Category: Books In The Wind ‘N Air, Sneak Peaks and More


by Eliza Knight

Publication Date: 6/30/2020

Toran Fraser encounters a mysterious rebel, and he can’t resist being recruited to her cause…

Toran Fraser is hell-bent on taking down the Jacobites. On a late-night mission, he’s intercepted by a woman known only as “Mistress J,” who’s determined to put Prince Charlie back on the throne of Scotland. Toran can’t resist her appeal—especially with her pistol pointed at his heart—and suddenly finds himself joining the rebellion…

By day, highborn Jenny Mackintosh runs her estate in the Highlands. By night, she’s one of Prince Charlie’s Angels—a band of Jacobite rebels. Scoffing at mortal danger, she raises coin, delivers weapons, and recruits soldiers for the rebellion. When she encounters a handsome Highlander who is clearly on the run, she is more than a little intrigued. She isn’t expecting to be his enemy…

ELIZA KNIGHT is an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty sizzling historical romances. Under the name E. Knight, she’s known for riveting tales that cross landscapes around the world. When not reading, writing, or researching, she chases after her three children. In her spare time she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, and visiting with family and friends. She lives in Maryland.

Author Website: http://www.elizaknight.com

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Excerpt:

Toran jerked around. Suddenly, figures melted out from the shadows. Scots, but in the dark and dressed as they were, he couldn’t make out what clan they hailed from. At the center of the five men stood a lass. Aye, she wore trews and had her hair up under a cap, wisps of golden strands peeking through, but there was no hiding the curves beneath her shirt and waistcoat. In the moonlight filtering through the trees, she looked bonnie—high, arching cheekbones, a mouth that puckered into a frown. But what struck him most was the spark of fire in her gaze. Her eyes reflected the light of the moon, almost making her look like she was glowing.

And the muzzle of her pistol was pointed right at him. Outlaws… Of all the bloody luck. He reached for his own pistol tucked into his belt.

“Dinna move,” the lass said. Her voice was throaty, sensual. “Else I put a bullet through your heart.”

A slow grin formed on Toran’s face. “What’s to say I won’t put a bullet in yours first?”

The lass looked down at Archie and then flicked her gaze back to his. “Ye’re outnumbered. Let’s say ye were willing to pull your weapon before I took my shot, and then ye were to waste your bullet, there’d be five more cutting through ye before ye were able to see the result.” Again, she looked at Archie. “And your friend doesna seem like he will be much help.”

“We’re verra close to the English garrison, lass. Any shot ye make will be a beacon to the dragoons lurking about. And trust me, there are hundreds of them headed this way as we speak.”

“Is that so?” She glanced at Archie once more. “A prison break? So ye two are rebels, aye?”

Toran didn’t answer. Let her come to her own conclusions.

“We have horses.” She kept her gaze on his, and he had the intense urge to draw closer. “Ye and your friend can have one when we return to my camp—for a price. Why not donate your coin to the cause and join us? We’ve a need for more rebels.”

Toran did not want to join her. Now, if she’d asked him to join her for some mutual warmth under a plaid, that would be another story. Then again, she had a point about the bullets. And he truly did not want to die.

“I’m guessing from your current circumstances ye are in need of a helping hand, sir.” Her voice was smooth, even melodic, but still filled with authority. And considering that she was the one speaking, she certainly gave the impression that she was the one in charge. Fascinating.

A group of men led by a woman? Not a common thing, and intensely intriguing. Whoever she was, she had ballocks as full of steel as his own. And if he weren’t trapped in the woods with her, a hundred redcoats on his tail, he might have asked her to join him for a dram.

“Who are ye?” Toran asked.

A soft laugh escaped her, and her hand waved dismissively. “Not yet, sir. Ye’ll have to prove yourself first.”

Prove himself? He gritted his teeth. “All right, we’ll join ye.” There really was no other choice. He and Archie needed a quick escape, and her horse would provide that. Just because he was taking her up on the offer now didn’t mean he had to stick it out. In fact, as soon as he could, he’d steal the horse and somehow get Archie back to Fraser lands where he could make certain the rest of his family was safe from Boyd.

“Good.” She nodded to Dirk. “Search them for weapons, and then help the wounded man onto your horse.”

Toran stood still for the inspection, gritting his teeth as his weapons were removed. “I’ve said we’d join ye. Why then are ye treating me like a prisoner?”

The lass cocked her head to the side, a slight grin curling her upper lip. “We must first see that ye are trustworthy.” With an added challenge echoing in her words, she said, “Ye can ride with me. And dinna try any tricks, else ye find yourself verra dead.”

The lass didn’t beat around the bush, and there was no hint of humor in her tone at all. She meant what she said.

