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#SundaySnippet 11.3.19

It’s not difficult to figure out what the Sunday Snippet is this week, is it? Since IT’S A TRUST THING released on Friday, it makes sense I offer a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to whet your appetite and hopefully get you to read the book. Hee hee.

There’s nothing I like more than when a strong woman  – or man – shows his/her vulnerability. In this scene, it’s Nell who does. This is the beginning of her learning to trust in a man she knows practically nothing about except he makes her feel like no other man ever has.

Can she trust him? We’ll find out, won’t we? Hee hee

This is nice,” I said again, eyeing the treetops and the panorama of the horizon. “Do you love sitting out here?”

“I do. Sometimes, when I’ve got nothing that needs my imminent attention, I’ll sit out here on an afternoon and read a book, or bring my laptop out and catch up on what’s going on in the world.” He glanced over at me. “Probably sounds pretty boring to you.”

“Not in the least. I love quiet days, truthfully, because they happen so rarely.”

“What’s your idea of a perfect day, then? One where you could do anything you wanted?”

I didn’t even need to think.

“I love to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and spend an afternoon strolling along the waterfront.”

He cocked his head.
“Have you ever done that? Walked from Manhattan to Brooklyn?”
“I haven’t, no.”
“It’s so much fun, especially on a sunny weekend day. Families with kids in strollers; old folks walking arm in arm. Musicians set up along the walkway and play for donations. I love to people watch. Plus it’s a great way to get in a few miles of exercise without thinking of it as a workout.”

“We’ll have to do it sometime, together. Sounds like a fun day.”

“It is.” A little ball of pleasure bounced through me that he wanted to do it with me.

When I bit into the red velvet cupcake I’d put on a dish, I couldn’t help the moan that broke through my lips. I closed my eyes and let the sweet flavors dance over my taste buds, Forget pumpkin spice. I could eat red velvet cupcakes every single day,” I said, “and still come back for more. They’re so sinful.”

“Hmm. They are good.”

When I opened my eyes, Charlie was sampling his own. His lips, those full and utterly kissable lips, were open and pressed against the cake. A dab of cream cheese frosting dotted the corner of his mouth as he took a bite, then swallowed. Without even a thought to stop myself from what I was about to do, I reached over and swiped my index finger across his mouth.

Charlie went stock-still. He was so still I wasn’t sure he was breathing. The dimmed outdoor lighting reflected twinkling shards of moisture in his eyes as he stared at me. Silent anticipation drifted from him in waves.

Or maybe it was from me.

With a tiny bit of pressure, I swiped the frosting from his mouth, then slid my finger between my lips to suck it off.

How was it possible it tasted better coming from his lips than it had from my own?

The air suddenly changed around us as Charlie let out a deep breath. I was right in thinking he’d been holding his breath, because the volume of air he expelled was vast.

With deliberate and careful movements, he placed the rest of his uneaten dessert on the snack table between us, tossed his legs over the edge of the chaise, and rested his elbows on this thighs, his fingers folded together. With his chin dropped to his chest, he took in another breath, as if bracing himself for something. When he lifted his gaze to mine I had a pretty good idea what it was.

With the sun almost set and the lights from the city shining around us, his beautiful blue eyes had turned to pale ash. They were so enflamed with heat I wouldn’t have been surprised to see smoke billow from their corners.

The look of desire is something I’m familiar with. Too many times I’ve seen one of my hunky employees glance at one of Ella’s girls with blatant sexual hunger filling their faces.

I’ve seen it boldly displayed on some of the men I’ve dated who’d thought being with a fringe celebrity was a boost to their narcissistic fantasies, to puff up their already swollen egos. Their desire was more for the situation than for me.

The need in Charlie’s eyes wasn’t like any of those other examples. No, his was pure and raw and all about…me.

A moment ago the tea had protected me against the cool evening air.

But I didn’t need it now. The warmth from Charlie’s gaze was enough to counteract any external chill. And despite the cauldron of heat coming my way, the hairs on my skin stood straight up at attention.

This man, this lovely, charming man whom I still really knew nothing about except his name and a few minor tidbits of his life, wanted me.

Me.

No hidden agenda; no nefarious reasons; no thoughts to use me to his own gain.

Just…me.

How I knew this to be true was baffling. But I was as sure of it as I was that the moon would rise and then give way to the sun. What I was going to do about it was the question.

I don’t remember tossing my legs over the edge of the lounge chair or placing my dish on the table between us, but I did.

Charlie sat up straight, his face an open mask of curiosity with a dose of caution mixed in.

I took a step—literal and emotional—toward him, moving into the open space between his thighs. For a hot second I was afraid it was the wine making me bold.

In the next breath I realized that for the lie it was. Alcohol had nothing to do with what I was about to do.

“Nell?” His hands lifted to settle on my hips.

I licked my lips. “Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.”
I nodded.

“Can I lie down, here, next to you?”

If he thought the question odd, he kept his opinion hidden as he continued to peer up at me.

“I have this overwhelming need for you to hold me right now,” I told him with more honesty than I’d ever given another man. “Is that okay with you?”

Intrigued? I hope you are! You can get your copy here: Amazon 

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under Dot Com Girls Romance, It's a trust thing, Strong Women

#SundaySnippet 9.15.19

Romance readers love series. So do writers of the genre.

Last week I gave you a sneak peek at book 2 in the MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN SERIES, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS, which should be out in the book reading world sometime this year. Today, I want to give you a little insight into book 3, which I’m currently writing.

The title? BAKED WITH LOVE, and if you’ve read book 1, you know the sister who bakes is sister Number 4, Maureen. Maureen owns and operates Inn Heaven, the award winning B&B in her hometown, in addition to being a fabulous baker. This is the first scene I’ve written in the story. It’s unedited, but you can feel the relationship that’s blooming immediately.

Enjoy.

Oh, my God, Maureen.” My sister Colleen’s voice rose a good two octaves from its normal sultry timbre. “Are those…penis pops?”

“Lower your voice,” I told her as I continued to pipe buttercream roses on the cupcakes I’d made for tomorrow’s wedding. “My entire Inn doesn’t need to know I’ve got those”—I grinned—“hardening in my kitchen.”

“Why, in the name of all that’s holy are there”—she counted out loud—“seven chocolate candies in the shape of male genitalia on your counter?”

“Because your bride’s maid of honor special ordered them for the attendants. I tried to talk her out of it, but she paid me triple to make them and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Be happy there are only seven. Originally she wanted one for each of the fifty females on the guest list. I was able to talk her out of it by promising to make those”—I chinned the pops—“for the bridesmaids. She’s going to present them tonight after the rehearsal. Thinks they’ll be, quote, a scream, unquote.”

