Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: FEARLESS IN TEXAS (Texas Rodeo, #4) by Kari Lynn Dell

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FEARLESS IN TEXAS (Texas Rodeo, #4) by Kari Lynn Dell

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

Genre: Western/ Contemporary Romance 

Synopsis

546D435B-CBD4-4AF8-9EA6-D5F3906950BAHe’d step in front of a bull to save a life

But even he’s no match for a girl this Texas tough

Rodeo bullfighter Wyatt Darrington’s got it all figured out. The perfect car, the perfect job, the perfect looks—the perfect lie. He may be on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, but he knows he’ll always be an outsider to people like Melanie Brookman. Texas-born and bred, with the arena in her blood, Melanie’s come to see Wyatt as her personal enemy, and that suits him just fine—this way, she’ll never realize the truth.

He’s been crazy in love with her for years.

Melanie’s always been a fighter. Fiercely independent and tough as nails, she’s stood up to everything that got in her way—including Wyatt. But now her infamous temper’s got her on the ropes, and there’s nowhere left to run but toward the man she swore she’d never trust…and this time, there’s no denying just how hot he makes her burn.

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Author Guest Post

What I Love about Rodeo

There are so many things I love about rodeo that I could—and have—filled several books (aka the Texas Rodeo series). A million tiny details like the scent of wood shavings in a horse stall, the indescribable joy of a perfectly thrown loop, or the way a belt and buckle sets off a nice pair of hips. Lately, though, I’ve come to appreciate a facet of rodeo and life on the ranch that I’ve always taken for granted: rodeo makes women stronger.

Unlike other parts of our society, in rodeo and ranching, strength is a highly prized trait in a woman—both physical and mental. From the time we are old enough to be hoisted onto a pony to trot around the arena, we are praised for being ambitious, competitive, aggressive and independent. We are valued as much for what our bodies can accomplish as we are for our appearance. I might’ve started out by catching my husband’s eye, but I captured his heart the first time he saw me sort cows.

The smart, capable, take-no-crap women of the Texas Rodeo books are products of my environment, and none more so than Melanie Brookman of Fearless in Texas. May every reader who ventures into our world steal a page from her book and leave with a little more cowgirl in their blood—and their attitude.

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Excerpt

Wyatt braced a hand on the front door of the Bull Dancer Saloon, blocking Melanie. “You can’t go back in there.”
She looked at his arm as if debating whether she should bite it or snap it in half. “You think you can stop me?”
“Yes.” He jerked a thumb toward the door and quoted the flyspecked sign posted inside. “I am the proprietor, and we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
Hell. That wasn’t what he’d meant to say, but the sparks that were flying off of her were burying themselves under his skin, kindling fires that threatened to reduce all of his good intentions to ashes. Her mouth dropped open, and he braced himself for some truly spectacular swearing. Instead, she snapped it shut, whirled around, and strode away, her shiny red heels clicking angrily on the empty street.
“Melanie…wait! Could we just talk—”
Her answer was a stiff middle finger shot straight in the air. He took a couple of steps in pursuit, but his ankle made it clear that anything above a sedate stroll was a bad idea, not that he was sure what he’d do if he caught her. Attempting to stop her when she was like this would be like tackling a mountain lion, but if she intended to go to one of the other bars, she was headed the wrong direction.
“Where are you going?”
“To the bridge. It’ll have to do, since I assume you’ll follow me and there’s not a cliff handy.”
He’d already taken several more steps, but he stopped. “The rail is too high.”
“Then I’ll knock you over the head with a rock and roll you off the dike.”
She wouldn’t. Would she? “If you’re going to commit assault and attempted murder, you’ll need your keys to make your getaway.”
She stopped dead and spun around. He held up the keys in one hand and the purse in the other.
She swore and started back toward him. “Don’t think I won’t kick you square in the nuts and stomp on your fingers when you fall.”
“Not a doubt in my mind.” He unlocked the door that led up to her apartment, yanked it open, and threw both the keys and the purse to the top of the stairs before she could reach him. Then he stepped back, feet braced, ready to dodge or deflect any blow aimed at his groin. If Melanie had said it, she was seriously considering it.
She went for the door instead, but paused with her hand on the knob. “If I go in after them, you won’t let me out.”
“Nope.” Although it would take all his strength to hold the door shut if she was determined to push it open, and there was the fire escape…
Her hand dropped, and she turned on him. If it were possible for a stare to be literally cutting, his guts would’ve fallen out onto the street. “What…the hell…is your problem?”
“You.” He gestured toward her painted face, her dress, those damn red shoes. “I know what all of that means, but you’re wrong. And if you would just let me explain—”
“Yes!” She threw her hands in the air like a Baptist preacher. “Please, oh wise and knowing male, tell me how I’m supposed to feel. Better yet, explain why it is that you could leave this place with any of those women you’ve never met before and you get high fives, but if I do the same, I’m an embarrassment to your shitty little bar.”
Despite his vow to remain calm, his temper began to stir. “I did not say—”
“You don’t have to. I grew up in the goddamn Bible Belt. I’ve heard it all my life.” The bitterness in her voice ran generations deep. “Well, sorry, but not sorry. I’m done trying to please anyone but myself. I’ll sleep with who I want, when I want, and y’all can just deal with it.”
Not likely. Wyatt’s anger boiled up, shooting past the red line and straight into fury. Yes, her rage was justified, but she did not get to lump him in with bastards like Michael and her former boss. All he’d ever wanted, from damn near the first moment they’d spoken on the phone, was Melanie, but it was as if the entire universe had conspired against him, and he was so damn tired of fighting this bone-deep need…
He took a step toward her. Then another. She didn’t budge, but her eyes flicked toward the apartment door as if reconsidering her choices.
He leaned in close, his breath fanning her cheek, his voice low and lethal even to his own ears. “Is that what you want? Just someone with a pulse you can use up and toss out when you’re done?”
He heard her swallow, but she didn’t flinch. “Why shouldn’t I? Men have been doing it forever.”
“Yes, we have.”
He gathered a fistful of her hair and wound the warm silk around and around his hand until his knuckles were pressed to the nape of her neck. Her breath caught at the electric press of skin against skin, and her eyes went even darker. The line he’d held for so long had been crossed. He was beyond stopping—unless she made him.
“As long as you’re determined to do something you’ll hate yourself for in the morning, it might as well be with me.” And then he kissed her.
And instead of shoving him away, Melanie clenched both hands in his shirt and yanked him closer.

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Buy Links

KindleAmazon Paperback

Amazon Series Link

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Giveaway

Two bundles of the Texas Rodeo Series 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents’ bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Spotlight, Review & Giveaway: SIT, STAY, LOVE (Rescue Me) by Debbie Burns

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SIT, STAY, LOVE (Rescue Me Series, Book 2) by Debbie Burns

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

D7A33FE2-255D-4D9C-9741-03B2526747DAThese dogs aren’t the only ones in need of rescue

For devoted no-kill shelter worker Kelsey Sutton, rehabbing a group of rescue dogs is a welcome challenge. Working with a sexy ex-military dog handler who needs some TLC himself? That’s a different story.

Kurt Crawford keeps his heart locked away from everyone. Well, everyone except the dogs who need his help…and always have his back. But as Kurt gets to know the compassionate, beautiful woman he’s been assigned to work with, he can’t help but feel a little puppy love…

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Donna review 4.5 stars

This is a lovely, light romance with a cast of varied personalities and emotions. There is no real drama to tense you up, yet it never got boring or saccharine. Kurt may have seemed a bit too standoffish at first, and Kelsey too naively optimistic, but it all worked. It was real people, real life and real love woven around rescued dogs. I enjoyed this feel-good story.

