Beau, Mavericks of Montana CreekBeau, Mavericks of Montana Creek

Available via Kindle Unlimited

Beau Maverick has a great life-a close family, a thriving veterinary practice, and the privilege of being a Maverick in Great Falls, Montana. Despite all that, he fights a feeling of hollowness. After the death of his beloved mother, he throws himself into her role of charitable and philanthropic duties in the community. He was least interested in being on the chair of the local symphony, but when the feisty new director comes to town, he finds the challenge brings with it a spark of life.

Grace Sutherland is devastated at the news that the Manchester Philharmonic in her hometown in New Hampshire has voted to relocate her to assist one of their lesser known symphonies in a small town in Montana. Her unconventional methods, while effective, were at odds with their traditions. However, she accepts the challenge and is determined to regain her standing and get out of Montana as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for her, the chair of her new board might make that difficult.

**Standalone**

Grace

“You can’t be serious,” I said.
“I’m afraid I am, Grace.”
I shot out of my chair and began pacing.
“Please sit down,” my grandmother said, her voice as cool and emotionless as ever. I ignored her.
“How can they do this to me after everything I’ve done for them?”
“They’re doing this because of everything you’ve done for them,” she replied, droll.
I stopped in my tracks. “Someone has to make the difficult decisions around here. Heaven knows none of them are capable.” I began pacing again.
“No one is saying you’re ineffective. They’ve just decided they need someone more…” She waved her hand in a circular motion as she chose her words. “Tactful.”
I snorted. “You mean a pushover. They want a politician, not a director.”
I was aware the board of the Manchester Philharmonic in New Hampshire had given me this chance not because of my accomplishments, but because my father and grandmother were not only two of the longest standing members of the orchestra, but also amongst their biggest donors. I’d grown up in this world. I loved the orchestra more than anything, and my drive was born from that passion. At twenty-six, I was the youngest ever director and had made some unconventional and unpopular decisions in my time in this role, but I stood by them. If this organization wanted to remain relevant, then we needed to embrace change.
“Granted, our board of directors is more conservative than others in the area, but you knew that when you took the job. I warned you to take it slow.”
I stopped long enough to put my hands on my hips and level her with a glare. She had the audacity to laugh.
“I know. You’ve never done anything slowly. But unfortunately, in this case, the board feels your differences are just too great.”
“So that’s it? I’m out? Fired?” I could barely say the word without the all-too-familiar feeling of anxiety associated with the thought of failure. As a perfectionist born into a family of overachievers, it was something I’d struggled with my entire life. I tried to swallow the rising panic.
“Not fired, dear. Reallocated.”
“Reallocated?” I screeched. “Like I’m nothing more to them than a surplus of office supplies?”
“The board feels as though your particular talents would be put to better use elsewhere.”
My eyes narrowed as realization dawned. “The Foundation.”
She inclined her head but said nothing. Her silence was my answer. My hands found the back of a chair, and my chin fell to my chest. The Philharmonic is the administrator of a charitable foundation that funds symphonies in, ahem, less cultured areas. They’d been known to send misfit employees to remote locations to “develop leadership skills,” but usually the outcasts gave up and quit before they were invited to come back.
I squared my shoulders. That wouldn’t be me. I would go to whatever godforsaken orchestra they’d found, whip it into shape, and prove that I was worthy of this position. “Challenge accepted.”
Her lips ticked slightly upward, the closest she ever came to smiling. “Atta girl.”
So, she still had my back. I felt strangely encouraged and vindicated holding that knowledge. “So how bad is it?”
She plucked a piece of paper from the neat stack in front of her and offered it to me.
Please don’t be Kansas… Please don’t be Kansas…
I looked at the sheet of paper in my hand and blinked. It was even worse than I’d imagined.
“Montana?”
“The Great Falls Symphony,” she said.
“Montana has a symphony?” My mind reeled. “Montana has… anything?”
She lifted a trim shoulder. “Evidently.”
“That’s it?” I asked incredulously. “You’re willing to send your only granddaughter off to some godforsaken wilderness you know nothing about?”
“You know nothing about it either, dear. How do you know God has forsaken it?”
In a rush, the fight drained from my body, and I collapsed into a chair. “They really want to be rid of me that badly?”
My grandmother rose from her seat and rounded her desk to stand in front of me. Her tiny stature didn’t require her to bend to grasp my chin in her hands and force my eyes to hers. “This is simply a test, Grace, and I know it’s one you can pass. Take this assignment, kick its ass, rub their faces in it. If you prove you can handle yourself in a situation such as this, they’ll have no ammunition left against you. Sure, your methods may be unconventional, but if you can show them they work, they’ll reinstate you. I know it.”
“How can you be so sure?” I asked.
She straightened. “They think you’ll give up and quit, but I know better.”
I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders. “Okay. I’ll do it.”
Her steely gray eyes sparkled. “Atta girl.”

Somer Hayes is an avid reader and writer of stories, hailing from the Midwest.

The Ocean Between Us by Michelle Heard

 

 

 

Model Credit: Drew Truckle.

Photographer Credit: Eric David Battershell.

http://www.ericbattershell.com

Cover Artist: Sybil, PopKitty Design.

 

 

 

 

Dying to experience life, I cross an ocean to get away from my fears. I find my safe haven in the form of Detective Aiden Holden. He shows me what love is, but then our lives collide. Our little world shatters, and I’m caught in the crossfire.

I’m forced to return home, to let go of the only person who has made me feel like I could be more.

How do you return to a cage once you’ve tasted freedom?

My only hope is that Aiden will cross an ocean for me.

 

 

EMMA


The last three days have been exhausting. Sneaking away from the house in the middle of the night like some criminal was the most daring thing I’ve ever done. While sitting at the airport, I chewed my nails to the nerve out of fear that I’d be caught and dragged back to that hellish prison.
I unlock the door to the flat which will be my new home for the next six months. Not knowing whether my roommate is home, I slowly walk inside.
Closing the door behind me, I leave my bags at the entrance. “Hello, is anyone here?”
Silence greets me, and I let out a sigh of relief. It will give me time to get settled before whoever I’m sharing the flat with gets back.
Crap, I should’ve asked Miss Jessie, the landlord, about my roommate. For a moment I contemplate going back to her but decide to put it off until I go out to explore a little of the town.
Opening the door to the first bedroom, and glancing inside, I see a pair of men’s sneakers beside the bed. It’s clear I’ll be sharing with a guy unless the girl has big feet, which I doubt.
Actually, I hope it’s a guy. I don’t think I can handle living with another woman so soon after all I’ve been through with my mother.
The second door opens to a bathroom, and I’m glad to see that it has a shower.
Grabbing my luggage, I walk to the last room, which I assume will be mine. Pushing the door open, my eyes greedily take in all the space.
There’s a closet against the wall, and a big bed stands opposite it. I’ve never slept in such a massive bed. I just want to face-plant onto it and sleep all my worries away.
“Wow,” I whisper. “This flat is amazing.”
Even though my parents live in a mansion in Clifton, one of Cape Town’s wealthiest neighborhoods, my bedroom at the back of the house was small and only held a bed. There wasn’t even space for a dresser, and I had to keep my clothes in the closet of one of the guest bedrooms. It was just another way for my mother to make me feel like an unwanted burden.
For the first time since I left home, a smile forms around my lips and excitement starts to bloom in my chest.
I hate my parents for doing this to me, for making me run to North Carolina, the other side of the bloody world. But I’ve had enough. A person can only take so much abuse.
I have to prove to myself that I can survive without them. The trust fund isn’t huge, and with the exchange rate being so bad, it doesn’t leave me with much of a monthly allowance once it’s converted to dollars. I’ll only have enough for rent, one meal a day, and paying for my studies.
Even though my finances aren’t the best, I feel hopeful, and for the first time, I don’t dread what tomorrow might bring.
Lifting my bag onto the bed, I start to unpack. It only takes a minute to transfer my clothes over to the spacious closet. The few items look lost in all the space, but still, a warm feeling settles in my heart.
I might not have much, but I have my freedom.
“You’ve done it, Emma,” I whisper. I grab clean clothes and the only towel I have, then walk back to the bathroom so I can shower. “You have six months to find a way so you can stay here.”
After I’ve taken a quick shower, I get dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
Back in my room, I place the dirty clothes in my backpack. I’ll have to find a laundromat where I can wash them.
I turn on my phone, and immediately it starts to vibrate with messages and missed calls. I choose to ignore them for now and search for Chloe’s number.
Holding the phone to my ear, a smile spreads across my face the second I hear her voice.
“I’ve been going insane! Did you land in one piece? Is the place you’re staying at nice? What is your roommate like? Have your parents cont –”
“Chloe, slow down. One question at a time,” I stop her interrogation with a burst of laughter. “I’m safely here. The flat is very nice. It’s a two bedroom, and it has an open plan kitchen and small lounge. The bedroom is huge, Chloe. It has so much closet space, and the window looks out over a beautiful courtyard. It’s nothing like the room at home. It’s easily twice as big. Don’t even get me started on how comfy the bed looks.”
A sense of freedom washes over me as I take in my new home.
I’m really free.
“I’m so happy you like it, Em. You sound better too. You did the right thing by leaving. Have you met your roommate?”
“I haven’t met the person I’m sharing the flat with. I’m a little nervous about that. I saw a pair of men’s sneakers, so I’m sure it’s a guy. Miss Jessie, the owner, let me in. She seems nice, but she was surprised to see me. My application got mixed up with some other guy’s. After explaining that I can’t afford to live on my own and how important it is that I share a flat, she relented and gave me the keys.”
“Oh hell. I’m just glad you got it all sorted. Anyway, I’m glad you’ve settled in. After everything we had to go through to get you there,” she sighs. “Just don’t answer your phone if that bitch tries to call you. Don’t reply to her texts. Don’t let her intimidate you. Remember, she’s on the other side of the world now. You’re safe in America.”
“Thank you for helping me,” I say, thanking my lucky stars again that I have such an incredible friend.
“You know I’d ride a porcupine butt naked for you,” she laughs. I don’t know where she heard that, but since she did, she hasn’t stopped saying it.
“You’re the best,” I whisper. It’s the best I can do to tell Chloe that I care about her.
I can’t say the words I love you. My mother has made them lose all meaning, and now they’re just empty words I hear after a beating.
“Now, go on! Go out and have some fun,” she says, her voice laced with excitement for me.
“I’m a little scared, to be honest, but I’m not going to let it hold me back,” I admit.
“Yes, don’t hide in your room. Go out and experience new things. You’ll see not everyone is as evil as that insane mother of yours.”
I want to experience everything this world has to offer. I’ve never gone out before and have no idea how to socialize. Being out and between people is the only way I’m going to learn.
“Take your phone with you and call if you need me. Or text me. I’m on standby,” Chloe says, offering her support like she always does.
“You’re the best. You know that, right?” I say again.
“No, you’re the best,” she laughs.
“I’ll let you know how it goes.”
My phone beeps just as I cut the call. One glance tells me I can’t run from the inevitable. Chloe would kill me if she knew I was answering them, but I can’t just ignore my parents. They are my family, after all. I’ll just let them know I’m safe.
Dad: Where are you? We can’t reach you. Your mother’s worried.
Me: I’m taking a break from it all. I’m safe.
I bite my bottom lip as I watch the message go through. Even though an ocean separates me from them, I can’t help but feel scared.
My heartbeat starts to speed up as a panic attack threatens to engulf me.
Closing my eyes, I picture an eagle taking flight, and I let all my feelings soar away with it. It’s something I started doing two years ago after I saw an eagle soaring above our house. I had just finished gathering all the dead leaves from the swimming pool when I heard the sharp cry. I must’ve watched it for an hour before it flew away. What I remember most from that day was the peaceful feeling which filled my heart.
Sucking in a deep breath, I slowly open my eyes. “You’re going to be fine, Emma. You can do this.”

