Exclusive Excerpt MIDNIGHT OBSESSION by Melinda Leigh

MIDNIGHT OBSESSION by Melinda Leigh

Midnight Series #4

Midnight Obsession

In Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s edgy new thriller, Louisa Hancock thought she was safe…but there’s a new killer in town.

When a mysterious package lands on Louisa Hancock’s doorstep, the Philadelphia museum curator can hardly anticipate the nightmare that’s about to envelop her. The package is addressed to her father—an expert in Viking culture—and inside is a ninth-century sword, a chilling thank-you note, and photos of two dead bodies in a tableau evoking a Nordic funeral. The gruesome images match a recent crime scene. But before the police can investigate the killer’s connection to Louisa’s father, Ward Hancock vanishes.

Sports bar owner Conor Sullivan wants nothing more than to spend his life with Louisa. Devoted and protective, he refuses to leave her side after her father’s disappearance. When a troubled young boxer he’s been coaching is suspected of the murders, Conor is pulled in even deeper. Desperate, Louisa and Conor take it upon themselves to find her father, but soon another ritualistic slaying makes it clear there’s a Viking-obsessed serial killer on the loose. And he has a new target: Louisa.

Romance Suspense [Montlake Romance, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781503939257 / ]

Showered and dressed, Louisa crossed the master bedroom before seven a.m. Kirra, sensing something was amiss, stuck close. Louisa eased to her knees and hugged the dog. Kirra never minded tears in her fur, and there was something about the dog’s presence that always brought her comfort.

Rising, she left the room. The door to the guest suite was closed, and she hoped Yvonne and Tyler were still sleeping. They’d all been stuck at the fire scene giving statements and waiting to see if and when Yvonne might be able to get into her apartment to collect anything that was salvageable.

Unfortunately, what the fire hadn’t consumed, the firemen had destroyed with their axes and hoses. From what Louisa had seen from the street, Yvonne and Tyler had nothing. They hadn’t made it back to the condo until nearly midnight.

She went into the kitchen and found Conor assessing the contents of the refrigerator. He removed a carton of eggs.

“I’m not really hungry.” She stood next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. Kirra leaned on her shins.

“When was the last time you ate?”

“Good point.” Yesterday was a blur.

“I made coffee.” He nodded toward a mug on the counter. “You tossed and turned a lot. Did you get any rest?”

“A little.” A disturbing mix of dreams and nightmares had invaded her sleep. “I dreamed of a vacation we took when I was in grade school. I don’t even remember where we were, somewhere tropical. It was just the three of us. We’d taken a small sailboat out to watch the sunset. There wasn’t much wind, but no one minded.” Louisa closed her eyes for a few seconds, reliving the damp warmth of a tropical breeze across her face, the restricting bulk of the life vest they’d always made her wear, the scents of Coppertone, insect repellent, and the sea mingling in her nose. “We saw dolphins and sailed until the sun went down. I remember the lights along the shoreline dancing on the water.”

“It sounds all right so far,” he said.

“The first part was.” She paused, a shudder rippling through her. “The dream ended with the boat sinking and my parents being sucked into the sea while I watched, bobbing helplessly in my life vest on the surface.”

Conor turned to press a kiss to her temple. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know why I dreamed about that night. It was a quiet sail. Nothing special happened.” Despite its nightmare finale, the dream soothed her.

“Maybe you just needed to remember that they loved you before it all went to hell.”

“I don’t think I ever forgot, but I definitely let bad memories crowd out the good ones.”

“You were awfully young. Children can’t control how they react. Your happiness was ripped out from under you. The adults in your life left you to fend for yourself. I don’t think it takes a psychologist to make the parallel between that dream and the way your future spun out of your control.”

“Probably not.” Louisa set the dream aside and reached for the coffee mug. “I hope Yvonne got some sleep. I still can’t believe her boss fired her for missing a second day of work under these circumstances. What is she going to do?”

The anger that fired in her belly felt a heck of a lot better than the cold horror she’d been harboring.

“You’ve given them a safe place to hide from the gang. For now, that’s about all you can do.” Leaning over, Conor kissed her temple. He lit a burner under a frying pan, cracked eggs into a glass bowl, and began to whip them with a wire whisk. “We’ll stop and buy them some clothes. I can offer her a job.”

Best. Man. Ever.

Even in her current state of despair, she held onto gratefulness for having him in her life.

“I love that you help everyone,” she said.

“Yvonne’s a waitress. I need a waitress. Seems logical.” Conor poured the beaten eggs into a frying pan. The embarrassed flush on his face made her smile. Chivalry wasn’t dead. He was in her kitchen making sure she didn’t face another terrible day with an empty stomach.

How did she get so lucky?

About Melinda Leigh

Melinda Leigh

Melinda Leigh abandoned her career in banking to raise her kids and never looked back. She started writing as a hobby and became addicted to creating characters and stories. Since then, she has won numerous writing awards for her paranormal romance and romantic-suspense fiction. Her debut novel, She Can Run, was a number one bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense, a 2011 Best Book Finalist (The Romance Reviews), and a nominee for the 2012 International Thriller Award for Best First Book. She is the author of the Midnight Novels, including Midnight Exposure (a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense) and Midnight Sacrifice.

