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Archive for the ‘July 2013’ Category

Winners!

Jess1

wins The Bargain by Christine S. Feldman

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Pearl

wins an ARC of High Passion by Vivian Arend

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Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

The Digital First Read-a-Thon excerpts and giveaways will run throughout the month of July.

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TheBargainCoverTomboy Shannon Mahoney has always been a lot more comfortable with things like power tools than she is with high heels or lipstick, and she often wishes she could reinvent herself and finally tell her perfect boss, Drew Kingston, that she has had a crush on him since high school.  But she is just as tongue tied and awkward around him now as she ever was, and long-familiar patterns are hard things from which to break free…

Until one day Drew’s estranged older brother Michael comes to town, bringing with him a surprising opportunity for Shannon.

Ladies’ man Michael is a former bad boy looking for redemption.  He is desperate to atone for past mistakes that he made with his family, but younger brother Drew has cut him out of his life and refuses to even speak to him.  Which means Michael needs help getting to Drew.

And so he approaches Shannon with a proposition:  if she will get Drew to agree to hear him out, Michael will mentor Shannon in how to win his brother’s heart.  Suspicious of Michael’s motives, Shannon initially enters into the bargain just to make sure Michael isn’t actually in town to cause trouble for Drew, but the two unlikely allies are surprised to discover that despite butting heads at first, they are beginning to enjoy each other’s company far more than either of them expected.

And Shannon starts to realize that maybe love isn’t about reinventing yourself after all.  It’s about finding your perfect match.

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Isn’t It Romantic—Or…Could It Be the Death of You?

            You might think that, as someone who writes romances, I would be prone to seeing opportunities for romance all around me in real life, too.  And I am…to a certain extent.  Problem is, I also like to write things like suspense and even the occasional sinister ghost story.  Which means I have just as great a tendency to see the potential for harm in even the most innocent of situations.

What can I say?  I’m an author.  We’re a disturbed people.

So it makes it hard for me to plan elaborate romantic scenarios for my husband and me even though—in theory—I think date night is a wonderful idea.  Maybe you do, too.  If so, I feel it is my solemn duty to make you aware of some potential pitfalls you may not have anticipated.  Consider these examples:

 

  • Go for a horse and carriage ride through the park.  Surely you’re joking.  Didn’t you see that Seinfeld episode?  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Google it, please.  For your own protection.
  • Pass secret love notes in the library.  Very romantic—until your love notes inadvertently get intercepted either by a militant librarian who shames you in front of the whole library…or by a secret government operative who mistakes your love-talk for an enemy agent’s code.  Hey, it could happen.
  • Take a leisurely stroll through the woods, hand-in-hand.  According to modern cinema, this is every axe murderer’s dream scenario.  At least promise me you’ll bring pepper spray.  Or a taser.
  • Meander along back roads without any particular destination in mind.  Uh huh.  Then your GPS breaks down, your car gets a flat tire, and three days later Search and Rescue workers find you and your sweetie battling it out over who gets to gorge themselves on that lone Tic Tac you discovered in the back of the glove compartment.  Few relationships survive this kind of thing.
  • Share an ice cream cone on a scorching summer day.  Certain people may be a tad possessive over their ice cream cones and turn feral if anyone else tries to take a bite.  My husband has the scars to prove it.
  • Go for a midnight swim in a lake.  Nothing good EVER lives at the bottom of a lake.  Don’t you ever go to the movies?
  • Go singing/dancing in the rain.  Concerned onlookers will likely call 911, and police will gently escort you to the psychiatric ward of the nearest hospital.
  • Walk barefoot in the park.  Um…not everybody cleans up after their dogs when they walk them, you know.
  • Kidnap your special someone from work.  A coworker gets the wrong idea, makes a call, and WHAMO!—a SWAT team tackles you in the parking lot.
  • Sign up for a sculpting class together.  Sure it was romantic in Ghost.  But it didn’t turn out so well in Naked Gun, did it?  And who’s going to clean up the mess, I ask you?  Who?

 

I hope these examples have given you reason to think twice before diving willy-nilly into something reckless like a moonlit picnic or any other hazardous activities with your special someone.  Take my advice:  just stay in, curl up on the couch together, and read a good book.  Like, say…The Bargain, a delightful contemporary romance featuring a socially-awkward tomboy and the reformed ladies’ man she just might sweep off his feet.  No, really, it’s delightful.  My mother said so.

