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MISS FIX IT by Emma Hart

 

 

 

One handywoman.

One single dad.

One set of twins.

And the wall isn’t the only thing being drilled…

I learned the hard way that being a handywoman isn’t easy. The questions, the stares—the assumption I’m the proud owner of a cock and balls. Not that it matters. I’ve proven over and over that I’m ready for anything the judgmental asses throw at me.

Except the hot, single dad of twins who just moved to town.

Brantley Cooper gets the shock of his life when I show up on his doorstep to fix up his kids’ new rooms. His son is confused why ‘the pretty lady has a drill,’ and his daughter has a new obsession—me.

On paper, my job is easy. Go in, do their bedrooms, and leave.

In theory, I’m spending eight hours a day with a guarded, sexy as hell guy, and I’m staying for dinner more often than I’m eating it alone, on my couch, with Friends re-runs.

I shouldn’t be staying for dinner. I shouldn’t be helping him out with the twins. I shouldn’t be falling in love with tiny toes and dimpled cheeks.

And I most definitely should not be kissing my client.

Oops…

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emma

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies—usually wine—and writes books.

Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.

She likes to be busy—unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

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#Charity · Release Blitz · S&SR Review Soon

Alphas of Danger Anthology

** 2016’s Alphas of Sin Anthology we’ve raised $5,000 to 4 Paws for Ability! We’ve been able to sponsor a puppy pen and not one but TWO puppies named Vixen & Frenzy. We will be following the journey of these two puppies to hopefully graduate and become service dogs to a family in need. You can come join our journey on our Facebook page Once Upon An Alpha. We are now BACK with Alphas of Danger, available NOW for a LIMITED TIME with ten bestselling authors and we hope you join us on the journey for 2017’s Alphas of Danger with ten never-been-told stories by ten bestselling authors**

COVER DESIGNER: COVER ME DARLING – MARISA-ROSE SHOR

PHOTOGRAPHER – WOODEN GATE PRODUCTIONS

MODEL – JASE DEAN

ALL NET PROCEEDS OF SALES DONATED TO 4 PAWS FOR ABILITY

Synopsis

Happy-Ever-After has never been so intoxicating

Danger…

When a man has beaten it, he becomes a hero.

Lust…

When a woman tastes it, she is helpless to resist his pull.

Love…

It won’t come easily, especially between alpha men and their headstrong women. Threats lurk in the shadows, and the price for passion is often exacted with a bullet or a blade…but the sacrifice is worth it when devotion is the reward.

Ten bestselling authors, masters of spine-tingling romantic suspense, bring you brand-new stories that will yank you to the edge of your seat and have your heart pounding as you turn the pages.

Best of all, the proceeds will benefit 4 Paws for Ability, a worldwide agency that enriches the lives of children and veterans with disabilities by training and placing quality, task-trained service dogs.

Stories Contributed to Alphas of Danger:

SHAYLA BLACK – DEVOTED TO WICKED

LEXI BLAKE – COUNTDOWN

MARI CARR – POWER STRUGGLE

KRIS COOK – CIA COVERT TEAM: RAINBOW KNIGHTS (M/M)

ANISSA GARCIA – WITH A VENGEANCE

KYM GROSSO – HARD ASSET

JENNA JACOB – REVENGE ON THE ROCKS

KENNEDY LAYNE – SEDUCING DANGER

ISABELLA LAPEARL – ENFORCE HER – A LEATHER, PIPES & PASSION SHORT STORY

CARRIE ANN RYAN – EXECUTIVE INK – A MONTGOMERY INK SHORT STORY

For more information about this nonprofit organization: http://4pawsforability.org/

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AboutTheAuthor

SHAYLA BLACK

ShaylaBlack high res

Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels. For nearly twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

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LEXI BLAKE

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance that she found success. She likes to find humor in the strangest places. Lexi believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome or foursome may seem.

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MARI CARR

Writing a book was number one on Mari Carr’s bucket list and on her thirty-fourth birthday, she set out to see that goal achieved. Too many years later, her computer is jammed full of stories — novels, novellas, short stories and dead-ends and she has nearly eighty published works.

Virginia native, Mari Carr is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestseller of contemporary erotic romance novels. With over one million copies of her books sold, Mari was the winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Passionate Plume award for her novella, Erotic Research.

