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New Release: ENTRANCED by Maddie James

By : Renee Vincent


Entranced
The Legend of Blackbeard’s Chalice, Book One
By Maddie James

Release Date: March 20, 2014
Category: Romance, Paranormal, Time Travel
Heat Level: Sizzle
Length: 88,800 words
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
ISBN: 978-1-62237-283-6
Ebook Price: $2.99

Blurb:
Can souls touch through time and hold on when all odds are against them?

Claire Winslow vacations on an East Coast barrier island, content with her life and her potential future—until the illusion of a man walking the misty shore haunts her. Then one kiss—a beautiful, soulful, stolen kiss in the night—and her life changes forever.

Nearly 300 years past, Jack Porter is in hot pursuit of his kidnapped wife. Not an easy feat considering the year is 1718 and the kidnapper is the notorious pirate Blackbeard aka Edward Teach. Determined to rescue his wife and take the pirate’s head in the process, Jack steals aboard the pirate’s ship to save her.

Entranced sends Jack and Claire on a wild search through time, not only for the resolution to a powerful attraction between them, but also for a historical artifact that holds the key to their future happiness—the coveted silver-plated chalice made from Blackbeard’s skull.



Excerpt:
Claire stared at the man staring back at her through the night mist. She blinked and then focused her gaze once more.

He was still there.

Her pulse quickened. Her heart hammered in her chest. Slowly, she stepped around the wooden rocker and silently crossed the porch to the entrance. Just to the right of the steps she stopped, placed her hand around the carved porch post and leaned into it, her cheek resting against its smooth and cool painted exterior. Her gaze never left his, and his followed hers as she moved. Inhaling deeply, the misty air hung heavy in her throat. Claire held her breath for a moment and then slowly and silently let it out, trying to clear her mind of the haze.

The nearly full moon provided a shaft of light, perfectly illuminating the man. Waves beat steadily against the shore behind him, an ever-present drone in her ears.

Funny, she thought. The sound used to drive her crazy, now it was barely noticeable. The wind pushed cloud cover in front of the moon’s beam and again she searched the night for a glimpse of him.

There! He’s closer. Definitely closer.

She jumped and fought panic. Her heart skipped a beat. The first night he had stood at the foot of the lighthouse, barely a specter against the illuminated white. The next night he’d ventured nearer, away from the lighthouse.

Now he stood barely twenty yards away, slowly walking toward her on the boarded walkway leading to the steps of her porch. An image of a man. A hologram of sorts.

A ghost? Her imagination run amok?

He fascinated her. Too far away—always too far away to see his eyes—but she knew they were black as pitch, rimmed with clear bright whites.

He stood tall, with his fists placed on either hip. His broad stance was solid, roped with muscle. His hair was long, silky, and as black as his eyes.

Soft.

She could feel the texture on her fingertips.

How? She didn’t even know what, or who, this man was. But she knew these things about him. Somehow.

He stepped forward. The night breeze ruffled his loose, white shirt, opened halfway down his chest. The wind lifted and swirled her silk nightgown around her legs, and she wondered if the sight of it aroused him, as the glimpse of his bare chest aroused her. She hugged the porch post as he took a step closer.

And then another.

Her spine prickled with fear as well as curiosity and anticipation.

Oh, God. He’s coming closer.

Claire locked her gaze with his, stepping away from the post and backing across the porch until her rear bumped into the screen door. He stopped and stared. Mesmerized by his gaze, she felt a mystical pull, some sort of power emanating from him, propelling her closer. That push-pull rivaled the fear she felt in her heart.

He took another step forward. With each step his body became more solid. More real.

Claire shifted sideways and grasped the cold doorknob behind her.

Too close.

A soft ocean breeze blew a dark strand of hair across the man’s face, and suddenly she felt compelled to stroke it from his eyes. She wanted to reach forward, caress his temple, peer into those dark eyes…. She released the doorknob and took a half step forward.

He stood still.

She stepped forward once more— But before she could continue, clouds passed in front of the moon, leaving her in total darkness.

She stood, waiting, the connection broken. Her chest heaved in anticipation. Her pulse raced. Her breathing came in short, shallow gulps. She waited, but when the wind-whipped clouds passed out of the moon-glow’s path, she saw that he had vanished. Nothing but empty black night filled the open space between her cottage and the lighthouse.

Nothing.

Had he ever really been there?

Claire shook her head and blinked. Without fear, and with her heart beating a rapid tattoo, she rushed off the porch steps, turning in circles, her eyes straining through the night, searching.

“Come back here!” she yelled. “Who are you?”

But the night swallowed her plea. Only the ocean winds heard her call. 



Author Bio:
Whether writing traditional contemporary romance or building paranormal worlds, bestselling romance author, Maddie James, pens stories that frequently cross a variety of romantic sub-genres. Sweet or spicy, suspense or comedy, western or time-travel, her heroes and heroines always chase one thing—the happily-ever-after—whether they realize it or not!

A Food Network junkie who plots the way she cooks—by the seat of her pants—Maddie always has a delicious end product in mind (and she always follows a secret recipe!).

Her first book, THE WILD WEST, a Kensington Precious Gems romance, received a Calico Trails Cameo Award. RED: A SEDUCTION TALE, claimed first place as the Romance Book Scene's favorite novella of the year. A four time nominee for a CAPA/Psyche Award from The Romance Studio, Maddie’s books have received numerous 5 Star and Top Pick reviews. Her books have landed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo top-selling lists, and she is frequently listed as a Top 100 Most Popular Contemporary Romance Author at Amazon.

Author Links:

Are You The Winner?

By : Renee Vincent

Below are the following five (5) randomly drawn lucky winners who've won my giveaway. Winners get their choice of THE TEMPERATE WARRIOR, SILENT PARTNER, or THE START OF SOMETHING GOOD in ebook format. See below for specific instructions.

Winners: You have one week to get back with me via email (rv at reneevincent dot com) If I don't hear from you by Monday, April 7th, 2014 I will have to draw a new winner.

Participants: Thank you so much for entering my giveaway and helping me to spread the word about my EMERALD ISLE TRILOGY Boxed Set. If you haven't purchased your copy yet, I encourage you to do so now before the price goes up to $6.99. There's only a few weeks left to get it for 99¢

EMERALD ISLE TRILOGY Boxed Set


AMAZON TOP 10 BESTSELLER VIKING HISTORICAL ROMANCE
AMAZON HOT NEW RELEASE TOP 50 BESTSELLER
AMAZON TOP 100 HISTORICAL ROMANCE BESTSELLER
AMAZON TOP 100 PARANORMAL ROMANCE BESTSELLER


One man risks his life to save her.
Another risks his heart to love her.
Who will be the victor? 

