Teaser Tuesday – Sierra Donovan

What grown woman claims to have seen Santa Claus? Mandy Reese, for one—on a very special Christmas Eve when she was eight years old. These days, Mandy works at a year-round Christmas store in Tall Pine, California, where customers love to hear about her childhood encounter with Saint Nick. But when Jake Wyndham arrives in town—charming, gorgeous, extremely practical—Mandy faces a dilemma. Deny what she saw, or let Jake think she’s sugarplum crazy?

Jake scouts hotel locations all over the country, but he’s never met anyone quite like Mandy before. Her warmth and sparkle are irresistible, but…meeting Santa? Really? Jake’s no Scrooge but he’s definitely skeptical. Then again, there are all kinds of things Jake never experienced until he came to Tall Pine. Like autumn snow. Mind blowing kisses. And the magic of falling head-over-heels, madly in love…

COVER - Do You Believe in Santa

 

In my Teaser Tuesday excerpt, Jake is at Mandy’s house for the first time, looking over her movie collection for something to watch. The top shelf, she’s explained to him, is her “comfort food” – her all-time favorites. What she hasn’t told him yet is that she saw Santa as a child….

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A movie collection, Jake decided, was a window to the soul.

He started with that top shelf. Casablanca, of course. He was pleased to find To Kill a Mockingbird there too. Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Princess Bride were obvious, female-friendly favorites. But there were a few surprises.

“The Godfather is comfort food?” he called out to the kitchen.

“Only the first one. But the other two have to go with it, because I didn’t want to separate them.”

“You’re a regular Library of Congress.” He stood and joined Mandy in the kitchen.

It didn’t look like she’d made any progress on the coffee yet. As he entered, she was transferring glasses from the sink to the dishwasher. She closed the dishwasher quickly.

“Something’s fishy,” he said.

She turned with a start. “What?”

“I don’t see any Christmas movies.”

She grinned. “There wasn’t room. I’ve got a whole separate box for those. They’re put away with the Christmas decorations.”

Jake folded his arms. “How many?”

She inclined her head, considering. “About forty. But that’s because I’m selective. Did you pick anything out?”

“Help me narrow it down. I can’t handle the responsibility.”

“You saw the favorites shelf.”

“That’s a pretty broad selection. What are you in the mood for?”

“Well …” She opened a cabinet and brought out a can of coffee. “Ghost might be my all-time favorite, but I’m not sure if you’d care for it. I’ve been trying to get Mrs. Swanson to watch it for years. She can’t get past the basic idea. She thinks, if it couldn’t happen, what’s the point in watching it?”

“That lets out a lot of movies. Especially if you count Pretty Woman.”

She started judiciously measuring coffee into the filter basket of the coffee maker. As she brought out another scoop of grounds, she eyed the size of the mound that crowned over the top of the scoop, then shook it to level it a little more before she dropped it into the filter.

So painstaking … and so irresistible.

Jake stepped behind her and spoke just above her ear. “Ghost is fine with me,” he said. “Believe it or not, I’ve never seen it. Something about Demi Moore being haunted by her husband?”

He smoothed her hair back, tucking it behind her ear. A delicate gold pine tree earring dangled from her earlobe. It shimmered when his fingers brushed it.

Mandy measured out another scoop of coffee, not so precisely this time. “I can’t concentrate if you do that.”

“That’s the idea.” He moved his lips downward and kissed her ear. She gave a little shudder that triggered a matching shudder of his own. She relaxed against him. He closed his eyes and buried his face against the side of her neck, drinking in the scent of whatever it was she wore, that delicious hint of spice. For several exquisite moments, he didn’t move, just standing there with her, hearing her breathe.

Then she stepped away and carried the coffee carafe to the sink to fill it with water.

“Seriously, though,” she said. “Have you ever wondered what you’d do in a situation like that?”

He was crushed that she’d kept her train of thought. He’d certainly lost his. “Like what?”

“If you were a character in a movie like that. With ghosts, or angels, or … whatever.”

Her tone was offhand. Her back was turned, so he couldn’t see her expression. “How would you handle it?”

“Handle what?”

“What if you saw something you thought was impossible? You don’t believe in—say, ghosts, right?”

He blinked. “Right.”

She brought back the water, poured it into the coffee maker and switched it on. “So what would you do if you walked into your kitchen and a ghost was standing by the sink?”

