Tag Archives: #secondchanceatlove

#BacklistThursday 1.14.2021

Last week I shared a little snippet from my debut novel, Skater’s Waltz. This week on #BacklistThursday, the second book in The MacQuire Women series, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

This book is so dear to me because it was my very first, true Friends to lovers romance novel.

Blurb:

Symphony pianist Moira Cleary comes home after four years of touring, exhausted, sick, and spiritually broken. Emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of someone she trusted has left her gaunt, anxious, and at a crossroads both professionally and personally.

Moira’s best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton, wants nothing more than to help Moira get well. Can his natural healing skills make it possible for her to open her heart again? And can he convince her she’s meant to stay home now with the family that loves her – and with him – forever?

and here’s a little snippet from the book…

She started to open the front door but stopped when Quentin abruptly turned back and started up the porch steps again.

“I forgot something,” he told her.

“What?”

When he came up the last step and crossed to her, he said, “this,” and without another word pulled her into his arms.

Her first and last coherent thought was her best friend was going to kiss her goodnight. After a heartbeat, she forgot the best friend part and knew down to her toes friendship had nothing to do with this.

His lips slid across her mouth, soft and gentle, testing, tasting. Moira’s mind went blank as she succumbed to the sensation of them, hot and hard, pressing against hers in a kiss like none he’d ever given her before. Slowly, he traced her bottom lip with the tip of his tongue, silently asking her to open for him. When she did, he entered her mouth and began to explore, each movement becoming more demanding, more insistent. Moira fell against him, fisting his jacket lapels to steady herself. When she felt his heartbeat pounding under her hands, she grew lightheaded with need. Quentin framed her face with his fingertips, softly tugging down on her chin, changing the angle of the kiss.

She’d been kissed before, but never, never with such all consuming need and longing. She heard a deep moan and was shocked to realize the sound had escaped from her. One of Quentin’s hands left her face to slide down her back. When he pushed against her backside and molded her body to his, Moira’s stomach jumped. This time, though, it wasn’t with the painful contractions she’d come to expect, but with a heart- stopping craving.

A craving for him.

She unfurled her hands from his jacket and, without thought, wound them upwards, weaving them over his shirt collar and up through his hair. She grabbed onto the ends, pulled his head down closer, and held on fast.

All aspect of time was lost. Nothing mattered but the delicious feel of his strong hands caressing her back and the taste of him as his tongue mated with hers.

This couldn’t be happening. It had to be a dream.

But no dream had ever made her want like this, feel like this. When he skimmed his lips across her jaw and down her throat, stopping to take her lobe into his mouth, Moira knew this wasn’t a dream. That same feeling she’d had when she looked at him in the movie steeped through her again, tickling her stomach muscles. With a jolt, she realized the sensation was desire. Pure and simple.

Quentin pulled back and stared down into her face. With a heavy sigh, he laid his forehead against hers, a small grin tugging at the corners of his lips. “I’ve wanted to kiss you for so long. So damn long.”

“Q—?”

He traced one finger lazily down her jaw and across the lips he’d just caressed, silencing her. “Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”

Confused, Moira nodded. She licked her lips, running her tongue across his caressing finger. The hiss that blew from him made her thighs shake.

Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you may now kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around, and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”

Moira tried to conjure the scene. “I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”

He nodded. “The exact quote was ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”

Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever going to kiss me like that.”

“He wasn’t known for tact back then,” he said, rubbing a hand down her back as he held her next to him in the soft lamplight from the porch. The soothing, rhythmic smoothing of his hand made every nerve on Moira’s body stand at attention.

“Later on that day, behind the barn, remember what happened then?”

Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire. When she merely nodded, he traced a kiss across the area he’d just caressed, and said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you—quote—felt safe with me—unquote.”

“What was I? Eleven?” she said, finally finding her voice, and unnerved to hear it whining.

“Thirteen. We both were, and I was more than willing to do it. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”

His lips twitched at the corners when he said it, and Moira felt the warmth of her blush intensify.