Midnight Series

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Angelic Banana Bread by Sofie Ryan

In the Second Chance Cat mysteries you can always count on three things when it comes to those senior sleuths known as the Angels. One, they’re actually pretty good detectives. Two, they drink gallons of tea. And three, a cup of tea tastes better with a little something sweet on the side—at least according to Rose Jackson. Rose is often the source of those sweet treats, anything from oatmeal cookies to cinnamon coffeecake to her popular banana bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of mashed bananas
  • ⅓ cup butter or margarine
  • ⅔ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Grease a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with the mashed bananas to the creamed ingredients. Mix well.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Walnut-Bourbon Banana Bread loaves.

TELLING TAILS by Sofie Ryan

Second Chance Cat Mystery

Telling Tails

The New York Times bestselling author of A Whisker of Trouble returns as secondhand shop owner Sarah Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis, get caught up in a case of she said, she said….

When Sarah Grayson opened a secondhand shop in the quaint town of North Harbor, Maine, she was expecting peace and quiet. Then she was adopted by a rescue cat named Elvis and a kooky trio of senior sleuths known as Charlotte’s Angels. Now she has nine lives worth of excitement…

Sarah’s friend and employee Rose is delivering a customer’s purchase when the quick errand becomes a deadly escapade. Rose arrives just in time to see the customer murdered by his wife, but before she can call the police, she is knocked out cold. When she wakes up, no one believes her, especially after the woman claims her husband is very much alive and has left her for someone else—and has a text message and empty bank account to prove it.

Despite her convincing story, Sarah is sure something is fishy—and it’s not Elvis’s kitty treats. Sarah, Elvis, and the Angels are determined to unravel this mysterious yarn, before the feral killer pounces again…

Mystery Pet Lovers | Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781101991206 / eISBN: 9781101991213]

About Sofie Ryan

Sofie Ryan

Sofie Ryan is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media artist, Darlene Ryan. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits to having a small crush on Matt Lauer.

Second Chance Cat

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Diana Orgain | Researching a Haunted Castle for THIRD TIME’S A CRIME.

It began like most things begin today – with a google search. I was hunting for the perfect location to set my next mystery THIRD TIME’S A CRIME. The mystery is the third book in my reality TV series where I’d concocted an unsolved murder at a haunted castle. I needed an eerie location as a starting point for my story.

When I found the Preston Castle in Ione, California I knew I had it! From the Preston Castle website: “Experiences at the castle have included EVP, humming, whispers, touching, channeling, and seeing and recording orbs and apparitions. There have been no harmful events and no one has been hurt during these overnight events.”

You see this is no ordinary castle – it was the home of Preston School of Industry, one of the oldest and best-know reform schools in the United States. It is said to have been the sight of many mysterious tragic episodes, violent encounters and even unsolved murders. The accounts of visitors are that the castle is rife with ghost sightings. The fact that the castle sponsors overnight ghost tours seemed like just the ticket for my research.

I dialed my dear friend and paranormal mystery author, Kirsten Weiss.

“Want to go on a haunted castle flashlight tour with me?” I asked.

Kirsten laughed a response.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked, fearful that my request was too over the edge even for a paranormal mystery author.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to be invited on a haunted castle tour,” Kirsten said. After I explained the details to her, Kirsten added. “Can we stop at a winery I like in Lodi?”

Now I couldn’t believe my luck. We were going to explore a historic site in California and include wine tasting?

Awesome.

We arrived at The Preston Castle as the sun was setting. It was wintertime and the light didn’t hover for very long. Before we knew it, our view of the Castle turned from breathtaking to downright eerie. The docent handed us flashlights and ushered into the vast foyer. The castle is 46,000 square feet, has 77 rooms and no fewer than 43 fireplaces and 257 windows!

We were cold beyond belief; every window in the place was broken, cracked or gone. We were only allowed to tour the first few floors and the basement. The third and fourth floor were closed due to the condition of the roof (I believe there’s a hole in it and those floors are beyond repair).

The first stop on the tour was the “prayer” room. It was set up like a small chapel, but instead of praying we watched an intro video that included the history of the construction of the castle and famous inmates (among them, my favorite country singer of all time Merle Haggard!)

Most of the public rooms on the main floor – like the dining room and hall – were enormous, while the private bedrooms on the second floor were tiny. Of note, on the second floor one side of the hallway had rooms with a sink, while the other side had rooms with a fireplace.

The dining room fascinated me. “Where the kitchen?” I asked the docent.

“Downstairs,” she told me. “It’s where they found the body of the head housekeeper, Anna Corban.”

A chill danced across my spine. Poor Anna.

“Can we see the kitchen?” I asked.

The docent took us down a narrow staircase and showed a small cupboard where Anna’s body had been hidden. The cupboard was so small it seemed impossible that anyone would fit in it.