 

 

 


Michelle Heard is a Bestselling Romance Author who likes her books hot, dirty, and with a touch of darkness. She loves an alpha hero who is not scared to fight for his woman.

Want to be up to date with what’s happening in Michelle’s world? Sign up to receive the latest news on her alpha hero releases, sales, and great giveaways → http://eepurl.com/cUXM_P

 

 

The Wilderness

Chapter Reveal, The Wilderness, Lavender Shores Book 8 by Rosalind Abel

HOSTING THE WILDERNESS CR

Fall in love with the next book in the Lavender Shores Series.

Read Chapter One RIGHT HERE

http://bit.ly/TheWildernessC1

THE WILDERNESS CHAPTER 1

The Wilderness is AVAILABLE NOW!!

FREE with KindleUnlimited

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2oTfBEt

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2QjTGTd

1-Click your Paperback copy

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2DiDsaT

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2QEAGiE

THE WILDERNESS PAPERBACK & KINDLE 1.jpg

Will Epstein had it all—playboy good looks, wealth and prestige, and a gorgeous fiancé to costar with him on a reality television show. But that was years ago, before he was abandoned at the altar on national television. In the aftermath, Will’s world completely crumbled, leaving him humiliated, alone and lost.

Andre Rivera married his first love and lived a dream life until tragedy stepped in. His wife’s sudden death left him devastated and struggling to build a life for his young daughter. Being a pilot offers Andre a sense of freedom from Lavender Shores, but he feels trapped in his grief and unable to move forward.

A shared sense of loss fosters a surprising friendship between Will and Andre, giving them both the salvation they need. But when feelings cross the lines of friendship and secrets are revealed, Will and Andre have to confront their own fears.

Amid the gold of a Lavender Shores autumn, Will and Andre must grasp their chance at love… before it slips away.

Add to your Must Read shelf on Goodreads

http://bit.ly/LavenderShoresB8

THE WILDERNESS GR

Lavender Shores is the perfect place to fall in love.

LAVENDER SHORES 8 BOOKS

Complete series FREE with KindleUnlimited

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2oTi8yy

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2NA3ERW

84889-rosalind

Rosalind Abel grew up tending chickens alongside her sweet and faithful Chow, Lord Elgin. While her fantasy of writing novels was born during her teen years, she never would have dreamed she’d one day publish steamy romances about gorgeous men. However, sometimes life turns out better than planned.

In between crafting scorching sex scenes and helping her men find their soul mates, Rosalind enjoys cooking, collecting toys, and making the best damn scrapbooks in the world (this claim hasn’t been proven, but she’s willing to put good money on it).

She adores MM Romance, the power it has to sweep the reader away into worlds filled with passion, steam, and love. Rosalind also enjoys her collection of plot bunnies and welcomes new fuzzy ones into her home all the time, so feel free to send any adorable ones her way.

Connect With Rosalind

Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/2x2V1VR

Rosalind’s Newsletter: https://www.rosalindabel.com/contact-rosalind.html

BookBub Page: http://bit.ly/2E5fgUe

Audiobooks: http://adbl.co/2w9c0be

Facebook Author page: http://bit.ly/2rH8C4o

Rosalind Abel Website: http://www.rosalindabel.com

Rosalind Abel Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2v6iuXI

Lavender Shores Website: http://www.lavendershores.com

Twitter: @rosalind_abel

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

Thank you for touring with Love Has No Gender the brighter side of Jo&Isalovebooks Promotions.

https://www.facebook.com/LovehasnoGenderblog/

345ed-thank2byou2blgbt

 

Wilde About Carson(The Brothers Wilde Series, #3) by Cate Faircloth

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have always just been friends.

Emily Rhey has been my best friend since tin-can lunches in the first grade. We have seen each other through everything; the ‘firsts’, the ‘seconds, the ‘always,’ but most importantly when everyone left, she was still there.

She’s smart, beautiful, witty–the perfect woman for any man.

Even someone like me; heir to my father’s empire, as handsome as I am rich.

Over the years, plenty have questioned us–my brothers, even my mother; but we have never crossed that line.

I never thought about it, and as far as I’m concerned, neither has she.

When grief draws us together, very close together, it changes everything…

I tell myself we are only friends…until I can decide if it is still true.

 


