1. Don’t believe everything you read on a Hallmark card.
JUDY: “Two months before I filed for divorce, my hubby bought me a dozen red roses, a heart-shaped box of chocolate and a beautiful card that said some smarmy sentiment like: “Honey, I’m so lucky to have you in my life. I love you. Yadda, yadda.” Pretty words that lost their meaning when I got the credit card bill the next month and discovered the charge was double what it should have been. Yep. You guessed it. He sent the exact same thing to his girlfriend, too.”
2. Snails, duck liver and fish eggs are even less sexy than they sound when they come back up after swallowing them.
Judy: “My first Valentine’s Day date after my divorce was with a really terrific guy who considered himself a gourmet cook and possessed strong convictions about what constituted a romantic meal. I’m the kind of girl who will try anything once. His pate de foie gras was rather tasty. In hindsight, I may have let my need to impress him with my worldliness get the better of me. I’m pretty sure I ate too much of the rich delicacy because my tummy was already tad…unsettled…when I tried the next course: a tiny shriveled object (day-old chewed gum, perhaps?) swimming in butter and garlic. Or maybe it was the disconcerting visual of fishing said object out of a shell that looked very much like the ones I stomped on in my garden. Either way, I stopped at two and drank an extra flute of champagne hoping the carbonation would work like Alka-Seltzer. It didn’t. A bead of sweat broke out on my upper lip when he delivered the piece de resistance: Smoked Salmon and Caviar pizza.
Did I mention he had white carpet?
Such a shame. I really liked him, too.”
3. Good hair does not a good guy (or Valentine) make.
Judy: “Remember Barbra’s leather gloved hand lovingly touching Robert Redford’s gorgeous locks in The Way We Were? Of course, you do. You’re a woman. Unrequited love gets us every time…because we all have that one-who-wasn’t-meant-to-be.
Mine was Richie Mason. Sixth-grade heartthrob. The guy I wasted my hard-earned babysitting money on buying my first-ever special friend Valentine. I had such a crush on Richie. His sandy brown hair was forever falling in his eyes. I probably lost a thousand hours daydreaming about brushing that dog-tongue of bangs off his charmingly freckled forehead…until that fateful V-day when he opened his cache of cards and discovered one that was not your standard-issue type. His brows arched under his shaggy curtain of locks as he ripped open the well-glued V (maybe I included a dozen or so stickers for affect).
As I waited for his reaction, my cheeks burned, palms dripped and heart thumped so loud I was certain it could be heard outside our classroom walls. His gaze bounced over the sentiment too quickly to have read the words and went straight for the signature. Mine. His chin angled a tiny bit to the left so he could sorta see me at my desk two rows over. Our gaze met–for a millisecond. Then he shoved the card to the bottom of his decorated shoebox and opened the next card. Not a smile. No acknowledgement of any kind. Not so much as a bleeping hesitation. I was crushed.
A week later, during a group art project–the last time our class ever did collages, I believe–my scissors slipped. Somehow a hunk of Richie’s hair wound up in my collage. I got an F on the project, but I learned something interesting: Richie wasn’t all that cute bald.
4. A heart-shaped pizza is flour, oil, tomato sauce and toppings–it’s not a sign he’ll love you forever.
Judy: “Some relationships are meant to last. Others…not so much. Figuring out the difference between the two is tricky. Don’t let pizza get in the way of those tough decisions. I’m pretty sure my ex extracted two additional years of marital servitude from me simply by showing up on February 14th with a heart-shaped pizza, a six-pack of beer and the aforementioned sappy greeting card. Listen to your head, Peeps, not your heartburn.”
Deb here: Hopefully, none of you have V-Day memories as bleak as Judy Banger’s. Luckily, Judy finally met Mr. Right. In fact, I asked her for an update, and here’s what she said:
“Age is a matter of opinion, and in my opinion, age doesn’t matter. If you find someone who makes you laugh when the world expects you to cry, then grab hold with both hands and have fun.”
A sentiment I totally agree with since I’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day with my Mr. Right for 4+ decades:
HAVE A GREAT ONE, MY FRIENDS!
