Chapter Reveal: A PLACE WITHOUT YOU, An All-New Emotional, New Adult Romance from JEWEL E. ANN is Coming January 2nd! @JewelE_Ann

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A Place Without You, an all-new emotional, new adult romance from Jewel E. Ann is coming January 2nd, and we have a sneak peek for you!

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The Law of Henna and Bodhi:

When love breaks, fall inward, fall together, and fall hard. Then let time pick up the pieces.

Everything feels temporary when you’ve experienced tragedy—until Henna Lane meets Bodhi at a music festival.

Young and spontaneous, they have a lust for seizing the moment, falling hard and fast.

When Bodhi is forced to leave without a goodbye, Henna thinks she’ll never get over him. But then she meets Mr. Malone, her sexy, new guidance counselor.

They are reckless.

They are forbidden.

When their secret is discovered, Henna has to choose between finishing school—banned from seeing Mr. Malone—or dropping out to follow her nomad dreams.

Henna chooses her dreams.

Over time, she learns that life is not a destination or a journey, some things are more than temporary, and the forbidden can never be ignored. But if she returns for him, will he still be hers?

A Place Without You is an emotional story of young love, shattered dreams, and impossible decisions.

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2AHhTNT

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Excerpt from Chapter One

His lips move. I stare at them for a few breaths before I realize he’s talking. My hand tugs out my earbud again.

“Sorry. Did you say something?”

“What are you listening to?” he asks in a voice as smooth as his Mediterranean eyes.

“That’s kind of a personal question. Like asking my underwear color.”

He grins. It’s all kinds of wicked. “Personal?” He shrugs. “I don’t know about that. Depends on the song … and the color.”

“Amy Shark, ‘Adore.’And red and silver polka dots.”

“Mmm …” He nods slowly. “Good choice.”

The song?” I bite the corner of my lower lip to control my grin.

“The underwear.”

My heart wakes up as if to say, “Whoa, is something going on here I should know about?”

“Wanna see mine?”

My eyebrows lift a fraction. “Your underwear?”

He digs his phone out of his front pocket. “Do I look like a perv? My song.”

Damn. He’s good. My tummy joins in on the little dance happening inside of me.

Twisting his wrist, he shows me his phone screen.

“Apocalyptica, ‘Nothing Else Matters.’ Hmm … that’s unexpected.” I let my gaze fall into his, a dangerous place to be. “You going to Coachella?”

He nods several times, glancing over the seats to the road before us. “I’m working there.”

Oh, cool. Doing what?”

He inspects my hair. I’d planned on changing clothes and doing something a bit more original with my crazy, dark auburn hair than a messy braid over one shoulder, but sushi dad took away my hotel room. Sexy stranger grins like either my question or my messy hair pleases him. “I’m an in-house tech—audio, lighting, video.”

Dear God, he’s the full package, especially when that grin of his grows as I continue to violate him with my eyes. Maybe it’s just the lollipop I had on my way to the hotel. Everything seems aesthetically pleasing when I’m a little high.

“So, I’ll know who to blame if the sound is a bit off while one of my favorite bands performs.”

“You’ll know who to thank when it isn’t.” He leans toward the middle of the backseat. I follow his lead because I’m curious if he smells as good as he looks. “But I get this feeling that in your state, everything will sound good.”

Ignoring his whispered accusation that I’m high, I sniff. “You smell like lemon.”

He sticks his tongue out, revealing a half-melted lemon drop.

I grin as we sit straight again. “Last year my mom brought back lemon drops from the Limoncello factory in Sorrento. They were amazing.”

Sucking more intensely on his sour goodness, he nods slowly. “I’m sure they were. Sadly, I don’t think my lemon drop was made in Italy.”

“That is incredibly sad.”

He chuckles. Is he laughing at me?

“Nice tats.” He nods to my arms.

Holding them out, I admire my art. “They’re henna, like me.”

“Like you?”

“Yes. My name is Henna. And these will be much more intense tomorrow.”

“Like you?” His teeth scrape along his bottom lip. It’s ridiculously sexy.

“Are you flirting with me?”

He chuckles. “We met less than five minutes ago. I have a little more tact than that.”

“Tact? Like asking the color of my underwear?”

He runs his hands over the legs of his jeans. Is he sweating? Am I making him sweat? That possibility gives me a whole other kind of high.

“I didn’t ask. You freely offered that information. Besides, I have rules about flirting.”

“Well, I despise rules, but you must share your rules anyway.”

“Never flirt with someone who is not sober.” He stares out his window like his rule is the end of our friendly conversation.

“Sober? Dude, this is as sober as I get.” Leaning forward, I shove down the waist of my shorts in back, exposing a long L-shaped scar.

He glances over, forehead wrinkled.

“If I sit too long or stand too long or do anything too long, life kinda sucks. But a little high can go a long way with making said life a lot less sucky.”

Sitting back, I exhale. Sexy stranger seems at a loss for words.

“Tell me, tech guy, do you have a name?”

The driver stops at the crowded entrance.

“Thank you,” we say while getting out of the car.

To read the rest of Chapter One, visit:

http://bit.ly/2r9bWU0

About Jewel:

Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.

With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.

After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.

When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.

Connect with Jewel:

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/JewelE_Ann

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BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jewel-e-ann

Stay up to date with Jewel by joining her mailing list:

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Release Blitz + Excerpt: A CHRISTMAS STAR by JUDITH KEIM is Now LIVE!@judithkeim @RABTBookTours

 

