Review: Holiday Heat by Carrie Lomax

Holiday Heat

A Christmas Dramedy

by Carrie Lomax

Genre: Contemporary Romance

BLURB:

A broken engagement.
An ill-advised fling.
A reality-TV inspired dating contest.

Meet the Bachelorette…
When Alyssa Carlisle arrives home for the holidays nursing a fresh Christmas Eve heartbreak, a hookup with her hot neighbor, Marc De Luna, seems like the perfect rebound, a no-strings-attached, super sexy vacation fling.

…and the (Play) Boy Next Door
Although he’s never told anyone, Marc has had it bad for his aloof, ambitious neighbor ever since her family moved into the neighborhood years earlier. But knowing she was seeing some rich guy in New York told him she was off-limits… until she shows up alone and unexpectedly single for this year’s Christmas. With the rich boyfriend out of the picture, Marc’s not about to pass up the chance to claim Alyssa as his own.

But when the ex-boyfriend makes an unexpected appearance, intent on getting Alyssa back, Marc’s got a fight on his hands. And he’ll do whatever it takes to win.

BUY

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

FREE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED

So here’s my review, originally posted on my author website:

Last night, I stumbled on Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax, a seemingly “holiday” novel with its Christmas glitter and mistletoe on the cover that’s not exactly a holiday novel. It’s set during the holidays, yes, but it’s *not a holiday novel. Family dynamics? Check. Sibling rivalry and protectiveness? Check. Steamy AF hot scenes? Checkcheckcheck.

The first thing that caught my attention was the smart and witty heroine, Alyssa Carlisle, who lives in a studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan and she’s just been stood up by her rich boyfriend of two years, Zach. He was supposed to propose on Christmas Eve but he’s five hours late and when he does show up, he’s drunk and tells her he got cold feet. Apparently, it’s not the first time Zach has pulled something like this and so, with a plane to catch in the morning where they were supposed to spend Christmas with her parents in Tampa, Florida, she tells Zach they’re over, to have a great life, and not to talk to her ever again.

Tampa is where we meet Marc Del Luna, the oldest son of the Del Lunas who live next door to her parents. He’s never finished college but he’s smoking hot, “the kind of guy who made girls’ panties wet just by walking into the room—at least, the ones like her who wore undergarments.” And apparently, Alyssa has been secretly crushing on him since her family moved into the neighborhood almost ten years ago… but there was something about Marc being known as the resident man-whore that made her steer clear.

While taking out the trash, they bump into each other and sparks fly, especially when Marc learns she’s suddenly single. Who knew the (play)boy next door liked her all these years?  To Alyssa, the prospect of a one-night stand or a vacation fling with Marc before she returns to New York is looking better and better every minute.

But before one assumes that Marc is simply the manwhore everyone thinks he is, there’s actually more to him than meets the eye, just as there’s more to the sibling dynamics between him and Julian as well as Alyssa and Janelle, her younger sister stuck in a dead-end job and drowning in student loans.

What I love the most about Holiday Heat is that it’s a refreshing take on romance from the usual fare that I’ve been picking up lately (dark romance, secret baby, and let-me-top-the-sex-in-this-book-with-more-sex… oh wait, that’s my book!). It’s a new voice and I love me some new voices especially since I just finished A Man Called Ove and needed something light and fun and witty.

I like how Lomax explores certain social issues that are at the forefront today and for the most part, they’re deftly interwoven into the storyline. The sparks that fly between Alyssa and Marc are super hot and deserving of New Year’s Eve fireworks, and the scenes between them are super steamy as well. But that’s not going to mean that everything is smooth sailing either. They go through some rough patches like an unexpected visitor, a reality TV show-inspired contest, and some good measure of angst.  And for a holiday tryst that’s hot and heavy from the get-go, will their fling last long after the New Year’s Eve fireworks are all done?

So, yup, except for the ending which kinda felt flat for me because I wanted more Aly and Marc, I enjoyed Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax and highly recommend it if you like a contemporary romance with a chock-full of really well-written steamy scenes and high octave chemistry.

Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy is free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

10% of the proceeds from this book will benefit the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Find Carrie online:

Website: http://www.carrielomax.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carrielomaxnovelist/

*The only reason I say it’s NOT a holiday novel is that holiday novels get pigeonholed during the holidays. Which is a disservice to this witty and layered novel that’s more about relationships and romance than the holiday itself. It’s just SET in a holiday and that’s about it. But that’s also the Marketing me talking. I hate seeing good novels get pushed aside because people assume if it’s holiday-themed then it’s kinda “holiday-themed” which to me, would be sugar and spice and mistletoe and family and eggnog and chocolate with marshmallows and cuddles in front of the fireplace. None of which brings up steamy AF romance in all its glory. I mean, come on. When do you watch A Christmas Story? While You Were Sleeping and so many other stories that are set during the holidays???

Release Tour: The Last Breath by Leigh Lennon

THE LAST BREATH

The Breathless series, book 1

by Leigh Lennon

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction Romance

Loss is not foreign to Julia Barnett. To the outside world she is the epitome of the perfect mom. That is, until the doors of her impeccable life are closed and reality hits her square in the face. Once the leading lady in her own epic love story, she can only look back at what used to be. With an absent husband, an intrusive father, a troubled child, and an ex-fiancé that is still tied to her life, it’s no wonder Julia is grasping for air in her chaotic world.

The bruises that Julia lives with are invisible to those closest to her. She lost so much early in life, more than most could survive. Now, she grapples with resentment towards her husband because of all the empty promises he’s made. In the midst of this turmoil, test results reveal an illness she is not sure she will survive.

For Julia, it is not her life that may be cut short that consumes her, but how her family will endure without her there. As everyone rallies around Julia while she fights like hell to live, she learns that family, along with love, comes in many shapes and sizes. It is her family that gives her the strength to fight the biggest battle of her life; one she doesn’t want to lose.

Joe Barnett was a quiet man, but he felt as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. He’d do anything for his parents, and he had actually done everything within his control up to this point. It was just not enough. His dreams were slipping away because being an architect was his calling in life. Though as big as those dreams were, taking care of his parents was more important to him than anything else.

Deciding to take a quick dinner break, he started to dig into a burger at his favorite watering hole. Though tonight, with work piling up, all he could have was water. No beer for him. He noticed a very attractive girl at the bar but was caught up in a soccer game and missed his opportunity. Well, he wanted more of a conversation with the pretty girl than to ask her to pass a condiment. Wanting to kick himself, he instead turned to her at a commercial break and tried to correct his rudeness with an apology. The girl was quick to smile and accepted it as he made a small joke at the expense of his sodium intake.

She immediately said, “Oh, that’s ok. I know how men are with their games. My best friend, well minus the guy thing, is just like that. You play soccer, then?” Her dark eyes were inquisitive but sad. That was something Joe knew about.

“I used to, in high school and some in college.” He looked down at her beer, “Very few girls know how good dark beer is.”

