Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Day 1 of Affairs of the Heart

Each day a group of blogs will present special excerpts from some of the books...look below for the blog hop schedule.



Name of cover designer: RENE FOLSOM
Official genre of box set: ROMANCE
Content warning: 18+
Contemporary Romance Box Set — Complete Stories Anthology — Hot New Release — Vacation Reading Package


Due to mature content, situations and language, this collection is recommended for audiences 18+. Heat levels range from sensual to scorching. All works in this box set have been professionally proofed by Paper Gold Publishing, unless this service was expressly refused by the author. Some stories are written in American, and some in British English. The authors have chosen to stay true to their heritage.

Includes a mix of already released and never-before seen stories, all complete works. Those books which are part of a series can be enjoyed fully without the need to read the complete series (though there is a chance you might develop story-addiction issues—for that, we apologize).

Dive into summer in good company. Affairs of the Heart gives you the chance to make 15 new sets of best friends. Just think about it: 15 hot boyfriends and girlfriends you can lust after, laugh with, or shed a tear for. If there is one thing this set is brimming with is intense emotion. We guarantee you won’t be able to simply walk away, stone-cold, from this collection.

Maci strives for one thing in life—anonymity. With her writing career in full bloom, all she wants is to work in peace while concealing her true identity from the public. Though readers love the science fiction worlds she creates, Maci knows that gender stereotypes could damage her career if she is exposed as a woman.

Liam is the envy of all gamers as the lead developer for nZone Studios. Over time, he builds walls around himself, keeping people at arm’s length who only gravitate to him for his material possessions rather than who he is as a person.

With thick barriers around their hearts and their past looming in the shadows, Liam and Maci challenge each other by slowly peeling away their protective layers and seeing each other for who they really are. It doesn’t take long after their chance meeting at a coffee shop for them to become one another’s game changer.

Note: This contemporary romance novel is the first book in the Playing Games series and contains adult situations meant for ages 18+.

“Trust me, he says. You’ll be safe with me, he says.”

Amelie Watts is sick and tired of being treated like a child. She might be willowy and delicate, but she has strength of the kind that doesn’t show on the outside. Plus, she learned all she needed to know so she could cope on her own. Now, if only her big brother would finally release her inheritance! She would fly to the Bahamas and kiss the backwater she grew up in goodbye.

Jason Watts is fed up with picking up the pieces of his little sister’s life. If only she would grow up already and learn to live life without stabilizers! Her latest idea is insane, and bound to be her most enormous failure to date. But how to make her understand?

Enter Rob Tyson, incorrigible bachelor and Jason’s best friend. For a laugh, they make a bet.

Two people, a hastily acquired boat, and a tropical paradise. What could possibly go wrong?

Zaed, Sophie's American-born friend, kneels at a party to retrieve a glittering ring from the floor. Before anyone can comment, Natasha, Sophie's cousin, is shrieking 'yes, yes, I accept' to a bewildered Zaed. It's all a cosmic mistake, but things get out of hand rapidly as Zaed's father, an old friend of Natasha's father, bribes Zaed to accept Natasha's expectations and wed her. But then, Zaed and Sophie fall in love. And the huge, elaborate wedding between Zaed and Natasha, a wedding that will join two powerful families, is next week.

You don't just back out at the altar. Not in Pakistan…

James, a UK based chef, has tried to make a career with EAT-TV, but his womanizing ways aren’t what they’re looking for with their wholesome family style image. However, the producers of a new reality show about single life, The Fixer Upper, think he’s perfect. Against his wishes his agent convinces him to give it a shot. His overpriced bachelor pad is needing a mortgage payment, and he needs a job to support the tween-aged daughter that’s recently been dumped in his lap.

Margaret Dumas is control freak who has micromanaged her marriage to shambles. When she makes a deal with her mother to quit fixing her up if she’ll do this new reality show, she thinks she’s won. No more blind dates, no more friendly advice, no more “chance meetings” with her Mother’s friends’ sons. The only catch is she’s got to go on detestable reality television and expose her dating habits to a total stranger who is supposed to “fix” her and make her a dating machine. As if.

When Margaret meets James, they clash on the surface, but deep down they recognize something in the other that they want. Redemption.

My name is Alix and I am addicted to sex.

Had been for years. I thought I learned how to live a normal life, but that’s the thing about addiction, it creeps back up when you least expect it. There is no one there for me, no one I can turn to for help. Until I’m given a chance to explore a side of myself I’d always kept locked away. I was lost…until him. I can’t tell you who he is, or why he does the things he’s done. All I can say is I hope one day I behave well enough to take off the blindfold and see the man who controls my addiction. My Master.

My name is John and I am addicted to control.

I tried to deny the dominate side of my personality. I didn’t want to admit how much I enjoyed the power, how much I enjoyed causing pain. That is until the woman I’d been secretly been stalking waltzed into a BDSM club right in front of me. All bets are off. She will be mine.