It turned out the kitchen was small too. All the food was prepared there and then transported through a dumbwaiter up to the dining room.

The cupboard, along with the kitchen and especially the dumbwaiter sparked an idea for me, and shortly after THIRD TIME’S A CRIME was written! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Preston Castle 1

THIRD TIME’S A CRIME by Diana Orgain

Love or Money Mystery #3

Third Time's a Crime

Ex-detective Georgia Thornton returns to reality TV in the third mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of A Second Chance at Murder

POOL YOUR RESOURCES…

After two hit reality TV shows brought ex-detective Georgia Thornton into America’s living rooms, audiences can’t get enough of her quest for love and justice. Now producers have come up with an all-new show set in a haunted castle in Golden, California. Georgia and nine other contestants will need to solve the mystery of a young woman who disappeared at the castle in 1960.

Except there’s one rather substantial problem waiting for everyone when they arrive: a groundskeeper is found drowned at the bottom of the castle’s empty pool. Now Georgia and the other contestants will need to work together, because there’s a different sort of game afoot—and it’s not one they can afford to lose…

Mystery [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425271704 / eISBN: 9780698140172]

About Diana Orgain

Diana Orgain

Diana Orgain is the author of the Maternal Instincts Mysteries and coauthor of GILT TRIP with Laura Childs in the New York Times bestselling Scrapbooking Mysteries. She holds a B.A and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University with a minor in acting. Diana has acted professionally both on stage and in national commercials. She’s written several plays, which were produced at San Francisco State University, GreenHouse Productions, and PlayGround. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children.

Love or Money Mystery | Scrapbook Mysteries | Roundup Crew

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Dead Cold Brew: A Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle

It’s official. After sixteen books, our Greenwich Village coffeehouse manager, Clare Cosi, finally becomes engaged to her boyfriend, NYPD Detective Mike Quinn. Unfortunately, the vintage diamond Mike slips on Clare’s finger in DEAD COLD BREW, opens a Pandora’s box to a cold case murder that occurred sixty years before.

This chilling homicide happened in a stateroom of the Andrea Doria, a luxurious Italian ocean liner that tragically sank off the coast of Nantucket in 1956. On board that ship was a gifted Italian artisan named Gus Campana, the jewelry designer who created Clare’s engagement ring.

When Clare finds Gus poisoned behind his West Village workshop, she won’t rest until she uncovers who may have done it and why. Her search uncovers family scandal, a charming thief, and a deadly adversary.

If you are new to our long-running Coffeehouse Mystery series, don’t hesitate to pick up DEAD COLD BREW. You can read it as a stand-alone, and if you like it, you have 15 more mysteries to enjoy. But don’t miss this latest entry. It’s embedded with twists, turns, and wonderful secrets about New York City that we’ve discovered over the years—from an exclusive room in the legendary 21 Club, to the underbelly of the city’s Diamond District, to a hidden train platform beneath the Waldorf-Astoria.

“A fabulous diamond, blackmail, embezzlement, surprise inheritances, murder, and a decades-old family scandal…with lusciously rich recipes.”

—Publishers Weekly on Dead Cold Brew

About Cleo Coyle

Alice Alfonsi and her husband, Marc Cerasini, who write as Cleo Coyle.

CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating over ten years in print. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the national bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.

Coffeehouse Mystery

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CLEO’S NEWSLETTER: Fun contests, bonus recipes, book news, and videos. To sign up, simply write an e-mail that says “sign me up” and send it to CoffeehouseMystery@gmail(dot)com
FREE TITLE CHECKLIST: Get a title checklist with mini summaries of all 16 Coffeehouse Mysteries and links to free recipe guides. To download the list as a PDF document, click here.

DEAD COLD BREW by Cleo Coyle

Coffeehouse Mystery #16

Dead Cold Brew

From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Dead to the Last Drop, comes a gripping new entry in the “highly satisfying”* Coffeehouse Mystery series. (*Publishers Weekly)

THE PERFECT PROPOSAL LEADS TO A CHILLING COLD CASE…

Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear…

After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare’s finger, Clare’s eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare’s daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare’s ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York’s most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

With recipes to die for, including how to make cold-brew coffee at home!

Mystery Cozy | Mystery [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 10, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425276112 / eISBN: 9780698167407]

DEAD COLD BREW is also a culinary mystery, with an appendix of more than 25 recipes, including Cannoli Cream Cupcakes, Perfect Pumpkin Quick Bread, Blueberry Buckle Cake, (Meatless) Baked Ziti, Chicken Cacciatore (Red and White Versions), American Fettuccine Alfredo, Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate-Espresso Cookies, tips on how to make Cold Brew Coffee like a pro, and much more.

To see the book’s Free Recipe Guide, click here.

Jenn McKinlay | The Best Part of Writing: Research

Hello, Readers,

The fifth Hat Shop mystery ASSAULT AND BERET is on the shelves now and since I wrote it a year ago, I had to go back and remind myself of what happened in the book. It sounds crazy, I know, but after I finished that book, I went on to write four more so you can imagine that all of those characters, plots, and settings fill up the filing cabinet in my head and make it very difficult to remember who did what to whom, when and where.