Carson

“I bet you a hundred bucks, you’re going to break your neck.”
“Only a hundred? Come on, is my life not worth more than that?”
“Less… I bet ten.” Dylan. Such a prick. Always has been. Always will be.
“No one is going to die. It’s only a ten-foot drop. Easy,” Fletcher adds in.
“Yeah, but add that with the icy cold water and the angle—”
“Shut up, doc,” Grayson snipes at Jeffrey, who makes a face but accepts that we are the last people to accept his MD.
“Just get down from there, Carson,” Holden adds his pseudo patriarch voice to the conversation.
I turn to him and laugh, shaking my head at him. The motion makes me a little wobbly on the edge of the boat. I slip and catch myself with my bare feet, my jeans are the only thing protecting my body from the cold wharf air. I mock exactly what Holden says, and he makes a face, holding his hands up, one with beer and the other empty.
“Do you really want to die the night of my wedding?” Brant finally chimes in.
He has been quiet and brooding the whole time, and we haven’t even left the dock yet. All of us flocked here for his wedding this weekend to the super-hot lawyer he met only seven months ago. They swear it isn’t only for the kid she is about to have, I believe him—but I’m not a fan of insta-love. Or love in general.
“That question begs the fact that I might die, but I won’t. Are your video cameras out?” I stare down at the water calmly thrashing against the edge of the boat.
I guess I shouldn’t call a hundred-foot yacht a boat. It’s more of a small house, our own little city. It has been in the family since I was little and looked at it like a small city. Now it’s yet another thing I have grown used to in this fine life we live. Thanks for all the hard work, Dad.
“Open the bay back doors for when I get back.” I shout to my brothers. All here except Isaac, maybe I am jumping toward him. Or is that way too touchy?
I’d like to think it is, but we are all thinking the same thing. There is a reason why we drink so much when we all get together. But I haven’t had enough to make me wobbly, or regret jumping out into the water, adding a flip. The water hits me cold, and I surface back up to find my brothers looking on.
All with video cameras.
* * *
“I look like a pompous ass.” Fletcher keeps picking at his suit like it was put on unwillingly. Maybe it was.
We are all laughing at him eyeing himself in the wide mirror like he doesn’t know who he is. I get it, big football guy wearing a suit. Not comfortable.
“You look like the rest of us.” Dylan stands behind him to fix his tie. At least Cora only wanted a simple wedding. But telling my mom she can go ahead and plan everything? None of them are prepared for what she did to the house for this party.
“Yeah, unfortunately we share genes. Alec on the other hand…”
“Fuck off,” Alec chimes in from his spot in the corner of the room. He is already dressed, the calmest of us all. Not just because he has always been a silent brooder, but because he has done this before and has a first-class ticket to chill out.
“You only have to wear it for the ceremony. And nine thousand pictures,” Grayson says. He looks older every time I see him, but he is only twenty-one. It’s probably from being away at the war and all. Or are we actually fighting?
“Right. Where is Brant?” Fletcher asks.
“Barfing.”
We all laugh.
Brant never freaks out about anything. He is always cool and chill. I crack the jokes to make the awkward moments go away.
“Not like he has anything to worry about.” I tilt my neck up to fix my tie. “Rich, famous, already knocked her up. She isn’t going anywhere.”
Holden highly disagrees with a scoff. “Yeah right, have you met Cora? She wouldn’t think twice about it if she had to. That chick is the definition of spitfire.”
“She reminds you of Elizabeth?” I ask Holden. He gives me a hard glare that still gets even me to shut up. I’m not allowed to talk about the woman he makes eyes with at work. But oh, he can bother me about any and every woman I hook up with. Just because he is older, he takes the hierarchy thing too seriously.
“Look, we all need to hurry up and get to Brant’s room.” Jeffrey brings us all back to the present.
We have turned the media room into our hangout spot while chaos ensues in the rest of the house—caterers, planners, whoever it is that brings the flowers and chairs. We don’t keep many friends. Just family friends, and actual family. Mom has a bunch of siblings, nieces and nephews—our cousins. But we didn’t make nice with each and every person we came in contact with because most of the time they only wanted something from us. Wanted in on the most successful family the tri-state area has ever seen.
But I’m not butt hurt about it or anything. I have friends, my brothers and—
“Where is Emily?” Evan asks.
I make a face at him as I walk over to the wet bar for a bottle of water. Fletcher makes a signal he wants one, so I toss it to him.
“Uh, out with Mom helping set up, I think.”
“Mom really likes her. More than Mia,” Alec says.
“Not possible, Mom loves Mia. And Emily has been in the family for a long time…” I guzzle down the water suddenly thirsty as hell.
“I know.” Alec chuckles. “But is she?”
“What?”
“Like family?”
My brothers all stop what they’re doing to make the room comically silent and stare me down until I answer. I hate them all. Of course, not literally. But every chance they get, they want to irritate me about this whole ‘best friend’ thing. Guys can have female best friends, and it doesn’t mean anything other than having a person, someone besides my idiot brothers.
I smile and laugh without humor.
“Don’t we have a wedding to get to?”
With more protests and denials, we pile out to find Brant in the pool house where he is supposed to be. He looks good, his bridal suit kind of matches ours, made more fancy by the tail end. I honestly never took him for the marriage type—maybe it is the rock-star thing. But now that I see it, I don’t question it, not since I saw him with Cora for the first time. It was the same with Alec and Mia, something about them is different…
“Imagining it’s you up there?”
I turn to Emily. She has her sneaky smile on. She’s got many smiles. I guess I would know since she is my best friend. What I didn’t know is how well she could clean up. Maybe it’s just been a while, but… she does look amazing.
“Hell no,” I whisper back.
She giggles softly and leans away from my ear. I would be up there with all my other brothers, but just like last time, we can’t all fit. Besides, Brant already decided on it. He doesn’t want anyone messing up the photo so it’s just him and his best man, good ol’ Holden.
“She is so pretty.” Emily sighs and leans her head on my shoulder.
The minister hasn’t been going that long, but I can tell it might get wordy. Brant likes that kind of stuff, and Cora humors him after she argues enough. It’s their thing.
“And she doesn’t even look pregnant. Well, that’s how I look after a meal of spaghetti.”
I chuckle softly at her, no one notices we are entertaining ourselves.
“You look great,” I whisper back. I feel her shrug like ‘okay.’
But I mean it. She has this tan dress on, side straps and a V-neckline low enough to remind me how sexy she really is. Sometimes I forget, especially when we spent our teen years together and saw each other through acne and braces. It’s long, I don’t see her legs crossed under the layered fabric of it. I know that’s how she sits though, always has.
“You look dapper.”
“You see me wear a suit every day.” I smirk down at her.
We work together at my dad’s company. I still call it that even though it has been almost a year since his passing, and Holden is well past running it on his own. Emily is an executive associate in international relations which just means she is one step away from running the whole team. Me, I’m COO because I know how to keep things in check—also studied business management at Yale with Emily. I went to college as a showpiece because I hated it, and when Dad passed, I officially took over as COO, and Evan moved to CTO so he wouldn’t have to manage both roles himself. We’re better at each position, respectively.
“Not like this.”
“You have the hots for me?” I lean down to whisper in her ear. Then she flashes me her goofy smile that I return.
“Shut up. Watch your brother get married.”
“It’s no different from the last time,” I murmur.
But I get my camera out when they start to exchange rings. I have an obligation to keep everyone updated.
“No way,” I say to myself when Brant starts crying at the end.
I look at Fletcher, and he frowns because he owes me some money since we bet on it. I bet he would cry, he said no way. How about that?
The lot of us hound Brant at the end. We are all super happy for him and Cora. Plus, the little one on the way. Alec has had his own share of it too, with Mia about the same amount of time along with their kid. Cora’s brother, Damien, is quite the socialite, talking up a few of our younger cousins. I guess they’re around his age. It’s nice to know that all facets of our family easily mesh together.
All but two now. Dad would be proud, and I don’t know if Isaac could care less.
“Let’s dance.” Emily stands and tugs me with her.
“I would rather eat these samplers.” I pick at one of my quiches.
But then she makes her face—the ‘please’ face. That face made me take a Pilates class with her, and I still have a wedgie.
“Ugh, fine. None of the Milly Rock stuff, though.” I follow her out to the designated dance area.
“Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean you can knock it.” She laughs.
Most of the kids have found their own corner, the adults in another. Mom is sitting with Mia who is nursing her small belly. Mom is ecstatic about all the grandkids coming along. I’m sure she has plans in her head already.
The music is too slow for anything but goofy swaying. Our hands interlocked, moving back and forth while Emily laughs. She loves laughing at everything, and it is just part of who she is. Happy, loving, carefree, my twelfth favorite person in the entire world—right after my brothers and Mom.
“You learned new moves,” I shout to her.
Brant has taken the night off—no singing from him. But he did mention something about serenading Cora, and that would be the only singing he does over his honeymoon. Nothing like the heart-tugging first dance between them.
“I club a lot.” She giggles.
I shake my head at her and wrestle her into a dramatic dip. Her laugh shoots through my ears and makes me follow suit.
“How many more can you take?” I ask her as she doesn’t let me leave once again.
“What? You tired?” She comes closer and grabs my arms trying to make me hit the whip.
I smile down at her taking in the light of her dark green eyes and glowing sheen all over her dancing body. Was she always this pretty? I guess that isn’t the question at hand. Emily has a senseless beauty that grew like a flower, morphed with her soul in a fast, blinding moment. The soft roundness of her eyes frames her face over her button nose and small, set lips, her rounded face matches the rest of her sinuous body. I blink, she asked me something…
“Hell yeah, I’m tired.”
“Keep up with me, and I’ll buy you a milkshake after.”
“Can’t we ditch the wedding now?” I whine.
“We haven’t had cake yet. I never leave without cake.”


 

 

 

I have been a romantic all my life; in books, movies, television, and anything that brings happiness into the world. Though I love reading and avoiding daily responsibilities, I am also an undergraduate at the University of Iowa, a flag ship university for writing and creative freedom. I love connecting with all my readers, and sharing the stories that dance around in my head.

 

 

Jacked Up by Jane Henry

 

 

 

I’ll show her who her daddy is.

When daddy’s little girl comes into my repair shop begging for help, I agree.

With conditions.

I don’t want her money.
I want her.
The pretty little girl will pay off her debts… but she’ll have to get her hands a little dirty.

A standalone novel in the Hard n’ Dirty series

 

