Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Release Blitz: Sweet Jayne by K. Webster

Sweet Jayne by K. Webster Publication Date: May 31, 2016 Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance, Standalone
Front Only
Nadia Jayne’s world is full of villains.
Kasper thinks he hates her. Donovan thinks he loves her. Logan thinks he owns her. Sweet Jayne is a complicated girl… She needs Kasper. She hides from Donovan. She has a plan for Logan. But maybe complicated Jayne isn’t so sweet after all… In fact, she might just be the biggest villain of them all. WARNING: Story contains dark taboo themes and violence both sexual and physical which could trigger emotional distress in reader.

About K. Webster

K Webster2 K Webster is the author of dozens romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers. Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen. You can easily find K Webster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads! Website: www.authorkwebster.com Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bllgoP

Release Blitz: Nacho Figueras Presents: High Season by Jessica Whitman

NACHO FIGUERAS PRESENTS: HIGH SEASON by Jessica Whitman (May 31, 2016; Forever Trade Paperback, Mass Market, eBook; The Polo Season Series #1)

World-renowned polo player and global face of Ralph Lauren, Nacho Figueras dives into the world of scandal and seduction with a new fiction series set in the glamorous, treacherous world of high-stakes polo competition.

Georgia never wanted to be a jetsetter. A plain old country vet was fine for her. But one distress call from her best friend and the next thing she knows she's neck deep in the world of polo's most elite international players--complete with designer dresses, fine champagne and some of the most gorgeous thoroughbreds she's ever seen. Some of the most gorgeous men too...

Alejandro Del Campo needs his team to win the season's biggest polo tournament or else he's not sure how much longer they're going to be in business. What he doesn't need is some sassy new vet telling him how to run his business--and distracting him at every turn. But as they come closer and closer to the championship match, it soon becomes clear that Alejandro wants to win Georgia just as much as the tourney trophy. But can he ever convince her his world is where she truly belongs?

Buy the Book!
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1WCO9ra

About Nacho Figueras:
Argentine polo player Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras has become one of the most recognizable and talented polo players in the world.  He is currently the captain and co-owner of the Black Watch polo team.  In addition to playing polo, Nacho has been featured as a face of Ralph Lauren and its Black Watch clothing and watch collection since 2000. In June 2009, he was voted the second most handsome man in the world by the readers of Vanity Fair and has appeared on numerous television shows, such as Oprah and Chelsea Handler. Nacho currently splits his time between Miami and Argentina with his wife, Delfina and their four children, Hilario, Aurora, Artemio, and Alba.

Social Media Links:
Twitter @nachofigueras
Instagram @nachofigueras
Add High Season to your shelf on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1R8C843

Friday, May 27, 2016

Blog Tour: Red by London Miller

RED Tour Banner

  RED by London Miller Den of Mercenaries, #1 Publication Date: April 30, 2016 Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Organized Crime

RED Cover
Purchase: Amazon (#FREE with #KindleUnlimited) | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Synopsis: Welcome to the Den…
Seven years ago, Niklaus “Red” Volkov was offered an opportunity, one that would give him the ability to even the score with the Albanian mobsters that had tortured him for days and took the life of the only girl he’d loved. But that gift came with strings…
Molded into the perfect soldier, Niklaus joined an elite group of mercenaries, loyal to a mysterious man known only as The Kingmaker. He willingly paid the price for means to fulfill the vendetta that plagued him each day.
Vengeance was all he knew…
And death was all he lived for…
Until it wasn’t…
Until her…

Red sucks you into a world of pain and vengeance, a world where an ordinary man turn  into something else after a severe trauma and find  himself wanting more. 

Niklaus had great plans for how his trip to New York was going to go, but they were blown all to pieces because of his looks. Reeling from his loss and guilty over not being all  to prevent it, Niklaus finds himself accepting an opportunity for revenge, for vengeance. 

But things aren't always how we expect them to be an  eventually there's somethin  he want  more.   

Red is the spinoff of the Volkov Bratva series, and gives us the story of Red (Klaus), by delving into the past and showing us what molded and shaped him to become that man.  London Miller does a great job of weaving a tale of pain and devastation that leads to making an ultimate choice. She sucks readers in the the crazy world and hooks us with the details. 

Each character offers something new to hold our attention and the story sends us tumbling through emotions. 


RED Cover
Twenty-one Pilots - Stressed Out
Imagine Dragons - Gold
Imagine Dragons - Demons
James Bay - Let it go
Beyonce - Crazy In Love (Fifty Shades of Grey Version)
RED Teaser 4


London Miller
With a degree in Creative Writing, London Miller has turned pen to paper, creating riveting fictional worlds where the bad guys are sometimes the good guys. Her debut novel, In the Beginning, is the first in the Volkov Bratva Series. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two puppies, where she drinks far too much Sprite, and spends her nights writing.


