Tag Archive: Excerpt


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.

 

I’m going to miss this series with all my heart!!!! Check out the excerpt and the Rafflecopter for a $25 gift card

 

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About the Book

Title: A Merciful Promise

Author: Kendra Elliot

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

The job: infiltrate a militia amassing illegal firearms in an isolated forest community. FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick is the ideal candidate. She knows Oregon. She’s near the compound. And having been raised among survivalists, Mercy understands the mind-set of fanatics. Lay low, follow rules, do nothing to sound an alarm, and relinquish all contact with the outside world. She’s ready to blend in.

As Mercy disappears into the winter hills, something just as foreboding emerges. Mercy’s fiancé, Eagle’s Nest police chief Truman Daly, is faced with a puzzling series of murders—three men dumped in random locations after execution-style shootings.

Now, for Mercy, trapped in a culture where suspicion is second nature, and betrayal is punishable to the extreme, there is no way out. No way to call for help. And as plans for a catastrophic terrorist event escalate, there may be no way to stop them. Even if Mercy dies trying.

Author Biography

Kendra Elliot

Kendra Elliot has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series as well as the Mercy Kilpatrick novels. Kendra is a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female heroines such as Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls. She was born and raised, and still lives, in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her family, but she looks forward to the day she can live in flip-flops. Visit her at www.kendraelliot.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://www.kendraelliot.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KendraElliot

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6150778.Kendra_Elliot

EXCERPT:

“What does Jeff want?” FBI special agent Eddie Peterson asked Mercy as they simultaneously tried to pass through the conference room doorway. Eddie stepped back, a laptop under one arm and two books under the other as he precariously gripped a cup of coffee by its lid.

Mercy darted through before he lost control of the coffee. “I don’t know, but he told me to clear my afternoon.”

Eddie frowned as he set the cup on the conference table. “He didn’t tell me that. I’ve got three meetings.”

Mercy shrugged. It was part of her job to change direction on a dime, and Jeff’s vague message had perked up what had promised to be a dull day of paperwork. Mercy had been a special agent with the FBI’s Bend, Oregon, field office for nearly a year after spending five years at the big Portland office. Including her and Eddie, Bend had five agents, in contrast to the hundred agents in Portland.

But Bend was close to her heart. She’d been raised thirty minutes away in the tiny town of Eagle’s Nest, and until she arrived in Bend on a case last September, she hadn’t visited in fifteen years. After that case she left behind Portland’s hustle and bustle for the stunning vistas of the Cascade mountain range to Bend’s west and the wide-open plains to its east.

Her boss, Jeff Garrison, entered the room with two official-looking strangers close behind him. Instinct told Mercy they weren’t FBI—but something about them felt very governmental, and she noticed instantly they were discreetly armed. The woman was tall, dark, and elegant—she could have been a model twenty years earlier, and her gaze zoomed in on Mercy, studying her from head to toe. After the moment of intense scrutiny, she gave Mercy a warm smile. Whatever evaluation she had performed, Mercy had passed.

The male looked as if he could be Eddie’s brother. Young, hair too long, a bit of scruff. He wore jeans and a light jacket.

Jeff made introductions. Carleen Aguirre was the resident agent in charge from the Portland ATF office, and the man was ATF special agent Neal Gorman. As they took their seats, Neal frowned at Mercy, studying her in the same fashion that Carleen had. Mercy returned his stare as Jeff shut the door.

“Nothing said in here leaves this office,” Jeff announced, looking directly at Eddie and Mercy.

Mercy hid a small spark of irritation; she and Eddie weren’t gossips. She lifted a brow and gave Jeff her best side-eye, wondering if she should be offended or immensely curious. She decided on immensely curious and gave the ATF agents the same deep scrutiny she’d received.

Carleen grinned and leaned forward, resting her arms on the table, her dark gaze holding Mercy’s. “One of our agents is undercover in a militia-slash-conspiracy-theorists-slash-illegal-arms-buying group outside of Ukiah.”

Mercy blinked. “That’s a mouthful.”

“Where’s Ukiah?” asked Eddie.

“About thirty miles south of Pendleton. It’s a tiny town. About two hundred people,” answered Neal.

Mercy followed a road map in her head. “That’s a good four hours northeast from here.”

Neal nodded. “Just west of the Umatilla National Forest. If you’re looking for a good place to escape society, this is it. No one will bug you here.”

“But clearly something about this extensively labeled group bugged you enough to embed an agent,” Eddie stated.