Tanya

I pull out my compact mirror and purse my lips, checking my makeup. Hair is in place, too-short dress wrinkle-free, just enough cleavage showing.
Eyes ready to go all puppy dog when the time is right.
I’ve spent two sleepless nights perusing the web, trying to find a classic car repair shop that could do what I need them to. This place, thank God only a short drive from my home in Manhattan, fits the bill. Reviewers say it’s excellent, and they turn out top-quality work. The only bad reviews mention the repair shop owner and the shop itself. They say he’s grumpy and irritable, and other reviews say the shop needs a good, thorough clean. So I’ve prepared myself: bottle of instant hand sanitizer in my purse, check. Black dress that won’t show any stains if I come into contact with anything in the shop, check. Perfect smile in place so I can charm the grumpy owner, check.
My hands are sweaty, my stomach in knots. I’ve never done anything like this in my life. Hell, I hardly even know how to park. I’m used to valets and escorts and rarely have to do something so… normal… as driving to a repair shop and parking my car. Yeah, maybe I’ve been a little sheltered.
It isn’t the newness of the experience that makes me nervous, but how desperate I am for them to say yes, they’ll help me.
I inhale deeply. Stand up tall. Exude confidence and aplomb, my mom told me. Appearances are everything. As soon as I could walk on two legs, she began teaching me how to walk with my shoulders pulled back, my spine straightened, like we were in some sort of marching band. I learned, though. How to walk with dignity, dress with pride, and present myself as Tanya Hayes, Daughter of Raymond and Sasha Hayes. Heiress to the Hayes Family Automotives Legacy.
I was kept out of the public eye as a child, hidden from the publicity and attention my father and mother received . The little princess. So fortunately, when I go about my business, people rarely know who I am. I’m not easily recognizable.
I’m hoping that’s the case today. Hell, everything’s sort of banking on it.
I grit my teeth as I walk on these killer heels to my destination. I see the shop from a distance, and recognize it immediately from the pictures I saw online. Gleaming chrome accents the window frames, enormous picture windows displaying a beautiful car in candy-apple red. It’s all a little like I’ve stepped back in time, to a simpler place, like if I push open the doors to that shop I’ll be able to sit on a stool and order a drink from an old-fashioned soda fountain.
The cars are all lined up, and these are not the little beaters and rusty, ancient things I saw at some other shops. These are the real deals. Mint condition. Exclusive. Gorgeous.
I have no idea what most of the names for the cars are. I don’t care what the names are. All I care about is finding someone who can help me.
I push open the door and enter, forgetting my plan on being all put-together and professional. I can’t help but wrinkle up my nose when the pungent scent of oil and grease fills my senses. It’s pretty from the outside, but the reviews were right. The inside of this place needs some serious attention.
It’s vacant in here, and I look around for some sort of bell or something I can ring to get someone’s attention, but there’s nothing. Against one wall is a glass display of books that catches my attention. Curious, I walk over and look at the titles. They’re vintage covers featuring classic cars, but half of them look like pin-up posters with half-naked women gracing the cover. Interesting.
Another display case to the left houses miniature replicas of classic cars. I have to admit, they’re beautiful. Canary yellow, robin’s egg blue, and cherry red, black and silver with gleaming windshields. And the attention to detail astounds me. They’re not behind the glass like the books, so I reach out and run a finger along one edge. As soon as my finger glides along the edge of a pretty black racecar, a door jangles open and I nearly jump out of my skin. I feel like a kid caught red-handed with her hand in the cookie jar. Something tells me I’m not supposed to touch these little cars. I swivel around and put my hands behind my back like I’m totally innocent. I’m not expecting what I see.
Behind me is a guy wiping his hands on a dirty rag. He stands behind the desk, but he’s so tall and broad I can see him clearly. He’s got dark brown, longish hair slicked back, and a thick, dark beard. He’s wearing a short-sleeved black t-shirt that stretches tight against his chest, revealing muscled arms completely covered in tattoos. I don’t want to stare, so I only look quickly. There are skulls and flowers, the flowers being the only color in a sea of black. His eyes pierce me in place with a stern but curious look, and an instant throb pulses low in my belly.
My pulse quickens. He’s got an immediate vibe of danger. My breath catches.
Day-um.
He’s not my type. He’s so not my type.
Then why do I feel all nervous and lightheaded? Why are my palms sweaty? My heart tip-taps a crazy beat.
“Hi,” I say as cheerfully as I can, swallowing hard. “I’m looking for the owner of this shop.” This has to be one of the guys who works for him. This man doesn’t look like the crotchety owner described in those reviews online. The owner has to be old and gray and grumpy.
Hellllo, stranger.
The man finishes wiping his hands and places the rag on the top. “Alright,” he says. His voice is deep and growly like he gargles with whiskey and cigarettes, but his eyes twinkle a little. “When I fetch him, who do I say’s askin’ for him?”
“I—please tell him—Felicia is here,” I stammer, totally unprepared for this. My voice sounds weirdly high-pitched and squeaky because I’m a terrible liar, but he can’t know my real name. He cocks a brow at me that’s more than curious. There’s an undercurrent of correction in it that makes my throat tighten. He knows. God, I’m awful at lying.
“Got it,” he says, his eyes shuttering. I must’ve imagined a spark of friendliness there. His jaw clenches and his lip thin as he pushes the rag on the counter and goes into the shop. I gasp for a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. The door jangles with a bell and shuts behind him with an ominous click.
The minutes tick by. Where the hell is he? I glance nervously at my phone, but it doesn’t give me any answers. Did I make a mistake coming here? God. I straighten out my skirt and look longingly at the line-up of the replicas. I want to touch them again.
Seconds turn into minutes. Easily ten minutes later, the door to the shop opens, and the same guy walks in. I look at him quizzically. Where’s the owner? I’m growing impatient now. I have things to do, and this is a waste of my time. He walks over to me and extends his hand. What the hell? I stare and finally take his hand. It’s rough, large, and warm. I swallow hard.
“Nice to meet you, Felicia,” he says, though his voice is rough and tight. He’s anything but pleased to meet me, and that gets my hackles up. Has he already judged me?
“What brings you here?” he asks.
“I was hoping to meet the owner,” I say through tight lips. “I need to speak to him regarding a very important matter. Crucial, really, and extremely time-sensitive.”
He releases my hand to cross his arms on his chest, making his biceps bulge. I swear to God the skull tattoo is glaring right at me, like some sort of omen. Is that why he has it? I blink and try to keep calm.
“Name’s Levi DeRocco,” he says, his voice rough like sandpaper. “I’m the shop owner. Now I’m going to ask you one final time, what brings you here?” I quake at the tone of his voice, my errand making me nervous as hell. One final time?
God I should’ve known he was the owner. Then why did the reviews online mention years of experience?
“I… I need some work done on a car,” I stammer. “It’s…very important I get this work done, discreetly and promptly.”
He quirks a brow, frowning.
“Discreetly?” he barks out.
I jump, then nod dumbly.
I squirm uncomfortably under his glare. I’m not used to being scrutinized like this, and I want to leave. It was a mistake giving him a fake name. He saw right through me.
“Your car?” he asks.
Shit. I need to get this over with and get the hell out of here. “No, actually,” I say. “My…father’s.” I’m stammering like a bumbling teenager. “I was out with my…boyfriend, um, ex-boyfriend,” I amend, because I so dumped his ass, “and we had a bit of an accident. The car is in a garage and needs to be towed.
“Let me get this straight,” he says, in a voice that’s almost like some kind of animalistic growl. If lions talked, they would sound like this. God, I was stupid. This guy definitely was the grumpy owner all the reviews talk about, and here I was thinking he maybe was friendly. “It’s your father’s car. Your boyfriend totaled it. And you’re in here…why?”
“To have it fixed before my father gets back,” I explain. It’s a lot to explain, and do I even need to? “Listen,” I say, my temper rising. “Can you just tell me already if you can fix it? I don’t want to get into a lot of explanations and stuff. If you can’t do the job, I need to find someone else.”
A corner of his lips tips up. “Someone else? What kinda car is it?”
My stomach clenches. I practically whisper, “It’s a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible.”
He swears. “An L88?”
I whimper. “Yes.”
“Honey,” he says with a patronizing smile, “the next mechanic that knows the ins and outs of a 67 Chevy Corvette is 300 miles from here and booked solid until January. That car’s worth a cool two mil. You know that?”
My heart sinks. Is he joking? But no. Reviews online say this shop is worth dealing with the owner, because he knows his shit and he’s literally the only one around here who does. I take in a deep breath and let it out again. “So you’ll do it?”
The smile leaves his eyes. “I didn’t say that.” He leans over the counter. “First, tell me what the damage is.”
With trembling hands, I take out my phone and pull up the pictures. He lets out a low whistle that tatters my already-frayed nerves. I want to cry. Instead, I stifle a whimper.
The rearview mirror is smashed, the windshield cracked right down the center, and the passenger door is bent beyond recognition. The bumper dangles crazily like a maniacal loose tooth.
He runs rough fingers over his beard and pulls, then his glacial stare swings back to me. “How the fuck did you do this to such a beautiful car?”
“I didn’t do it,” I snap. Didn’t he listen at all? “My stupid boyfriend— ex boyfriend did it.”
He shakes his head. “You were with him, you let him use the car, this is on you, babe.” I blink. He might be the one with the power here, and I’m definitely screwed, but is it cool to call a potential customer babe?
He carries on. “And where’s this ex now?” he asks. “Hope you dumped his ass. Jesus Christ, only dumb fuckin’ morons damage a beauty like that.”
I’m at my wit’s end. I don’t even like my ex anymore, but this guy’s swift, and very clearly crass judgment, sets me off. No one talks to me this way. Hell, even my tutors and nannies have treated me with respect. Who the hell is this guy?
In my world, a bit of temper often gets you your way, so I haven’t even tried to quell it. And I can’t always help my temper. It might be a stupid move I’ll regret, but it’s too late.
I slam my hand down on the counter. “I’m not here to talk about my boy — argh, ex-boyfriend! I want to know, can you fix this car, how long it will take, and what you’ll charge? Please.”
He places my phone down on the counter with slow, deliberate patience, his eyes on mine, and crosses those huge, scary arms over his muscled chest, fixing me with a stern glare that is completely unfamiliar to me. No one looks at Tanya Hayes that way. I swallow and take an involuntary step back from him.
He turns away from the desk and without a word, walks over to the shop door and flips a deadbolt into place.
Click.
Still without speaking, he goes to the front door and flips a second deadbolt.
Click.
Then he takes the Open sign and switches it around to show Closed.
Oh God. What’s he going to do? Is he going to hurt me? Who the hell is he? I reach for my cell phone and don’t know I’m going to do with it, but my hands are trembling so it clatters to the floor. I cringe, bend down to get it, but Levi gets it before I do. Our hands touch, and a zing of electricity skirts up my arm. I blink in surprise, and for a moment I wonder if he’s pocketing my phone so I can’t call for help before he abducts me or something, but he gives me the phone and I stagger backward.
Scowling, he stalks over to the leather loveseat that sits against one wall with a stack of magazines featuring classic cars on the coffee table in front, and crooks a finger at me. I blink. Without a word, he points to the seat next to him.
What choice do I have?
Groaning inwardly and shaking like a goddamned leaf, I go to him.

 

 

USA Today Bestselling author Jane has been writing since her early teens, dabbling in short stories and poetry. When she married and began having children, her pen was laid to rest for several years, until the National Novel Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) in 2010 awakened in her the desire to write again. That year, she wrote her first novel, and has been writing ever since. With a houseful of children, she finds time to write in the early hours of the morning, squirreled away with a laptop, blanket, and cup of hot coffee. Years ago, she heard the wise advice, “Write the book you want to read,” and has taken it to heart. She sincerely hopes you also enjoy the books she likes to read.

 

 

KNAVE (Masters of Manhattan Book 1) by Jane Henry


 

 

 

 

 

Sabrina: Good guys save the day and criminals go to jail. It’s not rocket science, people.

But then my father’s killed, I’m rescued by a thief, and my worldview is shattered. He takes me to his penthouse. His bed. I don’t have to like it but I can’t help it. His touch is everything a good girl like me shouldn’t want.

Anson: Good and bad mean nothing to a master thief. I take what I want, and what I want is vengeance. No more, no less.

Maybe the girl can help, so I’ll hide her. Protect her. And if I have to manhandle her to keep her quiet, she’ll deal. Hell, she might even like it. But she’ll learn fast that I make the rules.

 

 