“I know right, this is the only kind of beer I can drink. My dad started me out young I guess.” She smiled. “What about you? Aren’t you a beer drinker?”

He replied, “Normally, yes, but I just stopped by tonight for a quick bite to eat. I have some work I’ve got to get done. Beer just doesn’t mix with that.”

“Oh, I get that!” The girl said. Her meek smile was enticing, and Joe needed a way to insert himself into a conversation that would go somewhere with this beautiful young woman.

“So, you just come to Irish bars and drink dark beer by yourself?” He asked trying not to look her up and down, though she was worthy of being admired. He surmised she had to be at least twenty-one by the fact she’d been drinking but didn’t look much older. They were close in age to Joe being twenty-three.

The young woman responded, “No actually I’m taking a large class load this semester, and my best friend dragged me out tonight claiming that I need some sort of break.”

“You come here often? I’m here twice a week and have never seen you.” Joe asked.

“I’ve not been here in a long time. My dad is a good friend with the owner and we’d come here for dinner every Friday night. But I was at ECU for almost two years and just transferred to Wake last semester.”

He looked at her then smiled, “You are a Demon Deacon, I’m sorry.” He said with a wink.

“Well, what ACC team did you play for then, since your allegiance lies with somewhere else?” If he didn’t know any better, he would have thought her tone was almost borderline frisky and coy.

“I was at NC State. I played soccer but wasn’t able to graduate. My dad needed help running the family business, so I came home. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Joe didn’t elaborate why his dad needed him; not wanting to burden the cute girl with his problems. “Why did you transfer colleges?” He asked, changing the subject quickly from himself.

“It’s a long story.” She quickly answered.

“Oh, I see.”

“What do you mean, you see?” She asked with a snicker.

“All long stories like that normally follow with some tragedy concerning a guy.” He could only smirk at his own words. This was fun, he was actually having fun.

She could only laugh, “Well, ok smarty pants! You think you’re so smart.”

“Where did your friend go? The friend you claim came with you?” He asked with an even more flirtatious tone in his voice. He’d been having a free-flowing conversation with this girl that he didn’t want to end. Her eyes were infectious and he couldn’t look away from them.

“That is a good question. She was going to call her boyfriend. Probably got wrapped up in a conversation.”

“So, you know my name is Joe, what about you?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Julia.” She said quickly.

Leigh Lennon is mother, veteran and a wife of a cancer survivor. Originally with a degree in education, she started writing as an outlet that has led a deep passion as she wrote twelve books. Now ready to publish all of them, she lugs her computer with her as she crafts her next story. She can be found drinking coffee or wine, depending on the time of the day.

FacebookWebsiteTwitterNewsletterAmazonGoodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hidden: One Title. Endless Possibilities: October/November Releases

The Hidden Project was designed to bring together a diverse group of writers, to create a story based on the keyword Hidden.  With that, a massive, multi-year project was born, bringing together new writers, or experienced writers with new pen names, or brand new writers in the first project.  All with a passion for good books, great stories, and unique perspectives.  Every genre will be represented over the course of the project.

 

For October and November, the line-up of releases is featured below:

HIDDEN

by Laura Greenwood

What if you were stuck in a tower but didn’t realize it?

Zel has lived her whole life in a penthouse suite. The best food, the best clothes and the best entertainment at her fingertips with a mere push of a button. But there’s something missing. And the online chat she has with Asher is her only connection to the outside world.

But all of that is about to change, and Zel’s life is about to be turned upside down.

A dystopian RH retelling of Rapunzel.

Available: October 26

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2gEXpdy
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2hc9OGO
AMAZON CA: http://amzn.to/2iyA01B


 

Hidden: Two Democracies Revolution – Book 4

by Alasdair Shaw

Flight Decurion Seivers is stranded on a frozen moon, far from the Legion. The Perception of Prejudice is barely functioning and Percy is offline. Seivers’ future is measured in days.

Captain Lusimi searches for enemy survivors. By the order of the Protectors, the Sidexan Fleet is to avenge the Legion’s violation of Protected System Five. He will follow his orders, but protecting his warriors and crew is his highest priority.

The hunt is on.

AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 2

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2gF89ZD
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2zQTnay
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2gEvJ8U


 

Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey

by Joynell Schultz

Even being the best fairy godmother in all the land, Ciera’s been hiding a secret. Not only is she pregnant, but she’s magically pregnant with a human child.

Humans are not allowed in the fairy realm. Period. That includes half-fairy/half-human babies. The only solution is to give the baby to its father before the Fairy Council finds out her secret. Finding the father should be easy, how many men named John could possibly live in this place called Chicago?

AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 9

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2gF4b3f
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2xnR7Wo
AMAZON CA: http://amzn.to/2z8mdWG


 

Hidden: A Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure

by Troy McLaughlan

HU-645-555 wasn’t supposed to exist.

Hidden as a child, at the age of twelve she’s brought into a nightmarish world where human civilization has been destroyed. The remnants of humanity are forced to work as slaves by bloodthirsty reptilian invaders called Targs.

After six years of brutal training, she’s given a cryptic message by her human master and allowed to escape. But is the message she carries real or is she merely the perfect prey…

AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 16

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2z7PoJv
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2h9ERCU
AMAZON CA: http://amzn.to/2iBfoGd


 

Hidden: Justine’s Story (Chloe Daniels Mystery Series)

by Deidra D.S. Green

Justine is where it all started…

Prequel to the Chloe Daniels Mystery Series

When Merrill Starks set his sights on Justine, his depraved actions set off a sequence of events that would lead to one little girl finding her purpose in life. Dr. Chloe Daniels, renowned forensic psychologist, aided in the identification and capture of some of the most notorious mass murderers the United States had ever known. But Chloe didn’t embark on her career by happenstance. Merrill Starks was her inspiration…

AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 23

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2iB0v6w
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2zPMTIJ
AMAZON CA: http://amzn.to/2iCZXgN


 

Hidden: The Galaxy is My Perilous Habitat

by A. J. McWain

Description coming soon

AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 30

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2y5R7Pk
AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2yRq9u2
AMAZON CA: http://amzn.to/2xnpBZh

 

Release Tour: Stars in the Morning by Laura Strickland

STARS IN THE MORNING

Landmarks Series

by Laura Strickland

Genre: Historical Romance, Americana

Accused of ruining Mae Ballard and faced with a shotgun wedding, Jefferson Lind knows exactly who’s to blame. He’s been taking the fall for Jedediah’s sins as long as he can remember. Mae’s a shrieking shrew, and he hasn’t seen Jed, his identical twin, since they worked digging the Erie Canal together. If he’d been ordered to marry Mae’s sweet younger sister Rosie, instead, he sure wouldn’t complain.

Rosie’s the only member of her family who believes Jeff, and she’d go to any lengths to free him from her sister’s clutches. But when Jedediah turns up with violent thugs on his tail, things quickly grow more dangerous. Gamblers from Buffalo seize both sisters as hostages, prompting a daring impersonation. Can Jeff and Jed shed their troubled past and win the hearts of the women they love?