She’d left him far behind. “I guess I’d figure it was my imagination.”

“But what would you do? They’re standing right there in front of you.”

“This is a weird conversation, Mandy.”

“Come on. Humor me. Think about it.”

“Okay.” He tilted his head back and squinted up at the ceiling. “If I could see through them, I’d know it was my imagination, or that I was dreaming. And I’d go back to bed. If they looked solid … I’d probably try talking to them and find out if they had the wrong house. But first I’d grab a baseball bat.”

It sounded reasonable to him. She didn’t seem satisfied. Jake had no idea what kind of an answer she was looking for.

“What would you do?” he asked.

“I think about it sometimes.” She watched the stream of coffee trickling into the clear carafe. “And I think … I think I might believe my own eyes.”

She looked at Jake again. The coffee maker chugged out its brewing noises.

He risked a smile. “Mandy, are you trying to tell me your kitchen is haunted?”

“No.” She returned his smile with a much smaller one of her own. “I was just kidding around.”

He had a feeling he’d failed an exam of some sort. And he wasn’t so sure that Mandy hadn’t seen a ghost in her kitchen.

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Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She believes in classic movies, Christmas, happy endings and the healing power of chocolate.

Sierra’s first novel, LOVE ON THE AIR, was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her Kensington debut, NO CHRISTMAS LIKE THE PRESENT, won the Golden Quill for Sweet Traditional Romance. DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA?, out September 29th, is the first book in her new Evergreen Lane series.

You can email Sierra at sierra_donovan@yahoo.com, or visit her website at www.sierradonovan.com.

Website: http://www.sierradonovan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sierra.donovan.romance

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SierraDonovan1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1191291.Sierra_Donovan

Blog: http://sierradonovan.blogspot.com

Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/Sierra-Donovan/e/B001JS7V54

Kensington Publishing author page: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/30546

 

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Monday Mayhem – Woohoo!

If you’ve been following this blog for the last few weeks, you know I’ve been struggling with my mojo lately. Well, I’m pleased to announce that the word drought has ended!

This weekend was the Diamond State Romance Authors annual writing retreat in Hot Springs. I was hoping the change of scenery, gathering of like-minded friends, and structured writing time away from the distractions of home would help pull me from this slump, and it did!

I set a goal of trying to write 5000 words per day and 10000 words total. Here’s my play by play of how the weekend unfolded.

Friday:

I was up and ready early, so I decided that I needed to use the time before I left productively, so I sat down in the recliner and didn’t move until I finished chapter four.

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Pre-retreat word count – 2214

We stayed at the Blue House on Lake Hamilton again

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I staked out the same spot as last year

And tried not to spend too much time staring out at the view

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We called Papa John’s to deliver and wrote into the night, stopping only when it was time for refreshment

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Word count before retiring to the hot tub – 2840

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Total Friday: 5054

Saturday we were up and at it early. The forecast called for warm temps and sunny skies, so this served as my motivation

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I managed to put up about 3000 words before this happened

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Then I wrote some more before we decided it was time to head for Mi Pueblito (aka: the gas station Mexican place) for fortification

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Word count before enchiladas and cheese dip: 4575

Word count while in food coma: 688

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Total Saturday word count: 5263

We knew we had to be out by noon on Sunday. We also knew many of us were close to our previously state goals, or close to a new one. Me? I realized I could make it to the the approximate halfway mark in my book if I could manage just a couple thousand more words. Fueled by the last few cookies in the Snoopy tin, I made it!

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Sunday word count at retreat: 2014

Total weekend word count: 12331!

So yeah, I’m home now and totally stoked to have made so much progress on the first draft of LOVE AND ROCKETS. I’ll keep plugging away at it, a little bit during the week and a little more on weekends and soon the bones of the book will be there.

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Happy Monday, everyone. I hope this is the most mayhem you’ll be forced to endure this week!

 

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Teaser Tuesday – Parker Kincaid

Southern Heat

SouthernHeat_Updated

He’s down, but he’s not out of the game.

 

Tyler Brady earned his reputation as the bad boy of baseball the old-fashioned way: by playing hard—on and off the field. After suffering a shoulder injury, he faces his first summer off in twenty years. Between the endless physical therapy sessions and missing the season, Tyler’s patience is about to blow.

