Book Blitz: Glass Half Full by Katia Rose #Comedy #ContemporaryRomance

Glass Half Full
Katia Rose
(Barflies, #2)
Publication date: January 8th 2020
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

You win some, you lose some.

Back at home with half a college degree after the fiasco of the century sent her packing, it’s safe to say that Renee Nyobé is losing some. She’s a hot mess, and not the cute kind. No, if hot messes had categories, hers would be ‘littering the stairs of the metro station with your sweaty underwear because you were too busy rushing to the job interview you’re already late for to zip up your yoga bag.’

A job—any job—is just what she needs to get her life back on track, and it might as well be at Montreal’s most famous dive bar, Taverne Toulouse.

Dylan Trottard is winning some. As Taverne Toulouse’s new manager, he’s got one rule for himself: don’t screw up. Following that rule gets a lot harder when the woman he’s spent the past three years trying to forget starts working behind the bar.

They were never supposed to want each other, and they sure as hell aren’t supposed to want each other now. She’s the girl that got away before he even had her, and he’s the guy she didn’t think would ever give her a second glance.

Now they can’t keep their eyes off one another, and the stakes are even higher than before. There’s a lot to lose, but as the pull between them gets harder and harder to ignore, Renee and Dylan start asking how much winning is worth.

Glass Half Full is part of the Barflies series, a set of standalone romantic comedies that chronicle the lives and loves of the staff at a Montreal dive bar.

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EXCERPT:

“I always wondered something,” she continues when it’s clear I can’t speak. “That night, did you…Were you…Did you want to kiss me?”

I wanted to do more than kiss her. I wanted to breathe her in. I wanted to inhale her.

“It would have been a bad idea,” I manage to get out through my clenched jaw. She’s staring up at me through those damn eyelashes, and all I can think about is her mouth, her neck, that inch of her gorgeous bare shoulders I can see before they meet with the edge of her coat.

“I’m glad you didn’t.”

Everything grinds to a halt.

Shit, shit, shit.

“I’m glad you didn’t,” she repeats, “because I wasn’t ready for you to kiss me then, not like I am now.”

 

Author Bio:

Katia Rose is not much of a Pina Colada person, but she does like getting caught in the rain. She prefers her romance served steamy with a side of smart, and is a sucker for quirky characters. A habit of jetting off to distant countries means she’s rarely in one place for very long, but she calls the frigid northland that is Canada home.

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Book Blitz: Mergers & Acquisitions by Kerri Keberly #paranormal #comedy #romancebooks #newrelease

Mergers & Acquisitions
Kerri Keberly
(Eros & Co. #2)
Publication date: January 3rd 2020
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Paranormal, Romance

A god with a complex. Egotistical Apollo is cursed to chase only one woman—the water nymph Daphne. When she suddenly disappears after three centuries avoiding his unwanted attention as a tree, more than his reputation as Mount Olympus’s revered victor is at stake.

A nymph on the run. Tired of living her best life as a tree, Daphne transforms back into a nymph and makes a break for it. She hides in the last place she thinks the god of every damn thing will look. But after finding herself in the kitchen of down-to-earth mortal Sam Carson, she discovers she might just want to stop running after all.

What on Earth could possibly go wrong? A story of unrequited love, self-discovery, and redemption…This modern-day twist on a centuries-old myth will have you rooting for love from start to finish.

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EXCERPT:

The scorching Oklahoma sun beat down on Daphne. She didn’t mind, though, because she was at what was quickly becoming one of her favorite places in the world. The Caddo County farmer’s market.

“Thanks for the ride, Judy,” she said before proceeding to unload a few dozen baskets of vegetables from the back of the pickup truck. It belonged to Judy Pitkins, one half of the adorable old couple that lived a mile down the road from Sam.

“You bet, Dee.” Judy wiggled her fingers at her before heading to her table to arrange jars of preserves next to the metal tabletop rack adorned with handmade wind chimes and dream catchers.

The brim of her cowboy hat protected Daphne’s face. Her arms, however, got the full brunt of UV rays as she carried the large baskets over to the permanent vegetable stand Sam had built several years ago.

