romance

Happy Release Day, Hell and a Hard Place!

Today is a release day, which means it’s a day for celebration!

Hell and a Hard Place has a very special place in my heart, more so than any of my other books. When I think about this book, and the inspiration behind it, my heart breaks. Domestic abuse isn’t a fun topic and I don’t know about you, but I hear even less when it comes to the woman being the abuser. But it happens in real life and it happens in Hell and a Hard Place.

There’s so much more that I wish to write, but this is a day for celebrating and I can only say so much. Here’s a little more about Hell and a Hard Place:

What's a girl to do when she's in love with her best friend but she can't have him? Well, I pretend I'm not. I keep my best friend, FC, close and keep my life moving forward. I work. I date. I see my therapist for my mental health issues. But everything always leads back to FC, no matter what I do. The distance between us, FC's secrets, and our own relationships keep us apart while bringing us closer together.

I'm a guy with loads of problems. Where do I even begin? I'm an on-again off-again smoker. I'm an alcoholic. I have a best friend of twelve years who I can't live without, and I only recently met Idaline in person when she let me escape to her house one night. Oh, and did I mention I have an abusive girlfriend? That every day winds up being worse than that last? I'm stuck between hell and a hard place with the dimmest of lights at the end of the tunnel. And that light might not even be there tomorrow. Because things will get worse before they get better.

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

I’ll be baking cinnamon sugar pecans to celebrate, and don’t forget, the sequel releases next month!

Have you heard about the Heaven and Hell Duet?

Releasing this fall is the Heaven and Hell Duet, which includes Hell and a Hard Place (October 11, 2018) and Light in the Dark (November 8, 2018). My love and excitement for these two books surpasses that of all my books before. I absolutely cannot wait to share this duet with y'all. 

It's a bit of a rollercoaster ride that will definitely bring out some strong emotions and that's all I'll say right now. But be sure to stay tuned and check into my social media for teasers. Read on for the blurb and check out the awesome cover.

What's a girl to do when she's in love with her best friend but she can't have him? Well, I pretend I'm not. I keep my best friend, FC, close and keep my life moving forward. I work. I date. I see my therapist for my mental health issues. But everything always leads back to FC, no matter what I do. The distance between us, FC's secrets, and our own relationships keep us apart while bringing us closer together.

I'm a guy with loads of problems. Where do I even begin? I'm an on-again off-again smoker. I'm an alcoholic. I have a best friend of twelve years who I can't live without, and I only recently met Idaline in person when she let me escape to her house one night. Oh, and did I mention I have an abusive girlfriend? That every day winds up being worse than that last? I'm stuck between hell and a hard place with the dimmest of lights at the end of the tunnel. And that light might not even be there tomorrow. Because things will get worse before they get better.

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Happy Release Day, Defend!

Who's ready the next standalone in the Hearts in Carolina series? I AM! Defend does have a familiar character taking the male lead role. If you've read Steady, then you'll recognize Brent Murphy and his family. If not, no need to worry. You can pick this book up without reading Steady (although I totally think you should read Steady, too!😉)

Okay, so now, let's get to all the details you need to know about Defend

A flat tire brings together Brent Murphy, a workaholic parent of two, and Jamie Alexander, a soon to be college graduate. The eighteen year age difference startles them both at first, but they decide there's no harm in seeing where things go. After a few dates, it's clear their attraction to one another can't be resisted.

Jamie's best friend thinks the appeal must be physical. Brent's daughter can't understand why he would date someone so close to her age. Others judge the fact that Brent is dating someone so much younger than him. Over time, it becomes apparent they will have to defend their choices to those around them.

Brent and Jamie are secure in their relationship, but will outside assumptions become more than they are willing to defend?

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Another Sneak Peek: Chapter Two of Defend

Chapter Two

Brent

“I’m the oldest,” I say, answering her question. “There are five years between each of us. Do you have siblings?”

“An older sister.” Jamie wears a slight frown as she stabs a piece of her waffle and I wonder if she realizes it. I also wonder if she knows how beautiful she is. She seems confident enough, but I feel like there are many layers to her. I was instantly attracted to her, tears and all. She has this kind of beauty that makes a man want to throw her over his shoulder, carry her off, and make sure he keeps her all to himself.

“Do you have a good relationship with her?” I’m not sure why I’m pushing. Hell, I’m not sure why I’m still here with a twenty-one-year-old, but I can’t seem to find any reason to leave. There seems to be some magnetic pull to her that I can’t resist. Has been since the moment I saw her hunched over her knees on the sidewalk.

Jamie shrugs. “How’s life been since your divorce?”

I’m not quite sure if she wants anything specific or not, so I answer with what comes to mind. “It’s been good. I work, more than anyone likes. I date here and there. And I make time for my kids.”

“What do you mean about your work?”

I lean forward a little bit, my elbows rest on the table, and my hands clasp in the air above my empty plate. “Okay, here’s the deal. I love my job. I love working and staying busy. Unless there is a reason for me to not work, then I’m at the shop doing just that. Because this is how I am, my daughter thinks I’m a workaholic, which I guess I am, but she thinks it’s a bad thing and she worries. I could step away from my work any time as long as I have a reason to. She doesn’t think so, however. Not only is she on my case, but now, she has my brothers on my case too.”

Jamie smiles and leans forward, mimicking my stance. “So, what you’re saying is that you need someone to see, which will ease everyone’s worries.”

“You offering yourself?”

“Do you see anyone else at this table? Of course I am.”

I grin as I shake my head. “Still way too trusting, Jamie.” She rolls her eyes at that. “I think we need to return to that forgotten issue.” I nearly fainted and she about choked.

“You’re hot and you’re sweet; I can get over it.” She raises her eyebrows in a challenge, waiting for my answer. How did she get that I’m sweet out of a few hours with me? Sure, I helped her with her tire, but that wasn’t extraordinary. “I’m waiting, Brent,” she says in a bit of a singsong manner.

“I’ll make an exception for you,” I decide only as the words flow out of my mouth.

Jamie’s smile is bright and quick. The waitress brings over our bill and I pay. While we wait for her to bring back my card, I ask, “Why don’t you like college?”

“I don’t like school,” she replies flatly. “I’m only in college because my parents insist and they’re paying. If I could quit and do something that doesn’t require a degree, but keeps me around people, I’d be happy.”

I frown. “You don’t think your parents would understand that?”

“I’m still in college, aren’t I? Trust me, if I thought telling them would be better than suffering through four years of this hell, I would drop out in a heartbeat.”

The waitress drops off the receipt and my card. I don’t like what she’s telling me, but it’s not like I can change her situation. We slide out of the booth and I rest my hand on her lower back. I wait until we’re back inside my truck to ask my question again.

“Why do you hate school so much?”

“Ah, ah, ah. I can’t spill but so much about myself in one night and that one is a whopper. We’re not ready for that answer. You’ll have to ask me again another day.”

Hmm. “Okay. Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Five years, ten years, twenty years, it’s all the same. Hopefully, I’ll have a job I enjoy and in a good relationship with a man I love. That’s all I want out of life.”

It sounds so simple. Maybe too simple. All she wants is a job and a man? No kids? Nothing else on her list?

“Thank you for dinner, by the way,” she adds.

“You’re welcome. We’ll do it again sometime.”

“That sounds like conviction and certainty in your voice.”

I glance over and see her smiling. “It is,” I confirm.

We ride the rest of the way in silence. It seems as if Jamie’s mood darkens by the second. When I park my truck next to her car, she confirms my suspicions with a sigh.

“I have to go back to campus. Yay me.”

“Hand me your keys.” She doesn’t ask or give me a look; she just hands them over. Again, the girl is way too trusting of people. I get out, the cold nipping at my skin, and go over to her car to crank it. It’ll be nice and toasty by the time she gets in it.

“See? Seriously so sweet,” she says as I get back into the truck.

I shrug. “I have manners.”

Jamie stares at me for a moment. “Huh.”

“What?” I don’t know what that huh means.

“I’ve realized that all the guys I know have no manners. None. Absolutely none.” She shakes her head in astonishment. “I don’t know anyone who would open a door for me, much less crank my car so it’s warm when I get in it. You are something else, Brent.”

