Giveaway: Bittersweet by Michele Barrow-Belisle

 
Bittersweet (Faerie Song Trilogy, #2)
Release Date: 03/24/15
 
Summary from Goodreads:
To save the Faery world and her mother’s life, Lorelei sacrificed everything, and the dangerous bargain she made in Nevermore had lasting repercussions. Now safely back in her own world, Lorelei seems the same to her highschool friends and her supernatural boyfriend. Yet love across dimensions is complicated, especially when an invisible Veil between the two worlds—the only bridge that links the pair, is sealing, threatening to separate Lorelei and Adrius forever.
 
Determined to find a solution, Lorelei resorts to using her new found powers. But when her friends succumb to the same mysterious illness that nearly took her mother’s life, Lorelei can’t help but wonder if her own dark magic is responsible. Still, the nightmares from Nevermore continue their icy hold. Someone from Adrius’s past arrives, determined to destroy Lorelei’s world starting with those closest to her, and Lorelei is forced to choose between her family and friends and a love that was ill-fated from the start.
 
 
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Book One:
(cover linked to Goodreads)
 
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About the Author
Michele Barrow-Belisle is chocoholic author and artist living in southern Ontario, Canada with her super-sweet husband, brilliant son and a ridiculously affectionate cat. Often told by teachers to stop dreaming and get her head out of the clouds, Michele still spends much of her time lost in make-believe worlds, populated with fascinating and occasionally terrifying characters. Her passion for fantasy extends beyond her writing into her clay figure sculpt-ing, creating miniaturized replicas of the paranormal beings she writes about. Michele is as passionate about reading as she is about writing. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found sculpting tiny fairy desserts in polymer clay. She also loves mocha lattes and watching fireflies at twilight. Did we mention she loves chocolate?
 
Author Links:
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Excerpt: Immortal Flame by Jillian David

Immortal Flame cover

Synopsis: 

World War II veteran Peter Blackstone traded his soul so that his wife could live. That was 1945. Since then, Peter has lived an unnaturally long life as a hired killer, providing the life forces upon which Jerahmeel feeds to survive.

Doctor Allison La Croix has a big problem. She randomly sees people’s deaths. She has longed to be free of her twisted “gift” to live a normal life without fear of predicting yet another loved one’s demise.
After a horrific accident, a severely injured Peter arrives in Allison’s ER. The vision Allison experiences when she touches him nearly kills her. He teaches her to block these devastating episodes as she finds a way to unlock his forgotten, passionate soul. 

But Jerahmeel’s minion has orders to destroy Peter and anyone he loves. Will Peter’s and Allison’s shattered souls survive the devious plan? Or could their love save them both? Someone will have hell to pay.

Buy links. Amazon.com.   *   Barnes and Noble: Immortal Flame   *   Kobo – eBooks – Immortal Flame

 

 

Excerpt:
Allison placed the bell of her stethoscope over the man’s broad chest. Normal heart rate. Lungs clear. Pressing on his ribcage dusted with dark hair and his flat abdomen, she found no crepitus or rigidity. She inhaled deeply.

A nurse raised an eyebrow. “Anything?”

“No trace of alcohol or drugs.” All she smelled was the metallic scent of blood and a typical male essence like almonds and very faint cologne.

With the Velcro straps off, the staff carefully logrolled him to one side, a maneuver that kept his neck, spine, and hips in safe alignment so she could evaluate his back for injuries. Once the staff rolled him back onto the backboard and re-secured the wide straps, radiology personnel shot a quick neck x-ray.

A final assessment of his muscled extremities completed the exam. She felt oddly flushed, like his skin radiated too much heat. Strange.

When she touched him, a vibration flowed through her gloved hands. She had never gotten a vision through gloves. Then again, she’d never gotten a warning signal, either. What the hell was going on here? The vibration jolted up her arms.

Oh God, not now. Please wait until I finish treating this man. Please.

“Do we have a set of vitals?” she asked.

Her patient breathed on his own, unlabored. An old, scratched watch with a dried leather band was fastened around his thick, tanned wrist. Despite the horrific bruises over his body, only his head injury needed intervention. Damn it, she had to examine his wound. She shook her hand, hesitated, then took a deep breath and braced herself. When she lifted the palm-sized flap of scalp, it bled into his dark hair until she taped the gauze back down. She could repair the wound after the CT scan. Jerking her hand away from the buzzing sensation, she pulled off her gloves and replaced them with a clean pair.

She stepped away from her patient and relaxed. Maybe this man’s injuries weren’t as life threatening as she had initially thought.

The EMT frowned. “Blood pressure is one thirty over ninety, pulse eighty, respiration sixteen, temperature … 107?”

“Okay.” She stared at the EMT. “Wait. What? Could you retake that temperature, please? That can’t be right.”

“Ma’am, I already rechecked it with a different machine. It’s 107.3 to be exact.”
With her heart thudding, she searched the unconscious man for obvious signs of infection or malignant hyperthermia from drug use, anything to explain the temperature reading.

“Start him on IV fluids and get a cooling blanket hooked up.”

Screw those visions, she had to touch him again. She needed to figure out what was wrong with this patient before his brain fried.

She eased his eyes open and flashed her penlight. Normal pupillary responses. The deep brown, almost black color of his eyes surprised her with their darkness. His open eye locked onto hers and focused, at the same time a blast of vibration drilled from his face through her hand.

The depth of that gaze pulled her like a particle into a black hole. Her heart expanded then contracted, and her breath caught. Vertigo washed over her. She grabbed the IV pole for balance. The rush of vision took hold, blocking out all sound, like voices obscured by a stiff wind. Faces swam too quickly to make out details. Far in the distance of her mind’s eye, the focus sharpened onto a man. She could see—

A radiology tech tapped her on the arm. “Doc? Doc?”

Allison moved her hand away. The patient’s eye fell closed, and the vortex sensation ebbed.