“Remember to drink plenty of water, missy. She’s a hot one today.” Judy called out to Daphne when she walked by with the last bushel of radishes.

Sweat dotted Daphne’s upper lip as she made sure the tape holding the “ART FOR SALE” sign to the front of the table she’d set up next to the vegetable stand was secure. She took off her hat to swipe at her forehead with the back of her hand before using it to fan herself. Hat replaced atop her head, she settled into a folding chair. After hooking the heels of her boots on the support bar, she took a long sip of her vanilla iced latte and leaned over to arrange the small watercolor paintings for optimal viewing.

It was her third time at the market. She’d sold a lot of vegetables, sure, but she’d gotten a lot more than money in return. She’d made friends, and she’d even made sixty dollars of her own so far selling paintings. True, most folks just wanted to look, but if she struck up a conversation, asked them about their lives, they tended to do more than that. Their smiles were all different, crooked ones just as precious at the straight ones. Their bellies jiggled when they chuckled. Their eyes sparkled when giggles turned into laughs, the corners crinkling into beautiful lines, showing signs of good times and bad. And with each person who stopped by her table, she fell a little deeper in love with the human race.

On the other hand, while it felt amazing to get to know them, to hear their stories and grin at their gossip, she’d probably have the money she needed to pay back Sam for the boots sooner rather than later. Once she paid him back, there was really no good reason to stick around.

She was getting too attached to Sam, which was not the plan.

She inhaled a lungful of dusty air, resigned not to think about that just yet, and opened the romance novel Judy had lent her. Absently shaking the ice in her clear plastic cup, she continued to read about rakish dukes falling in love with independent ladies. She bit her bottom lip as her eyes raced across the page, devouring each word and trying not to miss a single one while also trying to get to the good part, the part where they . . .

“I’ve often wondered what radishes tasted like,” a voice interrupted her reading.

It was deep and smooth. Regal in pitch and tone. Familiar.

Daphne bolted upright, heart pounding hard and fast like the hooves of a wild mustang. She wanted to take off like one, too. The book in her hand bounced off her leg before falling to the ground, as a book tends to do when the person holding it loses feeling in their fingers.

“I jest. I prefer Ambrosia.” Apollo peered down at her with those striking blue eyes of his. “Hello, Daphne.”

An alarmed huff rocketed from her throat, followed by a scratchy whisper. “How? How did you find me so fast?”

His gaze dropped to the card table for an instant. “It wasn’t that difficult.”

Daphne’s head throbbed against her temples in time with her frustration. Why? Why? Why? “Why can’t you leave me be?”

“Come now, Daphne.” Apollo tapped his fingers on the table twice, as if he had no time or inclination for ignorance but was trying to remain patient. “We both know the answer to that.”

Her cheeks grew hot, and her lips pressed together. He was being patronizing, and the fists at her sides itched to thank him for it by landing a solid punch.

Apollo took stock of her tightly balled hands, the firm set of her jaw, the daggers shooting from her eyes. “I know you dislike me.” There was an uncharacteristic air of uncertainty in his words. “But I think it’s just because you don’t know me. We’ve never really gotten a chance to get to know one another.”

Daphne launched the daggers at him. Was he serious? She knew exactly who he was, a relentless bastard. What else was there to know?

“The real me,” he finished hastily.

“Is there a real you? The mighty Apol—” She caught herself and stopped. The young woman at the table to the right gazed out over the market, pretending to be oblivious to the commotion, but Daphne knew better. As much as the residents were growing on her, this was a small town, with a close-knit community of folks who made it a point to know every birth and keep track of every death. Who knew who was dating and who’d just broken up. And who was fighting with whom. Caddo County was one giant grapevine.

“Paul,” offered Apollo.

Daphne snorted. “Paul?” Clever, but he was still an asshole. “Worshiped and adored for his brilliance.”

“And strength,” he added, his eyebrows lifting. “You know, because I’ve single-handedly won . . .”

Did he really think she would finally, after all these centuries, be impressed?

