Release Blitz: The Nile Priestess by Catherin Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead #mystery #historicalromance #paranormal @totally_bound @firstfirromance

The Nile Priestess by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 61,298
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 237

Genres:

HISTORICAL
MYSTERY
PARANORMAL
ROMANCE
VAMPIRES

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

Amid the shifting sands of Egypt, is an ancient evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

In the heat of 1920’s Cairo, Raf and Cecily are looking forward to making their honeymoon one to remember. Instead, they find themselves caught between a British nobleman on a mission to loot Egypt’s ancient tombs and a mysterious local woman who will do whatever it takes to protect the land she loves.⁠

When a foreboding pyramid rises from the sands and the scent of decay fills the air, Raf and Cecily find themselves caught in a terrifying race against time to vanquish a murderous mummy and put right the wrongs of the past. But is evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

Excerpt

Cecily leaned over the ship’s railing, shielding her eyes from the hot Mediterranean sun with her hand. They’d travelled across Europe to get here, and now they were almost at their destination, a place Cecily had only ever dreamed of before.

“And tomorrow we’ll see Egypt, just there on the horizon!” she excitedly said to Raf, her husband.

If only I could wish and wish and it’d appear there right away.

“And tomorrow night, we’ll be snuggled in bed in the Rosetta of the Nile, counting the stars above Cairo.” Raf beamed. He put his arm around Cecily’s waist and said, “It’s the perfect honeymoon, Sissy.”

“It feels like a dream, Raf, like it’s not quite real!” Cecily pictured pyramids and deserts, a world away from their home in Yorkshire or the places in Europe they had journeyed through. “We’ll go everywhere by camel, of course, and eat nothing but dates.”

“Just like we do in Yorkshire,” he told her with a grin. Then he pecked a kiss to Cecily’s cheek and asked, “Happy, Mrs de Chastelaine?”

“Oh, so happy I might go pop!” Cecily said excitedly. Then with affection, she added, “But then, I have been ever since I first met you, Raf.”

Not so long ago Cecily would never have dreamed that she’d be married to a man—or dhampir, really—like Raf de Chastelaine, let alone be honeymooning in Egypt, but here she was. Her life had taken an unexpected turn and as she stood here beneath the sun, the botanical scent of Raf’s homemade sun lotion mingling with the heat and sea salt, she’d never been happier.

A breeze rippled the brim of her sunhat, and Cecily turned to see another passenger lean against the railings a few feet away. Miss Mansour was a very glamorous Egyptian lady, who they’d sat with at the captain’s table the night before, along with Miss Mansour’s party of archaeologists. Cecily had been over the moon to sit at such an important table on her first long sea journey, and with a party who were travelling to Egypt to uncover its wonders, too.

But Miss Mansour seemed preoccupied and hadn’t noticed them. Instead, she stared off towards the horizon.

Cecily’s sixth sense, her ability to pick up on others’ emotions, began to twitch.

She’s homesick, Cecily thought, although she realised that was obvious.

“Raf,” Cecily whispered, “let’s say good afternoon.”

Raf glanced towards the woman, then gave a nod. “Yeah, let’s say how do,” he decided.

Cecily moved along the salt-covered railing. “Good afternoon, Miss Mansour!” She smiled. “You must be very glad to be so close to home again.”

Miss Mansour removed her sunglasses and smiled back, but there was something sad in her expression. “Oh, of course, if one has a happy home, then one is glad to return. I am thinking of all the work I must do when we arrive. Lord Bath has such great plans for his dig. I think we might uncover many wonderful things.”

“It must be terribly exciting!” Cecily said. “All those treasures that haven’t seen the light of day for years and years and years, and you brush away the sand, and there in your hand there’s a little golden Anubis!”

“Lord Carnarvon hasn’t put him off?” Raf asked. “If you believe the papers, pyramid-diving is a bad business. I don’t know… I feel like perhaps English lords should leave Egyptian treasures in Egypt.”

A flicker of amusement crossed Miss Mansour’s face. She maybe didn’t hear that sentiment often enough. But Raf’s Romanian accent no doubt told her that he had no patience with the meddling of the English. “It is strange to me to think of my ancestors lying in museums across the world. I cannot think it was what they expected when they died—that one day their remains would travel the world, to be stared at.”

“I heard that Lord Bath reckons he’s found a tomb that nobody believed existed at all,” Raf replied. “But legends sometimes turn out to be true, don’t they?”

And Raf would know all about that, wouldn’t he? Not many advertisements for family businesses that spanned the generations read, ‘Ghosts need laying? Rates negotiable on application.’ Raf didn’t work alone anymore though—Cecily was part of the family business, too.

But what fates had Raf’s ancestors faced? His father might be human, but his late mother certainly hadn’t been. After all, it wasn’t many newlyweds who spent Christmas at a castle perched atop a precipice on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains. Cecily would never have guessed that vampires could be such generous and attentive hosts.

“The tomb of Menkare II,” Miss Mansour replied, with a note of distaste. “He is sure that he has discovered it, even though the sands covered it from human sight longer ago than you can imagine. A pharaoh who has almost been entirely forgotten, but the legend of his missing tomb has persisted down the centuries. And now Lord Bath thinks he’s found it.”

Cecily shivered with delight at the thought. “Do you think we might come along to the dig and have a look? We won’t touch anything. We’ll be on our best behaviour. Won’t we, Raf?”

“I don’t want to touch anything that’s been inside a forgotten tomb.” Raf chuckled. “I’ve got an allergy to curses. I’d love to have a nose at the site, though…history’s a bit of a hobby of mine. Along with gardening. And tinkering. I love tinkering.”

Miss Mansour chuckled. Then she looked Raf and Cecily slowly up and down, as if she was assessing them. Cecily did her best to smile under her scrutiny. It felt as if Miss Mansour wasn’t just looking at them, but into them. Although Cecily told herself she couldn’t be. Then Miss Mansour nodded.

“Yes, why don’t you come along? I believe I can trust you.” Miss Mansour pointed to the jumble of necklaces and amulets around Raf’s neck. “You’re wearing a scarab, I see. And the Eye of Horus.”

Raf nodded. “It’s not my first time in Egypt,” he admitted, almost bashfully. “And I like to pack on the protection. Whether it’s from the sun, or…whatever else is floating about.”

“You are very sensible to do so,” Miss Mansour said. “Lord Bath scoffs at such ideas, of course. And I am told sometimes that I am too superstitious, but you never can be too careful. Especially not when you’re robbing graves, even ancient ones.” She paused for a moment, before adding, almost to herself, “Especially ancient ones.”

“We’re very careful about such things,” Cecily said, knowing she couldn’t go into detail with someone they’d not long met. “We always treat the dead with respect.”

“They’re people too,” Raf pointed out, straight-faced. “Just like us.”

“Oh, they are…” Miss Mansour glanced away for a moment, towards the southern horizon. Cecily sensed her homesickness again, a feeling of loss and loneliness. Then Miss Mansour turned back to face them. “You see, I knew I could trust you. There are not many people on this earth who share that sentiment, Mr de Chastelaine.”

Raf smiled gently and admitted, “It’s just something life’s taught us.” And he glanced towards Cecily, his eyes filled with love.

“Miss Mansour!” It was Lord Bath’s braying voice, and it was coming closer from inside the ship. “I say, Miss Mansour, where are you hiding?”

Miss Mansour sighed. “I apologise. I must speak to Lord Bath.” She raised her voice and replied, “I am out here on the deck, Lord Bath, taking the sea air.”

“Dreaming of the old homeland, eh!” Lord Bath stepped out onto the deck. He put his hands on his hips and drew in a deep breath of sea air. “Good Lord, it’s hotter than ever today!”

He was dressed in a linen suit, as most of the European men on the ship were. But Lord Bath’s looked particularly expensive, cut to fit just right. His square jaw jutted out as he took the air, as though he was the master of all he surveyed. And the truth was, men like him were.

Not women like Cecily or Miss Mansour, not men like Raf. But wealthy English aristocrats in Jermyn Street linen suits ruled the world.

“This is not hot!” Miss Mansour chuckled. “You have the sea breeze here. But out in the desert, it doesn’t matter how hot it gets, you hope the wind won’t start up or a sandstorm might follow. But I will be glad to see my home again, yes. Are you not pleased to see yours when you return to England?”

“One has several, and one is always happy to see them. But the tomb of Menkare II is my life’s work. I’ll happily take a long-lost legendary treasure horde over even the nicest family pile in Bath.” Bath guffawed. He lifted his Panama hat to Raf and Cecily. “Good afternoon, Mr and Mrs de Chastelaine. Egypt awaits, what!”

“Oh, it does!” Cecily replied. “You must be so excited about the dig. I know I am, and I’m not even digging anything. But then I’ve never been to Egypt before, and you’re all experts on it. Miss Mansour especially.”

Miss Mansour smiled wistfully. “Egypt and her myths and legends have been my life’s work.”

But it wouldn’t be Miss Mansour’s name connected with the find. Rather, the name of a man born in a country far away, in a land without a single desert to its name.

“I must confess this was a last throw of the dice,” Bath admitted. “Seven failed digs over the years. But our Miss Mansour isn’t only a dashed pretty face. She’s got a very clever little brain in that head of hers!”

Little brain? Cecily had once been married to a man who spoke like that about women. She bristled on Miss Mansour’s behalf.

“How kind of you to say so,” Miss Mansour replied, acknowledging his backhanded compliment with a nod. “I have worked very hard—studied very hard—to acquire the knowledge I now have of my country’s ancient past.”

“And we’re all terribly grateful,” Bath assured her. “Miss Mansour was able to interpret the last clues to the location of the tomb. When the treasures of Menkare II are exhibited in London, I’m sure this young lady’s beauty will dazzle almost as much as the pharaoh’s gold.”

Young lady’s beauty?

Cecily bristled anew. She could sense that Miss Mansour didn’t appreciate the way Lord Bath spoke about her either, but she didn’t say anything.

“And everyone will want to talk to her to find out how she worked out the last clues,” Cecily said.

Miss Mansour gave Cecily a smile, as if telling her that she appreciated her support. “I would be more than happy to.”

Lord Bath met that with a bark of uproarious laughter. He clapped his hands together and exclaimed, “Quite so, Mrs de Chastelaine, quite so!” He wiped his eyes on a pristine white handkerchief. “And when one dines at the Ritz, one lauds the waitress for the chef’s splendid work, eh?”

“But without Miss Mansour, you wouldn’t have found the tomb,” Raf pointed out, frowning. “Isn’t that right?”

“And without my money to hire her, Miss Mansour wouldn’t have been part of the party at all.” Lord Bath’s smile had become rather tight. Cecily could tell that he didn’t take kindly to such ideas. “And she certainly wouldn’t have had access to the tablets and very rare papyri that held the secrets of Menkare II’s tomb. Believe me when I say that such treasures are highly prized and priced accordingly. Far beyond the reach of the Miss Mansours of the world.”

Miss Mansour raised an eyebrow before putting her sunglasses back on. A chill breeze rose from the sea. “That is because the tablets and papyri I needed to study are held in a private collection in England.”

“Guilty as charged.” Bath chuckled. “And I may yet have one surprise left up my sleeve, madam. A little showmanship, if you will.”

“Is that so?” Miss Mansour sounded like someone who was not easily surprised. She tapped her fingers against the ship’s railing, her rings clanging on the metal. “I shall look forward to it.”

“Well, you’ll excuse me. I must dress for dinner.” Bath gave a polite nod of farewell. “Miss Mansour, might I escort you to your state—cabin?”

No stateroom for the hired help then, no matter how valuable their knowledge.

“No, thank you, Lord Bath. I believe I can just about remember the way there. Good evening.” And with that, Miss Mansour inclined her head, then turned and glided away along the deck.

Cecily glanced at Lord Bath, wondering if he had taken offence. But how else could Miss Mansour have reacted without any further dents to her dignity?

“She’s homesick,” Cecily told Lord Bath by way of explanation.

“Ah, England’s green and pleasant land. We all miss her, of course,” Bath replied, apparently untroubled by her departure. And somehow unaware that perhaps Miss Mansour, his Egyptian associate, might not consider England home, no matter how green or pleasant.

“Egypt,” Raf said bluntly.

“Yes, she misses Egypt,” Cecily prompted Lord Bath. “I think maybe she’s glad not to be in England.”

“Well, I certainly won’t be asking her to come back to England if she prefers to remain in Egypt,” the Earl of Bath replied with a magnanimous smile. “I shan’t be requiring her expertise once the tomb is open. Miss Mansour can go wherever she might wish.”

Raf frowned and asked, “You won’t give her the credit for her work, then?” He added innocently, “I thought you said you couldn’t have done it without her.”

“She’s terribly clever,” Cecily added. “Just think of the number of languages she understands, modern and ancient ones. And she knows a terribly vast amount of things about the ancient world as well!”

“And dashed pretty too,” the Earl of Bath replied. “Well, I shall take my leave. Good afternoon to you both!”

“We must go and dress for dinner. Good afternoon,” Cecily responded, the words sticking in her throat. The earl gave another nod and retreated back towards the ship.

“Cheerio,” Raf called, but Cecily knew that his bonhomie was an effort. He didn’t like Lord Bath any more than she did. If the nobleman realised, of course, he didn’t care. Instead he disappeared into the ship, whistling a cheery tune as he went.

Cecily waited until he had gone, then she whispered to Raf, “What a dreadful man, robbing Miss Mansour of her discovery. I really don’t like him at all, Raf. But then, maybe I’ve known one too many men like him in my life.”

Raf nodded. He put his arm around Cecily’s shoulders and whispered, “Not my sort of bloke either. Do you want to head in and get ready to eat?” Raf kissed her cheek. “Do I have to wear shoes to dinner?”

“Oh, yes, let’s go back to the cabin.” Cecily chuckled. “Shoes? Well, if you don’t wear shoes, we might not be invited to the captain’s table tonight. But if the delightful Lord Bath’s sitting there again, maybe that’s a good thing.”

“I’ll put shoes on,” Raf assured her. Then he added with a wink, “But I’ll slip them off when I’m sitting down,”

Raf really didn’t like shoes. He was happiest barefoot, wandering through the garden at home. Cecily smiled at him. “I’d expect nothing less, darling! Right, let’s get ready for dinner.”