And don’t forget, we have a wonderful new Valentine’s Day book in the Love at the Chocolate Shop series now available. Sit back with a little chocolate and enjoy THE VALENTINE QUEST!
I’m so excited to share my new Big Sky Mavericks’ title: MONTANA HERO. My hero, Flynn Bensen, first appeared in his brother, Ryker’s, book: MONTANA DARLING. I love the Bensen brothers, and it was fun to reconnect with Ryker and Mia in this new book.
Would you like to meet Flynn Bensen and Kat Robinson? I really loved writing these two characters. They feel so genuine to me–both survivors and both heroes to me. You’ll see why.
“Hero? Hell, no. A woman died despite Flynn Bensen’s best efforts to save her from the wild fire that nearly took them both. The last thing he expects from his job as head of Crawford County, Montana’s Search And Rescue is another life and death scenario–this time racing against the clock and a storm to find ten-year-old Brady Robinson. And this time it’s personal, because Brady is the son of Kat Robinson, the woman Flynn loves.”
Excerpt: MONTANA HERO
“How ’bout a cup of tea?”
She nodded. Anything to stall.
He led the way to the kitchen, flicking on lights that illuminated a workshop that must have been a family room at some time in the house’s life. The sparkle and pop of silver, gold and semi-precious stones brought a smile to her face, despite what she knew was coming.
“Bailey’s really talented, isn’t she? I bought a pair of her earrings at the Big Marietta Fair last summer. They were my favorite until I lost one in the laundry.”
Flynn busied himself by filling a kettle with water. “I heard the ladies who work here talking about a replacement they were working on. Bring the one you have to work and I’ll…” He didn’t finish the thought. Instead, he reached overhead for a box of herbal tea choices.
He carried the box and two mugs to the table.
“Are you quitting because of what happened at the school today?”
She sat opposite him. She didn’t dare sit too close. Giving up her job was only part of her penance. She’d come to the conclusion that this could have been avoided if she’d been a more attentive mother. Brady somehow picked up on her latent, mostly hidden–even from herself–desire to have a “real” family.
Since that was never going to happen, she owed it to herself and her son to hunker down, regroup and refocus all her energy on Brady.
“Brady thought he was helping me.”
He cocked his head in that thoughtful, questioning way that told her he was listening intently to what she had to say. “That’s not surprising. You’re the center of his universe.”
An observation? Or judgment?
“It might be different with two parents, but even when Greg was in the picture, he was hands-off where Brady was concerned.”
“Honestly, I think he was afraid Brady was smarter than him. Which Brady is. His intelligence is off the charts, but he’s never been able to connect well with people.”
“So, you’ve had to be his advocate, his interpreter.”
A strange flush of pleasure swept through her. “Yes. You could say that. Especially when he was younger.”
The kettle started to whistle. Kat couldn’t stop her gaze from following him. He hadn’t changed out of his jeans and long-sleeve red shirt, but she was certain she’d never seen any man looks sexier in “uniform.”
He carried the kettle using a potholder on the handle and placed another on the table. Thoughtful. Did she know any men who would do that?
“Pick your poison,” he said offering the box of individual tea bags to her first.
She grabbed one without looking. What did it matter? She ripped open the package and dunked it in the hot water, watching the reddish hue spread.
What did I pick?
She flattened the crumpled envelope to read: cranberry spice.
When she looked up, she found Flynn watching her, a hint of a smile on his lips–as if he knew exactly what she’d done.
He held up his little package. “Mint. Helps settle my stomach after a big meal so I can sleep better.”
“Do you have trouble sleeping?”
His gaze dropped. “I was having nightmares. Post-traumatic stress, probably. The guys wanted me to see a shrink, but then my brother contacted me about this job, and I decided to see if a change of venue would help.”
“Yes. And no. I’m still not sleeping as soundly as I used to, but no more nightmares.”
