Midweek Tease: Desert Deception

mwtease15Good morning. Welcome to this week’ Midweek tease, a blog where a number of authors share excerpts from their novels. Some are tame, like mine, others are super-spicy, but there is something to tickle just about anyone’s fancy. This weekly treat is made possible by the lovely and talented Angelica Dawson. So, take a few minutes to read the offerings. Interested in reading more? Click on the links.

This week, I’m teasing from  Desert Deception, a modern western romance suspense novel.  Enjoy!

desertdeception-600x960Cole straightened the magazines and newspapers, trying to look busy while Casey browsed the bookshelves, unable to do anything but think about the woman a mere twenty feet away. Only two years older than she was, he remembered her—at least he recalled the girl she’d been—and the woman standing ten feet away from him had certainly changed.

She still had the peaches and cream complexion associated with her Irish ancestors, skin that could burn in the shade as he recalled, but her freckles weren’t as pronounced as they’d been. She’d dropped at least fifty pounds, and that carrot top she’d worn in tight braids against her head was now a fiery crown of flames. Her soda bottle bottom glasses were gone, no doubt replaced by laser eye surgery or contacts, but her expressive eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes green, but always with a touch of gold in them, were as familiar as ever. That was how he’d recognized her. Once he’d seen those eyes, he’d never been able to forget them.

How long had it been? She’d been sixteen, a senior at Fortune High, when he’d gone off to the University of Texas at El Paso, and while he’d come back that first summer, he’d been too busy helping Dad around the store to do much more than nod and say hello once in a while. He hadn’t grown into his body yet, and while the acne had improved, he’d still been too shy to ask any girl out. He’d fantasized doing so, and in his dreams she’d always said yes, but the reality was, he might as well have had elective mutism when it came to talking to her.

Those afternoons when he worked in the back unpacking boxes of reproductions and other souvenirs, he hid behind the bookshelves, closed his eyes, let her voice wrap around him, and listened to her sharing her dreams.

Casey, the shorter name suited her, exuded confidence and poise, and wasn’t afraid to take risks, as her motorcycle proved. It took a lot of self-assurance to stand in a courtroom and question witnesses let alone address the jury. Looking at her now, he tried to picture her in a staid business suit and failed. No, this new Casey would wear “look at me clothes” and do it with pizazz. She wouldn’t hide from the world ever again.

Despite his best effort, he was having a hard time controlling his body’s response to her, something that rarely happened to him. Taking a deep breath, he tore his eyes away from her leather-clad bottom, and returned to sorting the new shipment of books, trying to immerse himself in the jacket blurbs, but failing. He jumped when he heard her shout.

“Holy shit!”

Dropping the book he was holding, he pushed his way through the boxes of candles, books, and other items crowding the aisle to see what had upset her.

“What’s wrong?” He hurried to her side, worried that she’d somehow hurt herself. While it was true, the worse injury you could get from a book was a papercut, this close to the desert, unwanted insects and reptiles sometimes managed to sneak in. Last week, he’d returned a tarantula to the great outdoors. The big, hairy spiders might be harmless, but they scared the daylights out of the tourists.

“Nothing’s wrong, but you have all of CJ Coleson’s books shoved back here where no one can see them. They should be out front.”

The look of disgust on her face made him laugh.

“I take it you’re a fan.”

“Well, duh! Of course I’m a fan, isn’t everyone? He’s a great author even though he’s the Howard Hughes of writers—a total recluse. How come you have his latest book? It isn’t due out in paperback for another two weeks.”

Cole ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous gesture he made when he was caught off guard. “I know the author.” The white lie slid off his tongue before he could stop it.

“Get out of here! You know CJ Coleson?” she asked, excitement lighting up her face. “How?”

“We went to school together.” Another half-truth.

“In Texas?”

He nodded, hoping she would change the topic soon.

“Well, he’s Arizona born and bred, I’m sure of it. He’s either from around here, or he’s spent time here. Reading those books is like coming home—better even. Is that his real name?”

Turning away from her, he tried to think of an answer that would help him out of the quicksand in which he’d inadvertently stepped. The truth always came out, and usually at the worst possible moment. Sharing his secret with a virtual stranger wasn’t an option, but he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to let it go.

“He’s from Arizona and has spent considerable time in the area, but he uses a pen name. CJ and I are very close. I get advance copies of his books when his publisher releases them. Technically I’m not supposed to display them yet, so don’t go broadcasting it,” he answered, more sharply than he’d intended, hoping that would end her snooping.

“Who would I tell?” The look on her face told him she thought he was being ridiculous.

“I don’t know. Maybe some of your friends in New Mexico.” He’d put a little more heat into his voice than he’d needed, but he was dying here, sinking deeper and deeper by the minute.

She rolled her eyes and snorted. “Let me get right on that. I’ll tell them to drop everything, and drive almost seven hours to Fortune, Arizona, to buy a book they’ll be able to pick up at home in a matter of days.”

Sarcasm dripped from her voice again. He would hate to be on the stand if she was questioning him. She would rip a liar to shreds in seconds.

“I get it. My comment was a little over the top, but if you’re a fan, you know he doesn’t like the spotlight. I’m a little protective of our friendship.”

“A little protective? There are she-bears who could take lessons from you,” she scolded. “I know how close some of you frat buddies can be. Knowing you know my favorite author, and won’t tell me who he is, will probably drive me crazy, but I’ll let you off the hook—this time.”

He exhaled and relaxed, grateful for the temporary reprieve, knowing damn well she wouldn’t let the matter drop and would try to ferret out the secret sooner rather than later. His gaze still fixed on her, he watched as she picked up two books, including the CJ Coleson one not yet released.

Grinning at him, she walked back to the cash register. “Getting to read Black Widow early will do for now, but I’ll be back. When I am, I’ll get you to tell me all about the talented man behind Sheriff Tate Silvers.”