RED Giveaway Graphic


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blog Tour: Infinity by Allaina Daniels

Title: Infinity (Xandrian Circle #1)
Author: Allaina Daniels
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Release Date: Aug 13, 2016
Professional animal trainer, Carmen Rockwell, is happy living her life on the edge of society. She owns a high profile business that is run by her best friend, Lissy, the only person she thinks she needs in her life. Because of an unusual gift, she is the best in the country at what she does. She goes away for work and finds herself suddenly drawn into a new world- one that she never knew existed and against her will, it follows her home, demanding that she enter into the life she was destined to live. An important date is approaching fast, but will she turn away from this new world and hide or will she face her fate head on? One man could make all the difference- but does he love her or is she only a means to an end?
Allaina Daniels is a sassy domestic goddess from Georgia whose addiction to caffeine is surpassed only by her passion for the written word.  Her debut paranormal romance, Infinity, was released in August 2015; and, her second novel is expected to be available by summer 2016.  Allaina is an avid reader and reviewer of all genres and enjoys connecting with her readers on social media.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Release Blitz: Sugar Daddy By Sawyer Bennett

Title: Sugar Daddy
Series: Sugar Bowl #1  
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 24, 2016


“This book devastated me in the most wonderful way,” raves Meredith Wild. In Sugar Daddy, the New York Times bestselling author of the Cold Fury series proves that vengeance is sweet—but seduction is to die for.

Sela Halstead lost her innocence in a way that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to endure. She’s spent years trying to forget that night even while wondering about the identities of the monsters who brutalized her—until a telltale tattoo flashes across Sela’s TV screen. The incriminating ink belongs to Jonathon Townsend, the millionaire founder of The Sugar Bowl, a website that matches rich older men with impressionable young women. Obsessed with revenge, Sela infiltrates Townsend’s world, only to come face-to-face with a tantalizing complication: Beckett North, his charismatic business partner.

The tech mastermind behind The Sugar Bowl, Beck always gets what he wants, in business and in bed. And yet, for a man who’s done every dirty thing imaginable, there’s something about the naïve, fresh-faced Sela that sparks his hottest fantasies. Because with her, it’s not just about sex. Beck opens up to her in ways he never has with other girls. So why does he get the feeling that she’s hiding something? In a world of pleasure and power, the shocking truth could turn them against each other—or bind them forever.

Note: Sugar Daddy ends on a cliffhanger. Sela and Beck’s story continues in Sugar Rush and Sugar Free!

Purchase Links


SUGAR Daddy is th  kind of book that you think you know what to expect but you can't see everything coming. 

Sela has suffered horribly and she knows who to blame  and make  plans for her revenge, but Sela doesn't expect what led  come  he  way as she implements this  plans. 

The interactions between Beck and Sela are hot, steamy and will leave you wanting more.  

This book end  in a massive  hangover  that made me want to beg for the next installment right now because  I need to ink  what happens next. 

Sawyer Bennett never fails to write an enthralling tale that pulls you right into th  pages and keeps you hooked. Her characters are strong and compelling while th  plot is fresh and twisty. 

Author Bio

New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett is a snarky Southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company that lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Bennett would like to report that she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Author Links

Cover Reveal: into the nothing by BT Urruela

Title: Into the Nothing
Series: Broken Outlaw #1
Author: BT Urruela
Release Date: June 21, 2016
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XanderEvans has been on the road for many years. Never settling. Always moving from one place to another, unable to let go of his past. He lived a tragic childhood, spending most of those years in foster care. He's never felt like he's had a home. That is until he stops in the small town of Truman Valley, Missouri, where he meets a woman who will change everything he's ever known.
Paige Watson has it all. A loving family, beautiful home, and a great career. The only thing she's missing....is love. After escaping an abusive relationship, she opens her heart up to a stranger. He is unlike any man she's ever met. He came into her life and turned it completely upside down. Everything is perfect. That is, until one fateful night. 
A night that would tear the Watson family apart, never to be put back together again. 
A night that would send Xander away to prison for life.
BT Urruela was an infantryman in the US Army from August 2004 until February 2011. At the end of a year long tour to Baghdad, Iraq, his vehicle was hit by two roadside bombs, which took his right leg below the knee and the life of his commander. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds, an Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantryman's Badge. He medically retired from the Army in 2011 and moved to Tampa, FL where he currently works as a Director and Brand Ambassador for VETSports, a veteran community sports nonprofit he co-founded in 2012. He also conducts motivational speeches, works as a cover and fitness model and he's a personal performance trainer. He co-wrote the military romance novel A Lover's Lament and will be releasing his debut solo novel, Into the Nothing, on June 21st, 2016.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Release Blitz: Sugar Daddy by Sawyer Bennett

Title: Sugar Daddy
Series: Sugar Bowl #1  
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 24, 2016


“This book devastated me in the most wonderful way,” raves Meredith Wild. In Sugar Daddy, the New York Times bestselling author of the Cold Fury series proves that vengeance is sweet—but seduction is to die for.