And in the meantime…let’s all be very careful out there.

 

About the author:

E15Christine S. Feldman writes both novels and feature-length screenplays, and, to her great delight, she has placed in screenwriting competitions on both coasts—and has even won a couple of them.  In 2012 one of her screenplays was featured as a staged reading in New York City at the Gotham Screen International Film Festival, and later that same year she signed her first publishing contract for her debut novel, Coming Home, with a second one to follow this summer.  When she is not writing, she is teaching kindergarten, puttering around in her garden, ballroom dancing with her husband, or doing research for her next project.  Please visit her at her website http://christinesfeldman.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChristineSFeldman.

 

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For a chance to win a digital copy of The Bargain, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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Ada

wins Rancher to the Rescue by Jennifer Faye

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Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

The Digital First Read-a-Thon excerpts and giveaways will run throughout the month of July.

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JPEG - Rancher to the RescueDamsel in a wedding dress!

Jilted at the altar, celebrity chef Meghan Finnegan flees the scene–and the baying press–only to run straight into the muscled torso of Cash Sullivan.

The former rodeo champion knows what it’s like to have your life crumble in the spotlight, so he offers Meghan a place to lie low at his ranch.

Fresh air, no paparazzi and the brooding rancher’s lazy smile are making Meghan not want to leave her sanctuary. But she and her unborn baby can’t stay here forever…can they?

 

****

I love Romantic Comedies. New, old, it doesn’t really matter. I love to smile, laugh and get drawn in with the hope that the hero and heroine will find their happily-ever-after. I suppose that’s the reason I came up with the idea for RANCHER TO THE RESCUE. A celebrity bride on the run. A rancher with a scandalous past. Toss in the paparazzi and you’ve got the makings for some non-stop action. 😉

Which got me thinking about my favorite Rom-Com’s. So in David Letterman fashion, here’s Jennifer Faye’s Top Ten Favorite Romantic Comedies:

  1. Made of Honor
  2. Definitely, Maybe
  3. The Proposal
  4. Valentine’s Day
  5. While You Were Sleeping
  6. Notting Hill
  7. Pretty Woman
  8. Sweet Home Alabama
  9. Runaway Bride

 

And now for my all-time favorite romantic comedy….

 

  1. P.S. I Love You

 

Now it’s your turn…What’s your favorite rom-com?

 

Read an excerpt from RANCHER TO THE RESCUE:

 

“Meg!” Cash turned in a circle. “Meg, where are you?” At last he spotted her, on the other side of the road. She gathered up her dirty dress and rushed across the road. “What in the world were you doing?”

“I thought if any passing vehicles had taken notice of you dropping a bride off on the side of the road, it might be wiser if I moved to another location.”

It seemed as though her nerves had settled and left her making reasonable decisions. “Good thinking. Sorry it took me a bit to get back here. Picking up my grandmother took me longer than I anticipated—”

“Cash, who are you talking to?” Gram hollered from inside the truck.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “that’s my grandmother. Your number-one fan.”

“Really? She watches my show?”

“Don’t sound so surprised. From what Gram says, you’ve gained quite a loyal following.”

“I suppose I have. That’s why the network’s considering taking the show national.”

So she was a rising television star. Maybe Harold hadn’t been up for sharing the spotlight? Cash liked the idea of Meg being more successful and popular than a man who played up the part of an injured party to gain public sympathy.

“Cash, do you hear me?” Gram yelled, her voice growing irritated.

“We’d better not keep her waiting,” he said. “If she gets it in her mind to climb out of that truck without assistance I’m afraid she’ll get hurt.”

Meg walked beside him. “Your truck could use a stepladder to get into.”

“When I bought it my intent was to haul a horse trailer, not to have beautiful women using it as a taxi service.”

He noticed how splotches of pink bloomed in her cheeks. He found he enjoyed making her blush. Obviously Harold, the stuffed shirt, hadn’t bothered to lather her with compliments. No wonder she’d left him.

“Before I forget, here’s your phone.” She placed it in his outstretched hand. “I hope you don’t mind but I called my family.”

