FIRST KISS=TUESDAY from THE LAWS OF LOVE by Debra Salonen

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 Excerpt © Loner Llama Press:

She stood up, leaving her meal mostly uneaten, her drink untouched. Arley had invited Molly and T.J. to join them, but Molly had called to say she had a touch of the flu and needed T.J. to help. That left Gwyneth and Arley, as unlikely a pair of crusaders as you could ask for, to carry on the fight. Gwyn had done her best. She’d bought Molly some time, and now she was fought out. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”

“What? Wait. No. We’re celebrating.”

She was too frazzled, too emotionally depleted, to explain. She turned and walked out of Hooligan’s, the well-known and popular pub she’d always planned to visit. Her car was two blocks away. The evening air was cool and damp in that unique way that reminded her how much she loved this city.

Arley followed after her. “Gwyneth, what’s going on? Something’s wrong. I’ve felt it ever since you arrived at the hearing. Are you okay?”

She ignored his questions. Even one mention of the turmoil in her head would open a floodgate she might never be able to close. “It’s personal.”

His hand landed on her shoulder. “Screw personal.”

Anger–her emotional safety net–made her pivot to face him. “No. Screw you. My life is my own. It doesn’t involve you. You’re a client. I’m your legal advisor and representative in court. We’re not friends or buddies or pals. Now, excuse me, but I have to be somewhere.”

Screw you? Arley’s arms dropped to his side in complete and utter shock. Had anyone ever said that to him before? He doubted it. There might have been a time in his life when he would have been angered or upset by her dismissal, but this was Gwyneth–a cool, composed professional. For her to lose her temper so completely she’d risk alienating him–and the money he brought to her company–meant something bad–something very bad–was going on.

“We might not be friends, but there’s a good chance we’re soul mates,” he said, blocking her escape.

Her eyes widened with obvious incredulousness. “The office gossip was right. You are nuts.”

“I prefer eccentric.”

“Tough. I’m out of here.”

“Sorry. I can’t let you go. Not until I’m confident that you’re okay to drive.”

“I didn’t even touch my Cosmopolitan.”

“I noticed, but you’re upset. You can pretend that you’re upset with me, but we both know–”

She sliced the air between them with her free hand. “What part of ‘It’s personal’ don’t you get?”

He closed the gap between them in one step and put his arms around her.

“This part.”

He’d meant to hug her, only. Offer a little human compassion. But the moment his lips brushed hers, he knew a hug would never be enough between them.

He expected her to struggle, to push him away. She didn’t. She didn’t react in any way for a second or two then she gave a small cry and leaned into him. An instant later, he heard her briefcase hit the pavement and her arms returned his embrace.

Her scent, the taste of her lipstick, the wet heat of her mouth pushed him outside his comfort zone. He hadn’t grown up in a family that expressed their emotions casually or in public. But this wasn’t about a friendly touch–the need coursing through his brain quickly turned to pure desire. And more.

He was afraid to stop kissing her on the chance the chilly persona she showed to the world would return. As long as they were locked in each other’s arms they could avoid that nasty thing called reality.

Click.

He knew that sound.

He jerked back, and spun around, roughly shoving Gwyneth behind him.

Click. Click. Click. Even digital cameras make a sound that a private person like Arley dreaded.