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KRIS COOK

Though starting in straight erotic romance, Kris’s total focus now is on gay romance. When asked why recently, his answer was “My muse finally came out of the closet. Isn’t it about time? I’ve been out since I was twenty-five.”

A voracious reader, Kris loves many genres of fiction, but this writer’s favorite books are romances that are edgy, sexy, with rich characters and unique challenges. Kris’s influences include Anne Rice, JR Ward, Lexi Blake and Shayla Black.

Kris is also the co-host of Romance OUT Loud, an audio podcast that features some of the best voices in gay romance fiction like, Andrew Grey, Damon Suede, Kindle Alexander, Felice Stevens, L.A. Witt, Sarina Bowen, and more.

Kris is married to the love of his life – Stephen.

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ANISSA GARCIA

anissa-garciaAnissa Garcia earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications and English. She held an array of jobs including Public Relations Manager for Barnes and Noble. Wanting a change of pace, she attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and trained full-time in theatre for two years. After working in Hollywood as an actress and casting assistant, she relocated to Austin, Texas and began writing freelance for Cosmopolitan and other publications. Her first book, A Promise Kept, is available now. A Promise Made will be available November 2016. When not writing stories, watching movies, or drinking a latte, she loves to daydream about romantic fictional men.

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KYM GROSSO

Kym Grosso is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the erotic paranormal series, The Immortals of New Orleans, and the contemporary erotic suspense series, Club Altura. In addition to romance novels, Kym has written and published several articles about autism, and is passionate about autism advocacy. She is also a contributing essay author in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum.

She lives in suburban Pennsylvania but has a not-so-secret desire to move to a beach in southern California where she can write while listening to the roar of the ocean. She holds a bachelor’s degree from West Chester University and a MBA from Widener University. In a previous life, she was employed as a speech therapist, a health care consultant, and a product manager for a software company. In 2012, Kym published her first novel and today, is a full time indie romance author.

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JENNA JACOB

JennaJacobUSA Today Bestselling author Jenna Jacob paints a canvas of passion, romance, and humor as her Alpha men and the feisty women who love them unravel their souls and heal their scars to find their happily-ever-after kind of love. Heart-tugging, captivating, and steamy, Jenna’s books will surely leave you breathless and craving more.

A mom of four grown children, Jenna and her Alpha-Hunk husband live in Kansas. Jenna loves books, Harleys, music, and camping. Jenna’s zany sense of humor and lack of filter exemplify her motto: Live. Laugh. Love.

Meet the wild and wicked family in her sultry series: The Doms of Genesis. Or become spellbound by the searing love connection between Raine, Hammer, and Liam in her continuing saga: The Doms of Her Life (co-written with the amazing Shayla Black and Isabella La Pearl). Journey with couples struggling to resolve their pasts to discover unbridled love and devotion in Jenna’s new contemporary series: Passionate Hearts.

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KENNEDY LAYNE

Kennedy Layne is a USA Today bestselling author. She draws inspiration for her military romantic suspense novels in part from her not-so-secret second life as a wife of a retired Marine Master Sergeant. He doubles as her critique partner, beta reader, and military consultant. They live in the Midwest with their teenage son and menagerie of pets. The loyal dogs and mischievous cats appreciate her writing days as much as she does, usually curled up in front of the fireplace.

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ISABELLA LAPEARL

isabellalapearl

Isabella LaPearl is a USA Today bestselling author known for her collaboration with Shayla Black & Jenna Jacob for the Doms of Her Life Series. She enjoys writing sexy, erotic romance. A wife, mother, writer, reader and a love for riding motorcycles.

To say it’s been an extraordinary journey thus far would be an understatement… what a rush! What a thrill to realize dreams and see them go from a seed to fruition. So for all you aspiring Authors, who like me, have a fire inside that burns brightly and demands to be sated by writing… Never give up.

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CARRIE ANN RYAN

Carrie Ann Ryan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romance. Her works include the Montgomery Ink, Redwood Pack, Talon Pack, and Gallagher Brothers series, which have sold over 2.0 million books worldwide. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. Carrie Ann has written over fifty novels and novellas with more in the works. When she’s not writing about bearded tattooed men or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can and exploring the world of baking and gourmet cooking.

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Cover Reveal · Giveaway · S&SR Review Soon

Earning It by Angela Quarles

Cover Design: Sarah Eirew

Release Date: October 4, 2017

 

Synopsis

One blind date. One case of mistaken identity. One Navy SEAL faced with his high school crush. What could go wrong?

