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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Warm Your Heart" Christmas Book Tour and Giveaway!

Astraea Press is doing a cool thing this year. We are going on a 2 week long book tour to celebrate Christmas and our Christmas books.

We love this time of year and we love our readers SO we want to give you a chance to win a present from us (I'm an AP author and the social media publicist if you didn't know ;) ). We are giving away a $50 Amazon Gift card and a free AP Christmas book of your choice! Be sure to enter!

Today, I have two regency best sellers to showcase.

from NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author, Rachel Van Dyken
 
The Devil Duke Takes a Bride by Rachel Van Dyken
 
Who said being bad wasn't oh so good?
 
Benedict Devlyn, Duke of Banbury, has one thing on his mind and it isn't marriage. But things take a turn for the worse when his menacing and aunt throws a hitch in his plans to remain the most sinful and talked about man in the ton. After all, a man cannot keep the reputation of being The Devil Duke when he is leg-shackled to some simpering spinster.
But his aunt, bless her heart, thinks she's dying, and believes her nephew’s behavior is the only thing standing in the way between her entrance to heaven or hell. So she very lovingly and selflessly sets him up. With his childhood nemesis.
 
A young woman who, though she claims it was an accident, has nearly killed him thrice through her lack of grace and manners. It matters not that the minute he sets eyes on her at the Christmas ball, his blood boils with lust. He refuses to allow himself to fall prey to his aunt’s ministrations.
 
That is, until he is compromised and stuck in an engagement to a girl who claims she'd rather jump from a moving carriage than marry him. Funny thing that, for the very minute she says no, he finds his heart very much wants to say yes. When she doesn't leap at the chance to marry him, he sets about to not only prove that he's worthy of her favor, but also worthy of her heart.
 
BUY LINKS
 
~*~*~*~
 
from best selling author, Lindsay Downs
 
A Christmas Surprise by Lindsay Downs
 
If I hear one more debutante declare that they will never marry unless it is for love, well. I shall break my quill! And we all know what happens when I break my quill. Things become very upsetting and it isn’t long before I--- Well, that is quite another story. Let this author, this matriarch, this paragon of society guide you with her infinite wisdom. It is apparent that many of you have gotten this silly notion of love in your head, most likely from American influence, and please do not get me started on those savages. The point, young dears, is that love, is silly. Take for example Lady Aleece, poor young dear never stood a chance! Can you imagine being mauled in public? By a commoner no less? Although, rumors have been running rampant that this very delicious commoner is in fact the Marquess of Somerset, I have my doubts. For one thing, a Marquess should be more unfortunate looking which is clearly not the case with Somerset. Let this be a lesson dear readers. If you marry for love, there is a very big chance that you will end up with your heart broken, or in that wretched commoners case—kidnapped (though many believe he should have been killed for even breathing the same air as our fair lady). Dear readers, have I taught you nothing this holiday season?—Mrs. Peabody’s Society Papers.
 
BUY LINKS

 
 
ENTER TO WIN A $50 AMAZON GIFT CARD or A FREE AP CHRISTMAS BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE.
 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Bad Boy Blog Hop and giveaway :)

I'm excited to be a part of the Bad Boy Blog Hop. I don't write a lot of 'bad' boys-- well, that's not true. I do have three bad boys in four novels (so I guess I do like bad boys.) But, of course, my bad boys have a big heart.

ASHER JENKINS from Crossing the Deep-- My first bad boy. Asher never wanted to be on the hiking trip. He didn't want to be stuck and he definitely didn't want to be stranded with goody-two shoes, Rachel. But there he was, and he was pretty ticked about it. But, as all good bad boys, he starts to have a change of heart... I just hope it's not too late...
Crossing the Deep by Kelly Martin


Saint Sloan by Kelly Martin
AARON HUNTER from SAINT SLOAN (and the upcoming SAVING SLOAN)-- Ah... Aaron Hunter. The boy that makes all the girls (and women) swoon. 19. Handsome. Tall. Dark. Handsome. Mysterious.  Handsome. Tortured. Yup. He's a fan favorite!
 