“No problem.” He knew if she were his sister or daughter he’d be worried. Turning his attention to his grandmother, he said, “Meg, this is my grandmother—Martha Sullivan. Gram, this is—”

“The Jiffy Cook,” Gram interjected. Her thin lips pursed together. Behind her wire-rimmed glasses her gaze darted between him and Meg. “You stole the bride. Cash, how could you?”

 

RANCHER TO THE RESCUE– AVAILABLE NOW in stores

And online at Amazon, Amazon-UK, Barnes & Noble, and other online outlets.

 

About the author:

Jennifer - Author PhotoJennifer Faye has spent most of her life with her nose in one book or another. It was only natural that she dreamed of becoming a romance writer and spinning the tales of the imaginary people running around in her mind. But first life took her on a couple of detours. Refusing to give up on her dreams, she finally succeeded in getting her name on a book cover. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her very, very patient husband, one amazing daughter (the other remarkable daughter has flown the coop to chase her own dreams) and two spoiled rotten cats. When she’s not glued to her laptop writing another contemporary romance (which isn’t often) or enjoying some family time, she loves to get lost in a good book, cross-stitch, embroider, quilt, knit, watch hockey (go Pittsburgh Penguins!), and garden.

Jennifer loves to hear from readers–you can contact her via her website.

You can also find her at these other locations:

Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+ / Tumblr

 

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For a chance to win Rancher to the Rescue, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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Winners!

Ora

wins a digital copy of What Once Was Perfect by Zoe York

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patoct

wins a digital copy Love At High Tide by Christi Barth

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Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

The Digital First Read-a-Thon excerpts and giveaways will run throughout the month of July.

Read Full Post »

TrustInMeLocke Jackman is single, childless…and he has a bad case of empty nest syndrome. For years, as he fought tooth and nail to keep his brothers and sisters together after his parents died, his entire life was focused on his responsibilities.

Now his siblings have all moved on with their lives, and there’s no one around to distract him from his overpowering attraction to his sister’s best friend. Their mutual desire is stunning…but then again, so are the secrets keeping them apart.

Susie Packard’s nightmarish marriage taught her what happens when she gives in to her weakness for powerful men. Too bad the big, stoic frowner across the street—the one who sets her bells jangling just by breathing—has her in his sights.

Try as she might to keep her emotional distance, Locke is determinedly knocking down all her walls. But as much as she wants to be the woman he needs, she knows better than most— passion may have its rewards, but every secret has its price.

Warning: This book contains a hot, modern-day Viking seducing his way to the heart of his woman, a stubborn lingerie designer with a world of secrets and a very deep bathtub… Enjoy!

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Trust In Me

Book 5, A Rancho del Cielo Romance

Dee Tenorio / Samhain Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-61921-541-2

Release Date: July 23, 2013

© Dee Tenorio, 2013

All Rights Reserved

 

The smell of something mouthwatering tugged at her senses. Sleep, thick and heavy, still held her tight, but Susie could feel herself grudgingly rising out of the dreamlessness. She groaned, absolutely not wanting to go. She loved sleep. She needed sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep. But the richer the scent, the more her body pulled at her to wake the hell up.

It had to be a figment of her imagination, though, because she hadn’t bought much worth cooking in over a month and that smell had slow boil written all over it. Savory, but not heavy. Soft spices her mind tried to pick out of the warm air. Which was another thing. With winter well on its way, usually her apartment was cold enough for her to need a pile of blankets no matter where she sat. But she was comfortable, toasty even. Her stomach growled, rolling so hard she swore it moved on the outside. Which meant she was definitely awake. Damn it.

All right, so she whimpered a little at that prospect. The only one who might hear her was Amanda, who had to be the one behind that deliciously light smell of something good. The Cracker Princess, trying to be helpful. Far more rested than she’d been in weeks, Susie opened one eye, willing to be forgiving. Especially if Amanda had brought her homemade bread—

The other eye popped open in surprise as she took in her dim surroundings. She blinked, rubbing her face and finally realizing she was on her own bed, the light outside the door casting the room into golden-hued half-tones.

How the hell had she gotten here?