No, I’m not. It’s just a damn shame that there aren’t more people with such manners out there. “Your car should be warm and toasty.” I get out and walk around to open the door for her, making her smile once again.

“When do you plan to see me again?” she asks.

“Tomorrow at six in the morning?” Her jaw drops and I laugh. “We could run and I’d make you breakfast afterward. You need a good start to your day so we don’t have a repeat of whatever happened today.”

“Six?”

“Six,” I confirm.

She pulls her phone from her pocket. “What’s your number?” I recite it for her and she adds, “I’ll text you later to get your address. I wasn’t exactly paying attention earlier, so there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to find your house again.” Jamie takes a step closer and closer until our chests touch. It doesn’t seem like enough, yet it is all the same. “One last question before I go. Is this considered a date and if so, do I get a—”

She is not about to ask that question, so I cut her off with a kiss. Within seconds of our lips and tongues meeting, my arms rope around her waist and I move to lean her against the car. She shivers as the cold from the car presses against her back. Her hands rest on my shoulders, her nails digging into the skin as she leans up and presses herself into me, kissing me harder and deeper. A soft moan leaves her to echo into my mouth.

I pull away, breathing as hard as if I just went running. I... What the hell was that? In all my years, no woman has done whatever the hell she just did to me. Kissing when I was a teenager and horny as hell didn’t even feel that good, that right. She tasted sweet and somehow, she smells a little like chocolate.

I need to get my head checked.

Instead, I clear my throat and open the door for Jamie. “Drive safe.”

She slides into the driver’s seat, buckles up, but looks at me. “One more?”

I laugh as I lean into the car and kiss her one more time. “Dress just a little warmer tomorrow. It’ll be colder.”

She tsks. “You’re bossy. I’ll see you in the morning, Brent.”

“Drive safe,” I repeat because one can never be too careful. I close her door, step back, and stand there until her tail lights disappear.

By the time I make it home, Jamie has texted me that she made it back to campus safe and sound and she needs my address for the morning. Now that I’m away from her, I can’t help but wonder what the hell I was thinking, even as I respond to her. She’s not much older than Kayla. I can’t seriously think about doing anythingwith her, can I? Even if I’m completely interested in finding out a little more about her?

What would my kids think? How would I feel if the situation was reversed? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. It’s not like I’m about to jump into a relationship with this woman. There’s no harm in exploring the waters, right? And just the other day, Kayla actually told me to date more. Granted, she told me so I’d work less if I was dating someone, but that’s beside the point. I’ll just see what happens and if it seems like it might become more than casual, I’ll reevaluate. In the meantime, I have a feeling that Jamie is exactly the person I need to see right now.

~ ~ ~

She knocks on my door five minutes after six. I pull it open, keep my face expressionless, and say, “You’re late.”

Jamie rolls her eyes. “Sorry, boss. I needed this.” She holds up a coffee cup. “As soon as I set this down, we can get started.” She walks past me and adds, “You’re lucky I’m here at all. Do you realize how early it is? Too early, that’s how early.” No shorts this morning, but no pants either. She went midway with capris. And no long-sleeved shirt like me, either. She’s wearing a short-sleeved shirt. How is she not freezing her ass off? “Okay, let’s go.”

“Are you sure you’re ready? I have a jacket if you’d like to borrow it.”

“No, thanks. I overheat when I run. This is enough.” She walks out the door, jogs down the steps, and I have no choice but to follow her.

I catch up to her on the sidewalk. We start slow and steady without any talking. This is the odd thing about running with a partner. You have to learn their running habits. What’s their pace like? Do they enjoy talking or do they prefer not to? I normally run alone, so I enjoy the silence. Jamie had her phone in an armband yesterday with earbuds attached, but I notice it’s missing today.

We run five miles in silence by the time we make it back to my house.

“No wonder you look so great.” She rests her hands on her hips and takes a few breaths. “You’re a workhorse. I almost didn’t think I was going to make it.”

“You should’ve said something.” I hand her her now cold coffee and lead her into the kitchen, where I pull out a seat and make her sit.

“I was fine. You just have a...” Her voice trails off as she thinks and I wash my hands before getting started on our breakfast. “I don’t know what to call it. How I run is based on my emotions. It’s never a smooth, solid run like that.”

“I don’t know if that means it was enjoyable or not.”

“It was. What’s for breakfast?”

“Eggs, bacon, toast?”

She nods in agreement. “How did you get into running?”

“Ran track in high school. It’s a bit of an addiction. You?”

Jamie sighs. “Ever heard of the freshman fifteen?” I nod. “It was more like the freshman fifty for me. Running helped me lose it. I got into the habit of running every day.” She glances down at her lap and then her gaze moves around the kitchen. Everywhere, but at me. “I was scared if I broke my habit, I’d gain it back. That’s not something I want to experience again.”

“There’s more to that story, isn’t there?” Her not looking me in the eyes was my first clue, but maybe I’m wrong.

“None that you’re going to hear.” Or maybe I’m right. “What’s different about your life since your divorce?”

“It’s actually not that different from being married, which probably says a lot about my marriage.” I leave that line of thought behind and say, “I still work a lot. Only changes are I now live alone, I see my son less, and I can date other people.”

“What about your daughter?”

“She lives with her boyfriend now. I see her about the same as I did before. Maybe slightly less with the boyfriend and her new jobs. Where are you from?” I don’t want to talk about my kids just yet. Her age is still too much at the forefront of my mind.

“Charlotte. I wanted some distance between my family and me, and they were adamant about staying in-state for school. I almost went to the university in Wilmington, but changed my mind.”

I make our plates, fix myself a cup of coffee, and walk over to the table. “Still good?” I ask, nodding to her drink. “Or would you like something else?”

“Actually, can I have some water?”

“Sure.” Once I’ve fixed her a glass of iced water, we’re finally able to eat.

Except, Jamie’s eyes are fixed to my fridge.

“What is it?” I ask.

She stands and walks over to the refrigerator. She points to one of the pictures from a family vacation last year. “Who are these people?”

“My kids: Kayla and Gregory. Why?” My muscles tense and coil, ready to spring into defensive mode if necessary.

“Your daughter is Kayla Murphy?” She releases a short breath before looking over at me. “I have a class with her this semester.”

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Sneak Peek: Chapter One of Defend

Chapter One

Jamie

I’m suffocating.

This campus sucks all the air from my lungs and prevents me from inhaling. All the assignments, all the parties, all the people, and all the pressure is a burden with two hands around my throat. What started out as a way to lose the fifty pounds I gained freshman year and soon became therapeutic for me won’t be happening on campus today like usual. I need to get away from this place.

Running around campus won’t relax me. Hell, just standing here coils my muscles and locks up my joints. I hate this place. I need to get away from here. Without a second thought, I change, grab my keys, and jog out of my dorm room. A few minutes later, I’m in my car driving. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but campus isn’t where I need to be. Overall, college isn’t too bad, I guess, but I don’t like it. I pretty much despise it.

School has never been my cup of tea. Tests? Suck. Teachers lecturing for hours on end? Sucks. Homework? Sucks. The only reason I’m in college is because I disappoint my parents enough. They’d have a fit if I didn’t go to college, and well, if they want to pay for me to earn Cs in all my classes, then they’re more than welcome to do so.

I spot someone running on a sidewalk along the road and immediately pull over. If someone else runs here, then so can I. After locking the car doors, I put my earbuds in place and turn on the music on my phone, which rests in an armband, and I take off running on the sidewalk.

Sometimes, I start out slowly before increasing to a full speed run.

Sometimes, I switch from slow to fast, slow to fast, and so on.

Sometimes I run like today. No preparation. No buildup. Just full-fledged running.

My lungs soon burn as my feet pound on the sidewalk with every step. My music drowns out the sounds of any traffic or people. I run until my entire body aches and I can’t breathe. I run until college is a distant memory and not a current nightmare.

Then, I stop. Take a deep breath. Realize I have no idea where I am or where I parked my car.

Damn it.

Time to turn around. Considering I don’t know where my car is, I take off running just like when I started, only paying more attention to my surroundings. It doesn’t help that the sky changes from a bright blue to a more subdued blue by the second as it slowly gets dark. None of this looks familiar. It should, considering I ran past it all, but I was too lost in spacing out that I didn’t pay attention to anything.