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Romance, Women’s Fiction
Date Published: November 2, 2018
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Two years ago, Noelle North’s then-fiancé left her waiting at the church on Christmas—her wedding day and birthday. She knows she cannot endure another holiday season at home in Boston. At the urging of four women at the assisted-living community where she serves as health director, Noelle decides to rent Seashell Cottage on the Gulf Coast of Florida for the holidays. She meets Silas Bellingham, the cutest seven-year-old boy she’s ever seen, and his great-grandmother, Althea. Noelle discovers Althea’s caretaker has been abusing her and goes into action, ending up with the temporary care of both Althea and Silas. Becoming part of the Bellingham household has an entirely different series of challenges when it comes to Althea’s grandsons, Jake and Brett, who are having problems of their own with hotels to run and their parents missing in a plane crash. But after sparring with her, Silas’ father, Jake, realizes Noelle is just what he and his family need, and when she finds the perfect Christmas star for Silas, they both know he’s right.
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EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE
               On the Gulf Coast of Florida, Noelle North walked along the white, sandy beach that lined the shore like the fur on her slippers back home. The sun’s heat washed over her, hugging her with its warmth on this early December morning. She unzipped her light jacket and lifted her arms to the blue sky, welcoming the day with an embrace. She had a whole six weeks of freedom from work and her dismal life back home.
Her family had wanted her to stay in Boston with them for the holidays, but Noelle knew she couldn’t endure another Christmas of everyone feeling sorry for her. Two years ago, on Christmas Day, her fiancé, Alexander Cabot, had left her waiting at the church on her wedding day, while he’d taken off with another woman, his best friend’s wife. She’d wanted to die of embarrassment. Even now, thinking of that humiliation, a shudder shook her shoulders, and her stomach filled with acid.
               The one thing that had helped her keep going throughout the healing process was the conviction that she’d never fall for a glamour guy again. Besides, at thirty-two and with her grim track record with men, she was pretty sure she was destined to be single for the rest of her life. The thought didn’t bother her as much as it used to. Why should it? She had the freedom to come and go as she pleased, nobody was around to tell her what she could or couldn’t do, and evenings after a hard day of work at the New Life Assisted-Living Community were blissfully quiet.
               Noelle stopped walking and gazed out over the water. Waves rolled toward her in a steady pattern, greeting the shore with a kiss and pulling away like a shy child. Above her, seagulls wheeled in circles, their cries shrill in the stillness of the early morning. She watched as a group of sandpipers darted toward the water’s edge, dipped their beaks into the sand for whatever little morsel they could catch, and continued on their way, leaving tiny footprints behind.
               A flash of black caught her attention. She turned to see a big dog galloping toward her, yellow tennis ball in his mouth. She braced herself to greet him and then chuckled as the dog circled and ran right by her toward a small figure farther down the beach.
               She walked on, watching with interest as the dog ran into the water and came out again carrying the wet ball in his mouth. As she came closer, she saw that the person throwing the ball was a boy whom she guessed was seven or eight.
               The boy smiled at her as she approached.
“Your dog is a very good catcher,” Noelle said. “What’s his name?”
“Duke,” the boy said. The dog, hearing his name, came and sat by him.
“And what’s your name?” Noelle asked, thinking the boy with dark red hair, bright green eyes, and freckles was one of the cutest kids she’d ever seen.
“Silas. Silas Bellingham.” He studied her. “Who are you? And why aren’t you working?”
She grinned. “I’m Noelle North, and I’m not working because I’m on vacation for the next month or so.” She glanced around. “Are you here by the water on your own?”
“Naw. My great-grandmother’s over there. See?” He pointed to a woman sitting in a wheelchair on the porch of a sizeable house overlooking the beach.
               Noelle smiled and lifted a hand in greeting, but the woman didn’t wave back.
               “See you later,” the boy said and ran toward his great-grandmother.
               Noelle watched him go, thinking of all her friends’ children back home. Of the four women who had stuck together through everything since college, she was the only one who was unmarried and without children. She’d always wanted a large family, but that didn’t seem possible now. At her age and with no prospects of a husband in sight, she would be lucky to have even one baby.
               Trying to fight off depression, Noelle resumed walking. It was bad enough to have been dumped at the altar on Christmas, but that day was also her birthday. With a name like Noelle,  she’d always felt the holiday season was something extra special, almost magical, in her life. Until two years ago, that is. Now, Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, and especially Christmas music were nauseating to her.
               She walked on wishing her grandmother was alive. From an early age, she and Gran had had a special relationship. In fact, Gran was the reason why, as a graduate of Boston College’s nursing program, Noelle decided to specialize in caring for the elderly. She now headed the health program at an exclusive, assisted-living community outside of Boston. Over the past several years, some of the more active residents had become dear friends. Without them, she would not be in Florida.
               Noelle smiled at the memory of Edith Greenbaum confronting her with three of her closest elderly friends. “Now you listen here, young lady,” Edith had said with great earnestness, “it’s time for you to go somewhere, kick up your heels, and have a little fun. I was doing some research on the internet, and I’ve come up with the right place for you.”
               Shocked and pleased, Noelle had played along. “And where might that be, boss?”
               Edith and the other three women had tittered happily.
               “I’ve printed it out for you.” Edith handed her a sheet of information on the Seashell Cottage just south of Clearwater Beach in Florida.
               The minute Noelle saw the picture, she knew it was a perfect idea, the perfect place. Sitting on the edge of a broad expanse of white beach, a small, pink cottage beckoned to her.
With its painted clapboards, wide front porch, and two palm trees spreading shade nearby, it was everything she’d imagined in a beach getaway.
               “Thank you, Edith,” she’d said with meaning. “I’ll see if it is at all possible.”
               “You know we’re right, Noelle,” Edith replied kindly. “It’s time for you to move on with your life. If you don’t do it for yourself, at least do it for us. We’re stuck here. But you’re not.”
               Tears stung Noelle’s eyes as she’d embraced each one. It was the perfect time of year for her to do as they suggested.
               Thinking of those dear women, Noelle’s spirits lifted and she began to run.
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               For the second morning in a row, Noelle awoke and stretched, relieved to be away from home. She’d wanted to come to Florida in time for Thanksgiving, but her mother had put her foot down and insisted that Thanksgiving be spent with all four of her children at home. Noelle loved her parents and her three older brothers and their families. But being with them for Thanksgiving had convinced her it was right to come to Florida for the Christmas holidays. Chaos reigned when the whole family was together. Eight nieces and nephews between the ages of one and fourteen were enough to rattle anyone. Even her mother, Jen, went to bed as soon as she could after everyone else had gone, leaving Noelle to do the last-minute tidying.
               Noelle put on her fuzzy pink robe, padded into the kitchen, and turned on the coffee maker. Through the kitchen window, she saw that the clouds the weatherman had predicted were marring the blue sky and hiding the sun. Still, with ice and snow back home, the day seemed full of promise.
               She took her cup of coffee out to the front porch and gazed out at the water. A sense of peace washed over her. Edith had told her life was full of challenges, forcing people to grow and change. Thinking of the past two years, she realized she’d been stuck in a pattern of self-doubt and hurt. No man, she vowed, was worth it. Edith was right. It was time for a change.
               With a fresh resolve to enjoy each day free from the past, she went inside, changed into shorts and a T-shirt, and headed out to the beach. Though the air was cool, the sun felt warm on her face as she headed down the sand at a brisk pace.
               Along the shore, egrets were dipping their beaks into the shallow water, retrieving small, silvery fish. Noelle loved their long legs and the orange beaks that accented their white feathers. How long has it been, she wondered, since she’d taken the time to stop and study the beauty around her.
               A number of people, children included, were searching the sand at the water’s edge for seashells. Some of the more experienced searchers held net bags that sagged with the weight of their treasures. She understood how hooked some people could be on searching for the best and the most unusual shells they could find. Each shell was truly a gift from the sea.
               As she got closer to the part of the beach where she’d met Silas, she slowed. But neither Silas nor the dog named Duke was in sight. Sorry to have missed them, she walked on.
               When she reached the long, wooden pier that reached out into the water like a finger testing for coldness, she sat down on one of the benches at the end of it. For a while, she watched fishermen patiently waiting for a strike. She especially liked to watch the young boys and girls fishing. The hope on their faces was priceless.
               Yawning softly, Noelle headed back to the cottage. The sea air, sun, and freedom from home were working their magic on her body, relaxing muscles that had been tight too long.
               In the distance, she could see Silas and his dog playing on the sand. Picking up her speed, she headed toward them.
               Duke bounded toward her. His black paws pounded the sand in steady, eager beats. Wagging his tail, he stopped in front of her, tongue hanging out. Laughing, she patted him on the head. “Hello, Duke.”
               She looked up to see Silas running toward her, waving.
               Her heart filled at the sight of him. She’d hoped for a little boy just like him one day.
               “Hi,” said Silas, beaming at her. “You’re early today.”
               “Yes, it was such a beautiful morning I decided not to stay in bed. How are you?”
               He looked down, kicked at the sand, and looked up at her with a sour expression. “Mrs. Wicked is back.”
               “Mrs. Wicked?”
               He nodded. “She’s my Nana’s nurse. I don’t like her. She’s mean. She was on her break. And now she’s back.”
               “I see. Well, nursing can be difficult,” Noelle ventured to say, unsure what the real problem was in the house.
               Silas took hold of her hand. “C’mon! I’ve got to hurry back. I’m supposed to stay right in front of Nana’s house. If I don’t, Mrs. Wicked will be mad.”
               Noelle allowed herself to be hurried along.
               Standing in front of Silas’s great-grandmother’s house, Noelle studied the old woman.
Even from a small distance, she seemed bowed in spirit and fragile as she sat in her wheelchair staring out at them. Others might not recognize these signs, but from her years of experience with the elderly, Noelle was used to seeing this. On a whim, she turned to Silas.
“Let’s go say hello to your grandmother.”
“She doesn’t talk much,” Silas said with a note of sadness in his voice.
Noelle smiled. “That won’t matter. I bet she’s curious about me and might like a visitor.”
As they walked toward the front porch, a figure emerged from the house. Noelle observed the big-boned, broad-chested woman and guessed that this was the person Silas called Mrs. Wicked.
“There she is,” whispered Silas.
Pretending not to have heard, Noelle lifted a hand in greeting. “Hello!”
The woman did not return Noelle’s greeting and, instead, went inside.
Noelle climbed onto the porch, walked up to Silas’s great-grandmother, and held out a hand. “I’m Noelle North, a new friend of Silas’s. I thought I’d come to say hello to you.”
From among the wrinkles and the downcast look on her face, her blue eyes lit and a smile emerged. “I’m Althea. Althea Bellingham.” Noelle could see how beautiful the woman must have been and wondered what kind of injuries kept Althea in a wheelchair when there seemed so much life to her.
“She’s Mrs. Bellingham to you,” said the woman emerging from the house to stand behind Althea. Dressed in dark slacks and a white shirt, she scowled at Silas and turned her disapproval on Noelle.
“And you are?” Noelle asked, curious about Silas’ name for her.
“Betty Wickstrom,” the woman said with a challenging expression.
Noelle held back a chuckle. Mrs. Wicked seemed such an appropriate name. She turned to Althea. “Maybe someday Silas and I can get you out in the sun for a bit. He and Duke play a mean game of catch.”
Althea nodded and then glanced at Betty.
“She’s doing very well right where she is. Right, Althea? And now it’s time for her medicine. So say goodbye to her.”
Althea’s expression changed to one of defeat.
Silas, time for you to come into the house,” said Betty.
“No! I don’t want to go inside. I want to stay with Noelle. She lets me play with Duke.”
Noelle smiled at both women. “I’m happy to stay with him for a while longer. Will that is okay?”
“No!” said Betty.
As Althea reached up to touch Betty’s arm, her long-sleeved shirt revealed a bruise on her forearm. “Yes.”
“What happened to your arm?” Noelle asked as calmly as she could while suspicion rolled through her in a wave of unease.
Althea glanced at Betty.
“She’s fine, just a little clumsy, that’s all,” said Betty, waving away Noelle’s concern.
“You hit Nana there,” said Silas, moving closer to Noelle. “I saw you.”
“Why, you little … You know that didn’t happen. That’s where I helped her up from another fall.”
Silas clasped Noelle’s hand and shook his head. “Adults aren’t supposed to lie.”
Noelle knelt down in front of Althea’s wheelchair and spoke softly. “Althea, you can trust me. I’m a registered nurse who helps the elderly where I live in New England. Are you being hurt?”
Althea looked at Betty, turned back to Noelle, and nodded. Then she lifted her shirt. Bruises were everywhere.
Noelle scrambled to her feet and faced Betty, her hands fisted. The burning desire to attack the awful woman was almost overwhelming. Through gritted teeth, Noelle said, “I would suggest you pack up your things and leave now, Betty, or I’m calling the authorities.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” snarled Betty.
“I would, I can, and I will,” said Noelle, flexing her fists. The abuse of the elderly wasn’t new, but each time she saw an example, it made her sick to her stomach.
Noelle turned to Silas. “You stay here with your great-grandmother. I’m going inside to make sure Mrs. Wickstrom leaves.”
Mrs. Wickstrom placed her hands on her hips and glared at Noelle. “You can’t make me leave. You didn’t hire me.”
“If you don’t leave, I’m calling the police. I mean it. I’ve handled cases like this before,” Noelle said, well aware this really wasn’t her business. But she wouldn’t, she couldn’t let the abuse continue. The sight of those bruises felt like a punch to her gut.
“Okay then, I’m not leaving until I get paid,” said Betty.
Write down what you’re owed, and I’ll see that you get the money. That’s the best I can do under the circumstances,” said Noelle. “It’s the nicest offer you’re going to get because if it were left up to me, you wouldn’t get a dime. You’d get a jail sentence.”
“You have no proof that I did anything wrong,” countered Betty.
Noelle’s smile was cold. “Oh, but I do. I have two very credible witnesses and, if necessary, I’ll take photographs to show the authorities. Now, get your things, and I’ll escort you to your car.”
Noelle followed Betty inside and to a bedroom off the kitchen in the back of the house. She watched carefully as Betty hastily threw her things into a small suitcase. When she’d zipped her suitcase closed, she turned to Noelle.
“What are you going to do about it now?”
Noelle drew a deep breath. “I’m taking your keys to the house and escorting you to your car.”
“And then what?” sneered Betty. “Althea isn’t an easy woman to deal with. Too stubborn, too demanding for her own good.”
“We’ll see about that. Come on, let’s go.”
Noelle escorted Betty outside, wrote down the license number, and stood by as Betty threw her suitcase into the back of a small, blue sedan and climbed behind the wheel. After starting the engine, Betty gave her a middle-finger wave and took off with a roar.
Alone, Noelle stood in the driveway, breathing in and out in a calming pattern to slow her heartbeat. What in the hell had she done? She didn’t know Althea Bellingham. And now she was in charge of her until her family could find other help for her.
She went inside the house and out to the seaside porch. Silas was sitting next to the wheelchair, holding his great-grandmother’s hand. Althea was asleep in the chair. At the sweet sight of them, tears sprang to Noelle’s eyes.
“Hello,” she said softly to Silas. “Mrs. Wicked is gone. Come with me. I need your help.”
Silas followed her into the kitchen.
“Who do I need to call? Where are your parents?” Noelle asked.
Silas gave her a look that was so sad, Noelle’s heart clenched. “My dad is in New York. He’ll be back at the end of the week.”
“Do you have a phone number for him?”
Silas smiled and pointed to a printed list by the kitchen phone. “It’s the one on the top. His name is Jake.”
Noelle studied the mounted paper. Jake Bellingham’s phone number was listed at the top. She picked up the phone and dialed the number.
“The Bellingham Hotel New York. How may I help you today?” came a practiced, professional-sounding voice.
Noelle’s heart pounded with dismay. Bellingham Hotel? The family-owned hotels? “May I please speak to Jake Bellingham?”
“I’ll buzz his office for you.”
After a minute, a feminine voice came on the line. “Mr. Bellingham’s office. How may I help you?”
“Please, I need to speak to him. I’m a visiting neighbor calling from his grandmother’s house in Florida.” Noelle’s pulse sprinted at the idea of telling him what she’d done.
“Please hold, and I’ll see if he can take the call,” his secretary said.
A moment later, Noelle heard a deep voice say, “Jake Bellingham.”
Noelle swallowed hard. “Mr. Bellingham, you don’t know me, but I’m a new friend of Silas’s. My name is Noelle North, I’m a registered nurse visiting from Massachusetts, but not licensed in Florida, and I’m calling to tell you that I just escorted your grandmother’s caretaker out of the house for abusing her. I specialize in care for the elderly and recognize abuse when I see it. I did not call the police. I need to know what you want me to do next.”
“Let me get this straight. You don’t know me, my grandmother, or the woman who was taking care of her. Yet you had the balls to throw her out after, what, five or ten minutes in the house?  Is that it?”
“Yes,” said Noelle with a confidence she didn’t feel. “That’s about it. As I said, I am a registered nurse, so I’ve seen too many cases of abuse like this before. She has bruises on her arms and torso that are very telling.”
“Abuse? Really? Put Silas on the phone,” growled his father.
Noelle handed Silas the phone. “Your father wants to speak to you.”
Silas’s eyes grew round. He took the phone and listened, then he spoke in a series of staccato sentences. “Yes! I told you Mrs. Wicked was mean! Yes, I like her! Her name is Noelle and she’s here on vacation. Nana showed Noelle her bruises. That’s why.”
After a pause, Silas said, “Love you too, Daddy,” and handed the phone back to Noelle.
I had no idea this was happening to my grandmother,” said Jake. “I have you to thank for uncovering the situation. I’ve been mostly away for the last several weeks, and Althea never mentioned any problems with Mrs. Wickstrom. Nor did I notice anything like that. I’m sorry, but I can’t make it home for another few days due to some international legal problems. Can you stay with my grandmother and Silas until I can send someone else to take over for you? In the meantime, who can I call for references on you?”
“You can speak to anyone at the New Life Assisted-Care Community outside of Boston. I handle the health program there. I’m in Florida for a vacation, and as I mentioned earlier, I’m not licensed to practice in Florida, and won’t be able to stay with your family for any length of time, and then only as a caretaker, not a nurse.”
“Until just this weekend, I promise,” said Silas’ father. “And if I can find a better service than the one I used for Mrs. Wickstrom, it could be for only a few hours. Don’t worry, I’ll pay you well.”
Noelle bristled. “You may be used to paying people to do your bidding, but it’s not necessary for me. I’ve done this because I care about others. Not to get your money.”
“Whoa! I didn’t mean … Forget it! I’ll be in touch.”
Noelle hung up the phone, still steaming from the notion that she and her work were for sale when she was just voluntarily helping to resolve a very tough situation.
“You’re going to stay with me now?” Silas asked, giving her a wide smile. “Maybe for a long time.”
“Just until your father can find a replacement,” Noelle said, not wanting to get Silas’s hopes up for something that wasn’t going to happen. She already knew she didn’t like Jake Bellingham.
About the Author

