Tag Archive: Blog Tour


Opposites Attract: When Cole Claims Sarah 

In Claiming Sarah, Cole Johnson is co-owner of one of his town’s most popular gyms. He’s extremely busy since his partner, Felicity, is out of town. He makes an appointment to meet with Sarah Butler, to arrange for some self defense training for her, but he almost loses his chance when she overhears him telling his secretary he’s too busy and to give her an excuse as to why he can’t meet her. The couple (obviously) works out that awkward first meeting and Sarah begins learning how to defend herself from a creepy man who keeps giving her inappropriate presents. Of course the more time Cole spends with Sarah, the more he likes her and they end up dating. When she disappears it’s up to Cole, and Ace Security, to put together the clues to find her before it’s too late.

Cole Johnson is a man who’s used to plowing through his day and when he needs or wants something, he simply gets it. Sarah Butler is more reserved. As a kid who didn’t feel wanted until she was finally adopted she was used to being in the background. Cole and Sarah compliment each other perfectly. Cole is able to ferret out what Sarah wants and needs and he delivers. And in return Sarah keeps Cole grounded. She smooths out his jagged edges.

I think that’s how good relationships work, at least in my books. The Hero is there to protect and shield his woman from anyone or anything that might want to hurt her, and she’s there to keep him grounded and to support him. It seems to just work.

About the Book

ClaimingSarahGraphic

Title: Claiming Sarah

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Montlake

Summary

Sarah Butler isn’t flattered. She’s angry and unnerved. She’s been getting intimate gifts from a man she barely knows. Nothing threatening yet, but there’s just a weird vibe she can’t ignore. Her recourse is Ace Security. Their solution: self-defense lessons at Rock Hard Gym with a personal, hands-on instructor. One look at the bearded, tattooed, green-eyed alpha is enough to take Sarah’s breath away.

Cole Johnson is definitely the man for the job. He’s eager to train her. Eager to get closer. And when it comes to Sarah’s instincts, Cole knows she’s not imagining things. He’s also not imagining the intense attraction between them—and his desire to protect her is growing. But so are Sarah’s fears, the worst of which come true when she disappears.

Enlisting the help of Ace Security, Cole will stop at nothing to find the love of his life . . . before she vanishes forever.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Claiming Felicity, Claiming Bailey, Claiming Grace, and Claiming Alexis in the Ace Security series. A lover of alpha heroes, Susan is also the author of the Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes series. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. She is a true believer in happily ever after and enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her at www.stokeraces.com.

Buy Linkhttps://amzn.to/2NPoUTv

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.stokeraces.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susan_Stoker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8247140.Susan_Stoker

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Direct Link

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***

Excerpt: 

“Do you ask out every woman you train at your gym? It just seems . . . fast.”

Cole stared at her for a long moment, and when he frowned, Sarah felt as if she’d somehow disappointed him.

“No, I don’t ask out every woman I train. Not even close. It’s been a long time since I’ve asked anyone out. And believe me, Sarah, I’m looking at you—and I like what I see. A lot. You’ve got an air of innocence about you that I find fascinating. You’ve had a tough life, but haven’t let it harden you. I respect you, and I . . . I’d like to get to know you better.”

She bit her lip and took a deep breath, but didn’t immediately protest, so he went on. “I have a feeling simply being around you will make me a better person.”

Sarah shook her head. “Don’t do that. Don’t put me on a pedestal. I’m not some paragon walking around sprinkling glitter throughout the world.”

Cole laughed. Threw his head back and laughed as if she’d said the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Sarah tugged on her hand again, somewhat offended, but he still refused to let go.

When he got himself under control, he said, “I know you’re not perfect. You’re too trusting. You see the good in everyone, even when there isn’t any there. You probably neglect your own health in order to do something good for someone else.”

“You make me sound like an idiot,” Sarah grumbled, despite being secretly kind of flattered.

“You’re not an idiot. You’re refreshing. And I’m not. I’ve got more than my share of flaws that I’m sure you’ll discover sooner rather than later. But as I said, if you let me get to know you, go out on a few dates with me, I’m hoping you’ll find that you like me back . . . just a little.”

Sarah frowned. “I already like you, Cole, but I don’t understand you. You don’t know anything about me. I could totally be lying to you right now, and you just bought my lies hook, line, and sinker.”

He smiled again. “You’re not lying.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m an expert at reading body language. I’ve been around some bad people in my life, angel. You are who you say you are. What you see is what you get.”

Sarah licked her lips nervously, and his gaze immediately followed the movement.

Cole persisted. “Say you’ll go out with me, Sarah.”

“I thought I was here to figure out how to defend myself.”

“You are. And we’ll get to that. Agreeing to go out with me in no way affects whether or not I’ll teach you some basic moves that will allow you to get away from someone and get to safety.”

“But if I say no, things could get weird.”

“Then say yes,” Cole cajoled. “I swear you’ve got nothing to fear from me. I’ll even get references if that will make you feel safer.”

“It’s not that. I think I feel safer with you than anyone I’ve ever been around . . .” She

hesitated.

“But?”

“I’m afraid once you get to know me, you’ll decide I’m annoying. Too much work or something. I work odd hours, weird shifts. And I looked you up online. I know about your friend and what happened to her. And about the Andersons. The last thing I want is my stalker getting upset when he sees us together—because he will—and taking out any anger on you and your friends.”