Where is my car? It should be around here somewhere. Feeling discouraged, I press my panic button, hoping to hear my alarm. It’s not until I’m further down the street that it finally goes off. I parked just past someone’s house. I turn my alarm off, but then curse when I see my front driver’s side tire.

I must’ve run over something on the way here because it’s completely flat. I sit on the curb, the tears falling before I can stop them. Great. Another problem to deal with. At least this one is fixable. Resting my head on my knees, I decide to get all the tears out now before I change my tire to my spare. These tears have wanted to trail down my cheeks for months, as I’m one of those people who likes to bottle up my emotions, but today must be the day I break.

“Ma’am?”

I jump at the sound of a man’s voice and glance up; I didn’t even hear him approach. He’s tall with dirty blond slightly wavy hair, green eyes, and a body built for ogling. Holy hell, he’s hot. I wipe my tears and point at my tire, which causes him to walk over and look at the problem. I get a good view of his backside. He wears jogging pants and a white T-shirt that makes me want to drool, which is crazy because it’s not like he’s half-naked, but he’s still insanely hot right now.

“Do you have a spare? I can change your tire for you,” he offers as he crouches to be eye level with me.

My breath is stolen at seeing him up close. He’s even more gorgeous. He’s probably thirty-five, tops, but I still wouldn’t mind him taking me home. Not at all.

“Ma’am?” he repeats. “Are you okay?”

“It’s Jamie.”

He holds out his hand. “Brent.”

I shake his hand and nearly swoon. It’s a rough, callused hand. Good lord. “I know how to change it,” I manage to say, not yet releasing his hand.

“Offer still stands. I can even fix your tire if it needs patching or get it replaced with a new one if you want. My shop isn’t too far from here.” A shiver runs through me. Even his voice is sexy. “Come on, Jamie.” He pulls me up since we’re still holding hands and I’m thankful because the cold concrete under my butt was really starting to get to me. It may be March, but I get hot when I run no matter the time of year, so I dressed in shorts and a sports bra. “Let’s get your spare and I’ll change your tire,” Brent says, taking over the situation.

We get everything he needs from my trunk and I stand off to the side in front of my car, at Brent’s orders, while he begins to change my tire.

“Are you okay, Jamie?” he asks me again with a sideways glance.

I nod. “Rough, long day. The tire pushed me over the edge. You can really fix it?”

“Yeah. I’ll do it right now if you want.”

It’s six in the evening, so I have to wonder if there are any reasons behind him offering to help me after business hours, other than simply being nice.

“That’s my house right there.” He points at the house whose driveway I parked closest to. “But I started my run from the shop, so I don’t have my truck. I can drive us back to the shop, or I can give you the address and run back if that makes you more comfortable.”

He’d run back to his shop instead of riding with me if it makes me uncomfortable to have him in my car? That’s both crazy and sweet. And he called me ma’am, which would normally be a turn-off because I reserve that term for older women, but when he says it? I’ll repeat, swoon.

“You want to do it today?” I ask.

He shrugs. “It doesn’t matter to me. If you want it fixed today, I’ll do it for you. It’ll be one less thing for you to worry about on your rough day.”

“Thank you.”

He looks up at me and smiles. “Your day should end on a good note, Jamie.”

He goes back to work and we don’t speak. He offers to let me drive to his shop, but I’m not too keen on driving with a spare—I hate doing it—so I hand over my keys. This could be stupid to do with a stranger, but I’m too tired and stressed to care. While in the car, I remove my armband and my earbuds from my phone, slipping my phone into my pocket.

We don’t speak until Brent has my car in one of the bays and working on my tire. “You trust too easily,” he says, glancing over at me while I walk around and look at all the different tools and machines. “What if I was a serial killer or something?”

“You’re too hot to be crazy.”

He laughs but shakes his head. “There are real threats out there. You should be more careful.”

“I should,” I agree. He isn’t crazy or a serial killer. Now that my emotions are contained, I focus on Brent. “Does your girlfriend mind that you’re working late?”

“No girlfriend.”

“Wife?” I question, glancing over at him to see a smile play on his face.

“No wife, no girlfriend, no friend with benefits, Jamie.”

I smile because he’s as free as a bird. “Do you always offer to help women when you see them crying on the sidewalk?”

“Only the pretty ones.”

I laugh. “What will I owe you for this?” I ask as he puts my tire back on my car.

“It’s on the house.”

With a frown, I walk over to him. “No, really. What do I owe you?” He didn’t have to change my tire, bring me here and do this tonight, and he definitely deserves to be paid.

“Nothing, Jamie.”

“Do you normally work for free?”

“Making an exception for you.”

I fold my arms over my chest. I don’t like this. It’s nice, but he deserves something. Soon, my car is all ready to go. I lean against the hood, in no rush to leave, and Brent stands in front of me, wiping his hands with a red rag.

“Can I take you out to eat as a thank you?” I ask.

My heart falls as he shakes his head and tosses the rag onto a nearby counter. “No, but I will be more than happy to take you out.”

“Right now?” I grin as he nods, but then I glance down at myself with a frown. While I may be comfortable running out in public like this, I wouldn’t go into a restaurant wearing just a sports bra and shorts.

“Stay right there.” Brent disappears toward an office and returns a moment later with a white T-shirt, much like the one he’s wearing. “Will this make you feel better?”

“Yes, thank you.” Slipping on his T-shirt does crazy things to me. I almost shiver again and it takes every ounce of willpower not to inhale heavily because damn, does it smell good. It has this manly scent tinged with the smell of the shop, but it’s not too overpowering. It’s too big, so I tie a knot at my hip.

“Okay if I drive?” Brent asks.

“Sure.”

He shakes his head as he holds out his hand for me. “Way too trusting, Jamie.”

“Do you want me to say no and go home?” I ask as we walk outside into the frigid air and to a truck.

“No, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”

He opens my door for me.

I repeat. He opens the door for me. He even closes it once I’m in the passenger seat! Where did this man come from and can I keep him? It hits me that this isn’t the first time. He opened the door for me when I was getting into my car on the way here, too. I wonder if I waited, if he’d open the door for me to get out.

“Any particular place you’d like to go?” he asks.

“You can pick.”

I sneak glances at him, wondering how old he truly is. I’ll be twenty-two in four months and this is my last semester in hell—I mean, college. A man like Brent might want nothing more than a roll between the sheets. He looks good enough that I might be okay with that, especially if he can be a distraction from the stress college gives me.

At heart, I’m a hopeless romantic; I want the kind of love where it consumes me. Where even his annoying flaws cause me to love him a little more. Where I would fight for him and for us. Where he would be able to calm me in the simplest of ways when I’m stressed. Where I’d feel like I’m living in a fairytale, even the road bumps feeling worth it because I’m with the person I love with every breath I take.

But I’d take a fling until I could find that love if that’s all Brent offers. Then again, I’m getting ahead of myself. All he’s doing right now is taking me to dinner, specifically to a diner that serves nothing but breakfast food, and as soon as I realize that’s the type of restaurant we’re at, I realize breakfast for dinner is exactly what I want.

The place is surprisingly busy, but there’s an empty booth we’re able to claim. Once the waitress takes our order, I pick up my drink and ask Brent what’s been on my mind the entire ride over.

“So, how old are you?”

I take a sip as he answers, “Thirty-nine, but I turn forty soon.”

The drink gets caught in my throat and I choke with surprise. “Seriously?” I ask as I cough. There’s eighteen years between us? How is this possible?

There’s a small smile on his face. “How old did you think I was?”

“Thirty-five at the most, late twenties at the least. I’m only twenty-one; I turn twenty-two in July.”

His face pales and he shifts in his seat. I think this dinner just went to hell and we haven’t even been served yet. Brent clears his throat. “I have kids, a daughter and a son. Twenty and sixteen, and they haven’t had their birthdays yet this year.”

“Oh.” Wow. That’s crazy.

“Yeah. Oh.”

“Well, how about we forget those little facts?” When he nods in agreement, I ask, “Do you run every day?”

“No. Three to four days a week. It clears my head, keeps me in shape, and makes me feel good. You?”