Together our addictions feed off each other, fueling the fire that burns within. Until suddenly the fire is too hot to handle, burning everything in its path. The pain and scars we’d both come into our fragile relationship with are split wide open, exposing more than either of us can handle, possibly leaving nothing behind to salvage from the ashes.

**Warning: Intended for audiences 18+ due to explicit sex & vulgar language, mention of rape/abuse**

She'd been dealt too many blows to count. He'd always lived life on easy street. Are they Yin and Yang or a mistake of epic proportions?

Makeup artist Reggie Reynolds has endured a life as colorful as her ever-changing hair. After a painful childhood and a tragic adolescence, by sheer force of will, she found success – first in Hollywood, then on Broadway. Returning to her hometown offers a chance to help her aging grandfather and realize her dreams, not to mention soothe a broken heart. But even her storied past won't prepare Reggie for what happens in her next chapter.

When reporter Eddie Besson meets Reggie on a flight to New York City, he thinks he's at an all-time high-point in his cushy, perpetual-youth life. Twenty-four hours with Reggie changes Eddie's perspective. Despite the fact she doesn't want anything to do with him when he leaves, Eddie can't stop thinking about the girl from New York City long after he's gone from the Big Apple.

As Eddie's perfectly-orchestrated life falls apart, he has some tough decisions to make, with only one thing certain: there will be consequences to pay for his lackadaisical approach to adulthood. Reggie's own soul-searching reveals some painful truths, including guilt about passing judgment on the guy from Maine. When she runs into Eddie again – this time on his home turf – sparks fly and decisions must be made, choices that aren't universally well-received. Will this unlikely pair go all-in, find a way to balance the scales and live life on their own terms? Or will tragedy tear them apart for good?

What would you do if you had no place to go and no one you could trust?

Jackson Beaumont prides himself on being a nature-loving, guitar-strumming, carefree sort of guy. When the mysterious Lena Benton walks into his bar looking scared and defeated, it's not something he can ignore. He's immediately consumed by concern for her and driven by his desire to help. She's just so beautiful. So wounded.

After being shuffled from one foster home to another growing up, Lena Benton dreamt of finding her prince charming. When the captivating Troy Harington sweeps her off her feet shortly after high school graduation, she's certain she's found her happiness. Unfortunately, Troy's true colors surface shortly after their marriage and things turn ugly. Lena only has one choice. She has to leave him. She has to run...

Lena's escape has brought her to Jackson, and he clearly wants to be there for her, but can she trust anyone again after what she's gone through? And will Jackson be able to help her heal without losing his heart?

Mangled Hearts become Entangled Souls

Cade is on the road to recovery with Francesca’s love and support guiding him. His life is changing drastically, from attempting to mend the rift between he and his father, to trying to have a normal relationship with his now fiancé. Most of all, Cade must find a way to control his urges so he can be completely released from rehabilitation.

Francesca is building her law firm with the help of those she loves most, but when a close friend reveals her true feelings about Francesca's engagement, it sends her emotions into a tailspin. Through all of this, she is forced to put her feelings on the back burner for everyone else, until the anniversary of Josie’s accident rolls around. Francesca must learn to put herself first before she falls apart.

In this novella, join Cade and Francesca as they explore their relationship and begin their lives together.

Thank you for picking up this Crimson & Clover short story, SURRENDER. If you've read THE STORM AND THE DARKNESS, you will recognize pieces of this from Ana's flashback to her prom night. SURRENDER is an expanded version of that scene, painting her teenage courtship with Oz with color and context.

Having read other books in the series will provide deeper insight, but they are not required to enjoy this story. SURRENDER is the first of many Crimson & Clover Lagniappes (or, bonus stories). You can pick it up anywhere in your series journey.
I hope you enjoy this quick, lighthearted read about the joyful innocence that accompanies first love.

Andi has always been anxious about her weight and like many women, thinks that unless she is thin, she has no value.

Follow her 'misadventures' and see if this is true or will she find there are more important things that makes a person who and what they are?

Jack Austin had it all – a great home, career, and the girl of his dreams. Then one night he lost them all, thanks to his father. Now he has seventy-two hours to find a way to get back his ranch, and win the heart of the only girl he ever loved.

Katrina Mitchell was a small-town girl who had big dreams. She was the first in her family to graduate high school, and was determined to go to college. Then she met Jack and found out love did not have to come with a price. They made plans for their future, but it all came crashing down around them.

She lost more than she could ever tell anyone that night. Now Jack needs her help. Can she help him without giving away a secret she had fought so long to hide?

Leaving the Marines and returning to the Tormented Souls clubhouse to live with my brother, the president, wasn't as easy as I thought it'd be. I have too many secrets, too many scars to hide from the world. I thought the years away would've dulled the crush I've had on Ellis since I was a child. They didn't.

He's got his eye on me and nothing I say will change his mind. Not even when my boyfriend shows up and he finds out the darkest, most embarrassing secret I have. He thinks it's the only one I have, little does he know, I have a bigger, scarier one that I absolutely refuse to share.