 photo A Christmas Star Author Judith Keim_zpskhgxygvr.jpg

Judith Keim was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Idaho with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
Growing up, books were always present being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. Information from the books was shared in general conversation, giving all of us in the family a wealth of knowledge and a lot of imagination. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the idea of writing stories early on. I particularly love to write novels about women who face unexpected challenges and meet them with strength.
A hybrid author who both has a publisher and who self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming stories of strong women who face challenges and find love and happiness along the way. Her books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people, she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many, loyal readers love.
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A CHRISTMAS STAR

Chapter Reveal: THE WILDERNESS, ( Lavender Shores Book 8 ) by ROSALIND ABEL @IARTG @Jo_isalovebooks @isajones75 @LHNGBlog @rosalind_abel

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THE WILDERNESS PAPERBACK & KINDLE 1.jpg

Will Epstein had it all—playboy good looks, wealth and prestige, and a gorgeous fiancé to costar with him on a reality television show. But that was years ago, before he was abandoned at the altar on national television. In the aftermath, Will’s world completely crumbled, leaving him humiliated, alone and lost.

Andre Rivera married his first love and lived a dream life until tragedy stepped in. His wife’s sudden death left him devastated and struggling to build a life for his young daughter. Being a pilot offers Andre a sense of freedom from Lavender Shores, but he feels trapped in his grief and unable to move forward.

A shared sense of loss fosters a surprising friendship between Will and Andre, giving them both the salvation they need. But when feelings cross the lines of friendship and secrets are revealed, Will and Andre have to confront their own fears.

Amid the gold of a Lavender Shores autumn, Will and Andre must grasp their chance at love… before it slips away.

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THE WILDERNESS GR

Lavender Shores is the perfect place to fall in love.

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84889-rosalind

Rosalind Abel grew up tending chickens alongside her sweet and faithful Chow, Lord Elgin. While her fantasy of writing novels was born during her teen years, she never would have dreamed she’d one day publish steamy romances about gorgeous men. However, sometimes life turns out better than planned.

In between crafting scorching sex scenes and helping her men find their soul mates, Rosalind enjoys cooking, collecting toys, and making the best damn scrapbooks in the world (this claim hasn’t been proven, but she’s willing to put good money on it).

She adores MM Romance, the power it has to sweep the reader away into worlds filled with passion, steam, and love. Rosalind also enjoys her collection of plot bunnies and welcomes new fuzzy ones into her home all the time, so feel free to send any adorable ones her way.

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Chapter Reveal: UNLOCKING SHADOWS ( Keys To Love #4 ) by KENNEDY LAYNE, Have a Peek before Release on September 18th! @KennedyL_Author @InkslingerPR

 

Read the first chapter of UNLOCKING SHADOWS by Kennedy Layne before it releases on September 18th!

 

About UNLOCKING SHADOWS

Coming September 18th

Gwen Kendall spent ten years in the Navy and used the last four to create a life for herself she could be proud of away from the confines of her overprotective family. Being the only woman in the Kendall clan tended to be a bit overwhelming at times.