The waitress drops off my waffles and eggs and his pancake platter as I answer him. “Every day if I can. College is...” I shudder at the thought of that horrid place.

“That bad, huh?”

“I can’t stand it. Did you go to college? Did you like it?”

“My dad had my brothers and me working in the shop as soon as he felt we were capable of helping. Right after high school, I found out my then-girlfriend and now ex-wife was pregnant. I needed money right then to support them and staying home to work in the shop was the best way to do that. I eventually went to learn more than what my dad taught me, and now, my brothers and I own the shop while my parents are retired and living in Florida.”

“Do you enjoy what you do?” It sounds like he had no choice but to do the work he does now.

Brent nods. “I didn’t care for it as a teenager, but it grew on me. Now I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

“That’s good. How old are your brothers?”

He grins. “Thinking of trading me in already?”

“Nope,” I say with a smile. “I already know I picked the right one. I won’t get rid of you yet.”

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo 

A Final Sneak Peek: Worth the Risk

Chapter Three

Raelynn

Bree stays home with Elias and his mom while I take Jackson to school. I may shed a few tears on the way home because for the first time, my baby wanted to walk by himself to class. I walked him to the entrance of the school, and then he left me without a backward glance. It was almost like the first day of school all over again. I had to go inside anyway to update his files with a new home address.

When I return, Elias goes straight into showing me every nook and cranny of the house practically before having another round of discussion in the kitchen with his mother nearby with Bree.

“I won’t be home until kinda late because we have a game tonight,” he continues. “Lock the doors if you go to bed before I get home, but if you set the alarm, make sure you do the silent alarm. That way it won’t go off when I come in and wake the kids. I have to run out and get a key made for you before I head to the rink. Is there anything you or Jackson need me to pick up? Do you want me to go ahead and set up her carseat in your car, so you don’t have to do it later?”

“I don’t think so, and if you want. It doesn’t matter.”

“I’ll do it.” He nods to himself. “And here’s a credit card you can use in case you decide there is something you need or would like to have here.”

He holds out the card, but I stare at it, flicking my gaze to see a disapproving look from his mother. “Um, that’s okay. We’ll be fine.” It doesn’t feel right to basically have my employer’s credit card to use at my disposal for things for Bree or Jackson and me. It’s worse that his mother watches my every move, waiting for me to mess up so she can convince him to fire me. It feels that way, at least.

“Raelynn, take it. I said I’d provide groceries for y’all. There’s a road trip coming up around Thanksgiving. You’ll need this. I’m not always going to be here or have time to go shopping.” Reluctantly, I take it, and he adds, “You don’t need to ask before you use it either, but Mom will show you where to put the receipts. Need anything else before I go?”

I think about my car, which is low on gas. I think about my phone bill, which is due today and will likely wipe my account of what money I have left. “Could I get this week’s pay already?”

“Yeah, sure.” He disappears upstairs and returns a minute later with a check.

I’ve never made so much money in one week before. I almost feel like I should argue about the amount since I’m living here rent free, utilities free, and grocery free, but I’m not. This was the amount he offered and I could definitely use the money.

“Thank you,” I say softly.

“Just don’t let me down.” He walks over to his mother, kisses her cheek, and then leans down to kiss Bree’s forehead, causing her to have that goofy baby smile. “Love you, princess.” It’s so sweet to watch Elias interact with his daughter. It also makes me wonder how he ended up with custody; he’s yet to mention her mother. I’ll have to ask about that later. I don’t want to be unprepared in case someone shows up. “I’ll be back shortly, Raelynn,” Elias tells me before heading out the door.

With her son gone, Alice interviews me with far more questions than her son did. I answer them completely. What harm is there in telling her that Jackson and I have struggled and the only reason I’m here is because I needed a job and Elias was offering? She asks me if I’m trying to take advantage of him, but when it becomes clear that I’m not because I had no clue I could take advantage of him, she accepts that. When she asks of my past, I politely shut her down. My past is my own and has no relevance.

~ ~ ~

Alice hugs Bree in her arms. “Take good care of my granddaughter, okay? I have complete faith that you will, but I have to say it anyway.”

“I will take care of her as if she’s my own,” I promise. Today is a big day for a couple of reasons, one of which is Alice leaves to go home.

I’m also here to take care of my daughter, Ma,” Elias tells her. “She’ll be fine. Unless you don’t trust us?”

“I trust you. That’s how I’m able to leave.”

It’s been nice to have Alice around. She’s helped me adjust to things here, learn my way around, and feel comfortable, somewhat. It’s nice to know she’s giving me her official stamp of approval.

Alice kisses Bree’s cheeks until Elias takes matters into his own hands and takes Bree away, giving her to me.

“It’s time to go, Ma. We don’t want you to miss your flight.”

“Fine. Fine.” Alice hugs me, kisses Bree one last time, and says, “Tell Jackson I said goodbye.”

“I will.” He’s already at school, so he’s missing the goodbye session. Alice did say goodbye to him this morning, but I’ll be sure to pass along the second goodbye.

Elias leaves to take his mother to the airport and I focus on a new milestone I must cross. Elias is about to leave for his first road trip with me as his nanny. I’m slightly terrified, especially since his mother is gone. To stay calm, I’ve been doing what I’m doing right now: sitting on the floor, playing with Bree, so I don’t have to think about it.

“Hey,” Elias says as he comes into the living room. “Feeling good about being on your own?”

“Yeah,” I lie. I mean, I can take care of my own baby, no problem, but it’s giving me serious anxiety to be left alone in someone else’s house with someone else’s baby and with someone else’s credit card to use as I see fit. What if I mess up? What if I do something that’s not up to his standards? I don’t feel like I know Elias well enough to know boundaries yet.

“Good. I, uh...”

At the sound of Elias sounding nervous, I glance up. “Is something wrong? Did I do something?”

“No,” he quickly says. “I feel like a jackass, but I’m not sure what’s the polite way to tell my nanny to give me my baby and sort of leave me alone until I have to leave.”

I laugh. “You say, ‘Raelynn, I’m about to leave for a few days and I’d really like to spend some time with my daughter before I go. Shoo, please.’” I stand, picking Bree up as I go, and hand her to him. “There you go. I’ll be in my room.”

Elias’s smile slowly disappears. “You don’t have to hole up in your room.”

“I don’t mind,” I say, meaning it. “Pretend I’m not even here.” I walk away before he can say anything else.

This is another thing I haven’t figured out yet. When and how to give him space. I live here, but I’m also an employee. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I don’t want him to feel like I’m constantly intruding on his space or on his time with his daughter, like I almost accidentally did just now. That’s one reason why the other night, when he texted me after a game, mentioning how the guys were going to a bar and he was debating going with them, I told him he should go. The kids were asleep. Why should he rush home? To keep me company? Ha.

I need to figure out a game plan to combat this. This, as in, a way to make sure he’s free to do as he wishes in his own home, and even out of it. I guess Jackson and I could always hang out in our rooms or outside when he’s home. We’d always be out of his way if we did that.

Despite my nerves and uncertainties, this job has been such a blessing. I’ve been able to do some schoolwork when I manage to snag some free time. Thankfully, Elias has internet, so I don’t have to go to the library to get my work done. I’ve been slowly working through earning a degree online. I’ve been lucky to receive grants through financial aid to pay for the expenses. I normally do my work when Elias has a game or once everyone has gone to bed.

I’ve been getting my baby fill, too. Every now and then, I’d wish I could find someone only to give Jackson a little brother or sister. He’s such a shy kid who sticks to himself. Maybe a sibling would help. I was an only child and I hope that one day I can give Jackson siblings. One day when I’m better off financially, which means it’ll be a long time before I can entertain the idea. Well, I’d need a man, too, but that’s not the point.

This is the only drawback to a job like this. I love babies. Jackson was a good baby. Then again, I was so in love with him, he could’ve cried twenty hours out of the day and I would have thought he was a good baby. Bree is also a good baby. She loves to interact and play. She naps during the day. She cries and makes a fuss when she wants something. She’s crawling up a storm and loves for us to walk around the house together. She’s adorable.

After awhile, Elias calls my name because it’s time for him to leave. He’s been great, too. It’s been sweet to watch him with Bree, but also because my second day here? When he was out getting a spare key made for me, he bought Jackson a nightlight. He refused to let me pay him back for it, but it was sweet that he decided to do that for Jackson.