*Review copy provided by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

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Excerpt

It had been years since Kurt had felt genuine peace slip over him after the sun sank below the horizon and stars studded the sky. In Afghanistan and in the jungles of Honduras, he’d rarely been able to relax, even on nights when he was tucked in a bunk and crowded with the sounds and smells of other marines and a handful of dogs not far away. He hadn’t expected to be able to do so here either.
But the calm cradled his skin despite the surprise that accompanied it.
Standing under the stars, Kurt set his beer on the table and headed into the screened-in half of the porch. The pregnant Rottweiler let out a whine as he approached. Kelsey had taken her outside an hour or so before after making sure she ate a plentiful dinner.
Kurt hooked a leash onto the dog’s collar and led her around the yard long enough to ensure she was calm and obedient, then asked her to sit on command before letting her off leash. Once free from its confines, the Rott—Pepper, as Kelsey was calling her—gave her massive head a shake and trotted off into the yard. Kurt headed back onto the porch for his beer.
Taking a swig of beer, Kurt eyed the silhouette of an owl standing watch on an exposed branch of an enormous oak tree at the back of the yard. If Kurt hadn’t been outside when it let out a series of soft, low hoots, he wouldn’t have known the owl was there. It seemed to be watching the dog sniff around the dark yard as if it had come across an interloper in its nightly hunting spot.
A cool, gentle breeze swept over Kurt’s skin. He was thankful to no longer be living in sweltering lands. The dry oven that was the desert, and the wet, stifling tropics. He wondered how long it would be before he forgot the sensation of the heat rising off the desert sand late at the night as if he were holding his hand over a radiator. Or standing guard in the jungle at night, listening to the howler monkeys crossing the tree canopy while he scoped openings in the thick tropical forest for insurgents. One night he’d spotted a small, wild ocelot hunting at the edge of the base. About the size of a slender coyote, it had unusually large eyes and a sleek coat with spots and stripes.
As he was thinking about it, a very different feline stalked into view. Mr. Longtail. Who knew where the unusual cat had been this evening, but he was headed confidently toward the Rott, in full view of the owl. The enormous Maine coon was too big to ever end up dinner to an owl, but Kurt wasn’t so sure about the off-leash Rott. Setting down his beer, he whistled confidently.
Pepper—the name was sticking even though naming these dogs would create unnecessary emotional attachment—pricked up her ears and looked his way.
“Come here, girl,” Kurt called, half holding his breath as the cat trotted directly into the dog’s path. Like earlier this afternoon, Pepper didn’t disappoint. She dropped into a play bow and woofed. Mr. Longtail stopped mid-step as the hair along his back and tail stood out stick straight. As if he’d had no idea a dog was capable of such a baritone woof. Pepper didn’t seem to notice. She sniffed the cat all over, nudging his hind end off the ground with her strong head.
Kurt emptied his pocket of treats for her. Mr. Longtail followed, walking underneath her, straight to Kurt’s legs to rub against his jeans. The cat meowed, and Kurt was surprised to hear a deep, thrumming purr radiating from his chest.
After getting Pepper back in her kennel, Kurt headed into the kitchen, Mr. Longtail following. He fed the cat and helped himself to a slice of cold pizza. He considered hunting down a notebook and pen and making a to-do list of all the items bouncing around his head, but even if he could find a pen and a notebook, he doubted he’d get halfway through writing the list before becoming distracted. Experience had proven he could tackle projects of almost any size, but he couldn’t make a list to save himself. So instead, he dove into repairs of the Sabrina Raven estate the way he did everything else—focusing on whatever came to the front of his thoughts.
He sorted through a bulky metal toolbox for all the flooring nails he could find. “Come on, cat,” Kurt said to the watchful Mr. Longtail. He slipped the nails into his pocket and fisted the hammer, heading out of the kitchen. “You and I could likely use each other’s company. Let’s see if I can get those stairs to be a bit less of a hazard so I can make it up to one of those old feather beds you’ve been sleeping on.”
With a twitch of his tail, the cat followed him out of the kitchen, and Kurt suspected he was on the way to making an unlikely friend.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

Amazon Series Link

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Giveaway

Enter to win one of five copies of A New Leash on Love by Debbie Burns!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Debbie Burns lives in St. Louis with her family, two phenomenal rescue dogs, and a somewhat tetchy Maine coon cat who everyone loves anyway. Her hobbies include hiking, gardening, and daydreaming, which, of course, always leads to new story ideas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Spotlight, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway: EVERY DEEP DESIRE by Sharon Wray

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EVERY DEEP DESIRE (Deadly Force Series, Book 1) by Sharon Wray

Publication Date: March 6, 2018 

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Synopsis

5CA92AE3-FC4E-409A-93BC-381624835237He’s taking it all back

His honor, his freedom, and the woman he loves

Rafe Montfort was a decorated Green Beret, the best of the best, until a disastrous mission and an unforgivable betrayal destroyed his life. Now, this deadly soldier has returned to the sultry Georgia swamps to reunite with his brothers, and take back all he lost. But Juliet must never know the truth behind what he’s done…or the dangerous secret that threatens to take him from her forever.

It took Juliet Capel eight long years to put her life back together after her husband was taken from her. Now Rafe is back, determined to protect her at any cost, and it’s not just her heart that’s in danger. The swamps hold a secret long buried and far deadlier than either of them could have imagined…

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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Author Guest Post

Dear Readers,

As an author, I both love and fear release days. I’m thrilled that the book I’ve spent years on is entering the world, ready to find readers. Yet terrified because the fictional world I’ve spent so much time in—dreaming about, thinking of, planning for—is no longer my own.

The story and everything in it, especially the characters, now belong to you. All the feels you experience, whether I intended them or not, will be filtered through your own life’s events. Your memories, your dreams, your joys, and losses will determine what you take away from the story. And that’s the way it should be.

Yet, while reader reactions are completely out of my control, it’s also scary. Especially when one makes changes to the genre. Every Deep Desire, and the other books in the Deadly Force series, are all romantic suspense stories—yet they’re also different. And we all know how the world feels about change.

The Deadly Force series is about a group of ex-Green Berets, under the command of Colonel Kells Torridan, who were charged with a crime they didn’t commit and dishonorably discharged despite their innocence. Some of the men from the unit are in prison, but the men in the series, including Kells, are living in Savannah, GA, managing Iron Rack’s, a run-down, pirate-themed gym in a not-so-nice part of town, and working as bouncers at a goth strip club. They’re hiding in plain sight, teaching Krav Maga classes, tossing drunks, desperate to find any information that can lead them to who destroyed their lives, and why.

But these books aren’t just about the men and their weapons. They are also romances. To be more specific, each love story is a retelling of one of Shakespeare’s greatest love stories. Just add in sexy, down-and-out Green Berets, dangerous arms dealers, and strong heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

Every Deep Desire, a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet and first in the Deadly Force series, is about Rafe Montfort and Juliet Capel. Rafe, a man in Kells’s unit, left his men and his wife to join the Prince and his Fianna army only to end up in prison. Now, eight years later, Rafe finds himself released without explanation. His only clue is a note telling him to return to the remote sea island off the coast of Savannah where he and Juliet grew up. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that his wife Juliet, the woman he’s adored his entire life, is in danger.

Juliet, a landscape architect, has struggled for eight years to recover from Rafe’s abandonment and disappearance. Their early marriage had been a disaster both their families had warned them about, but they’d been too young and too in love to understand. Now she’s determined to live her life on her own terms without help from anyone. And the last thing she needs is her ex-husband returning home with vague warnings of danger.

But when vague warnings become real threats, Rafe and Juliet realize that both of their enemies, the Prince and Remiel Marigny, know a 17th century secret about the Isle where they both grew up, a secret both of their families have kept for hundreds of years. Now, in order to figure out why an army of assassins, a brutal gun runner, and a team of ex-Green Berets are interested in Juliet’s ancestor—a Puritan woman accused of witchcraft—Rafe and Juliet must face their past together.

Now they’re running out of time. And not only is Juliet’s heart and Rafe’s freedom in jeopardy, the secret they uncover is far deadlier than anyone could’ve realized.

I hope you all enjoy this first book in the Deadly Forces series. It’s a world where sexy, smart heroines must teach these ex-Green Berets bent on redemption that physical strength and combat experience isn’t always enough to win. Sometimes a person’s greatest weapon—true courage—comes from seeking forgiveness and accepting love.