TREY ADAMS from THE DECEPTION OF DEVIN MILLER-- The thing about Trey is you really have no idea if he IS a bad guy. The story is told from Devin's point of view, and since she has amnesia, well... yeah. Is Trey the real bad guy of this story or is there someone even more cunning and deceptive?
Coming July 23rd, 2013


So, there are my 3 bad boys. You can check them out in my books and see which ones you root for. :)

For stopping here on the blog hop, you can also win one of 3 books. Please enter and thanks for stopping!!

 
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BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE OTHER BLOGS ON THIS HOP:

3.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Flames" and "Beauty" Book Release Giveaway!!!

My friend, Wendy Knight, and I had something really cool happen this week. Both of us had books releasing from Astraea Press on the same day!!! To celebrate, we decided to make our own giveaway. You can win a $10 gift card, one of 2 $5 gift cards, a free ebook of Feudlings in Flames, or an ebook of B.I.G. Is Beautiful: A Love Story.

Giveaway runs from Midnight tonight until 9/17 at midnight. Good luck!!
 photo 131f729a-52b2-4c81-9598-0574db721c96_zpsf47569d7.jpg   photo 3e8427e8-51a7-4a9e-b39f-53b3ee931f62_zps3db645b6.jpg

BUY THEM NOW :)
AMAZON-- FEUDLINGS IN FLAMES
AMAZON-- BIG IS BEAUTIFUL



 
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

I'm IN SOUTHERN WRITERS MAGAZINE!!!



I'm now in SOUTHERN WRITERS MAGAZINE!!! This is huge. I've always wanted to be in it.

 


I'm in this issue talking about how I plot my books. It's not a huge blurb, but I'm in there (and Saint Sloan is too :) )

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Beginnings by Iris Blobel :)


 
 
 New Beginnings
by Iris Blobel

Please share the good news by "Click to Tweet"
 
Tagline:
To believe in new beginnings is to trust in tomorrow


Blurb:
Twenty-two-year-old Sophie Levesque has been guardian to eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know or have even heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator, and Sophie is afraid it’s all been a mistake.
As Mia settles well into her new school and life in general, Sophie is not only occupied by her search of what connected her to Clara, but also her new studies and the two men, who suddenly have become part of her daily life - Mark O’Connor, the lawyer representing Clara’s estate, and Zach, the hunk from across the road.
 
Links:
 
Other online bookstores still to come.
 
 
 
Excerpt:
Chapter One


Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.

"Who?"

"Clara Catherine Bellinger."

"Who is she?" Mia asked.

Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old. Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.

Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet. "I wouldn’t have a clue." Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.

"I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details," he replied.

Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief. Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education? With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, "Why not?"

He stared at her. "Pardon me?"

Sitting up straight, she repeated, "Why not? Why aren’t there any further details?"

He looked uneasy, but she didn’t care. She needed to know. Sophie had received a call from the lawyer a week earlier, and he’d told her about an

inheritance. He’d given her details on where to pick up tickets to Hobart. Some legality, he had said. She needed to come in and sign documents for the transfer of ownership.

"Ms. Bellinger was one of the partner’s clients. I was only given the details shortly after the client’s death."

Sophie drew in her lips. Her eyes darted over to the window as she took a few deep breaths, inwardly calming herself. Nothing had ever been easy in her life. "Why isn’t the partner here?"

He took a deep breath. "Retired."
As she pondered on that for a moment, she began to think about what life could be like with this inheritance. Different. Better. Another sigh escaped as she returned her gaze to the man behind the desk. "You can’t just leave your assets to just anybody, can you?"


"Miss Lever—"

"Levesque," she helped him.

Their eyes met.

"Are you refusing the bequest?" he asked hesitantly, and she clearly noticed how one of his eyebrows arched upward.

Staring blankly with her mouth open, she could feel the panic running through her veins with every thump of her erratic heartbeat. An uncomfortable silence fell over them for a moment. Then she quickly said, "No. No, of course not. We’re accepting." She turned to look at her younger sister. "We’re actually looking forward to seeing it."

And with one swift movement, he stood and went to a little cupboard near the window and retrieved a bunch of keys. "Would you like me to take you there?"

Still feeling that rush within her, Sophie took Mia’s hand and inclined her head in answer. "Is it far?" Her voice sounded tired. Even to herself. It had been a long day already. She stood and thinking how tired she was, Sophie placed her arm around Mia, who was probably exhausted.

