Samanthe Beck, Author of EMERGENCY ATTRACTION (Love Emergency #3) Talks About Romantic Grand Gestures

Samanthe Beck is back, and she’s quoting one of my most favoritest (that’s for you, Mom. Yep, I was an English teacher!) grand gestures EVER. Read on!

Hello, and huge THANK YOU to Becky for having me back on her blog. As usual, I have nothing helpful to say about quilts, (other than I could easily spend an entire day wrapped in one), so I’m going to stick to books.

I feel like the meet-cute has gotten a lot of attention lately, and I do loves me a good meet-cute, but I’d like to shine the spotlight on the grand gesture…the grovel…the point just before the happy-ever-after, where someone says and/or does just the right thing to win the other person’s heart. When I write, I aim to make the grand gesture the most satisfying moment in the romance. A simple goal, but trust me, it’s not always easy.  If you’re familiar with ‘80’s movies, I’ll show you what I mean.

Ever encountered a story where the grand gesture comes from the wrong character?  No matter how amazing it is, you can’t get behind it because you’re really thinking, “No fair! Why is she rushing after him, when he’s the one who acted like a jerk and pushed her away? He should be chasing after her!” You’ve seen “Pretty in Pink.” You know what I’m talking about.

Same problem if the gesture just isn’t…grand. They’re together. The right character has made the effort and put herself out there. Sort-of. Sometimes it feels like big issues just poofed away in a magical cloud of I-love-you’s, and you’re like, “Um, did she choose him over her disapproving father, or is he basically the guy she turned to now that dad’s incarcerated? “Say Anything”? Amirite?

But when the author gets everything perfect, that grand gesture will deliver all the feels before it melts your heart into a big puddle of “awwwww.” Go watch “When Harry Met Sally.” Okay, I’ll summarize. He runs into the New Year’s Eve party, kisses her senseless, and tells her he loves her. It might have been too pat. Too easy. Another example of a not grand enough gesture, but she calls him on it, and this is what happens:

***

SALLY: I’m sorry Harry, I know it’s New Year’s Eve, I know you’re feeling lonely, but you just can’t show up here, tell me you love me and expect that to make everything alright. It doesn’t work this way.

HARRY: Well how does it work?

SALLY: I don’t know but not this way.

HARRY: Well how about this way. I love that you get cold when it’s seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.

***

Daaayum!

In my latest book, Emergency Attraction, my hero and heroine have both made mistakes with each other in the past. My hero, reformed bad-boy Shane, wants a second chance with the girl that got away, but my heroine, Sinclair, is sticking firm to her “Been there, done that, got the scars to prove it” position. She’s not up for risking her heart on him again. Shane’s in win-her-back mode for most of the story, and he’s got his work cut out for him. His grand gesture has to be BIG!

Does he pull it off? You’ll have to be the judge, but all I’m saying is he’s ready to move heaven and earth—or in Sinclair’s case, bricks and boards—to earn her heart, and he makes sure she knows it.  And if yours melts into a puddle at that scene, hey, I warned you!

Do you know where we can get a copy of EMERGENCY ATTRACTION? I hear it’s a must-read! Maybe we could ask that guy hiding over in personal growth…?

Author Bio:

Wine lover, sleep fanatic, and USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy contemporary romance novels, Samanthe Beck lives in Malibu, California, with her long-suffering but extremely adorable husband and their turbo-son. Throw in a furry ninja named Kitty and Bebe the trash talking Chihuahua and you get the whole, chaotic picture.

When not dreaming up fun, fan-your-cheeks sexy ways to get her characters to happily-ever-after, she searches for the perfect cabernet to pair with Ambien.

Website: www.samanthebeck.com
Twitter: @SamantheBeck1
Facebook: www.facebook/samanthebeckwriter/
Instagram: samanthebeck

 I reviewed EMERGENCY ATTRACTION here, in case you missed it 🙂

Synopsis:

Ten years ago when Shane Maguire chose the Marines as his escape from some trouble of his own making, he only regretted one thing—leaving Sinclair Smith behind. Despite his best intentions, she ended up as the one that got away. Now he’s back, determined to reclaim everything he gave up, including Sinclair.

Sinclair is immune to Shane’s charms. She’s immune to stolen kisses behind the gym. And she’s definitely immune to that maneuver he did in the back seat of his car… Okay, maybe her hormones are susceptible, but she has absolutely no desire to risk anything on the bad boy who broke all his promises.

When a little emergency lands her at his mercy, he offers her a deal she can’t refuse. And this time, she’ll show Shane what it means to be left wanting…

Victoria Scott, Author of the Upcoming VIOLET GRENADE, Shares the Top 5 New Releases of 2017 She Can’t Wait For!

Top 5 Upcoming 2017 Releases

While it’s so exciting that Violet Grenade is releasing next month(!!!), there are more outstanding books I’m anticipating that release this year, too. So I thought I’d share a few with you guys!

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

A cool, fun, badass sci-fi adventure? Sign me up!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I NEED at least one cute contemporary to look forward to, and I’ve heard glowing things about this one!

A Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

I, like a rather large portion of the book community, need this book like I need air.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

If it’s by Leigh Bardugo, it’s sure to be fantastic — but a collection of stories in the Grisha world based off of fairytales? YES, PLEASE.

The November Girl by Lydia Kang

This book is right up my alley — it looks intense and incredible — and I need it in my hands now.

 

…And there are many more amazing books releasing this year (like If There’s No Tomorrow and The First to Know and The Glass Spare) but I’m going to hold myself to five 😉

What upcoming releases are you excited for?

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Victoria Scott is the acclaimed author of eight books for young adults. Her most recent release, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood is a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels are sold in fourteen different countries, and she loves receiving reader emails from across the world. You can find her online at VictoriaScott.com.

Violet Grenade Info:

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

Kieran Scott, Author of PRETTY FIERCE, Talks About Kickbutt Heroines (with a giveaway!)

I reviewed PRETTY FIERCE here, in case you missed it 🙂

One of my favorite things about writing PRETTY FIERCE was trying to figure out what Kaia would do next. I don’t consider myself to be particularly brave—except for the fact that I don’t mind public speaking which is one of those things that keeps people awake at night. But I imagine that if I were ever in a situation like Kaia is in—being pursued by bad guys, hunted down at every turn, forced to try to protect the man I loved—I’d probably end up a ball of blubbering mush in a corner. So when I was writing her, I would try to imagine the exact opposite of what I would do in a given situation, and then write that. More often than not, it ended up being the thing that I wish I would have the guts to do, but really just couldn’t imagine myself doing. And that’s what I think makes a great kick-butt heroine—someone who allows us to see the possibilities of what we could do—what we could be—if we could find that deep well of courage within ourselves.

Here is one of my favorite kick-butt heroines:

Veronica Mars – Veronica Mars:

Veronica’s best kick-butt quality was her ability to slay with her tongue. That girl could cut down a redwood tree with one well-placed and sarcastically delivered barb—no roundhouse kicking or right-hook punching necessary. She was also constantly putting herself in dangerous situations in order to help others, never much caring for her own safety—and then she’d talk her way out of them whenever she was caught. The talent Veronica had was to say the thing you wished you’d said in the moment, but only thought of an hour later. She always had it ready to go.

