Please help me welcome today’s guest, Jill Piscitello…
Hair stylist Scarlett Kerrigan lost her job and her apartment. To alleviate a touch of self-pity, she succumbs to her stepmom’s pressure to attend a wedding in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Unfortunately, she runs into the vacation fling who promised the moon but disappeared without an explanation. Months have passed, but she is not ready to forgive and forget.
After a chaotic year, executive Wes Harley settles into his family’s event venue, The Timeless Manor. His carefully structured world is shaken to its core when Scarlett arrives for the Victorian Christmas wedding weekend. The feelings he never quite erased flood to the surface.
When secrets are revealed, will a magical chateau and a sprinkle of tinsel be enough to charm Scarlett?
Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.
A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes.
Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.
I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Maria Imbalzano…
Baking May Not Be My Forte, But I Love It!
I’ve always hated to cook, but I love to bake. The reason is simple: I have a sweet-tooth and licking the bowl, beaters, spoon or spatula is far superior than tasting some sauce or chicken and veggie concoction.
Every year during the holidays, my mom, daughters and I bake Christmas cookies. When my mom was in charge, they all came out perfectly. We made butter balls, chocolate walnut, chocolate chip and kiefle (a square of thin pastry dough stuffed with a nut mixture, lekvar or apricot jam). While my mom, who is now 94, still supervises, she doesn’t jump in and help. Unfortunately, my cookies never come out as good as hers did, and after a few years I gave up on the kiefle. My dough was never thin enough and I didn’t have the patience to keep rolling it out after it stuck to the rolling pin or cutting board.
The problem with my baking in general is that I’m a little casual with quantities. My mother, daughters and husband have all commented on my methods of measuring water, flour, sugar etc. and my response to anything that doesn’t come out quite right is “oh well.”
My heroine, Bella, in “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles” has a little bit of me in her. She’s a lawyer who lost her job in Manhattan and returns home to Princeton over the holidays to regroup. She learns that her parents’ gift shop in town is failing and she comes up with the idea to turn it into a cookie cottage.
Her parents bristle at the idea at first, but realize they may not have a business if they don’t change. In an effort to bolster the new cookie cottage during the holidays, Bella suggests that her father video her and her mom baking—with Bella making all kinds of mistakes. These videos will be posted on TikTok in an effort to reach a broader audience.
In order to write this scene, I researched common mistakes in baking – most of which I make. Who knew there was a proper technique for measuring flour? Apparently, you spoon it into the measuring cup instead of dipping the measuring cup into the flour bag, because no one wants excess flour causing a crumbly cookie. And too much sugar makes cookies brittle. You wouldn’t want others to break their teeth on over-sweetened treats. Not thoroughly creaming the butter and sugar results in flat, dense cookies instead of the more appealing light and fluffy ones. Not chilling the dough when called for means the batter will spread quickly and aggressively once in the oven. Presumably no one wants an aggressive cookie.
And the mortal sin of baking—using liquid measuring cups to measure dry ingredients. Or vice versa. So much to learn. Perhaps Bella and I will take heed. Perhaps not.
But one thing is for sure. “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles” is a heartwarming holiday romance that will squeeze your heart and make you smile. And it might even make you head to the kitchen to make Christmas cookies.
Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.
Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.
When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?
“I agree with Dean. Barb’s Gift Cottage has been in Princeton for thirty years. You don’t decide one day to revamp the entire business. Get rid of the old, make way for the new. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Bella bit her tongue before responding, reminding herself to stay cool. “Okay. I’m open to anything. Let’s talk about your ideas to stay afloat.” She sat, poised with her pad in front of her, pen in hand.
She looked directly at her dad first, eyebrow arched. “I’m listening.” Then she scanned over to Dean.
Her gaze moved up to his eyes—sea green in the harsh kitchen light but beautiful just the same.
His gaze locked with hers and held her hostage— an unwilling prisoner to his warden. All ire morphed into a swirling eddy of primal lust, and she felt herself disappearing into his aura. She needed to save herself as well as her ego. Fighting the pull, she surfaced, blinking to clear her eyes, inhaling to bring her back to the present.
She disconnected and glanced at her parents. Had they noticed she’d been missing?
The smallest smile quirked Dean’s lips—surely acknowledging her lapse into Dean-land. She reached for the annoyance she’d let slip from her grasp and pulled it back into her arsenal.
Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.
Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Two of her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” won first place awards in their categories in the NEST (National Excellence in Story Telling) contest. Both of these novellas were also finalists for the Beverley Award.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, Wendy Rich Stetson…
Good morning, Wendy, thank you for joining me. Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I’m a city girl with a hometown heart. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, the setting of my Hearts of the Ridge series, but I’ve lived in New York City for over 25 years. Although I’m a wee bit scared of heights, I live on the 16th floor of a high-rise in Upper Manhattan with my husband, teenage daughter, and very naughty Maine Coon kitty.
