A successful musician in an indie rock band, Evan Spencer takes the summer off and returns home to Cinnamon Bay, hoping the R&R will inspire him to write some new songs. He never expected to run into Juliet Clarkson on his first day back in The Bay. The Juliet he remembers was a paint-and-clay-covered kid with braces and frizzy hair. Now she’s a successful potter, and the most compelling woman he’s ever seen.
Juliet Clarkson has been in love with Evan … well, forever. She pined for years over the soulful-voiced best friend of her older brother. Swooned when she heard his guitar. Dreamed of him noticing her one day. And when that day happens, Juliet doesn’t know if she’s still dreaming, or if all her dreams are finally coming true.
But when tragedy strikes close to both their families, Evan is forced to give up his carefree summer in Cinnamon Bay and be the stand-up guy that an orphaned baby needs. Good thing Juliet is there to help. Sparks fly instantly, and soon their romance is real, all-consuming—and people are talking wedding bells.
But when the opportunity of a lifetime comes knocking, offering him and his band the fame they’d always dreamed of, he has to make a decision. Which is the dream come true—the life onstage he and his band know best? Or the unexpected new life he’s building in Cinnamon Bay with Juliet?
“This was an engaging story with characters that were perfect in their imperfections.” -Yvonne Cruz ( 5 Star Goodreads Reviewer)
“5 stars are not enough. WARNING – you are going to need chocolate and Kleenex to read this book. Yes – it is that emotional.” – Nicki The Overflowing Bookcase (5 Star Review)
“Can’t be easy writing in someone else’s world, but Whitley Cox smashes it!!
This is a great romance which kept me reading to see if they could make the hard choices faced by many couples. Well worth a read, definitely recommend.” – Sue Hancock (5 Star Goodreads Reviewer)
After the shock wore off and the electricity in her limbs started to settle, along with her rapidly beating heart, she lifted her head to find the rock star of her dreams standing there behind the counter with a very cocky grin on his face.
She rolled her eyes, but her heart rate only picked up again. “You’re on my playlist.”
“I feel like the innuendo is just right there, but I can’t figure out how to spin it.” He stepped closer, his eyes taking in every inch of her. Every clay-covered inch of her.
“I’m too tired to think of one.” She already knew that her hair was coming out of the pencil she held it up with. She’d been tucking and blowing the strands off her face since they weren’t quite long enough to stay tucked behind her ears.
She hadn’t bothered with makeup besides a little mascara, and that was probably falling under her eyes by now since she’d been wearing it for nearly fourteen hours.
“I’ve never seen you in action,” he said softly. “Never seen the artist at work.”
She rolled her eyes. “Well, stand back because the clay tends to fly.”
“Was there a scene about this in a movie?” he asked, not taking a step back but rather several steps forward.
She eased her foot on the pedal, and the wheel slowed down and eventually stopped.
“There is.” She jerked her head toward the bathroom. “Ghost with Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg.” Her brows pinched. “How do you not—” But she stopped herself when his expression turned coy. “You knew. You were just teasing me.”
His smile made her insides get all tingly. “I might be Oblivious Evan, but I’m not an idiot.”
Her cheeks grew warm, but that didn’t keep her from grinning at him. He was right behind her now. She had to tilt her head up to look at him. His gentle, sexy brown eyes bored right into her, turning her into a puddle.
“My mom came over to watch Hope for a bit,” he said, grabbing a stool and setting it right behind her, sitting down and leaning against her back. The heat of him and the way his legs bracketed hers was enough to make every one of her synapses fire at the same time.
This was literally her ultimate fantasy.
Not only had she watched Ghost more times than any preteen ever should, but she had fantasized about Evan Swayzeing her also probably more than she ever should have. Probably more than was healthy.
Normally, she felt really close to her mom when she was working on the wheel, but she was really hoping her mom had decided to go for a walk along the beach or The Boardwalk right about now.