**WARNING: CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT - Also, please don't bother reading if you think being in the Marines leaves you unfeeling and cold without the need for comfort when far away from home. Don't read this if you have problems with LOTS of sexy scenes or sex. There is vulgar language used so if that bothers you, probably best to skip this book**

A day of errands and fate were responsible for Nadia and Dillon’s paths crossing.

He asked her out, then found himself begging her to keep their first date, the date she had wanted to cancel. Five minutes of her time was all he asked for. He just wanted to see her again. They married and had a perfect storybook love.

But, when Dillon gets in a terrible car accident one morning on his way to work, Nadia’s world crumbles. Life as she knew it changed – perhaps for good.

From amnesia to a lengthy hospital stay to months of physical therapy. The stress of recovery has them questioning the state of their future together.

Will they find their happily ever after?

Joshua Elijah Griffin, IV is on his last chance. A stint in rehab and a transfer to a new school has scared him into putting his life on track. He’s determined to live up to his family’s expectations, but on the first day of class, Josh meets a girl, and he knows his father won’t approve, but in Carrington, he sees a kindred spirit. He's willing to give up everything to be with her.

Carrington Olivia Butler is ready to shine. Always in the shadows of her siblings, she goes away to college to break out of her shell. All Carrington wants is to feel special. Josh's attention is exactly what she craves, but their intense and sometimes volatile relationship is more than what she bargained for.

Josh’s demons return, and Carrington’s feelings fade, but both aren’t ready to give up hope. They give their love one last shot to survive, but hope, may not be enough.

**This book contains adult subject matter. Not intended for young readers**

When Isla Holmes’ life as a child is turned upside down and she is ripped away from her soul mate, she is forced to live a life with evil.

When Isla and her soul mate cross paths, will they find a happy ever after or will evil intervene?

GAME CHANGER — Rene Folsom

A gamer romance… “One thing I’ve learned in life is people aren’t usually what they seem.”