Arm in arm, they strolled along the deck towards their cabin.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Release Blitz: No Easy Catch by Jaqueline Snowe #enemiestolovers #eroticromance #sports @firstforromance @totally_bound

No Easy Catch by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 4 in the Cleat Chasers series

Word Count: 81,189
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 308

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
ENEMIES TO LOVERS
EROTIC ROMANCE
SPORTS

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

A jock and a party girl teaming up—makes total sense, right? Actually, maybe…

Ambar Henderson is a senior communications major who has no idea what she wants to do in life. She spends most of her time working on her blog after gaining a lot of readers with a story she wrote junior year and…never followed up on. The last thing she expects is an angry jock accusing her of involvement in a scam that could shake the college to its foundations.

Jeff Maddow should be focused on his senior season of baseball and not the suspicious activity happening on the team. It’s his time to shine and get drafted, but after seeing incriminating evidence, he can’t not investigate. And his first lead is the campus blogger…who’s related to a name in the document he saw.

Ambar’s been coasting, writing about campus fashion and hook-ups rather than politics and economics, but when Jeff shows up at her place spouting wild accusations, she agrees to help him just to prove the stubborn athlete wrong.

Long nights, impassioned arguments, close quarters…both Jeff and Ambar find opposites more than attract when things heat up.

Publisher’s note: This book was previously released by Finch Books.

Excerpt

Convincing the hostess to let me into the second semester sports fundraiser was easier than it should’ve been. With one little promise of featuring her on my blog and bam, the young girl ushered me into the ballroom where the school’s biggest and best athletes mingled with coaches, alumni and the press.

Ah, the things people do for attention.

I tapped my pen against my lip while I took in the surroundings. It wasn’t black tie, but it was fancier than a casual get-together and I sent a prayer of thanks to my roommate who’d convinced me to wear a sleek black dress. It was a little tight and I kept running my hand down to the side to make sure my love-handles weren’t bulging out. My coordination was abysmal and I tripped over my own two feet sometimes, but at least I didn’t stand out—which was the goal.

I needed a new story to boost views on my blog or I would be shit outta luck. No views meant no affiliates, which equaled less money, and with my less-than-stellar first two years at school, I had no internships or job opportunities waiting for me at the end of the semester. The real world was knocking with graduation looming and I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to or could actually do.

But, I did have a clue about what the student body loved to gossip about more than any other topic—the latest on the hot jocks. Girls, guys, scholarships and walk-ons. Readers loved hearing about the latest flings or scandals and this fundraiser was hot-jock central.

“Ambar Henderson?” A familiar voice caught my attention and I glanced at my left to see Peyton Gentry smiling at me. “What are you here for? Sneak in for the free booze?”

“Ha ha.” I plastered on a fake smile despite the flash of hurt. Peyton and I had become friends freshman year—right in the smack of my party days—and he always brought it up no matter how much I had changed since then. “I’m here for a story, not the booze.”

“Right.” He smirked and lowered his voice. “Is it a juicy one?” He slung an arm over my shoulder in a quick hug and, while I didn’t dislike Peyton, I was glad when he removed his arm. “Heard there’s something weird going on with the volleyball team with one of their new freshmen.”

“Yeah?” I waited for him to respond, but his attention drifted elsewhere and he gave me a weak wave before heading off. “Great to see you too, Peyton,” I mumbled to myself. He was an average player on the soccer team but always managed to make himself seem bigger, better, more handsome. I snorted to myself at the headlines I would love to write someday.

Athletes and their egos—size does really matter

The bigger and not better—egos exposed

I took a deep breath, gathered as much courage as I could and walked about the event searching for anything that could be of interest. There were a couple of girls I recognized from the volleyball team, but they seemed normal, laid-back even. Each table had a large tented sign with the sport listed and it amazed me to see how much attention was given to athletes at our Division I school. Were there events like this for scholars? For those who made the Dean’s List year after year? Doubtful.

Schools spend money on sports, not smarts

Yeah, that headline wouldn’t sell shit. I derailed those thoughts and tried to ignore the tinge of jealousy weaving its way through my body. All these athletes had futures after college. They had tutors, scholarships, teams that supported them and, as someone who came from the opposite end of the spectrum, it was easy to envy them.

A loud cackle exploded near the front where the baseball players sat talking to what I assumed to be the coaches. They wore polos with the school logo, were significantly older than them and had the whole coaching vibe with the hard face and knowing eyes. Zade Willows, Tanner Johnson and Aaron Hill all wore suits and smiles and a part of my stomach fluttered. They were so handsome and such decent human beings I wished I could’ve written a million stories on them. Their faces alone would get readers. But I’d already done a story on Aaron and his girlfriend, so that well was dry. Plus, they were my friends and I refused to cross that boundary.

Moving on to another sport, I weaved through tables, trying to listen to conversations for something to spark motivation. Fifteen minutes passed without any luck and the familiar sensation of failure washed over me. How can I pass my senior classes when I can’t even write a stupid blog post without getting writer’s block?

God, I wish I could drink.

It wouldn’t hurt anyone if I snuck one bottled water and I blended in with the crowd as I approached the refreshment table. That was the good thing about being average-looking. No one really noticed me like they did my beautiful and tall roommates. I undid the cap and took a huge gulp when I felt someone staring at me.

Water spilled down my mouth and onto my dress when I found cold, unamused gray eyes narrowing at me. Jeff Maddow. He defined my perfect male specimen with his honey-brown hair styled just enough to be cool, his massive broad shoulders that went well with his defined pecs—perfectly showcased in the dark-gray dress shirt plastered across his chest. Good lord.

Shit, did he say something?

Did I?

His light gray eyes were framed by perfectly dark eyelashes and, God damn, those cheekbones were enough to make me forget my own name. He blinked and tilted his head to the side with impatience as he approached me. “Ambar Henderson, how the hell did you get into this event? You are neither an athlete nor a sponsor.”

“I have my ways.” I jutted out my chin and ignored the sweat pooling down my back.

“Did you sneak in? No, wait, let me guess. You bribed someone.” He smiled like it was a joke, but his tone made it clear he was not happy. “I should call security.”

“Really, Jeff? Come on.” I hated how my fingers shook when I ran them through my hair, trying to act nonchalant. “I didn’t bribe anyone.”

“I wouldn’t put it past you.” He brought up a glass of champagne to his mouth and held my gaze as he took a sip. It was annoying to be attracted to someone who thought so little of me, but, alas, that was life.

“What do you care if I’m here? I’m not bothering you or anyone for that matter.”

“False.” He finished the glass and took a step closer to me. For one stupid second, I wondered what it would be like to feel his full lips against mine, but the look on his face sobered that thought. “You are a known campus blogger who finds out information about people to get views. You’re no better than a tabloid magazine for a college. Athletes have enough to worry about with how hard we have to work. They should feel safe here, celebrating and networking, not worrying about being featured on a girl’s pathetic blog to get attention.”

“You know that’s not what I do, Jeff,” I defended myself but my voice lost its gusto. “I’m here for ideas…more like motivation. Nothing more.”

“Right.” He shook his head and tensed his jaw as he scanned the room. “Motivation to find out who’s sleeping with who? Who has a better batting average when they’re in a relationship versus being single?”

I gritted my teeth and willed my skin to not turn red. My cheeks burned when I attempted to defend my reasoning for writing those blogs. “It was for entertainment, Jeff. Plus, the stats didn’t lie.”

He gave me a look like many of my professors had. Disappointment. “Do you ever think about writing something credible or for a good cause?”

“The story about Hilly and Greta was—”

“Fine, sure.” He waved a hand in dismissal and gave me a look that made me feel even smaller than my just-over-five-feet frame. “But you could actually spend time writing stories that matter. Not dumbass pieces that exploit athletes and encourage cleat chasers to come after us.” He pressed his lips together and let out an aggravated sigh. “Stay away from my team, Ambar.”

Then he stalked away to the front of the room, his stiff shoulders telling me everything I needed to know. He wasn’t a fan of what I did or who I was. It wasn’t news, but his words hit one of my deepest insecurities. What am I even doing with my blog? My life?

God damn it. Find a story! I finished the water and tossed the bottle into a trash can when a familiar deep, masculine laugh caught my attention. That’s my Uncle Martin. My mood lifted instantly and I headed toward him. He was dressed in a three-piece suit and had his hand on a shoulder of a middle-aged man I didn’t recognize. He finished telling a joke—a specialty of my favorite family member—before he noticed me and ushered me over. “Ambar Henderson.”

“Martin Rhett,” I replied, mirroring his hugging stance and smiling into his chest when he wrapped me in a bear hug like he had since I was a child. “I don’t even know why you’re here, but I’m so glad.”

“Business partners in the community. We love supporting athletes!” He kept his arm around me and introduced me to the gentlemen around us. “This is my favorite niece, fellas. She’s a senior this year and is a hell of a writer.”

Various hellos and greetings echoed around me and I relished my uncle’s words. A hell of a writer. He never made me feel stupid or unremarkable. He’d encouraged me my entire life and seeing him at the event gave me the necessary boost of confidence.

“Nice to meet you all,” I said, looking all five of them in the eye and shaking their hands. There was a brief moment where I faced the direction of the baseball table and met Jeff’s gaze, but I forced myself to not stare or think about why he was watching me. “Anyone have a good story for me? I’m looking for a topic on my senior project and could use some ideas.”

“Ah, my girl is always working.” Uncle Martin laughed and led me away from the group with a smile that had taken years to practice. Once we were out of earshot, he changed his expression. “How did you get into the event, Ambar? I thought this was for athletes only.”

“See, the thing is… I was on my way out.” I gave him a cheesy smile. “Lunch next time you’re in town?”

“Of course.” He pulled me into another hug. “Stay out of trouble, okay? You have four more months of college and I don’t want anything more to happen. You know?”

Like my little drug and drinking binge freshman year?

Or my academic probation?

“I know, I know.” I frowned and felt every ounce of shame in my bones. “I’ll head out. I really did come for ideas. Nothing more.”

“I believe you. Now go through the side door. I’ll cover for you.” He indicated the large black double-doors and winked. “While I can’t condone you sneaking into an event, it does bring me joy to know you do have a little Rhett in your blood.”

“See you later, Uncle.” I smiled and snuck one more glance around the ballroom before leaving. It didn’t mean anything when Jeff continued to stare at me with an unreadable expression on his face. If anything, he should’ve been happy I was leaving his precious party. Ugh.

New headline.

Jeff Maddow should pull the stick out of his own ass to get a better batting average.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Jaqueline Snowe

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the ‘dry heat’ really isn’t that bad. She enjoys making lists with colorful Post-it notes and sipping coffee all day. She has been a custodian, a waitress, a landscaper, a coach and a teacher. Her life revolves around binge-watching Netflix, her two dogs who don’t realize they aren’t humans and her wonderful baseball-loving husband.

You can take a look at Jaqueline’s Website and Blog and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win a $50.00 First For Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Release Blitz: Joy to Jane by Katherine E. Hunt #eroticromance #multiplepartners #contemporaryromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

Joy To Jane by Katherine E. Hunt

Book 4 in the Mended Hearts series

Word Count: 13,236
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 67

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

It’s not all stockings and stuffing when Jane’s three lovers turn up at her door on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is a stressful time for anybody, but this year it’s turning out to be especially difficult for Jane Carter.

Her son, Greg, has brought home a girlfriend for the very first time, one of her boyfriends, Rupert, has decided to go full PDA on her and her other two boyfriends are feeling completely left out. Add a terrible snowstorm, a power cut and a few secrets and lies into the mix and she’s got a recipe for disaster.

Can Jane survive Christmas without her son finding out about her polyamorous love life? Can she cope with three boyfriends all under one roof, especially when it seems that those relationships are hanging on by a single thread? Maybe all she really needs is the ghost from Christmas past to remind her that communication is the key to happiness.

Excerpt

Christmas Eve eve morning

A can of condensed chicken soup careened off the shelf and landed on Joe’s foot. “Fucking holy hell!”

“Shhhh… Jeez, Joe, suck it up.” The whole idea of doing it in the pantry was to be discreet.

“You’re lucky I love you,” he whispered as he hiked my skirt above my waist and sank his hand between my legs. “Now show me some of that love.”

He traced a line with his lips from behind my ear down to the top of my spine. There was something so deliciously naughty about hiding away, secretly making love in a room no bigger than four-foot square.

I clutched onto the herbs and spices shelf as he entered me from behind, crouching down and almost lifting me off my feet as he thrust into me.

“Fuck.”

He slid his hand gently over my mouth, reminding me to be silent. I sank my teeth into it, enough to make him gasp.

We’d promised to be good. He’d come over, be ‘the gardener’, sneak a quick kiss here or there when we wanted but there would be no sex for two weeks. Greg, my son, was home for Christmas and had brought a girl with him for the very first time. This was not the moment to suddenly announce my polyamorous lifestyle to the family. I mean ‘pass the potatoes, and oh, by the way, I’m dating three men’ wasn’t exactly what you’d call polite Christmas dinner conversation.

Unfortunately, Joe was horny, and I was weak. A touch on the arm had turned into a cuddle on a chair and before we knew it, he was pounding me among the pasta and other dry goods.

Sex with Joe was rampant, wild. He had one hand clamped firmly over my mouth and the other rubbing furiously at my clit, and I was begging him to make me come. He sped up the rhythm, knocking over a packet of rice and sending it cascading over us as we both came explosively and yet silently, rocking that little room like a miniature earthquake.

I sank down from my tiptoes—Joe was a tall man—and caught my breath. I might have to do a little last-minute shopping. The contents of the cupboard were splayed out at my feet, but it had been worth it.

“Shit, Jane, I needed that.”

“Right? I thought we could wait, but it’s like when you go on a diet. The minute you can’t eat sugar, all you can think about is frosted donuts.”

He pulled out his dick and swirled his finger around my core one last time. “Next time, I get to eat the frosted donut, right?”

“Not if we do it in here again, you don’t. I’m too old to try to balance four shelves up among the canned beans and peanut butter.” I opened the door and peeked outside. It was nine a.m. and Greg would be up any minute. We were cutting it fine.

“Is it all clear?”

“Yes.” I stepped out, pulling my skirt down to a presentable level. I’d have to start wearing yoga pants and old T-shirts around Joe. The man was a sucker for a bit of thigh, and I couldn’t risk getting carried away again.

“Here.” I grabbed a broom as I picked rice out of my hair. “Make yourself useful while I make coffee.” He held up the knotted, used condom, waved it at me, and I took it out of his hand.

Right on cue, Greg stepped into the kitchen. “Hey, Mom.”