“Breathe, angel. Take a breath. Nothing is going to happen to them.”

“You can’t control people, Cole,” Sarah pressed. “They’re unpredictable.”

“Fine. Then we’ll meet with Logan, Blake, Nathan, and Ryder, and make sure they know everything about this Owen guy. We’ll let them investigate and figure out what will make him back off. In the meantime, we’ll hang out at my place. Or here. Or your house. We won’t shove our relationship down Owen’s throat. We’ll be discreet. How’s that sound?”

Sarah could only gape at him. “How’d we go from me wanting some tips on protecting myself to having Ace Security investigating Owen and you and me hanging out at each other’s houses?”

He smiled at her again, but didn’t answer her question.

She took a deep breath and gave him the only answer she could. “Okay.”

He beamed. “Okay,” he said quietly. Then he finally let go of her hand and stood, before immediately reaching the same hand down to her again. “Time for your first lesson.”

Automatically, she reached up and let him help her off the floor. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting. A kiss to seal the deal. A hug. A discussion about when and where their first date would be. But so far, Cole hadn’t done anything the way she expected him to.

“First lesson for today will be how to get a guy to let go of your hand if he’s been holding on too long and you’re uncomfortable.”

Sarah knew he was referring to her feeble attempts to pull her hand out of his, and blushed. But he was right, this was something she should know. It would come in handy at the hospital too, just in case one of the patients or family members got a little too familiar, as they’d done in the past.

Concentrating on his instruction, she did her best to put her nerves about dating Cole behind her.

***

Buy-book link:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250243270 

How to Love a Duke in Ten days_MM

Synopsis:

These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

Author Bio:

Kerrigan Byrne

Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, USA Today bestseller Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Q&A With The Author:

Q: What inspired you to write How to Love a Duke in Ten Days?

A:  I’ve always been one of those women who have enjoyed fierce female friendships. I think that soulmates, even for heterosexual women, can be just as necessary with other women as with men, and a real hero must not just love and respect you, but also your tribe. I wanted to write a series where historical heroines could truly have it all, education, dreams, businesses, wealth, genius, revenge, hot sex, AND true love. Where the sacrifices were made on their behalf instead by them, and where their heroes learn to lift them up in all ways, heal their pains, calm their fears, become their best friends, and protect them with what I hope is a great balance between alpha hotness and progressive sensitivity. 

Q: Is there one thing you would like readers to take away from this story?

A: That’s tough because I packed a lot in there! I would say the one thing from this book, specifically, is that happiness is attainable against the odds, even when overcoming the worst that people can do to one another. Even though I’m a grown up and a cynic, I still like to write books that remind me that true love conquers all, because that love can come from so many people. 

Q: Can you describe your typical day writing this book?

A: This book was especially difficult for me to write, so I spent a great deal of time in my bathrobe. I would get up, my fantastic husband would make me coffee, I’d call my critique partner and we’d do a bit of brainstorming, and I’d write and rewrite for hours, stress, cry, throw things, walk the dog, eat, snack, eat some more, facebook way too much, and then finish under word count, binge a tv show or a book until I stared at the ceiling into the wee hours. Oh, and there was drinking in there at regular intervals.

Glamorous, I know!

Q: Describe the hero and heroine of How to Love a Duke in Ten Days in three words each.

A: The Duke of Redmayne: Wary. Wounded. Wicked.

Lady Alexandra Lane: Brave. Brilliant. Beautiful.

Q: What is the one thing that the heroine, Alexandra, can’t live without?

A: She cannot live without her two dearest friends in the entire world, Miss Cecelia Teague, and Lady Francesca Cavendish. They literally buried a body for her, and would defend her to the death.

Q: What was your hardest scene to write in How to Love a Duke in Ten Days? Your favorite?

A: As with many (most) of my novels, the prologues are the hardest to write, and read, I suspect. Usually I take the characters to the very edge of their breaking point, often times pushing them over so they have what seems like insurmountable conflicts to overcome both internally and externally. So, for this book, Alexandra’s assault was the most difficult thing to get through, and boy did I enjoy being able to help Piers put her back together, because he was just the perfect hero for her. Tender, empathetic, a good sense of humor, and a large dose of protective alphaness.

Q: Why do you write historical romance? 

A:  I’ve always romanticized the past. I can’t help it. I love the pace and the aesthetic, the gowns and the suits and the manners and the manors. I love to do historical research and it’s so fun to see how much we are influenced by the past and how, even though so much has changed through the centuries, people really haven’t. Also, it’s fun to play with language, mystery, and sex in a time when a scandal was still possible. *wink.

Q: Is there another particular author that inspires you or that you enjoy reading? 

A: There is a LIST! I would say in historical romance, though, it’s always always Lisa Kleypas. She has a grasp on the characterization of historical folks that I can never hope to attain. I’m just in awe of her every word.

Q: Where do you go or what resources do you use to make sure your novels are historically correct? 

A: I love to find books about a time period at B&N or my local bookshops. I go to Harper’s Bazaar for fashion, and a slew of Victorian references for the time period. I do read blogs and sometimes consult with historians and experts.

Q: Did you learn anything surprising while researching for this novel?

A: Many things! I learned how truly difficult it was to attain an education as a woman as little as a hundred years ago. It’s really incredible how far we’ve come in a century. 

