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Monday, February 20, 2017

Lock & Key: The Initiation by Ridley Pearson

Author: Ridley Pearson
Publisher: harpercollins
Date of publication: September 2016

In the pantheon of literature’s more impressive villains, Sherlock Holmes’s greatest nemesis, James Moriarty, stands alone. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle describes him in the classic tale “The Final Solution,” Moriarty is a genius, a philosopher, and a spider in the center of his web. Set in modern times and focusing on Moriarty's bone-chilling beginnings, this middle grade mystery-adventure series will upend everything you thought you ever knew about Sherlock Holmes—and the true nature of evil.

Our story begins when James and his younger sister, Moria, are unceremoniously sent off to boarding school at Baskerville Academy. It is not a fate either want or welcome—but generations of Moriarty men have graduated from Baskerville’s hallowed halls. And now so too must James. It’s at Baskerville where James is first paired with a rather unexpected roommate—Sherlock Holmes. The two don’t get along almost instantly, but when the school’s heirloom Bible goes missing and cryptic notes with disconcerting clues start finding their way into James’s hands, the two boys decide that they must work together to solve a mystery so fraught with peril, it will change both their lives forever!


This is the second re-imagining of the Holmes/Moriarty duo set in modern times that I have read in the past year.  In this one, we meed James Moriarty and his sister Moria who get sent to Baskerville Academy for high school.  James's roommate is Sherlock Holmes from London who is there on scholarship.  James get messages with hidden clues and begins to follow them not realizing there may be danger ahead.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I did think it is a good middle grade level mystery.  There are some clever puzzles to solve amid the pages that give it a mysterious air.  It was very much a first book in a series as it lays the groundwork for the characters and the world.  I liked Sherlock and his willingness to make friends with James.  His character was very true to form as he is very intelligent and speaks his mind.  I also enjoyed Moria's character,  She is definitely the smarter of the two siblings.  I also enjoyed her friendship with Sherlock.

What I didn't really care for was James.  He was whiny. ungrateful and plain rude.  It wasn't hard to see why he would become an evil mastermind in his later years.  Frankly, as a teen, I found him annoying. The story ends with a lot of unanswered questions that I hope will be answered in the next book.    

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Zero to Sixty by Marie Harte

Author: Marie Harte
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablance
Date of publication:

BAD BOY SAM + GOOD GIRL IVY =
LEARNING TO LOVE AGAIN

After her last disaster of a relationship, Ivy Stephens is content being single. She has her job, her apartment—and the cute little puppy she’s seen hanging around. When he escapes, she finds her search efforts aided by a big, burly, devastatingly handsome man. One who claims a prior claim on her dog.

Sam Hamilton is at loose ends since his best friend fell in love. He finds a sense of purpose in rescuing strays. The puppy who’s stolen his heart just happens to run into blond, beautiful Ivy. And Sam can’t help hoping she’ll take in one more stray—him—for good.



Enjoy this Excerpt:

He stared at her as if he’d never seen a woman before. “You hit me.”
She blushed. “You told me to.”
“I didn’t think you’d really do it that hard. You gave it a whack.” He looked a bit odd. He leaned closer, staring at her, checking for something, apparently.
“What? What’s wrong? I didn’t break it, did I?” She still held his hand, and this time she turned it over, more than aware of their disparity in size.
“Nah. I’m good. But you…” He paused. “You’re not that nice or sweet, are you?”
“What did you say?” She stiffened and would have dropped his huge hand, except he curled it around hers. “Sam, I—” He lowered his head, standing so close she could feel his breath on her lips. All thought left her.
“Not so sweet at all,” he murmured.
The miniscule gap between them closed. Had he moved? Had she?
The feel of his mouth over hers stunned her. So much heat, so much electricity.
He froze and pulled back. “Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—”
Ivy didn’t give a damn. She yanked him back and plastered her mouth over his, needing more of that fire to burn through her, licking up the need and spreading it throughout her body.
For a split second, Sam didn’t move. Then he groaned and wrapped his arms around her back. Before she knew it, he’d lifted her in his arms and seated them on her couch. Her knees straddled his lap, while she continued to kiss him until she couldn’t breathe.
Nothing made sense but getting more of Sam. She squirmed over him, hungry for something just out of reach. His taste, his scent, the sense of such strength underneath her. So much hunger for the man made it impossible to resist when with a large hand, he squeezed her breast.
She moaned against his mouth, aware she was fast losing control. But her kiss had nothing on his. With a subtlety that impressed her, he slowly took charge of the embrace. The masterful way he kissed her, the variated pressure, the softness from such a large, ferocious man, stole her will to do anything but respond. Caged in his arms, lost to desire—hers or his, she couldn’t tell—Ivy followed his lead.


