Sunday, May 29, 2016

AR DeClerck shares Enchanter's Embrace


Today, I have AR DeClerck over. 
She's sharing book two of 
her fabulous Steampunk Adventure.
I'm so excited!



Enchanter's Embrace 

by

AR DeClerck





Icarus Kane and Cora Mae Jenkins have left London on their honeymoon, and Archimedes Merriweather and Lady Lucia Conti finally have a moment to consider a true courtship. Unfortunately, their hard-won peace doesn’t last when a message arrives in London detailing possible black magic in the agricultural area called Kensington. The Queen herself dispatches Archie and Luci and a few of their friends to the Summer Ridge estate to get to the bottom of the problem and take care of the black mage if he exists. 

There are secrets in the corridors and passages of Summer Ridge, and someone doesn’t want Archie and Luci poking around. The intrepid duo will have to face demons, poison and surprises as their old regrets and unforgotten secrets begin to come back to haunt them. Archie will do anything to save his Lady, and she will do anything to keep him safe.



“This way!” Archimedes ran across the field toward the isolated cabin nestled against the copse of birch trees. Smoke puffed from the chimney and a light was visible in the window.
“Archie, slow down.” Corrigan pulled him to a halt with a hand on his arm. “We have to be sure this isn’t a trap.”
Archie shook him off, but he stayed put. The captain was right, as much as it galled him to admit it. The path through the fields had been easy to read once they had asked the aether to illuminate it. They squatted at the edge of the woods and looked at the cabin.
“A horse-drawn buggy left here not long ago,” Grayson said quietly. He pointed to the tracks that passed near their hiding spot. He held his pistol at his side, but his eyes were narrow and focused.
“We need to know if they’re in there.” Archie’s wand was at the ready, his heart pounding hard in his chest. “They could be hurt.”
“Or already gone,” Corrigan reminded him. “We go in slow and with purpose. We keep our wits about us and don’t get distracted by the way things seem. Agreed?”
All the men knew the way dark mages could manipulate and confuse. They crept toward the cabin as quietly as possible, until a shrill scream rang out over the silent countryside.
Archimedes wasn’t a fool, but something inside him snapped at the sound. It was so full of terror that a knot formed in his throat and tears in his eyes. He clutched his wand so tightly he wondered why it didn’t break, and he ignored Corrigan’s shouts as he slammed into the door of the cabin, leaving it hanging only by its bottom hinge. He stumbled into the room, but skidded to a halt as the scene swam before his eyes.
“Lucia?”
She turned at her name, blood smeared over her face and across the bodice of her dress. She tilted her head and looked at him. The large carving knife she held in her hand dripped bright red blood onto the floor. She didn’t drop it, but it lowered a fraction. Elizabeth cowered on the floor at Lucia’s feet, her arms over her head. Her arms were red with the gashes where the knife had cut into her skin.
“What are you doing?”
“Kill.”
The word, spoken with the soft inflection one saves for a lover, sent goosebumps over Archie’s skin. He held up his hand to hold the others back as they came into the room behind him, their gasps of disbelief barely concealed.
“Put down the knife,” Archie said softly, moving closer to Lucia.
“Archimedes…” Corrigan warned quietly. “Be careful.”
“Kill.”
“No, darling. We don’t want to kill.” He moved closer, until the tip of the knife was against his shirt. “You are good.”
“I’m not.”
He did not wince as the knife pricked the skin at the edge of the plating where his human parts met his clockwork ones. “You are. You are good and kind. You are the woman I love.”
With Lucia’s attention on Archimedes, Grayson crept forward and picked up Elizabeth, running from the cabin with her in his arms. Corrigan backed up to the door, in case Lucia tried to follow.
“You lied to me.” The knife went a fraction deeper and a soft bloom of red blood flowered on his shirt. “I know.” It was a hiss.
“I don’t lie, Lucia. Especially to you.”
Her eyes were pupilless, the effect of the dark magic leaving her gaze a swirling mass of black. He touched her cheek with his human hand.
“You knew what Edgar was doing to me. You saw it.”
“I didn’t.”
“You did!” She poked harder, and the blood dripped across the blade of the knife.
Corrigan took a step forward, his electrified Bo staff out as he saw the blood. Archie shook his head and held him back with a wave.
“You saw him hurting me. You saw the things he was making me do. You didn’t save me.”
He cupped her face, forcing the soulless black eyes to meet his. He could feel the knife a quarter of an inch into his skin, but she was shaking. The dark magic would not control her for much longer. “I know I didn’t. I think about it every single day. I agonize over it.”
“You didn’t save me. I saved myself.”
“Yes, you did. Now you’re the strongest woman I know. You didn’t let Edgar Baiandelio control you. Don’t let dark magic control you now.”
“Elizabeth must die. She is not innocent.”
“We don’t kill. You heal people.”
He felt her shaking, the knife clattering to the ground as she dropped it.
“There is darkness inside me.”
He pulled her close to his chest and she let him. He felt the blood from his chest soaking through to her dress. “There is darkness in us all. It is how we control it that makes us good.”
“I’m not good.”
He kissed the top of her head and handed Corrigan his wand. Carefully he bent, scooping her up against his chest so that he held her tightly. She was limp, but tears covered her cheeks. 






