Read an excerpt from Heartsick by Caitlin Sinead

About Heartsick

Quinn is looking forward to her senior year at Poe University. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend, flirt with a certain boy genius, party at her favorite dive bar and figure out what she’s going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major. But that’s before she meets Luke, a hot townie who’s moved back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it’s before a weird epidemic sweeps across campus, mysteriously turning people’s eyes purple.

Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug?

Is it a rogue virus developed in a campus lab?

Is it the mark of the devil?

Soon the town starts blaming the university and the student religious group becomes frighteningly aggressive in their on-campus accusations. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle—until a tragic accident forces Luke to reveal the one part of himself he’s kept carefully hidden. That he’s so much more than the happy-go-lucky boy next door Quinn had believed him to be isn’t a surprise…but this truth might be too dangerous for her to handle.

Add HEARTSICK to Goodreads HERE

 “This unique read–containing a boatload of likable characters and a few spine-tingling chills–plays out like a mystery movie on the big screen. The author really keeps readers guessing with each flip of the page–and it gets more and more exciting all the way up to the last chapter, which has the potential to make jaws drop.” – RT Book Reviews

“HEARTSICK is destined to become a go-to example of great, speculative NA.” – Carrie Butler, author of the award-winning Mark of Nexus series

“A snappy, suspenseful plot balanced with stellar writing, brimming with chemistry and full of unique, nuanced characters. Quinn is the sort of strong, believable heroine I want to spend hundreds of pages with, and the mix of sci-fi-tinged mystery, small-town social tensions and a sweet-and-sexy love story kept me engaged until the end. Caitlin Sinead just made my auto-buy list.”–A.J. Larrieu, author of Twisted Miracles

Excerpt

She gets our drinks before he comes back and once he does, I pick up my wine. “Thanks for the drink.”

He clinks with me and takes a sip. “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.” There’s something sad in his voice that makes me want to find an emotional salve, which I imagine would probably be some kind of chocolate peanut butter concoction.

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just—” I start.

“No, I get it.” His hand flip-flops a coaster between his thumbs and fingers as he stares into the line of bottles of whiskey and whatnot. “I’m Luke, by the way.” He reaches his other hand out, like we’re business partners. I go with it.

“I’m Quinn.”Those hands. They’re the kind of rough and wild hands that hold truths. And, like last night, I want more than the tactile glimpse the handshake gives me.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Quinn.” I love the way he says my name. With his southern accent it sways more toward the Q, the n’s are uphill.

“So, where have you been?” I ask.

He tilts his head, sort of like a puppy would do if you hide a tennis ball behind your back.

“Ah, you mean...your whole life?”I’m only semi-successful at stifling a girlish giggle as he watches me with playful eyes.

“No, I mean, Sally said you’re back in town. From where?”“So she told you all that?” he says.

All that? I’ll have to ask Sally about it later. He gulps down a significant amount of beer faster than you should outside of race-themed drinking games and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.

“She just said you were back.” I mirror him and take a big swig of wine that should be savored. But this is getting awkward.

 

About Caitlin Sinead

 

Caitlin Sinead is represented by Andrea Somberg at Harvey Klinger, Inc. and her debut novel, Heartsick, will be published by Carina Press in 2015. Her writing has earned accolades from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Glimmer Train, and Writers & Artists, and her stories have appeared in multiple publications, including The Alarmist, The Binnacle, CrunchableJersey Devil Press, and Northern Virginia Magazine. She earned a master's degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University.

You can connect with Caitlin via: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter

Read an excerpt from Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack: A True WWII Teenage Love Story by Laura Lynn Ashworth

JANUARY 1, 1945

Hello, Honey:
Happy New Year, sweets, and may this one reunite us together again “for better or worse” (preferably the former, without any doubt whatsoever). How's that for starting off the year with nothing else but a letter. Well, that's about all I can do out here, although I wish I could think of something to remedy the situation. About ten minutes of 1945 has already passed and can you imagine I'm soberer than a judge could possibly ever think of being. Well, it isn't my fault if they locked up the paint locker and thus removed my last chance of having any intoxicated drink. Maybe you don't know it but this now makes my third Christmas and New Year's Eve in a row that I've been soundly sober. What a Hell of a habit to get into, don't you think?
First one in “boots,” second one on Midway, this one on the sea and now I'm hoping on the fourth one will be back in “Chi” in ‘45 but still alive. After all, I just have to get out of this monotonous habit or I'll be swinging at bats in my belfry.

I just wonder what you're doing about this time, oh well, what I don't know, won't hurt me (I hope).
I just received three letters from you just about three hours before midnight and was I ever happy, Honey. Those pictures were like two quarts of Haig & Haig to me, and the way you said “especially of the two hoods,” was really flabbergasting. Of course I was happy to see their friendly faces again (what did they just get through drinking, a barrel of wood alcohol?), but not one tenth as tickled as when I saw that chic picture of you again on that bicycle and in a bathing suit to boot. My, my, ain't that lovely. But what's the idea of saying “do you remember the bicycle?” You're just a natural born “kibitzer,” you sweet angel.

Say, don't go throwing the kisses at too many of my friends or else they'll soon be my enemies. By the way, do you still remember that number (very mellow) from a few years back called “Jealous”? Very “neat,” indeed, and that applies to the receiving end of this letter also.

I just got off an eight to twelve watch and what a way to end a year, don't you think? I should really be getting some “rack-time” since I have to get up very early today, but I'd willingly give up almost any amount of sleep (“without strain or pain”), just to be nearer to you in some way or another.

Before I forget, you never told me that you were such a talented artist. I sure liked the way she fit in the dress. Don't be afraid to send a few more sketches in the future ‘cause I just “gobble” them up.

I'm sure glad that we more than made up after that silly parting the last time I was home (that was just about when inauguration of Lincoln was taking place, I believe). But “you can believe you me,” that you're in for the time of your life when “We'll Meet Again” (“Woodchopper Herman's” arrangement), and I have reason to believe it'll be not so far away.

Well, Honey, my “blinkers” are blinking a bit too much so I had better put them out of commission for a few hours.

Con Amor, Amor, Amor, Slabby

About the Book

Read the rare and recently discovered real time letters between Sal, age 19, and Loretta, age 15, during the final terrifying three years of World War II, 1943-1945. Both from the Douglas Park neighborhood in Chicago, the two adolescents discuss with humor and candor, the Navy, war, politics, hit music, life back home and their relationship. Sal nicknamed Slabby for his movie star good looks, deciphers code out of the Navy’s radio shack on a minesweeper in the Pacific. Loretta monikered Duchess for her aloofness, lives with aunts and her widowed father, while holding day jobs and enjoying an active social life with friends. Letters to Loretta from the Radio Shack lets you experience World War II, both in battle and on the home front, through the eyes of adolescents in a way that Hollywood has never portrayed.

About the Author

Laura Lynn Ashworth is an award-winning copywriter and political cartoonist. While helping an elderly family member with veterans administration paperwork, she ran across “the letters” and instantly knew of their rarity, freshness and historical significance. Although she received three publishing contracts within two months of sending the letters to major publishers, Ashworth decided to publish them herself on the advice of best-selling authors. She currently lives and works in a northwest suburb of Chicago. 

You can reach Laura via: Website | Facebook | Twitter Goodreads

 

 

Read an excerpt from In The Cards by Jaime Beck

About the Book

Lindsey Hilliard flees her charmed life in New York, searching for answers after her fiancé’s betrayal fills her with self-doubt. Unfortunately, her rented Malibu home is next door to Levi Hardy, the sexy but insufferable man who humiliated her years ago.

Hardened by a grim past he keeps concealed, Levi prefers maintaining a comfortable distance from folks, especially a nosy princess like Lindsey. But then a motorcycle collision brings him to his knees, forcing him to accept her assistance with his recovery. Sparks begin to fly when the woman who doesn’t believe in herself teaches the cynic how to have faith in others. Levi realizes his body will recover, but his heart won’t if Lindsey returns to the ex who wants her back.

In the biggest gamble of his life, Levi teaches her to trust her own voice, and hopes she’ll use it to say good-bye to her past and hello to a future with him.

Excerpt from In the Cards by Jaime Beck

Levi

At first, returning home felt foreign. I’d been away for almost
seven weeks. Lindsey changed the sheets on my bed and cleaned
the house for me. Whenever I’m convinced I’ve seen the limit of her
generosity, she goes a step further. She’s the kindest person I’ve ever
met and I’ve missed her company these past two days.
In just two months, she’s blown into my life and reshuffled
everything. My solitude now leaves me empty instead of comforted.
My house now seems cold instead of peaceful.
I’ve seen her a bit, only because she’s still running errands for me
until I’m permitted to drive. I’ve purposely kept her at bay. Foolishly, I
thought my life would return to normal once I came home and dived
into my old routines. Not happening. I’ve simply spent most of the
past two days consumed with thoughts of her. To top it off, I’m more
aware of my aches and pains without her company to distract me.
No matter how I convince myself of the benefits of my no-strings
philosophy, or of us being only friends, the truth is I want her—all of
her. I want her heart and soul, her warmth and compassion, and her love.
It’s a startling and completely uncomfortable need, but I want
her to love me. It’s unfair, too, because I doubt I’m capable of giving
love in return.

I’m sure my confession has Pop rolling his eyes in heaven, or hell.
But I’m no fool. She deserves better than me and she knows it. Hell,
considering what she’s learned about my parents, my background,
and my love life, she’d probably run for the hills rather than give me
a chance to break her heart.
Can’t say I’d blame her, either. Also, while she hasn’t mentioned
Rob lately, it’s not over between them, in my opinion.
Her parents arrive today, sure to hound her to return home, and
to him. Although I don’t stand a chance against them, I’ve decided
I can’t let her take off without any fight.
This past week I purchased the first birthday gifts I’ve bought
anyone in decades. I ordered a Wüsthof chef’s knife, a paring knife,
and an apron. Although these things aren’t romantic, they’re sentimental,
considering this whole thing between us began with a cooking
lesson. I expect she’ll appreciate the intention.
She intimated to Jill she’d be staying through her lease term,
which gives me a few months to wrest her from her past. I need to
start with these gifts and get them to her before her mother arrives.
I feel like a ten-year-old boy trying to impress a girl.
When did I become such a pansy? Scowling at myself, I
straighten my shoulders and make my way to her house.

Excerpted with permission from Montlake Romance from In The Cards © 2014 by Jamie Beck. All rights reserved.

Read an excerpt from New York Dolls by Catherine Hensley

About her Book

It’s Fashion Week in New York, and Denton Hodges just got her first big assignment for Glitter magazine.

Denton’s assignment: Get in the show at the posh Regency Viscount Hotel, and find a story. But a chance encounter with hard-partying starlet Amber Donovan forever changes the course of the night—and Denton’s life. After a night of being chased by the paparazzi, swimming in swag bags, and falling heart over heels for Hollywood hunk Chris West, Denton’s not just on the story. She is the story.

Suddenly, Denton’s no longer merely a low-level assistant. Amber’s latching on like a BFF from hell, Chris is flirting and cooking her dinner, and as Denton falls for the real people behind the tabloid screen, neither knows about her ties to Glitter. Only Denton holds the secret—or so she thinks. Is Anna Creel, Glitter’s icy beauty editor, on to her? Will Denton be able to write a story exposing her new friends? And is Chris more than just a friend, or did Glitter get the headline right—“Chris and Amber: Hot Nights!”?