They sat in silence a few minutes, just the tick-tock of a clock above the stove keeping track of their wasted time. “I’ve never talked to anyone about my possible connection to the Zabrinski family. I went back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should ever bring it up.” She swallowed hard. “What if I was wrong? What if my mother slept with every guy in town and this is just a big misunderstanding? It could ruin a person’s life.”
He took a sip of tea before answering. “You don’t owe me any explanation, Kat. Especially not if you’re leaving Marietta.”
She rubbed her knucklesd across her forehead. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Looks to me like you’re resigning.”
“Yes. I’m quitting SAR. You deserve someone better. You have a strong moral compass, Flynn. I thought I did, too, but, lately…” She stared into the pink murkiness of her tea. “I should have done something about Ken’s blatant sexism.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. Maybe I got in the habit of advocating for others, like Mom, Brady, and Molly, and somehow lost track of myself.”
A line from an old movie she and Brady watched a couple of nights ago came back to her. “Not once did I ask what’s in it for me,” she quipped with a lightness she didn’t feel.
Flynn’s sudden grin made herme breath catch. She set the mug on the table hard, hoping he didn’t see her hand shake.
“Field of Dreams. I’ve probably seen it a hundred times.”
He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on the table. “Feeling disconnected from your body or your emotions is one of the symptoms of Vicarious Trauma, Katherine. You need to make time for you. Find a few of those missing pieces.” His smile changed. “I say that as your friend, not your boss.”
“I need to kiss you,” she said.
He blinked. “Really? Now?”
“Yes. Would that be okay?”
He tried not to smile; she could tell by the way his lips twitched. Finally, he gave in and grinned. “Oh, all right. Since you’re no longer my employee.”
As excuses go, it worked. She’d used it, too.
She got up and walked to his side of the table. She waited for him to scoot back his chair, leaving ample room for her to sit on his lap. His rock hard thighs supported her weight without question. She indulged in something she’d wanted to do from that first moment they’d sat stood with a box of doughnuts between them;, she ran her hands across his broad, muscular shoulders.
“How much does that pack you’re always carrying around weigh?”
“Eighty pounds, fully stocked. Give or take.”
“Are you always On Call?”
“Not officially, but I feel an obligation to my training. If I had a the chance to help someone and didn’t go because I wasn’t prepared, I’d feel pretty awful.”
She knew that about him without being told. He took his responsibilities seriously. As did she. It might be the thing she loved best…No. Don’t go there. This isn’t about love or any long-term emotion. It’s about grabbing a tiny bit of goodness for myself before all hell breaks loose.
She kept her eyes open so she could memorize his face as she lowered her head. His eyelashes were thick, like Brady’s, but not as curly. His brows were trim and darker than his lashes. She liked the little bits some might consider flaws. She saw them as his unique perfection.
She bumped her nose lightly against his, drawing a smile that warmed the hue of his eyes, which looked more gray when she was sitting across the table from him, but now looked blue. She wetted her lips with the tip of her tongue before tilting her head to touch her lips to his.
After two weeks of mental foreplay, she’d fully expected a zing, but the charge that swept through her entire body took her breath away. Better than good. When she started to pull back, Flynn deepened the kiss.
“Not enough. Not nearly enough,” he murmured with a low growl that released a the surge of yearning Kat had kept carefully banked.
His tongue teased her lips until she opened them for him with a tiny moan that covered her cry for more. His taste held a smoky flavor of beer and garlic. And the hint of mint from his tea. She explored without hesitation…until he pulled back.
Was he ending things or…
“Are we doing this?”
Of course, he would ask. Flynn wasn’t the type to assume anything.
“Yes. Please. Just one night. That’s all I’m asking for.”
He lowered his forehead to touch hers.
“I can’t promise that, but I’m willing to try.”
Then he stood up, as if she were as light as his pack, and he carried her to his room. What girl doesn’t dream of this from her Cinderella days, Kat thought, resting her head against his shoulder?
This is my first Pre-Order. Talk about easy! Hit the buy link and you’ll have it automatically shipped to your e-reader the moment it “drops” on AUG. 13th –and, if it comes out at a cheaper price, that’s the price you’ll pay. Talk about Win-Win!