AR DeClerck:
Author. Mother. Wife. Reading ninja. Food assassin. All-around goofball. Self-proclaimed nerd.

Raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina, AR currently lives by the Mighty Mississippi with her husband, 2 daughters, 2 dogs and a wily cat. She writes adventure romance with a particular love for strong heroines and redeemable heroes. AR believes LOVE is the greatest adventure, and she enjoys writing stories that incorporate ideals of loyalty, honor, sacrifice and personal growth.

Find AR Here:

Email her at amy@ardeclerck.com


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Liza Reviews Take you Away by Kira Hillins on Promo Tour for Grand Prize & Take You Away

PROMO TOUR FOR KIRA HILLINS


Grand Prize

Erotic Suspense
contains ménage and romantic suspense elements


Two hot men. Twice the danger.

Melanie Cranberry joined the dating service to meet a nice man, fall in love, and spend her nights cuddling in bed. Who knew that one five-dollar ticket for a raffle would win her two men instead of one? Now, per signed contract with Match Making For Happiness's Sake, she's required to go out on a date with each man to discover which will win her heart.

Prize number one, attorney Cage Niching, joined the dating service to find a woman to settle down with, or at least, to settle him down—after he finds out who murdered his friend. All he has to do is get admitted to the secret, invitation-only level of a certain sex club, and all he must do to get the invite is bring his Match Making date, Melanie Cranberry, prove they're in love, and have sex with her in front of as many witnesses as possible. Which doesn't look promising as long as her second date keeps hovering around her...

Prize number two, narcotics detective Victor Wine, wasn't looking for a date. Desperate to get the drug that killed his girlfriend off the streets, he's joined the dating service to get close to the woman who lives near the hangout of a major distributor. Only thing is, he actually likes the Cranberry woman, more than he wanted to. And now his investigation has put her right in the drug cartel's sights. Keeping her out of harm's way and playing the perfect date won't be easy. And there's something about her other date that raises his hackles...





Victor stood, dressed to kill in a black, long-sleeve shirt and slacks. His fabulous six-foot three body towered above everyone else. Short, jet-black hair. Bangs stuck up in tufts. Hazel eyes shimmered under the hanging lights over the stage. Fair skin and a shadowed jaw gave him a sophisticated look—a “don’t mess with me, I’m a badass” look no woman in her right mind could resist. A sense of safety and danger was all wrapped up into one gorgeous package.

Victor spoke in a deep, soft tone. Gooseflesh had spread over her body during their chat sessions. Parts of her ached for his touch. Rather than meet his striking, stern eyes, she’d kept her attention on the dark-brown panels of the walls in the room. Or she’d watch his long fingers tap against the top of the bistro table. When she found the courage to meet his gaze, she’d calmed the urge to wrestle him to the floor as if he were one of the bad guys he chased down on his job.