Q: What do you do when faced with writer’s block, if you ever are? 

A: Oh man. I often am. I usually try to shake it loose with a brainstorming conversation with a few friends I have who always seem to be able to unstick me. I rely heavily on the creativity of others as well as my own.

Q: How did you feel the first time you realized one of your books was a big success? 

A: I didn’t believe it. It seems surreal every time I truly realize that a story I wrote entertained another human. Let alone more than one. I’m like… they paid to read it? WHAT? 

Q: What’s next for the Devil You Know series? 

A: I’m especially excited for the next book ALL SCOT AND BOTHERED because it’s about Alexandra’s best friend the curvy vicar’s daughter, Cecelia Teague. She inherits London’s most infamous and successful brothel, and one imposing, surly Scottish enemy along with it. She and Lord Ramsay, the Lord Chief Justice with an axe to grind against her establishment, can’t be in a room together without the sparks flying. I can’t think about this book without smiling.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: I hope you enjoy this trio of roguish redheads as much as I enjoyed writing them!

*************************************************************************************

And A Peek At Chapter One:

Maynemouth, Devonshire, 1890 Ten years later

Alexander,

Accept the invitation to Castle Redmayne. I’m in danger. I need you.

—Frank

Alexandra Lane had spent the entire train ride from Lon- don to Devonshire meticulously pondering those fourteen words for two separate reasons.

The first, she had been unable to stop fretting for Fran- cesca, who tended to give more than the appropriate amount of context. The terse, vague note Alexandra now held was more of a warning than the message contained therein.

The second, she could no longer afford a first-class, pri- vate railcar, and had, for the last several tense hours, been forced to share her vestibule face-to-face with a rough- featured, stocky man with shoulders made for labor.

Alone.

He’d attempted polite conversation at first, which she’d rebuffed with equal civility by feigning interest in her cor- respondence. By now, however, they were both painfully aware she needn’t take four stops to read two letters.

It was terribly rude, she knew. Her carpetbag remained clutched in her fist the entire time, except when her hand would wander into its depths to palm the tiny pistol she always carried. The sounds of the other passengers in ad- joining vestibules didn’t make her feel safer, per se.

But she knew they would hear her scream, and that pro- vided some relief.

For a woman who’d spent a great deal of the last ten years in the company of men, she’d thought these painful moments would have relented by now.

Alas, she’d become a mistress of manipulating a situa- tion so, even if she had to endure the company of men without a female companion, there would be more than one man. In the circles she tended to frequent, people be- haved when in company.

It had worked thus far.

Alexandra braced herself against the slowing of the train, breathing a silent prayer of relief that they’d finally arrived. She’d been terrified that if she’d glanced up once, she’d be forced into conversation with her unwanted com- panion.

Rain wept against the coach window, and the shadows of the tears painted macabre little serpents on the conflict- ing documents in her hands. One, a wedding invitation. The other, Francesca’s alarming note.

A month past, she’d have wagered her entire inheritance against Francesca Cavendish’s being the first of the Red Rogues to capitulate to the bonds of matrimony.

A month past, she’d assumed she’d had an inheritance to wager.

Their little society had seemed destined to live up to the promise they’d once made as young, disenchanted girls to never marry.

Until the invitation to an engagement masquerade— given by the Duke of Redmayne—had arrived the same day of her friend’s cryptic and startling note.

The invitation had been equally as ambiguous, stating that the future duchess of Redmayne would be unveiled, as it were, at the ball. Included in Alexandra’s particular envelope was a request for her to attend as a bridesmaid.

The subsequent plea for help from Francesca—Frank— had arrived in a tiny envelope with the Red Rogue seal they’d commissioned some years prior.

Alexandra hadn’t even known Francesca had returned from her romps about the Continent. Last she’d heard, the countess had been in Morocco, doing reconnaissance of some sort. Nothing in her letters had mentioned a suitor. Not a serious one, in any case. Certainly not a duke.

Francesca had a talent for mischief and a tendency to interpret danger as mere adventure.

So, what could possibly frighten her fearless friend?

Marriage, obviously, Alexandra thought with a smirk.

A risky venture, to be sure.

From How to Love a Duke in Ten Days. Copyright © 2019 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Emily March comes Jackson, the newest novel in the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series.

Jackson-BLOG-BANNER-900x337-onsale

Sometimes it takes a new beginning
Caroline Carruthers thinks she buried her dreams along with the love of her life…until a stranger named Celeste dares her to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.

to reach a happily-ever-after
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love—he even has the old song lyrics to prove it—but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all?

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the heartwarming Eternity Springs series. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

Emily March

Buy-Book Link:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250314918 

Another great story from Emily March!!! Check out the Q&A from Emily March and enjoy an excerpt from her upcoming “Jackson” from the Eternity Springs Series.

  1. You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired Jackson and the rest of the books in the Eternity Springs world? 

The saying “Write what you know” says it all in my case. I’m a small-town girl and my family and friendships are center to my world. I write about love and family and friendships. I have roots in both the Colorado Rockies and the Texas Hill Country, so it was natural for me to set Eternity Springs and Redemption there. The idea for JACKSON grew out of my interest in the music currently being written and performed in Texas. I’ve always thought singer/songwriters are romantic figures so I was excited to create a hero with this background. Unfortunately, I’m not a musician and I’m definitely not a singer, but I am creative so it was fun for me to explore that aspect of a character. 