Which brings me to the best part of writing, at least for me, the research! I love doing the ground work for a book. Usually, I learn so much more than I can ever stuff into a story, but when the book is released, it gives me a chance to revisit all of the facts that I learned and much like reacquainting myself with the characters, it’s like visiting with old friends. I usually remember exactly what I was doing when I learned a new fact or read and interesting story. That is, when I take the time to revisit the book that is being released.

True story, funny story: I was once doing a book signing during a time when I had a cluster of books coming out, like, every two months and even I was having a hard time keeping up with them all. When someone asked me to tell them a little bit about the book that I was there to sign, I couldn’t remember ANYTHING. Finally, a writer friend bailed me out by chiming in and saying, “There are cupcakes and people die.” Ha! Take that, Cliff Notes!

After that, I learned my lesson and now I go back and peruse the book that’s coming out, so that when someone asks me a question, I have a chance of answering it or at least I can reference the right book. This month I was delighted to go back to Paris with Scarlett and Viv and the gang from Portobello Road and revisit all that happened to them while they were there. It is the series finale so quite a bit happens, actually.

While I was skimming it, I remembered that one of my favorite components of the book was William Graham, Viv’s estranged husband, who is an insurance investigator in the art world. His profession allowed me to research how paintings are evaluated by authentication or attribution, which was fascinating. I particularly enjoyed learning about the piece Red, Black, and Silver possibly by Jackson Pollock. It was rumored to have been painted for his lover who hired forensic experts who found a polar bear hair from the polar bear rug he had in his studio at the time the piece was painted and they used that information to argue that it was indeed a Pollock. Pollock’s wife, however, hired the old school art connoisseurs, professionals who likely knew Pollock’s work better than he did himself, and they argued that the piece was inconsistent with his body of work. Both women have since died and the case has never been resolved. The researcher in me loves this stuff!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the word-smithing part of writing just as much as the research, but there is no doubt that the more I research a time, place, or profession, the more material I have to work from, which is always a good thing. Now here’s a brief description of ASSAULT AND BERET, so you can say you’ve done your research before you grab a copy of the book!

Allons-y to Paris for more hats and homicide from the New York Times bestselling author of Copy Cap Murder!

London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception…

THANKS FOR LETTING ME VISIT!

HAPPY READING!

About Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay took her first decoupage class when she was twelve years old. Since then, cutting and pasting have become a way of life. With two small children at home, she finds decoupage a fun craft as well as a very handy tool, especially when used to cover up doodles made in permanent marker on otherwise lovely furniture. And yes, they know her by name at her local Michael’s Craft Store. She is the author of three previous novels under the name Jennifer McKinlay and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her musician husband Chris, their two sons, two cats, one dog and one fish.

Library Lover’s Mystery | Cupcake Bakery Mystery | Hat Shop Mystery

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ASSAULT AND BERET by Jenn McKinlay

Hat Shop Mystery

Assault and Beret

Allons-y to Paris for more hats and homicide from the New York Times bestselling author of Copy Cap Murder!

London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in the art of deception…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425279595 / eISBN: 9780698187818]

Top 5 Reasons Blake Wilde is as Scorching Hot As Miami

If you read MISSED CONNECTIONS, you’ve already met the delicious massage therapist Blake Wilde, but in the second novel in the Summer Love Series, you get to see more of him. Way more.

With thrusting. 😉

He even gets a Point Of View of his own in this book, so you get to crawl around inside his mind as well as Melanie Walker’s (the other main character).

But before you delve between the covers of his book and take him home with you, there are a few things you should brace yourself for. Without being too spoilery, here are the top 5 reasons Blake Wilde is as Scorching Hot as Miami!

  1. His last name

His last name is literally Wilde. A sexy last name automatically makes someone seem hotter. Picture Brad Pitt. Now imagine his last name is Wilde. He’s at least 37% hotter now. Let’s face it, if there was no Brad Pitt and you heard that name, what springs to mind? Definitely not the deliciousness we’ve grown to associate with that name. But if you married Blake Wilde, YOUR new name, should you choose to accept it, would be Wilde as well. It’s sexy. It’s dangerous. It’s fun—just like he is.

  1. Dimples!

Ok, it’s strange to narrow into a feature like that, but who doesn’t love a great smile framed with dimples? They can make the deadliest bad boy seem cheeky and rogue-ish.

  1. Their History

There’s something comforting about having known someone and been friends with them first—or in this case, he was Melanie’s older brother’s best friend—that makes you feel secure with them. There’s a foundation of trust and friendship and acceptance there that wouldn’t exist if they’d just met off the street as adults. He’s seen the awkward kid stage, witnessed horrifically embarrassing moments in her life. She doesn’t have to hide those moments or pretend to be perfect. While it’s still new and exciting and sexy as hell, there’s also the comfort that comes when you know someone truly accepts who you are as a person—not their idea of you. It’s real.