As he hands Bree to me and I say, “Say bye bye to DaDa,” I see the nerves on his face for the first time. That’s not reassuring in the least, especially when Bree hiccups and whines a little, reaching for him. She knows what bye bye means. She also knows who DaDa is.

“Take care of my princess, please,” he says softly with his eyes on her.

“I promise I will.”

“If she says a coherent word that’s not DaDa, don’t tell me.” At that, I laugh and Elias looks at me. “Okay, tell me anyway.” He smiles easily and kisses her forehead once again. “I’ll see you soon. Call me if you need me.”

“Go,” I whisper. He’s wasting time unnecessarily. Elias nods and then he’s gone.

Bree and I play the day away until it’s time for her afternoon nap. She wakes up just in time for us to leave to pick Jackson up for school. Jackson has settled in okay; he’s taken a great interest in hockey all of a sudden. We watched a game on TV last night for the first time, but saw a player get hurt. Not so much fun. However, I’ve never seen Jackson take so much interest in something before. He keeps asking me about things, but I don’t know anything about the game.

“Momma, Bree is looking at me,” he says from the backseat on the way home. He hasn’t quite gotten used to her yet.

“She’s curious about you. Why don’t you talk to her? Or sing to her?”

Jackson decides to talk. He does so for a few minutes, but then asks, “Is Bree really a princess? She doesn’t look like a princess and Mr. EJ calls her princess.”

I smile and say, “She’s his princess. Like how you’re my baby.”

“So, she’s not really a princess?” he asks, not letting it go as I pull into the driveway.

“It doesn’t really matter.”

“Definitely not a princess,” he mutters. “Where’s Mr. EJ?” he asks once we’re inside and it’s clear we’re home alone.

“Mr. EJ is on a road trip. The team goes to other cities to play games.”

“Can we watch the games?” he asks hopefully.

“Maybe.”

Later that night, my phone vibrates with a video call from Elias. Before I answer, I pick Bree up from where she’s playing on the floor and say, “Want to talk to DaDa?” Her face lights up with a smile, and I’m pretty sure it’s only because I said DaDa. I swipe across on my phone and hold it away from us.

Bree is looking at me with her smile, patting my chest, until she hears Elias say, “There’s my princess.” Her head swivels toward the phone and she squeals.

Jackson leans over from next to me, his eyes filling the screen. “Hey, Mr. EJ.”

Elias laughs. “Hey, J-man. Did you have a good day at school?” My heart warms a little at him entertaining Jackson, even though he only called to see his little girl. It’s already sweet that he has a nickname for my son, too.

A foul smell tickles my nose as Jackson answers him. “Jackson, hold my phone for a second, and you don’t have to hold it so close to your face.” I peek into Bree’s diaper and find the source. “Talk to Mr. EJ. Elias, I’m changing her diaper real quick and then she’s all yours, I promise.”

“No rush,” he says.

Bree is pretty easy to change. She likes to play with her feet. As long as you talk or sing to her, she’s happy and lets me clean her up and change diapers rather quickly. Jackson has gone quiet on Elias by the time I return, leaving him to do all the talking. Sometimes, he talks to him just fine. Others? He reverts to being shy.

“Thanks, baby,” I say, kissing the top of his head. Jackson doesn’t waste a second saying goodbye to Elias and handing the phone back to me. “No coherent words so far,” I tell him, causing him to smile.

“Good. How’d today go?”

“Just like every other day,” I speak over Bree who wants to talk just as much in her gibberish. Elias doesn’t seem to know who to focus on: me or her. I decide to be quiet and let her talk, making sure I smile and laugh when she seems to want a reaction.

“She really likes you,” he says quietly, bringing my gaze back to my phone. “She cried a little when you left the room today; that was when I knew. She doesn’t do that for just anyone.”

I can’t tell if he’s happy about this or not, so I’m not sure what I should say. “I really like her, too,” is what I settle on.

He talks to her for a little bit before it’s time for me to lay her down for the night. He doesn’t hang up, though. Oh, no. I have to take her upstairs, place her in her crib, and then let Elias say goodnight. She cries as I walk out of the room and Elias frowns.

“I always hate when she does that, even though I know she’ll stop within a minute or so. It took my mom a long time to convince me not to stay by her side all night.”

“It’s nice that you had a good support system to help you learn the ropes.” It took forever to become semi-confident in my actions as Jackson’s parent because I was so young and didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. A question seems to be on the tip of Elias’s tongue, but I don’t want to talk about me or my past. “I’ll let you go. I need to get Jackson ready to wind down for the night as well and tidy up the house.”

Elias nods and says goodnight, hanging up a moment later. I take a deep breath and peer into Bree’s room. She’s still lying down. I’ve caught her standing up a few times after I’ve walked out. I’ll check on her later to see if she’s asleep.

~ ~ ~

The next day, Jackson watches cartoons while Bree sits on my hip. She’s been a bit fussy, so I’ve been dancing around the house with her, singing, much to Jackson’s annoyance. Bree has loved it, though. There’s a knock on the door and I freeze, mid-step. I should have no guests with Elias gone. What if it’s her mother? I still don’t know if she may pop up at some point. Damn it, I should’ve asked Elias!

With a deep breath, I slowly walk over to the door and open it. My eyes nearly pop out of my head. Never thought it would be this guy. “Brayden, right?” The man from the quilt shop. Elias told me his name is Brayden. He’s one of his teammates and Deanna is his girlfriend.

“Yeah. Sorry to drop by like this, but I needed to get out of the house. Can I hang here for a while?”

“Um.” Why on earth would he want to do that? Why is he even here? Then, it hits me. He was the guy who was injured in the game Jackson and I watched. I glance over my shoulder at Jackson, who watches with interest with his chin resting on the top of the back of the couch. This guy was nice to me. He’s friends with Elias. “Sure,” I say, not totally confident in this answer.

“You can say no, you know. I just wanted to see Bree, but if you’re not comfortable or whatever...”

“No, that’s okay. Come in.” I won’t take it back now. I step aside and Brayden doesn’t give me a chance to change my mind again.

“Hey, Jackson,” he says as I close the door.

He knows my son’s name? Jackson looks as surprised as I feel. Elias probably told him.

“This is Mr. Brayden, Jackson. He’s friends with Mr. EJ.” Jackson, my shy, shy boy. He turns around and focuses on the TV. “Sorry. He’s shy around new people.” That’s what I always say. “Did you want to hold her?”

“Yes, please.” He holds his hands out for Bree and I let him take her, watching as he walks into the living room as if he’s been here before.

For a moment, I worry if this is the right decision. Would Elias want him over here while he’s not here? Would he want him to play with Bree? Does Elias know he’s here? But then, I remind myself that this guy helped me get this job, so Elias has to trust him.

“Do you mind if I catch up on some chores?” Might as well take advantage of the unexpected babysitter.

“No, go ahead,” he says. “I’ll find you if we need anything.”

“Thanks.” I glance down at Jackson. “I’ll be in the kitchen, baby.” He doesn’t look up at me. “Mr. Brayden plays hockey with Mr. EJ, so you’ll be fine,” I add, hoping that relaxes him. He finally glances at Brayden when I say that.

Feeling better about things, I leave the three of them to clean up the house. I scrub and clean the kitchen until it’s sparkling before I return the living room to check on my guest.

“How is it going in here?” I ask.

“Is there a place I can lie down for a minute?”

He wants to lie down? I nod, hoping I didn’t look too surprised. Brayden and Bree are behind me as we walk upstairs. “You can lie in here if you want,” I say as he lays Bree down in her crib. “But if you’d rather have a bigger bed, you can have your pick of Elias’s or Jackson’s, I guess.” I’m certainly not offering mine, even if he does seem nice enough.

Brayden seems confused for a moment, which worries me, but then he says, “I’ll lie in here. I’ll be out of here soon.”

“Let me know if you need anything.”

The moment he nods, I leave the room, pulling the door until it’s almost closed. I could use a break for a while, so I go sit with Jackson. He and Brayden apparently talked about hockey. Jackson shows me what he’s learned, which is mostly what the referee’s signals mean.