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About the author:


Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. Visit www.marieharte.com and fall in love.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Blog Rout: Guest Post and Excerpt of Tangled in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell

We are excited to have a guest post from author Kari Lynn Dell.  Make sure to check the excerpt from her latest book, Tangled in Texas.  You can also enter to win a copy of the first book in the series, Reckless in Texas, below.  Enjoy!

Title: Tangled in Texas
Series: Texas Rodeo, #2
Author: Kari Lynn Dell
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pub Date: February 7, 2017
ISBN: 9781492631972

It took 32 seconds to end his career.
But it only took 1 to change his life.

Thirty-two seconds. That’s how long it took for Delon Sanchez’s life to end. One minute he was the best bronc rider in the Panhandle and the next he was nothing. Knee shattered, future in question, all he can do is pull together the pieces…and wonder what cruel trick of fate has thrown him into the path of his ex, the oh-so-perfect Tori Patterson.

Tori’s come home after her husband’s death, intent on escaping the public eye. It’s just her luck that Delon limps into her physical therapy office, desperate for help. All hard-packed muscle and dark-eyed temptation, he’s never been anything but a bad idea. And yet, seeing him again, Tori can’t remember what made her choose foolish pride over love…or why, with this second, final chance to right old wrongs, the smartest choice would be to run from this gorgeous rodeo boy as fast as her boots can take her.


Buy Links:

Sortin’ the Herd—How a Real Cowgirl Cuts Off the Strays
By Kari Lynn Dell

Nowadays pretty much anyone can pop online and order up a full set of cowboy duds to wear to their nearest rodeo. Which I think is awesome, by the way. The companies that sell those hats, boots and peart snap shirts are also the sponsors that keep my favorite sport in business. I’d be thrilled to pull into the next rodeo and see a Stetson or Resistol on every head, and Justin or Ariat boots on every pair of feet. But it also makes it harder for a girl to tell…which are the real cowboys, and which are just playing the part?

Luckily, it doesn’t take long to sort off the bleacher buckaroos. I’ve put together a few never-fail tips to help you identify the wanna-be’s, like this one:

He props his elbow on the bar, puffs out his chest until he almost pops his snazzy new pearl snaps, and tells the bartender to bring the little lady a drink. Actually, this one is universal. I don’t care if he’s a pretend cowboy or a real one. Kick him. Preferably someplace that will do a lot of damage. Extra points if you’re wearing boots for inflicting maximum pain—and you don’t spill your beer. Because a real cowgirl always makes sure she gets her free drink first.
Take note of the word in bold face above. When you’ve finished reading about Tangled in Texas and enjoying the excerpt below, come on over to my blog, Montana for Real, to find the rest of my helpful hints. Collect all the of key words and you’ll get a free download of the unofficial soundtrack to Tangled in Texas.