Three of Renee Vincent’s bestselling and critically acclaimed historical Viking romance novels are now available in one spellbinding bundle—yours for only 99¢ (limited time offer)

Full of fast-paced adventure, unforeseen plot twists, and courageous, to-die-for heroes like you’ve never read before, this extraordinary boxed set is sure to satisfy every readers’ craving for the ultimate in historical Viking romance.

Coming Soon!
I also encourage you to join my newsletter because later in April, the next two books in the Jamett & Joseph Series will be releasing and you definitely don't want to miss out on those!


New Release: EMERALD ISLE TRILOGY Boxed Set By Renee Vincent - Only 99¢

By : Renee Vincent

EMERALD ISLE TRILOGY
Boxed Set
By Renee Vincent

AMAZON TOP 10 BESTSELLER VIKING HISTORICAL ROMANCE
AMAZON HOT NEW RELEASE TOP 50 BESTSELLER
AMAZON TOP 100 HISTORICAL ROMANCE BESTSELLER
AMAZON TOP 100 PARANORMAL ROMANCE BESTSELLER


One man risks his life to save her.
Another risks his heart to love her.
Who will be the victor? 

Three of Renee Vincent’s bestselling and critically acclaimed historical Viking romance novels are now available in one spellbinding bundle—yours for only 99¢ (limited time offer)

Full of fast-paced adventure, unforeseen plot twists, and courageous, to-die-for heroes like you’ve never read before, this extraordinary boxed set is sure to satisfy every readers’ craving for the ultimate in historical Viking romance.

Available at:


Ræliksen, Book 1
Mara, the daughter of an Irish clansman, was raised to believe the men of the North are heathens - murderous pagans without a moral bone in their bodies. Despite warnings of the Northmen's raids, and the growing threat of another incursion, Mara is continually drawn to her favorite place - the River Shannon.

Dægan Ræliksen, a wealthy chieftain from Norway's frozen fjords, secretly discovers Mara at the water's edge. He is charmed by her beauty and sensuous grace. As the days pass, his contentment with simply watching her grows thin. He can no longer deny his unabated desire for the young maiden. His search for a wife has ended.

However, Mara and Dægan come face-to-face in a time when Ireland is in turmoil - when every Irishman is being called up to fight against the Nordic foreigners. In these times of upheaval, how can Dægan make peace with Mara's father and acquire the woman he treasures? Furthermore, can Mara move past her fears and find the noble man within the savage?

Teaser Quote:
“You are correct in saying that desires often come from things we cannot easily gain—mine, being that of your love. By all accounts, I do wish I could steal it. But I am not that sort of man. I will wait. Forever and a day…I will wait.”

Reviews:
"This is my first read by Renee Vincent and she has undoubtedly earned a place on my auto-buy author’s list. This book and author earn my highest recommendations and I feel privileged to have read one of the best.”
~ 5 Stars TOP PICK ~ Night Owl Reviews

"…a fast-paced, action-packed historical romance, which Ms. Vincent brings to life right before your eyes; a story you will remember long after the last page is read."
~ 5 Blue Ribbons! ~ Romance Junkies




Mac Liam, Book 2
A tortured soul…
Breandán Mac Liam, the strapping young hunter from Ireland’s lush forests, is in love with Mara, an ineligible beautiful princess. For seven long years, he has been vividly haunted by her memory, taunted by the throes of his heartache. And not even the thought of her marriage to a Northman can extinguish the fierce, burning desire running rampant through his heart and soul.

An innocent heart…
Mara, the spirited Connacht princess, has no idea she is the object of the Irishman’s longing. She is living out her days on Inis Mór, raising a troubled son and trying to endure the cruel loneliness that afflicts her.

A deadly secret…
Ordered by the king on his deathbed, Breandán must return to Mara and bring her through the perilous lands of Connacht to fulfill her father’s last dying wish. But as their worlds collide, Breandán not only finds himself wrapped in the arms of Mara’s embrace, but thrown into a struggle to defend his honor.

With Mara caught between the family she loves and the father she knows, can Breandán uncover the mystery of her past and still protect her from a secret that threatens them all?

Teaser Quote:
“Mara, you are my next breath. You are the reason I breathe at all.”

Reviews:
"This is one fantastic historical…a must-read for anyone who enjoys historical romance and I cannot wait to read the final book of the trilogy as this story has stayed with me days after I read the last word."
~ 5 Hearts "5 Heart Sweetheart Award" ~ The Romance Studio

“Ms. Vincent surpassed all of my expectations with her impressive writing abilities, while offering more incites and revelations that will keep readers coming back for more. Readers should be warned of the emotional turmoil they will face once again while reading this incredible story. I eagerly anticipate the next story in this trilogy, yet already mourn the finality."
~ 5 Stars TOP PICK ~ Night Owl Reviews


The Fall of Rain, Book 3
Leif Dæganssen, an archeologist from Norway, is determined to trace back his Scandinavian roots as far as the Dark Ages and find proof of their existence on the Emerald Isle. After several years of living off the west coast of Ireland, he finally uncovers an ancient artifact—an intricately decorated chest with pagan carvings—buried beneath the very porch of his coastal cottage. Knowing it only confirms the presence of a glorified Norse-influenced settlement on Inis Mór, he’s determined to establish a link between himself and those who once inhabited the rugged isle.

For as long as she can remember, Lorraine O’Connor has had dreams of a Norse warrior kissing her. And even though she’s never fully understood the reason for her vivid subconscious imagination, she welcomes the meaningless and wanton pleasure of being in a Viking’s protective embrace—until the day she meets that brazen Northman on an impulsive vacation trip to Ireland.

Though blindsided by the relevance of her dreams and the strange familiarity of the man within them, Lorraine can’t help but feel a deep-seated intimacy toward Leif. And the more she gets to know him, the more she’s convinced they’ve shared a life together in a time long forgotten.

Are the clues to their ancestral past hidden within the contents of the chest or buried deep within their hearts?

Teaser Quote:
“What Lorraine has told you is the honest truth. There’s no denying who you are. But until you go in that house and dig up the evidence for yourself, you’ll never know who you used to be. Oh, I know you’ll realize it one day. By then, I fear it’ll be too late. So, don’t be a fool and let the only woman you’ve ever loved slip through your grasp. Three days, Leif.”