Chad Schaeffer had been hired on to help restore an old farmhouse for one of the returning Kendall siblings. He’d heard about the trouble the family had encountered and honestly didn’t want to go anywhere near their properties. He had a change of heart when he saw the most recently returned Kendall sibling stepping out of her car with a key in her hand.

Gwen had waited a very long time to have a place to call her own, just as she had waited for the right man to share her life. One night of seduction convinces her she’s found both, but someone wants to take it all away. It’s been said that old houses retain a piece of each person who has lived there, but she never counted on the dark shadows wanting a piece of her.

Add UNLOCKING SHADOWS to your Goodreads list here!

UNLOCKING SHADOWS releases September 18th – preorder your copy now!

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Read the first chapter of UNLOCKING SHADOWS!

Twelve years ago…

Hope.

How could an individual still have such an impractical yearning after facing such a malicious, unrelenting evil?

Emma Irwin still desperately grasped at the prospect that she’d be with her family soon. She’d tell them all about the things that people took for granted, such as how much she loved them. She’d apologize to her older sister for acting so childish and to her mother for not doing the dishes like she’d promised this morning. The simplest acts of kindness weren’t hard to perform, yet she’d never realized how selfish she’d been until just this moment.

Until she’d found herself in a situation that was her father’s worst nightmare.

Emma bit back another sob as the old wooden dock underneath her back jostled her from side to side in time with the storm. The gusting winds from the gale had churned up the lake, and the choppy waves were slamming into the weathered planks. Cold rain was descending from the black sky overhead, washing away her tears as if they never existed.

When a crack of thunder overhead was followed a second later by a streak of lightning, it was a harsh reminder that she was still alive.

Emma shifted so that her bound hands didn’t dig into the small of her back quite as badly. She struggled to free herself from the thick white zip tie secured tightly around her wrists, refusing to accept that she would die at the hands of someone she’d once trusted.

How could he do this to her?

The hard, half-inch wide plastic cut into her skin, a cruel reminder that she was at his mercy.

His muttered curses were drowned out by the torrential downpour, which served her well. He wouldn’t be able to hear what she was doing behind him.

The wooden deck jarred abruptly, providing her the momentum to roll forward. Her cheek scraped against the wet, rough plank as she leveraged herself to her knees. The cold rain had numbed her skin long ago, but that could easily have been from the terror that had flooded her system when she realized that a man she’d known her entire life was a monster.

“I’ll give you a family of your own.”

Emma screamed as he suddenly appeared before her. “Please,” Emma choked out, having strained her voice after he’d all but thrown her into the bed of his truck. “Please don’t do this. You know me. You know my family. I have a family.”

“You were unhappy.”

“I wasn’t,” Emma denied emphatically with a shake of her head, swallowing back the sob that rose in her throat. “I wasn’t unhappy. I love my family. I do. I always have.”

Emma could have continued pleading, but her frantic claims would have fallen on deaf ears. She began crying uncontrollably. He wasn’t hearing anything she said, and he’d even turned away to throw what looked like a pile of chains into a boat that wasn’t even his.

Her mind registered his horrific intentions, and she instinctively managed to scramble to her feet.

She ran as fast as she could despite of her wrists being bound, ignoring the rain pelting her face and the wind attempting to knock her off the deck and into the lake. She’d just learned to swim this past summer, but she’d done so with the use of her hands. She’d most likely drown immediately without being able to move her arms.

Adrenaline kept her moving forward, though she blinked furiously to clear her vision so that she could make it to land.

There!

Up ahead.

Headlights pulled into one of the cabins that Birdie rented out to fishermen or families on vacation. She instinctively began screaming, but the rumbling thunder overhead drowned out her cries for hope.

That didn’t stop her from trying again.

Unfortunately, it was too late.

“No, no, no, no.” He’d grabbed ahold of her wet strands of hair, yanking her back against him with such force that it knocked the air right out of her lungs. She couldn’t scream, and she couldn’t even cry. “I’m taking you home.”

Emma didn’t need to be told that she would die if he got her into that boat. She fought his constricting grip around her upper body, kicking and twisting in an attempt to free herself at all costs.

It was of no use. He was too strong, and the lights she’d seen were no longer there.

The hope she’d been holding onto had been doused by the rain and swallowed by the darkness of his soul.

“I’m taking you home where you belong, Emma.”

 

About the Keys to Love Series

Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgivable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.

Missed UNLOCKING FEAR and want to catch up? You can grab the first book in the Keys to Love series for free now!

About UNLOCKING FEAR

A chance mishap with a sledgehammer was the sole reason a chilling nightmare was unleashed in Blyth Lake.

Noah Kendall’s grisly discovery left him in the middle of a murder investigation and a neighbor who knew more than she was willing to say. Reese Woodward had returned to town with dark secrets, and he was determined to unravel them. While evil lurks in the darkness, seduction burns between them…only time was their enemy.

Will her secrets destroy what they’ve built, or can he earn her trust before the killer strikes again?

Add UNLOCKING FEAR to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING FEAR now!

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About Kennedy Layne

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

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Chapter Reveal: OPPORTUNITY (Office Roulette Book 3 ) By USA Today Bestselling Author KENNEDY LAYNE Releases August 14th!@KennedyL_Author @InkslingerPR

The final book in Kennedy Layne’s Office Roulette trilogy, OPPORTUNITY, releases August 14th! You can read the first chapter below!

 

About OPPORTUNITY (Office Roulette #3)

Available August 14th

USA Today Bestselling Author Kennedy Layne brings you the thrilling conclusion to the Office Roulette trilogy…

Gareth Nicollet had been born into wealth, but he’d learned at an early age that money wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. Regrettably, he’d made a meaningful choice early on in his life that now threatened his future with the woman he loved.

Cynthia Ellsworth valued many things, but trust and loyalty were at the top of her list. She’d always known the man who shared her bed had secrets, but she never thought in a million years that he had the ability to destroy her career and her heart with a single blow.

Someone once said that greed was balanced by fear, but that wasn’t entirely true when there was nothing left to lose. Unfortunately, Gareth’s secret is the very reason the roulette wheel is spinning and Cynthia’s life hangs in the balance.

OPPORTUNITY releases August 14th – preorder your copy now!

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Read the first chapter of OPPORTUNITY

“Steve, you can’t order this gift for the client.”

Cynthia Ellsworth made her way across the trading room floor with her favorite pair of black high heels clicking precisely the way she wanted. She’d purposefully pulled them out of the back of her closet for this purpose. The designer shoes were like battle gear to her, and she needed all the ammunition she could get, today of all days.

“Why?”

“Did you really just have the audacity to ask me that?” Cynthia’s steel tone got Steve Lewis to turn around in his desk chair. She understood that he was busy and in the middle of the stock market’s opening, but that didn’t mean she would allow him to cut corners. The last thing this firm needed was to raise another red flag. “I can actually see those little black squirrels in your head running a million miles an hour on that treadmill. You’ve got less than zero chance of putting one over on me. You know the SEC rules regarding gifts, as well as our own compliance regulations. You’ll have to choose another gift with a lesser value.”

“The gift is only a few dollars over the usual acceptable tolerance.” Steve went back to monitoring his screens, as if her role here at Manon Investments wasn’t as esteemed as his. She’d already had a hell of a morning. This situation was something she could nip in the bud, which she fully intended to do. “Jerry and Darla are getting married next month. I’m sure you can figure out a way to skirt the rules.”

“Oh, really?” Cynthia asked, tacking on a bit of syrupy inference to her words. She was quicker than he was when it came to answering one of the many ringing lines. He came up short when she leaned down and managed to set the palm of her hand over the receiver before him. “I’m glad to see I now have your attention, Steve. In case you’ve forgotten, my role here as compliance officer is to protect the firm— unfortunately, that includes protecting you from yourself. So, you are going to pick another gift to give Jerry and his future wife or you’re going to pay for it out of your own pocket like any true friend would do under normal circumstances.”

Cynthia didn’t wait for Steve to acknowledge her request as she walked away.

Okay, it wasn’t a request, but she didn’t have the patience to draw out a heated debate knowing full well she would win in the end. Besides, she’d spent the past hour taking care of smaller issues that had risen this morning. She had more important things on her to-do list.

It was finally time for her to focus on the issue that had kept her up most of the night.

“Cynthia?” Marilyn called out from her seat behind the reception desk, preventing Cynthia from walking to her office. The older woman was in her sixties and the glue that held this company together. “Paul called in and said to tell you that he’s running a few minutes late.”

Of course.

Why wouldn’t Paul be running late today of all days?

The universe had been conspiring against Cynthia for the past eight months. She hadn’t known about that bit of treachery until yesterday, but it had been there all the same.

“Thank you, Marilyn.” Cynthia managed a smile, not wanting to take her bad mood out on the older woman. Steve had been another matter altogether. “Would you please let me know when Paul comes in?”

Marilyn nodded her response, but it was clear that she had something else to say. She leaned forward so that her words didn’t carry outside the large foyer. Cynthia’s stomach knotted, because now wasn’t the time for the mother hen to smooth over ruffled feathers. She was wasting her time.

Nothing could be said or done to ease Cynthia’s pride at being duped by a man she’d thought was better than the rest.