Sela Halstead lost her innocence in a way that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to endure. She’s spent years trying to forget that night even while wondering about the identities of the monsters who brutalized her—until a telltale tattoo flashes across Sela’s TV screen. The incriminating ink belongs to Jonathon Townsend, the millionaire founder of The Sugar Bowl, a website that matches rich older men with impressionable young women. Obsessed with revenge, Sela infiltrates Townsend’s world, only to come face-to-face with a tantalizing complication: Beckett North, his charismatic business partner.

The tech mastermind behind The Sugar Bowl, Beck always gets what he wants, in business and in bed. And yet, for a man who’s done every dirty thing imaginable, there’s something about the naïve, fresh-faced Sela that sparks his hottest fantasies. Because with her, it’s not just about sex. Beck opens up to her in ways he never has with other girls. So why does he get the feeling that she’s hiding something? In a world of pleasure and power, the shocking truth could turn them against each other—or bind them forever.

Note: Sugar Daddy ends on a cliffhanger. Sela and Beck’s story continues in Sugar Rush and Sugar Free!

Purchase Links


Author Bio

New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett is a snarky Southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company that lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Bennett would like to report that she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Author Links

Release Blitz: Desire After Dark by Marie Force

Synopsis: Tobias “Slim” Jackson has the perfect life as a pilot on Gansett Island in the summer and in Florida in the winter. He’s happiest when he’s in the air, or at least that was the case before last summer when he met Erin Barton, Gansett Island’s newest lighthouse keeper. Now he can’t seem to find his usual enthusiasm for flying, winter in the sunny South or anything that doesn’t include her. 

Erin has been stuck on pause since she lost her twin brother. She’ll tell you herself that her life has been a hot mess since Toby died. After dropping out of law school, she’s flitted from one pointless job to another, existing rather than truly living. Then she comes to Gansett Island to take over as the new lighthouse keeper and meets Slim, who happens to share her beloved brother’s first name. That small coincidence is enough to convince Erin that she needs to spend more time with the dashing pilot—except for the fact that he’s spending the winter more than a thousand miles from her.

Now Slim’s come home to Gansett for the holidays and to hopefully pick up where he left off with Erin. He’s got twelve days before he’s due back in Florida to finish out the remainder of his winter obligations. A lot can happen in twelve days, but will it be enough to convince Erin that it’s time to start truly living again? Read Slim and Erin’s story and catch up with the rest of the Gansett Island cast in Desire After Dark!

