Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Alcove by Rosalilnd Abel (spotlight, excerpt, and review) ADULT title

Book 7 of the Lavender Shores series
Rosalind Abel
This is an ADULT title


Jasper Getty is living his dream as the owner of the charming bookshop, Lavender Pages. For seven years, he’s enjoyed the safety and freedom to be himself, selling books by day and curling up and getting lost in novels by night. But a dark page from the past comes back to haunt Jasper as his ex begins stalking him.

Russell Wallace hit reset on his life in Nashville and became a bodyguard after decades of living according to family expectations. But even years later, he doesn’t believe he deserves happiness. When Russell is asked to travel to the beautiful seaside town of Lavender Shores to protect a friend’s brother, he expects nothing more than a job and a paycheck.
But Lavender Shores reveals a world Russell never imagined, and his immediate attraction to the adorably geeky Jasper complicates an already difficult job. Jolted by the memory of a shared moment and paths that crossed years ago intensifies the sparks into a bonfire of passion and hope. 
When danger comes pounding at the door, Jasper is in danger of losing his life… and his heart.

(Contains Lavender Shores maps and family trees.)



“Do the introductions and then leave.” I dried the last dish from our breakfast and put it in the cupboard before turning back to my brother. “Seriously, Harrison. You two are heading out of town this afternoon, you need to get ready. It’s your first anniversary. Don’t pretend you don’t have a huge to-do list that’s eating at you right now.”

Harrison finished topping off our coffee and handed me my mug. “Adrian and Micah are getting back from their conference around three. I have plenty of time.” He took a sip, sighed, and leaned back against the counter. “The real problem is how late we stayed up last night watching movies. Maybe I can squeeze a nap in later so I’m fresh for….” A blush rose to his cheeks, and he took another sip.
Gagging, I did my brotherly duty by shuddering in disgust. “You’ve released two sex tapes into the world. I don’t think I’m going to be irrevocably scarred by knowing that my older brother is planning on having sex with his husband on their anniversary. The fancy San Francisco hotel kind of implied that anyway.”

“I didn’t release sex tapes to the world. That was someone else’s doing, if you recall.” He swatted at me as he laughed. He only managed to nick my elbow as I twisted out of the way, spilling a small wave of coffee over the floor.

“You’re cleaning that up.” I pointed down, joining in on his laughter. “With you not living here since you got together with Adrian, I’d forgotten what a messy house guest you are. Three days with Harrison Getty has left the place looking like a tornado has gone through, which I thought we left behind when we fled Tennessee.”

“Shut up!” That time he managed to swat my shoulder and spilled another splash of coffee. “Just because I’m not anal-retentive like you doesn’t mean I’m a slob.” He grimaced and then pointed down at his knee. “However, I think you’ll have to take care of the coffee. War wound, remember?”

“Elevating from football star to war hero, huh?” I grabbed a paper towel from the rack.

“You’re the one who said hero. Not me.” He grinned as his gaze softened. “It was nice to spend the last three days with you. Like old times.”

It had been. There was no one in the world I loved more than my brother, and it had been too long since we’d had such extended time alone. Still, I was looking forward to ending the day curled up by the window reading a book.

No sooner had the thought passed than I remembered why Harrison had demanded the extended brother weekend. It wasn’t just because his husband and business partner had a conference.
Before I could reply, Harrison hopped onto my wavelength as a familiar strain entered his eyes, an expression that had been like a third houseguest over the past three days. “I don’t have to leave. Adrian would understand.”

“Shut up You’re not spending the night of your first anniversary with your brother.” I shook my finger at him, partly in jest but also serious. “And if you don’t quit stressing, you’re going to get wrinkles around your eyes. Then what would happen if you decided to return to modeling?”

Harrison didn’t take the bait. “This is your lifewe’re talking about, Jasper. I can’t imagine anything more serious.”

I waved him off. “You’re being dramatic. I’ve told you a billion times. Neal wouldn’t hurt me. Not really.” Despite my protests, my anxiety grew. No, not anxiety, as much as I wanted to pretend that was it. Fear. My fear grew.

Harrison’s brown gaze leveled on mine. He knew me better than anyone. He didn’t have to say a thing. He knew, even if I couldn’t admit it. “I’ll stay. We can make a night of it, the three of us.” Those concerned eyes brightened as if the plan actually sounded good to him. “We’ll make a party out of it. Invite Micah and Connor over. Andre. Hell, we can make an impromptu bash and invite all the founding families of Lavender Shores.”