He was wearing a fitted black T-shirt with a slight V-neck that had made her jaw drop and her mouth pool with saliva when he put it on this morning.
His fingers started at her elbows and slowly moved along her arms until his big hands covered her clay-caked ones. “Show me how to do it,” he said, his breath warm against her ear.
She smiled and pushed her foot down on the pedal just enough for the wheel to start spinning slowly.
Just like she’d imagined it, just like in the movie, his fingers slid through hers, both of them now covered in clay just like hers.
She’d centered the piece. Now it was time to start shaping it.
“What are you making?” he asked, kissing her neck.
“I didn’t have a plan,” she said. “Sometimes I just sit down at the wheel and let the muse find me.”
“Mmmm,” he hummed. “I’m the same way with the guitar.”
“You were working on something when I left …” She guided their hands up a little, then together they stuck two fingers each, his on top of hers, into the center of the clay and began to press out.
The eroticism, the symbolism of what they were doing with their fingers and how it all looked and felt was not lost on her in the least.
Pottery could be extremely erotic. Everything was done with the hands; everything was wet and smooth and involved pressing down with your fingers. She’d certainly found herself aroused on more than one occasion watching a pottery video, even when the view was of just the person’s hands.
A Canadian West Coast baby born and raised, Whitley is married to her high school sweetheart, and together they have two beautiful daughters and a fluffy dog. She spends her days making food that gets thrown on the floor, vacuuming Cheerios out from under the couch and making sure that the dog food doesn’t end up in the air conditioner. But when nap time comes, and it’s not quite wine o’clock, Whitley sits down, avoids the pile of laundry on the couch, and writes.
A lover of all things decadent; wine, cheese, chocolate and spicy erotic romance, Whitley brings the humorous side of sex, the ridiculous side of relationships and the suspense of everyday life into her stories. With single dads, firefighters, Navy SEALs, mommy wars, body issues, threesomes, bondage and role-playing, Whitley’s books have all the funny and fabulously filthy words you could hope for.
Annabelle Stewart, all tight leather skirt and hot lace panties, thundered into my life for one night after a rock show and calmly drove away the next day. She should have been like any other one-night stand I’ve had over the last ten years touring with Balefire. But she wasn’t. At odd moments, I catch myself thinking about her, wondering if I made as big an impression on her as she did on me.
Then I walk into the rehearsal for our drummer’s wedding, and who’s standing with the bride? The hottie who keeps me awake with thoughts of our one night together. Beautiful, smart, and sassy as hell, Annabelle sets me on fire with her kisses and leaves me hanging. But I’ve got plans for her.
I never expected to see him again. Two years after hooking up with Dakota Perri after a Balefire concert, I’d convinced myself that night was a fantasy. But the way he looks at me during Jack and Clio’s wedding, like he remembers every second of our one-night stand, lights me up. Too bad I blew it.
Then I score a management internship with the band, an opportunity guaranteed to land me a scholarship with a top graduate program-if I don’t earn a reputation for sleeping my way to success. Which is a problem. I see Dakota every day. Every time we’re together, the sparks fly faster and hotter. If I want to achieve my goals, I have to resist him. But how can I resist a man as panty-meltingly hot as Dakota Perri when he says he’s wild for me?
Tam DeRudder Jackson is the author of the paranormal romance Talisman Series and the contemporary romance Balefire Series. Her favorite “room” in her house is her patio where she dreams up stories of romance and risk. When she’s not writing her latest paranormal or contemporary romance, you can find her driving around in her convertible or carving turns on the slopes of the local ski hill. The mom of two grown sons, Tam likes to travel, attend rock concerts, watch football and soccer, and visit old car shows with her husband. She lives in the mountains of northwest Wyoming where she spends most of her free time trying to read all the books. Her TBR piles are threatening to take over her office, and she’s fine with that.
