Monday, January 26, 2015

Marin McGinnis and SHAKING UP THE VISCOUNT

Stirring Up the Viscount
releasing from The Wild Rose Press on January 30, 2015

Blurb:

Seeking to escape an abusive husband, Theodora Ravensdale answers an ad in The Times for a job as cook in a country home. A fortuitous house fire enables her to fake her own death and flee to northern England and live under an assumed name. But Theodora’s refuge is not all she would wish, when she stirs emotions in the heir to the estate, Jonathan Tenwick, and in herself.

Meanwhile, as the connection between Theodora and Jonathan grows, her husband learns she did not perish in the fire, and searches for her. Fearing he is close to finding her, Theodora must flee again to protect the family and the viscount for whom she cares deeply. In the final confrontation with her husband, Theodora learns she is stronger than she ever knew, and love is worth fighting for.

Buy links: The Wild Rose Press
        Amazon

Excerpt:

She watched, mesmerized, as the grease flared and flames began to lick the seasoned wood of the counter.

She blinked, as much from the smoke beginning to sting her eyes as from the realization she didn’t have to swim in the Thames. She hurried to the hole in the wall where she had stashed the satchel. She removed it and replaced the brick. Her gaze darted around the room as the smoke grew thicker. She spotted the cookery book her mother had given her when she married, and on an impulse she grabbed it, clasping it to her chest as she began to cough.

Theodora rushed toward the door and grabbed a light wrap off a peg. She stowed the book in her satchel and adjusted the wrap around her shoulders. When she opened the door, the fire behind her roared with the added oxygen. She closed it quickly and inhaled great gulps of air.

Her eyes burned, her head ached, but she walked quickly around the house to the street. Fortunately Christopher Street was nearly deserted at this late hour. She stole a glance at the house behind her and saw smoke starting to curl around the windows. She spared Lucien a thought. It wouldn’t be long before someone noticed the smoke, and he wasn’t a particularly heavy sleeper. The chances were excellent he would wake in time to escape.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts. There was no time for regret, and certainly no room for compassion. Not for him.


As she rounded the corner onto Back Hill, she heard someone cry, “Fire!”

About Marin:

Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. She writes smart and sexy tales of Victorian-era romance.

When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tween-aged children skate around Ohio hockey rinks, you can find her hanging out at marinmcginnis.com, on her group blog at throughheartshapedglasses.com, on Twitter @MarinMcGinnis, or Facebook at facebook.com/MarinMcG.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sneak Peek Sunday with ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE!

I'm happy to be back at Sneak Peek Sunday! Today I want to talk about my upcoming release ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE, which will be releasing from The Wild Rose Press on February 6, 2015. Here's a blurb:

Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?


In the six paragraphs I've posted here, Julia and Alex meet when she takes her injured five year old daughter to the emergency room where he works. Suspecting child abuse, Alex brings in someone from Social Services to talk to the little girl:

“We’ll soon find out. Sharon is questioning Ava now.”

Julia stared at the door. “She’ll be scared, all by herself.”

“Sharon’s very good at what she does. She has a way of making kids feel comfortable.”

Julia turned on him, the anger and despair she’d been holding inside spilling out. “And you? Do you enjoy upsetting five-year-olds and turning families’ lives upside down? Does it make you feel powerful to sic the authorities on us?”

“Look, Mrs. Stewart, I take no pleasure in bringing in the authorities. But I’ve seen child abuse, up close and personal, and I can tell you it’s damn ugly. The things parents and caregivers are capable of doing to defenseless children…”

He stopped abruptly, his chest heaving. Closing his eyes, he averted his face and took a deep breath. When he turned back to her, his steely control was back in place. “So yeah, if I have even the smallest suspicion that a child has been abused, I’m going to ask questions. And I’m not going to apologize for it.”

Pre-order links for ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE:



To check out more Sneak Peeks, return to the Sneak Peak Sunday website.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE coming soon!

I'm very excited about my new contemporary romance which releases on February 6, 2015. ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE is now available for pre-order! Yay! You can order your ecopy from Amazon.



Here's a blurb:

Dr. Alex Campbell has an agenda—finish his contract to provide medical services in Maine, pay off his medical school debt, and head back to his real life in San Diego. But when he meets Julia, all his carefully laid plans are put in jeopardy.