Would you like to meet Flynn Bensen and Kat Robinson? I really loved writing these two characters. They feel so genuine to me–both survivors and both heroes to me. You’ll see why.
Excerpt: MONTANA HERO
Mid-March, Marietta, Montana
“Fake it till you make it,” Flynn Bensen muttered under his breath as he marched the short distance from his designated parking spot to the front door of the Crawford County Search and Rescue Headquarters. “Here goes nothing.”
The nondescript prefab building sat a stone’s throw from the Sheriff’s Department, which possessed more gravitas given its brick facade. In the four weeks since arriving in Marietta, Montana, Flynn had spent the bulk of his time in training, meetings, and an inconveniently timed regional workshop in Missoula preparing to take over the job of Commander of Crawford County SAR, a division of the Sheriff’s Department. With three permanent employees, six on-call EMTs, and a volunteer staff of over a hundred during the high season, Flynn would have his hands full.
As he did now. Literally.
He’d bought the biggest box of doughnuts the local bakery had. Bear claws and apple fritters to maple bars and jelly-filled doughnuts. Sugar on steroids. The smell made his saliva glands kick into overdrive.
He dashed up the three-step rise and, balancing the box on the palm of his left hand, grabbed the lever-type handle to twist and pull.
It twisted but didn’t give as he expected. The cold of the metal burned his palm and he let go, cursing under his breath. Gloves. He’d left them in the truck. The cold never felt quite this bitter in Tennessee.
“You’re not in Tennessee any more, buddy boy,” he pictured his brother, Ryker, saying. “But, spring is coming. I promise.”
He glanced around at the piles of gritty-looking snow outlining the parking lot. He’d seen a few hardy—or foolish—sprouts of green on the sunny side of a few homes, but in the month since his move from the Great Smoky Mountains, which had been his home for nearly ten years, he’d felt winter’s arctic blast more than once.
The weather was the least of Flynn’s worries at the moment. It would play a huge role in his job, he’d been told. But, his chief goal today was to meet and greet his staff. Something he couldn’t do if he couldn’t get inside.
He noticed a warm yellow light spilling from the two curtained windows bracketing the door. Someone was inside.
He used the corner of the bakery box to push back the cuff of his heavy jacket to check his watch. Seven. The exact time he’d asked everyone to meet him here.
Managing personnel. That was what kept him awake at night lately. He’d been an employee of the National Park Service for most of his adult life. He’d moved up the grades by way of good reviews, not from a burning ambition to call the shots. He’d learned at a young age from his very successful father that work defined a man. Good or bad. His father’s credo had been, “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to the best of your ability.”
That early teaching might explain why Flynn’s younger brother, Ryker, was a world-class photographer, but it didn’t address the reason for Flynn’s reluctance to move into a managerial position…until now. At thirty-two…soon to be thirty-three.
He reached for his keys, which he’d clipped to a belt loop—a practice he’d gotten into after leaving them in his truck once too often. Unhooking the clip one-handed stretched his balancing abilities but he finally had the cluster of keys in hand. He located the one he thought fit the front door of the building.
He’d just inserted the key in the lock when the door suddenly burst outward, making Flynn step back. The heel of his boot hit the metal threshold between the ramp and the porch. The big box wobbled as he reached out to keep from cartwheeling backward.
“Oh, shit,” a woman’s voice said.
No shit, he silently seconded. He didn’t recognize the voice or the woman in the doorway but his first impression hit hard and fast. Pretty. Amused.
“Save the doughnuts,” he barked, juggling the box in her direction.
“Oh, hell, no.”
She reached out and grabbed his right forearm and held on with a strength that surprised him, since she was half his size. The box tipped and fell, but given the short distance between them, it only dropped as far as Flynn’s waist before his rescuer pulled him to safety.
The box lodged vertically between them. His left arm automatically wrapped behind her back. His right clasped between her hands. The top of her head, which reached just about to Flynn’s chin, was pointed down.
“Wow. Good catch. You brought doughnuts?”
She let go of his arm to take hold of the box before looking up.
Oh, I am so screwed.