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Excerpt

Juliet’s house had disappeared.
Rafe Montfort scrubbed a hand over his face. A strangling ache invaded his chest, filling the empty space that once held his heart. He shifted the Army duffel he’d shouldered for the past six miles, moving the burn from one arm to the other. Why had he assumed her father’s trailer would still be standing? That she’d be living there? Waiting for him?
Because he wasn’t only a bastard who made assumptions. He was a fool who once believed the Prince’s brutal goals justified Rafe’s ruthless actions.
Or, as Escalus used to say, “a fool whose violent delights have violent ends.”
Summer cicadas hummed in the Isle of Grace’s surrounding woods, their mournful drone filling Rafe’s head with rhythmic disapproval. Sweat soaked his T-shirt, pooling low in his back above his waistband. Where he used to keep his gun.
He wasn’t just a bastard. He wasn’t just a fool. He just wasn’t the man he’d once hoped to become. With a nod to his broken past, he left the overgrown property and headed home.
Keep it moving, Montfort. That’s right. One boot in front of the other.
He kicked an empty beer bottle into a ditch, shattering the brown glass, and marched toward Pops’s trailer tucked between the towering Georgia pines a half mile down the Isle’s dirt road. He’d given up his honor, his wife, his men. Thank God his mother had died before he betrayed everyone he loved. In the years he’d been away, he hadn’t just cut out his heart; he’d sold his soul.
Despite the breeze, questions about Juliet’s departure burned his blood.
Why had she left? He climbed the pine steps to the deck alongside the double-wide.
Where’d she go? He jumped the last two steps to avoid the missing planks.
Did she ever think of him? The Capels had arrived on the Isle long before the American Revolution. It’d never occurred to him that her family would leave. For eight long years, he’d been counting on that.
His duffel landed with a thud next to an outboard motor and buckets of fishing gear. He rubbed the knotted muscles in his shoulder and faced the broken screen door. His vision faded until all he could see was the blurry mesh.
What the hell was he doing? Why had he even come home? Because he’d had no choice. Everything depended on him remembering that. With renewed determination, he raised his fist and hit the metal door.
No answer. He closed his eyes, took another breath, and knocked again.
Juliet’s family was gone. Had his left as well?
He heard a banging around back, pulled out his leather jacket, and covered the tattoos on his arms. He’d rather die of heat stroke than start an argument. Then he jumped over the deck rail. His combat boots made it easier to walk through the tall weeds to the red barn a hundred yards behind the trailer. Three times larger than the home, the barn and surrounding yard held remnants of every American classic car ever made.
Everything stood as if he’d never left, except for the cell boost antenna on the barn’s roof. From the height and distance, it probably provided a cell signal the width and depth of Pops’s property. Pops had joined the twenty-first century? Maybe miracles were possible.
He drew closer and saw his daddy’s gray head bobbing up and down beneath the hood of a black 1958 Chevy Impala. He stopped on the other side of the car and exhaled until his lungs ached. “Pops?”
His dad raised his head, his eyes squinting. “Who’s there?”
“It’s me. Rafe.”
A man, shorter than he remembered, stood. In a stained red T-shirt and overalls with one strap hanging down, his father waited a few moments before nodding. At least he wasn’t holding a beer. Or his shotgun.
Rafe waved at the car. “She’s a real beauty. She yours?”
“No.” Pops wiped his dirty hands on an oily rag, and Rafe focused on the remaining finger on his father’s right hand. He’d given the other four to the Marines. “She belongs to your brother.”
“Good for him.”
Pops tossed the rag onto the engine and gripped the side of the Chevy’s frame. His hard stare took in Rafe’s leather jacket in what had to be triple-digit heat. “What you doin’ here, boy?”
He held out his hand. A hug would only be an invitation to an ass-kicking. “The Army released me from prison.”
“Released?” His father picked up a dirty wrench, his face brown beneath a haircut the Corps would salute. “What the hell for? Good behavior?”
“No, sir.” He dropped his hand. If disapproval were a color, it would be the dark, muddy brown in his father’s grim gaze. “I don’t know why.”
Since he’d spent two years in a Russian jail and then the last nine months locked in isolation in Leavenworth, he wasn’t sure what to think. “I was told to return to Savannah and wait for a call.”
While it went against every one of his hard-earned instincts urging him to run, he’d come home to find out what the hell was going on. Besides, it wasn’t like he had anyplace else to go.
“You still a sergeant?”
A sharp ache hit Rafe’s back molars, and he eased off the teeth grinding. On his left, he noticed a band of magnolia trees surrounding a white glory cross. He shoved his hands into his jacket pockets and forced himself to meet his father’s reproach. “I don’t know what I am.” Sergeant? Prisoner 061486? The Prince’s warrior? Hell if he knew.
“I know what you are,” Pops said. “Damn traitor. Not to mention adulterer, liar, thief.”
Rafe’s exhale sounded more like a hiss. While he wasn’t all of those things, he’d done other things—worse things. “I was also dishonorably discharged.”

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About the Author

Version 3Sharon Wray is a librarian/archivist who studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes stories of adventure, suspense, and love. She’s a three-time Daphne du Maurier® winner and an eight-time RWA Golden Heart® Finalist. She lives with her super-hero husband and teenage twins in Northern Virginia.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Giveaway

3 Copies of EVERY DEEP DESIRE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Spotlight, Q&A & Excerpt: THE FIRST KISS OF SPRING by Emily March

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THE FIRST KISS OF SPRING: An Eternity Springs Novel by Emily March

Publication Date: February 27, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

2B70D747-8A2C-4E6A-A88D-888A624A5DA3Spring has come to Eternity Springs in The First Kiss of Spring, the newest installment in this New York Times bestselling series by Emily March.

Life could be a dream…

Goal-oriented and gorgeous, Caitlin Timberlake’s dreams took her to the top of the corporate ladder in New York City. Now years later, her goals have changed. She wants to come home to Eternity Springs and build a business and a family of her own—with the new man in town. So what if sexy mechanic Josh Tarkington wants nothing more than a fling? Caitlin is a patient woman who knows how to work hard and strategize to win what she desires. She desires Josh. Unfortunately, he has other plans.

If only things were different…

Josh craves Caitlin and all she has to offer. However, he is a man with secrets. He has worked hard to overcome his tragic past, but he’s afraid to risk having a future because he knows trouble is never very far away. When a selfless act brings that trouble to his door, he stands to lose everything he cares about—including Caitlin. Will her love and the healing magic of Eternity Springs be enough to save him?

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Excerpt

Read Chapter One Here

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Q: Beautiful cover! What’s the inspiration for it? Can you tell us a little about how it plays into the plot of the book?

A: The art started with the title on this book. It’s a story about recovery and rebirth, so we wanted to show a scene that reflects the hope and renewal of spring. It took a few tries to get just the right mix of snow and flowers, but I’m thrilled with how the cover turned out.

Q: What inspired the plot of this book? 

A: Eternity Springs is where broken hearts go to heal, and every book explores some aspect of emotional healing. The title, THE FIRST KISS OF SPRING, came to me first, so I set about developing a plot that fit the idea of rebirth and renewal.

Q: How do you make your characters, plots and scenes so vivid? Do you plan everything out in advance or do you let your writing surprise you?

A: When I’m writing, character development and scene setting comes naturally to me. I truly lose myself in the story world—that’s the joy of writing for me. Since I’m fifteen books into the series, the world is well established and defined. My problem is remembering what I’ve written about the world in the past! To help, I keep a detailed “bible” about the people and places in Eternity Springs.

I start with a bare bones plot that always changes substantially during the writing of the book.

Q: I have also read A Stardance Summer and I love your writing. Do you have any tips for those of us who would someday like to publish what they write and improve their writing? Any tips for romance writers especially?

A: My number one piece of advice is to read, read, read, and then read some more. I think writers can absorb a lot about pacing and plot and characterization from reading. I think you should read a variety of fiction, too, not only romance. Every genre has something to teach you.

Q: What’s your favorite scene in this book? Why? 

A: I love the meet in THE FIRST KISS OF SPRING. It’s different from anything I’ve written before and that’s always fun.