Julia Stewart, Lobster Cove’s high school principal, swears she’ll never let another man drag her away from the home she loves. Her aging parents need her, and the Cove is where she wants to raise her daughter. When her mother’s illness brings her and the big city doctor closer together, panic sets in. Her marriage taught her men don’t stay.

Can she put aside the heartaches of the past and trust Alex enough to accept the love he’s offering? Or will her fear of abandonment mean she’ll send him away forever?

Excerpt:

“What did the x-ray find?” she asked.

“A spiral fracture of the right arm.” He paused for a moment and took a deep breath as if trying to control his emotions. “I’ve seen this kind of injury before. A fracture like this can be the result of a fall, but it can also be an indication of child abuse. An arm as small as Ava’s will break like a twig if it’s twisted hard enough. I’m obligated to contact the authorities if I suspect abuse.”

Julia stared at him in mute shock, her brain struggling to process his words, as if trying to translate some unintelligible language. The words child abuse rang in her ears. Finally she found her voice.

“You think someone deliberately hurt her?”

“Her injuries are consistent with abuse.”

“I don’t give a damn what they’re consistent with. Ava has not been mistreated. My mother said she fell down the stairs, and if that’s what she said, then that’s what happened.”

“I believe there’s more to the story than a simple fall.”

“If it comes down to believing you or believing my mother, I’m going with my mother.”

“Perhaps you don’t know your mother as well as you think you do.”

Julia sucked in a breath and stared into Dr. Campbell’s dark, accusing eyes. The idea that her mother would hurt Ava was ridiculous. She adored Ava, would do anything for her…

She blinked and looked away, remembering an incident the other day. She’d heard her yelling at Ava about the milk she’d spilled on the kitchen floor, making such a huge deal of it that Ava had cried. It had struck her as strange, since she couldn’t remember her mother yelling at anyone, ever. She wasn’t as patient as she used to be. And how did she explain her strange phone call telling her Ava had been hurt? Of course she’d been upset, but her mother had been nearly incoherent with distress. Was something going on she wasn’t aware of? She was seventy-one now. Maybe looking after a rambunctious five-year-old was too much for her.

No. She shook her head to reject the disloyal thought. Dr. Campbell was the one who was wrong.

“I know my mother. She didn’t do this. It was an accident.”

“We’ll soon find out. Sharon is questioning Ava now.”

Julia stared at the door. “She’ll be scared, all by herself.”

“Sharon’s very good at what she does. She has a way of making kids feel comfortable.”

Julia turned on him, the anger and despair she’d been holding inside spilling out. “And you? Do you enjoy upsetting five-year-olds and turning families’ lives upside down? Does it make you feel powerful to sic the authorities on us?”

“Look, Mrs. Stewart, I take no pleasure in bringing in the authorities. But I’ve seen child abuse, up close and personal, and I can tell you it’s damn ugly. The things parents and caregivers are capable of doing to defenseless children…”

He stopped abruptly, his chest heaving. Closing his eyes, he averted his face and took a deep breath. When he turned back to her, his steely control was back in place. “So yeah, if I have even the smallest suspicion that a child has been abused, I’m going to ask questions. And I’m not going to apologize for it.”

ONE MORE SECOND CHANCE is part of the Lobster Cove series from The Wild Rose Press. I hope you'll order your ecopy from Amazon today!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Jane Leopold Quinn and THE REAL DEAL

The Real Deal
The Second Birchwood Falls Book
by Jane Leopold Quinn
Ellora's Cave



Jane says:

Birchwood Falls is a town I created, even drew a map, a crude map.  The first book in the series is Lost and Found - http://amzn.com/B00I8NS0X0 - and features Marc and Phoebe, the Marine and the jazz singer.  Mike Banning, Marc's closest friend, gets his own story in The Real Deal with Norah Ballard.  Mike loves his small town and wants to share it with the big city lawyer and runaway bride, Norah.



Blurb:

When her fiancé is busted at a gentlemen's club, attorney Norah Ballard calls off the wedding. Shocked and humiliated, she grabs her suitcase and takes the first train out of town.

Easygoing teacher Michael Banning spots the new woman in town and recognizes her from college. She's even more gorgeous and sophisticated now. He's no longer the nerd he was back then, and now that she's on his turf, he's going to touch and taste every sleek, beautiful inch of her. Whatever her reason is for being in his town, he'll fulfill all her desires so she never wants to leave. Norah won't let another man—no matter how sweet, smart and sexy—get close enough to hurt her again. Mike's passionate pursuit of her, the way he seems to know just how to arouse her, turns her into the wanton woman she hadn't known she was.