Laughing green eyes. Intelligent, too. Full of piss and vinegar as his mother might say. The kind of eyes that had proven to be Flynn’s downfall more than once in the past—especially the recent past.
“Yes. From the bakery.”
“Cool.” She stepped back and spun around, box in hand. “Guys, he brought doughnuts. Ken never did that.”
Flynn figured out her name by process of elimination. She wasn’t old enough to be Janet, the main dispatcher, and the third woman designated for that task couldn’t make the meeting because her child was sick. She’d called at five to tell him.
That left Katherine Robinson. “She goes by Kat,” the County Personnel Director told him. “Single mom. Moved here from Texas. Started as a relief dispatcher. Got a permanent spot when Margie Crain retired at the first of the year. She’s good. Only thing keeping her from applying for your job was her son. She didn’t want to take time away from him.”
Flynn hadn’t asked for details. He believed in letting people tell their own stories. And he had a feeling Katherine Robinson’s story would be one he’d enjoy hearing.
He stomped the slush from his boots, re-clipped the keys to his belt loop, and then stepped inside.
“Good morning,” he said, unzipping his jacket. He’d dressed to impress—khaki cargo pants and long-sleeve red T-shirt with the SAR logo on the chest pocket. The color combo of SAR’s official uniform, he’d been told.
He glanced around. Not a single other red shirt among them.
“Thank you all for coming in early. I’d hoped to connect with each of you before this, but the Sheriff had other plans for me.” He kept his tone light with just a hint of irony. He knew how the system worked, as did these seasoned veterans, he was certain. “But you’ll be happy to know we are now the proud owners of the complete 2015 Emergency Response Handbook and FEMA’s Emergency Response to Terrorism, volumes I and II, if you need a little light reading.”
“Welcome to our world,” a tall, skinny guy with a shaved head and trim goatee said. Dressed in a standard issue navy blue paramedic jumpsuit, the fellow took a giant bite of a powdered sugar doughnut he’d plucked from the box Kat Robinson passed around. Residual white granules snowed across his broad chest.
After shoving the final bit into his wide mouth, he advanced toward Flynn, dusting sugar from his hands. “Brad Johnson. EMT.”
The other five paramedics, one in uniform and four in street clothes, followed suit. Four men, two women.
Flynn had read the performance reviews of every member of his team. It had become clear within a few pages that his predecessor had obvious favorites. Katherine Robinson was not one of them. Flynn wondered why.
After shucking his coat and hanging it up on a designated hook, Flynn shook hands with each of them. He tried to fit a face to the names he’d studied last night. Brad, Jeff, Kermit, Mike, Brenda, and Kerry. The ambulance service was contracted with the County Sheriff’s Department and didn’t fall under Flynn’s control, per se, but since the two teams worked closely together and space in the jail was at a premium, the EMT crew used a section of the SAR building for their base of operations, too.
“I look forward to getting to know each of you. If you have any ideas for making SAR run more smoothly, I’d love to hear them.”
“Just let us do our jobs,” Kat Robinson piped up from a spot behind the dispatch desk.
“That’s the whole point, isn’t it?” Flynn asked.
He felt the tension in the room as he walked to the coffee station that had been set up at the back of the room. Instead of grabbing a cup, he turned and looked at the group. “Let’s clear the air.”
He took a breath and let it out. “I’ve read the reports. I have a general idea what went down with the previous administration. I’m not a bureaucrat by nature. I’ve been on fire lines long enough to know that you don’t make it back if you’re not all playing on the same team.”
His last close call hit that tripwire of memory. A “flashback,” the shrinks called it. He used willpower to keep the images at bay. “I’m hoping we can be a team that puts our rescue calls first, but each other a close second.”
The silence made him wonder what he’d just stepped in? Piles of old loyalty? Land mines left by the previous toxic administration?
Kat Robinson came to his rescue. She stood and clapped. “Call me an optimist, but I have a good feeling about you.” She looked at the others. “How bad can he be? We already had the worst.”