Blood & Fire: Jason Summerfield is the lead singer for local metal band Firestarter. Jason’s an all-around love ‘em and leave ‘em type of guy. He’s also pyrokinetic. Strong emotions can literally start a fire with him, so he’s always struggled to hold himself in check. Then along comes Julian Kristados, a man who turns Jason’s world upside down. With Julian, Jason finds it impossible to control his fire. But when Jason discovers why Julian remains unscathed, he doesn’t know whether to run… or let the man into his heart.
Blood Curse: Jason has finally found the man of his dreams — Greek vampire Julian. Along with the fame, though, Jason has also garnered the attention of a stalker. When the stalker’s attentions turn deadly, will they be able to save Jason from forced repayment of an ancestor’s debt?
The lightest touch and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I turned my head and looked up at the man standing beside me, an expression of genuine concern on his youthful face. I gave him a weak smile; it was all I could do.
“Dude, you okay?”
I wiped my hands down my face and sighed. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired, I guess.”
“The other band is finishing. You sure you’re up for this?”
I glanced at him from between the fingers spread across my face. “Not like I have much choice.” He shrugged and smiled sympathetically. “How much longer?”
“They’re on their last song now. Then we’ll have a fifteen minute break before we have to go on. You look like shit. Want a drink or something?”
I stood and stretched. “Sure. What’s out there?”
He grinned. “Whatever you want. Terri said drinks are on her tonight.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Pritchard isn’t here, is he?”
“How’d ya guess?”
“All right, gimme a minute and I’ll be out there,” I said. As he turned and started out the door, I called to him. “Oh, and Mike, tell Terri I want vodka.”
Mike grinned and left.
I turned back to the emptiness of the meager dressing room, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and grimaced. “Fuck. Make that a gallon of vodka.”
Mike was right; I looked horrible. I didn’t sound much better either. I grabbed my hairbrush and worked out the tangles I had managed to incur during our last set. I loved being the main act, but damn, I just wanted to go home tonight.
Go home to what, Jase? An empty bed? To stare up at the ceiling again?
I threw the hairbrush at the mirror. It bounced onto the countertop before landing on the hard tile floor. I didn’t want to think about it anymore, not tonight. But I had to. It had become the only thing left in my life that got me so fucking pissed that I could perform like my fans expected. I looked in the mirror again and felt the heat begin to build up. I still had to control it, even when I didn’t want to. Mike stuck his head back in the door. From the grin on his face, I figured I finally looked the part.
I nodded. “Let’s do this. Last set of the night.”
I followed him out into the hallway. Jesse twirled a drumstick while Vic hummed one of his solos with his eyes closed. Marcus stood a little further down the hall, seemingly content to corner one of the prettier groupies, one hand flat against the wall by her head and the other stroking her cheek. As the rest of us walked by, Jesse whacked him on the head with his drumstick.
“God damn it,” Marcus grumbled. “I’m fucking coming already.” He turned back to the woman and gave her a quick kiss before falling in beside me.
The lights in the club had been turned down and the fog machine was cranked up. It was so smoky I could barely see the crowd at all. By the time we were all in place, it had dissipated as if on cue. With the first chord from Vic’s guitar the crowd went wild. I stepped out of the smoke and up to the edge of the stage. It was one of our newer songs, yet there were people in the crowd singing my lyrics back to me. Fuck, that was such a rush.
I never brought out the “big guns,” as Mike called it, until our fourth song. “Thy Savior” was a crowd favorite and our fans knew every single word. As I sang and growled and gripped the mic with my left hand, I lifted my right, palm up. With the music pounding in my eardrums, going soul-deep, it didn’t take much.
Blue flames flared across my skin, sparking six inches above my palm. The crowd roared, fists pumping into the air. I blew on the flame during the solo and it flickered outward. With a snap of my fingers, it snuffed out and everyone cheered and whistled over the finale.