My wedding planner and getting-bigger-by-the-second pregnant sister plopped herself down onto one of my kitchen chairs and sighed. Heavily.

“Oh, good Lord. Thanks for the head’s up. I’ll make sure the moms are nowhere in sight when she gives them out. I don’t relish having to listen to one more complaint about this wedding. I’ve had enough for the past week to last me until junior here”—she patted her round tummy—“is off to college.”

I flicked a glance at her and said, “Put your feet up, Coll. I can see how swollen they are from here.”

With more effort than was probably warranted – she is after all, related to our grandmother, who corners the market on theatricality – she hefted her feet onto an opposing kitchen chair then extended and flexed her toes a few times. This time the sigh that blew from her lips was thick with fatigue, and if I wasn’t mistaken, pain.

“I can’t believe you’re still wearing those ridiculous heels when you’re almost eight months along,” I chided. “Standing in them all day can’t be good for the baby. Or your back.”

“Stop scolding me.” It was impossible not to miss the whine in her voice. “I refuse to take advice from someone who thinks flipflops are the greatest invention known to the shoe wearing population of the world. And just for the record, my back is fine and my feet don’t hurt.”

“No, they just look like flesh colored water balloons.”

“When did you turn so mean? You’re usually the supportive, quiet sister.”

In ordinary circumstances this was true. But with my heavily pregnant and three-inch heel wearing sister, I was more than willing to make an exception.

I piped the last rose on the final cupcake, laid my pastry bag down on the counter, and turned to face her. Camera ready face with her professionally polished outfit perfect and not a tendril of hair out of place, the middle of my three sisters looked something she rarely did: tired. With her hands folded over her protruding belly, she’d dropped her chin to her chest and closed her eyes.

The snarky remark I was going to make about the benefits of wearing flats died before I gave it breath.

Since lunch service had finished a half hour ago and my serving staff was done with cleanup, Colleen and I were alone in my kitchen. I put the kettle on for tea for the two of us and asked, “Did you have lunch?”

Colleen lifted head. Her eyes took a moment to clear and focus on me, lending credence to my thought she was tired. And maybe more than simply tired.

“There’s a salad waiting for me at the office. Charity texted me while I was with the florist that she’d gotten me one.”

“Text her back and tell her to put it in the fridge. I’ll make you something to eat.”

While she contacted her assistant, I plated the luncheon salad I’d concocted for today’s menu and then put half of a ham and cheese sandwich into my Panini maker.

“Eat this until the sandwich is done.” I handed her the salad and a bottled water.

“What is it?”

“Spinach, cranberries, walnuts, raisins and carrots with a light pomegranate dressing and shaved Parmesan.”

Colleen shoved a forkful in and groaned. “Oh. My. God. Honestly, Maureen, you should have your own cooking show. This is insane.”

“Everything she makes is insane,” a male voice said from the doorway.

I knew that voice well, since it was a frequent inhabitant in my dreams most nights. Husky and deep, with a dash of just woken smoke, it was a voice that could cajole a lover into seduction and cut off a criminal at the knees.

Unfortunately, I’d never been either.

“Truth,” Colleen said through a mouthful of salad. “Why are you here?” she asked Heaven’s Chief of Police, Lucas Alexander before I could. “Somebody call a cop?”

Lucas flicked his moss green, heavily hooded gaze from my sister to me, one corner of his mouth tilting up. I actually had to contract my pelvic floor muscles whenever he looked at me so I wouldn’t melt to the floor in a pool of want. My ninety-three year old grandmother, Nanny Fee, calls this girding your loins. As far as a descriptive phrase for the maneuver, it’s a good one.

“You got a minute?” he asked me.

I nodded. “A few. Then I have to get the dining room reading for tonight’s rehearsal dinner.” I turned and pulled Colleen’s sandwich from the press when the bell tinged. Lucas, always comfortable in my kitchen, moved to lean a hip against the counter and then halted mid stride.

I knew the cause of his sudden stop. I bit down on the inside of my lip while I handed Colleen her sandwich plate. She caught my eye, and my stifled grin, and realized the cause. Her lips lifted in a wicked grin.

Lucas cleared his throat. “Are those–? Wait. What, what are those? Are they…?”

“Are they what?” Colleen asked, innocence dripping from her voice, at the same time I asked, “Want one?”

Lucas turned to find the two of us staring at him, expressions blanked, and waiting for him to continue.

He huffed out a breath and dragged a hand through his hair. “Nothing,” he said, with a nervous shake of his head and shoulders.

Colleen glanced up at me, winked, and then took a huge bite of her Panini. “Oh, good Lord, Mo.”

I smiled and told her, “You’re welcome,” before I said to Lucas, “What’s up?”

He tilted his head to the right in a come-with-me move I’d seen him make innumerable times over the years.

In the breezeway that separated my private kitchen from the commercial one I used for the Inn I own and cook in, Lucas stopped, bit down on a corner of his mouth, and twirled his hat in his hands. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was nervous, but nerves weren’t an emotion that lived in this man. His training as an army sniper had taught him how to remain calm in any crisis, cool under the hottest of circumstances. I’d never even heard him raise his voice in all the years I’d known him.

I repeated the question I’d asked in my kitchen.

“I need a favor.”

I rolled my hand in a go on gesture.

“Cathy might have mentioned that Robert’s coming to spend the summer with me and dad. Nora’s getting remarried this weekend and then leaving on a month long honeymoon.”

I nodded. “I’d heard that, but not from Cathy.” To the question in his eyes I said, “Nanny told me the other day when I dropped off her scone delivery at the nursing home. She heard it from Tillie Carlisle who got it from Maeve Capshaw, whose granddaughter, Olivia, told her. Nanny said Olivia was the one who introduced Nora to her intended at a divorced-and-looking event she’d hosted.”

“Jesus.” Lucas shook his head. “Small towns.”

I couldn’t help but smile. “A curse and a blessing, as Cathy is fond of saying.”

“Yeah, well, your sister is one of the smartest people I know. Anyway. Nora doesn’t want to leave Robert home alone for the summer. He’s too old for a babysitter, but at fifteen, still too young to be left to his own defenses. He just started driver’s ed but doesn’t have a valid license yet, so it was easier to take him for the summer while she’s gone.”

“So he’s gonna live with you and your dad until school starts up again?”

“Yeah.”

“Why don’t you sound happy about that? I mean, whenever Robert’s visited for school breaks before you’ve always been thrilled since you don’t get to see him as much since they moved.”

He huffed out another breath and leaned a shoulder against the wall. My pregnant sister wasn’t the only one who looked exhausted.