Toran climbed onto the back of her horse, his cold, wet body flush to her warmer, dry back. Beneath the icy exterior was a lass full of lush curves. Mo chreach… Good heavens, but she felt good. Hesitantly, he placed an arm around her waist.

She shuddered. “Blast, but ye’re soaked,” she hissed. “Ye should have warned me. And ye smell like the devil’s own chamber pot.”

Toran chuckled. “A hazard of escape, lass.”

Mistress J? Why did that sound familiar?

Her back straightened, and she leaned forward, away from him. “Ye can call me Mistress J.”

“And ye are?” she urged.

“I’m called Toran,” he said slowly as realization struck him. The night had taken a very interesting turn. For he was holding onto the woman he suspected might be responsible for his mother’s death.

***

Excerpted from The Rebel Wears Plaid by Eliza Knight. © 2020 by Eliza Knight. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

by Kari Lynn Dell

Publication Date: 6/30/2020

There’s a reason they call this cowboy relentless

Gil Sanchez was once rodeo’s biggest and baddest hotshot. Now he’s thirteen years sober and finally free of the pain that ended his skyrocketing career. Given one last, near-miraculous shot to claw his way back to rodeo glory, he can’t let fantasies of happily-ever-after dull his razor edge…but Carmelita White Fox is every dream he’s never let himself have. 

And from the moment he saw the spark of challenge in her eyes, he hasn’t been able to look away. 

Carma may come from a Blackfeet family noted for its healing abilities, but even she knows better than to try to fix this scarred, cynical, and incredibly sexy cowboy. Yet she’s the only one who can reach past Gil’s jaded armor, and the fiercely loyal heart buried beneath the biting cynicism is impossible to resist. Gil needs Carma just as much as she needs him, but as the pressure builds and the spotlight intensifies, they’ll have to fight like hell to save the one thing neither can live without.

KARI LYNN DELL brings a lifetime of personal experience to writing western romance. She is a third generation rancher and rodeo competitor existing in a perpetual state of horse-induced poverty on the Blackfeet Nation of northern Montana, along with her husband, son and Max the Cowdog.

Author Website: http://www.karilynndell.com/

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Excerpt:

If following Carmelita was a bad idea, it was going to be one of the more interesting mistakes Gil had made. He didn’t just want her. He craved her…and that rarely boded well for him. But just this one time… 

When the back door of the bar thumped shut behind them, Carmelita stopped and dragged in a long, deep breath. Her words came out in puffs of vapor. “God, that was suffocating.” 

The closeness of the overcrowded bar? The argument with her cousin? The attention? “Why did you come?” 

“My grandmother volunteered my services. Fund-raisers are the worst, though. Everyone is so…” Her hands fluttered in a broad circle, encompassing the tearful outpourings of gratitude that marked benefits. 

“You’re used to being in the spotlight.” 

“I prefer an audience to a crowd,” she said flatly. And the difference was in the separation. She could walk off a stage without interacting with the masses. 

She tipped her head back to gaze into the heavens and her body language slowly shifted, as if she was drawing in the stillness. When she started off through the parking lot, she once again moved with fluid grace. Gil matched her stride, closing the space between them so his coat sleeve swished against hers. 

“Bing told me about you, and introduced me to your… friend,” she said. 

With that slight hesitation, she summed up Gil’s uncertainty about his relationship with Hank, past and future. “I’m his sponsor,” he corrected stiffly. 

“Mmm.” A sound that translated to if that’s what you want to tell yourself. “We lack many things up here on the rez, but we do not have a shortage of recovering addicts.” 

“I watched Hank grow up. I understand him.” 

She angled a searching glance beneath lowered lashes. “I see.” 

Yes, she did. There was something in the way she looked at him—through him—that made him want to both hide and move closer. He did neither. The breeze caught her hair, sending a strand fluttering and carrying the scent of pine needles and snow down from the mountains. He swung around to face her as they stopped beside the door to his truck, and when he looked into her eyes, he felt as if he was losing his balance, falling into one of the bottomless mountain lakes—only much warmer. He could just keep sinking and sinking… 

She caught him, pressing her hands flat against his chest, but her smile was tinged with regret. “I wish I could stay. You and I would be very good together, I think.” 

The image of Carmelita naked and lush under his hands sent heat shuddering through him. Then he registered what she was saying. 

“You’re leaving?” Gil frowned at her in disbelief. 

The hitch of her shoulder set the moonlight shimmering through her hair. “I can’t leave my grandparents with a sick baby.” 

“His mother didn’t seem overly concerned.” Gil’s voice was harsh, along with his judgment of her charming cousin. Even when he’d been regularly popping Vicodin like breath mints, he’d managed to stay clean on the weekends he’d had his son. 

Carmelita smoothed her palms over the front of his jacket. “Next time?” 