Sneak Peek: Chapter 1 & 2 

Chapter 1

On the morning after Slim Jackson came home to Gansett Island, Erin Barton awoke to the scents of his cologne and starch on the dress shirt he’d worn to the McCarthys’ anniversary party. At some point, he’d discarded the suit coat he’d been wearing when he arrived.
She didn’t remember falling asleep with him on the sofa, or how they’d ended up snuggled together under a blanket. His chest made for a comfortable pillow, and his arms around her had kept her from tumbling off the sofa during the night. The last thing she recalled was kissing him—soft, flirty kisses that hadn’t gone much beyond lips stroking lips, with the promise of more to come.
The thought of that promise had her skin tingling with awareness of the man sleeping next to her. After they’d connected last fall, he’d left the island to work in Florida during the off-season. She’d been counting the days until she could see him again, which wasn’t something she did very often. In fact, she couldn’t recall the last time she’d looked forward to seeing any man.
Before he arrived last night, she’d tried to prepare herself for disappointment. Maybe the connection they’d forged months ago in person and maintained through texts and phone calls and FaceTime chats would’ve waned in the many weeks they’d spent apart. But it took only a few minutes in his magnetic presence to know the opposite was true.
Their connection was alive and well, and they had twelve days together to explore where it might lead. Though she’d enjoyed their many entertaining conversations over the last few months, Erin didn’t know where she wanted their “flirtation” to lead. She hadn’t been seriously involved with a man in years and wasn’t sure she had what it took to be in a relationship anymore—or if she even wanted a serious entanglement at this point in her life.
The last man she’d been serious about had been during law school, before she lost her twin brother in the 9/11 attacks on New York City, and her carefully crafted life fell apart in the aftermath of unimaginable loss. By the time she came up for air, the man she’d once planned to marry was long gone, not that she could blame him. The poor guy had tried, Lord knows he’d tried, but there had been no consoling her.
Thinking about those dark days was never a good idea, especially today when she had something far more positive to focus on. She moved carefully to disentangle herself from Slim’s embrace, hoping he would sleep awhile longer. He’d been tired last night from the long day in the air, flying from Florida to Rhode Island for the McCarthys’ party—and to see her.
Erin went upstairs to make herself presentable. She also couldn’t recall the last time she’d spent the night with a man. It had been a while, long before she moved to Gansett Island hoping to jumpstart her stalled life.
If the first few months on Gansett were any indication, the move had been a good one. Thanks to her close friend, the former lighthouse keeper, Jenny Wilks—now Jenny Martinez—Erin had been introduced to an amazing group of new friends. And she’d met Tobias Fitzgerald “Slim” Jackson Junior, the sweet, sexy pilot who’d come to her rescue after she sprained her ankle on a dark island road last September.
Thinking about that night made her feel giddy and breathless, which was silly, really. At thirty-eight, she was far too old for such foolishness. Regardless, he’d charmed his way into her life that night. He’d been dropping in regularly ever since, mostly via phone, text and FaceTime, until last night when he showed up in person, sparking more of that giddiness that seemed to happen any time he was around.
He’d met her parents at Jenny’s wedding in October, and they’d immediately adored him and tuned in to the crackling attraction between them. That had been a great night, capped off by a magical good-night kiss when he brought her home. But then he’d left the island for three months to work in Florida, and Erin had been surprised by how much she’d missed him.
He’d been a terrible flirt from that first night. Thinking about what he’d said to her the second night could still make her shiver all these months later. After she’d agreed to have dinner with him—once she was off the crutches—he’d stated his intentions rather boldly.
“I’m also persistent. If you’re going to make me wait until the crutches are gone, I guess I’ll have to come by to visit every day and make a pest of myself so you don’t forget about me.”
“You’re going to drive me crazy, aren’t you?”
“Baby, that’s the very least of what I want to do with you.”
Thinking about that now made her smile. In addition to his sexy good looks, she loved how easygoing he was, how funny and confident. She loved calling him out when he got too cocky, and he made her laugh—a lot.
The thing she found most attractive about him, however, was his kindness, especially during the days leading up to Jenny’s wedding. He’d understood how difficult it was for Erin to see her beloved brother’s fiancée marry another man, even though she was thrilled for Jenny and Alex. Slim had provided the kind of support she would’ve expected from a longtime friend rather than a new one, and he’d helped to get her through what might’ve been a crisis otherwise. No matter what else happened between them, she’d always be thankful to him for that.
She took her hair out of the messy bun it had been in last night and brushed it until it fell in soft waves past her shoulders. After brushing her teeth and putting on a bra under her T-shirt, Erin crept down the stairs, taking a subtle glance at the handsome man still sleeping on her sofa, before continuing on to the kitchen to make coffee. While she waited for the coffee to percolate, she gazed at the collage of family pictures on the fridge, zeroing in on Toby’s smiling face. He’d be gone fifteen years later this year, but to her it might’ve been fifteen minutes. She missed him desperately, even after all this time.
It had taken a while, a couple of years, actually, for her to realize she would simply never get over losing him. So she’d stopped trying, which had freed up the emotional energy she’d spent railing at the circumstances under which he died. She smiled back at him now, thankful for the photos, the memories, the reminders that he’d once existed and had been closer to her than anyone, other than Jenny, of course.
Though the photos were displayed in a tidy arrangement, Erin straightened them as she did every morning, in a pattern of left to right. Left side first. Always. Keeping up that ritual and many others was the only way to prevent further catastrophe, or so she told herself. Her obsessive routine was interrupted when an arm slid around her from behind and whiskers scraped against her neck.
A shiver of sensation traveled down her backbone. “Morning.”
“You forgot to kick me out last night.”
“So I did. You were tired after flying all day. I didn’t have the heart to kick you out.”
“That’s awfully nice of you to say since you haven’t even let me buy you dinner yet.”