She poured some of the septic powder she’d brought into the basin. “Let’s get you cleaned up first, eh?”

A few of the scrapes were deep. Clearly he’d had a go at washing them off and done a poor job. The next few moments were painful to both of them. Rosie hated hurting anyone, except maybe Mae. Her sympathetic agony, however, was offset by the sheer pleasure of touching him.

By heaven, to have such a man beneath her hands! He smelled like sunshine, fresh air and tangy male, and it went straight to her head.

She concentrated on separating herself from the feelings surging through her and failed completely when he suddenly raised his hand and touched her cheek.

“What happened to you?”

All sense had gone out of Rosie’s mind; she had to search it to remember.

“Oh, that was Mae.”

“Mae?” His tawny eyes narrowed between their swollen lids. “She hit you?”

Rosie smiled ruefully. “She did.”

“Nasty baggage. She left a bruise.”

“Don’t worry about me, Mr. Lind.”

“I think you should call me Jeff, don’t you? Seeing as how you’re the one person in the world who believes I’m not a liar.”

“Jeff,” Rosie repeated, suddenly breathless.

“My misbegotten brother is Jed—Jedediah and Jefferson.” Humor tinged his voice. “I’m called after the great president.”

“Lucky you.”

“Never been lucky, no not me.” His eyes looked into hers, dodging nothing. “At least, I never was.”

AmazoniTunes ✯ B&NThe Wild Rose PressKoboGoodreads

Award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Born and raised in Western New York, she’s pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Although she enjoys travel, she’s usually happiest at home with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Author of numerous Historical and Contemporary Romances, she resides within walking distance of the Erie Canal.

WebsiteGoodreadsAmazonFacebookBlog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Blitz: Craving Security #giveaway

Craving Security

Protection duty like you’ve never experienced before…

Their instinct is to protect. It’s in their nature, their blood, the need to keep others safe. There’s no margin for error, or mistakes, and failure is not an option.

This is a collection of stories about men and women trained to defend, and built to kill.

Whether it’s the mysteriously tempting bodyguard fueled by his own deadly secrets, or the ex-special ops officer programmed to detect danger, they will keep you on the edge without ever letting you fall.

Are you constantly fearing the shadow lurking around the corner?

Are you…Craving Security?

Get ready for the ultimate protection detail.



AUTHORS

A. Gorman
https://www.facebook.com/AGormanAuthor/

Amy Reece
https://www.facebook.com/areeceauthor/

Apryl Baker
https://www.facebook.com/authorAprylBaker/

Camille Taylor
https://www.facebook.com/CamilleTaylorAuthor

Erin Lee
https://www.facebook.com/gonecrazytalksoon/

Evan Grace
https://www.facebook.com/evan76grace/

Lisa Cardiff
https://www.facebook.com/lcardiff11/

Marissa Farrar
https://www.facebook.com/marissa.farrar.author/

Sara Schoen
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSaraSchoen/

Shane Scollins
https://www.facebook.com/Shane-Scollins-Author-208046712568634/

Shelly Morgan
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShellyMorgan/

Taylor Henderson
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTaylorHenderson/

Release Blitz: Taming the Princess by Alyson Reynolds

Taming the Princess

by Alyson Reynolds

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Princess Scarlett Marion is broken. Drugs, sex, alcohol—she uses everything possible to numb the pain from her past, but it never seems to help. When Lord Carrick Trudeau pays her dowry, she finds herself in a position she never thought possible. He’s older, darker and seems to know exactly what to do to make her feel amazing, not like the broken little girl she actually is.

Things change quickly when she finds out Carrick isn’t just one of many in line for the throne, he’s going to be the next king. And soon. That means she’s going to be the next queen. When push comes to shove, how is Scarlett supposed to overcome her past and become the leader she’s supposed to be?

BUY LINKS

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2yTXPnJ
IBooks: http://apple.co/2g2yDEc
Nook: http://bit.ly/2xQr3WL
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2g2ffXY
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2fCoa1R

EXCERPT

Scarlett

The rush of the high hit me quickly, making my blood sing in my veins. My body shook, not just from the drugs, but from the pounding bass and strobe lights filling the club around my group of friends. Juliet swayed to the music freely next to me, urging me to want to follow her lead. Hands brushed over my body, making my skin prickle from her touch. I couldn’t tell if I wanted it to stop, or if I wanted more. My guard stood by the doors, leaving me to self-destruct all by myself. This was how I wanted it and none of them would dare interrupt my fun.

The press had been aching to follow me into the club since I passed through the doors earlier this evening. Eventually, someone would make it through all the security, and inevitably there would be yet another story of my depraved behavior, which would sell papers. Of course, there would be; I didn’t want to disappoint my fans. I giggled at the thought. My father hated me because of the messes I made, my mother didn’t know what to do with me, and my sister was disappointed in my horrible choices. It was just a normal day in my world.

A strong arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me back against a hard chest. At first, I didn’t resist the feeling of this stranger against me. Random sex with someone in the bathroom sounded entertaining. Juliet would probably want to watch. The arm tightened against my ribs.

My eyes shot open, but none of my friends were there. They had all abandoned me, but who knew how long ago that had been.

“Let go of me!” I protested. “If you knew who I was, you wouldn’t be manhandling me without asking first, you asshole.”

The chuckle that followed surprised me. “I’ll do whatever I damn well please, little girl. And I know exactly who you are, Princess Scarlett.”

That dark, smoky voice sounded familiar. I looked over my shoulder and dark obsidian eyes met my ice blue ones, pinning me in place. Bright lights from the club flashed over our bodies as I studied him. I shivered again, but this time Lord Carrick was the cause of it; certainly not any illegal substances I may or may not have taken.

I smirked. “What are you doing here, Lord Carrick? I didn’t think this was your scene anymore.”

His jaw tightened. “It’s not, and it won’t be yours either.”

I turned to face him, placing my hands on my hips, and narrowed my eyes. “You don’t get to decide that, now do you?”

He leaned in and ran his nose over the shell of my ear as he spoke, making a shiver run up my spine. “Oh Princess, you have no idea what I get to decide now.” This encounter was getting odder by the second. Surely he didn’t mean that the way it sounded. “It’s time to go, and I would prefer you don’t make a scene.”

His voice was calm, but I heard the warning in it loud and clear.

“If you want me to sleep with you, all you have to do is ask. It doesn’t matter to me that you’re almost twice my age. You’re still incredibly sexy,” I said, running my hands up his chest. “I like silver foxes, and you definitely qualify as a silver fox.”

He gave me a wry smile. “Believe me, I’ll fuck you blind soon, but it won’t be in this club. Or any club, for that matter.” I gasped as he reached down and grabbed my ass, pinning me up against him. “Now let’s go, Scarlett. We have a long drive ahead of us and I want to get there before morning.”

I swallowed hard and attempted to glare up at him. “What the hell are you talking about? I’m not going anywhere with you.”