“Ugh.” Daphne groaned. She was the furthest thing from it. “My gods, you are the worst.”

“I’m not . . .”

Was that hurt flashing in his sky-blue eyes, darkening to storm cloud gray as he spoke? His golden aura heated, glowing like the sun, and Daphne cringed.

“The worst at anything,” he finished. “Please don’t make this harder than it has to be. I’ve changed—or at least I’m trying. Look, I have a plan. All you have to do is trust me.”


Author Bio:

Kerri has always told tall tales. When she was in the third grade, she hid her glasses in the linen closet and told her mother a ghost must have stolen them. As you might imagine, that story didn’t end well.

Today, however, she tells more lighthearted tales, with happier endings. Fond of making people laugh, and forever a fan of folklore and mythology, she blends heart and humor with a dash of magic into her stories.

Kerri lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and cat they lovingly but aptly refer to as The Maleficence, Mel for short.

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Book Blitz: Emma & Jesse (Bossy Brides Christmas) #RomanticComedy #ContemporaryRomance

Bossy Bride: Emma & Jesse
J.A. Huss
(Bossy Brothers, #4)
Publication date: December 18th 2019
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Bossy Bride features Jesse and Emma getting almost-hitched on a roller coaster, tricked into being the stars of a pirate show, jumping out of an airplane, and saying their vows in front of two huge Italian families who don’t speak English. It’s a rompy, whirlwind trip down a rabbit hole of “Fantasy” Vegas weddings planned by a man called “Fingers” and just when you think nothing else could go wrong—a mermaid descends from the ceiling.

Jesse Boston is the man of my dreams. He’s super sexy, super rich, and super funny. He gets all my jokes, he treats me like a princess, and our love life is smokin’ hot.

So I’m gonna marry him. I’m not real picky about how that happens and if my mother wants to have her say, fine. That’s fine. She gave birth to three boys and just one girl. So I get it. She NEEDS a wedding.

But when she invites my childhood nemesis, KAREN, to plan our wedding AND be one of my bride’s maids? Uh—no. It’s not happening. Karen Krakken-Channing will not plan my wedding, will not be at my wedding, and she’s certainly not going to be IN my wedding.

Luckily, my jet-butler, Miles, and my almost-husband get this great idea!

We’re going to elope to Vegas on Christmas Eve eve, get hitched in the most ridiculous way possible, and then fly home in time for Christmas Eve dinner.

We’ve got it all figured out.

Nothing can go wrong.

We will have one simple wedding in like… a drive-through chapel, and call it good.

Take that, KAREN!

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EXCERPT:

My bride is sexy hot.

And no, the man whose arm she’s holding onto as she walks isn’t her father. And none of these people here are our people—but in this moment I do not care.

Emma.

Emma is the only thing on my mind.

I want this woman by my side right now. I want her next to me for the rest of my life. I want her in sickness and in health. I’ll take all the bad with the good. I want to love and cherish her so hard, she will forget the thirteen years we spent apart and only think of the ones we spent together.

Her veil only covers her eyes. It’s a very tasteful, very understated veil. But the best thing about that veil is that as I watch her walk towards me—as I see her suddenly realize that this is it, we really are gonna make it all the way through this ceremony—I catch her checking me out. I catch her eyes wandering down my body, then back up to meet my gaze again.

She smiles and bites her lip.

And man, that little lip-biting thing? Yeah. I’m gonna picture that every time I make love to her for the rest of my life.

My stomach flips with excitement once they reach the steps and all I want to do is rush down those steps and pull her into my arms.

But I wait.

I force myself to stand still and wait as her fake father pauses to look lovingly at her—nice touch, fake father-in-law—and then she ascends towards me.

Emma’s eyes find mine as she slowly approaches the altar. And then she shrugs up her shoulders as if a tingle went up her body.

God, I love her. I love her so much. And even though I still have regrets about missing out on all those years when we were apart, I know—I just feel it in my heart—that this is just the beginning for us. We have so much to look forward to. And pretty soon none of those missing years will matter anymore. We’ll be too busy making new memories to even think about the ones we never had.