“Q—”

“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hand resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”

“And conceited.”

“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”

And if you read the book, you know they were, hee hee!

Intrigued to read more? Here ya go, let me make it easy: There’s No Place Like Home

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#Teasertuesday 11.24.2020 BAKED WITH LOVE ( A Match Made in Heaven, bk 3)

Since BAKED WITH LOVE is due out in less then 3 week ( I’m not freaking out.I’m not!) I figured a teaser from the book would be good for today. This scene is Maureen’s first indication Lucas may feel something for her more than friendship…

“What were the three of you talking about?” I asked Lucas once the others left the kitchen.

Before answering me, he closed the dishwasher and wiped his hands on a dishtowel.

He leaned back across the sink ledge and crossed his arms over his chest. The material on his dress shirt pulled against the bulk of his biceps, and my mouth went dry as unprocessed baking flour.

“Mac’s bachelor party. Cathy said she’s busy next weekend finalizing some wedding stuff with Colleen, so they’re both free. We’re gonna do something Saturday night.”

“What? Heaven’s not exactly the place where three guys can run amuck as a last hurrah to bachelorhood. Not that you’d ever run amuck, but still.”

His right eyebrow rose on his forehead. “Run amuck?”

I shrugged. “You know what I mean.”

When he dropped his chin to his chest, I got the distinct impression he was laughing at me and didn’t want me to see. When he shook his head, I was certain of it.

“I should pay you to help Robert with his SAT prep. Amuck. Good word.”

“And accurate. So, what are your plans? Getting out of town for the night? Driving into Concord or Manchester? Hitting a few bars and drinking your weight in beer?”

He angled his head to one side as he regarded me through half-closed eyes. His entire stance as he leaned against the sink, arms folded, ankles crossed and pushed out in front of him, radiated a calm, cool, and disinterested façade. I knew he was anything but. Lucas Alexander was never so focused, so intense, or so stealthy as when he appeared exactly the opposite.

His ability to remain calm and unreadable was another facet of his personality I loved.

“Why do you want to know?” he asked me. “What are you worried about?”

“I’m not worried.”

“You say one thing, but your body language says another.”

I rolled my eyes. “My body language says nothing. There’s no reason for me to be worried about anything since Slade and Mac are going to be with you, Lucas. Whatever you wind up doing, I know they’ll be safe. I’m asking because, like my sisters are fond of saying, I inherited Nanny’s nosy gene.”

His brows pulled together between his eyes and that head tilt shifted.

“What do you mean you’re not worried because they’ll be with me? And what did that crack about me never running amuck mean? Jesus.” He unfurled his arms and swiped his hands through his hair at the temples. “I’ve said amuck more times than I’ve ever said it in my life.”

“That’s a dumb question, since you’re the chief of police.” I held my hands up at my sides. “You’re the most responsible and trustworthy human being I know. You don’t do anything that crosses a line either morally, ethically, or legally. I’ve seen you drunk once in your life after Danny’s funeral, and you deserved to be since you’d just lost your best friend. You’re dependable, Lucas. Completely.”

It was a wonder he didn’t get a headache from the way the skin over his forehead puckered inward.

“Dependable and trustworthy? You make me sound like a cub scout, or an unemotional robot with a stick up his ass. Dull and boring. Like I don’t know how to have a good time and never do.”

“I’m sure you do, but I’m also sure since you became chief, you’re more aware than ever of the small minds and big mouths living in this town. You can’t be seen doing anything”—I shook my head again— “questionable or unseemly, like getting drunk in public at a bachelor party. You need to be on the safe side of gossip at all times. And you are. It’s what makes you such a good leader.”

“Unseemly? Lord, Maureen. Now you’re making me sound like a modern version of Josiah Heaven. You gonna accuse me of having a God complex next?”

How the heck had this conversation veered into him thinking I was comparing him to our town founder?