The knowing look on his face made my heart race. He started dragging me behind him without answering my question, completely ignoring me. My guard wasn’t coming to my rescue either. Were they really going to let this man kidnap me? What in the hell was going on? I took a step back and stumbled as I tried to yank out of his hold. His grasp on my wrist tightened, steadying me before I was able to fall to the ground. The last thing I saw before the blackness crept over my vision were his dark, enchanting eyes.

Author Bio

Romance writer. Wife. Mother of two. Avid reader. Queen of multitasking.

Originally from the south, Alyson likes to incorporate what she knows into her books. She’s lived not only on the east coast but the west coast and a few places between. Alyson loves sharing stories about her crazy family to anyone who will listen. Her guilty pleasures consist of coffee, country music, brunch, breaking the rules, and pedicures. And she will always be a daddy’s girl.

When Alyson isn’t chasing around her two kiddos, she’s normally writing. Or reading. Her Kindle library is out of control. Alyson writes mainly contemporary novels and novellas with a few new adult stories is the mix.

To keep up with her busy release schedule check her website at http://authoralysonreynolds.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.authoralysonreynolds.com/newslettersignup

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a signed paperback copy of Taming the Princess
and a personalized tote:

Social Media

Website: http://authoralysonreynolds.com/author
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoralysonreynolds/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authoralysonreynolds/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorareynolds
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/alysonreynolds
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alyson-reynolds
Newsletter: http://www.authoralysonreynolds.com/newslettersignup

Back2School: Romance

REJOICE!
The children are back in school!

For those who live to read…here are some awesome books provided by the incredible authors who wrote them. All in celebration of the new school year.
While a few of these books might be oldies, but goodies…others could be new and fresh off the presses.
Relax and find your new favorite author.
✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

ROMANCE

Romance in traditional literary terms is a narration of the extraordinary exploits of heroes, often in exotic or mysterious settings. The term romance has also been used for stories of mysterious adventures, not necessarily of heroes. These adventure romances usually are set in distant places.

Please enjoy these books that focus on romance and all the sub-genres. The list is available in alphabetically order by title.Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win an Amazon Giftcard.

✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

Romance

Her only crime is falling for the man who’s sworn to bring her in…
When bounty hunter Nate Antillean poses as a male exotic dancer to arrest a sexy fugitive, he has no intention of taking his disguise all the way—until he meets her.
Lydia Franklin’s life sucks so bad that she’s more than eager to take her birthday gift for a ride. But their encounter ends with her in handcuffs…and not the good kind.
The fireworks are just beginning when Nate discovers he, too, is a fugitive—a victim of the same setup that got Lydia falsely accused. They must defeat the bad guy to reclaim their lives, but Lydia can’t bring herself to team up with the man who tricked her into bed. Not because she doesn’t want him, but because she knows that the criminal he wants to protect her from is one she must face…alone.


Romance

On the heels of a horrific break-up, Summer is looking forward to having a couple of months at home to lick her wounds. After a run-in with her ex leaves her reeling, she does something she’s never done before—has a one-night stand.
Hunter watched Mitch treat Summer like crap for months, so he was relieved when they broke up for good. Even better was when she invited him to her dorm room the night before they left campus for the summer.
The morning after comes with a surprise neither of them saw coming—Summer has a new stepbrother. Hunter.


Contemporary Romance

Katie McKnight loves her job. Not really. But Katie loves her dad and this job means everything to him. Which is why she’s scouting for the perfect house to film a mini-series…and that house happens to be in Harmony, NC. Now if only Katie can convince the grouchy, disheveled but totally hunky owner his home is perfect for the next teen craze, she’ll be in business.
Bestselling author, Vance Kerner has lost his mind along with his loafers and the notes to his next novel, under dirty dishes in his kitchen. Since babysitting his brother’s three kids, Vance hasn’t found a moments peace. So when California Katie knocks on his door, Vance doesn’t stop to ask questions. He simply yanks her inside and puts her in charge.
Katie agrees to babysit, if Vance allows her film crew access to his property. Vance agrees to keep an open mind as long as he gets the peace he needs to write.
But having Katie underfoot is anything but peaceful. And Vance is finding less and less time to write and more and more time to watch Katie weave a lovely spell on all the Kerners…especially him.
Can these two opposites find a common ground and the love they both deserve?


Contemporary Romance

 What happens when a sassy kindergarten teacher stands up to the hottest bachelor to hit the Raleigh area in forever?
NFL head coach Nick Frasier needs to coach his young team to a championship and needs to downplay his playboy image. What he doesn’t need his a fairy girl with a smart mouth and a propensity for fighting dogging his every move. And he really doesn’t need to be the juiciest piece of meat up on the auction block.
Marabelle Fairchild has her work cut out for her in order to earn a permanent teaching position. Her future success depends on convincing the hunkalicious Nick Frasier to participate in the bachelor auction. Easy-peasy, right? Wrong.
How do two head-strong, independent people learn to live and love without killing each other in the process?



Romance

How can something so wrong, feel so right?
Falling for her step-brother is a mistake T.J. doesn’t want to repeat, but one look into those sapphire blue eyes and she’s ready to give him whatever he wants.
Tammy-Jo Hawthorne’s marriage was floundering, but she never expected her husband to make her the laughing stock of Magnolia.
And she definitely didn’t expect to trip over him in their front yard after he’d been murdered.
Jason McIntyre was forced out of his home and the love of his life by the man who’d haunted his nightmares for ten long years.
Now Jason’s back–and he wants revenge.


Romance

 Todd O’Malley has been called many things, from filthy mouthed jerk to legendary Rock God. With his outlandish cocky demeanor – tatted up and pierced, compared in looks to Adam Levine – his constant use of the F-bomb, and the seductive gyrations he performs for the ladies on stage, affirm he is a man every woman craves. But there is only one woman who is able to capture his heart, Kyra Edwards.
That chance meeting at a little coffee shop in Evanston began their journey of compromise, pain, dedication and love.
From the night he took her virginity to Todd’s past sex-capades and consequences threatening their relationship, will Kyra be able to deal with it? With Todd and his band Avenue touring on the road, can he prove to Kyra that he is a changed man? Can he be faithful and avoid temptation?
Jennifer Theriot brings us yet another contemporary romance love story that will capture our hearts. This is truly a story of Beauty and the Beast, where we admire the beauty that is Kyra and adore the beast known as Todd.
You loved him in Out of the Box Awakening and Out of the Box Regifted. In the pages of Toccata Obbligato ~Serenading Kyra, you’ll get inside his head – see what makes him tick and get to know the woman who captured his heart……
This rock star romance short story is a companion novella of the Out of the Box series.
It contains adult situations and language, and is intended for readers over the age of 18.


Romance

Jen Dixon wants one thing out of life. To get the hell out of the Midwest. She has big plans for her future and nothing will get in her way. Not her crazy mother, not her ex, not even the sexy object of her desires, Scott Kalite.

Scott’s been waiting three years to make his move. In his mind, Jen’s already his and always has been. Now he just has to convince her that he’s right.