Step into the spotlight, and peek beyond the red carpet in New York Dolls.

Read an excerpt

I took Josie’s hand so as not to lose her to another bouncer this time. We made it onto the dance floor, weaving through the bumpers and grinders getting low, low, low. I spotted the doorway opening to the patio, finally, up ahead past the edge of the dance floor and to the side of the roped-off VIP area. Josie and I joined the line for the patio. Almost done, I kept thinking, like passing through this one final portal would be my rite of passage out of the tornado I’d gotten myself twisted up in. I wouldn’t have to lie that I’d been to the after-party. I could describe the scene, maybe see someone I recognized from the RV and get a quote. Or maybe Liz would buy an investigative journalism angle on this whole thing—“A Glitter World Exclusive: Reporter Denton Hodges Reveals Amber Donovan’s Hair Secret.” Play it like I was onto it all along.

And think of the material I could use—a puking Amber Donovan, needy, desperate, confused, not sure where she is or where she’s going, and Prince Charming Chris West, concerned, involved, pissed about having to make an appearance somewhere but willing to stay with you and make sure you’re all right, even giving you the shirt off his back. Who cares about what happened in between? I could take what I needed. This could be my exit—the patio outside and then a few slights of the pen. Waiting in that line, plotting so many ways to cover my ass and make it all neat and tidy, I felt dirty, and something more...something like...devious. For the first time since Liz had given me this assignment, I really felt like Anna Creel. Like I got the story, I did what I had to, and that’s all that matters, so go have a freaking fashionable night, because I’m...

“Denny!” MD was coming down the stairs from a VIP booth. “Oh my G!”

“Dee-Dee!” Amber pushed past the rope from the patio, tripping on her way toward me. Her purple wig had been replaced with a cherry-colored red one. “Oh my God, Dee-Dee! Where have you been? I neeeeeed you!”

“Anna?” That voice. I hope I’ll see you around.

I remembered his voice. He came up behind me and put his hand on my lower back. “Do you want to get out of here?” Why yes, Chris West, yes, actually I do. I don’t think I have the scoop on the story anymore. I am the story

Buy the Book

About the Author

Catherine L. Hensley is a professional freelance editor and writer. From fiction and nonfiction manuscripts to academic pieces, she provides an extensive range of copyediting, proofreading, content editing, and writing services to a wide variety of clients located around the United States and abroad.

A native of south Louisiana, Catherine received her master of arts degree in creative writing and media studies from New York University and her bachelor of arts degree in English from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with minors in history and mass communication. Her writing has appeared in The Advocate (Louisiana’s largest newspaper), OT Practice magazine, Quiet Mountain: New Feminist Essays, and Mused, the BellaOnline Literary Review. For more, visit www.catherinehensley.com.

Catherine can be reach via: Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Read an excerpt from Ryley's Revenge by L.P. Dover


Synopsis

UFC Middleweight fighter, Ryley Jameson, swore it would never happen again. He was done with his ex, and over the pain she’d inflicted when she left him. At least, that’s what he tells people. Maybe if he says it enough, he’ll begin to believe it himself.

Regretting her decision to let Ryley go, Ashleigh Warren comes back into town and confronts him. Holding only one secret back, she puts the rest on the line and asks for a second chance. Too bad he’s not going to let her off easy.

Camden Jameson loves his twin brother, but his jealousy runs deep. They may be identical in looks, but that’s where the similarities end. When Ashleigh comes back into Ryley’s life, Camden has the perfect opportunity for revenge. Two birds, one stone.

A journey to the Dark Side affects them all, but only one feels the true sting of revenge

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling author, L.P. Dover, is a southern belle residing in North Carolina along with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she even began her literary journey she worked in Periodontics enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries. 

Not only does she love to write, but she loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes, white water rafting, and you can’t forget the passion for singing. Her two number one fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime and those songs usually consist of Christmas carols. 

Aside from being a wife and mother, L.P. Dover has written over nine novels including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, and her standalone novel, Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read is romantic suspense and she also loves writing it. However, if she had to choose a setting to live in it would have to be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae. 

 

You can reach L.P via: Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Pinterest

 

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Paxton's Promise Synopsis Releasing Dec 29

She hates him, yet she can’t get him out of her mind.

Female Bantamweight fighter, Gabriella Reynolds, has a bad habit of falling for forbidden fighters. Enter Paxton Emerson. He’s tall, tattooed, and the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Everyone wants a piece of him, and he only has eyes for her. Through no choice of her own, she’s fallen in his debt and he’s now demanding payment. Too bad it doesn’t involve currency. Gabby’s decision to fulfill her promise to him ultimately brings out her true feelings, but also spurs the unwanted attention of another. 

Rage’s fixation on his newest obsession reaches dangerous levels. Unfortunately, Paxton Emerson has become a roadblock to his end goal and needs to be removed from the equation—by any means necessary.

Gabby will do anything to save Pax, but what happens when she’s the one who needs saving?

Excerpt

After getting home from the airport, I fell asleep on the couch the second I sat down. I’d heard voices, but they’d muted to nothing before I was picked up and taken down the hall to my room. Once I was tucked in bed, underneath my sheets, I felt at home—and it was wonderful.

            “Are you going to sleep all day?” A finger poked me in the shoulder. “Hey, I’m talking to you, lazy ass. It’s ten o’clock in the morning.”

            The sound of Gabriella’s voice brought a smile to my face. “It’s good to see you too,” I chuckled. “I see you finally made it home.”

            Opening up my eyes, I had to blink them a few times to see Gabriella’s face clearly. She was dressed in a black sports bra and black shorts with her hair pulled high in a ponytail, sitting on the edge of my bed. It must be training time.

            “Yes, I made it home and if you weren’t passed out, I was going to jack your ass up. However, since Colin told me you weren’t feeling so hot, I left you alone. He headed out shortly after you fell asleep.” Jaw firm, her serious green gaze bore into mine; something was wrong.

Sitting up, I rubbed my eyes and looked on cautiously. “Why are you staring at me like that?”

            “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the fact that you and Ryley are going to be the death of me. I swear I don’t know what the hell to do with you two.”

            “What are you talking about?”

            She held up her hands, halting me. “Hold on a sec. I’ll admit, part of this whole thing is my fault since I didn’t get your text message. If I did, then I’m sure you wouldn’t have called Colin to pick you up.”

            “Trust me, I didn’t want to call him.” Throwing off my covers, I slid off the bed and took off my T-shirt and shorts so I could get ready for a shower. I felt disgusting. “I didn’t know who else to call, Gabby. What’s so bad about him bringing me home? We’re friends.” Grabbing a towel, I headed into my bathroom and turned on the shower water.

            Gabriella joined me in the bathroom, crossing her arms over her chest. “I know that, but Ryley sure as hell doesn’t. He was under the impression you and Colin called it quits.”

Eyes wide, I shut the shower door and turned to her. “How did he find out? Did you tell him?”

Sighing, she shook her head. “No, I didn’t, but Tyler did, and what’s worse is that Ryley saw you at the airport with him.”

You have got to be fucking kidding me. “What were you two doing at the airport?”

 “Oh, you’re going to love this. We were going to Aspen.”

The moment ‘Aspen’ fell out of her mouth, my heart stopped in my chest and I felt sick. He was coming for me.

“Yeah,” she continued, “and apparently, you and Colin happened to look like more than just friends. Or as Ryley put it ‘arms draped all over each other’ or some shit.”

“Oh my God. No,” I shrieked, holding my stomach. “It wasn’t like that. I came home for Ryley. I want to get him back!”

Gabriella pursed her lips, her countenance weary. “I know you want him back, but things have changed, Ash. He was livid when we left the airport. After seeing you and Colin together, I think it knocked him over the edge—he was seeing red. It’s the second time he feels like he got slapped in the face.”

Eyes burning, I threw my towel on the floor and rushed to my closet. “I have to see him, Gabby. Do you know where he is?” I grabbed one of my pink tank tops and a pair of jeans out of my closet, sliding them on as fast as I could. I didn’t care if I needed a shower. I couldn’t let another minute go by without talking to him.

“He’s probably at home,” she confided. “Judging by how hard he’s worked the past few weeks, I’d say he needs a day off.”

Slamming my closet door, I ran back to my bathroom, washed my face and brushed my teeth. My skin wasn’t as tanned as it used to be since I’d been working indoors at the hotel. Now, with the shock of finding out what happened yesterday, I looked downright pale. Not to mention, my cheeks had sunken a bit from being sick. I looked as weak as I felt, but I was determined to find Ryley. I’d spent a month away from him and I was tired of torturing myself. Even if he didn’t want me back, he was going to let me explain.

“I’m going over there,” I announced, marching out of my room. “Nothing happened between me and Colin last night. He has to know the reason why I came back.”

Gabriella followed me to the door and grabbed the keys to my car off the counter, handing them to me. “Whatever happens, don’t give up on him. He’s angry at you, but if you keep trying I know he’ll come around. You can do this.”

Holding my keys in hand, I took a deep breath and nodded. “You’re right, I can. I won’t give up.”

Once out of the apartment, I rushed down the steps to my car and was on my way to Ryley’s house. The fight to win him back wasn’t going to be easy. But I had a lot to make up for.

Read an excerpt from The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre

Synopsis

Some people wait decades to meet their soul mate. Courtney Kaufman suspects she met hers in high school—only to lose him at seventeen. Since then, Courtney’s social life has been a series of meaningless encounters, though she’s made a few close friends along the way. Especially her roommate, Max Cooper, who oozes damaged bad-boy vibes from every pore.

Max knows about feeling lost and trying to move beyond the pain—he’s been on his own since he was sixteen. Now it’s time to find out if he can ever go home again, and Courtney’s the only one he trusts to go with him. But the trip to Providence could change everything…because the more time he spends with Courtney, the harder it is to reconcile what he wants and what he thinks he deserves.

It started out so simple. One misfit helping another. Now Max will do anything to show Courtney that for every heart that’s ever been broken, there’s another that can make it complete.

About Ann Aguirre

 

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

You can reach Ann via:  Website | FacebookTwitter | Tumblr  | GoodreadsNewsletter SignUp

 

Excerpt

Hours later, I stirred in increments, then snapped alert when I realized Max was spooning me. His arm was strong and warm across my waist, hips snug against my ass, and I felt each slow breath into my hair. Well, crap. No good deed and so on. It seemed unlikely that I could get away without disturbing him. The bedside clock read 5:45, so it was still mostly dark. As I shifted, he tightened his hold and nuzzled my neck.  Obviously, it felt incredible, but it had been eight months. These days it didn’t take much to turn me on. But I wasn’t a shy virgin trembling with fear that he’d ravish me. So I lifted his arm and crawled out of bed. Max was rubbing his eyes when I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and get dressed.
    “Okay, did I imagine—”
    “Nothing happened.” I wasn’t about to tell him that he was crying in his sleep so I figured I better go on the offensive. “My bed had janky springs, that’s all.”
“Uh huh. Anyone ever tell you your hair smells like lemons?”
“That’s the top-notch motel shampoo.”
“Couldn’t resist me, huh? This always happens, sooner or later. Should we just do it already, defuse the sexual tension?”
“As if. You were on my side of the bed. There are Russian hitmen who would pay big money to spoon this.” I slapped my ass with a teasing grin and yanked the covers off him. “Come on, get up.”
    He immediately grabbed a pillow, going for basic crotch camo. “Are you kidding?”
    “Oh. You already are. I’ll take that as a compliment.”
    “I have to pee,” he mumbled.
    “Take your time. If you need me to step out, so you can—”
    “So help me, Kaufman, if you don’t stop talking, right now, I’ll make you.” 
    Smirking, I did a taunting little dance, hip swivel and half-turn. “Sure you will. What, you gonna kiss me? Now that’s original. Besides, I’m way too good at it, remember? Pretty soon you’ll be dry humping me and then come all over yourself. Let’s not go down that road.”
    He scrubbed a palm across his face. “It’s too early for this.”
    “Exactly my point.”
    Max slammed the bathroom door after stomping past me. He was in there long enough with the water running for me to consider teasing him, but honestly, what a guy did in the shower stall of a crappy motel bathroom was between him and the tiny soap. So I didn’t say anything as we packed up and headed out to the bike. But I was thinking about it, wondering a little, when I swung on behind him and nestled close.
    I could get used to this.