 

Author bio: 

Red rock walking

Jillian David lives near the end of the Earth with her nut of a husband and two bossy cats. To escape the sometimes-stressful world of the rural physician, she writes while on call and in her free time. She enjoys taking realistic settings and adding a twist of “what if.” Running or hiking on local trails often promotes plot development.

 http://jilliandavid.net

www.twitter.com/jilliandavid13

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Giveaway: IT STARTED WITH A SCANDAL by Julie Anne Long

 

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IT STARTED WITH A SCANDAL

Lord Philippe Lavay once took to the high seas armed with charm as lethal as his sword and a stone-cold conviction: he’ll restore his family’s fortune and honor, no matter the cost. Victory is at last within reach—when a brutal attack snatches it from his grasp and lands him in Pennyroyal Green.
An afternoon of bliss brings a cascade of consequences for Elise Fountain. Shunned by her family and ousted from a job she loves, survival means a plummet down the social ladder to a position no woman has yet been able to keep: housekeeper to a frighteningly formidable prince.
The bold and gentle Elise sees past his battered body into Philippe’s barricaded heart . . . and her innate sensuality ignites his blood. Now a man who thought he could never love and a woman who thought she would never again trust must fight an incendiary passion that could be the ruin of them both.


Excerpt:

IT STARTED WITH A SCANDAL CHAPTER ONE, PART ONE

“In light of your …circumstances…Mrs. Fountain, I’m certain you’re aware that it is a bit unusual for you to be granted an interview at all. But this is an exceptional…situation…and the Redmond family did put in a good word.”

So many words requiring delicate choosing and pillowing with little silences. Circumstances. Situation.

Elise gritted her teeth clamped together, withstanding all of them the way she had for years.

“I understand,” she said somberly.

“—that is not to say that you could not satisfactorily perform the duties, and I should hope you would not be influenced by Mrs. Gordon, whose temperament proved unequal to the job—”

Mrs. Gordon must be the sobbing woman Elise had passed departing the house as Elise came up the walk. She’d been carrying a valise and muttering “heartless bastard” viciously under her breath.

“…because the successful candidate will possess a clear head and a mature outlook…” Mrs. Winthrop continued. She paused briefly in her torrent of words to narrow her eyes at Elise.

Elise had donned her most severe gown and ruthlessly pinned her hair motionless with approximately three hundred pins. She nodded, serenely confident she looked mature and that nothing as frivolous as a curl would escape.

And she kept her fingers laced tightly in her lap, as if this alone could keep her nerves from shattering. It had at least disguised the trembling.

Would that she’d managed to keep her stays laced just that tightly six years ago.

Alas, spilt milk, and all of that.

“…and as you know, I’m employed by the Earl of Ardmay, and they have volunteered me to undertake the selection process as a special favor to their family…”

Mrs. Winthrop had not ceased speaking since Elise arrived fifteen minutes ago.

“…and as for the current staff, there will be no steward or butler, as this is a relatively small household and the tenant is temporary. So you would head the small entire staff, which is comprised of—”

Something unmistakably large and glass, hurled from a considerable distance with considerable force, exploded into thousands of jingling fragments.

Both women froze.

It was exactly what Elise expected her nerves would sound like when they finally shattered.

In the stunned silence that followed the rain hurled itself at the window like a warning. Get out! Get out while you can!

Ah, if only she’d a choice.

Mrs. Winthrop cleared her throat at last. “He likely won’t ever aim at you. All the same, there’s naught wrong with his arm and it’s best to be well clear of him if you think he might be in a throwing mood.”

Elise hoped this was black humor. How on earth to respond? She glanced down at her bloodless knuckles as if they were crystal balls. No help there.

She decided to nod sagely.

“I understand they’re blessedly rare. The throwing moods,” Mrs. Winthrop expounded.

“And we must always count our blessings.”

It emerged more quickly and dryly than Elise intended.

In other words: More herself than she had intended.

This she knew because Mrs. Winthrop’s eyebrows launched like birds flushed from shrubbery.

She eyed Elise sharply for a moment.

Elise held her breath.

Then Mrs. Winthrop smiled a vanishingly swift smile. It was like a cinder thrown off a distant campfire, when Elise had been lost in the dark woods for weeks.

“All right then, Mrs. Fountain, I should be pleased to introduce you to his Lordship, Lord Lavay, who is a Prince of the House of Bourbon. If he’s…amenable.”

*****

The loquacious Mrs. Winthrop went curiously silent as she led Elise through a labyrinth of Alder House’s too-dark hallways. The candles hadn’t been trimmed; a few were fitfully, smokily, burning in their sconces. She frowned. The house was handsome enough, but tn the rooms they swiftly passed the fires burned low or not at all. She surreptitiously dragged a fingertip along top of the wainscoting; she could feel dust cake it.

She saw no evidence of the rumored household staff.

They scaled a flight of marble stairs with a smooth, modest banister, and Mrs. Winthrop finally halted paused on the threshold of what appeared to be a study.

It was as dark and soft as a cave, but a huge leaping fire picked out glints from around the room, and Elise’s eyes tracked them reflexively: the polished legs on a plumply upholstered settee and a pair of gorgeous chairs, the inlay on a small round table, the gilt on a framed map and the stand of a handsome globe, an empty crystal decanter, a tiny bottle of Sydenham’s Laudanum on a sideboard, only half full.

She stopped when she reached the mirror-like toes of a pair of Hessians by the hearth.

And followed them all the way up.

Inside them stood a man.

A very tall man.

He in fact all but loomed; the firelight threw his shadow nearly to where she stood at the door.

Elise took an unconscious step back from it, as though it were a spill of lava.

His face was aimed rather pointedly at the window, as if he was expecting someone.

She followed his gaze curiously.

She just saw the same ceaseless slanting rain, like bars on a cell.

A spray of sparkling shards surrounded his feet. The remains of a vase, from the looks of things.

“Lord Lavay…”

Elise shot Mrs. Winthrop a worried look. The seemingly indefatigable Mrs. Winthrop’s voice had gone faint. As if she suddenly didn’t have enough air to form words.

The man turned. Slowly, as if he was the earth itself on its axis. Or as if an invisible sculptor was rotating him to present a finished work.

Voila! Elise thought to herself. An attempt at bravado.

It was too late. She’d already sucked in her breath and tightened all of her muscles, like a creature who had stumbled across a predator in a clearing and wished to make herself unnoticeable.

He was so clearly of that singular species, The Aristocracy, that she might as well have bought a ticket to see him, the way she had once when her father had brought her, as a little girl, to see the Royal Menagerie in London.

He wasn’t young. There was no softness to his face—not in the set of his mouth, or the burn of his gaze, or the severe right angles of his jaw. His beauty was austere and inarguable and there was a palpable force to him, as if he had sprung from the earth due to violent underground activity, a bit like a mountain range. She thought about the things she’d been told about him.