Where did you get the idea for Hometown?
I guess you could say Oprah made me do it! Just out of acting school and twiddling my thumbs while I waited for the phone to ring, I saw an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show featuring romance writers. “I could do that,” I thought, every bit as naïve as I was to think a starring role on Broadway would land on my doorstep, wrapped in shiny paper and tied up with a satin bow. Still, inspired by those Oprah writers with the often-heard advice to “write what I knew” I came up with a simple premise: what would happen if a girl moved back to her hometown in Pennsylvania and fell in love with an Amish guy. Twenty years and endless edits later, Hometown is now in the hands of readers.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?
I’m a professional actress, audiobook narrator, and theater teaching artist. I’ve played saucy maids, longsuffering spinsters, and quirky leading ladies on and off-Broadway and at regional theaters around the country. I’ve worn no makeup onscreen with some of Hollywood’s most gorgeous stars, and Rick Sordelet (Broadway’s premier fight director) once told me I drove a cop car as well as any stunt woman. I love what I do, and I’m so excited about the reopening of theaters around the country.
Do you collect anything?
Like many redheads, I’m a huge fan of the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. I collect early editions of her books and display them in my office for inspiration.
What was your first job?
As an actor, I’ve had a lot of odd jobs to make ends meet. When I moved to New York, one of my first jobs was helping legendary children’s book author R.L. Stine answer his fan mail just as the Goosebumps series was taking the world by storm. It was extremely important to Mr. Stine that all the fans who took time to write to him got letters in response. Though I write in a completely different genre, he remains a big inspiration.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Hometown?
Through Tessa’s journey in Hometown, the reader grapples with how two people from vastly different backgrounds can create a life together. Each book in my Hearts of the Ridge Series is a love story between an Amish and a non-Amish character and explores what happens when differing cultures mingle, clash, and ultimately merge. Themes of forgiveness, self-acceptance, and the healing power of love run through all three stories. When she turns that final page, I want my reader to feel all those things…and that along with Tessa, she’s finally come home.
What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?
Oh, this one’s easy! Debra Messing would play Tessa Meadows, Patrick Dempsey would play Dr. Richard Bruce, and Sam Heughan would play Jonas Rishel. Dream team!
What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
I’m dying to write a middle grade ghost story with just the right amount of creep factor. I’ve just started playing with some ideas, and I’m super excited to give it a whirl.
What is your favorite quote?
I love the JRR Tolkein quote, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” It just fills me with hope. And he and I share the same birthday.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
As a tall, curly-haired redhead, I see some of myself in Tessa, but she is braver and ultimately more generous than I am. Her best friend Jenn is definitely inspired by my spunky college roommate of the same name. All the rest of the characters are entirely made up.
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
I was so lucky that my parents were incredibly supportive of all my artistic endeavors. They always told me to do what I loved and to do my very best. These days, my daughter is my biggest fan.
Wonderful interview, Wendy. You’ve led a very interesting life. Thanks again for joining me!
When Tessa’s big-city plans take the A Train to disaster, she lands in her sleepy hometown, smack in the middle of the most unlikely love triangle ever to hit Pennsylvania’s Amish Country.
Hot-shot Dr. Richard Bruce is bound to Green Ridge by loyalty that runs deep. Deeper still is Jonas Rishel’s tie to the land and his family’s Amish community. Behind the wheel of a 1979 camper van, Tessa idles at a fork in the road. Will she cruise the superhighway to the future? Or take a slow trot to the past and a mysterious society she never dreamed she’d glimpse from the inside?
The girl entwined her fingers in her skirt and tugged the fabric tight. “Your hair is the same color as my cat, and she’s the best cat in the world.” In a heartbeat, she fled and buried her face in the man’s lap.
“My goodness. What a compliment. Thank you.” She fumbled with the clasp of her wallet, discovering only then she smooshed her thumb deep into the whoopie pie.
The elfin child giggled and bounced on bare toes.
Standing, the man swept her into his arms and smiled down at Tessa. “Rebecca has not seen many women with ginger hair.”
Ginger hair. For years, she was tormented by boneheaded boys shouting, “Carrot Top” and “Flame.” No one ever called her mane ginger. Beneath his candid gaze, her curls heated like embers, warming her from top to toe. Who was this man?
The girl wriggled, knocking askew his straw hat.
He tossed her under one arm like a sack of flour and righted it, loosening a tawny curl that escaped the wide brim and fell over one brow. His gaze passed over Tessa’s face.