 

Read an excerpt from A Very Grey Christmas by T.A. Foster

BOOK SUMMARY

I was getting ready to spend the single most important holiday of the year alone. Completely and utterly alone.

That meant he wouldn’t be there Christmas Eve. No making Christmas cookies, or listening to my dad sing off-key while my mom bustled around wrapping last-minute gifts. No decorating the tree. No midnight Christmas kiss.

No waking up in Grey’s arms. We were actually going to spend our very first Christmas in different states.

That was until Grey gave me the most unexpected gift of my life.

Author Information

T.A. Foster once spent a monthlong spring break on South Padre Island, where she soaked in the Texas sun, beach, and learned what real Texas country music is. Sometimes fiction does spring from reality.

She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children, and two canine kiddos. 

T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing, or planning her next beach trip.

You can reach T.A. via: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

EXCERPT 

“In here, Eden. Come see,” Mom called from the living room.

“Ok, ok. What’s different with the tree this year?” I stopped in the doorway. “Wow, Mom. It’s amazing.” I stepped closer to examine her latest work of art.

The twinkle lights sparkled all over the tree. All of our family ornaments were on display, but there were new ones. It sparkled from the inside out. There had to be at least fifty glitter snowflakes. Some made from mirror, others coated in a white shimmer.

“I can’t believe you added all of this. Where did you get the idea?” I circled to the other side, not wanting to miss a single decoration.

“Oh, it just hit me one morning when I was doing child’s pose. It threw off the rest of my class, because I wanted to get out of the studio and start on the ornaments.” She laughed. “I used crushed glass on most of the snowflakes. I’m hoping we’ll have a white Christmas this year. The tree should get us started.”

My mother had always been crafty, but this looked like the work of a professional.

“I think it’s the prettiest tree we’ve had.” I reached for my phone in my back pocket.

“What are you doing?”

I stepped back and snapped a photo. “Taking a picture to send to Grey. He has to see this.” I forwarded the picture along with a message.
 
Wish you were here to see this in person.
 
Seconds later, he wrote back.
 
Me too, baby.
 
Why don’t you change your mind? Promise you’ll love it.
 
I bet I would.
 
I sighed. There was no changing his mind once it was made up. That determination could be an amazing characteristic, but right now, it made me sad that we were in different states.

“How about we get you settled in your room, and I’ll have dinner ready in a few minutes? I bet you’re tired from the trip.”

“A little.” I shuffled down the hall in search of my old bedroom.

Other than summer and holiday breaks, I hadn’t spent much time here since I graduated from high school. Pictures from school were on the walls—all the things that I didn’t pack for the Texas move. My mother had even unpacked my childhood tree and placed it on the dresser. It made me think about the tree Grey probably had with Pops. It was good to be home, but my heart hurt more now than when I got on the plane in Brownsville.

It was only a week. I could do this for a week, right? I watched the lights on my tree change from blue to red to green. Who was I kidding? I was going to be completely miserable as long as Grey and I were apart. 

Read an excerpt from Holiday Treasure by Melanie Anne

Title: Holiday Treasure
Series: Billionaire Bachelors #10
Author: Melody Anne
Publication Date: September 29, 2014

Summary

Mega wealthy Tanner Storm has it all – great looks, wealth, and nothing holding him down. Then, his father decides to play games with him and his siblings, handing him an apartment complex in downtown Seattle that 
Tanner wants nothing to do with. When the conditions of his father’s terms ensure that he do something with this building or lose his inheritance, he at first thinks, so what. But, then it becomes a challenge that he has to accept, because he’s never before backed down. He decides to tear down the building and start fresh with something far more appealing that will add to his already fat wallet. 

The only problem is that the residents don’t want to leave, and under the contract with his father, he can’t force them out. When he ends up before Judge Kragle from all the complaints made against him, the judge decides the best punishment for him will be two weeks of living in the very apartment complex he despises and two weeks of community service, playing Santa Claus at the mall. Perfect! This is not the Christmas of his dream. 

The plot thickens when he meets his neighbor, Kyla and falls into instant lust. Will this turn out to be Tanner’s secret angel, or will he forget all about her the minute he leaves? 

Enjoy this Anderson Christmas Novel from NYT Best Selling Author Melody Anne who wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and an even happier New Year.

 

About Melody Anne

Melody Anne is the author of the popular series, Billionaire Bachelors, and Baby for the Billionaire. She also has a Young Adult Series out; Midnight Fire andMidnight Moon - Rise of the Dark Angel. She's been writing for years and published in 2011. She hold a bachelors degree in business, so she loves to write about strong, powerful, businessmen.

When Melody isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets. She lives in a small town that she loves, and is involved in many community projects.

See Melody's Website at: www.melodyanne.com. She makes it a point to respond to all her fans. You can also join her on facebook at: www.facebook.com/authormelodyanne, or at twitter: @authmelodyanne.

Excerpt

After a week in the hospital, she’d been released, with nowhere to go where she felt safe. After dropping out of school — she couldn’t face anything or anyone — she’d found herself at this apartment, both her place of refuge and a spot where she hoped to heal someday.     

She knew it wasn’t her fault that her family was gone. But why was she the only one to live? Why wasn’t it her mother, who did charity work, or her father, who made a difference in the world through his teaching? Why couldn’t her brother have survived? He’d graduated from high school the previous June and planned to join the military after college. He’d have been an officer and a gentleman.

 

Read an excerpt from The Perfect Gift by Dani-Lyn Alexander

The Perfect Gift Synopsis

It’s the season of second chances in this heartwarming, contemporary holiday romance where two single parents find each other—and another chance at love—in the most unexpected of places.

’Tis the night before Christmas…and businessman and single father Jason is scrambling to find the dollhouse of the season for his seven-year-old daughter Emily. But when he finally strikes gold at an obscure toy store, he’s met with resistance—literally, as from the aisle across from him a beautiful woman named Leah is grabbing onto the dollhouse box with similar intent, determined to get the same Christmas present for her own daughter.

 Desperate not to let the other win, Jason and Leah forge a pact: stay together until they find the same dollhouse at a different toy store. It sounds simple, but ten stores and many hours later, they still come up empty. They might not be finding another dollhouse, but they sure are finding a lot to talk about and, as their mutual attraction grows, the unlikely pair finds the greatest holiday gift of all—love.

Dani-Lyn Alexander Bio

 

Dani-Lyn Alexander lives on Long Island with her husband, three kids and three dogs. She loves spending time with her family, at the beach, the playground, or just about anywhere. In her spare time, which is rare, she enjoys reading and shopping—especially in book stores. Some of her favorite things include; Bernese Mountain Dogs, musicals, bubble baths and soft blankets. She’s an incurable insomniac and has an addiction to chocolate.

You can reach Dani via: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Author Goodreads

 

Excerpt

Ten minutes. Jason had ten minutes to make the twenty-minute trip across town. He’d never be on time for his meeting. He stared at his watch as if it would tell him something different this time. Acid rolled in his stomach. Well, they’d just have to wait. Christmas Eve was tomorrow and he had to take care of getting Emily’s present. Truthfully, he should have gotten it already, but between working, looking after the house, and taking care of Emily, he had little time left over for anything else.

The only thing Emily had asked for this year was the Little Family Dollhouse. She’d get other gifts, too, of course, but he had to be sure to have that one. A coworker he’d spoken to before he left the office had told him how popular the house was with girls Emily’s age. Every little girl she knew either had one or had put it at the top of her list for Santa. Apparently now it was almost impossible to find. She’d suggested this small, out-of-the-way toy store that specialized in hard-to-find items. So here he was, sitting in a traffic jam, hoping it wasn’t too late to get what he needed. Impatience threatened to strangle him. He glanced again at the clock on the dashboard.

Read an excerpt from The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack

After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light-two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.
 
Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena's plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.
 
These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena's home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.
 
But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever... and perhaps their world as well.

About the Author

The urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter's editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic .

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.
 
He's published three novels so far in this new stage of his life: There Comes a Prophet, Along the Watchtower, and the recently released The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.
David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

Excerpt: A Boat Where None Should Be

The ripple at the edge of the fog again drew Helena’s gaze. For an instant, it took shape, but quickly vanished, a reverse mirage, something solid where only water should be. She squinted, trying to penetrate the haze, and turned away to find something more substantial.

She traced the coastline instead. The land rose southward in a gentle curve toward the tip of Albion Point, and ended at the Knob, which stood like a clenched fist challenging those who sailed the Forbidden Sea. The northern firs that capped the rocky coast were broken here and there by a handful of dwellings. From this distance, they looked like great seabirds nesting.

The fog had shifted with the tide, enough for her to pick out her parents’ home, the white one in the center, overlooking them all from the highest cliff. It was where she slept for the time being, where she stayed alone and apart. Only the second floor of the house and the garret above it showed. With the rest blended into fog, the house looked like a phantom rising from nothing. It had felt that way since her father died.

She glanced back out to sea and caught the beacon of the Light of Reason. The ancient tower stood on a craggy rock in the middle of the bay, ten stories high and always first to peek through the fog. She balanced the book on one knee and scanned lower, down along the horizon.

The mirage burst out and became solid—a boat where none should be.

The sail luffing in the breeze was a clumsy triangle with no arc, holding little air. The front was awkwardly shaped, more tub than prow, and it sailed where boats were banned—a ripe target for the shore patrol. If it had been launched by zealots overcome with missionary zeal, it was too small and ill-fitted, not salvation vessel, but death trap.

And it was drifting toward the rocky coast.

Now, Jason saw it as well. The sun glinted off something on its bow as it dipped into a trough. When it rose again, someone clutched the mast—a girl with golden hair.

Jason vaulted back to the beach and beckoned for Helena to follow. She moved to the edge, squatted, and jumped. He caught her by the waist and swung her to the sand.

In those few seconds, the boat crashed against the rocks. The crack of wood splintering rose above the sound of the waves.

The two of them raced into the surf as the girl with the golden hair thrashed about in the water, struggling to avoid jagged debris from the shattered boat. They waded in a few steps, braced against the undertow, and pressed forward again. Three more waves and they reached her.

Jason grabbed the girl just as she began to sink. Despite the buffeting sea, he carried her back to the shore without straining and lay her fragile form on a swath of grass beyond the rocks—a slip of a child no more than nine or ten years old.