The old iron frame squeaked as she sat up, trying to get her bearings, almost masking the clanking of what sounded like someone doing dishes. Dishes? Okay, there was hunger-inspired forgiveness and then there was going too far. She hadn’t done her dishes in nearly a week, just too damn tired to do more than fall on her couch and sleep. There weren’t a lot, because she hadn’t wanted much in the way of food either, but that wasn’t the point. She didn’t need taking care of and if she did, she’d do it her damn self. Lit with righteous fire, she slid off the bed and stormed into the open living area.

And stopped dead in her tracks.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Locke’s shoulders stopped moving, the sound of determined scrubbing coming to an abrupt end. She didn’t want to be amused at the sight of this giant man hunched down to reach her mini-sink, towel over his shoulder, legs braced wide so he could keep himself in place. Like a Mack truck trying to pull into a compact parking space.

He turned, straightening a bit more, the spiky tips of his hair brushing the round light fixture on the sloping ceiling. She’d thought the wall-length kitchen was too small for her, but for Locke, it was just laughable. Except she couldn’t afford to laugh. He’d take it as acceptance and make himself comfortable taking over. Not in this fucking lifetime.

Well?

“Soup’s ready. Sit down, I’ll bring you a bowl.” He turned back to his scrubbing as if she wasn’t standing there, sparks likely shooting out of her head.

“I will not sit down. Why are you in my apartment? What the hell gives you the right—”

“Mandy let me in when you wouldn’t wake up.”

“I—what?”

He grabbed two bowls from the dish rack and pivoted to the stove to start dishing up whatever he’d been cooking. “She didn’t want to leave you downstairs in the store, and the girl never did have much upper-body strength, so she needed someone who could get you to your bed.”

Her mouth clapped shut on her indrawn breath. Oh sure, like she was walking into that one. One verbal volley and he’d show her exactly how good he was at getting her to her bed.

Instead, all she did was watch him set the bowls on her kitchenette table—which he’d no doubt cleared, damn him—and spin back for two spoons from the drawer. Without asking, he settled himself in the small metal chair like an ogre at a tea party and started eating.

Her hands curled into fists, and those little lights of rage she’d started calling “Locke-dots” sprinkled her vision. “Y-you…you…you…”

“Come sit. Eat while it’s hot.”

“What?”

“Eat. It’ll get gooey if you let it get too cold.” He shoveled another bite into his mouth. Okay, not shoveled, he had better manners than that, but she was too mad to be a stickler for details.

“You unbelievably presumptuous bastard!”

He nodded.

“How dare you just come in here like you own the place?”

More nodding.

“This is my house. I’m not one of your siblings that’s dumb enough to give you free rein.”

He put a spoonful in his mouth like he was at a dinner theatre or something.

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

Another bite. She put her hands on her hips, waiting for him to answer, a fact he didn’t seem to register was required of him. Before she could jump on him for that, the timer on the stovetop went off with that ear-piercing ding. He got up, opened the oven and pulled out a loaf of Amanda’s homemade bread. Butter and garlic wafted to her nose. Oh, damn him… How was she supposed to stay mad when he had that?

“Where did that come from?”

“Had Amanda steal it from the elder twins when I sent her to lock up my store.” He pulled the split loaf out and set the cookie sheet on the stove next to the soup. He looked over his shoulder and gave her a conspiratorial grin, stealing her breath and probably not even realizing it. “Thought you might appreciate that.”

She closed her eyes, trying desperately to hold on to her anger. Unfortunately, it seeped away from her, leaving her tired and hungry. In too many ways. One smile—so small most people wouldn’t ever recognize it—and she melted for him. Every. Single. Time.

“You have to go. Now.” Before she threw herself at him again. Crawled on his lap and rubbed herself over every delicious inch of his body. Maybe when she was done with that, she could lick— No. Absolutely not. She shook off that imagining before she broke out into a sweat. “Right now.”

His sigh should have pushed her back a step. “It’s just dinner, Susie.”

Sure it was. Last time, they’d just been talking. She opened her eyes to give him a glare.

Back in the chair, he’d leaned his big body against the wall next to the table, that haggardness she’d seen earlier making him impossibly sexier. Golden bristles of a heavy five-o’clock shadow on his jaw and cheeks. Heavy-lidded blue eyes, shadowed and watchful, peered at her with a patience that made her whole body vibrate. He must have remembered too, because a slow, sensual smile spread across his face, freeing dimples on either side and showing off his perfect white teeth. Tigers couldn’t look so predatory.