  1. Introduce us to your main character! 

Okay. Well, Americana singer/songwriter Jackson McBride is a bit damaged when the book begins. His famous, talented and wealthy ex has won a custody battle that severely limits his access to his six-year-old daughter, so Jackson goes home to the Texas Hill Country to nurse his broken heart. He finds solace in Enchanted Canyon hiking the trails with the dog he rescues and working to bring a historic dance hall back to life. The last thing he expects is to find love again with a woman whose heart is as battered as his own.

  1. Walk us through a day in the life of Emily March.

Ready to be bored? Now that my daughter’s and niece’s weddings are behind me—they consumed me for months—I’m boring and happy about it. I split my time between Fort Worth where we have a condo downtown in a 1930’s passenger train station and our lake house in the Texas Hill Country. I recently gave up my office in town because I’m spending more and more time at the lake. My husband also offices out of our condo, so on days when we are both working in town, I’ve started riding the new TexRail train that runs from our building to DFW airport. It’s quiet and comfortable and I don’t have Internet to distract me. And at $5 a day, it’s much cheaper than office rent. 🙂 When I’m at the lake I’m either working or doing yard work. My new favorite toy is my power washer. 

  1. Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?

I’ve always thought that one of the most important things you can do for your writing is to read. And read. And read some more. Read across genres. You absorb so much about pacing and plotting and character development when you read. Plus, you get to READ! 🙂

  1. How is the Jackson trilogy different than your other series? 

I don’t think it’s necessarily different from the rest of the Eternity Springs series. I write about love and family and friendship—that doesn’t change. Readers will still see old friends from Eternity Springs and a few scenes in JACKSON are set in Colorado. What’s new is we get to spend some time in the Texas Hill Country and meet a few new characters—Celeste’s cousin, Angelica, for example. 

  1. I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?

I’m a big fan of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series and I’m reading her latest right now, STORM CURSED.

  1. Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book? 

My goals as a writer are to touch a reader’s heart, to entertain her and make her laugh, to maybe cry a little and sigh with satisfaction upon reaching the end. With JACKSON, I believe I’ve achieved those goals.

  1. Describe yourself in 3 words. 

Family. Family. Family. 🙂

  1. What is your most embarrassing memory? 

Walking out of the junior high school cafeteria in seventh grade, not realizing that my very short dress—it was the 70’s—had gotten hung up in my underwear and I inadvertently flashed my rear end to the entire cafeteria—including the tables where the football players sat. Thinking about it even today gives me the hives.

  1. Favorite quote or scene you wrote in JACKSON? 

I love the ending.  Jackson is a songwriter who has lost his music and when he finds it again…the song he sings to Caroline…just makes me melt.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?

Call your mother.

  1. What inspired you to become a writer? 

I’ve always loved to read, so that is part of it, but my father was my primary inspiration. He was a fabulous storyteller. I grew up sitting at his feet and listening to him tell stories about his youth and his experiences in Europe during World War II. Listening to him tell his stories was my favorite thing to do. I didn’t inherit his talent for verbal storytelling, but I think I learned from him how to tell a good story on the page.

  1. Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

Like I mentioned before, I’m pretty boring. My perks and habits are always evolving. The train writing thing is new for me. I usually write on a laptop and edit on a desktop. I listen to movie soundtracks when I write and always finish a book with The Last of the Mohicans.

  1. What has been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a published author

I’m always a little surprised and honored that readers are excited to meet me. Like I said…I’m a boring person.

  1. What is your favorite state to visit?

Colorado, of course, because I must keep returning to Eternity Springs. 🙂

  1. What are hobbies or interests do you have? 

We are lake people, so I love waterskiing and boating and fishing. As I write this we’ve just finished Memorial Day weekend at the lake, so I sort of feel like chief cook and sheet-and-towel washer, too. I love, love, love hosting big holiday gatherings of family and friends at the lake house, but I will admit I do tire of the mountain of laundry in the aftermath. 

  1. Can you tell us about what’s coming up next after this for you writing wise? 

I’m writing Tucker’s story. Fun fact for this—as part of my research I attended a survivalist training school for a weekend. I searched long and hard to find one where I could return to town to spend the night in a comfy hotel rather than sleep on the ground—I’m only willing to go so far for my art. I did learn to start a friction fire, though, something I’me VERY proud of. 🙂

  1. How can readers connect with you online?
    My website is www.emilymarch.com. I’m active on Facebook. My Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/emilymarchbooks. You can also reach me by email at emily@emilymarch.com

*******

EXCERPT: Chapter One

Nashville, Tennessee

Bang. The judge’s gavel fell and officially crushed Jackson McBride’s heart. He closed his eyes. Bleak despair washed over him. Up until this very moment, he hadn’t believed she’d take it this far.

He’d thought she’d come to her senses. He’d thought she would recognize that this proposal was not only nonsense, but truly insane. He’d believed that somewhere deep inside of her, she still had a spark of humanity. That she wouldn’t do this to him. To them. He’d been wrong.

Damn her. Damn her and the yes-men she surrounded herself with. Damn them all to hell and back.

The enormity of what had just happened washed over him. Oh, God, how will

I survive this?