✯ ✯ ✯ ✯

Promo Tour: Not a Gentleman by Loreen Augeri

NOT A GENTLEMAN

by Loreen Augeri

Genre: Historical Romance

When Juliana Stevenson’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, her greedy uncle betroths her and her sister to vile men for his profit. They refuse to be part of his plan and flee, but her uncle hires an arrogant, demanding man to bring them back.

Needing money to care for his brother and sister and repair a manor in disrepair, Nicholas Blackstone agrees to find the women. He captures Juliana but not her sister and imprisons her in his manor until he can discover the whereabouts of her sibling.

Juliana’s body calls to Nicholas, but she can never be his — her life is already mapped out. Can they fight the passion pulling them together while her father’s killer stalks them?

The small, warm form lay still below him. Had he killed her? No. Her ragged gasps penetrated his fear. Nicholas hadn’t meant to land so hard, but the aggravating chit deserved it. She held a gun on him and threatened to shoot!

But she was a woman, and a small one at that. He jumped off her, grabbed her arm, and hauled her to her feet.

“Let go…of…me.” She panted as she fought to catch her breath.

“Are you hurt?”

“I don’t…know. Probably. You pounced on me.” She fought to free herself.

He released her. “You had a gun.”

Miss Stevenson brushed the dirt from her bodice and skirt. “You tried to kidnap us.”

“I wasn’t kidnapping you. I was returning you and your sister to your uncle. He is worried about you.” He strode to one side of the cave and scooped up the gun lying beside the wall.

“He doesn’t care for us. His concern is how much money our marriages will bring him.” She examined her palm and winced. “We won’t go back.”

“He is your guardian.” He peered at her hands. “You cut yourself.”

She glared at him. “It’s your fault, and he’s not my guardian. I am of age.”

“Well, Miss Emily isn’t, and he wants you both. Where will your sister hide?”

“I have no idea.”

She walked away. This female who didn’t reach his shoulder actually walked away. He thought this job would be quick and easy, and he would soon be with his brother and sister with money to start repairing the crumbling estate he inherited, so he could return to the army where he belonged. Where exasperating women didn’t question his orders and answered when asked for information. He ran to catch up and grabbed her elbow. “Where are you going?”

AmazonB&NiTunesKoboThe Wild Rose PressGoodreads

I have always liked to read and write. As a child, I created stories featuring a young girl and her horse.

I started reading historical romances when my children were babies. When my youngest daughter started school, I decided I wanted to write one. At first, to see if I could, later as a hobby, and then seeking publication. Becoming a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History, and my local chapter, New England Chapter helped in the process.

I live in the Northeast with my husband and two adult daughters and work in my local library. When I am not reading or writing, I enjoy walking, dancing, and spending time at the beach. I am the one under the umbrella, wearing a hat, sunglasses, and tee shirt over my bathing suit. I have my English and Irish ancestry to thank for my white skin that burns easily.

FacebookWebsiteTwitterGoodreadsAmazonThe Wild Rose Press

Promo tour: Val and Pal Series by Margaret Lashley

VAL & PALS series

by Margaret Lashley

Genre: Humor/Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit




The first 2 books will be specially discounted to 99 cents on Sept 19th.

Absolute Zero: Misadventures From A Broad

A Midlife Meltdown…with a Side of Fries.

Val’s long-suffering life as a patient daughter, dutiful wife and reliable workhorse has turned her into a snarky, miserable nag.

She has the house, the husband and the career. The only thing missing is the happy.

Before she’s set out to pasture, Val wants one more go around the track. Unbridled. In Italy.

La dolce vita or bust.

Will Val find her happy ending abroad? Or someplace she never thought to look? And will she get there before her money and her sense of humor run out…

If you’ve ever dreamed of ditching your life and running off to Europe, now’s your chance! Join Val on a roller-coaster ride through Europe that will leave you gasping! From gut-busting hilarity to gut–wrenching gaffs, finding yourself again is always worth the price of admission. Buy it now!

The plane came to a halt. A mechanical bell binged. I looked around nervously. I slung my purse across my shoulder and sardined myself into the line of passengers inching their way down the narrow aisle. When I reached the plane’s exit door, I paused hesitantly, like a convict who’d gotten free of her cuffs without anybody noticing. My mind swirled with excitement and abject terror. Goosebumps rushed across my body. The hair at the base of my neck pricked up like a scaredy-cat.

What the hell was I doing?

Mere days before, I’d slammed every single door – including the screen one – on my life back in Florida. The last chance to change my mind had come and gone, as unheeded as a speed limit sign at a NASCAR rally. Every safety net I’d ever known was thousands of miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean, out of sight and out of reach.

I took a deep breath to steady myself, then stepped off the plane into the complete unknown. I glanced back and waved goodbye to the Air Italia flight crew. I turned again and meandered down the gangplank behind a frail, elderly couple holding hands. Their long-standing marriage triggered flashbacks of my own, long-suffering one.

Seven weeks ago, I’d signed the final divorce papers ending fifteen years of matrimony to Jimmy Johnson, a man I no longer knew. I envisioned the beautiful house Jimmy and I had shared together. I’d sold it and my advertising business just days before the flight. After splitting the pot with Jimmy, I’d netted a hot-damn jackpot of $473,000. I pictured my best friend, Clarice Whittle. I’d left my Ford in her garage, along with a few boxes that held the final remains of the cranky, resentful woman I hoped this trip would get rid of for good.

I’d brought next to nothing with me. I’d left even less behind. No kids. No pets. No job. No husband. No responsibilities. No nothing.

I’d spend the last forty-one years in perpetual motion – Val Jolly’s non-stop stint as dutiful daughter, long-suffering wife and brown-nosing business woman. I’d catered to everyone else’s needs for as long as I could remember. Somewhere along the way I’d turned into a crabby, shrill woman that even I didn’t like. I’d forgotten who I was and what I wanted. This trip was going be my R&R&R – relaxation, romance and re-invention.

I was in Italy to try my hand at living irresponsibly, like my trampy cousin Tammy Jeter. She’d always done as she damn well pleased. Up ‘til now, I’d thought she’d been selfish. Especially when she left Whitey Large and their five pit-bulls (One with puppies!) to run off with Tater Johnson. Turns out, that girl had had it right all along.


Available for only 99cents Sept 15-19

AmazonBookBub Goodreads

Glad One: Starting Over is a …!

How Many Do-Overs Do You Get in One Lifetime?

One crazy old lady. Two gin & tonics. Three wacko beach-bum friends. Will Val’s fourth stab at starting over add up to a big fat zero?

Val’s down, but don’t count her out just yet. Broke, but not broken (just seriously cracked), Val Fremden returns to her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida to find everything she knew squashed under the heels of change.

With nothing left to go on but her own dry sense of humor and the life coach advice of a beer-guzzling old lady she meets at the beach, can her life get any crazier? Just wait.