EXCERPT
Tori hunched her shoulders against the chilly breeze and walked around to the side of the building. The staircase was metal, narrow and steep. No way would she let Delon go up those alone. She went back to find him maneuvering his leg out of the car. He hissed in pain when his toe caught on the doorframe. She stepped closer and offered a hand. His fingers were warm and strong as always, but the clasp of his palm against hers felt different.
The calluses were gone. Those hard ridges on the fingers and palm of his riding hand that had been such a raspy, delicious contrast to her most sensitive spots. The nape of her neck. The inside of her thigh. Her nipples. She remembered how he’d smiled when he realized what it did to her—a dangerous smile full of wicked promises.
She let go so abruptly he lost his balance and had to grab the open car door to keep from toppling backward.
“Oops,” she said. “Slipped.”
And fell face first into another hormonal bog. Damn. She really had to get a hold of herself, before she went totally bonkers and tried to get a hold of Delon instead. That would be bad. Because he was her patient—and he was her past. They were both, to paraphrase his words, fucked up. Two broken halves couldn’t make a functional whole. Could they?
“I can make it from here,” he said.
She stepped back, but fell in beside him as he limped around the side of the shop. “Those stairs are treacherous.”
“I’ve had a lot of practice. I’ll be fine.”
“I doubt you were half tanked before. So rather than stand back and watch you roll ass over teakettle down a flight of stairs, I’ll just follow you on up.” His expression went mutinous, his bottom lip poking out, and she laughed outright. “Wow. I bet that’s exactly what Beni looks like when he doesn’t get his way.”
His scowl dissolved into a weary sigh. “It’s been a long day.”
“Tell me about it.” Beginning with her father’s divorce bomb, but she wasn’t thinking about that now.
Delon grasped the stair rail and stepped up with his good leg, then brought his sore leg level. Tori let him get two steps above her, then put her hand on the railing behind his, her upper body canted forward so she had leverage if he started to sway. Her position put his butt directly in her line of sight. Dear Lord, that was one nice butt. She yanked her gaze away, to a trio of trucks parked in a row alongside the shop, the chrome and polished paint of the tractors gleaming under the security lights.
A familiar fascination tugged at her sleeve. Big rigs had a sexy mystique, like modern day stagecoaches, the drivers perched high and proud, all that horsepower at their command. She’d had fantasies about Delon dragging her into one of those sleepers. Carrying her off to crisscross the country, just the two of them on an endless road trip, town after town of strangers who didn’t know or care who her father was. She gazed at the nearest black one, streamlined as a stealth fighter. Climb on in, it whispered. I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.
Her head rammed into Delon’s elbow as he stopped on the landing. When she stumbled, he grabbed the back of her coat and hauled her upright as easily as if she was Beni’s size.
“Good thing you came along to keep me safe,” he deadpanned, then raised his eyebrows. “Were you staring at my trucks?”
At first she thought he said butt, and her face went hot, before she realized he’d caught her checking out the semis. “They’re pretty.”
“Pretty.” He spit the word out in disgust. “Next thing, you’ll call them cute.”
She drew herself up, offended. “Cute is not in my vocabulary.”
“But you do have a thing for trucks.”
“I don’t—”
“It’s okay. Lots of girls do.” His smile was sly, his eyes gleaming with something wild and dangerous.
She suddenly realized they were face to face on the landing, their bodies touching, if you didn’t count the five layers of clothes between them. His hand was still on her shoulder and his fingers tightened fractionally, as if he would pull her even closer. Her heart sprouted legs and launched into a frantic gallop. Oh God. What if he kissed her? She wasn’t ready for that. Was she? If he leaned in and put his mouth on hers, would she shove him away, or devour him?


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About the author:

Kari Lynn Dell is a ranch-raised Montana cowgirl who attended her first rodeo at two weeks old and has existed in a state of horse-induced poverty ever since. She lives on the Blackfeet Reservation in her parents' bunkhouse along with her husband, her son, and Max the Cowdog, with a tipi on her lawn, Glacier National Park on her doorstep and Canada within spitting distance. Her debut novel, The Long Ride Home, was published in 2015. She also writes a ranch and rodeo humor column for several regional newspapers and a national agricultural publication.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mayhem by Jamie Shaw

Author: Jamie Shaw
Publisher: Avon
Date of publication: January 2015

When college freshman Rowan Michaels meets gorgeous, up-and-coming rock star Adam Everest, she knows a player like him is the last thing she needs after her ex-boyfriend shattered her heart. But she can't stop thinking about the kiss they shared on his tour bus.
On the first day of school, Rowan is stunned when Adam saunters into her French class. He's soon failing miserably, and, on a whim, she offers to tutor him. But Adam doesn't recognize her as a makeup-free, glasses-clad college student—a far cry from the beautiful, mysterious "Peach" he met at his concert.

Mayhem is the first in a series about an up and coming band finding love.  It's very much a new Adult book as the characters are under the age of 22.  Rowan has just started her freshman year in college when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her.  Adam is an upcoming rock star who has no shortage of women, but after meeting "Peach", he can't get her out of his mind.  