 

KIERAN SCOTT is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy, the He’s So/She’s So trilogy, and Geek Magnet. She also wrote the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Private and Privilege series under the pen name Kate Brian. She is a senior editor at Disney/Hyperion and resides in New Jersey with her family. Visit kieranscott.net.

 

Title: Pretty Fierce
Author: Kieran Scott
Pub Date: April 4, 2017

An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat novel about a teen who, when backed into a corner, fights back, from the author of What Waits in the Woods

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she’s attacked by someone from her mother’s past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other…or die trying.

Excerpt:

KAIA

I turned on the speed, caught up to the van, and jumped off my board. It rolled ahead and bumped to a stop at a sewer drain next to the curb.

“Oliver!” I tried the door, but it didn’t budge. I pounded on it so hard my fists stung. Oliver shouted, but I couldn’t make out the words.

“Let him go!” I screeched. “He has nothing to do with this!”

The light turned green and they were off again. I groaned, grabbed my board, and followed. As I maneuvered Sophia around an ancient manhole cover I memorized the license plate.

Illinois 851 BCG.

Illinois 851 BCG.

Illinois 851 BCG.

My breath was short, and I honestly felt as if my heart was about to overload. I couldn’t keep up this pace much longer. Up ahead, a police car idled in front of a coffee shop. As I rolled closer I could see two men in blue through the plate glass window, sucking on coffee and laughing.

Would they help me? If I got the cops involved, they’d want my ID. And while I had a fake passport on me, I couldn’t risk it being entered in some database and possibly alerting the authorities of my whereabouts. Even more importantly, if the police got Oliver, they’d send him right back to South Carolina, to Robin, to that hell. I couldn’t let that happen. Anonymity was key. We really were in this together.

I pressed as hard as I could, almost biffing on some roadkill and hopping the larger cracks in the road. At each light, I closed the distance between us, and I nearly got close enough to grab the back fender, but then the van took off and changed lanes, and I lost my advantage. Then the kidnappers hooked a left onto a residential street, and I made it across the main drag seconds before the light turned green. A motorcycle zoomed past me, so close I swore the driver’s leather jacket brushed the back of my backpack.

I turned onto the street and didn’t see the van anywhere. It must have pulled into a driveway or a garage. I gave myself ten seconds, gasping for breath as I leaned against a wrought iron fence post, then kept moving.

The street was quiet, aside from dance music playing somewhere in the distance, the repetitive thump of the bass keeping time with my pulse. I hopped off Sophia and ducked down the first driveway on foot, thinking it would be better to stay away from the glare of the streetlights. For a second I crouched next to a busted wood fence and strapped Sophia to my backpack, then cut across a backyard with unkempt grass and a stone barbecue pit at its center.

The garages on the street were all detached and sat at the end of long driveways near the back corner of each property. I paused and took out my Beretta. The steel felt cool against my palm, and I prayed no one would give me a reason to use it. But I would if I had to. I would for Oliver.

At the next house, I peeked inside the foggy garage window and saw nothing but piles of boxes.

The dance music was getting louder. The next garage housed a small car covered by a brown tarp. The third was another mess of storage. At the fourth house, I was close enough to the music to hear the laughter and raised voices that went along with it. I had to scale a fence to get to this garage and when I came down on the other side, I nearly slammed my head against a pile of old kegs. The scent of stale beer hung in the air, and there were cigarette butts everywhere. Lovely.

I brushed myself off and righted my backpack. Cars packed the driveway, and the house was entirely lit up. Two girls hung out on the back porch, smoking and sipping from red cups. Over their heads, propped up on the porch roof, were three illuminated letters. BBΓ. And at the very edge of the driveway, hanging over onto the sidewalk, was a big, white, van.

What the hell?

A chorus of cheers went up inside the house. My eyes narrowed as I shoved my short, sweaty hair behind my ears. Suddenly, I wasn’t in such a huge rush. I pushed the gun into the back waistband of my jeans and made sure my jacket covered it.

Stepping out of the shadows, I cut across the lawn and walked up the steps to the rear porch where the two girls sat. They eyed me as I strode past and opened the back door.

“Ladies,” I said.

One of them scoffed, but neither made a move to stop me. Inside, I found myself in a huge, brightly lit, mostly white kitchen packed with dozens upon dozens of miniskirt-sporting, overly made-up girls with straightened hair. The dance music was deafening. Everyone was drinking, laughing, shrieking. And in the center of it all was my boyfriend, shirtless, leaning his head back while two buxom babes poured alcohol from two bottles directly down his throat.

“Um, Oliver?” I said.

He brought his chin down too fast and spit brown liquid everywhere. A few drops even landed on my cheek.

“Ew!” the girls chorused.

Oliver wiped the back of his hand across his lips and widened his eyes at me. “They made me do it!”

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | iTunes | Indiebound

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A Few Words from Jeff Strand, Author of STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED (with a giveaway!)

Hello. I’m author Jeff Strand. If you tolerated A Bad Day For Voodoo, were ambivalent toward I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and had little or no opinion regarding The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, I’m pleased to announced that you’ll be equally unenthused about my latest YA novel, Stranger Things Have Happened.

It’s an extremely silly comedy about 15-year-old Marcus Millian III, who aspires to be a legendary magician like his great-grandfather, Zachary the Stupendous. The problem (well, the first problem of many) is that he suffers from paralyzing stage fright. That’s a bit of an issue when you want to be a stage magician.

Some stuff happens, and Marcus finds himself part of a bet between Grandpa Zachary and his arch-nemesis Bernard. Marcus has to invent and perform a ridiculously amazing illusion that will astound the audience at Bernard’s theater. Yeah, this is going to be a challenge, but at least he’s got Grandpa Zachary to help him. Until Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.

So now Marcus is on his own. Well, not entirely. He’s got his neighbor (and secret crush) Kimberly to help out, along with the very socially awkward and heavily bullied new kid, Peter, who has…secrets. Together they will work to create the ultimate illusion, one that may or may not involve making a shark disappear from a tank in front of a live audience.

Also, there’s a really evil guy named Sinister Seamus. Watch out for him.

Readers who are into magic (of the Penn & Teller variety, not Harry Potter) should enjoy this book because that’s kind of what the whole thing is about. Readers who are into books that are filled with silly (some might even say stupid) jokes should also enjoy it. It’s also about overcoming obstacles and following your dreams, if that’s the angle you want to play.


JEFF STRAND lives in Tampa, Florida. He is the author of A Bad Day for Voodoo, I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. Explore his website at jeffstrand.com.

 

Title: Stranger Things Have Happened
Author: Jeff Strand
Pub Date: April 4, 2017

 

You can’t always believe what you see in this hilarious coming of age novel from the author of The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever and I Have a Bad Feeling About This

Harry Houdini. Penn and Teller. David Copperfield. Marcus Millian the Third.

Okay, so Marcus isn’t a famous magician. He may not even be a great magician. But his great-grandfather, the once-legendary and long-retired Zachary the Stupendous, insists Marcus has true talent. And when Grandpa Zachary boasts that he and Marcus are working on an illusion that will shock, stun, and astonish, Marcus wishes he could make himself disappear.