Glad One is a satirical look at divorce, single-hood and climbing back up the social ladder. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, reluctant, midlife-crisis survivor who lost everything — but regained herself.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Val? Or is that just the headlamp of another train wreck heading her way? Knowing Val, it’s probably both.

If you like wacky, deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Glad One! It’s the second book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

A puff of jaded air forced its way between my pursed lips like steam from a relief valve. I needed a good cry. But this was not the time or place for it. To distract myself, I started counting my blessings.

One decimated pocketbook. Two cottage-cheese thighs. Three maladjusted ex-husbands…. Crap!

Whoever was running the show up there had a wicked sense of humor – and I was getting damn tired of being the punchline. I scrounged around for my powder compact and opened it, intent on repairing my makeup after the nine-hour flight. One glance in the mirror at my worn-out face made me snap it shut. Why bother?

In forty-five years, I’d accumulated a good portion of wrinkles, a fair amount of belly fat, and, apparently, precious little wisdom. These questionable assets, along with $5,726 and a suitcase full of inappropriate clothes, were all I had left to launch my latest life makeover. I slumped back into my seat. I was bone-dragging tired. Even so, a wry grin snuck across my lips like a stolen kiss from a stranger. I was not defeated. Not yet, anyway.

The way I saw it, I still had two viable options. One, I could finally learn to laugh at myself. Or two, I could drink myself into oblivion. I fished around the bottom of my purse for a coin to determine my fate. I flipped a tarnished nickel into the air with my thumb. It did a triple gainer, plunged into my coffee, and splashed a nasty brown stain on the crotch of my white stretch pants.

Awesome. Let the festivities begin.

***

My last life makeover had begun over seven years ago, and had turned out to be a spectacular, downward spiral reminiscent of diving off a cliff with a bowling ball in my pants. Drowning in dullness and fueled by movie-inspired stupidity, I’d ditched a tiresome marriage and lucrative writing career, sold all my belongings and took off for Europe. In Italy, I met a German and fell in love with the idea of life with a stranger in a strange land. Things had been great for a while. But then the shiny wore off and the cracks showed up, like they always did.

On my arrival back in St. Petersburg, Florida, I’d discovered that seven wasn’t such a lucky number. In fact, seven years abroad had been just exactly long enough for my entire credit history to be erased – just like most of my money. I’d gotten off that plane with no driver’s license. No place to live. No credit card. No phone. No resume. And, worst of all, no friends. Incredibly, I’d somehow managed to become a foreigner in my own homeland.

As a lifelong lover of irony, I’d had to smile at my own ingenuity. How many other people on the planet could have claimed such a monumental fuck-up?

Available for only 99cents Sept 19-22

AmazonBookBub Goodreads

Two Crazy: Fickle Finger of Fate

The World is not a Safe Place for Figurines.

When you’re pushing 50 with an industrial bulldozer, birthdays can be a bitch. What was intended as a gag gift for Val ends up making her gag all right – and lands her in a whole heap of trouble with the law.

With one hot cop on her tail and a mean one on her trail, Val turns to old friends and new ones to help prove she’s not into human dismemberment.

Who’s the good cop? Who’s the bad? And who’s the dwarf in the Halloween mask?

Will a pair of falsies help Val stumble onto the truth? If not, she’s got to rely on her wacky, beach-bum friends if she’s going to escape the fickle finger of fate.

Two Crazy is a satirical look at how life seems to take pleasure in screwing up all of our well-laid plans. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, middle-aged woman with major trust issues and dubious, yet highly original coping skills.

If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Two Crazy. It’s the third book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

I woke the morning after my birthday party with a cop in my bed and a dead body in the kitchen. Okay, it was just a roach carcass. But I swear it was big enough to draw a chalk line around. It was legs-up in the middle of the floor. I’d fumbled, bleary-eyed, toward the cappuccino machine in nothing but Tom’s t-shirt, and had managed, of course, to step right on it. The disgusting crunch of its carapace underfoot made me scream like a little girl.

“Aaahhhh!”

As a native of the Sunshine State, I’d grown up learning to deal with the worst that Florida’s flora and fauna had to throw at me. Poison ivy. Cabbage-palm spikes. Daddy long-leg spiders. Fire ants. Kamikaze tree frogs. Ghoulish house geckos. Deadly rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. Even the occasional gator on the road or in a swimming pool. I’d managed to make my peace with all of them – except one.

Let a roach get anywhere near me – especially a flying one – and my bravado disappeared faster than Oreos at a Weight Watcher’s convention. When I’d stepped on that nasty bug, I’d let out a scream that could be heard on the International Space Station. If that marked me as a sissy, so be it. But there was something abhorrently primeval about a creature that could live for months without its own head.

“What’s going on in there!?”

Tom dashed into the room. He was naked except for his state-issued revolver. The sight of his tan, muscular body almost made me forget about my predicament. Almost.

“A roach,” I grimaced. I held up my foot like it needed stitches.

Tom grinned at me and shook his head.

“There appears to be no permanent damage. What happened to my fearless partner? Valliant Stranger?”

“Hey. Roaches are my kryptonite, okay?”

“Duly noted. I thought you put out some traps. Roach Motels, right?”

I took a paper towel off the roll and ran it under the tap. I bit my lip in disgust and wiped my foot.

“Yeah, I did. I guess there was no room left at the inn.”

Tom sniggered. “Don’t those things come with ‘No Vacancy’ signs?”

“Very funny, Mr. Morning Sunshine. Can we please change the subject now?”

“Okay.”

A dirty grin crept across his face. Tom sidled up to me and put his hands on my hips.

“Have you got a vacancy that I can fill?”

I knocked his hands off of me.

“Geeze, Tom. I think that may go down in history as the most disgusting foreplay line ever.”

Tom scooped me up into his arms. His naughty grin deepened his dimples and crinkled the corners of his hypnotic, green eyes.

“Okay, how about this? I’ve got a gun, lady. Better do what I say.”

Both my hormones and my imagination went haywire.

“Now that’s something I can work with.”

AmazonBookBub Goodreads

Three Dumb: Wheelin’ & Dealin’

Baloney and Cheesed.

They say three’s the charm. But charming isn’t Val’s style.

Val Fremden is a lot of things. Quirky. Jaded. Disaster prone. But more than anything, she’s afraid of commitment.

When boyfriend Tom tells her he loves her – then trades away her mom’s ashes for a tiki hut – Val’s just not feelin’ it.

On the warpath with Tom, Val’s forced to rely on her oddball friends to help track down her mom’s cremains. But three botched stakeouts and two disasters later, she still hasn’t got peanuts. Through trial (but mostly error), Val discovers it’s not easy to outwit a mobile master of disguise when she’s stuck driving a paddy wagon full of nutcases.

She loves Tom…she loves him not. Knowing Val, she’s gonna need a bigger flower….

Three Dumb is a satirical look at how life, over time, changes our perception of love and the things we value. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, middle-aged woman with legendary commitment issues and a gnawing reluctance toward romance.

