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Desiree Holt: Beck’s Six (Read an Excerpt!)
Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

Teamwork makes the dream work, and that’s true for my upcoming multi-author series, Athena Project. Delilah is one of my cohorts, as is Reina Torres, Jen Talty, and Regan Black. All five books release on June 21st.

Read an excerpt from my story, Beck’s Six, and then learn how you can order a signed print copy!

Beck’s Six

Rebecca “Beck” Morrissey likes her black ops work but she’s tired of government politics, as are her closest friends. She’s spent way too much time working for secret government agencies, and she is fast approaching burnout. Her option? Join Hank Patterson’s Brotherhood Protectors—if she can convince him it’s workable. The last person she expects in the meeting is Roman McClain, the man she shared both a dangerous op and incendiary sex with four years ago. And it seems that attraction is still alive and ready to explode. How will that affect them when Beck and her friends join the Brotherhood Protectors for an extended training session in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains?

Things get even more complicated when Beck’s sister disappears, just as they learn that a radical, antigovernment group, headquartered in the Wind River Mountains, is preparing for an attack on a major target. In all likelihood, they have snatched Beck’s sister to use her as a bargaining tool. Now it’s up to Beck and her group of friends and Roman and the Brotherhood Protectors to pull off a rescue and thwart a disaster, all while she and Roman deal with an attraction that is hotter and stronger than ever.

Excerpt from Beck’s Six…

It’s a great idea. A terrific idea. He’ll jump on it right away.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Rebecca “Beck” Morrissey kept repeating those lines to herself as she drove up the driveway of Hank Patterson’s ranch to the big ranch house that also houses the offices of Brotherhood Protectors. She had a great proposal for him that was unique and had endless possibilities. Hank had built a great organization with Brotherhood Protectors and she was sure this would only enhance it.

She recalled when Hank had left his SEAL brothers to deal with trouble at his ranch in Montana. He’d told her he never realized what would evolve from that. First SEALs, then other Special Forces, became part of a still growing group that dealt with trouble better than anyone.

Now Hank had two very successful setups going already, the original Brotherhood Protectors based in Montana and the Colorado offshoot in Fools Gold, Colorado. Team Trojan, former Green Berets out of Fort Carson who had left the service and Fort Carson on a bitter note. They had formed the basis for that setup and it was working very well. But apparently the number of extreme bad guys was growing because the entire organization was constantly busy.

And they all thrived on doing the kind of work they’d trained for, but without the politics involved.

Beck and her four friends who she pitched this idea to wanted the same thing. They were all hoping Hank would say yes to her proposal. They had all been friends for a long time and had been involved in government agency dark ops or secret projects, so they brought a lot of experience with them. But like her, they were ready for something new. Something where they had fewer restrictions and could choose their cases. When Beck reached out to them with her idea they had responded with enthusiasm.

Hank will see the benefit of it.

She kept repeating it to herself as she parked her car, walked up to the house and rang the bell.

“You made it.” Hank grinned as he opened the door. “Good. How the hell are you?”

“I’m terrific.” She squeezed him back. “And getting better.”

“Well, I sure am damn glad to see you. And anxious to hear about this hot idea you have.”

“Which I hope you will think is as exciting as I do.”

“I am open to suggestion,” he told her. “Come on down to the offices. I’ve got one of the Brotherhood Protectors down there who knows you. Thought we could use his input.”

She wondered who the hell that could be? She knew a few of the men but she didn’t think she knew any of them well enough who might be on board with her suggestion.

She followed Hank down the stairs to the offices, which took up the entire basement of the ranch house.

And stopped.

Dead still.

When she saw the man lounging against one of the desks, for one brief moment she thought her heart actually stopped beating.

Holy crap!

She hadn’t seen Roman McClain for four years and she hated the fact that her body’s reaction to him hadn’t changed a bit. One glance at him and every one of her hormones jumped up and began to dance. Heat sizzled through her and it had taken every single ounce of willpower not to let it show.

She wondered what his reaction to her proposal would be, because Roman McClain was the last person she’d expected to be a part of this.

Oh, this was so not good.

Roman, on the other hand, looked very comfortable. She wondered how long he’d been a part of BP.

“Hello, Beck.”

His deep voice still resonated through her and lit fires under her hormones.


“Hey, Roman.” She cleared her throat. “Long time no see.”

He nodded. “Four years.”

She couldn’t stop staring at him. She thought she’d buried her feelings deep but it seemed even after all this time Roman McClain still had an incendiary effect on her.

More than six feet of well-muscled masculinity, the jawline beard he still wore accented the high cheekbones and lips that delivered scorching kisses. Kisses that she still remembered after four years. Deep blue eyes studied her from beneath thick black lashes that were the same ebony as his hair and beard. She remembered running her fingers through that thick hair. Feeling the scratch of his beard on her thighs. His—

Stop it! Get your act together.