“What?” I fisted my hands on my hips, well and truly confused and getting irritated by the second. “Weren’t you the one who told my sister in that very breezeway”—I pointed behind me—“not more than two hours ago you weren’t going to condone anything illegal because, quote, you’re the chief of police, unquote? I don’t think I imagined it, Lucas.”

It was as if he hadn’t heard me.

“I’m not old and tired and worn out yet, you know.” He started pacing back and forth, his hands slung in his trouser pockets.

“I never said you were. I—”

“I’ve got responsibilities to this town and its citizens, Maureen. I’m on call twenty-four hours a day for the city. Never a day to myself, never a night to call my own. Christ. I had to promise Pete Bergeron three weekends in a row off in order to be free Saturday night.”

“Lucas, what—”

“I haven’t had a vacation in six years. In addition, I take care of a man who wants nothing more than to die and finds it amusing to take pot shots at my son.”

For the first time in my memory, Lucas’s voice rose. He was always the proverbial calm during a crisis, the one everyone gravitated to for guidance, the man people regarded as a natural leader.

It dawned on me he wasn’t simply tired, but exhausted. And not only physically. The weight of all the responsibilities he carried on those strong, broad shoulders was taking its toll, and he had no one in his life to help shoulder them.

Placing myself straight in front of him, I barred his pacing. I reached out, wrapped a hand around his forearm, and pressed, forcing him to pay attention to me.

He blinked hard a few times, as if coming awake after a deep sleep. The confusion in his eyes worried me.

“Lucas. Stop.”

He focused in on me, then to where I held his arm. When he lifted his gaze back to me, his forehead was furrowed. “Maureen?”

I squeezed his arm again. “Are you okay?”
 He tilted his head to one side while he continued to stare at me for a few beats.
“I’m worried about you,” I told him.

“Worried?”

“Yes. You’re being”—I shrugged then shook my head—“weird. And you’re scaring me.”

He blinked a few times. “You’re worried about me?”

“Yes, dammit.” I stamped my foot, frustrated and getting mad, now. “I care about you, and I’m worried because you’re acting so out of character. What about that is so hard to comprehend?”

I removed my hand from his arm, only to have him grab it back with his own.

“Let go of m—” I stopped dead. One look at the expression on his face and any and all words were forgotten. The confusion reeling in his eyes shifted, cleared, then flew completely to be replaced by a piercing, all consuming…hunger.

Intrigued? I hope so. You can preorder your ecopy here, now: BWL

And if you’d like a PRINT version before the book is released, I’m selling them on my website store for a drastically reduced price, here: STORE

And not to brag ( even though I am) Long and Short Reviews gave BAKED WITH LOVE a BEST BOOK RATING.

Love that!!!

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven

HOME IN YOUR ARMS by Charlotte O’Shay – A Deerbourne Inn Novella

I’ve got one of my favorite authors – and people – visiting here today. CHARLOTTE O’SHAY is a one-click author for me for so many reasons, not the least of which is her amazeballs story telling talent. We are Wild Rose Press sistahs and I have been honored to meet and get to know her at several RWA conferences. Today, she’s visiting because she has a brand new release out, her second addition to the Deerbourne Inn series titled HOME IN YOUR ARMS.

I was lucky enough to read this book before it went into release and I can’t say enough about how much I loved the characters, the storyline, and the way Charlotte just draws me in every single time to one of her stories. I’m gonna turn the mic over to her now…

Charlotte, take it away.

When I asked Peggy Jaeger about visiting her blog to talk about my new release HOME IN YOUR ARMS, and after she delivered her enthusiastic, typically Peggy yes! we had an inevitable moment catching up with our lives and our families, virtually, of course because that’s the way we do everything these days… sigh.

We talked about our families—weddings and funerals, parents and grandchildren, the seasons, the weather, how we’re always looking for time, striving for more and trying to be better.

And when we got to the end of our exchange, and I thought about what I would say about my latest release, I realized our chat was exactly what HOME IN YOUR ARMS is all about.