On the heels of his anguish came the rage. It erupted hot as lava, and it fired his blood and blurred his vision with a red haze of fury. He’d never hit a woman in his life. Never come close, despite plenty of provocation from her direction. In that moment had she been within reach, he might have lived up her accusations.

It scared the crap out of him. That’s what she’s brought me to.

Abruptly, he shoved back his chair so hard that it teetered, almost falling over. He strode toward the courtroom exit. “Jackson? Jackson, wait!” his attorney called, hurrying after him.

Jackson waved her off and didn’t stop. There was nothing left to be said. Nothing left to be done. No place left to go.

No little girl waiting at home to hug and cuddle and kiss good night.

The tap on the toes of Jackson’s boots clacked against the tile floor of the courthouse as his long-legged strides ate up the hallway. He shunned the elevator for the stairs and descended three flights at a rapid pace, then headed for the building’s exit. In a foolish bit of positive thinking, he’d driven his SUV to the courthouse this morning. Now the sight of the safety booster seat in the back seat made him want to kick a rock into next week.

He didn’t want to go home to a quiet, empty house. He shouldn’t go to a bar. Alcohol on top of his current mood could be a dangerous combination. Somebody probably would get hurt.

He got into the car and started the engine. For a long moment he sat unmoving, staring blindly through the windshield, his hands squeezing the steering wheel so hard that it should have cracked. When his phone rang, he ignored it.

A couple of minutes later, it rang a second time. Again, he ignored it. When it happened a third time, he finally glanced at the display to see who was calling. His cousin. Okay, maybe he would answer it.

“Hello, Boone.”

“How did the hearing go?”

Jackson couldn’t speak past the lump in his throat, so he said nothing.

Following a moment’s silence, Boone got the message. He muttered a curse, and then said, “I’m sorry, man. So damn sorry.”

“Well, it is what it is.”

“You can take another run at it.”

“Yeah.” In three years. Three years. Might as well be three decades. He cleared his throat and changed the subject. “So, how are things in Eternity Springs?”

“Good. They’re good. My friend Celeste Blessing visited my office a few minutes ago and spoke of her granite-headed cousin. Naturally, I thought of you.”

“Naturally,” Jackson dryly replied. But he felt a little less alone.

“Do you have plans this weekend? I could use your help with something.”

Pretty convenient timing. Knowing Boone, he had a spy in the courtroom. But Jackson wasn’t in the position to ignore the bone he’d been thrown. “I’m free. Whatcha got?”

“I’d like you to meet me at home.”

Jackson straightened in surprise. “You’re going back to the ranch?”

“No. Not there. I’m never going back there. However, I am talking about Texas. The Hill Country in particular. A little town west of Austin called Redemption.”

“Redemption, Texas?” Jackson repeated. For some weird reason, his heart gave a little skip. “Why there?”

“It’s a long story. Too long for a phone call. I’ll give you the entire skinny when I see you. When can you get there?”

After today’s debacle, Jackson had absolutely no reason to remain in Nashville. “When do you want me there?”

“I’ll be in later today. I’m in Austin now. I’ve been helping a friend with a project. I have a flight back to Colorado Sunday evening. The earlier you can get here the better, but I’ll make anything work.”

Jackson figured the distance and the drive time. “I’ll meet you tomorrow afternoon. Where?”

“Great. I’ll text you the info when we hang up. Bring camping gear.”

When a sound behind him had Jackson glancing up into the rearview mirror and the booster seat caught his notice, he made an instant decision. “Can’t. I’ll be on my bike.”

“You’re gonna ride your motorcycle all the way from Nashville?” 

“Yes, I think I am.”

“Okay. I’ll bring stuff for both of us.” Boone hesitated a moment and added, “Hang in there,

Jackson. It’ll get better.”

No, I don’t think it will. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jackson ended the call and finally put his SUV in gear and backed out of the parking place. With the distraction of the call behind him, fury returned, and by the time he reached home, he felt like a volcano about to explode.

He threw a handful of things into his tail bag, filled his wallet with cash from his stash, and ten minutes after his arrival, he fired up his bike and took his broken heart and headed out of Nashville. He left behind his home, his work, and his one reason for living, his six-year-old daughter, Haley.

From Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Emily March and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

Guest Post:

A Mountain Mercenary’s Sneak Attack with Author Susan Stoker

Defending Harlow is book 4 in the Mountain Mercenaries series. Each book features one of the men who were recruited by the mysteries “Rex” to work on his team to help rescue kidnapped women and children. In this book we meet Lowell “Black” Lockard who was a Navy SEAL before he became a Mountain Mercenary. He joined the group because after his stint in the Navy, he realized that he was happiest when he was being useful, helping others. He’d been close to his fellow SEALs when he’d been on active duty, but somehow he was even closer with his fellow Mountain Mercenaries.

DefendingHarlow

They worked together, they played together, and they simply enjoyed spending time with each other both during missions and when they were living their lives in Colorado Springs.

Black loves that his friends have found women that completed them. Gray met Allye when he rescued her from a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and they had to swim for hours to safety. Ro met Chloe when her brother was holding her hostage in his house and was about to pimp her out from his strip club. And Arrow met Morgan when they’d been down in the Dominican Republic to rescue a child who’d been kidnapped by her non custodial father. Turns out, Morgan was one of the most famous missing people the United States had ever had, and she’d been held for over a year before she’d accidentally been found by the Mountain Mercenaries.