“Just because you married into a founding family, doesn’t make me a member.” I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t quit attempting jokes.

He snorted. “Oh, I’m aware. Trust me.”

I could tell he was about to launch into another plan, but I cut him off. “Enough of this. You’re not staying. There’s no reason to. You and Adrian are going to San Francisco to celebrate, and you’re not going to think of me. Not once.” I lifted my finger again as he started to protest. “I’m serious, Harrison. There’s been no contact in the last three days. There’s no reason to think there’ll be any more.”

“We both know that’s not true.”

Yes. We did. “Well… whatever. You’re still not staying. You’re forcing me to have a bodyguard. And the only reason I agreed to it is so you wouldn’t cause yourself an aneurysm. You don’t get to be on both sides of that fence. I said yes to your request—which was pretty much a demand, by the way—so you have to quit worrying.”

He smiled gently, but I could see him beginning to cave. “I’m your big brother. That’s what I do.”

“I know it. And I appreciate it.” I truly did. It meant the world, even if a little overbearing at times. “And my older brother got me a bodyguard, so let it go.” I moved closer and nudged his shoulder with mine. Actually I nudged the lower half of his triceps with my shoulder. Harrison and I had physiques true to what we were. Harrison, an ex-star-quarterback, model, reality TV star. And me, a diehard bookworm turned bookshop owner. We couldn’t look less like brothers if we tried. 

“A bodyguard, Harrison. You got me a bodyguard, like I’m Whitney Houston or something.”

He snorted again. “Well, however this thing goes, if you decide you need to burst into singing ‘I Will Always Love You,’ make damn sure you don’t do it until I’m back so I can videotape it. Then I won’t be the only one of us who’s trended on YouTube.”

“I don’t think me screeching will compete with your sex tapes. Even if I did it naked.”

“Well….” He seemed to consider. “Russell is pretty sexy. I haven’t seen him in a few years, but he’s definitely hot. So just get him naked before you sing.”

“Great. Just what I need.” Not only was I going to have a stranger staying in my guest room for the foreseeable future, but someone to spark all my insecurities on a continuous basis.

Harrison waggled his eyebrows. “Did I mention he’s gay?”

“No. No, you most definitely did not.” I turned to face him slowly. “What is this? Protection from Neal or trying to set me up?”

“Protection. Russell helped out one of my teammates a few years back. A situation like this. His girlfriend had some crazed stalker. Russell saved her life. I wouldn’t get someone who I didn’t trust to be with you. He’s a good guy. Capable.” Harrison gave a little shrug. “Maybe a little serious from what I remember. But he’s good.” His expression relaxed once more, and the teasing gleam returned to his eyes. “But… if quality protection turns into romance….” Another shrug. “C’est la vie.”

It was a testament to just how much genuine fear I felt that I didn’t nix the plan instantly. “You know, Harrison. It might be a good idea for you to get a bodyguard for yourself. I’m a little tempted to take a hit out on you right now.”

Harrison grinned, but before he could say anything, a chime sounded, announcing someone was at the door. He glanced at the clock on the microwave. “Five minutes early. That’s what I remember about Russell.” Another flash of a grin. “Showtime.”

“I hate you.”

Chuckling, he took the coffee from my hand and placed both our mugs on the counter. We left the apartment, walked down the narrow steps in the back, and entered my bookshop.

Lavender Pages was small—narrow and deep. As we made our way through, I studied the silhouette highlighted by the morning sun at the front door window. He looked like a bodyguard. Nearly as big as Harrison.

Just from his outline, a sense of relief flooded through me, confirming that despite what I’d said to Harrison, I really was concerned. Neal hadn’t hurt me before, not really, but he was quite a bit stronger than me. But unless his years behind bars changed him drastically, he couldn’t compare to Harrison or the man waiting at the door.

Harrison didn’t wait but unlatched the lock and threw open the door. “Russell Wallace! Good to see you. It’s been too long.”

The man took Harrison’s outstretched hand, gave it a firm shake, and then they did the overly masculine “chest bump, fist pound on the back” thing.

Harrison and I couldn’t seem less like brothers if we tried.

Once done, the bodyguard entered the bookshop, and Harrison shut the door and locked it again.