After suffering a devastating breakup, Gabriella Marano is ready to get her life back. Who better to reacquaint her with the pleasures of sex than a devastatingly handsome ball player? Tyler is well equipped to give her what she needs: a little harmless fun.

As their passion soars, Tyler realizes the woman who fires his blood holds his future in the palm of her hands.

In more ways than one.

 

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Heat-Game-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00ZSC20B2/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/southern-heat-parker-kincade/1122167661

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/southern-heat/id1008438484?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/southern-heat-3

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Ready to retreat!

It’s been a crazy busy week. Thanks to all who shared, tweeted, and otherwise helped to spread the word about GOING DEEP! If you’ve already read it, please don’t forget to leave a review at your favorite retail site or on GoodReads. If you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?

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Hey, and don’t forget that I’m giving away this fabulous tote bag to one lucky newsletter subscriber at the end of the month! If you’re not on my list, enter your email in the space in the right sidebar –>

Beach Bag giveaway

I’m so stoked to have GOING DEEP out in the world. I took a look back at my files and discovered that I started writing that novel exactly two years ago today!

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As of now, I have started work on book #3 in the Coastal Heat series, LOVE AND ROCKETS. To be honest, I’m struggling a bit with it, but I think I’m finally starting to get the handle on it. Maybe. I hope so.

Next weekend will be our fourth annual DSRA writing retreat, and I’m hoping to really get rolling with it.  We’ll be back in the Blue House again this year and I can’t wait!

House PoolBoy

What do you have going on this week?

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RELEASE DAY!!! GOING DEEP is now available!

Going Deep – To the heart of the story.

Making Headlines

Brooke Hastings almost won a Pulitzer Prize for her hard-hitting reportage. Now she’s sitting on the story of a lifetime and wants to prove she’s not a one-hit-wonder. But in order to get the world to take notice, she’ll need the help of the one person she loves to hate—Brian Dalton.

Brian Dalton stumbled into celebrity when he landed a show on the Earth Channel. But the hunky marine biologist never forgot the serious, studious boy who left Mobile a decade before. Now back in Alabama, he’s looking for the quiet life he always wanted and hoping for a chance with the girl he always loved. When Brooke asks him to help expose some of the lingering effects of the Gulf oil disaster, Brian jumps at the chance to help preserve the place both call home…

All Romance ~ AmazonAppleB&NGoogle ~  Kensington Kobo

Chapter 1

“If I didn’t have Harley Cade and his ten million ways of making a girl happy on the hook, I’d cling to that man’s hull like a barnacle.”

Brooke Hastings drowned a smirk in her martini glass. Twenty years of friendship did little to lessen the shock value of Laney’s declarations. Brooke took a cautious sip. The cocktail was pinker than a My Little Pony, but the triple sec and vodka packed a punch that more than made up for the girly color.

Dragging her gaze from the former classmate-turned-television-hunk she was here to stalk, Brooke turned to face her best friend. “That man told Mrs. Wise you had your Spanish conjugation written on your thigh.”

Laney refused to be put off by something as fickle as fact. “If I’d known he’d grow up to be rich, famous, and hot as Hades, I would have let him conjugate whatever he wanted on my thigh.”

“You told your mother you’d drown yourself in the ocean if she made you invite him to your birthday party in third grade.”

The feisty redhead at her side pursed her lips and made a great show of scanning the room. “She invited him anyway.”

Revisionist history or no, Laney wasn’t one who took being thwarted lightly. Nearly twenty years had passed since that birthday party, but the sour expression on her face said the sting of her mother’s betrayal hadn’t yet faded.

Do you have Harley Cade on the hook?”

“I could,” her friend said, eying the crowded room. “I’d only have to give that line a little old tug.”

Brooke smiled. She admired Laney’s confidence, but she wished they could be having this conversation anywhere but in the middle of one of Mobile’s most popular social gatherings.

Glittering jewels and porcelain veneers shone in the light of the ancient chandeliers, adding sparkle to the mansion’s faded glory. The first floor of Putnam House, one of the ruthlessly preserved mansions that graced Mobile’s historic district, was crowded—every square inch packed with potential donors. Saints Preserve Us was the premier fundraising event for their alma mater, St. Patrick’s Academy, and one of Brooke’s mother’s pet projects. Her mother and her merry band of fundraising fiends plied their victims with Guinness, Jameson’s, and heaping helpings of flattery in hopes of getting them to write big, fat checks.