Reviews:
"I didn't believe it was possible to take Daegan and Mara's incredible love story to another level, but I am extremely pleased to be wrong. Every word seemed to have a purpose in helping create a beautiful and poetic ending to an unforgettable trilogy. If you've never heard of the name Renee Vincent then you're missing out on quality reading that's worth every second of your undivided attention. It's an escapists dream and I will most certainly be back for more."
~ 5 Stars TOP PICK ~ Night Owl Reviews

"An ingenious ending to an amazing trilogy! This series has become my all-time favorite."
~ 5 Blue Ribbons ~ Romance Junkies


Author Bio:
RENEE VINCENT is a bestselling Contemporary & Historical Romance Author. From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you’ll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.

She also writes lighthearted, fancy-free Chick Lit Romance as GRACIE LEE ROSE. For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories (with a smidgen of spunk) that your mother, sisters, friends, and daughters can enjoy.

Author Links:
http://www.reneevincent.com/
http://www.pasttheprint.blogspot.com/
http://www.twitter.com/ReneeVincent
http://www.facebook.com/reneevincentauthor
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3005290.Renee_Vincent

Newsletter Sign-up:
http://www.reneevincent.com/p/contact.html

Release Day Blitz: TAKEN by Felica Starr

By : Renee Vincent

Taken
By Felicia Starr

Series: Breaking the Darkness #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Publication Date: March 11, 2014

You must betray your heart and walk amongst the darkness in order to find the truest light.

Blurb:
Opening her eyes to an imposing prison of complete darkness, Kasha is accused of possessing powers and abilities she had no previous knowledge of until the moment she comes face to face with herself while meditating. Haunted by memories strung together by lies and deceit, she soon discovers that maybe her beloved grandmother kept a few secrets she hadn’t been aware of. Secrets that could be her salvation… or her undoing. As she struggles to control her newfound powers, only time will tell if they will be enough to help her decipher who has imprisoned her or what they want from her. She must search for the answers and the freedom she so desperately desires. Could a handsome guy who vows to help her get away prove to be the man of her dreams… or perhaps her worst nightmare?

Not knowing who to trust, she must find a way to escape before she pays the ultimate price and finds herself taken by the darkness.


What others are saying:
"Readers, don't hesitate to put this page-turner on your TBR list...Felicia, GREAT piece of writing and I look forward to Book 2." - Goodreads Reader

"Taken is officially on my list of favorites. I have not been this fired up by a new Author in a while." - Goodreads Reader

"If your looking for a paranormal story that is not like any other, this book is for you!" - Goodreads Reader

Author Bio:
Author Felicia Starr lives five miles from her favorite Jersey Shore destination with her amazingly supportive family. She loves to spend time creating special memories with her husband and two young boys.

Everyone expected her first publication to be a cookbook, but her love for writing has surpassed her love for cooking.

Felicia graduated magna cum laude from Kean University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a post baccalaureate in elementary education. She is a licensed real estate sales person, a certified yoga instructor, and most importantly, a stay-at-home mom.

Author Links:
http://feliciastarr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/FeliciaStarrAuthor
https://twitter.com/FeliciaStarr111

Meet erotic romance author Tina Donahue and enter her giveaway!

By : Renee Vincent


Seven Sensuous Days
Appointment With Pleasure Series - Book 4

Genre: Erotic Contemporary
Available at: Ellora’s Cave
Release: March 5

 At an erotic auction, she’s his to bid on…to take…to command.

Blurb:
The night’s sultry, filled with carnal promise as Tessa participates in an agency event to raise money for charity. She’s chained and bared—as women were once displayed for a sultan’s harem—her sweet looks and full figure offered to the wealthy and powerful men. 

Among them is Logan. To him, Tessa is so different from his late wife, the seemingly perfect female who cruelly stole his hope and future. Wanting only to forget and have a good time, he wins Tessa, demanding she be his in every way possible, engaging in all wanton acts, though not only for an evening…for seven sensuous days at his secluded Virginia estate.

A provocative proposal with such a dangerously virile man.

A week that changes everything, with Tessa’s exquisite vulnerability and Logan’s suddenly unquenchable desire more than either bargained for.

Excerpt:

Music swelled, drums drowning out what had sounded like flutes and a female voice trilling something. Blood pounded in Tessa’s ears, muting it all. With her face lowered, all she could see was the purplish sheen of her cape. She sensed the panels in front of her parting, the stage displayed. Beyond it were a series of steps descending to a stone walkway flanked with splashing fountains, which eventually led to the crowd…the one man who was supposed to win her for an evening.
A full day was reserved for goddesses like Felicity. With her participation in this event, Ronnie would probably have enough funds to build a community college for young women.
The microphone screeched with brief feedback. Tessa made a face. Ronnie said something Tessa didn’t quite catch.
She bit her bottom lip, and decided to hell with it. She was going to take Felicity’s advice and fantasize.
“He’s dark and dangerous,” Felicity had said.
His features would be masculine, strong, slightly rough, his face shadowed with his coming beard. No, wait. He’d have a mustache and a closely cropped goatee, that hair as dark as his eyebrows. His eyes would be black, piercing, his skin a deep bronze, his lips satiny, his mouth full and rich.
He’d move into her with a right given him by birth, as a ruler. As a male. Looking down at her, he’d smile, shameless lust transforming his features, making him seem even more dangerous. Sex would be on his terms. He’d take her in any manner he chose. Orally, vaginally, anally, his strength precluding escape, his stiffened cock demanding its due, all that she could—
Tessa’s cunt stopped aching with need as her hood fell away. Or rather, Brian had pulled it back. Instinctively, she lifted her head, her attention darting everywhere, much as she suspected a real captive would have behaved, not knowing what to expect. A part of her mind recorded water spraying from the fountains, the again-subdued music, rich and seductive. Ronnie’s voice. The muted conversations of the ladies with their so-called masters.
Those men who hadn’t yet made their selections were quiet. Tessa regarded each. Some were listening to Ronnie. Others glanced at Tessa’s cloak, no doubt wanting it off.
With a flourish, Brian complied and pulled the thing from her, then lifted her arms above her head, securing her shackled wrists to the column.
Tessa stiffened at being exposed in every way possible. There was no hiding her nudity or expression up here, not with the lights trained on her. They weren’t fully intrusive, just enough illumination to exhibit, making her the brightest spot among all the shadows and the torches’ flickering flames. The toasty breeze skimmed the faint moisture on her cunt and licked her nipples, puckering them even more so that the tips appeared that much longer. Areas Felicity’s makeup had accentuated.
Perspiration prickled Tessa’s neck. Her heart beat out of time, the pose she struck both daunting and oddly arousing. There was absolutely nothing to compare to this…being chained and displayed. A sensation of delicious helplessness. Intense vulnerability.
Especially as no one spoke up.
Oh no.
Embarrassment drove heat to Tessa’s throat and cheeks. The music played on and on. Each second crawled by while her mind raced. Would her part in the auction stop when the piece ended even though no one had offered a price? Would Ronnie call for an intermission then, or would she want to continue with the rest of the event as quickly as—
Someone called out a bid.
Tessa’s heart paused. She hadn’t hear the amount. It didn’t matter. One man, at least, craved her.
Who? She studied the audience. A guy, forty or so, smiled with kindness, rather than lust, no doubt sensing and seeing her uncertainty. She offered her own smile in return, liking his sympathetic manner, wondering if he was the one who’d bid on her.
No. He’d already turned to the server and was now pointing at his drink as though he wanted a new one more than anything else.
So who had made the offer?
Another client kept looking from her to Ronnie. Others took a moment to study the program, see who was coming up next.
That would be Felicity. For her, the men would shout over each other, demanding to be heard, letting the money flow freely.
Another bid rang out.
Completely surprised, Tessa continued to regard the crowd, her attention drawn finally, almost irresistibly, to Logan Kincaid.
She forgot to breathe.
Someone had relit the torch nearest his table. Its bobbing light bathed him in a warm golden glow.
Tessa’s body softened.
Young—thirties or so, just as she’d thought—he wore his dark brown hair longish on the top and sides, combed away from his face. His features were rugged, deliciously masculine, especially his shadow of beard. Tessa had no doubt those short bristles would be rough to the touch, a wonderful contradiction to the silkiness of his lips, his generous mouth. A man’s mouth.
Warmth sluiced through her again, the heat soothing this time. Arousing.
He wore a beige blazer that went well with his tan complexion, his white shirt opened at the collar. Decidedly relaxed. The same as his demeanor. He lowered his drink…whiskey or bourbon…from here it was impossible for her to tell. He glanced at his watch, then surveyed the crowd, not her.
Ronnie took another bid.
With a neutral expression, Logan regarded the man who’d made it.
Tessa didn’t bother to look. She focused on Logan.
Another bid followed the last. As if to determine why, Logan finally glanced at the stage.
Tessa’s pulse pounded. Her legs felt watery.
His attention swept upward from the ridiculous shoes she wore to her naked calves and thighs. He studied her exposed cunt and glittering body jewelry for a moment, then continued to her bared breasts, viewing them briefly before he at last reached her eyes.
There, he stopped, as though he hadn’t meant to. There, he lingered.

Other books in the Appointment with Pleasure series:
Claiming Magique – Book One
Losing Control – Book Two
Illicit Intent – Book Three



Author Bio:
Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and Kensington. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic romances (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose her erotic romance Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011 and 2012). Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. She was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

Author Links:

CONTEST DETAILS:
Tina will choose one commenter as her winner. Winner gets her choice of one of Tina’s award-winning, bestselling ebooks from this list:

1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
6. The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller
7. Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books
8. Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR
9. SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR
10. Sinfully Wicked – Magnificent – Romancing the Book
11. Claiming Magique – Top Pick – NOR
12. Illicit Desire – Four Stars Romantic Times
13. Come Fill Me – Five Stars – Guilty Pleasures

Erotic romance author Maggie Wells - THE ART LOVER now FREE at Amazon!

By : Renee Vincent



The Art Lover

Available at Amazon
Retail Price: $0.99 
Promotional Price: FREE March 3-7, 2014

A story made vivid by passion.

Blurb:
Starving artist Kelsey Tecato takes being The Templeton Museum's artist in residence a little too literally. By day, she puts on a show of painting for the crowds that shuffle through the galleries, but at night, her muse runs wild.

Mitch Jameson is a guy's guy. A cop moonlighting as a security guard, he has little use for the artsy-fartsy stuff, but the mysterious Ms. Tecato's sexy portraits call to him.

So does an interior alarm.

When Officer Jameson goes to investigate, he finds a paint-splattered goddess working on a self-portrait--in the nude.

A couple tubes of paint and a roll in the drop cloths later, free-spirited Kelsey helps Officer Jameson discover his passion for art.

Excerpt:
His gaze traveled over the discreet placard affixed to the wall, but he’d already memorized the pertinent facts. The paintings were created by someone named Kelsey Tecato, the museum’s ‘Artist in Residence’.

Coming on shift as the museum closed for the day, he’d searched the faces of museum patrons and employees as they straggled past the security station, but he’d yet to spot the one that matched the headshot of a studious-looking brunette featured in the museum brochure. When he oh-so-casually posed the question to Bert, he learned that meant Ms. Tecato’s art was being subsidized in exchange for her participation in demonstrations and exhibitions sponsored by the museum board. The knowing twinkle in the older man’s eyes when he clarified that the ‘in residence’ part didn’t refer to the artist’s living situation was enough to make him drop the subject. Bert was too damn nosy for a guy who never managed to pass the detective’s exam.

Forcing himself to put one foot in front of the other, he left the provocative portraits behind and turned toward the west end of the building. The Templeton rambled for nearly a city block but most of the space went unused. Exhibits occupied the open center space of the two-story building joined by a pair of sweeping marble staircases. The east side had been converted to classroom space decades before, but the warren of tiny rooms on the west end were primarily administrative offices and storage.

His heart started to pound when he picked up the murmur of a deep voice. Shifting the flashlight to his left hand, Mitch reached for his sidearm and came up empty. He was a guard tonight, not a cop. His service weapon was locked up safe in his apartment. At the end of the corridor he pulled up short, pressing his back against the wall and tightening his grip on the flashlight. He wore a panic button clipped to his belt but his instincts told him he wasn’t at the panic stage yet. Breathing soft and slow, he closed his eyes and focused his energy on catching a few words. Perhaps he could figure out what the intruders were after before making his presence known.

Thirty seconds passed. His eyes popped open then rolled heavenward as the droning voice segued into a bouncy pop song. The radio. Someone had left a radio playing in one of the offices. Shaking off the rush of adrenaline, Mitch pushed away from the wall and rounded the corner, only to come to a dead stop when he saw the fan of light spilling from the office at the very end of the hall.