The cold, flat tone of her voice told him there was no love loss where Kenneth Morrison was concerned, but he watched the face of the other dispatcher for her reaction. The senior woman wore a nearly unreadable mask. She reminded Flynn of his mother, who over the years had perfected her “iceberg” look, as Ryker called it. “All you ever see with Mom is the tip of the iceberg. It’s what’s underneath her smile that crushes your soul when it hits.”
The woman—Janet Haynes, Flynn believed—was fifty-seven. On the tall side…five-foot-eight, maybe. Not extremely overweight, but most of the extra pounds had settled in her backside. Her voice carried when she said, “Kenny did his best. And he’s not here to defend himself.”
Her eyes narrowed in an unattractive squint as she turned to face Flynn. “We had a team. We did good work. One mistake and you go down in flames. That’s what living and working in a small town, with small-minded people, will get you. I have two years left for my thirty, then I’m outa here. Just so you know.”
Got it, Flynn thought. Don’t expect to find you on my team either of those years.
The others? Time would tell. Associations, favorites, who-was-screwing-whom would shake out and reveal itself soon enough. In the meantime, he had an agenda of his own to put in place.
He walked to his office, a small cubicle near the restrooms. He might have thought it was a janitorial closet if not for the filing cabinets and Internet connection. The only window faced the interior, so he could keep an eye on his underlings, apparently.
He’d printed out a welcome letter-slash-questionnaire last night. “Utterly cheesy,” Ryker called it.
“Smart and heartfelt,” Mia, Ryker’s fiancée, had countered saucily.
As he passed a copy to each person, he said, “You’ll see a couple of team-building exercises listed here, including a zip line adventure a buddy of mine is setting up. The initial course will be open in mid- to late-May, depending on the weather, with the full course completed in time for summer tourists.”
“Do you plan to invite the volunteers, too?” Kermit asked.
“To each of the training exercises? Yes. To the team-building excursions? No.”
The two female EMTs had their heads together talking in muffled voices. Flynn couldn’t get a sense from their body language if they were pleased or pissed.
“Look,” he said, “I’m coming into a very well-oiled machine. I get that. I’m not planning to make major changes to your established protocol any time soon. I want to use the next couple of months to observe and get a feel for how you operate. I’ll probably respond to every call. Don’t freak out. I won’t be doing formal evaluations. I merely need to see how we react to 911 calls and what I…we…can do to improve our recovery success rate.”
He carried his thermal mug to the coffee urn at the back of the room. He didn’t have any diehard ideology he felt compelled to press upon them. But his last boss had taught him a few things about being a manager, and now was Flynn’s time to try implementing them.
“You’ll see I included my schedule this week. I will do my best to be available if anyone wants to talk. But to break the ice, I’d appreciate it if you’d each return your questionnaire for a quick one-on-one chat. Consider it your chance to tell me what you think works best about this unit’s present protocols and what you think needs changing.”
He made a sweeping gesture. “I left a job that I loved to move nearly two thousand miles away to take a job that pays less and is completely outside my comfort zone, so obviously change doesn’t scare me. Feel free to make a list.”
Everyone nodded, except Kat Robinson, who was already scribbling like mad. Somebody knows exactly what needs changing and she isn’t afraid to say so, he thought, forcing his eyes to look away from her pretty auburn head bowed so intently over her work, like a student taking the SATs.
Flynn’s gut told him he was going to like her—even if his mind cried, “No way, buddy boy. You know what happened the last time you fell for someone you worked with.”
His ex-wife, who was happily remarried and living in the house Flynn bought with his first inheritance. He’d let her pick the “house of her dreams’ thinking they’d be living in it together. Wrong. Schmuck that he was, he didn’t see the writing on the newly painted walls until she broke the news she’d never really gotten over her first love, who was newly single and well…sorry, Flynn.
He wasn’t going down that road again. Ever. Ryker had encouraged him to start looking for a house sooner rather than later. “Things don’t stay on the market for long around here, Flynn. Even if you decide to rent instead of buy, you need to get out there and look.”