“Morning, sweetie.” I shoved the condom down my bra as Greg wiped the sleep out of his eyes. “This is Joe, our gardener.”

“Why is he sweeping the pantry?”

Fuck. “Umm…”

“Raccoons,” said Joe. “They got in last night and went rampant.”

“Yes, raccoons,” I repeated. “Out of control.” Personal note, thank Joe later.

He finished sweeping and tidying then headed outside without even a kiss goodbye. My heart sank a little. It didn’t seem right to treat him like that, but he understood. Greg was still young, he wasn’t over his father’s death yet and he was in his final year of college. It wouldn’t be fair to spring this on him, too.

“So what have you and Laura got planned for today? There’s a Christmas market on in town. We could all go drink some mulled wine and pick up some treats for Christmas Eve.”

“If you like. I was planning to take her out for lunch then go for a walk along the beach this afternoon. Would you like to come too? Maybe you could bring Rupert.”

Rupert was my official boyfriend in my son’s eyes. Greg had fixed us up and was proud to have found the new man in my life. “No thank you, sweetie. Rupert’s coming over tomorrow for dinner. He’s been busy marking papers and wanted to get it all finished before we celebrated Christmas together.”

It would have been oh-so-lovely to have all my lovers at the Christmas table with us. It felt rude to only invite the one. They’d all been great about it, but it had broken my heart a little. At least I could invite Paul over this afternoon if he were free. I didn’t normally fit in two boyfriends in one day, but needs must, and right now I needed the sweet taste of Paul’s lips on mine.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katherine E Hunt ran off with a Frenchman twenty years ago. She now lives on a French mountain with three children and two dogs. When she isn’t writing contemporary romance she can be found huddled up in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and a book in the other.

You can find out more about Katherine on her website.

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Release Blitz: Promising Love by Sara Ohlin #eroticromance #contemporary @firstforromance @totally_bound

Promising Love by Sara Ohlin

Book 3 in the Rescue Me series

Word Count: 73,343
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 279

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

When a glamorous spa owner seduces the grumpy neighborhood bartender, passion smolders…

Ruby Naylor, confident, successful proprietor of Spa La La, has been crushing on Lachlan MacGregory for ages and finally throws herself at the grumpy bartender as he’s helping her tipsy butt home to her apartment above his pub.

Ruby is the only woman Lachlan has ever loved—from afar. When she makes a pass, he finally admits he’s wanted her for a long time. He leaves her that night with three promises—a kiss, a special connection between them and an epic tomorrow.

Unfortunately, when tomorrow arrives and Lachlan is smacked with the knowledge that she’s already in a relationship with two men, he feels he has nothing to offer her.

His day gets worse when his addict father is on his doorstep again, demanding money. The thought that he could end up sick and miserable like his father eats at Lachlan, making him focus on what has never let him down, his successful pub in the burgeoning Corvallis neighborhood.

Learning that Ruby is not taken, Lachlan finally goes all out to win her back. With his heartfelt apology, it’s easy for Ruby to forgive him—she believes in joy, in romance, in happy ever after. What she never expected was how vulnerable Lachlan could make her feel.

Can their love withstand life-shattering events to lead them into a beautiful future?

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of a parent suffering from addiction and some violence.

Excerpt

“Lachlan MacGregory, are you ever going to kiss me?” Ruby whispered. Leaving the key in the lock, she turned so they fit flush together, front to front. What’s a successful, sexy woman supposed to do anyway?

She’d been waiting for an eternity, it seemed, for Lachlan MacGregory to make a move, or accept her move. Okay, so it had only been a year and a half, but everyone knew time could be its own demon or goddess when love was concerned. Either way there was magic involved when sashaying around her feelings for Lachlan. It definitely felt more demon than goddess-inspired to her. Time she’d spent watching him casually date other women, while she herself had occasionally casually dated other men. They’d circled each other. And yet the forces had never aligned in their favor. Either that or neither one of them had been brave enough to step up.

Until now. Now she was going to ask for what she’d dreamed of. “I want you to kiss me.”

Aside from the deep burn in his gorgeous eyes, Lachlan’s face was stone and his entire body was rock-hard. Large and sexy, but most definitely a fortress at the moment. Or most moments, she’d found, during all the months she’d been drooling over him. She almost spun away from the freeze.

Maybe he’s not interested? It didn’t seem so, standing this close to him—even though he held himself like granite, his eyes gave him away. Using that courage, she searched into those golden-brown depths of his. Swirling pools of secrets or desire, or maybe both. They had a mind of their own and she’d caught him many a time sneaking glances her way. There were a few occasions when she’d almost made him laugh, and she’d taken them as wins. Stoic statue of a man. Does he even know how to laugh?

She hadn’t actually ever gotten a laugh from him, but she had gotten a different, more subtle and—in her mind—no less cute reaction. His mouth sometimes quirked up on one side while his left eyebrow did this little curve as if to say, “Give it your best, woman. You can’t break me. But it’s damn amusing to watch.” The man tried so hard not to show emotion, not to ask her out, not to kiss her. So, right this perfect minute when he was walking her upstairs to her apartment above his pub, when neither one of them was dating someone else, when the tango had put them smack-dab together, she’d decided to take matters into her own hands, and words and mouth. That’s what a confident woman does.

Or was it the hot-and-bothered woman in her? Because his body was so supremely close to hers, whisking all rational thought away from her. She’d tried flirting with him, and she’d tried ignoring him. It was time to ask for what she wanted, and hope, hope he felt the same. She leaned against him. He was a wall propping her up by her apartment door. She couldn’t take it one second longer. Pressing closer, she reached up and placed her hands on his shoulders. His hands immediately went to her waist. Oh, the warmth.

“You’re drunk,” Lachlan said. He looked down at his hands on her almost as if he couldn’t believe how they’d gotten there. One twitched and he gripped her, steadying her or himself—she wasn’t sure. But he didn’t pull away. When he began to move his thumb on her waist, searching little circles, exploring the tiniest bit of her, he watched, lost in her. Goody, goody, goody!

Lachlan’s fingers seared a brand on Ruby’s skin and almost took her legs out from under her. Nothing casual about our connection at all. She’d known it. And maybe that gave her the power to push her luck.

“Not drunk.” She pouted and got to see that almost-smile with the eyebrow betraying his attempt to remain stoic. Okay, maybe a teeny bit drunk, which did not dull the fact that she desired him.

“The gin and tonics were flowing to your table tonight, Ruby. And you ladies came in tipsy. I know Ellie wasn’t drinking them.”

This time there was no subtle eyebrow-lift, but both eyes—sparkly brown orbs that seemed to have a novel written in them, and boy she longed to read that story—lifted, his tone and his expression reprimanding. His voice was deeper. Perhaps because his eyes were both serious and searching, that reprimand went straight to her core. I wonder if he’d reprimand me in the bedroom?

She smiled, a full-on smile, because she, Ruby Naylor, had no problems showing her emotions, and leaned into his powerful muscles. “No, it wasn’t Ellie, although the ginger seltzer concoctions you made specially for her with the cute umbrella-cherry garnish were a huge hit and calmed her stomach. You thoughtful, thoughtful man.” Ruby gave his shoulders a gentle squeeze. My God, the man even has sexy shoulders, powerful, firm. She’d love to get her hands all over him, massage all his muscles, investigate each and every one.

“Besides, I’m tipsy from talking about love, dear man. I only had a few of your spectacular drinks. Ellie sipped her ginger drink while swooning over her life with Jackson and the new baby coming, and Natalie drinks like a sailor. But I’m not asking you to kiss Ellie or Nat, Lachlan MacGregory. I’m asking you to kiss me. Don’t you like me? It’s hard to tell some days,” Ruby purred. She was not above using all the tactics in her arsenal to seduce him. The man was a vault and she aimed to crash through, so he’d never know what hit him. Watching and waiting on the sidelines had gotten her nowhere, except a lot of great dreams. Now, Ruby sought the reality.

He’d offered to help her drunk butt upstairs, and even though she could have made it to her apartment above his bar perfectly fine, she wasn’t stupid. And whoosh, did it feel good to be so close to him. Finally. She was tipsy. Tipsy on Lachlan contact. It was a real thing, she could say, now that he was touching her.

His one hand clenched and unclenched at her side, then he slid it around to her back bringing them into a nice snug fit. What is happening? Maybe I am dreaming? His other one braced against the door behind her, almost as if he needed to balance himself, to hold on. And, holy smokes, he was looking at her now. Looking was too calm a word. His eyes had woken from their stoic slumber and were piercing and hot. And to have Lachlan MacGregory holding her, finally giving her the full direct force of his gaze? Oh, she could melt into a puddle. It was all too powerful.

“I like you.” His voice was deep and quiet, with a sharpened edge to it.

“I like you, too.” She watched those eyes of his, a page flipped over, or perhaps opened to her. “I’ve liked you for so long.” He blinked. But he didn’t focus on her eyes—he concentrated on her lips. A battle waged in his expression. To stay through the storm or run away to safety…which would he choose?

“Please,” she whispered. Please don’t run.

He tightened his grip on her, his fingers molding her through her jeans. “When I kiss you, I want you to remember it in the morning,” he rasped out. He was standing up taller now, all traces of casual disappeared into the night. He was intent.

Yay! He does want to kiss me! Ruby almost jumped up and down in cheers, but she settled for putting her hand on his cheek, unprepared for the sigh that wove through his body at her touch, how it sang through her nerves, but also gave her joy and strength. “I promise, Lachlan. I’ll remember. Will you?”

“Yes, beautiful, I’ll remember,” Lachlan said. He lifted her gently against the door and ghosted his lips over hers, sending shivers through her as he moved those amazing lips of his over her cheek and down her neck. Ruby’s head fell against the door, while the rest of her body tried so hard to stay molded to his. He stopped right beneath her ear. “I’ll remember how soft your skin is right here.”

Oh, my! It was a good thing that he held her up or she might have blown away from lack of oxygen. The man hadn’t even kissed her yet, and he’d stolen the breath from within her. And she could shoot herself for wearing a coat and her blouse tucked in when she craved the man’s hands all over her bare skin, not just the tiny patch where he’d snaked his fingers underneath the fabric to reach her waist. Although it might cause her to combust. She welcomed that combustion.

“I’ll remember how you smell, that fucking sexy, musky perfume you command.”

Huh. I was wrong, I am drunk. The man has skills. Command? Does he realize he’s going to brand me with his words?

Keeping her close, Lachlan took one hand away to unlock her door and walked her through the opening. Ruby had had no idea such intense concentration could be so fucking sexy. Lachlan’s heady gaze on hers, while walking them to her kitchen island, without a sound, added to the feeling that she was floating. A whimper escaped her mouth and she gripped his arms to hold on. This was not the time to close her eyes—this was her chance, warm in his embrace, to see his beauty up close. A man on a mission. And his mission was her. No distractions allowed. The power of that type of gaze mixed with his words went right to her head and her heart and other parts of her body. All those other parts that wanted his skin, his lips on her.

“The way you feel in my arms, Christ, Ruby, you have no idea.”

I do! I so do. I feel it too.

Now he’d kiss her. Yes, please! Lachlan lifted her onto her counter and, keeping his hands braced on her hips, held himself at the tiniest bit of distance. She had been waiting for forever for this. She’d beg. I wonder what other talents he keeps close to his belt? She reached to pull him closer.

“Ruby.” He’d nearly lost his voice, raw, edgy need feeding out of him with one word. My name. Jesus, he was going to undo her.

“Promise?” he asked. No, he was going to break her heart open with one request. If she was this turned on and whimpering with the touch of his lips soft on her neck, whispering gorgeous words to her, his kiss would probably brand her. Stake your claim, Lachlan. I’m here waiting for you.

She nodded. “I won’t forget. I promise, Lachlan.”

He gave it to her then, not the kiss she was desperate for, but the smile, his true smile. It changed his face from broody stone to brilliant, handsome man one hundred percent zeroed in on her. His eyes caught the fire and a shade lifted from those dark mysteries, like he’d been searching for light and he’d discovered it in her, finally. Holy cow!

And he strode from her apartment with one final announcement. “Goodnight then.”

What? Wait! What the heck is happening? “Goodnight?” She slid down from the counter and tried to anchor her feet on the floor because her legs were wobbly noodles and her heart was trying to beat out of her chest. Lust raced through her blood and she gripped the countertop for support.

He paused in the doorway, his hands on the frame, facing away from her, gathering himself.

No! Don’t gather your wits—come here. Throw your wits out of the window with mine.

And when he faced her, he blew her world into a million pieces of stardust. “I’m going to kiss you all night, kiss you into the morning, make you remember every single caress I place on your skin because I’ve imagined kissing you since the day you filled out the lease and teased me about lacking any sort of smile. When I nearly fell over at your beauty, the shimmer in your gorgeous eyes, that glow you spread out to everyone in your path. You have no idea.” Lachlan shook his head, lost in his thoughts. Or a memory? “I’ve wanted to kiss you since…since you altered my world.”

“Lachlan,” she whispered and took a shaky step toward him. Her body pulled her to his. They were connected now and the path to him was the only one for her. It was the feeling she’d had when she first met him too, and it had only grown stronger over the months. His words validated her romantic heart that existed in a world with so many people who didn’t believe, who walked their gray path and were fine with mediocrity.

He held up his hand to stop her. “Now that I know we’re here in the same space.” He made a circle in the air with his hands. “Now that I get to taste you, there’s no way I’m going to rush it. I’m going to savor every damn second.”

The man knew how to seduce, wielding anticipation like a gift, not a weapon. But she enjoyed rushing too. She loved rushing. Rush me into bed with your kisses now, you wonderful man, you!

“See you tomorrow,” he said. Then the handsome, frustrating-as-hell man smiled and strode out, closing the door behind him.

Lost in the laser hit of that smile for a minute, Ruby swayed on her feet as if she were truly drunk. Then his words filtered through her loopy state, wove themselves into her heart and set her on fire. “Oh, my beautiful goodness!”