Knowing he would see her again, even if it were only to pry information out of him, pleased him more than he expected it to.

“Maybe I can convince you to get a book autographed for me.” She smiled sweetly. “After all, you and I are old friends, too … sort of.” She batted her eyelids rapidly.

Chuckling, he stepped behind the counter to conceal the evidence of his lust.

“I’ll see what I can do.” He hoped he’d managed to hide the way she’d affected him. “Are you ready to check out?”

Instead of answering, she stared at him as if she could somehow see into his soul. He could see how that might intimidate a reluctant witness. At last, she handed him the books and her credit card.

 

MidWeekTease January 18, 2017

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Winter Kiss Blog Tour: Welcome Darlene Fredette

Today, Living the Dream welcomes fellow author, Darlene Fredette and her new novel: Winter’s Kiss.

Please note that the  Winter’s Kiss new release blog tour includes giveaways. There will be a giveaway for visitors who leave a comment on any stop during the tour, and additional giveaways for visitors who leave a comment on Darlene’s own blog.

 

wk-booktourTitle: Winter’s Kiss
Release Date: January 15, 2017

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Genre: Contemporary
Rating: Sweet (PG)
Keywords: sweet, romance, winter, snow, family.
Average Page Count: 112

winters-kiss-coverTag line and back cover blurb:

Return to beautiful Redford Falls: a woman who knows what she wants and a man who knows what he needs.

Nothing thaws the chill faster than a warm winter kiss.

She’s been on a flight from hell for over eight hours, lost four hours of daylight, and arrived in temperatures twenty degrees lower than accustomed to. Disliking winter for a reason she refuses to discuss, Danielle Lerato would rather be anywhere than in Redford Falls. She needs to get the job done and return home before getting caught up in the small town’s charm…and the arms of the handsome, brown-eyed restaurant owner.

Andrew Haley’s first encounter with the buttery blonde didn’t go so well, and he well-remembers the chill of the glass of water she dumped over his head. Now, two years later, a raging storm drops Danielle back into his life. She’s determined to leave, but he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her to fall in love with Redford Falls…and him.

 

Short Excerpt:

Danielle probably looked a hideous mess. Her hair had come loose from the clip on the top of her head. Sleep masked her eyes. She wanted nothing more than to wash her face and sterilize her hands from the airborne germs she encountered on the plane. “I’ve been on the flight from hell for over eight hours. I’ve lost four hours of daylight, and the temperature here is twenty degrees lower than where I live.” She pulled the straps of her leather jacket tight around her waist. “I have to rent a car and drive two hours to a small town where, if I blink I’ll miss it.” She waved a pointed finger in the air for dramatic effect. “I’d rather be anywhere but here.”

Bio:

Darlene resides on the East Coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab. When not working on her next book, she enjoys spending time with her family. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loves to develop the many stories swimming in her head. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners.

Contact links:

Web: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/

Blog: http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneLF

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarleneLF

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/DarleneFredette/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/DarleneLF

 Purchase Links: 

http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781489236159

On my Escape page, click on the ‘BUY EBOOK’ button to find purchase links to Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and more!

http://www.millsandboon.com.au/product/9781489236159

 

 

 

Tuesday Tales: Candy Kayne’s Christmas

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning and welcome to this week’s instalment of Tuesday Tales, a blog where a select group of authors share with you from their w.i.p. Today, I present to you the last taste you’ll get of Candy Kayne’s Christmas. This story has been upgraded and will become a whole novel to be released later this year, most likely in time for Christmas 2017 under the title, Kissing Cousins. I had so much fun working with this that I decided I needed to add more to it to deal with all the wonderful, crazy plot twists my muse gave me. I want to thank everyone who takes the time each week to comment on my efforts. It’s always good to know I’m not boring you. Next week, we’ll return to Wedding Bell Blues.

This week’s word is TRAIN.

Enjoy.

“Go home? With you? Like hell I will! Not that it matters to you,” Candace answered defiantly, too upset by his words to take into account that they were airing their dirty family laundry in front of a virtual stranger. “I am home. This has been home to the New York Kaynes for one hundred and forty years. If the family didn’t want Ezekiel then, what makes you think I want them now?”

“It’s a beautiful place, one I hope to make my own home in a few weeks, but you’re wrong. No everyone turned their backs on Ezekiel. Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to meet the rest of the family or are you just as mule-headed as old Tobias? It’s time to get to know your roots.”

She laughed so hard, she snorted. “That’s rich. Exactly which roots would that be? I married a man who traced his bloodline back to the Mayflower. When I wanted to start a family, he insisted on DNA testing. I was surprised, but it was all the rage at the time, and I naively went along with it. I knew it would reveal my Irish-French-Native-American bloodline, that’s never been a secret, but I wasn’t prepared for the other bombshell, and neither was Judson.” The memory brought with it all the pain she’d endured at the time.

Bill stood there silently, letting her rant, and that was a good thing since she would probably smack him if he dared to interrupt her now.

“My husband was so upset,” she continued, knowing she should shut up, but unable to. “He accused me of lying about my ancestry. The doctor insisted that it didn’t change anything and that 17 percent of all Americans have mixed blood, but that hadn’t mattered to my purist husband, and I doubt it’ll affect whoever it is who sent you to find me. For the record, dear cousin,” she continued, sarcasm dripping off her tongue along with whatever cold germs she still harbored. “I’m 39 percent British Isles, 24 percent French, and 17 percent Native American, as expected, but I hadn’t anticipated the 17 percent Senegambia, with 3 percent uncertain tacked on for good measure. That 20 percent, which incidentally leads back to where most American slaves were ripped from their homes, was the killing blow to my marriage. Judson moved out and filed for divorce. It seems irreconcilable differences covers a multitude of sins including bigotry and racism. I’ll bet the current patriarch of the high and mighty Georgia Kaynes won’t be too happy to be related to me now.”