Then Russell offered his hand to me. I took it, expecting a similar display.

To my relief, he simply shook my hand. His grip was firm and warm. Calluses rough against my palm. “Hey. I’m Russell. Nice to meet you.” His voice matched the rest of him—low and strong. There was a hint of warmth there too, but enough steel that it was only a hint.

“You too. I’m Jasper.” I looked up at his face but couldn’t see into his eyes. He had on a low-hung ball cap and dark sunglasses. Even so, Harrison’s memory was proven true. Russell practically smoldered.

If I’d been told I was going to meet a bodyguard who was clothed in a leather jacket, ball cap, and wore sunglasses inside during the early morning, I’d have predicted I would’ve laughed at the cliché of it all. Probably would’ve accused the man of trying just a bit too hard. I’d have kept that witticism in my mind, of course, lest I got slaughtered, but still.

Laughter was the furthest thing from my mind as I met Russell Wallace.

I had yet to encounter a genre of books I didn’t enjoy. One of my indulgences, when I wanted to dive into the world of romantic fantasy, was a series of vampire warriors. The man in front of me might’ve stepped out of the pages and been one of the members of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood.
Where my brother had the rippling muscle mass of a football star, Harrison was about as much of a fighter as a golden retriever. I felt safe with him because he was my brother. With this man… I felt a strange combination of safety and fear. Though I’d just met him, there was no doubt that Russell Wallace was no golden retriever. He was a pit bull, German shepherd, and junkyard dog all rolled into one. He’d keep me safe. But just like those vampires, I got the sense he could devour me too.
And I’d let him.

I managed to swallow when I became aware my body was responding to him in ways that most definitely weren’t anticipated. I also realized my hand was still in his, mainly because I was gripping it so tightly he couldn’t end the formality without jerking away. “Uhm, sorry.” I retrieved my hand and shoved it into my pocket.

From over Russell’s shoulder, Harrison studied me, the surprise in his eyes shifting to amusement. No doubt I wouldn’t be hearing the end of this for a long, long time.

Turning away, I headed toward the counter where the register was, my little spot of power and control. And I could stand behind it just in case my body refused to listen to my demands and needed to be concealed behind something. From behind, I heard Russell and Harrison follow.

I hadn’t turned on the piped-in background music yet, and their steps and the soft squeak of Russell’s leather filled the space.

“Cute little bookshop you’ve got here.”

Already feeling a little more secure behind the counter, I faced him, trying to determine if there was judgment in his tone.

Russell wasn’t looking at me. Instead, he was turning to inspect Lavender Pages. “Like it’s out of a storybook.”

Harrison chuckled and gently smacked Russell’s shoulder again. “Welcome to Lavender Shores. You’re going to be saying that a lot.”

He didn’t respond, only continued to circle slowly.

From my concealed spot, I was okay with that and took advantage of studying Russell. He wore brown boots and dark-wash jeans. They weren’t skintight, but with every move he made, his jeans revealed thickly muscled calves and thighs and an ass that threatened to make me light-headed. As Russell continued to inspect, he slid off his sunglasses. He’d clearly been handsome before, but the shades hadn’t done him any favors besides adding to his mystique. His profile was strong, every plane of him chiseled. A close-cropped, dark beard framed his sharp jaw.

When he turned to me, I realized he was older than I’d thought. Probably mid-forties. Somehow, that made him even more handsome. 

His brown eyes met my gaze. “Do you only have two entrances to the shop?” He motioned the length of the store. “This one in the front, and I’m assuming there’s one in the back?” He peered over my shoulder.

I couldn’t answer. I was utterly and completely frozen. And not because he might’ve been the sexiest man I’d ever seen, or… at least not only because of that. I’d seen him before.

I needed his gaze on me again. Surely it hadn’t just been in my mind. I knew him. I was sure of it. Could feel it. I knewhim. I wasn’t sure how or where or when, but I did. Even more puzzling was how I could have met a man like him and not remember.

“Yeah. Just the two. Front and back.” Harrison cast me a puzzled glance and answered for me. “The back door leads to the rear exit and up the stairway to Jasper’s place.”

Russell turned to Harrison, and I used the moment to try to get myself under control.

“That’s good. That helps. Fewer places to secure.” But as he spoke, he continued to walk around the store, going slowly up and down the aisles of books. “You said he broke in here a few days ago?”