Their second session was worse. Thoughts of Victor ripping her dress from her body had invaded her mind. Fantasizing about his mouth over hers, and those strong, warm hands fondling her flesh had made their conversation about his career as a detective non-existent. Handcuffs had worked into her daydream before his remarkable voice brought her back to the bistro table—back to her senses. That’s when she’d realized drool had pooled at the corners of her mouth.

His dark brows had furrowed. An incredible grin had spread across his face as he cupped her burning cheek with his soft, cool hand. He’d dabbed her wet lips with the white cloth napkin from their table, setting her entire body ablaze.

Victor was toned, not overly muscled like Cage’s colossal physique. Victor had no flaws. None she could see anyway. He was perfect. Sweet. Intelligent. Courteous. Drop-dead gorgeous.

Each man had their pros. Both were beautiful. Both had remarkable careers. But Melanie’s desires swayed toward Victor. It seemed too good to be true that she’d met someone like him at a dating service. He didn’t belong here like the others.







TAKE YOU AWAY


Contemporary Suspense/Erotic Elements
Sensitive Subject Matter: vivid flashbacks of rape


Online gaming brought them together.

Small town Kansas girl Zoe Kearny never meant to befriend anyone in an online video game. But after a year of talking to Ben over the headset, he's traveled five hundred miles to meet her. Now she needs to prove to herself, and her two cynical friends, that a long distance relationship could work out, even if her violent ex-boyfriend works to ruin everything she's worked for.

Time can change a person, for better or worse. He was proof of that.

Guilt-laden Benjamin Solmer hit the bottle hard after his brother died in a motorcycle accident two years ago. If he hadn't met Zoe online when he did, alcohol would've driven him to the grave. Now he knows there’s more to life than video games and playing guitar in a rock band. He’s ready to pursue love. But with Zoe's fear that long distance relationships don't work, and deeply guarded secrets she won't reveal, he worries maybe Zoe's not the one.




“Maybe you should consider yourself lucky. I’m not much of a cook.”

“Says the gal who runs a bakery.” He traced the scar on her forearm. “What happened here?”

His gentle touch sent a jolt of electricity through her body. She shivered.

“I burned myself pulling a loaf of bread from the oven.”

“That must’ve been some loaf of bread.”

“They can get pretty big and heavy.”

He slid his thumb across the thin slanted scar on her index finger. “And where did you get this from?”

“Electric bread knife.”

“You weren’t kidding when you said you were accident-prone.”

“When I was a little girl, my dad sent me to school with a note telling the teacher not to let me use scissors.”

Ben snickered. “No joke?”

“The teacher thought my dad was paranoid.” She breathed a laugh through her nose. “I have several scars on my stomach to prove otherwise.”

“Hmm.” He combed his eyes over her body. “You’ll have to show me the scars sometime.”

Face on fire, she nodded. This was so much better than earlier. The way he looked at her, with eagerness in his eyes, was nice and kind of scary.

“You ready to go back to your place?”

“Yeah,” she said softly.

His cool, musky scent enchanted her, lured her in. Closer. Just a little farther and his lips would touch hers.




First of all, let me say, given all the explicit sexual warnings upfront, this story was nothing like I expected.

The first half of the book has no sex, because the poor young woman, Zoe, cannot get beyond her vicious assault, battery, and rape she endured 3 years prior. Nor was it a random attack. The assailant was her boyfriend, who turned ugly and mean when he was drunk.

His assault and rape gets him sent to prison for two years. He’s out on now and she’s terrified he’ll return to her town, so she spends most of her life hiding out in her house playing internet games with strangers.

Her game player asks to meet her; never mind they don’t live in the same state. She agrees and Ben and Zoe hit it off right away, but given her past, she goes really slow. After all, she once thought her EX a nice guy too.

Then her Ex returns to her town and trouble starts, but he keeps having alibis to prove it’s not him.

And I’ll stop sharing here. But if you are like me, you’ll be suspicious of everyone.

Of course she gets the pre-requisite restraining order, but they don’t work in real life or fiction.

Zoe is in serious danger. She’s got friends and of course her new boyfriend, Ben. But whoever is after her is not giving up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery thriller. I’m not big on sexual details, but surprisingly this book never managed to gross me out. The focus remained on the plot, and the plot had nothing to do with sex.  And while there is ample sex in the second half of this story, it was appropriate for the story. 


