Tag Archive: St. Martins Press


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!

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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:

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.

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

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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.

 

 

SUMMARY:

First in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Scent of Murder is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains cadaver dogs.

The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

The Scent of Murder

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

KYLIE LOGAN is the national bestselling author of The League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, the Button Box Mysteries, the Chili Cook-Off Mysteries, and the Ethnic Eats Mysteries. The Scent of Murder is the first in a new series.

Buy Links:

Amazon

B&N

iBooks

Powells

IndieBound


Social Links:

https://twitter.com/KylieLoganBks

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CHAPTER 1

It had rained that afternoon and the sidewalks were still wet. When the last of the evening light hit them, the slate squares reflected Jazz Ramsey’s neighborhood—streetlights, and the neon signs that flashed from the windows of the trendy pubs, and a watery rendering of St. John Cantius church, an urban Monet masterpiece, its tan brick walls and bell tower blurred. Even though it was officially spring, the wind off Lake Erie was wicked. Jazz bundled her shoulder-length brown hair into a loose ponytail and pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt, then hunched further into her North Face jacket. She stopped at a corner, waiting for the light to change, and was pleased

when Luther sat down at her side even without a command. “Good dog,” she was sure to tell him at the same time she

breathed in the combined smell of damp earth and the dis- carded bag from Taco Bell crumpled near the curb.

To Luther’s credit, he ignored whatever bits and bites of

Mexican cuisine might still be in the bag. But then, he’d been trained to follow different scents. When the light changed, he trotted along when Jazz crossed the street, his pace as brisk as hers, and the way he pricked his ears and cocked his head, she knew he sensed the exhilaration that vibrated from her hand through his leash. Luther knew it was almost time to get down to business.

Here, College Avenue started its downhill trek into the Cleveland Flats, the city’s once-booming industrial heart. These days, Clevelanders were more likely to work in health care or IT than in foundries and factories, but one hundred years ago, this was the route thousands of workers took each day from their homes in bluecollar Tremont—it was simply called the South Side then—to the fiery furnaces that pro- duced America’s steel.

“Were not going far,” Jazz assured Luther at the same time she noticed the couple who stumbled out of the Treehouse just up ahead made sure to give the massive German shepherd a wide berth. “Just over here,” she told him once they’d passed the open door to the bar and the blaring music that seeped onto the street wasnt quite so loud. “Over to the new condos.” They stopped outside a sturdy brick building nearly ninety years old with solid walls and a slate roof. By the end of sum- mer, Jazz imagined there would be gleaming glass in the win- dow frames where there was plywood now, and window boxes, too, no doubt, and cars parked outside that reflected the status-conscious success of the young professionals she’d

heard were already lined up to buy.

But not tonight.

Tonight the building was empty and dark and she had it all to herself.

It was the perfect place to put Luther through his paces.

Still hanging on to the dog’s leash with one hand, Jazz fished the key from her pocket with the other and silently thanked Ken Zelinsky, the site supervisor, who’d agreed to give her an hour’s time inside the building.

It wasn’t easy to find urban training sites for a human remains detection dog.

She swung open the door and slanted Luther a look. So what do you think?”

Luther sat, his tail thumping out a rhythm of excitement on the front stoop, and before she unhooked his leash, Jazz did a quick run-through of what she’d learned from his owner. Luther was a little over two years old, good-natured. He could be as playful as any pup, but he had a serious side, too. Like now, when he had to work.

“He’s a smart dog,” Greg Johnson had insisted when he begged Jazz to help with the final stages of Luther’s training. “He just needs some reinforcement from a really good handler. That’s you, Jazz.”

It was.

Or at least it used to be.

These days, Jazz was feeling a little rusty. She was out of practice, not in the mood. It was one of the reasons that, after hemming and hawing and finding excuse after excuse, she’d finally agreed to Greg’s request. She needed to shake herself out of her funk, and to her way of thinking, there was no better way to do that than with a dog.

She stepped into the long, narrow entryway of the build- ing with its rows of broken mailboxes along one wall, and shut the front door behind her. The eerie quiet of years of ne- glect closed around her along with the smell of dampness and decay, rotted wiring and musty tiles carried by an errant breeze. Feeling her way, she unsnapped the leash from Luther’s collar and gave him the command she’d devised for all the dogs she worked with because it was less ghoulish than saying “Find the dead guy!

“Find Henry! she told him, and she stepped back and out of Luther’s way.

Like all HRD dogs, Luther was that rare combination independent enough to go off on his own and loyal enough to owner and handler to need praise. But he didn’t know Jazz well, and smart dog that he was, he wanted to be certain. He glanced over his shoulder at her.