Erin gave his belly a playful poke with her elbow. “I’m beginning to think this dinner date is never going to happen.”
“Oh, it’s happening. Tonight, in fact.”
“I have plans tonight.” She poured two cups of coffee. “How do you like it?”
“Black is good.”
With his hands on her hips, he turned her to face him. “What are these plans of which you speak?”
She handed him the mug and looked up at him, dazzled by his gorgeous face, the warm brown eyes, the sleep-ruffled hair, the scruff on his jaw and the lips that had kissed her so tenderly the night before. “Alex and Jenny are having everyone over.”
“Then we’ll do dinner tomorrow night, yes?”
“Sure, but I’ll believe it when I see it.” Erin loved to goad him, something she’d never felt comfortable doing with other men. But Slim was nothing if not comfortable to be around.
His eyes lit up with amusement as he took a drink of coffee. “I believe you’re underestimating me.”
“Would I do that?”
“Yes, I believe you would. But that’s okay. I do my best work when the expectations are low.” He wrapped a strand of her hair around his finger. “Your hair has gotten long since the fall.”
“I decided to grow it out. You’ve seen that on FaceTime.”
Shaking his head, he said, “You always have it up.” He ran his fingers through the long strands. “I like it.”
“Thanks,” she said, unnerved by the intense way he looked at her.
“I need to head over to my place and see about getting the water turned on and firing up Big Bertha, the temperamental furnace that takes three hours to warm up.”
“Oh, well… Um, you could stay here if it’s easier than opening up your place.” The words were out of her mouth before she could take the time to consider what she was offering.
A raised brow was his only immediate response. While she held her breath, waiting to hear what he would say, he took another sip of coffee.
“Unless you’d rather—”
He laid his index finger over her lips. “I’d rather be wherever you are, but I don’t want to impose.”
“It’s no imposition. I have hot water and heat and everything you’d need.”
“You left out one very important feature of your lovely offer.”
“What?” she asked, genuinely confused.
He touched his lips to hers. “You’re here, and since you’re offering twelve days of all Erin, all the time, I gratefully accept your kind offer.”
“Do I need to spell out what I’m offering and what I’m not offering?”
Smiling down at her, he said, “No need. We’ll go with the flow and see what transpires.”
Erin laid her hand on his chest, feeling the strong beat of his heart. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything like this.”
Covering her hand with his, he quirked that sexy eyebrow again. “Like what?”
“This. You, me, us. Hours on the phone, looking forward to seeing someone, dating.”
“You make that sound like a dirty word.”
“It has been for me.”
“Well, you haven’t had the supreme pleasure of dating Tobias Fitzgerald Jackson Junior. He’s in a whole other league from all other men you’ve had the misfortune of knowing.”
Erin rolled her eyes. “And he speaks of himself in the third person, because that’s so attractive.”
A rakish grin lit up his face. “You know it, baby.” He put his coffee cup on the counter. “I’m going to grab my bag out of the car and then borrow your shower, if you don’t mind.”
“A daily shower is part of the lighthouse bed-and-breakfast package.”
“Oh yum, what’s for breakfast?”
Erin groaned. “Aw, jeez, I walked right into that one, didn’t I?”
“You don’t have to cook,” he said, chuckling at her comment. “I could take you out somewhere.”
“No need. I have stuff here. I’ll scrounge up something edible.”
“You sure about this, sweetheart? If you’re having second thoughts about your spontaneous offer, I can get out of your hair for now and come back later. Totally up to you.”
Erin loved that he called her sweetheart and appreciated that he’d given her an out, but she didn’t want out. She wanted him to stay. She wanted to spend every minute of the next twelve days with him, not waiting for him to come back. That didn’t mean she wasn’t scared senseless of how attached to him she might be when it came time for him to leave again.
“I’m not having second thoughts about you staying,” she said.
“Then what?” He touched the furrow between her brows that she hadn’t realized was there.
“I’m concerned about what happens when the twelve days are up.”
“That’s easy. You come back to Florida with me and hang out for the rest of the winter.”
Erin wondered if her shock registered on her face. “I’m not going to Florida with you.”
“Why not? What’ve you got to do here that would be more fun than hanging out in the warm sunshine with me?”
Nothing. There was nothing here that would be better than spending the rest of the winter with him in Florida. But she couldn’t do that. “I do have a life here, you know, and a job.”
“That takes five minutes a day, and Jenny could do it for you since the landscaping business is shut down for the winter.”
“They’re not completely shut down. They’re still plowing snow and selling Christmas trees.”
“She would do it for you, Erin. You know she would.”
Yes, Jenny would do it for her, but running the lighthouse wasn’t the only reason she couldn’t go.
But before she could fall down that particular rabbit hole, he came to her rescue once again. “Let’s not worry about that today when we have so many better things to do, such as getting a tree for this place. It’s four days before Christmas. Where’s your tree?”
“I didn’t bother to get one.” Since her brother died, she hadn’t bothered with a lot of things that used to bring her joy. A tree always seemed like more trouble than it was worth.
“We need to rectify that immediately. We can’t very well spend the holidays together and not get a tree. I have needs that must be met.”
The double meaning wasn’t lost on her. “Is that right?”
“Absolutely! It’s Christmas. That means we have to bake and cook and wrap presents. Lots to do and not a lot of time left to do it before the big day.” He was still talking as he headed down the stairs. “Be right back!”
Erin watched him go, oddly elated by his overabundance of Christmas spirit when that would normally annoy her. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d given a crap about the holidays. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. The holidays were one of many things she’d stopped giving a crap about after her brother was cruelly murdered along with three thousand other innocent souls.
Erin couldn’t help but wonder what a lighthearted, happy-go-lucky man like Slim would think of the darkness that dwelled inside her. What would he think when he found out that she hadn’t stepped foot on an airplane in nearly fifteen years and, if she had her way, never would again? There were a lot of things about her that would probably be a huge turnoff to a guy like Slim, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy this interlude with him while it lasted and then pick up her regular life already in progress after he left.