Well, she hadn’t gotten a kiss. Any other man, any other spectacular moment and she might be pouting. Instead, her world had been spun in gold. She gently pressed her fingertips to her heart to feel the flip-flops it was doing. Drop-dead gorgeous, kind, sexy Lachlan MacGregory had zapped lightning through her with merely the promise of a kiss. Yet so much more than a kiss—he had noticed her. He did want her. Ruby held tight to the special moment, closed her eyes and cherished the luminous glow bursting in her dreams, in her heart at the promise tomorrow would bring.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Sara Ohlin

Sara Ohlin has lived all over the United States, but her heart keeps getting pulled back to the Pacific Northwest where it belongs. For years she has been writing creative non-fiction and memoir and feels that writing helps her make sense of this crazy world. She devours books and can often be found shushing her two hilarious kids so that she can finish reading. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’ll most likely be in the kitchen cooking up something scrumptious, a French macaron, shrimp scampi, a fun date-night-in dinner with her sexy husband, or perhaps her next love story.

You can follow Sara on Instagram and Pinterest and check out her website here.

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Notice: This competition ends on 30th November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz: Under Pressure by Zoe Normandie #eroticromance #mystery #actionadventure @totally_bound @firstforromance

Under Pressure By Zoe Normandie

General Release Date: 2nd Nov 2021

Word Count: 70,284
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 284

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MEN IN UNIFORM

Add to Goodreads

Book Description


He stole her heart then left without a goodbye. A year later and he’s back, telling her she needs protection—but the only protection she wants is from him.

The pre-deployment fling Navy SEAL Matteo ‘Delta’ Valente couldn’t forget has tortured him for his entire tour. A year later, Delta thought he was over it. Finally, he gets home, but runs into Kendra Larose again. It has been so long—but not long enough. With one look, she stirs something inside him that he’d tried to lock up after all those nights thinking of her, sleeping in dirt with nothing but his helmet for a pillow.

The problem he quickly realizes is that she’s in real danger. Delta’s instincts prove too powerful to override.

Kendra isn’t so convinced. Delta has just shown up, out of nowhere, with big claims that she’s in danger and needs protection? Kendra wants to see the hard evidence. She’s hated him ever since he didn’t call. She’d fallen hard, and he’d broken her heart with no apparent remorse.

A forensic specialist working for LAPD, Kendra has blood samples to run in the lab to get to the bottom of her latest case. The thing that becomes apparent is that her case intersects a little too neatly with Delta. She can’t quite figure out whose side he is on, why he’s back in her life and whether she can trust him or not. So, she keeps one big secret close to her chest.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, sexual harrassment and assault.

Excerpt

Matteo ‘Delta’ Valente ran out of his Californian bungalow a little too damn early in the morning. Hell, he’d only been home for a few hours. After jamming his aching arm through his hunter green utility shirt, he buttoned it, trying to multi-task as he unlocked the dark truck which awaited him in his driveway. He was running behind—again.

For fuck’s sake.

Damn, sleeping a couple of hours a night is bound to catch up with me sooner rather than later. He grumbled as he slipped on his dark sunglasses to protect his hurting eyes from the blistering sun. Even in January, the sun was still beating down on him stronger than a direct RPG blast. Or maybe it just seemed that way because he was so damn drained.

“Matteo!” An elderly lady’s voice called out quietly from behind him, her Italian accent pouring through.

He whipped around, checking to make sure she was okay. The tiny old Italian lady stood at the edge of her bungalow’s stoop, a worried look in her eye. Using his hand to flatten back his chaotic dark blond hair, he regrettably realized another thing. He was way past due for a shave.

“Mrs. Romano.” Delta attempted a polite smile at his neighbor, hoping she wouldn’t notice the gashes on his knuckles from the previous night.

Mrs. Romano fretted, wringing her yellow dotted handkerchief as she batted her eyelashes up at him. He gritted his teeth under her gaze, willfully rejecting any concern she had—or judgment.

“Lovely morning, Matteo.” Her voice fluttered, darting her eyes down her empty driveway to the street.

Every other neighbor on the street had bins out. It was garbage day. Immediately, Delta realized that she needed help—but she didn’t want to ask.

“Want me to take your bins to the street, Mrs. Romano?” He shot that same, self-assured smile, like he was the most relaxed man in the world. It was a mask he was used to wearing.

A wide, relieved smile crossed her lips. “Yes, son. Please.”

Wasting no time, Delta moved around to the back of her home and shuffled out her garbage and recycling bins. It was the least he could do to try to keep up the ruse. He wasn’t an idiot. People had been looking at him funny since he’d rotated back from Syria again, three weeks before. Maybe it was the bruises that didn’t seem to heal or the fact that he always looked like he’d been ridden hard and put away wet the night before. Whatever it was, home had stopped feeling like home. He didn’t belong there anymore.

As he finished, Mrs. Romano waited at the top of her bungalow stoop with a homemade pistachio biscotti for him. Her kind eyes and compassionate spirit reminded him of his late mother’s—the last memories he had.

“Thanks,” Delta grunted as he took the baked good from Mrs. Romano.

His stomach was rumbling from the lack of sustenance. He was used to pushing his body to extremes, neglecting his own needs for the sake of his platoon, but things were going too far now.

“You’re a good man, Matteo…a very good man.” Mrs. Romano’s voice cut into his thoughts, a knowing twinkle in her eyes. “When are you going to find a Mrs. Valente?”

Delta let out a loud, sarcastic laugh, sloughing off the question. Shrugging, he coyly took a bite of the biscotti and moved toward his truck, waving goodbye. All she saw was his façade, like everyone else. If she only knew.

Mrs. Romano’s gaze didn’t relent as he leaped into the cab. He was in a rush—but it wasn’t just because of where he had to be. It was because of what he needed to get away from. He was damn sure that Mrs. Romano wouldn’t think so much of him if she knew what lingered underneath the surface.

I’m not a good guy. Not even close.

Slamming the gears of his truck into reverse, he pulled out of the driveway of his place, saluting Mrs. Romano on his way out. The fun and games were over. Now, he really had to focus. He was on a mission that morning—and things could get ugly.

Barreling down Oceanside Drive, Delta flipped on the radio—local LA news—and listened to the newscasters talking about a body discovered in South Central in one of the roughest blocks. It had been on the news all morning—tragedy porn for LA’ers. Delta listened for any pertinent intel as he set his GPS for the crime scene. He had questions that needed answers.

Gripping the steering wheel, Delta rolled his shirt sleeves up to let a little heat off, revealing his winding tattoos. It was far too hot for long sleeves, even by LA standards. They were in the middle of a bizarre mid-winter heat wave. But he didn’t have a choice. He had to cover up. There were things he didn’t want anyone to see—like the fresh laceration on his arm that was only going to add another scar.

As he stopped his truck at a red light, he pulled off his sunglasses and absently traced his fingers over the long scar that ran from his cheekbone up to his temple and eyebrow. A little less than two years old, it was a reminder that he should have died in the Syrian mountains. Hell, he should have died in a lot of operations, but undeniably that one.

Now, he was on borrowed time. He could feel it. He was never wrong about those things. He was playing with fire and some sort of fucked up luck that was about to run out.

The light turned green, and he hit the gas hard, not wanting to think about how he was spending that second chance at life. It sure as hell would make a priest cry. His mother had always said that he didn’t need to be led into temptation because he already knew the way.

The drive from his bungalow up into South Central wasn’t fast, but he drove aggressively. He knew how to scare the piss out of LA’s richest, stalling out the fast lane in their luxury cars.

Revving his truck and nearly eating up some dinky coupe in front of him, he peeled off the highway. Rounding the streets in the impoverished neighborhood, he transitioned into a different type of vigilant and cautious. Those streets bled a type of desperation that he’d only seen in war.

Delta drove up to the vicinity of the taped-off scene and chose to park well off in the distance to keep a low profile. Before jumping out of his truck, he popped a black baseball hat on, pulling the brim down low for as much anonymity as possible. He adjusted his long sleeves across his muscled forearms so his unpolished appearance would help him not to stand out too much. He looked like any hungover blue-collar laborer who spent too much time at the gym. Then again, that pretty much described any SEAL.

He walked up to the periphery of a building that police were investigating—an abandoned commercial warehouse. Delta guessed that whoever owned the aging building had been hit hard in the economic crash, so they’d left it to rot. From the insecure doors and broken windows, he would bet that criminals and drifters had been trespassing for a long time.

Delta gripped the police tape surrounding the epicenter and glanced around to see if the cops off to the side had noticed him. They had their backs turned, just for a moment, so he took his chance. As he slipped past, he slunk around the building into the shadows, and he observed. He paused in an enclave, watching cops come and go from the building, listening to the broken conversations of the investigators.

In all his years in the special forces, he’d become skilled at going unseen when he needed to. He could be a goddamn ninja. A lot of it just had to do with confidence—and looking like he belonged. That had turned out to be damn useful the previous few weeks. He’d been on leave from work, but it hadn’t been a fucking vacation. He’d been working on something else—something serious. And, in true Delta fashion, he’d been going it alone.

Crouching low and moving slow, Delta approached a broken window near the back of the building. He checked inside, seeing the room was empty. A ton of blood was splashed across the concrete floor, but there was no body in sight. Fuck. Had the cops already moved the corpse out? He reached into his pocket, readying his cell phone to snap pictures of anything that could aid him. Delta scanned the room for pertinent info. The graying building interior had the feel of an unrealized horror film, and a chill ran up his back as he wondered what the fuck had happened there.

Voices echoed from the front hall of the building, and Delta ducked down outside the window. He could hear the voice of someone entering the room, calling back details of the scene to the front of the building. His first instinct hadn’t been wrong. The victim had been using. And, unfortunately, his second instinct had been right too. She was there.

His body stiffened and his skin prickled, awareness flushing over him. He’d never forget her voice, even though he hadn’t heard it for a while. He’d bumped into her at Carrick’s wedding, just weeks after they’d hooked up, but that hardly counted. Had it already been a year? Hearty, feminine, sincere—every word she said danced out of her mouth. As he tried to regain focus, he slowly looked up and into the open window, enough to fully take in her candid, clever words. Her voice alone ran a wave of sensation up his spine that surprised him, after all that time. But it was nothing in comparison to when he finally laid eyes on her.

Sergeant Kendra Larose’s natural blonde hair bobbed into view. Delta adjusted his position, getting eyes on the interior of the crime scene and a better view of her—a woman he hadn’t seen since he’d deployed, spending the year fighting enemies with half the resolve that she had. A woman who had grown to hate him—and rightfully so.

I can’t let her see me.

After she tucked a stray lock behind her ear, Kendra was focused on the warehouse floor. Delta’s cock twitched as he watched her shift on her feet, her hips swaying. Blood pumped through his shaft as he drank in her body—a form that drew him to arousal so quickly, without fail. Never had he met such a natural beauty as her. Some guys might find her ordinary or plain, but he found her simply intoxicating. There was always just something about her—something that really got to him.

Even at a distance, he admired the machinations of her clever mind. She was looking down at a cluster of blood where a body once had lain, her lips and nose twitching that certain way that showed when she was really deep in thought. She was on to something. How much did she already know? Delta tried to see what she was seeing. He flexed his jaw, wondering if maybe it wasn’t fate that they’d met again. On his own, tracing the source of the drugs had proven to be an impossible task.

And just as a familiar man’s voice echoed through the space, Delta realized he was biting the side of his cheek, breathing heavier than usual and gripping the edge of the window like he was going to snap.

“This city is falling to pieces.” The man scoffed, coming into view.

Delta recognized him immediately as Staff Sergeant Hunter Greenwood. Delta had met the guy a year ago, around the same time that he had met Kendra. The Navy had put on a one-week training course for partners in law enforcement, extending the invite to LAPD. At the time, Delta had shown Kendra the ropes—training her how to safely rappel, while realizing that he needed to train her on protecting herself from creeps. Something about the way that Hunter looked at Kendra…

“He’s another military vet.” Kendra shook her head and furiously scribbled in her notebook. “They’ve already identified him.”

Prickles ran up the back of Delta’s neck as he watched Hunter stalk Kendra in the middle of the crime scene. Everything in Delta’s body screamed for violence as Hunter licked his bottom lip, carefully examining her. The scowl on his face deepened as she furthered her point.

“What do you bet his blood has traces of doxycycline?” Kendra turned to her boss.

“Come on.” He shook his head dismissively, straightening his jacket. “It’s a common antibiotic. Stop.”

“This is real, Hunter. We’ve seen traces of it in the other two bodies.” Kendra glared at her staff sergeant, standing her ground. “There’s a pattern here. Are they being targeted?”

“For what purpose?” he asked, an underlying threat in his voice.

“I don’t know yet.”

Hunter stilled, clearly judging her. The man looked damn tired, like he hadn’t slept for weeks.

“Let’s not start jumping to conclusions,” Hunter snapped back, his eye twitching. “Anything is possible, Kendra. Let’s check with the gangs first.”

“Hunter, please. The first two have been soldiers, not gangbangers,” Kendra replied slowly, flipping through her notes. “But why? Who’s after them—?”

A flash of rage visibly taking over, he cut her off. “We don’t have any reason to believe there are links between cases. This is LA. Murders happen all the time.”

“But there must be a connection.” Kendra glanced between her notebook, the blood splatter and Hunter, apparently confused by his messaging. “It’s this doxycycline. Isn’t it known to be used by the military as an antimalaria drug?”

“You’re asking the wrong questions.” Hunter strode toward her, his face darkening.

“Yes, but doxycycline—”

“You don’t get it.”

“They were soldiers—” Kendra countered again but halted as Hunter’s hand whipped up into the air, matched by a growl escaping his lips.

For a split second, Delta’s protective instinct thrust him forward, ready to fuck the guy up. But Hunter had recovered, using his raised hand to smooth back his hair.

“Fuck,” Hunter grumbled, shaking as he regained control.

Delta stiffened, his eyes wide open. What the fuck is he going to do with that hand? Kendra stumbled back in surprise, audibly sucking in breath. But before Delta could jump to her side, the enraged staff sergeant spun and marched toward the front of the building. Whatever he was up to, Delta saw a man who was losing control—a man who posed a threat. He was a ticking time-bomb. Didn’t she realize it?

Stunned, Kendra stood there alone, tightly clutching her notebook. She bit her lip, trembling, as if trying to get back to work. Delta sat back, confused as fuck at what he’d just witnessed. Delta knew right then and there that he had little choice. Things had just gotten more complicated.

I have to protect her.

Pulling out black gloves from his pocket, he slipped them on, preparing to leave no trace of what he was about to do. The scene before him had validated everything he’d seen since he’d been back from deployment. The body count was climbing.

Moving around the building a little farther, he gained entry to the interior. As he stalked through the shadows, making note of everything he saw, he was careful not to disturb anything, not even caked-on grime from years of abandonment. In stealth-mode, he slid out of the hallway into the darkest corner of the large room, not too far from Kendra. For a split second, he found himself just staring at her, drinking her in—the way she poured over her notebook then sharply analyzed the room before her. He had no doubt that her cunning mind was finding every anomalous detail.