Gareth Nicollet had pretty much brought her to her knees, and she’d been the one to give him that power on a silver platter. Apparently, she’d even tied a bow around the fucking thing.

Why was it that the most important lessons were always the hardest to learn?

“You know that Steve is having a hard time.” Marilyn gave a rather sad smile, conveying the remorse that most of the employees were dealing with at the moment. Was it wrong that Cynthia didn’t care about any of them when her own heart had all but been ripped to shreds? “He’s just trying to—”

“Steve had an affair with his boss’ ex-wife, lied to his former colleague and friend, and then attempted to taint my reputation in front of the entire staff not even three weeks past.” Cynthia could go on and on about Steve’s behavior over the last month, but it would have been a useless endeavor. She was just grateful for the sliver of anger that pushed aside the hurt. “Look, you and I both know that Steve is most likely moving to London to work with his brother-in-law when Manon investments closes its doors. So save the drama. Honestly, I think that’s the wisest choice, but that doesn’t mean he gets a free pass to do as he pleases until that eventuality.”

Cynthia was saved from another lecture delivered by Marilyn when Laurel Calanthe and Grace Dorrance breezed through the glass entry doors from the elevator bank. Her two best friends must have gone downstairs to the café to caffeinate themselves, because Laurel was holding a smoothie in her left hand that clearly wasn’t hers. The woman was a coffee drinker through and through. She’d have an IV installed if it were medically possible.

“Looks like we’re just in time,” Laurel said with a tentative smile that was meant for Marilyn. “Cynthia hasn’t had her protein smoothie this morning. You know how she gets.”

“I’m standing right here in front of you,” Cynthia responded wryly, not wanting to get dragged into Laurel’s office for a pep talk that was only going to make things worse. “Remind me why we’re friends?”

“Because you have the keys to the gates of hell,” Grace called out without hesitation as she continued to walk toward Laurel’s office. “We wouldn’t want to be left standing out in the cold.”

“Come on,” Laurel encouraged as she handed over the smoothie. Cynthia’s stomach revolted, but she took the cold beverage anyway. “Let’s go into my office and walk through what you’re going to say to Gareth.”

“Marilyn, I’ll be in Laurel’s office. Please let me know the moment Paul walks through those doors.” Cynthia fell into step beside Laurel as they both slowly followed Grace down the corridor. “Laurel, I’ve already decided not to say anything to Gareth, and I don’t want to argue about it anymore. I’m dumping this entire situation into Paul’s lap later this morning before washing my hands of it. Then I can finally move on with my life.”

Cynthia didn’t miss Laurel’s quick glance toward the corner office door at the end of the hallway, so she most likely hadn’t heard a word that was said. Her friend’s revolted shudder was more than evident, but Cynthia couldn’t blame her after what had taken place.

“It’s probably a good thing we’re moving offices at the beginning of the year.” Cynthia hated that Laurel had to continually see the place where she’d found their boss— Brad Manon— murdered with his throat cut a little over three weeks ago. It couldn’t have been healthy to look at that view numerous times a day. “A fresh start is exactly what we all need.”

“What you need is to find out why Gareth Nicollet didn’t tell you the truth about being Brad Manon’s brother,” Grace interjected from her seat on Laurel’s credenza as she waited for them to cross the threshold. “None of us believe that Gareth is capable of murder, but he obviously kept his family relationship with Brad a secret for a reason. You need to find out why exactly that is.”

“No, I don’t.” Cynthia ignored the throbbing pain in her chest. She was a business professional. She had known better than to mix business with pleasure, but she’d done it anyway. Now it was time to pay the piper. “As I was just telling Laurel, I’m meeting with Paul the moment he sees fit to get his ass into the office today. He can make any decisions that need to be made regarding Gareth. I’m out.”

Cynthia reluctantly took a seat in one of Laurel’s guest chairs, crossing her legs and smoothing the material of her black skirt. When was the last time any of them had a conversation that didn’t involve any one of them or their colleagues going to prison?

Far too damn long, that’s when.

It was all Laurel’s fault. She just had to come into the office three weeks ago at some ungodly hour to grab some stupid files. Leave it to her to stumble upon Brad’s dead body and unknowingly set all their lives on a collision course for the deepest pit of hell.

It was times like these that unfortunate secrets were revealed and lives were ruined.

These days, it seemed like everyone and their uncle had something to hide.

The police certainly weren’t lacking for suspects in Brad’s murder. Almost every employee had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the gruesome act according to the record thus far. The changes in Brad’s personality over the years hadn’t gone unnoticed by many, and the man had basically become isolated in that corner office as a result of his own actions.

It only seemed fitting that he’d died there in a cell of his making, but Cynthia wasn’t known for her tact. She told it like it was, and she didn’t harbor any regrets.

Well, sometimes.

Very few.

Other colleagues weren’t so blunt, and that was part of the problem. It was hard to tell where people stood in the grand scheme of things. Not that they had to declare their allegiances, for fuck’s sake.

Take Paul Slater, for instance. He’d been Brad’s best friend and business partner. Over the years, Paul had spent more of his time out of the office persuading high net worth individuals to invest their money in Manon Investments than he had in the office dealing with Brad’s insolence over minor issues that could be mitigated by others.

Then there was Steve Lewis, the head trader she’d had to deal with a few minutes ago. He’d been having an affair with Meredith Manon and keeping that little secret from his best friend and colleagues, not that it was technically any of their business. Normally, no one cared who was sleeping with who, but when it involved the ex-wife of the once beloved boss… well, people tended to get their hackles up in situations like that.

Speaking of the recent ex-widow, it wasn’t like she was inheriting a fortune, considering Brad had been in massive debt at the time of his death. Still, the police always seemed to suspect the spouse… or ex-spouse, in cases like these.

Then there were the conflicting motives of Vern Roberts, Blair Holmes, Phil Colbert, Joshua Green, Marilyn Kent, Smith Gallo, the two ladies currently in this office, and quite a few others. As a matter of fact, all of those individuals were just some of the employees who met all three of the criteria to commit murder.

“You’ve been seeing Gareth Nicollet on and off for close to a year,” Laurel said, taking a seat in her desk chair as she set a sympathizing gaze on Cynthia. She didn’t bother to correct her friend by saying it had only been eight months. Her speaking would only drag out this conversation, but it did take all her effort not to snap at her friend. Both Laurel and Grace were only trying to help. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could ease the pain of betrayal Cynthia was currently suffering at the glaring omission manifested by the man she’d fallen in love with. “Your instincts are better than both of ours. You can’t tell us that you think Gareth is capable of murder.”

“I never dreamed he would deceive me, either,” Cynthia countered sharply, wincing when her anger slipped through her composure. She was fully aware that the employees of Manon Investments weren’t the only suspects the police had on their rather large list. And now it was she who was liable for adding another name to the catalog of suspects. “Look, I appreciate what you two are trying to do right now. I really do, but nothing can erase the fact that Gareth kept the truth from me from the very start.”

Cynthia didn’t even bother to bring Brad into the equation. Hell, the police were likely to include her name in the pool after discovering that Brad hadn’t seen fit to tell her that he was related to Gareth— a client, for that matter.

It was now official.

The throbbing in her temples had now become a full-fledged headache.

“In case you forgot, I was falsely accused of murdering Brad,” Grace said while sharing a concerned glance with Laurel. “Detective Nielsen arrested me in front of all my friends and colleagues. It was beyond humiliating. You coming clean about Gareth’s connection to Brad might very well lead the police to you. Don’t you realize your own situation? It gives both of you motive.”

Cynthia’s hands had been cold since yesterday, when she’d discovered Gareth’s lie in Brad’s personnel file. She must have stared in horror at that seemingly inconsequential piece of information for at least ten minutes before she’d accepted it as truth. As it stood, she didn’t need the added chill from the smoothie, so she set the plastic cup on Laurel’s desk before curling her fingers into her palms.

“I know exactly what Gareth’s omission has done to the both of us, but covering up for someone is exactly what got you arrested in the first place.”

None of them had been overlooked by Detective Nielsen.

Laurel was the first to be questioned, and not just for the reason that she’d found Brad dead in his office. She’d been having an affair with Smith Gallo, another employee and the man with whom she’d been competing in regard to partnership at the firm. Both of them had been under scrutiny, especially when the police discovered that Smith had been planning to leave Manon Investments in order to open his own hedge fund.

Neither Cynthia nor Laurel had known at the time that Grace had given a false alibi for the timeframe of Brad’s death. She’d lied to protect the man she was seeing— Rye Marshall— who just happened to be Manon Investments’ largest competitor.

The killer had obviously discovered Grace’s attempt to protect Rye, because a knife had been planted inside of her vehicle. An anonymous call had led the police straight to Grace’s doorstep— or in this case, to the offices of Manon Investments.

Whoever was responsible for Brad’s death was connected to all of them in some way or another, giving that individual the advantage. That specific detail told her that this wasn’t a circumstance to be trifled with, which was why she was washing her hands of the entire situation.

“Grace isn’t saying that you should lie.” That was exactly what their friend was suggesting, but Laurel ignored the obvious. “Having been in similar situations, we’re suggesting that speaking with Gareth before you talk to anyone else might be in both your best interests.”