Chapter 2

She had erected walls in front of her walls, barriers intended to keep anyone from getting too close, which was why Slim was completely shocked that she’d asked him to stay with her. Not that he was complaining. Not at all. He was thrilled but shocked, too. Standing before the mirror in the lighthouse’s tiny bathroom, he shaved his face and puzzled through the unexpected turn of events.
During their many phone calls, FaceTime chats and texts over the last few months, she’d let him see her witty side as they bantered back and forth. Other than the night last summer when she’d asked him about his real name and she’d told him about the twin brother she’d lost, they hadn’t delved too far beneath the surface. They talked about the winter weather in Florida versus Rhode Island, about his customers and flights, the places he went with his plane and the activities that kept Erin and her band of friends busy on the island during the cold winter months.
They talked about the TV shows they were watching, and had watched much of the last season of “The Voice” together, rooting for the same contestant to win.
Not once had they talked about where all those conversations might be leading. He’d asked her where she planned to be during the holidays, and when she said she was debating between staying on the island or going home to Pennsylvania, he asked if he could see her after the McCarthys’ party. When he touched down on the island’s runway yesterday, he hadn’t known whether he would be here for one day or twelve days or what. He’d cleared his schedule in Florida through the holidays, hoping the longer visit to Gansett would materialize.
She’d seemed genuinely thrilled to see him last night, as thrilled as he was to see her after counting the days for weeks. And kissing her had been… He blew out a deep breath. That had been incredible, if also unexpected.
This entire situation with her was unexpected. He’d spent his adult life chasing the sun and the work. He flew out of Gansett Island in the summer and Palm Beach in the off-season, taking people where they needed to go while studiously avoiding anything that smacked of commitment in his personal life. That just wasn’t his style—or it hadn’t been before the September night when he rescued Erin on a dark road and found himself on the business end of a hook, getting reeled in slowly but surely by a woman for the first time ever.
It was funny, really, when you considered how much pleasure he’d taken in mocking his friends Mac, Adam, Grant and Evan McCarthy, who’d fallen one by one in the last couple of years, along with Owen Lawry, the Martinez brothers, Luke Harris and even Seamus O’Grady. His Gansett Island friends had gone to the “dark” side of love and marriage, and if a happier bunch of bastards had ever lived, Slim hadn’t yet met them.
And now here he was, inordinately delighted by an invitation from the emotionally remote but incredibly sexy, beautiful lighthouse keeper who wanted him to stay with her for the next twelve days. The lighthouse was charming but tiny, with a bedroom, a small bathroom, a galley kitchen and a cozy living room. It had some of the best views of anywhere on the scenic island. But the one thing it didn’t have was a second bedroom.
As he combed his hair and cleaned up the bathroom, he couldn’t wait to see what bedtime might bring. Would he be spending another night on her comfortable sofa, or would he get to sleep with her? The thought of sleeping with her again, of holding and kissing her, not to mention the many other possibilities, had his skin tingling with anticipation. Though he’d studiously avoided commitment and anything that smacked of a relationship, he’d found himself craving more of this particular woman after spending time with her last fall.
Now that he was finally here, in her home, where she seemed to want him as much as he wanted to be there, he didn’t care what they did—or didn’t do. Knowing he had twelve long, cold winter days to snuggle in with her was the best Christmas gift he’d ever received.
Dressed in jeans and a sweater, Slim came down the stairs to find the table set with blue plates with white anchors in the middle of them. Erin was in the kitchen, wearing an apron, and he had the highly inappropriate thought that he’d like to see her in only the apron sometime. He forced that thought from his head so he wouldn’t have to deal with an embarrassing situation.
“Something smells good.” His stomach let out a loud growl to make his point.
“Don’t get too excited. It’s just pancakes and sausage.”
“Too late. I’m excited.”
“Clearly it doesn’t take much to get you excited.”
“That’s not true at all. It takes a lot. Like a gorgeous woman making me a delicious breakfast while wearing a sexy apron. What’s not exciting about that?” He helped himself to another cup of coffee and topped off her mug, too.
“How do you know it’s going to be delicious?”
“Because you made it.” He kissed her cheek and left her to finish cooking, because what he really wanted to do was kiss her senseless. There’d be time for that later, after she lost the wariness that remained in her expression when she looked at him. Was she wondering if he was sincere in his interest in her? How could she still be wondering about that after all the hours they’d spent talking over the last few months?
He’d never spent that much time talking to any woman without sex as part of the equation. But how could she know that lengthy conversations weren’t part of his regular routine? He’d have to find a way to let her know that nothing about their “friendship,” or whatever you wanted to call it, was regular or routine for him.
