????????Sail on the high seas or into uncharted galaxies!
When it comes to love…pirates risk all!????????
OUT NOW! Get your copy!
I’m excited this collection is finally out there! This big sexy book is filled with 18 steamy stories about those bad boys of the seas and stars! And at just $0.99, you can’t go wrong. Indulge yourself!
All my author-contributor-friends and myself can’t wait for you to dive in. This book is truly a labor of love. I chose all the stories and did the final polish. My sister, Elle James, created this incredible cover! All the authors are thrilled and are getting the word out! They’ll be blogging about the inspiration for their stories at the Collections website over the next couple of weeks. There will be snippets from the book and PRIZES! So, be sure to check us out. Maybe you’ll want to subscribe to that website so you don’t miss a thing!
And something you can do? Tell a friend. Share the news. And if you have the time and inclination, write a review. We’d all be forever grateful! In the meantime, enjoy the 18 stories inside this lush volume of erotic short stories! Bon appétit!
This is the intro I wrote for the book…
Who doesn’t love a good thrust and parry in their romance? I’m talking about pirates, of course. Yes, I wish Jack Sparrow bathed more often, but I’d still rather sail with him than Will Turner.
Apparently, there are plenty of authors out there who love writing the swashbuckling hero, too. When I put out a call for pirate stories, I was deluged. However, I didn’t put any constraints on my writer friends. I wanted a delicious variety of golden-hearted bad boys.
In this volume, you’ll find familiar tropes revisited—the lady disguised as a cabin boy, a spirited miss bargaining with her virtue to escape a terrible marriage, and competing pirates seeking the same treasure—but you will also find surprises. Anyone for pirates stealing treasure on the moon? Or a rugged feline-species pirate flying a dirigible, high above the seas? Or how about a time-traveling jewel thief, who lands aboard a pirate’s vessel in the middle of a storm? Or modern-day pirates, who aren’t quite the scourge of the seas you’d imagine…
And for those of you who, like me, fantasized a differently-orientated tale after watching Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany in Master and Commander, there are three male-male romances, just for you!
In all, there are eighteen very different stories, some following familiar story-lines and some kicking out the sides of the box to deliver a delicious surprise—but all featuring sexy bad boys, naughty alpha males, unafraid to risk life and limb for treasure or a lucky lover’s heart.
So, sail on the high seas or into uncharted galaxies! When it comes to love, pirates risk all! ~ Delilah Devlin
For a chance to win a $10 Amazon.com gift card, tell me how you plan to read this book! For instance, in the bath, with a partner, etc. Have fun!
P.S. I’m running a contest on my Collections website, too! So, be sure to click on Collections, see what new posting is there, and enter the contest!
I’m Melanie Jayne, Romance writer, lover of fun, and wonderer. Now I’m not going to try to tell you that when a question enters my brain that I rush to ask Alexa or Google for help, nor do I pour over research books. I tend to be lazy. I usually make a cup of coffee, eat some chocolate, and make up different scenarios in my mind.
In my latest book, A Change of Plan, the heroine, Ramsay Kent, is complex, difficult, and a diva. When I was planning this series I didn’t intend for her to have a book. However, the badass Osi was a hit and he is the type of man who can easily have a woman anytime, but he wants Ramsay.
So I needed to figure out how this driven, successful fashionista was unable to put down roots and commit to a man who cared about her. When writing, sometimes things fall into place easily and because Ramsay never chooses the smooth path, nothing felt right. So I did what I always do when I hit a rough patch in my storytelling, I watch daytime TV, the treasure chest of dysfunction and ideas. My favorites are Divorce Court and Dr. Phil, sometimes it can be the major topic or a simple sentence that helps. On that particular day, Judge Lynn Toler counseled the wife not to let a label she acquired as a teen define her life.
How many times have I used the term, “Only Child,” to explain my selfishness? Or I have pegged someone as a cheerleader, prom queen, or jock? I remember my mother reminding me to be neat and orderly with my belongings every time I packed for camp, and before I left for my freshman year at college, she worried that I would be a sloppy roommate (I wasn’t). However, to this day, I worry about it whenever I travel and share a room. I don’t want to be the slob.