Susie dropped into the chair opposite him, her knees shaking and her underwear in a state she refused to admit to.

His brows rose in question.

“Shut up and eat.” She grabbed her own spoon and stabbed it into the bowl. Keep your eyes on the plate and pretend he’s not here. He’s not here. Food magically created itself and he’s not here.

A deep, warm chuckle forced its way through her mantra.

Don’t talk to him. He’ll go away if you don’t talk to him. A total lie, but it wasn’t like she was listening to herself anyway. She was already glaring at him again. “What are you laughing at?”

“Nothing. Bread?” He offered a torn piece of the loaf with one hand, his gaze gobbling her up at the same time.

“You suck at the innocent act, Locke, so knock it off already.” She snatched the bread from him. She was mad, not stupid.

His big shoulder shrugged as he tore another piece for himself. “It’s just nice to see you being more like…you.”

“Which is?” This ought to be good. She blew on the steaming spoonful of what looked like some kind of rice soup with pieces of chicken in it. Did he find that in her freezer or was it something else purloined from the elder twins?

“Not afraid of me.”

Once more, her gaze snapped to his. “I’m not—”

“You have been.” Banked anger flared to life in his eyes.

She couldn’t help it, she flinched.

Locke’s mouth tightened into a flat line, his back straightened, affront filling every line of him.

Guilt, her new best friend, flooded her. She reached out without thinking, grabbing his hand, feeling worse when his rough fingers tightened reflexively around her own. “It’s not like that, all right? I know you’d never physically hurt me. You’re not that kind of man.”

“I’m not the kind who would hurt you any other way either,” he said quietly, his thumb sliding over the back of her hand.

Her breath shuddered out of her. Damn it, she didn’t want to have this talk with him. Not yet. But with every stroke of his finger, she softened a little bit more. Truth spilled out before she could stop it. “You might. Without even trying.”

Possibly more than anyone else in her life. A crazy sentiment, considering how acrimonious their relationship had been over the two years since they’d met, but that didn’t make it any less true. She trusted Locke, for small and grudging things, which was more than she trusted anyone else. He’d won it from her, though, with his forthrightness. The nobility that seemed a natural part of him. The fact that he’d managed to raise his siblings without killing or maiming any of them—a feat she certainly couldn’t have promised, especially not with that brood. But every single one of them would jump in front of a train for him, a fact he never seemed to exploit.

In her life, exploitation was all she knew to expect. From her mother to her former friends, right up to her ex-husband. There had only been one person she’d ever tried believing in and the price of that trust had been catastrophic. She’d vowed not to take that kind of chance again…but then came him.

Locke stopped stroking, now turning her palm up so he could lace their fingers together. He stared at their joined hands as if concentration alone would keep them together. “You could hurt me too, Suze.”

No, she already had. Deeply. And she would keep hurting him, without wanting to. But what good would apologies be, when she would just do it again and again and again? She knew too well, apologies like that weren’t worth shit.

He looked up, all the intensity of him—intensity she’d felt in his arms, had willingly drowned in and craved ever since—fixed on her. Only Locke could offer everything of himself in just a look. Words just weren’t his thing, but oh…the man could stare entire conversations. Then, probably just because it would kill her, he spoke, low and husky as a whisper could go. “I’m willing to take the risk.”

Would he? When she told him the truth? When he knew the secrets she’d purposefully kept from him? When she told him why she could never give him in return what he offered so freely?

Yes, she realized, looking into the calm depths of his gaze. He would still risk everything on her.

Somehow, that made it so much worse.

She swallowed, but the lump in her throat refused to budge. There wouldn’t be any budging him either, but she had to try. “You need to find yourself another girl, Jackman. One who doesn’t make you miserable.”

“Why would I do that when I like the one I’ve got just fine?”

Her harsh spurt of laughter caught her by complete surprise, along with a wave of relief she didn’t want to analyze. She was too tired to analyze anymore tonight. “Why do I find your bullshit so charming?”

“Not sure, but I’d be a damn fool if I didn’t make use of it.” To her shock, he disentangled their hands and put hers back over her spoon. “How about this? We’ll eat. We don’t have to talk. Just eat. After that, you can throw me out if you want to and I’ll go without a word.”

