Tag Archive: Romancing Life With Alima


About the Book

Title: Say it Again

Author: Catherine Bybee

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Publisher: Montlake

SayItAgainGraphic

Summary

Protector-for-hire Sasha Budanov is accustomed to life as a loner. Always on the move, she’s now reached a crossroad. Looking for answers about her shadowy youth, she’s returned to the strict boarding school in Germany where she was raised. It’s also where she was trained in the stealthy, militarized art of survival. But behind its gleaming gates, Richter is a fortress of secrets, including those buried in Sasha’s mysterious past. To uncover them, she’s clinging to her first rule of defense: stay guarded.

If anyone can challenge Sasha’s rules, it’s devilishly sexy stranger AJ Hofmann. He wants answers, too. And he needs Sasha’s help. The recent deaths of several of Richter’s former students—including AJ’s own sister—have aroused his suspicions. He’s arousing something more in Sasha. Never one to surrender to her emotions, she senses something tempting in AJ. She trusts him. He’s fearless. And he kisses like a demon. Sasha’s found her match.

But treading Richter’s dark halls—and following their hearts—has its risks. As the decades-old secrets of the past are mined, Sasha and AJ are falling deeper in love . . . and into danger.

Author Biography

Copyright Julianne Gentry Photography

New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written thirty books that collectively have sold more than five million copies and been translated into more than eighteen languages. Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series. For more information, visit www.catherinebybee.com.

Social Media Links

Website: www.catherinebybee.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinebybee

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee

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Author Interview: 

1) Sasha, from your newest novel Say it Again, is unlike any character that most readers will have encountered. Can you give us a rundown of your heroine?

Sasha is a female James Bond with all the skills that kick ass and the sexy that opens doors. She’s a master of disguises, speaks more languages than anyone should…and has a razor-sharp mind that doesn’t sleep. In all her badassery, (pretty sure I just made up that word) Sasha has a soft spot—a vulnerability that makes her want to protect the innocent. She’s a true to life superhero who walks the fence between right and wrong. She really doesn’t have any issues breaking laws to get what she wants. And that’s what makes her so fun to read, and for me to write.  

2) Fans have been following Sasha throughout your First Wives series. Did you always know you wanted to write her story?

No! Not at all. The first four books in the series were going to be it. However, Sasha commanded attention the first moment she walked on the page and I couldn’t get enough of her once I dreamed her up. I was almost finished writing the first book when I decided that Sasha was not going to be a bad guy. Yes, I’m a pantser, and have no real outline before I sit down to write. I think the fact that I didn’t know she was one of the good guys made her all that more believable. I don’t even think she knew she was going to be on the side of right and justice until the end of Fool Me Once.  

3) While many of your novels have a mystery or suspense element, you dive head first into action and spy-games in this book. How easy was this transition for you?

It was super easy and tons of fun. In fact… I think I may have a spin off of a spin off rolling in my head with all the fun characters I played with while writing this book. Neil was one of my very first book boyfriends from the Weekday Brides. And having him come back in this book just reminded me how much fun it is to write all the action and intrigue. I hope my fans love it enough for me to continue the theme with new books. 

4) When AJ is first introduced he seems pretty average—just a guy looking for answers about his sister’s death. But in reality, there is nothing average about AJ. How would you describe him? 

The best picture in my mine that I can describe with all clarity is Brian O’Connor, Paul Walker (RIP), from Fast and Furious. Innocent until he isn’t. 

I would say that AJ is exactly what Sasha needed to open up and accept that she too can be loved. I wanted AJ to come off as average until he wasn’t. Sasha is such a strong character that she needed someone who wasn’t going to try and overpower or overshadow her badassery (love that word). AJ does that. Yet he has some badass moments himself and that is what makes her fall for him even more. He is in no way perfect and neither is she. 

5) AJ and Sasha have something in common—they are both characters with lots and lots of secrets. What makes them open up to each other? What else do they have in common?

Trust through time. That’s the best way for me to describe how they evolved in my head. There is a common respect the moment they “acquire” the other’s phone. A moment where they take notice and begin to respect the other. Honor among thieves as they say. I think the common ground that isn’t apparent until the story evolves is how they want the love of a family. AJ is much more open to it than Sasha, but they both have to fight for it in the end.  

6) While you have written books with scenes in foreign countries, this story takes place internationally. Have you visited the same places as your characters? Where do you hope to take readers around the world in the future?