“I won’t be back.” 

She angled her head to give him another searching look, then nodded. “You’re taking Hank home. That explains it.” 

“What?” 

“This.” Her hand moved down, pressing with unerring accuracy over the clutch in his gut. She reached up with the other to brush cool fingers over the knot of tension in his forehead. “And this.” 

He wanted to lean into that touch—into her—and let her wipe his mind clean for a few hours. 

“I’m sorry I can’t do more.” She stroked a blissful circle on his temple. “But I can give you something for that headache.” 

“A fistful of ibuprofen?” 

“A promise.” Her eyes were steady, her tone certain. “Hank will be fine. He’s stronger than you think, and whatever you’re keeping from him, he’ll understand it was for the best. So will the others.” 

Gil jerked his head back. “I never said anything to Bing about that.” 

Her hands fell away and she angled her gaze upward, eyes going distant. In the Panhandle the stars were painted on the sky. Here it seemed as if they were standing among them. 

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just feel it. But I’m almost always right.” 

Without warning, she tipped onto her toes and pressed her mouth to his. Her lips were cool, but at the touch of her tongue the glowing embers they’d been gathering between them burst into flame, whooshing through him like a prairie fire. His thoughts, the last of his reservations, the ability to think at all were consumed by a wall of heat. He gripped the lapels of her coat to drag her hard against him, and she fisted her hands in the sides of his jacket, pressing even closer. Her tongue slid over his, the friction setting off more sparks. 

A palpable shudder ran through her. She braced her hands on his shoulders, slowly, inexorably separating her mouth from his. Then she smiled, a copper-skinned Madonna with fathomless eyes, and pressed a palm over his thundering heart. “You should get some rest, Gil Sanchez. You’ve got a long drive tomorrow.” 

***

Excerpted from Relentless in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell. © 2020 by Kari Lynn Dell. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved

by Jennie Marts

Publication Date: 6/30/2020

The town of Creedence, Colorado, gets involved in horse rescue in bestseller Jennie Marts’ brilliant new series

Zane Taylor has a gift for communicating with animals, particularly horses, but he’s at a loss when it comes to women. He’s a scarred and battered loner who has sworn off love—except he can’t seem to stay away from Bryn Callahan.

Bryn Callahan has a heart for strays, as evidenced by the assembly of abandoned animals that have found their way to her doorstep. But she is through trying to save damaged men. She vows to date only nice guys, which is a category that does not include Zane Taylor. Too bad he’s the one who sets her pulse racing every time she’s around him.

A chance encounter with a horse headed for slaughter brings Zane and Bryn together. Although starting a horse rescue ranch wasn’t in the plan, now Zane and Bryn have a chance to save not just the animals, but maybe each other…

Jennie Marts is the USA Today bestselling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. She is living her own happily ever after with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies, in the mountains of Colorado.

Author Website: https://jenniemarts.com/

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Excerpt:

The still-nameless dog jumped into the cab as Zane Taylor opened the door of his pickup, and he absently patted its head and rubbed behind its ears. The dog leaned into him and got that blissed-out look on its face, and Zane’s tension eased a little as it always did when he interacted with an animal. The late spring sun warmed Zane’s back, and as soon as he turned his attention away from the dog, he felt the weight of the decision he bore on his shoulders. His former boss, Maggie, had been nagging him to come back to his old job on her Montana ranch. She’d taken in a herd of wild stallions, and she needed him. He’d gotten by so far with vague replies, but it was time to give her an answer. Time to get back on the road and out of Creedence. Except the reason he was so fired up to leave was also the reason he wasn’t ready to walk away.

He shrugged the soreness from his shoulders. He’d had a good morning with Rebel, the headstrong black stallion he’d been working with for weeks now. Maybe the horse could feel the warmth in the air as well. Although it was Colorado, so they could still get a snowstorm or two before spring reluctantly slid into summer.

“Nice job today, horse whisperer,” Logan Rivers, his current boss, and friend, hollered from the corral where he was putting another horse through the paces.

Zane waved a hand in his direction, ignoring the comment, as he turned the engine over and pulled the door shut. He wasn’t fond of the nickname, even though Logan had been using it since they were in high school and working summers at Logan’s family’s ranch.

Zane could admit grudgingly that he did have a gift with horses, especially the dangerous or wild ones, somehow connecting with the animals better than he ever did with people.

The black-and-white border collie mix rested her head on Zane’s leg, and he stroked her neck as he drove toward Creedence, where no one was a stranger and everyone knew not just your business, but your cousin’s as well.

He lowered the windows and turned on the radio, contemplating the errands he needed to run after he grabbed a plate of biscuits and gravy at the diner. The thought made his mouth water. So did the thought of hopefully seeing a certain blond waitress who had been taking up way too many of his thoughts these last few months.