Bill raised his eyebrows momentarily and then shrugged. “I doubt Grandpa will care about your infamous 20 percent. You think your ex-husband is racist? I think you’re just as bigoted as he was. Where do you think those Senegambia genes came from?”

She frowned, confused by his acceptance of what had been the most painful event in her life. “I assumed it was Agnes, the woman from Louisiana Ezekiel married. There are a few Creole in the area who escaped from the south at the onset of the war, some light enough to pass for white. She must’ve been one of those. She was an only child, so we’ll never know. My grandfather’s wife was part Mohawk from the Syracuse area. I never knew what her other parts were. It didn’t matter when I was a child, and it doesn’t matter to me now.”

“Louisiana wasn’t the only place where rich masters coerced female slaves. Some of the paler children born to those helpless women were often passed off as legitimate sons by wealthy plantation owners whose wives failed to produce the necessary healthy heirs. As that doctor said, 17 percent of all Americans carry mixed blood. Who’s to say that 20 percent didn’t come from old Tobias himself?” He stopped talking for a minute and eyed her up and down. “So, are you going to cut off your nose to spite your face, or will you give me a chance to explain myself?”

Humbled and embarrassed, Candace nodded. “Fine. If I’m going to get up on my soapbox, I should have the decency to listen to your argument first, but tell me, is this whole resort thing just a Ponzi scheme, or some other fool way to get me to agree with you?”

“If you’re asking me if the resort plans are blackmail, then the answer is no. If you’re impugning my character and accusing me of being some kind of shyster, then the answer is a resounding no,” he answered, defiance and determination in his voice. “I came up here a couple of years ago and fell in love with the place. That was before I even knew you existed. I thought it would be a good place to raise my son. When I found out about you, it gave me a chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do. First and foremost, I’m a father and then a businessman, with too many years invested in the family company to blow their track record of success on a losing proposition. Reconnecting with you was the original reason for my visit, but everything I’ve done this week, what I’ve said to the people of Willow Grove and the contracts I’ve signed are real, and I intend to follow through on them. I have your contract in my bag. You’re the one who brushed me off, remember?”

Candace looked away. She’d barely heard another word after “raise my son here.” Of course he was married. Why wouldn’t he be? And he was family—a cousin for God’s sake. What was wrong with her?

“In that case, maybe we should move this upstairs.” She glanced down at his feet and remorse filled her. Talk about boorish manners. “And you must be wet right through. Follow me. I’ll let you change into something dry.” Turning to Sally, she smiled, trying to ignore the curiosity on her friend’s face. “I don’t expect we’ll be too busy today, but call up if anyone comes in.”

“I will.”

No doubt she couldn’t wait to get on the phone and spread the news through town.

Ugh!

The price you paid for living in a small town was a rumor mill that moved at light speed. This would be all over Willow Grove before the snowstorm ended.

“This way.”

She pressed the button, and the wall opened to reveal the freight elevator.

“I live upstairs.”

“I’ll bet that cuts the commute down nicely,” he said, no doubt trying to lighten the leaden atmosphere.

“It does. I was living out on the North Road, and felt it was just too isolated at times. The Jessup place is a gorgeous house. You’re out of town a bit, but by no means secluded. Your wife will love it there.”

“My wife was killed three years ago,” he answered bluntly.

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbled, not sure how she felt. Killed could mean anything from a viral infection to murder. If she’d been sick, wouldn’t he have used a softer word? Pushing the button for the loft, she looked away.

Don’t think that makes any difference, her conscience warned. He’s still a blood relative.

The elevator doors opened and she stepped out.

“You can take off your wet coat and boots and leave them here. The boot tray is heated, so they should be dry by morning. If you’re really planning to stay here, you’re going to need better gear.”

He chuckled. “I figured that out earlier.”

He hung his coat on the hook and took off the shoe-boots.

“Follow me. I’ll show you the guest room. You can change into dry clothes.”

“I appreciate this, Candace. I’d planned to fly back to Georgia this afternoon. If I’d known the weather was going to be this bad…”

She laughed. Leave it to the tourists. “Around here we joke that if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour, and see what happens.” She shook her head. “Don’t feel too badly. This is worse than expected.”

“So were you really sick, or did you just blow me off?” he asked.

His eyes, the color of dark amber, were filled with curiosity, but she saw no anger there.

“Definitely sick,” she answered truthfully. She opened the door to the guest room. “Make yourself comfortable. Come back to the main area when you’re ready. I’ll make coffee. I suppose we need to talk.”

“We do.” He reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Will you read this while I get changed? It might explain some of why I’m here.”

“What is it?”

“Proof that everything isn’t as black and white, if you’ll pardon the expression, as you think. Not everyone rejected Ezekiel.”487500e3665d9d0ecdce4fbbac5b2a4b

She nodded, too the paper he held out and prepared to leave the room.

“By the way, watch out for my cats. Coal and Pearl like to ambush people. They’ll probably just come into the kitchen if I’m there, but…” She shrugged. “They’re into the climbing stage, and I haven’t been able to train them not to go up my pant legs.”

Candace hurried back into the sanctuary of the empty kitchen. Mechanically, she put on a fresh pot of coffee and then sat down the read the paper he’d given her, surprised when she saw the date. It was a photocopy of two separate messages.

 

August, 1875

God has answered my prayers. Hattie Lewis has brought me a letter from Ezekiel while Tobias is in Savannah. I can’t show it to him. Even after all this time, he refuses to discuss what happened. My heart aches to hold my son in my arms once more, but I must be content with his words. I may try to send him a letter. I know Hattie would mail it for me, but even as I write this, my health fails me. It is my deepest wish that someday the family can be reunited.