She could be a big girl about this. He’d made no bones about their one night together. That was all it would be, a sort of celebration of the op they’d completed so successfully. Just because he’d kept his word and that one night was all they had—or were going to have— didn’t mean they couldn’t at least be civil to each other. And apparently Hank was counting on Roman’s opinion of her proposal.

“So I take it you’re out of Special Forces and are now a part of Brotherhood Protectors?” It was as much a statement as a question.

He nodded. “I am.”

“Roman’s been with us for almost two years,” Hank told her. “He’s become a key member of the organization.”

“Well, good. That’s good.”

Or maybe not.

She used every ounce of discipline to get herself under control. Her training with black ops was a big help. She’d spent four years burying the memory of her one night with Roman McClain as deep as she could. He wasn’t a man who stayed around for more. She’d known that from the beginning. But that one night together had been worth it.

“How about a cup of coffee?” Hank asked.

“Uh, sure. That would be good.” And give her something to focus on.”

Once she had taken a couple of sips of the hot liquid she drew a breath and forced an air of calm.

“Okay.” Hank’s voice broke into her thoughts. “So how about telling us what’s brought you here today.”

“Okay. Well. You know I spent the past few years working for several black ops organizations within the government.”

Hank nodded. “And from what I’ve heard, did an incredible job.” He nodded toward Roman. “Roman here told me you and he had worked an op together and it went off like clockwork. I think the words ‘consummate professional” were used, if I recall.”

“Thanks for that, Roman. It’s nice to have good advance publicity.” She took another sip of her coffee.

“Okay, Beck.” Hank waved a hand for her to tell her story. “Let’s have it. Who are these women and why would they be a good fit for Brotherhood Protectors?”

“Anyway, I have four very close friends who also worked in that environment including the CIA, the Department of Defense and others I’m not at liberty to mention. And they were—are—all damn good. The point is, we’re all suffering a bad case of burnout.”

“I can get with that,” Hank agreed, “It takes a toll and working for the government can be very frustrating.”

“Amen to that.

So.” Another sip of coffee. “Anyway. Last month we were all in Virginia, having lunch and discussing our situations. And…”

Just tell him, idiot. 

Available for preorder on Amazon:

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Lexxie Couper: Who’s a Good Boy? from RESCUED! (Contest)
Friday, May 13th, 2022

I’m Lexxie Couper. Some of you may know me or have heard of me (I’ve been around for a very long while) and some of you might be wondering who the hell I am. I’m an Aussie, a geek, a serious lover of chocolate, and a writer of romance. I write contemporary romance, paranormal romance, horror romance, sci-fi romance, romantic comedy… pretty much all kinds of romance, except historical (no way I have the research skills to write historical romance even though I love reading it). I’m also the proud owner of a rescue dog and a proud owner of a rescue cat (who pretty much rules the house).

I’m a part of a ten-author boxset called Rescued: A Collection of Contemporary Romances with Heart, Heat, and Dog Treats that’s available now for $0.99 pre-order and releases May 17th. All the books in the boxset feature rescue dogs in some way. My book in the Rescued boxset is called Who’s a Good Boy? and tells the tale of Chelsea Parker, a feisty dog trainer, and Timothy Holt, a single-dad environmentalist, and how one very special rescue dog (called Wilbur) changes everything for them. It’s a feel good, steamy rom-com that will make you smile. Promise.

This is my rescue dog, Ebony. She’s a border collie/kelpie/whippet cross. She was abused by her previous owners and now suffers from anxiety. But she is the sweetest doggo you’ll ever meet who just wants you to love her, no matter who you are. She sat at my feet or at my side as I was writing Who’s A Good Boy? and whenever the words stopped flowing I gave her a pat and she licked my hand and the words came again.

Here’s a little snippet from Who’s A Good Boy? I hope you enjoy it.

Who’s a Good Boy?


Timothy Holt is totally out of my league. He’s damn-near Australian royalty and I’m just a dog-trainer. There’s no chance he’d want anything to do with me, especially after I accidentally spilt juice all over him just before he’s about to go on national TV. And then the success of my business suddenly hinges on us being in a relationship. How the hell am I going to make that happen?


Romance isn’t on my agenda. Nor is dog ownership. And then Chelsea Parker slams into me. Literally. She’s a complication I don’t need, but for some reason I can’t stop thinking about her. Her smile, the way she makes me laugh, the way my body reacts to her…. I want everything about her. But what is she going to do when she discovers the truth I’m hiding from her? A truth involving a three-legged mutt called Wilbur?

Excerpt from Who’s a Good Boy?

My hair has never been a perfect anything. God, did I even do it this morning? I try to remember. Nope, no clue.

Let’s hope the curls hide the possible absence of a brush. Maybe everyone will think I’ve just got a really expensive beach hairdo.

I clear my throat, struggling not to reach up and touch my hair. “I need to go as well,” I say, looking at the very cute, very familiar guy.

