This month, I’m participating in a March Madness Hop! There are lots of awesome authors participating and some really amazing prizes so I hope you will hit the court with us for some “ball-handling” and “slam dunks”–pun intended! LOL. Click on the banner above and it will take you to the blog homepage.
The contest runs from now until the end of March, so I thought it would be fun to fill in my own little 2013 bracket. Here’s the game…each Tuesday, I will pit two of my 2013 releases against each other, sharing blurbs, covers and excerpts. All you have to do is choose YOUR winner…select the book you think sounds the best based on what I’ve provided. If you’ve read the books and want to vote that way…that’s cool too. I will choose a winner from each week’s commenters at random and that person will win their choice of ebook from my backlist. That’s right! One prize a week. Four winners this month!
Week One’s winner is Lisa G.!
So…without further ado…here are the contestants for week 2…
She’d never been lucky in love…until she met him.
If it weren’t for bad luck, Meg Williams wouldn’t have any luck at all. As if traveling to a tropical island on Valentine’s weekend in a nasty storm isn’t bad enough, she’s doing it alone after finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. Enduring the trip from hell, she arrives on Eden Isle only to discover that her hotel reservation has been lost and there are no vacancies anywhere on the island. Disheartened, Meg heads for the hotel bar.
Rob Madison is used to being in the limelight due his wealth and power. Used to being pursued by women for his fortune. When he meets Meg and realizes she doesn’t know who he is, he decides to spend the evening as a regular guy. Discovering she doesn’t have a place to stay, he offers to share his penthouse with her.
As the night progresses and their mutual attraction becomes apparent, Meg wonders if her luck has turned, while Rob wonders if one weekend in each other’s arms will be enough…
This book was previously published and has been revised. Mad about Meg is connected to the Lowell High School series books available at Ellora’s Cave.
“Excuse me.” He graced her with the most charming, least threatening smile he could muster. No doubt, he had some making up to do.
“Hello, again.” Her voice was soft, her tone distinctly friendlier than he expected.
“I was hoping I could join you for a few minutes.” He gestured to the two drinks in his hands.
Nodding, she pointed to the seat across from her. “Sure.”
“Peace offering.” He placed the red drink he’d bought in front of her, hoping his joke might work.
Moving her empty glass out of the way, she smiled. “That wasn’t necessary.”
“I’m afraid it was,” Rob answered. “My driver’s actions were reprehensible.”
“No, please, you don’t have to apologize. I’m terribly embarrassed by my behavior. I’m sure you won’t believe this, but I’m typically not such a hateful bitch.”
“I didn’t think you were anything of the sort.” Her apology surprised him. If anyone was in the wrong, it was clearly him, or at least George.
“Thank you for the drink.” She grinned before picking it up, silently toasting him and sipping it.
“It’s my favorite. Cranberry juice and Southern Comfort. I was planning on drinking only fruity, island concoctions, but after the day’s events, I needed a stiff drink.”
“Ah, I see,” Rob said. “If I’m not mistaken, do I detect a bit of a southern accent?”
“Just a bit. I’m from Northern Virginia. Most folks there can’t decide if they’re northerners or southerners. I like to refer to myself as a middler. How about you? Where do you hang up your hat?”
“Everywhere,” he answered honestly. “My work keeps me traveling pretty much non-stop.”
“And during your childhood?”
“Army brat.” It wasn’t difficult to acknowledge that he truly didn’t have roots anywhere in the world. He owned homes on both coasts as well as in three different countries, but he never spent more than a month at a time in any of them. Watching her try to hide her shivering, he stood and took off his suit jacket.
“Here.” He draped it around her shoulders. “You’re about to shake yourself off that chair.” She started to protest, but he cut her off. “I insist.”
“Thank you. So what’s this business of yours that doesn’t allow you to settle down?”
Rob was taken aback by the question. Surely she knew who he was. Looking closely at her, he determined she truly didn’t know him. Used to being recognized instantly, Rob silently savored this anonymity.
“Uh,” he stumbled, unwilling to give up this unique experience. “Just a businessman. Real estate and that kind of thing.” His answer was vague at best.
“You must do well, given your mode of transportation.”
“Company car.” He wasn’t so sure why he was intent on keeping up pretenses. For some strange reason, he liked the way this tired woman looked at him. She was talking to him as an equal, treating him as she would a new friend. Her eyes weren’t filled with dollar signs, trying to figure out how much he was really worth. Silently he laughed at himself. He had spent nearly a decade amassing more wealth than he could ever spend, earning and demanding the respect of his peers, yet here he was downplaying his successes so he could continue this simple, friendly conversation.