“It’s not that I’m not happy he’s coming to stay with us. It’s more, things with dad now aren’t good and I’m afraid he’s gonna make the kid’s life miserable with all his complaining and griping all day. Last time Robert came for a weekend all dad did was harp on him. Get a haircut, stand up straight, stop mumbling. Poor kid couldn’t wait to get back to his mother, and that’s saying something, because she’s just as bad. But, that’s why I don’t want him to spend all his time with his grandfather.”

“And I’m assuming this is where the favor you need from me comes in?”

He nodded. “The kid needs something to occupy him while he’s here. I’ve gotta work and I can’t take any time. I don’t want him sitting home all day fighting with dad or locked in his room playing video games. I want him to get out of the house. Get a job. You hire high schools kids to bus tables and help serve at the weekend events here at the Inn. I’m hoping you’ll take Robert on as summer crew. That way I’ll know where he is every day, he’ll earn a little money of his own, and I won’t have to worry about coming home to World War III every night. Plus…”

“Plus?”

“Well, if he’s with you all day, I won’t…worry about him. I know he’ll be in good hands. That you’ll feed him, take care of him like he was one of your own. Like you do everyone else.”

To say I was thrilled by the offhand compliment was an understatement. I didn’t even need to think about his request because even if I wasn’t on the lookout for extra help, I would have hired Lucas’s son.

“Sure. I can always use another body, especially in the summer when I’ve got a full house every weekend with Colleen’s weddings.”

Lucas’s shoulders dropped a couple of degrees from where they’d stationed themselves at his ears and he let out a breath filled with relief. “Thanks, Maureen. Really.”

I waved my hand at him. “Don’t worry about it. When does he get here?”

“Sunday morning. Nora’s dropping him off before she leaves for the airport.”

I nodded. “Get him all unpacked and settled and then you can bring him by Monday. I’ll go over everything with him then, okay?”

“More than okay. Again, I can’t thank you enough. You’re truly a lifesaver.” He took my hand and squeezed it. Lucas had done this hundreds of times over the years and like every other time he had, the wiring in my heart went a little haywire.

And like every other time, I swallowed the temptation to tug on his hand and pull him close enough so I could kiss him.

Intrigued? Me, too. Can’t wait to see how it ends. ( hee hee)

You can catch up on the O’Dowd’s now with book 1, DEARLY BELOVED. As soon as book 2 goes up for preorder, I’ll let ya know.

 

Get your copy at these fine vendors:

Amazon // Kobo  // Barnes and Nobel  //Apple // Google Play//

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Contemporary Romance, Dearly Beloved, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 9.8.19

I don’t have a cover yet for my next A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN book, just a title: TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS. This is oldest O’Dowd sister CATHLEEN’S story. Widowed, lonely, and bit of a workaholic, Cathy is despairing she will ever find another man to warm her bed at night and one she can love forever. She agrees to attend a speed dating night, organized by her high school friend, Olivia, a local matchmaker. This little scene is after the event:

The lights were still on inside the house when Olivia dropped me back home three hours later.

“I don’t want you to be discouraged, Cathy,” she said as I unbuckled my seatbelt. “This was just your first event.”

And if I had anything to say about it, it was my last.

“Tonight was a mish-mash of personality types and age groups. I’d invited you so you could get a feel for what’s involved in the process. I didn’t expect you to meet or connect with anyone. We need to get together privately so I can figure out the type of man you’re interested in. Then, I can set up something in the future more to your taste level.”

My taste level? Good Lord. If tonight was any indication, there were no men out there who even came close to an appetizer much less a main course.

“Liv, I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I’m busy with the practice, handling Nanny’s affairs.” I swiped my gloved hand in the air. “I’m not sure I have the energy to be involved at the moment.”

She smiled and nodded. “Going out to dinner or a movie with a nice guy doesn’t mean you have to sign a marriage contract, Cath. According to Fiona all you do is work.”

“Well, yeah. Because I’m busy.”

Duh.

“I get that. But you can take a break every now and again, you know. Just think about it,” she added when I opened my mouth again, ready to protest.

Resigned, I nodded.

“I’ll call you in a few days and we can grab some lunch, okay?”

“Sure,” I said.

The house was lit and warm when I walked through the front door. I’d thought Frayne had left the lights on so I wouldn’t come home to a dark, empty house. The moment I closed the door behind me I realized I was wrong, because the house wasn’t empty at all.

Mac Frayne was seated at my dining room table, a laptop opened in front of him.

“You’re still here.”

Why that blue-eyed and befuddled stare meeting me through those thick lenses was such a turn on is a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever solve, but the moment his dazed gaze zeroed in on me and then cleared, his eyes widening, then narrowing, my legs got a little wobbly and my pulse jumped.

He tugged the glasses off and tossed them onto the table, his gaze never wavering my face.

“And you’re back early,” he said, rising.

I draped my coat over my forearm, kicked off my shoes, and shrugged. “It wasn’t supposed to be a long, drawn-out evening.”

Frayne took a few steps toward me, the lines in his forehead grooving deeper. “How was it?”

“Horrible,” I said, before I could stop myself. I shook my head as I moved towards the hall closet. “That’s unfair,” I added, as I hung up my coat. “It wasn’t horrible, as much as something not for me.”

I turned and barreled into Frayne.

Jesus.” His hands shot out and braced my upper arms. “You don’t make a sound when you move.”

“A lifetime of apartment living,” he said. Once I was sure footed and guaranteed not to fall into him again, he lowered his hands.

If I’d had any nerve I would have asked him to put them back. Instead, I swallowed, turned, and walked toward the kitchen, as he asked, “Why wasn’t it something for you?”

I ignored the question. “I’m starving. Have you had anything to eat?”

I wasn’t surprised when he followed me.

“Not since lunch at the Inn. Maureen had soup and sandwiches today, which, like everything else she’s served since I’ve been here, were delicious.”

“Mo only knows how to do delicious.” I peeked inside my fridge. “And speaking of,” I pulled out a glass container. “This is fried chicken she gave me this morning. Want some?”

He leaned a hip against the counter and cocked his head.

“You don’t mind sharing?”

“We both have to eat.”

I put the mashed sweet potatoes she’d sent along in a microwave bowl, then set the timer.

“I hope you like your chicken cold because I’m in no mood to wait for the oven to heat.”

That darling little curl popped up in the corner of his mouth.

“Cold is fine.”

“Did you read any more of Josiah’s diaries?” I asked while I pulled plates from the cabinet.

When he didn’t answer I looked over at him. His quizzical head cock was in place again.

“What?”

“I’m curious why you won’t answer my question.”