Q: If you could travel anywhere where would it be? 

A: My husband and I have a big anniversary this year, so we spent some time discussing our dream trip. After much debate, we decided that instead of taking one long, exotic trip we’d take a series of shorter, domestic trips throughout the year. So, my “anywhere” is somewhere in the U.S that I’ve always wanted to visit but for one reason or another haven’t. For example, one of our trips is to Yellowstone.

Q: Any plans for more books? What are you working on currently? We’d love to read more from you! 

A: I have just turned in the next book in the Eternity Springs series, THE CHRISTMAS WISHING TREE, which comes out October 2nd. So, right now, I’m on vacation—and getting ready to take one of those anniversary trips.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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About the Author

53D3159B-691A-4514-BFD5-CFC309929A4FEmily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM

Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: HIGHLAND CONQUEST by Alyson McLayne

D32F608B-5CFA-412E-9BD8-51DFC9A9A15A HIGHLAND CONQUEST (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod Series, Book 2) by Alyson McLayne

Publication Date: February 6, 2018 

Genre: Historical Romance  

Synopsis

DDE2B59F-1183-4685-B89B-4A5831186572HE WAS LOOKING FOR VENGEANCE
INSTEAD HE FOUND HER

Laird Lachlan MacKay never planned on leading his clan, but when his older brother was murdered, he was left with no choice. His vow to avenge his brother has led him to the MacPherson clan—and their bewitching healer, Amber.

Amber MacPherson is desperate. Dressed as a boy to escape her clan’s treacherous leader, she runs right into Lachlan—who orders her detained. At first she causes him nothing but frustration, especially when she blackmails him into helping her clan. But when she’s threatened by the same man who murdered his brother, Lachlan will do whatever it takes to keep her safe—and by his side.

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Cori 4.5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this highlander romance. HIGHLAND CONQUEST is the second book in Alyson McLayne’s The Sons of Gregor MacLeod Series, but it can be read as a standalone. I’m a huge fan of highlander heroes and this book definitely satisfied my obsession. HIGHLAND CONQUEST captured and held my attention. It was a good mix of danger, passion, humor and romance. This is the first book I have read by Alyson McLayne and I’ll definitely be reading more. I have the first book on my kindle and I added the next release to my TBR. I recommend this series for historical romance lovers looking for their next highlander fix.

*Review copy provided by Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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Amazon Series Link

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Author Guest Post

February is fast approaching, and with it come several big events in my life. Not only do my kids turn 6 at the end of the month, but on the actual 6th, my historical romance, HIGHLAND CONQUEST—book 2 in my series THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD—releases to the world! This is a book I can’t wait to hit the stands. The love story between Amber and Lachlan is one of my favorites. Amber is the MacPherson healer who’s had to pretend to be a witch in order to stay safe from her depraved laird while she heals her people. Lachlan’s the laird of his own clan who attacks the MacPhersons in order to bring their laird to justice for killing Lachlan’s brother. When the MacPherson laird escapes, Amber blackmails Lachlan into sticking around and helping her people. She’s outspoken and strong-willed and doesn’t hold anything back in her dealings with her new laird. Lachlan doesn’t hold back, either, and the two of them begin a tumultuous relationship that dances around their physical and mental attraction and drives both of them just a wee bit batty.

February also brings us Valentine’s Day, a favorite holiday of many romance readers! So I decided to celebrate the release of HIGHLAND CONQUEST on February 6th, and Valentine’s Day eight days later, by revealing my top 6 favorite romance couples of all time!

1. Anne & Gilbert

When I was ten-years-old, my mom gave me the first three Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I got hooked on Anne’s adventures and all the different characters in Avonlea, including her nemesis, Gilbert Blythe. When they first meet, Gilbert pulls Anne’s braid and teases her about her red hair, calling her “carrots”. She responds by smashing her slate over his head. Thus the relationship between Anne and Gilbert is born, and a rivalry and enmity develops between them that takes years for them to overcome. Along the way Anne refuses Gilbert’s declaration of love and almost becomes engaged to another man. But finally she realizes she loves Gilbert too, and wishes with all her heart that he’ll say the words again. Which he does, bringing me my first ever Happily Ever After—warm fuzzies and a heartfelt sigh included.

2. Arwen & Aragorn

Just saying those names leaves me sighing and feeling a little teary and mushy inside (in a good way!). Theirs is a romance for the ages, portrayed beautifully by Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson’s filmed adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Arwen, daughter of Lord Elrond of Rivendell, is an immortal elf who falls in love with the mortal Aragorn, heir of Isildur and rightful claimant to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor. In order to be together, Arwen has to give up her immortality and know that she will only die after Aragorn has died. Aragorn tries to dissuade her from being with him, but Arwen will not be swayed, saying: “I would rather share one lifetime with you, than face all the ages of this world alone.” Sigh…

3. Mac & Barrons

If I had to pick a book boyfriend it would be Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. He. Makes. Me. Shiver—in a good way. He is the epitome of Alpha—strong, dominant, smart, whose only saving grace is that Mac is his everything…even if she doesn’t yet know it. There is no greater bad boy in my opinion. You just know that his reserve and icy control shields a raging inferno beneath. When Mac & Barrons finally get together at the end of book four (and yes, I do know they were together when she was Priya, but that doesn’t count), it’s like he unleashes himself on her. He devours her and she devours him right back. And what makes their love story even twistier, adding more layers to their relationship through the first four books, is discovering in a later book (Burned, I think) that Jericho Barrons and MacKayla Lane have done the wild deed once before—all night long—and Barrons used magic to erase Mac’s memory of it. Bad. Boy. And here’s the other thing I love… they still call each other Barrons and Miss Lane, same as they always did, unless they’re having sex or in near-death situations. Then it’s Jericho and Mac.

4. Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy

How can I write a list about my favorite couples and not include Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the first classic novels that I read and I kept the book in my backpack for many months reading it over and over, when I was at university. Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth about halfway through the story is a shock because he’s been nothing but aloof and haughty toward her and her family—in fact, the proposal is filled with condescension about Elizabeth’s lack of social position and wealth compared to his, and he claims it’s an obstacle his love has had to overcome. The scene where Elizabeth rejects him is a favorite of mine—especially the rain-soaked version between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. What I love about this scene, is that Mr. Darcy is undone by her. He takes her opinion of him to heart, even though some of her accusations against him are unfounded. She opens his eyes to his lack of kindness and grace and it changes him for the better—makes him into a man that Elizabeth could love.

5. Han & Leia

I contemplated putting Han Solo and Princess Leia at the top of the list. My brother took me to see Star Wars when it first came out, so technically they were the first couple I met—but at seven, I was too young to truly appreciate the sigh-worthiness of Han and Leia. This is a romance that builds…and builds…and builds amidst verbal sparring and sarcastic jabs until finally near the end of The Empire Strikes Back they kiss—just before Han is yanked away from Leia and frozen alive in carbonite.  Irrepressible bad boy that he is, when Leia says a heartfelt, “I love you,” as they’re securing Han for freezing, Han looks back at her and simply says, “I know.” Gets me every time.

6. Claire and Jamie

Seeing as I write Highlander romance (and love Highlander romance—big shout out to some of my favorites: Julie Garwood, Monica McCarty, and Karen Marie Moning!) it would be impossible for me NOT to include Claire and Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s created this unforgettable, iconic romance between Jamie and Claire all wrapped up in some of the most interesting and tumultuous times in Scottish history. I’m going to choose to focus on book three, Voyager, for one big reason: the REUNION. Le sigh. You begin the book, knowing that Claire and Jamie will reunite after so many years apart, and then you have to wait…and wait. Or was I the only one who didn’t jump ahead? Finally, Claire walks into Jamie’s shop, and they kiss, but we still have to wait as Jamie grabs the drunken Mr. Willoughby from the pub, gets chased, and takes Claire back to a whore house, before…the moment. It starts with an awkward kiss and nose bump before Jamie takes control and says to Claire, “Give me your mouth, Sassenach.” Excuse me while I melt.