The breakfast was, in fact, delicious, and he scored more points by offering to do the dishes while she showered. As he worked, he noticed the family photos on the refrigerator, zeroing in on the smiling dark-haired young man who looked so much like Erin, right down to the dimple in his cheek and the devilish look in his eyes. He had to be Toby, and seeing a picture of him for the first time, Slim ached for her loss.
She came down the spiral stairs a short time later with her hair in a ponytail, wearing a red wool sweater adorned with white snowflakes, and faded jeans, looking far more like a college co-ed than a thirty-eight-year-old woman. He’d been shocked when she’d once referred to herself as an old lady because she was in her late thirties. Before she told him her age, he would’ve guessed thirty at most. He was thirty-nine and amazed to be having genuine feelings for a woman for the first time since high school.
“Ready?” he asked, stashing his phone in his back pocket.
“Whenever you are.”
They took his truck to the Martinez Lawn & Garden retail store, where they spent half an hour picking out the perfect tree.
Jenny Martinez was working the cash register when they went inside to pay. “Hey, guys,” she said, clearly surprised to see him with Erin. “What brings you out on this freezing-cold day?”
Slim produced the price tag the guy working in the yard had given him. “Erin needed a Christmas tree.”
“Erin doesn’t do Christmas trees,” Jenny said with a questioning look for Erin.
Erin shrugged. “I guess I do this year.”
“Very interesting,” Jenny said with a grin for her friend.
Slim handed over three twenties for the tree.
“Hey, wait!” Erin said. “I want to chip in.”
“You can buy the lights. We also need a wreath and some of that red stuff over there.”
“The winterberry?” Jenny asked.
“Yeah, that. It’ll look good in a vase on the table, don’t you think, sweetheart?” He went over to pick out a bundle of sticks they didn’t really need—and gave her a chance to talk about him “behind his back.”
“Holy shit!” Jenny said in an exaggerated whisper. “What gives?”
“Not sure what you mean,” Erin said, though she knew exactly what her friend was getting at.
“You. Him. Buying a tree. Together. He called you sweetheart. Any questions?”
Erin laughed at Jenny’s recitation. “He’s hanging out with me for the holiday and wanted a tree. And winterberry, apparently.” She glanced at him on the other side of the store where he was having an animated conversation with Paul Martinez.
“Hanging out,” Jenny said, making air quotes. “Is that a metaphor?”
“For what?” While she tried to avoid Jenny’s probing stare, Erin arranged and rearranged things on the counter.
Placing a hand over Erin’s to refocus her attention, Jenny waggled her brows suggestively.
“Not yet it isn’t.”
“But it might be?”
“We’re taking it hour by hour. So far, it’s been fun. That’s all I can tell you.”
“You’re still coming tonight, right?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.”
“Bring him. Alex and Paul adore him. They’d love to have him there, and so would I so I can gauge his intentions toward my sweet sister-friend Erin.”
For many years after Toby died, she and Jenny had struggled to define their relationship to outsiders. Somehow “friend” didn’t seem adequate when they should’ve been sisters-in-law. Over time they’d settled on sister-friend, but it had been a very long time since either of them had used the term. Hearing it now brought special meaning to a day that was already shaping up to be pretty special.
“I’m sure he’d love to come. I’ll ask him.”
“You’re still bringing your famous seven-layer dip, right?”
“Good, because Alex asked me to make sure. I think he’d eat it with a spoon if I’d let him.”
“I’ll make extra for him.”
“He would love you forever for that.”
Slim rejoined them, carrying a huge bundle of winterberry. “Are you done talking about me?”
“Could he be any more full of himself?” Erin asked Jenny.
“Did she talk about me? Tell me the truth.”
“She didn’t say a word about you,” Jenny said with a straight face.
Nothing at all? I’m gutted, crushed, devastated.”
“You’re also very dramatic.” Amused, Erin handed over a twenty to pay for the winterberry and took the ten in change. “Let’s get going. We’ve got a tree to decorate.”
“I’ll see you tonight,” Jenny said.
“See you then.”
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do in the meantime,” she whispered to Erin. “Which means anything goes.”
“Shut it!” Erin said, leaving Jenny laughing.
While Slim put the tree in the back of his pickup truck, she got into the cab that smelled of his distinctive cologne. If rakish sex appeal, quick wit and sharp intelligence could be captured in a scent, whatever he wore did the trick for her.
He got into the truck and fired it up, blasting the heat. The frigid day was overcast and stormy, the kind of winter day she loved and the majority of sane people hated.
Erin never used to love winter as much as she did now, but the older she got, the more she enjoyed hibernating in the winter. Although on Gansett Island, an endless array of social events kept everyone busy during the off-season, making hibernation difficult. It was probably just as well, or she’d be a total hermit by now.
“Where to?” she asked as he pulled the truck onto the main road.
“Now we go to find some lights and ornaments for the tree.”