And, yet again, he was proven right.

“And why are you here?” Kendra’s exasperated tone echoed over to where he stood, though she didn’t flinch or glance up from scribbling in her notebook.

Delta sucked in his breath, wondering if she meant…

“Yes, you.” She turned her chin slightly and shot a warning into the darkness, seeming to slice into his core. “Do you think I’m daft?”

Releasing the air in his lungs, he stepped forward—confident and relaxed, offering her a sly look as he crossed his arms. His charming ruse was too goddamn easy for him to make people see his way.

“Sergeant.” Delta shrugged. He narrowed his focus on her, giving her that grin that women loved. “Here we are, crossing paths again.”

“Crossing paths?” She balked.

“That’s right.” He kept his gaze intense, his body squared.

Turning away, she scoffed, “You’re acting like we’ve stumbled across each other at the grocery store.”

She shook her head in deep discontent, seemingly impervious to his charm. A chill ran up the back of his neck, her rejection biting. He hated it—but deserved it. Still, he stood there, watching.

“I’m too busy for this right now.” She spun, crossing her arms tightly, as if shielding herself. Her body language screamed of a woman who would not be fooled again.

“Too busy for me?” Delta pushed.

“I’ll go back to my original question.” She raised her eyebrows accusingly. “Why are you here? This is a secure crime scene, so you don’t belong here. I don’t care what security clearances you say you have.”

All the air got sucked out of the room, and he found himself momentarily searching for a response. Her bright, intelligent eyes left no stone unturned and demanded answers. She anxiously chewed her lip, giving him a rare glimpse of her girlish vulnerability—the type of vulnerability that made him voracious.

“We have a mutual purpose.” Delta let his face become stone cold serious, imparting the intensity he felt.

“Which would be?” she asked.

“Keeping you safe.”

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Zoe Normandie

I’m a mom with three sweet young daughters. I have three jobs – mom, author, and analyst. Years ago, I grew up in a military family, went to a military university, worked alongside the military as an intel analyst, and my husband is (surprise!) a veteran. I’ve tried to write for anyone who wants to feel what it’s like to be with someone from that world – with all the good and the bad.

My heroes are grounded in reality, and are inspired by guys I know in the special forces. Guys who’ve been in combat, tasted war, and fought for what they believed in. They are really heroes, but raw and rough and broken in their own ways.

My heroines similarly come from the best parts of the women I know, and the challenges we all face. The relationships that they fall into have familiar characteristics for many, myself included. These heroines represent all of us, with our good and our bad laid bare.

In my stories, I illustrate, romanticize, and celebrate the harsh realities of duty, service, and sacrifice.

You can find Zoe on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Notice: This competition ends on 30th November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz: The Earl of Callander’s Secret Bride by Raven McAllan and Cassie O’Brien #historicalromance @firstforromance @totallybound

The Earl of Callander’s Secret Bride by
Raven McAllan & Cassie O’Brien

Book 1 in the The Scots and the Sassenachs series

Word Count: 42,810
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 165
Heat Rating: Sizzling
Sexometer: 2

Genres:

HISTORICAL
ROMANCE

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

A treasonable letter. Attempted blackmail. Can a secret marriage save the day?

Duncan, the Earl of Callander, loves his beautiful neighbour Lady Cairstine McColl but has held back from proposing until she has enjoyed her debut in Edinburgh. However, matters are taken out of his control when Cairstine discovers a plot to blackmail her father with her hand in marriage demanded as the ransom price.

A daring plan is hatched. To protect Cairstine, she and Duncan will wed under Scottish law, then travel to England incognito to find and destroy a letter that could see her father accused of treason and the family ruined.

But all is not straightforward once they arrive in Corbridge.

They must hide the passion they feel for each other from the blackmailer, and worse, there may not be just one blackmailer, but two.

Excerpt

Lady Cairstine McColl knew it was wrong to slip out from her family home unnoticed and go for a long tramp across the hills. Nevertheless, after the news her papa had just imparted, she’d had to get away. It was that or completely lose her temper. Shout, scream and be the termagant she didn’t want to be. She acknowledged it had been a close-run thing. Hence her escape. A pity she couldn’t escape the future as easily.

How could he?

She skirted the three large boulders that edged the head of the loch and jumped over the burn that flowed into it with a gurgle as it danced across the stony bottom. In winter, when it was in full spate, she would have had no chance. Now in June, when the nights were short and daylight hours long, the weather was sometimes drier and the burn no more than a trickle.

Cairstine strode up the slopes to where the forest began, her boots giving her purchase on the slippery rocks. It might not have rained recently, but these slopes were always damp and covered in moss. As she walked, she mulled over her papa’s words.

How, how could he?

He had promised her in marriage to an Englishman. An Englishman! Whom she had never met. How draconian. And how undoubtedly, in this so-called enlightened age, unacceptable. Surely she should at least have met the man and decided if this marriage of convenience was for her?

Sadly, her papa had been unmoved by her pleas. He’d simply told her she would leave for England in five days’ time.

England. Who on earth would want to go there? And to a place called Corbridge? Not even London, or Carlisle. Until she’d studied a book of maps in the library she’d had no idea where Corbridge was. Evidently between Newcastle and Carlisle. A market town, near the site of the wall built in Roman times to keep the Scots out of England. What a pity it was no longer used for the same purpose. That would have meant there was no way she could have been forced to head south.

According to a pamphlet she’d found on the desk—it seemed her papa had been investigating—this Corbridge was a pretty well set-up place with lots of new and imposing buildings sitting side by side with older, equally as imposing ones.

She couldn’t have cared less. It wouldn’t matter what it was like, it was not home.

George Armstrong, she thought in disgust. An Armstrong. One of those murdering, thieving Border Reivers of old who had thought nothing of riding from England into Scotland to steal the cattle of good honest Scotsmen—and women. The family names of the marauding bands were still notorious enough to put the fear of God into anyone who lived within a day’s ride of the border even in these modern times. Cairstine had been raised on stories of Scots venturing as far as Yorkshire, and the English to Edinburgh. All in retaliation for some real or imagined wrongdoing. You had to be thankful such days were over—but that made her papa’s demands even harder to fathom.

Worse though than the raids—if it was possible for anything to be worse—Armstrong was a Sassenach with, he was said to boast, not one jot of Scottish blood in him. Where was the common ground?

Why, oh why had her papa thought she’d be happy married to one of them?

If he had thought at all. These last couple of weeks he’d been preoccupied, less likely to chat or ask what she had been doing, and never sharing his day with her. Not at all the man she had adored for so many years.

How could he? Is he demented? When the name of her prospective husband was enough to put fear into even the bravest of people… She was no different.

She shuddered and gathered her breath for the final steep few yards to her favourite place on the estate. The lookout. Where in times gone by a sentry would have been placed to keep guard for enemies.

Now she was the only one who ever went there.

Or so she’d imagined.

Head down, deep in thought, she ploughed into a tree.

A very human tree, which swayed before it steadied again.

She scowled. Of all the people it could be it had to be Duncan Callander. Her neighbour, her…her what? She had no idea except that he was the one man who made her skin tighten in an arousing way and made her wonder…what if?

A child of the countryside, she was no stranger to the way animals mated and had on more than one occasion caught sight of a man and a woman in the undergrowth, the lady’s skirts kilted around her waist, his trews around his ankles. It wasn’t something she’d contemplated doing herself though—until recently.

“Where’s where the enemy? Who do I have to shoot?” Duncan grabbed her arm with one hand to rescue her from falling on her rump, put his other hand to his forehead and scanned the area with an extravagant movement. “Pistol or bow and arrow?”

Cairstine giggled. Trust Duncan to cheer her up. “The culprit is too far to reach with either,” she said glumly as she smoothed her skirts down and remembered what had sent her to the lookout in a rush. “In England, at a place called Corbridge.”

“Corbridge?” he said as he dropped his hand from his face. The confusion in his eyes mirrored the incredulous tone of his voice. “Why in hades Corbridge? What the hell’s going on?”

Cairstine sighed. “Hell just about sums it up. My papa says I am to marry the black-hearted devil that is George Armstrong.”

Duncan’s jaw clenched as she said the name. George Armstrong of Corbridge…the bastard! Not that he had ever met the man, but the fame—or infamy—of the Armstrong family was well known and noted in the annals of history. Around a hundred years earlier they had been given a baronetcy—under somewhat suspicious circumstances—and they revelled in their reputation.

Blood raced through his veins at the thought of Cairstine in the clutches of such a man. She stood close enough to kiss, her lips mere inches from his own. Another part of his anatomy stirred deep within his trews with an emotion other than anger. The heady scent of her teased his nostrils and he sniffed the air. Violets, he decided—sweet and seductively entrancing like the lady herself.

He dropped his hands to his sides against an urge to sweep her into his arms and assure her he would not allow the marriage to take place. He was powerless to prevent it—Cairstine’s father’s title being higher ranked in the natural order than his own. What was he, as an earl compared to a duke? Instead he concentrated on not curling his hands into fists and asked with a calmness he didn’t feel, “When and where is this event to take place?”

Cairstine gazed at him, a question written in her eyes as if she sensed the power of the emotions running through his body. “I leave for Corbridge in five days. Oh, Duncan, something is wrong, and I have no idea what it could be. I have asked Papa to explain his decision, but all he says it I have to do this thing. Why?” She whirled around and her skirts followed her, giving him a tantalizing glimpse of a well-turned ankle visible above her half boot. How he wished it showed more.

Callander, get your mind out of the gutters.

“What on earth could be going on?” Cairstine asked in a plaintive tone that hit him hard. “Duncan, I’m at my wit’s end. I cannot move him.”

Duncan nodded, his mind busy with possible plans, and he turned to one side, needing time to think of ways and means to execute them as well as considering the likely consequences. “Stay strong. I’m off to check my snares and have a think. Don’t worry, I will see you again before you go. Can you be here at the same time tomorrow?”

Cairstine nodded. “I will make sure I am.”

Duncan nodded. “Until then.” He spun on his heels and set off in the direction of his manor a mile or so distant on the opposite hill, his thoughts in a whirl.

What in hades is her father up to? To date, the Duke of Glenard, known as Lord Nathaniel McColl in these parts, had been a loving and somewhat protective father to his only daughter.

He strode on. The smell of pine resin carried on the warmth of the June breeze replaced the scent of violets in his nose, but Duncan hardly noticed as he began to gather his thoughts. A rescue plan was needed, one that would absolve Cairstine from all blame so as not to leave her in her parent’s bad graces. Or give any hint of collusion between the two of them. She should not guess his part in it, to allow her to answer with perfect honesty if questioned later by her father.

A bold idea occurred and he quickened his pace while contemplating the prospects and pitfalls of it. A disguise would be required so she didn’t immediately recognise him. It would ruin everything if she inadvertently gave his identity away to anyone with her. Plus, he needed to decide on a place of safety for her to pass the time until his plan achieved its aim.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Authors

Raven McAllan

After 30 plus years in Scotland, Raven now lives near the east Yorkshire coast, with her long-suffering husband, who is used to rescuing the dinner, when she gets immersed in her writing, keeping her coffee pot warm and making sure the wine is chilled.

With a new home to decorate and a garden to plan, she’s never short of things to do, but writing is always at the top of her list.

Her other hobbies include walking along the coast and spotting the wildlife, reading, researching, cros stitch and trying not to drop stitches as she endeavours to knit.

Being left-handed, and knitting right-handed, that’s not always easy.

She loves hearing from her readers, either via her website, by email or social media.

Cassie O’Brien

I love:

Being with family and friends.

Writing and having the freedom to do so now child four of four has passed her driving test and is off to uni later this year.

I Like:

Any excuse to throw a party.

Any excuse to open a bottle of fizz.

Shoes in vast quantities – the higher the heel the better.

Ambitions:

To write many more books.

To own a pair of Louboutin’s.

To never go near an iron or a hoover again.

You can find Cassie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter: @cassieo_author

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Notice: This competition ends on 2nd November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz: Basic Witch by Kate Hunter #eroticromance #paranormal @totally_bound @firstforromance

Basic Witch by Katy Hunter

Book 1 in the Half Blood series

General Release Date: 12th October 2021

Word Count: 15,310
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 68
Heat Rating: Sizzling

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

Sometimes being an angel can be devilish…

Cal has problems…man problems. A torrid affair with Travis, a six-foot sex demon, has the celestial beings in a tizzy and she has been forced to make amends.

That’s the issue with having an angel for a dad. There are certain expectations—not to mention the fact that she’s also sharing her bed with a rather delicious warlock, Max. All she has to do is round up a few troublesome vampires and a rotten demon here or there and her work is done.

Or so she thinks…

Reader advisory: This book contains a brief scene of violence.

Excerpt

He slammed my slender wrists against the cold, hard wall, closely followed by my back. “You like it rough, huh?” I growled. “Me too.”

Lifting my legs into the air, I wrapped them around his impressive waist, gripping on as tight as I could and thrusting his crotch into mine. The guy is already hard? This was going to be easier than I thought.

“I like it quiet.” It was the first time his voice had even given a hint of who—or rather what—I was dealing with. It offered a tinge of menace, a heavy serving of control. We were definitely in demon territory.

He slammed his lips onto mine, the familiar feeling of a forked tongue snaking its way into my mouth.

He raised my wrists above my head, so he could hold them with one hand, and he started to undo his belt with the other.

I relaxed my grip around his waist and pulled my mouth away from his. This was going way faster than I’d thought. I wasn’t averse to a little demon dick, but my own personal demon was quite against me sleeping with his brothers.

“Not yet.” What would work? He could take me right here, right now, but I needed just a couple of more minutes. “Uh, I want to be punished. Punish me first.”

His fiery red eyes lit up and I swear the cock that was pushing into my pelvis grew another five inches. “Have you been very, very bad?”

“So bad.” Like you wouldn’t believe.

Swinging me around, he flung me onto the bed and grabbed his backpack. Lord, don’t let it be teeth. I could handle whipping, pinching, slapping—even the odd candle burn didn’t break me—but oh God, I hated it when they went for the teeth.

He pulled out a leather three-tiered paddle. Oh, bless him. He must be new at this. I put on my most innocent face. “It won’t hurt too much, will it? I know I’ve been naughty, but I’ve never done anything like this before.” Where are the boys? If that thing hit my butt in just the right spot, I’d be coming in seconds and begging for more.