“Similar situations?” Cynthia slowly stood, not wanting to take her anger out on the two people who had her back in this cutthroat business. She fully understood that her friends were trying their best to help her deal with the fallout of a relationship that never should have begun in the first place, but they were going about it the wrong way. “You seem to be forgetting something rather important, ladies. The men in your lives never lied to you about who they were. Now as I stated earlier, I’m dumping this police matter into Paul’s inbox and washing my hands of this whole problem.”

Cynthia sensed Gareth’s presence before either of her friends glanced toward the doorway in shock. She wasn’t sure how to explain it, but a blanket of warmth always came over her when he was in the vicinity. The fact that he could still have that effect on her after what he’d done gave her the internal fortitude to compose herself.

Hell would freeze over before she ever showed Gareth Nicollet that he still had the power to destroy her heart. Bracing herself, she straightened her shoulders before turning on the heels that had gotten her through many power struggles. Unfortunately, he gained the upper hand when he spoke first.

“Do you think it’s going to be that easy to get rid of me, Cyn?”
 

Missed MEANS (Office Roulette #1) and need to catch up? Get your hands on it now!

About MEANS (Office Roulette #1)

From USA Today Bestselling Author Kennedy Layne comes a sexy trilogy that involves greed, power, and the desire to do it all over again…

Smith Gallo has everything a man could ever want at the tip of his fingertips, except of course the woman he loves. To what lengths will he be willing to go to make his ambitions come true?

Laurel Calanthe is one successful stock pick away from making partner when she finds herself in desperate need of an alibi. There’s only one problem. The man who can save her from being arrested is her only competitor and the one who now holds her fate in his hands.

Greed is a powerful motivator in the game of making money, but desire can overcome even the strongest motive.

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READ MY REVIEW:

MEANS REVIEW

About MOTIVE (Office Roulette #2)

The Office Roulette trilogy continues with an epic battle between blame and forgiveness…

Rye Marshall had it all—wealth, prominence, and the love of his life. But nothing lasts forever, and his perfect world came crashing down around him. When the dust settled, he found himself alone and starting from a clean slate.

Grace Dorrance had made many mistakes in her life, but one stood out above the rest—an epic ending to a complex and passionate relationship. She left her former lover’s life in complete ruins and tried her best never to look back at the wreckage.

Seconds chances are hard to come by, but even more difficult when Grace is arrested for a murder she didn’t commit. This gives Rye the perfect motive to forgive and forget, allowing for new beginnings. Unfortunately, someone’s playing a game of office roulette with everyone’s lives.

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READ MY REVIEW:

MOTIVE REVIEW

 

About Kennedy Layne

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

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OPPORTUNITY ( OFFICE ROULETTE #3 ) BY KENNEDY LAYNE IS COMING

Chapter Reveal: BUTTERFACE, A Sexy Romantic Comedy from USA Today Bestselling Author AVERY FLYNN is Releasing July 30th! @averyflynn @jenw23

 

Butterface, a fun and sexy romantic comedy from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn, is coming July 30th and we’ve got a sneak peek!

BUTTERFACE 2018-0627 Avery Flynn[169987]BC

Read the first chapter of Butterface today: http://wp.me/P2BIBX-11q

Synopsis

Looks aren’t everything.

It’s true. I’m not what most people would call “pretty” and, well, high school was rough. Fast forward ten years and life is good…

Until a bunch of jerks think it’s hilarious to put the “butterface” (AKA me) on a wedding Kiss Cam with the hottest guy ever—and that old humiliation hits hard.

I recognize him immediately. The hottest cop in Waterbury and totally out of my league.

But then he kisses me.

And we totally forget the room, the crowd, everything.

Then he tells everyone we’ve been dating for months.

Soon everything starts to feel too real, from adorable fights over “necessary” tools to fix my broken porch to surviving a free-for-all dinner with his six siblings to picking up where our last kiss left off.

But there’s something he’s not telling me about why he’s really hanging around, and I’m pretty sure it has to do with my mob-connected brothers.

Because this is not a makeover story, and Cinderella is only a fairy tale…

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Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2ykgQEa

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About Avery

USA Today bestselling romance author Avery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.

She fell in love with romance while reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory books. It wasn’t long before Avery had read through all the romance offerings at her local library. Needing a romance fix, she turned to Harlequin’s four books a month home delivery service to ease the withdrawal symptoms. That worked for a short time, but it wasn’t long before the local book stores’ staffs knew her by name.

Avery was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.

AveryFlynn[169988]

 

Connect with Avery

Website: http://averyflynn.com

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Book Blitz + Giveaway: HART OF DARKNESS ( The Hart Series ) by S.B. ALEXANDER @sbalex_author @XpressoTours


Hart of Darkness
S.B. Alexander
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

The road to love is paved in the dark.

Former gang member Dillon Hart abandoned the streets to join the US Merchant Marines. He feels his life is finally on track until he returns home to discover that his sixteen-year-old sister is missing. With his younger brother in jail and his older brother living a life of crime, it’s up to Dillon to find Grace. After four years of searching, a phone call from a morgue gives him a lead that he can’t pass up. Enlisting the help of a cutthroat reporter may be his only hope.

Crime reporter Maggie Marx has just the right mix of grit and sex appeal to get anything she wants, even the darkest stories on the street. Growing up in a gang, she had her fair share of setbacks and obstacles. When Dillon Hart seeks her help, she’s more than ready to take down the street’s biggest enemy. Her actions could help her exact revenge or land her in the belly of the beast.

As Dillon and Maggie team up to search for Dillon’s sister, they aren’t prepared to find what lies ahead. One family is torn apart. Another is brought together. Hearts are shredded, secrets are uncovered, and love takes on a whole new meaning.

Intended for audiences 18+

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Link to read Chapter 1 in Hart of Darkness: CHAPTER ONE

 

EXCERPT:

I parked two blocks from a sea of red and blue flashing lights. I grabbed my bag, hopped out of my car, and ran up to the crowd that had gathered around.

I sidled up to an older lady. “What’s going on?”

She didn’t even look my way. Instead, she lifted up on her tiptoes to see over others’ heads. “Word is the cops are in a standoff with some gang.”

My internal radar was firing on all cylinders. “What gang?”

She clutched the robe she was wearing. “Not sure.”

I plowed through the throng to get a better view. Some protested as I wiggled my way up to a man in blue, whose name read Miladin on his uniform shirt. I knew some cops but not him.

Police cruisers and unmarked cars littered the street on the other side of the police barricade.

I flashed my reporter credentials. “I’m here to see Detective Ted Hughes.” I scanned the men in blue and some in plain clothes. Ted was tall, lanky, and sometimes hard to miss with his thick mustache that was similar to the actor Tom Selleck’s. I did another once-over and spotted Rick. He wasn’t as tall as Ted, but he was husky, compliments of the gym he lived at during his off-duty hours.

Officer Miladin narrowed his dark eyes. “Civilians are not allowed past this barrier.”

“I work for the paper, so let me through.” I knew working as a reporter held no clout to get me into an active police scene, but most cops knew I was close to Ted.

Officer Miladin stabbed a finger at another police barrier along the sidewalk in front of the brick homes that lined the street. “The media is over there.”

I didn’t budge from my spot. “You’re new. Aren’t you?”

Miladin’s voice dropped an octave. “I said over there.”

I huffed and decided it wasn’t worth arguing. Ted would only kick me out anyway.

I spotted Deidre, a news reporter for CBNT, a local station in the city. If anyone had a lead, it would be Deidre. She was relentless in her hunt to get the big story. I was about to make my way over to her, when a shot rang out through the humid night.

People screamed and scattered.

The cops took cover behind their vehicles.

I managed to duck behind one of many cars parked along the curb. The lady in the robe joined me, breathing heavily, while the crowd scattered to take cover.

Then silence ensued.

I slowly peeked through the car window, when the lady in the robe nudged me.

She pointed a red-painted nail toward the driveway of the house across from us. “Look.”

A girl with bold red hair darted from the back of the house, setting off the motion sensor.

Miladin, who had abandoned his position, edged along the base of the house and down the driveway. He said something into his radio, when the redhead climbed the chain-link fence.

Considering the girl was running, I suspected the cops didn’t have the house completely surrounded. Or if they did, then their attention wasn’t on the girl.

The crowd seemed to be holding its breath.

 

Author Bio:

S.B. Alexander is a bestselling romance author of the Maxwell Series. Her books are filled with stories that tug at your heart, and are filled with romance, drama, action and suspense. As much as she loves to write, she also loves to read. Some of her favorite authors growing up were Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe. She stills enjoy reading Stephen King. In fact, she loves most genres, although in the past three years she has gravitated toward the romance genre, which is when she started her journey to write her first book. Her motto: write what you love to read.

Aside from writing, she’s a huge sports fan, in particular, baseball. Since she hails from New England, she is a diehard Red Sox fan. She’s also a navy veteran and former math teacher, loves white powdered donuts, and handbags. Her husband calls her the bag lady. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing golf and hanging out with friends and family.