Her unruly hair and short shorts tweaked at her consciousness. What did the Amish call outsiders? English? She was definitely dressed like an English woman. And not one from a Jane Austen novel.
He deposited the giggling girl right-side up on the floor and approached the table. “I’ve rarely seen hair that color myself. Like a copper penny.”
She stared at the mangled whoopie pie and blushed even deeper. For a brief moment, she felt his gaze trail down her body like a caress. Or did she?
Wendy Rich Stetson is a New York City girl who still considers the Central Pennsylvania countryside to be her home. She grew up road tripping in a 1979 VW camper van, and she keeps a running list of favorite roadside attractions from coast to coast. Now an author of sweet, small-town romance, Wendy is no stranger to storytelling. She’s a Broadway and television actress, an audiobook narrator, and a mom who likes nothing more than collaborating on children’s books with her teenage artist daughter. Wendy lives in Upper Manhattan with her family of three and rambunctious Maine Coon kitty. Follow Wendy’s journey at www.wendyrichstetson.com
I’m pleased to share my re-release of Cupid’s Beau through The Wild Rose Press – Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
I love to create fictional locations for my stories, and I always try to attach some kind of meaning to them. For Cupid’s Beau, I set it in Wisconsin because I wanted it to be a wintry setting and because my favorite NFL team is the Packers. For the name of the town I chose Castleville. It’s a play on Castle Rock, from Stephen King novels, and a town I lived in as a child for a brief, idyllic time, Cassville, Missouri. (Technically, we didn’t really ‘live’ in Cassville. We lived in some odd Bermuda triangle type location that was a mash up of Exeter, Washburn and Cassville, but we attended Cassville schools, so that’s what I went with 😊)
Ivy Pierce is a Cupid who prides herself on doing her job well. Except when it comes to a certain human male, Grant Crawford. Each time she’s supposed to shoot her arrow into his heart, her stomach hurts, her chest hurts, and she feels….sad. Cupids are never sad.
Humans who are not looking for love only get three chances to find it. And after Ivy sabotages Grant’s last chance, her boss, Aphrodite, sends her to earth to right her wrong. She has until Valentine’s Day to help him find his soul mate.
But the more she’s around him, the more she wants him for herself, even though she knows that can never be. A Cupid and a human? Unheard of.
As V-Day draws closer, can she sacrifice her own happiness to help the man she loves find his?
He helped Gretchen into her coat and walked her to her car. She hesitated before climbing inside the door he held open. Did she expect a goodnight kiss? Snow had started, and he wanted to get back in, so he leaned forward. She lifted her lips, and he gave them a quick kiss. “Goodnight, Gretchen. I had a nice time.”
Her expression showed disappointment, but she didn’t voice it. She slid in the driver’s seat. He closed the door and watched while she backed out of the parking spot and headed down the road.
Before going in, he glanced down the street. A woman was outside a small cottage half a block away. Was that Ivy? What was she doing outside, in the dark, with a blizzard brewing?
None of his business. He turned toward the restaurant, but didn’t go in. What if something was wrong? If she was hurt? How would he feel if he didn’t at least go check on her? Cursing under his breath, he whirled and stalked down the sidewalk to her house.
“Ivy? What are you doing out here?”
She turned to him, her eyes wide. She wore a white coat with a fur hood framing her face. “Grant! Hi. Isn’t it beautiful?”
He blew into his hands and rubbed them briskly together. “It’s freezing. Are you out of your mind?”
She closed her eyes and stuck out her tongue, trapping a snowflake and swallowing. She looked at him. “You try it. It’s wonderful.”
He nearly groaned with irritation. “I don’t have time—”
She took his hand, her soft, gloveless skin warm on his. “Just try it.”
Letting out a heavy sigh, he groaned again. The sooner he acquiesced, the sooner he could leave. He stuck out his tongue. Icy snowflakes drifted into his mouth. Nope. He still didn’t get it.
She squealed. “Wasn’t it great?”
Her green eyes sparkled, the pink in her cheeks making her look…heart stoppingly lovely.
He hadn’t seen anyone show such pure joy in…well, ever. Especially in something so insignificant. He looked up into the sky. Snow drifted down from the blanket of blackness. The Heavens dumping an icy wonderland on Earth. Nature was amazing. While he didn’t exactly share Ivy’s enthusiasm, maybe it wasn’t so insignificant after all.
In 2010, I and three of my writer friends—Amanda McCabe, Kathy L Wheeler, and Krysta Scott—began meeting each Friday evening for Martinis and various other libations at the Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma. In time, we came to dub our gatherings the ‘Martini Club.’ During one of these get-togethers, an idea was tossed around to write stories centered around a Martini Lounge-like establishment. The idea blossomed from there, and the ‘Martini Club 4’ series was born.