He, of course, wants to watch the hockey game tonight and I don’t think I can deny him. He won’t be able to stay up for all of it, but he can watch some of it. The game comes on and I keep glancing at the clock. Where is Brayden? It’s getting kind of late. I wait and I wait, but when eight thirty rolls around, I walk upstairs.

He’s lying on the bed with a pillow over his head. Oh, man. I have to wake him up. He probably wants to go home. With a deep breath, I shake his shoulder. “Brayden? Brayden?” He lifts the pillow and winces immediately. “I’m sorry to wake you, but it’s getting kind of late and I thought you might want to wake up.”

“What time is it?” he grumbles.

“Eight thirty.”

“I’m sorry.”

He rubs his forehead before standing and sighing. When he has to blindly reach out for the wall to steady himself, I worry about what happens if I have to support him. This is a big, tall man. I am not even average height for a woman. He’d probably crush me if I had to help him down the stairs. He’d lose his footing and then we’d fall and I’d die either from the fall or him landing on me.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

“Yeah.” He pats his pockets and then pulls out a phone. “I’m going to make a phone call.”

He seems to be fine. Bree stands in her crib, so I pick her up to take her with me downstairs. She’s not used to people in and out of her room and talking, or to going to sleep as early as she did. Tonight will be a long one with her; I just have a feeling.

I reclaim my seat next to Jackson on the couch and Bree pulls on my hair. It’s her favorite thing to do. She doesn’t really pull too hard. She likes to tug while her fingers try to make knots form in my hair.

Brayden’s footsteps are heavy down the stairs. “Someone’s coming to pick me up,” he says. I nod as he takes a seat in the chair, looking absolutely miserable. He leaves with a quick thanks and a see you later once he sees his ride is here.

With him gone, I focus on getting Bree back to bed. With Elias gone for a few days and Jackson out of school until next Monday due to Thanksgiving, my plan is to take him shopping. He’s in desperate need of new clothes and now, I have some money to buy him some. It’ll be interesting to shop with both him and Bree, but I’m sure I’ll manage just fine.

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Back to Me is FREE!

Back to Me Free.jpg

Hey, y'all! Guess what?! You can now start the Carolina Rebels series for free! That's because Back to Me doesn't cost even one penny right now! So, go, go, go and download your copy!

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Noah Ramsey has a great hockey career, a wonderful family, and a good best friend, but what he wants most is to be with the love of his life who walked away from him years ago. When he finds her at the airport, he realizes she's changed, and she's struggling with things she doesn't want to tell him about. Noah also realizes just how much she scarred him when she left.

Meredith Quick always plans everything out. She chose her tennis career over love in order to better succeed, but her plan dissolves when an injury threatens her career and her fiancé leaves her. Struggling through pain and the uncertainty of her future, she realizes her first misstep was walking away from Noah. She impulsively decides to go back to him while she attempts to put her life back together.

Reacquainting isn't easy when Noah doesn't quite trust Meredith to stay and Meredith struggles with overcoming the pain she's endured without him. Can they work through their issues and move forward, or will their past ruin things between them forever?

Get it on Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

WIP Progress Report

- Title: Untitled
- Genre: New Adult Romance
- Word Count/Goal: 33,410/80,000
- Release Date: Early 2018? Maybe.
- Series? Yes. Book 1 of new series. 

Yes, you read all of the above correctly.

No, I'm not working on a Carolina Rebels book. 

Yes, I'm going back to NA.

Yes, it's a new series.

What else can I tell you? Well, the female main character? Her name is Kayla. She's pretty awesome. The male? I can't tell you his name because you may have met him already in another book. I am telling my readers in Lindsay's League next week who he is, and they'll be the first to know. 

I can tell you that I'm having so much fun with these two. I'm so happy I decided to go on this new adventure with this new series. (And don't worry Carolina Rebels fans, I haven't abandoned that series at all!) 

The main point of this progress report is to let you know that I've started a new project/series. I don't want to say too much just yet since it is in the early stages, but I can say that I've worked it in such a way that there is loads of possibilities available. I don't know about you, but that makes me squeal with excitement! 

The future looks brighter than ever and I'm so excited for it! 

As y'all know, I'm always juggling multiple projects, so read on for more updates.

Other Projects:
- A Carolina Rebels WIP is with betas.

- One WIP (a secret project) is on hold because I keep getting caught up in the current WIP.

- The first secret project is with betas and eventually, I'll have my plan finalized for this.

WIP Progress Report (#13)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my current WIP, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

- Title: Untitled
- Genre: Hockey Romance
- Word Count/Goal: 7,710/?
- Release Date: Tentatively sometime in 2017
- Series? #3 in the Carolina Rebels series, but it's a novella.

It's been forever (since August) since I've done a progress report! It's about time y'all get the news on the latest WIP, right?! Well, I've set aside Because It's You for the moment while my betas have it and I've started on the next leg of the Carolina Rebels series. After Marc comes Ian Rhett. 

Ian Rhett will be getting a prequel novella, which is what I'm working on now. His story starts long before where his novel will start, hence the reason he's getting a prequel. You can see that I also put a question mark for my word count goal because I'm not too sure how long I want it to be yet, so I'm just going to see where it ends up.

It's fun so far! I'm in love with this series; I was initially going to break to work on a standalone, but the words are flowing, so I'm going to keep going! That's really all I have for this go round. I just wanted to give a quick update. Plus, I have to go study for a test I have to take later today.

Other Projects:
- I'll start planning a secret mini project this week or next week as well.
- As I said earlier, Because It's You is currently with my betas.

Carolina Rebels News!

First of all, thank y'all for a fantastic release of Back to Me! I've said it before, and I'll said it again: I didn't think it was possible for me to be even more excited for a series than I already was, but I am! All thanks to seeing your excitement match mine! So, thank you!

Now, let's move on to the news! If you're a member of my Facebook group, Lindsay's League, then you've already seen the beautiful cover for the next Carolina Rebels book, but that's not only one thing I'm sharing today. 

The second book is Because It's You and it will release February 20, 2017 (my birthday)! If you've read Back to Me, then you know it's about Marc Polinski. If you haven't read Back to Me, then get a glance at the cover and don't read any further as the blurb can be a bit spoiler-y, I think. So, you've been warned.

Marc Polinski is known for having fun, always smiling, and being a third wheel for his friends, Noah and Meredith. A rare one night stand at a Halloween party and running into the woman again sets Marc on a path of no return. He can’t walk away from her, even if he wanted to, and he absolutely doesn’t want to do that.

Elizabeth Boyd hasn’t dated in a long time and if it wasn’t for her sister-in-law, she wouldn’t have been pushed toward the seemingly bad idea of Marc Polinski. She’s not sure she wants to date, but she can’t seem to turn Marc down either. Little by little, she lets Marc wiggle past all of her defenses.

Their relationship is rocky from the start, and with both of them having demons and secrets, things between them are a struggle. Will they be able to overcome their pasts, let each other in, and start building a life together or will they find they were doomed from the start?

Get it on iBooks | Nook | Kobo

(Amazon link will be available in late November or so.)

WIP Progress Report (#12)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my current WIP, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

- Title: Untitled
- Genre: Hockey Romance
- Word Count/Goal: 34,971/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, early 2017
- Series? Book 2 in the Carolina Rebels series.

This is sort of a double update. First, let's tackle the first book in the Carolina Rebels series, which will release October 4th, has a cover, and is currently available for preorder. Back to Me is officially D-O-N-E with revisions. It's about to lace up its skates and head off to the editor. :D I finished just in time since school starts Monday. I also recently finished picking out the teasers for the book, so next, I'll be putting those together as well as ordering bookmarks for the series.

Second, I've been working on the next book in the series, and I'm in LOVE. There's just something special about this book and these characters. I've laughed, I've cried, I've wanted to hug them both. It's been fun to write so far. I'm cruising right along and right on schedule, which is a relief! 

I'm so excited about this series and I can't wait for y'all to be introduced to the team in October. This new series is going to be so much fun!

Other Projects:

Making Me Sane is gearing up for release on September 7th! Don't miss out on the anticipated sequel to Driving Me Mad. Sign up for my newsletter so you'll be able to read the first five chapters on September 1st!