“They call their compound America’s Preserve. The group has approximately forty people living in an abandoned campground,” Carleen told him. “The camp is the type of place churches rent for retreats. It has several cabins with bunk beds and a large hall with a kitchen for meetings, but it hadn’t been used in twenty years until this group took up residence about a year ago. The property is owned by a Ukiah resident who gave them permission to move in.” Carleen grimaced. “The ATF doesn’t want to reveal our interest, so no one has talked to the owner, but the general word in Ukiah is that the group is repairing the buildings in exchange for living there.”

“And you embedded an agent because of the illegal-arms-buying aspect,” said Mercy.

Both agents nodded. And didn’t expand.

Mercy waited, but neither Carleen nor Neal jumped in to fill the silence.

But Eddie did. “What do you need from us?”

Carleen took a deep breath. “We need Mercy. Tomorrow a second agent was to join our undercover agent and pose as his girlfriend, but she came down with shingles.” She turned pleading eyes on Mercy.

Sweat started under her arms, and her pulse pounded in her ears.

They want me undercover in an illegal-arms-buying militia?

Last winter she’d gotten uncomfortably close to a budding militia outside of town and nearly paid for it with her life. It wasn’t something she cared to do again.

Jeff met her gaze. He knew how dangerous her last experience had been. His eyes were sympathetic, but he sat silent, allowing the agents to ask.

“Get someone else,” Mercy forced out. “It doesn’t have to be me.”

***

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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.

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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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This is one of the most hilarious books I’ve read….so much laughter and warmth, in depth personality and characterization and so much of heart and soul!!!!

Publication Date: 5/28/2019

PuppyLove

No matter the job, no matter the need, these service dogs in training will always fall in love at first bark.

When Sophie Vasquez and her sisters dreamed up Puppy Promise—their service puppy training school—it was supposed to be her chance to bring some good into the world. But how can she expect to do anything when no one will take her seriously?

Enter Harrison Parks: a rough, gruff, take-no-bull wildlife firefighter in need of a diabetic service dog. He couldn’t be a more unlikely fit for Sophie or Bubbles—the sweet Pomeranian she knows will be his perfect partner—but when Sophie insists he give them both a shot, something unexpected happens: he listens. Even better, he keeps on listening, even as Sophie and Bubbles turn his lonely, uber-masculine world upside-down.

As it turns out, they all have something to prove…and more than enough room in their hearts for a little puppy love.

Service Puppies Series:

Puppy Love (Book 1)

Puppy Christmas (Book 2)

PURCHASE LINKS

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

B&N: http://bit.ly/2MYw85n

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

BAM: http://bit.ly/2SJdh3t

AUTHOR WEBSITE

https://www.lucygilmore.com/

GIVEAWAY: 3 Copies of Puppy Love

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************************************************************************************EXCERPT

Oscar didn’t say a word as Harrison stretched out the sock and slipped it over the puppy’s head. It went easily. There was so much fur on her, she could be decompressed to half her size. Gently guiding her limbs to fit through each of the holes he’d made was more difficult, especially since some of his measurements had been a little off, but the end result was about what he expected.

In other words, Bubbles was wearing a sock. One of his favorites too, the sweat-wicking kind he wore when he was out fighting fires for long stretches at a time.

“What the hell did you just do to that poor creature?” Oscar demanded.

“What do you mean? She loves it.” Harrison set Bubbles down on the table. The puppy wriggled once, scratched twice, and decided she’d never been so pleased in all her life. With a toss of her head, she began prancing along the table’s edge, just in case they hadn’t noticed her the first time. “Look at her—she’s preening.”

Oscar scratched his chin. “Well, I’ll be damned. She does like it.”

“Hello, boys.” A soft, feminine voice arose from behind them. “Sorry to barge in, but I rang the doorbell three times. No one answered.”

Harrison’s pulse leapt at the sound of Sophie’s arrival. It wasn’t a scared leap or an alarmed leap—it wasn’t even a wary one, which should have been his reaction given how far she’d managed to push him already.

No, this was the most dangerous kind of leap of all—attraction.

His heightened pulse didn’t lessen when he turned to find her standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He’d been more grateful than words could express when she’d showed up yesterday wearing sensible pants and a shirt with a Puppy Promise logo embroidered on the front. She’d still looked amazing, of course. The playful wisps of her short hair set off her pretty features, and the simplicity of her attire only enhanced her neat figure. But the uniform had helped.

I’m here to do a job, that uniform said. I’m here because of the dog.

Today, she’d gone back to wearing her own clothes. He wasn’t sure why the sight of her in faded jeans and a loose gray top should be so alarming, but he suspected it had something to do with the gentle curve of neck exposed on one side of her shirt. He’d seen women wear similar clothes before, but there was something about the sight of Sophie’s bare clavicle that made it difficult for him to breathe.