"No, not at all. Five to ten minute drive, I’d say."
"I still don’t understand. Why us?" Sophie asked quietly, meeting his gaze and, for the first time, actually taking in his icy-blue eyes. He was very attractive. Too attractive for a boring lawyer. His face was tanned by wind and sun, and there always seemed to be a hint of a smile on his face. His blond curling hair was cut short. Her gaze fixed back on his mouth. Blushing, she quickly looked away.


The attorney turned to them. He scratched the back of his head. "Ma’am, what I know is that both of you are in the will. What I know is that I was supposed to fly you down here to officially read you the will. What I know is that I’m supposed to hand over the keys to you, and to let you know that your expenses are covered for the next twenty-four months. I did not know Ms. Bellinger, as one of the retired partners wrote up the will. I do not know who she was or in which way she was connected to you. I assumed she was a distant relative."

Sophie took her sister’s hand as she thought about his last comment. Distant relative? Her mother would have at least mentioned her once. She sighed and tried to understand, not the circumstances that had brought her there, but the fact that the attorney just didn’t know. "Oh well, let’s go then."

He pinched his nose with his thumb and index finger and took a deep breath. "Okay. Look, Miss Lever—"

"Levesque," Sophie helped him again. This time somewhat more firmly.

Running his thumb over his eyebrow, he stepped closer, but not so close as to be intimidating. "I’m sorry. It’s been one extraordinary week," he said with his voice just above a whisper. "Once I get back I’ll check with the partners here to see whether anybody knows more about it."
One extraordinary week? His remark irked her. In fact it was downright annoying. Holding Mia even closer to her side, she lifted her finger and pointed at him. "No offence, Mr. O’Connor, but it has been quite a week for us as well, and I was prepared to answer all your questions. I have one simple question, and you don’t know. Wouldn’t there be something in the file?" Sophie was a kind person.


Kindness was her middle name, but she wouldn’t have got that far in life if she hadn’t watched some of those nasty actresses on television and copied them. And the stare. Sophie met his surprised frown dead-on.

He frowned and seemed taken aback by her words. "No offence taken." And then he let out a deep breath. "You’re right. I apologise. As I said, I’ll find out details and let you know."

"Thank you, Mr. O’Connor," she replied as she blew out a breath.

"What about our stuff?" Mia whispered to Sophie.

Sophie moved her head to look down at her sister, but before she had a chance to say anything, he beat her to it. "What stuff?" he asked as he opened the door.

"Considering what we inherited here, we brought all our things," Sophie explained without looking at him.

The attorney stopped in his tracks. "All, as in all your clothes?"

Sophie’s eyes met his. She emitted a small sigh, but tried to keep her composure. It was something she had learnt over the last few years. Standing straight, she corrected him. "All, as in all our belongings."

They stepped outside the building and followed Mr. O’Connor with their suitcases. Two teenage boys walked past them, eager to get the attention of some girls across the road. Aware of the attention, the girls covered their mouths with their hands and broke into giggles. Sophie’s stomach churned. So many things she had missed out on in life. But it was going to be better from now on, she reminded herself, and straightened up as she followed Mr. O’Connor.




 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

80s month-- VERY SPECIAL EPISODE

One of the greatest things about tv in the 80s/90s/early 2000s were the 'Very Special Episodes'. We don't have them much now days bc, well... I don't know why. But I know I couldn't wait for the 'VSE' episodes to come on. Apparently, I love the drama. My favorite Home Improvement? Yeah, the one where Randy might have cancer. My favorite Saved by the Bell? "I'm so excited... I'm so excited.. I'm so... scared!" Yeah.

Do you have a favorite 'very special episode' of your favorite show? To help jog your memory, I found a video on youtube with some of the best of the best. Here ya go..
.



Friday, August 2, 2013

SAVING SLOAN Spoiler and It's 80s month :)

So, I have two things to talk about. One is a theme I decided to do on the blog. Since it's August (8), I decided to make it 80s month on the blog.

Next week, we'll talk our favorite movies.
The next week, we'll talk our favorite 80s tv shows.
The next week, we'll talk our favorite 80s toys.
Finally, we'll wrap out 80s month with fashion, fads, and music :)

Go ahead and have 80s month on your blog too. Let's have some fun :)

ALSO, for all you Saint Sloan fans, I signed the contract earlier in the week for the sequel, SAVING SLOAN :) It is coming out in March/April 2014. 