Good thing too, because I could NOT put this book down.  Fabulous from start to finish.   5 stars.



Kira writes to create a fantasy world in which to exist until she's beamed back to her home world of Oregon. Or until Superman rings her doorbell and asks her to fly away with him on an adventure that may, or may not, include the Tardis. Wherever she lands, writing will always be her passion.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Liza reviews Protecting Her Pigg by Melissa Keir from the Summer Heat Boxset.


What is Real??
Sometimes literary work imitates real life. In The Notebook, the main characters have a love that lasts a lifetime, including dealing with dementia. This could have been written about my own grandparents. It was touching watching the two of them together. Grandpa would sing to Grandma and sometimes talk to the wall, but only when the wall was actually the Pope visiting. J
Authors have a ton of real life experiences to use as fodder for their stories. I am known for putting a real life event in each of my stories. In The Christmas Accident, my mom was really in a coma and came out of it just as it was written in the story. I am the oldest of five girls, like in the Wilder Sisters series, although none of my sisters are like any of the characters in the books.
When it came time for me to write Lucas Pigg’s story, I knew that I had to use a real life story that my accountant told me. My accountant is a fun guy. He’s lived a very full life with a ton of experiences. This one was too good not to use.
When Charles (name changed to protect the innocent) was dating this one young lady, they had been out to eat but urges became so strong that they decided to visit a hotel along the freeway for some stress relief. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other.
They booked a room for the night and proceeded to enjoy themselves. Suddenly, the alarms started going off. The hotel was on fire. They couldn’t leave the room because of the fire in the hallway, so they broke the window. As they stood there looking down, the young lady freaked out. Charles had to slap her to calm her down before they jumped. Luckily, they were both fine (no major injuries) but it turned out that a person tried to commit suicide by fire and ruined so many people’s nights.
Whew! Scary right? Now you can see why I needed to use it, although it’s not exactly the same in my story. I am an author and I love to take liberties with reality. So check out my book Protecting Her Pigg to see exactly how the story happens.


Protecting Her Pigg Excerpt
Strange. Jessi usually has music going or kitchen noises. It’s too quiet.
At the door to the kitchen, smoke assaulted my nose. My training kicked in. Dialing 911, I call it in. Checking the swinging door for heat, I ran my hand up and down the length then, pulling my scarf over my nose, opened the door with caution. The haze of smoke darkened the room. However, I couldn’t see a fire or flames. Going to my hands and knees, I entered the kitchen, intent on making sure no one was inside. As I moved closer to the rear of the building, the smoke doubled. Suddenly, I noticed Jessi lying on the floor in front of the rear delivery door.
I crawled to her, fear raging in my brain. “Jessi.” I shook her. “Jessi, are you okay?” She looked like a crumpled piece of trash. Running my hands up her body, I felt her chest rise and released the breath I’d been holding since I saw her. “Thank God.”
“Ooohhh. What happened?” She tried to sit up. Coughs wracked her body, and she reached out blindly before collapsing onto the floor. “What’s going on? Why are you here?”
“There’s a fire. Did you leave the oven on? Are you able to move?”
“I never leave the oven on. My head hurts.” She winced when she touched the back of her head. Her fingers came away red. “I think my head is bleeding.”
A noise behind Jessi caught my attention. A pop and then a whoosh. Flames engulfed the rear door to the alley. Frantic, I pulled Jessi toward me and the outer door. “Come on. Let me help you. We need to get out.”
Her body felt like dead weight as she tried to stand. She fell to the ground and moaned. “I can’t walk. I’m nauseous.”
The kitchen door slammed open. In shadow, a tall man strode in, looking like a hero from my favorite romance novel. My heart sped up.
“Anyone in here? The building’s on fire!” Thank God Lucas had arrived.
“We’re here. Jessi’s hurt.”
He must have followed the sound of my voice because, a moment later, he stood in front of me and then scooped Jessi up in his arms. “Put your hand on the belt on my waist. Follow me. The kitchen wall is in flames, and the smoke’s too dense for breathing.”
Reaching out, I threaded my fingers into his belt, glad for the help with Jessi and knowing, somehow, he’d make sure we’d get out.



You have to love a villain who loves his work.
On second thought…maybe not. This one burns buildings down.
The villain speaks to us first, but he/she gives no clue as to whom he/she is.
However, the first hint that these aren’t random fires: is his/her statement at the first of the book: “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”
The owner of the building, which is set afire, is Lucas Pigg, one of three Pigg brothers.
DO NOT pass the book over to your kids, this story is inappropriate for children. In fact, it’s one of the sexiest books I’ve read from Melissa Keir.
Lily is the Chief Arson investigator, and everyone is a suspect until she determines who set the fire.
And in this case, it’s not going to be easy.
That’s right: Instead of a kid’s tale, you are in for a sexy mystery ‘who done it and keeps doing it’ romp.
You can read the prior sentence two ways, and both will be right.  The arsonist keeps burning and the relationship between Lily and Lucas is blazing hot.




16 All New Contemporary Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors.

Guaranteed to make your blood run hot. Passion, steamy nights, excitement, and suspense. Something to suit every reader's taste. Grab a cool drink (you'll need it!), find a hammock, and curl up for an unforgettable escape.

1: Caridad Pineiro, Under the Boardwalk - A passionate night under the boardwalk brought them together, but can Chase and Natalie rekindle that lost love in just one night?

2: Nina Bruhns

3: Rebecca York, Outlaw Justice - Will a surprise reunion with her old lover save her life when she flees from a homicidal husband?

4: Jennifer Lowery, The Fall (Book #2 ATCOM series) - The last thing ATCOM agent Brendan Devayne wants is to settle down, but Mia Lawrence makes him think twice…

5: Taylor Lee, Jared: (Book 1, The Justice Brothers Series) - The rookie cop learned the hard way that when tangling with the Justice Brothers, Justice—like Love-- isn’t always fair or easy.

6: Traci Hall, Festival by the Sea - Al Cooper’s too bad to be a cop and too good to be a crook; Darcy Smith can’t get enough.

7: Stephanie Queen, Beachcomber Heat - This summer’s heat wave on Martha’s Vineyard is breaking records, but so is the crime wave. The combination is causing a wave of red-hot dangerous desire between Dane and Shana.

8: Alicia Street, Training for Love - When private fitness trainer Shannon meets her hot new client, loving her job takes on a whole new meaning.

9: Kathy Ivan, Sex, Lies and Apple Pies - A televised baking competition brings them together. But deceit, intrigue and revenge are on this menu. Can their love survive?

10: Jackie Ivie, The Hunted - LeeAnn’s got business in Miami. Bring on the sun. Sand. Sexy men to look at. The last thing she expects is to be someone’s target.

11: Michele Hauf, The Geek Gets The Girl - Mistaken for the IT geek? This sexy CEO is about to learn the intimate operations of his company—up close, and personal.

12: Rachelle Ayala, Bad Boys for Hire: Ken (Bad Boys for Hire Series, #2) - After Jolie Becker is left at the altar, her friends secretly hire a hunky beach bum to cheer her up.

13: Katy Walters, Sands of Seduction - Clary escaped to a place of sea and sand, a place of passion and seduction.

14: Melissa Keir, Protecting Her Pigg - Arson and fire bring them together, but what will cause the most damage…the arsonist bent on revenge or their own stubborn ways?

15: Dani Haviland, Pool Boy Wanted (No Experience Preferred) - He’d never known a woman before, and that’s just how she wanted him.

16: Jacquie Biggar, Summer Lovin’ - Can two mismatched lovers find a way past their mistakes, or will they keep their lonely hearts forever guarded?

Expected publication: May 24th 2016 by Chill Out Publishing
Edition Language- English
Pre-Order Summer Heat - Love on Fire: 16 Bestselling, 16 all-new romances guaranteed to make your blood run hot! Only 99c


Amazon/Kindle (US): http://bit.ly/SuHA

Amazon/Kindle (UK): http://bit.ly/SuHAK

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Nook (UK): http://bit.ly/SuHBNUK

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We're giving away a Kindle loaded with books from the best selling authors of Summer Heat! There will chatting, games, and plenty of giveaways. Join us for the fun!