Manhattan
“3, 2, 1… And, security systems are down,” Walker said, his voice with its lilting accent magnified over the tiny communication device in my ear, so that it sounded like he was sitting right next to me. “Daly, you’re up.”
No shit. I rolled my eyes as I employed the tiny laser cutting tool to make a hole in the glass window just large enough for me to slip through. Dangling from a cable four stories above the ground in the middle of a bright, moonlit night was not the best time to start contemplating your life choices, but it seemed to happen every time I worked with these guys; which was to say, twenty-four-seven for the past six months.
“I’m in,” I whispered, pushing the suction holder I’d clamped to the freshly-cut glass disk and reaching my arm into the cooler, drier air of the office. With practiced ease, I levered myself headfirst through the hole, twisting to land lightly on my feet. I set the now useless glass gently on the floor, removed the rappelling cable that tethered me to the roof, and stood silently in the empty office, taking a second to get my bearings, to let my eyes adjust to the relative darkness, and to let my body, sweating from the humid night outside, cool for a second.
“Daly, report.” As always, Xavier’s cool, imperious voice drove me bonkers.
“Report,” I muttered. “Because I’m your freakin’ minion, X.” The comm device, created by Walker to detect the slightest sound, obviously caught my words, but other than Caelan’s reproachful sigh, nobody replied.
Six months, the five of us had been living and working together, and I couldn’t say it had made much difference in my attitude. I still preferred to work alone, and it still bugged the crap out of me that I had four other voices in my head while I was on a job, but I had no one to blame for the situation but myself. I’d answered the invitation that January night, after all, and I’d agreed to stay even after Eugenia Carmichael’s videotaped last will and testament had thrown my life into a tailspin.
“Office is empty,” I said, after a beat or two of silence where I glanced around the empty surfaces of the desk and bookcase behind me. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s been working here. I was able to cut the window in a low visibility location. No direct views from inside or outside, thanks to the Rosenberg building next door being under renovation. Ethan’s intel was good.”
This would buy us crucial time before the office staff of Stuart Fowler Real Estate, LLC, caught on to the fact that they’d been the victims of a break-in.
“Of course it’s good,” Ethan huffed. “I didn’t spend two whole days in that place as the world’s most overqualified temp just to provide you bad information.”
I had to smirk at his little snit, mostly because nobody could see me. Ethan was every bit as good at his job—a cross between reconnaissance and high-key scamming—as I was at mine, but where my role in our little gang involved dressing in black gear and a full-coverage face mask like the one I wore tonight, Ethan’s usually involved wearing an expensive suit and an overly-friendly smile.
“Still wish it didn’t have to happen when the moon was this high,” I grumbled to no one in particular, repeating an argument I’d already made earlier in the week. “Moonlit night in July makes people want to take a walk and look around.”
“And like I told you, the phases of the moon refuse to change no matter how much I try to persuade them to,” Ethan said with an affected sigh. “But if we don’t get the information from the safe tonight, it’s gonna be too late. Now that Fowler’s dead, his attorney’s going to be cleaning out his office and opening the safe to disburse his assets, likely as soon as tomorrow.”
I knew Ethan was right, but I’d be damned before I’d admit it.
“I’m heading to the outer office,” I said instead, moving toward the door. “We’re sure internal door alarms are off?” I was already betting my life on Walker knowing his shit, a pretty safe bet considering he was probably the best hacker on the planet, but old habits died hard, and I really didn’t like relying on anyone but myself.
“I already told you I own the system. You doubting my prowess with the keyboard?” Walker grumbled, his accent thickening when he was put out. “It hurts, man. Just for that, I’m disabling the WiFi in your room and cutting your free premium cable channels.”
“Jesus,” I muttered, placing my hand on the door handle and turning it. Like I gave the first shit about getting free premium cable and WiFi. Thanks to Eugenia Carmichael and her billions, all five of us were now the joint owners of Manhattan’s swankiest penthouse and financially set for life… just as long as we managed to complete the task she’d left us. A task which seemed more and more like the labors of Hercules as the months passed.
I silently eased the door open a crack and stood still again, taking the measure of the room. I didn’t just listen for sounds or heavy breathing, despite the wisecracks Ethan and Walker liked to make, but tried to sense disturbances, picking up on the vibrations that people (and even unforeseen security measures) sometimes gave off. It was a crucial task for any thief who planned to spend his golden years anywhere but a six-by-eight cell.
The room smelled like strawberry candies, and cheap cologne so strong I almost sneezed.
“Daly, you’re on a clock here,” Xavier reminded me needlessly, and my nostrils instinctively flared as I fought the urge to tell him exactly where he could shove his clock. Walker’s jokes were annoying, Ethan’s overly-perceptive friendliness grated, and Caelan’s silent watchfulness made me uncomfortable, but all of them had earned my loyalty over the past six months. The only person in our quintet that I hadn’t warmed to even a fraction was Xavier Malone, heir apparent of the Madison Avenue Malones and douchebag extraordinaire. Walker, Ethan, and Caelan—a former MMA fighter and personal security guard—had all proved their usefulness to our team, as had I, but somehow Xavier’s useless ass had appointed himself our leader.
I wasn’t sure why nobody else minded this as much as I did.
“Shut the fuck up and let me do my job, X,” I retorted.
“X-av-ier. Three syllables, Daly,” he corrected in the fake-bored voice he used when he was all pissed off, and I smiled in satisfaction before I stopped myself.
Legit, was this my life, where calling a high-profile venture capitalist by a hated nickname was how I got my kicks in the middle of a job that could land me in prison?
Jesus.
But even so, I couldn’t resist adding in a whisper, “Did I hurt your feels, honey?”
“I’m gonna hurt both of you if you don’t shut the fuck up and get this done,” Caelan interjected, silencing both of us immediately. Caelan, despite all his bulk and some formidable fighting skills I’d seen in action, had the longest fuse of anyone I’d ever met. When he was finally pushed to the breaking point, it was as effective as an ice bath.
“Reception area is clear,” I said, stepping forward. “I’m going down the hall to Fowler’s office.”
“Remember, code for the office door is 0-0-7-0-1. The safe is on the wall behind the God-awful nude,” Ethan said. “You’re gonna have to use the digital code device…”
“Walker prepped me on the device,” I interrupted, my voice a bare breath of sound as I tread noiselessly down the hall. And I hadn’t needed much of a tutorial to begin with. My memory was nearly photographic, and I’d used similar devices a number of times in the past, for God’s –
Thunk.
“What’s that?” I asked, though I wasn’t sure the sound was audible to anyone else. For a split second, my pulse pounded, and I froze in place, worried there was someone moving in Fowler’s office at the end of the corridor, but then the HVAC system hummed to life, blanketing the room with recycled air. I took a deep breath.
“Daly, report,” Xavier demanded, and for once I wasn’t pissed off about it.
“False alarm, just the A/C kicking in,” I whispered, pressing a hand to my chest.
“Caelan, you’ve got the van in place?” Xavier asked. His voice sounded strained, and for just one second, I let myself wonder what it must be like to feel like you were in charge of a job and know that there was almost nothing you could do to control the outcome, once the game was in play. Huh. For a control freak like Xavier, that had to be a bitch.
“Yep. Got the van parked in the loading zone with a cold lemonade once Daly’s got the documents,” Caelan replied. “Gotta get this beast in for service,” he said fondly, and I could almost hear him petting the steering wheel as he spoke.
The surveillance van was Caelan’s baby, one of the first things he’d purchased on behalf of Masters’ Security Systems, Inc., the security company Xavier had ‘founded’ as a handy cover for our after-hours jobs, and he refused to let any of us even sit behind the wheel.
In some ways, that van and the company it represented were like the sixth member of our band—the one that gave us the respectable façade necessary to hack systems, break and enter locked buildings, and indulge in a little espionage. People actually paid us to test their security systems—both physical and technological—for weaknesses. We were officially known as white-hat thieves and hackers, and our company had quickly earned a reputation for providing the best personal and corporate security money could buy.
No one seemed to suspect that we spent our free time in similar, unsanctioned pursuits.
I crept down the hallway, listening outside each office as I passed, but all was silent. I took a second to curse the air conditioner, which blew strong enough to rustle papers on desks, and was totally throwing me off my game.
Not that any of this was a game—not since Eugenia Carmichael, widow of Federal Judge Trevor Carmichael, stared down at us from that television screen and calmly discussed her own impending murder.
“I’m about to die, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it, gentlemen. The people who’ll kill me don’t care that I’m old or rich. They don’t care that I haven’t long to live in any case, or that the only reason I’ve hung on this long is to get justice for my sweet husband. They’ll make my death seem like the simplest accident or the most natural death imaginable, just like they did for my Trevor. Just like they did for your mother, Anson Daly. Your brother, Ethan Warner. Your fiancée, Caelan Jamison. Your best friend, Walker Smith. And your sister, Xavier Malone.
“They’re soulless bastards, and their greedy tentacles reach into every branch of law enforcement, every institution meant to protect the population from evil men. But when the good folks can’t be trusted, what’s a woman like me to do? I’ll tell you, gents. You gather together a team of criminals. A cat burglar, a computer expert, a bodyguard who’s not afraid to fight, a con-artist… and the greatest criminal of all, a Wall Street investor to lead them.”
I shook my head as I checked the last office on the right and wished I could have known Eugenia Carmichael. Rich as fuck, batty as hell, and the kind of person I’d have liked to have on my team.
“All the other offices are empty,” I whispered. “Entering Fowler’s office.”
I stared down at the keypad and blinked. “Uh, Ethan, what’s it mean if the door is open?” I demanded.
“Impossible. Security system won’t set unless his door is closed,” Ethan said confidently. “Had to stick my tongue down Becca the receptionist’s throat and practically propose marriage to learn that little tidbit, but you know me. Anything for the Masters.”
“Didn’t ask if it was possible,” I retorted, backing away from the door. “Asked what it meant if the impossible was already happening.”
“What? No,” Ethan said, sounding truly concerned. “I don’t know how… Walker, the systems were booted before you shut them down?”
“Definitely,” Walker said. I could hear keys clacking frantically in the background as he no doubt pored over information on the many screens he had set up all over the office we’d created on the second floor of what used to be the Carmichaels’ penthouse. “External system was shut down by me, and the internal system was… Oh.”
“Oh?” I demanded. “What, oh?”
“Well, Jesus, it looks like the internal security wasn’t reset the last time the external security was engaged.”
“In English, geek. My ass is in the wind here!” I fumed, pressing my back into an alcove in the hall.
“Means that someone shut off the security after the building manager closed up. Probably somebody forgot something and had to come back. When they left, they only set the external security, none of the motion sensors inside.”
His voice was apologetic, and honestly, it was something even I wouldn’t have thought to check for, but it was still my ass on the line. “Probably? What’s probably mean, Walker? Like I’ll probably get twenty to life?”
“I’m pulling up the camera feeds now,” he said, the clicking of his fingers on the keyboard sounding like buzzing wasps in my ear.
“Daly, it’s your call,” X said. “If you haven’t seen anyone, Walker’s probably right. System confirms that the external security was restarted an hour ago and wasn’t shut down again until Walker shut it down. Either someone’s been sitting there silently for an hour, or the person who reset the system did a shit job. You know we need those papers, you know the stakes, but it’s your call,” he repeated.
Shit shit shit. I smoothed my hand down the mask that covered my face. My call, but not really.
Last week, the program Walker had set up to cross reference the names of our dead loved ones against the parties involved in cases Eugenia’s dead husband, Judge Trevor Carmichael, had presided over had finally found a match. A year or so ago, Judge Carmichael had ruled on a racketeering case against mid-level real estate owner Stuart Fowler. It just so happened that Stuart Fowler handled the business dealings for Silver, a seedy bar in Vinegar Hill, and the last place my mom had worked before the overdose that killed her. We needed to find out more about who Fowler was working with, who he was working for, and who was behind the dummy corporation Fowler had set up as the owner of Silver, if we wanted to figure out how and why my mother had died.
But clearly we weren’t the only ones who’d cottoned on to this idea, since Fowler, who’d been offered a plea deal in exchange for a reduced sentence, had been killed in prison before he could decide to start naming names.
Chalk another body up to the bad guys.
“Fine. I’m going in,” I told Xavier, pushing the door open with my heart in my throat.
The scent of cologne I’d smelled in the reception area was even more powerful here, and I froze again, listening for any sound, but the room seemed to be holding its breath.
I threw the door wide, making sure no one was hiding behind it, before cautiously creeping forward. Nothing seemed out of place, and the humming of the HVAC was the only sound.
“Clear,” I breathed, stepping forward to finish my mission.
Any thief who claimed he wasn’t superstitious was a liar. Every thief had a tell—a lucky pair of socks, a nervous tic—and I was no different. I cracked the knuckles of my right hand, and then my left, clenching and unclenching my hands exactly twelve times as I walked over to the desk, my eyes fixed on the ugliest nude I’d ever seen. Jesus, her breasts looked like purple apples. I shook my head in disgust as I opened the painting, handily attached to the wall by a hinge, and put my hand in my pocket to extract the digital code device.
“Christ on a cracker,” I breathed, letting the device fall back into my pocket. I wouldn’t need it now. “Someone got here before us. Safe is empty.”
A chorus of curses echoed through my ear.
“What do we do now?” I demanded, taking a step back and pulling the mask up off my face. “This shit show can’t get much worse.”
My heel hit something on the floor with a dull thud, something I couldn’t see from the thin shafts of moonlight coming through the tinted windows. I crouched down to examine it more closely.
“Oh, my God,” I breathed. “I lied. It’s worse. Dead body. Mother fucker, there’s a dead body in here.” I stood up abruptly.
“Who is it?” Xavier demanded, ever practical.
“He’s not exactly introducing himself, X!” I said. I could hear the panic in my own voice, but dead bodies and I did not get along. “I’m outta here.”
“Check his wallet,” Caelan argued.
“No way! You come do it!”
“You said yourself, it can’t get worse. Just keep your head and check the wallet. We need to know who we’re dealing with here!” Caelan soothed.
And that’s how I found myself, against my better judgment, touching the corpse on the floor of Stuart Fowler’s office, and rolling him over to pick his pocket. Yes, this was really my life.
“Got the wallet,” I said, pocketing the thing and letting the body fall back down.
“You sure he’s dead?” Ethan wanted to know.
“Oh, for God’s sake.” Before Caelan could get all reasonable or X could get all imperious, I held my breath, stripped my glove, and put my fingers to the guy’s throat. He was still warm, but there was no pulse. I leaned closer in case I could hear a breath.
“Achoo!”
I jumped three feet. My instincts had saved my life more times than I could count, and for just one second, I swear I thought the man on the floor, the body on the floor, had sneezed, but then I realized where the sound had come from.
“What the hell is that?” Xavier demanded.
“A sneeze,” I said, standing up and getting my wits about me once more. I crept along the floor towards a small coat closet next to the office door, and threw the door open wide.
“Guys?” I said, as I looked down at the small, wide-eyed redhead huddled there. “Things got worse again.”