Thursday night television programming may not be what it used to be, but Brooke had a reason for being here. She wasn’t in a position to donate the scraps of cash left over after she stretched her paycheck to the max. Frankly, she wasn’t interested in whether the football team could afford new jock straps or if the Drama Club had to—insert shudder here—rentcostumes for their spring production. She wasn’t here because her mother insisted she come. No, she was trussed up in her Spanx for a reason. A motive she shared with 99.9 percent of the women in that room. She was there for Brian Dalton.

“Any Tucker sightings yet?”

The question jerked Brooke from her mini-sulk. The possibility of running into Jack Tucker was exactly what kept her miles away from the Gulf Shore’s social whirl in the last few weeks. News of Jack’s return to Mobile after his divorce had lit a spark of hope inside her. The possibility of rekindling their romance seemed to lighten the miasma of loneliness that covered her like a heavy blanket. Alone in her bed, she allowed herself to spin a fantasy of marriage and family that was not only attractive but convenient, as well. Then she ran into him at her parents’ club and her thinking shifted from possibly-maybe to never-gonna-happen.

Unfortunately, her mother had hopped onto the Jack Tucker bandwagon the minute the man crossed the city limits. Emmaline Hastings wasn’t a woman whose mind was easily changed. That meant Brooke’s best course of action had been to avoid Jack altogether. Eventually her mother would find a project more promising than the daunting task of marrying off her almost-thirty-year-old daughter.

“No. Thank goodness.”

“You used to get all twitterpated at the thought of seeing old Jack Tucker,” Laney drawled.

“And you used to spend your entire study hall plotting ways to torment Brian Dalton.”

Laney remained as impervious to criticism as she’d been in high school. It was one of her greatest charms. “He brought it on himself.”

Hard to argue that logic. Back in those days, Brian did earn a good bit of his torment. His fall from social grace started the day he displayed a clock powered by a potato for second grade show and tell. His position as class pariah was written in the stars before Brooke scored the blue ribbon at the eighth grade science fair, but he cemented it in high school. Brian Dalton was worse than a nerd. He was a nerd who thought it was cool to be arrogant and condescending to anyone he considered his intellectual inferior. This meant practically everyone.

He might have redeemed himself if he’d stuck to delivering the world’s shortest valedictory address. But then he planted a kiss on the salutatorian that shook the entire auditorium.

Brooke never forgot the way her kiss-swollen lips tingled as he whispered the Alabama fan’s mantra of “Roll, Tide, roll” into her Auburn-bound ear. Nor would she forgive him for the scalding rush of humiliation he left in his wake as he walked away.

The hell of it was, nearly a decade later, she could still taste him. Salty and sweet. The brainy boy seemed to have ocean water in his veins and coconut-scented sunscreen embedded in his pores. She pressed her glass to her bottom lip, sternly reminding herself that a kiss could not linger for ten years. No matter how much pent up passion a guy put into it.

Laney broke into her thoughts. “I always thought your mama might be convinced to give up on her dream of you marrying Jack Tucker if a bigger fish came swimming along.”

“If Brian’s the fish you’re referring to, I’ll remind you that you used to want to see him flopping on the floor gasping for breath.”

“We’ve grown up. Matured. Besides, nerds are hot these days. Didn’t anyone tell you?”

That was where Laney’s assessment went wrong. Brian’s hotness wasn’t simply a trend. It was a matter of perspective. As a teenager, he might have been quiet, bookish, but he’d always been good looking. If one could get past the annoying arrogance.

He stood in the center of the room like he’d ruled the school all along, and the sight of all the other Laney-come-latelys flocking the boy they once snubbed irked Brooke to the bone. The fact that she was the only one who saw it used to make her feel superior to the rest of the world. Now, she wondered if she’d missed out on something when she watched him walk away.

Miffed by the train of thought, Brooke turned and gave her friend the hairy eyeball. “I can’t believe you’re lusting after Brian Dalton. What’s the world coming to?”

Her friend’s chuckle was genuine. “I was talking about you, not me.”

“Me?”

“The world we once knew came to a screeching halt the day that boy kissed you.”

“It did not.”

“You might sell that to someone else, sugar, but not me. You lost all interest in Jack Tucker the minute you locked lips with the delectable Mr. Limpet.”