He slowed, his brow furrowing, as he recognized that same waitress’s car sitting empty on the side of the road. The car was an old nondescript blue sedan, but there was no mistaking the colorful bumper stickers stuck to the trunk. A bright blue one read “What if the hokey-pokey really is what it’s all about?” and the hot-pink one above the back taillight read “It was me. I let the dogs out.”

His heart rate quickened as his gaze went from the empty vehicle to a hundred yards up the road, where a woman walked along the side of the highway, her ponytail bouncing with each step and a light-colored dog keeping pace at her heels. Which was pretty impressive, in and of itself, since the dog had only three legs.

But then, everything about Bryn Callahan was kind of bouncy, and she was just as impressive as her dog. The woman was always upbeat and positive. Even now, with her car sitting busted on the side of the road, her steps still seemed to spring, and the bright sunlight glinted off her blond hair.

He drove past the abandoned car and onto the dirt shoulder as he slowed to a stop beside her. “Need a ride?”

She turned, her expression wary, then her face broke into a grin, and it was like the sun shining through the clouds after a rainstorm.

“Hey, Zane,” she said, the smile reaching all the way into her voice as she grasped the door handle. She looked steadily into his eyes, her gaze never wavering, never sliding sideways to stare at the three-inch, jagged scar starting at the corner of his eye and slicing down his cheek. Most people couldn’t keep their eyes off it, but Bryn acted as if it wasn’t there at all. “I sure do. I was supposed to start my shift at the diner ten minutes ago.”

She opened the door, and the dog bounded in, hitting the floorboards, then springing onto the seat to wiggle and sniff noses with the border collie. They could have powered a wind farm, the way their tails were wagging and their little butts were shaking.

“Hey, Lucky.” He leaned in as the dog leapt over the collie’s back and into Zane’s lap, where it proceeded to drench his face in fevered licks and puppy kisses. Lucky was like a hyper three-legged Tigger as he bounced from Zane’s lap back to the collie, over to Bryn, and back to Zane.

“Lucky, get off him,” Bryn scolded. She tried to push her way into the truck as she got her own slobbery reception from the collie.

Zane chuckled and grabbed her hand to help her into the cab. But his laugh stuck in his throat as heat shot down his spine and his mouth went dry. He swallowed and tried to focus on assisting her, instead of staring at the area of bare skin he glimpsed as the top of her dress buckled and gaped from her movement. It was just the side of her neck, but it was the exact spot he’d spent too much time thinking about kissing.

Silly mutts.” She laughed as she tossed her backpack on the floor and plopped into the seat. Her hand was soft, but her grip was solid, and for a moment, he wondered what would happen if he didn’t let go. “Wow, what a greeting,” she said, as she released his hand to buckle herself in.

Zane’s eyes were drawn to her legs like bees to honey. The woman had great legs, already tan, and muscular and shapely from her work at the diner. Her white cross-trainers were scuffed with the red dirt from the road, and she had a smudge of dust across one ankle that Zane was severely tempted to reach down and brush away so he could let his fingers linger on her skin.

Bryn wore a pink waitress dress, the kind that zips up the front, with a white collar and a little breast pocket, and the fabric hugged her curvy figure in all the right spots. For just a moment, Zane imagined pulling down that zipper—with his teeth. His back started to sweat just thinking about it.

Simmer down, man. He took a deep breath, utilizing the stress-reducing exercise he’d learned in the military, and tried to think of something witty to say. He didn’t usually let himself get carried away with those kinds of fantasies. But he didn’t usually have Bryn in his truck, filling his cab with the sound of her easy laughter and the scent of her skin—traces of honeysuckle and vanilla and the smell of fresh sheets off the line on a warm summer day.

“That dog is serious about kissing. I haven’t had that much action in months.” He winked, then laughed with her, pulling his hand back to ruffle Lucky’s ears as the dog settled into the seat next to the collie. He tried to play it off like a joke, to settle his pounding heart, when what he really wanted to do was pull her into his lap and kiss her face and throat the way Lucky had done to him. Well, not exactly the same way.

Bryn snorted and scratched the ears of the collie, who was softly whining as she pressed into Bryn’s shoulder. “He’s just happy to see you. It’s been a while, ya know?”

“Yeah, I know.” It had, in fact, been months since he’d seen her.

“Well, Lucky has noticed you haven’t been around much.” She dropped her gaze and her voice as she focused on petting the dog. “We both have.”

Both?

“Are you saying you missed me?”

“I didn’t say missed. I said noticed.”

She playfully nudged his elbow, and he felt the heat of her skin against his arm.

His shoulders slumped. Of course she hadn’t missed him.

“Of course I missed you. You all but disappeared after the great Christmas pie bake-off in December.”