The problem? Marcus also has stage fright—in spades. It’s one thing to perform elaborate card tricks in front of his best friend, Kimberly, but it’s an entirely different feat to perform in front of an audience.

Then Grandpa Zachary dies in his sleep.

To uphold his great-grandfather’s honor, the show must go on. It would take a true sorcerer to pull off the trick Marcus has planned. But maybe he’s the next best thing…

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | iTunes  | Indiebound

 

Excerpt:

“What is this slop?” asked Grandpa Zachary.

“Shhhh,” Mom hushed.

“Marcus, do your magic. Turn this food into something edible—wait. No magician has that much talent.”

Marcus was with his family at a fund-raiser potluck for a local animal shelter. Since his retirement, Grandpa Zachary had focused his attention on raising money for charitable causes, although he had trouble sticking with any particular cause for very long. Last month he’d been saving the red-tailed hawk, which he later discovered was nowhere close to being an endangered species.

“I wouldn’t feed this slop to the dogs we’re trying to help,” said Grandpa Zachary.

“Shhhh,” Mom repeated.

“I’m speaking at a very low volume. The people who brought this vile gunk won’t hear.”

There were about fifty people in the park. Admission was five dollars. Plus you were supposed to bring your own dish of food to share. Grandpa Zachary didn’t gener­ate a lot of money for his causes, but he did give most of his free time.

Grandpa Zachary dipped a pretzel stick into the trans­lucent goo and popped it into his mouth. “Actually, that’s infinitely better than it looks. I withdraw my criticism.” He snapped off the end of his pretzel so he wouldn’t be accused of double dipping. (Grandpa Zachary hated double dippers.) Then he plunged the pretzel into the sludge again. “Marcus Three, do me a favor. Find me a paper bowl so we can take this home with us. It’s delicious.”

Marcus went off in search of a bowl, grabbing an oatmeal raisin cookie along the way. The band, which had arrived half an hour late, was finally set up and ready to perform. The lead singer was wearing sweatpants, a white hat, and nothing else. He had dark circles under his eyes and looked like his latest shower was a distant memory.

“Good evening, everybody,” the singer said into the micro­phone. He held onto the stand as if to keep himself upright. “We’re Banjo Dan and the Wham Zaps. We’ve been drinking since nine-thirty this morning. Enjoy the show.”

He plucked a few strings on his instrument, which Marcus was pretty sure was a ukulele and not a banjo.

“This is a benefit for an animal shelter, right? So here’s a little song we wrote called ‘Your Wife Is Uglier than a Dog’.”

“Nope, nope, nope, we won’t be hearing that,” said Grandpa Zachary, hurrying up to the stage. For an eighty-nine-year-old, the man could move.

Still, he wasn’t fast enough to get there before Banjo Dan passed out. The other two members of the band just stood there, staring awkwardly at their fallen leader.

“What other songs do you know?” Grandpa Zachary asked them.

“Uhhhh…we actually just stand here and pretend to play.”

“Begone!” cried Grandpa Zachary. “Take your snookered friend with you. Shame, shame, shame!”

The Wham Zaps dragged Banjo Dan away.

Grandpa Zachary picked up the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for that crass spectacle. What a disgrace.” He shook his head and started to scan the audience. “But the show will go on. Let us amuse you with a different act.”

Marcus suddenly felt sick to his stomach. He began to sweat. It was hard to breathe. His feet hurt, even though he couldn’t explain why.

Grandpa Zachary’s gaze fell on him, and Marcus started to tremble. He loved to perform tricks for Kimberly. Loved to perform tricks for his great-grandfather. Loved to perform tricks for his parents. But he was terrified of performing in front of an audience. He’d never done it before.

It was a fear he knew he’d have to overcome to pursue his dream of being a famous magician, but he sure wasn’t over it yet.

Grandpa Zachary cleared his throat. “Ladies and gentle­men, please put your hands together in a warm welcome for Marcus!”

 

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5 Things You Don’t Know About Meredith Molloney of Aileen Erin’s SHATTERED PACK (Alpha Girls #6–with a giveaway!)

5 Things You Don’t Know About Meredith

  1. Meredith is a member of the American Wayfarer Pack.

The world is divided up among packs, but Meredith’s is different, mostly made up of Cazadores. When big bads start acting up—vampires, feys gone murderous, leprechauns running amuck—they fly in to save the day. That’s why Meredith is a super awesome fighter. She was trained by her herd of brothers—not to mention the rest of her pack—since she could walk.

 

  1. Meredith’s pack was against her going to St. Ailbe’s Academy.

Annoying as it is, women in the packs don’t have a ton of independence. Especially in the Wayfarer pack. (Don’t worry. Tessa and Meredith are going to change all that. 😉 ) There are only a few women in the Wayfarer Pack. Meredith, her mother, and her nanny Ciara. Which is why Meredith wanted to get out so badly. But the Cazadores wanted to protect her. How could they do that if she wasn’t with them? And don’t get them started about Luciana cursing her… That would never have happened with them watching over her. But even with all the craziness, Meredith was glad she left. She made some amazing friends, learned a lot about other supernaturals, and most importantly, she never would have met Donovan if she hadn’t been at St. Ailbe’s. Who could regret that?

 

  1. Meredith’s nanny, Ciara, is more like her mom than her bio mom.

Meredith and her mother have never seen eye to eye. So, when Ciara sought refuge with the Wayfarers from the Irish Pack, Meredith clung to her. Now that Meredith is going to be joining Donovan’s notoriously cliquish Irish Pack, she’s going to need Ciara more than ever.

 

  1. For a while, Meredith thought about leaving the packs behind, going to a human college, and getting a job.

Sure, she was cursed to stay in her human for during that time. Since she couldn’t shift, she was basically human anyhow! Why not give it a shot? Seemed like a real chance at freedom from her overpowering pack. And when everything is going crazy, she still things about it. If she were human, what would she be doing? It’s nice to dream.

 

  1. Meredith is obsessed with reality TV.

Having never been integrated with humans, she finds it unendingly fascinating. Especially Finding Bigfoot. But really, she’ll watch any of it. She also thinks the fact that E! cancelled The Soup to be one of the biggest tragedies of her lifetime so far. When she’s busy at school, she can’t keep up with it all. The Soup was her way to keep up to date with human pop culture in 30 minutes. If anyone can fix this crime against society, she’d been in their debt. And having a Were like Meredith on your side is a very good thing. So, any takers?

Shattered Pack
(Alpha Girl #6)
by Aileen Erin
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Release Date: March 28th 2017
Ink Monster Books

Summary:

Meredith Molloney never thought she’d find a mate, let alone someone like Donovan Murry—one of the most powerful Alphas alive. Now that she’s no longer cursed and the evil Luciana Alvarez has been taken care of, she thinks life will finally settle down. Boy, has she never been so wrong.

In the middle of the night, Donovan gets a call telling him that his pack has gone to pieces. The news that his second in command has been found brutally murdered has Donovan packing his bags for Ireland, but the last thing Meredith wants to do is leave Texas. She’s heard about how the Celtic Pack are with outsiders. And Donovan has more than a few exes in the pack that will be less than friendly.