If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Three Dumb. It’s the fourth book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

I’d spent Sunday evening alone, cooling down slowly, like the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. I’d avoided a critical meltdown, and when I woke up Monday morning, I’d found myself on the verge of no longer being a lethal danger to other life forms.

After a cappuccino and a long, cool shower, at 8 a.m. I called Lefty’s Hauling again. It rang fifteen times, unanswered. This was, of course, totally unacceptable. It was time for Plan B.

I slipped on a sundress and sandals, put my hair in a ponytail and climbed into the red pleather driver’s seat of Maggie, my 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible. With a little encouragement in the form of smashing her gas pedal to the floor, Maggie carried me north along Gulf Boulevard. The four-lane road, lined with two- and three-story beach resorts, skirted the Gulf of Mexico like stiches in a hem.

Year round, tourists flocked to the quaint mom-and-pop motels and sugar-white beaches. I couldn’t blame them. All-in-all, St. Pete Beach was a great place to be.

I turned east on 107th Avenue. Immediately, the salt air and kitsch beach shops disappeared, replaced with anywhere-USA strip malls. At 66th Street, I turned north in the direction of good-old Pinellas Park.

Every major metropolitan area had a section designated especially for rednecks. How they found each other, I didn’t know. Maybe they were all related, or there was some special redneck hotline I wasn’t privy to. At any rate, in Pinellas County, the mecca for country bumpkins and politically incorrect-and-proud-of-it folks was definitely Pinellas Park.

If it weren’t for Florida’s history of hurricanes and tropical storms, Pinellas Park would have choked to death on doublewide trailers decades ago. But in 1993, a freak storm took out all but the very highest quality manufactured homes. It had been dubbed the “1993 Storm of the Century” by some, the “’93 Super Storm” by others, and the “Great Blizzard of 1993” by the Yankees up north. But we locals simply called it the “No-Name Storm,” because it had come up so quickly and unexpectedly not even the weather forecasters had had time to register it with an official moniker.

It had begun on March 12th as a cyclonic storm in the Gulf of Mexico, then quickly grew into a beast that stretched from Cuba to Canada. It moved into Florida around midnight, catching us unaware with winds over 100 mph. It spawned 11 tornadoes and a storm surge in St. Pete that topped out at seven feet. For folks along the coast, bay and rivers, it had been devastating. It wiped out or damaged over 18,000 homes in the Sunshine State and killed 47 of our citizens, more than Hugo and Andrew combined. Suffice it to say, it was not a good time to be living in a tin can on wheels.

AmazonBookBub Goodreads

WHAT FOUR

November 7, 2017

Most Definitely Contains Nuts.

All Val wants is a quiet holiday away from her oddball family. But a promise pried from her lips earlier in the year has blown that wish out the henhouse window.

When Val and her boyfriend Tom arrive at her mother’s house in Hicksville, USA, the annual Family Fruitcake Competition is well underway. And there’s more than a few fruits and nuts in the running.

But the biggest contest is between Val and her mom.

As their battle of wills heats up, unexpected ingredients get thrown into both women’s batter. It may be time to call in a referee….

Who will get best in show? Who will get their just desserts? And will Val’s half-baked family turn out to be too much baggage for Tom to handle? Order a copy and find out!

If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love What Four. It’s the fifth book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

Like the characters in my novels, I haven’t lead a life of wealth or luxury. In fact, as it stands now, I’m set to inherit a half-eaten jar of Cheez Whiz…if my siblings don’t beat me to it.

During my illustrious career, I’ve been a roller-skating waitress, an actuarial assistant, an advertising copywriter, a real estate agent, a house flipper, an organic farmer, and a traveling vagabond/truth seeker. But no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done, I’ve always felt like a weirdo.

As a child I lived in my own pretend world of tickling fairies and talking cats. I began writing when I found an ancient black typewriter on my grandparent’s back porch. (Inspired by my brothers, Boys are Stupid was my first masterpiece.)

I’ve learned a heck of a lot in my life. But getting to know myself has been my greatest journey. Today, I know I’m smart. I’m direct. I’m jaded. I’m hopeful. I’m funny. I’m fierce. I’m a pushover. And I have a laugh that makes strangers want to join me at restaurants. In other words, I’m a jumble of opposing talents and flaws and emotions. And it’s all good.

In some ways, I’m a lot like Val Fremden the main character in my Val & Pals Series. My books featuring Val are not autobiographical, but what comes out of her mouth was first formed in my mind, and sometimes the parallels are undeniable. I drink TNTs. I had a car like Shabby Maggie. And I’ve started my life over four times, driving away with whatever earthly possessions fit in my car. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that friends come from unexpected places.

FacebookWebsiteGoodreadsAmazonBookBub

Promo Tour: A Bad Boy Billionaire Romance by Shayne Ford

 

A BAD BOY BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE

Night of the Kings series

by Shayne Ford

Genre: New Adult Erotic Romance

 LUST. POWER. BAD BOYS. LOVE. BETRAYAL.
This is a story about love, taming hearts, growing up and changing. It is about a good girl corrupting a bad boy, who turns her into a bad girl. And then, it’s about a bad girl, who brings the bad boy to his knees.
Rain meets James for the first time, fresh out of high school. Fascinated by him, she wants him to be her first man, someone she can never forget. At twenty-five, James is a ruthless, powerful, wealthy man, who’s never had feelings for a woman and wants to keep things that way.
He has two handsome best friends who are also his business partners.
This is NOT a conventional, linear romance. Expect a bit of a mess, dirty bits, other people, cliffhangers and twists of situations. 



Chapter ONE


RAIN

Nobody knows where they come from.
Some people say they travel from the other side of the hills, where the wealthiest estates of the county share the beautiful scenery of Aspen and the well-guarded privacy of big money, but they could drive from farther away.
They come with the first whispers of the fall when the days are still warm, and the light looks like golden honey pouring slowly in a jar of glass. When the nights grow cold, and the leaves flutter in the wind under the vault of the cerulean sky. When homes like mine and Eve’s smell like cinnamon and apple pies, and smoke drifts from the piles of leaves burning outside.
They drive through town like ghosts while we spend our evenings tucked under the blankets, sipping tea and eating cookies, spinning stories like this.
But some people swear they see them all year round. Mostly at night, and almost never during the day, and that’s why it’s so hard to believe.
As they sweep through town, the whispers become murmurs before they turn into gossip, the stories, old and new, resurfacing, revived, spurring restlessness amongst the youngsters and skepticism amongst the older.
Men brush the idea off, huffing and puffing and grumping, turning a deaf ear to the women’s ramblings.
People spot their cars or bikes, but not that many get the chance to see them. Certainly not us, who are barely out of high school.
Women are the ones who spread the rumors, but their stories should be taken with a grain of salt.
Regardless, the tales and mysteries abound.
Eve and I love the legend.
Unlike her, I’m not willing to admit.
Some say they head west–– right outside of town, where an old estate sprawls on a big piece of land, guarded by the majestic forest in the background.
That’s where the road comes to an end, and the Dark House rises on the shore of a large, shimmering lake, the mansion shrouded in a lot of mystery just like them.
Surrounded by old trees, alleys with wrought iron benches, flowering shrubs and a brick wall covered with wild roses, the property–– if we are to believe the story, belongs to them.
Footpaths crisscross the land, an old tale saying there’s an abandoned tunnel hidden in the thick woods stretching behind the house.
Other people have spotted them downtown at Red’s–– the building with charcoal gray walls, red painted stairs, and black tinted windows. The playground of the most powerful and wealthiest men in town, perhaps the county. The favorite place for wheeling and dealing and indulging in guilty pleasures away from their spouses’ eyes.
Throughout the years the space we grew up in has become a portal between old and new, truth and secret, pure and sin, stories like this making the town feel so alive.
“Wait for me,” Eve shouts as I dart away from her, the wind blowing in my hair, the sun kissing my cheeks.
“I’ll meet you down there,” I say, pointing at the bottom of the slope.