Chapter One

Maci: Smell the Coffee

Pushing my way through the doors of my favorite coffee shop, I sighed in disbelief. The joint was packed tighter than a barrel of monkeys, and the fact that my favorite place to write was now becoming a noisy circus didn’t improve my mood.
Well, I’m here now. Might as well knock out a few thousand words.
My hair blew into my face as more people piled in, the air from the open door whooshing around my head in a frenzy and drowning out the smell of fresh coffee I so enjoyed.
As if it had a shiny, bright beacon calling for my attention, I spotted a small booth to the far side of the shop. Nearly leaping over other patrons, I darted toward the table and unloaded my laptop case and belongings in a sloppy heap of a mess. The plastic bag from the bookstore I’d just left made a seemingly permanent impression in my arm.
New books were always worth a few injuries though.
Blowing my hair from my face with a huff, I scanned my surroundings, worried to leave my things unattended while I got in line for a mocha, yet I also didn’t want to lose my table by taking them with me. The place was loud with a constant hum of voices, all trying to outdo each other in volume. A cackling laughter came from someone a few tables over, causing my eyes to become intimate with the back of my sockets as each new, annoying giggle from her grated on my nerves.
“Maci,” Ramon yelled from behind the counter. “You sit—I’ll bring your usual,” he added with a smile and a slight head bob before turning away. I was happy Ramon’s little coffee shop was doing so well, but damn if it didn’t irritate the shiz outta me that I had to share my sanctuary with a bunch of other people in this city. I always considered this place to be my haven—my writing cave of sorts. I’d written so many amazing scenes in this little café, and I wasn’t usually known for sharing what I considered to be my space.
I needed to take a few breaths and calm myself. I knew I was just annoyed by the early deadlines my publisher forced on me almost immediately after finishing my book last week. If I could only find some time to write, I wouldn’t be quite so bothered by every little thing around me.
“Ahh, a mocha for the lovely Maci,” Ramon said as he set it in front of me with a flourish. “So good to see your beautiful face every day.”
“Thank you, Ramon. I hate to be such a bother when you’re so busy,” I responded with a wave of my hand, gesturing to the throng of people throughout the place. The smell of the fresh mocha hit my nose at that precise moment, causing my eyes to flutter shut and my mind to wander—at least until Ramon spoke again.
“Anything for you. I put some coupons in the local paper and all these people have come to check us out. Isn’t it wonderful?” he asked with obvious excitement bubbling in his light Italian accent.
“So very wonderful. Now that you’ve gotten their attention, I’m sure they’ll be lifetime customers just like me,” I said with honesty. Regardless of how put out I felt, I knew this meant a lot for his business.
“Oh, I hope so,” he said with a clap of his hands. “You enjoy. Just get my attention when you’re ready for another.”
“Thanks. Will do.” As he walked away with pep in his step, I chuckled and took a sip of my coffee.
Oh, that’s good.
My eyes nearly rolled into the back of my head with pure bliss, and it was all I could do not to moan out loud. Ramon knew how to make a damn good mocha.
Craving to get started, I shoved my earbuds into my ears before pulling my MacBook from my case and bringing it to life, impatiently strumming my fingers on the tabletop. Needing to get back into the groove after neglecting to write all weekend, I let the music fill my ears and tune out all the noise around me as I read over the last chapter I feverishly wrote in the middle of the night on Friday. As soon as I dove in, ideas began to flow and, before I knew it, I had written nearly three thousand words without so much as looking up from my screen.
It felt so good to write again after ignoring the voices in my head over the past several days. They needed their time in the limelight.
Taking another sip of my mocha, I realized it was long gone. All I had to do was look in Ramon’s direction and hold my cup in the air. Without hesitation, he began making another for me. I was beyond thankful for his faithfulness, never forgetting us little people during his new rush of coupon fame.
He brought it in a flash of silence, clearly needing to get back behind the counter.
Taking a much-needed break from the tiny words on my screen, I looked around and noticed the place hadn’t died down one little bit. Each table was occupied, and more people were coming and going by the minute. That must’ve been one hell of a coupon he advertised to cause this much of a traffic jam.
Before I could pull my eyes away from the door, a tall, thin man walked in wearing average clothes—a pair of surprisingly well-fitted jeans and a tee that said “Eat. Sleep. Game.” across the chest. Not that I was one to judge the appearance of others, but he definitely didn’t seem like the gamer type I would normally be attracted to. The confidence he so easily wore—cocky and entitled—was the first thing that made me realize he was probably one of those wannabe gamers… a poser of the nerd variety.
Such a pity, I thought, and brought my attention back to my writing.
“Yeah, that’s not happening, Thad… I don’t need a reason…”
A loud, booming voice broke my focus and nearly had me gripping my hair with frustration. He was loud enough to overpower the music flooding through my earbuds. Looking back up over my laptop, I noticed the cocky geek boy talking on his cell, oblivious to the fact he was being extremely rude to those around him.
“Dude, you’re not listening to me. I don’t need a date.”
Silencing his gob for a few seconds, he grabbed his coffee from the barista and scanned the room, his eyes landing on the chair across from where I sat.
I was shaking my head before he even had a chance to ask. He looked put out at first, but then took a few more steps in my direction and flashed a pretty-boy smile.
“Hang on, Thad,” he barked before pointing with one of the fingers he used to hold his cup. Reluctantly, I pulled the buds from my ears and scowled in hopes of silently getting my point across. “Mind if I sit with you? There’s nowhere else to sit, and I’m waiting for someone.”
I hesitated. Was I really mean enough to tell him he had to stand when I was clearly not using the chair? Then again, he was obviously unaware of how utterly annoying his loud conversation had been.
Deciding I wasn’t a cruel person, I extended my hand out, gesturing for him to sit, while never allowing the irritated expression to leave my face.
One nod of his head was all the thanks I got as he plopped in the chair and continued the loud argument on his cell phone. Irritation continued to thrum through my veins.
“Again, who cares if I go stag? The event wouldn’t even be happening if it weren’t for me. Who’s to say I must take a date? Okay, look… I’ll find a date on my own. No… I don’t need you setting me up with anyone. All the women you come up with are nothing but mon—” He cut himself off, glancing at me and the frustrated facial expression that must’ve been burning holes into the side of his pretty little head. “Look, Thad, just come pick me up at Ramon’s Café on the south side of town once you’re done.”
By the time he hung up his phone, I was seething. With my arms crossed over my chest and my foot tapping loudly on the floor, I was clearly irritated with the useless intrusion.
“I’m sorry. Did I interrupt your important phone call?” I asked, sarcasm seeping through every word that spilled from my mouth.
“Nope, not at all. I was about to hang up on him anyway,” he said with a laugh.
Oh, so the cocky geek thinks he’s funny?
His answer infuriated me. The least he could’ve done was apologize for being rude. He was lucky his phone didn’t end up in the trashcan—or the toilet—that’d be even better.
My eyes narrowed, but he just continued to look at me with humor in his stare. The depth of his striking, blue eyes disarmed me a bit. I wasn’t expecting them to look so… so… blue… and seemingly familiar. I internally scolded myself at the stupid thought.
“Well, if you don’t mind, I have work to do,” I retorted, clearing my head with a shake and bringing my gaze back to my computer. He persisted to stare at me with a slight smirk outlining his features.
“What kind of work do you do?” he asked. Seriously, the man wasn’t getting the hint.
“I’m sorry, Mr.…?”
“Mr. Liam.”
“No, just Liam.”
“Okay, well, Liam…” I put an extra snarky emphasis on his name to prove to him I wasn’t a dummy. “I apologize for being rude, but my work is none of your business.”
“Fair enough,” he said with a nod. Again, those damn eyes seemed to capture me. They were a breathtaking mix of the sky and ocean—so deep and crisp. I almost had the urge to ask where I had seen him before. No, that’d make him think I was interested, and I wasn’t. Really, I wasn’t. “So…” His voice brought me out of my obvious ogling and back to reality.
Cocky geek. You must remember he’s a cocky geek.
“So?” I said, lifting my brow and pretending to be unaffected.
“Well, my name is Liam. And yours is?” He extended his hand out to me.
“Busy,” I barked back while grabbing his hand and shaking it.
“Busy. Okay, busy. Nice to meet you, busy. Come here often, busy?” he joked, only it wasn’t funny.
“Maci,” Ramon hollered as he approached the table. Cocky geek raised his brows in surprise—aware he now knew my name and therefore beat me at my own game of evasion. “I see you’ve met Liam, my other lifelong customer.”
“Yes, we’re getting acquainted. Thank you, Ramon,” I said kindly, not wanting him to sense our tension and feel the need to choose sides. Liam just stared at me with a smug grin on his face, and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to smack it off him or ask him to come closer so I could feel those dimples for myself.
“Would you like more?” Ramon asked, pointing to my nearly empty cup.
“No thanks. I need to be going soon anyway,” I responded with a smile before looking back at Liam.
“Very good, I’ll just put it all on your tab.”
“Thank you, Ramon.”
“Have a lovely day, Maci,” he yelled as he walked away.
“Maci. Now, was that so hard?” Liam asked, making me scowl in return.
I didn’t say anything as I closed my laptop and stowed it in my bag. I needed to find a new, less-distracting writing hole, and I needed to do it soon, before this man looked at me with those beautiful, familiar eyes again.
“So, Maci,” he hissed, accentuating my name like I did his. “How would you like to go to a very stuffy, black-tie charity function with me next weekend?”
Shocked, I stopped my fumbling and stared at the man like he had horns growing from his head. Flipping an errant lock of hair from my face, I gawked at him and squeaked, “Excuse me?”
“A charity event. It’ll probably be less boring if you come along. What do you say?”
“I say you’re on crack if you think I’ll make a good date to your swanky event.” I couldn’t believe he was seriously asking me. This had to be some prank. I’d been nothing but snarky and condescending to him. No way he’d want me on his arm all night.
“So, is that a yes?” he asked, standing along with me like a true gentleman.
“No, Liam. I’m sorry, but that’s a big no,” I said, attempting to squeeze my way around him and toward the door. My laptop case nearly knocked over the chair he was sitting in. Just as I dodged around it, the bag of books I purchased clattered to the floor.
Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, I willed the color of embarrassment to leave my cheeks as Liam picked up the books and held them out to me. A slight nod was all the thanks I could manage as I took it from him and began bolting for the exit.
And, of course, he followed me.
“Will you at least think about it? You have almost two weeks. I come to this coffee shop almost every day. So, we ca—”
“Wait,” I said, interrupting his babbling as I swung around to face him. “How come I’ve never seen you in here?”
“Because you usually have your nose stuck so far up that computer, one would think it was using your memory instead of its own RAM,” he replied with a chuckle.
“Thank you for reminding me why I said no.” With that, I turned on my heel and walked out.