To Score…
Holy cow, my blind date is rawr-hot. Everything in me aches to explore more with this man, but I can’t. I’ve got too much on the line professionally, with me starting at my new medical practice on shaky ground. But I can’t deny that I want the sex. A fling is perfect. Bonus—I will prove my idiot ex-boyfriend wrong. I’m not cold.

Or Not to Score…
Once she mistakes me for her blind date, my plan is clear. Be this Rick the Lawyer she thinks I am. And for the space of this coffee date, talk to the only woman who’s ever made me feel any spark outside of combat. Best case scenario, I get to be outside my skin—free to be whatever the hell I want. Worst case—she recognizes me as we chat. She’ll be pissed, call me an asshole, but it won’t be anything she hasn’t called me in the past, so… Win/Win?

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Excerpt

 

We’re not going to make it to the credits for Deadpool. We started out innocently enough—popping popcorn (plain for me), fussing around looking for blankets, and arranging our pillows on the couch—but there was a quality to all the innocence, as if we knew more than watching a movie could happen here and were going through all these maneuvers to bide our time and see if the other was on board before fully committing.
First, we shared a blanket, a royal blue one with some kind of stitching in the corners. Pretty, if you like that kind of thing. Then we kept inching closer until I had my arm around her shoulder and she was snugged up against my side. Then I threaded my hand through hers.
Deadpool says, “Love is a beautiful thing. When you find it, the whole world tastes like Daffodil Daydream.”
We were both unmoving under the blanket, but now that stillness has more weight. Deadpool continues to seemingly talk straight to me by telling me to hold onto love and not to make mistakes.
Now each quiet pause in the movie amplifies our awareness. I can hear her heightened breathing. The anticipation tightening her muscles before the next crescendo of the music score drowns our breaths out. Not that there’s a lot of quiet pauses in this movie—it’s pretty kickass. Both action and dialogue, which would normally snag me, but it can’t compete with Pepper. Not even when the hot chick from Firefly pops onto the screen.
“Hey, it’s Inara.”
“Who?”
“Okay. We need to rectify this lack in your life. Firefly?”
“Never got a chance to see it.”
I make a mental note to change that.
Our conversation is like this, like we’re both glad to be talking about things other than the tension building between us. “Oh damn, nice hit,” or “Shit, what did he just say?” Things like that.
The tension skyrockets, though, when things get hot and heavy between Deadpool and the Inara chick. I shift under the blanket. I think her hand shifts closer.
Shit. I give in and lean down to her temple. I hold myself still, my lips just an inch away from her beauty mark. Her breath hitches. I brush my lips across that dot of temptation.
She’s rock still, and I’m psyching myself up to move away, pretend for her I’d misjudged the situation, when there’s movement under the blanket. Next, there’s a death clutch around my neck—her hand has my T-shirt twisted into a fierce grip. Then she’s yanking my head down to her, and our mouths bump into each other.
Oh yes.
I angle around and plant my elbow on the back of the couch and cradle her head with my other hand. With my fingers and my thumb resting against her cheek, I guide her in for a more controlled but no less desperate kiss, my heart pounding as if I’d just finished log PTs.
Just like the other day at my apartment, we’re attacking each other with our lips, our hands. I stroke my tongue inside and groan. God, she tastes…tastes like…I don’t know what, but it’s Pepper, and it’s intoxicating. And I want it. I want her.
But I hold back, taking my cue from her for how far she’s willing to take this.
She tugs on the snap at my jeans.
Well, okay then.

 

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One of Five ARC’s for Earning It (Stolen Moments #1)

 

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About the Author

Angela is a USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel MUST LOVE BREECHES swept many unpublished romance contests, including the Grand Prize winner of Windy City’s Four Seasons contest in 2012. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history, and has been a hobby historian for twenty+ years. She decided to take her love of history and her active imagination and write stories of love and adventure for others to enjoy. When writing, she’s either at her desk in the finished attic of an historic home in beautiful and quirky Mobile, AL, or at her fave spot at the local Starbucks. When she isn’t writing, she’s either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.