Facebook Fan Page / Facebook Reader Group / Twitter / Instagram / Amazon / Bookbub

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S.B. ALEXANDER

Chapter Reveal: UNLOCKING LIES ( Keys To Love Series Book 3 ) by USA Today Bestselling Author KENNEDY LAYNE @KennedyL_Author @InkslingerPR

 

We’re a little over a week away from the release of UNLOCKING LIES by Kennedy Layne – but you don’t have to wait! You can read the first chapter now. Check it out and be sure to preorder your copy!

 

About UNLOCKING LIES

A grim discovery in Lance Kendall’s home proved one thing—the residents of Blyth Lake had a serial killer in their midst. Now Lance had unintentionally put a target on his back. Worst yet, he’s made the only woman he ever loved known to a murderer.

A trip down memory lane with the man who’d broken Brynn Mercer’s heart wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life, but their reunion was a slow burn of temptation that she couldn’t ignore.

Together, they will only have one chance to correct the past. Will the hidden secrets he uncovered threaten their love or solidify it for a future that has always been out of their reach?

Add UNLOCKING LIES to your Goodreads list here!

UNLOCKING LIES releases May 22nd, 2018 – preorder your copy now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2rOa16E
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2sRUlCn
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✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2sRY2aV

 

 

Read the First Chapter of UNLOCKING LIES:

CHAPTER ONE

Twelve years ago…

Lightning streaked across the sky in multiple jagged forks overhead. The waning flash eventually morphed into an ominous rumble of thunder, creating a malevolent omen as it continued to sing its song throughout the collapsing resonance.

Emma Irwin bit back the sob that threatened to escape her throat, causing her breath to hitch.

She didn’t want to die today.

The hulking man standing in front of her abruptly lunged forward, causing her to cry out in alarm. She instinctively stumbled backwards and somehow managed to twist around without falling.

Emma ran for her life, and she didn’t look back.

There was only one path she could take that would lead her to safety. Under normal circumstances, she would have been able to navigate these woods like the back of her hand. Now? Terror flooded her bloodstream, making it nearly impossible for her to formulate a plan.

The thunderstorm above all but descended the forest into darkness after each flash. Without night vision, the footing amongst the roots crisscrossing the forest floor became treacherous. She had to keep an arm raised as she ran through the trees to prevent the low hanging branches from slamming into her face. Her hands were already bleeding from her previous fall, but fortunately, there was no pain as a result of the endorphins.

She couldn’t afford the distraction her pain would cause.

How could this be happening?

Emma wanted to stop and scream at him at the top of her lungs. She’d known him her whole life. She had trusted him, and yet she didn’t doubt that he would kill her with no more remorse than he would experience by putting down a game animal.

All she needed to do was make it to Seventh Street. If she could reach the edge of town, someone would help her.

Would anyone believe her? Was any of this even remotely plausible? She was a teenager. It was her word against…

Light!

The streetlamp was barely visible, but it was there ahead of her just up the gradual slope. The blazing beacon provided her hope.

The drizzling rain became more of a steadier stream the closer she got to the edge of the woods. Unadulterated fear kept up her forward momentum until her ankle boot slipped on a small pile of loose leaves.

Emma hit the ground so hard that her lungs emptied of any air that may have been left in her body after running so far at such a fast pace. She opened her mouth to drag in what oxygen she could, but her lungs seemed incapable of working. Her brain was screaming at her to get up and move or else she would die.

This was it.

She was going to die here, because she couldn’t overcome the fear.

Little by little, her straining muscles relaxed to the point where she was able to suck in a small measure of oxygen. It was enough to stop the flashing lights that had started to circulate in her line of vision. In their place, images of her sister began to materialize.

Would Shae miss her?

Emma didn’t want their last words to be those of hate. She’d said some awful things to her sister this afternoon all because Shae had gotten the car tonight.

“It’s not fair!” Emma screamed at her mom, stomping out of the kitchen and wishing there was a door to slam. All she wanted to do was hit something or someone. It didn’t help that Shae was coming down the staircase with an amused smirk on her face. “Why did you have to be the older one? How come you always get to be first?”

“I don’t know why you’re so upset.” Shae shrugged as if this night was no big deal. Emma bit her tongue as she passed her sister on the steps. Their mother was most likely listening to them in the kitchen, and the last thing Emma needed was to get grounded before the biggest bonfire of the year. “You get the car all week long while I’m at college. Besides, you got to use it last weekend.”

“No,” Emma argued, unable to stop herself. She spun around on the second step to face Shae, who had already reached the landing. “I only got to use the car on Friday night. Remember? You went into the city all day on Saturday.”

“I’m in college, Emma. I’m not allowed a vehicle on campus, so I should get the car two nights out of the week. Those days just happen to fall on the weekends.” Shae crossed her arms like she did when she was trying to make a point and look all mature. Just because she was in college didn’t mean that she was an adult. “What’s the big deal, anyway? You can have one of your friends pick you up. It’s safe that way.”

“Brynn’s car is in the shop, and you know that Julie doesn’t have access to one.” Why should Emma have to explain why she wanted the car? “You know what? Take the car. I don’t care anymore.”

“Good, because I am taking it. It’s my turn.”

“I hate you!”

A tear ran down Emma’s right cheek, though the rain washed it away. She didn’t hate her sister. Shae was everything Emma wanted to be.

Lightning lit up the sky overhead, illuminating her surroundings.

He was gone.

He was nowhere to be seen.

Emma was finally breathing again, though her heart was beating hard against her chest. She scrambled to her feet and did a full turn to scan her immediate surroundings. She was alone in the dark, but something told her he would appear out of nowhere her if she didn’t keep moving.

She took off once again for Seventh Street, relief washing over her as she finally reached the paved road. Not once did she think of slowing down her pace, though she did veer to the right so that she could follow the road that would lead her past the cemetery and toward the back end of town. She’d take the shortcut to her house from there.

It was then she saw the silhouette standing on the other side of the road blocking her path.

It was him.

That’s why he hadn’t come upon her when she’d fallen on the leaves. He’d somehow run ahead to cut her off before she could get home.

Emma had no choice but to run back toward the woods. There was no holding back the sobs that had been trying to escape. Why was he doing this to her? What had she done to him?

It was hard to see through her tears, but she ran blindly through the trees nonetheless. She didn’t follow any path, and she certainly never expected two arms to reach out of the darkness to save her. They embraced her warmly, and she even heard the soothing words that everything would be alright.

She was safe.

Emma broke down, holding onto the strong arms so that she wouldn’t sink to the ground.

“H-he’s coming,” Emma managed to say, trying to warn whoever had saved her. Was it Billy? Lance Kendall? Chad Schaeffer? It didn’t matter. “He’s right behind me and—”

Something was wrong.

Emma furiously blinked her tears away and looked up at her savior.

Only she was mistaken.

No one was here to save her.

All hope vanished. She didn’t understand how it happened, but the man she was running from hadn’t been the one standing in the middle of Seventh Street.

He’d been waiting for her in the shadows all along.

About the Keys to Love Series

Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgivable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.

 

Missed UNLOCKING FEAR or UNLOCKING SECRETS and want to catch up? You can grab the first two books in the Keys to Love series now!

 

About UNLOCKING FEAR

A chance mishap with a sledgehammer was the sole reason a chilling nightmare was unleashed in Blyth Lake.

Noah Kendall’s grisly discovery left him in the middle of a murder investigation and a neighbor who knew more than she was willing to say. Reese Woodward had returned to town with dark secrets, and he was determined to unravel them. While evil lurks in the darkness, seduction burns between them…only time was their enemy.

Will her secrets destroy what they’ve built, or can he earn her trust before the killer strikes again?

Add UNLOCKING FEAR to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING FEAR now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2oDD6Tg
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2ouRvO6
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✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2odmleE

 

About UNLOCKING SECRETS
 

A grim discovery in Lance Kendall’s home proved one thing—the residents of Blyth Lake had a serial killer in their midst. Now Lance had unintentionally put a target on his back. Worst yet, he’s made the only woman he ever loved known to a murderer.

A trip down memory lane with the man who’d broken Brynn Mercer’s heart wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life, but their reunion was a slow burn of temptation that she couldn’t ignore.

Together, they will only have one chance to correct the past. Will the hidden secrets he uncovered threaten their love or solidify it for a future that has always been out of their reach?

Add UNLOCKING SECRETS to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING SECRETS now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2orr78Z
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2mN73R5
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2Hq3Cp7
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2nrCOw6

 

 

About Kennedy Layne

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

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Chapter Reveal: MORE THAN WORDS ( Guarding The Gods Book Three ) By Bestselling Author ANN LISTER @Jo_isalovebooks @AnnListerAuthor

HOSTING CR MTMW 19TH MARCH

Take a sneak peek and read chapter sixteen today.

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Special Chapter Sneak Peek

MTMW out now

Gay Erotic Romance ready for your reading pleasure.

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Mason Foxworth has spent the last several months recovering from injuries he received doing personal security while on tour during the horrific fire in Germany. He feels useless and alone, and the worst part of it, the physical scarring left behind from the burns has ruined his self-esteem. Who would want him now, when he is so damaged inside and out and has nothing much to contribute? He doesn’t have many friends and his co-workers feel it’s safer to keep Mason at a desk in the office pushing paperwork, rather than out in the field working security. Mason wants to change that status before he loses the last thread of his sanity, and the main obstacle in his way is a bum leg that’s taking far too long to heal.