Times like that, I enjoyed my weird ability.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Myc has been writing professionally since 2005, solo and with Shayne Carmichael. Genres include pretty much anything (no steampunk yet), though Myc is well known for paranormal stories. When not writing, Myc is usually playing PC games, reading, watching Netflix, and spending way too much time on Facebook. Since the question has come up in the past, pronouns are not an issue. Myc is bio-female, mentally male, and 100% genderfluid, so any pronoun works!
A quiet place to live and some time to recharge before my band heads out on the road again sounds amazing. I wouldn’t mind a distraction too, but my new neighbor is off-limits. There are rules about not getting involved with your bandmate’s ex, right? And Sean isn’t my type anyway. He’s too bossy, too commanding, and he has way too much baggage. I’ve learned that it’s best to let go of the heavy stuff. So why am I so drawn to him?
Coming out later in life has taught me to protect my privacy at all costs. And while juggling a handful of businesses and two kids isn’t easy, I excel at the art of multitasking and keeping everything separate. But Johnny blurs those lines. He’s easy-going, sweet-natured, and cool. In short, he’s everything I’m not. I want to know all about him…starting from the top.
The cheery sound of family fun drifted through the house…the dog barking, cupboards closing, and a girlish squeal of delight. And more dog barking.
I chuckled at the chaotic homey cacophony. I would never have envisioned this was Sean’s life. He’d always seemed like a badass boss to me—not a man who’d wear an apron to bake cupcakes with his daughter while his son had a guitar lesson. His chocolate mussed hair and concerned parental frown made him look goofy and yet very…endearing. In a hot dad way.
Okay. Definitely time to go. I reached for the knob just as Sean did.
“I’ll walk you out,” he insisted, holding the door open.
I stepped onto the porch and blinked against the bright afternoon sun at the hilltop view of the city. “Wow. This is nice.”
“Yeah,” he agreed absently. “How was he?”
“Amazing. The next Chuck Berry.”
Sean sighed grumpily. “Less sarcasm, please.”
“Sorry, Dad.” I snickered. “He was great. I mean, he sucked, but I think he had fun. I told him to keep the guitar and practice on his own. If you want me to come back, I will.”
“Really? That’s good.” He stared at the horizon for a moment before glancing my way. “I wanted to—why are you smiling at me?”
“You’re fuckin’ covered in chocolate. It’s in your ear.” I made a face and tugged at my own ear.
He gestured at the apron. “Baking isn’t my thing.”
I flashed a megawatt grin at him. “Sure, it is. Are you decorating those cupcakes with anything besides frosting?”
“Sprinkles. You’re welcome to join us.”
“Thanks, but I don’t want to crash your family time.”
Sean inclined his head. “So…did he talk to you?”
“It took a little coaxing. Full disclosure…we played video games before we picked up the guitars. You’re not paying me, so I don’t really feel guilty. I just don’t want you to think it was a jam session from the start.”
“You know?” I repeated.
“I snuck in to see how you were doing. Hulk let you down. You might want to go with Iron Man or Captain America next time.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I snort-laughed, then sobered. “As for Parker…he’s a good kid. He’s shy, reserved, and likes organization. He seems like the kind of person who excels at things he can control. I bet he builds killer Lego sets. He might learn a few songs, but I doubt he’s a savant. You never know, though. Kids are sponges. They pick up stuff you and I would never catch.”
“That’s true. I’m impressed. And you’re right…about everything. He keeps a lot inside. He’s always been that way. Very thoughtful and methodical. He sets a high bar for himself. He likes to get things right the first time. He does well in school, but he’s struggling with the transition to junior high. His old friends tried out for sports and he opted not to. It’s left him feeling ostracized and alone. Hormones don’t help. I thought it might be good for him to spend time with someone cool who—”
“Cooler than you?”
“Well, let’s not get crazy.” Sean flipped the corner of his apron and let out a self-deprecating laugh. “I just…thanks for doing this. I appreciate it.”
“No problem. Hey, if he really is interested, we can do this regularly. My schedule is light for the next couple of months, but it’ll get crazy again in late spring.”
“I’ll call you.”