“Evening, Mr. McNamara. Ms. Jacobi. Congrats on the win today. Give my best to the pig.”

 ~~~

A pig? Yes, there’s pot-belly pig named Cuddles. (Keep your shoes well away from your e-reader.) If you’d like to read the rest of this sweet novella for free, you’re in luck because it’s part of a 40+-author giveaway and contest:

Click on image to enter.
Click on image to enter.

This book is only available to Debra Salonen newsletter subscribers. If you’re already signed up and BookFunnel/Mailchimp won’t play ball, please leave a comment so I can send you the direct link.

Happy reading! And good luck in the contest!

Deb

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY (from His Blushing Bride, by Dani Collins)

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Hello, wonderful Deb Salonen fans! I’m so excited to be visiting with you again!

The last time I was here, we had a great time reminiscing about our four-leaf clover searches as kids. This time I want to talk about childhood pets.

First, though, I should explain: All of my Montana Born stories can be read as stand-alones, but like all the Marietta stories, the characters overlap and are often friends and relations of previously published characters.

That’s why I’m giving away a print anthology of Montana Christmas to one lucky commenter. My hero in His Blushing Bride, Sebastian (Bastian) is the brother of Liz from Blame The Mistletoe, which is included in the Christmas anthology.

You’ll see that His Blushing Bride has a dog, Charlie. He’s a composite of all the goofy dogs I have met in my life, not a specific one that I know.

My husband and I are more cat-people and we’ve been horribly unimaginative with names: Tigger-bear, Charlotte, and Buddy. My sister had a dog named after the Maori war dance, “Haka,” which I’ve always thought was a great name for a pet.

To be entered into the draw, comment with the most colorful (or most boring) pet name you or someone you know has given an animal. Have you had a strange animal as a pet? Wanted a weird one? Please share what it was.

Wedding fever has hit the little town of Marietta…

Piper Tierney is busy wrapping up the school year and planning the music for Marietta’s Wedding Of The Century. She does not need one of her parents’ backpacking hippies under foot. Except the guy they let stay in their house is so much more than the California couch-surfer he resembles. Before she knows it, she’s making time to make time, even though he’s only in town for a couple of weeks.

Taking a break from working on his doctorate in political science, Sebastian Bloom wants to reassure himself his sister isn’t making another mistake with her upcoming wedding to a Marietta rancher. He’s definitely not looking for a bride for himself. Marriage and family are a trap. But Piper is cute, funny, and wants to move on from her ex.

They agree to a no strings affair, but will they wind up tying the knot?

Excerpt:

“Hey.” Bastian’s running shoes appeared in front of her bare feet. He was suddenly a huge wall of masculinity, right in front of her. Her pulse tripped, then galloped when he set a gentle finger under her chin and tilted her face to look up at him. “I think you’re hot as hell.”

She desperately wanted to believe him, but, “You’re just being nice.”

He choked out a short laugh. “I’m not that nice, Piper.”

Maybe not. “No, you’re a player. Aren’t you?” She was inexperienced, not stupid.

His gaze remained steady. “I like to consider myself a connoisseur. Which is why you should trust that I know what I’m talking about.”

Her turn to laugh. “An expert, huh? And you’re…what? Willing to fix me?”

“Why would I need to? There’s nothing wrong with you,” he countered.

“Oh,” she chuckled. “So smooth.” She shook her head in amazement, dislodging his touch. “Seriously, Bastian, I’m tempted. I really am. But I need the training-wheels version of you. Not this…” She indicated all the rippling muscle under tight control that belonged in fire fighter calendars. “There are other women in this town, you know. You don’t have to settle for me.”

His head went back as if she’d taken a swipe at him.

“See, that pisses me off,” he said, tone still casual, but several degrees cooler. “I’m not trying to get laid here. I like you. You turn me on. I think I could rock your world hard enough you wouldn’t give a crap what your old boyfriend ever said and I’m damned sure you could rock mine. If you’re not into that, say so. But don’t act like you’re not good enough for me because that’s something nobody can fix except you.”

She dropped back a step.

“Really,” she breathed. “I turn you on.” Her face was going hot, probably red as the Marietta fire engine. This conversation was killing her, making her chest feel tight, but she couldn’t break away from those piercing blue-green eyes.

“Have a look, sweetheart. I’m already hard and I haven’t even kissed you yet.”

Don’t.

She did.

His fly was decidedly bulged.

Her insides trembled and her bones went weak.

She flashed her gaze back up to his and found his eyelids had lowered so his stare was now a sexy, intent, lazily hungry message of desire. “I really want to kiss you, Piper.”

She swallowed. Her lips began to tingle with anticipation. “Okay,” she whispered.

He didn’t laugh. He stepped closer, so tall and wide he overwhelmed, but even though she nervously brought her hands up, she just rested them lightly on the hard plane of his chest. She started when his hands found her hips, fingers splaying with confidence. She twitched again with nerves when his head dipped and tilted.

Then his mouth brushed hers and she relaxed. Receptive.

His mouth opened, and she let her lips part. A low, gruff noise sounded in his throat and he settled more firmly into the kiss. His stubble lightly stimulated as he slowly rocked her mouth open under his until they were kissing. Then kissing deeply.

Passionately.

Her knees felt weak and her arms went around his neck to hold on. His arms closed across her back, pulling her tight into his solid frame. His thighs were almost too hard against hers, like leaning against steel, but all that firm, warm muscle felt good, too.

They broke away to switch sides and his hand moved to palm her butt. Delicious radiations of pleasure went into her middle and spiked between her legs, making her wriggle closer and rub against him, liking that he was aroused. His other hand started to climb up her waist, over her ribcage. Her breast felt hot and heavy and tight, aching with expectation—

He took a stumbling step into her, scaring her into squeaking out a cry of alarm. He caught her close to steady her as he tried to keep his footing and bit out, “Damn it, Charlie.”