I hadn’t actually planned on sleeping with this guy, but he was pushing all my buttons. It would be too hard to resist.

He rolled me over onto my stomach, brushed his hand up my thigh, grazing my stockings, and pushed up my skirt. Swirling his hand around my butt—preparing it for action—he slid his finger slowly under the gusset of my thong, brushing my clit.

“You like that?” His voice was tender, almost gentle.

Fuck. This big old hulking hellboy was actually a bit of a romantic. Now I knew his lineage for sure.

“Not yet… I don’t want to come yet. I don’t deserve it.” I was really working the naughty voice tonight. A shiver of disgust went down my spine. When I was at someone’s mercy, it was generally on my terms, not theirs.

Not that I was complaining… There were worse missions than getting a little action with a sex demon.

He grabbed a pair of handcuffs from his bag, the familiar clinking sending a jolt of excitement up my pussy. When did I get so hot just at the idea of a little bondage? It wasn’t like my sex life was in any way boring. Quite the contrary. Maybe I was craving simpler times.

He leaned forward, attached my hands to the iron headboard and hovered over my body, the bulk of his cock rubbing against my naked butt.

The sound of hulking footsteps approached the door. I braced myself. A loud boom knocked the door straight through. The gang was finally here.

Travis grabbed hellboy by the throat and pushed him against the wall. He muttered a Latin word or two and, within seconds, the infernal fires had reclaimed their runaway.

A warm, smooth hand slid between my legs and a finger entered my pussy.

“What the hell, Cal? You’re wet enough for me to take you right now,” said Max, still breathless from charging into the room.

“Max, sweetheart, be a dear. Take your fingers out of me and undo these cuffs before you fuck me.”

Travis muttered something about being the only one who did any work and sauntered out of the room.

The cuffs unlocked themselves and I rolled over to face my beautiful Max, my Mediterranean magic man. He fluttered those long, dark eyelashes at me and bent down to peck me on the lips.

“You took your time,” I mumbled through his kiss.

“You’re on a fucking yacht, Cal, in St. Tropez.”

“What?” How the hell did I get here?

He closed his eyes and shook his head in despair. “You know how Trav gets in small boats. I had to row us here myself.”

“We really need to teach that man to teleport.”

He grinned, maliciously. “We need to get ourselves a decent demon.”

“You’re just jealous.”

“Not right now, I’m not.” He clasped my thighs. A few mumbled magic words and my thong was gone. “Right now, I’m about to finish what some other demon started.”

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katy Hunter lives on a mountain in France with her husband, kids and two dogs.

When she’s not writing you can find her curled up in front of the fire, book in one hand and a glass of chardonnay in the other.

Follow Katy on Instagram and sign up to her Facebook reader’s group. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Notice: This competition ends on 2nd November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz: The Game Changer by Jacqueline Snowe #friendstolovers #eroticromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

The Game Changer by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 2 in the Cleat Chasers series

Word Count: 76,673
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 298

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
FRIENDS TO LOVERS
SPORTS

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

Pretending to date your best friend is always a good idea…right? Wrong.

Greta Aske has a lot on her mind, and a string of bad dates has her giving up on men, at least for the time being. Her life contains a little too much drama, meaning she needs a break and to save money and get good grades. The perfect solution presents itself—pretend to date the campus playboy. That’ll keep the guys away for sure.

Aaron Hill is desperate to save his baseball career because, with his dad fighting cancer, he damn well knows he can’t ask for a single penny from his parents. Baseball is his past, present and future, so when a scandal threatens his chance in the MLB, he turns to his best friend for help. A fake relationship will keep him out of trouble. It’s perfect, really. Greta’s taking a break from dating and Aaron needs to focus on training.

Nothing could go wrong…as long as neither falls for the other. But when lines are crossed, what’s real and fake blurs and the two are forced to face their fears. Could Greta be the game changer Aaron needs?

Reader advisory: This book was previously released by Finch Books.

Excerpt

Action movies are full of shit, feeding us fake information our entire lives. For instance, when a fight breaks out in a bar, there’s no Mark Wahlberg look-a-like to rescue the damsel in distress. Second the sound of flesh hitting flesh is repulsive and meaty. There are no wooshes or bangs or ka-pows. Nope. It’s just disgusting.

I cringed at the smack and crashing of a fist meeting the face of my date. That’s right. I always picked the best of the best when it came to dating and tonight was no different. Todd, who had blood dripping down his eye, chin and nose, had made the bold decision to ask me out. I’d accepted, like a fool, and would live to regret this night for all eternity.

“Where is my money, Todd?” The broad-shouldered man with a beard longer than my hair pummeled his meaty fists into my date’s face. “Where the feck you keepin’ it?”

No response. Burly Guy didn’t like that. He grunted, swung his arm back past the table and hit Todd square in the nose. What happened in my past life for me to witness this?

No one got up to help. No one moved. They all watched with half-smiles on their faces and I knew in the pit of my stomach I needed to get the hell out. Like, ten minutes ago. I slowly slid my trembling hand into my purse to find my phone, but Mr. Burly heard me. He whipped his face toward mine, the terrifying glint to his eyes making me gasp. I gulped, the fear suddenly very real.

“You know this fecking asshole?” he barked at me. Countless gazes followed his voice and now stared at me. They wanted a show and I was so not the person for the role. My chin trembled as I shook my head.

“N-n-no. I j-just met him tonight.” I clutched my phone to my chest. I would use it as a weapon if necessary, although I had no fucking clue what damage I could do on this beast of a man.

He ran his fat tongue over his lips and studied me. I stood stock-still, my spine straight as a rod. “I think it’s time for you to go, doll. My boss ain’t gunna like me lettin’ ya leave, but your blonde hair don’t fit in here. Get the feck out and don’t come back.”

I nodded, glancing one more time at Todd. My gut screamed to get out, but I had been raised Catholic. Do I leave my epic failure of a date to get killed? Do I call the cops?

Mr. Burly thought I took too long and put his grimy fingers around my wrist. I squealed, yanking it out of his touch.

“Get gone, girl.” He kicked open the door and threw me outside. I stood on a rundown street with one streetlight working correctly. The others flashed and made a high-pitched buzzing sound that sent chills down my spine. “Fuck. Fucking. Fuck.”

I called my best friend with shaking fingers and snot running down my face. Oh, did I mention I had blood on me that wasn’t my own? I gagged, looking at the splatters. The phone rang and rang again. I loved Callie to death, but if that bitch didn’t answer right then, I would get her for it. Big-time. Because what the fuck? It appeared the downward spiral my life had begun a month ago still had a way to go before hitting pure rock bottom. Nothing topped this story, as long as I got home alive.

“Give me my fecking money!” A booming voice traveled through the closed door. My longtime sixth sense had sent warning after warning all day and I’d chosen to ignore it. This is my own damn fault.

I gripped my phone tighter and took a deep breath. Count to eight. Make a box with your breathing. It did me no good and my fingers still shook. After three failed calls to Callie, I called the other number I knew by heart. Aaron Hill answered after the first ring with his obnoxious and playful voice.

“G-spot, what’s crackin’? Finally calling me for a booty call?” His voice had the power to make me smile and roll my eyes simultaneously. This was not that time.

“I need you to come get me.” My voice shook as the shouting picked up. Why had I let Todd convince me this place was cool and a ‘real biker bar’? Standing alone on the dark country road made it feel more like a place where girls went missing than a legit biker hangout. I fell for it. Dumbass.

“Where the hell are you?” His good-natured tone shifted and I imagined his steel eyes going dark. “It’s past midnight. Shit, G, are you alone?”

“Uh, pretty much.” I sent him the address while still on the phone. “I texted you the place. I’m calling in my favor.”

“Jesus, Greta.” He let out a string of cuss words. “Why the fuck are you all the way out there?”

“A date gone bad.” Shame filled my chest, regret chasing it. The feelings had my throat closing. Tears weren’t far behind.

“Goddamn it. I’m on my way. Stay on the phone with me. I swear, I’m going to wring your neck. I hate this shit.” A door slammed—he’d just gotten into his car. After a minute of silence, he sucked in a breath. “Are you at Dirty Matt’s? Please say no. Tell me no, right now, Greta.”

The neon signed mocked me, Dirty Matt’s, blinking over and over. “I’m at Dirty Matt’s.”

“Jesus Christ.” His deep voice got so low, so calm, I made a vow to end all my plans for dating. His anger and disappointment in me were well deserved.

I gulped. Ever since my childhood best friend Callie had found love the year before, I’d wanted to try it. She’d fought it, but seeing how damn happy she had been all year and how she’d grown into herself had motivated me. I was damn happy for her and in no way jealous. I just yearned to have the closeness she had with her boyfriend, Zade.

Okay, so all the longing and searching had led me to a series of bad, awful and miserable dates. Not one had clicked. Not one had ended with the promise for more. And, not one has ended with a guy acting like a gentleman. Apparently, I had a stamp on my head that read, I tend to date losers. And, now, I could add I dated felons. It was the only explanation I could muster why Todd had brought me here, and why they’d beaten the shit out of him.

“I’m twenty minutes out and I’m beyond pissed at you. You know the rep this place has? Do you?” His deep voice held nothing but rage and worry. I closed my eyes and leaned against the wall. I had known about the reputation, but I’d wanted an adventure. Todd rode a motorcycle. He had tattoos and looked as good as sin. I wanted, even an inkling if possible, of the happiness Callie felt. Is that so bad?

Yes. I shivered.

Aaron’s shaking voice pulled me from my self-pitying thoughts. “Greta! Did you know and still go there?”

Shit. He was past mad. “Yeah.”

“Why? Tell me why. I know shit hasn’t been great for you recently, but stop with this self-destruction crap. I can’t watch you do this.”

The squealing tires informed me he was close. His dark SUV sped down the road on a mission, the headlights showcasing how wretched this place looked. He pulled up to the spot right in front of Dirty Matt’s and threw open his door. He stormed out, his anger evident on his handsome face.

“Aaron, look—”

“You asshole,” he said, yanking me into his arms. “You worried the hell out of me. I lost ten pounds on the drive here.”

“Aaron,” I managed to squeak out before he pressed my face into his chest. “I’m okay.”

“Just, let me be.”

So, we stood like that for at least three minutes. His ridiculously large frame towered over me, but not in the way Mr. Burly back there had. Aaron was different. His body was sculpted from hours and hours in the gym. My arms barely fit around his middle, but I tried anyway. He squeezed me one last time and broke our hug. His gray eyes still held on to some anger, but relief took over. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, G.” His lips turned white while he glanced at the sign. “Now, get in the car.”

I obeyed, not foolish enough to piss him off even more. He opened the passenger door and glared at me until I buckled myself in. Without a word, he shut it and pinched his nose walking to the driver’s side. His cologne clouded the car, the pleasant aroma of wood and leather comforting my nerves.

My body shook, the adrenaline wearing off. Aaron must’ve seen, because he turned on the heat despite the high July temperatures. I understood him well enough to let him stew. We had been close for over two years, but last year things were different. His dad being diagnosed with cancer had made the Aaron we all knew and loved change and we had grown closer and closer. Callie was my girl for life, but I couldn’t envision a future without knowing Aaron would be there. He understood me, respected me and pushed me to be better. He was allergic to feelings and emotions while I was forever giving up on men. Our friendship worked.

He drove the silent, dark path back to campus, one hand on the wheel and the other repeatedly making a fist. I blamed myself for his anger. He had enough to worry about and now picking me up… Remorse filled my chest and my eyes stung. “I’m fucking sorry. I’m an idiot. I don’t know why I went there. I wanted to have an adventure or something.”

He nibbled on his bottom lip, keeping his expression blank. Shit. Instead of remaining silent and letting him deal with it, I’d decided to ramble. Rambling was a favorite sport of mine and I couldn’t stop.

“He had a motorcycle…”

“I thought he would be a winner…”

“I want what Callie and Zade have…”

“I didn’t realize he was a felon or something and would get the shit beat out of him…”

“I had no fucking clue I would get manhandled…”

“Excuse me. What did you just say?” His jaw tightened.

“I didn’t have a clue—”

“No. You said manhandled. Someone hurt you?” His grip on the wheel tightened and I swallowed, loudly.

“Not hurt, no.” I tucked my arms further into myself. A bruise had already formed and Aaron was in no state to know that. “Forget I said anything.”

“I swear to God, Greta.” He pulled off the road and stopped the car. He shook, his large frame tight with pent-up rage. I wanted to crawl into a hole. Pissed-off Aaron could scare the boogeyman into retirement. “Don’t fucking lie to me. Are you hurt?”

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Jaqueline Snowe

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the ‘dry heat’ really isn’t that bad. She enjoys making lists with colorful Post-it notes and sipping coffee all day. She has been a custodian, a waitress, a landscaper, a coach and a teacher. Her life revolves around binge-watching Netflix, her two dogs who don’t realize they aren’t humans and her wonderful baseball-loving husband.

You can take a look at Jaqueline’s Website and Blog and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win a $50.00 First For Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Notice: This competition ends on 2nd November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz: Saving the World and Other Bad Ideas by Jayce Carter #reverseharem #paranormalromance #eroticromance @firstforromance @totally_bound

Saving the World and Other Bad Ideas
by Jayce Carter

Book 3 in the Grave Concerns series

Word Count: 74,724
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 279

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM

Add to Goodreads

Book Description


I finally get four hot men and the world’s going to end. Typical.

I’ve gone to hell, I’ve faced off against the devil and I’ve lost someone who meant the world to me. That’s usually the end of the story, but it seems the universe isn’t quite done with me yet.

Lilith is still out there, the end of the world is getting closer and only I can hope to stop it. The more I discover, the deeper I dig into the mystery of Lilith’s past and my own powers, the less sure I am that I can actually defeat her.

Still by my side are the four men I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with—leave it to me to get my romantic life in order just as the world falls apart. With all the questions, there are only two things I know for certain—I will face Lilith, and only one of us will walk away from it.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, bloodshed and death. There are mentions of child abuse, inadequate parenting and bestiality.

Excerpt

“I could tear your soul right out of your stupid, entitled body!”

The man I’d yelled at stared at me as if I were crazy, but that didn’t even slow my tirade. He might think I was a nutjob—and maybe I was—but that didn’t mean I wasn’t fully capable of doing exactly what I’d threatened.

“You’re insane,” the man said.