Privateer. Soldier. Prince.

Power, violence, privilege.

He looked like all of the things he was purported to be.

Do we carry around our pasts so visibly? She wondered. Because if she so, she was certainly in trouble.

There was no denying that he frightened her.

And after a moment, this made her angry. She’d been so certain she was impossible to frighten after the events of the last five years. She could not afford to be frightened. She thought she deserved never to be frightened again.

She squared her shoulders.

Life is full of tests, children, she’d once primly told her students.

That was before she’d been tested.

The woman Mrs. Winthrop brought into Phillipe’s study was petite and colorless. Her face and the folded knot of her hands were twins, both white and tense. Her dress was demure, long-sleeved, high-collared, fashioned of serviceable gray wool. Her hair was dark. She could be any age.

Her eyes dropped instantly upon meeting his. It was deference or fear, or perhaps fascination. He was accustomed to all of them. None of it interested him.

She was, unsurprisingly, unremarkable in every way.

Apart, that was, from her posture, which was almost aggressively rigid. It reminded him of a drawn saber.

This made him smile faintly.

He sensed it wasn’t a pleasant smile when both women gave a little start.

“I’d like to introduce Mrs. Elise Fountain, my lord.”

Miss Fountain dropped an elegant enough curtsy.

“You may leave us,” he said to Mrs. Winthrop, without looking at her.

Mrs. Winthrop bolted like a rabbit released from a trap.

Mrs. Fountain’s gaze rose again, rather like a man struggling up the side of a cliff, wavered, and held.

END IT STARTED WITH A SCANDAL CHAPTER ONE PART ONE! To read the rest of Chapter One, check out these blogs:

3/26—

Urban Girl Reader EXCERPT PART 2

Eater of Books EXCERPT PART 2

3/27—

Buried Under Romance EXCERPT PART 2

3/28—

Toot’s Book Reviews EXCERPT PART 2

Doing Some Reading EXCERPT PART 2

Ramblings from this Chick EXCERPT PART 2

3/29—

The Lusty Literate EXCERPT PART 3

Romancing the Readers EXCERPT PART 3

3/30—

Snarky Mama EXCERPT PART 3

Curling up with a Good Book EXCERPT PART 3

4/1—

The Jeep Diva EXCERPT PART 3

4/2—

After Hours at Lily Bloom Books EXCERPT PART 3

To Read or Not to Read EXCERPT PART 3

4/3—

I Heart Romance EXCERPT PART 3

 

About JULIE ANNE LONG

JulieAnneLong

USA Today bestselling author JULIE ANNE LONG originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up (and she has the guitars and fringed clothing stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it), but writing was always her first love. Since hanging up her guitar for the computer keyboard, her books frequently top reader and critic polls and have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Rita, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and The Quills, and reviewers have been known to use words like “dazzling,” “brilliant,” and “impossible to put down” when describing them. Julie lives in Northern California.
Visit Julie at http://www.julieannelong.com, http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJulieAnneLong, or twitter.com/JulieAnneLong

Where to buy IT STARTED WITH A SCANDAL

HarperCollins: http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062334848/it-started-with-a-scandal

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Started-Scandal-Pennyroyal-Green/dp/0062334824/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/it-started-with-a-scandal-julie-anne-long/1121318431

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/it-started-with-a-scandal/id894875818?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Julie_Anne_Long_It_Started_with_a_Scandal?id=eWmdBAAAQBAJ

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Excerpt: Ship of Dreams by Rebecca Heflin

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Ship of Dreams by Rebecca Heflin

Book Blurb:

Advertising Diva, Laura Armstrong is after Imperial Cruise Lines, the biggest account of her career and the one that will lead to the next step in her Life Plan of becoming one of the most powerful women in advertising. That winning the account will also prove her father wrong is a bonus.

Sexy Southern Gentleman, Nathan Maxwell, is after that very same account, but for completely different reasons. Landing the account means a sizeable bonus just in time to save his family’s farm, and the only stable home his sister’s ever known, from foreclosure.

When the two end up on the same ship in the middle of the Mediterranean for a clandestine reconnaissance mission, Mt. Vesuvius isn’t the only thing that could erupt.

Will Nathan sink her ship of dreams before it ever leaves port, or will the way to love be smooth sailing?

Excerpt:

 

Chapter One

Laura Armstrong strode toward the building housing the New York offices of Imperial Cruise Lines. Her stiletto heels clicked a staccato on the sidewalk as she tested the limits of her snug pencil skirt.

Tapping out a message on her smart phone, her mind five steps ahead, she nearly took a header when the heel of her shoe plunged into a sidewalk seam. The text message all but forgotten, she twisted and turned, unable to dislodge the stubborn heel.

Risking a tear in the cherry red patent leather of her sky-high Louboutin ankle-straps – the ones with the plunging vamp revealing her sexy toe cleavage – wasn’t an option. But between the ankle strap and her figure-hugging skirt, she couldn’t slip out of the shoe, nor could bend over and unfasten it either.

Perfect. She’d be late for her meeting with Imperial’s CEO.

Daddy Dearest thought Giddings-Rose couldn’t handle an account the size of Imperial. Check that. He thought she couldn’t win an account the size of Imperial.

Determined to prove her father wrong, she’d get the account and the corner office. That is if she could pry her heel out of the sidewalk.

Bustling New Yorkers in suits and skirts just stepped around her, dodging her like an out-of-place trashcan. “Well, sh–”

“Hold still, Sugar, or you’ll break the heel.” The masculine voice called to mind the mellow sweetness of the fine Kentucky Bourbon she’d once sipped at the Derby. Rich and mellifluous, with a hint of Southern graciousness. Even so, there was no denying the authoritative tone. “And that would be a damn shame.” The hand that wrapped around her ankle from behind was broad and masculine, but well-manicured, topped with an elegant Cartier watch.

Not her type. She preferred her men with a little more grit than polish. So why did tantalizing warmth spread up her leg?

With adept fingers, he unbuckled the ankle strap and lifted her foot from the still-lodged shoe. Having no other choice to avoid either resting her bare foot on the filthy Manhattan sidewalk or the humiliation of falling on her face, she reached back and grabbed his shoulder.

Hmm. No padding there. Nothing but muscle beneath that expensive tropical weight wool suit. She caught a glimpse of charcoal gray fabric, dark hair, and Italian shoes in rich mahogany leather.