TRIAL RUN — Ella Medler

Two people, a bet, a hastily acquired boat, and a tropical paradise… “They say that every man must be punished for his wrongdoings.”

Chapter 1

All Men Are Trouble

Amelie watched, helpless, as Rob struggled to steer the out-of-control boat between jagged, barnacle–swaddled underwater rocks, with only a surfboard for help. Without a working motor, they were completely at the mercy of the freak storm. They might as well have been floating about in a cracked nutshell for all the good the aged glass fiber hull was doing them.
Rob plunged the surfboard over the side and shoved down hard against a lump of stone just in time, his muscles coiling in tight knots under the soaked t-shirt. The boat rocked and banked sharply leeward. Amelie lost her grip and skidded over the port side, her fingers clutching the rope tied around her middle with a death grip.
Just before becoming completely submerged, she felt a tight hold on her wrist and in the next moment her feet touched the deck once again.
“You okay?” Rob shouted over the howling of the wind, water running down his face in torrents.
Amelie nodded, too shocked to speak, and wedged herself as best she could in the cockpit entryway, her back pressed snugly against their bags of provisions, knees bent and head tucked between them. She let the tears flow freely now. Who was there to see them, anyway? Her brother, Jason, was back in Boca Raton, probably playing golf at the Country Club without a care in the world.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and looked up at the relentless sheets of rain. When was it going to let up? It wasn’t even supposed to be stormy; she’d checked the weather station herself, right before Jason began to assemble the supplies for their trip on the sun-bleached wood decking that linked their house in Delray with the side of the canal.