The dog circled and tried to goose the two of them with his nose, making them break away to dodge and catch their balance. Piper brushed the dog away, using the moment to try to gather her composure. Good grief. The man did rock a woman’s world.

“Worst wingman on the continent,” Bastian grumbled, giving the dog a disgruntled scowl.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: US | Canada | UK  

Kobo | GooglePlay | iBooks | Smashwords


 

Award winning author Dani Collins wrote for twenty-five years before selling to Harlequin Mills & Boon in May of 2012. Since then, she’s turned in more than a dozen titles to Harlequin Presents and HarlequinE along with another four sexy, small-town novellas to Tule’s Montana Born. She has even found homes for some of her previously rejected manuscripts, including indie-publishing her single title romantic comedy, Hustled To The Altar and signing with a small press for her medieval fantasy, The Healer.

Dani doesn’t have any hobbies. She’s too busy writing. Look for Seduced Into The Greek’s World on shelves in June and His Blushing Bride from Montana Born on all digital platforms.

Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here: danicollins.com | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Montana Born Brides Series

Book 1: The Fairy Tale Bride by Scarlet Wilson

Book 2: His Blushing Bride by Dani Collins

Book 3: Bride by Mistake by Nicole Helm

Book 4: Finally His Bride by Maisey Yates

Book 5: Kiss the Bride by Rachael Johns

Book 6: Two Nights with His Bride by Kat Latham

To be entered into the drawing, comment with the most colorful (or most boring) pet name you or someone you know has given an animal. Have you had a strange animal as a pet? Wanted a weird one? Please share what it was.

 

 

 

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY (from THE BACHELOR’S BABY by Dani Collins)

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Dani Collins Headshot

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m so excited Deb invited me to visit with you all today and share my first kiss from The Bachelor’s Baby. I suppose we can call it a Blarney Stone kiss because they certainly get lucky after!

 The Bachelor’s Baby is Book Three in Montana Born’s Bachelor Auction series. Fun Fact: It’s also Book Three in my own series for Montana Born. That’s why my giveaway includes a print copy of the Homecoming series. My first Montana Born novella, Hometown Hero was part of that series. (Blame The Mistletoe is second.)

 Another Fun Fact: My grandmother used to find four leaf clovers while she was gardening. I thought you had to spend hours on the lawn to find one—I never have—but my daughter inherited her talent times a million. She’s one of those people who wanders along for a minute or two then plucks one up with a casual, “Here’s one.”

 Have you ever found one? Did it bring you luck? Leave a comment telling me about your four-leaf clover experience to be entered for the giveaway draw.

Deb Salonen Blog Giveaway Prize


 

THE BACHELOR’S BABY

by Dani Collins

 

Your date with Bachelor #3 includes champagne and chocolate in the limo that collects you, a helicopter tour or Marietta and the surrounding mountains and valleys, and dinner at a five star restaurant in Great Falls. While oil baron Linc Brady wines and dines you, a maid service will completely clean your home.

Who could resist this tempting offer? Meg Canon plans to do just that. She’s only home to clean out her childhood bedroom for her brother’s new step-daughter, then she’s outta her childhood small town and back to her life in Chicago. Then she meets the sexy, renegade millionaire while she’s stuck in the snow. Sparks fly and Meg is tempted to stay a little longer.

Linc Brady is new in town and happy to help a kid in need, but a bachelor auction? Technically he doesn’t owe Meg a damned thing after she sets him up for the auction, then bids on him, but her high-class city polish is his fatal weakness and makes her impossible to forget. When she agrees to come home with him, he makes it clear he’s a confirmed bachelor. This is a one-night thing.

One night that turns into nine months and maybe…a lifetime?

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He shifted to face her, leaning his wrist on her seatback so he edged into her space. “C’mere,” he invited.

“What.” A grin tugged at her mouth, but wicked, sexual reactions took her at the same time. Her nipples prickled and her breathing changed. “You want to kiss me?” She wanted him to. Rather badly.

“I do.”

“Is it a test?” She turned her head, aware of how close he was, how he smelled faintly of aftershave and clean Montana air.

“Little bit,” he murmured.

“Gonna leave me here if I don’t pass?” she challenged, trying to sound urbane when she actually felt girlish and shy.

His fingertips played gently against the ends of her hair, coaxing her to lean a fraction closer toward him. “I’m the one making the pass, sweetheart.”

He closed in. Warm male lips brushed hers, giving her a moment to savor the sensation of smooth, sensitive skin rubbing lightly against her own. Then he pressed with more purpose, enticed her into parting her lips and playing her mouth against his in delicious rubs as he gradually settled into the kiss. He stole over her so skillfully, she was caught and held before she realized how completely he owned her.

She thought—

Actually, there were no thoughts in her head. Just his scent and the warm dampness of his strong mouth exploring hers. The tip of his tongue briefly tagged her inner lip. Their breaths hissed quietly as their breathing changed. His cheek was smooth enough not to snag her knit gloves, making her want to pull them off so she could run her fingers into his hair.

She slanted her head, encouraging him to deepen the kiss. Pressing the back of his skull to encourage more pressure.

His free hand settled on the side of her neck, thumb stroking deliciously under her throat while he pulled at her bottom lip, his flagrant sucking making arousal bloom down her front, spiking her nipples into sharper peaks and spearing hot need between her thighs. Oh man did she want to go home with him.

And he was drawing back, making her primal core weep.

“What do you think?” he asked in a voice that was like a velvety summer breeze caressing her naked skin.

She made herself sit straight, breath unsteady and way too revealing of his effect on her. Her fingertips pressed her buzzing lips, trying to calm the rest of her.

“I didn’t realize it was that kind of test,” she said, voice papery.