HOME IN YOUR ARMS is a romance but it’s also about finding one’s life and one’s self again. It’s about recognizing grief must have its time but if you let it, love will find a way back into your life. It’s about forgiving people—family and friends who mean well and accepting they are only being themselves with their own burdens to shoulder. It’s about mourning but recognizing it’s okay to dance again, it’s okay to hope, to look forward, make plans, create a future.

Karla & Zane are two people who meet when the time is finally right for them. They fight their attraction, they’re united in their loyalty, believing all sorts of things, but mainly that they’re undeserving of another chance at happiness. HOME IN YOUR ARMS is about how they understand, eventually, it’s okay to open themselves to love and romance, that it’s okay to be happy again.

It’s no wonder I felt compelled to quote from Ecclesiastes in one of the last chapters of the book. “To everything there is a season…”

Check me out on social media and let me know what you think of Karla and Zane’s story.

BLURB

After her sweetheart Joe dies in a road accident, twenty-four hours after he returns from Army service, grieving Karla Payne slams the door on love.
Five years later, Karla’s tavern business is booming, and she owns her home, but she knows forever love has no part in her future.

Headed to interview for his first civilian job, retired career Army 1st Sgt. Zane Blackthorne can’t resist visiting his late buddy’s beloved Vermont hometown. He also can’t resist looking up Joe’s sweetheart, Karla, who is an alluring mix of brains, beauty, and bravery.
Loyalty to his brother-in-arms demands Zane fight his attraction to Karla. Besides, even if Karla wants him, she’ll never love him.

Can Zane say goodbye to the woman he has no right to call his own?
Even if his only true home is in her arms?

Excerpt: 

He’d neglected to make a reservation for dinner at the inn which would have been handy given his hunger, but he was inclined to want something faster than a three-course meal anyway.

He took a quick look at the town map the desk clerk proffered, but he didn’t need it. It was all as Joe described. Setting the map back on the desk, he proceeded into town.

The Stone Hearth Tavern was filled to bursting with people, the jukebox blaring Roy Orbison. Not in the mood to converse with the throng at the bar, Zane made his way to an empty back table. After he gave the teenage server his order, he did his best to melt into the background—no easy feat given his size, but it felt good to stretch his legs and cross booted feet under one of the tables backed against the rear wall.

There she was—Karla. Exactly as Joe described her and yet more so. A strawberry blonde who commanded the area behind the bar, her staff, and the entire tavern with a simple flick of her capable hand and an impatient lift of one dark auburn eyebrow.

It was a busy night for a Tuesday in early March. Winter had barely loosed its grip on this part of the country, but nevertheless it seemed in the small town of Willow Springs, people socialized. Socializing was as foreign a concept to him as smiling. Two months after his retirement from the service, two months back on American soil, and he was as wary of people as a monk emerging from a twenty-year vow of silence.

This felt weird. No, it was weird because he didn’t belong here. Did he belong anywhere? Zane squashed the intrusive thought because he reckoned he belonged here as much as anywhere else. Even if his mind knew the truth of it, it would take some convincing before his body unwound from its tense coil in the hard seat at the back of the tavern. Wary and on watch, he was the furthest thing from relaxed or social. Cheeseburger and fries consumed, he stood, casting one last look behind the bar. Karla stood at the old-school register, hair gleaming bright under the pendant light, pencil tight between her white teeth as she rang up a customer. He dropped some cash on his table and found the exit.

What a mistake. Zane shook his head at the absurdity of the ridiculous plan prompting him to stop at the tavern Karla owned, and to visit Willow Springs at all.

You can get your copy here: Barnes & Noble Nook// Amazon Kindle // Apple – I Books //

Add it to your  Goodreads/ and Bookbub Pages

A little about Charlotte O’Shay

Award winning, NYC author Charlotte O’Shay is the middle child of a big family who married into another equally boisterous large family. Arguing, er…negotiating skills honed at the dinner table led her to a career in law. After four beautiful children joined the crowded family tree, Charlotte traded her legal career to write about happily ever afters in the City of Dreams.Charlotte challenges her heroines and heroes with a crisis then watches them figure out who they are while they fall in love.