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Liza reviews Learning Curve by Melissa Kendall


Today, I have the fabulous Melissa Kendall over with two of her very fine novellas.
In addition, I review Learning Curves.




Learning Curve by Melissa Kendall



Madame Eve may have helped them find one another. But meshing their two worlds together isn’t easy.
When Dean is nominated for an Emmy, he is so excited he invites Sally to be is date for the evening.
Sally is reluctant at first but eventually agrees. Petrified the world media will make fun of her for being the fat chick on Dean’s arm, she works her butt off to lose weight before the big event.

Can Dean and Sally learn to make life together work? Or will the reality of the differences in their lives be too difficult to overcome?




This novella is short and spicy with lots of curves. The curves belong to Sally. Madame Eve hooked her up with Dean, a television star, and they hit off right away. But a hook up is not a long term commitment. But how can they even consider that when they live so far apart? There is also Sally’s fear of being ridiculed for being with such a hunk. She’s a size 18. A man like Dean should be with a skinny model.

But Dean has fixated on his curvaceous beauty and the two are fabulous bed partners. When he’s nominated for an Emmy, his life starts to change and they are given the opportunity to commit to this relationship or walk away.


This novella is short and spicy with lots of curves.  The steamy sex works as does the story. The only time I became discontented is when it ended. I wanted it to go on.








 Read where Sally and Dean’s story began.

Sally Austens’ sexual experience is limited and unsatisfactory at best. Now, as she turns thirty, it looks like the relationship train has missed her stop. When a friend tells her about 1Night Stand and suggests it might just change her life, she’s skeptical but shoots for the stars when asking for her perfect date. Go big or go home, right?

Dean Martorino lives in the public eye. Surrounded on a daily basis by society’s idea of stunning beauty, he longs for a woman with curves he can get lost in. At the suggestion of his long-time friend and manager, Dean shares his secret with Madame Eve hoping she can find him a match to fill his arms and satisfy his desires.

Can Sally accept the beauty Dean sees in her long enough to curve his appetite or will they both go home hungry?






Melissa Kendall is a forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for it, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is the author of two published short stories and Matronly Duties her first full-length novel.
Twitter: @mkendallauthor


Friday, May 20, 2016

Touched by Love by Melissa Foster

TOUCHED BY LOVE
Love in Bloom: The Remintons

by


New York Times & USA Today bestseller Melissa Foster












The Remingtons are a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger Love in Bloom big family romance collection - Voted BEST BOOK SERIES by Supportive Business Moms, UK

In TOUCHED BY LOVE... 


Fiercely independent Janie Jansen has always believed there were worse things in life than being blind, and she's spent her life proving it. She's moved away from her overprotective parents, built a life in New York City, and is one of the top technical editors in her company. That is, until an unfortunate accident turns her life upside down and she's forced to give up the very independence she's worked so hard to achieve. 

Firefighter Boyd Hudson pushed past his tragic past and is weeks away from accomplishing his ultimate dream―being accepted into medical school. His intense focus on his goal while working three jobs has taken its toll. With a trail of failed relationships behind him, Boyd is painstakingly aware of his limitations and avoids girlfriends completely―a difficult task given his attraction to one of his co-workers. 

When Boyd comes to Janie's rescue, she's forced to accept his help, and Janie discovers there's more to the sexy-sounding office flirt than one-liners. Their connection deepens as Janie heals, but it turns out that Janie isn't the only one who needs healing. Boyd's painful past comes back to haunt him, threatening their relationship and forcing Boyd to reevaluate everything he knows about himself.   


BLAINE’S MOUTH BLAZED a path up her inner thigh. His hot breath teased over her wet flesh. Kenya fisted her hands in the sheets, dug her heels into the mattress, and rocked her hips, aching for his talented tongue in the place she needed him most. Blaine lifted smoldering dark eyes, a hint of wickedness shining through, as his tongue slicked over his lips. He was a master at seduction, but Kenya didn’t give a shit about seduction. She wanted to be fucked hard. Now. She needed his—

A large hand landed on Janie Jansen’s desk beside her braille device. She nearly jumped out of her skin and nervously yanked out her earbuds. Holy shit. She was supposed to be finishing a technical editing assignment, not listening to the latest hot romance audiobook.