“I saw some stuff at the pharmacy last week. Not sure if it’s still there or sold out by now.”
“We’ll start there. If necessary, we’ll go beachcombing for ornaments.”
Erin liked the way he operated, how he didn’t sweat the small stuff and made the most mundane things, like eating breakfast, fun. In that way, he was her polar opposite. She sweated everything—big stuff and small. She was an obsessive over-thinker, which was why she’d shocked not only him but herself with the spontaneous invitation to stay with her.
For once, she hadn’t taken the time to think the plan through from every possible angle and outcome. She’d just acted, and the look on his face had been priceless and well worth the lack of dithering that would normally precede such a decision.
She hadn’t always been this way. At one time, she’d driven her parents insane with the number of times she’d changed her major before settling on pre-law. Her spontaneity had gotten her in trouble on more than one occasion, never more so than when perpetrating pranks with her equally mischievous twin. That side of her had died with him.
She’d read once about a man who’d detested chocolate until he had surgery and awoke from the anesthesia craving chocolate. Similarly, Erin had emerged on the other side of her tremendous loss a completely different person. Even all these years later, she was still getting to know that new person—and new Erin was someone else altogether when Slim Jackson was around.
Rediscovering the lighthearted girl she used to be had been an interesting side effect of her friendship with him. She’d nearly forgotten that girl had once resided inside her, but finding her again after all this time was like a revelation in and of itself. And that, more than anything, was why she’d asked him to stay. She liked how she felt when he was around—unburdened, hopeful, giddy, aroused, breathless, off-balance.
Those feelings also made her nervous for what would happen after he left again. His invitation to join him in Florida had stunned her. But what had stunned her even more was how much she wanted to take him up on it.
He was slowly but surely dragging her out of the shell she’d crawled into long ago, hiding from the parts of life she found too painful to deal with. Inside that shell, she was safe and protected from things that could hurt her. The thought of a life outside the shell made her shudder in fear of what happened when you loved someone too much and they were ripped from your life suddenly and without warning.
“Are you cold?” Slim asked, turning up the heat.
“Little bit,” she said, rather than confess to the fears that had her shuddering.
Being on the island had helped to crack the shell somewhat. It was impossible to be around the people who lived here and not engage in meaningful relationships and new friendships. They simply wouldn’t allow anyone to wallow by themselves for too long, and now there was a man who wasn’t going to allow her to wallow either. At some point, she’d have to decide how far out of the shell she was willing to venture.
Slim parked the truck at the pharmacy and turned off the engine. “You okay over there? You’re awfully quiet.”
“Just thinking.”
“What I wouldn’t give to know what goes on inside that head of yours.”
Erin laughed at the way he said that. “It’s probably better that you don’t.”
“I don’t know about that. Wait for me.”
At first she didn’t know what he meant, and then he was opening her door and helping her out of the truck. “While I appreciate your manners, I’m perfectly capable of getting out by myself.”
“You get me, you get my manners, too, sweetheart.” He also held the door to the pharmacy for her and ushered her in ahead of him with a hand to her lower back.
As a fully self-sufficient woman, she wanted to argue some more about his need to play the role of protective alpha man. But she enjoyed the courtesy too much to protest. She’d never been with a man who was so consistent about holding doors, and though it would take some getting used to, she decided she could live with his brand of gallantry.
They found a picked-over display of Christmas decorations in the front of the store. There were six boxes of white lights left, and he grabbed all of them.
“Why do we need so many lights?” Erin asked.
“My rule is, until it hurts to look at the tree, you don’t have enough lights. Six boxes ought to do it.”
“That’s ridiculous, but if you insist…”
“I do.” With the lights tucked under one arm, Slim reached for a box of gold ornaments.
Erin stopped him. “I like your beachcombing idea. It’s much more original than generic gold balls.”
“It’ll be cold out there today.”
“I can handle it if you can with your thin Florida blood.”
His rich, wicked-sounding laugh sent a bolt of heat rippling through her body. He was sexy all the time, but when he laughed or smiled, his sexiness reached incendiary levels. “You’re on, babe.”
And she liked when he called her that and sweetheart. She liked it an awful lot.

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Author bio: Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold more than 2.2 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold more than 1 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Green Mountain Series from Berkley Publishing as well as the new erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. 

Her goals in life are simple--to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news. 

Marie's social links:
Twitter: @marieforce
Instagram: @marieforceauthor