 

 

 

Jane Henry

 

Jane has been writing since her early teens, dabbling in short stories and poetry. When she married and began having children, her pen was laid to rest for several years, until the National Novel Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) in 2010 awakened in her the desire to write again. That year, she wrote her first novel, and has been writing ever since. With a houseful of children, she finds time to write in the early hours of the morning, squirreled away with a laptop, blanket, and cup of hot coffee. Years ago, she heard the wise advice, “Write the book you want to read,” and has taken it to heart. She sincerely hopes you also enjoy the books she likes to read.

 

Maisy Archer

 

 

Maisy is an unabashed book nerd who has been in love with romance since reading her first Julie Garwood novel at the tender age of 12. After a decade as a technical writer, she finally made the leap into writing fiction several years ago and has never looked back. Like her other great loves – coffee, caramel, beach vacations, yoga pants, and her amazing family – her love of words has only continued to grow… in a manner inversely proportional to her love of exercise, house cleaning, and large social gatherings. She loves to hear from fellow romance lovers, and is always on the hunt for her next great read.

 

 

 

Sign up for Jane and Maisy’s newsletter and never miss a minute of the action!

http://bit.ly/Jane_Maisy_NL

 

#WednesdayShare 222

#Bookreviewvirginialeeblog

BLOG :https://bookreviewvirginialee.com/

His To Claim by Shelly Bell


 

 

 

 

 

“I had to constantly remind myself to breathe. Shelly Bell packs a powerful punch with her flawless writing and suspenseful, passionate love story.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Ellen Malpas on At His Mercy



 

 

Fate brought them together. Family could tear them apart.

Ryder McKay may be a playboy, but he’s never been a fool. Not until he met the woman he simply knew as Jane. For one night, he dropped his guard, but in the morning she disappeared—along with a copy of his top secret technology.

When it ends up in the hands of his biggest enemy—his father—Ryder knows without a doubt he’s been betrayed. And when he finds Jane again, a year later, he can’t decide what’s worse—that her mother is marrying his brother, or that he still finds Jane irresistible, despite the fact that she’s a liar, a thief, and his father’s latest protégé.

Jane Cooper does have a secret, but it’s not the one Ryder thinks. As their rekindled passion changes into something deeper, they’ll have to work together to untangle a web of lies and corruption that will shatter everything they thought they knew about their pasts. Because Jane’s not the only one with a secret—and this secret is getting people killed.

 

 