He's accused in a local scandal, something he wasn't involved in. Birchwood Falls is in danger of flooding. He has a hell of a lot on his plate. When Mike’s in trouble, Norah's going to be there to help him. And when Birchwood Falls is in trouble, she's going to help the town she's fallen in love with too.

Excerpt - PG-rated:

“Hey, Mom, I’m home.”

She ducked her head and peered over her shoulder at the sound of the deep male voice uttering a little boy’s words. A tall, lean figure strode briskly through the door from the kitchen and a sharp breath stuck for a moment in her lungs. The downright handsome man seemed to fill the room with his boisterous voice and happy grin. He’d swung his arms wide as if embracing everything in his sight.

“Got any cookies?”

There was no way she could squelch her snort. She covered her lips in embarrassment when she realized he’d heard and was staring at her. “Sorry,” she mumbled and quickly shifted her gaze back to her beer. He looked vaguely familiar but she couldn’t quite place him. How could she? She didn’t live here.

“Hey, no problem.” He winked. “You’re never too old for cookies and milk after school, are you, Mom?”

“No, sweetie.”

School? Too old to be a student, Sweetie was a gorgeous hunk of a man with inky-black hair obvious even in the dim bar, a long face, strong nose and square chin. His khakis fit him to a T flaunting his flat belly and narrow hips. A white shirt, open at the neck with long sleeves rolled up over muscular forearms, gleamed in the low light. He stood with one hand on his hip, the other hooking a sport coat slung over his shoulder. When he turned his back to go behind the bar, she took note of his gorgeous butt and took a hasty sip of beer to cool off her imaginings. What the hell’s happening to me?

Hanging the jacket on a hook behind the bar, he tied a waiter’s apron around his waist and ran a rag over the already clean bar. Sweetie whistled along with the old songs and was pretty good at it. She felt like she was in Disneyland or Mayberry, somewhere happy.

Glancing at her, his gaze narrowing and lingering, he said, “You okay, miss?”

She lifted her mug and nodded. A few more people came in and the place got noisier. One man, his dark hair tied back in a ponytail, took a stool at the bar and leaned over it. Sweetie pointed to a table where both men sat down. She watched his face, which wasn’t a hardship. His expressions went from a friendly smile, to eyes wide in shock, to a frown of distress.

The Real Deal is available here:
http://www.ellorascave.com/the-real-deal.html 
http://amzn.com/B00RVY0AGW

Janes's Bio:

Sensual fantasies were locked in my mind for years until a friend said, "Why don't you write them down?" Why not, indeed? One spiral notebook, a pen and the unleashing of my imagination later, and here I am with more than a dozen books published. The craft of writing erotic romance has become my passion and my niche in life. I love every part of the creative process — developing characters, designing the plot, even drawing the layout of physical spaces from my stories. My careers have been varied — third grade school teacher, bookkeeper, secretary — none of which gave me a bit of inspiration. But now I'm lucky enough to write romance full time — the best job in the universe!

Jane's Books
Ellora's Cave
Lost and Found
The Real Deal

Indie
Valentine's Day
His Hers & His
The Keeper
Soldier, Come Home
Winning Violetta
A Promise at Dawn
Jake and Ivy
Wooing the Librarian
Home to Stay
The Long Road to You (coming February 5, 2015)

Siren
Undercover Lover
Mercenary Desires
I'll Be Your Last

Jane Leopold Quinn
My Romance:  Love With a Scorching Sensuality

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Release Day! STORMEE WATERS by Lynda Coker

Today is release day for Lynda Coker's new contemporary sweet romance, STORMEE WATERS.
Happy Release Day, Lynda!


Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters Stormee Waters and a backwash of trouble...

Stormee Waters knows about hard times. Needing to care for her aging grandmother and teenage brother, she moves to Houston, Texas and takes a writing job for a popular magazine. Her first assignment is to interview a successful business man for a series of articles entitled, Make My Man Texas-Sized. Her target, Dirk Savage, appears to have the right criteria. He's adventurous with the air of a conqueror. Admired by his peers and coveted by beauty queens and debutantes, he's just the type of man that Stormee needs to make her first article sizzle and sell. But can she handle the heat when she catches his attention?