Yes, I have been to all the places I have written about. I was in Berlin a couple of years ago at a book signing and managed to get their by taking the train from London, through Amsterdam etc. So yes, I’m blessed to have visited these places which makes the story that much richer in my opinion. Richter, the school in the story, is from my imagination. I did some fact checking and learned that post Hitler’s Germany, military boarding schools were not welcome in the country. So I made one up and made it as great and awful as I could while still making it believable. 

I have placed most of my travels, or experiences from them, in my books. And as I travel the world, I will bring my readers along…eventually. 

7) Say it Again wraps up your First Wives series. What have you learned while writing these books? Will these lessons affect your writing in the future? 

On a personal level, I will say that I’ve leaned to write with a great deal of personal turmoil. There have been times I’ve doubted my process and this final book in the series has told me to never do that again. I would like to always keep the door open for more books because of characters like Sasha. I love writing fast moving romantic suspense and intrigue and can see Claire, Cooper and the whole of Neil’s team as a great setting for future books. Yeah… I’m liking that idea more and more. I hope my readers do, too. 

***

Excerpt:

AJ was being stood up.

It was half past noon and Sasha wasn’t there.

The Brandenburg Gate was one of the busiest tourist attractions in Berlin. The square was filled with families and walking tours led by someone holding a colored flag on a stick and talking into a microphone while a line of dazed, zombie-like visitors followed behind. Aside from those in the square learning about the history of the place, there were a dozen police officers and security guards moving around. Considering the American, British, and French embassies were all within a stone’s throw of each other, AJ was surprised there wasn’t a stronger military presence. 

AJ kept scanning the crowd in search of Sex on a Stick in black leather pants and a bad attitude. 

Nothing. 

Left without options, AJ dialed his phone number on her phone and waited. It rang twice. 

Behind him, the riff of “Bad to the Bone,” his ringtone, shot through him. He dropped his hand from his ear and saw a blonde standing three feet away, her back to him. 

Slowly she turned. 

“Whoa.” 

Sasha stared back at him, wearing white capri pants and a bright floral top. The blonde wig overdid it but completely camouflaged her in broad daylight. She took a step closer, reached out her hand holding his cell. “Hello, AJ.” 

They switched phones. “How long have you been standing there?” 

“Half an hour, give or take.” 

He looked her up and down. She looked like a typical American housewife, minus the kid in the stroller. “Impressive.” 

“I wanted to make sure you were alone.” 

AJ glanced around at the passing tourists. “Is there a reason behind the cloak-and-dagger?” 

She moved closer, lowered her voice. “You’ve come here to look for your sister’s killer. You think there is some connection to Richter. Went so far as to go there asking questions. You’re stalking the local pub and hitting on, not to mention stealing from, the patrons . . .” Sasha waved her phone in the air before tucking it into her back pocket. 

“I’m calling pot to kettle on that last accusation.” Although all the rest she pointed out was spot-on. 

“I like to go unnoticed. If someone followed me here, they lost me the second I made the city limits and went clothes shopping.” 

“What if someone followed me?” 

“Then I would have seen them watching in the thirty minutes you’ve been standing around looking like a lost child without a parent.” She turned and started walking toward the gate. 

AJ had no choice but to follow. 

“What makes you think anyone is following either of us?” 

She smiled, didn’t answer his question. “I used to help your sister on her agility training,” she told him. 

The mention of his sister brought his attention back to what he should be focused on. “She wasn’t the most athletic woman.” Amelia took after their mother, who didn’t grow more than five feet five inches tall and had a sweet tooth that always kept her rounder than she’d liked. At least that’s what she’d blame when she went on one of her many diets. 

“No. But she held her own most of the time. Everyone at Richter was pushed to do at least that.” 

“Her coworkers said she had recently started taking morning walks before work,” AJ said. 

“Which explains the police report about her being murdered in the park and tossed in the river.” 

AJ stopped walking. “You looked her up.” 

“Only because I knew her.” 

He jumped in front of her, stopped her from moving. “Then you’ll help me.” 

“There is nothing to suggest that Amelia’s death is at all linked to Richter.” 

AJ looked over Sasha’s shoulder and noticed a man eating an ice cream cone and staring at Sasha. The middle-aged guy turned his attention away and took a few steps in the opposite direction. 

“Maybe she . . .” 

AJ felt eyes, turned to his left. 

No one. 

“What is it?” Sasha asked. 

“The guy with the ice cream, over your left shoulder.” 

She grinned, cocked her head to the side. “We did this last night.” 