Do you like my list? Did I miss any of your favorites? Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my top 6 favorite romance couples!

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Giveaway

2 Copies of HIGHLAND CONQUEST

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

CFC9B66B-E33F-4D45-B4B6-EE2D9786BD25A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: THE LAST WOLF by Maria Vale

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THE LAST WOLF (The Legend of All Wolves Series, Book 1) by Maria Vale

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis

B20AF3DE-2270-43C0-B517-1815CCA45346For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.

If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die.
But if she stays…

Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack’s social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn’t all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

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Giveaway

2 Copies of THE LAST WOLF

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Author Guest Post

LETTER TO THE READER

Dear (Potential) Reader,
There is so much vying for your attention, I’m grateful you’ve read even this far.
I know I’m asking a lot from you.
I’m asking you to take time with a new writer when there are so many great ones already out there.
I’m asking you to take a chance on a new direction in a well-loved genre, in which the wolf is not a vicious beast to be subjugated and feared, but rather the human form is a useful tool for protecting the wilder self.
In this reworking, werewolves fall into two categories: Pack, who must be wolves for three days out of every thirty—self-aware wolves, but not magic, any bullet can kill them. And Shifters, who don’t have to change and so remain human, the apex predator, rather than wolf, the maligned and despised outsider.
Still like any romance, its foundation is in the growing love between two characters: the worldly half-Shifter Tiberius who hates the wolf inside him as bestial and monstrous. And the unworldly Silver, who is fully Pack and believes her wild self to be sacred.
Silver is a runt with a displaced hip when she is a wolf and in a society that determines position by fighting wild, this means she is at the bottom of the hierarchy—the last wolf. Tiberius, however, discovers real strength in her perseverance and fierceness. For her part, Silver recognizes something about him: that by denying his wild, Tiberius has sown the roots of despair.
But this is not only a love story between two people, it’s also a love story about the Great North Pack, because despite our fascination with lone wolves, it is the pack that really defines this most social of all animals.
I imagined the Great North as something beyond family or community, something tight- knit and loving and brave and frightened. And intensely vulnerable. I imagined, like most embattled societies, the pack would be very conservative, with a traditional culture, a history, a language that was part of its identity. I chose to base that culture loosely (very loosely) on the world of 9th century England, partly because I love the sound of the language of Beowulf. To me, it is gruff and beautiful and haunting, like a wolf’s howl. But also because 9th century England was a place of great insecurity. One never knew when Northmen might show up and destroy everything you loved.
It was the Great North’s first Alpha, Ælfrida, who forced her pack to change. With humans decimating the forests of England, she dragged her pack from the Old World to the vast forests of northern New York, she re-wrote laws in order to allow new wolves to join their bloodlines, she forced her wolves to leave their isolated territories, so that they could learn human ways and protect the Pack using human law.
What results is a society that is both human and decidedly not, both harsh and loving, severe and tender. The way I imagined wolves fighting daily for their lives would be.
I have loved every minute of researching and writing these books. I can only hope that you will enjoy reading them.
Stay wild,
Maria

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Excerpt

The day of the first waxing crescent of fall is when all of the wolves who live on the Homelands traditionally run the perimeter and make sure that our land is properly marked before the ground freezes and damaged posts become hard to replace.
The entire Pack is wild. Barking and wagging tails, they lick each other and jump around each other, their ferocious jaws open and gentle. They chase mice through windrows, their hind legs scratching leaves into a brightly colored explosion high in the air, so that the pups can twist and turn and catch them in snapping teeth as they spiral down.
Not me. I have to pull on heavy muck boots over thick socks with jeans shoved inside. And I won’t mark our territory the way wolves are supposed to. I will mark it on an iPhone 6 Plus, crammed into the big pocket of a thick orange vest. All because Ti refuses to phase and John doesn’t like it.
“He tells himself he’s human,” John says. “But if he lies to himself, what makes you think he’s not going to lie to us?”
So because I am Ti’s schildere, I have to stay in skin too. Keep an eye on him.
“I mean, what were you thinking?” I ask as Ti fits the Outlast cap over his clipped skull. “When you came to a bunch of wolves asking for protection. That you’d just keep on being a human? Was that your grand plan?”
“I didn’t have a grand plan. What I had was a hole in my stomach, a vague set of directions to my mother’s pack, and a need to survive. I changed long enough to fight; I never thought you’d be asking me to give up my humanity.”
“No one’s asking you to give up your humanity, but if you refuse to admit what you are, it is going to rise up and bite you in the ass.”
“Well, how about you?”
Me? I love changing. I—”
“I know you love changing. You do it all the time. The second Sten doesn’t need your thumbs, you evaporate, and there’s nothing left but clothes hanging from a branch. I may be a crappy wolf. But you… You’re a crappy human.”
I cringe, because he’s right. I’ve never been happy in skin, but then those stupid fire fairies burrowed into my body all those days ago, and that spark has caught fire and burns so fierce that now when I walk beside him and hear his quiet, low voice or look into those gold-flecked black eyes, my tendons strain and my muscles coil and my lungs open up and my blood beats hot and fast. The only way I know how to deal with need is to run hard and far until I collapse, unable to feel anything at all.
A brindle pup barks worriedly at my feet. All of the other wolves have disappeared, fading like a whisper in the woods.
“I know, Leelee. We’re coming.”
“She’s going with us?” Ti asks.
“We’re supposed to take her along. Help her learn the farther reaches of the Homelands.” Leelee scampers on ahead, leaping awkwardly over a huge downed log and sliding down the other side, her fur covered in the sooty brown decay.
Ti clears it in one stride and stands close, not helping me exactly, but I know if I falter, his big shoulder is there for me to grab on to. I make it by myself, but I appreciate his silent gesture.
Leelee watches, her head cocked to the side, as I take a running jump over one of the numerous small, mucky streams that crisscross our land. I slip down the other side, my foot sinking into a soft bruise in the moss. She yips and worries, waiting for me to pull my boot out with a dull sucking sound.
I lift her up and give her an open-jawed kiss on her ear, but she sees a squirrel and won’t stop squirming until I set her down.
“No farther than the Stones, Leelee.”
When we finally catch up, she’s clambering over the variously sized rocks that form rough circles around the ancient central stones. Over the years, the circle has encroached farther and farther into the forest, surrounding the trees.
Leelee marks one of the stones.
“What is this?” Ti asks.
“It’s, um…the Gemyndstow? The memory place? But we just call it the Stones.”
“Like a graveyard?”
“Graveyards are for bodies, aren’t they?”
“Yes.”
“So, no. Coyotes eat our dead. That’s why we call them wulfbyrgenna. Wolf tombs. The stones are only for wolf names and the date of their last hunt so that we can remember.”
When Ti crouches down and looks at one near the front, Leelee runs up to him and looks too, trying to figure out why it is so interesting.
As soon as he stands, she marks that one too.
An ill-advised squirrel runs across the outer rim of the Stones, and Leelee turns quickly to run after it, the wind tickling her fur and the scent in her nose. I know that feeling of taking it all in—moldering pine needles, owl pellets, borer beetle, tree sap, two-year-old porcupine den, sassafras bush—until the scent of prey hits you right in the back of the throat and everything tenses and you chase, even if your tummy’s little and full and all you really want is for the thing, whatever it is, to escape so you don’t have to eat it, but still you can’t help but hunt.
She peels off after her squirrel, looking behind to make sure we’re watching.
The squirrel chitters at her from the safety of a maple. Ti stares, his hands fisted by his sides, as Leelee scampers and bounds and falls on her back and twists her little legs in the air, her belly dotted with leaf litter. A tiny furrow cuts through his usually impassive brow, and his mouth, while still tightly closed, turns down a little at the corners. His wild—that seductive scent of crushed bone and evergreen—radiates thicker now, and when I touch his arm, he jolts as if from a waking dream and blinks down at me, looking in this moment like a lost boy.

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About the Author

2519C8DF-822E-41D5-9F32-6809592F1626Maria Vale is a journalist who has worked for Publishers Weekly, Glamour magazine, Redbook, the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is a logophile and a bibliovore and a worrier about the world. Trained as a medievalist, she tries to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don’t really need it. She currently lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet. Visit her at https://www.mariavale.com/.