So as I wrote Ramsay’s story, it became clear that she believed herself to be responsible for a terrible chain of events. She’d never discussed those feelings with a professional and they were allowed to dig in and fester. She wants to atone but worries about people finding out. She’s caught in a vicious cycle of blaming herself, wanting to make up for her sins, worrying that she can never do enough, falling short, and then blaming herself even more.
For 2018, I decided that I would try to work on my bad habits. Make better food choices, focus less on the negativity, set long-term career goals, and then list paths to achieve. I was amazed by the number of times that the words “I can’t” or “this won’t work” popped into my head based upon crap I was told in high school. Have I allowed those opinions to hold me back for thir…, er too many years?
Did my algebra teacher’s summation that I lacked focus and commitment stick with me all of these years? I do have a history of career hopping? Mr. Jewell spent one hour a day with me and somehow he knew me? I rarely spoke in class because I knew that I wasn’t getting the math. Did this virtual stranger shape my life’s decisions?
Today, I wonder how much those labels have shaped my choices? I’m not going to give Mr. Jewell that much power. He was a lousy teacher and I doubt that he was that good at summing up a teen that he barely knew. I attribute my career hopping to my interest in different fields, great opportunities, and life changes. Sure I know a little about a lot of things, but that makes me a fun dinner companion.
For 2018, because of this book and Ramsay’s influence, I added to my list of changes that when a negative thought occurs, I would ask myself three questions:
1. Where did this come from?
2. Why would I think that?
3. Am I doing this to please myself or somebody else?
I like myself, the good and the bad but I ultimately know that I’m good because I’m always working to be better.
A Change of Plan
“Five, four, three, two, one, Happy New Year!” The party guests counted down in unison.
I already had one arm draped around Ramsay’s slender waist. She allowed me to roll her into my body so that we were touching from chest to pelvis as I kissed her long and hard. “Better than last year’s.” I grinned.
She pulled away from me and gave me a haughty look, raising one eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I didn’t loosen my hold. God, she’d lost weight working so hard on, first, Tye and Billie’s wedding, then Cress and Brian’s, and finally this annual extravaganza. I could feel the knobby bones along her spine. “Last year, I had to track you down for my kiss. This year, you’re by my side.” Where you belong, I added silently. Ramsay Kent was an elusive woman. Although we’d been involved to some degree for over a year, we’d yet to make our relationship official. But I’m a patient man. One of the reasons I’m good at what I do. With Ramsay, I could settle in and wait a while longer.
“Well, I suppose kissing you is better than making out with some random guy.” She turned her head to look around at the other party guests, her green eyes narrowing as though to assess their kissability.
I gave her a hot glare. “Not going to work, Ramses.”
“What?” She drew her eyebrows together in confusion, as if she didn’t know what she was doing.
“You aren’t going to push me away or make me mad. Not tonight,” I said, resolution ringing in my words.
A hint of something like panic entered her gaze. “I’m working… I don’t know what time I’ll get out of here tonight, er, this morning.”
I shrugged, pretending I didn’t see her fear. “It’s not a problem. You know I like to watch you work.”
One side of her mouth hitched upward in consternation. I could almost see her plotting a way to make me go. Before she could blurt out something I didn’t want to hear, I bent toward her. “If I get bored, I’ll head back to my place and send a car to bring you home.” Of course, I wouldn’t get bored. I got off on watching her run the show. Ramsay in command was a thing of beauty. She could multi-task as well as any military strategist—make that better. Handling the rest of this party would be a breeze for her, just like breaking down and reassembling my rifle was second nature to me.
A faint line appeared between her eyebrows. “Are you sure?”
I placed a light kiss on her vibrant red lips, not caring if I now wore the same color. “Go make someone miserable.”
“Asshole.” She snorted as she fought a smile.
“Shouldn’t they be putting out the food?” I asked innocently.
“Shit,” she hissed and spun around on her three-inch heels. “I’m seriously considering cutting the gratuity Tye left for them.” She took off in the direction of the kitchen. Perhaps it was the way her long legs ate up the ground or the red tint to her hair, the guests moved out of her way.
I was admiring the sway of her ass encased in some kind of silky material that was as sleek as her naked body, when I heard my name being called.
About the Author
Melanie Jayne has the best life. She spends her days chatting with feisty females, waking up to sexy men, eating chocolate and wearing pajamas. In March of 2015, she published her first book and never looked back. She currently has four series and will be adding to that number in 2019. Her books predominantly feature characters over the age of thirty-five, facing life head on. They are woman positive and advocate empowerment. She writes about the world that she lives in and collects many of her ideas from her friend’s lives and daytime TV.