Each of the four authors wrote our own, stand-alone novella, but the girls from each are friends, and they interact in one another’s stories. This first series is set in the 1920s, and the follow-up novellas are set in the 1940s.
I and my BAFF’s (Best Author Friends Forever) had a blast brainstorming and creating the MC4 Vintage Historical Romances over drinks and during a few out of town retreats (over drinks, as well :)). Sadly, Kathy and Amanda have moved out of state and the Martini Lounge was converted into an Italian restaurant, so, like the Roaring Twenties, our Martini Lounge gatherings are bygone days. (Although, never fear, Krysta and I have a few other friends who now meet for drinks on as many Friday nights as possible, though COVID has certainly put a damper on that. We still call our get-togethers MC (Martini Club) 🙂
Step back into the days of prohibition, gangsters, and speakeasies with the Martini Club 4 Series.
**** FREE for a limited time!! – Ruined, Reckless, and Rebellious are free and Runaway is only 99 cents!!
(See below for info about the 1940s novellas)
About the Books:
Jessica: An aristocratic reporter with a penchant for trouble, she encounters sexy, mysterious Frank Markov, owner of an elegant new speakeasy and a man with secrets she’s dying to uncover. ~ Rebellious by Amanda McCabe
Eliza: She fled England in pursuit of a better life, but her illusions are shattered when she falls prey to a scoundrel who draws her into a life of prostitution. When she meets Vince Taggart, a former boxer in search of his missing friend, she finds hope and the promise of love. ~ Ruined by Alicia Dean
Margaret: Her impulsive nature lands her face-to-face with gangsters and bootleggers. Even more disarming is her undeniable attraction to the enigmatic Harry Dempsey. ~ Reckless by Kathy L Wheeler
Charlotte: Her dreams of owning her own bakery crumble when blackmail and murder land at her feet. Is the dashing detective her ruin or her salvation? ~ Runaway by Krysta Scott
Blurb: Can an aristocratic lady melt the cold heart of a Russian gangster?
Lady Jessica Hatton fled her high-society London debutante life for one of investigative journalism in New York—only to be relegated to the fashion pages. Searching for a juicy story leads her to Club 501, the city’s most glamorous speakeasy—and its handsome, mysterious owner, Frank Markov. But his past of war and revolution puts their hearts—and their lives—in danger…
Excerpt: “Do you smell that, Meggie?” Jessica Hatton cried as she leaned into the cold, salt spray wind, her t-strap shoes perched on the lowest rung of the ship’s railing. She’d lost her hat, and the short strands of her hair blew into her eyes, but she didn’t care. England was far behind them. They had escaped.
“It smells like freedom!” she shouted, and threw up her arms. It felt like she could fly all the way to America.
“I only smell old fish,” Meggie said. “Now come down from there, Jess. If you tumble into the drink, it will all be over before it even starts.”
Jessica laughed and shook her head, but she did climb down. She spun around to see Meggie stretched out on one of the deck chairs, the glossy mink collar of her coat drawn close around her.
The sky was grey and dismal-looking, the water not as glassy-smooth as when they slid past Ireland yesterday and headed out to open sea. Several of the passengers had retreated to their cabins, but Jessica couldn’t stand staying inside. Not when there was so much to be seen.
“It smells like fish and freedom,” Jessica insisted. “But we can go in now. Maybe Charlotte and Eliza will want to play some cards or mah-jong.”
“Finally,” Meggie grumbled as she swung her feet down to the damp deck. But her smile was broad. Jessica knew Meggie was loving it all just as much as she was.
Blurb: She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans…
After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped.
Former boxer, Vince “The Fist” Taggart dreams of marrying, having a family, and living a quiet, peaceful life. But when a girl he’s known since childhood disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza is the key to finding his missing friend.
Excerpt: Eliza lifted her gaze, then looked away when she met his eyes. They were just too…striking, too blue. “I’m afraid you’ll have to speak to Oscar. He handles all my transactions.” She could never have a normal outing with a man. A lump of regret rose in her throat. She turned and started up the stairs.
Vince caught up to her in a few steps and grabbed her arm, taking the bag from her at the same time. “That was a lousy thing to say.”
She opened her mouth to accuse him of going around Oscar so he didn’t have to pay. But that was ridiculous. He hadn’t taken what he’d paid for the first time. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead. His attention confused her. What was his angle? He didn’t want sex. Did he think she was hiding something about Cynthia and if he spent time with her he could draw it out? “What do you want from me?”