  1. Those hands.

Blake’s a massage therapist studying to be a Physical Therapist. This is a man who knows exactly how to touch you to make you feel good…and then make you feel even better. Men who study biology are men who know their way around the human body. That’s a great thing. :)

  1. He’s modelled after Adam Rodriguez (AKA Tito in Magic Mike, AKA Eric Delko on CSI: Miami).

See Adam on my Pinterest Board

Need I say more? 😉

SUMMER INDISCRETIONS by Tamara Mataya

Summer Love #2

Summer Indiscretions

Life Swap: Free-spirited beach-dweller looking to Switch lives with outgoing urbanite. Sense of adventure mandatory. Clothing optional.

One email away from a total meltdown, Melanie Walker’s desperate to escape New York. Using Switch-a website designed to help strangers swap homes for the summer-she slips out of her stilettos and into a string bikini. But of all the beaches in all the world, Blake Wilde just had to show up on hers. He’s hot. Scorching hot. And he’s been strictly off-limits for as long as she can remember.

To hell with that. New life? New rules.

Melanie knows something this good can’t be made to last. But for three sizzling weeks, she can pretend there won’t be consequences, recriminations, or regret…and that somehow their growing connection can be more than just a summer fling.

Romance Contemporary [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492635345 / eISBN: 9781492635352]

About Tamara Mataya

Tamara Mataya

Tamara Mataya is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a librarian, and a musician with synaesthesia. Armed with a name tag and a thin veneer of credibility, she takes great delight in recommending books and shushing people. She puts the ‘she’ in TWSS and the B in LGBTQIA+.

Summer Love

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GIVEAWAY

Get to see the FIRST glimpse of Blake in a copy of MISSED CONNECTIONS which Sourcebooks Casablanca is giving away. Just tell us below about your favorite beach guy! Easy!

Rachel Blaufeld | Toasting in the New Year

Happy New Year Fresh Fiction Readers!

I hope that you all rang in The New Year exactly how you wanted!

As for me, I was in my jammies long before midnight, tucked into my bed with my beagles snoring by my side and a good book on my kindle!

And maybe, just maybe, a glass of sparkling vino on my nightstand!

Today, I’m toasting to my new release, BREAK POINT.

BREAK POINT is a two-part romance. Part One is equal parts steamy and sad. College transfer student and tennis hopeful, Juliette Smith, falls for her dreamy, alpha coach, Drew King. He’s all man with the most spectacular forearms. Their affair is forbidden and steamy until it’s not…anything…anymore.

Part Two reintroduces us to Jules and Drew a few years later, both carrying baggage—Juliette’s slightly heavier than Drew’s. Given a second chance, the pair has to work through all the emotions and coming to terms with their past while taking care of Darla—Jules’ daughter.

At one point during the story, Drew is tasked with caring for a sick Darla. With a sore throat and a fever, Darla is a mess. Inside Drew’s bachelor pad, he doesn’t have much to offer her for comfort other than a can of Arnie Palmer Iced Tea and Lemonade. Of course, Darla is smitten with Drew at her first sip of “Arnee’s.”

I happen to agree with Darla—I love an Arnold Palmer. A true mocktail, it’s refreshing and sweet. Named for the golf legend, the drink has been around for a long time.

His website tells the following story, “Arnold had been drinking the combination for years. After a hot day on the course at Latrobe Country Club, he would ask his wife Winnie to make him an iced tea with lemonade.” Years later, he ordered his combo at a restaurant, and a woman nearby said she’d have what he was having. The rest is history.

Although it is widely believed to be equal parts iced tea and lemonade, Arnie himself told ESPN it’s three parts iced tea and one part lemonade.

Now just because an Arnie Palmer doesn’t typically have alcohol, doesn’t mean we can’t spike it up for a good adult time!

I personally happen to love frozen vodka lemonade mixed with iced tea. Poolside. :-)

Long island ice tea cocktails on wooden and white background.
Long island ice tea cocktails on wooden and white background.

Check out this recipe I found for Sweet Tea and Vodka Lemonade on epicurious:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large tea bags for iced tea
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 8 fresh mint sprigs
  • 4 cups lemonade made from frozen concentrate
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • Ice cubes
  • 8 lemon slices

PREPARATION

  1. Place tea bags in medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water. Let steep 4 minutes. Discard tea bags. Place mint sprigs in large pitcher; mash with muddler or handle of wooden spoon until slightly bruised. Pour in tea, lemonade, and vodka. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  2. Fill 8 highball glasses with ice. Divide sweet tea among glasses. Garnish with lemon slices.

BREAK POINT by Rachel Blaufeld

Break Point

The match is heated, but who holds the advantage?

A brand new STANDALONE from Rachel Blaufeld with a quick trip back to Hafton U., featuring a cameo from the guys in Vérité.

*$1 of every Preorder & Release Week Sale will go to Local Women’s Shelter.