She lives a quiet life on a grain farm in central Indiana with her very patient husband and their two mastiffs, Ginger and Duncan Keith. She has been employed in retail management, managed a federal courtroom, worked behind the scenes in a casino and closed home loans. By her own admission she was an inquisitive mind and gets bored easily.
She is an active member of the IRWA Chapter, an avid Reader/Author Conference Attendee, and avid Romance Reader. She is so grateful to the many authors and bloggers who have so generously supported her career and she in turn is giving back to new and aspiring writers.
Bewitching Myself: Everything Old is Wonderful Again
Nearly a decade ago, I sat next to the swimming pool attached to my fitness gym in the faint shade offered by the umbrella on the table. My then-eight year old child splashed in the water, slid down the water slide, and called to me repeatedly to “Mom, watch!” It was next to this pool that I wrote the first of a trilogy, and that book would later be sold and published and as has a way of things—the rights reverted to me last year.
Reworking the Past
I debated what I wanted to do with the trilogy, it’s different from my current work and yet, it’s an old, familiar friend. I debated, then I went for it. It was so weird to read through the manuscript, to see where my writing faltered and the tips and tricks I used then versus now.
Weirder still…technology has changed so much in less than a decade, everything needed updating. Fortunately, my editor and I went line by line, we tweaked the technology, the pop culture, and the writing. When we were done, we had Hers to Bewitch and I gotta admit, it’s been one of my favorite pieces to work on.
Growing, Changing, Moving Forward
I have a 300-page manuscript written when I was 16. I have short stories and novels I wrote in my 20s. This book—this book I wrote in my 30s, and now in my 40s, I’ve polished it. Writing, like wine, gets better as we age. I believe it! Do you ever look back at what you’ve done before and realize where you went wrong and how you can do it better today? Take the challenge and may you discover the magic of you!
Cassandra Belle is about to break the story of the century, but one well-placed bomb devastates her plans. She’s on the run, in a fight for her life and her heart. Caught between wild allure and primal need, Cassie struggles to reclaim her life even as she’s torn by the desire to submit to the two handsome strangers invading her life.
Enemies on a mission.
The sexy Fae lord Helcyon wants to protect her, but his pleasure leaves her quaking at the loss of control. The dangerous Wizard, Jacob wants to save her, but his war with the Fae frightens her, even as he captivates her with passion.
With her enemies closing in, Jacob and Helcyon must challenge everything they’ve ever known to work together or risk losing her.
*Previously released as Cassandra’s Dilemma, Hers to Bewitch has undergone significant edits and a new cover to be re-released.
Your story sounds like a movie or a book. You should write one. The gazzillionth time I heard those words when first meeting someone was when I decided to take that advice. So began a nine year passage to learning and self-discovery; almost a decade dedicated to writing a story inspired by a chance encounter with a Venetian gondolier that brought me to leave my life in the U.S.A. and make Venice, Italy, home.
Yet in my developing writer’s mind, it wasn’t a memoire nor a simple love story that I wanted to write. So, I used the knowledge I had gained through my inability to speak Italian—a deficit that for years forced me to listen, and observe my surroundings like a child. I used privilege, too. My life choices had made me an insider to the gondolier trade, a world where few locals, let alone foreigners, are permitted. My enchantment with this trade, its traditions and limits—rare and contradictory—handed me inspiration to develop charming characters, including a principle player, the city of Venice.
By writing this story, I faced and, I think, overcame the loneliness that comes from leaving everything you know, especially one’s career and dear friends. Starting over in a place where you have no history, where who you were before doesn’t much interest others or seem to matter, can be difficult, and daunting.
Longing to be accepted in a town and country that is as foreign to her as she is to it, Victoria, my main character, finds she’s more easily, and respectfully, accepted by the local men than by the women. The ladies want no part of this outsider who, after all, has taken one of their own. Enter Ivana, Venice’s only female gondolier. A fictional character I enjoyed creating. Based on the centuries-old mold of ‘being a gondolier is a man’s job’, which women in Venice have faced until recent years, Victoria sees that Ivana, like her, is battling as an outsider in her own city. Might she not understand Victoria’s sense of being a fish out of water?