Singer Margaret (Meggie) Montley needs money…fast. Her friend is in a dire situation with nowhere to turn. While Meggie is on the brink of stardom, it’s not soon enough to save her friend.
Harry Dempsey is out to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at the hands of a ruthless gangster. But trouble spirals out of control when Meggie Montley shows up the night he meets his nemesis to settle the score. Saving the impetuous woman from a crime lord might be easier than saving her from her own reckless behavior.
Excerpt: Meggie launched herself from her hiding place and threw her arms about Harry’s neck. Locked in his muscular embrace, she rested her chin on his shoulder. His arms tightened around her. “Oh, Harry. I came as fast as I could. Just as we’d planned.” The words, she’d intended to carry, came out breathless.
“Fast, huh?” The whisper was against her ear where no one else could hear, raised goose prickles over her entire body. “Guess I’ll have to do something about that.” He lifted his head. “What are you doing with my girl, Joe?”
Joey’s hands flew into the air, indicating his surrender. “Sorry, Dempsey. Had no idea she was anyone’s quiff—”
Meggie’s cheeks burned, and she stiffened at the insult. Harry’s one arm gripped her closer. The other shot up, jerking her body like a rag doll. She couldn’t see Harry’s face with her own now buried in his neck, but she felt the corded muscles contract.
Blurb: Can she prove her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?
After escaping an arranged marriage, Lady Charlotte Leighton lands on a new shore, determined to realize her dream of opening her own bakery. But her plans are shattered when her former fiancé follows her to New York. Now, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom.
Haunted by a string of failures, Detective Felix Noble is determined to solve his latest case. But his efforts to find a murderer are jeopardized by a forbidden attraction to his number one suspect. While he’s certain Charlotte Leighton is keeping secrets, instinct tells him she’s not the murderess he first believed.
Excerpt: Long thin fingers curled around a glass and lifted it from the tray. Charli followed the direction of the drink. Derrick Chaunce, or as the local duffs referred to him, “Slick”, grinned, exposing yellowed teeth.
“You … You…” Her throat closed. The rest of her diatribe wouldn’t budge.
He winked. His thin hair slicked back in the latest fashion exaggerated the gaunt cheekbones and sunken eyes, tinging him with an unhealthy, dilapidated look. He gulped the whiskey. A bit of the amber liquid escaped through the gap in his teeth and down his chin. Her stomach lurched.
“Thank you, sweet cakes. Put it on my tab.” He skulked off.
Charli whirled around. How did the bounder get past Tiny? Ira fumed about customers who ran up a high tab without reconciling at the end of the night. Now she would have to explain yet another charge added to Slick’s mounting debt. She sighed and rolled her eyes to the heavens. The customer was always right. Even when they were wrong.
I’m pleased to share these four sweet, holiday stories from The Wild Rose Press…
Joy Frost Burton lives a busy, successful life, finding comfort in the lovely home she shares with her three little boys. A widow, she isn’t looking for love again, in spite of her three younger sisters’ rather pushy encouragement.
Mysterious fate has other ideas and throws charming Sean Summers into Joy’s world again and again. Soon, however, ghosts from the past and a challenging family crisis create difficult complications.
Does Joy dare risk loss and sorrow a second time by following her wounded heart’s new rhythm?
As I arrived at the doorway, I took a quick look back and BAM—ran smack into a man coming in. An indelicate “Oomph” escaped my lips as we both reached out to steady ourselves. His hand covered mine on the door frame. Warm—very warm.
He kept it there, and I didn’t struggle to free myself at first. I was turned sideways and couldn’t see his face, but my senses—all of them—responded to his closeness.
Finally, I breathed again and pulled my hand out from under his, mumbling a weak, “Oh, so sorry.”
“No, I didn’t see you there. It was my fault.” He had a deep voice with a little rumble in it. I looked up and saw a ruggedly handsome face and dark blue eyes. He looked vaguely familiar, but I forced my eyes away too fast to think about that.
“Excuse me.” I tried to scoot past him, brushing my shoulder against his chest as we both turned to maneuver through the small open space. Unfortunately, we’d moved in the same direction, and then we bumped knees. I was mortified.
“Oh, sorry again,” I yelped. At that point I noticed his enticing aroma—a mixture of cool autumn air and spicy leather. Definitely masculine.
I couldn’t see his face now; mine was practically smashed into his neck. But I didn’t mind lingering in his scent. I may or may not have murmured, “Mmmm…”
TV Reporter Noelle Frost enjoys life now that she’s free of her abusive ex-husband. She and her young daughter are doing quite well without a man in their lives. Then she meets a giant of a man, six-foot-ten Zave Trayce, a basketball legend. Her trust in men is damaged. Zave seems like the ultimate player on and off the court. She will have to decide if she’s brave enough to risk her heart in the game of love.