He loves that his friends are happy, but realizes that he is…bored. He wants someone to laugh with. To talk to at the end of the day. To break the routine of his life. He envies his friends for having that.

Meeting Harlow is a turning part in Black’s life. She makes him laugh and he’s intrigued more than he’s ever been by a woman before. And realizing they went to the same high school once upon a time makes him even more curious. But there’s a problem…Harlow has had bad date after bad date and she’s sworn off dating forever.

But Black won’t give up. He decides to “trick” her by refusing to call what they’re doing as ‘dates.’ They’re just “hanging out.” And the more he spends time with her, the more he likes her…and vice versa. Harlow will have to decide whether or not to take a chance on Black, and he’ll have to figure out how to neutralize the threat looming over Harlow and the women’s shelter she works at or else the semantics of what they’re doing will be a moot point, because someone might end up dead.

DefendingHarlowGraphic

About the Book

Title: Defending Harlow

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Lowell “Black” Lockard, former Navy SEAL, has watched his fellow Mountain Mercenaries settle down with the women of their dreams, but he’s convinced he doesn’t need love. Then he gets a call from Harlow Reese—a chef at a local women’s shelter—and begins to reconsider his decision.

After being continually harassed by a local band of punks, Harlow asks Lowell to give the women of the shelter lessons in self-defense. She doesn’t expect him to take such a special interest in her safety, but he insists on escorting her to and from work, never taking no for an answer. Not that Harlow minds the personal touch…especially when it’s coming from her former teenage crush.

Despite her long history of bad dating luck, seeing Black again makes Harlow rethink her self-imposed celibacy. Easy on the eyes and hard to forget, the man has morphed into an alpha stud. And Harlow may be exactly the type of woman Black is looking for. Making her feel safe isn’t only a duty; it’s a pleasure. But the threats are escalating. The motives are a mystery. And as the danger burns almost as hot as their passion, there’s much more at risk than their hearts.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, www.stokeraces.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsusanstoker.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.stokeraces.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susan_Stoker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8247140.Susan_Stoker

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*****

 EXCERPT:

Neither said anything for a while as they drove toward downtown.

Finally, Harlow asked, “Where are we going?”

“The Pit.”

“Where?”

Lowell smiled. “Since this isn’t a date, and we’re talking about the shelter, I decided I should take you to the place where me and my team conduct business. The Pit.”

“It sounds scary. Please tell me there aren’t snakes on the floor and Indiana Jones isn’t going to pop up and run pell-mell through the place being chased by members of an ancient civilization because they want their artifact back.”

Harlow stared at Lowell when he threw his head back and laughed loud and long. She couldn’t help but chuckle herself. The man sitting next to her was so different from any man she’d dated in the past—no, wait … this wasn’t a date. Nope. Not even close.

“I can’t wait to tell the others that. No, Harl, The Pit is a combination bar and pool hall. It’s pretty much a hole-in-the-wall kind of place.”

“Why do you do business in a bar?” Harlow asked.

“To be honest, I’m not sure. The Pit is where we were interviewed when we were first asked to join the Mountain Mercenaries … I’m assuming you know about the team?”

She nodded. “A bit. Loretta told me. I’m sorry if she spoke out of turn, but she was trying to reassure me that you knew what you were doing and could help us.”

“I can help you,” Lowell confirmed. “And in a nutshell, me and my teammates are all former Special Forces soldiers, and we work for Rex, getting women and children out of untenable situations.”

“Why mercenaries? I mean, it doesn’t sound like that’s what you guys really are.”

Lowell shook his head, and a small smile formed on his face. “Why do women always concentrate on that word?” he asked, more to himself than her.

Harlow answered him even though he hadn’t really asked. “Because. It’s weird that you call yourselves something that you technically aren’t. I wouldn’t start a catering business and call it Harlow Photography.”

“Point taken. I don’t know why Rex chose that name. Probably because it was catchy and sounded better than Colorado Badasses, or Your Worst Nightmare.”

Harlow couldn’t stop the bark of laughter that escaped. “True.”

“The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what we’re called. We’re six men who go where we’re needed and do what we have to do to rescue those who need a helping hand. I know women are empowered, and there are many who are just as talented at what they do as we are. But the fact remains, there are a lot of men out there who feel the need to subjugate and beat down the women and children in their lives. They take advantage of teenagers who are too young to know better or those who have had horrible lives. They hurt them and force them to do things against their will. It’s not right, or fair, and me and my friends are playing a small part in trying to right those wrongs.”

Harlow wasn’t sure how their light and playful conversation had turned so intense, but she turned slightly in her seat to better look at Lowell. His teeth were clenched, and the hand on the steering wheel was holding on so tightly, she could see his knuckles turning white. He obviously felt deeply about the topic and his job, and Harlow couldn’t be more proud of him.

“I’m proud to know you, Lowell Lockard.”

He looked at her in surprise. “What?”

“The world needs more men like you and your friends. I don’t know why men like the ones harassing the shelter are the way they are. Why they feel the need to exert their power over those they deem weaker than them. But I’m glad you’re there to help tip the scales. Other than the high-speed-chase guy, generally I haven’t been afraid of my bad dates, I’ve just been disgusted by or disappointed in them. But I know there are a lot of women out there who’re in bad marriages and relationships, and it helps knowing there are people who care. People who will put their own lives on the line to help get others out of those situations, if asked.”