Meredith’s never let a few angry wolves stop her, and she’s not about to start now. She’s faced down much worse the past few months. But when she gets there, she finds that it’s not just a few exes who stand in the way between her and her Full Moon Ceremony with Donovan.

Meredith is thrust in to a deadly game of pack politics, one the fey have happily joined in on. When the dust settles, she knows she’ll either have everything that she wants or lose it all.

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Becoming Alpha (Alpha Girl #1) on Goodreads

Avoiding Alpha (Alpha Girl #2) on Goodreads

Alpha Divided (Alpha Girl #3) on Goodreads

Bruja (Alpha Girl #4) on Goodreads

Alpha Unleashed (Alpha Girl #5) on Goodreads

Enter the giveaway here!

A Little Known Fact (and Giveaway!) About HER TRUE MATCH Paige Tyler (X-OPS #6)

A Little Known Fact from Her True Match . . .

The DCO wants Dreya to work for them, using her unique abilities to help people instead of stealing from them. She’s not so sure about that idea. She’s spent most of her adult life hiding her secret and looking out for number one. She has no interest in being someone’s superhero. But working with Braden is starting to look better and better by the day. The DCO brings him into the fold when they decide it would be good to have a person who understands how Dreya thinks. Braden goes along with the plan. Yeah, he wants to make sure she doesn’t get away from him again, but he also has the craziest urge to keep an eye on her for a whole other reason—to keep her safe. He has no idea where that urge comes from, but maybe Dreya is growing on him?

Title: Her True Match
Author: Paige Tyler
Series: X-Ops, #6
ISBN: 9781492625926
Pubdate: March 7, 2017
Genre: Paranormal

FORCED TOGETHER

When feline shifter Dreya Clark is escorted from the police interrogation by two secret agents, she thinks she’s dodged a bullet. That sexy detective Braden Hayes caught her stealing red-handed. When she finds out what she has to do to stay out of jail, suddenly she’s missing the hot cop with the piercing gaze. She’s being recruited for her shifter abilities by the Department of Covert Operations.

WILL DANGER RIP THEM APART?

Braden has been chasing the smart-mouthed cat burglar for years. But when Dreya’s taken away, he knows their game of cat and mouse has turned deadly-serious. There’s no way he’ll let her go off alone. Fur flies and temperatures flare as Braden realizes Dreya is much more than she appears. Thrown together on a dangerous covert mission, this unlikely pair will have to rely on each other to make it out alive.

 

Excerpt:

“How do you know I wasn’t testing the security system?” Dreya asked, her lips curving into a coy smile.

Braden sat across from the beautiful thief in one of the burglary section’s interrogation rooms, working hard to keep from smiling back at her. Even though he knew her record backward and forward, he was still having a hell of a time maintaining a professional detachment. He was good in the interrogation room, but Dreya was better. She charmed, she flirted, and she controlled where she wanted the conversation to go. Braden had already been forced to toss Mick out of the room. His partner had come damn close to asking their suspect out on a date, even though she was sitting at the table wearing a pair of handcuffs.

Though Braden had to admit she made the cuffs look good. Even now, she was sitting at the table with her long, blond hair cascading around her shoulders, talking animatedly with her hands as if the heavy stainless steel cuffs were a fashion accessory. He wasn’t even sure when she’d gotten her hair out of the braid it had been in before, but he had the crazy urge to run his fingers through it. He resisted—barely. Dreya had been saying since they’d brought her in that this was all a big misunderstanding and that she could straighten this out if she could talk privately with the owner of the art piece they seemed to think she’d stolen. Like that was going to happen. Something told Braden that putting her in the same room with some rich playboy would be an incredibly bad idea. All she had to do was bat those hazel-green eyes at him a few times and tousle her hair with her fingers, and the guy would agree with anything she said. Hell, the guy would probably give her the silly blue balloon dog thing sitting on the table between them as a gift.

“If we’re going to talk about security systems, Dreya, let’s start with how you managed to climb the wall of that apartment on the south side of M Street. Because I gotta tell you, that was damn impressive.”

He expected her to deny it had been her—or beam with pride at the compliment—but her eyes widened in shock. For the first time that night, there was fear on her face.

“You saw that?” She darted a nervous glance at the one-way glass mirror to her left, the one Mick was standing behind.

He nodded. “Sure did. In fact, we have it all on video. The climb, the walk across the cable, the jump you made to the balcony.”

On the other side of the table, her face went pale. Shit, was she starting to hyperventilate?

“How many people have seen the video?” she demanded.

Braden frowned. Why the hell was a second-story thief worried about how many cops had seen her display her talents? That made no sense.

“Just my partner and me,” he assured her. “But while the video is amazing, it doesn’t explain how you were able to scale that wall. Were you using something on your hands to get a grip? I searched your bag but didn’t find anything.”

Dreya swallowed hard. In all of the previous occasions he’d questioned her, she’d been confident and posed, but suddenly it was like she’d been hit by lightning. She seemed off balance…lost.

“You can’t let anyone else see the video,” she said.

He shrugged. “That’s not really up to me.”

She stared at her cuffed wrists, her shoulders slumping in a defeat he hadn’t seen coming. “What if I confess?”

She said it so softly he wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly. “What?”

Dreya lifted her head to look at him, that usual glimmer missing from her eyes now. “If I confess right now, will you destroy the video?”

Braden hoped to hell his mouth wasn’t hanging open. Being interrogated by the cops could make people say strange stuff, but Dreya had to know that even with the evidence they had on her, a woman with her background and clean record could likely get a case like this whittled down from the standard five to seven to less than two years. Why would she agree to a written confession? What the hell was on that video she was so terrified of letting anyone see?

He knew he needed to be careful, but right then it was hard to think of Dreya as the hardened criminal he’d always believed. He was smart enough to know she wasn’t a saint, but there was something going on here. She was so terrified she was on the verge of tears.

The sudden aura of vulnerability had his heart beating hard and fast. The urge to protect her from whatever was freaking her out was impossible to ignore. Part of the reason he’d become a cop was to help people in trouble, and Dreya definitely seemed to be in trouble.

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About the author:

Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast. Visit www.paigetylertheauthor.com.

Social Networking Links:
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Twitter: @PaigeTyler
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Jami Gray, Author of MARKED BY OBSESSION, Talks About the 3rd PSY-IV Book

Introducing MARKED BY OBSESSION, a paranormal romantic suspense by Jami Gray!

MARKED BY OBSESSION is the third installment in my PSY-IV Teams series which focuses on a select group of ex-military psychics who use their unique abilities to thwart a mercenary group of psychic determined to undermine the country and line their pockets. Each book focuses on a different member of the teams as they brave personal nightmares to discover a new strength in finding their other half.

As a character driven writer, my characters tend to mold the plot, and when I sat down to begin MARKED BY OBSESSION, I gave myself two challenges: an everyday heroine with no psychic abilities who could be strong without being a warrior, and she couldn’t cuss. Want to know which one was harder to channel? Coming up with curses that aren’t cuss words is much more difficult than you think.