Chapter ONE


Rain

One week till Christmas~New York

There’s no stronger force than love. It makes you crawl and cry and curse. It tortures you and poisons you before it shows you bliss to hook you even more, and then it makes you bleed. It brings the toughest man to his knees and turns a woman’s heart into a pile of ashes.
“She doesn’t pay you to read… you know,” a terse voice rings out behind me, scratching my ears.
I stifle a retort.
She who pays me is not the owner of the store, and she who speaks is not my boss, but that’s useless to convey as well.
Clinging to my last ounce of dignity, I slowly fold the piece of paper, place it in my pocket and start stacking books on the shelf.
The more I sense her stare on my back, the more nervous I become. Suddenly, my lips are dry, and my hands turn sweaty as my dress begins to itch.
Pacing myself, I run trembling fingers over my skirt. I wish she’d go away. No fucking chance.
I have no other choice but turn around and face her.
Angel, my co-worker, a petite woman in her mid-twenties, who looks more mature than her age, straightens her back and creases her lips into a disdainful smile.
Her orange sweater makes the pearls around her neck look yellow and her skin translucent. A tangerine ribbon holds her curly hair in place as her beaded eyes follow me intently from behind thick-rimmed glasses.
How many times have we been through this?
She harassing me while I pretend I’m an idiot.
“I thought you’re leaving,” I say dryly.
“I am,” she says, throwing me a disgusted look, her fingers flipping a freshly sharpened pencil.
My eyes drop to the wedding band gracing her ring finger.
Who can love a woman like this?
Pure hatred runs in her blood.
“I just want to remind you that until you close the store, you have to make sure the customers’ calls don’t end up in the voicemail. She doesn’t like that,” Angel says, acting as a surrogate for Candy, our new boss.
I clench my teeth to push back another retort.
I’d gladly give her a piece of my mind, but more than anything else I need this job and the meager paycheck that helps me to survive or rather doesn’t let me die.
“Okay,” I say, looking at her blankly.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out what possesses her to pick on me, day in and day out?
It was like that from the very beginning.
Before I even had the chance to open my mouth and introduce myself or say a thing or two about my life, her mind was already made up.
She’s not much older than me, and she’s not my boss, but somehow she thinks she is. She started working a couple of weeks before me, and yet she behaves as if she owns the store

 


RAIN

The ocean breeze sweeps my feet.
Soft as a feather, the wind rolls onto my legs and my back before it trails my backside. It takes me only a mere second to realize I’m naked.
Caught between sleep and awareness, I stretch my arm and tap the mattress behind me, looking for the sheet.
I slide it over my body and let myself fall back to sleep, hoping to steal another hour. The seagulls have a different plan and start a riot on the beach.
I give up on the idea and just lie on the bed with my eyes closed, and my nostrils filled with the ocean scent.
A smell of coffee drifts from nearby. More awareness settles in, a nagging thought coming along with it.
He didn’t sleep in bed with me.
In fact, he hasn’t touched me since that night.
None of them have.
That must be him, and his instructions.
There’s no other explanation. The Night of the Kings, and my brief encounter with Lex wouldn’t have happened either, had he not given them the green light.
Another thought surfaces in my head.
Today is our last day on the island.
My stomach shrinks and my chest tightens with tension. Forget about sleeping. I crack my eyes open.
The wide stretch of glimmering blue water and the silver sand come into view. It’s a windy morning with the sky mostly clear, only a few fluffy clouds chased away by the wind here and there.
I could live and write in a place like this. I wouldn’t need a big house. Nothing like this for sure. A room or two will do. As long as I’d have the beach, the ocean and the crying seagulls my life would be like a dream.
I can envision myself sitting in a wicker chair, sipping margaritas, and plotting away. Knitting stories.
Hmm. That’s a nice thought. I smile for a few moments before I I shake off the fantasy and look around.
The house is eerily quiet. I crawl across the bed, snatch my phone from the nightstand and flip it over.
It’s almost ten.
Propped on my elbows, I scan the beach, looking for them. The shore is empty.
I slide off the bed, wrap the sheet around my body, take a few stairs down and glance around. The water ripples in the pool while the palmetto leaves sway in the wind.
I take a few more steps, the warm sand brushing my feet. Shielding my eyes from the sun, I look up and down the beach.
There’s no sign of them.
Intrigued, I spin around and make the trip back, entering the house.
Chamber after chamber, I get the same feeling. There’s no one else in here but me. In perfect order, the rooms bear no signs of them. The bedroom doors are wide open, the beds untouched as if no one slept in them last night.
I check the closets. They’re empty as well. I dash back to my bedroom, toss the sheet on the bed, pick up my underwear, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and get dressed in a hurry.
SECRETS. LIES. DECEIT. A GAME OF LUST AND BURNING PASSION.
Dahlia is a girl who just started building her own path in life. Lex is the man who has it all, except for one thing.
His heart is full of secrets, and his blood is filled with lust, yet no one can tame his fire.
Fate brings them together in more ways than one. He has a taste for mysteries. She has a heart made for love.
Falling for him is the hardest thing she’s ever done.
Satisfying her is the most pleasurable thing he’s ever done.
Will this be the everlasting love?
This is NOT a conventional, linear romance. Expect a bit of a mess, dirty bits, cliffhangers and twists of situations.
This is a New Adult Erotic Romance. 18+ Only.
PLEASE NOTE: Although a standalone, Lex’s story includes spoilers of James’ story since it unfolds in the same world at a later date. If you wish to know the backstory of the Kings, reading James’ story (book 1-3) is highly recommended
Shayne Ford writes NEW ADULT, Erotic Romance, the love stories involving hot-blooded men and adventurous, soulful women. The male cast includes Rock Stars, Billionaires, Bad Boys, Alphas with a heart, and the sweet, strong man you may find next door. The stories are emotional and deliciously hot. Sometimes they’re unconventional, and sometimes they’re a bit dark.Her Series are epic, layered, character-driven, and have a lot of depth. They are not the typical romance, nor are they formulaic or follow a mold.