 

Mother,

It is my sincerest prayer that you will receive this letter. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Twin Oaks, but it is my deepest desire to return to my home one day. I trust this finds you well. I’ve married. Agnes’s parents came north from Louisiana after the war. My wife is of French ancestry, an aristocrat if my mother-in law is to be believed. We’ve become shopkeepers and are happy with our lot in life. God has blessed us with a son. Anthony Tobias has his mother’s coloring, but he’s got your green eyes. I wish you could see him.

Should you receive this and wish to correspond with me, you can send the letter to General Delivery, Willow Grove, New York.

Your loving son,

Ezekiel.

Ten minutes later, when Bill joined her in the kitchen, carrying Coal in one hand and Pearl in the other, she’d managed to dry her tears. No doubt her nose was still red.

“Yours?” he asked, having the good grace not to comment on her appearance.

“Yes. Where were they?” She reached for the kittens and put them on the floor next to the food bowls she’d filled, pleased her voice sounded almost normal. “That should keep them busy. Where did you get this?” She held up the sheet of paper.

“We found it when we were making renovations to the mansion. It was hidden beneath the floorboards in one of the bedrooms. We assume Eliza hid it there. She died the following month. If she didn’t answer the letter it wasn’t because she didn’t want to. It was because she couldn’t.”

Nodding, Candace poured coffee for them and set the mugs on the table.

“Are you hungry? I made some soup last week. I can heat some up.”

“I don’t want to be a bother.” He hesitated. “Can I call you Candy? I noticed some people do.”

She chewed her bottom lip. Few people had earned the right to use the short form of her name. Judson had hated it.

“As long as you don’t make fun of it, go ahead. It was my mother’s name. My dad called her Candy because she was the sweetest thing on this earth.” Her cheeks heated. It had been a long time since she remembered listening to her father talk about her mother.

“I think it suits you,” he said. “From what I can see, you’re the perfect blend of sweet and peppery.”

Candace stared into his gaze, examining all the nuances on his face, and burst out laughing.

“You almost had me there. Peppery? More like the hottest tabasco you’ve ever tasted. I’m nobody’s fool. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll go back to Georgia with you tomorrow, not for you or for any of the Georgia Kaynes but because of what I read in Ezekiel’s letter. He would’ve wanted me to do this. I don’t know if we’ll ever be kissing cousins, whatever that actually means, but since you plan on going ahead with the ski resort, the least I can do is meet you halfway. Now, do you want a bowl of soup or not?”

Bill smiled and years seemed to drop off his face. “I do. Thanks, Candy. You’re going to make an old man very happy.”

She shrugged. “Like I said, I’m not doing it for him.” It seemed she was going to be spending Christmas with family this year after all.

Santa has a strange sense of humor.

Don’t forget to check out all the other on  Tuesday Tales

Midweek Tease:

mwtease15Good morning! Sorry I’m a little late posting this morning, but I got into put Christmas away mode yesterday, and overdid it as usual. Such is life when you struggle with arthritis. Overdo one little thing and you’re in agony for a week.

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson and all the other authors who make this weekly blog hop possible. There’s more variety here than anywhere. Don’t forget to click on the links below and check them out!

This morning, I would like to offer a scene from In Plain Sight. That idea has been cropping up in my new wip, and I thought I would revisit it this morning. People often ask me what the catalyst is for a story, In the case of this one, it was a costume I had to wear in an Easter pageant at the church. When I got home, I put my feelings on paper and voila!

in-plain-sight-coverEnjoy!

In life, you pay a price for everything you do. Widowed, her dream of starring on Broadway in ashes at her feet, Misty Starr yearns for a happy, healthy, normal life for herself and her four-year-old daughter, Debbie. Settled in Pine Falls, New York, a sleepy little town filled with friendly people, she believes she’s found it and feels safe enough to sing in an amateur theater revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. She’ll do anything to keep this life even if it is built on lies, because revealing her secret is impossible. When Nick Anthony joins the cast as music director, Misty is attracted to the man who stirs up feelings she thought long dead, but can love grow on a bed of deceit?

A former concert pianist and secret CIA courier, Nick lives in darkness ever since the accident that killed his wife. The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with his vision, so why can’t he see? Hiding from his former life, he reluctantly agrees to help with the musical and is drawn to the young singer with the voice of an angel. When a mysterious fire destroys her home, Nick vows to keep her and her daughter safe. After one suspicious event leads to another, Nick is determined to protect them from an unknown assassin, but in order to do that, he needs to know her secrets. With his money and connections, he’ll do whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but does she love him enough to reveal the truth?

Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors

Your tease:

Nick sat with his back to the keyboard listening to Misty’s footsteps as she hurried out of the theater. What had just happened? His hand pulsed with heat and energy. He hadn’t imagined that jolt of electricity through his body, the flash of lightning that had illuminated his darkness. He’d been struck mute, unable to utter a sound. He’d shaken more than his fair share of hands, and no one had ever affected him that way. Had she felt it, too? She’d sounded flustered before she’d left so abruptly.

Without sight, it was harder to judge someone’s initial reaction, but she’d let him hold her hand a second longer than necessary, and he’d felt her pulse race almost as fast as his. Hell, he was still breathing heavy, and all he’d done was shake her hand. He stared into the black void in front of him as he had every waking moment of his life since the accident. He’d come to hate the blackness that surrounded him, but just for a moment tonight, when he’d touched her, there’d been light.

Her voice! She had a wonderful voice, an angel’s voice, the kind of voice that belonged on Broadway, not in some small-town theater production. She must have had vocal training. He hadn’t been kidding; she could out-sing more than half the so-called divas out there today. He pulled the small hand-held recorder he’d brought with him and rewound it to the track he wanted.