But she’d yet to lay eyes on her rescuer’s face.

Nathan Maxwell took advantage of the up-close and personal view. Trim ankles met shapely, muscular calves, and judging from the fit of her skirt, a firm derriere topped off those swimsuit-model legs. Beneath his touch, soft skin beckoned further exploration. Long honey-blond hair hung almost to her waist in a sleek ponytail. The fragrance of her haute couture perfume drifted over him, reminding him of magnolia-scented summer nights.

Focusing on the task at hand, he gently pried the heel from the sidewalk seam and examined it. “No harm done.” He grasped her ankle and settled her foot back into the shoe and fastened the strap, but not before noticing the firecracker red nail polish. He laughed. “Here you go Cinderella.”

The warmth of his laugh slid over her, knocking her a little off balance even though she’d placed her foot firmly back on the ground. “Thank you, uh . . .” She turned and looked up into golden brown eyes the color of that same sweet Kentucky Bourbon.

“Nathan, Nathan Maxwell. My pleasure, ma’am.” He flashed a devastating grin, igniting gilded sparks in his eyes.

There was that Southern drawl again – subtle, like the peach undertones of a fine Pinot Gris. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“My accent give me away?” Her sardonic smile weakened Nathan’s knees more than any toothy grin ever did.

“No, your courtesy.”

Nathan chuckled. “My grandmother would have expected nothing less.” Her eyes, cool blue like the May sky overhead, captured his and held. No shrinking violet, this one, he mused. A full, determined mouth painted to match the red of her toenails set off an arresting face with high cheekbones, a stubborn chin, and aquiline nose.

“Well, thank you, Nathan.” Maybe she should add suave polished men with a hint of Rhett Butler to her menu, Laura thought. Her phone, all but forgotten in her hand, buzzed. “I, uh, I’ve got to go. Thanks again, Nathan Maxwell.” Something about the way his name rolled off her tongue. She answered the phone as she walked away, “This is Laura.”

Nathan watched as she strode down the sidewalk, hips swaying to some inherent rhythm. “Come on, Laura, glance back.” She turned and gave him what he wanted, another look at that bold, beautiful face.

“It’s going to be a great day.” Glancing at his watch, satisfied with the outcome of the errand that brought him to this part of Manhattan in the first place, he hailed a cab back to his office.

*****

Giving herself a mental snap-out-of-it slap to shake the charming Rhett Butler from her thoughts and focus on the goal, Laura briefed Katie, the head of the Giddings-Rose research team, on her latest project.

“I’m going to need the demographics on Imperial Cruise Lines, and its three closest competitors, ASAP.”

“We’re going after Imperial? What happened to Kendall-Monroe?”

“Fired. And use your street team to find out the inside scoop on Kendall-Monroe and Hawk Media. I’m on my way to meet with the CEO of Imperial now.”

“Damn, woman, you work fast.”

“Jackson Jefferies is a long-time friend of the family, so getting a sit down was easy. Convincing him to listen to someone besides my father is a different story.” Jackson Jeffries was the CEO of the cruise line, one of her father’s closest friends . . . and one of her father’s best customers. Her family’s shipbuilding business built Imperial’s liners, and Jackson relied heavily on her father’s counsel.

While at her best friend’s wedding over the weekend, Laura’s father had received an email from Jackson saying they’d fired their advertising agency. Since her irksome father had already given a competitor agency a heads-up that Imperial was in the market, time was of the essence.

“If anyone can convince him, it’s you. You could sell moonshine to a teetotaler.”

“Thanks. I think. Anyway, wish me luck.”

“Good luck. And call me when you’re done.”

Laura stashed her phone and entered the cool two-story lobby, walking directly to the security desk. After signing in, she took the elevators to the top floor for one of the most important meetings of her career.

A full-service advertising agency, Giddings-Rose had made a name for itself creating ad campaigns for traditional Fortune 500 companies, including insurance companies, department stores, banks, airlines, and manufacturers. But Laura’s goal was to drag Giddings-Rose kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, with accounts who wanted rich media campaigns, digital brand development, interactive marketing and communications strategy, and pay-per-click campaign management. The future of advertising.

When she’d first approached Curt, the agency’s VP of Business Development, about Imperial and its needs he’d been skeptical, but the agency couldn’t count a cruise line among its accounts, and having one would look good in its portfolio. And on his resume.

“What do you want, Laura?” Curt had asked.

She’d used her tough-minded skills on him. “I want your job, but I bring you Imperial, I’ll take the VP of Client Management that’s coming open.”

“You bring me Imperial, and we’ll talk about it.”

“No.” She approached his desk. “I’ve reeled in some big fish for this agency. It’s time I reaped the rewards of all that hard work. Dammit, Curt, you know I deserve it.”

Curt had held her gaze. “I know. Look, I’ll go to bat for you, but I can’t promise anything.”

“That’s all I’m asking. Thanks, Curt.”

The elevator doors opened on the lobby of Imperial Cruise Lines bringing Laura back to the present. She took a deep breath and stepped onto the polished marble floor with all the determination of a gladiator stepping into the Roman Colosseum. “Showtime.”

*****

Nathan sat down at his desk, as his assistant followed him in with phone messages and meeting requests. He’d only been at Hawk Media a week and already had a full schedule.

“Mr. McCutcheon would like to see you when you get a moment, and I need you to sign these forms for your corporate credit card.” Cassie placed the stack of messages on the desk and handed him the forms.

“Thanks, Cassie. This credit card can’t come soon enough. I need you to book a trip for me. Here’s all the information.” Nathan handed her a brochure with the ship circled. He didn’t care what itinerary, as long as he got on that ship. He’d already completed the company’s travel profile so Cassie would know his preferences. “And I need it booked first thing.”

Cassie took the brochure, lifting a brow. “Is this business or pleasure?”

“Oh, this is business, but who says they’re mutually exclusive?” He gave her a wink as he rounded his desk.

The corridors of Hawk Media were hushed, the plush carpeting lending a soft touch to the otherwise glass and brushed chrome ultra-modern office space. The account executives whose offices lined the halls were hard at work, studying spreadsheets, talking on phones, tapping out emails, or meeting with members of their teams. A group stood in front of an oversized digital white board in what served as the agency’s idea space, throwing suggestions up on the board.

The nimble mid-size company had only been around a little over ten years, but they were making a splash in the ad biz, especially after they’d snatched the Kensington hotel chain right out from under Concept Advertising.