When they reach the top her fake father stops just a step away from me, turns to Emma, and lifts her small veil up and says something low and soft in Italian.

Emma nods her head at him and murmurs, “Thank you.”

Then she turns to me. I reach for her and she takes my hand, stepping forward to stand next to me as we both face each other in front of this chapel filled with people.

It’s only then that we realize… the priest is speaking in Italian.

Both of us giggle. Fuck it, right?

What did we really expect? And surely, this day could not get any weirder.

We hold hands as he speaks, probably saying all the usual things. Marriage is serious. Marriage is a lifelong commitment. Marriage is sacred.

Yes. I agree to all those things.

I hold Emma’s hands in mine as the ceremony proceeds. And I even hear a sniffle or two from our audience. Nice touch, Fingers. Nice touch.

And even though everything here started out fake, suddenly everything feels very, very real.

I am marrying this woman.

The priest pauses, and when we look at him we realize we’re up.

We didn’t discuss this. We have no vows! And even though everyone else is working off a script, we’re just winging it.

Emma looks a little frightened. Her eyes are wide and her pouty lips are making a perfect, round, o shape.

I squeeze her hand. “I got you, babe.” Then I clear my throat and begin.

“Emma Dumas. I first met you thirteen years ago. We were young, and one of us was very stupid.” She smiles wide and sucks in a breath of air. “Me,” I say, looking out at the crowd. And hey, they get it. Because they chuckle a little at my joke. “But I don’t think I ever told you how you grabbed my attention that day. I saw you from across Mallory Square. You were wearing little Daisy Duke cut-offs and a white tank top. And, of course, those now infamous pigtails.”

She squeezes my hands as she shakes her head and looks down for a moment. But she quickly raises her eyes back up to meet mine. Like she refuses to miss a single moment of our big minute.

“And Emma, I thought to myself… ‘Jesse Boston—’” A slight murmur from the crowd makes me pause for a moment. I guess they didn’t know who I was and now they do. Jesse Boston is the same no matter what language you say it in. “I said, ‘Jesse Boston, how in the heck have you been on this island for a week and are just now seeing this girl?’ You see,” I say to the crowd, “I missed her. And I hated that. I really hated that. Because up until that moment when I first saw this vision of a girl, I was doing nothing. I was nothing. I was wasting time, and taking up space, and couldn’t even begin to imagine what the next thirteen minutes would bring, let alone the next thirteen years. So I took my chance.” I turn back to Emma. “I went up to your shaved ice stand and asked you out. It was probably not my best pick-up. But Emma, I just want you to know… it was my most honest one.”

She lowers her eyes again. And when they rise up to meet mine just a moment later, I see the shine of a tear in them.

“It was… honest. Every moment with you that night was honest. And when we reconnected thirteen years later, every moment that came after was honest too. You not only make me want to be a better man, I am a better man with you by my side.” I bring her hand up to my lips and I gently kiss her fingers. “Thank you. Thank you for seeing the better me. Thank you for buying me from a bachelor auction with grand delusions of revenge. Thank you for the one-up dream date. Thank you for sharing your family with me. Thank you for being my knight in shining armor… just…” I shake my head. “Babe? I can’t do this without you.”

She inhales deeply, lets go of one of my hands to swipe a tear off her cheek, and then says, “Jesse Boston. You were my fantasy man when we first met. You were the man who made all the promises. You were a boy so golden I could barely stand to look at you.”

I sigh. Because I didn’t feel good enough for her back then. I was so afraid she’d see through me. So afraid she’d realize what a fraud I was. So afraid that she’d figure me out and sneak away, thankful that she dodged a bullet with a boy called Jesse.

“And when you disappeared, I was lost. I was someone else when you left. Some other girl who no longer understood her place in this world. And for the next thirteen years I would think about you at least once a day. I would think… what could we have been? What life would we have lived if we had stayed together from the start? If we had never gone out and did our thing, by ourselves, on our own?” She squeezes my hands. “And you know what?”

“What?” I whisper, dying to know what she thinks about this.