Plain cotton pants clung to the girl’s legs, and an elaborately embroidered tunic covered her slender frame—the typical garb of the zealots, but other than her clothing, she looked nothing like a zealot. Her skin was light and perfect, unblemished but for a trickle of blood on her arm. Her golden hair hung down to the middle of her back, and her round eyes held the color of the ocean.

Were Helena a believer, she’d have considered this the face of an angel.

Read an excerpt from Picking Up The Piece by Jessica Prince

Series Synopsis:

Picking Up The Pieces

After having her heart broken by the only man she’s ever loved everything seemed to go downhill for Emerson Grace. It has taken eight years but Emmy is finally starting to pick up the pieces of her damaged life. But the man who destroyed it has returned bringing with him the pain of the past. Can she let go of the pain Luke caused and accept him back into her life or will the memories be too much for her to overcome?

Running from Emmy was the only way Lucas Allen knew he could protect her from the demons he carried with him. After spending one perfect night together Luke takes off, certain that he can’t possibly give Emmy everything she deserves. Now he’s made the decision to return to Cloverleaf and make things right. But is he prepared to truly face all of the damaged he has caused?

Will Luke and Emmy finally get their chance at love or will the secrets of the past stop them before they even get to begin?

Rising from the Ashes

People make mistakes when they're young, but how they choose to come back from those mistakes is what matters in the end.

Savannah Morgan found true love at a very early age, but one rash decision — one that she would regret for the rest of her life — was all it took to end her relationship with the love of her life.

For seven years, Jeremy Matthews has accepted being "just friends" with the only woman he's ever loved. Finally deciding that enough is enough, Jeremy relentlessly pursues Savannah until he forces her to see just how right they are for each other.

When Savannah's past mistake is revealed, threatening the future she so desperately wants, the fate of their relationship lies in Jeremy’s hands. Will he be able to forgive Savannah, or is the relationship truly over?

When struggles and obstacles threaten the foundation of Savannah and Jeremy's relationship, will they choose to let each other go, or rise from the ashes of the past to claim their happiness?

Jessica Prince Bio

Born and raised around Houston Texas, Jessica spent most of her life complaining about the heat, humidity, and all around pain in the ass weather. It was only as an adult that she quickly realized the cost of living in Houston made up for not being able to breathe when she stepped outside. That's why God created central air, after all.

Jessica is the mother of a perfect little boy--she refuses to accept that he inherited her attitude and sarcastic nature no matter what her husband says.

In addition to being a wife and mom, she's also a wino, a coffee addict, and an avid lover of all types of books--romances still being her all time favs. Her husband likes to claim that reading is her obsession but she just says it's a passion...there's a difference. Not that she'd expect a boy to undertand.

Jessica has been writing since she was a little girl, but thankfully grew out of drawing her own pictures for her stories before ever publishing her first book. Because an artist she is not.

You can reach Jessica via: Website | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram

Excerpt

“I couldn’t, Emmy.” He said it so quietly I could barely hear him.

“Luke, don’t—”

“I knew if I heard your voice or read any of your emails, I wouldn’t be able to let you go.” There was no holding back the tears when he said that. I ducked my head in my hands and just let them fall silently as he continued. “Back then, I thought I was doing what was best for you… Emmy, please look at me.” He put his finger under my chin and lifted my face. “I’m so sorry, baby girl. I’d give anything to take away the pain I caused you. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” He leaned in closer to me as he whispered “Please, just let me fix this. Let me fix us.”

I parted my lips on an inhale and that was all the invitation he needed. Before I knew what was happening, Luke had unbuckled my seatbelt and pulled me into his lap. The instant his lips met mine I was lost. This wasn’t a slow build-up type of kiss. The need inside both of us had clawed its way to the surface, and we were kissing each other like our lives depended on it. The feel of his hands on me was intoxicating. When he slid his hand under my shirt, along the waistband of my shorts, an uncontrollable chill went through my whole body.

The few brain cells I had left were screaming at me to stop. I knew I shouldn’t be doing this, but when Luke trailed his lips down my neck and along my collar bone, all rational thought escaped me. I let out a low moan from deep in my throat. Grabbing a hold on his silky black hair, I yanked his mouth to mine and dove back into that kiss. “God, I’ve missed you so much, baby girl,” he said against my lips. I’d missed him too… so damn much. “I never should have left you the way I did.”

Read an excerpt from Written in the Sand by T.A. Foster and Mary-Kathryn Craft

Blair is determined to stay on course. Her reporting career is waiting for her if she can just make it through summer on the island.

Justyn knows not to get attached to tourist girls breezing through town for only a season.
Maggie wants to cherish her last few months of summer freedom. So what if she has to keep a tiny secret to make sure everyone around her stays happy?

Reid doesn’t have time for romance. His new business must succeed, no matter the cost.
This summer everything is about to change. All those carefully laid plans might shift faster than the tides. When these four start spending time together, the island nights get hotter than the sun-drenched days. Trying to stay untangled and unattached is easier said than done when the one thing you want is standing right in front of you.

Author Information

 

T.A. Foster is Southern girl whose heart and spirit are connected to the beach. She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children, and two canine kiddos.

She has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University.

 

Author Links

Blog: http://www.tafosterauthor.com/ 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/tafosterwriter 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAFosterauthor 
Author Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7164289.T_A_Foster 

mk.jpg

Mary-Kathryn Craft spent her childhood summers vacationing on Harkers Island, North Carolina. There she fell in love with the Cape Lookout beaches and learned about the power of a good story from the island old-timers.
With degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of South Carolina, she now works in public relations in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband, daughter, and shiba inu.
 
Twitter Link:  https://twitter.com/MKCraft

Written in the Sand is more than fifteen years in the making. Tucked away in boxes and buried deep on hard drives, pieces of Maggie and Blair’s story sat untouched for years before the authors rediscovered the work in progress. They knew it was time to revisit the island and give Maggie, Blair, Justyn, and Reid a summer to remember.

EXCERPT 

Justyn watched Maggie and Reid traipse over the low-lying sand dunes and onto the boardwalk that encircled the black and white diamond-studded lighthouse.
    “Don’t ya wanna go?” Justyn tipped back a cold beer in his hand, trying his best to avoid eye contact with Blair. Her hair was drifting with the light winds, and he could see the dew on her skin resting on her chest.
    “I didn’t exactly plan on climbing to the top of a lighthouse in this dress.” Blair smiled in his direction. He noticed how careful she was to avoid the knotted bowlines as she stretched one leg over the side of the boat until her toes were firmly in the sand.
    “Most girls don’t wear dresses like that on boat rides, you know?”
    “I’m not most girls.” “I’ve noticed,” Justyn murmured under his breath. Blair passed him and walked in the opposite direction of the lighthouse. “Hey, where are you going?” “Why don’t you follow me for a change?” Arching one little finger at him, Blair beckoned him to follow her. She threw her head back, sashayed her hips from side to side, and walked away seductively.
    “Oh hell.” Justyn crumpled his beer can between his rough palms and tossed it toward the stern. “Blair, wait up.”
    He jogged after the sultry blonde, hoping he could turn her around, before she had him wondering which way was east.
    Blair trailed her toes in the warm waves, splashing in ripples around her ankles.
    “Why’d you run off like that?” He tracked behind her deliberate walk down the shoreline.
    Blair pointed her toe forward, pushed all herweight on the ball of her opposite foot, and twirled so that she was facing him. Justyn stopped in mid- stride when Blair’s foot grazed his leg. He watched the fabric of her dress flare higher around her thighs from the draft of her sudden swirl.
    “So, you wanna walk in the dark, or something?” Justyn shoved his hands in his pockets.
    “Or something.” Blair winked.
    His feet were anchored in the wet sand, and he stood affixed to the ground. Blair pulled on the bottom of his shirt and flattened the fabric under her palms as she weaved them over his hard chest. She smiled when his breath caught as she slid her hands around his neck. Gliding her frame against his, she pressed harder against his body, now locked in place on the beach.
    Justyn felt his resolve weaken as he looked into her eyes, surprised at how he managed to detect a sparkle despite the darkness. He was suddenly aware of her heart beating against his chest, the softness of her hands on his neck, and the scent of her shampoo floating around him. Like a boat drifting at sea, he couldn’t resist the tide pulling him toward the shore.
    “What the hell,” he muttered under his breath. He leaned down, taking her lips with a feverish fury.
    Blair moaned as he took his time exploring her mouth one heated breath at a time. Justyn’s arms encircled her waist until he grasped enough of her slender hips to hoist her legs around his middle. She hitched her legs around his waist, and returned every one of his kisses deeper than the last. Assured she was balanced on his torso, he let his hands roam lower until the hem of that little black dress was worked up enough to let him feel the smoothness of her skin. Grabbing hard, he cupped her bottom in his rough hands. Blair wrapped her legs tighter. Over the low hum of the wind, he let out a groan in Blair’s ear. His lips trailed to the side of her neck, where he playfully nipped on the tender spot.
    “Mmm, Blair. We need to move.” Justyn clasped her tiny waist between his hands to set her back on the sandy soil.
    Blair pouted at him and wickedly ran her fingernails against his smooth stomach.
    “Girl, what are you doing? You’re killing me.” He swooped down to kiss her again, fully on the mouth. “Look. They made it to the top. Let’s at least get out of the line of sight.”
    He pointed to two tiny shadow specks perched high above on the platform. He grabbed Blair by the hand and led her back to the spot on the beach where the skiff was anchored to the sand and the shore.
Justyn boarded the boat and reached into the cooler to pull out two drinks. He noticed she took a deep breath of salty air before accepting the beer in his hand. Ice beer was exactly what they both needed.

Read the first chapter from Married One Night by Amber Leigh Williams

Title: Married One Night
Author: Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin Superromance
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle

What happened in Vegas…followed her home! 

Olivia Lewis is not the marrying type. So when a wild weekend in Vegas leaves her with a surprise husband, she's happy to sign anything to erase her mistake—even if that mistake is handsome, charming and comes with an English accent. Fortunately, her groom has other plans. 

Bestselling author Gerald Leighton knows he can make his new bride fall in love with him—he just needs time. In exchange for a quickie divorce, Olivia grudgingly gives him a few weeks to attempt to woo her. And whether Olivia likes it or not, Gerald plans on using every second to win her heart!

First Chapter

Olivia Lewis woke up in a Sin City penthouse amidst petal-strewn, silk sheets. She bolted upright in bed…and groaned, wavering as the world turned. And turned again.

Okay, make that silk sheets, rose petals…and the most vicious hangover of her life.

Hissing, she pressed a hand over her eyes, the other on her head to stop the contents from sloshing around. Her mouth felt like sandpaper, and her stomach writhed. Obviously the obscene amount of liquor she’d consumed the night before was turning on her in sickly rebellion.

“Oh, holy moly,” she wheezed. “What the hell happened last night?” Peering around, she squinted against the desert sunlight streaming through the undraped floor-to-ceiling window that spanned the entire left wall of the bedroom. At the sight of several curiously unmentionable items scattered across the bed and floor, she became more than a little curious about the events of the previous evening. Especially when she saw the tattered remains of her red dress hooked on the wall sconce at the other end of the room.

Frowning, she lifted the covers and looked underneath. She was naked as sin. And she’d spent enough nights with men to know how she should feel the next day. With a groan, she laid back into the pillows and pulled the covers over her head.

So sometime during the night, she had snuck away from the bachelorette party for her friend Roxie Honeycutt and gotten frisky—very frisky—with an unknown man.

It wasn’t her first one-night stand. Nor did she think it would be her last. But considering she’d been the hostess of Roxie’s bachelorette party and it had been her idea to bring the bash to Vegas, Olivia felt shame rushing up to meet her.

She sighed, flopping her arms over her head. “Well done, Liv,” she muttered at the ceiling. It was painted with a mural complete with puffy white clouds and baby-faced cherubs.

How many inappropriate things had those cherubs seen last night?

Olivia pursed her lips, thinking back hard to what she could remember of the past twenty-four hours. She and her friends had flown into Vegas, then checked into their casino hotel room. They’d gone to a bar…no, a club. The venue had been packed elbow to elbow. Olivia’s other friend and invitee, Adrian Carlton, had kept ordering drinks for the three of them. Tequila shots. That would explain the gargantuan headache pounding away at the inside of Olivia’s head and the base of her neck.

Then…there’d been dancing on the parquet dance floor. And a man. Olivia braved the thumping, eyes watering as she thought hard to bring him into sharper focus. She got only an impression—tall. Tailored suit. A black necktie, which she’d had fun unknotting later here in the penthouse…with her teeth?

She grimaced and focused again on the man’s features. Blond hair, a bit tousled as the night wore on. There was a limo, one exclusively for Olivia and her mystery man. Some frisky business in the backseat as Vegas lights blurred together outside the tinted windows. Yes, she’d run her fingers through that gilded crown of his, raking her nails lightly over his scalp. He’d liked that. Big, skillful hands on her hips. Roaming over her back…getting lost in her hair. He’d spoken to her, sweet endearments. She wasn’t usually one for sweet endearments—just the answer of skin on skin and the satisfaction that came with it.

But he’d been different. Why, Olivia couldn’t say…. The accent. His sweet words had been accentuated with a devastating—British?—accent that had, quite literally, charmed the pants off her.

Olivia raised a hand to her hair as her scalp tingled in remembrance. She smiled a bit at the memory, then closed her eyes on another wave of fierce pounding. If she could summon enough energy to rise from the rumpled bed, she might be able to find her purse amidst the chaos of the room. There was aspirin in that little red handbag. She needed aspirin. ASAP.

Carefully, she sat up again and braced her hands in the thick bedding. She waited for the world to stop revolving and settle back on axis before taking a deep, bracing breath and pulling the covers back. Instant chills racked her skin, made worse by the fine sheen of sweat courtesy of the savage aftermath of tequila drinking.

She slung her legs over the side of the bed. Her toes sank into a thick, black rug. Shivering, she wrapped the white, silk top sheet around her, knotting it at her collarbone so that it stayed as she stood.

It took more effort than she would have liked to stay upright. She reached forward to catch the wall as she staggered in the general direction of what she hoped was a bathroom. The floor quaked beneath her and she could feel dregs of nausea rising up from the pit of her stomach. Yes, yes, that’d better be a bathroom.

Before Olivia could shoulder her way through the door, it opened quickly. She felt herself pitch over, tripping over the edge of the bedsheet. Cursing, she fell against the lean, chiseled chest of the man on the other side of the bathroom doorjamb.

She heard his surprised whoosh just before his arms snagged her under the shoulders and curled around her to keep her from falling at his feet. Her cheek pressed tight against his sternum. He was so warm. The deep timbre of a chuckle trebled beneath the ear pressed to his chest and words, rough around the edges, came floating from his mouth. “Ah, she wakes.”

When she tried to pull herself back, he held her fast to him for a moment longer to make sure she had her footing. With a murmured, “Easy there, love,” he released her and she stepped away, seeking his face.

He was smiling. The soft expression was tense around the edges, probably from what she could guess was a good deal of pounding happening on the inside of his head, too. She drew in a breath. His eyes were a brilliant shade of green. Dimples, or laugh lines, dug in around his mouth and the corners of his eyes. A man who smiled often and laughed well, Olivia surmised. His hair was blond and wet from a shower she assumed, judging by the steam behind him. He’d combed the hair back from his forehead, leaving his high brow bare.

A towel hung loosely around his waist. She blinked. She was staring. But the longer she stared, the more she could remember from last night, and the giddy spontaneity and blistering heat of all that had transpired made her forget for a moment how miserable she felt.

And, bless him, he didn’t seem to mind the staring. He was doing a good bit of his own. The smile on his lips deepened into a full-fledged grin, eyes softening further as he took her in. “Well. Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.”

She found a smile curving at the corner of her mouth. He was British. His words were enunciated with the high-class sounds of English breeding and good humor. His voice was like fine-aged wine. Or whiskey.

Whiskey, she decided. It had a good, old-fashioned burn to it.

Keep it together. Lifting her hands to the sheet knotted just under her collarbone, she made sure it was in place before dragging a hand back through her long, curly, bedraggled tresses. “Erm…good morning?” Olivia said, unsure of herself. Usually, she knew how to navigate the awkward, morning-after interlude. But this stranger’s clean-cut, unexpected appeal threw her for a loop.

He beamed and held out a hand, skimming far and above the awkwardness of the situation with good-natured ease. “Gerald Leighton. It’s lovely to meet you…again.”

She stared at the hand. Ignoring the wariness inside her, she reached out and took it. Again, she felt warmth. She wanted him to fold his hand close around hers until the chills deserted her. It was much larger than her own. Built for creating, shaping. A sculptor’s hand. The fingers were long and narrow. Aside from the absence of well-worn calluses and wrinkles, they actually reminded her a bit of her grandfather’s, a life-long carpenter.

When she found nothing to say in return, he firmed his lips together. Scanning her face a bit more carefully this time, a frown touched his features. “Headache?”

“Uh, yeah,” she said, wrinkling her nose and squinting once more at the light. “I think tequila was the culprit.”

“I felt the same when I first woke,” he explained, voice lowered gently. “Not to worry. A glass of water, a couple painkillers and a hot shower set me halfway back to rights.” He stepped aside and lifted a hand to the marble counter of the bathroom. “Aspirin’s there with a bottle of water. There’s a robe, too, if you need it.”

She licked her lips as they both glanced back at the torn dress. “I think it’s my only option at this point.”

Gerald ran a hand through his hair and she thought she saw a wink of sheepishness flash in those kind, green eyes. For some reason, her heart stumbled over itself.

She blinked. Was the tequila still in her system?

“I apologize…for the dress,” Gerald added quickly. “I’ll be happy to reimburse you for it. Or I can have the concierge send out for another one.”

Olivia lifted a hand to stop him. “It’s all right. I brought other clothes with me. It shouldn’t be too much trouble. That is if we’re in the same casino my friends and I are staying at. Please tell me this is the Bellagio.”

“Yes,” he replied. “That’s what the hand towels say, at any rate.”

“Good,” she said with a sigh of relief. She gazed longingly at the shower. It was crooking its finger at her. Her feet were starting to feel like ice cubes and the chills were coming back with a vengeance.

“Take your time,” Gerald told her. “I’ll have something sent up to eat. It should be here when you’re done.”

“Thanks, Gerald.” Olivia ducked into the bathroom. The steam from his shower hugged her as he closed the door behind her. She locked the door, crossed her arms over her chest and faced the long, fogged mirror above the marble counter. Fearing what she might look like, Olivia went to the glass-walled shower stall instead and turned the knob all the way to Hot.

*

Olivia meant to hurry, but she soon discovered that the shower had two jet showerheads. And the towels. Oh, the towels were so big and fluffy and, fresh off the heated rack, blessedly warm. She indulged a bit, sitting at the vanity as she took some aspirin and dried her hair with the available hair dryer. Her reflection still looked gray around the edges, but there was nothing she could do about that. She hadn’t yet found her purse and she didn’t carry much more than lipstick and concealer in it anyway.

Clearly, she hadn’t been prepared to meet some tall, ridiculously good-looking and charming Englishman who made her tummy flutter even after a night drinking round after round of Jose Cuervo.

While showering and then attempting to make herself somewhat presentable, more memories from the night before came flashing back to her. More drinks in the casino. More kissing Gerald in the elevator. God, she hoped the hotel didn’t have cameras in there. Then there was the penthouse. The penthouse sofa. The big, plush bed. Gerald. Clashing mouths, tangled limbs, and staggering streams of need and pleasure.

Suddenly she was no longer cold, but instead felt nothing but the heat from last night. Looking up at the mirror, she saw that her cheeks were flushed and she scrubbed her palms over them to chase it. The Brit packed a wallop. That was for damn sure. She took several careful breaths to beat back the memories and high color and wrapped the white, hotel robe around her.

Fastening it with the rope around the waist, Olivia exited the bathroom, regrettably leaving the enveloping steam behind for the bawdy, orange gleam of midmorning Vegas spilling into the bedroom through that long line of crystal-clear glass.

She, Roxie and Adrian had a flight to catch in a few hours. Bearing that in mind, Olivia grabbed the shredded remains of her strapless dress off the wall sconce, then bent to pick up her platform heels off the floor. She had to get down on her hands and knees to locate her purse under the bed…where she also found the pathetic remains of her underwear, deciding to leave them where they had fallen. Rest in peace, Victoria’s Secret.

Instead of wrestling her bra back on, she shoved it into her purse. A quick look at her cell phone told her it, too, had died sometime in the night. She hooked the sky-high heels over her fingers and wandered into the main room of the penthouse.

The smell of coffee, toast and sausage greeted her. Gerald hadn’t lied; room service was waiting for her on a covered rolling tray. A silver teapot sat next to a pot of coffee that smelled hot, fresh and strong. She desperately wanted a mug of that to push away the lingering fog of the hangover. After a few sips, she’d definitely feel closer to human.

There were covered trivets from which the breakfast smells were coming. Next to them there was a glass of orange juice and a tall Bloody Mary to top it all off. She practically whimpered at the sight.

Who was Gerald Leighton and where had he been hiding all her life?

Olivia was reaching for the coffee when the sliding glass door leading onto what appeared to be a balcony slid open and Gerald walked in. Her hand pulled back from the tray quickly as if he’d caught her stealing. While she was in the shower, he had dressed in pressed, black, tailored suit pants and a crisp, white, oxford shirt he had left unbuttoned at the collar, so the hollow of his collarbone peeked through and the tendons of his neck caught her eye. His feet were bare.

She fought the urge to lick her lips and gathered the guilty hand that had been reaching for the coffeepot back into the flaps of the robe. “Hello,” she greeted as his eyes found hers. Determined to get the upper hand on the conversation this time—and make up for her earlier bumbling—she pasted on a smile.

“Feeling better?” he asked, his smile answering hers.

“Loads better,” she admitted. “Thank you—for letting me use the shower. I don’t want to take up too much of your time—”

“No, please,” Gerald said, walking toward her in a handful of long, smooth strides. “Have a seat. Have something to eat. I didn’t know what you’d like so I ordered a bit of everything.”

“I can see that,” Olivia said, scanning the tray admiringly. “And thanks for that, too. But I really should be going.”

He stopped just shy of her and the tray, a disappointed frown touching his lips. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. My friends and I have a plane to catch in a couple of hours. I need to get back to our room and make sure they’re okay. Pack up.” Out of excuses, she made herself look away from those eyes. In addition to kind, they were wise. It was a disconcerting mix, at least for her. She gestured to the room at large. “Your penthouse is beautiful, by the way.”