“Yeah. He left a rose.”

I finally found my voice. “We don’t know that was Neal. There was no note. The windows weren’t broken; nothing was wrong with the locks. It had been crazy busy in here the day before. Someone might’ve left it and I didn’t notice.”

Harrison shot me an exasperated grimace. “We’re not going through this again. It was him. We both know it.” He turned back to Russell. “Like I told you on the phone, Neal sent Jasper a postcard a couple of weeks ago. Of Fort Nashborough.”

It was one of the top tourist places in Nashville, and the location of Neal’s and my first date.
Russell interrupted. “He sent it here, to the shop? Or to where you live, Harrison?”

“Here. Lavender Pages.”

“So he definitely knows where Jasper is. He’s not just taking a guess because he saw you on TV.”

Exactly.” Harrison nodded, and his tone grew angry. “We’d been promised that Jasper would be alerted if Neal got out of jail early. He wasn’t. And of course that postcard was the first we’d heard of it. I called the day he got the postcard, and sure enough. Out on good behavior or some shit.”

Russell paused in his pacing, seemed to be doing some figuring in his head. “He sent a postcard a couple of weeks ago, and then nothing else until the rose?”

“You got it.”

I tried again. “We don’t know that it was from Neal. It really could have been from someone the day before. I think we’re overreacting.” Even as I said the words, I knew they weren’t true. The constant storm of anxiety I’d felt since that postcard was all the confirmation I needed to know it was only a matter of time before I saw Neal.

“It was from him, Jasper. We both know it.” Harrison sounded more apologetic that time.

Russell studied the length of the store again before speaking. “If it was from Neal and he was able to get into your shop without leaving any sign of breaking and entering, then we also have to assume that he could get into where you live.” He pointed upstairs. “He might’ve already done so.”

Though I hadn’t admitted it to Harrison, that thought had already entered my mind. I held it at bay most of the time, except for in the dark of night when I pictured Neal sneaking into my apartment, watching me as I slept.

It had been bad enough after the postcard, but then the flower…. All my protests of having Harrison stay with me since then had been nothing more than show. Which he knew. The same was true for the bodyguard idea. As silly as it made me feel, I figured I’d fall to pieces without it.

It pissed me off more than anything. For more than seven years I’d been free. I hadn’t lived in fear, hadn’t been controlled, hadn’t been dominated. I’d finally reclaimed Jasper Getty. He’d been lost for the nearly five years I was with Neal, and I’d fought hard to get him back. I’d managed to build my dream life, with Harrison’s help and money, and regardless of my insistence that Neal wouldn’t truly hurt me, I knew he had the power to take it all away, one way or another.

Suddenly I realized Harrison and Russell were in the middle of a conversation. I’d been so caught up in my anxiety about Neal, I’d slipped away from them.

There I was doing exactly what I’d done all those years before—disappearing because of that man. I hadn’t even seen him face-to-face yet, and I was reverting back to old shit.

It took me a couple of minutes to fully reengage, which was fine. Harrison and Russell were catching up on mutual friends and acquaintances.

Finally, Harrison turned to me, his gaze searching and intense. Russell was across the room, giving us space, whether intentionally or not I wasn’t sure. “How do you feel? Are you comfortable with Russell being here with you? I’ll stay, Jasper, you know I will. Adrian won’t mind. Neither will I.”

The thought of that pushed away the other spike of anxiety that had risen at the mention of Russell staying with me. “No. Stop that. You have to go. And yes, I’m totally fine.” I looked past Harrison to where Russell inspected the deadbolt. “I really am. He seems more than… capable.” I refocused on Harrison. “Go enjoy your anniversary. You and Adrian need to paint San Francisco red. You deserve it. You both do.”

I had no idea how I’d gotten fortunate enough to have a brother who was genuinely considering postponing his anniversary to stay with me. Although, that wasn’t new. That had always been Harrison’s nature where the two of us were concerned.

“Harrison, I mean it. If you bring it up again, I’m seriously going to get pissed. I agreed to have a bodyguard. You say you trust him. Let that be enough.”