“It’s not. Come over for a drink if you just want to throw off the shackles for a while. I wasn’t trying to see if you put out. But if we were going to fizzle, I figured here was a better place for it.”

Fizzle? She choked on a laugh, mildly horrified by that phrase ‘put out,’ and even more horrified by how disappointed she would be if he left her here instead of taking her to his place.

“Do you think we fizzled?”

“Ha! No,” he said firmly, making her tuck a grin into her collar.

It was gratifying and flattering, but…

“You do this a lot, don’t you?” she asked in a voice that came out smaller than she meant it to. “Pick up women, I mean.” Silence as he eased back into his own seat, then he sighed. “I’m not good at relationships, Meg. A lot of it was the nature of my job, but the truth is, I’ve never seen myself married with kids and the whole nine yards. But I like women and I like sex.” His jacket shifted as he shrugged and made himself more comfortable behind the wheel. “What do you want me to say? That I’ve never taken a woman home? You’d be the first here. Does that help?”

“I’ve never done it,” she said, then hurried to add, “I mean, I’ve had relationships. Just not, um, such a brief one.”

Somewhere along the way, maybe because she had friends that she respected who sometimes had one-night stands, she had developed a sense that they could be empowering. She didn’t feel embolded, though. She felt insecure. Longing gripped her, like she was wishing for something she would never get.

“That’s not the sort of first I’d like to be for a woman,” he said dryly. “Don’t change your values for me, Meg. Call me the next time you’re in town and we’ll do lunch in Great Falls.” He put the truck into drive.

“No, wait—” She covered his gloved hand with her own, could sense the strength in his firm grip of the stick. This evening couldn’t end with her packing and nursing What If. “I’m really attracted to you, Linc. I know I’ll regret it if I don’t go home with you.”

He studied her in the blue gloom off the dash for a long moment.

“Sure?”

“I am.”

He reversed back onto the road.

Amazon: US | Canada | UK | iBooks | Nook | Kobo


Canadian Dani Collins spent twenty-five years dreaming of becoming a romance author, made her first sale in 2012, and promptly won a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times. Best known for her Harlequin Presents, she has also published a romantic comedy, a medieval fantasy romance, two erotic romances and The Bachelor’s Baby is the third of four novellas for Montana Born. Married to her high school sweetheart, Dani has two mostly-grown children (one of each) and doesn’t have any hobbies. She’s too busy writing.

Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

HOW MUCH WAS HER BID? I DEMAND A RECOUNT! 😉  I’m off to buy…wait…already did!…I’m off to read this book!

Thanks for sharing, Dani! And thanks for the fabulous, free book prize, too. Dani will pick the winner on March 22nd. Good luck, everyone! Please share the love.

Deb

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Lilian Darcy’s Pumpkin Scones/The Sweetest Thing

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Food=love in my books. And it’s my great pleasure to welcome back, Lilian Darcy. She’s one of my auto-buy authors, and she just completed a wonderful series of connected stories for Tule Publishing. She’s also a great cook. So, what do you do with all those left over pumpkins? Scones, you say? I believe I will, thank you. Take it away, Lilian.

auth_LilianDarcy-500x500“So we’ve just had Thanksgiving and there is pumpkin left overs.

 

Or maybe there isn’t, but I would argue that pumpkin and all its close relatives are well worth the purchase at any time of the year.

 

Here in Australia, we call pretty much any of those hard, orange-fleshed vegetables pumpkin. There’s Butternut, Grey, Kent, Jap, and Queensland Blue, and probably more. I think we must eat a lot of these various pumpkin varieties in Australia, as the internet tells me the country grows 114,417 metric tonnes of it per year, for a population of 23 million. Per person, that’s… no, I’m not going to try to work it out.

 

Here’s one of my favorite recipes, which you can make with any variety of hard orange pumpkin or squash.

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Note that they’re savoury rather than sweet. If you want sweet, then you can find my women’s fiction novel The Sweetest Thing free on major ebook platforms, but you’ll probably want to have some chocolate on hand while you’re reading it.

Pumpkin Scones
Recipe Type: side
Cuisine: Universal
Author: Lilian Darcy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
These are savoury, not sweet, but that’s what chocolate is for when you settle back to read The Sweetest Thing!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 oz butter, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup cooked and mashed butternut pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F/200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, add butter and rub in or cut with a pastry cutter until mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add buttermilk and pumpkin.
  4. Mix with a spoon or your hands until it forms a dough.
  5. Knead lightly on a floured surface until smooth.
  6. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s an inch thick, and use a cookie cutter of your desired size and shape to cut out the scones.
  7. Re-form the dough and cut until it is all used.
  8. Place the scones on your tray and brush with buttermilk, then bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.
  9. Serve with plain or herb butter, and/or cheese.

TheSweetestThing-MEDIUM

Tully Morgan hasn’t been back to Marietta for more than a few brief visits since the night of the 1996 senior prom eighteen years ago, when the chance exposure of a long-held family secret sent her running to her uncle in California in shock. She stood up her date Ren Fletcherthat night, and she hasn’t seen him since.

Now she’s here for an extended stay, to help take care of her seriously ill mother. It’s an edgy reconciliation, the first time that Tully, Patty and Sugar Morgan have been together since that long ago prom night. Tully has had so much anger toward Sugar… can she ever forgive her?

And Sugar still has one more secret that needs to be dealt with, one that needs Ren Fletcher’s help. Has he forgiven Tully for leaving him in the lurch on prom night? And is there any chance that he and Tully can rekindle what they might once have had, when he’s still tied to someone else?

Free at Amazon , BN,  iTunes, Kobo

Happy reading…and eating, my friends. Enjoy!

Deb

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Yvonne Lindsay’s Shortbread “For Love of a Cowboy” deal