She narrowed an eye at him. “If I want to?”

Only a man who’d spent his entire life being stoic as stone could have looked at her so evenly and said, “I’ll even keep the bullshit to a minimum, so you won’t be tempted to keep me.”

She just barely held the smile in before she finally turned to the food and ate.

 

deetenorio.com

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simpletwist_200The blurb

The Hanover brothers are doing their best to live down the legacy of their con artist father…but they still have a knack for getting in trouble where romance is concerned.

As the lawyer of the family, Beckett Hanover ought to be sorting through the many claims filed against their family estate—which the brothers have recently inherited from their grandmother. But something about the housekeeper, Sophie, keeps stealing his focus…

Little does he know, as he flirts, what else she intends to steal. The truth is Sophie took the job with one purpose in mind: to help her aunt. But she never expected to find a man like Beck or get sidetracked by the handsome hottie’s sweet talk and broad shoulders. Between her secret and Beck’s past, the two are headed for one risky romance.

The Hanover brothers are back with all the mystery and drama that surrounds them. Beck has always been the calm brother, the one that looks for logic and refuses to jump to conclusions without all the facts. As he starts to fall for Sophie, there’s no place for logic. The attraction is immediate and the smexy times are smoking.  As more secrets are revealed and the past shoves a wedge between Beck and Sophie, they both must decide if they can trust each other enough to fight for love. Includes a groveling hero 😀

The romance of each Hanover Brothers book is a stand alone but the mystery extends through all the books. I recommend that they be read in order. And I do recommend them! Fun, sexy, with a touch of angst. This small town setting is perfect for these hot heroes and strong heroines.

4.5 stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Format: Digital

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LAHT coverDarcy Trent is lucky Cooper Hudson is on hand to sweep her off her feet—literally—when she nearly drowns while swimming in the ocean. But life-saving aside, Mr. Perfect’s timing stinks: Darcy’s career is about to take her to the complete opposite side of the Atlantic. Still, a little summer loving with the tall, blond and sexy former cop is far too tempting to pass up.

When his plans to enter the Secret Service went south thanks to a bum knee, Coop retreated to the family beach house to mull his future. Romance is the last thing on his mind, until he fishes a curvy brunette out of the sea. Now, spending time in Darcy’s arms seems like the ideal distraction, even if it is just for a week.

But with Darcy’s departure date fast approaching and their careers on the line, can they realize in time that their beach fling might become the real thing?

 

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What Do You Need On Vacation Besides A Great Summer Read?

I’m a bookaholic. So when my friends would load up with Frisbees, volleyballs, boombox (yes, I’m a child of the eighties – we had ENORMOUS boom boxes we lugged everywhere), and Nerf footballs to take to a day at the beach, I would simply take a book. At least, that’s what I took the first time. Because really, what more could I possibly need?

Well, since I’m originally from Los Angeles, I discovered that our beach was about a million steps down a cliff from the nearest food. So then I added a bag crammed with chips and drinks and sandwiches. And maybe a magazine. Should be enough, right?

Oh, no. Now we take chairs, umbrellas, inflatable pillow for the towel, a notebook to scribble down plot inspiration (which, incidentally, is how Love At High Tide began), a table that hooks onto our umbrella, sunscreen, a hoodie for when the clouds roll in, phones, and even though we are just across the dune from our beach house, we still load up with snacks.

But it gets worse. We see people with enormous carts full of toys, kites, pop-up tents for babies, fully enclosed shelters and full-sized coolers. Where does it cross the line into ridiculousness? We saw a woman with a face-chair. It looked like a director’s chair, minus the back, and was only as tall as my hand. The purpose? To hold your head when lying on your side on a towel. Funniest thing we’ve ever seen, and yes, we snuck a few pictures.

Still, the number one go-to for me, the only thing I would pitch a fit if it didn’t trek across the sand with me, is now and will always be a good book. Or three. So tell me – what’s in your beach bag?

 

Excerpt

“Thanks for the rescue. If you hadn’t grabbed me, I’d still be doing somersaults underwater. In my book, that qualifies you for hero status.”

An unreadable emotion flickered across his eyes so fast she almost missed it. In a low mutter, he said, “Don’t call me a hero.” He hit the hard-packed sand at the edge of the water and stopped walking.