I promised on my facebook page to give you a spoiler... so.... here it is...


In Saving Sloan, Sloan DOES pick between Aaron and Ray :) Will it be the brother you like? Are you Team Aaron or Team Ray. Which brother do YOU think she'll pick? Leave a comment. I'd love to chat about it :)

~Kelly-- Be Excellent to Each Other.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

COVER REVEAL!!! Wendy Knight's Feudlings in Sight

Astraea Press is celebrating their first cover reveal; Wendy Knight's Fate on Fire novella, Feudlings in Sight! Available Thursday on Astraea Press, Amazon, and all other major ebook retailers!
Blurb: Boys of war suck at romance.

Charity Delyle has lived in the shadow of her Prodigy cousin and his powerful Guard since the day she was born. And she doesn’t mind—really. Except that being in Hunter’s shadow means that he can’t see her. And she’d like that to change. Hunter has one purpose in life: Protect the Prodigy, or die trying. That means a social life, school, and even Charity come last until the war is over. For the most part, he’s okay with that—he can lose everything if he has to…except his seer. Starting at a new school should be much safer than living in a war-ravaged Carules headquarters. But this new school is different than the others. Friendships are forged and destinies are questioned, and Hunter’s decision could cost them all everything they’ve been hoping for.

  Excerpt:


Charity Delyle has lived in the shadow of her Prodigy cousin and his powerful Guard since the day she was born. And she doesn’t mind—really. Except that being in Hunter’s shadow means that he can’t see her. And she’d like that to change.


Hunter has one purpose in life: Protect the Prodigy, or die trying. That means a social life, school, and even Charity come last until the war is over. For the most part, he’s okay with that—he can lose everything if he has to…except his seer.


Starting at a new school should be much safer than living in a war-ravaged Carules headquarters. But this new school is different than the others. Friendships are forged and destinies are questioned, and Hunter’s decision could cost them all everything they’ve been hoping for.




“Okay, do you want to practice the ones we learned last week or just start new ones?” She had carefully color-coded the spell book with sticky tabs — spells they had mastered, spells they had practiced, spells that would come in handy one day — she was very organized. And if the Council ever found out she put sticky tabs in a book that was over three hundred years old, they would kill her completely dead.
“Learn as much as you can, Shane. Gonna be hard to find a place to practice in the mountains of Utah, surrounded by Normals.” Hunter idly traced spells in the air, letting them fizzle and die without igniting them.


“Well, alright.” Charity flipped to the red section — spells that would come in handy one day. She started at the top. “This one is called an Al-able.” The odd word rolled awkwardly off her tongue. “It’s like… it looks like it’s sort of a flat triangle of flames.”


Hunter and Shane both walked over, studying the spell in the book before tracing it slowly into the air. The spell wouldn’t actually ignite until they lit it with the flames roiling through their blood, but they both wanted to make sure they could do it correctly so as not to explode them all to pieces or something.


“No, no, Hunter. Less harsh lines. Softer.” Charity glanced down at the page and then up at Hunter’s disaster of an attempt. Sighing she laid the book on the metal next to her and pushed herself to her feet. She took Hunter’s hand, trying hard to ignore the way her own blood seemed to explode into flames. There’s no magic there, she told herself harshly. “Like this.” She led his hand through the spell until the air smoked and the image burned in front of them. She looked up, got caught in his gold eyes. He watched her, an unreadable look on his face.
It made her heart stutter in her chest.


Before he could say anything she dropped his hand. “Now try it on your own. I can’t do everything for you, you know.” Charity grinned playfully, dodging out of the way as he tried to push her over. She rescued the book from the twisted metal and perched, watching them expectantly. “Go. Do something.”


Shane rolled his eyes. “Give the girl a book and she’s suddenly the boss.” He moved away several feet so he wouldn’t accidentally ignite her. He’d done it before, and Charity didn’t relish the idea of it happening again.


BIO: Wendy Knight was born and raised in Utah by a wonderful family who spoiled her rotten because she was the baby. Now she spends her time driving her husband crazy with her many eccentricities (no water after five, terror when faced with a live phone call, etcetera, etcetera). She also enjoys chasing her three adorable kids, playing tennis, watching football, reading, and hiking. Camping is also big: her family is slowly working toward a goal of seeing all the National Parks in the U.S. You can usually find her with at least one Pepsi nearby, wearing ridiculously high heels for whatever the occasion may be. And if everything works out just right, she will also be writing.