You know what to do, Luther. You dont need Greg here to tell you.” She swept a hand along her side. “Find Henry!”

In fact, what Jazz hoped the dog would do was clear both the first and second floors in record time and head up to the third floor where that afternoon she’d hidden a human tooth (a donation from her mother, Claire, who, at the age of fifty- two, had decided she wanted the kind of sparkling smile she’d seen on so many models and had begun to see an orthodon- tist). Human teeth contained enough scent to attract a prop- erly trained dog’s attention. If Luther was on his game—and she hoped he was because she hated the thought of telling Greg his dog wasn’t ready for the grueling volunteer work done by dogs and handlers—he would locate the tooth, signal by bark-

ing three times, and chomp on the treat she would use as a reward while she secured the scene and made a simulated call to the cops, just as she would do if they made a real find.

“You gonna get a move on or what? she asked Luther, her voice falling flat against the pitted plaster. “Find Henry!”

In a flash of black and sable, the dog took off down the darkened hallway.

After nearly ten years training and handling cadaver dogs, Jazz knew the ropes. She couldn’t give Luther a hint about where to go or what he was looking for so she kept back, let- ting him work, refusing to influence him by her demeanor or her movements. She heard his claws scramble on the tile floor somewhere in the dark up ahead, flicked on her high-powered flashlight, and followed.

Some dogs, like pointers, are air sniffers. Some, like blood- hounds, keep their noses to the ground. No matter their breed, cadaver dogs, by virtue of their work, have to be pro- ficient at both. They are trained as trailing dogs to pick up the scent that has fallen from decomposing bodies onto the ground, and as air-scenting dogs as well, so they can detect any smell of decomposition that’s carried on the breeze. By the time she located him in a back room of what had once been a four-room working-class apartment, Luther was hard at work.

His eyes focused and every inch of his muscular body at the ready, he drew in a breath then hurried back and forth, side to side, through what had once been a kitchen, in an at- tempt to catch the strongest scent.

Not here. On the third floor.

Jazz knew better than to say it. Part of an HRD dog’s gift

was to eliminate one area so dog and handler could move on to the next. Luther was doing his job, and he was doing it well. She had to remember to compliment Greg on his training methods.

Nose to the fl or, his ears pricked, Luther cleared the kitchen and headed into the back bedrooms. Jazz kicked a piece of fallen tile out of the way, but she kept her place. She would wait quietly until the dog emerged from the back rooms and when he headed out into the hallway, she would follow.

At least that was her plan. Until Luther barked.

Once. Twice. Three times.

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

The first in a new series, a journalist focused on her career and a sexy Scottish comedian turn a one night stand into forever. Cassie Crow leaves for vacation with two goals: fill up her empty charm bracelet and have a one night stand. For once, she wants to have fun instead of obsessively checking her work email. And kissing a man in a castle who’s dressed as a Scottish Highlander is the perfect solution.

Except when that man turns out to be Logan Reid, the host of a popular sketch show—and Cassie has just been roped into his latest prank. She wants nothing to do with his antics, but that was a really great kiss, and one night together couldn’t hurt.

It’s clear that one night isn’t enough and when Logan’s show brings him closer to Cassie, they decide to give dating a try. Can the woman who’s focused solely on her career and the man who refuses to take life seriously make it work?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melonie Johnson_author photo

A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, award-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. They went on to live happily ever after in the suburbs of Chicago with two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a trio of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250193094

Author website: https://meloniejohnson.com/

Author Twitter: @MelonieJohnson

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meloniejohnson/

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelonieWrites/

SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts

SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/

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

SNEAK PEEK:

Would you look at that? The man is wearing a kilt.
Note to self: Cassie Crow—be careful what you wish for.
The man groaned again and raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sunlight now cutting across the hidden alcove.
“Are you all right?”
“I will be fine once ye douse that blasted light.” He squinted up at her. “Be ye a new chambermaid?”
Chambermaid? She eyed the wide sleeves and open neck of the old-fashioned piratey shirt he wore. “Not sure what kind of weird-ass stuff you’re into buddy, but I don’t
do RPG.”
“Weird . . . ass?” His dark red brows drew together as he shaped his mouth around the letters. “Are pee gee?”
“Role playing games. You know, like cosplay or whatever.” She pointed at him. “Look, you’re the one wearing that get-up and talking like a reject from Macbeth.”
He narrowed his eyes at her finger. “Be ye a witch?”
“What did you call me?”