They’d done the same thing with him.

Hawk Media had wooed his biggest account away from him, but while the CEO preferred the New York-based agency’s philosophy, he’d told Hawk that Nathan was part of the package. So after almost ten years with the same boutique agency in Atlanta, first as an account coordinator, before working his way up to senior account executive, Hawk had come calling. And Nathan had listened. In the immortal words of Don Corleone, “they’d made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

Though it broke his heart to leave behind his Buckhead home and the proximity to his sister, the siren song of the Big Apple couldn’t be ignored, and the position, Vice President of Business Development, the salary, and the bonuses were too good to pass up. Especially now when he needed the money.

He’d make a name for himself in the big city. Not bad for a boy from the hills of North Georgia who’d once been told he’d never be more than a whore’s bastard.

First order of business – get the Imperial Cruise Lines account.

“You needed to see me?”

Hawk looked up from his sleek computer, “Yes. Have a seat.”

At only forty-six, Hawk McCutcheon was on a high-speed trajectory to success. His blond locks lent him a devil-may-care surfer look, but those who judged the book by its cover did so at their own peril. A former All-American quarterback, he played by the rules, but that didn’t mean he didn’t play a tough game. And while he had an easy smile and a generous nature, he expected one-hundred-ten-percent from his employees.

Family photos ranged the credenza behind his immaculate Lucite desk, including one of him and his father, U.S. Senator Mitchell McCutheon, at the President’s inauguration ball. Star-studded lifestyle notwithstanding, according to his employees, Hawk was a tried and true family man.

“Where are we on Imperial Cruise Lines?” Hawk eyed him over a pair of reading glasses.

“Cassie’s booking my trip as we speak – on the Nave dei Sogni – the first availability. Research team is pulling demographics, financials, and current marketing collateral, and the same information on Imperial’s three closest competitors. Word on the street is Imperial is looking to lower its age demographic, attract younger, more dynamic clientele, with lots of sports and entertainment dollars to spend. And they’re building a smaller liner with an eye toward uncompromising quality and an even higher staff-to-guest ratio to do it.

“We already have the data on the spending habits of this demographic,” Nathan continued, “we just need to do some number crunching. Imperial is looking for interactive marketing services for the digital space. They fired Kendall-Monroe because the agency’s ideas were … ‘antediluvian,’ to use the Junior Jeffries’ term.”

“Well, we’ll deliver fresh, innovative ideas that will blow any competition out of the water. Pun intended,” Hawk finished with a grin. His expression grew determined as he tapped the desk with his finger, “I want this account and you’re just the man to get it for me.”

*****

Jackson’s assistant escorted Laura into a modest-sized, but well-appointed office. Behind the mahogany desk sat a man, that although her father’s contemporary, looked years younger. His thick pewter and silver hair, tanned, clean-shaven face, and ready smile gave Jackson Jeffries the appearance of a well-aged movie star.

He rose as she approached his desk, his gray eyes alight with approval as he appraised her. “Little Laura Armstrong has grown into a beautiful, poised young lady. How did that happen? Last I saw you you were headed off to college.”

She smiled at the compliment. “That was a decade ago.”

“Has it been that long?” He indicated a group of chairs around a beautifully-restored leather steamer trunk that served as a coffee table. Models of Imperial’s ships, old and new, ranged the office on their own wood pedestals, down-lighting illuminating every detail. Photos of dignitaries from around the world covered the walls.

It was a comfortable office. A well-lived-in office. Not the showplace she’d expected from the CEO of one of the world’s most prestigious ultra-luxury cruise lines. But then again, she had memories of Jackson as a kind, unassuming man. One who actually loved his wife and children and didn’t put the importance of the bottom line ahead of his family.

“And now you’re with an advertising agency, and you’d like to talk to me about Imperial’s business.” He leaned forward, propping his elbows on his knees.

“Yes.” Despite his humble demeanor, he always could cut to the chase.

“All right. I’m game. Tell me about your agency.”

Before she could start her pitch, the office door opened and a tall, good looking younger version of Jackson entered the room. Same thick hair, but light brown with hints of pre-mature gray at the temples, same gray eyes, same ready smile. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

She remembered Jackson Junior, or Jack, from dinners at the Country Club, golf outings, parties at her parents’ house, and high school. She’d tried her sixteen-year-old girl’s wiles on him. Four years older, he hadn’t been impressed, having eyes only for Miss New York and his girlfriend at the time, Stephanie Smallwood. They’d married after college, only to get divorced five years later.

“Jack, you remember Milt’s daughter, Laura.”

“Yes.” His eyes lit up. “Of course.”

Laura was about to tell me a little about her agency–”

“Giddings-Rose,” she supplied.

“Giddings-Rose?” Jack interjected. “Laura, I should tell you, we aren’t looking for a traditional Madison Avenue agency. We already fired Kendall-Moore. We want to move into the digital age, freshen our brand and broaden our consumer base, with a focus on a younger demographic.”

“You’re speaking my language.” Laura said with a grin.

Jackson beamed at his son. “Jack is our Vice President of Customer Relations and he’s been pushing for Imperial to enter the age of social media.” He chuckled. “What I know about social media could fit in a thimble.”

Laura jumped in with both feet. “Imperial has catered to the older wealthy client, but with that clientele dying off, the line needs to refocus its brand on a younger demographic, people my age, with copious discretionary income.”

Jackson Senior and Junior eyed one another.

Jackson spoke first, “We had that in mind when we designed the newest ship–”

“The Nave dei Sogni,” Laura interjected.

“That’s right,” Jackson said, “and its itineraries, shore excursions and onboard activities, but we haven’t been able to reach that client. Now we’re building a new, smaller four-hundred-fifty passenger liner – the ultimate boutique ship–”

Jack spoke up, “Which will offer unstructured cruises that give passengers the feel that they are truly on a personal yacht. This won’t be your grandparent’s cruise. Most passengers on the Sogni have been our usual clientele, perplexed by the offerings. The only people your age we get on the ship are there because it’s their parents’ or grandparents’ anniversary or birthday.”

“Forget what you think you know about Giddings-Rose,” Laura started. “We have the finest creative team in the business, with two Webbys, five Addys, and one Mosaic, and fifty years of experience combined, the media buying power of the large agency we are, but with the digital savvy of an interactive agency. We give you the best of both worlds. Strategic planning, web design and development, search engine marketing, digital lead generation, digital brand development, rich media campaigns, interactive marketing and communications strategy, data mining and ROI assessment.” She took a breath.