He wanted to kiss her there. He wanted to run his fingers up and down that slope of perfect skin until she shivered under his touch.

She shifted slightly, the shirt shifting with her. As if aware he was watching, the material slid even farther, giving him a glimpse of the rounded softness of her shoulder, broken only by a thin pink bra strap.

Shit. What was he doing? He couldn’t lust after Sophie. Not when she showed no signs of reciprocation. Harrison might go numb at the sight of her dressed in casual wear, but he doubted his jogging pants and decades-old Pink Floyd T-shirt were doing anything in return. Nor was she likely to lose herself at the sound of his rough grumbling.

“Sorry,” he said in a voice that was, unfortunately, both rough and grumbling. “The doorbell doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked in years.”

“Nothing around this place has worked in years,” Oscar added with a cheerfulness that seemed inappropriate, given how recently he’d been threatening Harrison’s life and livelihood. “Except for Harrison and Wallace, of course. Two more dedicated workaholics I’ve never met in my life—it’s the only thing they’re good at, if you want the truth.”

He wasn’t wrong. As much as Harrison would have liked to leap to his own defense, there wasn’t much to say. He wasn’t a man with varied interests or a whole hell of a lot going on in his personal life. Fighting fires was literally the only thing he was good at—the only thing he’d ever been good at since the summer he’d turned fourteen and made friends with a group of delinquent kids from around town.

His dad had been working around the clock at the time—his default for as long as Harrison could remember—so when he’d caught his son in the middle of a tractor-stealing incident, he’d handed him over to Oscar with plea that he do something with the blasted boy.

Oscar had done it, of course, and in the process, created a monster. An irritable, overworked, firefighting monster who had nothing to offer a woman except a newfound talent for making dog sweaters out of socks.

“Speaking of, when can I expect to have him back?” Oscar asked. “I’ve got a contract to start training a team from Fairchild Air Force Base with his name written all over it.”

“Right now.” Harrison almost shot out of his chair in his enthusiasm. Work would get him away from this house. Work would distance him from Sophie and her goddamn shoulder. “Pull the crew together, and I can start the training as soon as you want. You know how valuable the air force support can be for the flyovers. We’ve been after a contract with them for years.”

“I do know, which is why I’m going to delay the training until you’re free to run it.” Oscar turned his attention to Sophie. “What do you anticipate? What’s the expected timeline?”

Sophie glanced down at the puppy, considering. Not by so much as a flicker of a long, curled eyelash did she betray that she noticed anything out of the ordinary about Bubbles’s appearance.

Harrison couldn’t decide whether to be grateful for her tact or outraged at her disinterest. He’d worked really hard on that sock.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

TheDarkBonesGraphic

Title: The Dark Bones

Author: Loreth Anne White

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

SUMMARY:

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

 

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Hunting For Betrayal with Author Loreth Anne White

My newest novel, THE DARK BONES, is about a cop, Rebecca North, who learns that her father—a retired police officer—has killed himself. She can’t believe it. But in order to prove it was murder she must return to her small, rural home town and face a lot of dark things she’s been running from including the man she left behind long ago, and a cold case thought long buried.

At the core, THE DARK BONES examines the lies people tell each other and themselves—the false narratives they construct in order to hide mistakes, or bad deeds, or hurtful truths, or realities that shame and burden them. And as Rebecca North, my detective, digs deep to find the truth of what really happened to her dad, she begins to crack open a carapace of old lies that wraps around a cold case—a  heinous deed that occurred in her small community twenty years in the past, a crime from which people are still hiding.

Rebecca fast learns that the secrets she is beginning to unearth are secrets people will still kill to keep. However, opening up this vault of lies and betrayals in the small town also reveals to Rebecca truths about herself, and about the man she once loved, Ash Haugen. A man who betrayed her. And in confronting those betrayals and old lies, and the reasons that underpinned them, Rebecca and Ash can finally heal, and open themselves to a love that was always meant to be. At the heart THE DARK BONES is also about second chances, and getting that opportunity to try and set right the collateral damages around betrayal.

Although THE DARK BONES stands alone, it also revisits the setting and some of the characters from an earlier book, A DARK LURE. Those earlier characters were left with a hard road to travel toward their happy end, and as some of them play a key role

in Rebecca and Ash’s story, we see them also confronting outfalls around betrayal, and getting chance to continue their journey towards a good life.