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Food=love in my books. Today’s recipe belongs to Yvonne Lindsay–Author #3 in the marvelous “Big Marietta Fair” line-up.

Her book, For Love of a Cowboy, is on SALE, as part of a Kindle Countdown for the next five days. If you missed it the first time around, grab it now for just 99¢.

Since my arm is still in a cast and editing blogs taxes all ten fingers, I decided to reprise Yvonne’s wonderful recipe and snippet today. Enjoy!

Welcome, Yvonne.

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I had such a lot of fun writing FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY. I’m a big fan of the “opposites attract” trope and love the twists and turns these opposing characters take me on. In FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY, a superstitious hippie-chick from New Zealand meets up with a taciturn Montana cowboy and, oh boy, do sparks fly!

Shortbread
Recipe Type: side dish
Cuisine: Universal
Author: Yvonne Lindsay
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
This is one of my favorite quick and easy baking recipes. I hope you enjoy it.
Ingredients
  • 8ozs (225g) butter
  • 4 ozs (125g) powdered sugar (we call it icing sugar here in New Zealand)
  • 4 ozs (125g) cornflour
  • 8 ozs (225g) standard flour
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar well, add sifted flour and cornflour.
  2. Knead well, roll out to ½ to ¾ inch thick (12mm to 18mm).
  3. Cut into pieces, place on greased baking tray (or baking paper on baking tray) and bake about 30 minutes at 300 deg F (150 deg C).
  4. Yum!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00050]

For Love of a Cowboy

by

Yvonne Lindsay

     A flash of movement from beside the road startled her, forcing her to instinctively swerve to the left and jam on the brakes. The VW shuddered to a halt even as the stag bounded away with its white rump a flash of brilliance in the darkening evening. The beast had been magnificent, its russet brown coat and lighter underbelly at odds with the black markings on its head. She watched until she could see it no longer then let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Chinese folklore said deer were lucky. The buck was a sign, she was sure of it. She was on the right route and when she got to Marietta she’d find what she’d been searching for all her life. Nothing else mattered but that.

     The thought filled her with hope and she took her foot from the brake and began moving toward her destiny once more. Right up until a swath of blinding lights whipped around the corner ahead and appeared to be coming straight at her. Huh? That wasn’t right. Again she swerved, harder to the left this time, and all but stood on her brakes to avoid a collision. She might have missed the other vehicle but she wasn’t quite so lucky when it came to the ditch that bordered the road, or the trees that lined it. The bus lurched to one side with a bone-jarring jolt, coming to a halt at an angle—half on the road and half off it.

     Before Willow could take an inventory of either herself or Daisy, the passenger door was pulled open. The aperture filled with broad shoulders, a large black Stetson and a hulk of intimidating male.

     “Are you all right?” the guy demanded.

     His voice was deep and gravelly, as if he didn’t talk much, and an equal mix of testosterone and what she thought was anger poured off him.

     “No thanks to you,” she retaliated as she gingerly felt the rapidly growing bump on the side of her head where she’d struck the door pillar and the matching one on her hip where her cell phone usually resided in her pocket. Come to think of it, her whole left side was becoming one almighty ache.

     “Me?” he replied. “I wasn’t the one driving on the wrong side of the road.”

     Willow started to protest but then belatedly realized she was wasting her time. He was right. She had been on the wrong side of the road. She hadn’t corrected after she’d seen that buck. Instead, thanks to a mix of tiredness and inattention she’d carried on driving as if she were still back home in New Zealand. She gave herself a sharp mental slap and groaned out loud. Some sign the buck had turned out to be.

     “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I—”

     “Too damn right you weren’t thinking. Who declared you and this thing fit for the road anyway?”

     “There’s no need to be mean to Daisy,” she protested as she fought to unclip her seatbelt and clamber out of the bus. No easy task given that Daisy was doing her own impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa right now.

     “Daisy?” the guy started, then clearly noticed the chain of hand-painted daisies on the side of the van. He rolled his eyes and muttered, “Never mind.”

     A large hand thrust toward her. Willow shrunk back, earning a growl of irritation from her rescuer.

     “Take my hand. It’ll make it easier to climb out.”

     She gingerly reached forward. Strong fingers clasped hers. She gasped at the heat that transferred from his hand to her own. At the tingling sensation that began where their hands melded and then traveled the length of her arm. She must have hit her head harder than she’d thought.

     “You okay?” he asked. “Do you think you broke something?”

     Nothing more than what little pride she had left, she thought ruefully. “N-no, I’m fine.”

     She pushed herself up and, aided by his steady strength, climbed out of the van. She pulled her hand free from his the moment she was able—fought the urge to wipe her palm down over her cutoff denim shorts to get rid of the residual tingle that remained there.

     Willow ruefully studied Daisy. “I don’t suppose you have a rope there, cowboy? D’ya think you could pull her out?” she asked, raising her face to meet his gaze for the first time.

     Oh, she thought, taking a big step backward. He was tall and—she did a quick inventory—built. She’d already had the impression of size about him but now, face to face? That was something else. Her eyes flicked over the way his softly worn black T-shirt stretched across his shoulders and muscled chest and tapered to where it was tucked in at the waistband of equally well-worn jeans cinched with a belt complete with a big bold buckle. Yeah, he was built all right. Everywhere.

     Willow swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat and forced herself not to lift a hand to fiddle with her braids like she always did when she was nervous. Nervous? Hell, she didn’t know whether to be nervous, grateful or just flat-out turned on. Her body decided on the latter.

