Do you love Hallmark movies? Do you sometimes wish the movies would be spicier? A little hotter? If so, All Cowboy and a Holiday Bride is a book for you. It’s sweet, emotional with a happily ever after but with a large dose of sexy.
Excerpt from All Cowboy & a Holiday Bride…
“Don’t fall in love,” Sadie Locke sashayed out of the bathroom, bringing with her the fresh scent of soap and woman. “Now that we’ve taken our first shower together and all.”
“That’s what you’re worried about? I asked to take a shower with you and now I’m high risk for falling in love?” Channing Dawson chuckled and hauled himself up out of bed, then grabbed his rumpled jeans off the floor. “Ain’t happening. I could never love a water hog.”
She captured him with her pale grey gaze. “I’m not worried about things going off the grid. I’m just listing the rules. We don’t want this to get complicated. Sorry about hogging the water, but that bathroom is as big as a broom closet and I’m claustrophobic. Not to mention, the spider we saw was big enough to wear shoes.”
“This is an old hunting cabin. We’re lucky it has a toilet, let alone a shower. I have an idea though.” He used his thumbnail to scratch his temple thoughtfully.
“You do? Call an exterminator, I hope.”
“We could always start meeting at your house. I bet your bathroom, and bed for that matter, is plenty big enough.” He didn’t expect a response to his question, and she didn’t disappoint. Every time he’d mentioned the subject before, she’d ignored him.
“I’m grateful this place has indoor plumbing. I can also tolerate the pet spiders. The mornings are getting nippy though. We might have to give that wood stove a whirl.” She gave her dog, Waffles, a scratch on the head. He was cuddled up on an old rug in front of the stove.
“Just so we’re clear, you don’t have to recite the ‘rules’ every time we get together like I have a kindergarten education. Sex-only is pretty self-explanatory. We meet up three times a week, have a fun time, and then we go about our own business.”
“Do I sense some sarcasm in your tone?” She flicked an eyebrow as she recapped the whiskey bottle they were passing between them last night. “Are you feeling disrespected?”
“Nope. I’m capable of keeping my heart, and dick, in two different lanes.”
“Good news because I really like what we have here.”
A Marriage of Convenience will turn into a Holiday Romance…with a surprise baby.
Sadie Locke has always been great at giving her friends relationship advice, but when it comes to her own love life not so much. That’s why she’s not looking for forever. She and Channing have been secretly carrying on a fling for months, but everything’s about to change. And boy does Santa have his work cut out for him…
Channing Dawson has life just the way he likes it. His business is thriving. And he and Sadie have a no-strings “friendlationship”. What more could a man want? After his brother passed away, he didn’t dare risk loving and losing again. Yet, his heart is speaking a different holiday tune.
Sadie pulls a fast one and makes him her husband. A marriage of convenience or not, the rules are all blurred. He isn’t sure about having a holiday bride, until he realizes he’s had feelings for her all along. Sometimes the risk is worth it all. He could get used to sharing Christmas with her, but does she feel the same? Her secrets, and she has plenty, might ruin any chance they have for a future.
Then he receives the unexpected gift of a lifetime…
About Rhonda Lee Carver
Rhonda Lee Carver is a bestselling author of contemporary western and romantic suspense, but she loves to write other genres too. She’s known for writing stories that keep readers laughing, crying, gripping the edge of their seats, and screaming all in one book…like riding a virtual roller coaster. Whether she’s creating sexy cowboys or tough guys, or sassy, independent heroines, readers are sure to find strong, powerful, memorable characters that are relatable.
By day, she taps into her creative, fictional world but at some point, she transitions back into reality where she’s a volleyball-stands cheerleader, homework virtuoso (at least she thinks so), amateur nurse to skinned knees, mediocre chef with some awesome microwave skills, pet-guru (all the strays show up at her house), and a Jackie of all trades for her kids who are the loves of her life. Yoga and chocolate keep her sane. Hallmark movies require cuddling up with tissues because she can be emotional. She adds a sprinkle of her own real-life adventures in each story she spins because a little truth never hurt anyone. She wouldn’t give up one thing in her crazy, chaotic, ever-amusing life, except, she might do magic tricks for the bungalow on the beach she’s had her eye on (GOALS).
Writing, for Rhonda, is like falling in love and finding a new best friend over and over again. Her characters will find a place inside your heart, too.
I have an admission to make—I was never a fan of instalove. I mean, how do two people meet and just, like, know? To me, love takes time. Time to get to know the other person. Time to figure out if you’re compatible with them. Time to sort through all the baggage you both are carrying. (Because you don’t get to my age without some serious baggage…)
Maybe I’m showing my age.