Modest, heroic and gorgeous. And it didn’t take even a fraction of her eight years of training in cultural anthropology to figure out he was attracted to her. They’d long since hit land, and yet he made no move to put her down. Not that she was complaining. She’d happily continue to sit cradled in his arms. It gave her an up-close view of his chiseled cheekbones, sharp enough to etch glass. Her fingers brushed through the salt-spiked tips of his blond hair. No doubt about it: she’d found the man candy Trina had promised. One bite of him would be as sinful and addictive as a chocolate honey truffle.

“Well, I can’t call you Mr. In-The-Right-Place-At-The-Right-Time.” When his lips curled up showing off his dimple, Darcy’s interest kicked up a notch.

“Good point. I’m Cooper Hudson. Coop, to my friends.”

“Darcy Trent.”

“It’s been a long time since I met an ocean virgin.”

“Oh, but only in the aquatic sense, I assure you.” What? Why wave her long-vanished virginity under his nose? Now he probably thought she had the morals of an alley cat. But hearing the hottest man she’d ever seen use the word virgin threw her for a loop. Not the standard nice-to-meet-you conversation, by a long shot.

He flashed an easy smile. “Don’t worry. I hadn’t planned on delivering you as a virgin sacrifice to appease the volcano gods over at the mini-golf course.”

Okay, now Darcy could add funny to the list of his overwhelming awesomeness. Maybe she really had blacked out and was hallucinating her ideal man while unconscious, underwater. What else could explain such perfection?

“Darcy, what happened?” Trina’s yell preceded her appearance in front of them. After a quick yank upward to her scrap of a top, she rested her hand on Darcy’s leg. “Why’s he carrying you? Did you get stung in the foot by a jellyfish? ’Cause if you did, I’ll pee on it. That’ll take the sting away.”

That certainly settled the whole am-I-hallucinating question. Never, ever would Darcy fantasize about her best friend peeing on her. The situation had to be real. And if Trina in all her adorable annoyingness was real, then her hot hero hunk had to be real, too.

To her dismay, Cooper lowered her to the ground.

“Your friend’s fine,” Cooper announced. “A wave almost rolled her, so she’s a little shaken up, but uninjured.”

“You keep your distance,” Darcy warned with a hand raised to keep Trina at arm’s length. “Don’t even think about peeing on me. Not even if I get attacked by an entire school of jellyfish.”

Trina wrinkled her nose. “Okay, but if the situation arises, just remember that I would be willing to make that sacrifice.”

“Friendship is a beautiful thing.” Cooper’s sardonic tone belied the sincerity of his expression.

 

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Bio: Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.  A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance.  Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.

 

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For a chance to win a digital copy of Love at High Tide by Christi Barth, just leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn Sunday. Good luck! 😀

 

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WhatOnceWasPerfectOption9medHeading home always stirs up mixed emotions for Laney Calhoun. Twelve years ago she left for graduate school, broken-hearted. She’s found professional success, but positive personal relationships have proved elusive. Running into her ex-boyfriend fans flames she thought long extinguished, and causes a renewed interest in love. Not with Kyle, of course. Never again. But as sparks fly and items of clothing disappear, she scrambles to keep her emotions in check.

Kyle Nixon let Laney slip away once. Their chemistry together is undeniable, but steamy sex is not enough to convince her to let him back into her heart. Even if she did trust him again, her medical career is five hundred kilometers away from the hometown that he loves, and the life that he once chose over her.