Two things he knew for certain: the radio hadn’t been playing when he’d made his post-closing rounds, and that door on the end of the corridor hadn’t been open. He let the barrel of the flashlight slip through his fingers until he gripped the lamp. Wielding his only weapon like a club, he crept toward the door as silently as a guy who clocked in at six-four and two-ten could. Just outside the office, he caught a flash of movement inside the room and quickly pressed his back to the wall.

“About time you showed up.”

A woman. The intruder was a woman and she’d been expecting him. Irked by the presumptuous amusement in her tone, he stepped into the open doorway, prepared to let her have it, and almost swallowed his tongue.

Screw the flashing red lights. Alarm bells clamored in his head the moment recognition clicked. Kelsey Tecato. Artist in Residence. Painter of hard-on-inducing nudes. Live and in person, standing in the Templeton Museum after hours.

And naked as the day she was born.


Author Bio:
Multi-published author, Maggie Wells, is a deep-down dirty girl with a weakness for hot heroes and happy endings. By day she is buried in spreadsheets, but at night she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, this mild-mannered married lady has a naughty streak a mile wide.

Fueled by supertankers of Diet Coke, Maggie juggles fictional romance and the real deal by keeping her slow-talking Southern gentleman constantly amused and their two children mildly embarrassed. They are the food purveyors to three dogs, a passel of fish, and one impertinent house rabbit she claims is the love of her life. Shh. Don’t tell her husband.

Author Links:
http://maggie-wells.com/
http://maggie-wells.com/maggies-musings/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaggieWells?ref=hl
https://twitter.com/MaggieWells1
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1482834.Maggie_Wells

Meet romance author Ute Carbone and enter her giveaway!

By : Renee Vincent


Dancing in the White Room

Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Available at: Amazon | B&N | Turquoise Morning Press | Kobo

Blurb:
Dancing in the white room is slang for skiing or boarding in deep powder snow. The dancer is PD Bell, one of the best extreme skiers on the planet. Mallory Prescott, the woman who lives with him and loves him, is used to Bell’s exploits. A patrol woman at Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid, New York, Mallory is no stranger to risk. But this time Bell is taking on the West Rib of Denali, highest and most dangerous mountain in North America. It’s a descent that has never been done, though it’s been tried. Five years ago, Bell had tried it. The attempt nearly killed him. Five years ago, he promised Mallory he wouldn’t try it again.

Over the six weeks in which he’s gone, Mallory begins to question her relationship with Bell. Does he really love her? Is he in it for the duration? What has loving him cost her? Mallory’s life choices are thrown into stark relief when her daughter Emily takes a terrible fall. Together with her life-long friend Creech Creches, she must work her way through a maze of uncharted territory at a hospital miles from home.

Dancing in the White Room is the story of the love we keep, the price we pay for that love, and the forgiveness it takes to hold on to what is precious.

The ABC of Ski Talk

Dancing in the White Room is set in and around skiing. The sport, like almost any other activity you can think of, has its own terminology. Here’s a primer to get you started.

A is for Alpine—Alpine skiing is another word for downhill skiing. It’s usually done at a ski area with lifts and tows.

B is for Bunny Slope—The easiest run down the hill, the place where beginners learn to ski.

C is for Couloirs—A French word meaning ‘corridor’ a couloirs is a very steep and narrow run, usually through a gully (or chute) with rocks on either side

D is for Dixie—a slang term for taking a fall.

E is for Edge—The sharp metal strip on the side of the ski used for carving turns. Skiers set the edge to the snow and then hold the edge to make a turn.

F is for Fall Line—The most direct line down a trail, if you fall, you will slide in this direction.

G is for Glade—a trail through trees

H is for Herringbone—climbing uphill with skis in a V- shape to keep from sliding backwards. Doing this makes a herringbone pattern in the snow.

I is for In-bounds—Inside the boundaries of a ski area or resort (as opposed to out –of- bounds)

J is for J-Bar—a kind of ski lift shaped like a j, that pushes the skier up the hill

K is for Kicker—A wedge-shaped jump used in aerial skiing

L is for Liftie—a slang term for a ski lift operator

M is for Mogul—Bumps in the snow, commonly caused by skiers turns, although they can be manufactured to make a mogul field or mogul run.

N is for Nordic—a term for cross-country skiing. Nordic skis have bindings that allow the heel to lift off the ski.

O is for Off-Piste—backcountry skiing on areas not marked by a trail map.

P is for Powder—Light, fluffy snow, which makes for the best ski conditions.

Q is for Quad—a chairlift that can carry four people.

R is for Runout—a relatively flat area at the bottom of a run that allows racers to slow down.

S is for Snowplow—a beginner’s technique for slowing down and turning by putting the tips of the skis close together and the backs apart to create a wedge. Also called a pizza.

T is for Traverse—skiing across the hill in a zig-zag pattern.

U is for Uphill—okay, this is cheating, as uphill isn’t really a ski term. Though, I’d guess it could be used.

V is for Vertical Drop—The distance between the base of the mountain and the peak.

W is for White Room—a slang term used to describe deep powder snow. Dancing in the White Room, means skiing through deep powder.

X—has no ski terms

Y is for Yard Sale—a slang term for a crash where the skier’s (or boarder’s) gear ends up scattered over the slope.

Z is for Zipper Line- a slang term for the fastest route through a mogul field.


Author Bio:
Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is an award winning author of women’s fiction, comedy, and romance. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where she spends her days walking, eating chocolate and dreaming up stories.



Other Books and Stories
by Ute Carbone:





Author Links:
http://www.utecarbone.com/
http://ute-carbone.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ute-Carbone/234417796596443
https://twitter.com/Wildwords2


Meet romance author Sally Clements and her steamy new release!

By : Renee Vincent


Three Minutes to Happiness
The Logans, Book 2

Genre: Chick-lit/Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Categories: Comedy
Publisher: Sally Clements
Release Date: February 1, 2014
Word Count: 47,000
Heat Rating: Steamy

Available at: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Blurb:
Photographer Valentine Jones doesn’t believe in love, but when her romantic friend Maggie drags her along to a speed dating event, she finds herself reluctantly attracted to architect Finn Logan. Against her better instincts, she ticks yes on her scorecard to seeing him again. He never calls.

Finn shouldn’t have flirted with Val at the speed dating event. He was there to chaperone his wayward niece, not find another girlfriend – he has two already. When he meets Val again at his cousin’s wedding, he tries to explain, and ends up kissing her instead.