 

Connect with Angela

 

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Cover Reveal · Giveaway · S&SR Review Soon

Protector’s Claim by Airicka Phoenix

Title: Protector’s Claim
Author: Airicka Phoenix
Genre: Dark Romance
Publication Date: Oct. 31st, 2017
Blurb:
Gabrielle Thornton
I made a mistake.
I allowed myself to be born. I allowed myself access into a life that wasn’t mine, and for that, I had willingly submitted my body and soul to a man whose sadistic pleasures knew no bound, a man who relished in my pain as much as he craved my flesh.
A monster I would do anything to escape.
But what if I could make it stop? What if the cost of freedom was a single night in a stranger’s arms? What if one final sin was all I needed to commit to find peace?
 Kieran Kincaid
I had always known of the sickness that lived inside my father, the demons who controlled the man. His death was a blessing to every innocent he’d destroyed with his dark hunger.
Yet, despite his demise becoming my curse, a shackle trapping me in his twisted secrets, it lured me to it, too. It promised me the thing I coveted above all else. It seduced me deeper into the world I wish I knew nothing of, but there was no turning back, not even if by accepting, by taking what didn’t belong to me made me a monster like him.
Gabby would finally be mine.


Airicka Phoenix is a multi-genre author of novels starring strong female leads and sexy alpha heroes. She started her journey after never finding the type of books she wanted to read. Her love of tortured souls and forbidden romance carried her into writing her own hard-earned happiness. Currently, she lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her babies and can be found hard at work on her next project.

For more about Airicka, visit her at AirickaPhoenix.com

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Looking for your next read?
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Release Blitz · S&SR Review Soon

Exes with Benefits by Nicole Williams

 

 

 

 

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***He wants a second chance. I want a divorce. To get what I want, I’ll have to give him what he does.***

From New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Nicole Williams:

The only benefit I want from my ex is a divorce.

We got married for all the wrong reasons. The one thing we got right was our separation. I should have known better than to think I could bet on forever with a guy like Canaan Ford. Everything about him screamed impermanent, from his wild eyes to his restless soul.

When I left him and the small town I’d spent my whole life in, I swore I’d never go back. Never only turned out to be five years. Canaan claims he’s changed, but he hasn’t—same knowing smile, same rough demeanor, same body crafted from sin and sinew. And yet, something is different. He thinks this is his chance for redemption. My disagreement comes in the form of divorce papers dropped in his lap. He refuses to sign them. Unless . . .

He wants a month to prove himself to me—that’s his offer. One month to make me fall in love with him again and if I don’t, he’ll sign the papers. As much as I want to say no, I agree. I can suffer my ex for a short amount of time if that’s what it takes to be free of him once and for all. I fell for him once; I won’t make that same mistake twice.

He says we’re not over. I say we were over before we got started. Only one of us can be right, and I can’t let it be him.

 

“Canaan—”
Before I could attempt to figure out how to follow that, he lifted his hands. “I’m here to help. That’s all. No hidden agenda. I swear,” he added when I eyed the stack of packing supplies like there was a secret code I was meant to decipher.
“I don’t want to fight. Or argue. Or debate. Or anything else you and I could never stop going on and on about.”
“I don’t either.” He kept his hands raised for another moment before dropping them at his sides. “We didn’t always used to be like that, you know?”
“I remember. And then we turned thirteen and hormones got the better of us and we couldn’t seem to stop fighting.”
“I remember times we weren’t fighting. Lots of times.”
“The only times we weren’t fighting was when we were making out or making something.” I closed the door and cleared my throat.
“Fighting and fucking. We were damn great at both.”
If it wasn’t for the boyish grin he gave me right then, he would have gotten more than a grumble from me.
“We should have just stayed friends. That was the only relationship we were good at.”
“We never could have just stayed friends.”
“Why not?” I glanced around for a sweater to throw on, since that was the second time he’d looked at me like he had to convince himself not to misbehave.
“Chemistry. You and I had it.” He started folding the first box, his hands working with all of his attention directed at me. “You and I still have it.”
The warm jolt that shot through my veins whenever he came close confirmed his theory. However . . .
“You need a lot more than chemistry to make a marriage work. To make any relationship work.”
His shoulder lifted as he taped the box. “Of course you do. But a hell of a lot of chemistry sure doesn’t go bad with all of that other love, trust, and respect stuff. Does it?”
Grabbing a box, I put a good distance between us before starting to make it. “I wouldn’t know.”
Canaan stopped in the middle of yanking a strip of tape. “I felt like we had those things. Maybe not in the amount we should have, but I always loved and trusted you. And I respected the shit out of you too.”
I thought back to all of those nights I stayed awake, waiting for him to come home. My hand cupped around my telephone, whispering silent prayers to whatever god was listening at the time. I thought about the empty bottles and mornings of him not being able to recall anything of the night before. The scents of other women on him. I remembered tending to wounds and mending injuries.
Although the real ones that needed fixed I was never able to heal.
My eyes met his and lingered there. “You had a funny way of showing it.”
His mouth opened instantly, but it closed just as fast. He took a full breath. “I know.”

