three women killed in their beds, their throats cut.”

“And all three worked as waitresses at the Cowboy Cafe,” Cameron added. He frowned, thinking of how this latest murder would affect Mary Mathis, the owner of the cafe.

He couldn’t help the way his heart softened as he thought of her. He’d had a thing for Mary since she’d taken over ownership of the cafe five years before and for the three years prior when she’d worked as a waitress there…unfortunately it was an unrequited thing.

He couldn’t think about that now. He had plenty of other tasks ahead of him to find this killer who was tormenting his town.

Throughout the afternoon, his men canvassed the neighborhood to find anyone who had witnessed anything unusual, but Grady Gulch was a typical small Oklahoma town where most people were in their beds and sleeping in the wee hours of the morning.

Twinkie spent part of the day either snoozing on the rug in the living room or being walked by one of the deputies on scene. Cameron had already decided he’d take the pooch home with him for now and in his spare time try to find her a good home.

As Cameron attended to his duties overseeing the crime scene and directing his deputies, he couldn’t help but think of the other two victims. Candy Bailey had been a young woman killed in her bed in a small cottage behind the Cowboy Cafe. Shirley Cook had been a middle-aged woman murdered in her bed in her home.

Now Dorothy, sixty-four years old and looking to retire and putter in her garden after years of waiting on other people, was instead murdered while she slept.

He tamped down the unexpected rage that threatened to build inside him, a rage directed at the killer, who moved like a shadow in the night, who sought out the vulnerable and killed them without remorse and left no clues behind.

Who was this person? A native of Grady Gulch or one of the new members of town who had brought with them a dark soul and an evil directed at the waitresses of the popular cafe?

Before the night was over he needed to have a sit-down with Mary. It was something he dreaded, first telling her that another of her waitresses had been killed, although by the time he got to her she probably would have already heard. But he wanted to pick her brain as to why somebody might be targeting these women who worked for her.

The fact that the first two murdered women had worked at the cafe he might have written off as a strange coincidence, but three dead waitresses made a definite pattern that had to be explored. A serial killer, just what he needed, some creep who had chosen this place—his town—to play out some murderous fantasy or whatever darkness was in his mind.

He stepped outside on the front porch and looked around the neighborhood. It was late afternoon and everything that could be done here had been done.

Despite the grimness of the situation he couldn’t help the small smile that curved his lips as he watched Adam Benson holding Twinkie’s leash and heading toward him up the sidewalk.

Cameron had a feeling when Adam joined the force a month ago he hadn’t considered that one of his official duties would be walking a dainty little dog named Twinkie.

The Benson family had been to hell and back in the past two years. Adam’s sister Cherry had been killed in a car accident, his eldest brother Sam had tried to kill a woman and remained in jail awaiting trial on attempted murder charges. Adam’s youngest brother Nick had left town soon after Cherry’s death, leaving Adam alone to deal with the family ranch and emotional baggage that had sent Adam into the bottom of a bottle for a brief period of time.

Nick had come home and reunited with his girlfriend, Courtney, and their child, Garrett, and Adam had moved into a rented room upstairs in a house owned by a wheelchair-bound woman who he’d eventually fallen in love with.

The Benson men, except Sam, who remained in jail charged with attempted murder, had found love and were in the process of building lives with the women who had captured their hearts.

Adam had shown himself to have all the qualities of a good lawman when Melanie Brooks, his handicapped girlfriend, had been kidnapped by one of his own deputies. That man was in jail and Cameron had offered Adam a job on his team. In the month that he’d been working for Cameron, Cameron had never questioned his decision to hire Adam. He’d proven himself to be intelligent, hard-working and detail meticulous.

“As I recall this wasn’t in my job description,” Adam said good-naturedly as he approached where Cameron stood. “Have you figured out what you’re going to do with the little pup?”

Cameron released a sigh as he looked at the tiny dog that appeared to be smiling up at him. “I suppose I’ll take her to my place for now until I can find a suitable home for her, unless.”