“We might’ve been that couple.”

I laugh a little. That couple.

“We might have been that couple you described on our second-chance first date last summer. The one who fights hard, and lives fast, and loves each other ferociously.”

“Love is a battlefield, babe. And we’re both just generals.”

 

Author Bio:

JA Huss is the New York Times Bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today Bestseller’s list 21 times in the past five years. She writes characters with heart, plots with twists, and perfect endings.

Her new sexy sci-fi romance and paranormal romance pen name is KC Cross and she writes novels and teleplays collaboratively with actor and screenwriter, Johnathan McClain.

Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world, the audio version of her semi-autobiographical book, Eighteen, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award and an Audie Award in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her audiobook, Mr. Perfect, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017. Her audiobook, Taking Turns, was nominated for an Audie Award in 2018. Five of her book were optioned for a TV series by MGM television in 2018. And her book, Total Exposure, was nominated for a RITA Award in 2019.

She lives on a ranch in Central Colorado with her family.

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Cuckold’s for Christmas by Stephanie Burke #Christmas #holidayromance #newrelease #interraciallove

SB_Cuckhold_Graphic2

Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

After having her heart broken by a cheating ex, wealthy and disabled divorcee Emma-Jean Lawson twists her misfortune into an empowering statement… by opening up an all-male strip club named Cuckold’s. Now all she has to do is find her star dancer.

Noel Winters has a big wet problem. The once Principal Dancer for the Paris Ballet has turned to teaching his beloved dance to others after a career ending injury, but now a busted water heater, just in time for Christmas, has him seeking other means of income to keep his business afloat. An ad from Cuckold’s catches his attention. It can’t be that hard being an exotic dancer, can it?

When Emma and Noel meet, there’s an instant attraction, but is sex alone enough to hold a relationship steady? And where did the guys with guns come from? Suddenly their happily ever after is looking grim, but with two of the most magical allies helping along the way, maybe they will pull it together in time to have a happy holiday after all.

 

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MORE FROM STEPHANIE AT CHANGELING PRESS …

Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.

From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.

Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.

Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.

 

 

Cornelius by Alice Gaines #PNR #RomCom #shifters #romancebooks

Cornelius (SexScape 3)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight

 

SueAnn has always been terrified of parties and other gatherings with lots of strangers. So, when she’s mysteriously whooshed away into the middle of her favorite computer game, SexScape, she’s more than alarmed to discover she’s landed in the middle of an ongoing party. And there’s a lion! And there’s also a man who treats her to sex better than she ever thought possible.

Cornelius feels SueAnn can be the right mate for him. Unfortunately, SueAnn’s pet cat turns out to be a shapeshifter who is not about to give up her hold on her beloved owner. Can a lion beat out a house cat to win the heart of a human woman?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Alice Gaines

Victory lay within her grasp. One more move, and SueAnn would conquer level 1023 in her favorite game, SexScape. She’d battled this one for days, and now she could savor success. After all, SexScape was the closest thing she ever got to sex, so she might as well enjoy it as late into the night as she wanted. She’d nod off all day at her desk tomorrow, no doubt, but boredom accomplished that easily enough without lack of sleep.

She’d just raised her hand to finish off the level, her finger poised over the last three red tiles she needed to win, when about ten pounds of fur landed with a plaintive meow right next to her hand. She quickly grabbed her cat into her arms.

“Not now, Kitty. I’m winning. Don’t screw it up.”

Kitty had obviously done something right because the game board lit up telling her she’d conquered level 1023, despite her pet’s interference. She let out a whoop of victory. She’d have to figure out a way to celebrate. A glass of wine with dinner tomorrow, maybe. The expensive cat food from the tiny cans for Kitty.

Before she could make up her mind on all that, the room started spinning, the walls melting in on themselves. All the air seemed to whoosh out of the room, even though SueAnn could still breathe. Then, she found herself falling into a lightless tunnel. She held on tight to where her cat had been. “Kitty, are you there?”