 

AP  new -about the author.jpg

 

Nicole Williams is the New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author of contemporary and young adult romance, including the Crash and Lost & Found series. Her books have been published by HarperTeen and Simon & Schuster in both domestic and foreign markets, while she continues to self-publish additional titles. She is working on a new YA series with Crown Books (a division of Random House) as well. She loves romance, from the sweet to the steamy, and writes stories about characters in search of their happily even after. She grew up surrounded by books and plans on writing until the day she dies, even if it’s just for her own personal enjoyment. She still buys paperbacks because she’s all nostalgic like that, but her kindle never goes neglected for too long. When not writing, she spends her time with her husband and daughter, and whatever time’s left over she’s forced to fit too many hobbies into too little time.
Nicole is represented by Jane Dystel, of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency.

 

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Cover Reveal · Giveaway · S&SR Review Soon

Pretty Broken Dolls by Ker Dukey and K. Webster

Pretty Broken Dolls

by Ker Dukey & K. Webster
Pretty Little Dolls #4
Publication Date: TBD
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance

Betrayal and rage, a festering sting.
Monster vs Master. Who will be king?

Damaged and desperate, a solution they must find,
To bring back the dolly who is one of a kind.

Disloyalty and failure will not be forgiven.
Seeking revenge, the monster is driven.

Hungry for his affection, our master has waited.
These broken dollies lives have already been fated.

The storm is upon us, the chaos raining down,
Now that the big players have come to town.

Who will come out breathing with their prize by their side?
And who will be collateral damage along for the ride?

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

About K. Webster

K Webster2

K Webster is the author of dozens romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers.

Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.

You can easily find K Webster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads!

Website: http://www.authorkwebster.com
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bllgoP

About Ker Dukey

My books all tend to be darker romance, edge of your seat, angst filled reads. My advice to my readers when starting one of my titles…prepare for the unexpected.

I have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bed time stories with my sisters growing up.
My mum would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. I tend to have a darker edge to my writing. Not all love stories are made from light; some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling.

When I’m not lost in the world of characters I love spending time with my family. I’m a mum and that comes first in my life but when I do get down time I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister.

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Ideal Image by Freya Barker & KT Dove

Title: Ideal Image
Series: A SNAPshot Novel
Author: Freya Barker and KT Dove
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Cover Designer: Rebel, Edit & Design

In one blinding flash, the very fiber of her existence is shredded.
For criminal lawyer and single mother, Stacie Gustafson, a dependable career, a well-organized life, and an immaculate image, had always been her armor. Without it she’s left exposed and struggling to create a new existence for her and her daughter. No matter how hard she tries, she is unable to avoid her history.

All it takes is one look at the blue-eyed woman, for Nicolas Flynn to be transported back ten years. Sure, her appearance has changed, but then so has his, since he turned his life around. His devotion to his small-town law firm is tested with the arrival of this bittersweet blast from the past, making for a persistent distraction. One that drags along more trouble than she left behind.