“How about you? What job keeps you tied to the middle of the country?”
She laughed. “Oh, I have a terribly exciting job. I’m a special education teacher.”
“It may not be what you consider exciting, but I can’t imagine anything more worthwhile.”
At his compliment, she gave him the most genuine smile he’d ever received. “I happen to agree with you. I love my kids and my job.”
“Are you with a private facility?”
“Oh, heck no,” she said with a grin. “Public education all the way. I teach at a high school.”
“I see now how you can afford such a fancy vacation,” he teased. “Making the big bucks as a public servant. Is Valentine’s Day considered a national holiday for the school system?”
She giggled before her smile turned to a grimace. “I saved up all my vacation days for this trip, and truth be told, I’ll be paying this ill-fated adventure off my credit card for many years to come.”
“Ill-fated?” He then recalled that, for all intents and purposes, she was homeless for the night.
“You wouldn’t believe my last twenty-four hours.”
“Try me,” he said.
“Where to begin? Due to mechanical problems, my first flight was re-routed to Houston and delayed long enough that I missed my original connecting flight in Florida. My scheduled seven hours of travel time turned into twenty-one.” She paused to take a sip of her drink.
“I broke my cell phone, my luggage is somewhere in Timbuktu, and the sporty little convertible I reserved weeks ago was downgraded to an ancient mini-van that your chauffeur left in a ditch a half a mile down the road. My sunny paradise has turned into hurricane hell and I have nowhere to stay tonight as this so-called luxury resort lost my reservation. Please bear in mind that’s just today’s run of bad luck and doesn’t include the fact that I’m alone in this damned lover’s paradise because I caught my fiancé cheating on me on Christmas Eve and my plane fare was nonrefundable.” She spoke with a lightheartedness he couldn’t understand given her horrible experiences.
“Wow.” He wasn’t sure how to respond and was shocked further when she simply laughed at his reply.
“My sentiments exactly.”
“So,” he looked at her calmly sitting in the hotel bar and wondered at her poise, “what’s your plan?”
“That’s actually what I was trying to work out when you came in. I thought I’d drink a little courage.” She lifted her drink to her lips again.
“Well, I figure the liquor will serve two purposes. One, it will warm me up on the inside before I have to go back out into the freezing cold rain again. And two, hopefully it will get me drunk enough that it won’t bother me to sleep in my lousy rental car by the side of the road.”
“That’s your brilliant plan?”
“I don’t remember calling it brilliant. Simply a plan.” Her humor in the face of such a dreary and potentially dangerous night grated on his nerves. “I only have to make it through the next few hours and then I’ll call the car rental place about towing me out of the ditch and I’ll catch the next flight out of here. Guess that will teach me for trying to live like the rich and famous for a few days.”
Rob sat silently for several minutes brooding over the fact he was one of the rich and famous she was referring to and feeling incredibly guilty as he pictured the luxurious penthouse suite awaiting him. One of the perks of owning the hotel.
“You can’t sleep in your car.”
“I don’t think that guy out there,” she pointed toward Pierre at the front desk, “would like it if I sacked out on the couch in the foyer. This place doesn’t exactly strike me as the type that would cater to vagrancy.”
“You’ll stay with me.” The words came without thought, but Rob found himself immediately warming up to the idea of spending more time with this refreshingly pleasant woman.
“Oh, now hang on a minute.” She threw her hands up. “I appreciate the drink, but there’s no way—”
He didn’t let her finish her protests. “Hear me out,” he said quickly. “My company owns the penthouse of this hotel. It’s a two-bedroom suite. You can have the other room for tonight. It even has its own bathroom. You can lock the door and pretend like it’s your own hotel room. There is simply no way I’m going to let you sleep on the side of a busy road in the middle of a storm.”
“There isn’t much traffic out there now with all the rain.”
“I’m serious. You’ve had a hell of a day and an unbelievably long string of bad luck. Why not give yourself a break?”
She looked like she was seriously debating turning him down. He’d never had to beg a woman to share a room with him. Hell, most nights he was the one having hotel keys thrust at him. After all, he was Rob Madison, owner of this and a string of other luxury hotels all over the world. He had topped Fortune’s list of most eligible billionaires the last three years running.
He watched as she chewed on her lower lip, clearly nervous about his proposition. He supposed from her perspective he was a stranger and she would be consenting to share a hotel suite with him.
“The bedroom door locks?”
June Girls, book one
Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?
When Hayley Garland finds herself out in the English woods late one night, she’s nearly struck by lightning during a freak storm. But what she thought was a near miss is actually a direct hit.
Captain Jack Campbell is riding along the Dover shoreline, cursing his ill-timed trip in a torrential downpour. Before he can find shelter, he discovers something much more interesting: a beautiful redhead.
