Thanks so much, Debra, for hosting me on your blog. I’m thrilled to introduce everyone to the “stars” of Shore to Please, Book 3 in my Gulf Shore series, which was released June 22 by Liquid Silver Books. Flipper is the head dolphin trainer at Gulf Shore Aquarium, the jewel of the tourist district in the west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore.
Flipper sets hearts aflutter when he dons a wet suit and interacts with his finned friends at the aquarium’s Dolphin Inlet habitat. But animal rights activist Tara Langley isn’t happy that Flipper sets her pulse to pounding, too. After all, the group she cofounded, Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering, SWADS for short, is against keeping dolphins in captivity. If she had her way, the job Flipper loves would be rendered obsolete.
Flipper and Tara together are like a butcher and a vegetarian. Staunch conservative and ultra liberal. Boston Red Sox fan and New York Yankees supporter. Or fire and gasoline.
Why, then, are they both itching to strike a match?
When Flipper and Tara met in Shore Feels Right, Gulf Shore Book 2, there were sparks, good and bad, right from the beginning. It didn’t sit well with Flipper and his coworkers, of course, when SWADS members waved protest signs across the street from the aquarium. And when anonymous threats began arriving in the mail, Tara and her group landed on the suspect list.
As the threats escalated, it’s obvious more sinister forces have targeted Gulf Shore and its staff. Flipper’s boss is quick to believe the worst of Tara, while Flipper finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend her.
And then he and Tara end up attending the same seminar in Orlando. Afterwards, Flipper offers to buy her dinner and, after some hesitation, she gives in. It’s far from a romantic interlude, and they desperately search for common ground amid the quicksand.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Where’d you grow up, and how’d you end up in Orlando?” Flipper asked.
Tara flashed an enigmatic smile. “You can’t tell by my accent?”
His baffled expression amused her. In fact, the man himself delighted her when they weren’t picking at each other over his job and her cause. Once again she found herself wishing they’d met under different circumstances. But he couldn’t change what he was any more than she could.
“I’ll play along, mystery lady. What do you call a soft drink?”
“Soda or soooda?”
She laughed. “Just one syllable. Now you tell me.”
“Growing up, I called everything coke.”
“Even when you were drinking root beer?”
“Yep. Everything was coke, lowercase.”
“After the first few times a server brought a Coke when I wanted a Dr. Pepper, I learned to specify. Okay, here’s another one. Do you refer to a small stream of water as a creek or a crick?”
“Creek, of course.”
“Me, too. What do you call your maternal grandmother?”
“Mimi. How do you address a group of two or more people?”
“My neighbors said you-uns, but my mother frowned on that expression.”
“Uh, okay. My people say y’all.”
“Hmm. What kind of shoes are you wearing now?”
Flipper looked at his feet and then at her. “Tennis shoes. What do you call them?”
“Sneakers. All right, one more.”
“Make it a good one.”
“Of course. What’s the term for the gunk that gathers in the corners of your eyes overnight?”
She made a sour face. “That’s certainly crude.”
“And what do you call it, Madam Etiquette?”
“It’s a good deal better than”—she turned up her nose—“eye booger.”
“I think that’s pretty descriptive. I mean, you say those two words and everyone knows what you’re talking about.” She shook her head, still unconvinced. “Anyway, based on everything you’ve just told me, Tara, I’d say you’re from Snob City.”
“What? I am not a snob, Paul O’Riley.”
“We’re back to Paul, are we? Okay, how about Snootyburgh?”
“Flipper.” Her tone carried a warning.
The corners of her mouth quirked. “Are you finished?”
“Almost. Haughty Valley? Pompous Place?”
“Keep it up and Comedy Central will be calling.”
“You can’t deny you sometimes sound like you have a big board wedged up your butt.”
“I most certainly do not!” He raised an eyebrow. “Okay, perhaps I do, especially when I’m feeling off-balance and lapse back into ingrained habits. My mother was an English teacher who abhorred slang and insisted on proper diction. I never even dared utter a curse word until after I went away to college.”
“That explains a lot.”
Tara flashed him a fake smile and continued. “She wanted in the worst way for me to major in English language and literature. I’ve always felt like a disappointment to her. She takes great satisfaction in comparing me to my younger sister, who buckled under to the pressure and followed in Mother’s footsteps. If you think I have a proper way of speaking, you should meet Caroline. Even I think she’s a bore. She married an equally tedious math teacher, and they have two oddly spiritless children who never have snotty noses, sticky fingers, stained clothing, or skinned knees. My mother is beside herself with pride.”
“Your household must’ve been some fun while you were growing up.”
“You have no idea.”
“What about your father?”
“He was a high school principal preoccupied with upholding an image, so he and my mother were a united front. Now, back to our original topic. It’s my turn to do you.”
He winked at her. “I thought you’d never ask.”
“I didn’t mean it that way! Stop laughing. And you wonder why I tend to avoid the vernacular.”
That made him laugh harder. She tried not to smile but couldn’t help it.
“Just for that,” she told him, “I’m going to guess you’re a native of the Isle of Fools.”
“New Port Ninny? Buffoon Beach? Cape Cretin? Ooh, ooh, I know. Simpleton.”
Flipper gave her an indulgent look.
“Or how about—”
He leaned forward and silenced her with a kiss. Tara’s mind short-circuited, and she clung to his shoulders when he started to pull away. He cupped the back of her head and teased her mouth open with his tongue. Swept up in the moment, she briefly forgot who and where they were until the server plunked two beverages in front of them. They broke apart with a start, and as reality intruded once more, she feigned interest in her place setting and the small bowl of lemons for their iced tea.
“Tara, honey, look at me,” he coaxed.
She spread her napkin over her lap instead. He reached across the table and, with gentle but firm pressure beneath her chin, lifted her head.
“Don’t be so freaked out. It was just a kiss,” he soothed.
“Oh, sure. First it was just dinner, now it’s just a kiss. What’s next?”
“Depends on what you want to happen?”
“Nothing, that’s what I want to happen. Flipper, what are we doing?”
“We’re having a nice time. Or at least we were until you started overthinking things again.”
“Overthinking? I’m not so sure my brain’s been engaged at all.” She ran a nervous hand through her hair.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Isn’t it? There’s only one way this can end, and that’s badly. I’ve already endured one failed romance this year. I don’t think I could stand another one.”
Flipper took her busy hand and held it still. “Aren’t you getting a little ahead of yourself? You’re acting like we woke up in bed together after a night of scream-so-loud-you-piss-off-the-neighbors sex.”
The highlight reel in her mind made Tara’s girl parts leap up and shout, “Hallelujah!” Her tongue, on the other hand, seemed Super-Glued to the roof of her mouth. Staring at him was the best she could do at the moment.
“What? No snappy comeback?”
She shook her head.
“Well, that’s disappointing.”
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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.
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THANKS for sharing, Amy! Please come again.