Lowell pulled into a parking lot of a dark and seedy-looking building, and Harlow wasn’t surprised to see the neon sign above the door that said The Pit. This was exactly the kind of place where she imagined Lowell and his fellow badasses would meet.

He stopped the engine, brought the hand he was still holding up to his mouth, and kissed the back of it. “Stay put. I’ll come around.”

He went to let go of her, but Harlow held on to his hand. “This isn’t a date,” she said, not sure if she was reminding him or herself. “It’s a work meeting. I let you pick me up, but I should’ve driven myself. And I can open my own door and pay my own way.”

Lowell leaned into her, and Harlow forced herself not to pull back.

“I know this isn’t a date. You don’t date. I heard that loud and clear, Harl. But in my world—and make no mistake; when you’re with me, you’re in my world—a man opens a door for a lady. He walks on the outside of the sidewalk, he picks her up whenever possible, and he pays for drinks and meals. If it makes you feel better, you can think of this as a business expense I can write off on my taxes.”

Harlow stared at him for a beat, then nodded. What else could she do? She didn’t want to like Lowell’s world, but she had to admit it felt good being there. She’d had doors shut in her face when men had entered ahead of her and hadn’t held them open. She’d had to pay for her own meals on dates. And she’d even had an experience when she’d literally almost been run over by a bus in Seattle because she’d been forced to walk on the outside of the sidewalk near the curb.

“Okay,” she said.

“Okay,” Lowell said with a small smile. Then he squeezed her hand once more and climbed out.

“Not a date, not a date,” Harlow chanted to herself quietly as Lowell walked around his car to come to her side. He opened her door and held out a hand. Taking a deep breath, Harlow put her hand back in his and allowed him to help her up and out of the low seat.

He didn’t let go of her hand once she was standing next to him, though. He simply shut the car door with his free hand and led her toward the door of the bar.

Not a date, she told herself once more as Lowell smiled at her and pulled open the heavy wooden door.

***

About the Book

Title: Defending Harlow

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Lowell “Black” Lockard, former Navy SEAL, has watched his fellow Mountain Mercenaries settle down with the women of their dreams, but he’s convinced he doesn’t need love. Then he gets a call from Harlow Reese—a chef at a local women’s shelter—and begins to reconsider his decision.

After being continually harassed by a local band of punks, Harlow asks Lowell to give the women of the shelter lessons in self-defense. She doesn’t expect him to take such a special interest in her safety, but he insists on escorting her to and from work, never taking no for an answer. Not that Harlow minds the personal touch…especially when it’s coming from her former teenage crush.

Despite her long history of bad dating luck, seeing Black again makes Harlow rethink her self-imposed celibacy. Easy on the eyes and hard to forget, the man has morphed into an alpha stud. And Harlow may be exactly the type of woman Black is looking for. Making her feel safe isn’t only a duty; it’s a pleasure. But the threats are escalating. The motives are a mystery. And as the danger burns almost as hot as their passion, there’s much more at risk than their hearts.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, www.stokeraces.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsusanstoker.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.stokeraces.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susan_Stoker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8247140.Susan_Stoker

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Sweet Wild of Mine

By: Laurel Kerr

Publication Date: 5/28/2019

SweetWildOfMine_FB

Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo…

In a bid to revitalize his career, bestselling author Magnus Gray has come to Sagebrush Flats to write about the local zoo’s latest rescue—an orphaned baby polar bear. But Magnus dreads the drama of small towns and is bullishly determined to keep to himself.

June Winters is a people person, and delights in welcoming Magnus to Sagebrush Flats, though it seems unlikely she can get the handsome stranger to crack a smile. Then a mishap with an open gate forces Magnus and June to deal with a stampeding flock of fainting goats, an adorable but clingy polar bear cub, a cranky pregnant camel, and two star-crossed honey badgers. Never mind small town drama—the lively animals may just convince these two that opposites really do attract…

Where the Wild Hearts Are Series:

Wild On My Mind (Book 1)

Sweet Wild of Mine (Book 2)

Praise for Wild on My Mind:

“Hilarious…a truly touching contemporary romance about the power of love and family.”—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

“Clever, fun, and poignant…with wit and heart.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Outstanding…sure to delight.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RQHsBi

B&N: http://bit.ly/2DyNzVU

Apple: https://apple.co/2SLs11G

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2I7elKv

BAM: http://bit.ly/2Sv6URV

AUTHOR WEBSITE:

https://laurelkerr.com/

GIVEAWAY

5 Copies of Wild on My Mind

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EXCERPT:

A flicker of softness flashed in Magnus’s blue eyes before they froze over again. “I don’t talk about that isle, lass.”

All of June’s carefully constructed arguments blew from her mind as frustrated anger swept through her. The man was as bullheaded as a groundhog after a fresh tomato. “You wrote an entire book about it.”

“It was a purge.”

“A purge?”

“An enema.”

“Did you just call your bestseller an enema?”

“Aye.”

“You are a complicated man, Magnus Gray.”

“Nay. Just a simple bloke who likes peace, quiet, and a good tattie scone.”