A shot of energy warmed my cheeks. This was undoubtedly the most incredible physical being I had ever seen, and he was looking at me. I continued to stare back, not knowing what to say, but certainly enjoying the moment, until that annoying college student interrupted my view by handing me my hot chocolate.
“Here you go, miss. That will be four dollars and twenty-five cents, please.”
“My treat.” Gorgeous Man’s low voice had come from those lips that turned up at the corners, hip still against the counter, his eyes dancing with amusement.
“Oh no, you don’t need to pay for mine.” I pulled myself together, proud for uttering a complete and coherent sentence.
“I’m happy to do it, Ms. Frost.” He pushed his at least six-foot-ten frame away from the counter and winked at me, sending warm honey gliding through my body. Oh, my goodness. He actually winked at me, and it wasn’t cheesy. It was absolutely hot. Then a light flashed in my mind. He knew my name.
I took a step back. “Umm…have we met?” Although intrigued, since my divorce I was over cautious where men were concerned.
“CBS 4 Denver, TV reporter Noelle Frost. Everyone in Colorado must know who you are by now.”
He had an adorable lopsided grin. I could get used to that. I relaxed a little. I had only worked for the station for a few months, and it still surprised me when strangers recognized me.
Holly Frost has suffered from unrequited-love since she turned down Elam Holmes in high school. Years later they are still doing the “friend zone” dance. They’ve seen each other through heartbreaking loss and shared everything–except the truth. Can they break down the walls they’ve built to find love beyond friendship?
I had to be dreaming, but I was wide awake. Elam pulled on me some more, and the warmth of his hand made my arms and legs tingle. I floated up on the couch.
He sat beside me and touched my arm. “Holly, you feel cold.” He lay down and pulled my back against his chest, his arms wrapped around me.
Minutes crawled by while I struggled to breathe normally.
“I can feel your heartbeat through your back,” he whispered.
“I’m a little—”
His breath had warmed the back of my neck. “Are you warmer now?”
A shiver rippled over my skin from my toes to my head. “Almost,” I managed.
“Almost isn’t good enough.” He leaned up on one elbow, looking down at me and stroking the side of my face with his fingertips. “You are incredibly beautiful, Holly. No wonder Marco went after you.”
I rolled over on my back and looked up into his eyes. “There is no…”
He leaned down and skimmed his lips over mine in a friendly kiss. “I am so happy you came this weekend.”
I tilted my chin and gently kissed him back. Elam, Elam, Elam…“So am I.” I wanted more. I yearned for more. I shivered again.
Elam cleared his throat, moved over and stood up. “It is cold in here.” He grabbed my pillow and the blanket off the floor and spread it over me. “I’m not sure L.A. warmed you up as much as you’d hoped.”
“Maybe nothing is as much as I’d hoped.
Chrissy Frost’s self-identity has changed from “happy-go-lucky” to “broken” after losing her parents in a tragic accident the day after Christmas nearly four years ago. Every aspect of the holiday season, especially snow, has a devastating effect on her.
A work assignment where she is able to change others’ lives for better, in addition to meeting handsome, caring, caramel-delicious Decker, might spark a flame of hope in her wounded heart.
Yet there are so many bumps in the road, Chrissy’s not sure she can handle the risk of getting burned.
Gathering up all my ammo, I ran straight into him, shoving snow into his chest and face. He fell backward, and I came down on top of him. I tried to prop myself up, but he pulled me back into his embrace. I shivered, but he rubbed my back, warming me instantly. My heart thudded at a rapid pace, and every nerve in my body tingled. He loosened his grip enough for me to look at him.
You might think you’re playing fair, but this is not fair.
In one smooth motion, he lifted me off and sat up, pulling me with him. His arm remained around my waist, our faces inches apart. Those eyes that were always watching out for me locked with mine.
“I missed you on Wednesday.” Before I had a chance to respond, his warm lips were on mine. I didn’t resist. I let my arms slide around his neck. I’d never felt so safe in my life. What was happening? He was taken.
When the lusciously long, but not long enough, kiss ended, I collected my wits, which were strewn all around the kennel.
“Decker? But what about—”
“I’ve wanted to do that since the first day I met you.” The words vibrated against my willing lips, shaking the earth, or at least my heart.
Never mind the snow or Bre…what’s-her name.
I went in for more delicious kisses from the gorgeous man holding me.