Still, writing my debut novel was the easier part. Through highs and lows, a myriad of revisions, twists and turns in a story that was my own, and then wasn’t. Near acceptance from a Hollywood producer who was so mercurial that over a 3-year period he was going to make a movie out of my unfinished manuscript, and then he wasn’t. Twice. Professional edits. More revisions. Querying, waiting, hoping. Agents who ignored my emails while others wrote back, “You write well, but I just don’t know where to send it.” Then the final rejection, and my acceptance that the time had come for this book-child to become an adult. It was time for me, the writer, to move onto something else.
They say write what you know, what you experience. So I did, and in doing so I wrapped my arms tighter and opened my imagination wider around a city I have come to love, deeply. I’ve told a story that goes beyond falling in love. Beneath the Lion’s Wings speaks about making choices, taking chances, and stepping into the unknown.
It is with gratitude that I share my women’s contemporary fiction, Beneath the Lion’s Wings, with you on Delilah Devlin’s Blog.
Beneath the Lion’s Wings
“…Good escape reading in this tale of love and tough decisions in Venice… In her well-researched debut novel, Nardin does a fine job evoking Venice’s atmosphere, culture, and history. The particular practices and customs of gondoliering, along with women’s efforts to enter the profession, make for absorbing reading.” – Kirkus Reviews
After years of focusing on her career and neglecting her love life, Victoria meets a handsome gondolier while vacationing in Venice and decides to take another chance on romance.
Victoria Greco has given up on finding love. A thirtysomething single woman who works as an executive assistant for a prominent Hollywood talent agent, she’s fully focused on building her career. But then, while she’s vacationing in Venice, a handsome fourth-generation gondolier rows alongside her water taxi.
When Alvise invites her to dinner, Victoria is hesitant. But their chemistry is too strong to ignore, and it would be a shame to pass up a date while in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Hoping she’s not making a big mistake, Victoria goes out with Alvise and then happily spends the night in his arms.
When Victoria returns home to Southern California, she’s surprised to discover she can’t get the charming Italian boatman out of her mind. She’s thrilled when he e-mails her, confessing he can’t stop thinking about her either. Daringly, Victoria invites him to visit.
Once reunited, they fall completely in love. But when Alvise starts talking about settling down and starting a family, Victoria is torn. She’s always put her career first. Should she continue down the current path? Or should she follow her heart to Venice?
They came to a smooth halt before the bridge. The boat engine rumbled to a purr, gliding under the lyrical sound of an accordion serenading a group of gondolas exiting a small canal. The taxi driver performed a series of sweet maneuvers to keep the boat steady and waited until the last stripe-shirted gondolier motioned that all was clear. Then he turned the boat down the narrow canal, proceeding with caution. He came within centimeters of docked boats, algae-lined walls, and footbridges, never once endangering the health of his boat. Regardless of his issues with maintaining fidelity, Victoria had to admit to herself that he had meticulous navigating abilities.
The taxi took them through a labyrinth of waterways until once again the driver limited his speed so as not to disrupt the delicate balance of a gondola heading in their same direction. The water taxi crept up beside the gondola. The sleeves of the young gondolier’s red-and-white-striped shirt, rolled up to his shoulders, exposed a pair of taut, tan arms and matched a red bandana tied through waves of golden hair. He turned, and locked eyes with Victoria—his were as green as the water beneath them. They gave each other a smile only fate could have arranged.
Victoria’s heart danced, and her face flushed and glistened. The gorgeous gondolier’s smile made her eyes sparkle, and brought about that nervousness she tried to hide whenever a handsome movie star arrived unannounced in the office. Unexpected, his good looks attracted her like no man had in a long time. She blushed and fumbled with the camera, and then hid her embarrassment by snapping a photo of the attractive young man. She turned and watched as their water taxi slipped by and left him, and his shiny black gondola behind. The corners of her mouth still turned up, she leaned back against Jackie, and said, “I think I’m going to like Venice.”
Marie Ohanesian Nardin, born in Los Angeles, California, has always loved to travel. That passion brought her to Italy where she fell for a man and his city; a serendipitous occurrence that changed her life, and inspired her to write her debut novel Beneath the Lion’s Wings.