Dirk Savage is used to acquiring what he wants, except in the illusive quest for the one woman who can fill his heart. The shock of discovering her in the naive young woman assigned to interview him sets his jaded emotions on high alert. Can he convince her that his pursuit is genuine?

Here's an excerpt:

“How old are you?” His tone possessed a clipped edge of exasperation.

What does my age matter? Mortified, she fidgeted with the small purse she held in her lap.
“Twe—twenty-three.”

“You blush and fidget like a little girl.”

To her astonishment, and with more force than necessary, he closed her door, circled the car, and
slipped back behind the wheel. A few minutes later, he parked in front of the Stardust Restaurant. This time, when her door opened, he helped her out and led her toward the restaurant’s entrance, stopping just short to maneuver her into a secluded niche in the building’s exterior.

With her back against the rock wall, Stormee muttered, “What are you doing?”

“Time to make up for leaving me standing in your doorway.”

Shock kept her immobile, while the sweetest pleasure she’d ever experienced sensitized her mouth
beyond bearing. With unhurried, soft kisses, he explored the corners of her clenched lips. Mrs. Stanton’s warning echoed in her ears. “Remember to keep it professional, Stormee. He’s not the kind of man you’re used to dealing with.” She pushed away the annoying memory as he wet her bottom lip with his tongue.


Author Bio:


Lynda is an author of contemporary romance that lingers in a reader’s mind long after they’ve closed the book. She lives in Northeast Texas with her husband of fifty years. They enjoy traveling, trying new foods, spending time with family and friends, and doing community service work together. When she feels the need to take a break from writing, she enjoys creating fabric art. She offers an open invitation to view both her writing and fabric art on her blog.

Blog:  http://betweenthelinesandmore.blogspot.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lyndacoker

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lyndacoker

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/lyndacoker/

Buy Links: (Release - January 14th)

The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=6034

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00R9YQZTK

Stormee Waters Launch Giveaway Link:  http://betweenthelinesandmore.blogspot.com/p/stormee-waters-launch-giveaway.html

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Today's Guest - Iris Blobel and LET ME LOVE YOU

Today my guest is Iris Blobel, and she's here with her new book LET ME LOVE YOU, a contemporary, sports-themed romance.

Blurb:
Oliver Dempsey, pitcher for a Melbourne baseball club, loves the women, and they love him…
But he keeps them at an arm’s length, and when he meets Tamara, he’s unprepared for the attraction he feels for her.  Told by his coach that she’s off limits, only draws him in more.

Tamara Amis moved to Melbourne to find some distance between her past and herself…
With the help of her uncle, the coach of a Melbourne baseball club, she quickly finds a job, and a place to live. Yet, one meeting with the handsome pitcher stirs unexpected emotions that threaten to overwhelm her.

It’s Oliver’s injury that brings them together, but as they find out about each other’s pasts, how can they be ready to share a future?


Excerpt:
Sweat ran down Oliver’s back, soaking his shirt. He’d been on the field for a couple of hours, but frustration grew in him with every ball he missed. He placed his hands on his knees and took a deep breath, fixing his stare at the ground. For Pete’s sake, he was a pitcher, not a hitter, and well known for his fastballs as well as his perfect curveballs. Alas, he had neglected his hitting. Today, his swing was below average, and, unable to focus, he walked over to the bench where he spotted Coach Becker shaking his head towards him.

Pointing his finger back towards the field, the coach said, “Head right back out there, Oliver. You need to improve your hand-eye coordination. I want to see more, and better.”

Oliver cursed under his breath. “It’s not going to happen. My shoulder’s killing me. It’s been a long day.”

Coach Erik Becker rubbed his face.

“It’s not gonna happen today,” Oliver persisted.

With a grimace on his face, his coach nodded.

"Righteo, call it a day. But I want you back out there again in the morning, though.”

Oliver eased off his gloves and shoved them into his back pocket, before removing his helmet.
The coach gave him a gentle slap on his back. “I need you to concentrate more tomorrow. Remember what I told you. You need to focus on your proper stance as well as swinging the bat. Keep your eye on the ball as it comes towards you. Try to connect the bat with the ball, preferably at the fat of the bat. We have a game coming up soon. Go and deal with the shoulder issue. Check in for a massage.”

Oliver wiped his forehead with his arm when he noticed a woman standing in the coach’s shadow. Raising his eyebrows, he nodded towards her as to ask who she was.