“Yeah, only I’m not asking you to lay a lip lock on me. Tempting as that might be.” Truth was, he’d thought about that kiss more times than he wanted to admit. “If how you’re dressed is any indication, you’re the expert on all things undercover. You tell me if you feel the weight of someone’s stare.” 

Sasha paused, then looked over her shoulder. “That him?” she asked, thumbing toward the guy with the ice cream. 

“Yeah.” 

She grabbed AJ’s hand and walked directly toward the guy he thought for sure was watching them. 

“What are you doing?” 

She didn’t answer. “Excuse me?” Her voice rose a full octave, her smile was sickeningly sweet. Any accent he’d detected from her voice was gone . . . or changed. 

The man with the cone turned toward them. “Yes?” 

“Are you American? You look American.” 

“I’m, ah . . . yeah.” The guy looked directly at AJ.

Sasha kept going. “Good. Would you mind taking our picture? I can’t get the gate behind us with a selfie.” 

Again the guy offered AJ unblinking eyes. “Ah, sure.” He reached for the phone Sasha was handing him. 

Next thing AJ realized, he was standing beside Sasha, her arm slipped around his waist, and he was smiling like all of the other tourists surrounding them while the man he thought was spying on them took their picture. 

The stranger holding Sasha’s phone, while trying to balance his ice cream cone, looked completely out of place. 

“Take a second one, just in case.” Sasha giggled. 

The sound of her voice didn’t suit her. The hand on his waist, however, suited him just fine. The feel of her there, the warmth, the softness he knew she would hate if he pointed it out, felt a little too right. 

“Thank you so much.” 

The stranger handed her phone back with a nod. “Have fun.” 

She waved. “We will . . . thanks.” 

And he was gone. 

AJ watched the man slip away as Sasha removed herself from AJ’s side. 

He missed her warmth, instantly. 

“Any self-preserving spy wouldn’t have made contact,” Sasha told him. 

The two of them walked toward the center of the square. “Okay,” AJ started. “Maybe I’m a little paranoid.”

“You’re a lot paranoid.” 

AJ paused in the middle of the plaza and stared at the massive horses that sat atop the gate. The image of his sister at Christmas the previous year surfaced. It was the last time he’d seen her alive. “I know Amelia’s death wasn’t random, Sasha. I feel it with every breath I take.” 

She sighed. “I know you do.” 

He looked at her. “You don’t believe me.” 

“I believe you believe.” 

He lowered his head, studied the salt-and-pepper colored stones beneath his feet. “You’re not going to help.” Damn it . . . he was back to ground zero. 

Another heavy sigh from the woman at his side. “I will help you.” 

AJ snapped his head up. “What?” 

She placed a hand in the air as in warning. “Not because I think you have anything other than grief inside you. The not knowing, or never accepting the facts, can eat you alive.” 

Not ground zero. He wanted to kiss her. Not that she would be receptive to that kind of thing. “Why are you doing this?” There wasn’t anything in it for her. Sasha turned away from him and focused her attention on the Brandenburg Gate. 

“Because I’m not bored.” 

***

 

 

“Let Your Down”, gal and #RubyGoesRogue, is just the beginning of an adventure for Ruby, away from the confines of a loving family, her forever friends and beating an illness that had her down for a while. And an illness that had her life mapped into organizing, spreadsheets, charts and itineraries. But it’s time to let her hair down and live her life. With an adventure  calling, Ruby takes the first steps to freedom, new experiences and Flynn Bowen.

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Helping run his family business is what Flynn Bowen does, but his heart and soul seem to have a different calling; for an identity of his own, making his own markings and maybe a dose of fate that brings him his destiny, Ruby. 

With an entertaining story, engaging camaraderie among friends, an utterly charming romance between Flynn and Ruby, Rachel Lacey gives us another worthwhile read from her Almost Royal Series.

Received an ARC from the author for an honest review.

Jennifer Ryan has always been and always be one of my favorite writers; not only have I read every single one of her books, but they hold a special place in personal library. 

And it is no surprise that her latest “The Me I Used To Be”, is just as brilliant (and in my personal library), and yet it surprises you at so many levels. The first few pages of Evangeline Austen’s life is a tear jerker, yet you can feel the strength and faith in her thoughts, courage and determination in her actions. 

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Chris Chambers has a goal –  to do right by Evangeline. As Evangeline’s capturer and then her releaser, he’s yet to redeem himself in is own eyes. Nothing short of loving Evangeline with his heart and soul, and bringing down the person behind her prison stay, would give Chris peace of mind and a life with Evangeline.