Wolf is my hardened solider, solid and sure of himself and his place, and just happens to be a telepath. He deserved someone who could keep him grounded, someone who couldn’t be manipulated. Enter Meli, who is quite happy curling up with a book and avoiding arguments, or anything she doesn’t want to deal with. Wolf fascinates her, but she’s lost her only family, her brother, and his death leaves her floundering while her normally staid world tilts on it axis. It also means she’s hesitant to reach out for the one man who tempts her dream big. It doesn’t help that she’s managed to become the focus of deranged stalker, who wants not just Meli, but revenge, and is willing to go through Wolf to get it.

In MARKED we get to trail along with Wolf, as he partners with Meli, who doesn’t have a single psychic ability other than her ability to keep Wolf out of her head. His place in her heart is another matter altogether, but since she’s trying to figure out why she’s the target of a stalker, she’s a bit hesitant to take a chance on Wolf. Wolf, on the other hand, has no qualms about shaking up Meli’s world, but before he can claim what’s his, he has to unravel the mess she’s trapped in. Together they must find the answers behind a lethal obsession before it costs more than their willing to pay.

 

About the Author:

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic

Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female

labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Hunt her down at:

www.jamigray.com        Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads

 

MARKED BY OBSESSION
PSY-IV Teams #3

Asking for his help will expose more than her heart…

Meli Dwyer’s ordered life followed a clear-cut path, just the way she preferred until the death of her beloved brother. Rocked by her loss and grappling with the emotional fallout, a series of unexplained events marked by an escalating violence send her world into chaos. Alone and floundering in her harsh new reality, she reaches out for help from the sexy and mysterious warrior who managed to sneak under her guard, Wolf.

But some risks are worth taking…

When Wolf receives an unexpected call from the illusively alluring Meli, the PSY-IV Team’s skilled and lethal telepath doesn’t waste time racing to her side. Months earlier she ignited his protective instincts and her call gives him the perfect opportunity to set siege to her wary heart. Before he can breach the scars of her past, he’s engaged in a dangerous game beside the one woman he can’t read, facing an enemy whose motives and obsessions blur his lines between justice and revenge.

As the stakes rise, Meli must decide if the answers to her personal nightmare are worth uncovering if it costs her the man who captured her battered heart.

Available in paperback or e-book at:

jamigray.com

Or anywhere books are sold!

      

 

 

Lena Diaz, Author of FINAL EXIT, Explains What “EXIT” Is (plus a giveaway!)

 EXIT Inc. – What the Heck is it?

Just what is “EXIT”? The simple answer is that it’s an acronym that stands for “EXtreme International Tours”. EXIT Inc. is a company that matches tour guides and vacation packages with people who want extreme, fun, and dangerous outdoor experiences all over the world. This can range from riding fiver rapids and ziplining across deep canyons to climbing Mount Everest or some other equally exciting but dangerous endeavor. All under the protection of an experienced and capable guide. But is that really what EXIT is about?

Of course not.

The tour company part of EXIT Inc. is just a front, a cover for its real mission as a clandestine government organization. Many of the tour guides at EXIT are really agents, called Enforcers, who take on the dirty jobs that other alphabet agencies can’t, or won’t, tackle—including assassinations. The Enforcers take out the bad guys before the bad guys can hurt more people.

Or, at least, that’s what it’s supposed to be about.

What the heroes in the EXIT books quickly discover is that there is far more to EXIT than even they knew. There’s a conspiracy, that may go all the way to the top. Enforcers are being tricked, used for someone’s personal gain. As a result, some of the people being “taken out” by Enforcers may not be bad guys after all.

Each of the EXIT novels (there are three in all, with FINAL EXIT being the last) focuses on a different Enforcer, and a dilemma each of them has to resolve. Meanwhile, the series itself has an overarching thread through all of the books, showing what happens to EXIT Inc. as its Enforcers begin to realize they are being used. FINAL EXIT is the explosive conclusion when readers finally find out what happens to the company and those who are behind it.

Yes, the books are most enjoyable when read in order as a series. However, each one is also stand-alone, following a specific problem that the hero and heroine have to tackle together while they fall in love. It’s always my goal to make each of my books a fully satisfying read regardless of whether you’ve read any of the others in the series.

The first two books, EXIT Strategy and No EXIT, feature heroes who are Enforcers. In FINAL EXIT, it’s the heroine who’s the Enforcer. How cool is that? I loved writing a super-strong female character who was smart, fierce, and willing to fight to the death for the people she cared about. And who better to pair her with as the love interest than a by-the-book FBI agent who was her polar opposite? Bailey and Kade were a super-fun couple to write. Forced to work together against EXIT, they have to overcome their mutual distrust of each other in order to survive. And along the way, of course (after all, it is a romance), they fall in love. And they live happily ever after!

Originally from Kentucky, romantic suspense author Lena Diaz also lived in California and Louisiana before settling in Northeast Florida with her husband, two children, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Sparky. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she’s won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and has been a finalist for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She loves to watch action movies, garden, and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

 

 

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? 

FINAL EXIT
EXIT Inc. #3
Lena Diaz
Releasing Jan 31st, 2017
Avon Books

Lena Diaz concludes her sexy, suspenseful EXIT Inc. series as an FBI agent teams up with a beautiful assassin to uncover a deadly government conspiracy…

 

After a tragic mistake nearly destroyed his life, Special Agent Kade Quinn will do whatever it takes to save his career. His latest mission? Track and capture the remaining EXIT operatives to determine if they’re still a threat. But his next target—a stunning female assassin—is both elusive and dangerously appealing.

Bailey Stark has outsmarted the FBI so far, but she’s tired of running. Tired of watching her friends ambushed by government agents in tactical gear and never seen again. She suspects they aren’t being evaluated—they’re being exterminated—and she’s determined to convince Agent Quinn his mission is a lie before it’s too late. Bailey doesn’t want to rely on him. She definitely shouldn’t desire him. But she knows teaming up with the skilled, sexy agent may be her only hope.

Kade doesn’t want to believe Bailey’s claims, but he promises to keep her safe. Trusting one another is difficult. Fighting their attraction is harder. And as they uncover the disturbing truth behind his mission . . . staying alive will be nearly impossible.

New Release and Giveaway! HIGHLAND VIXEN by Mary Wine (Highland Weddings #2, with a note from the author)

An Intro from the Author

Hummm….the truth is, I am nerd enough to think history is fun. All the little facts and laws from centuries ago have always fascinated me. My parents were always listening to me expound on some little bit of wonderment…aka…historical fact.

Working these little facts into my work is something I try to do because I believe it’s important to write a book, set in the time it is dated. It was a different time and I think that adds spice to the unfolding romance. Life wasn’t fair then and it isn’t now. There is nothing I love more than to set out to see a couple overcome the odds and live happily ever after.

At least I love it when it’s finished! When I’m in that bottom of the ninth inner point, it’s hair pulling time as I try and work things out. Yes, I know I’m the author and should know these things but honestly, these characters have minds of their own!

I hope you all enjoy Highland Vixen. 2017 holds three titles from my Highland Brides and yes, I make you wait for that moment when it all comes together, but they are all brides after all.