His gaze grabs mine again, and yep, he’s definitely holding it. “Sorry for getting in your road,” he says.

“Anytime.” I let my lips curl into a smile as I turn away. “Sorry for knocking you off your feet,” I finish over my shoulder.

I’m flirting. I’m actually flirting. Go me!

“Anytime,” he calls after me.

And he’s flirting with me. I think. Is he? He is, right? Oh God, why am I so bad at this?

Because you suck at dealing with humans, Chelsea. Suck, suck, suck.

His daughter waves at me, and I wave back. And grin. At him. At the delicious little butterflies-flutter his playful compliment stirs in my stomach.

Maybe I don’t suck at dealing with humans? Maybe I’m better at it than I thought. A year after being dumped by Roger—the only serious relationship I’d ever had—a year after many failed first dates and aborted Tinder interactions, I’d begun to believe I was.

But perhaps this serendipitous moment with the familiar stranger is proving Roger wrong.


Okay, maybe I’m putting the cart before the horse. One little flirtatious interaction and one brief second of eye-contact does not a femme fatale make. But still, when was the last time a living creature apart from an animal has made me grin?

Because I can’t help myself, I shoot a look back over my shoulder.

He’s watching me, poised to climb into the backseat of a black Audi SUV, the older gentleman who’d asked if he was okay holding the door open for him.

Holding the door for him? What the…?

Who the hell is this guy? A celebrity of some sort? Is that why he looks familiar?

He smiles at me.

Before I know it, I smile back.

And then, with a small wave, he disappears into the backseat of the Audi.

A thick sense of loss ripples through me and I let out a sigh. “Yep. Missed opportunity right there.”

The older gentleman closes the door, pins me with a contemplative scrutiny I feel all the way to my spine, and then strides around to the driver’s door.

Lyle and the cutie-pie munchkin are nowhere to be seen. In the car already, no doubt.

I chew my bottom lip. With the possessive way Lyle kept glaring at me, it’s probably better it’s all over but the singing.

Still, damn, he was cute. The guy I knocked over. Not Lyle.

So…what did you think?

I really enjoyed writing Who’s a Good Boy? Maybe in part because I loved writing about not only people falling in love with each other (and boy, do Tim and Chelsea fall hard), but also people falling in love with rescue dogs (Tim never planned to have a dog, and then Wilbur entered his life). I grew up believing every home should have a dog and every dog should have a home. Now, for no other reason than why not, here’s a photo of Chris Hemsworth and his dog. 🙂

***A Little Lexxie Contest***

To go into the running to win two eBooks from my backlist of the winners choice and a signed Lexxie Couper print book, leave a comment here on my guest blog post here on Delilah’s blog between now and May 20. 🙂 Tell me what you thought of the snippet, tell me about your pet, tell me about your breakfast, tell me something you know about Australia. 🙂 Tell me anything, or even just say g’day.

And don’t forget to pre-order Rescued for only $0.99!

Rescued pre-order links:
Amazon –
Barnes and Noble –
Apple –
Kobo –

Lexxie Couper social media links:

Cameron Allie: Somewhere to Belong (Giveaway & Contest–3 Winners!)
Friday, May 6th, 2022

UPDATE: The winners are…bn100 and Debra!

I debated what to write about for today’s blog post. Nothing felt quite right, but that could be because my face still hurts from the dental work I just had done. When I realized Mother’s Day was coming up, I figured I should tell you about my single mom romance story.

Somewhere to Belong is a cute but steamy romance that ties off my Unexpected Changes series. No, you don’t have to read the other three books to read this one. Each story can be read as a standalone book.

It opens with a hot one-night stand. The characters walk away knowing they’ll never see each other again but are haunted by memories of that night, ones they’d like to repeat. Of course, they get thrust back together when Kevin is assigned as her new realtor.

Lillian, a widow, is raising two young children. Cole, age seven, is one of those super cool kids who gets bullied because he’s different. He loves reading and books and wishes he could be homeschooled. Mackenzie is a sassy, red-headed, kindergartener who isn’t big on rules. Together, they keep Lillian on her toes.

Kevin has sworn off love after one too many heartbreaks. He’s a big softy, a cinnamon roll, a hero, who falls further and further in love with Lillian’s small family.

Trouble comes during their house hunt. Lillian vetoes every house that comes up in her price range, and Kevin begins to suspect she isn’t being honest with him when it comes to what she really wants in a home. Trying to get her to trust him is a greater challenge than he expects.

A lot of the scenes involving Cole really stuck with me. He is such a sweet kid that gets bullied and picked on. I love how he grows and develops in the story and how he has such a profound effect on both Lillian and Kevin.

Somewhere to Belong is available in eBook and paperback. You can visit my website for a longer excerpt and to learn more.

Excerpt from Somewhere to Belong:

“God, girl, was there a Magic Mike convention at your work today?”

Confused she asked, “What?”

He chuckled. “What’s got you so hot and bothered?”

“You.” She grabbed the front of his shirt and backed him toward the bed. His calves hit the mattress and he dropped. Wasting no time, Lillian straddled him. “You took care of my kids all day and then fixed the sink. Seriously, doing work around the house is such a turn on.”

“Good to know.”

“Uh huh.” She tugged at his shirt. “Now shut up and strip.”

Giveaway and a Contest!

How about a free short story? Get Arrested Valentine now by subscribing to my newsletter.

Did you know I also write fantasy romance? For your chance to win an ebook copy of Love Spells, Full Moons, and Silver Bullets comment below and tell me a positive memory you have of your mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, or female role model in your life. I’ll be giving away three copies. Winners will be selected from the comments at random.

What do you do when your ex’s werewolf boss wants to feast on the mortal you’ve sworn to protect?

Quinn was unaware of the love potion her meddling cat dumped into her tea, so when Ian Hannigan ends up injured on her property, she thinks she’s dealing with another mortal, not the man who can help mend her heart. Her life becomes a balancing act as she attempts to keep him safe while hiding secrets better left buried with the dead.

In a realm filled with things that go bump in the night, Ian didn’t expect to find security and happiness in the arms of a green-skinned witch, yet for the first time since his parents’ tragic car crash, he’s found some measure of peace. The rumors he hears in Clayridge aren’t pleasant, but Ian knows there’s more to Quinn than what people would have him believe. If he’s placed his trust in the wrong hands, he’ll be paying with more than just his heart. He’ll pay with his life.

Michal Scott: The Hope and the Dream of the Slave – Anna Julia Haywood Cooper (Contest)
Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Roseann Cyngier!

The resilience of the formerly enslaved in the face of societal oppression never ceases to amaze me. Despite violence from groups like the KKK and laws to strip away the rights they’d earned, former slaves refused to be daunted. One of these brave souls was Anna Julia Haywood Cooper.

I learned of Cooper while researching a novella I hope to set in Paris in the 1920s. She received a PhD in history from the Sorbonne in 1924 when she was 66. She had first started her doctoral work in 1914 at Columbia University but had to stop to take care of her siblings upon the death of her mother.

Born into slavery in 1858 in Raleigh North Carolina, Cooper went on to become an author, an educator, and sociologist. She received a scholarship at the age of nine to Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute. She studied there for fourteen years and successfully fought to take classes reserved only for men. She then enrolled in Oberlin College and once again refused to be barred from men-designated courses of study. She graduated in 1884 but after teaching at Saint Augustine’s and Wilberforce College returned to Oberlin and received an M.A. in mathematics in 1888.

Her book, A Voice from the South, published in 1892 is considered to be one of the earliest if not the earliest work advocating education and social uplift of Black women as the way to uplift her race. She is often called the Mother of Black Feminism. That same year she formed the Colored Women’s League with such luminaries as Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Forten Grimke and Mary Church Terrell.

In 1900 Cooper attended the first Pan-African conference in London and presented her paper, “The Negro Problem in America.” She retired from teaching and became president of Frelinghuysen University in 1930. This university was established to help African Americans receive education after working hours so they didn’t have to choose between an education and working to support themselves and their families. When the university could no longer pay its mortgage, she moved the school into her home. She died in 1964 at the age of 105.

When I discover women like Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, these words from Maya Angelou’s poem, “And Still I Rise”, come to mind: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” Formerly enslaved women like Cooper were their own dream and their own hope. Her example inspires me to reinvent her audacity and resilience in the characters I create in my fiction.

For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments a woman from history or in your own life who inspires you.

One Breath Away
by Michal Scott

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…

Excerpt from One Breath Away

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.”


Arriving after midnight: DARK SEDUCTION! (Read an excerpt!)
Monday, April 25th, 2022

Ready for a meaty, sexy read (full-length novel)? Plenty of plot twists? Vampires, demons, and zombies? A yummy menage? A sexy, sexy hero (this one’s EROTIC!)? Well, it drops tonight after midnight!

Dark Seduction

Dark Seduction

A raging storm unleashes a tempest of desire and an ancient evil…

For nearly 800 years, Revenant Nicolas Mountfaucon has dedicated his life to ensuring an immortal monster never walks free. When a terrible storm unleashes the beast, Nicolas’s past rises to haunt him, taunting him with the memory of the death of his bride and the loss of his brother at the hands of the ancient demon known as “The Devourer.” Nicolas turns to the only person who can provide him emotional and physical solace, Born vampire Chessa Tomas, sure she will join the hunt for the evil creature.

Only Chessa wants nothing to do with hunting the “Big Bad”—she’s shed her responsibilities as a Born, refusing her seat on the council because she doesn’t trust their leader. However, Nic isn’t as easily dismissed—he appeals to the secret side of her nature that begs to be dominated.

Pre-order your copy here!

An excerpt from Dark Seduction

Fresh from her shower, Chessa heard the heavy knock and glanced at her clock on the bedside stand. Still an hour before she had to be at work.

Not the super. She’d paid her rent. Besides, he’d fled with the rest of the building’s inhabitants when the Mayor had ordered evacuation.

And not her partner seeing whether she wanted to get a cup of coffee before reporting to duty. Her partner wasn’t coming today.

Or ever again.

Curious, she threaded through piles of discarded clothing to her front door and peered through the peephole into a hallway lit only by grayish, pre-dusk light from the landing window. The power had gone out sometime during the night. Just one more annoyance on top of the last hellish twenty-four hours.

A familiar man stood on her threshold. Broad shoulders, long dark hair—her body clenched. “Nic?” What was he doing in the city again so soon? How the hell had he gotten in? She’d heard most of the roads around the city were closed due to flooding.

“Chessa, open the door.”

Something in his voice had her gripping the doorknob tight. Her breath hitched. She didn’t want to know what had brought him here.

“Please,” he said, weariness and raw, aching need flavoring the rich timbre of his voice.

Although they’d sated their appetite for sex a few hours ago, Chessa’s body softened instantly, heat tightening her womb. She hated the way her body betrayed her.

They’d said their farewells, she reminded herself. “We had a deal, Nic. You stick to your turf—I’ll stick to mine.”

“Chessa, open the goddamn door.”

The “or else” he left unspoken in his lightly accented voice. She got the message and turned the knob, stepping aside to let him in as she wrapped her towel tightly around her body.

A quick, sweeping glance told her there was trouble. Big, fat vampire trouble. Nicolas looked a mess.

His long black-brown hair hung in damp, curling tendrils around his lean face. His exposed skin was grimy-looking, and he smelled of sewage and sour swamp water.

His hands reached for her.

Without time to sidestep, she found herself smashed against his chest, his strong hands clutching her close.

She leaned back in the circle of his arms and stared into his face. What she saw troubled her. His jaw was clenched tight, and his face was unnaturally pale—even by a vampire’s standards. “What’s happened?”

His throat tightened, but he shook his head and lowered it.

Only she’d just had a shower, and he stunk to high heaven. Besides, she needed space to calm the riot of feelings he aroused. Ones she was still uncomfortable acknowledging even existed. She pressed her palms against his chest to halt him.

She loved Rene. Although he’d chosen to enter a mage’s sanctuary with another Born vampire, Chessa wasn’t over him yet.

Her feelings for Nicolas were strictly carnal—and she needed to get her libido back under control. Unbridled passion had been unleashed by proximity to Natalie Lambert’s coming into season, as only a transforming Born could inspire. That arousal had spilled over onto Chessa and Nicolas—it was the only explanation Chessa would allow for the strength of the desire that even now made her body yearn toward his.

Nicolas’s chest heaved, and his eyes narrowed to feral slits. “Don’t deny me. Not now.”

She wrinkled her nose. “You stink.”

“Then we’ll shower,” he said, a dangerous edge to his voice.

As always, his first terse words had her melting. “Tell me why you’re here,” she said, searching for a way to put him off while she shored up her fading resistance.

Another shake of his head, this time sharp and violent. “Later,” he ground out.

Then she noted the wildness in his eyes. Something had rattled his cage. Nicolas was never anything but completely in control. Chessa felt the last bit of solid ground crumble beneath her. “All right,” she said softly and held up a hand to ward off a kiss. “But shower first.” He’d have to let her go to follow her.

However, Nicolas wasn’t giving her the space she needed to regroup. He grabbed the top of her towel and ripped it away then slammed his mouth on hers, backing her toward the bedroom.

Chessa’s bare feet skidded on her wood floor as she dug in her heels, but he swept her along, through her bedroom into the bathroom, all the while punishing her lips with a brutal kiss.

When the edge of the tub brought them up short, he reached behind her and yanked aside the shower curtain. “Turn it on.”

Dumbly, she reached behind her, fumbling to turn the knob, finally sending a spray of water that misted around them before he lifted her above the rim of her tub to set her inside.

Nicolas tore at his clothes, dropping them at his feet, then stepped beside her in the stall, crowding her against the cool tile walls with lukewarm water falling all around them. “Any more objections?” he asked, in his oddly rasping voice.

She shook her head, overwhelmed and mute with rising desire. Her body already strained toward his. Her breasts swelled, her nipples ruching tight and hard. Her legs trembled, and her sex released a trickle of fragrant moisture she couldn’t deny.

His hands reached around her and grasped her bottom, lifting her off her feet, crushing her breasts to his chest, her mound against the base of his rigid cock.

With his erection pressing into her belly, any objection was obliterated. She flung out her arms and gripped his shoulders, aiding him as he angled her body toward his and thrust his cock between her legs.

Chessa groaned as he slid inside her. “Bastard, we had a deal.”

His response was a flex of his hips to thrust hard inside her, tunneling deep, pressing higher until the strength of his hips and cock had her feet dangling above the porcelain bottom of the tub.

When he’d reached inside her as far as he could, he wrapped his arms around her, squeezing away her breath and laid his cheek alongside hers, his chest heaving.

She shivered from arousal so strong it nearly choked her and from fear of whatever had shaken Nicolas to his core. She’d never seen him like this. “What is it? What’s happened?”

His head drew away, and his gaze burned as it slid to her lips. “Later,” he groaned.

Again, the wildness in his gaze and the tension that gripped his broad shoulders and arms as he held her unsettled her. This wasn’t Nicolas with his sardonic quips and ever-watchful gaze. Accustomed of late to him showing up at unexpected times to tempt her, this was different.

He was frightened.

Although tempted to argue, to chide him and try to drive him away, she wound her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist, and pulled him close, dragging his head down to bury against her shoulder.

If she were honest with herself, she was glad he’d come.

Not that she was ready to be anybody’s rock. She had problems of her own. A life to sort out. One far away from the vampire enclave at Ardeal.

Nicolas was entrenched in that life, but she had broken free decades ago and had vowed she’d never go back. Whatever was bothering him now wasn’t her problem.

But she could hold him and let his warmth and strength provide her comfort as well. She had her own needs and a desolate loneliness that had filled her when she’d shut her apartment door hours earlier and realized the only friend she’d had in the world was lost to her forever.

“Stop thinking,” he growled.

“Just fuck me,” she bit out, meeting his hard gaze with a glare of her own.

Their hips churned together in a desperate coupling. Not at all the sexy, teasing pummeling she’d come to expect—that in itself was an indication of his upset. His movements lacked finesse. He gave no thought for her pleasure, which he was always so careful to draw out—torturing her with her own desire.

Instead, his hands gripped her ass hard, pushing her up and down his cock, grinding her back against the cool tiles as he powered into her.

When he came, his eyes squeezed tight, his body grew rigid, and he held his breath for one endless moment. After his pulsing release waned, he dropped his forehead against the tiles. “Get out.”

Surprised at the harshness of his voice, she didn’t question him, just unwound her legs from his waist and slid down his body. She stepped out of the tub to dry herself with a towel while he remained inside, drawing the curtain closed behind him.

She couldn’t think of a thing to say. Despite the humid air inside the room, she shivered.

Damn. It sure as hell felt like she cared about the fact he’d tossed her out of her own shower.

Liese Sherwood-Fabre: Exploring Sherlock Holmes’ French Roots (Contest)
Wednesday, April 20th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Beverly!

I want to thank Delilah for giving me the opportunity to share about my new release, The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait, the fourth case in my Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes series. It’s available for a special price ($2.99) for a limited time.

This series offers an origin story for Sherlock Holmes. The original tales had little about his past other than his father was named Siger, he had a brother named Mycroft, and his ancestors were country squires. He also tells Watson his grandmother was the sister of the French artist Vernet, which gave him “art in the blood.” As Sherlock matures through this series, he develops his skills as he solves mysteries at the family estate, London, and now France.

In The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait, the Holmes family travels to Paris to visit their French relatives along with some purpose known only to Sherlock’s mother. The true reason for the trip becomes apparent almost immediately when they witness a murder on their first night in the city. A carriage runs down the artist of a compromising sketch of Sherlock’s mother. The hunt to bring the killer to justice sends Sherlock into parts of the city off the beaten path and into danger.

In addition to a visit to the Louvre (after all, their ancestors had paintings hanging there), the evidence sends them to such sites as the Mont-de-Piété (now the Crédit Municipal de Paris), the state-run pawn shops; the Hôtel Drouot, an auction house; the headquarters of the Surete (the French equivalent of Scotland Yard); and Montmartre, a sleepy village on the outskirts of the city in 1868. As I completed my research for the book, I found myself longing to return to the city to actually visit the places I’d only read about in books or online. Even Montmartre, a place I’d visited before, now holds new meaning to me.

I’m giving away a $5 Apple or Amazon gift card (winner’s choice) to one randomly selected person leaving a comment. Let me know of your interest in Paris. Do you want to visit the City of Lights? What would be on your list of sites there? If you have visited the city, what did you enjoy the most?

The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait

A long-buried secret. A stolen portrait. The artist’s murder. Can Sherlock discover the connection between the three before he’s stopped permanently?

Sherlock can’t shake his apprehension about a family trip to Paris. His mother’s unflappable confidence vanished months ago, and her anxiety has set the whole family on edge. His greatest fears are realized when they witness the death of one of Mrs. Holmes’ former suitors.

As Sherlock seeks to unravel the reason behind the artist’s murder, he unearths a long-buried secret about his mother and survives several attempts to keep him from getting to the truth.

Can he bring a killer to justice before he’s buried with these hidden secrets forever?

Excerpt from The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait:

I stared over the ship’s railing and spoke to my brother Mycroft without glancing at him. “I feel this trip may be a mistake.”

I saw him turn toward me from the corner of my eye. “The crossing’s almost over. You’ll feel better when you get on dry land.”

“That’s not what I meant.” I glared at him. “Mother hasn’t been herself since Easter. Out of the blue, she announces we’re going to Paris while you’re still recovering from a gunshot wound. And she’d been distracted even before that.”

Mother had always been the family rock. I’d rarely seen her rattled, but even granite can break under pressure.

During our Easter holiday in London, she appeared preoccupied by matters she never explained to me or my brother. At the time, I’d put it down to concern over my father’s efforts to invest in a business venture with an old school chum as well as Mycroft’s wounding at the hands of our kidnappers. Both, however, were now behind us. The investment had produced a modest return, and I saw no lingering problems related to Mycroft’s injury. All the same, we’d barely arrived home from school before she’d packed our trunks and shuffled us all off to Newhaven for the steamship ride to Dieppe.

“I do believe bringing the entire family is a ruse,” he said after his own inspection of the sea.

“Including Uncle Ernest in the trip did surprise me.” Her brother rarely left the estate or his workshop. “Perhaps she thinks it will do him some good. They report being happy growing up there.”

He glanced at the smoke trailing the ship. “If she was so happy there, why doesn’t she show it?”

I ran through all the scenarios—from something as benign as a sudden bout of nostalgia to a fatal illness calling her back to see her French relatives one last time—and shook my head. “Without more information, I would only be speculating. You yourself have said that can be counterproductive. Whatever the reason, something has truly unnerved her.” I turned back to the ocean, seeking any indication of the coastline. “And whatever it is lies in Paris.”

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About the Author

Liese Sherwood-Fabre knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ in the second grade for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD, she joined the federal government and worked and lived internationally for more than fifteen years. Returning to the states, she seriously pursued her writing career, garnering such awards as a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest and a Pushcart Prize nomination. A recognized Sherlockian scholar, her essays have appeared in scion newsletters, the Baker Street Journal, and Canadian Holmes. She has recently turned this passion into an origin story series on Sherlock Holmes. The first book, The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife, was the CIBA Mystery and Mayhem 2020 winner.

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You can keep up with all upcoming events and books by signing up for her newsletter. When you do, you’ll get a FREE short story.

$0.99 Sale!! Meet your weekend book boyfriend! (Excerpt)
Friday, April 1st, 2022

I sent this out in my newsletter this morning, so if you’re getting this a second time—sorry!

It’s April Fools’ Day! It’s also Friday, and maybe you’re getting ready to download a story and meet your new weekend Book-Boyfriend. Well, I have a suggestion for you. Troy Barlow is a firefighter, who will fall like a ton of bricks when he meets the right woman. He’s sexy, funny, brave. Everything you could want in a BBF.

I reduced the price for this weekend only!! You’ll save $2 if you pick up your copy now! Read the excerpt below for a peek inside the fun you’ll have!

Happy Reading!


Flash Point

A Cowboys on the Edge Story

His touch makes her burn…

Troy Barlow wasn’t looking for love when he competed in the Texas Tough Firefighting Competition, but one feisty little blonde caught his attention and wouldn’t let go. The more she tried to deflect him, the more determined he became to make an impression, until he did something she couldn’t possibly ignore.

The last thing Diana Boyle expected to feel was attraction for another firefighter. After her husband’s death, she’d been adamant — never another firefighter. But Troy was impossible to escape. When he wore down her resolve, she thought a one-night-stand might purge him from her system once and for all, but his powerful appeal and uninhibited lust and zest for life were addictive. When a harrowing fire threatens their newfound happiness, Diana has to face her worst fears.

Get your reduced-price copy at one of these vendors now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple

Excerpt from Flashpoint

Every time he’d finished an event, he’d searched, encouraged when he found her looking his way, even if she did immediately give him her back or pretend she wasn’t staring.

He guessed he wasn’t hard to miss. Even in a crowd. Besides his large frame, he was extremely athletic. A ringer, some of the firehouses had complained good-naturedly to his chief. Which was true, he’d competed nationally in other firefighter challenges and placed. But this weekend wasn’t about trophies or blue ribbons, the competition was about raising money for the Fallen Firefighters Fund. Chief Thacker had told his crew not to embarrass him, placing would be nice, but having fun and making sure the people attending enjoyed themselves was the highest priority.

Troy had already done his part, winning the ladder competition—his score seconds faster than Cade’s score climbing a ladder up a tower of scaffolding. He’d helped his team secure second in the hose relay, where firefighters representing their houses ran with fire hoses, extending them as fast as they could to the next firefighter on the track, who then had to run with his own section of hose toward the finish line. Yeah, he’d more than done his part. And while he was pretty sure he could blow through the competition during this final event, he didn’t think his boss would mind if he broke the rules and disqualified himself—all in the name of giving the crowd something they’d love.

At last, his turn arrived to stand behind the starting line, this time beside Kole. There being only two Rescue Randy dolls meant only two firefighters could compete at one time. The goal was to lift the weighted doll and drag it to “safety” a hundred feet to the finish line. Troy eyed the doll lying on the ground in front of him and smirked.

“Don’t think I’m making this easy for you,” Kole said.

Troy fought to keep his voice even. “Oh, I know you can give me some competition. Just don’t break your stride over anything I might do.”

Kole shook his head and laughed. “Already making excuses for why I’m gonna smoke your ass?”

“Just saying,” Troy said, grinning. He shot a look at the blonde woman’s table. Her gaze widened when it locked with his. Did instinct tell her she ought to run? He hoped so.

A shot rang out, and Kole leapt forward to pick up his doll, tucking his hands under its armpits and shuffling backwards down the track.

Troy turned and darted into the crowd, heading straight for the woman’s refreshment table.

“And we have a firefighter who’s a little directionally challenged,” drawled the commentator over the loudspeaker.

Troy didn’t break stride, leaping over duffels and hoses, his gaze on his prize.

His prey’s eyes widened farther, and she pushed up from her chair, her head turning left and right as though making sure she really was his quarry. Her delayed reaction gave him time to catch her. He planted a hand on her shoulder, turned her gently, then bent and pushed his shoulder against her soft belly.

With a yelp, she folded over his shoulder and grabbed for his waistband to steady herself, because he was already straightening and turning. From the corner of his eye, he noted the firefighters from San Angelo beginning to stand, hands fisted as they moved to cut him off, but he was closer to the track, and definitely more determined. He reached up to pat her bottom. “Hold on tight. I’ll try not to bounce you too much, sweetheart.” With laughter ringing out among the onlookers, he jogged behind Kole who shook his head and continued dragging the dummy down the track.

“Seriously, bro?” Kole shouted out.

“Put me down, idiot!” came the sweet, chopped voice of his victim.

“Can’t now, hon. I’m committed. You really should have told me your name. We’d have shook hands, I’d have asked you for your number and a date—”

“I would have said no!”

He laughed, not the least disappointed. She acted as he’d expected. “And that would have been okay. Not that I would have given up.” He slowed his pace, not wanting the race to end too quickly.

Kole laughed too hilariously to threaten anyone’s time. At the moment, he was bent over the doll he’d dropped as he held his sides.

Troy was nearly running in place, doing his best to drag out his rescue. “Yeah, I’d have called, and when you blocked my number, I would have shown up at your job and sweet-talked all your friends into telling me where to find you.”

She wiggled on his shoulder, pinched his sides. “You’re just a stalker! A freaking perv.”

Only he noted that she didn’t sound very outraged. Instead, she sounded like she was choking. Was she laughing? He grinned.

“And you’re a liar. There’s no way you could find out where I live or work.”

“Sweetheart, I have friends with badges. I’d have followed you to your car, got your plate number—”

“That’s illegal. Officers wouldn’t just run a plate like that.”

“I’d have said you stole something. That I saw a pretty girl carrying it away. And hey, I did my civic duty and wrote down her license plate…”

“Oh yeah? And what did I steal?”

Pretending to stumble, he patted her ass again. “You don’t know what you took?”

This time laughter shook her frame. “You’re a jerk.”

“That’s okay. You’re a thief.” He crossed the line behind Kole and turned toward the crowd, holding out his arms and raising his hands, still balancing her slim body on one shoulder.

The crowd roared, but her friends moved in on him, their faces tight and red. He figured he needed her help to keep this friendly and slowly bent, lowering her to the ground.

She shook back her hair and met his gaze. “What did I take?” she asked, her face reddened, her expression a mixture of embarrassment and something kind of…poignant.

Troy hated to end the moment. She deserved a truthful answer. Instead, he reached for her shoulders and turned her toward her friends, then wrapped an arm around her middle and pulled her against his side. “Don’t suppose you could tell them we planned this, huh?”

She gave a breathless laugh and cocked an eyebrow. “Think it would help? They look pretty pissed.”

“Maybe they’d believe it, if…” Knowing he gambled but couldn’t resist, he turned her again, bent with her, and then brushed her mouth with his.

The crowd roared their approval.

He glanced toward her friends who’d slowed their stomps, deep frowns lessening as her hands rose to grip his shoulders. And for a moment, he forgot this was just a way to blow off steam, to teach her a little lesson in good dating manners. Forgotten was the crowd. His boss. Her friends. His attention narrowed to the soft lips moving beneath his, the small hands kneading his shoulders.