Twitter: @wjk8099
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7009940.Wendy_Knight



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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Deception of Devin Miller-- my 3rd book! Out now!!


Who would you trust if you didn’t know anybody, but they all knew you?

~*~*~*~*~

I heard the voices but couldn't place them in the darkness.


Coming July 23rd, 2013Your prom dress is in! You'll look fab when your bruises disappear.

Cooper feels really bad, you know? Wake up so he can stop moping.

What were you thinking?

Come on, Sweetie. Open your eyes for me.

You got what you deserved. You get that, right?

I hate being here. Seriously? You couldn't have waited for my side of the story? Of all the people to be stuck with…

I couldn't move, couldn't answer any of them. I tried but everything felt so strange like I was at the bottom of a pool after diving from the board. Voices were muffled and came in and out. I didn't know how long I'd been in the darkness, but I knew I wanted out.

One day, the dark water started swirling around me. Like coming up after a dive, the current roared in my ears. Rising to the surface, I opened my eyes and gasped for air that didn't immediately come.

Everything was blurry. I had no idea where I was. All I knew was there was something shoved down my throat keeping me from breathing, and I fought to jerk it out. How in the world could I breathe better beneath the surface than I could with my head above water?

"Hey, calm down. Stop pulling it," a distorted male voice echoed in my ears. I felt pressure on my arms as if something was holding me down. Terrified that this thing was going to hurt me, I fought harder.

"Stop," the voice ordered more firmly. "Quit! Ugh… I'll go get the doctor."

Doctor!

Nothing made sense after that. People ran in with distorted eyes telling me not to freak out. They didn't look human with their twisted faces and larger than average foreheads. I'd been abducted by aliens?

"We're going to get this out of you, okay?" someone said, a man by the sound of his deep, raspy voice, while standing over me and holding the tube coming from my throat. It was uncomfortable to say the least, and I gagged as it slid out of my mouth. Thankfully once it was gone, I could breathe again. The weight lifted from my chest and my lungs filled with the air I put into them.

As I calmed down a bit, the people began taking more of a normal shape. I noticed they didn't have gigantic heads, and they were, in fact, dressed like medical personnel. I scanned the room and assumed from the dull walls, pain chart hanging across from me, and the wide door to my right that I was in the hospital, which made sense with the all the beeping and tubes.
What I didn't know at the moment was how I got there.

"And she just woke up?" A man with a graying beard and blue scrubs asked the young guy in black standing next to him.

"Yeah, just like that. Scared me to death — relatively speaking of course."

I remembered that voice. I'd heard it in the darkness. Not the scary voice that was too whispered to recognize. The unhappy one.

"Okay, you stay here and sit with her while I call her parents."

"Sit with her? Me? Why? I have other patients to see."

"You go to school with her, right?"

"Well, yeah, but…"

"Then the others can wait." The man in blue smacked the other guy on the back. "Don't look so sad. Maybe you'll even make a friend." I heard laughter in the man's voice as he left the room, leaving me there with this guy I didn't know at all though he told the doctor he knew me.

"Do you need anything? Anything at all," a female nurse, I guess it was a nurse, asked from my right side. I followed the sound of her voice until I saw her face then kept going until I saw a tall pole with a line coming out of it. Presumably my IV.

What in the world was I doing in the hospital?

I shook my head as an answer because my throat felt raw from the miserable tube that had been so rudely shoved down in it. The nurse lady patted me on the shoulder — they liked to pat here — and told the other guy she'd be back in a few minutes and to try to get me talking. What if I didn't want to talk? Did I want to talk? Talking seemed painful, and what in the world would I talk about to a stranger?

She handed me the nurse call button and left. The chaos had died down, and it was just me and the strange guy.

He seemed irritated and a little nervous as he pulled one of the little blue, uncomfortable-looking hospital chairs closer to my bed, but not close enough to touch which I appreciated. I clung to the nurse call button as tightly as I could just in case he started freaking me out.