Though he hesitated another few seconds, Harrison finally acquiesced. “Fine. And you’re right. I do trust Russell. Honestly, he’ll keep you safer than I could.” He grabbed my hand and hardened his gaze to the one that said there was no room for argument. “Text me tonight and in the morning. I don’t want to hear about it being my anniversary. I won’t be able to enjoy it unless I know you’re safe. Don’t argue.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

“Yeah, you being stubborn.” He smirked. “Wonder what that would be like.”

I squeezed his hand before releasing him. “I promise. A text tonight and in the morning. I’ll be safe.”
Satisfied, Harrison said a quick goodbye to Russell, and then he was gone, leaving me alone with my bodyguard. 

My bodyguard! Whose life was I living?

“I left all my stuff in the car since I’ll be moving in for a while, but I’ll get it later.” As he crossed the room, Russell gestured upstairs once more. “For now, how about you give me a tour of the rest of the place so I can see what we’re dealing with.”

“Sure. I can do that.” As he drew closer, the tumult of sensations he’d sparked before began to boil again. He was overwhelming, not just in his size and attractiveness, but in the pure intensity that radiated from him. He paused on the other side of the counter, and when he met my gaze, that recognition returned.

I knew this man. How the hell could I know him and not remember?

“Jasper, I’m sure your brother was probably asking the same thing, but it’s important that you feel safe with me.” He leveled his stare, and though it was still intense, there was a gentleness in it, genuine concern. “I know we don’t know each other yet, and you don’t have any reason to trust me, but you will. This isn’t my first time being with someone when they’re dealing with the crazy ex. I promise you, I’ll keep you safe.”

I nodded and looked away, unsure how to respond. Whether it was because of his sincerity or because we’d met before, I believed him. I felt fully and completely safe.

No. I realized that wasn’t right. I didn’t feel safe. From the fire raging in me at his nearness, I felt very much in danger.

Protected. Russell made me feel protected. But not safe. So very far from safe.

When I turned back to him, I caught him studying me. For a moment, I figured it was nothing more than how he’d inspected everything else. Just doing his job. But then those brown eyes flashed up to mine, and there was heat.

It was gone so quickly, shoved behind walls thick enough that they left his warm brown eyes cold and guarded. So quickly I would’ve decided I’d made it up, imagined what I wanted to see. But I hadn’t.
That moment, that flash, was all I needed. And I remembered Russell Wallace. Though I’d not known his name. Though it had been a matter of minutes years and years ago. There was now a beard and an intensity he’d lacked before… but I remembered.

 Amazon link


My review

4.5 stars

The Alcove by Rosalind Abel is part of the ‘Lavender Shores’ series that centers around a very special fictional town in northern California. This story highlights Jasper Getty, who owns the bookstore Lavender Pages. His idyllic life is disrupted by the threat posed by the release of his ex from jail. Russell Wallace has been hired by Jasper’s older brother Harrison to provide protection, but finds himself powerless to resist the man who has haunted his fantasies for the past seven years. Now they just have to survive long enough to decide whether their attraction will last beyond this assignment.

I love visiting this town because it has such a wonderful mixture of folks populating it. A case in point is the very…enthusiastic…book club. I daresay it would be difficult to look some of those folks in the eye after having seen…so much…of them at the meetings, lol. This author excels at providing a mixture of emotional punches such as Russell’s gutwrenching past or the conflict the mild-mannered Jasper has to cope with but those are balanced by the lighter episodes or the asides such as the foray into cozy mysteries or the delicious ‘In Death’ books.

It’s impressive that each of the pairs showcased in the stories are unique and distinctive and each time, I think a particular pair is my favorite…until I meet the next one! I automatically had a rapport with Jasper since any true bibliophile understands that desire to coax non-readers into joining the obsession with finding the next great read, and it took me a little while, but Russell kept growing on me, particularly as he opened up.

This story had a lovely combination of heat and slowly building romance combined with the escalating tension, and it was a fun and quick read. My only quibble is the improbability of the physical exertion given the handicaps after the exciting climax, but I suppose where there’s a will there’s a way!

I look forward to meeting more fascinating Lavender Shores inhabitants.

A copy of this title was provided me for review.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Jinnspeak by M. S. Farzan (spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by M. S. Farzan


GENRE: Young adult urban fantasy/magic realism



Zahra's algebra midterm is in one month, but more importantly, the Winter Formal is only two weeks away. Fitting into high school is hard enough for the Pakistani American teenager, particularly when a fire spirit begins appearing in her dreams, speaking to her in a language she doesn’t understand. Meanwhile, a secret cult at her school begins to carry out a nefarious plot, with only the Magic Club – and its newest member, Zahra – standing in its way. A popular multiplayer online roleplaying game may hold the secret to saving Golden Mountain High School, but only if Zahra can decipher her perplexing new talent – Jinnspeak.