The answer came in the form of a hiss and the prick of twenty sharp claws into her arms and chest. Yeah, Kitty was still with her, wherever they’d gotten themselves. Was this part of SexScape? Some kind of sensory deprivation, whirling ride? SexScape didn’t deprive your senses. It enhanced them, according to its advertising. At least, she was still breathing, and she had her cat.

After a bit, a spot of light appeared ahead, and her body took on a sense of direction — toward the light. As the brightness expanded, colors started to take shape. Figures appeared. People in costumes, many with drinks in their hands, dancing to raunchy music. Some dream version of a party. And then she ended up dumped on her bottom in the middle of it, now holding Kitty in her lap.

Hands reached down and hauled her to her feet.

“Hey, look,” a woman’s voice said. “A new arrival.”

Suddenly, they were all standing around her, staring at her, and she was only wearing her pajamas, having gotten ready for bed just before the game had picked her up and sent her here. She never went to parties. In fact, she avoided crowds whenever possible, even visiting the supermarket at odd hours. And she’d never allow herself to be seen by strangers improperly dressed. She clutched Kitty to her chest as if the cat could protect her from all of them.

They didn’t appear aggressive or meaning to threaten her. They smiled at her in welcome, but that didn’t keep her heart from pounding and her throat from going dry.

“Neat costume,” a young man dressed as a pirate said. “Is the cat part of it?”

“Let me guess.” Another man — this one in surgeon’s scrubs — stroked his chin as he studied her. “The cat is a companion animal.”

“Sure, she’s my pet.”

“It needs a drink.” The first man turned around and grabbed a glass from someone behind him. He held it out to her. “Here you go.”

“Kitty doesn’t drink,” she said. “If someone can point me to the way out of here, I’ll leave you all to have your party.”

“You need a drink, then,” the “doctor” said.

“I don’t drink. Honestly.” When he shoved the glass toward her, she took it, but she would have had to release Kitty to drink, and that wasn’t happening.

“We’ll fix that, won’t we, gang?” He turned around to face the others. “What do you say?”

“Drink, drink, drink,” a chant went up. There had to be at least twenty people here, and they all wanted her to drink. Only sheer terror kept her from total humiliation. The music continued, and several partygoers hefted their own glasses. An introvert’s definition of pure hell — being the center of attention of a bunch of strangers while dressed inappropriately for a serious session of eat, drink, and be merry. What had she done to deserve this?

Then, a roar filled the room. Not the roar of a crowd, but a real one. Everything stopped, even the music, and the partygoers parted to make way for… oh, Dear Lord… an honest-to-goodness lion headed right toward her. A male with a full mane. A magnificent beast, but also capable of tearing her apart as if she were made of paper. He roared again, rearing his enormous head back and exposing his teeth.

“It’s Cornelius,” someone shouted.

“The Party Animal,” someone else said. “Now, we can really get going.”

 

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Make Me a Match by Willa Okati #RomCom #boxset #LGBT #NewAdult @willaokati

Make Me a Match (Duet)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

Rivals to friends to lovers and more — there’s much ado about you, you, you.

Open Cover Before Striking: Davis Carmichael doesn’t do love. He’d rather strip naked and crawl through a field of broken glass than give anyone that much control over him. The only thing he cares about is his journalism career. That is, until he meets Cristian Baranov, a die-hard Romeo with an uncanny knack for making connections and taming cranky wordsmiths. A man who breaks down Davis’s resistance with a sweep of his hand for just one night. Neither expected they’d ever meet again, but fate has other plans…

Best Laid Plans: Jefferson’s a serious-natured soccer star, and Teddy was born to party till the wheels come off. But they have more fun fighting with each other than they would kissing anyone else. Maybe — maybe — they’re falling in love. But when everything turns topsy-turvy, is their new alliance strong enough to save the day?

 

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EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Willa Okati
Excerpt from Best Laid Plans

Oh yes.

Teddy retraced his path backward, down the three shallow porch steps and onto the sidewalk in front of 1514 Saltman Street. Dandelions and crabgrass grew through cracks in the pavement, and someone named BIG JOE had signed the concrete before it dried back in — Teddy squinted — 1983.

