Bachelor’s Bait

It’s week three! Have you made the trip to Books and Brew yet? So far, Stephanie and Jordan have found love in all the right places, but today…it’s Sophie’s turn. And let’s face it, with Sophie, you know it’s going to be a wild ride!

Cocktales, Book Three

Sophia Kennedy is determined to chase her own success, rather than ride her father’s coattails. She’s devoted herself to Books and Brew, the business she owns with her three best friends. She doesn’t feel the need to explain herself to anyone, least of all the free-aid lawyer who’s determined to judge her as a society princess. She’d ignore him altogether…if it were up to her mind. But nooooo. Her body just has to have its say—and it’s using words like “gorgeous”, “hot” and “sexy”. Soon, annoyance turns to attraction, verbal sparring to physical satisfaction as the couple is drawn together by a common cause.

Marc Garrett has no time for a relationship. And he certainly doesn’t want a rich society fixture, though the damning evidence below his belt suggests otherwise. The more he comes to know his hardworking princess, the more he wants her, again and again. Marc’s falling hard, but after holding Sophie’s wealth against her, how will she react when she learns of his own rather prosperous roots?

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Excerpt:

“Charlotte?” Sophie was annoyed to find the coat-check room unattended. She’d been an idiot to trust Charlotte to keep an eye on it. The woman was too flighty to take the task seriously. She was a regular at the bookstore and when Sophie had foolishly mentioned her problem finding volunteers to help work the event, Charlotte had stepped forward. Sophie had accepted the offer, ignoring the voice telling her Charlotte only wanted to help so she could ogle the cream of society’s crop in a glitzy setting.

Now she was staring at an unprotected room full of expensive shawls and jackets.

“Shit,” she muttered. “Can anyone say liability?” She stepped behind the check-in counter and into the room, intent on finding the extra flyers. Then she’d track down her “volunteer” and read her the riot act for leaving her post unattended.

Spotting the box in a corner, she crossed the small space and bent to retrieve it.

A wolf whistle sounded from the doorway.

Sophie rose quickly but the damage was done. Clearly she’d given someone an eyeful of her ass wrapped in its tight skirt.

Marc leaned against the doorframe, looking far too pleased with the view she’d offered.

“Wow. Sexist much?”

He gave her a seductive grin. She wished her body would stop responding to him so forcefully. Her stomach clenched, her pussy dampened and she was grateful for the box in her hands or Marc would see them trembling.

He was unapologetic. “When I see something beautiful, I feel the need to appreciate it.”

“And being the classy guy you are, you thought you’d whistle at me like a construction worker.”

“I thought you might prefer that response over the first idea that popped into my head.”

“Which was?”

“Stroking my hands over that gorgeous ass you just displayed for me.”

The battle between Sophie’s head and body flared. Her ass cheeks clenched, longing for that caress. Her less visceral side offered a reply. “Then you made the right call because I would have kneed you in the balls. Hard.”

He nodded. “That’s what I thought. Hence my whistle from all the way over here.”

His tone was light and friendly, making it impossible to take offense at his comments. The closet wasn’t that large but his assessment was correct. Several feet protected his balls from her knee.

Sophie subtly pressed her legs together and tried to force air into her lungs. Apparently the space between them wasn’t that safe after all. She flushed as her body heated at their proximity—and semi-privacy.

The observant man’s dark-blue eyes narrowed.

He must be hell on juries. He notices far too much.

He stepped into the room. She tried to hide her shock when he closed the closet door behind him. The darkness was cut by a mellow glow provided by the low-watt fixture hanging in the center of the ceiling, and instantly she was reminded of nights spent beside a dying fire in her family’s large living room. She was a sucker for a fireplace.

Marc’s deep voice cut through the silence. “Maybe I was wrong.”

Her eyes tried to adjust to the dim lighting as he continued to move closer. “About what?” Her throat tightened, making her words sound thick and far too loud in the small room.

Marc didn’t answer immediately. Instead, he took the box of flyers out of her hands, setting it on the floor. “You know I’m going to start coming by the bar, right? I feel the need to become a regular.”

“Why? You get some sick pleasure out of annoying me?”

He shook his head, his voice laced with humor. “No. That’s just a bonus.”

The answer was completely unsatisfactory, even though Sophie liked the idea of him stopping by. Despite her better judgment, she wanted to see him more too. “Then why?” she repeated.

“Because I’ll want to do this again.”

He leaned forward and kissed her.

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Quote of the Day

“Decide … whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.” – Amelia Earhart

Also–a very happy Valentine’s to everyone. If you’re on Facebook, I hope you’ll pop over to take part in the Fifty Shades of Valentine’s loop giveaway. You can “hop” in here: https://www.facebook.com/MariCarrWriter/

Screwdriver

Welcome back to Books and Brew! Today is the re-release of the second Cocktales book, Screwdriver. Last week, you read Stephanie’s story in Party Naked. Today…it’s all about Jordan…and her guys!