He chuckled as he shook his head. “I still can’t believe we made fifteen pies in four hours.”

“I still can’t believe you wore a frilly apron with a glittery cupcake on the front.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What other kind of cupcake is there? And I liked that glittery color. I’m thinking of having it added to the paint job on my truck.”

A laugh burst from her. “I dare you to.”

He let his voice drop and offered her what he hoped was a flirtatious grin. “I do enjoy a good dare.”

She chuckled, then lowered her gaze to the dog’s shoulder, where she scratched its fur. “So, why didn’t I hear from you? Was it something I said or did?”

Yeah, it was everything you did—everything that made me want and hope and wish for something more. “Nah. I was going to call you, but we got real busy at the ranch. Then I heard you started dating some rough-stock cowboy, and I didn’t want to overstep.”

“Is it overstepping to be my friend?”

He cocked his head, eyeing her. “Is that what you want me to be? Your friend?”

“Of course. I didn’t give you my number for you to not call me.”

Wrong question, dumbass. Should have asked her if all she wanted was to be his friend. He offered her a shrug. “I’m not much of a talker.”

“That’s perfect. Because I can talk up a blue streak, and I’m always on the lookout for a good listener.”

He chuckled. “I can do that. I can probably even throw in an occasional grunt of agreement just so you know I’m paying attention.”

She giggled softly, and the sound swirled in his chest, melting into him like molasses on a warm pancake. “That sounds great.”

*******

Excerpted from Cowboy State of Mind by Jennie Marts. © 2020 by Jennie Marts. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Interview with Catherine Bybee

Please tell us about the fire that inspired your newest novel My Way To You.

I was taking my youngest son to his senior pictures for the school when we noticed a plume of smoke in the rearview mirror. I have lived through many fire scares in the twenty years I lived in my home. Only this time, it wouldn’t be a false alarm.

You had to evacuate your house because of the fire. How did you feel in those moments?

I was thankful my children and I escaped, and terrified that I would come home to nothing but ash and debris. I’d packed up the cars with pictures and things I felt I couldn’t replace, but had to leave one of my cars behind because the fire engine was blocking my ability to drive it away. But none of that truly mattered. I felt like all the work I had done to keep my children’s family home after my recent divorce was for nothing. That fire was going to undermine the stability I had desperately tried to preserve. In short, I was an emotional mess.

While your property suffered immense damage, thankfully your home was left standing. Did this experience change the meaning of that word for you—home?

Home is stability. It’s a base for all the things we cherish. But it’s the people who make it so. I had a conversation with my youngest son not too long ago. I asked him if he missed the home he grew up in. (I’ve since moved to San Diego and sold my property in Santa Clarita.) This is what he said, “The day we ran from the fire, I stopped caring about the house. I didn’t think it would be there when we came back.” So no, he doesn’t miss his childhood home. I was shocked to hear this since my youngest tends to hold back his feelings. I lived in that house for 21 of my 51 years of life. There were memories in every corner. But in the end, the fire and flood… and exhaustion made it easier for me to sell it and walk away. Now that I’m in a new place I’m reminded that my family and memories are always with me—and a house is wood and stone. Whether I like it or not, however… it is stability. And that was shook to its core because of the fire. 

Your life changed drastically in just one day, which is something your heroine Parker experiences—twice. The first time is when her parents die. How does this one event inform the course of her life?

She has to stop thinking about herself and put others before her. She had to grow up. Trauma changes you! Period. And I needed Parker to experience that so she could realize just how strong she was.

She has to find that strength again when fire almost destroys her home. Tell us how your heroine changes during all of this.

She needed to learn to lean on others again. Her parents death took that away and made her a very controlling person. (Ahummm… that’s my own epiphany.) It’s through the course of the book, and all the other players, that she learns to open herself up to live a full life. I think she also learns to be a big sister again and not the parental figure she took on.

In what ways is Parker like you? In what ways is she different?

She learned to let go, I still can’t do that. 

She fell in love… That’s not me. 

She had a privileged childhood with tons of options… Not me. 

Parker fought to keep her home and make it right to live in it. I fought to keep my home and make it right to sell it. After so many years and so many struggles, it just wasn’t the peaceful place it once was. And with an empty nest and no Colin there to give it meaning, I needed to let go and start new. 

 

                                                                               ***
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About the Title

Title: My Way To You

Author: Catherine Bybee

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

When a wildfire nearly destroys Parker Sinclair’s family home, it’s just one more disaster to add to her mountain of stress. For the past two years, she has shouldered the responsibility of raising her younger brother and sister after their parents’ untimely deaths. Forced to leave college for a crappy job that barely pays the bills, Parker manages her family property, which consumes every aspect of her life. Now winter is coming and the forecast isn’t spreading sunshine on the dark cloud over her head. The last thing Parker needs is a mudslide destroying everything she has worked so hard to maintain.