I thought this was a sweet story.  I liked that Rowan and Adam actually become friends before really becoming lovers. In actuality, I thought this was fairly mild on the steam level for a "New Adult" book.  Was it anything new that I haven't read before?  Not really, but I ended up enjoying watching these two characters fall in love with each other. The one thing I would have really liked was to have Adam's side throughout the book, not just in the epilogue.  The peripheral characters in the book were amusing, especially the boys in the band.  I want to read their stories now.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins


Author: Suzanne Collins
First published in 2003 by Scholastic Press

This irresistible first novel tells the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny -- and find his father -- in a strange world beneath New York City.

When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.


I wasn't really overly thrilled with The Hunger Games  but I was intrigued to see how this author did writing a middle grade book.  Gregor the Overlander is a story about an 11YO boy and his 2 YO sister who end up on a quest to save the underworld and find their father. 

I thought this was a great middle grade level book.  I know I'll be recommending it to my 5th grader.  Gregor is a great character for kids to relate to, especially boys. While he has to be brave and go on this quest to fulfill a prophecy, the reader is also allowed to see him scared and vulnerable.  There are also great messages about loyalty and family.  

I would recommend this to any middle grade reader who likes adventures.  There are a couple of deaths in the book.  One of them hit me right in the heart.  So, you might want to take that into consideration.  This is the first int he series.  I'd love to check out the other books to see what adventure Gregor gets involved with next.



Blog Tour: Tough Justice Countdown #1 by Carla Cassidy

TOUGH JUSTICE COUNTDOWN
This action-packed thriller unfolds in eight gripping installments, each written by top authors including Carla Cassidy, Tyler Anne Snell, Emmy Curtis and Janie Crouch.

About Tough Justice Countdown (Part 1 of 8)

Print Length: 85 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases 
Date of publication: February 1, 2017

Tick. Tock. BOOM.
FBI Special Agent Lara Grant had thought that she’d put her past behind her—finally—with her last case. But now a serial bomber is targeting Manhattan’s elite power players, offering them a choice between saving hundreds of lives or seeing their darkest secrets exposed. Lara is working with the Crisis Management Unit to stop the bomber, but how will she react when she’s the one who has to choose between truth…or death?

Tough Justice Countdown is a thriller written by 4 different authors and is being released in eight installments.  For this tour, I read the first installment written by Carla Cassidy.  Lara Grady is an FBI agent who works for the Crisis Management Unit.  She and her team are tasked with finding out who is setting off bombs in the city.

I definitely enjoyed the first installment.  I was sucked in enough that I am looking forward to finishing out the series to see what happened next.  I do have some mixed feelings about not having read the first series involving these characters.  I think readers would benefit from reading the first set before this one.  In the recaps, there are some spoilers that I fear might ruin things if I go back and read series one after this one.  At the same time, the recaps did allow me to see more into the characters to get a feel for them in this installment.  I never really felt like I was missing anything  that took away from my enjoyment.

I look forward to reading the rest of the installments.  I want to know who is bombing New York City and why.



Part 1 of 8: an explosive new installment in the thrilling FBI serial from New York Times bestselling author Carla Cassidy and Tyler Anne Snell, Emmy Curtis and Janie Crouch.
For more information on the Tough Justice series, visit toughjusticeseries.com.




Purchase Links

TLC TOUR STOPS for TOUGH JUSTICE COUNTDOWN:
Wednesday, February 1st: Books and Spoons
Friday, February 3rd: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, February 6th: Staircase Wit
Tuesday, February 7th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, February 8th: Bibliotica
Thursday, February 9th: Back Porchervations
Monday, February 13th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, February 15th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, February 16th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, February 17th: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, February 21st: Becky on Books

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blog Tour: Riveted by Jay Crownover



Author: Jay Crownover
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: February 2017

Everyone else in Dixie Carmichael’s life has made falling in love look easy, and now she is ready for her own chance at some of that happily ever after. Which means she’s done pining for the moody, silent former soldier who works with her at the bar that’s become her home away from home. Nope. No more chasing the hot as heck thundercloud of a man and no more waiting for Mr. Right to find her; she’s going hunting for him...even if she knows her heart is stuck on its stupid infatuation with Dash Churchill.