~~~

Buy For Love of a Cowboy right: HERE.

Happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Lemonade (AKA 7-Up) Scones + a FREE book

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Food=love in my books.

trishYou may remember my guest blogger, Trish Morey.

Her latest release–Second Chance Bride–is part of The Great Wedding Giveaway series from Montana Born Books/Tule Publishing.

I enjoyed this book so much that when I found out it was going to be FREE  (May 20-24) I decided to reprise this blog in case you missed it! Here’s the LINK.

And check out Trish’s Lemonade (aka 7-Up) Scones recipe below. Doesn’t this sound like the PERFECT food for a wedding breakfast or bridal luncheon? And it looks so darn easy, even I could make it. 

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Lemonade Scones
Recipe Type: side dish
Cuisine: scones
Author: Trish Morey
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Please note, the instructions show two versions–one for those of us in the USA and one for those of you who understand metric. AND, it appears that “Lemonade” in Australia is actually “7-UP” in the US. Who knew?!!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pure cream
  • 1 cup lemonade/ or we in the US would be using 7-Up
  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F) or 180C (350F) fan forced.
  2. Grease and flour baking tray, or line tray with baking paper.
  3. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix lightly until combined. Scrape onto a floured surface, knead lightly and shape into rectangle about 3cm high. Cut scones with 5cm/2 inch scone cutter.
  4. Lightly dust with flour and bake for 15-20mins or until tops are brown.
  5. Serve with raspberry or strawberry jam and clotted cream.

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Excerpt:

“I heard there was a new girl.”

Scarlett jumped. She’d thought she was alone, but now her eyes were beginning to adjust to the low light, she could see the woman sitting on a sofa across the room, a magazine in her lap, her skin fair, her lips red and her long black hair gleaming under the lights like a silken curtain.

“It is that obvious?” Scarlett said, trying to sound light but painfully aware of the nerves in her voice. Any minute someone was going to figure her for the impostor she was and throw her out.

But then the woman smiled. “First day in a new place is always the hardest. I’m Jasmine,” she said, her name as exotic as her looks.

“Scarlett.”

“You’re American?”

“Yeah. From Montana. You?”

“Thailand,” she said, shifting the magazine to smooth down the fluffy hem of the red baby doll that floated just above her slim thighs. “Bella’s is a good place to work. You’ll like it.”

Scarlett very much doubted it but she smiled and nodded her thanks anyway. There was no point explaining she’d only be here until she made enough money for her fare home.

And then Bella walked in with her grey bob and pearls and looking so much more like a school librarian than any madam she could possibly have imagined.

She clapped her hands, “Look lively girls, Rule number one, let’s not keep the customer waiting.”

Uh-oh.

Scarlett was so not ready for this.  Oh, she might be Scarlett Buck, the flaky twin, the girl with the anti-Midas touch who could turn golden opportunities into dust and managed to do so with infuriating regularity. She might have driven her sister to despair and her mother to drink on too many occasions to count, but to be forced to this?

Jasmine rose from the sofa and flicked back her hair, no trace of hesitation. Whereas she–

Barely-contained nerves got the better of her.

Time.

She needed more time – just a few more minutes to get used to the idea.  ‘I’ll sit this one out,’ she offered. Jasmine was here first, after all.”

“Nonsense!” boomed Bella as she took her hand and hauled her off the sofa in a very un-school librarian kind of way. Before Scarlett knew it she was lined up alongside the other girl and Bella was reminding them to smile. “Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end, I always say.”