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Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: The Power of a SEAL by Anne Elizabeth

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The Power of a SEAL (West Coast Navy SEALs, #5) by Anne Elizabeth

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Synopsis

15A9A3C8-FFA6-4A5F-B028-82D4B03A7E07With over two decades of experience, Navy SEAL Leaper Lefton is bringing his expertise to young and impressionable SEAL trainees in BUD/s. As an instructor, he knows he must prepare them for all kinds of situations—and there’s a perfect opportunity for hands-on training when he spots a woman in danger in rough water. Kerry Hamilton, a marine mammal veterinarian for the U.S. Navy is beyond grateful when Leaper saves her from the rough seas, and their attraction is instant. But after everything Leaper has been through, can he truly love again? And is Kerry willing to give him the chance?

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback 

West Coast Navy SEALs Series

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Author Guest Post

Anne Elizabeth’s favorite holiday traditions

ORNAMENTS AND REMEMBRANCES

Opening holiday storage boxes is an emotional experience. We carefully unwrap childhood trinkets, handmade ornaments, craft projects, old pictures, weathered stockings, and scented candles. Even as the wood in the fireplace snaps and crackles, emitting small plumes of smoke, we carefully fill the surfaces of the living room, every table, chair, and couch with our mementoes. Putting together an old recycled Christmas tree and placing the cool-lights around, we place the ornaments together.

For my husband and me, this has become a time of heartbreaking sorrows and soul-touching moments, remembering those who have passed or those who have become physically or mentally more fragile. We honor these precious souls by decorating ornaments with their names, quotes, or pictures to honor each spirit with a unique creation and then we place it on the tree. It does not erase the pain, but it helps us celebrate treasured souls and share experiences about what these individuals have meant to us.

As we dim the lights and plug in the tree, we are grateful for each opportunity to love. Every day is a gift, whether it is for a brief moment or a lifetime, it adds to life’s journey. From our home to yours: May your holiday season be blessed with health, happiness, and delight, and may peace and joy flourish.

Do you have handmade ornaments? Do you treasure them? And, how do you remember those who have passed?

TIME

During the holidays, music fills the house. Some of our favorite singers are Eartha Kitt and Nat King Cole. The holiday classics make us nostalgic, and I love those times when my husband pulls me into his arms and dances with me. Oh, to dwell in those romantic moments, as we cuddle close and move slowly to the rhythm. This harmonious connection chases away every thought, except for one–being together. As my husband nuzzles my neck, I smile musing on the fact that this is my all-time favorite part of the holidays. Being together. Connection and music, whether it comes from the stereo or from our hearts, this time is the best gift of all.

Is there something special you do with your mate, a friend, or family member?

HOLIDAY SENSATIONS

On Christmas Eve, it’s a tradition in our home to make hot cider. I’ll pull out the chipped crockpot with the broken handle. After rinsing the detachable bowl and top, I’ll add fresh cider, granny smith apple slices (leaving the skin on), the peel of half of a lemon and the entire peel of a whole orange. Then I’ll add three cinnamon sticks, a dash of allspice, and anise, and as soon as it heats to a boil I’ll add a tablespoon of maple syrup. After stirring in the syrup for a full minute, I turn the heat down to warm and prepare to serve it about twenty minutes later. The scent of mulled-goodness fills the room as I make popcorn with real butter and a dash of pink salt. It might not be the most gourmet approach, but for us, the taste sensations are delicious. Have a blessed holiday season!

Are there any special recipes that you make during the holiday season?

RAISE YOUR VOICE

Holiday songs remind me of my childhood. Attending church with my parents and brother, and listening to the exuberance with which the congregation sang inspired intense warmth and comfort. Voices lifted in song varied from out-of-key to perfectly pitched tones, and it was wondrous! Each individual contributed to the joy as we created these beautiful sounds together.

After services, most of the congregation was full of cheer and would hurry outside for hot cocoa or tea. With cups in hand, we walked as a group down to the live action crèche. It was here that we sang the last Christmas song of the night, Away In The Manger. Of course, the goats bleated and donkeys brayed along with the clucking chickens and mooing cow; and all the sounds blended together. To this day, I still wonder if the animals were commenting or singing along.

Do you have a special holiday song, and why is it a favorite?

SNOWFLAKES

Living in Southern California, snow is a rarity. In Julian, we see snowstorms now and then, but nothing can compare to the snow seen in the rest of the United States. Yet, we are full of glee the moment a flake drops from the sky. I always rush outside and turn my face upward in hope of tasting the first snowflake. When I was little, I believed that each snowflake tasted differently, because my brother said that this was so. Even though, I’m all grown-up now, in my imagination I still pretend that there are sorts of unique flavors out there, and I’ll keep catching snowflakes in remembrance of him.

Are you ever tempted to catch snowflakes on your tongue? What’s your favorite childhood winter memory?

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Giveaway

5 Copies of The Power of a SEAL

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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About the author

97BCC795-2BDD-4174-8FF6-00036C9D1552Anne Elizabeth is a romance author, comic creator, and a monthly columnist for RT Book Reviews magazine. With a BS in Business and MS in Communications from Boston University, she is a regular presenter at conventions as well as a member of The Author’s Guild and Romance Writers of America. Anne lives with her husband, a retired Navy SEAL, in the mountains above San Diego.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: THE LORD MEETS HIS LADY by Gina Conklin

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THE LORD MEETS HIS LADY (Midnight Meetings Book 3) by Gina Conklin

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

C7A91B6B-B5B6-44EF-BF17-8A13583F9BBBLord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.

One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…

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Excerpt

Lord Bowles set one hand on the dark-stained oak and pushed, all the while watching her with gentle determination as she rose awkwardly from the floor. Iron hinges whined a lethargic turn before the door clicked shut on honking fowl. The entry dimmed but was no less luminous for the unexpected sparks between them. Lord Bowles was a dose of good French brandy at the wrong time of day, enticing but entirely unsuitable.
“Do I make you nervous?” he asked.
His lordship missed nothing. He was like a thief-taker digging for the truth. In their two meetings, he’d shown more substance than the aimless wastrel people claimed him to be. For the first time since she left London, she missed the clamor and the crowds. This quiet between her and Lord Bowles, it denuded her.
“Nervous? A little.” Her attention flittered over him. “The part of me that finds you handsome. Too handsome for your own good.”
He blinked, his lips parting. Well-shod feet shifted and another beat of stillness passed. Did she surprise him? Good. Unease melted off her back from satisfaction of his lordship being the one off center. Served him right for coming here like this.
She wiped dough-flecked hands in her apron as though she had all the time in the world. “And since I’m being forthright, milord, I wanted some time to myself. You don’t get much of that living above The Golden Goose.”
“No, I suppose not.”
With his wind-mussed queue and rumpled brown velvet coat, Lord Bowles could be any man awaiting acceptance of a social call. He was a dangerous flirt with genuine, friendly appeal, endearing qualities that played havoc with her resolve, but she would be firm.
Her head tipped at an open doorway off the entry. “The parlor is that way, milord. I’ll fetch some coffee for you.”
She headed to the kitchen, her skin prickling across her bottom and thighs. Lord Bowles watched her. Ambling footsteps sounded in the small dining room behind her. He wasn’t going to be a docile guest.
Did his lordship think he’d found a convenient light skirt?
Crossing the kitchen, she tensed, expecting footfalls to follow her on the flagstone floor. A knee to a man’s baubles sent a clear message to overzealous men at The Golden Goose. With her employer’s friend, she’d have to use different tactics.
At the hearth, she checked the roast in the cooking hastener, but no footsteps came, nor did a hand palm her bottom. One glance at the kitchen showed Lord Bowles lounging in the doorway, one hand resting in his coat pocket. The corners of his mouth curled up as if he read women all the time and knew their secrets.
“Thought I’d wait here, save you the trip to the parlor with my coffee.”
“Because I’m of delicate constitution?” She reached for the spindle jack hanging from a rafter above the hearth.
“No, because I like watching you.”
Her cheeks warmed and her nipples poked her stays. “Lord Bowles…” she began sternly.
“I know,” he said smiling shamelessly. “I’m being inappropriate with my friend’s housekeeper. Can we agree to talk freely when we’re alone? I’ll curb myself when others are around.”
“I can’t lose this position, milord.” She started winding the spindle jack, a slow and noisy effort. Her breasts jostled and the flush spread down her neck and chest. There was no denying, it was nice being the object of his improper interest.
The Beckworth kitchen was bright with limestone walls and a cheery, yellow cabinet, not a typical haunt for the likes of Lord Bowles. He’d seek amusement elsewhere. With turnips on the table and bread rising in a bowl, his boredom with this rustic kitchen was her best weapon.
“There is a point to my visit,” he said loudly. “I come bearing an offer of help.”
“Help? With what?” she asked above the cranking cogs.
Lord Bowles stepped cautiously down into the kitchen. “I’d rather have a decent conversation with you than yell across the room.” He gestured to the long pine table near the hearth. “May I have a seat? I promise to behave. We’ll have a table between us.”
Her arm burned from working against the spindle’s tension and the heavy roast by her knees. She was about to give him a set down, but she spied that silly hole in his stocking and softened.
No flirting, milord.”
He smiled boldly. “On my honor, none. We’ll be solemn as clergymen.”
“Clergymen,” she huffed and blew a wayward wisp off her face. “A few minutes. No more.”
He crossed the kitchen and took a seat at the table. She cranked harder. The string was nearly wound around the pulley.
“What is this offer of yours?”