Denver has always been just a pit stop for Church on his way back to rural Mississippi. It was supposed to be simple, uneventful, but nothing could have prepared him for the bubbly, bouncy redhead with doe eyes and endless curves. Now he knows it’s time to get out of Denver, fast. For a man used to living in the shadows, the idea of spending his days in the sun is nothing short of terrifying.

When Dixie and Church find themselves caught up in a homecoming overshadowed with lies and danger, Dixie realizes that while falling in love is easy, loving takes a whole lot more work…especially when Mr. Right thinks he’s all wrong for you. 

 ADD RIVETED TO YOUR GOODREADS

I honestly think that Ms. Crownover could write the phone book and make it an amazing read.  I have decided that I am making a separate book boyfriend list with just Marked Men and Saints of Denver men on it.  Church is close to the top.  I have been looking forward to reading Church and Dixie's story for a while  There is always a fear that I won't end up loving a couple who have been circling around each other for a few books in a series.  I should know by now to trust in this author.

I loved this couple.  Dixie was a breath of fresh air and I really enjoyed watching her break down Church's walls. It's always fun watching an alpha fall in love.  The friendship these two had made their HEA that much sweeter.  One of the things that I love about this author is the emotion she pours into her writing.  That scene with Church and his dad, Jules had me choking up.  I didn't mind that this books doesn't really take place in Denver.  I loved meeting Church's family and I hope that we get to visit Lowry again in the future.

There is a little mystery entwined into the love story. I'm not going to go into plot points because I don't want to ruin it.  Just go read it.  It's a sweet story about two people who find their light in each other.


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About Jay Crownover:


Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.  



Follow along with the tour here!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Enforcer's Price by Sarah Hawthorne


Author: Sarah Hawthorne
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Demon Horde #1
Release Date: February 6, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781488024412

A man looking for redemption
Colt spent eight months in prison for trusting the wrong woman, nearly bringing down his entire motorcycle club in the process. Now he needs to fix the MC's cash flow problems or watch the only family he's ever known fall apart.
Meeting Krista wasn't part of his mission.
Falling for her could mean his destruction.

A single mom trying to get by
Krista was ready to leave hooking behind when her ex cleaned out her bank account. Stuck working to provide for her daughter, she protects herself with one rule: never get involved with someone at the club.
Not that she wants to. Sex has become a job, a means to an end.

One night together as an escape
Krista's body wakes at Colt's touch, allowing her to imagine a life after the MC. A future. A happily-ever-after, if only briefly. Krista brings out feelings in Colt he forgot could exist. But just as he begins to trust again, Krista's truth is revealed - testing the very boundaries of Colt's jealousy and faith.

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available at:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

Look for Rebel Custody (Demon Horde #2) & Outlaw Ride (Demon Horde #3) releasing in May 2017 and September 2017 with Carina Press!


Enjoy this excerpt:

“That was good, right?” He propped himself on an elbow. “You know I want you. But you gotta be up for this as well. All of it. Not just once, but something real.”
I wanted to say yes. I wanted to tell him that we were going to live happily ever after. Whatever I was doing right now could not continue. I’d lose all the business from the guys and Becky and I would be broke. But a little fling. I could have that, right? One night where I could feel wanted, cherished, loved.
I looked into his eyes and whispered, “I want you.”
It was the only thing I could promise right now. I knew he wanted more, but I couldn’t give him that. I could only give him right now.
His arms went rigid. “No. Not just want, not just now. Tell me this is more than just a quick fuck for you. Tell me you want more, or I’m going to stop.” His eyes were steel as they searched mine.

Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Hawthorne

Praise for Enforcer’s Price:

“I’ve been looking forward to Enforcer’s Price since the moment I learned the premise, and I’m happy to say that this debut novel by Sarah Hawthorne doesn’t disappoint. Edgy and real, Enforcer’s Price grabs at your heart and doesn’t let go!” -- J. Kenner/Julie Kenner, New York Times & #1 International bestselling author

“I loved Enforcer’s Price. It’s a wild ride showing the gritty side of love in an MC.” -- Jade Chandler, author of the Jericho Brotherhood series

“Enforcer's Pride is a wild ride. It gets you in the feels and keeps going. It's a dark and gritty MC romance, and I can't wait for more.” -- Jade Chandler, author of the Jericho Brotherhood series


“Enforcer’s Price is a sexy romance with spicy, cagey, and memorable characters who need to make the right choices this time around or forfeit everything. The plot is believable and has intense moments that leave the reader breathless. Hawthorne writes with passion and honesty.” -- Romantic Times


Sarah is offering one (1) lucky winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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About Sarah Hawthorne:

Sarah Hawthorne lives in the Pacific Northwest and drinks coffee in the winter and champagne in the summer. She enjoys writing, gardening and planning vacations. Please visit Sarah at www.sarahhawthorne.com.


Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon


Monday, February 13, 2017

Release Tour: Excerpt of Crossing Hearts by Kimberly Kincaid



Author: Kimberley Kincaid
Publisher: Montlake
Date of publication: February 2017

Hunter Cross has no regrets. Having left his football prospects behind the day he graduated high school, he’s happy to carry out his legacy on his family’s farm in the foothills of the Shenandoah. But when a shoulder injury puts him face-to-face with the high school sweetheart who abandoned town—and him—twelve years ago, Hunter’s simple life gets a lot more complicated.

Emerson Montgomery has secrets. Refusing to divulge why she left her job as a hotshot physical therapist for a pro football team, she struggles to readjust to life in the hometown she left behind. The more time she spends with Hunter, the more Emerson finds herself wanting to trust him with the diagnosis of MS that has turned her world upside down.

But revealing secrets comes with a price. Can Hunter and Emerson rekindle their past love? Or will the realities of the present—and the trust that goes with them—burn that bridge for good?

(The setup is that heroine Emerson has just come back to her hometown of Millhaven after twelve years and is working as a physical therapist)

"I’ve got a patient for you, so I thought I’d pop over to see if you have an opening today," Doc Sanders said.

Emerson thought of her schedule, complete with the tumbleweeds blowing through its wide- open spaces, and bit back the urge to laugh with both excitement and irony. “I’m sure I can fit someone in. What’s the injury?”

“Rotator cuff. X-rays and MRI are complete, and Dr. Norris, the orthopedist in Camden Valley, ordered PT. But the patient is local, so I figured if you could take him, it’d be a win-win.”

“Of course.” An odd sensation plucked up Emerson’s spine at the long-buried memory of a blue-eyed high school boy with his arm in a sling and a smile that could melt her like butter in a cast-iron skillet. “Um, my schedule is pretty flexible. What time did he want to come in?”

“Actually, he’s a little anxious to get started, so he came directly here from the ortho’s office . . .”

Doc Sanders turned toward the hallway leading to her waiting room, where a figure had appeared in the doorframe. Emerson blinked, trying to get her brain to reconcile the free-flowing confusion between the boy in her memory and the man standing in front of her. The gray-blue eyes were the same, although a tiny bit more weathered around the edges, and weirdly, the sling was also a match. But the person staring back at her was a man, with rough edges and sex appeal for days, full of hard angles and harder muscles under his jeans and T-shirt . . .

Hunter Cross.

Emerson stood with her feet anchored to the linoleum, unable to move or speak or even breathe. For the smallest scrap of a second, she tumbled back in time, her heart pounding so hard beneath her crisp white button-down that surely the traitorous thing would jump right out of her chest.

A blanket of stars littering the August sky . . . the warm weight of Hunter’s varsity jacket wrapped around her shoulders . . . the warmer fit of his mouth on hers as the breeze carried his whispers, full of hope . . . “Don’t go to New York. Stay with me, Em. Marry me and stay here in Millhaven where we’ll always have this, just you and me . . .”

“Emerson? What . . . what the hell are you doing here?”

The deeper, definitely more rugged-around-the-edges version of his voice tipped the scales of her realization all the way into the present. She needed to say something, she knew, she knew, but her mouth had gone so dry that she’d have better luck rocketing to the moon in a paper airplane right now.

“I work here,” Emerson finally managed, the truth of the words—of what they meant—delivering her back to reality with a hard snap. She hadn’t returned to Millhaven for a jaunt down memory lane. Hell, she’d only come back when her process of elimination had dead-ended in total despair. She was here for one thing, and one thing only. To bury herself in as much work as her body would allow.

Even if her first client probably hated her guts.







Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.