Gerald looked around, reaching up to scratch his chin with his knuckles. “It is rather, isn’t it? I’m afraid it’s new to me, too. I was staying in one of the business suites.”

“Oh,” Olivia said. “So you’re in town on business.”

“Well, for the most part.” His gaze crawled back to her, that shade of timidity flashing across his face again before he hid it with a wry grin that creased the corners of his mouth and eyes and simultaneously disarmed her. “Until I met you, of course.”

She lowered her eyes, pressing her lips together to hide a sly smile. “I hope I was a good distraction at least.”

One of his brows arced knowingly. “Oh, quite. A worthy distraction.”

She did smile a bit to herself, then sighed, realizing she was lingering here with him. Something about him. A pull, a tug. A compelling stir that toggled her in all the right places, particularly the area of her heart. Her smile quickly turned into a frown and she tugged the lapels of the robe together, gathering them tight against her throat. “Well, Gerald Leighton.” She made herself meet his eyes again. “It was nice meeting you.”

His grin turned kind again. “I couldn’t be happier that we did, love.”

Love. Yes, she liked the sound of that a shade too much. Olivia gripped the handle of the door and had opened it only slightly when he said, “Wait a moment.”

She looked around, and her breath snagged. He was closer now. Jesus, what was this hold he had over her? She didn’t know how to handle it.

His eyes narrowed on her face. The lines of his mouth were tense now, his jaw squared as he searched her expression. He reached out and took the door but didn’t shut it. She was free to go if she wanted, but his gaze and the urgency she saw there hooked her and made her knees buckle. “I’m ashamed to have to ask you,” he said, “but can I have your name? It seems I’ve forgotten it after last night’s tequila-fueled debauchery.”

She pursed her lips. “Why would you want to know? I mean, let’s be honest. We’re clearly never going to see each other again….”

Gerald lifted his shoulders and shook his head. “Not likely.” He stilled and the urgency blinked into his eyes again, heightened. “But you never know, do you? Maybe…one day I’d like to find you. Or you’d perhaps like to get in touch with me. I don’t know….”

As Olivia searched his eyes and the moment between them stretched, the link between them humming, she weighed his request. Weighed him. Reaching out, she touched the arm he was using to hold the door open. His muscle tightened at her touch. She slid her fingers up to the back of his and squeezed them warmly as she memorized his face. She would be glad of it later, when she returned to her hometown in Alabama. She would remember him and her night with him in the Bellagio penthouse fondly. “Olivia,” she said finally. “My name is Olivia.”

“Olivia,” he said, smiling softly.

She nodded, then stepped back, pulled away and broke his spell. “I think we should leave it at that.”

His lids came down halfway over his eyes, hiding resignation, or disappointment perhaps. “Right. It’s enough. For now.”

As if there could be a later. She cleared her throat and backed away from him, through the door into the hallway. “So long, Gerald.”

“Goodbye. Olivia.”

Read an excerpt from Discarded by D.E. Haggerty

Why would a woman who has it all throw her life away? Morgan has the perfect life. She married the man of her dreams. Daniel is smart, gorgeous and successful. Everything she has always wanted in a husband and the father of her children. But he’s also domineering, overprotective and jealous. Is living with him enough to drive Morgan over the edge? Or does something more treacherous lurk beneath the façade? 

Excerpt

“Morgan, wake up,” Ellie lightly nudged her, but Morgan wouldn’t budge. After several more nudges and increasingly desperate pleas for her to wake up, Ellie gave up and got out of the car. She rounded the front of the car and opened the passenger door. After releasing Morgan’s seatbelt, she started to pull her out of the car.

“I’ll take it from here.” Ellie jumped at Daniel’s voice behind her. She nodded at him and moved out of the way.

Daniel gently picked up Morgan and carried her into the house. Ellie grabbed Morgan’s purse and mobile and followed him. She put Morgan’s things on the table in the hallway and was going to sneak out of the house when Daniel rounded the corner.

“Come on,” he said and grabbed her arm as he pulled her outside.

Ellie wrenched her arm free before turning to Daniel. She didn’t bother saying anything to him. She knew a man on the war path when she saw one.

“Chippendales! You took her to see male, exotic dancers!” In deference to his sleeping wife, Daniel wasn’t yelling but his anger was blatantly obvious.

Ellie shrugged. “So? What’s the big deal?”

“And then you got her drunk?” Daniel didn’t bother to respond to Ellie’s comment.

Ellie sighed. “Nope. I think she managed to do that all on her own.” Being flippant probably wasn’t the best way to handle Daniel, but Ellie wouldn’t allow herself to yell at the caveman.

“You need to stay away from Morgan. You’re a bad influence.”

Ellie shook her head. “Um, no, Daniel. Morgan is a grown women. She decides who she wants to see. Not you. We’re not living in the dark ages for heaven’s sake.” Ellie was now barely hanging on to her temper. Who the hell did Daniel think he was?

“We’ll see about that,” Daniel said before turning around and marching into the house. He slammed the door and turned out the lights while Ellie stood staring after him.

Read an excerpt from Origin by Emilia Rutgliano

Book Summary

Alexandra Kamin is everywoman. At 42, she has a loving family, terrific children, a great career with a superlative income, a gorgeous face with a terrific figure, and a loving boyfriend. Most impressive is that she is in complete control of every ambit of her life.

Where do you go when you are at the top?

ORIGIN takes you back to the beginning… the beginning of Alexandra’s life in America, the beginning of the truest of love affairs, and the beginning of an entrepreneurial life. Through a series of flashbacks and conversations, Alexandra explains every nuance that made this beautiful family a dynasty that you want to root for.

Schooling, work, child rearing, and family affairs are all under Alexandra’s Order are all accounted for as the years go by.  GNO, love affairs and the truest of loyalties are best second time around.

Excerpt

“NIIIIICCCCEEEE!”  Alexandra bellowed stepping into the “apartment.”  This was really something.
 
“You’re impressed?”  The svelte blonde laughed, allowing Alexandra to walk through and take it all in.
 
“Had I known it would be like this, I would have admitted myself into a psychiatric facility a long time ago!”  Alex was making conversation.  Her mind was too busy assessing the place.
 
She was standing in a two-story duplex.  It was a “New” building, on the West side of New York City overlooking the Hudson River.  The building was entirely made of glass.  Inside the apartment, everything was appointed in tones and textures of white.  
 
“It’s not too late you know.”  The blonde answered, using exactly the same tone.  “I have friends who run sanatoria and “well-centers” in Connecticut …  and in California, by the surf.  There’s one in Los Cabos too.  They are all luxurious.  Plenty of fancy things and gardens and pool-sides.  I could make arrangements.”
 
“I’m soooo in!”  Alexandra admitted.  “Where do I sign up, Doc!?  Do I lie on this couch?”   She asked, pointing toward a white, tufted, leather couch.  Alex was trying to analyze how someone was brilliant enough to design it.  It was definitely modern, but  it still had enough “old world” comfort that you could just lounge on it to read or watch TV.  And this leather... it was just... soft, and supple and inviting.  “Wait did we get a diagnosis on me already?”
 
“Well sure, didn’t your friends already decide that you are depressed and need to be cured?  Why else would you be seeing a psychiatrist?”  The blonde asked, laughing.  She came into the sitting area, and sat down in one of the white lounge chairs. 
 
“Right.”  Alex agreed.  She sat in the chair opposite her, although they were both facing the outside.  The Hudson River was playing with the sunlight and the water was bouncing the rays in such a way that it looked like it was generating the sparkles.  “So, uhm... how do we do this?”
 
“Cure you?”  The blonde was laughing, and Alex smirked at her, rolling her eyes. 
 
“Relax.  This is for you Alexandra. There is no pattern.  Want some water or iced tea or something?”
 
“Water would be great.”  Alexandra said, though her mind was more into photographing this room. 
 
The details were extraordinary.  The room was “albino”.  That seemed to be its strength.  Someone specifically made it -- not devoid of color, really -- but purposefully white. It was rich in its whiteness.  The walls, and there were many, although, technically, the whole place was “open”, were of different materials.  Some walls were Venetian or marbleized stucco.  Some were pure Carrera marble, with just the veining showing through.  Some were sueded, and some had mother-of-pearl wall coverings.  But everything was white.  Not cream... but white.  And nothing was in contrast with anything.  The hard and soft surfaces all melded. 
 
The ceiling-to-floor windows had no treatments. Large, ornate “boxes” that served as moldings (with mother-of-pearl textures) obviously held shades that could be let down by means of a remote control.  There was one, enormous, Chihuly chandelier.  It was white, too. 
 
“Do all psychiatrists’ offices look like this?”  Alexandra joked, sort of.
 
“No, actually.  I’m trying a new experiment with you.”  The good doctor said


Emilia I. Rutigliano is an attorney who writes about people that she finds interesting.  Although her books are fiction, she weaves in a lot of the events of her own life, practice and travels.  She lives in New York City with her husband and three precocious teenagers (who occasionally acknowledge her existence when the internet is malfunctioning). 

ALEXANDRA’S ORDER is Emilia’s second book series, and is geared toward readers who enjoy a full story about multi-dimensional characters.  Because ORDER takes place in many locations with many different cultures, Emilia doesn’t write it unless she visits each location and meets the people who speak, think and act the same way as the characters in the book.  It’s a tough life, but she perseveres…

Website: www.alexandrasorder.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexandrasorderseries

Read an excerpt from The Minimum Wage Millionaire by Bill Edgar

Synopsis

The Minimum Wage Millionaire is a must read for teenagers and parents of teenagers who want to learn about how money works. The book presents a practical approach to accumulating wealth for teenagers who are just starting to earn income with a part time job. Using simple analogies to unravel complex financial concepts allows the young mind to grasp why it is important to invest early and how to start with their first paycheck. Following a simple plan for only six years, they will have a small nest egg that will grow into about one million tax free dollars by the age of 65.

BillEdgar.jpg

 

 

About the Author

Bill Edgar is the author of The Minimum Wage Millionaire: How a Part Time After School Job Can Change Your Financial Life. He is passionate about helping youth understand how to become wealthy. He lives in Elburn, Illinois, with his three nearly teenage daughters (who will all be required to read his book). 


Chapter One
Why Write a Book on Money for Teenagers?

When it comes to building wealth, the most powerful force you have on your side is time. As the days and years pass, the opportunity to build wealth by leveraging time slowly dwindles. The idea for this book came from the realization that often times kids start working their first job at sixteen, likely just a minimum wage, or near-minimum wage, job, but they haven’t been taught how to accumulate wealth. I wasn’t.

In high school, I had some basic accounting, and I learned how to balance a checkbook. We did some stock market games to learn a little about investing, but no class I took ever laid out a plan for success in a capitalist society. No class I took talked about the “Rule of 72,” or compounding return on investment over time, or tax advantaged investment accounts.

But all of those things I just mentioned are critical to understand in a free market capitalist society. They are critical to understand from the moment that you earn your first dollar. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or poor your parents are, it doesn’t matter what background you have, all teenagers in the United States, after reading this book, can set themselves on a path to build a staggering amount of tax-free cash. With just a little bit of knowledge about how money works, and the discipline to follow through, you can be in control of your financial destiny.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not taken advantage of the time I’ve had to accumulate wealth. Worse than that, I realize that as the years have passed and other financial obligations of adulthood have grown, setting aside extra money becomes more and more elusive. I have to acknowledge some hard facts about my own bad money habits—bad habits that stopped me from building wealth. I have to reflect on wasted opportunities and bad decisions. Finally, I have to draw some tough conclusions about the consequences of not saving and investing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. After reading this book, you will have both knowledge and youth on your side. You will have an action plan on how to start accumulating wealth now. And the possibilities before you will be endless. But let’s talk about where bad money habits start.