Great. So much for getting used to the idea. Any moment now a middle aged man with grey hair and a paunch would come sauntering through that door and size her up to be his sexual plaything for the next however long and still she would have to smile and make him feel like she wanted nothing more than to hop into the sack with him.

Just sex?

Oh, Scarlett Buck, you have really have done it this time.

She raised her eyes to the ceiling and sent one last silent prayer to the heavens and her family and anyone else who might possibly be listening up there and could help: I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. But it won’t be for long, I promise, and after this I’ll never, ever, disappoint you, ever again.

And then she heard Jasmine’s, “Welcome to Bella’s, I’m Jasmine,” and a cold shiver of apprehension snaked down her spine as she summoned up a smile. She opened her eyes, her hundred watt smile fully charged and ready to dazzle the client despite the nerves clawing at her insides. “Welcome to B—“

She stopped and blinked, and tried again. “Welcome to…”

But there was no finishing. Because it didn’t make sense. Because he didn’t make sense. She’d been expecting middle aged and desperate whereas the man in front of her was anything but. He was nowhere near middle aged for a start, his short cropped hair dark blonde and thick, and – she flicked her eyes down his denim clad legs and up again – there wasn’t so much as a hint of a paunch in sight.

Far from it.

Instead, he was built. Six foot two of hard-packed built, if she wasn’t mistaken, with a face that looked in the glow from the red light like it had been chiseled from outback rock itself, full of rugged angles and red planes and secret, shadowed depths.

Since when did someone who looked like him have to visit a place like this?

“You must forgive Scarlett,” Bella said from what sounded like a long way away. “She’s new.”

“Excuse me,” she said, snapping to, her smile getting tangled in the confusion on her lips.  “Welcome to Bella’s.”

And with that he was gone, disappeared with Bella back into the office to make his choice.

Like he needed time for that.

She dropped back into the sofa, her face in her hands. Oh god, was there nothing she could do right? Nothing she couldn’t screw up?

Apparently not.

She might as well pack her things right now.

“Scarlett!”

She looked up, resigned for the dressing down if not the sacking from Bella she knew was coming, that she knew she deserved. “Yes?”

“Congratulations.” Bella looked as surprised as Scarlett felt. “You just got your first client.”

OOOhhh…you have to be asking yourself…will she or won’t she? I can’t tell you. That wouldn’t be fair. Grab your FREE copy to find out.

Bon appetit! Happy reading! 

Deb

 

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Deb Salonen’s Asparagus Salad with Chickpeas and Potatoes

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Food=love in my books.

Since Easter arrives this Sunday, I thought I’d share a favorite recipe of mine AND a snippet from the book I just turned in: Cowgirl Come Home.

It won’t be out until August 8, but I’m really excited about writing for the upcoming MontanaBorn FAIR series because the current MontanaBorn BRIDES series is knock-your-socks-off fabulous.

Here’s a link to the website where you can buy the first three titles (Katherine’s releases right after Easter). MontanaBrides

Do yourself a favor and stock up. They’re delicious…as is my super simple asparagus salad recipe. 

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Roasted Asparagus Salad with Chickpeas and Potatoes
Recipe Type: side dish
Cuisine: vegan
Author: Deb Salonen
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Variations: Spice it up with any of the following optional ingredients: Red pepper flakes, fresh or dried herbs such as oregano and basil, or sliced kalamata olives
Ingredients
  • 2 medium gold or red potatoes, about 10 ounces
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 12 ounces), trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette (buy or make by mixing 1/4 C olive oil, 1/8 C vinegar, 1 Tbsp sugar, salt and pepper to taste, pinch of chili flakes optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Cook the potatoes until tender but still firm in any way you choose (boil, microwave, or bake). Allow to cool slightly and cut into 1-inch dice. Place in a large serving bowl along with the chickpeas.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, spread the asparagus on a baking sheet and sprinkle the onion over it. In a corner of the sheet, place the unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast until asparagus is tender yet still crisp, about 15 minutes, stirring once after 7 minutes. Remove from oven.
  4. Set the garlic aside to cool for a few minutes and put the asparagus into the bowl with the potatoes. When the garlic is cool, peel it and place it in a small bowl. Mash it well with a fork; then stir in the salad dressing. Pour the dressing over the asparagus and stir gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Note: Makes 2 large, one-pot meal servings or 4 side servings.

The coolest thing about writing a book in a multi-author series is seeing one of MY characters appear in ANOTHER author’s book. This is especially exciting when the other author is New York Times bestselling author Jane Porter.

To read Beauty’s Kiss for FREE, click HERE.

Beauty's Kiss  

In Beauty’s Kiss, you’ll meet Louise Jenkins, my heroine, Bailey’s mother. Here’s Louise in my book:

Oscar Jenkins double-fisted the thin, scratchy sheets at his side. He hated everything about this so-called hospital. The thin plastic mattress, the crappy sheets and pilled, nappy cotton blanket. But worst of all, he detested the crappy slop they tried to pass off as food.