They both knew Flynn’s temporary living quarters in the back of Bailey Jenkins-Zabrinski’s jewelry shop were just that—temporary. Ryker, too, had made use of the cozy rooms for a few months when he first moved to Marietta. Now, Ryker and Mia were building a new home on the lot he and Flynn had inherited from their father. With the money Ryker paid for Flynn’s share, Flynn decided he could be picky and find exactly the right spot that called to him. No bride with a hidden agenda would take half of it in the divorce. Because if Flynn ever fell in love again—a very big if—he planned to think with his head, not his libido.
END OF EXCERPT
Happy reading, my friends. Oh, and if you’re not signed up for my NEWSLETTER, which will be out on August 13 — same day as this release — please do. Here’s the prize one winner will receive: a fab Tule Book Girls tote, an autographed print copy of the story that started the Big Sky Mavericks series and two limited edition bookmarks.
This is a FIRST KISS first: co-authors! Please welcome my friends Katherine Garbera and Eve Gaddy.
Serendipity brought the two authors together more than 15 years ago when they were assigned to room together at a writers conference in Savannah, GA. Their friendship was cemented by arriving late to a publisher get-together and being forced to drag chairs across the lobby to join the gathering. It was the kind of thing that has happened more than once to the two friends.
Eve is a lifelong native Texan and Katherine moved there in 2005. Their love of the south has always been one of the many things the authors have in common. The best-selling, award-winning authors had long wanted to collaborate on a series and so Whiskey River was born.
They have filled the town with all the things they love about Texas. Sexy Texan tycoons and cowboys with smooth southern drawls, feisty women who go toe to toe with magnates and know how to keep those smooth talking cowboys in line. Experience the beauty of the Texas Hill Country and the sexy men who live there with them.
Are you ready for your kiss? Pucker up and read:
Intro: Ryder and Addison have taken shelter during a tornado. He’s her boss and she’s focused on leaving but she did sneak a kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas that they have both been pretending didn’t happen.
She lifted her hand and stroked her finger down his jaw to that tiny scar and shifted back just a little bit so she could see his face more clearly. “Why haven’t you tried to kiss me again since the Christmas party?”
She could tell she’d shocked him. His pupils dilated and his arm around her shoulder tightened and then he lowered his head and she felt the brush of his breath over her lips before he kissed her again.
She tasted just like he remembered. No, better. Sweet, like melted honey. With a spicy kick that made him want more. Ryder knew there were reasons he shouldn’t be kissing Addison. But he’d spent the last three months thinking about kissing her again. Kissing her, and more.
He pulled her closer, deepening the kiss. Running his hands up her back, feeling the softness of her body against his.
Instant heat. She felt it too. He could tell by how her body molded against his and her tongue answered his in a wicked rhythm.
Addison moaned and snuggled closer, but it wasn’t close enough. He helped her straddle him, her dress pushed up and then flowing around them. She wiggled her hips, not much, just enough to have his eyes crossing and him thinking about the only thing that would feel better—skin to skin contact.
He drew back to look at her. “Addison.”
Her lips were already swollen, her eyes dark pools of emerald. Damn, he was really going to regret this. Firmly, he moved her to sit beside him, wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a hug.
“That’s why I haven’t kissed you again.”
Confused, she said, “Because it was good?”
With his free hand he traced his fingers over that beguiling, pouty mouth. Unable to resist, he kissed her again, brief and hard. “Too good. In about thirty seconds we were going to reach the point of no return. We were going to make love right here, right now.”
She thought about that a moment. “And that would be bad, why?”
“Because the first time with you should be special. I don’t want it to be in a closet in the middle of a tornado warning when you’re doing anything you can to forget the memories the tornado brings up.”
“If we made love, which is by no means a given, it wouldn’t be because I was afraid of a tornado.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You can’t deny that was at least part of the reason you kissed me.” He’d bet the Kelly ranch on that.
Addison raised her chin pugnaciously. “You kissed me. I merely responded like any woman would have when—“ She broke off abruptly.
“When her boss kisses her?” he asked.
“I’m pretty sure you weren’t thinking like my boss just now. I know I wasn’t thinking about being your secretary.”