Teddy pressed the fingertips of both hands to his mouth as he craned his neck for a good look up at 1514. Two blocks away from the University of West Ioannes campus. Near enough to walk; far enough for independence. Red brick — the kind of red that made him think of sunsets and abattoirs — battered and chipped at the corners. Faded black shutters at every window. The wooden porch boards had been painted a dull slate gray and had gaps between them big enough to lose a quarter down. Straight-up house on the bottom floor, divided into two doll-sized apartments on the second floor. Climbing vines draped lushly over the walls. And it had balconies.

Yes and yes again. Teddy’s grin grew behind the lattice of his fingertips. He jigged in place, three steps of a Cossack kick that made his mop of coppery hair bounce over his forehead. It’s perfect.

He shaded his eyes to squint up at the balconies. Those were what had really sold him on the deal — well, he would have signed up no matter what to get out of the dorms, but anyway. When he’d been offered a chance at a different arrangement, he’d jumped at it. He’d imagined it would be nice, but this was the cherry on top. His own private balcony, where he could cozy up in a blanket in winter and leave his flip-flops wherever he pleased during the summer months. He’d bet it got great natural light. He’d been born to bask, and his full-body dusting of freckles proved it.

Did the balcony already have a chair, or would he need to scout one out at the Army Surplus? Teddy stood on his tiptoes, but he couldn’t be sure. The sturdy vines growing up the sides of the house made it difficult to see past them in places, so thick and verdant green that they had their own personality.

Hmm. I wonder…

Teddy kicked off his shoes and wiggled his bare toes on the pavement, right over BIG JOE’s signature. The vines looked strong enough to climb, and he was a small guy. They ought to hold five-four and a buck-twenty-five. He tugged at a trailing green tendril to check and made a pleased noise in the back of his throat when they didn’t give way. They barely budged except to rustle at him in annoyance.

“Let’s see what we can see,” he said, reaching for a double grip on the vines over his head. “Up, up, and away!”

He almost made it halfway to the second story — not bad, personal record — before his left foot skidded off. Oops. He’d forgotten to account for natural skin oils on his soles and slipperiness from the warmth of sneakers in summertime. If it hadn’t been for that, he thought, he would have made it all the way.

“Yipe!”

“Whoa!”

The body-to-body collision jarred the fillings in Teddy’s molars, and the pair of sinewy arms that wrapped around his chest made his ribs squeak in protest. He flailed and kicked his legs backward and got his ass dropped on the sidewalk for his pains. Right on JOE. Oh, the humanity. “What the hell?” he yelped, looking up again at six feet of indignation framed in chestnut hair and bright-blue eyes.

“Jefferson?” Hastily, Teddy flipped his leather kilt down to hide the goods. “What are you doing here?”

“Saving your ass. Don’t bother to thank me.”

“I wasn’t going to,” Teddy said. He rolled to his knees and got up, dusting himself off. Jefferson! Of all the people. To say they didn’t get along — and never had — was like daring to suggest water might be slightly wet or that fire had the potential to burn. And they couldn’t ever seem to avoid each other. He was besties with the boyfriend of Teddy’s bestie, Noelani, which was just all kinds of swell. Everywhere he went, Jefferson poked his giant soccer head up, with his jock buddies in tow and his utter, absolute lack of a sense of humor and his stupid cologne-ad face.

Jerk. Teddy picked a stubborn dandelion fluff off his elbow. “What are you doing here? It’s summer session. You’re at soccer camp.”

Jefferson arched an eyebrow. He leaned his hip against the porch, his Ioannes tank clinging tightly to his pecs. Unlike Teddy, he tanned instead of burned. Freckles had never dared show their faces on his skin, no matter how much time he spent kicking little white balls around, broiling on a practice field. “Am I really? Look again. Unless you think I’m a figment of your imagination.”

“My imagination can do better than that,” Teddy said. Okay, maybe not much better. He could admit to an aesthetic appreciation for the benefits of good nutrition and plentiful exercise, and maybe some good genetics, but that was it. There, he drew the line. He lifted his chin. “Are you playing hooky or what?”