Finn’s company need a photographer to nail an important contract, and Val needs the job. Before long, Finn has dissolved his harem, and persuaded Val into his bed. She’s all for a quick fling, but nothing more – a ruined marriage has taught her that love is an illusion. But Finn’s ruthless pursuit is making her change her mind, until the party at his parents’ house that changes everything…


Excerpt:
His mouth lowered to hers, tasting her soft lips in a move that was as inevitable as it was unavoidable. Her soft sigh as he moved to shield her from view ignited his desire to boiling point. Her lips parted, and his tongue slipped between them, tangling with hers.

His thumb stroked her cheek.

Her hand curled around his collar, holding him in place.

When he finally pulled back, they were both breathing hard, as if they’d run a marathon.

“This is crazy.” Her voice was husky. “I don’t even know you.”

He couldn’t let her go. No matter that he wasn’t the man for her. Love and happy ever after weren’t on his agenda, but at the same time, turning his back on Val was damn near impossible, especially after that kiss. “That’s easily remedied.” He reached for her hand. “I know you went to the speed dating event looking for a partner, that’s why I didn’t call. I’m not the forever kind.”

“So you’re a love ’em and leave ’em type, are you?”

Her words sounded flippant, but her eyes were serious.

“I don’t lie. I have relationships, but not serious ones.”

“Monogamous?”

For the first time ever Finn felt seedy, admitting his lifestyle. “Not usually.”

Val’s eyebrows rose. “And your women…they’re okay with that?”

“It’s worked fine so far.”

Val crossed her arms. “Well, that’s a deal breaker for me. I’m not interested in a part-time lover.”

Disappointment settled in Finn’s chest. “So you’re looking for hearts and flowers, true love and marriage. Happy ever after. A tall order for a speed dating event.”

“I was dragged along too.” The corner of Val’s mouth tilted in a rueful smile. “My friend wanted to go, and didn’t want to be alone.”

“But you wanted to meet someone.” Maybe she had, maybe he wasn’t the only man she’d wanted to go on a date with. The thought sent a flash of some alien emotion through him.

“Not really.” Val rubbed her bare ring finger. “I think love is vastly over-rated.”

Finn touched her upper arm. “So we have something in common.”

Val nodded. “True love is an illusion.”

Finn thought of his mother. Her belief in true love was so strong she’d be shocked rigid at Val’s words. “I’m not looking for love.” His voice sounded harsh. “But I want to see you again.”

Val swallowed. “I’m not interested in being part of a harem.”

If only they didn’t have to be at this damn wedding. Finn wanted to pull her into his arms and kiss her again. Go for dinner, stare into her captivating eyes, and discover more about her. They were both adults, neither of them were looking for happy ever after, and both obviously were under the spell of a powerful attraction that it would be a sin to deny.

Val glanced at the slim watch strapped around her wrist. “God, I have to take the rest of the photos, the guests will be going in for the wedding breakfast soon.”

Finn’s hand fell to his side. He took a step back and held his glass to her camera. “Take my photo.”

Author Bio:
Sally Clements writes fun, sexy and real contemporary romance, partnering hot heros with heroines that know what they want, and go for it! She’s a voracious reader, and considers writing for a living the perfect job—the only downside is saying goodbye to her characters at book’s end!

Author Links:
http://www.sallyclements.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sally-Clements-Romance-Writer/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4209647.Sally_Clements
https://twitter.com/Sallywriter

Meet romance author Colette Freedman!

By : Renee Vincent
Tell us about your new release, Colette.
The Consequences is the sequel to my previous book, The Affair. Whereas the first book was about the wife’s discovery of her husband’s affair, this looks at the consequences to that discovery. Usually, there are two sides to every story: his and hers. But in an affair, there are three: hers, his and hers.

The Affair takes place in the week leading up to Christmas, with everything coming to a head on Christmas Eve. The Consequences takes place in the following week, in the days leading up to New Year.

What kind of hero is Robert? Was there someone famous he resembled when you wrote him? Or is he based off someone you personally know?
The three principals in the book are Kathy the wife, Robert the husband and Stephanie, the mistress. Robert is an anti hero, but he’s not an out-and-out villain. When I was doing the research for the book, I discovered that affairs were all about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Robert is a likable, albeit, flawed character. He’s been married for sixteen years and has an affair. Although his choices are not good, he is still charming and idealistic. Like all good characters, he is based on a number of people I know. If there were a film version of The Consequences, Colin Firth would be my first pick.

If you could sum up your new release with three words, what would they be?
Repercussions of Infidelity

What are your favorite hero traits that you cannot resist?
I cannot resist a hero who is intrepid, generous, compassionate, loyal and kind. I just saw Frozen and the dual heroines have these traits as well. What I love about good heroic traits is that they are not gender specific.

As an author and essentially the “creator” of your hero, do you find yourself attached to him in a personal way? (Can you admit to loving him?)
You cannot always love the characters you write about, but you do have to like them, You’re going to be living with them for at least a year!

Does your heroine, take after you? Or is she someone you wish you could be?
Both women were created based on a series of interviews with women who had been involved in affairs as either the wife or the mistress. They are strong, proud decisive women. There is a perception that wives who have been cheated on are weak or blind or that mistresses are conniving. These are clichés, and neither women in the book are clichéd characters.

I love how they both react – differently, but in many ways, identically – when the affair is revealed. I would hope that any woman would have their courage and compassion if they ever found themselves in that situation.

What was the craziest thing you’ve ever done when it came to a storyline in your book?
One of the craziest things I did when I was researching this book was deciding – on a whim – to travel to Wisconsin in the week leading up to Christmas. This mirrors what Stephanie does at the opening of The Consequences. Having spent my childhood in Wisconsin, I was thinking it would be mostly a nostalgic visit; however, most of the time I was so cold that I couldn’t think straight!

Is there a certain time of day you prefer to write?
I am a morning writer. Living in LA, several of my friends are screenwriters and prefer to work in the quiet hours of the late evening into the wee hours of the early morning. I like to get up, make a pot of coffee and write. I feel like my brain is sharpest between 8 and 12. Friends know not to disturb me during those hours.

Because I usually work on two projects together, I will break for lunch, walk my dogs and settle into my afternoon project. I try and keep the evenings free for friends and theatre. It doesn’t always work out so neatly, but that’s the rough plan.

Some quickies:
Reading or TV? Both. I am both an avid reader as well as a tv junkie.

Hand written letter or Homemade meal? Homemade meal. I love to eat and since I do everything on the computer, my handwriting is dreadful.

Swimming pools or Hot tubs? Both. Wow, I am sounding indecisive. I train for triathlons in a pool; however, nothing beats a soak in a hot tub at the end of a long day.