“My point, exactly. I want to do this right, Addison.”
“Do what right?”
Irked, he kissed her. When she would have spoken he kissed her again. “Honey, if you’re trying to frustrate me you’re doing a good job of it.” He continued before she could speak. “I want to get to know you and you get to know me,” he explained.
I’m so pleased to welcome back multi-award winning and USA Today bestselling author Amy Andrews to the FIRST KISS blog. Amy is an Aussie who has written fifty romances from novellas to category to single-title in both the traditional and digital markets for a variety of publishers. Her first love is steamy contemporary romance that makes her readers tingle, laugh and sigh. At the age of 16, she met a guy she instantly knew she was going to marry so she just smiles when people tell her insta-love books are unrealistic because she did marry that man and, twenty odd years later, they’re still living out their happily ever after.
Amy works part-time as a PICU nurse and spent six years on the national executive of Romance Writers of Australia where she organized two national conferences and undertook a two year term as president. She loves good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel – preferably all four together. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.
Are you ready for your kiss? Pucker up and read:
ALERT: language and mature subject matter (cold shower optional)
She turned abruptly again and looked at him in that direct, serious way of hers. ‘You got beer in this fridge?’
‘Yep.’ Christ. She was making him monosyllabic.
She grinned, turned, opened the fridge, leaned over — seriously, that ass — and pulled out two beers.
Dash moved closer, keeping the desk between them as she passed him one, and he took it, thankful to have something to do with his hands other than putting them all over her. ‘What time is your flight leaving?’
‘Oh…’ Seven long hours. ‘So…’
She nodded as she cracked the lid then took her first swallow. ‘I have all night.’ She walked around the desk towards him and Dash, not for the first time, wished his office was bigger. She stopped right in front of him, only millimetres separating them and looked up at him. Considering he was six three and she couldn’t be more than five four, she had to tip her head back quite a ways.
‘Whatever shall we do?’ she asked.
Dash had two options. Play it coy and extricate himself, or tackle the elephant in the room.
Or the pixie, as the case may be.
‘Don’t you think I’m a little too old for you?’
She shrugged. ‘Too old to marry, sure. To fuck? Not necessarily.’
Dash swallowed as her deliberate profanity went straight to his dick. ‘Are you always this direct?’
A small smile played on her otherwise serious mouth. ‘Am I shocking you?’
‘The last time I saw you, you were a kid with your head buried in Edgar Allen Poe.’
She placed a hand on his chest and he felt it all the way to his groin. ‘I’m twenty-three. Welcome to the future.’
Twenty-three. Christ! ‘I’m thirty-five years old, Joy. Maybe you should be playing with boys your own age?’
‘I don’t like to limit myself.’
Her hand dropped to the button of his jeans and he quickly grabbed it before it went any lower. ‘I thought I wasn’t your type.’
She shrugged. ‘What can I say? I’m fickle.’
‘I thought you said you weren’t fucking me tonight?’
‘Hence the aforementioned fickleness.’
Dash was trying damn hard to be a gentleman here. She was Pete’s little sister for crying out loud. ‘I don’t think Pete would approve,’ he said, clutching at mental straws now. ‘There is a guy code, you know.’
‘And when was the last time you saw Pete? Fifteen years ago?’
Yeh. He sucked at keeping in touch.
‘I think,’ she said, raising herself up on her tippy toes and tilting her head until their mouths were almost touching, their drinks trapped between their combined bodies, ‘there’s a statute of limitations for guy code stuff and you are well and truly absolved from your responsibilities. It’s just sex, Dash. Recreational sex. I’m getting a plane to the other side of the planet in seven hours. I’m not interested in anything past tonight.’
And she planted a beer-infused kiss on his mouth that was like rocket fuel to his groin.
Screw it. He removed the beers, plonked them on the desk beside him then reached for the cheeks of her ass and hauled her up his body, slamming his mouth into hers, welcoming the feel of her legs as they locked around his waist.
Her tongue pushed into his mouth as he took three paces, pushing her against the wall near the door, groping for the light switch, plunging them into darkness.