Juliette Smith, star tennis player, is starting over at a new university. Traumatized by hazing at her last school, all she wants is to attend classes, win tennis matches, and be left the hell alone. She should have known her coach, Drew King, would be a problem from the moment he flexed his sexy-as-hell forearms. What happens when you mix a pissed-off woman with a bunch of snooty teammates and a hot coach? A heated match, complete with team politics and a forbidden game of singles with the coach.

It’s reckless and hot until one of them taps out.

Unable to admit she may be better off as a double, Jules is convinced she needs to play the game of life alone. Then life throws her a lob and she runs smack into her past. Coach King is back, and he wants to take control of the game. But she’s not certain she wants his advice when it comes to the life she’s built. The power struggle is on, but this time off the court.

New Adult | Romance Erotica Sensual | Romance Sports [On Sale: January 5, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 2940157205089 / eISBN: 9780997070743]

About Rachel Blaufeld

Rachel Blaufeld

Rachel Blaufeld is a bestselling author of Romantic Suspense, New Adult, Coming-of-Age Romance, and Sports Romance. A recent poll of her readers described her as insightful, generous, articulate, and spunky. Originally a social worker, Rachel creates broken yet redeeming characters. She’s been known to turn up the angst like cranking up the heat in the dead of winter.

A devout coffee drinker and doughnut eater, Rachel spends way too many hours in local coffee shops, downing the aforementioned goodies while she plots her ideas. Her tales may all come with a side of angst and naughtiness, but end as lusciously as her treats.

When she isn’t writing, she can be found courtside, tweeting about hoops as her son plays, or walking around the house wearing earplugs while her other son, the drummer, bangs away.

To connect with Rachel, she’s most active in her private reading group, The Electric Readers, where she shares insider information and intimate conversation with her readers.

Love at Center Court | Crossroads Series

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Teri Anne Stanley | Research. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Sometimes a question comes up when I’m writing, and the answer is as close as Google (does anyone remember having to go to an actual LIBRARY to find out answers to things?). Sometimes you have to go a little farther.

A couple of years ago, when my agent and I were tossing setting ideas for a new series back and forth, I said, “Maybe they own a vineyard,” thinking that maybe Mr. Stanley and I could use his airline points for a trip to California. But then she said, “What about a bourbon distillery?”

Being the agreeable little writer that I am, I said, “Okay!”

After which I hung up the phone and went, “Um, I don’t drink liquor. My bourbon days are (thankfully) long past.” On the other hand, I do live in Kentucky, which is the absolute best (some might say only) place in the world to get good bourbon whiskey. So I gathered up the previously mentioned Mr. Stanley, and we drove an hour South to tour the Buffalo Trace Distillery It was a tough job, but my brave and heroic husband drank my share of the free samples.

I learned a lot of good stuff about bourbon—I can quote grain bills (I even know what a grain bill is! It’s the ratio of corn to wheat and/or rye and/or whatever the hell else is being fermented to produce the alcohol. Mostly corn). I know that, in order to be bourbon, it’s also got to be aged in NEW charred oak barrels. There are actual laws about it. To be Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, it’s got to be made in KY (duh), aged for at least two years, and have a grain bill of at least 51%. There some other details, like how much alcohol can go in the barrel and how much is in the final bottled product. But my next book is about the barrel part of the business. The cool thing is that the barrels are re-used to age other spirits—which led me down the path of Brandon and Lesa’s story.

Brandon is one of the brothers from one of the families that own Blue Mountain. He’s the business major, the marketing guru, the one in the dress shirt and khakis, and he knows that if he makes an exclusive deal to sell his used barrels to another distillery, he can exploit that for everyone’s benefit, and he’s going to sell them to his heroine’s family’s distillery. But what to distill?

Luckily, my glorious editor, Robin Haseltine, happened to go on a cruise that landed her and her husband at a tequila tasting right about the same time I was starting my research. Ah ha!

Bring on more research. And if my bourbon days are behind me, we REALLY don’t want me reliving the tequila days!

Unfortunately, I don’t live a hop and a skip from any tequila distilleries. Google did tell me, however, that like Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, tequila has rules. It’s got to be distilled from blue agave, and can only be made in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Aaaand if you look on a map, Jalisco happens to be right smack dab next to Puerto Vallarta, a really cool place with lots of resorts.

And my 25th wedding anniversary was coming up, so…

Hasta la vista, USA!
puertovallarta

I’m not sure the IRS will buy my story that this was a business trip, however…

A SHOT WITH YOU by Teri Anne Stanley

Bourbon Brothers

A Shot With You

One more will never be enough…

Bourbon is in Brandon Morgan’s blood. His family owns the best bourbon brand in the country—or it will be with his marketing genius. And after meeting the fiery daughter of a tequila distillery owner, he’s never been more sure.

His barrels, her tequila. It’s a match made in heaven. But only if he can keep his hands off the owner’s daughter…and his secrets to himself.

Lesa Ruiz will do anything to keep Little Possum afloat, but one look at Brandon’s gorgeous dimples and Lesa knows two things for sure: forever is not in the cards with this man and he’s way too sexy to resist for long.