“You don’t have a cruise line in your client roster,” Jack pointed out.

“No, we don’t, but we do have an international airline and a five-star hotel chain on our books, plus one of the world’s top travel companies, so we have experience in the high-end travel and hospitality industry.”

Jackson glanced at his son, nodded. “Okay. We’ll give Giddings-Rose a shot.”

“But your initial research and creative is on spec,” Jack added. “We’ll expect your pitch the end of July, but we’ll have a pre-pitch meeting with both agencies before that. We’ll be in touch to set that up.”

Laura stuck her hand out to Jackson. “Thank you.”

“It’s a pleasure to see you again,” Jackson covered their clasped hands with his other hand. “You truly have grown into a beautiful woman.”

“Thank you, Jackson.”

“I’ll walk you out.” Jack guided Laura through the door. “How did we not know you worked for an ad agency?”

She raised an eyebrow, “Have you met my father?”

Jack laughed. “Right. Then how did you find out we were looking?”

“My father blurted it out, forgetting his daughter was in the business.” If he even knew in the first place.

“Maybe that’s a good thing. A little competition never hurt anyone, and Imperial can only benefit.”

They’d arrived at the elevators. “My father was right,” Jack said, his face earnest.

“About what?” Laura turned to face him.

“That you’ve grown into a beautiful woman.”

Alrighty then. “Flattery will get you everywhere, Jack, but I think I’m the one who should be sucking up to you.”

“Then you can start sucking up by having dinner with me.”

She tilted her head as the elevator dinged. “Perhaps.” She stepped into the elevator and turned around. Just before the doors closed, she said, “Call me.”

 

Author Bio:

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Rebecca Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.
Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

Awards:
2014 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award Winner (Dreams of Perfection)
2013 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award Winner (Rescuing Lacey)
2013 Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence Winner (Rescuing Lacey)
2013 Virginia Romance Writers Holt Medallion Award of Merit (Rescuing Lacey)
2013 Georgia Romance Writers Published Maggie Finalist (Rescuing Lacey)
2013 Shooting Star Award (Rescuing Lacey)
2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist (Rescuing Lacey)
2013 Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Awards Finalist (The Promise of Change)
2011 Royal Palm Literary Awards Finalist (The Promise of Change)

Links:

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Ship-Dreams-Come-True-Book-ebook/dp/B00TBOKXCQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425318535&sr=1-2&keywords=ship+of+dreams

Website: www.RebeccaHeflin

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaHeflinBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RebeccaHeflin

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=rebecca%20heflin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=rebecca+heflin

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Giveaway: The Lightbound Saga by S.G. Basu

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Title:  Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy
Series:  The Lightbound Saga #1
Author:   S.G. Basu
Published:  January 18th, 2014
Genre:  YA Sci-Fi Fantasy
Synopsis:  The chance of living the life of a regular thirteen year old was never hers, Maia knows that much. Her dead mother is an alleged turncoat; her people are practically slaves to the Xifarians-a race of ruthless, space travelers; her planet is near extinction. Maia keeps hoping, however. Of evading the Xifarians and of someday atoning for the sins of her mother. Maia has learnt to be careful, she is cautious. Until the day she gives in to the charms of a gypsy boy and the allure of flying his glider. And then, all Maia’s plans fall apart.
Spotted by Xifarian scouts, Maia is recruited into a dubious peace initiative. She had never considered visiting the galaxy roving planet-spaceship of Xif; she had never imagined meeting or befriending a Jjord – the reclusive people from the under-ocean colonies. But all that is about to happen, and Maia’s life is about to change forever . . .
Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy is a daring space adventure and a coming-of-age story. It is a riveting tale in which the young hero’s journey of self-discovery parallels the timeless search for friendship, knowledge, and truth.
 
 

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Title:  Maia and the Secrets of Zagran
Series:  The Lightbound Saga #2
Author:   S.G. Basu
Published:  December 15th, 2014
Genre:  YA Sci-Fi Fantasy
Synopsis:  Thirteen-year-old Maia thinks she has seen it all.
She has survived an assassination attempt, she has been threatened by a chancellor, and she has faced off with saboteurs trying to bring down a nation. She lets nothing get to her anymore-not the ominous nightmares she has been having lately, not the fear of being targeted for another soul extraction, not even the memories of her dead mother’s terrifying communique.
More than ever, Maia wants the Initiative to resume. She longs to visit Zagran-the undersea capital of the Jjord. She wants to ride the underwater transport lines, learn about the Jjordic energy farms and most of all-she wants to goof off with her friends. But, around the charming city of Zagran, evil is gathering. Maia and her friends do not know it yet, this is just the beginning of a terrifying end.
 
 
Excerpt from The Lightbound Saga by S.G. Basu:
 
Carefully, she opened the small lid, slipped her hand cautiously inside, and reached for the crystal. A flash of light followed by a searing pain that shot through her arm stunned Maia for a moment. Blinking rapidly, she focused her eyes and screamed. The L’miere crystal had vanished. A thin wisp of smoke rose from the moss where the crystal had lain just moments ago. Maia pulled out her hand and shook the pod, hoping that she had maybe . . . somehow . . . just maybe . . . pushed it into a crevice or something. But the pod remained empty; only the lava rock sat on its mossy bed, in blissful ignorance. Ren would know. She ran out of the room, up the staircase toward the Snoso, and smack dab into the middle of a portly frame. Maia would have gone flying and crashed into the wall had it not been for the hands that gripped her firmly by the shoulders. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t my old friend Maia,” the voice of Principal Pomewege bellowed. “And what is the rush, child?” Maia started to murmur an apology. She must have not made much sense, because the principal interrupted her midway. “Is something wrong?” His eyes shone with concern. Everything is wrong. “Nothing, sir,” she lied. “Well, you seem to be in a hurry, so I won’t keep you.” Pomewege smiled. “But if there is anything I can help you with, just let me know.” He turned away, and Maia took a few steps before she rushed back toward the principal. “Principal Pomewege, I think . . . I . . . I destroyed something,” she stammered.
 