Erik turned slightly. “Oliver, this is my niece, Tamara. She’s moved here from Perth. Tamara, this is Oliver.”

Oliver extended his hand towards her. “Nice meeting you.”

She ignored his hand and took a step back. Taken aback by her reaction, Oliver instinctively checked his hand for dirt or sweat. Questioningly, he looked at his coach.

Erik ignored the situation and simply said, “Have your shower and see me before you head off to discuss your training schedule.”

Nodding, Oliver took another quick look at Tamara. For a brief moment, their eyes met, and he was puzzled by her expression. It seemed as if her intense blue eyes were trying to hide something. The distant look in them was almost mysterious, and combined with her body language, he couldn’t help but get the impression something was wrong. She was very guarded.

With one last look towards Tamara, Oliver turned and left.

As soon as he got to the locker room, he peeled off his t-shirt. Pain shot through him the instant he lifted his right shoulder. He’d been ignoring the twinge during the training session, but knew he had to have it looked at. The fucking skateboard rider had nearly knocked him over the previous day when he came out of nowhere. Oliver hadn’t had a chance to move out of the way fast enough and slammed his shoulder into a post.

He slowly stripped out of his track pants before grabbing a can of Coke out of his bag. Leaning against the wall, he chugged half of the drink while enjoying the quietness around him. Everyone else was still out on the field trying to please Coach Becker. He choked a laugh, hoping his mates would put Erik in a better mood than he had. They had a few important games over the next few weeks before the season ended, and for the first time in years, the club was doing well.

As he walked to the showers, he thought about his training session and wondered whether his shoulder was to blame for the bad hits, or his lack of training. But who was he kidding, he always liked to throw everything he had at people, yet was hopeless in receiving anything thrown at him. That applied in baseball and in life. When he’d been to see his first baseball game as a kid in Los Angeles, he’d known he was born to pitch.

Author:
Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper only emerged a few years back, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog. Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Buy Links:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Welcome Sara Walter Ellwood and GAMBLING ON A SECRET!



Gambling On A Secret

Book 1 of The Colton Gamblers….

In anticipation of the June release of Book 3: Gambling On A Dream, Kensington Publishing has put Book 1: Gambling On A Secret on sale!

***ON SALE FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY FOR $0.99***

Blurb:

When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

COVER QUOTE: “Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author.

Ms. Brown also named Gambling On A Secret as one of her favorite romance reads in 2012 in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today.

“HONESTLY this was a FABULOUS read. Gambling on a Secret is a gripping, entertaining and an absolutely delightful romantic read which is set in the town of Colton located in Texas. Sara Walter Ellwood has scored with this book. This has been one of my favourite reads for 2013…” Read the rest of this 5 Satin Pillow review at Satin Sheets Romance .

Excerpt:

Dylan regarded her for a long moment and cocked a brow. Damn, was he making fun of her? He looked her up and down. “Wouldn’t a woman like you be more comfortable getting manicures and massages in a Dallas spa, not worrying about cattle breeds and barn roofs? It’s no secret around town you’re the heiress to the Monroe Farm Equipment fortune, and you sold a huge ranch in Oklahoma your grandfather left you. Why on Earth did you buy a dump like this?”

Now he’d pissed her off. Charli might have more money than she’d ever dreamed of having. She might like to dress in designer clothes, but it was none of this jerk’s business which ranch she bought. Or why she wanted it. She had a business plan and a vision for the ranch; what else mattered? “I happen to like this place. It suits me better than the ranch I sold.”

“Is that so? Did you bring any equipment with you? A tractor, a planter, hay mower, baler, anything?”

He would bring up one of the stupidest things she’d done. Sighing, she admitted, “I sold the equipment with the ranch when I decided to leave Oklahoma. One more reason I need a manager.”
Her cheeks burned. “When I sold the ranch after inheriting it, I didn’t intend to buy another.”

“Why did you buy another ranch?” He slid his gaze back to hers and peered at her as if he could read her every thought--but what had her swallowing hard was the spark of something hot in his eyes.

She tightened her arms in the hug she gave herself--a self-protecting, insecure gesture she’d acquired while she lived with her abusive lover in Las Vegas as a teenage runaway.

“Buying a ranch the size of this one isn’t something most folks just wake up and decide to do, Miss Monroe. A ten-thousand-acre spread takes commitment and dedication and is damned hard work.”

Yeah, she knew that.