He pressed play, and her powerful, soulful voice filled the room. Nick had recorded all the soloists, but this was the only one that mattered. Micah had raved about her voice, and Nick had recorded her number simply to prove to them both that, while her voice might be good, it wasn’t memorable. Listening to someone on tape often brought his or her vocal flaws to the surface. As the song continued, he had to admit there were no flaws here. He’d been hoisted on his own petard. For the first time in his life, he was glad he’d been in error.

Micah was a car salesman, not a Broadway producer, nor was he a musical director, and though his little group had done well in the past, they’d never attempted anything quite so grand. This time, knowing the intricacies of such a production and the need for it to succeed, Nick had thought Micah had bitten off more than he could chew.

How could he have been so wrong? Not only was the Pine Falls Theater Company more than up to the task, their version of the musical, toned down as it needed to be to meet their production limitations, was original, and they had some real talent in their midst. He replayed the tract, mesmerized by the hypnotic quality of Misty’s voice. He continued to listen to her sing because she touched his soul, that part of him he’d thought as dead and lost as his vision.

He wondered fleetingly what she looked like. Her voice had carried into the hall where he’d been standing with Micah before they’d entered the room. He knew from her quirky comments that she must be short since she didn’t think the pink stripes made her look taller. A smile crossed his face at her sense of humor when he remembered the way she’d compared herself first to a cabana and then a clown; he figured that possibly she was on the more voluptuous side, curvier than Becca had been. He had always liked women with a little meat on their bones, but he’d been mesmerized by Rebecca, and it hadn’t been until much later in their relationship that he’d realized what a cruel, self-centered bitch his wife had been.

You can pick up a copy from a number of online retailers including:

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes and Nobles

Now, please check out the other Midweek Teasers.

#MidWeekTease January 11, 2017

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Tuesday Tales: Candace Kayne’s Christmas

badge-for-tt-very-small-1Good morning. Welcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday Tales and Candace Kayne’s Christmas.  The novella is unfolding as it should. Tuesday Tales is a closed weekly blog in which talented authors share their works in process. I was honored to be invited to join in 2015 and the thrill of being part of this awesome group continues. With their help, I created Hello Again, which was published in 2016, and hope to finish Wedding Bell Blues in 2017. This week, I continue with the novella I began in December, Candace Kayne’s Christmas will wrap up next week. This week’s word is COFFEE. Apologies to all since the post is longer than usual.

“Thanks for everything, Ruth,” Bill said, putting his suitcase into the trunk of the rental car. The winery owners had been a huge help. With their assistance, he’d met with all of the local entrepreneurs—except Candace. She’d refused his invitation, claiming she wasn’t feeling well, and had offered to get together with him the next time he was in Willow Grove. It was true she’d sounded sick, but he was convinced there was more to her reticence than that.

spring-in-ontario“I wish I could put you up again tonight,” Ruth said, a frown marring her brow. “But now that the whole family is here, there’s no more room at this inn. You aren’t planning to drive all the way back to Georgia, are you? They say the storms even worse along the coast.”

“Don’t worry about it. My plane’s waiting in Rochester, and that’s only eighty miles from here. I’ll be fine. You just take care of yourself and that baby.”

She rubbed her barely protruding belly. “I will, but that drive will be miserable. You get white-outs in this kind of weather. When will you be back?”

“Mid-January, but this time, I’ll be smart enough to book a room since I’ll be here at least a month.” When he’d arrived in Willow Grove, he’d intended to spend his two weeks at the motel he’d visited last spring, only to discover it, and most of the others in town, were closed for the season. The two Bed and Breakfasts and the one winterized motel were booked solid with out of towners home for Christmas. He hadn’t relished the idea of driving back and forth to Rochester each day. Thankfully, Ruth had opened her home to him, even if he had outstayed his welcome by a couple of days, but now, he really needed to get back to Savannah. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve.

“You could stay with us again,” she offered. “The in-laws and out-laws will all be gone by then.”

Bill laughed. “You’ll have enough on your hands without me underfoot. Tell Lucas I’ll be ready for that Candyland rematch when I come back. Merry Christmas, Ruth.” He kissed her on the cheek, got into the rental car, and waved goodbye.

Twenty minutes later, he sat in his car pondering the cruelty of Mother Nature, while a boy dressed in winter gear that probably resembled what people wore on expeditions to the South Pole filled his gas tank. The wind whipped snow around, reducing visibility to zero. That eighty miles to Rochester might as well be a thousand now. There was no way he would be able to drive there today.

“That’ll be twenty-five dollars,” the gas jockey said.

“I’m using a credit card,” he answered.

“No problem, but you’ll have to come inside. The portable machine doesn’t work in this weather.”

Bill got out of the vehicle, locked the doors, and followed the boy into the convenience store attached to the gas station. A fire blazed in the wood stove. He recognized the man sitting in the rocker.

“Good morning, Mr. Simpson. Looks like we’ll have that white Christmas for sure.”

“You can say that again,” the crusty garage owner said, as he stood. “I hope you aren’t planning to drive to Rochester.”

“He owes Twenty-five for gas, Elmore,” the boy said, hanging his wet gear near the stove.

“Thanks, Stan. Go finish your breakfast. Your Pa’s coming to get you. I don’t think we’ll have too many customers today. The highway’s closed.”

“Not the highway to Rochester?” Bill asked. “I know it looks bad but—”

“Not only looks bad, is bad,” the man said cutting him off. “Just came over the scanner. Tractor-trailer jackknifed and flipped over. Caused a dozen fender-benders. The state police have closed the highway until further notice. It’s going to take a while to get that mess cleaned up in this weather.”

Bill scowled. “That can’t be the only way to the city.” Surely there was another way out of here.

The man shook his head. “It might as well be in this weather. None of the lesser highways will be plowed. The police are urging everyone to get off the roads. You best get yourself back to Ruth’s.”