 
 
 

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About the Author:
S. G. Basu is a telecommunications engineer by profession, but she likes to call herself a dreamer. Imagination, fueled by a voracious appetite for books, has been her steady friend since childhood. She discovered her passion for writing quite by chance and there has been no stopping her since then.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • Signed print copy of Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy (US)
  • Signed print copy of Maia and the Secrets of Zagran (US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: Elementals by Anne L. Parks Annie Rose Welch Lashell Collins Dina Haynes

Elementals

A Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Anthology

By

Anne L. Parks

Annie Rose Welch

Lashell Collins

Dina Haynes

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Book Blurb:

Four sisters wielding the power of the elements.

Four men who have vowed to protect them.

One mother’s quest to destroy them.

Experience the power of love in season.

The Prophecy (Spring):

Escaping from her mother, Gaia, Creator of All, was only the beginning for Aria Spring. Staying hidden will require protection from the one man she doesn’t trust to save anyone but himself. Responsible for breathing new life into the dormant world, Aria is determined to save it, and her elementals sisters from her mother’s vow of destruction.

Disbelieving the tall tales his father and grandfather told when he was a child, Eiden refuses to acknowledge his family’s legacy as Protector of the Spring. The draw to Aria, however, is too great for him to resist, and he finds himself unable to stay away from her. When he sees her powers in action with his own eyes, he can no longer deny the fierce need to protect her – even if it costs him his life.

Bayou Bleue (Summer):

Été Munson is the fiery daughter of Gaia, the Creator of All, and the reason why the season of summer exists. But when Gaia decides the Earth is too ominous to keep, her plan sends Été into hiding in the mystical town of Bayou Bleue, Louisiana.

Enter Bear Glenn. A mysterious voyager who has come from Scotland to find Été before Gaia does. As she brings Bear into the Heart of the Swamp, a land filled with Bayou Trolls, Silent People, and the legendary Rougarou, their Fate will be tested, along with their will to survive.

Connected Souls (Fall):

Autumn Munson lives a simple life. As simple as a goddess in hiding can, that is. One of the four Elemental daughters of Gaia, Mother of All, she’s the very embodiment of the fall season. But when Mommy Dearest gets the crazy idea that the Earth must go, Autumn and her sisters scatter into hiding in a last ditch effort to save the world.

William Varian is an ancient soul. An immortal shifter who has been watching over Autumn for longer than she realizes. He holds the secrets to a past that she’s long forgotten – one where they meant everything to each other. But as he fights to keep Autumn safe, will they allow Gaia to use their centuries-old connection to destroy them, or will it prove to be a bond that not even the Mother of All can break?

Cold Awakenings (Winter):

Wynter Munson doesn’t belong in Los Angeles, but what better place to hide a Winter goddess. All that sun won’t melt her frozen heart, though, after the betrayal and loss of her cheating husband.

It’s her darkness that Morpheus is drawn to. He finds the girl of his dreams inside hers. But when the Mother of All threatens Wynter’s son, he must convince her that love not only destroys lives. It can save them too.

 

Teasers – Spring:

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Teasers – Summer:

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Teasers – Autumn:

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Teasers – Winter:

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Author Bio’s:

Anne L. Parks:

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Born and raised in the Rocky Mountains, Anne L. Parks has spent the last 25 years moving all over the United States. Married to the Navy – well a man in the Navy – Parks has lived in various places throughout the United States. Now she resides in the Washington D.C. area, and loves every minute. She has four children, and one spoiled German Shepard. 2013 marked her debut in publishing. Her first novel, Strangers, released on her 45th birthday. She was amazed at how many people fell in love with a story about two people dealing with grief, and finding love again. Abby and Bryce were the perfect couple to introduce Parks as an up-and-coming author. Since then, she has published the complete Return To Me series, which includes The Return, Return to Newport, Lauren’s Return, Returning Home, and RSVP: A Christmas Novella. This year, along with the anthology, she plans to publish another short story, along with the Demons trilogy. The first book, Of Demons and Stones, will release in July 2015. Always eager to talk to readers, so find her through the links below and say “hi.”

Website: http://www.alparksauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ALParksAuthor/info?tab=page_info

Twitter: https://twitter.com/almparks2012?lang=en

Amazon: http://goo.gl/Ch7DMQ

 

 

Annie Rose Welch:

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Born and raised in New Orleans, Annie Rose Welch has a habit of shortening her words and telling long stories. She speaks with a southern flair and cooks with it too. At the tender age of twenty-one, she hitched up her wagons (took her first plane ride) and moved out west to the big shake (California). Her writing career began one sleepless night when she imagined a gorgeous woman and a man with maniacal hair floating above her like lightening bugs falling from the sky. Curious about them, their story, and why they were floating around in her head, she sat down and penned (typed) her first novel, Marigny Street. A dream come true for her, she hasn’t stopped writing since. She loves a damn good love story, always has, no matter what the genre. She is particularly moved by imperfect love that in its own unique way is perfect, the notion of love at first sight, soul mates, and things that are generally out of the norm. When she’s not writing she enjoys dabbling in photography and finding new, inspirational music to add to her collection. She currently (still) resides in the big shake (although her southern roots are calling her home) with her husband, daughter, and their two peculiar dogs, Boudreaux and Tabasco (who, call her crazy, bark with an accent).

Website: http://annierosewelch.com/

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

Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnieRoseWelch

Amazon: http://goo.gl/ehoZyw

 

Lashell Collins:

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Lashell Collins is an American author of romantic suspense, paranormal and contemporary romance. She spent the last twenty years of her life working in veterinary clinics and garden centers in her home state of Ohio, and is now living her dream of writing full-time. She loves a good love story, whether she’s watching it on TV, reading it, or writing it. In food terms, she likes to think of her own stories as sweet and spicy – sweet romance with spicy sex scenes! Lashell walks to the beat of her own drum, but that’s okay ’cause she’s got a pretty good sense of rhythm. Basically, she’s a geeky, quirky, laid-back, rocker-loving kinda girl who’s married to a retired cop, motorcycle-riding, bad-boy alpha all her own, and she likes to write about sexy police officers, werewolves and rockstars – or some inventive combination of the three! When she’s not busy tapping away on her laptop and living vicariously through her characters, she can usually be found watching Grimm, rocking out to Slash, stuffing her face full of Chinese food, or riding on the back of her husband’s Harley-Davidson. Give her a shout, she loves to hear from readers!