“Text me. I hate phone calls.” I held out my right hand and snatched it away a second later, narrowing my gaze. “You have frosting on your nose.”
“My nose?” He wiped his hand over the apron, then across the tip of his nose. “Did I get it?”
“No. Come here. Let me help you.” I stepped into his space and brushed the sugary goodness away.
“Did you get it?” he asked in a huskier than normal tone.
“Yeah, but it’s on your ear and your chin and…”
I ran the pad of my thumb under this bottom lip. “Got it.”
I didn’t move. I should have, but something held me in place. I studied his features, noting the flecks in his eyes. I wondered what color they were…gold, green, brown? I traced a line at the corner of his mouth, rubbing the scruff of his neatly-trimmed beard. I stared at his full lips for a long moment before meeting his gaze. Then I inched closer and…kissed him.
Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards.
She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.
Rutherford Fitzhugh, shy, repressed financial advisor, is happy to stay in his professional and personal rut. But his world gets shaken up when his new boss insists the firm take on more exciting clients and assigns Rutherford to Mak, the brilliant bassist and chief songwriter for the mega-popular rock band, Memo to Myself.
Mak Makana, extroverted prankster goofball, hasn’t had a serious or lengthy relationship in years. He learned early on in his band’s meteoric rise to fame that a lover he’d fallen hard for was more interested in his fame than him.
The sparks between the two men are immediate and intense, despite their disastrous first meeting when Rutherford walks into a gooey prank Mak meant for a bandmate. Rutherford discovers that Mak isn’t the spoiled, shallow rock star he expected, and Mak finds that Rutherford has a hidden artistic and quirky side. They can’t keep their hands off each other—even as they work to convince themselves it’s just a fling.
Rutherford’s never been able to please his conservative, traditional Virginian parents—or get them to accept his sexuality—and the sudden paparazzi attention brings their disapproval on full force. Mak’s got a supportive family back home in Hawaii and another one in his bandmates, neither batting an eye at his pansexuality. But that early experience with a fame-collector makes him wary of opening up to anyone who’s not birth family or band family.
Mak and Rutherford’s very different lives threaten to pull them apart, but could it be they’re different enough to be perfect together?
Rutherford’s morning started off with a reassuring sameness—same boiled eggs for breakfast, same dogwalk around his neighborhood, same quick skim of the Financial Times during his morning Lyft ride—and there was absolutely no warning that by noon he’d be flustered, turned on, and temporarily dyed blue.
He arrived at work his usual half hour early. It was calm and quiet then, and he had a few peaceful moments to sit with his first cup of tea of the day and start looking through his portfolio of clients, making sure he’d checked in with each of them recently enough to keep them well informed and happy. (This was a tricky balance; some clients were annoyed by frequent contact, some enraged by any lengthy absence of contact, and, of course, there were a few who would find something to be peeved about regardless.)
Rutherford wrote up a schedule of check-in calls to make and started looking through the first client’s current investments, checking on the returns and pondering the fact that said client had a child reaching college age soon. Would tweaking her portfolio in light of that be advantageous? And just when he was settling into deep thought, doodling flowers on his legal pad as his brain ticked over possibilities, Hurricane Jen blew into the office.
He winced—he liked Jen, somewhat reluctantly, but she was loud.
“Heeeeeeeeeey you!” she bellowed, and he sighed as his mental train of morning productivity not only derailed but fell spectacularly off a cliff, hit bottom, and caught fire.
He’d wondered, the first few times she greeted him with a “Hey you,” if she was being intentionally rude to him since she seemed to remember everyone else’s name. But when he’d reintroduced himself after several weeks of this, she’d wrinkled her nose and said, “I swear I know your name, I’m sorry, I just— It just doesn’t seem like you! It’s so stuffy! Sorry, I don’t mean to insult your name, you probably love your name, and it’s certainly elegant and everything, and argh, I’m a dick.”