Going back to Ruth’s wasn’t an option. Bill handed him his corporate card, signed the slip and went back outside. Once in the car, he pulled out his cellphone and called his pilot.

“Sam, it’s me,” he said as soon as the man answered.

“Yes, sir. I was just about to call you,” he said, concern heavy in his voice. “I’m afraid all planes have been grounded by the FAA until further notice.”

Damn!

Sighing, Bill ran his hand through his wet hair. “There isn’t much we can do. Have you got a place to stay?”

“Yes, sir. According to the Weather Channel, the storm should let up early tomorrow morning. We should be home in time for the Christmas Eve play.”

“I hope so. Listen, I’ll stay put here—they’ve closed the highway and the locals tell me traveling on the side roads in this weather isn’t a good idea.” Would staying in the car be any better? “I’ll leave as soon as I’m able and meet you at the airport some time tomorrow.”

He ended the call.

“So, what the hell am I supposed to do now?” he asked aloud.

The only answer was the icy wind’s unending howl.

He reached for his phone once more and dialed his home.

“Kayne Residence, Marian speaking.”

“It’s me. I’m afraid I won’t be home today as planned. Mother Nature has her own ideas about holiday travel, and I’m stuck in Willow Grove until tomorrow.

“I’m not surprised. Mr. Kayne has been watching the weather like a man possessed.”

Bill pursed his lips. “I’m sure he has. Grandpa worries about me every time I travel. Well, come February, I’ll be doing a lot less of it. Can I speak to Scotty?”

“Of course. He’ll be disappointed.”

“I know.”

The last time he’d spoken to his son had been three days ago when he had promised to be home in time to attend his school Christmas play rehearsal tonight. Damn it! How many more significant things would he miss? None if he could help it.

While he waited for his housekeeper to call his son, he examined what he could see of downtown Willow Grove. Through the curtain of snow, over on his left, he spotted the Eden Café. He probably could’ve sat out the storm there, but Cynthia had closed for the holidays. She’d left yesterday to visit her daughter-in-law in Buffalo.

What a difference a day makes.

“Dad?” Scott’s voice pulled him back.

“Hi, champ. Listen, I’m really sorry, but I’m snowed in up here. I won’t be home tonight, but I’ll be there for the pageant Christmas Eve, I promise.”

“Is there a lot of snow?” the boy asked, never having seen the stuff.

“Yeah. There’s at least a foot of it and more coming down.”

“Will it still be there when we move?” His excitement was tangible, clearly overshadowing his disappointment at his father’s absence.

Bill laughed. “I can’t say for sure, but I doubt this is the only snowstorm they’ll have. Are we good?”

“Yeah, Dad. Tonight’s only a rehearsal. Take some pictures for me?”

“I will. Maybe I’ll have a special surprise for you when I get there. I love you.”

“Love you too, Dad.”

The special surprise was tickets to Disney World, already packaged at home.

Bill waited for the line to go dead before ending the call. Scott had grown up a lot since his mother’s death. For a five-year-old, he was old beyond his years. Marian and Grandpa tried to make things easier for the child while he was away, but losing one parent and the other on the road 80 percent of the time, left his son as much an orphan as he’d been before the adoption.

A knock on the window startled him.

Lowering the power window, he stared into Elmore’s dark eyes.

“You fixing to stay here until the storm blows over?” he asked.

“Not sure what I’m going to do. I can’t go back to Ruth’s. All of the family arrived earlier this morning before the storm got bad. I was thinking of getting coffee while I figure out my options. Is there anywhere I can park without risking getting boxed in when the plows pass?”

“You can put your car inside, and I’ll drop you at Candy’s on my way by. Sally will know where you can hold up.”

“Thanks.”

Bill followed Elmore’s directions, parked the car, and grabbed his suitcase out of the trunk. His feet were cold and wet, the shoe-boots not anywhere good enough for walking through the accumulation of snow. He would definitely need to make sure they had the right kind of clothing when they came back. Winter gear, Savannah style, was useless here.

“Called Sally and told her you were on your way. She’ll let Candace know,” Elmore said. “Get in.”

Bill walked around to the passenger side of the tow-truck. The inside of the vehicle was warm and toasty, but he was so cold, he doubted he would ever feel warm again.

Less than five minutes later, Elmore stopped in front of the old brick and limestone building.

“Thanks for the lift,” he said.

“No problem. What you’re going to do for this community is thanks enough.”

Bill waved as the truck drove off. He steeled himself to go inside. This was no time to be a coward. He’d always believed that like knew like, and though they might not be blood relatives, he was every bit as much a Kayne as she was. Time to get in out of the cold.

Pushing open the door, he stepped into the warm, cozy atrium that separated the four stores. Decorated as it was, the place felt more like home than any place he had ever been. At the far end of the room, a woman stood with her back to him, tight, caramel-colored curls hung down her back. Her legs were incased in tight jeans, a pale blue sweater ending just below her butt. She turned at the sound of the door, and Bill stopped breathing.

The only picture he’d ever seen of Cousin Candace had been the black and white picture from her wedding. In no way had that prepared him for the woman looking at him, her head cocked to one side. His jaw dropped open and he snapped it shut.

“What? Surprised to find a Creole-Mohawk-Irish relative in your family woodpile, Mr. Lamont?” she asked, a forced smile, half frown, on her face. “In or out. It’s too cold to leave the door open.”

Mumbling an apology, too stunned by what she’d said to comment on it, he closed the door behind him and stepped into the room. In the heat, snow melted off him, puddling at his feet.

“Mr. Lamont,” Sally said, coming out of her shop with a towel. “Elmore just called and told me you’re stranded here. Poor you. I’d offer you my couch, but my brother’s here for Christmas and my son’s home from school.”

“That’s okay,” he answered, grateful his voice even worked.