Although June fully believed the man liked solitude and Scottish cooking, she didn’t buy his first claim. The reclusive author had depths greater than Loch Ness that hid mysteries even bigger than a fabled sea monster. Although June excelled at charting a person’s personality within minutes of meeting them, she still couldn’t fathom this man.

“Good day.” With that parting salvo, Magnus Gray started to turn and walk away from June for a fourth time in a row. Before he could take one step, however, everything broke loose in the form of cloven-footed critters.

Honey’s nose twitched as she watched the Giant One and the Blond One. She respected the devious spark lurking in the woman’s green eyes. And she’d been monitoring the hulking newcomer since his arrival. Unlike the careless Fluffy, Honey knew how to conceal her presence. The Giant One had no idea she’d stalked him for days.

He intrigued her. He was not like most weak-willed humans who craved the company of their own kind. The Giant One preferred solitude, just like honey badgers.

Since her arrival at the zoo, Honey had been watching for suitable adversaries. Although the young female cougars had the speed and agility to keep her reflexes limber, they lacked foresight and cunning. The grizzly was elderly and slow. And the rest of the animals did not interest her. Unfortunately, the human keepers did not provide the same amusement as her old biped. They were too pleasant.

But these two were different. They reminded Honey of bees, full of energy as they buzzed at each other. Yes, these two could sting if properly motivated.

Honey smiled as she scurried up a pole of the goat pen. With one swift nudge of her nose, she lifted the latch. Hanging on to the gate, she used her body weight to swing it open. The silly goats immediately bolted for the exit.

Honey shimmied back to the ground. The Giant One was busy tripping over the horned creatures, but the Blond One stood upright. As Honey scampered away, she made sure the female spied her. It was time to make her presence known. After all, what was the point of starting a game if her opponent didn’t know she was a player?

Magnus was not sure what had happened. One moment he was arguing with the barmy lass, and the next, he was surrounded by a blasted herd of bleating, screaming goats. He’d just started to pivot away from June when two kids darted between his legs. The blighted things must have mistaken him for some sort of shelter as they twined about his ankles. Caught off-balance, he felt his massive frame sway. He couldn’t right himself without stepping on one of the cloven beasties. And, as much as goats annoyed him, he didn’t wish to crush them under his weight.

Twisting his body, he managed to avoid them, but he ended up crashing to the gravel path with a painful thump. Since Magnus couldn’t use his arms to brace his fall, his back collided with the ground, knocking the wind out of him. As he lay gasping like a landed sea trout, one of the wee devils climbed on his chest while the other started eating his hair. Magnus could only lie there as he tried sucking air back into his lungs.

Suddenly, June appeared in his vision, her blond hair hanging around her face like a golden curtain. For once, mirth didn’t sparkle in her bonny green eyes. To his surprise, real concern shone there instead. If he hadn’t met her already, he’d say she looked like an angel hovering over him.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You hit the ground pretty hard.”

He would have reassured her, but that would have required oxygen. Her mouth twisted, and she reached down and lifted a bleating goat off his body. That helped, marginally. Using his eyes, he gestured to the one chewing his hair. She removed that one too. “You just breathe easy now, you hear?”

He had no choice but to listen. As he sprawled spread-eagle on the ground, the lass stood guard, a squirming kid under each arm. A couple adult goats tried to clamber on his body, but June shooed them away. It was odd, he thought, having someone watch over him. His da would have called him a muckle nyaff and left him in disgust for tripping over his own feet.

Finally, Magnus could breathe again. He slowly raised himself on his elbows and then almost plopped right back down. The manky goats were all over the path. How had they escaped?

“A honey badger let them out,” June explained.

Magnus swung his gaze toward her in disbelief. A honey badger had caused all this? What would possess the wee beastie to open the pen?

“By its size, I think it was the female, Honey. I saw her darting away just after you fell.”

“Baws.” Magnus finally managed.

“If you’re okay, I’ll go put these two critters back in their home before we get the rest,” June said, lifting the kids in her arms. They bleated loudly in protest. Magnus nodded. As he heaved himself to his feet, June dropped the two bairns back in the paddock.

Sighing heavily, Magnus took after two of the goats. They screamed like banshees and darted away. Magnus swore. He hated chasing the slippery wee devils. Give him a cow or even a pig.

“I don’t think we need to run them down,” June said.

He swung toward her, irritated. He doubted she’d done much farming. “How do you propose we get them back in the pen then, lass?”

She smirked, that gleam back in her green eyes. “Strategy.”

Then, she reached down and grabbed a metal feed bucket hanging from the corner of the pen. She smashed it against the steel gate, the sound ringing sharply through the air. The fainting goats toppled and hopped everywhere, and Magnus had to admit it made corralling them easier.

She grabbed the wee ones, while he hoisted the adults. They had to bang the gate a few more times, but they managed to quickly clear the path of goats. When the last bleating goat was dumped back in its home, Magnus turned to regard his unexpected helper. The cold and the exertion had brought color to June’s cheeks, making her bonnier than ever. She was as fair and delicate as the fae folk in the German tales, and just as devious. And something about her made Magnus wonder what the price of kissing a fairy would be.

Too steep. Much too steep.

***

Excerpted from Sweet Wild of Mine by Laurel Kerr. © 2019 by Erin Laurel O’Brien. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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