You can connect with, and follow Charlotte here: WEBSITE & NEWSLETTER  // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // PINTEREST // FACEBOOK PAGE  // BOOKBUB

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Deerbourne Inn, Uncategorized

#SundaySnippet 8.23.2020

A little story I’m working on about lost, then found, love….

~ ~ ~ ~

When she swallowed again and her chest lifted a hair with the quick breath she hauled in ( and Jesus, was she braless?) he knew her nerves were swarming and she was stalling for time in order to think of a response.

Old habits he knew well.

“Husband?”

“Yeah. You know? Mr. Hamilton?”

“It’s doctor, actually,” she mumbled.

Of course it is. His first name’s probably Alexander.

“And we’re not married anymore.”

His heart rate quickened at the disclosure.

“How long?”

“A little less than a year.”

Curiosity compelled him to ask, “Is that why you moved back home?”

She nodded.

“What happened?”

Sage lifted the pizza to her lips, took a small bite and simultaneously shrugged. “Simple and clichéd story. We wanted different things and neither of us was prepared to compromise.”

Well, that certainly sounded familiar.

“You’re divorced, according to Corrine,” she added. “You must now how it is.”

Nodding, he took his own bite of the delicious pizza and wondered if his ex sounded as bitter when she talked about their failed marriage as Sage did. Barbara had no cause to be, but he didn’t think it would stop her from badmouthing him if given the opportunity.

“What didn’t you agree on?” he asked.

She sighed again and he did a quick eye-dip to her chest.

Yup, no bra.

“I wanted children. He didn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out until we were married almost seven years.”

Nodding, he said, “You always wanted kids. Even when we were teenagers you were a born nurturer. Remember when my grandparent’s cat had kittens? You took care of the mamma and her babies for over a month. Every day before we’d start working you’d make sure mamma was comfortable in the store’s back room, had enough to eat and that the kittens were thriving.”

The smile he’d loved the very first time he’d ever seen it cross her face lit up her eyes at the memory. “I think that was when I really decided to become a doctor.”

“It’s a wonder you didn’t become a Vet with the amount of animals you took care of back then. Mrs. Barclay’s chickens, old man Paley’s dog.”

“People are easier. They can tell you where it hurts.

“Truth.” He took another bite of pizza, his gaze staying on her. “So. What did Doctor Hamilton want that you didn’t?”

When she nailed him with a look so filled with hurt and yet so swimming in anger, he knew it was something big.

“Other women.”

His hand stopped its assent to his mouth, the point of the pizza wedge dipping down toward the plate. “He cheated on you?”

“Several times. It was his favorite hobby. Most doctors play golf on their days off. Leland played the role of happy bachelor. When I found out and confronted him he told me I didn’t need to worry about any of the women. They meant nothing. It was just sex. His libido was strong and he needed…more, than I could give him. He came home to me every night and I had his name, he said. That proved he loved me and me alone. Seems we differed on the definition of the word. Another thing about us I didn’t learn until several years after we married.”

“What a dick.”

Details about the story will be available soon.. But it’s got a Holiday 2020 release, so…

Until next time, peeps ~ Peg

And if you’re looking for me, I’m usually here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// BookMe  //Watch me

 

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Filed under Romance, Writing

July Book of the Month winner at LoveRomanceReads!

I’m so excited and honored that VANILLA WITH A TWIST won the July Book of the Month contest over at LoveRomanceReads.

I’m not gonna lie – I campaigned hard to win because I knew that the win came with a chance to do a Facebook Messenger chat and I wanted to be able to promote the entire One Scoop or Two Series of books from Wild Rose Press.