Well, three things… Brandon is hiding something, and she’ll need to get a lot closer to figure it out and save her family’s legacy.

Shots, anyone?

Romance Contemporary [Entangled Lovestruck, On Sale: January 9, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781633758391 / eISBN: 9781633758391]

About Teri Anne Stanley

Teri Anne Stanley

Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she learned to hold a crayon. Though her handwriting hasn’t improved, her spelling is a little better now. She spends her days as an evil genius’s sidekick in a research lab, and her nights weaving tales of heroic hunks and sassy, smart women. When she’s not at work, Teri, Mr. Stanley, and the Stanlettes enjoy spending time at their weekend estate, located in the thriving metropolis of Sugartit, between Beaverlick and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.

Bourbon Brothers | What Happens in Vegas

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Susan Wiggs | Make 2017 the Year of YOU

I never considered myself a “cruise” person. In my mind, a Caribbean cruise was for newly-weds and nearly-deads. I pictured crowded buffets, jam-packed pool decks, windowless cubicles masquerading as staterooms.

Costa Cruise Crash
photo: Daily Express UK

Turns out I was looking at the wrong cruise lines.

Butlers

The Mystery and Romance Cruise, dreamed up by the dreamers at Vacations By Design, is the one you want.

It’s an eleven-day indulgence you’ll never forget.

Okay, so some of you are objecting to the price. I don’t blame you. An eleven-day cruise is going to cost you. But let’s face it—eleven days on ANY vacation is going to cost you.

I’m good at math. Used to teach it, in fact. So let’s do the math. What does a nice hotel room—a suite—run you these days? Probably around $300 per night. And meals (we’ll assume meals for two, and we have to include drinks and tip)—breakfast, $30. Lunch, $50, afternoon tea, $40, cocktail hour, $40, dinner at a nice restaurant, $100. Entertainment—live shows, music, films, dancing, sports…The sky’s the limit, but let’s say you go to a performance every day, which is what you’ll do on the ship. Minimum $100 for two seats at a live show. We’re already up to $680 per day, and that’s without the complimentary butler you get to have on the cruise. So you can see that a do-it-yourself vay-cay is a lot more trouble and a lot more expensive than a cruise.

2017-01-08 13_33_59-

On this cruise, all-inclusive actually means ALL inclusive:

INCLUDED IN THE CRUISE FARE :: Spacious suites with private verandas :: Butler service in every suite :: Free WiFi throughout the ship :: Personalized service – nearly one crew member for every guest :: Multiple restaurants, diverse cuisine, open-seating dining :: Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, select wines and spirits :: 24-hour dining service :: Onboard entertainment and enrichment lecturers :: Complimentary transportation into town in most ports :: Onboard gratuities

Wait. What? “Enrichment Lecturers”??? Readers, meet your Enrichment Lecturers!

talent

Yep, that’s us. Susan and Elizabeth. Plus you can read to your heart’s content without being interrupted by ringing phones, work emergencies, needy family members, or whining pets. And on this particular cruise Elizabeth George and I will hang out with you.

I mean. What’s better than that?

You could pick Jerry’s brain about apparel design.

You could see for yourself that Elizabeth George’s husband looks like Steve McQueen.

All the while visiting San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Barthelmy, St. Kitts, Tortola, Punta Cana, Grand Turk…With variety, adventure, romance and relaxation all expertly woven together, coupled with an overnight in fabulous Saint Barts, this cruise is truly the ultimate getaway.

If you’re a writer, the cost of the cruise is a business deduction because you’ll be writing, networking with other writers, and doing research for future writing projects.

If you’re a teacher, bookseller, librarian, editor, or otherwise involved in publishing, it’s a professional development activity and I bet your CPA would find some deductions.

If you’re retired, then just come. You earned it.

See you onboard!

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT! Because I love Fresh Fiction and I really want you to join us, I’m giving a $100 on-board gift certificate to the first reader to sign up and mention Fresh Fiction! Call 800.828.4813, sign up and ask them if you’re first!

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Excerpt from BREATH OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet

BREATH OF FIRE by Amanda Bouchet

The Kingmaker Chronicles #2

Breath of Fire

SHE’S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD…

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a warrior queen to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin risk sacrificing everything they’ve fought for. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or die trying.

Romance Paranormal | Fantasy [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492626053 / ]

The follow-up to 2016’s most popular debut

“I did it!” Jocasta shouts.

I grin at the target. Her knife isn’t in the middle, but it’s pretty damn close.

“My turn.” Kaia positions herself in the way I showed them both, the movement fluid and automatic by now. She completely ignores the way the reddened skin on her hand must chafe and lets her blade fly. It sticks dead center, and she jumps up and down, cheering.

I let out a long, low whistle, making her flush with pride.

It’s our final day out, and both of them are hitting the bull’s-eye more often than not. It’s time to move back a few more paces, or aim from the side.

“I still think we should have used your usual practice range instead of making this new one.” Kaia’s naturally bright eyes turn dreamy. “We would surely have seen Kato that way. And Flynn,” she adds as an afterthought.