Tessler is an enigma in the sci-fi literary world. A young, reclusive author, known for the mystery swirling around him, realizes he’s lost any real joy in his life until he suddenly starts to feel the strange emotion pumping through his veins. Barely beyond the age of twenty-five, and he’s already made more money than most see in a lifetime, but Tessler feels empty inside. What made him this way must remain the secret it is, or he feels he’ll lose the empire he’s created. But meeting a man who could possibly bring all his pieces together is challenging his reasons for anonymity, and Tessler suddenly finds himself wanting more from life and for himself.

Mason wants his life back and Tessler is just looking to have a real life. Can two vastly different men find a way to smooth out their hard edges and blend their lives to offer the one ingredient neither has? Personal growth comes in many different shapes and Mason and Tessler have a mountain of it to climb in order to find their HEA, but it’s a journey both of them are ready to take.

Are you a member of Goodreads?

You can add More Than My Words to your TBR shelf.

(Guarding the Gods #3)

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Are you new to this series?

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Catch up here and read FREE with kindleUnlimited.

Zac’s Mulligan Book 1

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Honor And Pride Book 2

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COMING SOON!

GUARDING THE GODS BOOK 4

The Black Key Journal

ANN LISTER MEDIA PICTURE

Ann Lister is a native New Englander currently living on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband. She has pulled details from her years living in the New England area and uses many local settings and landmarks in her novels.
After graduating art school, marrying, and raising two daughters, she established her own video production company. Her nearly two decades working in video production included work within the music industry and won her a coveted Telly Award. Her ‘behind-the-scenes’ exposure to the music world and her love of rock music is the inspiration for her erotic rock star romances.
The Rock Gods series gave her Bestselling Author status on Amazon. Beyond The Music, Book 7 in the series, hit #1 in the Gay Erotica genre during the Pre-Order and held that spot for several weeks. This last book in The Rock Gods series launches the spin-off series, Guarding The Gods, which releases in early Summer of 2016.
Fall For Me, Book One in the series was a Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Award. Each book in this series brings her two favorite elements together: musicians and the love between two men. These stories focus on what it truly means to love; love unconditionally, love without restrictions or labels, love without fear or judgment – to just simply love.
 

Connect with Ann here:

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Thank you for touring with Love Has No Gender the brighter side of  Jo&Isa♡Books

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Chapter Reveal: UNLOCKING SECRETS ( Keys To Love Series #2 ) By KENNEDY LAYNE @KennedyL_Author @InkslingerPR

 

We’re a little over a week away from the release of UNLOCKING SECRETS by Kennedy Layne – but you don’t have to wait! You can read the first chapter now. Check it out and be sure to preorder your copy!

About UNLOCKING SECRETS

A grim discovery in Lance Kendall’s home proved one thing—the residents of Blyth Lake had a serial killer in their midst. Now Lance had unintentionally put a target on his back. Worst yet, he’s made the only woman he ever loved known to a murderer.

A trip down memory lane with the man who’d broken Brynn Mercer’s heart wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done in her life, but their reunion was a slow burn of temptation that she couldn’t ignore.

Together, they will only have one chance to correct the past. Will the hidden secrets he uncovered threaten their love or solidify it for a future that has always been out of their reach?

Add UNLOCKING SECRETS to your Goodreads list here!

UNLOCKING SECRETS releases March 20th, 2018 – preorder your copy now!

✦Amazon http://amzn.to/2orr78Z
✦iBooks http://apple.co/2mN73R5
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2Hq3Cp7
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2nrCOw6

 

Read the First Chapter of UNLOCKING SECRETS:

CHAPTER ONE

Twelve years ago…

Emily stared into the cold dark eyes of a man she should have recognized—only she didn’t.
Why did he seem so distant? So far away?

“I-I’m going home,” Emma choked out around the nervous constriction in her throat. Fear immobilized her feet to the ground. “Everyone is leaving the party. I’ve got to get home before my parents find out I’m not in bed.”

She ran her sweaty palms down the brand-new pair of ripped jeans she’d bought to impress Billy Stanton. She’d found them on the clearance rack after having saved enough of her allowance to afford them. She wanted to look over her shoulder where the bonfire was still raging, but his unsettling stare kept her from taking her attention off him.

What was he doing here anyway?

Something deeply inherent to her survival told her that she was in danger, but that was impossible. Things like that didn’t happen in their small town. He would never really hurt her, right?

“I know I’m late. My mom and dad will freak if they find out I’m late for curfew.” Emma wished she’d waited for Brynn or Julie, but it was already an hour past the curfew her parents had initially set up a few years ago. Is that why he was here? Had her parents discovered her empty bed? Shoot. That would mean the sheriff was on his way out here and everyone would blame her come Monday morning for the party being busted. “I didn’t m-mean to lose track of time.”

Emma shifted her weight in unease. He hadn’t said a word. Why was he staring at her with such a blank expression?

“Julie and Brynn are right behind me. They’ll be here in just a minute.”

Emma wasn’t sure why she’d lied like that. It wasn’t like he didn’t know the annual bonfire was taking place and who was in attendance. After all, the alcohol had to be supplied by someone.

His gaze drifted over her shoulders toward the farm.

It wasn’t until that moment that she became aware of how still he’d been standing in front of her with his arms hanging down at his sides.

Would he tell her parents where she’d been?

Wait. That didn’t make any sense. He’d be in just as much trouble as the rest of them, maybe even more so given the circumstances.

“You’re here to warn us, aren’t you?”

Relief came over her in waves as she finally connected the dots. She was so stressed about missing curfew that she must have misread the situation.

“My dad called the sheriff, and he’s on his way out here, isn’t he?” Emma did look over her shoulder, grimacing at the fact that mostly everyone would be grounded come the weekend. They’d all say it was her fault, and Billy would never ask her out. “You should go warn the rest of them. I’ll run home and try to make up an excuse as to why I was out so late.”

Emma didn’t wait around for him to answer. She took off at a dead run, brushing past him as the adrenaline and fear pumped through her at facing the disappointing reaction of her parents.

How could she possibly get out of the grounding of her life?

She ran deeper into the woods, ignoring the rumbling sound of thunder overhead. The gathering clouds made it rather difficult for her to see the path in front of her, but she’d memorized this route from the many times she’d taken it over the years.

The air contained a bit of a chill, especially since she’d been by the bonfire for the last few hours. The only good thing about the fast jog she’d undertaken was that it kept her heartrate up, chasing away the cool breeze stinging her cheeks.

She cried out when the tip of her boot got caught in the root of a tree. The leaves on the ground cushioned her fall, but the palms of her hands still suffered scratches from the coarse sticks littered amongst the foliage. It wasn’t her skin she was worried about so much as the condition of the cute little ankle boots she’d borrowed from her sister. If she so much as scuffed the toe, she’d be in deep shit for taking them without asking.

Emma shifted off her hands and knees, choosing to stand instead of sitting on the ground. The clouds took advantage of the moment and slowly covered the moon, limiting the light she’d been using to lead the way. She couldn’t see the damage done to her sister’s boots, nor the severity of the cuts on her hand. The warm stickiness alerted her to the fact that she was bleeding at least a little.

Was it bad of her to think that she could use this to her advantage? She squinted to try and see how bad the scratches were so she could adjust her story. She could always say she’d fallen on her way home and stopped at Julie’s house to clean up the wounds. Would her parents believe her slight misdirection?

Emma didn’t have anything to wipe her hands on, but surely she could find something before reaching home.

She flinched when a raindrop hit her cheek. Simultaneously, a low rumble of thunder traveled across the sky. That didn’t stop a sliver of moonlight from slipping through the storm clouds…only to reveal a stretched shadow that was coming in her direction.

Emma spun around, surprised to find him no more than ten feet away.

“W-what are you doing? Didn’t you go and warn the rest of them?”

“Julie and Brynn haven’t started walking home yet, have they?”

It sounded more like a statement than a question. Why would he ask her that question?

A sickening sensation rolled her stomach to the point where she physically had to take a step back from the cause.

Something was wrong with him.

He didn’t sound like he usually did, always polite and fun to be around.

Why was he acting this way? Was he showing off?

“Y-you don’t want to get into trouble, either,” Emma pointed out as she struggled to maintain her composure. He was scaring her with his bravado, and she didn’t like it. She went on the offensive. “You supplied the keg. I know you did, and so does everyone else that was here tonight.”

The man lifted the left side of his mouth as if he were amused by her warning.

It was then she realized she was in trouble…real trouble.

“They couldn’t possibly imagine what I’m going to do to you, Emma. They’ll all be looking in the wrong direction.”

 

About the Keys to Love Series

Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgivable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.

Missed UNLOCKING FEAR? Grab the first book in the Keys to Love series now!

 

About UNLOCKING FEAR

A chance mishap with a sledgehammer was the sole reason a chilling nightmare was unleashed in Blyth Lake.

Noah Kendall’s grisly discovery left him in the middle of a murder investigation and a neighbor who knew more than she was willing to say. Reese Woodward had returned to town with dark secrets, and he was determined to unravel them. While evil lurks in the darkness, seduction burns between them…only time was their enemy.

Will her secrets destroy what they’ve built, or can he earn her trust before the killer strikes again?

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About Kennedy Layne

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

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