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I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to stock photography. Well, I’m actually addicted to all kinds of photos, but the ones on Pinterest and Tumblr I only get to drool over (and a warning – my Tumblr feed isn’t safe for work or children!). Royalty-free stock photography has the potential to actually be MINE, and that changes everything.
Self-publishing is a bit like the Wild West right now, so it’s also an exciting rush when you find a photo that you’re pretty sure no one else has used in your genre…yet. But do you buy it now? What if someone else snaps it up while your book is in the editing phase?
I admit, I got attached to the cover photo for What Once Was Perfect far too early in the game. When I finished the book in February, I had a decision to make: submit it to publishing houses, or take on the business end of things myself and self-publish? A few good friends gently pointed out to me, after I had bought the stock photo and designed the first draft of the cover, that while my brain was still waffling about the decision, my heart had clearly chosen its path.
The photo that I bought isn’t exactly the same photo that’s on the cover today–after the first draft, it was universally agreed upon that the cover lacked colour, so adjustments needed to be made. And I agonized over how much to zoom in (and then out, and then in again). Designing a cover is about a heck of a lot more about grabbing a stock photo and slapping words on it–even for contemporary romance novels that look deceptively simple.
But for those of us that write stories about everyday people falling in love, the photo is pretty central to it all. And that’s why, when I need a break from writing and editing, I’ll flip over to my favourite stock sites and scroll through the new releases, looking for the perfect guy next door and the woman who can’t help but fall in love with him. Because when I find them, it’s pretty awesome inspiration to hurry back to the manuscript and get their story done.
Kyle and Laney’s happy photo was my desktop background for months before I released the cover design. I’m not quite ready to reveal the cover for book 2, but here’s a sneak peak at Karen and Paul, the couple currently fighting (and making up!) in my head:
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In the meantime, pick up What Once Was Perfect at your favourite online bookseller, and sink into Laney & Kyle’s story. Karen makes two brief appearances as well!
Obviously, I love books with people on the cover. But I know that some people prefer to fill in those details themselves. Which do you prefer?
What Once Was Perfect is now available at:
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For the chance to win a digital copy of What Once Was Perfect, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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FinalImageBTRmediumA forbidden love affair in the past has led Hope Robinson, a middle school principal, to Harbor Bay, Florida, where she commits herself to play by the rules. This can be difficult for a perpetual klutz, who—even strapped in a cast—has to uphold a competent attitude at all times.

 

Luckily, she has Dr. Colin Calaway on her side, a widower and father of a student, who is ready to give love another try. When Colin convinces Hope they should explore the connection between them, a steamy romance develops, though it could destroy them both. They must decide if their jobs—and their hearts—are worth the risk.

 

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Today is release day – July 8! The heroine in Breaking the Rules, Hope, loves special days. She’s nerdy that way. So, what better post to celebrate Hope and July 8 then to share some random holidays?

 

July 8 is … Be a Kid Day! Woo hoo! How appropriate, since Hope is a middle school principal. She loves kids and spends every day with them. How does she celebrate being a kid? Acting like one – especially on the Family Sports Morning in the book when she and Colin partner together in relay races – getting tangled up in the fun!

 

July 8 is … the day Paris was found! July 8, 951 A.D. Nothing more romantic than Paris, right? Hope has a bucket list that Colin helps out with – guess which city she needs to visit? Yep! Paris.

 

July 8 is … Video Games Day. (Shhh… don’t tell my sons!) As an educator, Hope really doesn’t condone video games, but she knows Colin’s son, Jason, loves Xbox. So, she may invest herself into playing a few games with him when no one else is looking.

 

July 8 is … Hottie actor Kevin Bacon’s birthday. Yes, Hope knows this. She’s been a big fan ever since she watched Footloose in high school.

 

July 8 is … National Chocolate with Almonds Day. I had to include this one – I mean, it has chocolate! Hope loves chocolate like any smart heroine would.

 

July 8 is … In 2011, Red Sox’s designated hitter, David Ortiz, better known as Big Papi, led a bench-clearing brawl with Kevin Gregg from Baltimore Orioles. They were both suspended for four games. How do I know this fact? Hope is a huge Red Sox fan – to Colin’s dismay.

 

But the most important fact about JULY 8 is it’s release day for Breaking the Rules! Come and meet Colin and Hope, an adorable couple who help each other to break the rules and risk their hearts.

 

MelindaAuthorMelinda Dozier lives in Guatemala, Central America, with her husband, three boys and German Shepherd.  She enjoys being the queen of her household and dreams of being pampered fully by her boys once they’re grown. Learn more about her at www.melindadozier.com.

You can also find Melinda on twitter at www.twitter.com/melindadozier or Facebook at www.facebook.com/melindadoz

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GIVEAWAY!

Melinda is giving away an ecopy of Breaking the Rules and winners choice of a Yankees or Red Sox baseball cap through her tour wide giveaway. Winners must enter via Rafflecopter and will be chosen on July 27.

(Click the banner below to enter)

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