Website: http://lashellcollins.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LashellCollins?lang=en

Amazon: http://goo.gl/PJ5MXa

 

 

Dina Haynes:

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Dina Haynes is the pseudonym for an author who has always called the San Francisco Bay Area home, though she currently resides in Southern California. Raised in a single-parent family household with her mother and sister, she aptly refers to it as “the house of estrogen.” And, not to be forgotten, the one male energy that stood out in her upbringing was a pet Pomeranian-mix named Theodore. He is no longer with us, but his spirit lives on in her heart and on the pages. And every dog she harasses on the street.

Website: http://dinahaynes.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dinahaynesauthor/timeline

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dinahaynow?lang=en

Amazon: http://goo.gl/sL8v90

 

Hosted in conjunction by Ingenious Indie Promotions and DRC Promotions:

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Giveaway: Feeding the Fire by Andrea Laurence

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Title: Feeding the Fire

Author: Andrea Laurence

Release Date: March 16, 2015

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary

Pepper has no interest in Grant Chamberlain…until she accidentally wins him at a school auction and finds the mega-hot firefighter impossible to ignore. Find out what happens next in the second playful and sexy ebook romance in the Rosewood series!

Living in the small town of Rosewood, Alabama, hairdresser Pepper Anthony has one rule—never date a Chamberlain. She’s always said, “the only thing worse than being ignored by a Chamberlain is being dumped by one.” But Grant Chamberlain, town fireman, isn’t used to rejection, and Pepper has consistently turned him down since high school. She isn’t intimidated by his family; she’s one of the few who refuses to take their crap.

When Grant volunteers at the charity bachelor auction, to his surprise, Pepper buys him. She hadn’t meant to, but Adelia Chamberlain dropped a cold drink in her lap, sending her leaping into the air at precisely the wrong moment. Suddenly she had a massive bill to the town and Grant at her disposal. Since the money has to come from her “restore the house” fund, she decides to use Grant for manual labor instead of romantic dinners. Grant is happy to help, sweaty and shirtless, because one way or another, he’s going to get Pepper to admit she’s attracted to him. All it takes is a small spark, and soon they’ll be fanning the flames.

Excerpt

Grant stepped out from behind the curtain to a roar of applause. The minute the lights hit him, Pepper felt her heart skip a beat in her chest like she’d been hit with paddles of a defibrillator. He was wearing a black, slim-fit suit with a black shirt and tie. Even though he was indoors and it was nighttime, he was wearing his trademark Ray-Ban sunglasses. The glasses always seemed to accent the square line of his jaw and the sharp angle of his nose.

His full lips curled into his charming smile, with the slightest hint of a dimple visible on his cheek. It reminded her of him looking at her, just like that, from between her trembling thighs.

Damn him for being so sexy. His confidence made him that much more attractive. And frustrating. And irritating. Her fingers itched to reach for her paddle, but she resisted. She wasn’t going to pay for his time, even when he smiled at her that way.

“The lucky lady with the winning bid will go with Grant to a romantic dinner at Brio’s in Birmingham and if she likes, he’ll take her on an exhilarating ride down a windy country road on the back of his motorcycle.”

Pepper could almost see all the wild fantasies rushing through the heads of every woman in the room. It was a nice thought—hair blowing in the wind, thighs clamped around Grant’s narrow hips, arms wrapped around his waist. Even she could imagine the hard feel of his abs beneath the thin cotton of his T-shirt and the vibration of the engine against her most sensitive parts. There was a rumble of approval as they readied their paddles and sized up their competition.

Good luck to them, Pepper thought.

Like a beach ball bouncing around the room, the bids flew fast and furious. Before long, they’d topped three thousand.

Suddenly Pepper felt awkward. Even though she and Grant weren’t dating, she didn’t exactly want to sit around and watch other women battle for him. Looking around the room, she spied Adelia Chamberlain coming back to her table with a glass of ice water. Maybe another drink would help. Or perhaps it was the right time for a restroom break. She could beat all the other women that would rush the ladies’ room when the auction ended.

Pepper slipped her purse onto her shoulder and picked up her paddle so she could dump it in the bathroom trash can. “I’m going to get some air,” she whispered to Ivy, then started to get up.

The ambush was sudden and unexpected. When they first came in Pepper had noticed the cable that the A/V people had taped to the floor, but the room was much darker now. Adelia didn’t see it and caught the toe of her shoe on it. She didn’t fall, thank goodness, but she did stumble, slinging her full glass of ice water into Pepper’s lap.

With a cry of surprise and alarm, Pepper leapt out of her chair, holding her arms high to avoid the water that practically covered her from neck to knees.

“Four thousand!” Allison Price announced from the stage.

The MC’s words were an even larger shock to Pepper than the water. She turned her head toward Grant and the action onstage. He was looking straight at her with a wide smile of confidence across his face. He winked at her, and Pepper felt her stomach sink into her boot. Allison was pointing in Pepper’s direction, trying to coax a higher bid out of the audience.

Yes, please, she screamed in her head. Make it forty-five hundred. Hell, make it four thousand and one penny. Just outbid her. She was answered with deafening silence. The only one in the room making a sound was Allison up on stage. It seemed that suddenly, all the battling women seemed to give up. Even Grant wasn’t worth that much, it seemed, and she agreed.

“No!” Pepper shouted, but there was no stopping it.

“Going once . . . going twice . . .”

“I didn’t mean to—”

“Sold! To the lady in the blue sweaterdress, paddle twenty-two!”

Pepper looked down at her dark blue sweater, suddenly made even darker by the spreading water mark. Her damned paddle, the one she never wanted to begin with, was still in her hand. She watched as it slipped from her fingers, clattering to the ground in slow motion as the gravity of the situation caught up with her. Four thousand dollars. She’d just bid four thousand dollars. Because of well-aimed ice water.

“Oh, Pepper,” Miss Adelia fussed, dabbing her with an inadequate cocktail napkin and shaking off the well-meaning hands of the folks that were more concerned about the older woman nearly falling. “I am so sorry. I didn’t even see that silly cord,” she said. “Is your dress okay?”

She couldn’t respond. All Pepper could do was close her eyes and try to keep the tears of frustration and aggravation from rushing down her cheeks.

She had just paid four thousand dollars for a date with Grant Chamberlain.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ET0hLv

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1MDRNsN

iBooks: http://apple.co/1FqEA4u

Author Biography

AndreaLaurence

Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she’s working on her own “happily ever after” with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody’s business.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://andrealaurence.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Andrea_Laurence

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5398672.Andrea_Laurence

Giveaway:

 

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