As he sat there like a lump, I studied him. He seemed familiar and I felt like I should know him from somewhere, but I didn't. He had jet, more than likely unnaturally, black hair, cut short around his ears and longer and floppier on top. It was fixed with some sort of styling gel or maybe it just laid like that on its own. How he styled his hair wasn't exactly important in the scheme of things.

He had big beautiful blue eyes, the kind of blue that were so light you couldn't look away if you tried. The blue popped thanks to a trace amount of black liner around his eyes. It wasn't an ungodly amount: no raccoon eyes by any means. But it was enough make them stand out. I really liked it. It suited him. His nose was on the bigger side and had a rounder appearance, but he definitely wasn't unattractive. On the side of his neck, I saw something that looked like a hickey. Seemed a bit inappropriate to wear a hickey to a hospital.

 By the way his plump lips fell in a straight, stern line I could tell he definitely wasn't happy. I didn't know if it was me personally he wasn't happy with or the situation in general. It couldn't have been me. I didn't know him.

"Welcome back to the land of the living," he said finally with a hint of agitation in his voice. Was he always so bitter? "We were — they were worried about you."

What was I supposed to say to that? Um… "Thanks." My voice came out harsh and not feminine at all. It made me a bit embarrassed that this not so bad-looking guy had to hear me sound like a thirty year smoker, but it wasn't like I could help it. I didn't put the stupid tube down my own throat.

"I guess I should say that you gave everyone quite a scare." He leaned his elbows on his knees and stared at me. It wasn't a happy stare.

"Sorry about that." And I was. I just wished I knew who everyone was or why I scared them.
His eyes squinted, and I felt my face flush. Why was he looking at me like that? He took a l-o-n-g deep breath before speaking again. When he did, he didn't sound as angry. "Are you okay?"






Two-Room Flat by Jill Urbach

Blurb: Spicy fiction made novelist Claire Gissler a star, but she can’t pen a sentence to save her life since her husband’s accidental death two years ago. Now, deeply in debt, her only hope of reviving her crumbling career is to flee small town America for big city London. Trouble is, she can’t afford the move. That is, not until handsome Adam Lambright — her husband’s best friend and the man she blames for his death — offers to let her stay in his flat… with him.

Adam Lambright used to know how to smile, how to have fun, how to love, but that was before watching his best friend die and his wife wither away from cancer. Now, ticked off at God, he’s vowed never to love again. That doesn’t mean he can’t help out his best friend’s widow. Heck, her life’s more of a mess than his own.

Seeing no other possible option, Claire moves to London. In that exciting city, she faces the challenges of rebuilding her career — and the attentions of her sexy English publicist. But, it’s her growing feelings for Adam that present the biggest challenge: learn to forgive or face heartbreak once again.




EXCERPT 
CHAPTER ONE

The irritatingly dramatic voice drowned out the squeal of the espresso machine.

"Claire Gissler! Where have you been hiding yourself?"

Sometimes she cursed the day she moved to a dinky Pacific Northwest island. Couldn’t she get a stinking cup of coffee without running into half the people she knew? Okay, one person. Just her luck for it to be the biggest mouth in town.

Claire dug a five-dollar bill out of her jeans pocket, slapped it on the counter in front of the teenage barista and grabbed her extra-hot vanilla latte. “Thanks, Tyler.”

“Take care, Mrs. G.” Tyler gave her a sympathetic smile from behind the register as she turned to leave.

“Hi, Bea. Sorry. I’m in a hurry.” She attempted to brush past the large woman.

No such luck. A simple shift of weight was all it took for Beatrice Atwell to block her exit.

“But I’ve got wonderful news.” Bea leaned in confidentially, although her volume didn’t alter a bit. Apparently she’d never learned the difference between inside and outside voices that any sane mother taught her children. “I’ve found someone for you.” She bared her teeth in what was probably supposed to be a smile.

“Excuse me?”

“A man. He’s taking over Dr. Wainright’s dental practice. I know several women who would love to meet him, but you’re at the top of my list.” Bea looked like she couldn’t have a more perfect gift if she had been Santa Claus himself.

The nerve of the woman! Who did she think she was, throwing random men at her — as if anyone could take the place of Mark? Claire narrowed her eyes and lifted her chin. "I’m not looking to be set up.”

Bea placed a fleshy hand on Claire’s shoulder. “It’s time, dear. And he’s perfect!”

Time? As if there were a limit on how long one could be alone? She bit back an angry retort and tried again. "I don’t date dentists."