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

Amazon Series Link

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Author Guest Post

How to Enjoy London Like a Georgian

The Georgian era was a fascinating shift from pastoral to urban living. The economic boom brought scientific advances. Much of the populace elevated themselves to a better place in life—especially the merchant class. Entertainments abounded. Life’s little luxuries were affordable. People enjoyed a diversity of products pouring into London on a regular basis.

In researching the Midnight Meetings series, I came across many surprises. You could call this list 5 things for an interesting life in London:

  1. The British Museum. Seeds for the world-renowned institution were planted in 1753 with the death of physician Hans Sloane. A naturalist with a love for all things exotic, Sloane had purchased the house next door to warehouse his unique collections. People traveled far and wide to visit the house in Bloomsbury, finding a hodgepodge of international oddities.
  2. Trustees of Sloan’s estate didn’t know what to do with Sloane’s things. They tried to give the collection King George II, but he didn’t want it. Parliament acquired the collection and by 1759 the official British Museum opened its doors to the public.
  3. Hot air balloon-mania hit England in the 1780s. It’s been reported that 200,000 people (royalty included in that number) showed up at the Artillery Ground of Moorfields to see a demonstration by Vincenzo Lunardi. He ascended without incident (other than his cat, which he took along for the ride, getting sick). The charming Italian was quite popular. Hawkers sold Lunardi fans, garters, and bonnets.
  4. Pets ranged from the regular to the exotic. Unusual pet ownership spread amongst all classes with animals like a mongoose, ring-tailed lemurs, and marmosets. The Tower of London had a zoo open to the public, featuring jackals, lions, monkeys, baboons, and even an Indian elephant. Great beasts from around the world were housed in the Tower as far back as the 13th century.
  5. Fine furniture became egalitarian with Chippendale’s innovations to the industry. In the past, fashionable homeowners clamored for furniture fashionable made by high-end designers. Those men signed each furniture piece they made the way painters sign a painting. Then along came Chippendale. He published his Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director (a design book) which changed how the English bought and made furniture.

Design books weren’t new, but Chippendale’s approach was revolutionary. He presented the furniture as part of interior design: think presenting whole sets for a drawing room rather than an individual piece on a page. Chippendale hired men to make furniture for him, but his book not only changed ensemble decorating, it fostered a Do-It-Yourself approach to fine furniture-making. Humble gentry purchased Chippendale’s books and crafted their own fine furniture (such as my character, Mr. Samuel Beckworth in The Lord Meets His Lady).

The resourceful woman created her own future. The nobility watched over their daughters lest those young women go astray, but other classes of London enjoyed a kind of bare-knuckle freedom. Life was harsh on the fair-sex. Yet, many women refused to be victims of the times. Some forged a good life in commerce. Publisher Elizabeth Nutt is one such example. She ran a cluster of shops near the Royal Exchange where she sold respectable publications.  She was also listed as “Mercury Woman”, a printer of seditious and sometimes salacious material on Grubb Street. She ran the business with her daughters.

London, no matter the era, was and is a place of opportunity for those who seek adventure on its streets. ~Gina

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Giveaway

5 Copies of THE LORD MEETS HIS LADY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Gina Conkle writes sensual Georgian romance and lush Viking romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: A VERY COWBOY CHRISTMAS by Kim Redford

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A VERY COWBOY CHRISTMAS (Smokin’ Hot Cowboys, Book 3) by Kim Redford

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

59296C1B-41D3-4FD1-A2BB-14367437F197Third in a spicy contemporary cowboy series from acclaimed author Kim Redford. Sydney Steele needs to wrangle cowboy firefighters to model for her charity Christmas calendar, and Dune Barrett—who she has in mind for Mr. December—is just the man for the job.

There’s nothing like a firefighting cowboy to keep you toasty warm this Christmas…

Christmas is coming up, and single mom Sydney Steele is determined to make this a holiday to remember for Wildcat Bluff County. She still has to get those pesky, reluctant—and deliciously attractive—firefighting cowboys to pose for her charity calendar. They claim they’re too busy pursuing an unknown arsonist to take a break.

Dune Barrett has been flirting with Sydney for months, so he jumps at the chance to give her a hand. And when he agrees to pose as Mr. December, she couldn’t be happier. But to really win her over, Dune will have to convince eleven other guys from his crew to exploit their good looks for charity…a task much easier said than done.

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A NOTE FRIM KIM REDFORD

As a holiday tradition, imagine a big, roaring bonfire with red and orange flames leaping upward along with spirals of pale smoke. I’ll be in my chair beside the fire, along with family and friends, in an open meadow surrounded by the sight and scent of evergreen trees. Bright stars twinkle in the canopy of dark sky above us. Dogs and cats lounge here and there. Guitar and flute and voice serenade us with favorite Christmas carols and old-time country songs that stir fond memories of our close community of loved ones, as well as those who are no longer with us or who are too far away to be there. We drink hot apple cider, roast marshmallows, cook hotdogs, and make s’mores as we sing and visit while making plans for another wonderful year.

And just so you know, there’s always room for one more at our bonfire.