“Nice article in the newsletter this week, Jansen. ‘The Oxford Comma Revolution.’ Catchy.” Her boss, Clay Bishop, was slightly less arid than a desert, but Janie didn’t mind. He’d hired her to work at Tech Ed Co., or TEC, on a trial basis, and four years later her respect for him had only grown. He was a fair and equitable boss and was currently considering her for a promotion.

It was difficult to spice up a weekly column geared toward grammar and editing, but Janie tried. It was just one more step toward the promotion of technical writer she’d been vying for, a nice step up from editor.

“You’re here late. Trouble with the ARKENS handbook?”

“I’m just catching up on a few things. The handbook is almost done.” Well, technically not almost done, but she’d meet the deadline. She had yet to miss one. She loved editing, but she hadn’t set out to be an editor after college. She’d wanted to be a journalist, but that door had closed and she’d tabled her dream and settled for editing. Usually the intensity of her job didn’t get to her, but after weeks of grueling revisions on this particular medical equipment handbook, she’d needed a short mental break. But Clay would never think to take a break. He was all business all the time, even hours after their workday officially ended.

“Perfect. Don’t forget, Monday afternoon we have the peer review of your writing sample. If that goes well, your promotion will be in the hands of the management team. I’m not worried—you’re always on top of your game.”

“Yeah, she is.” Boyd Hudson’s amused voice brought a smile to Janie’s lips.

Boyd consulted at TEC only a few days a month, and though Janie didn’t know him well, he was quippy and flirtatious, bringing a spark of amusement into her otherwise quiet days.

“Hudson,” Clay said dryly. “Okay, well, it’s late, so…”

“See you Monday, Clay.” Janie listened to his retreating footsteps and let out a relieved sigh.

“He almost caught you again, didn’t he?”

She heard the smirk in Boyd’s voice. “He didn’t catch me last time. I was on my lunch break last week. And besides, I was just studying the nuances of the romance genre.”

“If by ‘study’ you mean ‘getting swept away in the sexy fantasy life of some fictional, ridiculously unattainable hero,’ then yeah, I’d buy that.”

“Why do you trash the genre when you know it’s my favorite escape?” She began gathering her things to leave for the day.

“Because it’s fun. You’re too smart to be a cliché, Janie. You know that, right? Girl who’s blind whiles away hours of her youth reading romances because her parents are too controlling. Grows up wanting a fictional life that can never exist. Break free from it.” His voice rose with excitement. “Let it go. Romance isn’t real. It’s crap writing about fake people.”

She never should have revealed that tidbit about her parents in the break room last month. They’d been talking about their childhoods, and while others had fun stories of hanging out at the mall, or going on spur-of-the-moment outings with groups of friends, Janie had very few spur-of-the-moment anything to share. Her parents worried about every step she made, questioning her safety and whether this or that location would be difficult for her to navigate without them to hold her hand. They’d been a noose around her neck, and it had often been easier to escape into fictional worlds than to battle for the chance to go out.

“And your sci-fi adventures are more real than romance? Ha!” She hefted her bag over her shoulder. “I bet you’ve never even read a romance.”

“Don’t need to. It’s crap.”

“It’s not crap. I bet I could write a romance that you’d not only read, but love.” Janie turned off her computer and braille device.

“Not unless it’s got a heroine who likes sci-fi, is smarter than me, and is into kinky sex.”

“God, you’re a pig. Fine, sci-fi and kinky sex. It shouldn’t be hard to make her smarter than you.” She lifted her brows with the tease. “But if I write it, you not only have to read every single page of it, but you also have to go to the Romance Writers Festival with me in October and stay all day. Plus,” she added, getting excited about the bet, “you have to buy me every romance book I want for a month.”

He placed Janie’s cane in her hand. “A little greedy, aren’t you?”

“Hey, if I’m writing a whole novel, it’s got to be worth it.”

“Fine, but I’m not buying you romance books for a month.”








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Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.




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