“He can stay in my spare room,” Candace said, her voice as breathy and sexy as the rest of her. “Wouldn’t want the town savior to catch cold now would we?”

She set down her coffee cup and walked over to him, her blue-green eyes flashing her fury.

“So Mr. Kayne-Lamont, what do you really want from the town of Willow Grove?”

Bill’s cheek’s heated and not just from the difference in temperature.

“Kayne- Lamont?” Sally asked Candace, her face all scrunched up in confusion. “Kayne as in your Kayne?”

“Yes,” Bill answered. There was no point in lying. The lady looked mad enough to spit nails as it is. “I’ve come for you, Candace. I’ve come to take you home.”

Come back next week for the ending to Candace Kayne’s Christmas. 

Don’t forget to check out all the other delicious stories coming your way today on  Tuesday Tales

Sunday Musings: Weird Words of the Week

highwayGood morning. Well, Old Man Winter has a firm grasp on this part of the world, and while it might look magical, as it does in this picture, it isn’t always as nice.  This morning, the temperature is a balmy -16 C (3F), but with the windchill, it feels like -21C (-6F) Tonight’s a good night for a wood fire and cuddling as the mercury drops to -28C (-18F), which will be the temperature I’ll wake up to tomorrow. Strangely, as has been the norm around here this year,  by Wednesday, it’ll be 5 C (41F). Crazy, right? No wonder everyone gets sick–cold and flu season.

For as long as I can remember, it was traditional to make New Year’s Resolutions. Each year, I vowed to do the same thing–lose weight, get more exercise, spend quality time with friends and family, etc. The only one I’ve ever managed to keep was spending time with my family.

I haven’t made any resolutions this year, but I have challenged myself to do a better job keeping in touch with others, including the people on social media. I am not good at this–never have been–but I’m determined to try harder. One way I want to do this is through regularly scheduled posts.  So, with that in mind, last week I posted the first of my weekly personal blogs. Since I wasn’t at the computer on New Year’s day, I posted on Monday. If you didn’t read it, just follow the link below. https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/2017/01/02/out-with-the-old-year-and-in-with-the-new/

rave_in_the_henge_2005_02Welcome to the second Sunday of 2017. As I explained last week, among the Christmas gifts I received, was a calendar of forgotten English words and folklore. Last week, I babysat my grandchildren for four days. We had a great time, and one of them enjoyed the “funny” words on my calendar. What were they? Well, on the 3rd, we had ZINGERATION, which is according to Edward Slow’s Glossary of Wiltshire words, a word used by peasants, circa 1900 to describe a musical party. Today, we’ve chosen a new way to describe something similar. an electronic music dance party that lasts all night is called a Rave. So, do you think this Summer Solstice Rave took place in the 1900s?

lossy-page1-330px-comparative_lettering_hauy-barbier-braille-tifOn the 4th, I learned about CROSS-READING. In the mid to late nineteenth century, people purposely read the newspaper across from left to right, instead of the usual up and down columns, to mix the stories into sometimes hilarious connections between subjects and stories. Maybe that was where Lewis Carroll got his inspiration for The Jabberwocky  and other nonsense verses. Jan 4th was also Louis Braille’s birthday. It was interesting to note the famous Braille alphabet for the blind was adapted from a failed military system designed by Barbier to send messages to the soldiers that could be understood in the dark. The ‘night writing’ project  was too complicated and impractical for use, and was never deployed.

January 5th gave me the word EMBRANGLEMENT, which essentially means to confuse and perplex. The word is still used today as a synonym for confusion, ensnarement, entanglement, involvement or trouble. Maybe I’ll use it in a book someday.

hoodsMy second favorite word of the week was LIRIPOOP. What on earth is that? Well, it can be one of two things. Most commonly, it’s the long tail on a graduate’s hood, which comes from the medieval latin word liripipium. If you look hard enough, there’s a word for everything.

modern-leripoops The second meaning requires a slight alteration to the spelling LERIPOOPS were eighteenth century shoes tipped with horn and tied up to the knees with either silk ribbons or silver chains.  Maybe modern ones would look a little like these? Either way, I’m not wearing them. haxeyhoodlogoadamwheewall

The 6th was also Haxey Hood Day, a 13th century folklore activity that still goes on today in Haxey Lincolnshire. You can learn more about it by checking out the link below.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haxey_Hood

st-gudulaThe week ended with the Saturday -Sunday word that really had them laughing. The word GUBBERTUSHED means having projecting teeth, what we might call buckteeth. Did you know there’s a patron saint of dental problems? Neither did I. Today is the feast day of St. Gudula, and you can visit her skull, carefully preserved in the St Hildegard Catholic Church  in Eibingen, Germany.Who knew?

Well, that’s it for this week. Come back next week for more Weird Words of the Week.

Looking for books that fit your budget?

Check out my website. http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/

 

Midweek Tease:Hot For The Teacher

mwtease15Good morning and Happy New Year. I hope all of your dreams and wishes come true in 2017. Midweek tease is a blog hop open to anyone who would like to join. At the moment, it consists of nine authors who present a snippet of a book for your enjoyment each week. The styles, tastes, and heat levels vary, but there’s always something to read and enjoy. Thanks go to Angelica Dawson for continuing to host the blog again this year. Without her, this blog hop wouldn’t be possible.

This morning, I would like to tease from Just For the Weekend, my novel included in the new bundle from Crimson Romance, entitled, Hot For The Teacher, which includes 10 contemporary stories. Here is the blurb:

hot-for-the-teacher-1Reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic aren’t the only subjects these ten passionate couples explore in this fun digital romance bundle. But are their relationships strong enough to make the grade? Turns out love doesn’t always follow a lesson plan. . .