Since her move to Italy, the former banker has restored a two hundred year old rustic barn that became the home where she raised her two children, and where she learned to appreciate a good glass of red wine and cook delicious risotto, homemade soups and pasta, and the Nardin family’s secret tiramisu recipe, which she says “…never comes out quite as good as my mother-in-law’s”.
Marie writes for various news outlets and travel media magazines, teaches English, and is currently working on a short story collection, and her next book. When Marie is not writing or traveling around Italy and Europe, she returns to her beloved California to visit family and friends, watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, and stop by her favorite Mexican “mom and pop” eateries.
Marie lives in the Venetian countryside with her husband, their daughters, and their dog, Bacco.
In case you haven’t already pre-ordered this brand-new volume, here’s a reminder! The eBook comes out this Tuesday. The print version will be a little longer and is over 300 pages of naughty goodness! Love pirates of old? How about space pirates or captains of flying dirigibles? There’s something for everyone inside this book! And best part? You’ll read stories by authors you already love, and you’ll discover new authors with fresh “voices” you’ve never read! And it’s just $0.99!
Sail on the high seas or into uncharted galaxies! When it comes to love…pirates risk all!
Delilah’s next delectable anthology is filled with roguish pirates! Readers who crave adventures set on the high seas—or in deep space—will find plenty of sexy bad boys, naughty alpha males unafraid to risk life and limb for treasure—or a lucky lover’s heart!
Just a few of the titillating stories inside…
In “The Treasure of Devil’s Crag” by Lisa Fox, two rival pirate captains seeking the same treasure, discover the competition isn’t the only thing that heats up between them. A modern-day pirate boards a yacht seeking revenge and captures a runaway bride who tempts him in ways he’s never experienced in January George’s “Captive Desire.” In T.D. Rudolph’s “Lust in Space”, a space criminal teams up with a fearless vamp to steal a cache of titanium—from the dark side of the moon. In “Full Fathom Five” by Rhidian Brenig Jones, a pirate captain, forced to give a disgraced young surgeon a berth, discovers a rich treasure in the other man’s arms. And this is just a hint at the sexy stories inside this satisfying volume.
These pirates will pillage and plunder their way into your hearts!
Table of Contents
The Treasure of Devil’s Crag by Lisa Fox – Two rival pirate captains…one treasure…the competition isn’t the only thing that heats up between them
Rough Seas by Alicia Aringdale – A British commander finds himself at the mercy of a roguish pirate who asks him for the one thing he shouldn’t give—his heart
Captive Desire by January George – A modern-day pirate boards a yacht seeking revenge and captures a runaway bride who tempts him in ways he’s never experienced
Stealing the Crimson Witch by Downey Greene – Crash landing on an 18th-century pirate ship, a 21st-century thief experiences déjà vu as he steals the greatest treasure of all—the pirate queen
The Corsair’s Tempest by C. Marie Bowen – A French corsair, cursed with immortality, stands in open mutiny after rescuing his greatest treasure—the woman he’s bound to love for eternity, a Spanish siren unaware of their infinite bond
Cargo by Genevive Chamblee – An environmentalist-pirate, contracted to heist high-priced art from a merchant vessel, is deceived into stealing a human trafficking ship with a captive who exposes his dark desires
Prophesies by Augustina Van Hoven – Following a tempting lead, a space pirate hunts down an alien ship only to find the cargo is a beautiful seer whose gifts promise to satisfy more than his lust for gold
A Lady’s Bargain by Alyssa Drake– A pirate captain gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to a beautiful hostage’s proposition to make her a ruined woman
Plunder by Jayce Ellis – A hardened mercenary, contracted to kill the heir-apparent of an international corporation, hesitates due to his attraction, then joins with the heir to investigate who wants him dead
Commanding Neptune’s Mistress by M. Marie – A pirate surrenders control to her handsome quartermaster for just one night of pleasure
My Pirate Love by Joyce Palmer– Barely dressed as a chamber maid, a sexually-deprived military wife attends a costume party where she finds herself shamefully aroused by the hungry gaze of a Jack Sparrow look-alike
Captain’s Cabin by Moxie Marcus – When the captain of a merchant ship is captured by a pirate queen, he quickly discovers she’s fully in charge of the sexy negotiations
Perinacht by Lana Sloan – When a spice merchant’s son is captured by the pirate who killed his beloved, his need for vengeance is overtaken by an unexpected desire for his captor