I’m so pleased to share a new release from one of my dear author friends. Take it away, Pamela…
Fun Fact: For quite some time I wanted to put together a collection of short stories that centered around the 4 seasons and 4 holidays that focus on love and family (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Since I already had several stories at PBG, I mentioned this idea to my editor, the amazing Nicola Martinez, and she loved it. I submitted two previously unpublished stories to round out the collection, along with those Pelican Book Group had already published, and viola! Love in Season was born.
Blurb: Anytime is the perfect time for love.
In this anthology, author Pamela S Thibodeaux brings together eight of her most beloved romance stories—one for each season plus four holidays that revolve around love and family.
(Winter) Winter Madness: Sienna has survived what most succomb to – the death of a spouse and child and has maintained her faith despite her troubles. William has never met anyone who actually lived out what they say they believe. Is it true love between the faithful optimist and broody pessimist or simply winter madness?
(Valentine’s Day) Choices: Best-selling novelist and songwriter, Camie Rogers has penned numerous accounts of the secret love she holds in her heart. Country-Music Superstar Kip Allen has changed from the shy, humble boy, to the epitome of “star.” Can the two rediscover each other after one night of his Home is where the Heart is Tour?
(Spring) Cathy’s Angel: Single mom Cathy Johnson is tired of running her life alone…what she needs is a well-trained angel to help out. Jared Savoy gave up the dream of having a family when he discovered he is sterile. Can a confirmed bachelor and the mother of four find love amid normal daily chaos?
(Easter) Lilies for Sandi *NEW!* Sandi and Brett did everything backwards. They got pregnant before the wedding and had a baby instead of a honeymoon. Since, Brett has resented the fact that his dreams of a football career have been cut short and wonders how long it’ll take God to forgive him for his mistakes. Sandi has played second fiddle to Brett’s dreams and desires to the point of not knowing herself any longer and fears her marriage will never be a true one because of their failures. Can two hearts broken by unfulfilled dreams find healing, wholeness and restoration?
(Summer) The Big Catch *NEW!* Karla and, the love of her life, Jeff, have uncovered some uncommon ground: The Great Outdoors. For the life of her, she does not understand his love of fishing and how he can spend so much time doing so. Will she come to love the sport as much as he or will his passion for a rod and reel tangle up their relationship?
(Fall) A Hero for Jessica: Anthony Paul Seville is known as the ‘most eligible bachelor’ in New Orleans, possibly even the entire state of Louisiana, but finds himself alone—completely and explicitly alone. Jessica Aucoin is a writer on her way to fame and fortune, but is haunted by a man from her past. Will the “champion” lawyer and the author of romantic suspense find love written in their future?
(Thanksgiving) Review of Love (Newly Edited/Revised/Lengthened!): Jason Stockwell has been commissioned to interview Kylie Erickson and to review her books. Only problem is, she won’t give the time of day much less an interview to someone whose type of writing she deems not worthy of respect. Can they suspend their judgmental attitudes and find true love?
(Christmas) In His Sight: Grade school teacher Carson Alexander has a gift—a gift that has driven a wedge between him and his family. Worse, it’s put him at odds with God. Feeling alone and misunderstood, Carson views God’s gift of prophecy as the worst kind of curse…that is until he meets Lorelei Conner, landscape artist extraordinaire, and perhaps the one person who may need Carson and his gift more than anyone ever has.
Lorelei Connor is a mother on the run. Her abusive ex-husband has followed her all over the country trying to steal their daughter. Distrusting of men and needing to keep on the move, she’s surprised by her desire to remain close to Carson Alexander. Through her fear and hesitation, she must learn to rely on God to guide her—not an easy task when He’s prompting her to trust a man.
Can their relationship withstand the tragedy lurking on the horizon?
Author Bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”
When wise-cracking Jessie Wyndom is beamed from her farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan aboard an Alliance starship, she meets a regular Mr. Spock. Captain Marcus Viator’s well-organized life is turned upside down by a free-spirited Terran. Fate brings them together. Treachery tears them apart.
Alexandra Anderson has a loving husband who provides for her every need. Sam Herrmann is married to his college sweetheart, and together they have three healthy, boisterous boys. What happens when two married people take a look at the perfect lives they’ve created and decide it’s not enough? Christmas Dance – a story of love, marriage and hope.