The live FBMessenger chat will take place next Thursday, July 23, at 8:30 pm EST.  This is the link and you need to join the Love Romance Reads Romp to participate, so click on, ask to join, and you’re set: LRR

If you want to read the book before the chat, I’ve included the buy links below. It’s a novella, so you should be able to get it read in just a few lazy afternoon hours.

Hope to see as many people as we can fit in the room next Thursday. Happy reading!

Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenage son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop’s machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn’t had a day off in a decade and wonders if she’ll ever be able to live a worry-free life.

Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher’s Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy’s shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.

Can the budding friendship that follows lead to something everlasting?

Buy Links:

Amazon // Nook  // Applebooks // Google play //Rakuten/Kobo

Like the book and want to leave a review? I’d be thrilled! Here’s where you can ( in addition to amazon, nook, etc):

Goodreads // Bookbub //

And look for the other One Scoop or Two novellas currently out:

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Filed under One Scoop or Two, Vanilla with a twist

#TeaserThursday 6.18.2020

Since this book comes out in 13 days, I figured a few lines from its pages would be a good teaser for today.

Here’s the blurb so you know what’s what:

Waking up each day is a gift….

On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.

Financier Kincade Enright has his own reason for helping Aurora discover who poisoned her, but for the time being he’s keeping that – and his true identity – to himself. What he can’t keep hidden though, are his growing feelings for the one-time paparazzi darling and party-girl.

When this prince of finance joins forces with the former sleeping beauty, nothing can stop them from finding the answers they seek…or prevent the powerful emotions developing between them as they search for the truth.

And here’s the teaser:

“Sorry I’m late,” I said when I met Cade at The Smith on Friday evening. “Traffic was ridiculous. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

“I offered to pick you up,” Cade said, rising from his seat. He took one of my hands in his and bussed my cheek. “But you insisted we meet here.”

“It just made sense from a travel standpoint.”

The waiter held my chair for me to sit; a server immediately filled a water glass.

“I took the liberty of ordering a bottle of wine,” Cade took his own seat across from me. “I hope you don’t mind.”

I flittered my hand at him. “Not at all. A glass of wine sounds great about now.”

While the sommelier appeared instantly at his side, I took stock of Cade.

Or more accurately, Cade in a tuxedo.

A well fitted, expensive-as-sin, double breasted, midnight black tuxedo, complete with a bow tie I knew without a doubt wasn’t a clip on.

The man had been a walking advertisement for yummy in the suit he wore to the auction. But a tuxedo increased his hot and sexy quotient to a level I don’t think I’d ever graded a man on before.

He wore it as if he’d been born to it.

He wore it as if he’d been born in it.

The deep, inky color set-off the green in his eyes, deepening them to an unrefined, natural jade.

While he lifted his glass and sampled the wine, diamond cufflinks on his wrists winked in the dim, mood lighting around us.

This man oozed class and wealth from every pore.

He gave a quick nod of acceptance then waited while our glasses were seen to.

“Alone at last,” Cade said, the corners of his lips lifting. We clinked glasses, sipped.

“Oh that’s nice,” I said, the dry, slight citrus flavor dancing over my palette and making my taste buds hum. “Good choice.”

“I’m glad you like it.” He lowered his glass then leaned in closer across the small table and took my free hand. “You look lovely tonight.”

Something warm settled in me and I don’t think it was the wine. Flirty Rory showed herself as I cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Only tonight?”

His smile was quick and devastating. “More so tonight than usual.”

Intrigued? Or should I asked, teased? Hee hee.

Here’s the buy link if you’re so inclined to read more:  Amazon

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under #Woke

#SundaySnippet 4.5.2020 Today, Tomorrow, Always

I simply had to pull today’s snippet from one of my favorite books of 2019 – TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS – becauseI wanted to share with you an unbelievable 5 star review I received from Long and Short reviews on Friday. After I stopped crying I knew this week I should re-promo this  book again.

In this scene, Cathy starts to realize there’s more than just a sad spirit floating about in Mac Frayne. Much more…..