“You’re the one who’s attacking that poor woman who works here.”

“She made my drink wrong.”

“So?” I set my hands on my hips, giving him my best melt him into the ground right where he stands look. “You think you’re entitled to everything you want? You think the world revolves around you?”

There beside us stood the barista we were arguing over, her dark eyes wide. In fact, she looked far more concerned about our interaction than about him acting like a spoiled brat. When I had been standing by the bar, waiting for mine, he’d brought his back to tell them they’d made it wrong.

“It really is okay,” the barista told me. “It’s not a big deal. I can just remake it.”

“No,” I responded. “It’s not okay. People can’t just expect others to be perfect, to have it all together all the time. He needs to be understanding.”

“I don’t expect perfect,” the man said. “I asked for iced and she made a hot drink. That’s it.”

“So? She’s trying, damn it. She’s the one working, so you should just say thank you and move on. What makes you so special that you think you’ll get whatever you want?”

His mouth hung open, like he’d never dealt with someone telling him off before. “I wasn’t even rude,” he argued. “All I did was ask her to remake it.”

“She’s doing her best,” I repeated for what had to be the tenth time, that same thing that stuck in my head. “She’s just human, and maybe she’s having a bad day. Maybe she recently lost someone she cares about. Maybe she went to hell and is now in some sort of existential crisis because she doesn’t know how to bring the person responsible to justice. Did you ever think about that, or did you just decide to criticize her?”

The chime above the door rang, and when I turned, I realized maybe I’d gone just a little overboard.

Troy walked in, and I doubted he was there as my friendly neighborhood werewolf just making the rounds.

Which meant someone had called the police on me.

For what? A little disagreement?

Or maybe because I told him I’d rip his soul out of his body…

“Finally,” the man said as if Troy were his saving grace.

“You called the police?” I muttered pussy under my breath, low enough that Troy wouldn’t catch it.

The sharp look in his silver eyes said he had. Stupid werewolf hearing.

“You are going to get arrested,” the man said in the mocking, self-assured voice of a kid who had tattled to Mom on his sibling.

“I doubt that.” I leaned in and kept my voice low. “Because I’m fucking the detective.”

Then, just when I was pretty sure my childish behavior couldn’t sink anymore, I stuck out my tongue at him.

At least he looked shocked.

My high horse didn’t last long, however, not when Troy wrapped his large hand around my upper arm. In a different, sexier moment, I might have even liked his macho bullshit. “I’m very sorry,” he said to the man as he pulled me toward the door. “I’ll handle her.”

Handle me?

I would have told Troy exactly what I thought about that, but he lowered his voice to all but snarl into my ear, “You should probably keep quiet.”

The rumbled reprimand shocked me into silence. Troy never used that tone of voice with me. He was typically soft-spoken and the most likely of the men in my life to let me get away with…well…everything.

So his commanding tone kept me quiet until he opened the passenger-side door of his car and tossed me in. By the time he came around and got into the driver’s side, my brain had started working again and I realized—I didn’t let anyone talk to me like that, not even my sort of boyfriend who turned into some sort of wolf creature and had plenty of weird emotional hang-ups.

“Don’t you manhandle me,” I snapped.

“What was that?”

“What was what? I was protecting the staff against a male Karen. That’s called being a good person. Not my fault you don’t recognize it.”

“You were arguing with a stranger so aggressively that the staff called us about you.”

I crossed my arms and sat back. “He was getting mad at her over one little mistake and she was trying her best.”

He let out a long sigh, as if my words had been more telling than I’d meant them to be. The damn man was far too observant. “I know it’s frustrating to have no leads.”

Frustrating didn’t even start to explain it. After Lilith had killed Gran, after I’d sworn she would pay for it, everything had stalled out. Swearing revenge like that was supposed to be some sort of catapult to action, to lead almost immediately to a big showdown where things got resolved. People didn’t swear to make someone pay then spend six weeks doing absolutely nothing about it.

It was said revenge was a dish best served cold, but it turned out I lacked the patience to let it cool.

It didn’t matter how much I wanted to rain hell down on Lilith—I had no idea where she even was, and neither did anyone else.

The only thing I’d been able to do was help out the werewolves and vampires by removing Lilith’s influence from infected immortals. Doing that felt like a tiny jab back at her, a way to give her the middle finger, but it just wasn’t enough. I could only do it so often, and many of the afflicted had to be killed before anyone could capture them, so it didn’t feel like much of a win.

“I thought we’d have something by now,” I admitted, letting my head fall back against the seat.

Troy set his hand on my thigh, the weight of it reassuring even when I didn’t want it to be. Something about him having my back never failed to make me feel a bit more optimistic. “Ava, you survived hell. You faced off against Lucifer. You destroyed a reaper. You’ll get through this, too. It just may not be as fast as you’d like.”

“Hell was easy. We knew which way we had to go. This, though? I’ve got no idea where to even start.”

He squeezed my leg. “You look exhausted. Are you not sleeping well?”

“I’ve got enough horrible things going on in my life when I’m awake. Why should I sleep? Just so I can dream about the mist there?” Just saying it made me shudder.

I’d had those nightmares all my life, but since going to hell, they’d gotten worse. I woke up choking, coughing, gagging as I clawed at my throat with the memory of that damn mist. Even after I could breathe, I couldn’t shake the horrible drowning feeling.

“You can always sleep at my house,” he offered, his voice having lost its sharp edge, having quieted as if coaxing me to agree. This was the sweet man I was used to.

“You might be able to scare away most things, but I’m afraid you aren’t the best dream catcher.” Despite what I said, he had a point. Even if he couldn’t keep the damn dreams away, no doubt it would be better to wake up next to him than alone.

But I wasn’t that girl, the one who threw away everything for a man—or four of them. I’d survived those dreams my whole life, so I could deal with them alone now.

“What if Grant gets some ambrosia? You slept and didn’t dream when you took it before,” Troy pointed out.

“I’m not ever touching that stuff again. I saw it grown in body parts—I almost was the body some was grown in—and that made it lose its magic. No thanks.”

I kept to myself the fact that I hadn’t actually seen Grant. He and Hunter had both all but disappeared upon our return.

It stung.

After everything, they had just dropped off the face of the earth—or hell, whatever—without a word.

Was it because of what I was? Maybe the reality of sleeping with a reaper was a turn-off they couldn’t ignore anymore. Fucking the cute, eccentric girl who talked to ghosts was one thing—getting naked with a reaper must have been a hard limit.

Cowards.

“What’s wrong?” Troy asked, probably having caught my expression.

“Nothing.”

He sighed, the sound telling me he knew I was lying. “Ava…”

I turned to face him. “It’s just more of not knowing where to go, of not having a plan, of being totally and completely stuck. You know, same old, same old.”

He pressed his lips together, as if he knew there was more I wouldn’t say, but he shook his head. “Why don’t I drive you home?”

“What, no handcuffs?”

That glow in his eyes started, the one that said he really wanted to do just that.

Not that I’d gone without…

In the six weeks since we’d returned from hell, I’d ended up in bed with Troy countless times. Always at his place, and usually because I went there, because I craved his scent, his taste, the feeling of his strong hands on me.

It made me wonder if there wasn’t something to this whole mate thing, some bond that drew me to him, that made me need him like I hadn’t before.

Or maybe I was just addicted to his stupid knot.

That was very possible.

He inhaled, slowly, the glow of his eyes brightening. Right. He could smell me, always knew when I was thinking such things. There weren’t a lot of secrets in a relationship with a werewolf.

He leaned forward, as if drawn by the smell of my desire, driven by the need to satisfy me.

I put my hand up and over his face, stopping him before he could kiss me. “No time.”

His groan was muffled by my palm. “I can be quick.”

“No, you can’t.”

Normally, that would have been a wonderful compliment, because the reality was that I never left Troy’s bed unsatisfied. In fact, I usually fell asleep there because I couldn’t stay awake another moment, not after he’d had his way with me, some wild part of his wolf needing to turn me boneless, as if laying a claim.

He nipped my palm before sitting back. “Will you at least promise to stop harassing strangers? I don’t want to get called out on you again.”

“I wasn’t harassing anyone.” At his lifted eyebrow, I blew out a long breath. “Okay, so I may have threatened to rip his soul out of his body.”

Disapproval flooded his expression.

Which I guess was fair.

Maybe that wasn’t the smartest thing I’d done recently. Or maybe it was. It hadn’t been a very good six weeks.

“I know you’re frustrated, Ava. I know you want to find Lilith, that you want to handle this, but going off the rails isn’t going to make it happen any faster. If you end up in jail or rushing into trouble, it isn’t going to help. You need to relax.”

“How am I supposed to do that? Yoga? Meditation? Tea?”

“I have tomorrow night off. What if we go out?”

I paused at the offer, which had taken me off track. “Like…a date?”

He nodded. “We’re involved, aren’t we? Let me take my mate out, have dinner, act like any normal couple.”

“I don’t think you get to use the word ‘normal’, not when we went to hell, had a threesome with a vampire and your penis gets stuck inside me when we have sex.”

He let out a rough laugh. “You’re impossible, you know that?”

“I’ve heard that before, yeah. So, you’re not going to arrest me?”

“Not today.” He caught my arm as if calling me on how I hadn’t actually agreed to the date. “Dinner tomorrow?”

Maybe trying to date like some happy couple wasn’t the best idea in the middle of everything else, or maybe that was exactly why I needed it right then.

“Okay,” I said, inexplicably nervous. Then again, when was the last time I’d had a real date planned?

Maybe never? Certainly never with someone I actually loved.

I went to get out of the car, but he didn’t let me go. Troy shifted his hand to the front of my shirt, then tugged me in until he could take my lips in a possessive kiss, one that screamed mine in a way that melted me.

Whether it was him or his wolf leaving a mark on me, I didn’t know, and honestly, I didn’t really care.

Being claimed by both of them was fine by me, and one of the few things going exactly right in my life.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Jayce Carter

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing. You can learn more about her at her website.

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Notice: This competition ends on 5TH October 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz: Must Love Cats by Angela Addams #paranormalromance #eroticromance #reverseharem @totally_bound @firstforromance

Must Love Cats by Angela Addams

Word Count: 68,373
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 268

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM
WERESHIFTERS

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

Four fiercely protective shifters. A curse and a ghost town. A bunch of wily cats and one woman who can save them all.

Lucki Collins has landed the job of a lifetime—Cat Keeper of Lady Clover’s Cat House in Weeping Falls, Alaska.

Lucki discovers early on that Weeping Falls is cursed and that the cats she’s there to care for are the townspeople, who must abide by the cycle of the sun and moon—taking cat form during the day and human form at night. They are magical creatures known as ‘familiars’, who can enhance the powers of a witch considerably, the very thing that puts them in danger.

Lucki meets her protectors—Reuben, a bear shifter, Wren, a wolf shifter, Ben, a hawk shifter, and Julian, a lion shifter—who must not only keep her and the cats safe, but also somehow convince her to bond with them. Their magical bond is the only thing that will give Lucki control over her powers, which are necessary to defeat Angelica, a sorceress who wants to capture all the cats and use them for her evil goals. Lucki hasn’t had the best experience with love, but rather than leave the men hopeless, she offers to help them break the curse by another means.

Things don’t go according to plan, and Lucki is left with the challenge of overcoming her past and setting aside her fears. If she can believe in herself and put her faith in love once again, she might just be able to triumph over evil and save the people she has come to deeply care about in Weeping Falls.

Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of public sex, references to emotionally/psychologically abusive sex, the death of a parent from cancer, graphic and gory violence, the death of a major character and murder of animals.

Excerpt

Cat Keeper of Weeping Falls. It sounds like a joke, right? Cat Keeper… What the hell kind of job is that?

“The best job in the mothereff”—burp—“ing world!” Lucki Collins raised her almost empty pint of beer and cheered the crowd of rowdy townspeople who were seated all around her. The burn of too much booze heated her cheeks, and the ache from so much laughing had her cradling her side. She was being treated like a queen and didn’t care if she was making an ass of herself.

“Cheers to our new Cat Keeper. May your time here be ever filled with joy.” Mr. Rose an elderly man with a bright red nose and long white whiskers, raised his glass, which was filled with…milk. It was the only thing he’d been drinking all night.

Lucki figured it had to be mixed with bourbon or something. The man was way too cheerful to be sober. They’re all way too cheerful. The entire town of Weeping Falls, a population of a hundred at most, had welcomed her with open arms the second she’d cleared the town line—and hadn’t stopped welcoming her.

“To our blessed Cat Keeper!” Everyone cheered, raising their glasses, thumping on the tables, laughing, singing.

They were in the tavern, a throwback to the old West, complete with its swinging doors and long curved bar, plank wood floors that were scuffed and dented and an old-time piano that one of the residents had been playing since Lucki had gotten there. Everyone was dressed in the fashion of the time too—from the cowboy hats to the heel spurs, corsets and billowing skirts. Lucki truly felt like she’d stepped into the olden days—and she loved it.

Weeping Falls had been an actual mining town back in the day. Now it was barely hanging on as a ghost town tourist attraction—the Wild West in Alaska. There wasn’t much in the way of bookings, from what she’d gathered. The only visitor was her, and she was soon to be a resident too. She’d be Lady Clover’s Cat Keeper, responsible for tending to a massive cat colony who’d been bequeathed a mansion and a trust fund and who called Weeping Falls home.

When she’d been offered the job, she’d thought she’d heard wrong.

“Cat keeper? What kind of job is that?”

Scout, the man who’d found her, had answered her simply and honestly. “We can’t afford a trained vet to come. You have almost all the requirements and a lot of experience working with animals. You’ll do.”

Lucki had been working at shelters her whole life. Always a tender heart around those injured or in need of love, she’d solely manned a cat sanctuary in her hometown until a fire had taken out the entire colony the past summer. It had nearly destroyed her heart to lose all those precious lives.

Scout had come knocking on her door one morning, claiming he’d heard about her compassion toward the felines and had wanted to offer her a new job as Cat Keeper for Lady Clover’s Cat House in Weeping Falls, Alaska.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time—a windfall, actually. Everyone knew she was destined to be a crazy cat lady anyway, and now she was going to be paid to fulfill that dream. It sounded pretty freakin’ perfect to her.

Besides, she had another reason to leave home—a big, six-foot-two, built-like-a-brick-house reason whom she wanted no reminder of ever again. He’d be in jail for another year at least, and by the time he got out, he’d find no trace of her. That gave her some measure of peace.