That night, Zahra dreamed. 

It wasn’t one of those trances where people and places seem to be just strange enough to have the possibility of being real.  Nor was it a fragmented dreamscape where each object and every character stands as a symbol for thoughts being played out in the subconscious.   It was vivid, cohesive, and unlike anything she had experienced.

She was standing in a large grass field, lit only by a full, red moon overhead and frigid as a midwinter night.  She shivered, but not with cold, as her body was hot, as though she had been running.  Her breath turned to frost in front of her, and the only sound was the air rushing in and out of her lungs.

Zahra turned to take in her surroundings, but there was only dimly lit grass for as far as her eyes could see.  She looked up at the moon, which cast the field in an eerie scarlet incandescence.  Her heart beat loudly in her chest, sounding like a drum in her ears.

She turned again, and was startled to see a figure standing before her, in what had previously been an empty expanse of grass.  The form was a rough outline of a human body, mirroring her own in size and stature, but wreathed completely in crimson fire.  It made no motion or sound, and two almond-shaped eyes peered out at her from within the flames.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

M. S. Farzan was born in London, UK and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a B.A. in Integrative Biology, M.A. in Religious Leadership for Social Change, and Ph.D. in Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions. He has written and worked for high-profile video game companies and editorial websites such as Electronic Arts, Perfect World Entertainment, and, and has trained in and taught Japanese martial arts for over ten years. He also enjoys soccer, baseball, and games of all kinds.



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My review:

4 stars

Jinnspeak by M.S.Farzan is a young adult novella that centers around Zahra, a junior in high school who is dealing with the normal teen challenges—difficult classes, social gatherings, and peer pressure, but also has to cope with different cultural norms and a distressing escalation in unusual dreams. Fortunately, her best friend, DJ, is right there to help and he has connections that will come in handy if she can bring herself to reveal her concerns in time for them to make a difference.

I enjoy stories that expand my horizons and give me a chance to experience different cultures and mores, so this was a very satisfying tale in that respect. It has been quite a while since I have dealt with the angst of being a shy teen in semi-uncomfortable social situations but the author evoked those emotions vividly and added the twist of a paranormal element. I thought a few things were a little forced and not everything was resolved as much as I would like, but perhaps that is due to the brevity of the story. Nonetheless, this is an engaging story that straddles the line between urban fantasy and contemporary fiction and features a lovely cast of diverse characters and I hope that there are more tales to come.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

You Never Forget Your First Earl by Ella Quinn (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY)

Ella Quinn

With her three good friends all recently married, Elizabeth Turley is ready for some husband-hunting of her own. One gentleman in particular sparks her interest. Geoffrey, Earl of Harrington is tall, handsome, and dashing. He’s also just a bit too sure of himself. But Elizabeth has observed enough about the rules of attraction to pique the earl’s attention. Yet once she has it, the discovery of a troubling secret taints her future happiness . . .

Lord Harrington must marry or lose a prestigious position in Brussels, and pretty, well-connected Elizabeth fits his needs admirably. But could it be that he has underestimated his bride? She doesn’t bat an eye in the face of the danger they encounter overseas. She’s strong-willed, intelligent, and more enticing each day—yet also more indifferent to him. Now Geoffrey faces his greatest challenge: to woo and win his own wife, or risk losing her for good . . .


Once Gavin had accompanied Lord Harrington into the house, her aunt looked at Elizabeth. “Well, what did you think?”

“After his initial stiffness, he was quite charming.” Even if he didn’t kiss her fingers.

“He’s a handsome man,” her aunt mused.

She had studied him as he’d strolled off with Gavin. She had been right. It was clear his tall frame and broad shoulders had no need of padding anywhere. “Yes. His eyes in particular are a beautiful color blue. They almost match the sapphire he wore.” His hair was blond but slightly darker than hers. “I like the way his hair curls.”

“But he is not pretty,” Aunt said. “Not like Byron.”

“No. He is very manly looking. His jaw is firm.” Not able to get the vision of his shoulders and shapely legs out of her mind, Elizabeth fought the urge to sigh. She might be a little too interested in his physical attributes.