Love hits the jackpot in these six seductive tales, each set in a different decade in the hottest, wildest, most sinful of cities – Las Vegas. In Elizabeth Spaur’s Miss Atomic Bomb, a beauty pageant brings a cowboy and city girl together. A desperate singer finds new hope with a not-so-jaded casino owner in B.A. McIntosh Home at Last. In Lynn Crain’s, Hooked on a Feeling, two Vietnam vets get a second chance at love while facing enemies at home. A rodeo star falls hard for a showgirl in Diane Deeds’s Total Eclipse of the Heart. In Kay Phoenix’s An Unexpected Knight, a hero on a mighty steed captures the heroine’s heart. A good girl learns that being bad can be very, very good in Tami Cowden’s It Happen One Vegas Night. Mobsters and G-men, cowboys and showgirls, singers and dancers, and even a knight in shining armor all find that Sin City is not just a place to have fun – but also a great place to fall in love.
A story revealing a journey of societal injustice, a girl’s love for Nature that enables her to survive life in the wild alone, of her giving birth and raising a baby—deemed a monster—entirely on her own. In the end, not only does she battle Grendel to keep him safe, but she must battle a warrior, Beowulf, who is out to harm her son.
Please help me welcome fellow AHA author, and friend, Darcy Flynn. Her romantic comedy novel, Double Trouble is an AWESOME read! Check it out…
Double Trouble by Author Darcy Flynn
I’ve always loved romantic comedies, especially mistaken identity stories. And what better way to confuse my heroine, then identical twin brothers. Some of my dearest friends have been identical twins, from my early childhood, until now. Six sets, to be exact. I’ve always loved being the one who could tell them apart, the best friend who shared their secrets and their pranks. I thought it was time to write a story for them.
From the first moment coffee mogul, Will Carrington, gazes into the fiery, green eyes of Clare Sullivan, he’s hit with the feeling she does not like him. Not. One. Little. Bit. Used to being the proverbial prize by some gorgeous gold-digging fortune hunter, he’s learned to be careful. But with his hunter instincts now on high alert, he’s determined to find out the why behind her stormy-eyed glances.
Top home designer, Clare Sullivan, wants absolutely nothing to do with arrogant, self-assured Will Carrington, especially after he called her half-sister a gold digger. When she gets the opportunity to design his multi-million dollar Miami penthouse, she arrives at his office ready to decline his offer, and to tell him exactly what she thinks of his cruel and un-warranted comments.
While there, she overhears his one-sided phone conversation, which seems to further insult her sister. Assuming the worse, Clare makes the rash decision to accept the job and charge him a fortune in the process. Someone needs to teach him a lesson and what better way than with a swift kick in his wallet.
Since she and her sister have different surnames, Clare conveniently hides the connection to her sister. But while she works with Will, she discovers another side to this self-assured, woman-hater. A Jekyll to his Hyde. Charming and professional, he’s nothing like the man she’s heard about. What she doesn’t know is Will Carrington has a few secrets of his own.
Will loved it when a plan came together, and this one was flowing along beautifully. So well in fact, if he wasn’t careful, Clare might be inclined to get up and run. And that wouldn’t fit in with his plans at all.
And if she gnaws any more on her bottom lip, there won’t be much left to kiss.
He held out his arms. “Come here.”
Her eyes widened, and her jaw dropped two inches.
“In your dreams.”
“There is some truth to that.” He made a deliberate show of getting out of his chair, and an equally deliberate one of removing his jacket and tie.
After tossing both on the back of his chair, he took a step in her direction.
“What are you doing?” Alarm filled her eyes.
“Getting comfortable and finishing what you started this afternoon.” He undid the top button on his dress shirt, then the next. “Do you mind?”
“Yes, I mind.” She shot to her feet, snatched up the shawl and held it to her chest. “This has gone far enough.”
He shook his head. “Not nearly.” He stopped in front of her, gave her the slightest of smiles, then scooped her up in his arms as if she were a child.
She sucked in a breath and push hard against his chest. “Put me down.”
“That’s the plan, sweetheart. The question is, where?”
Darcy Flynn is known for her heartwarming, sweet contemporary romances. Her refreshing storylines, irritatingly handsome heroes and feisty heroines will delight and entertain you from the first page to the last. Miss Flynn’s heroes and heroines have a tangible chemistry that is entertaining, humorous and competitive.
Darcy lives with her husband, son, two English Setters and a menagerie of other living creatures on her horse farm in Franklin, Tennessee. She raises rare breed chickens, stargazes on warm summer nights and indulges daily in afternoon tea.
Handsome, self-assured, every inch the successful billionaire, Luciano is out of Anastasia’s reach. But when a hurricane strands them together and they must trust each other to survive … things heat up despite the driving rain and gale winds.
Can Valentine’s Day bring this unlikely pair together … this time for good?
Author’s Note: Thousands of families around the world have opened their homes and hearts through international adoption. Soo-Min is the embodiment of many, many fortunate adoptive children and parents who’ve together created forever families.
Don’t miss this poignant story of love, loss and renewed hope—get your copy of the novella today!
Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.