Hot or Cold? Hot. Growing up in the midwest and east coast and settling in California, I choose hot. Every time, hot.

Denim or Leather? When I’m dieting, leather. Otherwise, forgiving denim.

Sleeping bag or Bed? Bed! Who over forty picks sleeping bag?

Hero or Heroine? Heroine. Write what you know!


The Consequences

Available at Amazon | B&N

Blurb:
The end of an affair may be only the beginning. . .
Over the course of one tumultuous Christmas Eve, Kathy Walker confirmed her suspicions about her husband's affair, confronted his mistress, Stephanie, and saved her marriage. She and Robert have eighteen years, two teenagers, and a film production business between them--plus a bond that Kathy has no intention of giving up on. Yet though Robert is contrite, Kathy can't quite silence her doubts.

While Robert reels from his wife's ultimatum and his mistress's rejection, Stephanie makes a discovery: she's pregnant. Her resolve to stay away from Robert wavers now that they could make a real family together. And in the days that follow, Stephanie, Robert, and Kathy must each reckon with the intricate realities of desire, the repercussions of betrayal, and the secrets that, once revealed, ripple through lives and relationships in thoroughly unexpected ways.



Author Bio:
COLETTE FREEDMAN - An internationally produced playwright with over 25 produced plays, Colette was voted “One of 50 to Watch” by The Dramatist’s Guild.

Her play Sister Cities was the hit of the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe and earned five star reviews: It has been produced around the country and internationally, fourteen times including Paris (Une Ville, Une Soeur) and Rome (Le Quattro Sorelle). The film version has been optioned and is in pre production.

She has co-written, with International bestselling novelistJackie Collins, the play Jackie Collins Hollywood Lies, which is gearing up for a National Tour. In collaboration with The New York Times best selling author Michael Scott, she wrote the thriller The Thirteen Hallows (Tor/Macmillan).

Her novel The Affair (Kensington) came out January 29, 2013. The play of the novel earned both critical and commercial success as it toured Italy February through May 2013.

Her novel The Consequences (Kensington) came out January 28, 2014

Author Links:
www.colettefreedman.com
Twitter: twitter.com/ColetteFreedman
Pinterest: pinterest.com/colettefreedman

Meet romance author Petie McCarty and enter her giveaway!

By : Renee Vincent

Tell us about your new release.
 Thank you for allowing me to spend time with your Deep in the Heart of Romance readers! I'm Petie McCarty, and I write contemporary romances tinged with action-adventure, suspense, or paranormal elements.

My December release Angel to the Rescue is the second of the Hidden Angel Romances -- love stories with an angel hidden in the plot. The angel's identity isn't revealed until the finale unless the reader figures it out first.  J  The first Hidden Angel Romance -- No Going Back -- was recently selected as a 2014 EPIC eBook Award finalist. These stories are contemporary romances with paranormal elements, and not inspirational romances as readers often think because of the angel's presence in the book.

In Angel to the Rescue, child psychologist Hope Kelly is forced to put some distance between herself and her fiancé Lt. Jake Dillon or risk him marrying her out of obligation rather than for love. To stave off the pain of her separation, she loses herself in her work and counseling her three new clients. Yet when a gun-wielding stalker tries to crash her Christmas party and take Hope and her young clients hostage, her fiancé is the one Hope calls instead of 9-1-1. Jake is the police negotiator, and the best there is.

But Jake falters badly at the sight of a gun held to Rachel's head. Terror slams a boot on his neck, and Jake's profiler instincts are badly compromised. Time is running out. If he can't take down the hostage taker, he will need the angel that Hope's little client claims is close by.

Why is the setting to your story so important?
The setting can often carry the same impact as a secondary character in your story. A majority of the action throughout Angel to the Rescue centers around child psychologist Hope Kelly's office. This is where we get to know the three "special" clients she takes on -- two suspected abuse cases and a six-year-old boy who can see angels. This is also where the hostage crisis unfolds, so her office suite needed just the right building, all glass, opaque by day and transparent by night, and surrounded by lush landscaping. This particular setting accomplished several key action goals:  1. Allows the hostage taker to cruise the property and enter the building undetected; 2. Allows the police negotiator and his Special Ops techs to maneuver outside without being seen by the hostage taker; and 3. Allows the police negotiator to observe the hostage taker in the suite at night.

If there's one thing your hero in Angel to the Rescue would like to keep under wraps (either from the heroine or from the whole world), what would it be?
 Lt. Jake Dillon had been a police officer for most of his professional life, and "protect and serve" was more a way of life for him than a philosophical police motto. Jake always had to be the one to charge in -- fearless -- and rescue the helpless or injured. Only this time his plan backfires.

When the hostage crisis erupts, he can't afford to let Rachel or the children locked in her office with her know that Jake froze up at the sight of a gun pointed at Rachel's head. Icy terror had paralyzed him, had frozen him immobile with no plan or solution allowed to filter into his brain. Jake was literally flying blind at the offset of the crisis and not in control as he had insisted to both Rachel and the hostage taker when Jake made the initial call into her office. The hostages would be even more terrified if they knew, and to make matters dicier, Jake knew he couldn't take a chance on waiting for the police to arrive as they could spook the gunman. Any good police negotiator knew a spooked gunman could start shooting.

What was the craziest thing you've ever done when it came to a storyline in your book?
When I was writing Angel to the Rescue, I realized I needed to know what type of gun my police negotiator would carry as his standard police-issue sidearm, and after a bit of research, found that police gun choice varies from state to state and between large metropolitan cities and small towns. So, I stopped a deputy in Chili's at lunch one day -- stuck my arm out in the aisle to stop him, actually -- and asked what the standard-issue sidearm was for our Sheriff's department. That got me the Sheriff's version of a "stink-eye" once-over until I explained that I wrote novels and was asking the question for research. Of course, I got a different look altogether when I said, "whip yours out and let me have a look." Poor choice of words, no doubt.

What was the first book you ever published?
My debut novel Everglades was published by Desert Breeze in May 2012 [and was rereleased in paperback in July 2013], followed by Catch of the Day in November of that same year.
In Everglades, Photojournalist Kayli Heddon is sent on an airboat safari for a photo essay and gets stranded deep in the Everglades with her ruggedly handsome guide. She is forced to learn some tough lessons -- namely, trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass and a skilled partner can make all the difference in her survival. (See my favorite hero question.)