Ryder McKay knocked back a shot of Jameson, slammed the glass down on the bar, and grabbed the next one, relishing the smooth burn sliding down his throat. It wasn’t every day your brother was about to marry the daughter of the country’s most powerful man.
The press was calling the union a “marriage made in heaven.”
More like a deal with the devil.
Only in this case, it had been a deal between two devils. Two criminals posing as legitimate business men who were likely using their offspring to solidify some kind of pact between the two families. If Keane McKay and Ian Sinclair joined forces instead of working against each other, they’d have the potential to be largest crime syndicate in North America.
It had been years since Ryder had turned his back on Keane and that life. After he’d graduated high school, he’d made good on his lifelong promise to himself. He’d moved out and never returned.
Any conversation with Keane over the past decade had been limited to Ryder’s insistence that his father not contact him again. It had taken several years, but he had eventually gotten the hint and stopped calling.
To maintain his distance from Keane, Ryder hadn’t planned on attending his brother Finn’s wedding.
Then last week, he’d come across a photograph that had changed his mind.
A photo of Jane.
Recalling the vixen he’d spent one wild night with almost a year ago, he licked remnants of the whiskey from his lips and swirled his finger along the rim of the glass. Before falling asleep that night, he’d realized one time inside of Jane hadn’t been enough for him.
He’d wanted more.
Not just sex, but the chance to get to know her.
Crazy thoughts for a man who’d spent his adult life never having sex with the same woman twice.
But she’d pulled a Cinderella on him, fleeing his hotel room in the middle of the night. Other than her first name, he’d known nothing about her.
Obsessed with finding the woman he couldn’t forget, he’d wasted months searching for her. He’d checked with the organization that had sponsored the conference where they’d met. Called other attendees. Combed through photos of the conference. Hell, at one point, he’d been so desperate, he’d hired a private detective.
And what had he found?
Nothing.
It was as if she’d never existed.
His fingers tightened around his glass.
He’d been a fool.
Because now he knew the truth.
Shortly after their night together, he’d realized someone had copied design and software files from his computer. He hadn’t wanted to believe that Jane had been the one to do it—the time stamp didn’t match—but last week, Ryder stumbled upon a recent article online about his father’s foray into the automated commercial kitchen business, the same business as Ryder’s company Novateur.
Then the photo accompanying the article caught his attention.
It was a photo of the company’s vice -president of innovation standing beside Keane.
Jane.
A muscle popped in his jaw as he acknowledged once again what an idiot he’d been that night.
He’d played right into her hands, lowering his guard when he brought her to his hotel room, not suspecting she would stab him in the back while he slept.
Novateur was one of the first in the world to bring “smart kitchen” technology to restaurants and bakeries. Already in business together providing productivity consultations to restaurants, Ryder and his best friend Tristan had formed the company shortly after their discussion that automation was an effective way to cut costs and increase efficiency in restaurant kitchens. Voice-activated appliances, robotic arms, and conveyor belts for restaurants and bakeries—even the smaller, family-owned ones—were now an affordable reality.
Novateur was the only restaurant automation company to custom design and install the technology per the customer’s specific needs—until McKay Industries.
The evidence was indisputable. Jane had been the one to steal the designs for his father.
Had she thought Ryder wouldn’t find out? Or had she thought that changing the time stamp would save her?
In the end, the joke was on her. Because anything she copied was worthless without key pieces of code. That alone should have given him the satisfaction to move on.
And yet he couldn’t. Something about her didn’t add up. He couldn’t equate the woman he’d met that night with the woman he now knew her to be. She’d acted so innocent in his bed, her eyes widening in something that looked like awe as he’d removed his clothes and given her the first glimpse of his cock.
Not that it wasn’t awe worthy. He didn’t bother with false modesty.
But Jane’s response had seemed…honest. She’d actually flinched when he’d first entered her. Even now, he could hear her husky voice in his head and the way she whispered his name as he brought her to climax. He remembered the sensation of her silky thighs against his cheeks and how tight her pussy had clamped around him when she came.
He rubbed the stubble on his chin with his knuckles.
Since that night, every time it came down to sealing the deal with a woman, thoughts of Jane popped into his head.
And while he could admit he was bit of an asshole when it came to the opposite sex, he wouldn’t fuck one woman while thinking of another.
She hadn’t only stolen his technology.
She’d stolen his fucking mojo.
He should hate her, and yet there were nights he’d roll over in bed and reach for her, only to find the sheets cold.
According to Finn, all of McKay’s essential employees had been invited to the wedding.
Which was why Ryder was here.
Tonight, he was on a mission.
Find Jane.
Confront her.
And get her out of his system, once and for all.
Whatever it took.
Even if whatever it took meant him having to dress in a monkey suit, smile at people he detested, and kiss up to his father. If he’d shown up at McKay Industries, no doubt Keane would have had security toss Ryder out of the building.
But he couldn’t keep Ryder from the wedding.
And Jane wouldn’t be expecting him.
Ryder gulped down his next shot, not even bothering to enjoy it, and returned it bottom side up to the white-satin-covered bar top. Thank fuck his brother and his fiancée had chosen to get married in the city’s only five-star hotel instead of having the traditional church wedding. He’d never make it through the next couple of hours if he had to do it sober.
“Make the next one a double and keep ’em coming,” he told the bartender.
A hard slap on his tuxedoed-clad back had his teeth rattling. He didn’t need to turn around to know who had smacked the shit out of him. Finn may be ten years older but he’d never gone easy on him.
“Save some of the good shit for the other guests,” his brother said.
Ryder turned around, relieved that Finn was alone. He definitely needed more whiskey before dealing with the rest of the family. “Thought you’d be getting ready with Keane and all the other groomsmen.”
Although they shared a father, they looked nothing alike. The only thing they had in common were their gray eyes, a trait shared by all the McKay men. Otherwise, Ryder took after his Mexican mother with his dark brown hair and tanned skin while Finn was a younger version of their Irish father with reddish-blond hair. Not to mention, Ryder towered over Finn by a good five inches, something he never let his older brother forget.
Smooth shaven and with his hair cut short, Ryder barely recognized his brother. Where was the beard? His trademark long hair? This guy was a carbon copy of their father. Of course, it had been a couple years since Ryder had last seen Finn. It had killed Ryder to do it, but once his brother had chosen to take a position at McKay Industries, Ryder had been forced to put some space between them.
Finn gave him a wink. “Wanted to make sure my best man hadn’t taken off with some random chick to get his pre-wedding ceremony blow job.”
More like Finn was worried Ryder had again changed his mind about attending the wedding and wouldn’t show. Understandable, since Ryder had questioned his brother more than once as to why Finn was marrying Ciara.
Bad enough Finn had left the attorney general’s office to work at McKay Industries, but to marry into a family possibly even more corrupt than theirs? Finn must have lost his damned mind.
Ryder scratched his head. He had to try one last time to convince Finn he was making the wrong decision. “Listen, I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, but—”
“I’m marrying Ciara.” Finn held up his hand, effectively stopping Ryder from continuing. “I appreciate that you’re concerned for me, but I assure you, I know what I’m doing.”
Folding his arms across his chest, Ryder snorted and leaned his back against the bar. “Yeah, because after all, your first marriage went so well.”
His brother shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Marriage is complicated.”
Complicated was something Ryder didn’t need in his life. That’s why he was never getting married. “Especially when your wife tries to kill you.”
“She wasn’t trying to kill me,” Finn mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. “Greta was an expert marksman. Got me exactly where she wanted to.”
Ryder would never forget the night he’d gotten the phone call that his brother had been shot. Nearly ran off the road trying to get to the hospital, only to arrive and find his brother resting comfortably on his stomach as he watched the Tigers’ game on his iPhone.
Asshole.
“What does your new woman think of the scar on your ass?” Ryder asked Finn.
Finn grinned. “She thinks it’s sexy.”
“Only the daughter of a criminal would find a bullet to the ass sexy.”
His brother shushed him and stepped closer, looking around the empty room in a move that hinted at paranoia. “Keep your voice down, would you?”
Ryder tamped down his urge to chuckle. Fucking with his brother rated high on his list of favorite things to do. “What are you worried about? Someone finding out that your future father-in-law is a criminal or that your ex shot you in the ass when you asked for a divorce?” he asked loud enough for anyone close by to overhear, including the bartender, who stopped his cleaning at Ryder’s words and let out a snort.
Finn only shook his head. “You’re an asshole. Do you know that?” He clamped a hand on Ryder’s shoulder and squeezed. Hard. “But you’re also the best brother any guy could ask for. I’m thankful every day that Dad boinked the maid and fathered you. Which is why I’m going to tell you that when it comes to Ciara and her family, I know what I’m getting into.”
“I thought we agreed we were both getting out of the family business. Me with Novateur and you by becoming some hotshot lawyer. We don’t need Dad’s money and we certainly don’t need his connections.”
His brother clenched his jaw and looked away, almost guiltily. “As long as Dad is still in charge of McKay Industries, we’ll never be free of him. Don’t you get it by now?”
“So you just gave up and figured you’d make him even more powerful by marrying a rival’s daughter?”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Finn sighed. “I told you. I love—”
“You love Ciara.” He rolled his eyes. Childish, but appropriate. “I heard you the first twenty times. But I still don’t believe you.”
Ryder wasn’t completely dead inside. He had the ability to love. He loved his brother, Tristan, and an ice-cold beer at a ball game, but as for the so-called everlasting romantic kind of love?
Not in his genetic makeup.
His father was on marriage number four—no, five—and his brother’s first marriage had ended in gun play.
The odds were definitely not in Ryder’s favor…or his brother’s.
Long ago, Ryder had made the decision never to get married or have children. Both a wife and a kid would be a vulnerability he couldn’t afford. Look at what Keane had done by stealing Ryder’s designs and competing against him. No, Ryder could never give Keane that kind of power over him.
Finn shot him a look of disappointment. “I know you don’t, but I wish you had at least a little faith that I know what I’m doing.” He puffed out his chest and straightened his bow tie, cutting the awkward tension with his smirk. “After all, I’m the big brother. You’re supposed to look up to me.”
“And I would if you weren’t such a midget,” Ryder deadpanned.
His brother grabbed his crotch. “Yeah, well, unlike you, I’m large where it counts.”
Ryder was about to challenge that comment when his brother’s smirk slid off his face and all the joy was sucked out of the room. He didn’t have to turn around to know the source of the sucking.
“Pop,” Ryder said in greeting.
A firm hand clasped his shoulder and a raspy voice, created by a two-pack- a- day cigarette habit, came from behind him. “Ryder. Good to see you, son.”
Too bad he couldn’t say the same.
He waited for the scent of cigarettes to assault his nose and was surprised when it didn’t happen. Had the old man finally quit?
His father moved to his side, giving Ryder a glimpse of the man he hadn’t seen in years.
Always robust and thick around the waist, his father had shrunk to half his old size. Still not skinny, but to Ryder, the difference was jarring. His white hair had thinned on top, showing off the reddened scalp underneath it, and his wrinkled skin seemed especially pronounced because of his weight loss.
He looked…tired. Old. Too old for seventy-one.
For a moment, Ryder experienced a rush of compassion for his father, until he remembered that his father had never once had any compassion for anyone else.
He expected a lecture. A snide remark. Something.
But his father simply gave him a nod of regard and focused his attention on Finn. “There’s been a slight delay with the wedding ceremony. Apparently, Jane has had an incident with her bridesmaid dress and had to run to the bridal shop to have it repaired. She’s on her way now.”
Ryder froze mid-breath. Although he tried to keep his voice disinterested, he was anything but. “Jane?”
His father’s eyes twinkled with something resembling pride. “My step-granddaughter. Or soon-to-be step-granddaughter.”
No.
It had to be a different Jane.
“Ciara has a child?” he asked his brother, surprised that fact hadn’t come up before.
“Jane’s an adult now. Ciara had her at fifteen,” Finn said quietly. “Jane was raised by Ciara’s aunt and uncle down in Florida. Even now, not a lot of people in our circle know Ciara has a daughter, so I’d appreciate it if you kept the information to yourself.”
Whoever this Jane was, anger flared hot in his gut on her behalf.
They wanted to keep the girl a secret as if she had a reason to be ashamed. Why even bother inviting her to the wedding?
Mumbled curses and frantic footsteps echoed from down the hall, growing louder as someone approached.
Ryder’s mouth went dry.
Even mumbled, he’d recognize that silken voice anywhere.
Like a tornado, she whirled into the room, every part of her in disarray, from her long dark brown curls to the thick black-framed glasses tilted on her nose.
She was as beautiful as he’d remembered.
It made it difficult to remember she was the enemy.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, gripping the sides of her dress in her hands to keep it off the floor and looking down at her feet as if worried she’d trip. “As I was leaving my apartment, the hem of my dress got caught in the…”—she looked up and her eyes widened as she caught sight of Ryder—“…door.”
This wasn’t the plan. He’d wanted to surprise her.
But he hadn’t expected to be just as shocked.
If Ciara was Jane’s mother, that made Jane his…
He couldn’t even finish the thought.
Finn kissed her warmly on the cheek. “Jane. This is my brother, Ryder. Ryder, this is—”
“Jane,” she said, smiling tightly while her swan-like throat worked over a swallow. “Your soon-to-be step-niece.”

 

 

Shelly Bell is the author of the popular Benediction and Forbidden Lovers series. Her book, Blue Blooded, received a Top Pick from Romantic Times Book Reviews and was nominated for an RT Award. At His Mercy, the first in her Forbidden Lovers series, has been nominated for an RT Award in Erotic Romance and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

When she’s not working her day job, taking care of her family, or writing, you’ll find her reading the latest romance or thriller. Shelly is a member of Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

 

 

 

#WednesdayShare 221

#Bookreviewvirginialeeblog

BLOG :https://bookreviewvirginialee.com/

Outcasts

 

Title: Outcasts
Series: Badlands #3
Author: Natalie Bennett
Genre: Dark Erotic Thriller
Release Date: May 12, 2018

 

*Grimm*

Pariah.
Dark Messiah.
Harbinger of death.
My reputation has always preceded me.
I’m a brother to the queen of the Badlands.
I’m one of the few confidants to her fiancé–the devil himself.
And those whispered rumors that I’m a silent killer, a true harvester of souls? 
They’re true.
People never see me coming. I don’t discriminate, I show no mercy, and I feel no remorse. 
My only loyalty is to my family and when someone important to them goes missing, I vow to do whatever is necessary to track her down and bring her back.
But the person I find is not the same woman who was stolen away.
Something’s different about her.
Something I find myself drawn to as we fight our way back to hell.


*Arlen*

Stubborn.
Reckless.
Original family disappointment.
My reputation has never preceded me.
I’m supposed to be this spoiled, rich b*tch who does everything her daddy tells her.
I was forbidden to even think about the Badlands.
But money means nothin to me and my paradise was a pretty cage I refused to be trapped in.
I fought my way out, I found a new family, and even though sh*t got tough sometimes it all worked out in the end.
And then I got kidnapped.
I thought it was over for me. 
I almost broke. 
I should have known he would never let that happen.
And I should have realized something inside me had shifted.
Maybe then I’d have seen the signs that I was falling for an irredeemable man.
A man who taught me that there was power in taking away a life. 
A man who showed me just how beautiful hell truly was.
It’s only fair I warn you that this is not a story about a rescued damsel in distress.
This is a story about what happens when a man who collects souls finally meets his match.

*Outcasts is the 3rd book in the Badlands series. This book can be read as a standalone but I recommend starting Savages & Deviants first.*

Natalie Bennett is the creator of erotic stories that always come with a warning label. She writes about depraved alpha a**holes and women that love to hate them. Her books don’t follow any specific tropes, have no set word counts, and tend to deviate from traditional HEA’s.

When she isn’t in front of her computer she’s spending time with her husband and their three little boys.

Natalie is an avid fan of caramel frappes, horror movies, Shameless, and of course, reading.