He looked down at her multicolored Manolo Blahnik five-inch heeled slides. The ghost of a smile touched his lips again, but this time little crinkles formed at the corners of his eyes, which held a spark of interest she didn’t want.

Damn, he was good-looking. She squelched that notion like the roach she’d killed earlier in the house. Hadn’t her life with Ricardo taught her a handsome face meant nothing but trouble?

“I can’t imagine you stuffing those pampered and polished feet into rubber boots to muck around in the barn.”

Me, either. But she would if she had to.

She drew in a breath and dropped her arms to her sides. “I think we should get back to asking questions about you. When your sister called about my newspaper ad, she said you were exactly what I’m looking for.”

He shrugged again in a not-a-care-in-the-world way again. What was this guy’s problem? If she weren’t running out of time, she would tell him to leave. She couldn’t waste this year, which meant she had to get someone hired. And her prospects were limited.

“Can you do the job?”

“Affirmative.”

She waited for him to elaborate, but when he didn’t, she frowned. “Do you have any references?”

“I expected you to ask. Everything you need to know should be in here.”

She moved closer and took the folded sheet of paper he held out the window. After glancing at it, she wasn’t surprised it was a resume, but his listed experience had her heart beating a little faster. She looked up at him. “You have a degree in agricultural business from Texas A & M, started up your own ranch and served in the Army?”

He looked off in the distance. “I was in the service for thirteen years, three years in the Corps of Engineers, four in Airborne and the last six in Special Forces.” His jaw clenched, making his face the chiseled block of cold stone again. “And I know something about building. When I wasn’t deployed, I built the house and barn on my two-hundred acre ranch.”

“You don’t own the ranch now?”

“No. My ex-wife got it in our divorce settlement. I planned to get out of the Army after my last tour in Afghanistan and raise cattle. But things never happen the way we want them to.”

The bitterness of his tone had her stepping away. She shivered again and busied herself with looking at the resume. Whatever his ex-wife had done to him, it wasn’t good. “Your reference list is pretty skimpy.”

“The first name is my old commander, but I just got word he’s shipped out on a secret mission.”

Something wasn’t adding up. Either he was hiding something or his sister had lied about his experience. “Your sister said you worked on Oak Springs Ranch while in high school, but it’s not listed on your resume. Are you related to the owner, Leon Ferguson? You said your mother grew up there.”

His eyes narrowed and his lips thinned into a tight line. “Leon is my mother’s stepbrother. While my grandfather was still alive and ran the ranch, I worked there until I joined the Army after he died. I chose not to mention it.”

But why? She didn’t press the matter. She wasn’t seriously considering him for the job anyway, was she?

She studied the resume again. “Brenda Dailey. Is this person off-limits, too? Or can I speak with her?”

“My ex-wife. I’d appreciate it if you don’t involve her. I put her on there because of the ranch.”

She looked up at him. “The divorce that bad, huh?”

Dylan shrugged and looked away. He gripped the top of the steering wheel hard enough to whiten his knuckles. “Suppose it’s no secret. Our divorce has only been final four months, and she married her baby-daddy the day after it became official. You figure it out.”

“Ouch. Okay, I won’t call your ex. Nevertheless, I’d like to see your house. Your sister mentioned you were a carpenter.” She glanced at the address of his former ranch. “Killeen’s south of here?”

He nodded. “It’s your two hours and tank of gas.”

“Thank you for stopping by. Your number’s on here. I’ll call you.”

“Thanks for your time, Miss Monroe. Good luck with this place.” He looked around at the buildings and over her before he turned the key in the ignition. The rusted bucket of bolts sputtered and the starter groaned before the engine turned over.

As he pulled away, she looked at the piece of paper in her shaky hand and studied his name at the top.
Damn, she’d hoped he was the one.

She crumpled the paper, and the memory of his weathered eyes, as dull and gray as her ranch buildings, came to her. What ghosts did he see when he closed them?

She opened her palm and stared at the wad of paper. Feeling haunted by the past was something she understood very well.


Buy Links:

Bio:
Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her contemporary westerns. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. Sara Walter Ellwood is a multi-published and international Amazon bestselling author of the anthology set Cowboy Up. She also publishes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.
Author links:

Also look for:
Book 2: Gambling On A Heart at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kobo
Available now for preorder—Book 3: Gambling On A Dream at Amazon | Barnes and Noble  | Kobo