Sparks fly whenever Hayley and Jack are together—in and out of the bedroom. But between a wicked earl, a missing woman, Hayley’s penchant for finding trouble, and the inconvenience of an unexpected trip through time, they have to find a way to work out their differences before events from the past threaten to take away their future.
This book was previously published and has been revised from its original release.
“Besides, you’re just mad, because if you take a look in a mirror, Black Jack, you’ll see that I kicked your ass.”
Rising on his elbow, he spoke through gritted teeth. “Adding offensive language to your list of charms does not endear you to me and if I look rough, it’s because I was too much of a gentleman to use my brute strength against a woman last night.”
Despite his annoyance, he reached out and tried to grab her hand as she paced beside the bed. Her impassioned speech had put color in her cheeks. He felt the now familiar tightening in his loins she seemed to inspire. He’d thought her attractive last night, but this morning, tousled and angry, she was absolutely lovely. He wished her warm body was back in the bed and there was absolutely nothing honorable about what he wanted to do to her.
As it stood now, he’d certainly done more than enough to compromise her should her story about being a friend of the mistress of the Grange proved true. That thought should be more unsettling to him than it was. In fact, he couldn’t seem to summon any remorse about his behavior. Instead, he longed for more.
She backed away from his hand, avoiding his touch. Irritated at her withdrawal and his body’s uncontrollable response to her, he retaliated. “Believe me, Hayley, you have nothing to fear from me. I like my women soft and willing. That was a hell of a fight you put up last night and, while I must admit I admire the effort you expended to protect your virtue, you didn’t have to try so hard, firebrand. It was never in danger.”
She flinched at his sarcastic use of the word virtue. He’d clearly left no doubt in her mind that he considered her to be less than virtuous.
His blatant insult infuriated her even more as she launched into a new tirade. “You insulting, arrogant, smug, son of a bitch,” she yelled. “How dare you insult me for defending myself? If your present charms are any indication of your typical behavior, I’d be surprised to discover that you weren’t a virgin.”
He was shocked by her crude language and insult to his reputation. “Well, if you weren’t such a shrew, I’d give you a demonstration of my charms that would leave you in no doubt of my experience.”
“Touch me again and I’ll blacken the other eye.” She stormed toward the cabin door.
She reached for the knob, but he caught her before she could make good on her escape. Jack caged her in with his arms while holding the door closed. Spinning angrily, she started to utter another string of insults. However, her scathing words never made it past her lips as he pressed his mouth hard against hers. Her threat had only served to incite him as he roughly grabbed her shoulders. His mouth was cruel and relentless on hers, but once again he was lost to the taste and smell and feel of her. His tongue forced her lips apart and invaded her mouth.
He planned to give her a lesson in dominance and control, but Hayley was too smart for him. Rather than struggle, she stood still against his assault. She didn’t participate this time, didn’t shyly touch him with her tongue. Jack’s frustration and anger grew as she stubbornly held herself aloof, apart from the kiss.
He cursed himself for a fool and knew power wasn’t going to scale the walls Hayley had built around herself. Last night, she’d responded to his kiss and he wanted that reaction again.
Changing tactics, he softened the kiss, but refused to release her. His hands moved from her shoulders to her face, touching her with soft caresses. Gasping, she tried to stop him, her hands pushing against his shoulders.
His mind briefly registered the strangeness of her responses. She stood still, braced and resigned to his hard kisses, while his kindness seemed to unsettle and upset her.
“Shhh, I won’t hurt you.” He spoke the words against her lips. Soon, the gentle touches and soft kisses broke her resolve and Hayley moved her hands to his chest.
He was thrilled by the touch of her fingers, even though they rested unmoving on his chest. He deepened his kisses, trying to drag out the moment, coaxing her passion slowly. Hayley was passion personified and he longed to strip off her mannish clothing to uncover the woman hidden beneath.
He barely moved as his lips rubbed lightly against hers, his tongue running softly along her lips and teeth, teasing hers to come out to play once more. He was starving for a taste. She rewarded him, lifting her hands to his face. Hayley ran her fingers through his hair as, at last, her tongue touched his. Time stood still as they explored each other’s mouths with the simplest and sweetest of kisses.
Their tongues danced together as he reached down and began to unbutton her shirt. His actions were so slow and deliberate he suspected she didn’t realize what he had done until she felt his firm hands touch her breasts.
SO…place your bets in the comments section. Simply say contestant 1 or contestant 2. If you want to explain your vote, that’s fun too. I will announce this week’s winner on March 19, along with the next contestants. Go! Go! Go!