Cocktales, Book Two

When Jordan Lance isn’t poring over spreadsheets for Books and Brew, she’s fantasizing about the store’s landlord. Too bad she’s squarely in Gabriel’s “just friends” column. Jordan’s prepared to pine forever—until she meets Casey. The handyman is hot, handsome, charming…and Gabriel’s best friend. Suddenly her wicked fantasies are porntastic times two.

Casey has suspected his friend’s interest in Jordan. If he can push them together, he might get Gabriel off the bimbo train he’s been riding. The plan? Jealousy. And it’s working. It’s not long before Gabriel’s deeper feelings for Jordan emerge. Problem is…so do Casey’s. What happens when two friends want the same woman? Red-hot ménage, baby.

Two gorgeous men exploring every inch of her body? Um, yes please! Jordan doesn’t know if threesomes are considered acceptable, but she’s sure of one thing—being this bad feels far too good.

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Excerpt:

Casey looked closer at the AC unit. “Damn. I was afraid of that.”

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“I was hoping it was an issue with the belt, but the motor bearings are shot. I’m going to need to order a part.”

“So it’s not getting fixed today?”

“I’ll see if I can rig a work around for the time being.” He stood and stretched. “God bless it, Jordan. I apologize if this offends you, but it’s hot as hell in here.” Reaching for the hem of his t-shirt, he whipped the thin cotton over his head and fanned himself with it.

Her now-familiar blush returned and Casey felt compelled to prod, to see if his suspicions about Jordan’s underlying naughty side were true. “Just so you know, I absolutely will not be upset if you decide to follow suit and work shirtless for the rest of the afternoon.”

The twinkle in her eyes let him know she enjoyed his joke. “I’m fine with my shirt on.”

“You sure?” he teased, taking a step closer. “I don’t mind helping you peel it off.” He reached out but she darted away, her smile widening.

“Casey,” she said, swatting his hands away. She dodged behind the AC unit and he followed.

The two of them played a quick game of cat and mouse as Casey chased her around the storage closet.

He’d just captured her, Jordan squealing loudly, when the door to the closet opened.

“Jordan? Are you okay?” a deep voice asked from the hallway.

Gabriel peered around the door and Casey wondered what his best friend thought he was seeing. They certainly presented a risqué picture—Casey shirtless, his arms wrapped around Jordan from behind while she laughed.

“Hey, Gabe.” Casey released Jordan and pulled his shirt back on. “What are you doing here?”

Gabriel’s response was slow in coming as his gaze traveled from Casey to Jordan. “I was checking on your progress.” Gabriel’s eyes landed back on Casey’s face and they narrowed angrily. “Looks like you’re making some.”

Shit. Casey’s suspicions about Gabe’s feelings for Jordan were confirmed in an instant. His friend was hot for the accountant.

Problem was…so was Casey.

“We were taking a break,” he explained.

Gabriel looked at Jordan, his expression softening. “You’re blood-red, Jordan. You need to get out of this heat.”

Casey glanced at her face. Gabriel made the same mistake he had. Jordan wasn’t hot. She was blushing. Big time.

“I’m okay, Gabe. No worries,” she answered. “I can see why you two are friends. Casey’s cure for the heat wave is going topless too.”

Gabriel’s expression darkened even further as he snapped his gaze to Casey once more. “Topless?”

“Actually, I think we’re done for the day,” Casey said, anxious to change the subject before Gabriel pulverized him. “I need to order a part before I can fix the unit.”

Jordan frowned and he sensed she was surprised by his sudden retreat to safer territory. Gabriel had never referred to Jordan as anything more than a pal, but Casey could read between the lines—even if his oblivious friend couldn’t.

“Um, yeah. That’s right. We were just wrapping things up. It was nice of you to come by and check on us.” Jordan’s gaze drifted to Gabriel’s face and she smiled.

Crap. The pure longing on Jordan’s face told Casey all he needed to know in regards to her feelings for Gabriel. It told him more than he wanted to know.

Jordan’s cell phone rang. She looked at the caller ID. “It’s Steph. We made plans to do a late lunch. I should take this.”

She walked toward the door as she answered the phone. Gabriel stepped aside and let her escape. Casey suspected he wouldn’t be freed as easily.

“What the fuck were you doing?” Gabe’s question was murmured, but even in the quiet tone, Casey detected the anger. A small part of him was thrilled to hear any emotion at all from his friend.

“I told you. Taking a break.”

“With your clothes off?”

Casey shot him a dirty look. “I took off my shirt to cool down. I’ve been in this godforsaken sweatbox for nearly two hours. Besides, what the hell are you so pissed off about? I’m here because you asked me to fix the air conditioner.”