“The Me I Used To Be” is a brilliant narration of a young women’s fight to find a way to “the way she used to be” and make a place for herself in the judgmental society. A great read of family dynamics and the consequences of a single act that throws the entire family into a roller coaster ride of pain, betrayal and death. An exceptional story of love and hope, as faith leads to friendship and support in the most unlikely of places. 

Jennifer Ryan always had an exceptional writing and narrating talent of portraying emotions of her characters unsurpassed as well as give equal importance to supporting characters as she weaves them into the main storyline with great mastery. Her stories of women overcoming adverse situations with strength and courage are always a reading pleasure. And when, I as an avid reader cry reading a book, that is the ultimate mastery of writing!

SYNOPSIS:

A new standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.

Making Up Cover

Cosy Felton is great at her job—she knows just how to handle the awkwardness that comes with working at an adult toy store. So when the hottest guy she’s ever seen walks into the shop looking completely overwhelmed, she’s more than happy to turn on the charm and help him purchase all of the items on his list.

Griffin Mills is using his business trip in Las Vegas as a chance to escape the broken pieces of his life in New York City. The last thing he wants is to be put in charge of buying gag gifts for his friend’s bachelor party. Despite being totally out of his element, and mortified by the whole experience, Griffin is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself attracted to the sales girl that helped him.

As skeptical as Cosy may be of Griffin’s motivations, there’s something about him that intrigues her. But sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas and when real life gets in the way, all bets are off. Filled with hilariously awkward situations and enough sexual chemistry to power Sin City, Making Up is the next standalone in the Shacking Up world.

Author Bio:

Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Buy-Book Link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250253378

EXCERPT:

We’re a couple of minutes away from my apartment, which also means we’re almost at the end of our date. End-of-date protocol often means a goodnight kiss.

And I’ve eaten onions. Lots of them. What the hell was I thinking? I feel around in my shorts pocket, hoping I have a random stick of gum. I find a tiny square packet and pull it out, along with an old tissue. I shove that back in my pocket and sigh with relief as I carefully open the Listerine Pocketpak. There’s one strip left. I pop it in my mouth, wishing I had water since my mouth is dry and I’m suddenly super nervous.

Griffin pulls up in front of my apartment building. I swallow a bunch of times, trying to get the strip to dissolve on my tongue and glance out the tinted window, seeing it from his perspective. I don’t live in a bad part of town, but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave this car sitting out here for any length of time unless I wanted it keyed or stripped down.

Griffin shifts into park and turns to me, one hand resting on the back of my seat near the headrest. “I had a great time, Cosy.”

“Me too, thanks for dinner.” I tried to fork over my share, but he was quick on the credit card draw.

“It was my pleasure.” He leans in the tiniest bit, a nonverbal cue that he’s going in for a kiss.

I mirror the movement, giving him the go ahead. My stomach flutters in anticipation. I exhale slowly through my nose. Even though the Listerine strip should be doing its job to mask the onions, I don’t want to ruin the moment by breathing that in his face.

His fingertips skim my jaw, and I close my eyes. And then his lips brush my cheek. I wait for them to move a couple of inches to the right, but after what feels like a lot of seconds—and is probably only a few—I crack a lid.

Griffin is still close, a wry smile on his lips and a smolder in his eyes.

“Seriously, that’s it? A kiss on the cheek?”

His smile widens, making his eyes crinkle at the corners. He’s nothing like the guys I usually end up on dates with. College boys don’t take things slow. If I were out with one of the guys from school, I’d be sitting in a beat-up Civic with some stupid music playing, and he’d be all over me with his tongue halfway down my throat, copping a feel.

“I thought all the onions you ate were the equivalent to garlic for vampires.” Griffin fingers my hair near my shoulder. I’d really like him to finger something else. Wait. I mean I’d like to feel his hands on me. Not in my pants. Okay, maybe I’d like them in my pants, but not after date number one.

“I wasn’t thinking, and I really like onions. A lot. In hindsight, it’s not a great date food. I feel kinda dumb. And I guess at first I wasn’t so sure about you. How was I supposed to know you’d actually be kind of normalish?”

“Normalish?”

“Well, you drink club soda on purpose, so you can’t be all there.” I tap his temple.

Griffin circles my wrist with his fingers and drops his head, lips brushing over my knuckle. “We can’t all be perfect, now, can we?”

“I suppose not, and perfect is boring.”

“That it is.” He hums against my skin, and I feel it through my entire body. “I would like to try that kiss again, if you’re still interested.”

From MAKING UP. Copyright © 2019 by Helena Hunting 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.

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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.

 

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