“Oh, no,” Adam quickly protested. “Melanie would kill me. We’re in the middle of planning a wedding and we’ve already decided that pets are out of the question for us.” He handed Cameron the leash as if he couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.

“Guess I’ll run her by my place and then head to the cafe. I need to talk to Mary. There’s got to be a reason this guy is killing her waitresses.”

“And if we can figure out the ‘why,’ maybe we can identify the ‘who,'” Adam replied.

“Exactly,” Cameron said. “For now I want you to find out the names of all of Dorothy’s friends and set up interviews. I’ll be back in the office later this evening to check on progress.” He leaned down and picked up Twinkie in his arms. The friendly little beast snuggled against him as if she were already home.

Minutes later Cameron was in his car and headed to his place. Home was a comfortable ranch house on five acres of land. He had a couple of horses, but no cattle. The horses were strictly for riding and not for business.

It was a nice place but also a lonely place for Cameron who at thirty-five had assumed by now it would be filled with a wife and a couple of kids.

Unfortunately the minute he’d seen Mary Mathis in the cafe, he’d also seen her in his mind as the woman who belonged in his home. Equally as unfortunate, Mary had made it clear that she didn’t belong in his home, on a date or in any other space with him beyond friendship.

By now Mary probably would have heard that she’d lost another waitress. The grapevine in Grady Gulch was strong and healthy and it had been hours since Dorothy’s body had been discovered.

A frustrating part about these crimes was that Cameron didn’t know how to anticipate who might be next. He didn’t know what to do to keep other women safe.

After the last murder he’d held a press conference and warned women who lived alone to make sure they kept their doors and windows closed and locked, to be aware of their surroundings and if they felt threatened at all to call 911.

He had a feeling that nobody in town had taken his warnings seriously. Candy Bailey had been a young woman and initially her boyfriend, Kevin Naperson, had looked good for the murder. Cameron still had his eye on the young man, but couldn’t tie him to Shirley Cook’s murder.

If Cameron was perfectly honest with himself he’d admit that he had no viable suspects for any of the murders. He had a couple persons of interest, but nobody who popped to the top of the pathetic list.

Several tall trees stood sentry on either side of his house and a nice-sized pond glittered in the not-so-far distance. The barn was located behind the house and the entire back acreage was fenced to keep the three horses where they belonged.

Once he was in the house it didn’t take him long to set up space for Twinkie in the laundry room. The dog not only had her own little wardrobe, but also food and water bowls and a tiny four-poster bed that appeared to have never been slept in.

With the dog settled, Cameron left the house once again and headed toward the Cowboy Cafe and a talk with Mary. As always when he drove toward the cafe, myriad emotions filled his head.





My Review:

5/5 – Since I don’t have a 4.3 rating I am giving a 5 but feel it should be 4.3

I recommend this book.


As always I enjoyed the book by Carla.  She adds plenty of drama and romance and you really get a feel for the characters of her books.  I really enjoyed all the books in this series.  Look forward for a new book/series to start.

 

If you have not read “Her Cowboy Distraction”, & “The Cowboy’s Claim”, & “Cowboy With A Cause” I would recommend reading those books first.

 

Mary Mathis owns the Cowboy Café where for the last few months waitresses have been murdered in the town of Grady Gulch, Oklahoma.   Why are the waitresses being murdered and who has it out for the town or is it just Mary?

Mary has a ten year old son named Matt.  She has told the entire town that her husband died before she came to town.   She has been in town for the last 8 years.

The Sheriff Cameron Evans has been trying to solve the murders but with no clues how will that happen.

After a card and a package arrive for Mary and Matt that cause Mary to believe that the killer is really just after her.   She believes that the killer is toying with her.

She has to figure out how to tell the Cameron her deepest darkest secret.  Will they still be friends after or will he look at Mary differently?

As the killer gets closer can she really fully trust Cameron to protect her?  Or should she push him away so he doesn’t get hurt or killed?

 

In the end will we find out the below?
What really Happened to Mary and how will Cameron handle it?
Who is the killer and why is he trying to kill Mary?