Before leaving, I pulled my cellphone from my purse and slipped it into my jacket pocket. Life with Nanny has taught me never to be more than an Instagran call away.

I led the way down the cast-iron circular staircase to the subbasement. I hadn’t been in the personal archives since taking over my keeper-of-the-keys duties—I was going to call it that forever, now—and I’d forgotten how deathly quiet it could be. And creepy. What amounted to two stories below ground level, the staircase was lit only by the electric sconces on the wall guiding us downward. The sound of our shoes bounced and echoed off the metal gratings under our feet.

“It’s wicked spooky down here,” I said when we came to the bottom. “No outside noise. No windows. No people. It’s like a perfect tomb. If I ever got stuck down here, the silence alone would scare me into an early grave.”

“If I was a suspense or a horror writer, this would be a great setting to kill someone and then stash the body,” Frayne said, looking around the space.

“With limited, keyed access and no foot traffic, it wouldn’t be discovered for a while. You could make as much noise or as much of a mess as you wanted and no one would know. The walls would absorb all the sounds of torture and screaming. We’re far enough underground the stench of decomp wouldn’t be noticeable. By the time the body was found, you’d be long gone. It’s kind of a perfect setup, actually.” He perused the area intensely, assessing the possibilities.

A shudder zipped up my spine. Who knew the mild-mannered and reserved writer had such a macabre side?

And why, for the love of God, did I find it so…arousing?

He turned to me, and then cupped the back of his neck with one palm, a half grin lining his mouth. “Sorry. I tend to think out loud without filtering. Side effect of being in a solitary profession. I don’t usually have an audience when thoughts are running around in here”—he tapped his temple—“so I tend to say them out loud.”

“I think you might have missed your calling in the horror-writing department. The scene you set was a little too realistic and probable for comfort. The next time we come down here, I’m hauling a baseball bat along in case you want to try out any of your ideas.”

A heart-stopping grin shot across his face like a bolt of lightning: rapid, blinding, and powerful.

“I’m harmless.” To underscore his point, he drew an X over his heart.

I didn’t know about that. Those dimples were about as harmless as a heart attack.

With a shake of my head and my own grin slipping across my lips, I slid the key into the locked door and opened it. A second door, this one passcode protected, stood a few feet in front of us.

“Double security. Impressive.”

“The museum’s insurance adjustor insisted on it. Some of the papers and items in here could be considered historically priceless.” I typed the seven- digit code I’d had to memorize when I was inducted into the historical society onto the keypad located on the wall abutting the door.

“You know, if I was writing my horror book, I’d make you the sole individual with access to the admittance code,” he said, his voice soft and hushed now around us. “I’d worm my way into your trust, then lure you down here to gain access to some treasure sealed behind the door.”

He was standing close behind me, so close I could feel his breath trail across the back of my neck. The shiver sliding down my spine this time wasn’t from the creep factor associated with the locale. No, this time it was pure excitement fraying my nerve endings. Excitement, want, and…need.

I turned back to face him. A day or two’s thatch of black and white stubble grazed his cheeks and jaw, and if I were to scratch my fingers across it, it would be prickly and incredibly alluring. His eyes had gone to half-mast as he regarded me from under thick lashes, and his lips were parted a fraction.

“Worm your way into my trust, how?”

His shrug appeared noncommittal. After a moment, he tugged his bottom lip under his top teeth and slanted me a gauging squint. “Well, since my purpose would be some shade of evil, malicious intent—”

“Good description for a horror story.”

He grinned. “I’d have to make sure you trusted me. Maybe I’d write a plot point where you took pity on me for some reason.” He stopped, his gaze shooting down to my mouth and then back up again. “Maybe even attempt a simple seduction to ensure my hold over you.”

The subbasement was kept at a comfortable, controlled seventy degrees year round. But you would never have known it by me. With each word from Frayne’s lips, my inner temperature climbed higher, like a nuclear coil overreacting and heating to dangerous levels.

“A-a simple…seduction?”