I stared at the microwave, taking a moment to formulate my answer.

“The whole concept of dating is alien to me. I knew Danny since the second grade and we got married when we were eighteen. He was the only guy I ever went out with, and it wasn’t even what anyone would consider dating, since we’d been together forever. Having to start all over at this age is”—I lifted one shoulder—“mentally exhausting.”

“Why did you agree to go, then?”

“Because, as my grandmother succinctly put it, it’s time to move on.”

“And you thought hiring a matchmaker was the way to meet someone?”

“I didn’t seek Olivia out. I kind of got railroaded into it.”

I explained how the situation came about while I put the food on the kitchen table. Once seated, I continued.

“Before I knew it, I’d agreed to go to tonight’s”—I waved my hand in the air—“thing.”

“So, again, why wasn’t it for you? I don’t know a lot about speed dating, but from what I’ve read it’s popular among millennials. Along with right-swipe hookups.” The jagged shake of his head told me all I needed to know how he felt about the way people met these days.

“And that’s the problem.” I pointed my sweet potato-laden fork at him. “I’m in the wrong age bracket. Call me old fashioned but I prefer to meet someone and get to know them organically and over time, not try and stuff the story of my life into three minutes before an egg timer beeps. Even though I didn’t participate I was tense and stressed watching the others who were. It all seemed…desperate to me.”

I stopped, mortified I’d admitted it, because in truth, that’s what I’d been feeling watching the group tonight.

From the moment we’d arrived at the restaurant I could tell I’d made a big mistake. The women were all older than me, had hungry, hopeful gleams in their eyes and when they caught sight of me, a few of their stares turned hostile. I was all set to beat a hasty retreat when Olivia’s hand at the small of my back propelled me forward.

Part of the restaurant had been cordoned off, a half dozen tables for two set-up in a semi-circle. Six women, six men, I assumed.

What’s that saying about what happens when you assume something?

A quick glance back at the hostility bowling my way and I realized it wasn’t because of my outfit or my age, but the fact I had the wrong chromosomes.

With me included, there were eight women. I’m better at words than math, but even a five year old knew that left a smaller number of men.

With a gentle prod, Olivia shoved me towards the gaggle of women. For the first time in my life I understood any sympathized with how Daniel must felt walking into the lion’s den.

“Ladies,” I said, with head bob and a tremulous smile.

Silence came back at me. I could stare down the most antagonistic of witnesses in a courtroom without even a thought, but for some reason all my courage flew south as these women glared at me through overly made-up, amateurly applied smoky eyes.

I swallowed the golf ball of fear in my throat.

“How’s everyone doing tonight?” I asked.

Lame, I know, but I was truly out of my element.

“You’re new,” a voice said. “Haven’t seen you before.”

“Y-yes. I’m a…friend…of Olivia’s.” If they thought I posed no dating threat, I figured they wouldn’t disembowel me.

“You joining in tonight, then?”

“Just an observer,” I assured her.

“Hey, aren’t you Fintan O’Dowd’s oldest?” One of them asked. Well, accused would be more the appropriate word choice.

Another quirk of living in a small community, especially with a well-known parent: everyone knows who you are and who you’re related to whether you know them or not. Since I didn’t recognize the woman asking, I nodded.

“Thought you was married.” Yup, accused was the correct word.

“I was. I’m a widow. My husband died…was killed. In Afghanistan.”

Immediately, their collective animosity flew right out the restaurant’s front door. They approached me in a cluster, cooing, and clicking their tongues in sad support of my plight.

If I’d known that was all it took to get them to put their invisible pitchforks and blunderbusses away I’d have led with it.

And yes, I know that’s dramatic, but their facial expressions up until then were fifty shades of scary.

A few moments later Olivia clapped her hands and called us to order.

I stood with her off at the side while she read the rules and held a stopwatch. A small bell sat on the table in front of her. At the first ding, the room went into motion.

The seven women all took their seats while the five men inspected them like hunters evaluating prey, and then made their way to the tables of their choice. I felt bad for the two women who sat solo.

“Don’t worry about them,” Olivia said, when I voiced my concern. “Everyone will have a chance to meet. You want to sit down at one of the tables and give this a go?”

Having a root canal without anesthesia while simultaneously getting my fingernails removed had more appeal. I declined, nicely, and said I just wanted to watch.

Intrigued? I’ll be posting soon on the cover and the release date, so stay tuned.

And don’t forget, book 1 DEARLY BELOVED is available now: Amazon // Kobo  // Barnes and Nobel  //Apple // Google Play//

 

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Contemporary Romance, Dearly Beloved, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 9.8.19

I missed posting this last week because of my inability to type yet, status post rotator cuff and torn bicep repair.

Thank you, Jesus, I’m able to type a little now.

This is a little sumthin’ sumthin’ from book2 in my DotComGirls romance series. There’s a good chance I might be self pubbing this in the near future if no one in the industry wants to to that for me (heehee)

Anyway, Heroine is Nell Newbery, hero is Charlie Churchill and this scene is a little banter between them I kinda like.

My ride had arrived during the time we were being questioned and hadn’t stuck around.

I ordered another one.

“Two minutes out,” I said. “He’s around the corner.”

“I’ll wait with you,” Charlie said.

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to.”

I nodded and readjusted my briefcase strap around my shoulder and sucked on the inside of my cheek.

“Look—”

“I’d like—”

He grinned down at me. “You first.”

“I just want to say…thanks. For everything, from helping me when I fell, to when I banged my chin, and for the burger.” I shook my head. “I feel like I’ve had a black raincloud following me around this entire day and I sucked you into my own personal squall.”

“I’m British,” he said, a bemused expression on his face. “I’m used to the rain.”

I laughed.

“I don’t care about storms, Nell,” he added. “I always have an umbrella stored in my briefcase as a precaution.”

“I bet you were a boy scout.”

It was his turn to laugh. “Something equivalent, anyway. Listen.” He took my hand in his and my nerves instantly ebbed away. “I enjoyed spending time with you this evening and I’d like to do it again.”

“Really?”

“Why do you sound shocked?”

I lifted a shoulder and pulled a corner of my mouth between my teeth. “Raincloud, remember? Plus—”

When I didn’t continue he squeezed my hand. “Did you not have a good time?”

“No. I mean, yes I did, not no, I didn’t. I did. It was fun.”

Lord, when did I turn into such a babbler?

He grinned down at me.

“It’s just, well…I don’t date much.”

“Neither do I.”

My head slammed back up. “I find that hard to believe. I caught some of the looks those women tossed you when they were leaving my lecture tonight.”

“I don’t date students. Ever. That’s a line that never gets crossed. Not by me.”