In Catch of the Day, Cody Ryan gets way more than she bargained for on vacation when she enters the annual all-male  Loon Lake Tournament and finds herself paired with a sexy Coast Guard captain who is stalked by Colombian drug dealers.

If you could actually meet the hero of one of your books, the exact man you've conjured up in both looks and personality, which one would it be and why?
Skye Landers -- hands down. He's the hero in Everglades and agrees to take the airboat safari into the famed River of Grass as a favor to his cousin Jimmy who got called out of town and couldn't take the gig. Skye grew up with Jimmy in the Everglades, so he knows what he's doing, but the heroine thinks she's in charge of the expedition, and that's when the sensual sparks start to fly. Alpha male and spunky female -- what a match!

I spent two years of my career surveying Florida waterways by airboat, one of the most exciting and dangerous modes of transportation ever created. I mean, there you have a sixty-inch propeller going around three feet behind your head and only a chain link fence in place to protect you if the propeller ever comes loose. Perfect place for a take-charge alpha hero.

I never once got a hunky airboat driver when I did my survey work, so in Everglades, I got to create my own. And I did a mighty fine job, if I do say so myself. I hope you check him out and fall in love with him -- just like I did.  *grin*

Some quickies: 
Reading or TV?
Reading -- this is my treat for the last two hours of the day[ after writing at night and on the weekends]. My only TV is fairly restricted to certain sporting events -- UCF football, FSU football, Orlando Magic games and other NBA games of note.

Fireplace or Bonfire?
Either one. Both are perfect "cuddle" opportunities with my sweetheart. Definite smooch possibilities.

Irish or Italian?
Are you kidding me? McCarty? Irish of course. The accent drives me wild.

Kilts or Leather Pants?
Kilts, always kilts. Gotta love the Highlanders!

Chiseled Jaw or chiseled abs?
Definitely write my heroes with chiseled abs. Even when you're angry with the owner, they're fun to ogle.

Mountains or Beach?
Love both equally. The Grand Tetons in Wyoming and Siesta Key in Florida are both a little bit of heaven for me.

Picnic in the park or dancing in the club?
Definitely a picnic in the park, ants and all. There's always smooch possibilities. Are we seeing a common thread here with smooch possibilities? LOL


Angel To The Rescue

Available at:

Blurb:
Child psychologist Rachel Kelly isn't quite sure how to handle the situation with her newest client -- a six-year-old boy who says he can talk to angels and one is coming to help Rachel. She already has her hands full of trouble this Christmas season, and things quickly take a turn for the worse when a stalker crashes Rachel's Christmas party and takes her young clients hostage.

Police negotiator, Lt. Jake Dillon, walked away from his fiancée Rachel when she suddenly balked at having kids. His kids. Yet when the hostage crisis erupts, Rachel calls Jake first. Now he has a choice to make -- stand back and wait for the cavalry to save Rachel or step in and try to save her himself. Time is running out, and Jake may be their only chance for rescue.

Unless Rachel's little angel-spying client is telling the truth…

Excerpt:
Rachel raised a finger to press the doorbell, and the front door jerked open. Startled, she jumped back.

"Are you gonna ring the damn bell or just stare at it all afternoon?" a grizzled-looking Jake asked.

His hair stuck out all over, and he had a two-day growth of beard that gave him a dangerous look -- that and the black tee-shirt and sweats he had on.

He bent down until they were almost nose to nose. "Well?"

"Oh… Um… Y-yes, I was going to press the bell, but now the door's open."

He straightened, his expression grim. "First Wally and now you."

"What?"

"Wally came by earlier to save me from my depressing thoughts." He stepped back and held the door wide. "I assume that's why you're here. You coming in?"

"Oh, yes." Her heart was beating so hard she feared he could see the pulse vibrate in her neck. He looked so sexy all rumpled up like that, and her fingertips started tingling again -- wanting to touch him anywhere to complete the connection.

She stepped past him and reminded herself she was only here today as a friend and a counselor.

As though he read her mind, Jake said, "You'd only come to my apartment if you thought I was sick or needed help, right?"

"Yes -- I mean, no." She turned to face him and saw the pain in his eyes. "I mean, I--"

Pain from the Buckhead crisis or pain from her?

"Which is it?" he asked flatly.

She should have known this wouldn't be easy.

"I went by the station first."

That apparently surprised him. He recovered quickly. "I'm still waiting for the why."

"You'd called in sick. I wanted to see if you needed--"

"Needed what, Rachel? You?" He closed the door, and the room suddenly seemed quite small. And quite dark -- all the blinds were pulled and the only light came from the nearby television.

"I thought maybe you'd need to talk about--"

She stopped. He had taken two steps closer, and she couldn't think. She took a deep and very audible breath.

"You've never been at a loss for words before, Rachel."

"We've never been broken up before," she blurted.

His eyes widened noticeably, then darkened. At least she thought they did -- tough to tell by TV light.

"You're right," he said hoarsely. "How do you like it?"

"I don't."

"Me neither," he growled.

Stay on track. Remember why you're here.

"Jake, I came by to see you because of the Buckhead crisis."

"I figured as much."

She could've sworn he looked disappointed for a fleeting moment. That gave her the courage to go on. "To offer my shoulder--"

"To cry on?" he sneered.

"No! To lean on. Please don't be ugly."

"I can't help it. You broke us up."

Incredulous, she gaped at him. "Me! Must I remind you? You left me."

He closed the distance between them -- so close she could feel his body heat.

"You let me leave," he said gruffly.

"I didn't--"

"You let me leave," he repeated his face only inches away.

His unique Jake scent wafted over her. She wanted to smother in it. She wanted...

"I didn't want you to go," she whispered.

She felt his arms slide around her at the moment his lips touched hers. No gentle kiss this. It spoke of need and desperation. His -- hers -- she didn't know for sure. She just wanted to cry from the relief of having his arms around her again.

She knuckled her fists into his warm tee shirt and tried to pull him closer, but the shirt was old and stretched unmercifully. She felt his lips smile against hers as he grabbed a breath and then kissed her again, his tongue sweeping in to stroke hers.

She could die from his wonderful familiar taste. She gave up on the shirt and wound her arms around his neck to pull him closer, to pull him into her if she could.

Suddenly, she felt his hands at her hips pressing her back, and she shamelessly hung on tighter. He reached up and pulled her hands down and then kissed each one.

His eyes were almost black. No doubt a reflection of hers.

"Like coming home, isn't it?" he rasped, his voice so hoarse it came out as a whisper.

Unable to get words past the lump forming in her throat, she could only nod happily and rested her forehead against his chest.

Author Links:

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