“Tomorrow let’s tackle the roof on the small barn. Last week when we had that rain come through, the horses stayed drier under the overhang covering the outside pen than they did inside the barn itself.”
I’m glad we’re onto more palatable dinner subjects now. As my Pops ages, his choice of casual conversation over a meal, more often than not, includes the day’s special on ailments or a detailed report on bodily functions.
Today’s topics of choice had been ingrown toenails and the effects of the latest pinto bean crop on a senior’s digestive system. Yeah, my dad can be a laugh-and-a-half at the dinner table.
“Absolutely,” I say, trying not to sound too relieved at the change in topic. “Do we still have a few of those corrugated roof panels we used on the shelter for the woodpile?”
“Probably just one or two,” Pops answers, before taking another massive bite of his hamburger.
“Maybe we’ll head into Cortez in the morning?”
“We can hit Denny’s for breakfast,” he says, slurping the dregs of his milkshake loudly.
Pops is a man of simple pleasures; a regular constitution and a hearty meal. Throw in a beer occasionally and he’s a happy man. He also likes predictability, which is why I’ve made it a point in recent years, to keep my schedule clear on Friday afternoons. We go out for an early meal—Pops like to eat at five—and catch up on our weeks, before planning out our weekend.
I don’t have much of a life outside of work. Sadly, my father is responsible for the bulk of my socializing. Friday dinners at a restaurant of his choice, and the weekends mostly putzing about our property. There are days when I feel more like sixty than the barely forty years I’m old.
“Now there’s a sight for sore eyes.”
I barely register Pop’s voice as I focus on my chicken fried steak sandwich, until the melodic cadence of a familiar voice pierces my awareness.
“First pick a booth, Mak, and then we’ll order.”
I swivel around in my seat to find Stacie’s daughter staring back at me.
“Hey,” I offer in greeting, my eyes immediately looking for, and finding, Stacie behind her. I can feel my face crack open in a big smile.
“Hi,” is the cheerful reply, along with Stacie’s more subdued; “Hello.”
“You friends of my son?” Pops pushes half out of his seat, the paper napkin he habitually tucks in his collar to catch the inevitable crumbs and stains flutters down to the floor, as he sticks out his greasy hand in greeting.
Instead of bouncing my head off the table a few times, which I’d like to do, I also stand up.
“Stacie, this is my father, Henry Flynn. And, Pops, this Stacie Gustafson and her daughter Makenna. Stacie is a colleague.” I’m not quite sure why I add the last, but the moment I see my father’s eyes narrow on Stacie’s face, a feeling of doom settles in my stomach. My pops is not exactly known for tact or subtlety.
“Why don’t you join us?” I quickly ask, hoping to avoid what I know is sure to come. Stacie opens her mouth with what I know will be an objection, but Mak easily slides in the booth beside Pops.
I feel bad for Stacie, who is left standing a little awkwardly next to the table. I grab her hand and gently pull her to sit down. I try to glare at Pops to warn him off when he leans over the table, his head slightly tilted to the side, but he’s like a dog with a bone.
“What happened to your face?”
And there it is.
I’m still contemplating my father’s imminent demise, while desperately seeking for ways to soften the shocked expression on Stacie’s face at the impact of his words, when her little girl pipes up.
“She got burned in an explosion. Gnarly, right? You should see her arm.”
I watch Stacie’s eyes pop open at her daughter’s callous description, but Pops is immediately distracted.
“The explosion up on the mountain last winter? That was your mom? Damn, I heard that was bad.”
“She almost died,” Mak says, her face somber.
“Yeah, but she didn’t, did she?” Pops counters sagely, and I throw up my hands, there’s no way to stop this train wreck. “Looks pretty alive to me.”
Stacie’s eyes, round as saucers, turn to me. Surprisingly, I see a glimmer of humor in their depths.
“Thank God,” her daughter blurts out dramatically, and the whole situation suddenly becomes comical in the most surreal way.
“Yeah—thank God,” Pops echoes, a smirk on his face as he winks across the table at Stacie, who promptly bursts out laughing, and I can’t hold back a chuckle. “Besides, they can fix that, you know?”
“Oh, I know,” Mak says wisely, tucking her paper napkin in the collar of her shirt, mimicking my dad. A move that makes all of the adults at the table smile. “Mom’s having her face done in two weeks.”

 

After a little confusion—during which the waitress shows up to take Stacie and Mak’s orders, and Pops takes the opportunity to order another milkshake and order of fries—I manage to glean that having her face done means Stacie apparently has another surgery scheduled.

Freya Barker inspires with her stories about ‘real’ people, perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy. She is the author of the Cedar Tree Series and the Portland, ME, novels.
Freya is the recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None,” and is a finalist for the 2016 Kindle Book Awards for “From Dust”. She currently has two complete series and three anthologies published, and is working on two new series; La Plata County FBI—ROCK POINT, and Northern Lights. She continues to spin story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

KT Dove grew up, and still lives, in the Midwest. At an early age she developed a love of reading, driving the local librarians crazy, and would plan plot lines and stories for her favorite characters. KT received degrees in English, Speech/Drama, and Education. And yet instead of becoming an English teacher as planned, she opted for an unexpected HEA. 
Now married, a mother and still an avid reader, she stumbled upon the Indie author movement and became involved on several levels. Never in her wildest imagination would she have thought she would co-author a book. With the support of her family, she took the plunge, adding writing to an already busy literary existence.  
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
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