You can find Natalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
HOSTED BY:

#ThursdayShare 234

#Bookreviewvirginialeeblog

BLOG :https://bookreviewvirginialee.com/

THE GLASSHOUSE

Love Has No Gender
the brighter side of
Jo&Isalovebooks Promotions
proudly presents


 


THE GLASSHOUSE

CHAPTER REVEAL

A Lavender Shores Novel
Publication Day April 1st 2018
Cover Artist: AngstyG


Adrian Rivera lives as he damn well pleases, defying his Lavender Shores family to spend his days farming the beautiful Northern California land. Not one to daydream of true love and romance, Adrian’s social life has always been filled with sex and plenty of good times. 

Harrison Getty went from NFL star quarterback to America’s gay heartthrob, to reality TV star—with his wedding day broadcast live on national television. But Harrison feels trapped in a Hollywood life dictated by others. To breathe again, he runs from it all… 

Adrian’s attraction to Harrison has been building for months—even as Harrison prepared to marry another man. Lightning strikes between them, stirring emotions and passions as Adrian finds “the one,” a love that’s meant to be. But can Harrison stop running long enough to know his own heart? 

Amid scandals and betrayals, Adrian and Harrison struggle to grow their new love even as life’s storms threaten to shatter it all…




1-Click your Kindle Edition TODAY and start reading within minutes
on your reading device.⇩


PAPERBACK⇩

 

IT’S FREE WITH
KindleUnlimited


ADD TO YOUR TBR LIST


READ THE CHAPTER HERE⇩⇩⇩

READ ME NOW



 

NEW TO THE SERIES??
START YOUR READING EXPERIENCE TODAY.
The Palisade
Kindle Edition
There is no such thing as too many books.
Buy your paperback copy and place on your shelf with PRIDE.
Dying to read but to busy? Why not try the Audio Edition.
Listen FREE with Audible trial.🔊



THE GARDEN
BOOK #2
Kindle Edition
Buy your paperback copy and add to your collection.
THE VERANDA
BOOK #3
Kindle Edition
Available to buy in print. 1-Click your paperback copy here.
THE SHIPWRECK
BOOK #4
Kindle Edition
Now available in Paperback. 1-Click your copy TODAY!
THE HIDEAWAY
BOOK #5
Now available in Paperback. 1-Click your copy TODAY!


Rosalind ABEL PROFILE PIC

Rosalind Abel grew up tending chickens along side her sweet and faithful Chow, Lord Elgin. While her fantasy of writing novels was born during her teen years, she never would have dreamed she’d one day publish steamy romances about gorgeous men. However, sometimes life turns out better than planned.
In between crafting scorching sex scenes and helping her men find their soul mate, Rosalind enjoys cooking, collecting toys, and making the best damn scrapbooks in the world (this claim hasn’t been proven, but she’s willing to put good money on it).
She adores MM Romance and the power it has to sweep the reader away into worlds filled with passion, steam, and love. Rosalind also enjoys her collection of plot bunnies, and welcomes new fuzzy ones in her home all the time, so feel free to send any adorable ones her way.


Connect with Rosalind


Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/2qoiuLC
Facebook Author page: http://bit.ly/2rH8C4o
Rosalind Abel Website: http://www.rosalindabel.com
Rosalind Abel Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2v6iuXI
Lavender Shores Website: http://www.lavendershores.com
Twitter: @rosalind_abel


Thank you for touring with Love Has No Gender the brighter side of  Jo&Isa♡Books


 

 

#ThursdayShare 232

#Bookreviewvirginialeeblog

BLOG :https://bookreviewvirginialee.com/

#ShowsomeloveforMMBooks

MM Blog:https://showsomelove4mmbooks.wixsite.com/website

Ryker

 

 

 

 

Also available via Kindle Unlimited

 

 

 

 

Ride. Protect. Defend.
Anna Kloss grew up as a smart girl in the Sinister Knights Motorcycle Club, an above-the-law group of misfits that fights to safeguard the women of their town. Straddling both worlds, she’s lived the last few years in a college dorm, losing herself in the promise of her future and trying to forget the lost love of her past.

As Vice President of the Sinister Knights, Ryker Beckett has proven his dedication and loyalty by sitting in a county jail cell for three years for saving one woman from a nightmarish assault. The woman. The only one who matters. Prez’s young, innocent, and untouched daughter, Anna.

But now, Ryker is back, his sights set on reconnecting with the woman who occupied every minute of his thoughts while he was away. Anna’s all grown up, but she’s still the only one he can’t have, the only one he craves… Is she ready for this giant, rough-around-the-edges biker to protect and defend her forever?

Warning: Ryker is hard in all the right places—a tall, tattooed drink of water sitting on a powerful engine. He’s got his mind on one woman only, and when he sees her again, he’s determined to get her bred and on his bike for their sexy ride into the sunset.

 

 

One

Anna
“So when do you think that sexy hunk of man meat will be here?” My best friend, Piper, threw herself onto my violet duvet.
“He’s not sexy.” I turned away from her, heart falling in my chest at just the thought of him.
“Bullshit.” Piper snapped her gum. “You’ve been pining over him since he went away.”
“I haven’t,” I protested.
“Again, I’m gonna have to call bullshit. So when’s he coming back?”
“I don’t know. I heard Dad say the party starts tonight, so I’m thinking sometime between now and then.” Dad would have killed me if he’d known I was eavesdropping outside of his office while he was on my phone, but the old man had refused to give me any information relating to Ryker, and I’d grown desperate for anything.
“Between now and then, huh?” Piper eyed me curiously. “So what are you gonna say to the asshole?”
“He’s not an asshole, Piper.”
“Well, he hasn’t written in the three years he’s been gone.”
“Maybe he couldn’t,” I defended weakly.
“But he could keep in touch with your dad?”
“Dad went to visit him every week, kept him in the loop, but I wasn’t allowed to go.”
Piper frowned. “You should call him on that bullshit. This is your life, you’ve got to get your man.”
“He’s not my man.” But he used to be.
“He was when he went up to County. I’m bettin’ he still sees you that way now.”
“Thirty-six months is a long time to be…” I struggled to find the word. The club didn’t say things like prison, jail, incarcerated. They said, “going away.” It was safer that way.
“He owes you an explanation,” Piper said finally.
“He doesn’t owe me anything. I think he’s given me enough already.” I felt the bundle of tears clogging my throat.
“That’s not your fault, Anna. You’re not the reason he’s up there.”
I paused, holding the gaze of the girl I’d been friends with since I was three. “Feels like it.”
Her eyes searched my face before she collapsed with uncharacteristic emotion and pulled me into her embrace. “I know it does, Anna, but it’s not. I promise you it’s not.”
I wiped at the itchy tears running down my face. Every day without Ryker in my life felt like a bullet fracturing my soul.
Would he even want me anymore? Was I the same girl he left?
I wasn’t sure I was, and somewhere down deep, I felt guilt for changing on him too.
In the weeks following Ryker’s arrest and sentencing, Dad had sent me away to an early entrance college program that could fast-track me to a degree in sociology.
I’d only half wanted to go before the event that changed all of our lives. So when I’d told Dad I planned to stay right here at Falcon’s Nest and wait for Ryker to get home, he’d pulled me off my ass and thrown me out the door faster than I could blink.
All for the best, he’d said.
It’d taken me a long couple years to see the wisdom in that statement.
Now I was only six months away from earning my degree and back home for the summer. Back where it all began.
“So what time does that party start? I don’t want to be late.” Piper twittered behind me.
“We’re not going.”
“Why the hell not? It’s Ryker’s welcome home party, right? We’d like to welcome him.”
“You might like to welcome him. I’d rather sit here and sulk away the pain.”
“I’d really like to check out that bod. I bet he got big in the joint.” Piper’s eyes lit up.
I shook my head. “I don’t care.”
“Ha! He was a big motherfucker before, just imagine him now, Anna. Bulging biceps, washboard abs… Remember when we used to watch him do pull-ups in the garage?” Her eyes glassed over with the pleasurable memory.
“I remember you dragging me down into the ditch and getting covered in thistle weeds when he caught us.”
“He didn’t catch us,” Piper retorted.
“He did.” I laughed. “He told me he did.”
“Shit.”
“Not as stealthy as you thought, sister.”
She stuck out her tongue at me. “What are you gonna wear to the party? Something short, show off those legs. You’ve lost at least ten pounds since he last saw you.”
“Twelve.” I groaned, “And I’m not going. I’m staying right here, and if I run into him, I run into him—”
“This one will make your tits look great.” She ignored everything I’d just said and pushed a clingy purple dress over my head.
“Piper!” I spat as I shoved my arms through the holes. “My dad will fucking kill us if we show up. It’s a members-only kind of thing.”
“We’re members.” She adjusted the dress around my boobs, pulling the neckline down a little farther. “Well, you are. And I sorta am…by proxy or something.”
I arched an eyebrow when she spun me in the mirror. I frowned, taking in my curvy form.
“You look fucking hot.”
My frown deepened.
“He’s going to want to bone you the second he sees you.”
“Piper!”
“It’s a good dress. And, you’re kind of fucking gorgeous, Anna. I know no one tells you that. I don’t know why they don’t tell you that… It’s that whole, I’m too smart for you unapproachable vibe you’ve got going on, but it’s true. You’re fucking gorgeous, and I bet Ryker beat off to you every night he was in that place, just waiting to see you again.”
A blush burned up my cheeks. “What if I don’t know him anymore, Piper?”
“Well, then it’s time to get reacquainted tonight.” She winked at my reflection in the mirror.
“I’m not going to that party.”
“Over my dead body, sister. Now let’s get into your makeup. It just so happens I brought my falsies with me.” She yanked a pair of false eyelashes out of her huge purse. “You’re gonna look like a Kardashian tonight.”
“Ugh or a hooker. Kill me now.”
“Not until your face is done. After that, I don’t care what you do.” Piper pushed me into my bathroom, flicking on the light and plopping me ass-first onto the bench. “Time for him to see what he’s been missing.”

 

 

 

Aria Cole is a thirty-something housewife who once felt bad for reading dirty books late at night, until she decided to write her own. Possessive alpha men and the sassy heroines who love them are common, along with a healthy dose of irresistible insta-love and happily ever afters so sweet your teeth may ache.

For a safe, off-the-charts HOT, and always HEA story that doesn’t take a lifetime to read, get lost in an Aria Cole book!
Follow Aria on Amazon for new release updates, or stalk her on Facebook and Twitter to see which daring book boyfriend she’s writing next!

Sign up to get a NEW RELEASE ALERT from me!
http://eepurl.com/ccGnRX