The bright Florida sun shone just enough to dispel any threat of rain for the foreseeable future when Rob moored his boat alongside their property and hopped on the wooden decking to give them a hand. It took ten minutes to throw the packs on board. Then Rob stood by, watching, on edge, as she leapt gracefully from ground to glass fiber, probably waiting for her to make a fool of herself and land in the water. Ha! He didn’t know her very well, not anymore.
Amelie shielded her eyes and leaned against the edge of the minuscule cockpit, staring shamelessly at Rob. What a fine specimen of a man he was! He wore his white t-shirt untucked, a little detail that made her think he probably planned to take it off later. She suppressed a small, involuntary smile as her eyes continued to rake over him. The thin material draped over his shoulders fluttered gently in the breeze, in sharp contrast with his tanned arms and strong hands, which were now propped lightly on a tight pair of hips covered in designer board shorts in shades of white, blues and sea-greens with a thin black trim.
Her gaze lingered for just another moment on the black ties knotted across Rob’s lean lower abs, then she bit her lip and turned away from him, searching for a part of landscape plain enough to cool her heated thoughts. Boys were trouble, always have been and always would be, she reminded herself. That was precisely why she was doing this – this trial run to the Bahamas – so they could see she would be perfectly fine running a business on her own. She had no doubts she could live independently, with no male interference whatsoever, but it seemed the males themselves needed further proof.
So male-like, this belief that the world could not exist without them! Well, she could; she’d made sure of that. And if, at some later date, she grew bored of being alone, she could always buy company. Plenty of people did that. But she wouldn’t need anyone. Not in that gut-wrenching I’ll-die-if-you-leave-me kind of way.
A sigh slipped through her lips, and she turned once more toward him, a trance-like, unconscious action.
Rob Tyson, her brother’s best friend, had been a permanent fixture in their youth. She didn’t remember a time without him, not until Rob and Jason had graduated and Rob moved away. Her crush on Rob had been short and wild, back before any notion of love was as unattainable as it was incomprehensible to a child her age. What boy of eighteen notices an awkward eleven-year-old? In that way? Of course, he’d laugh when the ketchup shot out of her burger bun and landed on her clean shorts, and he was always there to pick her up when she got lost and Jason was ‘busy’ with one of his girlfriends, but that was all she’d ever been to Rob: the awkward little sister of his best friend.
Amelie may have been a romantic at heart, but stupid she was not. So she’d patched up her broken heart, erased Rob out of her mind and concentrated on growing up. And while she did that, she spent quite some time observing the way the males of the human species treated the so-called weaker sex. Over time, she decided that would be one thing she would never be accused of being: weak.
While other girls in her class concentrated on their tan, she chose activities that would achieve multiple goals, like tennis, for example. She could get fit and tanned at the same time. She took care of her appearance and would proudly wear the latest fashions, but at night she took online classes on everything from plumbing to car mechanics. She would rely on no one but herself to fix her car, and she most certainly wouldn’t need help to change a fuse or fix a leaky tap.
She’d been sixteen when her parents died in the helicopter crash, and Jason twenty-three. Without complaint, he’d looked after her like the loving big brother that he was, but soon his ‘care’ began to feel more and more stifling to Amelie’s independent nature. He would agree to fund any courses she fancied under the justification that it was all education, and therefore inherently useful, but any time she wanted to invest in a new venture, he became fiercer than Cerberus, insisting she didn’t know what she was doing, and refusing to allow her access to the inheritance her parents had left her in their wills.
She knew exactly what she would do with the money when it became hers, at twenty-five. Unfortunately, until then, she still needed Jason’s signature to get to the cash. And Jason was taking his role of guardian to the extreme. Not only was ‘no’ becoming his favorite word, but he was also shadowing her steps wherever she went, insisting on knowing where she was going and for how long, and checking up on her whenever he thought she’d been away from home for too long.
True, Jason didn’t know she’d taken martial arts classes in business school, as well as weapons training, so now she not only had a good understanding of business in general and the hospitality industry in particular, but she felt perfectly confident that at no point in her life would she need a male, other than to satisfy that most common, primal, human urge to perpetuate the species. And that she would address as and when necessary, without getting tangled in complicated relationships. Coping on her own was her specialty, and she was proud of it.
In the few months since she’d returned home, she’d presented to Jason business proposal after business proposal, and the great oaf only sneered and turned them down.
“Sure,” he said during one of their more heated arguments. “You can build a café at the bottom of the sea, just as soon as you get your inheritance.”
“So help me get it!”
“Ah, no. You’re not gonna have anyone to blame this on, when it fails. I refuse to be the one who picks up the pieces when this goes wrong for you. Have you even considered the public liability lawsuits? Look on the bright side,” he added when she’d opened her mouth to argue. “At least you won’t have to listen to me saying ‘I told you so’!”
Week after week, they had the same discussion. She’d come up with a great business venture idea, and Jason would shoot it down. It was driving her insane. Almost a year after graduation, she’d made no progress at all. The only thing that was good about the passage of time was that she was now that much closer to being able to cash in her inheritance and finally follow her dreams.
In the meantime, she kept herself busy by acquiring even more skills, having a life, and if she could combine those two with a way to irritate Jason at the same time, so much the better; maybe he’d finally get tired of her and chuck her out. He’d have to let her have some money then, so she could rent or buy a place to live.
When Rob knocked on their door out of the blue, two days previously, she’d celebrated. Not because she still held a flame to him – no, that candle had blown out long ago – but because she was certain any normal, unbiased person could see the value of her business ideas, and a second opinion might – just might – persuade her brother to let her stretch her wings.
So, despite the awkwardness of the moment when she’d felt Rob’s eyes on her naked body in the back room of the Black Tulip, and the flash of annoyance at her brother’s possessive, controlling attitude, she gritted her teeth and decided to play it cool.