An Adventure for Burgess by Lizzie Ashworth – As a sleek sloop noses into Seraphine Bay, a tourist resolves to discover if the man at the helm is the pirate of her dreams
Lust in Space by T.D. Rudolph – A roguish space criminal teams up with a fearless vamp to steal a cache of titanium—from the dark side of the moon
To Kiss a Pirate by Tricia Schneider – Searching for treasure on a lush Caribbean island, a woman disguising herself as a cabin boy is confronted by her sexy and suspicious pirate captain
Bountiful Skies by Winter Blair – The captain of an airship and her lover prepare to be boarded by a pirate who isn’t human, hoping he’ll give them mercy…and pleasure
Full Fathom Five by Rhidian Brenig Jones – A pirate captain, forced to give a disgraced young surgeon a berth, discovers a rich treasure in the other man’s arm
I’m staring at a very rainy, possibly tornadic weekend. Here in South-Central Arkansas, we’ve already had enough rain that we’re flooding. The highway that leads into town is underwater, and more rain is expected tomorrow. So, I’m getting my Mac laptop charged up—just in case we lose power again. My phone will stay on the charger as well. My dd is already on speed dial, and when things get bad, I know I’m going to have her entire family huddled in my basement office.
Here’s hoping you have a wonderful, sunny weekend. And if you’re wondering what to read, or what to pre-load on your Kindle, I have a few suggestions… 🙂
Check out what’s coming next from deep in the heart of Texas!
This trilogy is coming out March through early April!
They’re all ready for pre-order now!
For a chance to win a free copy from among the Texas Cowboys series, tell me your favorite way to spend a rainy weekend!
Last fall, with only a few months left on my deadline for Cold and Hottie, my second-chance romance set in Jamaica, my characters stopped cooperating. They were still doing interesting things but I had no freaking idea why, because they wouldn’t talk to me.
That was a big problem. As a writing friend says, romance readers are all about the feels. If you fail to give them an emotional journey you can count on receiving hostile reviews.
Fortunately, I had been down this route before and had a solution: I would write upcoming scenes in first-person, replacing “she said” with “I said,” for instance, so as to get deeper in my characters’ heads. Then I’d take what I learned and convert it back to third-person, making it match the 30,000 already written words.
At first it looked like the plan would work. The story was progressing in delightful ways and I suddenly had characters emoting all over the place. Then I discovered two giant flies in the suntan lotion.
First, I couldn’t figure out a way to keep all the lovely emotionality during the conversion.
Second, my hero and heroine had started speaking in present tense. (i.e. “When the knock comes at the door” rather than “when the knock came at the door.”) Now, while I will read virtually anything in any point of view or tense, provided it’s a good story, I’m aware some readers have much stronger preferences. In fact, some downright hate books written in first-person present-tense, so why would I cooperate in earning their wrath?
I doubled-down on my shoe-horning efforts.
And I got precisely nowhere.
This was when I reached out to a cadre of savvy writing friends. To a person, their advice was to go where the story was leading, no matter how odd I might seem to the marketplace.
But was a first-person romance really that weird? I was starting to wonder if my fears matched reality.
To gain objectivity I went to Amazon, which is undisputedly the biggest site for romance sales in North America. I pulled up their bestseller lists and…I learned that I had underestimated romance readers’ flexibility. Books written in first-person were far from being the exception, as I believed, but were close to forming the majority of books in the Top Twenty lists. Even better, readers were embracing present-tense.
Thus freed up, I put my efforts into finishing the back end of the book, rewrote the front end, and managed to make my deadline. And while I’m not sure I’ll deliberately choose to go this route again on purpose, I won’t be nearly as afraid to do it, if required.
Did it work? Preliminary feedback would say it has, but I’ve included an excerpt from the first chapter below, so you can decide for yourself. And in the comment section, I hope you’ll let me know your feelings about first-person present-tense stories. Are they alien to you, a deal-breaker, or intriguing new ground?
Cold and Hottie
She’s being sent to Jamaica for a team-building exercise. It will be led by a crazed psychologist, and the man she done wrong…who is now her boss. Oops.
A decade ago, in a messy breakup with the only man she has ever loved, Olivia Prosser behaved badly. Since, she has lived with the consequences.