Colin Hudson’s job as a public works supervisor is to protect Parker’s property and neighborhood from further damage. But it’s a little hard when the owner of the land is a control freak who tries to do everything herself. The hardworking, attractive young woman is far from the “hot mess” she claims to be. In fact, her tight grip of control is one of the things that attract him the most. It’s also the hardest to crack. Now Colin’s working overtime to help Parker open up her heart, trust him, and let him in.

As Parker and Colin work together to keep her home and neighborhood safe, they may be in for another disaster. Or they may just realize that sometimes it takes destruction to create something new.

About the Author

Copyright Julianne Gentry Photography

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written thirty-four books that have collectively sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite series, the Weekday Brides series, the Most Likely To series, and the First Wives series. For more information on the author, visit www.catherinebybee.com.

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EXCERPT:

“Excuse me?” 

Parker turned toward the sound of the male voice and brushed aside hair that had fallen out of her ponytail. The sun glared in her eyes, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the man standing on the other side of her gate. 

“Hello,” she greeted him. 

“Do you live here?” 

Probably a neighbor, she thought to herself. They’d shown up constantly after the fire to see how close the flames had actually come to their homes. Many of them invited themselves in without knocking. That was until she paid to have someone come in and fix the broken gate and stop the trespassers. 

MyWayToYou

“I would hope so,” she said, waving the pruner in her hands. “I don’t think I would take this job for actual money.” The closer she got to the gate, the better the features of the man came into focus. He stood at least three inches taller than her, no easy task when she was five nine. Broad shoulders and arms that didn’t look like they slaved in an office all day. He wore jeans. It had to be over a hundred degrees, and the man wore jeans. 

And filled them out nicely, if she wasn’t too tired to notice. 

Parker forced her gaze back to his face, his eyes hidden by his sunglasses; his thick brown hair wasn’t covered by a hat. 

She stopped in front of him, the gate to the property a clear division. The intense set of his jaw softened slightly. “Is your, ah … husband here?” 

Three years ago, in a bar … or while out with friends, she would have instantly denied a lack of a husband. Out here, with a stranger … even an attractive one standing at her front door, she wasn’t about to correct him. “Who’s asking?” 

The man’s smile fell and he quickly removed his sunglasses. “I’m sorry. My name is Colin Hudson. Colin to my friends.” 

“What can I do for you, Mr. Hudson?” She wasn’t about to call him by his first name. 

“I work with the Public Works Department and wanted to see if you’d let me take a quick look at the wash that runs through your property.” He reached into his back pocket and removed his wallet. Out came a business card that he handed her through the bars of the iron gate. 

She had to move close enough to take the card, but retreated once she had it in her fingertips. 

He instantly shoved his hands in his front pockets and took a step back. 

The card looked legit. Parker reminded herself that anyone with a computer could make a business card. “Does your department work on Saturdays, Mr. Hudson?” 

“All the time.” 

She peered beyond the gate, didn’t see a car. “Did you walk here?” 

Mr. Hudson looked over his shoulder, pointed his thumb down the street. “I have a company truck. I parked around the corner.” 

“Ah-huh.” She wanted to believe him. His caramel brown eyes looked kind enough. “Even Ted Bundy was good-looking,” she said loud enough for him to hear. 

Parker looked up to find him staring, his mouth gaped open. “That’s a first.” 

“Sorry.” Not sorry. “By-product of being a lone woman on a large piece of property with a stranger asking to come in. Business card aside, you could be anyone.” 

He lifted his hands in the air. “Very wise. I hope my sister would do the same. I was just hoping to get an eye on the canyon before Monday’s meeting. But I can wait.” 

She relaxed her grip on the tree pruner. “What meeting?” 

“The city and county are meeting to discuss the concerns of the watershed after the fire. We’re developing a plan to preserve property during the winter. If I could take a quick look it would help.”

“You mean prevent mudslides?” 

“Control mudslides,” he corrected her. 

She shifted from foot to foot. “You can do that?” 

“It’s a big part of our job.” He smiled, looked over her shoulder. “I can wait. I don’t want to make you uneasy.” 

Parker looked back toward the house. “Tell you what. You go get your company truck and I’ll grab a snake fork and show you the wash.” 

His eyes narrowed with an unasked question. 

“It’s summer. Rattlesnakes are a thing,” she explained. 

“You sure?” 

Yeah, she was sure. “I’ll open the gate. You can park inside.”

                                                                                       ***

Lauren Layne starts off a new scandalous series!!!!! Check out her interview and an excerpt she shares…….courtesy Montlake

YoursInScandalGraphic

Interview with Lauren Layne:

Tell us about your new series.

The series features three men who are named “Man of the Year” (think: People’s Sexiest Man Alive) and the unexpected ramifications that come with that! Yours in Scandal kicks off the series with a young, wealthy mayor of NYC who falls for his political rival’s daughter.

Why was it important for you to start your series with Addie and Robert?

The real answer? There’s is the book listed first in the contract 😉 In truth I’m equally excited about all three books in the series, and could have happily jumped in anywhere! That said, writing a politician was a unique and fun challenge for me (I tend to write a lot of businessmen!) so a new take on my “hot guy in a suit” was a fun creative challenge!

Even though she is still young, your heroine Addie has lived quite a life. Where did her teenage rebellious streak come from?

The first thing I always do when I get a new story idea is to figure out where the conflict is—I have to make sure these two people, however attracted, can’t get together (easily) by chapter three. When I decided to take on a hero who’s a mayor, I took a step back to think which woman would be most off-limits to him. One with a bit of scandal was the obvious answer, since the spouses of politicians are usually held to the same exacting standards (if not more so) than the politician him/herself! From there, I dug into Addie’s character and her scandal-laden past. 

Do you have anything in common with your heroine?

Honestly? No 🙂 Other than being a little mouthy during puberty, I was a pretty easy kid and teenager, and skipped the rebellious phase, at least according to my parents! I sort of skipped the whole rebellious phase growing up no underage drinking, no missed curfews, I’ve never even gotten a ticket. Though, I think perhaps I was saving up all my rebellious urges for my mid-twenties, where I seemed to chafe really hard at being managed in the corporate world, and quit my practical, well-paying job rather spontaneously and irresponsibly with almost no safety net, and dove headfirst into being a full-time writer. And I suppose, for that matter, I’ve made some rebellious choices as an author (quitting Facebook, not doing ARCs on my self-pub title, etc). So, I guess I change my answer! Yeah, I have a little in common with Addie after all!

Your hero Robert is fantastic! He is smart, successful and just earned the title ‘Man of the Year’. What made you fall in love with him?

He really is great, isn’t he? 🙂  I actually knew from the start that Robert was going to be a pretty stand-up guy. I wanted to steer as away from the cliche, corrupt politician as possible, and show that it’s absolutely possible for people to be in public office simply because they want to do good, not because they’re power hungry. I think what I love most about him is how he never wavers in wanting best for Addie and the people around him, even if it hurts him personally. He’s a really unselfish guy, and that is so, so appealing to me! 

Would you say that there are similarities that all of your heroes share?

I’d say they’re all pretty quick with a comeback. Whether they’re the charming playboys or the more reserved, Mr. Darcy types they’ve got a bit of a sharp, clever tongue! Also, the vast majority tend to be wealthy and suit-wearing. I’ve got a few exceptions, but I think there’s something so sexy about a buttoned-up guy in a suit coming undone over a woman, so I tend to come back to that again and again!

Some of the best moments in Yours In Scandal happen when your heroine and hero are around their trusted friends. Are any of the secondary characters we meet destined to get their own happily-ever-afters?

No plans for any spinoffs with those characters! Not because I don’t love them, but because the writing schedule’s pretty jam-packed! 

                                                                            ***

YoursInScandal

 

About the Book

Title: Yours In Scandal

Author: Lauren Layne

Release Date: March 10, 2020

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

Fresh off being named Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert Davenport, decides it’s time to strategize. Next move: a bid for the governor’s seat. In his way: an incumbent with a flawless reputation. He also has an Achilles’ heel: an estranged wild-child daughter with a past so scandalous it could be Robert’s ticket to victory. And a charm so irresistible it could be Robert’s downfall.

Rebellion is a thing of the past for Adeline Blake. As New York’s premier event planner, she’s all about reform and respectability. Then she’s approached by Robert to organize the party of the season. Curious, considering he’s her father’s most formidable opponent. And alarming, too. Because Addie can’t help but fall for the righteously popular candidate with the movie-star smile.

Now it’s Robert’s choice. Does he pursue a future that holds his legacy? Or the woman who holds his heart?

Author Biography

LaurenLayne

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Hot Asset, Hard Sell, and Huge Deal in her 21 Wall Street series, as well as her Central Park Pact series. Her books have sold more than a million copies in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City. For the latest updates, be sure to check out her website at www.laurenlayne.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://laurenlayne.com/

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenlayneauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6969772.Lauren_Layne

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EXCERPT:

“I just need to be sure . . . am I going crazy? I am, right? Our girl’s not seriously telling us she had dinner with the mayor,” Rosalie said, turning to Jane. 

“You’re not the crazy one—she is,” Jane said, emphatically pointing at Adeline. 