Author Biography

LorethAnneWhite

Loreth Anne White is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the 2017 Overall Daphne du Maurier Award winner, and she has won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, in addition to being a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. A former journalist and newspaper editor who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Visit her at www.lorethannewhite.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://www.lorethannewhite.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Loreth.Anne.White

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Loreth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/150272.Loreth_Anne_White

 

EXCERPT:

Rebecca felt warmth. She was enveloped by it. She heard the crackle and pop of dry logs burning and, in the distance, dogs barking. The smell of … fire—

Her eyes shot open, her heart thumping.

He sat there. Ash. In a chair by the fire, watching her with his ice-blue eyes. She was in his living room, and the lighting had been dimmed. The flickering glow of the flames in the hearth behind him cast his rugged features into sharp relief. The scar down the side of his face looked harsh. An old brown dog with a white muzzle slept on a rug in front of the hearth.

Rebecca’s brain slotted puzzle pieces into place as she struggled through a mental haze to backtrack and figure out how she’d gotten here: The lights following her. The razed cabin and the clues that someone had been inside the shed and maybe fled the scene. Ash shooting at her. No gas in her truck. Fear of dying. Coming here to Haugen Ranch. Shucking her dad’s gear in Ash’s mudroom. Him helping her into the living room of his old family home—a great big log house built by his grandfather. Seating her on the sofa.

She sat up slowly, trying to pull her brain into sharper focus. A down duvet was wrapped around her, a heated blanket beneath that. The duvet smelled of fresh laundry. Yes, she recalled, the fire had already been going in the hearth when he’d brought her in—she’d noticed that. Next had come hot tea with honey, warm clothes handed to her—fleece, oversize. More tea.

He’d told her not to talk. Discussion could wait.

She met his eyes now and felt a visceral connection across the darkened room. This was her first proper look at him after all these years.

Her teen lover had aged. As she had. But he’d matured in a way she found attractive. He was neither sweet nor handsome. Rugged rather. A brooding look. Sun bronzed and weathered. Her attention returned to his scar. So prominent, cutting down the left side of his face from eye to jaw. He could have had plastic surgery over the past decades, but clearly hadn’t. Her memory slipped back to the day she’d tried to patch him up with the help of a small medical kit and knowledge she’d gleaned during her part-time job as a veterinary assistant.

He lied…

Her attention shifted to his hands. His knuckles were scarred.

What were you protecting him from that day?

TheDarkBones

She recalled the blood she’d seen on those ragged and bruised knuckles that day. Why had she not told her father she didn’t know for certain he’d fallen off his horse and been dragged across sharp terrain?

Why had she not questioned more firmly, at age sixteen, Ash’s refusal to go to the ER facility on that particular day? What deep psychology had driven her to possibly blind herself to search for a darker truth?

In that tempestuous, hormone-filled year she was sixteen, had she conveniently compartmentalized something that had created cognitive dissonance, because she’d just recently started sleeping with Ash, and needed to believe him? Needed to trust him again?

How had her actions that day shaped this present? Could it—she—have possibly played a role in her father’s death?

And why, oh dear God why, did Ash still make her feel things? This—this—was why she’d stayed away. He held an animal kind of magnetism over her. She felt it now, her gaze locked with his arctic eyes. Her attraction had blinded her to the fact he was not good for her. He was a liar.

She cleared her throat. “What time is it?”

“Almost midnight. You going to be okay? Do I need to drive you to Clinton?”

From his ranch it would take almost an hour, in the dark, on bad roads. And the ER would be closed. They’d have to call 911 for emergency to open up with an on-call physician. It reminded Rebecca that out here, one looked after one’s own.

“I … I must have passed out.”

A half smile. “Slept like a baby. You must have been tired.”

A desire to tell him all rose in Rebecca: How rough her journey home had been with the storms. How seeing her father’s body had gutted her. How exhausted she felt, emotionally. But she held back as her mind sharpened and the immediacy of why she was here, with him, in this house, was pulled into clear focus.

“What made you return to my father’s place when you did, Ash? How did you come to find me?”

“I go up to the Broken Bar mesa sometimes. The view of the valley on a clear, cold night is surreal.” A pause. “I needed to think.” After seeing you. The unspoken words seemed to simmer between them. “Someplace above it all. Then as the moon rose, I caught light glinting off metal where your father’s place was. I thought it might be a vehicle, so I went to check before heading home.” He paused. “You could have died out there.”

Rebecca swallowed as this fact sank like a stone through her gut.

“Have you been sitting there watching me like that all night?”

“You worried me,” he said. Then, very quietly, he added, “And I like to look at you.” He paused. “It’s been so long.”
 

 
 
 

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