WIP Progress Report (#10)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my current WIP, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

 

Title: 

Making Me Sane (Sanity, #2)

- Genre:

 New Adult Romance w/ Anxiety/Depression 

- Release Date:

 Tentatively, the summer of 2016

- Series? 

Will be book 2 of 2.

Y'all. This book is DONE. Well, the first draft is complete. I've been working so hard this past week to finish this book on time, and I've finished a few days early! I'm so excited about all the things that happen to Brittany and Trace in this book. I can't wait to share this couple with you. I just love them so much!

I've updated the word count box on the left and noted my new primary WIP! My next WIP is Noah and Meredith's book, the first in my upcoming hockey romance series featuring players on the Carolina Rebels team. I'm super excited about that series. I'll be start it as soon as I get back from my Alaskan cruise. It's going to be so nice to have a break before more work starts. I'm leaving my computer at home. I'll be without my phone and internet and it should be great! The only electronic device I'll be using is my Kindle, which is really for the traveling to and from Seattle, where we're actually leaving from.

I just had to make a post about finishing this book. Next step is to send it to my betas before revisions, edits, and formatting. I'm hoping to release it shortly after 

Driving Me Mad

 releases on July 6th, so y'all don't have to wait too long to see what happens next. :)

Other Projects:

Mary and I will be spending the next few months getting the final three books in

The Ninth Inning series

ready for release.

That's all for now. Happy reading!

WIP Progress Report (#9)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my current WIP, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

Title: Making Me Sane (Sanity, #2)
- Genre: New Adult Romance w/ Anxiety/Depression 
- Word Count/Goal: 39,526/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 2 of 2.

Today, I released I'm less than 500 words away from the halfway point of this WIP, word-wise! That is awesome, especially since I have exactly one month to finish it. My time is being cut short because I leave for a cruise next month. Hitting the halfway point is a great reason to post a progress report!

I also realized that there are some key parts I need to figure out for the rest of the book. That could be helpful when writing the last half of their story, you know. ;) As soon as that's done, I can keep writing, wrap the book off, and ship it to my betas.

I feel like I can't say too terribly much about this book because I don't want to give anything away, especially since y'all don't even know what happens in the first book yet. I am enjoying this one as much as the first one. They are dealing with new challenges, old ones, and having to deal with the things life can throw at them. 

That's all for now! While I'm plotting away, make sure you check out the series page to get all the details about the first book, Driving Me Mad.

Other Projects:
While writing this book, I'm outlining the next project after this one, which will be a hockey romance series featuring players from my new Carolina Rebels team. I've actually written scenes here and there for the first four books. I'm very excited about these!

Mary and I are still working on The Ninth Inning series as well! We're writing the last book in the series, while also prepping the remaining books for publishing. 

April's Paperback Pick

This month's paperback pick was "forced" on me by Mary Smith. Once she found out I hadn't read this series, she insisted I start. So, last month when we were in Dallas in a bookstore, I saw Dark Lover by J.R. Ward and bought it. I deemed it my Paperback Pick of the Month.

It took some time to get used to how it's written, but once I did, I was hooked! So hooked that before I even finished the book, I bought books 2-13. I'm anxiously waiting for Tuesday when they will come in.

I just got sucked into the story and into the lives of all these characters. It was definitely a book that makes you want to read it all in one sitting. Forcing myself to go to bed and then spending most of the next day running errands while every other thought was of wanting to finish the book is not fun!

I can't wait to keep reading and find out what happens with everyone. Thanks for the rec, Mary!

The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed — orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate — Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger—one that threatens to consume them both....

WIP Progress Report (#8)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my current WIP, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

In this WIP PR, we're tackling the second book with Brittany and Trace. 

- Titled: Making Me Sane (Sanity, #2)
- Genre: New Adult Romance w/ Anxiety/Depression 
- Word Count/Goal: 15,589/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 2 of 2.
- First Sentence of Last Chapter Written: 
Never, in all the years I've known Brittany, has there been distance between us.

The first book with Brittany and Trace, Driving Me Mad, will be going to the editor soon, so that's exciting! Right now, I'm working on their second book and hope to have it done by the end of next month, and I think I'm on pace for that.

It's really interesting to be writing this book because it occurs a year after the first one ends. I can't wait to share more with y'all. I'll first reveal the covers for both books in my April newsletter, so be sure to sign up if you haven't already.

I have a ton to accomplish this month, so I better head out and write more of this book!

Other Projects:
While writing this book, I'm outlining the next project after this one, which will be a hockey romance series. :D

Mary and I are still working on The Ninth Inning series as well! 

WIP Progress Report (#7)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my solos, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

I'm jumping right in with this PR on Brittany and Trace's story.

- Tentatively titled: For Now
- Genre: New Adult Romance w/ Anxiety/Depression 
- Word Count/Goal: 69,977/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 1 of 2.
- First Sentence of Last Chapter Written: 
She hasn't smiled since she arrived.

What's new? Well, I have a tentative title and I'm closing in on reaching my goal for the word count with a little over 10,000 words to go. I just finished outlining what is left to be told of the story. I have four chapters remaining in this WIP! 

Holy moly.

I don't feel like I'm close to the end, which is probably because their story will pick up again in a second book. I feel like this has been a quick book to write, even though it hasn't. So what's different to make it feel like that?

For one, I joined a challenge with other authors to write at least 100 words a day. That's definitely helped me make sure I write a little chunk every single day as well as having a general outline for this book from the beginning. I've always known where it's going, how it's going to end, and a few key parts that need to happen. I haven't written this book any faster than my others; it isn't any shorter either. Yet, still feels like my time with these characters so far have flown by. Maybe it's just because I've had so much going on in other areas of my life as well. 

Anyway, that's all for this progress report. The next one will mean I've finished the draft! 

Other Projects:
Bending Under Pressure is patiently awaiting its release day next month. I'm getting teasers and such ready. 

I'll be writing more on books from The Ninth Inning series.

That's all for now! I just wanted to write a quick update during the intermission of this Detroit/Buffalo game, and since I had an update to give!

Stay safe and warm in this weather, y'all!

WIP Progress Report (#6)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my solos, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

When working on the latest chapter of Brittany and Trace's story, I knew it was time for another WIP PR. Let's go over the quick details first.

- Untitled. (However, I have an idea, but not sure if it'll stick.)
- Genre: New Adult Romance w/ Anxiety/Depression 
- Word Count/Goal: 51,636/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 1 of 2.
- First Sentence of Last Chapter Written: 
I'm calling the grinch, babe,” I whisper, pulling the covers over my head, so I don't have to look at him.

There are two reasons why I wanted to give an update. One is because I passed the 50K mark, and that's worthy of an update. The other is because I felt compelled to give an update, mostly for myself and the need to talk about these characters. As you may remember from the last WIP PR, Brittany and Trace deal with anxiety and depression. That alone makes me love them a little more because these are my favorite kinds of characters to write.

However, this book is making me feel guilty. Here is a troubled pair and I'm putting them through hell right now. Usually, this would make me feel a giddy kind of evil, but this time, I just feel guilty. Poor characters! They're gonna break my heart, y'all.

I've known where this book was headed since I started writing it. It's finally catching up to me now because I'm having to write it. In an odd way, I'm eager to write it, too. That's all I'm going to say because I don't want to give anything away. Let's move on to the short updates on other projects!

Other Projects:
The final touches to get Bending Under Pressure ready for release are happening this month.

I'll be writing and doing edits on books from The Ninth Inning series to prepare for the upcoming season.

And that's it! As of right this second, I'm on my way to the airport to fly to Pittsburgh for a few days. I can't wait!!!

WIP Progress Report (#5)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my solos, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

Before I get started, you should take a quick look to your left! I've added WIP Word Count section. It's just a little way to get a quick strictly numerical update on WIPs. It's updated every chapter pretty much.

So, based on that, you see that I have two WIPs listed: Brittany & Trace's and Noah & Meredith's. I ended up having to set Noah and Meredith aside while I figured some things out and ended up reshuffling my WIP To-Do list. 

Therefore, my main priority is now to write Brittany and Trace's books and then Noah & Meredith's. I'll work on them here and there, of course, but they aren't #1 right now. Let's talk about who is!