“Oh. Well.” I swallowed. “I’m sure you know other women who aren’t students.”

He nodded. “None of them, unfortunately, know Dr. Strange isn’t a rapper or confuse Stan Lee with a famous martial artist from the sixties.”

My pulse rate jumped a half dozen beats when he tossed me a cheeky grin, laughter in his eyes.

“I do have some talents,” I said.

He lifted his chin to something behind me. “I think this is your ride.”

With his hand still wrapped around mine, he walked me to the curb. Habit had me checking the license with the one I’d been texted.

“It is.”

He opened the passenger door for me and I got in.

“You never answered me,” he said when I was seated. “Would you like to do this again?”

I’d lived my entire adult life taking chances in my professional life but shying away from them in my personal one. The reasons to avoid becoming involved were valid ones, in my mind, and they’d served me well.

But there was something so different about this man, something that wanted me to finally give in and take a chance that he wouldn’t be like all the other men I’d gotten close to. He wouldn’t use me to his own end purpose; he wouldn’t betray me; he wouldn’t lie to me about who and what he was.

And dammit, I deserved to have some fun in my life.

All this ran through my head as he stood, patiently waiting for my answer.

It really didn’t take much effort on my part to make a decision. With a half grin and my gaze staying zeroed in on his, I reached into my briefcase and pulled out one of my business cards. While the driver waited, I wrote my private cell number on the back of it. There were only five people on the planet who had this number.

Now, Charlie did as well.

As I handed it to him, I cocked my head and said, “Maybe next time we can get through an evening without me needing first aid or being mugged.”

His jaw wide smile made my stomach muscles flutter. He leaned in, gave me a quick peck on the cheek and said, “Where would the fun be in that?”

Intrigued? Stay tuned for my decision on self pub or traditional.

Until next time ~ Peg

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#SundaySnippet 8.18.19

Last week I brought you a little sumthin’ from my upcoming WRP release of TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS. This week, I have another new WRP release coming out SOON from a new series called PRIDE OF BROTHERS. The first book is Rick’s Story.

Rick Bannerman’s job is to protect. An elite bodyguard and P.I., he’s used to denying his emotions and ignoring his feelings in order to keep those in his care safe, at all costs. When lawyer Abigail Laine becomes the target of a vengeful client, Rick slips in to protection mode even though Abby refuses his help.

Four years ago Rick left Abby standing on a balcony alone, after walking away from a kiss that sent them both reeling. His refusal stung, and Abby’s sworn to forget it so she can protect her heart and move on with her life. But now she needs Rick’s professional help and her reluctance to accept it could just cost her her life.

Can these two stubborn and independent people put their troubled past behind them and learn to trust one another?

Excerpt:

Rick was seated on the couch, his laptop on the table in front of him, an open bag of potato chips next to it.

“Where did those come from?”

“They were in the bag from Kandy,” he told her never looking up from his typing. “Josh took pity on me and sneaked them in.”

She pulled a bottle of water from the fridge. “Why would Josh need to take pity on you?”

If shamefaced had a proper name, it would be Rick, because that’s exactly the expression he wore on his face at her question. His shoulders curled forward a little, his neck almost disappearing into them. The tips of his ears turned ruddy, and he cleared his throat a few times before reaching for his own water bottle and taking a good chug.

He wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“Answer me,” she commanded when he put the bottle back down on the table.

She watched his neck work and couldn’t decide which emotion was stronger: the need to hear the answer to her question, or the desire to crawl into his lap and lick his neck—and every other part of him.

It was a testament to her analytical training that she opted for an answer.

“Maybe pity was the wrong word.”

Abby waited.

Rick scrubbed his hands through his hair and cupped the back of his neck. “Fine, but don’t get all pissy when I tell you, okay?”

For an answer, she cocked one of her eyebrows and dropped her chin.

“When we were over there, I happened to mention to Josh you don’t keep any junk food in the house. No cake, no chips, pretzels. Nothing to snack on.”

“Not true. I always have cut fruit in the fridge.”

The breath he blew between his lips told her what he thought of fruit as a snack. “Like I said, nothing to snack on. I kind of told him I was, you know, going through withdrawal, from the lack.”

She couldn’t help it: she laughed.

Rick straightened up in his seat, his eyes squinting at her. “You don’t have to laugh at me. You did ask.”

“How old are you?”

“What does my age have to do with anything?”

“You just said you were going through withdrawal because you haven’t had crappy snacks to munch on. Don’t—” She held a hand up to him to silence what he’d been about to say. “The stuff you like is crappy from a nutrition standpoint. The last time I heard someone complain like you was my nephew Declan when were all at the beach last month. He’s nine. Which is the age I’d expect a kid to be who’s made a statement like you just did.”

Rick shook his head. “I knew you were gonna get pissy.”

“I’m not being pissy because I eat food that’s actually good for me. You don’t live here, Rick. I do. You can fill your apartment to the ceiling with junk food and I won’t care, but this is my home, my space, and I don’t stock it full of bad food choices.”

“Why are you so hyper-vigilant and OCD about snacky stuff? It’s not gonna kill you to have a cupcake or some cheese puffs, you know.”

“Spoken like a man who can eat whatever he wants.”

“The hell does that mean?”

“It means you don’t need to worry about your weight. Ever. You’ve never struggled with an extra ounce of body fat in your life, Rick. I know that for fact. You have no idea what it’s like to count every calorie and watch every single thing that goes into your mouth because of the inevitability it’s going to wind up on your ass. I do. I wasn’t blessed with my grandmother’s metabolism like Kandy and most of my sisters. Ellie and I take after our dad’s side. We’re the only ones who do. One more thing to despise about him,” she added, pursing her lips. “I’ve had to deny myself food everyone else can eat with abandon since my teens. And it’s a struggle. A monumental one. I’m strong-willed, but sometimes willpower can only go so far, which is why I keep healthy foods around me so if I do snack, at least it’s on something I won’t obsess over about the calorie count.”

She took a long pull from her water bottle.

Rick’s gaze stayed on her while she drank. He didn’t seem embarrassed any more. In truth, she couldn’t tell what was behind that penetrating stare of his. She placed the bottle down on the counter next to her broken shoe.

“Come here,” he said, holding out his hand.

“Why?”

He wiggled his fingers. “Just, come here.” When she didn’t move he added, “Please.”

He took her hand when she got close and yanked her down onto his lap with her legs resting on the couch.

“For the record,” he said, winding one hand around her waist, the other across her thighs, “I love your ass. I love every part of your body. And whether you weighed fifty pounds or three fifty, you’d still be the sexiest woman I’ve ever known, Abigail.”