“Honey, please. Bailey’s coming. She’ll be at the house when I bring you home…if you eat and…eliminate.”

“Shit. Say it, Luly. For once in your life, call it like it is.”

Louise Billingham Jenkins, his wife of nearly forty years, blushed like the schoolgirl she was when they first met. Sweet. Innocent. Still was. Even after all this time in constant contact with him–the lowest piece of scat that ever rolled off Copper Mountain.

“Don’t be coarse.” She advanced on him with a spoon and a palm-sized cup of something beige. “Try the pudding. You said you liked it.”

He snarled and pressed his head and shoulders into the skinny foam pillow. “Must have been the drugs.”

She held the shimmery, flesh-tone glob a few inches from his lips. The tiny quake of her hand compromised his resolve. He opened his mouth, clamped down on the spoon and wouldn’t let go. Louise frowned sternly, but he could tell she was fighting back a smile.

“Baby.”

He covered her hand with his tenderly, before prying the handle free. The banana-flavored slop lodged in the back of his throat and nearly gagged him, but he forced it down.

“I can feed myself.”

She turned away–probably so he couldn’t see her smile of triumph. Louise wasn’t one to gloat. Not that he’d given her many opportunities for jubilation during their years together. When he looked back at his life–and he’d had plenty of time for retrospection since his body started falling apart, he couldn’t say for sure why she’d put up with all his crap for so damn long. He sure as hell wouldn’t have stuck around if the shoe had been on the other foot.

I’d have lit out just like Bailey did.

His gaze fell to the flat stretch of covers where his left foot should have rested. His appetite disappeared. His mouth turned dry.

Life as he knew it was gone. And despite his pissing and moaning about the skyrocketing costs of fishing licenses and gas and idiot clients and the government’s nose in his business, OC loved hunting and fishing and teaching even the dumbest flatlander how to catch a trout or two.

And, now, thanks to his cussed orneriness–and some poorly timed budget cuts at the library, he and Louise were looking at serious financial problems.

Louise had tried to keep the worst of it from him. But yesterday, she’d tearfully admitted her fears.

“We’re in bad shape, Oscar. The County changed insurance companies last year and our co-pay went up. Plus, they’re trying to disallow one of your surgeries. If I miss any more work, I might not even qualify for the library’s policy. And with you not being able to work, our savings is pretty much gone.”

“The company can’t be bankrupt,” he said. “Jack told me we lost a few bookings, but he’s been out with clients every day–even on Sunday.”

Jack Sawyer had worked for Jenkins’ Fish and Game off and on for sixteen years. His wife, Marla, handled the company’s bookings and website.

“Jack’s good, but he’s not you, Oscar. And even if he were as good as you, people don’t pay big bucks to go fishing with Jack Sawyer. They want the Fish Whisperer.”

OC took another bite of puke pudding to keep from sneering. The name was a joke, of course. Tossed out in Wolf’s Den one night when he’d started howling for some dumb reason. To his chagrin, the name stuck. And bookings picked up.

Apparently, the Fish Whisperer even had a blog–whatever that was.

Now, thanks to OC’s ridiculous so-called fame, Jenkins’ Fish and Game, was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. And, to make matters worse, his daughter was coming home.

As badly as he’d screwed up his health and finances, both were small potatoes compared to the mess he’d made with Bailey. “Who’d you say is picking her up at the airport?”

“I didn’t.”

Louise glanced at her watch surreptitiously. Bailey’s plane had landed thirty minutes earlier. Paul would have been there to meet her. A shock her daughter never would have seen coming, but not the worst she had in store.

“She hasn’t been cleared to drive, has she?” Oscar asked.

“I don’t know.”

She took a calming breath–to prepare for the explosion to follow. He’d find out eventually, and certain news was better coming from her. “I asked Paul Zabrinski to pick her up. He had to take Chloe and Mark to their mother’s. He said it was no problem.”

“No problem? Woman, are you out of your mind? Bailey’s probably back on the airplane by now.”

Louise pulled her smart phone out of her pocket. “The next flight to Fresno isn’t until tomorrow morning. She isn’t going anywhere.”

Oscar shook his head from side to side, slowly, as if the effort took every last ounce of his energy. No surprise since he ate barely enough to keep a fly alive. Just one of the many reasons Louise needed Bailey here.

Louise had tried everything to reignite the spark in her husband’s eyes, but nothing helped. And from their phone conversations, Louise knew Bailey was skating perilously close to the edge of her own demon-filled pit of depression. The two people she loved most were giving up, and Louise would use every resource available to spark a fire. Even asking Bailey’s oldest “frenemy,” as the kids at the library might say, to meet her plane.

“That took balls, Luly.”

~~~

Have a lovely Easter, dear friends. And if you’re enjoying a Spring Break, I hope you’ll include these wonderful stories in your reading line-up.

Bon appetit! Happy reading!

Deb