Rob Tyson was a dark horse, but a comfortable one, friendly and familiar, one that she could use to her advantage.

November 24

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Rene Folsom, author of contemporary and paranormal, lives in Florida with her husband and three kids. She has officially diagnosed herself with creative ADD and often has a million and one writing projects going at once. In addition to writing, she is also a graphic artist who enjoys creating custom book covers for indie authors. She is definitely an artist at heart and would love nothing more than to be elbow deep in clay during her waking hours.

Rene believes that all fiction is based on some form of reality—otherwise we would never have the inspiration or knowledge to dream up the realistic situations we portray with our words. She is proud to say that her personal experiences have been inspirational, though perhaps not always identical to that of her fictional characters. Where reality and fantasy diverge, however, must remain her little secret…

Ella Medler is a U.K. author and free-lance editor. She writes fiction in more than one genre, in a seemingly vain attempt to slow down her overactive brain enough to write non-fiction on subjects she knows a thing or two about. She also does not believe in the starchy use of English, and ignores the type of rule that doesn’t allow for a sentence to be finished in a preposition. Her books are action-driven, and well-developed characters are her forte. Loves: freedom. Hates: her inner censor.

HA Kay I was in grade 7, and bunking PE when I read Tolkien’s Two Towers from the LOTR trilogy.

I know what you’re thinking. Certified nerd! I remember what I was thinking. Where had this book been all my life?!

I loved it. I can’t recall the scenes I’d read then but I remember how transfixing Tolkien's Middle Earth was. I instantly wanted to write something like it.

But such dreams are easily forgotten in the wake of building a real career.

I went ahead and enrolled in a business college and did my MBA with tinselly rainbow colors, making a tiara out of my nerd cap. It was a good day. And it was a good year at the bank. But the best time was when I landed at an ad agency’s creative department to write jingles and slogans and slaughter both my languages (Urdu and English) in the process. I learned a lot there. I wrote a lot there. And I became apt in the art of killing my own brainchildren a.k.a. self-editing.

Then, I got married. Moved to the United States and started a family.

For two years I was a good stay-at-home mom. Then, I thought I could be good at something else too. I couldn’t decide on what exactly till I stumbled upon my old diary – a leftover from my baby and teen years. I read all the poems and stories I’d written therein, ranging from an ode to Mom to a soul-searching monologue. I realized I wasn’t bad. If I worked on my talent I could turn it into a skill. And perhaps be able to write like the numerous authors who’d inspired me for years. A lost afternoon in the school library from so long ago made its way into my present and I remembered the perfect Legolas. I remembered the imperfect Quasimodo, the roguish Rhett Butler and the ruthless Rory Frost too.

Suddenly, I wanted to create such characters and write their stories instilled with M. M. Kaye-like descriptions and Crichton-like research and Grisham-like authenticity, all tied together with intense moods borrowed from Victoria Holt. Tolkien’s magic dust and King’s dark secrets would just be the cherry and powdered sugar on top.

I enrolled in a writing program immediately and earned my diploma. Next I wrote and edited for a newbie magazine. I wrote two children’s books (5 Kids and 5 Snowmen and Boondon Ka Khel: The Playful Game of the Tiny Water Droplets), and co-authored a trilogy under the title Aoife and Demon.
Now, it’s Love Me Do.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Anne Conley has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She's been writing for public consumption for the last four years. Currently she is writing three romance series. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God's four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human. In Pierce Securities, she gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, and Simon. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this story, sign up for my newsletter to receive news on new releases, extras, and random stuff!

Rachael Orman Mother by day. Writer by night. I spend a majority of my day with my children and reading while my nights are filled with the sound of the keyboard as I work on my next work.

I have written in nearly every LBGT category as well as the traditional erotic romance category.

I love to try new things and learn from every piece of work I write. I'll write just about anything once to learn from it. I've even ventured out of my normal erotica genre into Monster Erotica. Doubt you'll find me writing anything not erotic as you can barely get me to even read something out of that category, but then again, you never know what I might try next.

Never stop learning. Try everything at least once.

Lucy Gage started her writing career under another name, but the same vivid imagination and love of books still fuels her daily life. When she's not writing, you can find her spending time with her family in her home state of Maine, experiencing a life that helps shape her writing.

Look for her website in 2015. Book six in the Ward Sisters Series will arrive in 2015 and book 1 in the Vega Brothers Series – a Ward Sisters spinoff – launches later in the year.

Susan Griscom I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, spending most of my time daydreaming or playing around in the mud. I grew out of the mud play, well, most of the time, a good soak in the mud is always fun. I still daydream often and sometimes my daydreams interrupt my daydreams. So I write to remember them. If I didn't write, I think my mind would explode from an overload of fantasy and weirdness. To the annoyance of my friends and family, my characters sometimes become a part of my world. During my childhood, I would frequently get in trouble in school for daydreaming. Eventually, my vivid imagination paid off and I had the privilege of writing and co-directing my sixth-grade class play--a dreadful disaster, though not from my writing, of course. I'm pretty sure it was the acting.