The words seeped into her soul. She wanted to believe them.

“And I’m sorry I dissed you to Josh. You’re right, I don’t live here, and I have no right to complain about anything. So, I’m sorry.”

Abby sat, quietly, staring up at him.

“What?” he asked when she tilted her head to one side.

“Contrition looks good on you.”

Intrigued? Stay tuned for more announcements on cover reveal, preorder links and release date!

And don’t forget, DEARLY BELOVED is still on sale until 8.23.19 Get your copy before book 2 comes out so you’ll be all caught up!

get your copy here:

amazon // B&N // ibooks

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Dialogue, Romance, Romance Books, The Laine Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 8.11.19

Okay, so I don’t have a cover for this book yet, but book 2 in my Match Made in Heaven series, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS will be out -hopefully – in the fall. 

If you’ve read book 1, DEARLY BELOVED, you’ve met oldest O’Dowd sister, Cathleen O’Dowd Mulvaney. Cathleen’s a family lawyer who took over her father’s practice when he retired. She’s a 39 year old widow and the emotional rock of her tight-knit family. She’s the sister everyone turns to for guidance, support, and advice because they all think she’s the most responsible, grounded one. What no one knows, though, is how emotionally fragile and tormented she really is.

In this snippet, my writer-hero Mac Frayne, and Cathy are sharing a pizza at the local pizzeria, and she divulges why she assumed the role of the “responsible sister” early on in life.

Read on…..

The line thickened, and he cocked his head in his familiar way. “Your sisters said you’re the one who takes care of everyone in a crisis.”

I nodded again.

“Why?”

A good question and one I’d debated with myself for most of my life. “The easiest answer is I’m the oldest and have always been what my parents termed the ‘responsible one.’ ”

“That doesn’t seem…fair.”

“Fair?” I shrugged. “Maybe not. As the oldest, I assumed responsibility more times than not, as a kid. It stuck through to adulthood.”

“Why?” I was charmed when the tips of his ears went florid. “I ask because family dynamics are intriguing and alien to me. As an only child, I don’t have any kind of firsthand knowledge about”—he flipped his hand in the air—“sibling pecking order and such.”

It was another good question and the answer one I’d never discussed with anyone. Why I was compelled to with him, though, seemed right.

After a moment to collect my thoughts, I leaned back in the booth and stretched my hands out on either side of my plate. “When the twins were four, my mother decided to go back to work a few days a week. Nanny was touring again, and my parents figured it would be fine if I was left in charge of watching my sisters for an hour or two after school. Mom didn’t need to work. My father made more than an adequate income but”—I shrugged—“I guess she needed some time away from kids, crying, and sister drama. Be with adults, you know?”

He nodded.

“Anyway. I hated being in charge of them. Colleen was okay because she was only a few years younger than I was and she never caused any trouble, but the twins were rambunctious. And wicked spoiled. They never listened to anything I told them, and I finally started ignoring them, left them to watch television or play by themselves. One afternoon, I was doing homework when I should have been minding them. They were screaming they wanted to go to the park, but I was tired and I had a test to study for, so I banished them to their room and forgot about them. Eileen, somehow, managed to get outside. She was always a little Houdini when it came to crawling out of her crib or high chair, but I never for a moment thought she’d be able to unlock the door and leave the house.”

The terror I remembered feeling when Colleen ran into my bedroom to tell me Eileen was missing wormed its way up from my memory and made my body start to shiver.

“Good Lord. What happened? Did she get far, or get hurt?”

I shook my head. “Luckily, a neighbor boy out walking his dog spotted her, right as Colleen and I sprinted down the road to search for her. The minute I saw her, I started screaming, which made her cry. Even Colleen was bawling. Maureen, who Colleen was holding, started up then. Mitchel Kineer, the poor kid who found her, was so uncomfortable with all of us standing in the road sobbing our eyes out, he beat a hasty retreat. When we got back to the house, I sat them down in the living room and read them the riot act. In truth, I think I was more frightened than they were. Colleen recovered quickly since she wasn’t in trouble and told me I was lucky Eileen hadn’t been hit by a car, or worse, and that our parents were going to be angry when they came home and found out what happened.”

“As a parent, I can understand that feeling.”

“It was the ‘or worse’ that got to me. My baby sister could have been taken by some psycho, or even wandered off into the woods and been lost forever. She was only four. She had no survival skills, no sense of right or wrong. Right then and there, I vowed never to complain about being left in charge or being the responsible one again.”

“You were a kid, Cathy.”

Was I ever just a kid?

“When my parents came home, I confessed what happened. Of course Colleen added her own sense of drama to the situation. If I wasn’t distraught enough about the whole incident to begin with, the looks of disappointment my parents gave me solidified the fact I was a horrible and irresponsible child. My mother quit her job soon after that. Like I said, she didn’t need to work. It took a long time before they trusted me again.”

I didn’t add I’d gone out of my way for years to prove I was a good, responsible, worthwhile daughter. I did chores before I was ever asked to, got straight A’s in school, helped my sisters in whatever way they asked or needed, all without being told or asked to by my parents.

“Didn’t you ever feel…I don’t know? Resentful, maybe?”

I was sure he wasn’t only talking about my status as the oldest sister. “Honestly, no.”

His brows were almost touching now, the skin around his eyes tight. “You’re a much better person than I am.”

“Better? I don’t think so,” I said. A smile bloomed quickly before I told him, “Nanny claims it’s because I’m a control freak like my father. Falling apples and trees, you know?”

My heart did a little stutter dance when the corners of his lips twitched.

“The same has been claimed about me a time or two.”

Intrigued? I hope so. More to come on TTA when I have “news” like book covers, release dates, etc. Stay tuned.

Oh, and BTW – the e-version of DEARLY BELOVED is currently on sale for just 99cents. If you haven’t read it yet, now is your chance before for book 2 drops, so you’ll be uptodate with the shenanigans going on in Heaven, NH ( hee hee!)

Buy Links:

amazon // B&N // ibooks

Until next time ~ Peg

 

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Filed under Dearly Beloved, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet from DIRTY DAMSELS

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock ( or not reading my blogs!) you know I had a new release this week – my first from LIMITLESS PUBLISHING, DIRTY DAMSELS. It’s a modern day twist on Cinderella with Prince Charming in a suit and a CEO Cynderella.