“Incredible,” Brooke murmured into her glass. She took a quick sip, her eyes locked on her quarry. “The movie was The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”

Laney huffed. “It could have been The Incredible Hulk for all I care.”

“How about The Incredibles?”

“As long as you’re not trying to deny he kissed you senseless and it was incredible.”

“He kissed me, it was incredible, then he left,” Brooke said flatly. “He left. Period. The end.”

“And you still think he’s incredible.” Brooke started to shake her head but Laney raised a hand to ward off further protest. “Shelbrooke Hastings, are you trying to tell me that you have absolutely no interest in spawning with Aquaman?”

“I prefer Batman. Maybe Superman. Hell, I’d even take Captain America, though I suspect he’s a prig in bed.”

Her friend barked a short laugh. “I’m betting Superman has a stick up his ass, too.”

“Yes, but he has that ice castle thingy. I always thought that looked awesome.”

Laney nodded, the corners of her mouth pulling down as she gave the argument due consideration. “Beats the hell out of a damp, musty cave.”

“Yes, but Batman has the black cape. And all the cool toys.”

“Can you imagine the vibrator Wayne Enterprises could manufacture?” Laney clutched imaginary pearls. “A Bat-brator. Exactly what every single girl needs.”

Brooke frowned and shook her head. Listening to her friend verbally fondle Brian was more than vaguely disturbing. Sure, Brian had the looks, the money, and his picture printed in People, US Magazine, and on the cover of the tabloids, but that shouldn’t make him fair game for everyone. Especially not here. This was supposed to be his home. But a star was a star, even if he was a little burned out, and everyone in the room seemed to be caught in the man’s gravitational pull.

Not many women would pass on a chance to de-pants Brian Dalton these days. If she felt like being scrupulously honest, Brooke would number herself among them. But she didn’t want to hear it from Laney. Or anyone else, for that matter. Her relationship with Brian, whatever it might have been, was always separate from everyone else in her life. Their odd friendship had been as fascinating as exploring an uncharted island—intellectually stimulating, undeniably appealing, but treacherous as high tide.

Judging by the sardonic smirk on his face, this new and improved Brian would be equally challenging. And intriguing. He was undoubtedly mouthwatering.

The cut of his jacket showcased the broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped perfection of a body that spent hours in the water. Days working in the sun threaded his brown hair with hints of gold. A minimalist flash of white teeth evoked a visceral reaction in females from eighteen to eighty. The suit screamed matinee idol rather than marine biologist. It was no wonder a bevy of elegantly dressed women flocked to him like seagulls after a saltine. Grown-up Brian might still spend his days talking about plankton and marsh grass and amoebas, but the idea that he could spend his nights with his pick of women seemed more a given than a hypothesis.

Brooke held her breath when he scanned the room, torn between wanting to step forward and the urge to shrink away from his probing gaze. Oxygen seeped from her lungs when she spotted the familiar flash of arrogance in his eyes. Curious, she dragged her attention from the knot of back-slappers that closed around him and surveyed the room, trying to see it all through his eyes.

Brian turned and bestowed a dazzling smile on the woman next to him. The kind that made normally sane women flibbertigibbety. That weapon wasn’t even turned on her, and Brooke went weak in the knees. Darting a glance at Laney to see if she’d witnessed the same phenomenon, she found her friend’s dreamy-eyed gaze turned in the opposite direction.

Pitching her voice low, she jabbed an elbow into Laney’s ribs. “Don’t you dare ditch me.”

Laney had the good grace to grimace when she was caught ogling her millionaire. “I won’t.” She tore herself from whatever crazy eye sex mojo Harley was using on her and turned back to the task at hand. Clearing her throat, she gave the bodice of her dress a surreptitious tug. “Brian Dalton. Did I mention wanting to be his barnacle?”

It was Brooke’s turn to grin. “Liar.”

Cradling her drink in both hands, Laney darted one last wistful glance at the bar area. “Okay, fine. But I’m telling you, if Mr. Cade so much as blinks you’ll be scraping me off Brian’s…hull.”

“I’m starting to think you might be hooked on Harley.” Raising her glass in a mocking toast, she smiled sweetly. “But if it makes you feel better, I still think you’re a hussy.”

Laney grinned. “Thank you.”

