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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Weekend Writing Warrior – 9/13/15

It’s release month for Going Deep! To celebrate, I’ll be sharing new excerpts from the finished product!

****

Brooke’s pink tongue darted out to wet her lips. She looked up and caught him staring at her mouth, mesmerized. Turning his attention to the bottle in his hand, he shoved the white-hot shaft of desire down deep and focused on the laws of thermodynamics instead. Adiabatic cooling. A sudden change in temperature caused the water vapor trapped in the sparkling wine’s fizzing bubbles to condense. Vapor rose from the lip of the bottle, curling like smoke on the cool spring breeze.

“You should be embarrassed,” he chided.

“Consider me mortified.”

Brooke’s throaty whisper enveloped him. Unwilling to risk releasing the stream of gibberish from his head, he clamped his mouth shut and offered her the champagne.

Be sure to check out all of this weekend’s Weekend Writing Warrior posts!

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

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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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Weekend Writing Warrior – 9/6/15

Hey gang! Guess what? It’s release month for Going Deep!

It sure has been a long time coming. I opened the original doc on 7/13/13. As of 9/15/15, it will be out in the world. To celebrate, I’ll be sharing new excerpts from the finished product!

****

“As a rule, it’s good form to compliment the woman to whom you are speaking.”

To his credit, Brian recovered quickly. His eyes narrowed. Cocking his head, he studied her like she was one of his elusive microorganisms swimming under a microscope. “I don’t bother much with rules. It’s too hard to remember them all.”

“Sad to see your cognitive skills haven’t improved.”

His smile turned rakish. She’d be damned if his eyes didn’t twinkle when he faced her dead-on. “No, but I’m still an ace when it comes to chemistry.”

Be sure to check out all of this weekend’s Weekend Writing Warrior posts!

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

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Fangirl Fridays!

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Got a crush? It’s okay to spill it here. Fictional boyfriends battling it out for your affections in your dreams? Talk movies, TV shows, books, or even video games. Do tell! Anything goes on Fangirl Fridays!

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