I enjoy writing about characters living in small quaint towns and tend to lean toward the unusual and edgy.

My paranormal playing field delves into a different milieu, abandoning vampires and werewolves, but not discounting them. Someday I might like to write a novel about vamps and those furry creatures. But for now I like the bizarre mixed with romance. A strong hero or heroine confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and capabilities gets my blood running hot, as does a steamy contemporary romantic suspense.

Felicia Tatum was born and raised in Tennessee. She always loved reading, and at the age of twelve began writing. Her passion for creating stories grew and in May 2012, she finally wrote her first novel, The White Aura.

She still lives in Tennessee with her daughter and her kitty. She loves cooking, books, and animals are some of her best friends. She watches a lot of Disney channel and often dreams up new book ideas. She's currently working on various projects. She's the author of the White Aura series, Scarred Hearts series, and Intoxicating Passion series.

Sarah M. Cradit is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Paranormal Southern Gothic series, The House of Crimson & Clover, born of her combined passion for New Orleans, and the mysterious complexity of human nature. Her work has been described as rich, emotive, and highly dimensional.

An unabashed geek, Sarah enjoys studying obscure subjects like the Plantagenet and Ptolemaic dynasties, and settling debates on provocative Tolkien topics such as why the Great Eagles are not Gandalf's personal taxi service. Passionate about travel, Sarah has visited over twenty countries collecting sparks of inspiration (though New Orleans is where her heart rests). She's a self-professed expert at crafting original songs to sing to her very patient pets, and a seasoned professional at finding ways to humiliate herself (bonus points if it happens in public). When at home in Oregon, her husband and best friend, James, is very kind about indulging her love of fast German cars and expensive lattes.

Julie Elizabeth Powell I cannot ignore my dreams, so many of them, with names and places and ideas that spark my imagination and compel me to write; to create stories, whether fantasy or horror, or mystery or psychological thriller or murder or even humour and adventure. So, my garden is sown, flourishing, with all manner of growth, and still the dreams come.

Julie Elizabeth Powell, my soul lingering within my imagination; maybe you’ll join me?

Lynda Kaye Frazier I’m an avid reader of romantic suspense and started writing after a vivid dream. I know, sounds cliché, but that’s how it started. I work full time at a Cardiology clinic, then at night you will find me in front of my computer, writing. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but now live in Arkansas, surrounded by the Ozark Mountains where I get to enjoy the four seasons without a long, cold winter. Other than spending time with my wonderful family, my favorite things to do are writing, reading and listening to music, but my most favorite is going to the beach. Surf, sand and a good book, my stress relief.

Desiree A. Cox was born and raised in Iowa. She married her high school sweetheart and moved to the Philadelphia area after high school and has been happily married for over twenty-five years. She’s the mother of two sons and a daughter.

Writing has always been a part of her life. It started as a way to cope with her childhood shyness, allowing her to communicate without talking. Now she talks and writes … and talks. Desiree also enjoys traveling and spending time at the beach.

Over the past two plus years, she’s been working to get her thoughts in print. She is finally writing what she wants to write. Twisted by Desire, her debut novel, was published in December 2014. In March 2015, the sequel in the Lust, Desire, and Love Trilogy, Jaded by Desire, released. She also has a short story, Fantasy Come True, in the Wickedly Exotic Spring Erotic Wonderland box set that benefits the National Autism Association with 100% of the proceeds.

Look for Reclaimed by Desire, Book 3 and the final installment in the Lust, Desire, and Love Trilogy, later this summer.

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is an Adult Contemporary Romance writer, a voracious reader, and movie fanatic who hails from Texas.

After surviving 5 1/2 years living in China, she had the courage to finally pursue her passion and become a writer.

Sydney has been blogging at sydneyaaliyah.com for three years, where she interviews people about their tattoos, discusses her favorite movie quotes, reviews books (New Adult & only the ones she loves) and journals about her writing and editing process.

An active tweeterer, she is also a JuNoWriMo (3x) and NaNoWriMo (2x) winner who notes the sci-fi action flick “The Matrix” as the best representation of her life in the past. She is blessed to be awake now and doing what she loves.

She can recite the entire script for the 80’s teen comedy/drama The Breakfast Club and loves any and everything associated with the Avengers movie, especially Tony Stark.

When it comes to books, Sydney reads many different genres, but some of her favorite writers are Stephen King, Cora Carmack, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Cassie Mae, & Emily Bronte. The Great Gatsby, Under the Dome, Losing It, CassaStorm, Switched, & Wuthering Heights are her favorite books.

Elaine May is my Author name. I live in the West Country of England with my two beautiful daughters and yummy hubby. I love reading dark and twisted tales that mess with your head. I love to travel and spending time with my family. My dream is for people to like what I've written and hopefully get to go to a book signing event as an author.


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