At that moment, Brian turned his head and their gazes locked. Her breath snagged when he took a step in her direction, but she refused to show any sign of weakness. Taking a casual sip of her drink, she rolled her shoulders back, edged one foot in front of the other, and arched her back ever-so-slightly. A trick that her mother, like any former Miss Alabama worth her salt, passed along to her daughter the moment she left the cradle.

Going Deep is book #1 in the Coastal Heat series coming to you from Lyrical Shine. Look for FLIP THIS LOVE and LOVE & ROCKETS coming in 2016!

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Monday Mayhem – Spastic edition = spastic website

Trying this again….

If any of you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen that I made the following prediction on Friday:

Maggie Wells @MaggieWells1

Will spend the weekend working on Coastal Heat #3 whilst pimping #1 & possible round of edits on #2. #writerbrain

Well, what do you know? I’m psychic. Added a chapter or so to #3 (LOVE AND ROCKETS), set up a number of posts about #1 (GOING DEEP), and copy edits on #2 (FLIP THIS LOVE) landed in my inbox Sunday afternoon. Wooohoooo!

This is it!!  GOING DEEP finally releases this week. This book has been a little over 2 years in coming. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world!

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There are going to be a lot of fun giveaways happening in the coming weeks. You ready for a sneak peek?

September giveaway – At the end of the month, I will be drawing the name of one Newsletter subscriber to win this totes adorb tote bag filled with books and goodies! I send newsletter updates 1-2 times per month (if that often) and I always include links to free/discounted books. I promise not to spam your inbox! If you are not already on my mailing list, go here to sign up.

Beach Bag giveaway

I’ll be participating in my friend Parker Kincaid‘s SOUTHERN HEAT facebook party on Tuesday the 15th! Click here to RSVP. Look for me to be hosting from 9-10PM EST. I’ll be doing a number of giveaways that night including beach-themed scents, a a blingy Razorback koozie, and prizes fans of Harlequin romances, Jane Austen and Outlander will not want to miss!

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Have you joined my street team, THE MARGARITAS? If not, you’re missing out! This week I mailed some welcome goodies to those who have signed up to receive gifts and extras. Members of The Margaritas receive advanced read copies of my books, sneak previews of upcoming releases, chances to win gift cards and other prizes, and are privy to other behind-the-scenes action.

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Today is the last day to download a free copy of SEDUCING STEVE exclusively at Amazon. Please tell your friends to grab their copies now!

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Whew!

So…what are you up to this week?

GOING-DEEP

 

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Honoring the lives of those who lost theirs.

I saw this meme posted on Facebook yesterday and it got me thinking:

9-11

None of us knows what the day will bring. All we can do is make the most of the here and now.

Are you looking for some way to honor those who lost their tomorrows on 9/11/2001? Here are a few more suggestions:

Tell the people who matter most to you that you love them. Even if you’re pretty sure they already know. It can’t hurt.

Laugh out loud – for real (no acronyms allowed).

Call an old friend.

Make a new one if you have the chance.

Sing along with the radio.

Do something silly.

Do something scary.

Break a nasty habit.

Buy someone a little treat.

Pet a dog/cat/rat/bunny/porcupine.

Stop holding grudges and start holding doors.

In other words, live a life of fullness, not fear.

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Teaser Tuesday – Seducing Steve Sale!

Get your clicky finger ready!

 

To celebrate next week’s release of Going Deep, I’m making Seducing Steve FREE on Amazon September 10-14, 2015!

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Grab him now!

EXCERPT:

“So, I asked you here for a reason.”

Steve cocked his head as he took the bottle of beer Sara offered. She tucked one leg under her bottom and sank onto the couch next to him, sitting a little closer to him than normal. He swallowed hard and did his best to ignore the fission of electricity that danced up his arm when her sleeve brushed his. All in all, he was pretty proud of himself for not flinching or jerking away. He’d honed his defenses a long time ago.

He set his beer aside and raised the lid on the pizza box. “Not because you wanted me to buy your dinner and let you torment me with whatever chick flick was mailed directly to your door?”

“Those would be the surface reasons.” She used the hem of her sweater to twist the cap from her bottle. “There’s a deeper reason.”

Swallowing hard, he focused his attention on liberating a loaded slice of pizza from its cardboard confines. God, he loved that little flash of hip and bare belly. “Oh yeah?”

“I want to talk to you about my next book.”

Ignoring the impulse to touch, he lifted the slice and prepared to take a bite. “What about it?”