Cheers!

Mary Wine

 

About the Author:

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Title: Highland Vixen
Series: Highland Weddings, #2
Author: Mary Wine
Pub Date: February 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781492602590

 

Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage

Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He’s used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he’ll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant… Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.

It’s anyone’s guess who’ll win this battle of the heart…

Buy Links:

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Excerpt

MacPherson Castle was huge. It needed to be, because there were over three hundred retainers alone. When supper was laid out on the tables, their conversation echoed through the stone corridors. But that didn’t stop a woman’s scream from penetrating the chatter. Men came off their benches, their kilts flipping aside as they started toward the back stairwell where the sound had come from.

What stopped them was their War Chief, Marcus MacPherson, coming through the wide arched passageway. He had a woman with him who wasn’t pleased to be his captive.

“What are ye doing?” Shamus MacPherson demanded from his seat at the high table.

“Uncovering a deception,” Marcus replied to his father and laird. He set the woman in front of the MacPherson laird. “Helen and Brenda are no longer in this keep. Ailis has kept to her chamber to deceive us all into thinking Helen and Brenda were there with her. While this one”—he pointed at the girl—“has made sure no one saw her face to notice the game.”

Shamus dropped his knife and looked at the girl. Her eyes widened. “I did as I was told by me mistress.” She lowered herself awkwardly.

He snorted at her in reprimand. “Allowing her to act foolishly and leave the protection of this stronghold is no’ to be commended, girl. Ye lack the sense to be a personal servant to me daughter-by-marriage.”

The girl paled, shaking like a dried-out leaf in a wind storm.

Shamus grunted and waved her away before turning to his other son. “Best ye go discover what yer wife has been about this last week.”

Bhaic MacPherson was already pushing his chair back. There was a grim set to his jaw as he moved behind the other chairs and down the steps to where his half brother was glowering at him.

“With child or no, that wife of yers needs a reckoning,” Marcus growled.

Bhaic stopped in the passageway, just out of sight of the rest of the clan. “She is with child, so ye’ll manage yer temper or no’ be seeing her.”

Marcus crossed his arms over his chest and grinned at his brother. Bhaic grunted, recognizing the promise in the expression. No one liked a fight better than Marcus, except perhaps Bhaic.

“I mean to have words with her, Brother,” Marcus warned Bhaic. “And they will nae be kind.”

“If ye truly want to frighten Ailis, speak nicely to her.”

Marcus grunted and took to the stairs. Bhaic reached up and pulled him back by the shoulder.

“Helen may well be in the hands of the Gordons, thanks to this deception. Ye killed Lye Rob, and they would take great delight in paying us back in blood.” Marcus shot back at his brother. “Brenda and Helen could no’ have more than half a dozen men with them.”

Bhaic’s face tightened. “I know ye’re right to be angry, Brother.” He passed Marcus and took to the stairs. He offered his wife a single rap on the door of their chamber before he pushed it in and Marcus followed him.

Ailis Robertson was waiting for them. She stood in the center of the receiving room, ready to face them. Damn, but Marcus loved her spirit, even when it was at odds with what he thought she should be doing with all that strength of character.

“Ailis…” Bhaic began.

“I’ve deceived ye,” she stated. “I’ve been pretending to be more ill than I am, so the women could stay with me and no’ be seen.”

“Ye know very well how the Gordons treat their captives.” Marcus pointed at her. “Did ye no’ think of what might happen to Helen and Brenda if they tried to ride across the Highlands with naught but a handful of men?”

She paled. Bhaic reached forward and gripped her forearm, but she sucked in a breath and steadied herself.

Marcus snorted at her. “How long have they been gone?”

“Four days.”

Marcus was gripping his sleeves so tightly his knuckles popped. “Where did they go?”

“To court, to seek shelter from Brenda’s kin.”

“Court.” Marcus spat the word out like a curse. “Right into the hands of the Earl of Morton. Ye might recall how that man treats women he thinks can be of use.”

Ailis stiffened. “I do.”

Marcus grunted at her before he purposefully turned on his heel and left the chamber, the longer pleats of his kilt flaring out behind him.

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Christina McKnight, Author of THEODORA (Lady Archer’s Creed #1) Shares her Top Ten Romance Authors (and a giveaway!)

As an author, my stories are much like the books I enjoy reading. My inspiration comes from many authors that came before me. My love for scene setting comes from Stephanie Laurens. My tendency to write about families comes from Julia Quinn. And my love of mystery mixed into each plot is what I love about Amanda Quick’s writing.

 

My Top Ten Historical Romance Authors

by Christina McKnight

 

  1. Eloise James has stayed true to the Historical Romance genre throughout her career. Her novels never disappoint and always leave the reader wanting more.

 

  1. Catherine Coulter’s Sherbrooke Brides books started my love for Historical Romance series. Your favorite characters’ journeys continue long after their book is complete.

 

  1. Julia Garwood’s books are so enchanting that I will forsake my favorite place and time period (Regency England) to read her book, For The Roses—and I do it at least once a year!

 

  1. Lisa Kleypas has mastered the art of writing a heroine that every woman would give up modern conveniences to be! I could live without running water, computers, and modern medicine to be Winnifred Hathaway in Seduce Me at Sunrise.

 

  1. Pamela Britton knows how to write a rake of the first order! Her books Scandal, Seduced, and Tempted feature super hot bad boys!

 

  1. Christina Dodd—what more do I need to say? The woman is an icon and legend! I recommend all of her books.

 

  1. Lauren Royal brings a whole new to dimension to a love story. Her Jewel Series (Amethyst, Emerald, and Amber) is full of snappy dialogue and captivating characters.

 

  1. Julia Quinn wrote another of my favorite series, The Bridgertons. The series follows a group of siblings (named in alphabetical order, which is helpful since there are a ton of them!) and their unique love stories.

 

  1. Amanda Quick combines dynamic characters, romance, accurate historical details, and mystery to create enthralling books, including Deception, Desire, Mischief, Mistress, Scandal and Reckless (to name a few!)

 

  1. My all-time favorite historical romance series is written by Stephanie Laurens. The Cynster Novels follow a family full of interesting men and women who will have you on the edge of your seat the whole time!

 

Author Bio:

Christina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since.

Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

You can visit her online at the following places: Website Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

Title: Theodora
Series: Lady Archer’s Creed (Book One)
Author: Christina McKnight
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
Release Date: January 17, 2017

 

Friendship…

Lady Theodora Montgomery departed Miss Emmeline’s School of Education and Decorum for Ladies of Outstanding Quality to attend her first London Season—her three dearest friends by her side. With her sharp wit and skill on the archery field, Theo is far more interested in winning a large purse prize than securing a husband. But when she is unmasked on the tourney grounds, her face exposed to all, she fears her identity and days spent gallivanting around London will cause not only her undoing, but the downfall of her friends as well.

Loyalty…

Mr. Alistair Price, heir to the elderly Viscount Melton, arrived in London with his eight younger siblings in tow. He is charged with keeping his family name above reproach until the Season starts and his sister, Miss Adeline Price, is presented to society—though that proves far more difficult than Alistair ever expected when he discovers his rebellious sister climbing down the side of their townhouse and scurrying off to Whitechapel for an archery tournament. His focus remains on saving his family from the certain ruin and disgrace Adeline’s actions invites—until Alistair catches sight of another female archer, her arrow connecting with far more than the center of her target.