"Nonsense. It’s a perfectly good profession. And I hear he’ll be offering Botox." Bea had the gall to point to the creases between Claire’s eyes. Creases that were getting deeper by the second. It was time to try a new strategy.

“Botox? That’s fascinating!” Claire’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “I wonder if he’ll do it for free if I sleep with him? After all, it works for the plumber, the eye doctor, and my lawn boy.”

Bea’s bright pink mouth fell open. Good. That shut her up. Then the single clink of a teacup settling into a saucer alerted Claire to the general silence that had descended on the rest of the patrons. She looked around to find several pairs of eyes resting on her. Most faces wore expressions of shock or disbelief, with the exception of one man leering at her through a grizzled beard, hastily pulling out a business card.

So much for snappy comebacks. When would she learn to just bite her tongue?

Her cell phone rang. Thank heavens. Saved by the bell, for once. She grabbed her cell phone from the pocket of her fleece jacket and buried her attention in it while she made a hasty exit from the coffee shop.

“Hello?”

“Well it’s about time you answer your phone.” Flo Liebowitz was her agent. Claire had been avoiding her calls for a week.

She stifled a groan. “Sorry, Flo. I’ve been busy.”

“Writing, I hope.”

She didn’t bother answering. They both knew that wasn’t the case.

“I’ve got bad news.” Flo never beat around the bush.

“What is it?”

“They’ve dropped you.”

And with those simple words, on a rain-soaked sidewalk overlooking the marina, her career ended.

“Claire?”

“I heard you.” She sank onto a nearby bench and immediately regretted it. She’d have a cold, wet butt on her mile-long walk home. She sighed deeply.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen Flo’s news coming. Her publisher had been threatening to drop her for several months unless she presented him with a new manuscript for her Hetty Graham series. She’d tried, she really had. But without Mark in her life, the words just wouldn’t come.

“What about Emily? Won’t she fight for me?”

“Emily left to have her kid. You’ve got a new editor. And he thinks Hetty’s finished.” To her credit, Flo’s voice softened, as much as her voice ever did. “One more thing.”

“I’m not sure I can take one more thing right now.”

“Understandable. But I have to tell you.”

“What?”

“They want their advance back.”

One hundred thousand dollars. She closed her eyes. How on earth was she going to pay that back? Unbidden, the stack of unpaid bills on her desk at home came to mind. Claire shook her head and opened her eyes. She couldn’t think about that now. She’d figure out how to pay that back another day.

“I’m sorry, Flo.” Brash though she was, Flo had stuck with her during these last two years of creative destitution. Claire hated to disappoint her.

“We’ll figure it out, hon.” The sympathy in Flo's voice made Claire’s heart swell with affection in spite of the bad news she was delivering. This woman had been there for her in her time of need.

“Now that I’ve dished out the bad, I’ve got good news for you, too.” Flo’s brisk tone meant she was back to business.

“I’ll take any good news I can get.”

“A London publisher is picking up the series.”

“Really? Someone’s finally taken us up on the foreign rights?”

“Yep. They want to publish in August.”

“Well, that’s something.” Claire cradled her coffee to keep herself warm while the sun struggled to shove aside the oppressive March cloud cover. Not likely. The words “sun” and “March” simply didn’t go together in the little island town of Friday Harbor.

“There's one condition.” Were those Flo’s acrylic nails she heard tapping on her desk over the airwaves?

“What?”

“They insist you do a book tour.”

“In London?”

The gloom that shrouded Claire started to lift. She hadn’t visited London since college. It was one of her favorite cities. One that, sadly, she’d never experienced with Mark. They’d always planned to go, even talked about renting a place there once Anna went off to college. But that hadn’t happened. And now it never would.

Still, it was London. Claire almost smiled. “I could use an all-expense paid trip to London.”

“You’ll be lucky if I can get them to cover your airfare. I wouldn’t count on much more.”

“But, it’s work.”

“Everyone’s cutting costs these days, and you’re in no position to demand much.”

“Well, how on earth am I supposed to do that?” Claire sprang off the bench and stormed down the sidewalk in her frustration, paying no attention to where she was headed. “I’m broke. I have a daughter in college, remember? My credit cards are maxed out. I… oomph—”

She collided with a broad male chest.



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