Good Lord. I was relegated to repeating things now because I couldn’t form a coherent thought. Not with the heat blazing like a firestorm in his eyes.

“Maybe not so…simple.” His voice lowered even more. “The need to be careful with you, with your feelings, would war within me. I’d have to decide what

I wanted more: the hidden treasure…” His gaze flicked to my mouth. “Or you.”

I swallowed.

“And after you decide? Then what?” I asked, trying to keep my voice even and not give him a clue what he was doing to my nervous system. “You’d chop me into tiny bits and leave me for the docents to find in six months’ time while you escaped scot-free?”

I’d meant it to be a playful rejoinder, following his horror theme, and a ridiculous attempt to lighten the mood. The joke was on me, though.

Frayne took a step closer, stretched out an arm and placed his palm flat against the wall, imprisoning me on one side. I lifted my chin to keep my gaze connected with his.

“No.” His voice was as soft as a curl of smoke. “No, I wouldn’t hurt you. Never. I couldn’t.” He shook his head. “I think I’d write it so I stole the treasure…and you along with it. I’d take you both with me.” With a tiny crook to his elbow, he leaned in closer and bent his head.

“Where…where would we go?” I asked. While waiting for his reply, I swallowed again—hard—the sound of my throat working loud and rough between us.

With his free hand, Frayne reached up and idly coiled a strand of my hair around his finger. Lovingly, he rubbed it between his thumb and his first two fingers, then lifted it to his mouth. When he dragged it across his lips, I swear on my oath as an officer of the court, I was in danger of losing my ability to stand.

“Someplace no one would ever find us.” His voice had gone whisper-soft. “Someplace…far away from”— he sighed—“everything and everyone.”

How wonderful that sounded. To go someplace far away from court cases and demanding clients. Loneliness and heartache. Responsibilities and sad memories.

“We’d spend the rest of our lives on a beach somewhere, lying in the warm sun. Drinking champagne, eating lobsters. Sleeping.” He let loose my hair. “Making love. No outside concerns. No thoughts about anything except what time the sun set. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it?”

That ability to keep standing upright? Yeah, well, I lost it right then and there.

I fell backward against the security door, shoving it open with my body. I stumbled across the threshold and would have fallen flat on my butt if Frayne’s reflexes weren’t laser swift. His strong hands went around my upper arms and held fast. Even through the layers of my blouse and the warm wool jacket, heat blasted from his fingers, branding my flesh as if he held it, bare, in his hands.

When the door opened, the automatic light shot to the on position and the glare from the overhead fluorescents was blinding.

Frayne held me close in front of him, even after I was sure-footed, his fingers slowly kneading my upper arms as he continued to stare down at me. “Are you okay?”

I swallowed the lump in my throat for the third time—and then tried to take a step back and out of his hold.

His grip tightened. “Cathy? Are you all right?”

“You can let me go,” I said, my voice shaking. “I won’t fall. Promise.”

Intrigued? I hope so. If you are, you can get your copy across any of these platforms.

Amazon // B&N // Applebooks   // Rakuten-Kobo // google play // Books-a-million //

Also available at the TOADSTOOL BOOKSHOP in Keene, NH

Until next time, peeps ~Peg

Looking for me? Here I am: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me// Triber// Book Me

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25 Days of Holiday Romance day # 25 – Christmas & Cannolis

is it a bad thing that I put my own Holiday books up on this list?

Naaaaah.

Today, I’ve got my second San Valentino Christmas book, CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS for you.

 

WINNER OF THE 2019 OKRWA INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL AWARDS for BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL!WINNER OF THE 2019 NERFA AWARD FOR CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Can a second chance at love heal a broken heart? 

With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.
Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself–and his company’s reputation–in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.

Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart? Readers who enjoy the following kinds of stories will love CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS: big families, Holiday romance, RomCom, surviving loss, moving on, foodies, bakers, Christmas

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About the author: me!!

Reviews for C&C

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Filed under RomCom, Uncategorized, WIld Rose Press AUthor