Adeline nibbled on the corner of a chip. “It’s really not the big deal you two are making it out to be. It was just dinner. Pizza.” 

“That’s even worse!” Jane said shrilly. “It’s so intimate.” 

Adeline glanced over at her calmer friend. “Please tell her there’s nothing intimate about Italian sausage.” She winced as she caught herself. “Yeah, I heard it.” 

“It is a little out of character,” Rosalie said slowly. “You haven’t exactly made it a secret how you feel about men these days. To say nothing of your thoughts on elected officials.” 

“I didn’t sleep with the guy, we just had pizza.” 

“I’d actually be less concerned if you’d slept with him,” Rosalie admitted. 

“Agreed,” Jane said, smacking the table. “A sexy fling with the Man of the Year is one thing. A cozy dinner at his place is just . . .” She threw her hands up. “I can’t. I literally can’t process it.” 

“You don’t have to process anything,” Adeline said, dunking the chip into the salsa and stuffing the whole thing in her mouth. “It was a one-time thing. The party’s next weekend, and then I’ll probably never see him again.” 

“What if he wants you to be his forever event planner?” 

“He won’t. His regular planner’s one of the best in the city, and I’m sure she’ll be back from maternity leave by the time he needs to hire someone again.” 

“Is his regular event planner hot and single?” Jane pointed out. 

“She’s married.” 

“Exactly. Much less susceptible to his sexy face than single you.” 

Adeline sighed and looked again to the perpetually calm Rosalie. “Make it stop.” 

“Just promise you’ll warn us if you start to fall for the guy,” her friend said, fiddling with her chip. “Much as I love the idea of you landing the hottest guy in the city, I also know just how tricky that would be for you.” 

“Tricky is an understatement given he’s likely running against The Bastard in the next election,” she said, knowing that both of her lifelong friends knew she was referring to the father she’d all but disowned. 

Adeline hadn’t known Rosalie as long as she’d known Jane, but they still went all the way back to high school. Adeline had been the loose cannon, Jane the genius, and Rosalie had been, well . . . perfect. 

“You know,” Adeline said, looking thoughtfully at Rosalie over the top of her margarita. “I actually thought about setting you and the mayor up.” 

“Wait, what?” Rosalie’s eyes went wide. 

“You said yourself he was hot,” Adeline pointed out. “You’re also beautiful, well spoken, polished. You never look bad in a photograph, and you never say the wrong thing. I literally can’t think of a more perfect future First Lady of New York.” 

“Oooh, I see that!” Jane said, pivoting in her chair to stare at Rosalie. 

Adeline gave Jane an exasperated expression. “You were just warning me off of the guy.” 

“Warning you off, yes. But Rosalie . . .” 

Adeline tried to ignore the sting. It wasn’t as if Jane were saying anything Adeline herself hadn’t thought. Even if she were inclined to pursue the mayor, and she wasn’t, she knew that she was the last thing someone like him needed. Her past alone made her an inconceivable choice for him, and even if she could keep her past mistakes under wraps, she would never be the right woman for him. She may have mastered the bun and the blazers, but she was still the woman who collected adventurous lingerie and loved tequila. 

“The guy’s definitely attractive,” Rosalie said. “But I don’t know that I want one of Adeline’s rejects,” she said with a smile intended to annoy Adeline. 

“I wouldn’t let that stop me,” Jane said, fanning herself. “If it weren’t for Dan . . . . Too bad I love that man so damn much. Seriously, Rosalie, let Adeline fix you up, so I can live vicariously.” 

“Hello,” Rosalie said, staring at the admittedly, occasionally tone-deaf Jane. “Are you not seeing what I’m seeing?” She pointed at Adeline. 

Jane glanced over and narrowed her eyes. 

“Ever since she came back from New Mexico with her hair brown, she’s been like this buttoned-up ice woman. But when she talks about him . . .” Rosalie made an unrecognizable hissing, clicking noise. 

“What was that?” Jane asked. 

“Fire igniting,” Rosalie explained. “Whatever, so sound effects and act-outs aren’t my strong suit. The point is—” 

“If I sound fiery when I talk about the mayor, it’s only because he’s a control freak and pain in the ass,” Adeline interjected. “The man doesn’t know how to delegate, is hell-bent on carrying on his father’s legacy without ever checking in with himself, and . . .” 

Adeline’s thoughts scattered a little as she realized she wasn’t being entirety fair to the mayor. Yes, he was obsessed with his image, as a man in his position had to be. But he could also be funny and irreverent. He could also be spontaneous and casual. 

He’d proven that yesterday, first with the tour of his home, then the invitation of dinner. Even the way he ate pizza was appealing, somehow both buttoned-up precise and outright relishing, all at the same time. 

“We need more margaritas.”

                                                                              ***

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