“Why was Jordan in here?”

And now they were getting to the heart of the matter. “I asked her to help me.”

“Since when do you need an assistant?”

Casey was hot and tired and annoyed. Not a good combination. Gabe was poking the bear. “I spotted a gorgeous woman and an empty closet. Come on, Gabe. You’re a smart guy with a degree in finance. Put two and two together. I’m not averse to mixing work and play.”

Gabriel shook his head. “You’re not playing with Jordan.”

His friend’s vehemence tweaked Casey’s temper. “Last time I checked, you weren’t my keeper. Or Jordan’s.”

Gabriel rubbed his neck wearily, and for the first time, Casey noticed the dark circles under his friend’s eyes.

When he spoke again, Gabriel’s voice was calmer. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I saw you with Jordan and I…shit, I guess I lost it.”

“Why? I’m not an asshole to women. You know that.”

Gabriel shrugged. “I know. She reminds me of Annie in a lot of ways. Somewhere along the line I’ve become a bit protective of her.”

Annie was Gabriel’s only sibling, and no little sister was ever loved more. Casey wasn’t sure how to respond. Gabe’s initial reaction screamed of jealousy, not brotherly instinct. “I can see why. Jordan’s very sweet.”

Gabriel didn’t seem to appreciate his answer. “So sweet you felt compelled to strip off your shirt and corner her in a storage closet?”

Yep. Definitely jealous.

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Where Did They Go?

The publishing world is nothing if not a roller coaster. My first book was contracted in the summer of 2007, so I’m creeping up on ten years as a published author. And HOLY CRAP–you couldn’t believe how much this world has changed since then. My first sale was to Samhain Publishing. They contracted a spicy little novella titled Erotic Research. I signed a seven year contract, opened a bottle of champagne and grinned for weeks afterwards. Then I signed a second Samhain contract (Tequila Truth) and a third (Kiss Me Kate) with Ellora’s Cave.

Fast forward four years from there and BOOM! Amazon’s Kindle took off–somewhere in 2011-12. Sales were through the roof on e-books and I hit the New York Times bestseller list twice with two of the Compass Brothers books. It was a great time to be in e-books.

Wiggle forward another year and you’ll find me sitting in a hotel bar with Lexi Blake and Shayla Black at Lora Leigh’s RAW, getting the recipe for a Liver Transplant cocktail and listening to them talk about self-publishing. In 2007, self-publishing was called vanity publishing and no one would be caught dead doing it because it meant no publisher wanted to buy your book. That changed fairly quickly as talented authors discovered how easy and profitable it was to publish your own books directly with the vendor. And even with Lexi saying–you NEED to be self-publishing, I remained with Ellora’s Cave and Samhain because I’d contracted books (lots of them) and I had commitments to meet. Took me almost a whole year before I had time to dip my toe in the self-publishing realm.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about self-publishing initially. There was definitely a learning curve. However, after just a few books in, I was hooked. Don’t tell anyone but I’m a control freak. Like big time. Everything about being an indie appeals to me. Seriously. Everything. I set my own schedule. I write projects that appeal to me/speak to me. I design my own covers. I set my own prices. I’m freaking Pretty Woman. “I say who. I say when. I say WHO…” It’s a good life.

Except…I wasn’t just self-pub. My older works were still with the smaller pubs where I started. Contracts and all that jazz. Zoom on until last year when the bottom fell out on Ellora’s Cave. I didn’t receive royalties from them for a year and a half before they finally closed up shop. In the end, I wound up giving them money simply in hopes of saving my books and buying back my contracts, which I did. Believe me, no one was ever happier to be free from a publisher than I was when I finally got away from them. *insert all the nasty words here*. Those 29 EC books are all mine again, the last few returning to me in October 2016. They’ve since been re-covered and republished. The last of them (Cocktales) are all releasing this month.

Last night, Samhain announced they were closing at the end of this month. Which means–come March 1–19 more books are going to fall back into my lap. The difference between Samhain and EC is the way in which they closed their doors. Samhain hasn’t missed a single royalty payment and when February ends, the owner is giving us our rights back. Just like that. Even though the contracts say they are still hers. Class act. All the way. I cried when I read they were closing, though the announcement came as no surprise. And then sadness quickly gave way to two other feelings–joy and bone-crushing pressure. Because putting 19 books back out there–with new covers and blurbs–takes time. A lot of it. If you’ve looked at my coming soon pages lately, you’ll know that time isn’t something I’ve left myself much of. Between my writing schedule and the day job (yep–I’m still employed full-time with a school system), I’m already burning the candle at both ends.