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Excerpt

Sydney felt the heat of Dune’s gaze and glanced up at him. He’d moved closer. She inched toward Celeste, her 1959 pink Cadillac, but if she backed up any farther, she’d be impaled on the tinsel-wrapped longhorns. Drat that gleam in his blue eyes. He had it whenever he was around her, and it had a tendency to strike sparks in her.
“You want me to look under the hood?” He leaned forward with a little quirk of his sensual lips.
So kissable. She squashed that thought and immediately was swamped with another one that had him looking under her skirt instead of the hood. What was wrong with her? She definitely did not want him looking anywhere but at her convertible. She had to get her mind back on business.
“Are you in a hurry?”
“Yes!” She was in a hurry to get away from him, or she’d be wearing tank tops instead of sweaters this Christmas.
“You want to step away from Celeste?”
How could she when he was right in front of her? If she made a single move, she’d be right up against his body. If she could’ve, she would’ve looked into the distance to try to clear her mind of unacceptable thoughts, but she couldn’t see over his broad shoulders. He totally filled her world with his presence.
“Guess you’ve got a lot on your mind.”
She rolled her eyes. He didn’t know the half of it. She caught her lower lip with her upper teeth in frustration.
He reached out, tugged her lip free with the pad of his thumb, and gently rubbed back and forth as if to soothe a hurt. “No need to worry. I’m here to help you now.”
She felt chills run up her spine at his gentleness and concern. She didn’t mean to do it—and wouldn’t have been so bold if he hadn’t short-circuited her brain—but she flicked the tip of her tongue over the edge of his thumb and tasted the essence of him. All male.
“Now, why’d you go and do something I can’t resist?” He eased his thumb across her lower lip, down her jaw, and captured the back of her neck with his fingers to hold her head in place as he lowered his face toward her.
She knew a kiss was coming—right on the side of Wildcat Road in front of the whole county—and she knew she should say something or do something to stop him, but she wanted his kiss more than anything else she could imagine at that moment. It’d been so long since a man had held her or kissed her that she wasn’t sure she even knew how to respond anymore.
When his lips finally touched hers—just a gentle brush really, as if he was gauging her response—she felt swept up in a blazing wildfire.
And yet she sought to keep her wits about her. She should focus on business, not her own sudden need. She put her hands flat against his broad chest to push him back, but she quickly realized she couldn’t budge him because he was so much bigger and stronger. She felt a little shock. She was five ten—although she’d claimed to be six feet tall since her high school basketball days when height was critical—and sported enough muscle to work a ranch, but he made her feel almost petite.
She intended to push him away—absolutely, no doubt about it. Instead, she found her hands slowly sliding up his chest, making her hyperaware of the soft cotton of his shirt as his muscles hardened under her touch. All her senses came shockingly alive. She heard a mockingbird’s song, caught the tangy scent of cedar trees, and Dune’s taste still lingered on her tongue. He didn’t move a millimeter, as if he’d waited a lifetime for her to touch him.
When she reached his shoulders, he gave her another feather-light kiss that promised more than it gave. Not nearly enough, not now that her mind had given way to her body. She sighed against his soft lips and clasped his shoulders to pull him closer. He groaned—as if the ragged sound was torn from his gut—at her response to him. She returned his kiss, teasing his lips with the tip of her tongue until she tore another groan from him, and he plunged inside while he crushed her against him, holding her head in one hand and her waist in the other as if he’d never let her go.
She moaned as she thrust her fingers into his thick hair, shivering with heat as he plundered her mouth and made her weak in the knees. She quickly realized that she had an answer to her question. No, indeed, she hadn’t forgotten how to give or receive a kiss, particularly one of this magnitude.
Finally, when she was putty in his hands, he raised his head and looked at her with eyes the color of midnight. She simply blinked in response, unable to articulate a single word.
“If you let me into your life—even a little bit—I promise not to disappoint you.”

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Buy Links

Kindle | Amazon Paperback

Amazon Series Link

 

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Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas by Kim Redford

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About the Author

KIM REDFORD is an acclaimed author of Western romance. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at kimredford.com.

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Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: HIGHLAND PROMISE by Alyson McLayne

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HIGHLAND PROMISE (The Sons of Gregor MacLeod Book 1) by Alyson McLayne

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

9210840E-B4E2-4221-90E3-3E024B36C7B5Five boys destined to become Highland lairds are fostered together as brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true loves.

When forced to choose between duty and honor…
Darach MacKenzie vowed never again to let a woman near his heart after his betrothed betrayed him. It sparked an intense feud between his clan and the Frasers. With all-out war on the wind, Darach can’t be distracted—not even by a sweet and charming lass who desperately needs his help.

This Highland Laird will find a way to have both
When Darach rescued Caitlin MacInnes from the clutches of vile Laird Fraser, she vowed to never let men or misery rule her life again. With Darach and the MacKenzie clan, Caitlin finally feels safe. But when Laird Fraser shows up to claim what’s rightfully his, or go to war, Darach will have to use all his brawn and brains to protect Caitlin—even if it means losing his heart.

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Buy Links

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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Author Guest Post

Letter to the Reader

Hello Lovely Readers!!

My name is Alyson McLayne, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to my book, HIGHLAND PROMISE, a Scottish Highlander Romantic Adventure!

It’s the first book in my historical romance series, THE SONS OF GREGOR MACLEOD, starring five Highland Lairds, who were fostered together as lads to become brothers. Darach, Lachlan, Callum, Gavin, and Kerr fight for their clans, for each other, and for their own true love.

These Highland Lairds are a band of brothers, who will defend each other to the death—if they don’t kill each other first with their sharp wit and hilarious banter. They take their oaths seriously, whether it’s to bring peace to the Highlands and defend one another as friends and allies, or to razz each other so hard, only one brother is left standing—and then they’ll take him down too.

And the women they love? They have spirit, and tenacity, and they take care of others before they take care of themselves. They’re all different—their backgrounds, their struggles, their interests and talents—but at the core of each woman is a strength, compassion, and a capacity to love that brings their man to his knees.

Totally. Slayed.

Before I tell you about HIGHLAND PROMISE, here’s a little about me. I live on the west coast of Canada with my adorable (aka annoying) 5 year old boy/girl twins; my sweet yet sarcastic husband (who just said he’s not sarcastic at all, he’s ironic!); my counter-surfing puppy, Jasper, who turns one year old the same day HIGHLAND PROMISE debuts (Happy Birthday, baby!!); and my 86 year old dad who gets a look on his face every time it’s mentioned there are—gasp—sex scenes in my books…but then goes on to tell me young people (meaning me) did not invent sex.

Ears…burning…must pour…hot oil…inside…

Speaking of ears, as I’m writing this, I have ear plugs in because my son is beside me in my office (aka my bedroom) building a fort under the covers on the bed, while my Slytherin-declaring daughter waits to knock it down, which results in WW3; Jasper hovers at the edge, barking, until he can’t stand it anymore and jumps onto the bed with the monsters, er, I mean children; my husband comes in and says something “ironic” about the chaos; and I stare fiercely at my computer screen determined to ignore it ALL—and thanking God my dad can turn his hearing aids OFF.

Just grist for the mill…grist for the mill…said all writer-moms everywhere.

Okay. Onto the important part: HIGHLAND PROMISE! I started writing HIGHLAND PROMISE almost 10 years ago after reading ALL of Julie Garwood’s medieval-set historicals, most of which were set in the Highlands. I LOVED them. I don’t read a lot of books over and over, but I did hers. I found them completely captivating.

I think HIGHLAND PROMISE captures that same tone and spirit: Caitlin MacInnes is the archetypal Waif/Free Spirit who turns the archetypal Chieftain, Laird Darach MacKenzie’s life upside down—and then spins it around and dribbles with it for a while. As Lachlan MacKay, Darach’s foster-brother, says of Darach’s and Caitlin’s courtship:

“I doona know when I’ve laughed so much as watching Darach trying to control [Caitlin] over the past few weeks. Her intentions are good, but she’s trouble. It follows her around like a faithful hound.”

Darach is undone by her. His heart, which he swore he’d NEVER give to another woman, is torn from his body and becomes putty in her hands. Of course, he doesn’t know that at first, and even when he finally figures it out, he doesn’t tell her—he’s a warrior, a leader of his people, not a poet. And Caitlin, who is determined to make Darach happy whether he wants her to or not, doesn’t believe there’s any possible way she can stay with him. She needs to leave the Highlands immediately and find her mother’s family in France.

’Cause there’s a whole lotta trouble on her tail (some might call it a shite storm—haha!) heading straight for Darach. But what Caitlin fails to realize is that Darach, along with his brothers and their clans, is strong enough to handle it.

War is coming. Caitlin didn’t start the blood feud between the Frasers and the MacKenzies, nay, Laird Fraser and his sister, Darach’s former betrothed, did that, but she will be the catalyst that ends it—pinning the good men of the Highlands against a monster.

And hopefully winning.

(Well of course they win, and of course Darach and Caitlin live happily ever after—it’s a romance, after all!!)

Now go—before I start rambling and give too much away. Read the words and feel the feels. Fall in love with both Darach and Caitlin…and prepare yourself for Lachlan’s story next.

Smooches,

Alyson McLayne

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Giveaway

5 Copies of HIGHLAND PROMISE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

473EEA56-C0D2-4DCF-BD66-F43EAB222D55A stay-at-home mom of twins and award-winning writer, Alyson McLayne is a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the west coast where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.

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