Then bad news comes in rapid succession: the company she works for has been purchased; her ex, Finn, is her new employer; and she’ll be reconnecting with him during a mandatory retreat in Jamaica. Five days filled with forced emotional intimacy and corporate-speak, not to mention memories better left in the past.
A white knight’s armor will rust in salt water.
For years, Finn Wakefield has known who to blame for his breakup with Liv. Then new information comes to light. Liv might be innocent, and the party who framed her might be lodged within Finn’s company, continuing their acts of sabotage.
But Liv shows no interest in righting the wrongs of the past. Is that for ominous reasons or because she is over Finn? Either way, for the sake of his company, Finn must push for the truth – even if the cost is a twice-broken heart.
Cold and Hottie was previously published as part of the Tropical Tryst box set, which became a #1 international bestselling ebook anthology (Aug. 1/17). See why readers call it “…a delicious page-turner set in an exotic setting.
At 4:37 p.m. on Friday, after weeks of dread and just when I’ve convinced myself I’ve been spared, a dossier bearing the title Jamaica lands on my desk. Tucker had probably been aiming for my in-basket, but since he’s standing in my doorway and the basket is overflowing, the folder tips over the edge and continues its horizontal motion. It comes to rest on the refinery drawings I’ve been marking up, the right lower edge touching a pump that needs modernization.
When I find my voice I say, “You’re kidding me.”
Tucker’s smile is his signature blend of cynicism and amusement. “If you pull yourself together and need to talk, I’ll be in my office for another five minutes.” He pivots on a well-shod foot and vanishes from sight.
I turn the pencil in my hand and use the eraser to tease out the top sheaf of paper, willing this to be one of his practical jokes. Easy enough to put a label on a folder and pack it with documents destined for the shredder. Then to stand in the hall just out of sight, ready to pop in with a, Haha, Liv, got you good this time.
Alas, this evening brings no such luck. For there in black and white, issued in the name of one Olivia Prosser, is an e-ticket for this coming Monday morning. I’m flying from Columbus to Kingston, via Atlanta.
I use the pencil to extract the next sheaf. Apparently the resort and I have corresponded, most recently when I confirmed an ocean-facing, non-smoking room with a king-sized bed.
At least I was smart enough to avoid having a roommate.
I close my eyes and bend forward to clunk my head repeatedly on my desk. Having seen fellow staffers open their envelopes, I don’t need to examine the rest of the paperwork to know what it contains. There will be a shiny brochure on the all-inclusive resort’s amenities. (Seven pools! Six restaurants featuring international cuisine! Unlimited soft drinks and booze in your room’s mini-fridge!) There will be a listing of optional paid activities, both inside the resort and on the island. Finally, there will be the handout delineating the source of my dry mouth and blossoming headache.
I don’t need to look at the handout but…I stop banging my head and do it anyway, because some masochistic impulses can’t be resisted.
Three months ago, the company I work for, HMZ Consulting, was purchased by Wakefield Enterprises. When I say “purchased,” I really mean “swallowed whole.” We were the krill to Wakefield’s blue whale. Now the time has come for us to “harmonize our corporate cultures.” Accordingly, for the past several months, select employees within my office have been receiving invitations to the upcoming retreat in Jamaica. Once trained in the ways of the mothership, they—and I guess that includes me now—will return as ambassadors to the home office, where we will spread the ways of enlightenment.
Most of the five-day retreat will be run by Wakefield’s second-in-command, Yolanda Perez. The brochure photo shows a woman in her early forties with tight black braids and a confident smile. She’s a psychologist, reportedly half-crazy in her own right, and the rumors about her outdoor group exercises are downright intimidating.
Then there’s the CEO, Finnegan Wakefield. I don’t know if his photo has been retouched, but thirty-four looks good on him. Even better than twenty-four did, if that’s possible.
Finn is giving the Tuesday noon keynote—one hour is his full commitment for the entire program. Depending upon how he receives me, that one hour could be all it takes to upend my life.
A former family physician and academic, Jan O’Hara left the world of medicine behind to follow her dream of becoming a writer. These days she confines her healing tendencies to paper—after making her characters undergo a period of delicious torture, naturally.
Jan lives in Alberta, Canada and is a columnist for the popular blog Writer Unboxed.