“And he was attentive to you,” her aunt prodded.

“Yes, he was very attentive.” Especially when he talked about going abroad. In fact, that was almost the only thing he discussed. He had not asked anything about her likes and dislikes.

“Very well.” Her aunt’s tone was a bit impatient. “He is tall, blond, and handsome. He appears, from his conversation, to be intelligent and well read. He comes from a good family. He will be a marquis someday, and he wishes to be wed.” Aunt Bristow arched a brow. “Tell me. What is it about him that you do not like?”

Her aunt was right. Something about Lord Harrington had struck Elizabeth as . . . off. She pushed is physical looks aside and focused on what was bothering her. Lord knows it wasn’t his appearance. It was not his demeanor as such. It was . . . was he really interested in her? “He wants this position so badly that I believe he will marry any suitable lady just to have it.” She scrunched up her face. “Do you know what I mean?” Her aunt stared at her, clearly not understanding. She’d have to find a different way to put it. “It strikes me that in a way he is like a fortune hunter. He does not care who he weds, so long as he can have what he wants. In the case of a fortune hunter it is the money. In Lord Harrington’s case, it is the position with Sir Charles.” She rubbed the space between her eyes, trying to ease the tension she felt. “I do not wish to be the means to an end.”

Aunt rang the bell on the table next to her. “You do not think he cares if his affections are engaged.”

A footman appeared carrying two glasses and a decanter of claret. After setting it down, he returned to the house.

“I am not even sure if he cares about compatibility.”

Buy links:
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About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them. She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a Portuguese Water Dog. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat. After cruising the Caribbean and North America, she completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe. She's currently living in Germany, happily writing while her husband is back at work, recovering from retirement.




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Monday, May 28, 2018

Happy Memorial Day

My apologies for the blog being quiet lately. I've been dealing with a few personal challenges and have gotten behind. I appreciate those who continue to visit!

I am grateful to all of those who serve and protect us, whether in the military or as first responders here in the States. They, as well as their friends and family, contribute and sacrifice so much to keep the rest of us safe.

If you are so moved, these are some of the organizations I have worked with over the years, but there are plenty of other ones out there.

Operation Gratitude
(when I have time, I will post the pictures of how to make a paracord bracelet, since my past few months have been taking them apart and making them consistent!)

Wounded Warrior Project

Soldiers' Angels

Operation Paperback

Monday, May 21, 2018

Heart of a SEAL by Dixie Lee Brown (VNBtM, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author Dixie Lee Brown, who shares her advice on...

So, you’re a new author—do you need an agent?
Dixie Lee Brown

There are many paths to publication for a writer in the age we live in, which is a wonderful thing. Self-publishing is relatively new and eliminates the dreaded rejection letter, answers the question of whether you need an agent and mitigates the stress of meeting someone else’s deadlines. Many authors have been successful with this method, but there is a learning curve and money to be spent up-front for things like professional editing and cover creation. In return, you set your own deadlines and keep all the profits from sales of your book. A dear friend of mine had a bad experience with a small publisher a few years ago and decided to self-pub. She loves it and has never looked back.
If you decide self-publishing isn’t for you and opt for the traditional publishing method, you need to decide if you’ll submit your work to publishers yourself or seek representation from an agent. I’m sure most authors here today know this, but for the writer who’s just getting started, an agent is an intermediary between you and the publisher. He or she keeps up with the market, knows if a certain editor is looking for a particular genre and can match your manuscript with the editor most likely to be interested. The agent does all the querying and follows up on every submission. Some agents provide other services—for example, my agent edits each manuscript before sending to prospective publishers. For your agent’s services, she keeps 15% of your royalties.
You may decide to submit your manuscript to publishers yourself. You’ll need the most current Writer’s Market, the annual resource book for writers, which usually comes out in early June. Within those pages you’ll find an extensive listing of publishers and editors, what they publish and, most importantly, whether they’ll accept un-agented submissions. When you’ve chosen the publishers you wish to query and determined the editors most likely to be interested in your submission, you MUST check out their submission guidelines on their webpages. And you MUST follow to the letter what is written there…unless you want your query to end up in the round file beneath their desks. Now, buy yourself a box of tissues because there WILL BE rejections, some harsher than others. I used my stack of rejection letters as a doorstop in my office!
That’s not to say finding an agent willing to represent you is any easier, but that’s the way I chose to go. I have a matching stack of rejection letters to prove it! My decision to try finding an agent first was based on my complete newbie status and the fact I had no clue what I was doing. After requesting and receiving a revision of my first manuscript, my agent offered a contract for representation. After she sent it back to me three times to fix major plot holes, I knew she was exactly the agent I needed. Without someone who cared enough about my “career” to herd me in the right direction, my first book would never have seen the light of day. That fact was reinforced when, two weeks after my agent began submitting my book to publishers, one of the Big 5 offered on a three-book series, which later turned into six books.
Recently, book one (Heart of a SEAL) in a new three book series (Hearts of Valor) was released by a different publisher. I have never regretted my decision to work with an agent. Nor do I begrudge her the measly 15% she earns from my sales. In fact, I think she’s significantly underpaid—but that’s an issue for another time.
We’re all different, and we all must make our own decisions based on what we think is right for us. If it turns out you made a bad call, mistakes can always be fixed—kind of like editing a book. It might be time-consuming but worth it in the end. The important thing is to have fun along this crazy writing journey. I know I will.