“I need your help.”

He cast a puzzled glance in her direction. “My help? I’m not a writer. Why would you need my help?”

Sara lounged against the cushion. He resisted the urge to fidget under her steady gaze. A prickling sensation crept up the back of his neck.

“The story I’m working on has a friends-to-lovers angle.”

The statement struck him with only slightly less impact than Sharon Stone’s infamous leg-crossing scene. Friends-to-lovers. Holy shit.

“We’ve been friends a long time.”

She threw that line out there like an expert fly fisherman. Woman. Whatever. It just dangled there, waiting for him to take the bait. He shot her a wary glance and leaned forward, preparing to take a giant bite of his pizza. “Yeah. So?”

“I thought you might help me with the sex.”

He choked and sputtered. A piece of pepperoni lodged in his windpipe. She gave his back a solicitous pat, but the shift in proximity only made his throat close up more.

“I’m sorry, bad timing.”

Her hand slid up to his shoulder. His fingers went lax and the slice slipped from his grip, landing in the box with a splat. Graceful fingers curled into the muscle, kneading the knot of tension at the base of his neck. Her touch had the same effect it always did—his brain stutter-stepped, his breathing slowed, and his cock stirred. He was almost pleased to note there was nothing new there. He could handle this. He’d been handling inappropriate thoughts about his best friend for years.

He washed the pizza down with a healthy pull from his bottle of beer. He gasped, lowering the bottle. “Sex?”

His dick perked, prepared to sit up and beg on command. He stretched one leg, hoping to make an unobtrusive adjustment to the denim biting into his crotch.

“You remember sex, don’t you?”

The husky tease did little to slow his racing pulse. “Vaguely.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as his mind raced. Her fingers slipped into his hair and his Johnson all but stood up and cried ‘Hallelujah!’ Desperate, he grabbed the pizza box and hauled it onto his lap, hoping mounds of cheesy sausage would camouflage the pepperoni threatening to burst from his jeans. “We don’t talk about sex.”

Sara scooted closer still, angling her body toward his, and he stopped breathing altogether. “I need to talk to someone about it.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s been a long time since I’ve had sex.”

He glanced at her. Her blue eyes shone with earnest intensity. He was glad for the cardboard buffer between them. “Why me? Isn’t there a, uh, girlfriend, or maybe your mom…”

“I need a man’s perspective on things. A friend’s, so I can figure out how the transition would go.”

“Transition?”

“From friends to lovers.”

He gaped at her as she gently pried the box from his grasp and set it aside. His cheeks flushed, and he feared they glowed as red as his hair. “What kind of things do you want to know?”

“Haven’t you ever thought about it?”

“Thought about what?” he asked, though he knew damn well what she meant.

“Steve, how long have we been friends?”

His brow puckered. Wavering between fight and flight and wishing ‘fuck’ was on his list of options, he shook his head in disbelief.

“I don’t know… Eight, nine years?”

“And how many times have we come close to kissing?”

His heart stopped beating. A well-worn montage of near-kisses flashed in his mind’s eye. “We don’t kiss.”

“We don’t kiss because we both know once we start, we won’t want to stop.”

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Teaser Tuesday – Julie Anne Lindsey

Teaser Tuesday: A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder by Julie Anne Lindsey