With another groan, he lurched forward. Oh God, what if he was hurt? For all she knew he was a member of some historic castle tour who got lost in a back passageway and hit his head. She leaned down to inspect him for bruises. He threw a hand out, palm up, warding her off. 
“Back away, sorceress,” he hissed.
“Seriously?” She slapped his hand out of the way.
“Here, let me help you out of there.” Cassie tugged gently on his shoulder. The voluminous shirt was loose, but she could feel—and appreciate—the thick spread muscle
beneath the soft fabric. Just my luck, I finally run into a hot Highlander, and he’s delusional.
The man waved off her assistance and struggled to his feet, shaking a wild tousle of thick, red hair out of his eyes.

Cassie never fancied herself to be a ginger girl, but it worked on him . . . or maybe that was the kilt talking. She eyed the swath of plaid fabric wrapped around his hips and wondered, like any female in her position would, what might or might not be under there. Reluctantly, she raised her gaze and caught him scrutinizing her in return.
“What be these strange breeks ye wear?” he asked, moving in a circle around her.
Cassie swore she could feel the weight of each of his eyeballs resting on her denim-clad backside. Fair enough. After a prolonged moment, she glanced over her shoulder.
“Get a good look?”
“Aye.” He swallowed. “’Tis most unseemly, lass.” He shook his head, gaze still glued to her ass.

“They’re called jeans.” She pivoted to face him. “Are you for real?”
He met her gaze, his answer falling from his lips in a deep, rich brogue with trilling r’s that curled her toes, “Aye, lass, I’m real.”
Cassie’s heart hiccupped. Of course he’s real. Unless those shots were stronger than I thought. “Were you at the whisky tasting?”
“Whisky?” His green-gold eyes lit with interest. “Do ye have whisky for me, then? I could use a wee dram. Be a good lass and fetch it for me.”

“Ha! I think you’ve had enough, mister. Is that how you ended up stuck in there?” Even as she said this, Cassie doubted it. She didn’t smell a hint of alcohol on him, though she did pick up other pleasant smells. Mint and clove and man and . . . Stop being ridiculous.
His broad shoulders lifted and dropped. “I dinna ken.”
“How long were you in there?”

Another shrug.Cassie dragged her attention away from the wide curve of his shoulders and leaned past him, inspecting the dark, narrow space behind the bookshelf. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her back, panic edging his voice. “Nay, lass. Doona be going in there.”

“Why not?” She inched forward and tried to get a better look.
“It canna be safe.” He tugged on her wrist again, his fingers warm and firm.
Tiny butterflies danced along the path where his skin touched hers. She brushed away the tingling sensation and slipped out of his grip, careful not to snag her bracelet.
“Well, you were in there, and you appear to have managed.”
“Are ye daft, wench? I was trapped!”
She sniffed, not sure she liked being referred to as a wench, and frowned up at him.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”He closed his eyes and slumped against the shelf. “I canna recall anything afore the moment I woke to find my-self crammed within yonder wall.” He blinked and focused intently on her. “The moment I found you, lass.”Cassie decided she liked being called lass much better than wench, especially when he was looking at her like that. Gazes locked, her other senses sharpened, heightening her awareness of his body and its proximity to hers.

She cleared her throat. “Hm. I think it’d be more accurate to say I’m the one who found you.”

Telling herself she was only searching for injuries, she reached up and tentatively
skimmed her palms along his temples, her fingers trailing his scalp.

“Looking for devil’s horns?” The man cocked one wicked brow at her as he raised his arms to mirror her movements, running his hands over her head and shoulders before brushing his palms down her back.

“Ye’ve naught got any fairy wings, so I’d say we’re even. In fact,” he whispered against her hair, standing so close the low burr of his voice became a purr in her own chest, “ye feel perfect to me.”

Like the migrating monarchs her dad studied, the butterflies made a return trip, enveloping her in a fluttery haze. She shivered. Whether it was the Scot or the scotch or both, Cassie didn’t care. He was here and she was here, and damn it all, it was about time she skipped to the good stuff. With a forceful mental click, Cassie turned off her brain tilted her chin up, and caught his mouth with hers. He made a low sound in the back of his throat, of protest or surprise, she wasn’t sure. But then his hands settled at her waist, and he returned the kiss. His mouth was somehow soft and hard at the same time, and when he slipped his tongue between her lips, she felt more light headed than if she’d downed every shot of whisky that had been on that tasting list.

Cassie rolled her tongue against his, savoring the delicious contact. He met her thrust for thrust, deepening the kiss until she was swept away on a tidal wave of desire. This. This is what I’ve been waiting for. She clung to him, hands gripping his shoulders, swimming in sensation, drowning in it.

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