He’d blinked at her, astonished she thought his name too stuffy for him—he was well aware most people thought of him as, well, stuffy. (He was also astonished she felt comfortable blurting “I’m a dick” by way of apology, but the boss’s daughter had certain prerogatives.)
“I, uh, I don’t love my name,” he’d said. “‘Hey you’ is…rather nice.” And since then, he’d been oddly fond of her.
Today, though, in addition to completely ruining his concentration, she was making him nervous. She didn’t come into the office all that often; she was in charge of schmoozing prospective clients, which kept her on the road a good deal. When she did come in, it tended to be for all-hands-on-deck things: staff trainings and the like. Rutherford snuck a look at his online calendar, but he knew before he checked there was nothing like that today. So why was she here?
“What brings you here today?” he asked, but she added to his worry by grinning and making a lock-turning gesture in front of her lips, then striding off to her dad’s office.
“Oh god,” Rutherford murmured to his computer screen. There’d been rumors flying around lately about the old man’s retirement. Rutherford had tried to discount them, but…he wasn’t so sure now.
MacKenzie from the next office stuck her head in his doorway, pointed the way Jen had gone, and did some frantic gestures he assumed were mime for “what is happening?” He shrugged, and she frowned and popped back out again.
He slid down in his chair, put his hands over his face, and whispered, “I hate change” into the dark of his palms.
And sure enough, a few seconds later, an “Everyone to the meeting room” alert popped up on the office IM.
Rutherford grabbed a pad and pen and headed for the hallway; bad news was always a bit more palatable when he had some paper to cling to. He met MacKenzie on the way, leaned down, and murmured, “Two pencils,” in her ear.
“Crap, thanks,” she said and grabbed the pencils out of her short Afro. Sometimes by the end of the day, she had five or six.
They reached the meeting room and grabbed seats. And once everyone had filed in, Jen patted her dad’s shoulder and said, “Don’t leave ’em hanging,” and Rutherford barely managed not to groan aloud.
Mr. Wozniak stood up, said, “Yep, I’m retiring. Nope, we’re not letting anybody go. Yep, I am going to do a shitload of fly-fishing,” and sat down.
As bosses went, he’d always been admirably succinct.
The room was silent for a moment, awkwardly so—what did one say in response to that? And then Jen stood up and talked about how her father had founded the firm on the principles of emphasizing ethics, hiring the best people, and treating them very well. How their employee retention rate (“and our long tradition of not getting caught up in hideous scandals!”) proved these principles worked, and how she planned to continue on the same path.
Oh, good, it was going to be Jen. Rutherford had worried the firm would be sold. Jen, while noisy, was at least familiar and liked.
He’d begun to relax a little when Jen’s speech took a turn.
“While most of you will keep your same client load, I do plan to shake things up a bit. I’m planning to start pitching clients in the entertainment industry—we’ve got a longstanding industry halo for ethical business, let’s add a little buzz as well.”
That certainly got a buzz going in the room at least, but she held up a hand. “I’ll share details with those of y’all who are gonna be involved. Meanwhile, let’s start planning a massive retirement party.”
Rutherford tuned out for the rest of the talk, sketching tiny birds in the margins of his legal pad while he mulled over what this might mean for him. He had every intention of staying. Surely, his job wouldn’t change significantly since there was zero reason for Jen to drag him, of all people, into the new “entertainment industry” focus. However, someone his own age taking over the company would certainly send his parents into another “We can’t believe you’re happy with this career…plateau” rant.
He sighed and then startled, realizing only when Jen’s hand landed lightly on his shoulder that people were starting to clear out of the room.
“Hey, you,” she said, grinned, and patted his shoulder. “Let’s talk.”
Kellum Jeffries is a bisexual Southern librarian, lucky enough to have a supportive fellow-writer partner and a fabulous dog. She knits socks, gives excellent shoulder rubs, and can touch her nose with her tongue. She loves to write about all kinds of people finding themselves, finding love, and finding the nearest Waffle House.