And honor above all…

With Theodora’s future—and that of her friends—in jeopardy, will she agree to a marriage devoid of affection, or risk everything for the man who won her heart?

 

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

 

Chapter One

London, England
October 1825

Alistair Alexander Price entered his father’s townhouse—for all intents and purposes, his townhouse since his father had taken ill the year before and was unable to travel. Alistair was responsible for the care and well-being of his siblings—he was to tend the account ledgers, he was answerable to all his father’s tenants—and it seemed, Alistair was also solely accountable for the funds needed to fulfill all of those obligations.

“Your coat, Mr. Price?” Donavon, the family butler, held his arm out, prepared to take his over garment.

Alistair shrugged, allowing the coat to fall from his shoulders and into his butler’s waiting arms. “Thank you. I will be in my study, please make sure I am not disturbed.”

“Of course, Mr. Price.” The servant gave him a faint smile.

Alistair was fairly certain the staff was delighted to have the Melton horde in residence—and agreeable to Alistair filling his father’s vacant shoes, though he had not inherited the Melton Viscountship as yet.
With a nod, Alistair continued on to his father’s study. He shook his head. His study. It was highly unlikely his father would ever journey to London again.

Alistair needed a quiet place to think, and if it took drinking himself into a stupor to figure out his family’s problems, then so be it. With eight younger siblings in residence, a quiet room was hard to come by; however, he knew his three brothers were at their fencing lessons, and the female part of his household avoided his study as much as possible—unless summoned. Alistair had made a point of using the room when doling out lectures on inappropriate behavior, as well as when imparting bad news.

Anyone who invaded his private space was subject to one or the other—and on many occasions, both.

His footsteps sounded as he walked down the corridor, past his sisters’ receiving room—not that the five Melton females were used to receiving guests beyond family—and beyond to the study.

The day had not gone as planned, to say the least. His father’s longtime solicitor, Mr. Adams, had shared with Alistair the dire conditions of the many Melton estates. Since the viscount had begun his downward spiral and his illnesses finally took his ability to walk, not a single tenant issue had been addressed, no roofs had been mended beyond what the villagers could do themselves, and no upkeep to the estate gardens had been done. And their family coffers were continually drained from the expenses of supporting nine children and a full-time physician to care for the aging viscount.

Alistair’s father had once been a very hands-on viscount, not trusting estate business and tenant concerns to anyone. That left Alistair to fumble his way through things once his father was unable to leave his sickbed—and his mother unwilling to leave her husband’s side.

Alistair rounded his desk and fell heavily into his chair—the chair he’d seen his father occupy for all of Alistair’s twenty-five years. It had remained vacant for nearly two years before Alistair and his mother made the decision to remove the children to London to avoid them witnessing the viscount’s worsening condition. His mother was to join them before his sister, Adeline, was presented to society.

The news had arrived yesterday—two short weeks before Adeline’s first ball—that Viscountess Melton would not be joining her children in London. At least, not this season.

Certainly, Alistair could handle depositing Adeline at her dress fittings, consulting with her on which invitations to accept, and accompanying her on outings to Hyde Park, but he did not enjoy any of those things, and as a rule, strictly avoided any excursion that would result in meeting marriage-minded females. There was an overabundance of those to contend with in his own home without seeking them out about town.

And Alistair hadn’t the time or the patience for any of it.

Thankfully, he only need present one sibling to the ton this season, Adeline—next season would be Adelaide and Amelia, and after them, Arabella the following year. Lastly, Ainsley. It was all too much to wrap one’s mind around. The viscount’s coffers would be empty long before Alistair inherited the title. And what to do about his brothers: Abel, Alfred, and Adrian? They were remarkably unconcerned with their future paths. None of the three wanted their father to purchase them a commission to serve their country—though Alfred and Adrian were much too young to be burdened with such thoughts as yet. Not a one had an interest in any trade, but Abel did enjoy spending his spare time assisting at the British Museum, without pay, of course; however, at the age of twenty and one, he should be focusing on something more suitable to support a family.

Alistair would see his duty through: ensuring that all of his siblings were wed and taken care of. And then, if there were still time for him and he hadn’t been beaten down by the strain of it all, he would think about his own future.

There were many years ahead of him before he had the luxury of pondering what he wanted for his life. Little Ainsley was only ten, after all, and with eight years until her introduction, Alistair would have no rest until then.

What had his parents been thinking? Nine children with his father already close to fifty when the first was born.

It was irresponsible, to say the least. At this point, Alistair would be close to the same age when he had the time to focus on finding his own wife. Never would he burden anyone with supporting his offspring.

As he stared toward the open door, a flash of green flew past, catching his attention. He had glimpsed a trail of blonde curls before the girl was out of sight, her slippered feet making no sound.

He was out of his chair and following, a lecture on the inappropriateness of running indoors on the tip of his tongue. It was necessary for him to hurry to the entryway as his siblings were fast to disappear, especially if they suspected he was in pursuit.

Adeline stood, ready to enter the receiving room when he called her name, his displeasure clear in his voice.
Her hand paused on the door handle but did not turn it.

“Adeline,” he chastised. “What have I said about running in the house?”

“It is only necessary to run faster than the person chasing you?”

“Do not play feebleminded with me,” he sighed, knowing he had, indeed, said those exact words many times, but that was before he and his sister had reached adulthood—and he’d been forced to take his unofficial place as head of the Melton clan. “What did I say about running in the house yesterday?”

“That it is highly inappropriate for women who’ve left the schoolroom and expect to be accepted in ballrooms,” she mimicked. “Women who have turned their cotton pinafores in for silk gowns should refrain from such uncouth behavior.”

“And…” Alistair prodded. He shouldn’t have to lecture Adeline on her decorum. Hadn’t he spent enough coin on her tutelage? For a woman of eight and ten, she could use a healthy dose of maturity.

“If such young women do not agree, then they are free to pack their trunk and return to the country.”

He smiled with pride at her ability to recite his lecture from the day before. “Very good. Miss Emmeline’s School of Education and Decorum for Ladies of Outstanding Quality has at least taught you one valuable skill. Now if only you could follow the sound advice you memorized.”

Adeline stuck her tongue out at him as she turned toward the door once again.

“Adeline!” Again her hand froze on the knob—knowing her luck would only get her so far with her eldest brother. “You must put your childish ways behind you if you favor a successful season.”

“Of course, my dearest, most loving, and wise brother.” Her talent for charming others—all the while mocking them—was a gift all of his siblings shared, though her sweet words never fooled him. “Now, if you do not mind, it is discourteous to keep guests waiting.”

“Not many are informed we are in London. Who is calling on you?”

And why hadn’t he been informed there was a visitor in his home? It was not only his aging parents but also his servants who’d taken a liking to his younger siblings, often doing their bidding without realizing it.

“It is only Theo, Alistair.” She said the name as if it should be familiar to him. Only Theo?