Hmm. No wonder she’s not running around kissing the pages. She’s already in love.

“We’re trying to avoid them, remember? This is a secret.” Jocasta gets ready to throw again.

Kato already knows. He took me into the city, and I bought the girls each a set of knives the morning we started target practice. The knives are double-edged at the tip and medium weight with sleek metal handles wrapped in sinew for grip. They were hideously expensive because the sinew comes from Kobaloi, gnome-like creatures fond of playing tricks. The vendor said the sinew retains the creature’s magic, which is always useful. I bought myself a set, too. I just hope the knives don’t play tricks on us.

“I don’t see why it has to be a secret. They could have taught us, too. With swords.” Pink infuses Kaia’s cheeks, and I have a feeling she’s imagining Kato’s strong arms around her and his big body cupping hers from behind as he shows her the right way to move. She’s tall for her age, taller than either Jocasta or I am, and as dark-haired as Kato is fair. They’d fit well together.

Gah! What am I thinking? He’s way too old for her.

I frown. What is she thinking?

“Neither of them actually prefers the sword.” I motion for Kaia to stand farther away from the target. She’s so good that anything too close range will start to get boring. “And knives are a good start. They’re lighter, easier to conceal, and you can defend yourself without letting anyone get too close.” Or else they’re really close, but we’re working on throwing, not stabbing.

While Kaia moves back and gets ready again, I help Jocasta with her position. She tends to throw high and to the right. I reposition her shoulders and slowly extend my arm, holding hers by the wrist. “Let go here,” I say when our arms are straight. “When the tip points to where you want it to go.”

Kaia listens and makes a minor adjustment before she throws, keeping her wrist stiff to avoid wild rotations. She hits the red hibiscus flower we pinned to the target as a bull’s-eye and lets out a shriek. She bounces over and hugs me.

“You’re a natural.” I awkwardly pat her back.

“I wish Kato could have seen that.” She grins so wide I see her molars. “He would have been impressed.”

“Kato is more than twice your age,” Jocasta points out gently but firmly. “And he wouldn’t approve.”

Actually, considering the overprotective, grrr factor of the four male members of Beta Team—which meant I couldn’t go shopping without one of them as an escort—he was fairly casual about the whole thing. Then again, I did present it to him as a fun new hobby for the princesses rather than a vital self-defense technique.

“Why not?” Kaia asks. “Would Flynn approve?”

“No, he would not.” Jocasta sounds like she just bit down on half a lemon—and broke a tooth on a seed.

“But Cat has knives. And a sword. They fight together. They’re a team.”

Jocasta looks to me for help. I wish she wouldn’t. I don’t exactly have a delicate way with words.

I flip a knife in my hand, the sinew-wrapped hilt hitting my palm with rhythmic, dull thuds. I wish I could spin it vertically like my friend Vasili at the circus does, with the hilt twirling on my hand, but it always tilts right off. “The difference is that I came to them that way. A grown woman. Already a warrior. They know I can handle myself, and they’ve seen me take my fair share of hits and come out stronger for them.” I point back and forth between the two of them with the tip of my new blade. “You, on the other hand, came to them as little baby girls, and they’ve watched you grow up. They’ve seen you scrape your knees and play in the mud after the first rains. Helped you climb trees. With you, their only thought is to shelter and defend. It wouldn’t even occur to them to let you protect yourselves.”

Kaia’s youthful face scrunches up. “That’s obnoxiously unfair.”

“That’s men. Stubborn.” I throw my knife. The blade scrapes against Kaia’s in the heart of the flower.

“Does Griffin treat you that way?” Kaia asks.

I snort. “He can try.”

They both grin at my choice of words. “You’re officially family now. You’ve adopted our motto,” Jocasta says.

My insides take a sudden, violent dive. Griffin would like to make it a lot more official than that.

To distract myself from that alarming train of thought, I whip around, slip my foot behind Kaia, and shove hard on her upper body. With Kaia down, I snake my arm around Jocasta’s neck and haul her up against my body, cutting off most of her air. She squeaks and slaps at my forearm.

Laughing, I let go of her and step back, shaking my head. “At the very least, you should have stomped on my toes or elbowed me in the ribs.”

Jocasta glares at me, but her mouth moves like she might smile. Kaia gets up, grinning. She doesn’t bother brushing herself off. They’re both flushed and disheveled.

“We have time before dark. I finally got you two wearing tunics and pants, so let’s work on balance and grappling.” I shift into a fighting stance. “I’ll show you how to take someone down and hold them there. Then you’ll have to practice on each other while I’m gone.”

They look disturbingly eager, and I wonder what I’ve started, and whether I should have left well enough alone.

About Amanda Bouchet

Amanda Bouchet

Award-winning author Amanda Bouchet grew up in New England and studied French at the undergraduate and graduate levels, first at Bowdoin College and then at Bowling Green State University. She moved to Paris, France in 2001 and has been there ever since. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children, who will soon be correcting her French.

The Kingmaker Chronicles

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