Her heart had been crushed, battered and beaten enough over the last ten years. She needed this escape, and Scout’s offer had come at the perfect moment. Time would heal all wounds—or so she’d heard—but cuddling with a bunch of cats would make that time sweeter.

And there hadn’t been a moment of regret—not one. She’d spent more than a day on the road with only a brief stop to rest, travelling all the way from her hometown in northern British Columbia.

It was a long way to come for a bunch of cats.

Best decision ever!

She downed what was left of her beer then snorted in the most unladylike way when another full pint slid in front of her.

“Oh boy, no way!” She laughed. “You people are going to get me totally wasted.”

“Aww, lass, no harm,” Andy Crawlie drawled. “We’re just happy yer finally here. We’ve been waitin’ on ya fer a vera long time.”

That had been what it had been like the entire night. They’d fed her delicious food until she was stuffed, then they’d started pouring the beer, keeping her glass full while they sang and laughed and told stories. There were enough people in the tavern that she lost track of all the names and keeping everyone straight. But she had plenty of time to learn them.

Lucki giggled but pushed the glass away. “Thank you for all your generosity, everyone.” She had to raise her voice to be heard over the music playing. “I think I should head back to Lady Clover’s, though. It’s late… Wait! How late is it?” Her phone had stopped working at some point during the night. She imagined that cell service was spotty at best around here anyway. She made a mental note to ask someone about it in the morning when her thoughts were clearer.

“Oh, it’s hardly after midnight, dear,” Sandy Evernight said as she picked up Lucki’s beer and took a sip for herself. “But if you must go, we’ll send you with an escort, to make sure you get back to the house in one piece.”

“An escort?” Lucki pushed her chair back. The wood feet thudded across the floor, giving Lucki a bit of a fight to stand.

“It’s always a good idea around here.” Sandy shrugged, her cheeks bright. She had a glint in her eyes that made Lucki question if there was a punchline coming. “‘Cause of the wild animals and such.”

“Wild animals?” Lucki frowned, her good mood taken down a notch. Not a joke, then. Right, because you’re in the middle of freakin’ Alaska! Spring is coming. Of course there are animals roaming around.

“Och, Sandy, quit scaring the girl. You want her to pick up and leave before she’s even settled in?” Mr. Rose said. “Rueben’s out there watchin’ for her. He’ll make sure she gets home safe.”

“Oh, Reuben’s around?” Sandy winked, aiming another sly smile at Lucki. “Didn’t know. Hadn’t seen him.”

“Don’t be daft, woman.” Andy tsked.

“You’ll be fine, Lucki,” Mr. Rose said with a reassuring pat on her arm. “Just be sure to put your coat on. The nights are still bitter cold around here.”

Someone handed Lucki her giant parka as she stood on wobbly legs, the beers rushing through her system worse than she’d first thought. “Thanks.” She slipped herself inside the warm down coat and instantly shivered as the heat embraced her. It would soon be too hot to be wearing inside the tavern. That was for sure. “I’ll see you all in the morning.”

Everyone mumbled something at her in response, but as she moved toward the door, she realized they just as soon returned to their drinking and joking, seeming to forget all about her. Looking over her shoulder at the group, she smiled once again. Such a fun bunch of folks. Unusual, sure, but also warm and embracing. Their unquestioning friendliness was like a comfort blanket around her heart. And that was something she really, really needed.

She pushed through the doors and blinked against the cold bite of the air. Icy wind shot up her nose and stung her brain. Sandy had said it was spring and she wasn’t wrong, calendar wise, but the weather up here was not any kind of spring that Lucki had ever experienced. Even in Canada, where the winters could get brutal, May usually came with milder temperatures, even at night.

But today was only May first, she reminded herself. Beltane. The familiar stir of longing rattled through her. In years past, Beltane was always a night she’d enjoyed with others. With him. Marking the coming of spring, Beltane was a celebration of new growth and fertility, and usually involved a night of ritual, song and dance, bonfires and, in her adult life, a lot of sexual exploration. This was the first time in many years that she would be alone.

But the past is the past, and it’s better to be alone and happy than with someone and miserable.

“Blessed be,” she said with a sigh.

She let her eyes adjust to the night then looked up at the impossibly bright stars overhead. She’d never seen so many in her life. She scanned the sky, hoping to see the Northern Lights, which she’d read about when she had been trying to research what to expect in Alaska, but the only light was from the stars and the moon, which was near full. Beautiful. She took in a deep breath, ignoring the burn of the cold air as it ripped up her nose again, freezing her nostrils. Refreshing, sure, but also painful. She chuckled to herself then took a few steps off the porch.

The gritty earth crunched under her feet. It was a strangely comforting sound that broke up the silence of the night and gave Lucki something to focus on other than the shadowed buildings.

The town consisted of a main strip with all the old ghost-town amenities—a barbershop with its candy-cane stripe, a hotel down the road, grocery store, shoemaker, blacksmith and even a church. There was a carriage without its horses and bundles of hay off to the side. It was so old-world and yet not. There were modern amenities as well—like the streetlamps, which were a little too far apart for Lucki’s liking, and a few cars parked here and there.

She flipped up her hood, suddenly feeling the cold worse as it whipped down the back of her neck, making her shiver right to her bones. Lady Clover’s Cat House was at the other end of the strip. The lights of the mansion shone from almost every window, a guiding beacon, so it would be impossible to not find her way there.

My new home. Hard to really fathom. It was three stories of old-world charm. Painted yellow like the sun, it had stained-glass multicolored windows with white shutters to frame them and a wraparound porch that could fit a hundred people with no problem. There was even a swinging chair there for her to lounge on in the warmer months, and she so looked forward to reading a few books out there with some cats on her lap. It was a house she could only dream of living in one day, and here she was walking down a dirt road, on her way to spending her first night in a castle of cats. Bliss.

Although this particular bliss included a pretty frosty walk. The cold bit at her cheeks and stung her eyes, so she walked faster. The noise from the partiers dimmed behind her. The silence of Alaska greeted her with each step she took toward her new home. She could fall in love with a place like this. It was so peaceful. So simple. She didn’t miss the buzzing white noise that she’d grown accustomed to back home or the constant urgency to check her phone for messages. She was unplugged. Calm. At peace.

“Meow.”

Lucki stopped in her tracks. Ohhhhhhh, one of the cats? She hadn’t met any of them yet, but she was eager to.

“Kitty?”

“Meeeeeow.”

She shifted her hood so she could look all around. “Here, kitty. Come here, kitty. Let me see you!” She felt no shame in her excitement over meeting the cats. She looked forward to bonding with each of them. She’d been warned it was quite a large colony, a hundred at least. “Here, kitty!”

“Meow!”

She felt a nudge against her boot and shifted her hood to look down. The coat was so bulky that she could hardly see her own feet.

“Mr. Whiskers?” she said, as she swooped down to pick up her own cat. “What are you doing out here all alone, baby?” The only cat to have survived the fire was one of her favorites, a mangy brown tabby she called Mr. Whiskers. She’d brought him with her to Alaska but had left him safe and sound in the house—or so she’d thought. “How’d you get out here?”

“Muuuuurrrrow!” He purred like an engine and nuzzled into her arms as she stroked him.

“Well, you silly boy, let’s get you back inside where it’s warm.”

She walked, the crunch of her feet on the gravelly dirt road a distraction again. She pulled her attention from the ground and scanned the buildings around her.

“It’s awfully dark.” In between the streetlights was pitch black, and unusual shadows had collected in those places, keeping just out of reach from the lights. In each of those in-between spaces were alleys that were so opaque that they were impenetrable without a flashlight.

Creepy. The sobering reality of being completely alone in the middle of a town where she didn’t really know anyone slithered down her spine. If she called out, would anyone hear her?

The faint sound of music from the tavern drifted toward her. Nope…probably not.

She also kind of felt like she was being watched. Paranoia? Maybe. The tickling at the back of her neck had her scrunching her shoulders, and she picked up her pace all the same.

“Where’s this Reuben guy everyone is talking about?” she whispered to Mr. Whiskers, but he didn’t say anything back. He just purred in his contented kitty way. No fucks given.

The cat house was only about thirty feet ahead, if that. The urge to bolt the rest of the way poked her from all sides, but she was scared that if she did that, she’d drop the cat or freak him out enough to make him claw his way over her face.

Just one more alley to cross. She moved a little to the center of the street, putting some distance between her and the black maw of nothing on her left.

As she crossed the alley, she heard a noise. Low and quiet at first, it was a rumble of sound that she didn’t know quite how to place. It froze her in her tracks, though. There was definitely a menacing tone to it, like a warning. A growl.

“Do you hear that, Mr. Whiskers?” She couldn’t keep the quiver out of her voice. Keep walking.

Mr. Whiskers stopped purring. In fact, he stopped moving and was frozen in her arms, his body rigid as he stared down the alley, a murmur of a hiss growing in his belly.

The growling from the alley came again. It was definitely not friendly. Oooooh nooooo…

Something dazzled, a blink of light, then twin orbs of blue appeared to be floating in the darkness. So pretty. The slow grind of gravel under foot, deliberate careful movements, didn’t bring Lucki any comfort. “What is that?”

She unlocked her knees then took a step back. Then another. The sound got louder. The growl grew in strength with each step toward her until it was a warning she couldn’t ignore. She moved back quickly, almost stumbling on her own feet. Out of the shadows came a giant dog, its teeth bared, eyes menacing.

No, not a dog.

A wolf!

“H-h-holy shit,” Lucki stammered.

The wolf crouched, ready to pounce.

I’m going to die.

Mr. Whiskers hissed a growl of his own then leaped from her arms and she, the stupid fool, chased after him—right up to the wolf, within feet of the menacing beast. Mr. Whiskers stood between them, his fur fluffed out and back arched. He gave a hiss of warning with a paw raised, ready to strike.

“Mr. Whiskers, are you nuts?” Her voice was barely loud enough for anyone to hear. It was a croak instead of a scream. No one would come to her rescue. “Help!” Her voice failed her once again, coming out as a half whisper, strangled by her fear. The wolf watched her, its eyes searing deep inside. It ignored the cat completely.

What is the right move? Why didn’t I research this?

What to do if a wolf stalks you…yeah…that.

The wolf took a menacing step in her direction, its predator glare never wavering. Lucki’s legs shook with an alarming sway. Her knees were literally knocking together. If she tried to run, she’d fall flat on her face for sure.

Running with a predator giving chase was probably not a great idea anyway.

The cat launched itself, jumping toward the wolf.

Her voice unlocked. “Mr. Whiskers, no!”

But it was too late. The cat struck a clawed paw against the wolf’s muzzle, causing it to growl and lower its head. Lucki thought for sure Mr. Whiskers was gonna lose all nine lives in one go, but Mr. Whiskers didn’t get the memo on that. He struck again, quick and determined, a claw swipe against the wolf’s nose.

Lucki quickly calculated the odds of snatching the cat up as she ran. It didn’t look good. She was not that coordinated.

She sucked in a deep breath, then opened her mouth to scream.

The wolf took a step back, its head bowed…in…submission?

What the…? Her scream died on her tongue.

Mr. Whiskers, still all puffed out, still defending his human, was no longer on the attack. He even seemed to have a smug grin as he tossed a glance in Lucki’s direction. The wolf stayed down, muzzle lowered to the ground, its eyes blinking rapidly.

“Get outta here if you aren’t going to be civilized,” a booming voice said from behind.

The wolf flicked its eyes up, looked behind Lucki for a moment, then it bolted away into the darkness of the alley.

“Sorry, hon. Got caught up in a conversation and didn’t realize you were leaving so soon.”

Lucki glanced behind her, then did a double take. A huge, burly man stomped toward her. He had to be at least six-five, six-six. He wasn’t wearing a coat, just a blue lumberjack shirt, rolled up at the sleeves, that showed some impressively muscled forearms. His brown hair was parted to the side and his soft eyes crinkled with what kind of looked like amusement. The lower half of his face was covered with a beard, close cropped and well kept. This guy was a bear—a huge, lumberjack bear. He had an easy smile and a dimple, and he was so disarming that Lucki smiled back, that and her panties melted right then and there.

“I’m Reuben.” His voice had the kind of husky depth that stroked her soul.

Her legs quivered.

She cleared her throat to get the lusty lump of drool out of the way. “There’s a wolf…” She turned her head to the alley, but the wolf was definitely gone. Mr. Whiskers nudged her to be picked up.

“Yeah, I saw.” Reuben radiated heat. It literally steamed off him. He came up next to her then placed a firm hand on her back, which instantly steadied her legs. “Let’s get you to the house before you freeze to death.”

“A wolf, though…” She turned her head from side to side, scanning the area as she bent down to pick up the cat.

“He’s gone now. Don’t worry about him.” Reuben’s voice was so sure, so confident, so soothing. “Happy to finally meet you,” he added.

“Was that real?” The adrenaline that had coursed through her body crashed out of her in a whoosh. She took a step but her legs crumbled out from under her.

“Whoa there!” Reuben swooped in and held her upright. “They been pouring drinks into you? Those beasts don’t ever learn.”

Her head was clear. Any buzz she’d had from the booze had burned through her. It had to be shock that was making her dizzy and disoriented now. She could have died. Mr. Whiskers had done his best, but really, that wolf could have eaten her in a few bites.

“I got ya.” Reuben picked her up then cradled her and the cat in his arms.

She gasped, more to herself, as she looked up at him. “You’re a big guy.” She was in the arms of a mountain.

He chuckled. “I am.” He hitched her up higher. “Let’s get you home, shall we? Then we can properly introduce ourselves. It’s Beltane, you know, a good night for introductions.” He smiled, his dimple popping and his eyes glistening.

His wink to follow undid her completely.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Angela Addams

Angela Addams is an author of many naughty things. She believes that the written word is an amazing tool for crafting the most erotic of scenarios and likes telling stories about normal people getting down and dirty and falling in love. Enthralled by the paranormal at an early age, Angela also spends a lot of her time thinking up new story ideas that involve supernatural creatures in everyday situations.

She is an avid tattoo collector, a total book hoarder, and loves anything covered in chocolate…except for bugs.

She lives in Ontario, Canada in an old, creaky house, with her husband, children and four moody cats.

Sign up to Angela’s newsletter and check out her blog and website. You can follow Angela on Instagram and Pinterest, and find her at Amazon, Bookbub and Books & Main.

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win a $50.00 First For Romance Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
Notice: This competition ends on 5TH October 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group