He wanted to demand she tell him who the bloody hell Theo was and what the man was doing calling on his sister without properly introducing himself to Adeline’s eldest brother before requesting an audience with her. True, their parents were still responsible for the lot of them; however, as the eldest male in good health, it fell on Alistair to keep his siblings safe.

And he could not do that if unfamiliar men were coming and going right under his nose.

Instead of ripping the door off its hinges and confronting the man who dared enter his home without an invitation, Alistair took a deep breath. Far different from the deep breath he’d taken earlier in his study as he’d allowed the pressure of his responsibility to settle. No, this deep breath was giving him time to gather his words to use as his weapon instead of his fists.

Many—especially his female siblings—called him domineering and imperious when it came to his family. But his father had trusted him to lead well in the viscount’s stead, and no matter the difficulty of the task, Alistair would do exactly that.

Adeline looked at him as if he’d grown a second head with five eyes. “Are you experiencing a decrease in memory, dear brother?”

His temper rose at Adeline’s reference to their father’s diminished mental capacity, and his sister knew she’d gotten to him. She was most successful at finding every little thing that irritated him and drawing his annoyance out. And since her return from boarding school, he’d realized she hadn’t changed. Not even the smallest bit.

The viscountess, Lady Melton, had hoped that separating the two siblings would ease their lifelong discontent and competitiveness with one another, but while Alistair had been made to mature far quicker than most, his sister was still the hellion she’d been since birth.

“I assure you, I am in full capacity of my senses, Miss Adeline,” he spoke the words slowly, pronouncing each as if she were the one who was struggling to grasp his meaning. “Why do you not introduce me to your friend, Theo?”

Maybe he was the boon Alistair had been praying for—a man to take his wayward sibling off his hands before the season had even begun. Alistair’s only regret was that he’d paid the modiste’s note the day before. He need push this Theo to announce his courtship quickly and have the betrothal papers drafted as soon as the man hinted at the possibility—before he discovered that Adeline was not the demure miss he assumed her to be, but a sharp-tongued, quick-witted, infuriating debutante who knew exactly how alluring her blonde hair, fair skin, and pale blue eyes were.

Adeline made no move to join her guest, most likely suspecting her brother had some plan contrived—and she would be correct.

“Come, dear sister,” he hissed. “Let us not keep our visitor waiting.”

“But—“

“Do you not want me to greet our guest?” he asked. This Theo gentleman must be highly unsuitable if Adeline were working this hard to keep Alistair from entering the room. Again, he searched his memory for any mention of a Theo—or, more likely, Theodore—who’d made his acquaintance. There was that elderly earl, Lord Bays. His given name was Theodore if Alistair weren’t mistaken, but he was far too old for his sister’s liking and, he gulped, wedded going on three decades. Certainly, Adeline hadn’t lowered herself to consorting with men who were spoken for. “Allow me to open the door.”

Adeline scrutinized him before shrugging. “Very well, let us greet our guest. Do not embarrass me before my friend.”

“Embarrass you?” Alistair asked, stunned. “Why ever would you think I would do something so juvenile?”

“You have been known to make me look awful and think it is comical.” She released the knob and crossed her arms.

“Or need I remind you of how cruel you and Abel have been to me?”

“Must I remind you what a nuisance you were as a child?” he retorted. This was the way of things for them: bickering, bantering, and arguing—with no end in sight. “You would follow Abel and me around constantly. It was
improper for a young girl of quality.”

“You lost me in the woods!” she shrieked. “I was only ten, and the sun was setting.”

“But you never followed us outdoors again, did you?”

“Humpf.” She tapped her foot, waiting for him to agree that he would not mortify her. When he made no move to agree to her request, she continued, “And the pie?”

Alistair couldn’t help but chuckle at the reminder. “The pie dropping over the railing from the landing above the main hall was Abel, and you very well know that. We could not have known you’d be walking below at that precise moment.”

“My new frock was ruined from the berry juices.”

“Again, that was many years ago, Adeline,” he said. “I have grown—matured—as I hope you did as well during your time away at school. Now, please allow me to escort you to greet this Theo gentleman.”

A smirk landed on Adeline’s face, and her brow rose. “Of course, dear brother. Let us join our guest.”

He set his hand on her arm to halt her before she entered the room. “Do not think I take kindly to men calling on my sister without my express permission. This will not go unmentioned.”

“Oh, I certainly hope you do reprimand Theo.” Adeline giggled, a sound Alistair hadn’t heard in many years. Actually, he hadn’t heard it since she’d slipped a dozen pond frogs into his trunk before he’d left for Eton. The carriage had been made to stop only two hours’ journey from their country estate to free the trapped creatures; however, they’d already done the intended damage to his entire wardrobe, and Alistair had spent an entire week wearing the same set of clothes until new ones could be sent. “It is only what is deserved.”

Alistair had had enough of his sister’s irksome banter, so he stepped around her, pushing the door wide. “After you.” Alistair bowed mockingly as she flipped her hair over her shoulder and preceded him into the room.

Entering, he immediately scanned the room looking for the man who dared enter his home with no regard for proper
etiquette, putting his sister’s reputation in question before her first season was underway.

“I do not appreciate hearing that someone dares cross the threshold of my home without suitable cause to do so.” Alistair’s voice thundered through the small receiving room. He wanted the man to be aware his actions were not agreeable to Alistair—Adeline’s guardian while in London. “You are certainly fortunate I am in residence to rectify the situation.”

He paused, glancing around the room for his intended target, but no man stood by the open hearth, nor by the windows, their drapes held back with a simple tie to allow the warm sunlight in.

A small gasp brought his attention to the delicate sofa his mother favored when in London.

“Lady Theodora Montgomery,” Adeline said, rushing to stand before the sofa. “I have missed you ever so much. I am happy to see you have arrived safely in London.”

After bending down to give the woman a quick hug, Adeline cast a smirk in her brother’s direction—knowing she’d successfully redirected the embarrassment to him. “I do apologize for my brother’s abominable greeting.”

The woman’s eyes were rounded with fright at his callous tirade as she stood abruptly, ready to flee.

“As you can see, he is as dreadful as I’ve told you all these years,” Adeline confessed, squeezing Lady Theodora’s hands before turning to Alistair. “Have you terrified my dear friend enough for one day, brother?”

The poor woman was so startled she hadn’t managed a single word in greeting—Alistair regretted any alarm he’d caused her; however, she must understand Adeline had misled him. She was certainly a gently bred woman, unlike his hoyden lot of sisters.

“Lady Theodora,” Alistair started, attempting to mend the dismal situation. “I am Mr. Alistair Price, Adeline’s eldest brother—and I assure you, I am not the horrid man my sister claims.”

The woman looked wholly unconvinced by his proclamation, but offered her own greeting nonetheless. “It is nice to make your acquaintance, Mr. Price, but please refrain from dropping a pie on my head while I’m in your home. I fear my mother would be quite vexed if I ruined my new gown.”

Alistair took a step back at her brazen comment as his sister doubled over in laughter.

“My dear, Theo,” Adeline said, a giggle on the fringes of her words, “I have missed you so.”

Why did he feel as if he’d walked into a trap set up by his most cunning sister?

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