However, I’m buckling down, doubling down and I’m going to make some shit happen! For the time being, I have taken the pages for Compass and Second Chances off my site until I have time to create new covers, reformat the books and upload them to the vendors. My initial plan is to get Second Chances back out come August. Jayne and I haven’t set a date for Compass yet, but we’re both committed to moving on this as quickly as our schedules will allow. And as a bonus–the two of us are chatting about writing the Compass Boys. So if there’s a silver lining to all of this–I certainly feel like that’s it. It’ll be wonderful to return to Compton Pass with her.

My other Samhain books will also return, sprinkled about here and there. For longtime fans, I don’t plan to make any changes to the actual stories, so there’s no need to repurchase them. For new readers, I’m hoping to entice you with the new looks and affordable prices.

As for the rest, I have NO idea where the publishing world will be in ten more years (or even next year, for that matter). All I can do is hope I’m still riding the roller coaster with all of you! Because all in all, it’s been a great ride! Have a great weekend!

Party Naked

Fans of Cheers! Do you wish there was a place you could return each week where everyone knows your name? Have you visited Books and Brew yet?

Today is the release of the first book in the Cocktales series, Party Naked. Come on in and pull up a stool at the bar, order yourself a fancy cocktail and enjoy the fun friendships and romantic atmosphere.

Then…each Tuesday in February, come back for another drink and another sexy story.

PARTY NAKED
Stephanie Harper is perfectly happy co-owning Books and Brew, where she slings drinks and entertains her friends with cutting wit and a cynical take on love. She’s convinced she has no time for anything deeper than sex; she has a business to run, after all. And her thrice-married mother has proven happy ever after doesn’t exist.

Jarod Nolan begs to differ. Chance has him running into Steph—and giving her a ticket—one morning, but it’s fate that finds him in her place of business that same evening. A sizzling one-night stand ensues, and although Stephanie escapes before he wakes the next morning, Jarod is already sure she’s worth the chase.

Steph’s more than willing to party naked with the hot cop, but she’s adamant they’re driven by lust, not love. Jarod is prepared to prove otherwise, even if it means giving up one of the things he and Stephanie do best…

What’s that old saying? Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder?

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Excerpt:

She was halfway to the bar when she spotted a familiar face walking through the front door. She stopped in her tracks. Detective Nolan sauntered in like he owned the place, and the temper she’d managed to subdue all afternoon flared hot once again.

He glanced around the bar quickly, looking over at the boisterous book group as he took a seat at the end of the bar. His gaze missed her completely.

Suddenly she felt as if the clouds on her lousy day had lifted and she’d been granted a bit of good fortune. She’d had hours to fume about the detective’s behavior and, as always happened, she’d thought of a million clever, cutting things she could have said to him after she’d driven away. She’d been pissed off about missing her opportunity.

A smile crossed her face. Time for round two.

She walked toward him.

As if sensing sudden danger, the detective turned, his gaze catching hers as she approached. She enjoyed the myriad emotions that covered his face in the few short steps it took her to reach him—surprise, annoyance, anger and, finally, was that regret? The last pulled her up short for a moment, then she drew near.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t De—”

The detective grabbed her shoulders, pulled her toward him and cut off her words with a kiss that left her stunned motionless for a full thirty seconds.

What the hell?

She put her hands on his chest and tried to push him away, but the man was relentless. He turned his head slightly, his tongue brushing her lower lip. She gasped and he took advantage, opening her mouth even more for his beautiful assault.

Stephanie might be angry, but she appreciated a good kiss as much as the next woman, and it seemed a shame to interrupt the man when he was on a roll. Then she recalled the ticket and his rudeness. She shoved at his chest again, but he dipped his tongue in farther, the brief scent and flavor of peppermint on his breath making her mouth water.

Anger. Arousal. Those two emotions seemed to be in direct opposition and she was torn. Should she break the contact—and his neck—or hang on and enjoy the ride? For all his personality defects, the cop could work magic with his mouth. Holy wow.

He stroked her tongue with his, touching it with quick, teasing brushes. His hands moved from her shoulders to her face, cupping her cheeks, and Stephanie felt herself go molten, her panties suddenly wet. She was a sucker for a sexy kisser and a good face hold. God, she loved it when a guy touched her cheeks so sweetly.

After what felt like a few hours later, the detective pulled away, though his face was so close to hers, she could feel his hot breath on her skin. With a bit of distance between them, Stephanie’s wits began to return.

“Are you mental?” she whispered, too breathless to speak louder.

“No.”

His answer was too quick, too pat, too unsatisfying.

“You better have a damn good reason for doing that, Offi—”

He covered her mouth with his again. Rather than repeating the initial, long, soul-searching kiss, this time it was harder, hungrier. The horny fool inside her returned the effort…with interest.

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Quote of the Day

“I have never felt that anything really mattered but the satisfaction of knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed, and had done the very best you could.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Quote of the Day

“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth