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Flashback: Breaking Leather (Contest + Open Contests)
Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

Depending on how long you’ve been reading me, you might not be aware of my naughty cowboy ménage series, Lone Star Lovers. All my sexiest fantasies are rolled up in those stories. Two cowboys, three cowboys, four… All that attention concentrated on one lucky girl… Heck, it’s not really fair, and there must be something in the water in Two Mule, Texas because there’s a whole lotta sharin’ goin’ on. 🙂

Comment for a chance to win your choice of
one of my Lone Star Lovers books! 

Breaking Leather

Three cowboys…

One for remembrance…one for healing…and one to steal her heart forever…

Chrissi Page has tried to find one man who heats her bed the way the Kinzie brothers did one shameful night years ago. She’s failed miserably, leaving her with no choice but to bank that inner fire—and keep a lid on her inner bad girl.

Way back when, she’d been weak, unable to choose between three cowboys who appealed to her in very different ways. After they’d each tried to win her for their own, they’d confronted her, demanding she choose. Confusion and anger had boiled over into a passion so wild, that to this day, she’s still trying to live it down.

Since that night, Ezra, Cade, and Joshua have individually sewn their wild oats with pretty much the entire available female population of Two Mule, Texas. Yet nothing and no other woman has ever erased the attraction they still feel for Chrissi. When she’s stranded on the road near their ranch, it’s their last chance to turn their mutual obsession into an unusual proposition…

Read an Excerpt from Breaking Leather

Chrissi Page raised her cell phone in the air, staring at the screen. No bars. Not even a hint of one skinny, green nub. “Oh, come on,” she moaned as her radiator hissed behind her. “Damn, damn, damn.”

She’d been tempted to ignore the CHECK ENGINE light when it first appeared, wanting to take the chance she could limp back into Two Mule. However, the steam seeping from under the hood had pretty much killed that hope.

Today was not the day for her car to break down. Not so far from town. Not so close to their ranch. Any minute now one of the Kinzie brothers might happen by.

They’d stop because they’d never leave a woman stranded.

They might not let her go because of their shared past.

And she didn’t know if she had the strength anymore to fight fate or her own inexplicable needs.

Macy Pettigrew, her best friend and boss, had sent her to the Dunstan house to make sure the owners had followed her suggestions to increase the house’s curb appeal. Never mind that there wasn’t a curb. Not really even a road—more of a caliche-covered goat trail that meandered up a steep hillside, rutted from runoff during recent summer storms.

Something must have happened to her car on the run up that hill. She’d heard the rocks pinging against her undercarriage but had been too busy thinking about Ms. Dunstan’s handsome neighbors. She’d been afraid she’d pass them or that they might stop in to see old Lettie Dunstan, the widow selling off her roughhewn, century-old home.

Chrissi had forced a smile on her face, looked at the potted plants the old woman had placed in pretty window boxes and admired the paint she’d used to spruce up the weathered door and window frames. The junk the old woman’s husband had accumulated, and that she hadn’t had the heart to part with after his passing, was gone from the front lawn. And lo and behold, grass was beginning to grow to fill in the brown patches where engines and tires had lain.

Macy would be pleased. They had a potential buyer. One who’d relayed an offer via email, which had checked out with the mortgage lender. Details Macy had been eager to handle herself, leaving the showings to Chrissi.

Chrissi heard a powerful engine rev. She slowly lowered her arm and glanced nervously over her shoulder. A metallic sage pickup truck pulled off the road behind her, and her stomach dropped to her toes. She’d known the moment her CHECK ENGINE light had shone that this was going to happen.

And good Lord, it had to be Ezra Kinzie. His dark gaze narrowed on her through the windshield, the intensity of it feeling like the hissing heat of a brand against her skin.

He opened his door and stepped down, slamming it with a decisive shove. Everything Ezra did was deliberate. He never wavered once a decision was made.

Long ago, he’d decided he wasn’t going to fight his brothers for her. If she wasn’t going to decide among them, then she’d have to take them all.

And, Lord help her, she had.

She’d never gotten over that night, had never been able to push it to the farthest corner of her mind when she lay down to sleep. Just the memory of it made her hot, cold, _wet_…

And horribly ashamed. Anyone could have seen them beneath the bleachers at the homecoming game. Gossip hadn’t followed, but that didn’t make her any less self-conscious when she strode down the sidewalk on Main Street.

Someone might know. Someone might tell. The thought of that sordid night being revealed left her feeling nauseated. Her life had been circumspect ever since, her love life nonexistent.

They’d left her scarred. Unable to move on.

Not because they’d harmed her physically, but because she hadn’t been able to shake off the terrible attraction that tempted her every single day since that fateful night.

Boots crunched on the gravel at the side of the road. The brim of Ezra’s straw cowboy hat left his ice-blue eyes in shadow.

She straightened away from her car and squared her shoulders.

“Havin’ trouble, Chrissi?”

“It just showed up,” she said under her breath, determined not to let him see how flustered she felt.

One side of his mouth quirked up. He glanced up at the sky, squinting against the bright Texas sun before leveling that devastating stare on her again.

Her belly clenched, and she fought hard not to give him any clues about how he still affected her. Just the rumble of his deep voice always made her think of crisp, cool sheets and hot, slick skin.

Her glance flicked over his body-hugging dark tee, noted his well-developed chest, the bulge of his biceps, his taut abdomen. She started to sweat. “Will you call a tow truck for me when you get home?”

A frown dug a deep crease between his dark brows. “Get in my truck, Chrissi. I’m not leavin’ you on the side of the road.”

“I’m not goin’ anywhere with you, Ezra Kinzie,” she said tightly.

A muscle rippled alongside his jaw. “I’m just offerin’ you a place to wait out of the sun. And a cool drink. Nothin’ more.”

His features were stern, his jaw rigid, but the heat blazing from his eyes mesmerized her, made her want to sway toward him. The intensity of that unblinking stare made her wish he’d take the decision right out of her hands. She’d never willingly take that first step. Her days of following his commands were over.

Chrissi swallowed hard and broke from his glance, looking down the road and praying someone else would appear over the crest of the hill. She needed rescuing from the deep emotions roiling inside her—from the temptation his large, hard frame embodied. However, only the shimmer of heat waves rose off the black tar.

A trickle of moisture dripped between her breasts, gliding along one curve—and just like that, her imagination replaced the slide of that hot little bead with the tip of his tongue. She turned away from him and dragged in a couple of deep breaths, trying to stiffen her resolve, but the only things hardening were the tips of her breasts. She crossed her arms over her chest and lifted her chin, then turned to aim a glare at the one man who had the power to make her knees quiver.

So many memories swamped her as she stared into his handsome, rugged face. So many regrets sat like soured milk in her gut. He’d been “the one” until she’d succumbed to a dark sensual greed.

Too bad she couldn’t turn back the clock about seven years. She’d make damn sure she’d never let him take her hand and pull her into the shadows.

Ezra barely suppressed the urge to step closer and crowd her tall, lithe body against her car. He’d love nothing better than to snug his dick between her legs while he licked that trickle of sweat tracking down her chest, and then follow the curve of her sweet, round breast.

But he and his brothers had planned this abduction down to the last detail. No time now to let a hard-on get in the way. “I’m not leavin’ you on the side of the road. It’s a hundred damn degrees out here, sweetheart. Get in the truck.”

“Don’t call me sweetheart,” she said, sounding a little breathless.

It did his ego good to know she wasn’t unaffected. This was the closest they’d stood in seven years. Since he’d kissed her before letting her head to the girls’ restroom to clean up after he and his brothers had her.

A sordid little chapter he was determined to remedy. If he could get her ass inside his truck.

However, Chrissi, stubborn as ever, jutted her chin high and crossed her arms over her chest. Did she know she was plumping up her breasts, drawing his gaze to the creamy tops? Her clothing stuck to the sweat coating her skin. Her light blouse skimmed close to her narrow waist. Her dark blue trousers pulled tightly as she braced apart her legs. Did she know how well they cupped her mound?

Just that hint of a cleft was enough to add a spike of steel to his already raging erection.

“Maybe you’d let me use your cell phone?” she ground out.

Ezra let a hint of a smile curve the corners of his mouth. One thing he’d learned over the years was the value of patience. He’d waited a long time to be where he was, standing in front of the one woman who had the power to make his knees buckle. The one woman he’d gladly share if that was the only way he could have her.

“Chrissi, don’t you think we’ve waited long enough?” he asked quietly.

Her breath caught, lifting her chest. “I’ve waited long enough for you to act the gentleman and do what I asked. I’ll walk back to town.” She dropped her arms, reached through her car window for her purse, then straightened.

She’d have to stride around him, and he guessed she was girding herself to do just that. Her gaze didn’t rise above his shoulder. She sucked in a deep breath and gave him a wide berth as she brushed past.

Ezra let her go, easing a hip against her red Mustang and watching her walk away—on three-inch heels that stuck to the hot tar, making a sticky sound with each step she took. She made it only about ten feet past the end of his truck before she slowed.

Her shoulders fell, her head turned to the side, but not quite far enough for her to meet his gaze. “You’re not gonna let me go, are you?” she asked softly.

Her profile, so pure and pretty, stirred a suffocating desire inside him. He steeled himself to pretend a strength he was far from feeling. So many hopes rode on the next few minutes.

“I’m just givin’ you a few moments to make up your mind, sweetheart. I have every confidence you’ll do the smart thing.”

“Just a ride to your place to make a call?”

“And a cool drink. Whatever else happens will be up to you. I’ve always let you make your own choices. Even when you were dead wrong. Even when it was killin’ me.”

And even though she still hadn’t moved, he straightened away from her car and walked to the passenger door of his truck. He opened the door and waited.

Chrissi turned her head toward the road, and Ezra held his breath, praying another vehicle wouldn’t come along, praying he’d have the strength to do what had to be done, no matter how much she might beg him to end it later.

When she faced him, he couldn’t read her expression. Her mouth was firmed into a thin line. Her chin tilted. Her brown eyes raked him up and down, and she stepped out, her body moving fluidly, hips swaying. Not a conscious invitation, but he knew if he touched her between her legs right this minute, she’d be wet.

He fought a smile of satisfaction as she walked toward him and stepped up into his cab.

Open Contests

  1. Favorite Romance Subgenres Word Search! (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  2. Michal Scott: Where There’s a Will There’s a Way — Josephine Napoleon Leary (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Saturday Puzzle Contest! Theme: My favorite hot beverage! — Win a FREE book!
  4. Deb Robinson: New Beginnings (FREE Book) — Get your FREE in KU book!
Anne Rainey: Overcoming Hurdles
Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Life is constantly changing. Today things are great, then you get a phone call, and your world is turned upside down. Lately, my life has been a rollercoaster ride and I’m just trying to hang on. I have days when I feel totally overwhelmed and all I want is to hide under the covers. But I get up. I dress. I push through. I know so many of you understand moments like that. Someone once told me that when you’re feeling down, smile. Even if you don’t feel it deep inside. Eventually, your brain catches up and your mood improves, and life seems a tiny bit less daunting. Does that work? I don’t know, but I think we all have ways of dealing with stress or grief. If a latte makes your day less crappy, then get the latte. If you feel like binge-watching your favorite Netflix series because it takes your mind off your troubles, then put on the cozy sweats and grab the popcorn. The bottom line is this: life is too short to deny yourself a little innocent pleasure.

This is part of the plot of my latest story. Alice Layne discovers her beloved grandmother has been murdered. As if that’s not awful enough, the killer sets his sight on her. Her entire world is turned upside down and she finds herself delving into her grandmother’s past to get to the truth. Not a fun task. After all, no one wants to dig up their loved one’s dirty little secrets, right?

Writing this book has brought out so many emotions in me. Alice is strong and determined but dodging a knife-wielding maniac is a new kind of terrifying. It has made me think of my own grandmother. I lost her when I was young, but I still remember how awesome she was. How special she made me feel. I remember chowing down on her delicious homemade chicken and dumplings while she taught me how to play pyramid solitaire. Now that I’m a grandmother, I work very hard on building those kinds of sweet memories with my adorable grandson.

More about My Pretty Butterfly: Dangerous Entanglements Collection—Releasing December 6th! Authors in this collection include Nicole Morgan, Krista Ames, Amber Daulton, Karen Cino, Stacy-Deanne, and Amy Stephens

A helpful stranger or a deadly trap?

When Alice Layne doesn’t receive her daily phone call from her grandmother, she knows something is off. Finding her murdered on the kitchen floor, a butcher knife sticking out of her back, is horrifying enough. The note promising to do the same to her if she doesn’t give the psychopath a mysterious necklace is the icing on the cake. Before she can even get a chance to call the police Christian Jackson, her grandmother’s mysterious next-door neighbor swoops in and offers to help. Alice is tempted to rely on the big, brooding man, but is Christian a white knight or the sinister puppet master pulling the strings?

Christian learned early in life never to trust anyone. Love is for fools. That mantra has kept him alive. Until Maude Layne came into his world. She’d taken one look at his dirty, starving, ten-year-old self and given him a job at her corner grocery store. He’d known kindness and respect for the first time in his life.  And now he’s making it his mission to avenge her death. He hadn’t counted on the beautiful Alice showing up and putting herself square in the crosshairs of the murderer. Ensuring her safety might just prove to be the easy part. Keeping his hands off her? Now that’s damned challenging.

Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Entanglements-Romantic-Suspense-Collection-ebook/dp/B0B51Z2YF1/
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dangerous-entanglements-nicole-morgan/1141779550
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dangerous-entanglements
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/dangerous-entanglements/id6443158419

About the Author

Bestselling author Anne Rainey, “wastes no time getting right to the erotic heart” (Publishers Weekly). She is published by Kensington and Entangled Publishing. Her books have won numerous awards and have been translated into Italian and German. In addition, Anne has dipped her toes into self-publishing with her exciting paranormal series: The Zenarians. Anne is from the Midwest and has had a variety of odd careers, including sales associate, nail technician, chiropractic assistant, and restaurant hostess. Her love of books has opened her up to a thrilling career as a romance author. Her stories are filled with passion, love, and the sometimes-exasperating bonds of family.

Find Anne:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annerainey
Rainey’s Readers Private Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/785284435328066/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annerainey49/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annerainey15
Website: https://www.annerainey.com/

Anne Rainey: Forever After or Just Right Now? (Excerpt)
Saturday, August 20th, 2022

Have you ever given your significant other a second chance? This is Chloe Morgan’s dilemma. She’s fed up with Ward Reyes. He’s a part-time boyfriend and she wants more. She wants dates. She wants a guy to wake up to on a lazy Sunday morning. Ward isn’t that guy. So, when she dumps him, Ward sits up and takes notice. He isn’t willing to simply walk away from the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Not without a fight.

Last Chance to Call You Mine: Dirty Addiction

Obsessions come in all flavors…

Chloe Morgan is weak. At least she is when it comes to Ward Reyes. She can turn down donuts like a wrestler during training, but when her on-again-off-again boyfriend blows into town looking for a booty call she goes down like a sinking ship. Only a drastic action can get her to move on with her life and away from the silver-eyed devil. Was it wrong to send him a break-up text? Definitely, but her choices are limited considering she’s an addict. But what if Ward is the only man that can give her what she so badly desires?

“We’re through.” Ward read the text a dozen times and still can’t believe it. But the proof is there in black and white. His sweet Chloe is giving him the boot. At first, it’d been the blazing heat between them that captivated Ward. It was Chloe’s giving nature and sarcastic wit that kept him coming back for more. Unfortunately his life is a mess, thanks to his brother’s gambling habit. Ward has spent the better part of his life cleaning up Malcolm’s messes. He’s tried to keep the ugliness of it all from touching Chloe. Now, she’s threatening to walk away and Ward isn’t about to let her go without a fight.

Will Chloe give him one more chance? Read the excerpt from Dirty Addiction and find out!
Universal Purchase link for My Perfect Pleasure Anthology:
https://books2read.com/u/mZQqql

Excerpt:

Ward closed the distance between them and wrapped an arm around her middle, tugging her up close. “I’m not walking away without a fight. I care about you. And I know you care about me.”

One brow lifted as she stared up at him. “I’ll get over it.”

“No, you and I belong together,” he explained. “I fucked up, I admit that, but I’m going to fix it. I promise you.”

She bit her lower lip and looked away. “It’s too late for that, Ward.”

“It’s never too late, baby,” he murmured, aching to kiss her senseless.

The doorbell rang and Chloe let out a heavy sigh. “That’ll be Lauren.”

He let her pull out of his arms, but Ward wasn’t through. “I’ll go, but I’m coming back tomorrow. You and I have unfinished business.”

She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “If you come back, then you’d better be ready to share everything with me,” she warned. “Everything, Ward. No more half-measures. It’s all or nothing.”

He watched her, knowing it was now or never. “I hope you’re ready for that.” And he hoped the truth wouldn’t send her running in the opposite direction…

FREE READ! What a Wolf Wants
Friday, August 12th, 2022

It’s FRIDAY! I have a FREE read for you to enjoy this weekend. Be warned! It’s an erotic paranormal! So, it’s mostly sex. It was originally published by Avon Red eons ago. Get your copy while this offer lasts! Enjoy!

Dani’s dreams are anything but restful. Each night, a wolf waits in the moonlight to lead her into the forest for a rendezvous with a mysterious man. Like a choreographed dance, they repeat the same words, the same actions, which lead inevitably to a sensual frenzy that ends too soon. Tonight, Dani’s determined to change the course of her dream, slow the pace and find the rapture she’s sure awaits her…

Get your FREE copy here!

Other stories in the series…

Novels

Dark Legacy Dark Seduction

Short Stories

Sleeping with the Enemy

Michal Scott: Nothing New Under the Sun: Callie House and Ex-Slave Reparations (Contest)
Friday, July 22nd, 2022
UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*
There’s plenty of talk today about how reparations need to be made to African Americans for the harm done by slavery, but you don’t hear much about how long this kind of demand has been going on. In Mary Frances Berry’s book, My Face Is Black Is True, I learned how a thirty-six-year-old washerwoman co-founded one of the first poor people’s campaigns in this country.  

Born enslaved in 1861, Callie married William House in 1883 and supported her children after his death by doing washing. Many former slaves had to support themselves in unjust sharecropping arrangements or doing menial work. Seeing how elderly war veterans received pensions, Callie along with Isaiah H. Dickerson theorized the same could be done for the formerly enslaved. Their idea gained so much support they chartered the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association (NEMRB&PA). Some sources cite they had hundreds of thousands of followers.

In My Face Is Black Is True, Mary Berry quotes federal officials as saying House’s movement “is setting the negroes wild.” They moved quickly and in 1899, the organization was charged by the Post Office with using the mails to defraud slaves. Undeterred, NEMRB&PA got legal representation and pressed on. In 1915, they filed a class action lawsuit to provide former slaves with pensions for their unpaid labor. They claimed $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton could be used to provide the compensation. Their suit was denied by both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court.

While NEMRB&PA had strong grassroots support, this was not the case with some of the Black Elite. Mary Berry suggests Callie, being a washerwoman, worked against her receiving the respect that was her due. She found no champions among African American leaders and newspapers when the Post Office had her arrested in 1916 for using money for her own purposes. Despite the prosecution’s inability to show proof of how much money she was supposed to have embezzled, she was convicted to a year in prison. No surprise then that when the government wanted to stop Marcus Garvey’s grassroots movement in 1922, mail fraud was the route they took.

Callie was released in 1918 and continued to support herself as a seamstress and washerwoman until her death ten years later. While the government may have stopped her, ex-slaves continued writing Congress demanding they be granted pensions. Chapters of NEMRB&PA existed until the 1930s.

History doesn’t always give us the HEA’s that romance guarantees. So as heart-rending as Callie’s story is, I don’t get discouraged. It’s just proof of what the late congressman, John Lewis, told us: “Those of us who are committed to the cause of justice need to pace ourselves because the struggle does not last for one day, one week, or one year, but it is a struggle for a lifetime, and each generation must do its part.”

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share what inspires you when you encounter setbacks.

Better to Marry Than to Burn

Wife Wanted: Marital relations as necessary. Love not required nor sought…

A bridal lottery seems the height of foolishness to ex-slave Caesar King, but his refusal to participate in the town council’s scheme places him in a bind. He has to get married to avoid paying a high residence fine or leave the Texas territory. After losing his wife in childbirth, Caesar isn’t ready for romance. A woman looking for a fresh start without any emotional strings is what he needs.

Queen Esther Payne, a freeborn black from Philadelphia, has been threatened by her family for her forward-thinking, independent ways. Her family insists she marry. Her escape comes in the form of an ad. If she must marry, it will be on her terms. But her first meeting with the sinfully hot farmer proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs her physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

In the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both Caesar and Queen discover surrender can be as fulfilling as triumph.

Excerpt from Better to Marry Than to Burn

She sidled up to him, cupped his erection and fondled his balls.

“Ready for bed or ready to bed me?”

He moaned, placed his hand atop hers and increased the pressure. Already hard, he hadn’t imagined he could get any harder.

“Is that beautiful brass bed new?”

He gulped. “Ye—yes. Bought it—bought it for the honeymoon.”

“I’m ready to be bedded now,” she whispered. “Or is that something we must negotiate?”

All thoughts of dinner vanished.

“No,” he rasped, leaning forward, as hungry for her lips as he was to be inside her.

“Good.” She stepped back, out of reach. “But, let’s be clear…” She bent over, so her butt protruded toward him. She massaged each buttock so her crack parted invitingly. “Tonight it’s the Greek way or no way.”

He blinked, stunned by this demand to be taken anally. His master had had books filled with drawings, depicting naked Greeks wrestling. Those pen and ink depictions flashed before him now. Arms constrained by arms, legs entwined with legs, butts and groins enmeshed in snug contortions. He’d love to take Queen that way, experience first- hand the erotic intimacy etched in the men’s struggle-laden features.

He took one step toward her then stopped. No. One day, he would…but not tonight. Not their first time. Their first time would be the nose-to-nose, chest-to-breast, cock-to-vagina coupling he’d hungered five years for.

Buylink: https://amzn.to/2KTaGPH

Giveaway! FREE Read! Sweeter Than Honey
Sunday, July 17th, 2022

It’s Sunday, and I’m still zooming toward the end of the book I’m writing, so I don’t have a lot of time for anything else. I thought I’d offer up a FREE copy of a story I wrote some time back. I may have given this away in the past, but since I don’t remember doing so, I’ll hope some of you haven’t already downloaded your copy! Anyway, this story is sort of a “prequel” to my Lone Star Lovers series. It’s set in the Old West in the sleepy town where my menage westerns are set. It’s very sexy (er, raunchy) and has one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever written. Enjoy!

Sweeter Than Honey

Get your FREE copy!

Michal Scott: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley — An Extraordinary Life In Her Own Words (Contest)
Monday, June 27th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…flchen1!
*~*~*

As a writer, I’m fascinated by women who use their agency to tell their own stories or stories others need to hear. This is particularly true of formerly enslaved women like Ida B. Wells Barnett, Harriet Jacobs, and Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley. I’d like to share today about Elizabeth.

In 1818, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born into slavery in Virginia. The family that owned her allowed her to learn to read and write. She also learned sewing, the skill that eventually set her up in her own business. While still enslaved, her owners moved her to Missouri in 1846 where she used her sewing talent to raise money for her owners. It was here that she first caught Mary Todd Lincoln’s attention.

Elizabeth’s owners agreed to set her and her son free if she could raise $1,200. By 1855 with the help of vigilance committees, she was able to raise the money.  She used her skills as a seamstress to pay back these loans. In 1860, she moved to Washington D.C. and built a dressmaking business thanks to referrals from Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis. One of Elizabeth’s patrons ordered a dress from her for the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. This patron recommended her as a dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln. The rest as they say is history.

She was an integral part of the Lincoln household and recounts her life with them as part of her memoir, Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years A Slave and Four in the White House. However, the work was not as well-received as the narratives of other former slaves. Her recounting was seen as a breach of trust between her and Mary Lincoln. The book had poor sales, and she lost customers because of the controversy it created. The White House Historical Association has a fuller account of her life as a slave and her time in the White House on their website:

https://www.whitehousehistory.org/from-slavery-to-the-white-house-the-extraordinary-life-of-elizabeth-keckly

She did not let the book’s reception get her down. She defended what she did and continued to help others by teaching other Black women how to sew and founding two organizations to aid other Blacks:  the Contraband Relief Association, a relief organization for Blacks freed by Northern troops and had come to Washington D.C. as “contraband of war,” and the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children. In 1892 she moved to Ohio to accept the position as head of the Department of Sewing and Domestic Science Arts at Wilberforce University. It is believed she suffered a stroke and returned from there to Washington D.C. where she died in the hospital she helped found. She was eighty-nine years old.

I love learning about women like Elizabeth Keckley, women who used their abilities to make life better for themselves and others. Her life is a witness to perseverance and encourages me to press on at a time when parts of our society seem hell-bent on stripping women of their rights. Share a story of your own about persistence in the comments for a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card.

One Breath Away

Sentenced to hand for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

An excerpt from One Breath Away

Home at last, she’d see if meeting Eban meant this night would be good.

Since her ordeal, her sex rivaled the Chihuahuan Desert in dryness. Yet Eban’s gaze had summoned the fragrant flow that even now moistened her core. Could it be her body had finally healed? She swayed, dizzy with expectation.

The squeak of the indoor pump provided no distraction from the lingering tingle where Eban’s fingers had rested against her spine, where his lips had kissed her hand. She focused on her task to temper her excitement.

Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket. Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket.

The pans she filled slowly simmered then steamed on her small, pot-bellied stove.

Her heart seized as she fingered the simple gingham curtains covering Harvest Home’s windows. Harvest Home’s humble kitchen contrasted sharply with the trappings that had graced Mary’s Manor, her Weston restaurant expansion.

She’d looked up the word manor and decided her place would imitate that kind of luxury as much as possible. Brocaded drapes and white, linen tablecloths had dressed up the Manor’s supper room. Slipcovers made from the same linen covered the cushioned chairs. White, bone china and delicate silverware completed the picture of elegant dining she hoped to draw.

A Franklin stove, indoor pump, double sink, polished counter tops and spacious storage cupboards made the Manor’s kitchen a dream made true. Nothing lacked for the grand opening. Picturing couples enjoying themselves in her simple but elegant setting had become her favorite pastime.

Then Judah Little and his lies thwarted her plans. Thwarted. A good word. A true word.

“But not for long,” she whispered. “That dream will come true just as this dream might come true tonight.”

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