by Dixie Lee Brown


GENRE:  Romantic Suspense


They’re brothers in arms, Navy SEALS risking their lives for their country . . . and the women they love.

This is Luke Harding’s story.

Six months in a desert hellhole taught Navy SEAL Luke Harding things he never wanted to learn about life and death. Only tender memories of the beautiful brunette he met a few weeks before his deployment helped get him through the torturous days and nights. Back in the States after a perilous rescue, physically and emotionally damaged, Luke’s about to plunge into a new kind of war. In a seemingly bucolic Idaho town, Sally Duncan faces real—and unpredictable—danger.

All Sally ever wanted was a safe place to raise her nine-year-old daughter. Her identity hidden behind a façade of secrets and lies, can she trust Luke—a man she barely knows—with the truth? Even as they give in to long-denied passion, a killer with a personal vendetta is setting an ambush that will leave them praying for a miracle and fighting for the future they may not live to see.



“Are you Petty Officer Second Class Luke Harding?” The man in battle gear knelt beside him.

As hard as he tried, Luke couldn’t make a sound—or even nod his head. All he could do was stare until his eyes misted, and he squeezed his eyelids shut so he wouldn’t humiliate himself.

They know my name. Somebody knows who I am. Gratitude washed over him even as sorrow intruded into his momentary peace. Except for two short weeks, he could have celebrated with Ian.

The warrior reached for Luke’s hand, gripping it firmly. “It’s okay, Son. You stay with me. You hear me, Sailor? That’s an order.” He leaned over Luke and there was understanding in his eyes. “We’re here to get you home alive, and failure is not an option. You copy that?”

Luke would have smiled if he could have. Did the guy know the phrase he uttered so effortlessly was the only thing holding Luke together?

“Medic!” the man yelled over his shoulder, and two seconds later another warrior stuck his head into Luke’s space.

It was getting harder to breathe. His rasping and gurgling grew louder and filled his ears.

“Chest wound.” The second man applied pressure, none too gently, to the hole in Luke’s torso.

Jesus, you stupid SOB! Luke would have given anything for the strength to shove him away, while using every four letter word he knew, but the most he could manage was a pained groan.

“Hang in there.” The first man pulled Luke’s attention from the medic. “I know you’re in pain. The chopper will land any second, and we’ll get you onboard. Next stop—a nice clean hospital and then…stateside. We’re going to give you the good stuff so you can sleep through this next part. You’re going to make it, Sailor, so start planning your homecoming.”

Sally. The image of the sweet brunette he’d promised to return to flashed in Luke’s mind. He barely felt the prick of the needle before his eyes fluttered closed on his last memory.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Dixie Lee Brown lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by gorgeous scenery and at least three hundred sunny days a year. Having moved from South Dakota as a child to Washington, Montana and then to Oregon, she feels at home in the west. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who are currently all the responsibility she can handle. Dixie works fulltime as a bookkeeper. When she's not writing or working, she loves to read, enjoys movies, and if it were possible, she’d spend all of her time at the beach. She is also the author of the Trust No One romantic suspense series, published by Avon Impulse.

Please visit her"
Twitter: @DixieLeeBrown



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