Jefferson ignored the question. He reached out to take one of Teddy’s hands, the move so surprising that Teddy actually let him do it — until Jefferson flipped it from back to front and wrinkled his nose. “Nice manicure. You and Noelani go to the same place to get your nails done?”

Teddy bristled up. He might be small, but he was a redhead, by God, and he had the temper to match. And it was a nice manicure. He jerked his hand back and flashed the nails, neatly shaped and trimmed and painted a sparkly blue, at the… the… oaf, finishing with the middle ones up. “I can get you a discount if you want. Nail Me Spa on Maple. I don’t know if they can do much for athlete’s foot.”

Jefferson chuffed a short breath through his nose and glowered at Teddy. “I was just saying. Jeez. Why do you always have to get all fired up?”

Teddy ignored his question with what he hoped was grand aplomb. Ooh, Jefferson always got him wound so tight. “What are you doing here?” he asked again, planting his feet on the sidewalk.

“What do you think?” Jefferson turned to pick up a duffel that’d been hidden in his shadow and hitched the strap over one shoulder. “I’m moving in.”

“You’re what?”

 

More from Willa at Changeling Press …

Willa Okati is made of many things: imagination, coffee, stray cat hairs, daydreams, more coffee, kitchen experimentation, a passion for winter weather, a little more coffee, and a lifelong love of storytelling. She is definitely one of the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

You can reach Willa at willaokati@gmail.com.

Join Willa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/willa.okati.

 

 

The Fixer Upper by Maggie Mae Gallagher #NewRelease #Contemporary #RomanceBooks @magmaegallagher 

 

Praise for The Fixer Upper:

“Maggie Mae Gallagher writes with warmth and a wonderfully compelling voice – I loved The Fixer Upper!” NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR HEATHER GRAHAM

“Maggie Mae Gallagher makes the reader forget the actual words on the page so they can just enjoy the story as it unfolds.” Nancy Berland, NBPR, Inc. President

 

The_Fixer_Upper-Final

 

Abby Callier is more in love with Shakespearean heroes than any real man, and she’s beginning to wonder if there is life for her outside the pages of a book. It doesn’t help that her esteemed parents tend to view her as they would one of their science experiments gone wrong. On the eve of finishing her dissertation, she escapes her staid existence to live in the house she inherited from her Great Aunt Evie in the small town of Echo Springs, Colorado. Because, let’s face it, when a woman starts comparing her life to horror films, it might be time for a break.

Sheriff Nate Barnes believes in law and order and carefully building the life you want. In his spare time, he has been remodeling his house in the hope that one day it will be filled with the family he makes. But Nate doesn’t like drama or complications and tends to avoid them at all costs. And yet, when Miss Abigail Callier, his newest neighbor, beans him with a nine iron, he can’t help but wonder if she might just be the complication he’s been searching for all along. It doesn’t hurt that he discovers a journal hidden away by the previous tenant and decides to use Old Man Turner’s advice to romance Abby into his life.

Abby never expected her next-door neighbor, the newly dubbed Sheriff Stud Muffin, to be just the distraction her world needed. The problem is she doesn’t know whether she should make Echo Springs her home, or if this town is just a stopover point in her life’s trajectory. And she doesn’t want to tell Nate that she might not be sticking around—even though she should because it’s the right thing to do, the honest thing—because then all the scintillatingly hot kisses with the Sheriff will come to an abrupt halt. Did she mention that he’s a really great kisser?

Where to find a copy…

Amazon https://amzn.to/2kmZHUm
Amazon Print https://amzn.to/2ZAv3t4
Nook http://bit.ly/2wP9KUD
Kobo http://bit.ly/2NHFlCX
iBooks https://apple.co/2YImFE6
Books-A-Million http://bit.ly/2k2czPw
Indie Bound http://bit.ly/2lwwW7T

 

About Maggie Mae Gallagher…

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Maggie grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Maggie never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Maggie is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes erotic romance under the name Anya Summers. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

Find Maggie on Social Media:

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Twitter: @magmaegallagher 

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