GEEK-GIRL_murder_ROUGHS_3

I dashed my coffee with cinnamon and grabbed a little wooden stir paddle. Bernie’s blog was right. There was trouble at the clubhouse. I pressed the cup to my lips and inhaled tendrils of bitter steam. My eyes slid shut while I counted to ten and organized my thoughts. What exactly were residents receiving in email? Whatever it was, it hadn’t come from me and I doubted it came from the clubhouse system. Could they be lying? How many complaints were there?
A long shadow overtook me.
My lids popped open, and I jumped to attention, stuffing swollen feet back into their luxurious torture devices.
The shadow had a stiff-looking man in his midthirties at the end of it. “Mia Connors?” His voice was deep with a hint of Southern charm.
Hmm. White dress shirt. Shiny shoes. “Are you a cop or a salesman?” I squinted through foggy glasses and set my coffee aside. “I met with our software rep last week, and we’re all up-to-date on licensing, so I guess cop.” Cops wore uniforms and carried twenty extra pounds but, for some inexplicable reason, most men liked being mistaken for one. He was definitely new to Horseshoe Falls. Resident? Guest?
He frowned. “I look like a cop?”
I wasn’t expecting the frown. I gave him another long look. The light bulb flickered on in my scrambled brain. “Oh.” I dug into my handbag, searching for my business cards. “Are you looking for some technical assistance?” I stage-winked. Detailed internet research was my specialty. If the information existed, I could find, compile and deliver it with great discretion. For a reasonable fee.
“Technical assistance?”
“Sure. Online. I can clean up anything you need or get details on anything you want.”
He tented his brows.
I backpedaled. “Research is a passion of mine.”
He shifted foot to foot and stretched a hand in my direction. “Before you say anything else and this conversation takes a whole new turn, I need to introduce myself. I’m Jake Archer. I’m the new Horseshoe Falls Head of Security.”
“You’re not wearing a uniform.” I gave him another once-over. “Why are you in a suit?”
“It’s my first day. I’d hoped to make an impression. Disappointed?”
Disgusted with my lack of insight. Of course he was the new guy. Bernie described him on her blog. Handsome. Sullen. “I thought you’d be more brooding.”
He slouched forward and looked at me with narrow eyes. Like I wasn’t making any sense. Which I wasn’t.
I pinched my lips between my teeth. “I mean, someone said you were brooding. Not me.” I flailed mentally. “Not brooding.” Swarms of staffers rushed past us. The meeting was over.
A nervous laugh bubbled up, and I tamped it down. “I meant serious. You’re very serious. Probably in cop mode. Security mode? I’m sure you’re not at all brooding. I’ve got to go.” Ugh. I turned away, stuffing napkins and sugar packets into my bag for later. I’d finish mixing my coffee behind the safety of my office door.
He followed me down the narrow hall toward the line of employee offices, easily matching his pace to mine. “Anything you want to tell me?”
“I sometimes help people erase things they don’t want online. I also help them with research. I thought you were approaching me for my help.”
“Anything else?”
“Nope.”
“Why’d you assume I was a cop?”
“Or a salesman.” I slowed my pace, relieved to reach my office door. “It was just a guess. You know, like when you go to a restaurant or a party and someone catches your attention, so you make up what you think they’re saying, what they do for a living and why they’re there. Then you get closer to see if you’re right.”
Jake blinked. “No.”
Of course not. Normal people didn’t do that kind of thing. Socially awkward girls with insane imaginations did. “Well, anyway. This is my office.” I turned my back to the door, hoping he wouldn’t follow me inside. “I’ve got work to do if I want to get the system’s problems worked out before we’re all fired, and I’m having a rough day anyway so…”
He didn’t make a move to leave.
My heart stammered. Why was he grilling me like this? I couldn’t take confrontation. I babbled. I behaved stupidly. I filled quiet moments with my personal brand of crazy.
Two seconds later, I caved. “First, some jack—someone took my parking space, and now I have to fix whatever has happened to the email system or lose my job.” I exhaled deeply. “You should go.”
His scrutinizing blue eyes pierced me to the door. “Why do I make you nervous?”
I tugged at the neckline of my dress to circulate the suffocating air and chomped on the inside of both cheeks. You’re too close. Asking a whole heck of a lot of questions and way too close. My fingers curled at my side. I shut my eyes and cried out to the Universe, Help!
“Nothing else you want to tell me?”
I rolled the back of my head against the office door. “Uh-uh.”

A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder, The Geek Girl Mysteries, book 1
IT manager Mia Connors is up to her tortoiseshell glasses in technical drama when a glitch in the Horseshoe Falls email system disrupts security and sends errant messages to residents of the gated community. The snafu’s timing couldn’t be worse—Renaissance Faire season is in full swing and Mia’s family’s business relies on her presence.
Mia doesn’t have time to hunt down a computer hacker. Her best friend has disappeared, and she finds another of her friends murdered—in her office. When the hunky new head of Horseshoe Falls security identifies Mia as the prime suspect, her anxiety level registers on the Richter scale.
Eager to clear her name, Mia moves into action to locate her missing buddy and find out who killed their friend. But her quick tongue gets her into trouble with more than the new head of security. When Mia begins receiving threats, the killer makes it clear that he’s closer than she’d ever imagined.
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About Julie:
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.
Learn About Julie at:
Julieannelindsey.com
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