  • The Professor’s Secret: English professor Claudia Manchester secretly writes spicy romances under a pen name to keep her side job under wraps till she’s secured tenure. But when she meets historical romance writer Bradley Davis while dressed as her sexier alter ego at a conference, can they build love on lies?
  • Just for the Weekend: Multimillionaire Sam Mason is sick of gold diggers. When he meets role-playing kindergarten teacher Cleo James at a sci-fi convention in Vegas, she seems like the real thing. Then – surprise! – he wakes up married to this sexy stranger . . . only to find Cleo has vanished. Is he looking for a swindler or the love of his life?
  • Probabilities: Bubbly were-lynx Tizzy Sands planned to teach kindergarten, eventually marry, and start a family. But cancer changed that goal, and she’s now determined to take down the nefarious Nexus Group – and steer clear of any romantic involvements. Quinn Arons’s genius IQ makes him the least socially skilled were-lynx in the colony, but he might just be the man to show Tizzy there’s more to life than saving their world.
  • In the Shadow of Evil: After ten years with Maryland’s Special Crime Unit, very little rattles Jared McNeil. Then his nemesis resurfaces, with his sights set on Jennie McKenzie, the fifth-grade teacher and face from the past that Jared is honor bound to protect, no matter what.
  • Between the Sheets: The Western Washington Choral Directors’ annual retreat is the perfect setting for music teacher Maggie Schafer to turn over a new leaf in her love life, but a pretend romance with handsome Randy Devers gets surprisingly real.
  • The Look-Alike Bride: High school gym teacher Leonie Daniel leads a double life, often standing in for her glamorous older sister who works as a government agent. All Leonie has to do this time is spend a few weeks in Zara’s lakeside cabin near Hot Springs, Arkansas, behave like Zara, and avoid Adam Silverthorne, the man her sister is interested in. But now Adam is falling for Leonie . . . or is he?
  • The Marrying Kind: Professor Jane O’Hara takes a sabbatical to follow her bliss to a horse farm. She doesn’t expect to find it with the owner’s son, Mark Hannon – but their connection is sudden and sizzling. Will their pasts prevent them from having a future?
  • The Gettysburg Vampire: Ghosts are a popular draw in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so college student Abby Potter takes advantage of the phenomenon by inventing a vampire folktale for the annual holiday production. Problem is, her leading man – a history professor at the college and a renowned Civil War re-enactor – is a little too convincing in the role.
  • Winter Fairy: Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in the Fairy Dreams class she teaches, but will her magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student? Or will she dance out of their lives when her big break arrives?
  • Inventing Sin: English professor Gabriella Kurtz tells her colleagues she’s dating the perfect guy: big, masculine but gentlemanly, and capable of mind-blowing sex all weekend. Problem is, he’s not real . . . until ex-military man Duncan Sinclair enters the picture, posing as an accomplished academic to take down a terrorist.

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Here is your tease from Just For The Weekend:

Cleo followed Mitch into the convention hall packed with hundreds of people in various alien costumes, and allowed some of the excitement in the air to calm her fears. She recognized outfits from various sci-fi movies and television shows, as well as others straight out of the video game world. There were several Orion slave girls in a variety of  shapes, shades, and sizes, and Cleo saw the not-so-friendly glares she got from them—especially when one of their male friends stared admiringly at her. She nodded in return and chuckled when one girl gave the guy she was with a jab in the ribs.

She tried to keep up with Mitch who barreled across the room as if she were in a speed-walking race. Barefoot as she was, conscious of the icky, sticky carpet, Cleo moved slowly to  avoid stomping boots and heels. She’d almost made it to the promised land of booth security when a giant, in snake-like make-up and the dark gray leather and chainmail associated with the Cardassians, grabbed her arm. He spun her around quickly.

“Hey, let go of my…” Her angry words died on her lips.

“What have we here?” He eyed her hungrily. “Are you lost, my pretty little slave girl?”

Familiar chocolate eyes pierced hers, and she couldn’t think straight. His whiskey-smooth voice caressed her; his touch ignited a fire along her spine. Realizing what he’d said, she searched for an answer.

“Lost? No, I got separated from my Klingon friend. She’s over there.”

She pointed to the publishers’ autograph area where Mitch stood.

“Then allow me to escort you safely to her.”

Holding her close to him, he ushered her across the congested convention floor. He bowed to Mitch and gave the Cardassian salute.

“I believe she’s yours, but I’m entitled to a reward for coming to her assistance.”

He smiled wickedly before pulling Cleo into his arms and capturing her mouth with his.

Cleo held herself rigid, but the kiss poured liquid fire through her. Of their own volition, her arms wrapped around his neck both to hold her upright and to encourage the incredible sensations to continue. His mouth devoured hers as if she was his last meal. She’d been kissed before, but never like this. When he slowly pulled away, she was breathless. She read desire in his eyes.

“Later, my Orion beauty.” He turned and walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

“Who the hell is that?”

“I have no idea.” Cleo reached for Mitch’s blue-tinted Romulan ale and drained the glass.

Want to read more? Reserve your copy today. Less than a USD for 10 complete novels! The bundle will be available January 9, 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/Hot-Teacher-10-Contemporary-Romances-ebook/dp/B01N0QH6RS

Can’t wait?

You can also pick up Just For The Weekend in one of the following bundles available now

Holiday Fling: https://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Fling-10-Vacation-Romances-ebook/dp/B0195QNTQG

Wedding Season: https://www.amazon.com/Wedding-Season-10-Nuptial-Novels-ebook/dp/B01HH2TGN0

Betting on Love: https://www.amazon.com/Betting-Love-4-High-Stakes-Romances-ebook/dp/B01LOIJPTS

Not a fan of bundles? Just For The Weekend is also available alone:

https://www.amazon.com/Weekend-Crimson-Romance-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B00J0HEAL4

Thanks for dropping by. Now please check out the rest of this week’s teasers.

#MidWeekTease January 4, 2017

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