 

 

A few of my favorite part of the book:

“Hey, Sheriff Evans,” Matt greeted with a friendly grin.

“Hey, yourself,” Cameron replied affectionately. He’d told Matt a dozen times that he could call him Cameron, but Mary insisted her son use Cameron’s official title. “I just heard that your mom spent the day at school with you. That must have been weird.”


Mary Laughed, the sound twisting softness around Cameron’s heart. “I think embarrassing would be first on the page if I was listing adjectives.”


“Nah, you didn’t embarrass me,” Matt replied. “At least you didn’t call me honey pie like Billy Morton’s mom did.” Matt stifled a snicker.

“True, although I did consider calling you honey pooh bear a couple of times.”

Matt looked horrified at the very thought, and Mary laughed.

“You wouldn’t do that to me,” Matt said.

“Probably not,” Mary agreed.

 

“That’s my plan, George.”

“Yeah, well, my plan is to marry some twenty-three-year-old hottie who thinks I hung the moon, but that ain’t happening anytime soon. Hope your plan works out better than mine. You know I take most of my meals at the café. What will I do, where will I eat if this creep manages to kill all the waitresses and Mary has to close down?”

Leave it to George to think about his own creature comforts rather than the loss of the three women. “Mary isn’t going to close down the café and we’re going to catch whoever is responsible for these crimes,” Cameron said with confidence that didn’t quite make it into his heart.

George’s scowl deepened. “Well you’d better hurry up about it,” he said as he moved past Cameron and headed in the opposite direction down the sidewalk.

 

He needed to find a home for Twinkie.

She was getting under his skin with her tiny kisses and happy dances. Whenever he sat anywhere in the house she managed to get into his lap and curl up with a contented sign. He’d actually dressed her in a little furry leopard print dress this morning, worried that she might get too cold in the drafty old farm house where he lived.

He should have a bulldog or a German shepherd, if he was going to have a dog. Not some designer diva who already thought she owned not just his house, but him, as well.

 

Before Cameron could stand, his father’s hand came to rest heavily on his right shoulder.  Cameron closed his eyes and held his breath, reveling in the simple touch from a man who had scarcely even acknowledges his existence sine Bobby’s tragic death.

“You’re a good man, Cameron,” his father said softly. “I don’t tell you that often enough.”

“Every night that I turned that Open sign in the window to Closed it was with the anticipation that you were going to show up for that last cup of coffee. I loved the intimacy of sharing that time alone with you, talking about our day, our lives, our dreams. That’s when I realized we’ve been dating almost every night for the past eight years and that’s when I realized I could trust what I feel for you.”

 George Wilton slid into the chair next to Cameron, his plate heaping with a little bit of all the food that the Thanksgiving feast had to offer. “Why do you have that dopey grin on your face?” the old man asked.

Cameron widened the smile he hadn’t even realized had been on his lips. “In the words of a very bright young boy, I’ve got a lot of stuff to be thankful for this year, George.”

George huffed. “And I’m still waiting for that sexy young thing to show up in my life to rock my world.” 

Cameron laughed and in that moment knew that all was right in the world, or at least in the Cowboy Café in the small town of Grady Gulch, Oklahoma.



Contact Info for Carla Cassidy



Twitter – @CarlaCassidy2

 

About Carla:

Carla Cassidy lives in the Midwest with her husband, Frank .  Although she always loved to write, initially her dream was to be a dancer and actress.

She was a cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs football team and worked in local theater productions before packing her bags and leaving for New York City.

 There she got a job as a singer/dancer in a band that traveled the east coast.  It was during those travels that she met her hero and married him.

While her children were small she remembered her love of writing and in 1988 sold her first book, a young adult romance.  In 1991 she sold her first adult romance to Silhouette and since that time has written over eighty books for Silhouette and Harlequin.

In 2004 she sold her first romantic suspense novel to New American Library.

She now writes for Silhouette, Harlequin and NAL Signet.

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