- Untitled.
- Genre: New Adult Romance 
- Word Count/Goal: 17,772/80,000
- Release Date: Tentatively, the summer of 2016
- Series? Will be book 1 of 2.
- First Sentence: My stomach heaves, the retched sound of vomit falling into the toilet echoes in the air as my hands grip the seat.

Nice start, huh? What better way to start a book than with the main character throwing up? Haha!

Anyway, I think this WIP will excite fans of Nepenthe. Not because of any characters are crossing over, but because of topic. These two characters both deal with anxiety and/or depression. With Nepenthe, only one person suffered. I wanted to have both of them in the same boat.

I want to write about how they'll deal with it differently. This book, in comparison to Nepenthe, shows more of the physical affects, hence how the book starts. These are the kinds of books that I love to write more than anything, so I'm really happy to bring Brittany and Trace to you for two books.

Another thing that has me excited is the dynamic of the two. Trace is older, divorced, and more settled in life than she is. Brittany is trying to survive her last semester of college. And Trace was Brittany's therapist before she left for college.

A lot of different little and big things are going on in this book. That's all I have for now though! Just wanted to give an update.

Other projects:
Mary and I are cracking down on the rest of The Ninth Inning series and making beautiful progress!

Without a Doubt releases this month on the 18th! SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!

Bending Under Pressure, Haley & Keelan's book, will release February 20, 2016. Check out the details here.

WIP Progress Report (#4)

To recap, these "progress reports" are basically a way for y'all to know a little more about what I'm working on and to be able to follow along with the process. The main update will be on my solos, but at the end, there will be quick updates on other projects. 

So, what is going on with my WIPs?

Haley and Keelan are finished. Sort of. Right now, some betas are reading through it and will be providing me feedback. I'll start working on revisions next. The tentative title is Bending Under Pressure

My main focus next will be on writing Season 2 of The Ninth Inning series with Mary Smith. We're almost half way through Season 1, so we'll be working hard to get those in the next set written.

However, the next book I planned to write has been on my mind, so I started that as well. Here's those details, plus the first sentence of the first chapter!

- Untitled.
- Genre: Sports (Hockey) Romance.
- Word Count/Goal: 13,822/80,000
- Release Date: If all goes well, hopefully by summer 2016!
- First Sentence: "The worst part of flying somewhere is waiting in the airport beforehand."

This WIP features Meredith Quick and Noah Ramsey, a couple who have a history. Meredith is a retired pro tennis player and Noah is currently a pro hockey player. Here's a little unedited snippet to give you an idea of what Meredith is feeling when the book first begins: 

How do things get so far off track? I had dreams and a plan to make them all come true. Instead, my dreams have run into reality to come to an end before I'm ready. This isn't how I imagined myself at twenty-six. Everything is wrong and in pieces. It'll be a miracle if my spontaneous decision actually helps. I can't help but to be skeptical since I've tried to always plan my life. Look at where that got me. Recently retired with a called off engagement and a broken soul.
I've spent the last six months retracing my steps. Where did I go wrong? What part of my planning caused the first misstep to land me where I am now? Every time I come back to one decision.
Leaving Noah.

That has to be where I went wrong.

So, with her life as a mess, she's hoping to come up with a new plan, starting with reuniting with Noah. The words are flowing like crazy with this book and I'm already in love with this story.

This is another one that I outlined, so I'm excited to get my ideas and plans for this couple down in words. I almost want to rub my hands together and laugh evilly for all that I have planned. Plus, I'm stoked that I'm finally tackling a second chance romance, something on my Writing To-Do List. I love reading those kind of books and I'm tickled to have Meredith and Noah be the characters for such a story.

It's kind of weird to think that with my last three projects I've gone from a New Adult Romance, to a Young Adult Romance, and now to a Sports Romance. I'm a little all over the place, but I'm not complaining! It's cool to be in slightly different areas while all under the romance umbrella. 

So, that's it for this WIP Progress Report! What are some of your favorite second chance romances?

Until next time, happy reading!

Teaser Thursday: Felix (The Ninth Inning, #1)


We're on the last teaser for the first book in Mary's and my new baseball series, which releases tomorrow! Last week, I shared a teaser from Abigail's POV and one in Felix's POV. Then, on Tuesday, I shared another one in Abigail's POV.

With this one,  y'all are getting your first glimpse into Blake and Hector, who both have books following Felix's.
Back in the locker room after showering and changing, Hector walks over to me with Blake in tow.

“We’re going to a bar to celebrate. You coming?”

“Yeah, sure.” I grab my cell and keys and then we all drive separately to the bar Hector suggested. As we walk into the place, I text Abigail.

Me: Don’t go to sleep yet, please. I’ll be there in a few hours for my post-game kiss.

I slip my phone into my back pocket as we take seats at the bar. The bartender comes over to us almost immediately. Her arms are both full-sleeves of tattoos, which are clearly visible because she’s wearing a strapless top. She has her nose pierced as well as three in both her ears, plus a bar at the top of one. Her black hair is pulled back into a ponytail and she flicks her gaze over each of us.

“What can I get you?” she asks.

We give her our orders and she walks away.

“Really, Hector?” Blake says. “She’s your type?” It’s then that I notice Hector is still watching her.

Without taking his eyes off her, he answers, “Beautiful women are my type and she definitely fits. Holy shit, she’s pretty.”

I glance back at the girl, seeing more tats on her back. She’s pretty, yeah. Blake shakes his head and laughs a little as she comes back, setting our drinks down in front of each of us.

“What’s your name, beautiful?” Hector asks, leaning towards her.

She smiles brightly at him. “My first name is Not and my last is Interested. Enjoy your drinks.”

Blake and I laugh as she walks away. Hector’s frown flattens and he glares when Blake says, “Looks like you’re not her type.”

“Unlikely. She probably just didn’t like that I called her beautiful. I’ll have her number before I go home.” He sounds so sure of himself.

“Good luck with that,” I laugh.

After our first drinks are gone, Blake and I get up to play a game of darts. Hector stays behind at the bar to order more drinks and to try again with the bartender.

I throw a dart and say, “Fifty bucks says he doesn’t even get her name.”

Blake glances at the girl. “He may be able to get that out of her, but there’s no way he’ll get her number. He’s not that good with women.”

“I’m hurt you’re betting against my odds, Blake,” Hector says as he sets three filled glasses down on a nearby table. “I’d expect it from Felix, but not from my wingman.”

“We aren’t betting against your odds. We’re betting on the fact that you have no odds,” Blake answers, throwing his dart. “Did she give us refills or did she send another girl?”

We look at Hector and wait for a response. “Another girl,” he mumbles, shaking his head.

I laugh, drink, and then take my turn with the dartboard. Blake and I play the game while Hector switches his attention between the girl and us. After our second round of drinks, we cut ourselves off and switch to water. We watch as he manages to get her attention and makes her wait on us. He still returns defeated.

“Felix sucks at darts. Play a game with me and maybe then you’ll have a better plan.” Blake chuckles as he hands Hector some darts.

I ignore Blake’s jab and check my phone. There’s a new text message from Abigail, so I open it.

Abigail: Just a kiss? I would figure you had more in mind.

I reply back that I’m on my way as I say, “Hey, guys. I’m going to go. Unlike some of us, I have a girl who is interested. Good luck though.”

Hector glares and Blake chuckles. After paying my tab, I head home. Abigail’s text has my mind running rampant, making me even more eager to see her.

Felix releases tomorrow, but you can still preorder your copy on Amazon, iBooks, B&N, or Kobo. Be sure to add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads, too!
The Ninth Inning series presents Memphis Angels’ pitcher, Felix Hernandez.

Felix Hernandez’s life is baseball, baseball, baseball, and then his family. He rarely remembers anything that doesn’t concern the game. He’s never had a good enough reason to reprioritize his life or change his ways.

Relying on her sisters most of the time, Abigail Harris is trying to put her life in order. She’s now a graduate student and living on her own. It’s not until Felix deems her his lucky charm that her life begins to change. Now, Abigail isn’t sure if she should be focusing on her happiness or the professional baseball player.

Can the two handle any fastballs that come their way or will they strike out under pressure?