Why?

Because I’ve sucked at money. I mean, if blowing a paycheck were a sport, I’d be Muhammad Ali—the greatest of all time. As a kid, I didn’t know any better, but it starts a pattern.

When I got my first job as a paperboy at 12 years old, I immediately took the money from my first paycheck down to the Ben Franklin, a few blocks from my house, and bought a bottle of Coke and tons of baseball cards. On the way home, I stopped at Mickey’s for a Chicago-style hot dog with all the fixings and some fries. By the end of the week, all the money I’d made was gone. Back then, it wasn’t much, but today—if I’d just invested part of that somehow—I’d have enough to buy a small island in the Bahamas. I was too young to know it, but that was my first big missed opportunity.

If that’s not painful enough to look back on, I’m sad to say it didn’t stop there. When I started my first real job in high school (bagging groceries), after work, the arcade ate quarter after quarter. And then there were movies (I thought everyone went to see Raiders of the Lost Ark 20 times!), gas for the car, games for Atari, and the occasional burger, french fries, and Coke. It all added up.

Paycheck after paycheck was burning a hole in my pocket. I wasn’t saving or investing anything, but at least I had to stop when there was no money left. Credit cards would later solve that problem. After college, I moved to California, bought a new car, new furniture, new wardrobe, and lots of new grown-up toys. I started getting my hair cut at a trendy salon with a French name, moved into an apartment in the “hip” part of town with a pool table and a pop-a-shot.

You know what’s truly sad? It took me a LONG time to learn from my mistakes. As I got older, people warned me to start saving. I can remember my dad getting near retirement age and shaking his finger in my face at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, saying “You’d better invest your money for retirement, or you’re gonna end up working until you die!” but I ignored him. The years rushed by, and then, with my net worth still bobbing near zero, my wife and I got pregnant with our first baby.

As I sat in the hospital in Chicago—never again. I must change. I must be a good example. I can’t let them suffer the same mistakes I made. I started saving like crazy in my company retirement plan. And that lasted for a few years, but the economy changed, and I was not prepared. I was unemployed for a while—longer than I ever imagined. The mortgage, the bills, it consumed far more than the unemployment check.

I began working a part-time job for minimum wage at the local big box store, but unlike my teenage years, the meager paychecks didn’t help much with all the bills. As the Great Recession continued, I eventually cashed out the retirement money, penalties and all, so I could keep paying the mortgage. It still wasn’t enough. In the end, I lost it all, the house, the savings, and Best Buy even stopped by to get their TV back. I was sick to my stomach.

Listen. I honestly wasted all my opportunities to build wealth and have the choices, the options, to retire rich, so that I don’t have to work until I die, so that I can spend my time with my family. Now, knowing how easy it is to get there if you start early and seeing the principles in this book work for so many people, I’m ashamed of my past actions. But you don’t have to have my same regrets.

So how does a guy who lost everything know so much about creating wealth? That’s a valid question, and I’m glad you asked. Learn from your mistakes. As you grow up, you’ll likely hear that over and over from your parents, teachers, and coaches. It’s what I’ve had to do myself. Learn from my mistakes. So the rest of this book is about what I’ve learned.

In life, there are no do-overs. I can’t go back and make things better for me. But for every teenager out there, hope springs eternal. If this book can make an impact on just one kid (besides my three beautiful daughters), I’ve accomplished more than I could possibly imagine. I’ve created this book is to help you understand what an amazing opportunity you have right now. Time is on your side, and every day that goes by, you lose a little bit of your opportunity. Don’t make that mistake. Don’t make my mistake. In the following chapters, I will lay out for you exactly what you need to do to build wealth.

I warn you, it won’t come quickly, and it won’t be easy all the time. In fact, there will be moments in your life when you question whether or not what I’ve told you is true. You’ll want to go back to your old ways and you’ll have pressure from friends to spend, spend, spend!

When in doubt, just remember, the tools you’re using are the same principles that thousands of people have used time after time to become the wealthiest people in the world. You’re in good company.

My great hope is that you’ll realize just how incredible an impact a little bit of savings and planning will have on your life. If you can just avoid my mistakes and save smart, you can really, truly become a minimum-wage millionaire.

Read and excerpt from Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading

This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

Excerpt

Prologue

Back Where The Entire Adventure Began

As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn't possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, "Empty," they weren't kidding around.

The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn't worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn't the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.

The mystery of the disappearing fuel.

The enigma of the missing island.

The conundrum of what do I do now?

"Exactly," the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying 'I-told-you-so' kind of voices. "What do you do now?"

"First, I am going to stay calm," I replied. "And think this through."

"You'd better think fast," the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. "If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is.  Don't forget that you're almost out of fuel."

"Thanks a lot," I replied. "You're a big help."

Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday," I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. "This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over."

I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.

It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I'd had, the friends I'd made, the beauty I'd experienced, the differences and similarities I'd discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.

Or I should say, "my epic flight almost around the entire world," in light of my current situation.

And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.

"Okay," I thought to myself. "Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through." I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I'd ever flown. Every emergency I'd ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.

Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?

Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.

"It's been a good run at least," the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. "You've had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime."

"That's it!" I thought.

Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.

All the way back to where this entire adventure began.

About Iain Reading

Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. He has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series. For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kittyhawkworld

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Read an excerpt from Music of Sacred Lakes by Laura Cowan

 Peter Sanskevicz doesn’t belong anywhere. He doesn’t want the sixth-generation family farm his great great-grandfather unwittingly stole from its Odawa owners, and can’t continue his jobs serving “fudgies,” tourists in Northern Michigan who seem more at home than he is. He can’t seem to take charge of things or do anything but make a mess. Then, Peter accidentally kills a girl.  Seeing his life is at risk, his friend takes him to his uncle, a pipe carrier of the Odawa tribe, who tells him he must live by the shores of Lake Michigan until the lake speaks to him. Peter lives and loves and rages by the shores of the great lake, haunted by its rich beauty, by strange images and sounds that begin to pursue him through his waking and sleeping hours, and by the spirit of the dead girl, who seems to be trying to help him. One day, he finally finds an inner silence. And then, he hears what the lake has to say to him. A story about reconnecting with the source of your life and your joy, Music of Sacred Lakes gives voice to the spirit of the land and lakes that gave birth to us all.  With this second and astonishingly sophisticated novel, Dreaming Novelist Laura K. Cowan cements her reputation as one of the most imaginative new American Fabulists, a writer of spiritually-oriented magical realism, literary fantasy, and visionary fiction in the line of Alice Hoffman, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Paulo Coelho, but characterized by an electric mix of lyrical language, an evocative sense of place, and quick-moving narrative that harkens back to a time when literary fiction was served up raw and ghost stories weren’t told for their sad and scary parts.

About the Book

Peter Sanskevicz doesn’t belong anywhere. He doesn’t want the sixth-generation family farm his great great-grandfather unwittingly stole from its Odawa owners, and can’t continue his jobs serving “fudgies,” tourists in Northern Michigan who seem more at home than he is. He can’t seem to take charge of things or do anything but make a mess. Then, Peter accidentally kills a girl.

Seeing his life is at risk, his friend takes him to his uncle, a pipe carrier of the Odawa tribe, who tells him he must live by the shores of Lake Michigan until the lake speaks to him. Peter lives and loves and rages by the shores of the great lake, haunted by its rich beauty, by strange images and sounds that begin to pursue him through his waking and sleeping hours, and by the spirit of the dead girl, who seems to be trying to help him. One day, he finally finds an inner silence. And then, he hears what the lake has to say to him. A story about reconnecting with the source of your life and your joy, Music of Sacred Lakes gives voice to the spirit of the land and lakes that gave birth to us all.

With this second and astonishingly sophisticated novel, Dreaming Novelist Laura K. Cowan cements her reputation as one of the most imaginative new American Fabulists, a writer of spiritually-oriented magical realism, literary fantasy, and visionary fiction in the line of Alice Hoffman, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Paulo Coelho, but characterized by an electric mix of lyrical language, an evocative sense of place, and quick-moving narrative that harkens back to a time when literary fiction was served up raw and ghost stories weren’t told for their sad and scary parts.

Excerpt

Chapter One

The Accident

The whole world used to be this quiet. Here in the land of the inland seas, land of tamarack swamps and aspen forests, of sand dunes watched over by ancient stands of virgin timber and dense second-growth forests, the quiet remained. This land, in Northern Michigan, ever so slightly closer to the North Pole than the Equator, was a paradise of endless days in the brief and blinding summers, a haven for the thinker and the sleeper over the long snowy winters, and a welcoming place for an unhappy life. 

            It was here, in East Jordan, on the bottom of Lake Charlevoix, which emptied into mighty Lake Michigan with its magnificent gold and wine sunsets over sand-scented waves—it was here, on the bottom of the economic food chain—that Peter Sanskevicz was born. 

            It wasn’t that Peter didn’t belong. On the contrary, his family had belonged to East Jordan’s history for six generations, part of the first wave of white settlers to commandeer this paradise from the Odawa Indians who used it for summer hunting and fishing grounds before them. But Peter didn’t want to belong to this tradition of homesteading and lumber milling in the Great Silent North. He didn’t want much of anything he had, in fact, and that wasn’t much.

            He had burned through too many jobs over the last year and a half since leaving his parents’ farm—still the same eighty acres homesteaded by his great great-grandfather beginning in 1865. When he couldn’t take haymaking and cow milking anymore, Peter had waited tables in Charlevoix by the Big Lake, worked as a janitor at the local cherry and vegetable canning plant in East Jordan, and finally piloted a boat for fishing tours on Lake Charlevoix. This last job was his favorite, as fishing with his friend Derek Negeshe had been one of Peter’s great loves in childhood. He still headed out to the Jordan River for fly fishing once in a while, but now much of his time was taken up between his two part-time jobs: driving a garbage truck and gardening for “fudgies,” tourists from Chicago or Detroit who came up here in the summers to buy the world-famous fudge and sail their yachts.

            Peter hated his job, and he hated the fudgies, which wasn’t such an unusual sentiment up here. Why did they have to stare at him like some sort of living museum piece? It was amazing that they saw him at all, given as he was to working service jobs that tend to make people invisible—or at least anonymous. 

            It was to the local waste collection center north of the Little Traverse Bay that Peter was driving one day with Derek when his life, the one he so desperately despised, fell apart.

            He had taken Route 31 from Charlevoix up to Petoskey, the scenic two-lane highway that ran along the coast of Lake Michigan and into the bay. The sun was shining out over Petoskey, built like an amphitheater on the hills above the rocky south shore. The waves were calm, typical for early June, and Peter had pulled the garbage truck off onto the gravel turnout and rolled down the window to smell the clean breeze off the lake. But even the wind couldn’t clear the stench of garbage from his nostrils. He could smell it on his skin—in his skin. It never scrubbed out anymore. He had escaped his parents’ farm for this? 

            Suits you, he heard his father’s voice in his mind. 

            The truck was ticking as it cooled, the only other sound the waves of Lake Michigan rolling into the bay before the two boys, who sat side by side in the front seat. 

            “Do you ever think about getting back out on that lake?” Peter asked. 

            Derek responded by looking across the bay, to his home in Harbor Springs. In these wave-hushed northern lands, people felt little need to fill the space with words. And Derek was quieter than most, silent until spoken to unless he had a good joke to share just like the rest of his family, who were descended from the Ojibwe and Odawa tribes native to these shores. 

            Derek finally returned to him. “Yeah,” he said. 

            Then he chuckled. “You remember when we took that bait from Mr. Pulowski’s docks and hauled in our own catch in my canoe?”

            Peter laughed. “We could hardly fit the fish in your bucket,” he said, remembering them flopping around so hard they almost upset the boat. 

            “Those were good times,” he added. “The best.” 

            The call of seagulls filtered across the harbor. 

            “That lake used to mean something,” Peter said, turning to him. “What’s the point of anything if this is what we do it for?” He pulled at his jumpsuit. “How did we end up like this, man?”

            Derek shook his head and looked out toward the open lake. The multi-million-dollar homes of the fudgies were just beyond his window on the right. Peter knew he didn’t want to see them. 

            “You’ve changed,” Derek said. “You remember when my parents were drinking in high school.”

            “I’m glad things have gotten better for you,” Peter said. 

            “You hung out with me all those nights,” Derek reminded him. “You were my anchor. Now it’s like you’re drifting.”

            The gentle waves were folding onto the birch-lined shore below Peter’s vision by the side of the road. Below the water, small-mouth bass, perch, and whitefish were just starting to grow and swim farther out above the boulders that lined the lake bottom. On the east end of the bay by the state park the bottom was sandier, much like the rest of the west coast of the state. Singing sand, they called it. It squeaked delightfully under your feet and sifted through your toes like sugar, warm and dry half an inch down even on a rainy day. 

            Peter sighed. “I know,” he finally said. “This place used to make me happy. But ever since I realized I couldn’t take my parents’ farm, I haven’t been able to find anything to replace it. Now nowhere feels like home.” 

            He turned to Derek, and saw him wiping a tear from his eye. Peter looked away to give him privacy.

            “You were studying down at State,” Peter said. “What made you come back here and take this job?”

            Derek shook his head, but he didn’t reply. 

            Peter sighed again. He took one last deep breath of fresh air, then turned the key in the ignition. The garbage truck roared back to life, and they pulled back onto the highway heading into Petoskey. The lake shimmered away from them on their left.

            Maybe I will get back out on that lake again, Peter thought. If I can get the time off.

            They passed the mansions of the fudgies on the lake side of the road, and the simple homes of the locals on the inland side. Soon they were surrounded by the outlying businesses of town and the old summer homes of Bay View. Here and there public parks opened to the shoreline, and Peter could see the sailboats out on the bay. His heart pulled in his chest. To be on those waves again, where everything had once made sense. No one owned the waves. 

Gulls were soaring out over the water, and he imagined himself to be one of them, skimming over the breakers out on the blue horizon. He saw a flock of sandpipers skittering along on the wet shore by the harbor below. The sky was Michigan blue, all fluffy and filled with the white light of clouds passing over. 

            A stiff breeze off the lake flipped the leaves of the cottonwoods and shivered through the birches by the roadside. Peter inhaled the scent of clear water and fish and seaweed, and suddenly felt a pain deep in his stomach. How long had it been since he had gone out in Derek’s canoe for deep-water fishing? Derek had been down south at school for so long, he couldn’t even remember. Yes, he had to get back out on the lake. That smell, the sweet breeze on his fingers, the water flowing around the prow of the canoe. 

            They slowly passed through town, then accelerated as the road opened up past the fudge shop and turned north toward Harbor Springs. They passed the star-shaped store for Indian jewelry and the brick building that had recently become a brewery. It reminded Peter of East Jordan, this building. Five stories tall and narrow, obviously old, maybe an ancient factory or train depot from the days when they still thought the towns here would flourish. 

            “Peter!” Derek yelled. 

            Peter’s attention was jolted back onto the road. A flash of sunlight blinded him for a moment, but then he saw what he had done. 

            His muscles froze. 

            He had drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic. And what had been clear road just a moment before was suddenly filled with a red sedan. The driver was too shocked by the enormous truck to even honk his horn. 

            The car had just materialized around the bend, and now Peter was running out of road. He yanked the steering wheel to the right, not able to understand what Derek was shouting now. The garbage truck leaned to the left as it careened off the road toward a stand of jack pines between two strip malls. 

            Peter watched the little red car veer the same direction they were heading. It was too late to correct his course. The garbage truck and the red car ran parallel off the east embankment of the road, the truck on its two left wheels.

            Then, the truck tipped.

            It hovered over the red car for an eternal moment. Derek was grabbing at him, yelling. All Peter could see was the roof of the car below his window.

            Then it rose to meet him. 

            There was a horrible crunch, the roof smashed up into Peter with a rush of broken glass.

            He felt the impact as if he were underwater.

And then he was, a boat slowly sinking to the bottom of the lake. The light filtered out of his vision. And he was gone.

Read an excerpt from Grace Unexpected by Gale Martin

  Thirty-something Grace Savage has slogged through crummy jobs and dead-end relationships with men who would rather go bald than say “I do”. In search of a respite from her current job, she visits Shaker Village in New Hampshire. Instead of renewal, she’s unnerved to learn that Shaker men and women lived and worked side by side in complete celibacy.     When her longtime boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Grace avows the sexless Shaker ways. Resolved to stick to her new plan – dubbed the Shaker Plan – and despite the fact that her ovaries are ticking, she returns to her life in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, she's juggling two eligible bachelors: Addison, a young beat reporter; and True, a venerable anthropology professor. Both men have ample charms and real soul mate potential to test her newfound Shaker-style self-control. Grace appears to be on the fast track to a marriage proposal… until secrets revealed deliver a death rattle to the Shaker Plan.

Thirty-something Grace Savage has slogged through crummy jobs and dead-end relationships with men who would rather go bald than say “I do”. In search of a respite from her current job, she visits Shaker Village in New Hampshire. Instead of renewal, she’s unnerved to learn that Shaker men and women lived and worked side by side in complete celibacy. 

When her longtime boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Grace avows the sexless Shaker ways. Resolved to stick to her new plan – dubbed the Shaker Plan – and despite the fact that her ovaries are ticking, she returns to her life in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, she's juggling two eligible bachelors: Addison, a young beat reporter; and True, a venerable anthropology professor. Both men have ample charms and real soul mate potential to test her newfound Shaker-style self-control. Grace appears to be on the fast track to a marriage proposal… until secrets revealed deliver a death rattle to the Shaker Plan.

From Chapter 5, "Goody, Goody" (In this scene, Grace is returning to work from a week's vacation in New England.)

Juggling a briefcase, a houseplant, and my lunch bag in one hand, and a three-ring binder in the other, I fumbled for the outer office door. If I turned the knob, the planter would spill onto the floor. I dropped my binder, and the office door swung open. On the other side stood Goody, my twenty-three-year-old administrative assistant in the Soap Rock University Relations office. Six feet, one hundred eighty pounds of muscle, sinew, and dreadlocks. One of the finest communications majors and worst Spanish minors Soap Rock had produced in years, I was told; I’d only been there about two years myself.

“Welcome back, Gracie Mae.” His tenor drone rang through-out the suite.

“Hey, Goody. I could use a hand here.”

He took the plant from my arms. “For me? You shouldn’t have.”

“It’s not for you. Hey, how’s Fishy?” I asked, since I’d left my almost two-year-old betta in Goody’s care.

He put down the plant and held up Fishy’s jar, beaming like a proud papa. “Just fine. I didn’t sing to him. But somehow, he survived.”

Such a good-looking kid, Goody. Just not my type. More precisely, I wasn't his type. One too many x's in my chromosome cluster for Goody.

Last spring, while still my intern, he had picked up his diploma, sprinted off the stage, and taken pictures of his fellow graduates for the alumni magazine the rest of the morning. Neither of his parents, a bi-racial couple consisting of Philip Good, Sr., and Lynette, had attended his graduation. Goody came out of the closet during his senior year as my intern, and the Goods blamed Soap Rock—and me—for permitting their only son to stray on our watch.

So I took him under my wing. I gave him a job: writing the on-campus newsletter, sending out hometown news, getting our cultural events listed on every community calendar this side of the Susquehanna River. Within months, Goody became synonymous with getting the job done, and for telling things like they were.

“First day back from vacation, and you’re late,” Goody scolded.

“I’ll admit I’m not early,” I said, raising my eyebrows. “But I’ve been on the grounds since six-thirty. Campus emergency.”

“Spork stabbing in the dining hall?”

“One of Connie’s kids tried to cook a wad of aluminum foil in the microwave, and Crump Hall went up like a Quick-Start log before it was contained. But here’s the best part. A reporter from the Standard is staying in Crump for the summer. We’re putting him up for free. He’s trying to get a statement from me, and because he had to be evacuated too, all he has on is a pair of boxers and a ripped T-shirt.”

Goody’s eyes lit up. “Did you jump on it?”

“Normally, I don’t date guys in Underoos,” I said.

Read an excerpt from Caitlin by Miranda Bowden

About the Book

A lost and starving teenager, a binge drinking drug addict mother, and a million secrets. Caitlin is a dramatic thriller that takes the reader through three days of horrific circumstances that all lead back to an unforgiving woman run organization mixed up in the lives of the elite. Caitlin, the story’s main character, has lived with her unexplainable nightmares her whole life only to now find out they’re true. Finding her mother’s diary reveals a life Caitlin never imagined, a life surrounded by lies, evil, and underhandedness delivered by many who were close to her. As she sets out on her quest to discover who she really is, and where she got the six inch long scar across her neck, she quickly finds out that someone else is hoping to get revenge against the same people who hurt her...someone who has known about Caitlin her whole life and the terrifying life she has had to live.


Excerpt

“Brett jerked his elbow from the man’s grip and ran on. The crunch of the leaves under his feet alerting whomever he was approaching because just as he rounded the backside of the trailer a bat swung at him. Luckily, he ducked at that split second and was missed by inches. The bat connecting with the side of the trailer, sending shock waves up the arms of his assailant, causing him to instantly drop it. Brett reached for the bat as it hit the ground and returned the swing connecting with the man’s face. 

Out of the corner of his eye he spots a girl curled in the fetal position lying on the ground. Her feet covered in mud, her shirt ripped open, and her panties were around her ankles. The man moaned, holding his hand to his face as he rose to his feet, wobbling toward Brett trying to grab at the bat. Brett swung again, this time hitting the man in his left knee. The man crumbled to the ground screaming out in pain. Fear and anger boiled inside of Brett as he hit the man again on his back, his adrenaline driving his decisions. He was only 14 and had just attacked a man in the woods. 

The girl’s muffled tears and sobs brought him out of his thoughts. He ran to her side, pulling her shirt closed as he consoled her. Her arms covering her face as she cried harder. He tried picking her up but she was taller and heavier than he was. He begged her to stand and run with him but she wouldn’t move. He pulled her arms away from her face and that’s when he saw her. Ella Sims. The prettiest girl in the whole 8th grade was lying there in his arms and he had saved her just like a superhero would’ve.”