Here’s a little bit from one of my favorite scenes featuring Nell Newbery, Ella’s BFF:

After my few hours with Buddy –and have I mentioned how fantastic they were?- I’d found Nell holding a sobbing CarrieAnn in our room. Apparently, one of the bridesmaids admitted to a more than passing crush on Casey and had tried to seduce him away from CarrieAnn one night at a party after imbibing a few too many tequila shots. Casey’s heart belonged to CarrieAnn though, and he thankfully resisted the offer. He’d been a gentleman, letting the girl down gently, and never told the love of his life one of her supposed besties had made a sloppy, drunken play for him. When the teary-eyed bridesmaid confessed what she’d done to CarrieAnn, the bride hadn’t been as gracious as her groom-to-be.

Nell reported hearing raised voices from the connecting suite around one-thirty. By the time she got into the room, the voices were at screech mode and CarrieAnn had the girl by the roots of her hair extensions and was holding her suspended over the balcony safety railing. The other girls were crying and wailing, imploring CarrieAnn to let her victim go. Our rooms were on the tenth floor and CarrieAnn was leaning the girl waaaaaay backward over the rail. This fact hit home with Nell straight away and she went into commando mode in a nanosecond.

Now, CarrieAnn is five ten and built like a supermodel/athlete. Nell, all five foot spit of her would routinely be no match. But add hours of alcohol consumption into a system – any system – and it will wear strength and emotions down. Nell told me she grabbed a yard of CarrieAnn’s hair, yanked it hard, and when she reached out to pull it back – letting go of Desdemona the bridesmaid, when she did – the other girls rushed in and pulled Desi to freedom. Freedom being their bathroom, where they locked the door against a now screaming, fist-pounding, drunken, and angry CarrieAnn.

It was then Nell started texting me for help.

Intrigued? Here’s where you can order your copy RIGHT NOW!!! Hee hee: in addition to being live in KU:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon UK:

Amazon AU:

Until next time ~ Peg

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#sundaySnippet 3.10.19 Hope’s Dream (Deerbourne Inn)


Today’s little snippet from HOPE’S DREAM ( a Deerbourne Inn Novella) shows Hope’s playfulness. She’s attracted to Tyler in a physical way at first, but the more they’re together, the more she realizes he’s the kind of guy she could see herself with for more than a weekend of skiing…

“All warm and rested now?” she asked. “Ready to get back out there? You’ve still got an hour left on your time, and I think you’re ready for a harder trail.”

Before he could stop it, a groan swelled up from deep down inside him. Hope chuckled and zipped up her jacket.

“It won’t be too hard,” she told him. “Promise.”

He stood as well and slipped his cap on. With an exaggerated eye roll, he asked, “Why don’t I believe you?”

“City folk.” Her lips angled into the most alluring smirk as she shook her head and fisted her hands on her trim hips. “So untrusting.”

The laughter was back in her eyes, but it wasn’t as bright and free as it had been before the mention of her parents.

“Come on, New York. Let me make a Vermonter out of you.”

Why it sounded so darn good to him was a mystery.

Hope was, by no means, a divulger, so why had she told him about her folks? Even with people she’d known forever she didn’t talk about the accident. Everyone in town knew about it, of course. It had been the hot topic of the day when it happened and was gossip-fueled for years after by a rumor her dad had been drunk when the car careered over the embankment. He’d been stone- cold sober, but it hadn’t made a bit difference to some people. It did to her. Living in a small community where the residents knew everything about their neighbors— good and bad—was hard at times. Hope loved Willow Springs, but there were moments she wished she could disappear for a while where no one knew her, her parents, or what had happened to them.

She never spoke about the accident, especially to a total stranger.

Why, then, had she with this man?

There was something about him, something…familiar, which was ridiculous. She hadn’t known him before three hours ago. She would have remembered him, if not for his looks, which were yummy in and of themselves, but for his voice. Deep timbered and strong, it possessed a wake-up rasp that made an impression on a girl. A lasting impression. Whenever he’d spoken, all her senses had stood at attention.

Buy Links: Amazon // Nook // iTunes// Kobo

 

Hope Kildaire gave up her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves the twenty-seven-year-old with no time for fun or relationships. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents sends her several letters, Hope ignores them. She despises the family who disowned her father and wants nothing to do with them.

Lawyer Tyler Coleman’s job is simply to obtain Hope’s signature on a legal document. Getting it is harder than planned, though, when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. If Ty is honest with Hope about why he’s in Willow Springs, he’ll fulfill his assignment but may risk hurting her.

The opportunity to have everything she’s ever desired is at Hope’s fingertips. Will her dream come true at the expense of Tyler’s love?

Looking for me? I’m usually here:

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Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

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#SundaySnippet 2.24.19 A Shot at Love

When I set out to write A SHOT AT LOVE I wanted to write my first bad-ass heroine. Gemma Laine jumped to the head of the line in my head and exploded on the page. She’s the type of gal I’d want in my corner if I was ever kidnapped by terrorists, if I was walking down a  dark and deserted street at night, and if I ever needed someone to -literally – cover my 6 ( Gibbs reference there, peeps!) This scene proves what a warrior she is.

“How many do I have to hit for you to be satisfied?”

Ky looked over to where she stood at the side of the garage, the Glock in her hand, its barrel aimed at the ground. Her eyes had gone wide at the hidden supply of weapons Bannerman had in the pantry access room, but her only comment had been a muttered, “Why am I not surprised?” before she’d made her choice.

He’d watched her load the clip, then weigh and balance the gun in her hand like she did it every day of her life.

“This’ll do,” she told him.

He found a box of empty beer and wine bottles in the garage and set them up at varying distances from where he’d told her to stand. He wanted to ensure she was comfortable shooting up close and far.

“All of them.” He came and stood next to her.

“Are you kidding? All of them?”

“You might never get a second chance if a first bullet misses an attacker, so yes. All of them.”

She moved to the line in the grass he’d drawn for her to shoot from, mumbling something he couldn’t hear, but guessing it wasn’t something complimentary.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Yup. Any particular order you want me to hit them in?”

He had to bite back the grin threatening to fly free at her snooty, disgruntled tone.
“Your call.”

Gemma nodded and planted her feet. He wasn’t surprised when she angled her body with one foot slightly behind the other in a Weaver stance—a more aggressive, weight-forward position—and not the triangular, or Isosceles stance. Gemma held her gun up to her face, lining up her shot, both elbows bent and close to her torso. Her brother-in-law, Josh, had been a New York City cop, and if he’d taught her to shoot, it made sense he’d taught her this way. Although the Isosceles stance was the more popular, Ky knew the Weaver was a power stance, and Gemma was a woman for whom power could have been a middle name.

She flexed her shoulders and neck, the motion so subtly erotic, it made his pulse quicken, and shifted her weight. From his viewing position behind her, he appreciated just how tall and lean she was. Narrow shoulders were relaxed and tapered down into a waist no bigger than a hand span. How many times in the past few days had he thought what it would be like to slip his own hands around that tiny area and pull her in close? Too many for prudence, that was for sure.

The first bottle, the one he’d placed the farthest from them, shattered into a thousand fragments. Before he could take a full breath, she’d hit the next two.

The final three closer ones she dispatched with equal ease.

When she turned to him and asked, “Satisfied?” in a tone filled with condescension, Ky had to physically restrain himself from running to her, lifting her up in his arms, and kissing the gorgeous smirk off her mouth.

Because he’d discovered how much he liked sparring with her—go figure that out—he pursed his lips and nodded. “Not bad.”

Gemma’s smirk grew into a self-satisfied grin.

“But they were all stationary targets. Really adept shooters practice with moving targets, so I really can’t gauge how well you’ll do with that. But for now, you’ll do.”

The squinty-eyed glare she aimed at him would have made a lesser man run for the hills.

“Trust me.” She dropped the empty cartridge case from the weapon into her free hand. “I can shoot those as well.”

He handed her another clip and watched as she loaded it.

“Let’s hope you never have to prove it to me.”

Gemma slapped the cartridge in place. Ky handed her a holster and waited until she fastened it around her waist.

After tightening it, she secured the gun in place, dropped her hands on her hips and asked, “Can we go now?”

She looked like a warrior armed for battle. Strong, self-possessed, and so bad-assed sexy standing in front of him, her bangs blowing back from the slight breeze surrounding them, her perfect chin tilted up defiantly.

He could imagine her leading an army into a crusade against evil, each soldier following her blindly, minions pledged to fight for her, perhaps die for her without hesitation.

And he’d be one of them.
“Sure. Get your camera. I’ll secure the house.”

Intrigued for more? You can purchase a copy in print or ebook here:

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Goodreads Reviews for A SHOT AT LOVE

Want to read a preview? Click here.

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, romantic suspense, Strong Women, The Laine Women

#SundaySnippet 2.17.19

Cooking with Kandy was my first book for Kensington/Lyrical Shine. Introducing the world to the life and family of cheflebrity Kandy Laine was fun. The fact this book spawned a few more in the series was an added bonus! Kandy is reluctant to have a bodyguard, and doesn’t feel any of the weird things occurring lately warrant one. Her family disagrees. 

The heat between Kandy and Josh is palpable from the first time they meet. In this little snippet, Kandy is finally beginning to see what an asset Josh could be to have around – and in more ways than one.

He made his way to the other side of the room, ignoring the stares and whispers of the crowd, found the lounge, and knocked. “Kandy? It’s Josh. Can I come in?”

It was Gemma who answered. “Yes.”
The sisters were seated in twin floral Queen Anne chairs, Gemma reclining back into hers, arms crossed over her chest. Kandy was opposite, head wrung in her hands.

“Cort thought you could use this,” he said, handing her the champagne flute.

He’d expected tears, but was surprised to see Kandy’s beautiful face pinch in a scowl, her eyes flaring with sweltering anger and venom when she looked up at him.

“Thanks.” Kandy took the drink and downed half of it in one gulp.

When she wiped her lips with the back of her hand, the corners of Gemma’s mouth lifted and she asked Josh, “What did you do to the turd?”

“Explained he needed to leave, put him in the elevator, and made sure he went down in it.”

“Made him how?” Kandy asked.

“Little persuasion trick I know. His wrist’s gonna be sore tomorrow. Maybe for the next few days.”

“You physically removed him?” Gemma asked.
Josh almost laughed at the excitement in her voice.

He shrugged.

“Yeah. He was going to follow Kandy if I didn’t.”

“Please tell me you have unmarried, available brothers at home,” Gemma said.

It hurt to keep the smile from his face, but he did. “Three, in fact.”

“Are they all like you? No, scratch that.” She sighed, the sound wistful.

“I doubt there’s anyone like you.”

“If you mean are they all workaholics and career-driven, then no. They’re not like me. But they are available.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.” She glanced at her sister and said, “Well, looks like my work here is done. She’s all yours now.” She stood and kissed the top of Kandy’s head. “Evan Chandler is an egotistical, phony prick. Remember that.”

“How could I forget it?” Kandy grabbed her sister’s hand and kissed the back of it. “Thanks.”

When Gemma left, Josh took her empty chair. “You okay?”

She took a deep breath before saying, “Mad, but okay. I underestimated him.”

“How so?”

“I didn’t think he’d have the guts to crash my party. I thought he was too much of a wimp to risk it after our last encounter. Guess I was wrong.” She stood and crossed to the vanity. Peering at her reflection, she ran a lazy hand through her hair, fluffing the curls. She caught his gaze, watching her, in the mirror. “Aren’t you going to ask me about it?”

He’d considered it. But the weary look in her eyes told him he was better off asking Stacy or Gemma.

“No. If you want to talk, I’ll listen. Otherwise, you’ve got a pretty fancy shindig going on out there.” He cocked his thumb in the direction of the ballroom. “Maybe you want to get back and enjoy it. Bask in the adulation,” he said with a good-natured grin.

She turned to him and her eyes softened. When her lips moved upward into a small, lazy smile, the dimples dancing, his legs went a little soft and he was thankful he was seated.

“Yeah,” she said, moving to him. When he stood, she linked her arm in his. “Thanks. You’re right. Let’s go have a party.”

He returned her smile, glad he could help.
“You’re not so bad, Keane. This bodyguard thing might be fun after all.” It was a moment before he trusted himself to speak. “I aim to please.”

Intrigued? You can find COOKING WITH KANDY at these on-line retailers:

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Read a preview of Cooking With Kandy

Sugar and spice and everything sexy make the perfect recipe for romance in this brand-new series by Peggy Jaeger. Look for exclusive recipes in each book

Kandy Laine built her wildly popular food empire the old-fashioned way-starting with the basic ingredients of her grandmother’s recipes and flavoring it all with her particular brand of sweet spice. From her cookbooks to her hit TV show, Kandy is a kitchen queen-and suddenly someone is determined to poison her cup. With odd accidents and threatening messages piling up, strong-willed Kandy can’t protest when her team hires someone to keep her safe-but she can’t deny that the man for the job looks delicious…

Josh Keane is a private investigator, not a bodyguard. But with one eyeful of Kandy’s ebony curls and dimpled smile, he’s signing on to uncover who’s cooking up trouble for the gorgeous chef. As the attraction between them starts to simmer, it’s not easy to keep his mind on the job, but when the strange distractions turn to true danger, he’ll stop at nothing to keep Kandy safe-and show her that a future together is on the menu…

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women