When I sit down and put pen to paper, though, logic and common-sense fly right out the window. Of course, my couples are going to meet and know. Of course, everything is going to go right. Of course, there’s going to be a dark moment of the soul when all looks lost. Of course, they’re going to wind up together.
Now, in my mind, these progressions happen gradually. There might be attraction, but the characters have to work through their deep emotional wounds before they can find their happily ever after. And I do love to make my characters suffer. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Make that happen. Think things can’t get worse? They can. But I’m always working toward the happily ever after.
Up until this latest release, all my stories were novellas. Longer than a short story. Shorter than a novel. A nice in-between place. The problem? Between the emotional wounds and the action of the tale, that’s a lot of story to fit into a tight package. Readers have assured me I’ve done it well. Reviewers have decried “instalove”.
Ginger Snapping All the Way was supposed to be different. It’s my first full-length gay romance. The plan was for it to be a novella, but the story quickly got away from me, and writing long was my only option. I don’t regret it. I love this book. I believed since the book was longer, I could avoid some of the instalove criticism. Except, it’s not the length of the story, but the length of the time the characters are together that determines instalove. Yes, Maddox and Ravi are only together three days before they figure it out. They know. And yeah, that makes it instalove.
So, heap on the criticism. Decry that it’s not realistic. I’ll stand by my story. These guys fought hard to be in a place to accept love. Love that is freely given. Love with no expectations. A true happily ever after.
And, of course, a cute dog.
I would love to know what you think about instalove. Drop me a comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon GC.
Ginger Snapping All the Way
I’m not a fan of Christmas. I’m happy to stay up in my mountain cabin and let the silly season pass me by. But when a friend asks for a favor, I can’t say no. Now I’m stuck in my cabin during a snowstorm, trapped with the most beautiful man I’ve ever met—who can’t wait to get away. He just might break my heart when he goes.
I’m racing to get home for the birth of my goddaughter when mechanical troubles force my plane’s emergency landing. There are no beds at the inn due to a horrendous storm, but a friend says she knows a guy who won’t mind putting me up until the bad weather passes. Now I’m trapped with that man, and I must decide if I stay, hiding from the rest of the world, or go and face my past to earn a shot at my happily ever after.
This is a 72k word, hurt/comfort, lumberjack/nurse, grumpy/sunshine, forced proximity MM romance novel with a moderate amount of angst.
He grinned. “Take fifteen.” He headed to the bathroom while I detoured to the walk-in closet to snag my terry towel bathrobe, and then I shoved my feet into my faux sheepskin lined leather slippers—a gift from Hillary. I’d be chilly by the time Princess did her job, but Ravi’d warm me up right quick. I opened the door to find my pooch planted at the door, tapping her metaphorical paw.
She’d obviously heard voices and decided she’d been patient long enough.
I ruffled the fur on the top of her heard and she gave me the stink eye. Ah, so all was not forgiven. Hard to say whether the bribery bone was going to get me back into her good books.
She followed me as I headed down the stairs, flipping on lights as I went.
Her nails clacked on the hardwood floor.
Time to trim them again.
One of the few things I didn’t enjoy as her owner. The thought of cutting her to the quick terrified me, but the alternative was going into town to the groomer’s and that was too much peopling for me.
Man, I really had to re-examine my life. If taking care of Sofia meant going into town, I should make the effort. She was probably due for some shots as well. I’d call Dr. Zephyra’s vet clinic and make an appointment for her. I opened the back door and was hit with a blast of frigid air.
I nudged her gently with my toe.
She shrugged. And finally stepped out.
The nice square I’d cleared yesterday had almost another foot. All while we’d slept. Uh, thank you, universe. This meant I’d get my delicious gorgeous man for another day. Yum. I had plans. So many plans.
My stomach rumbled. I considered. Okay, yeah, dinner’d been about eleven hours ago. But I didn’t want to stop for food. I didn’t want to stop for anything. Princess Sofia finally squatted, and I did an inner cheer. My legs were turning into ice as she deigned to do her business. And with all the snow that’d accumulated against her belly, I now needed to grab a towel. More time. It would take more time to dry her off, and I needed more time with Ravi. Was I allowed to hope the snow never stopped?
Sofia tried to dodge around my legs, but I was quicker. I halted her progress and kept one hand clutching her collar while the other closed and locked the door. I snagged her towel, and she gave me a baleful look. Seriously? If someone offered to rub me down and I was wet, I certainly wouldn’t complain. Especially if that someone had tan skin, deep dark-brown eyes, and a killer smile.
My cock sat up and took notice at that thought. Sighing, I wrapped Sofia in the towel and rubbed vigorously, all the while thinking of other things I’d love to rub. When she was drier, I put her down.
She bolted for her bowl and nosed her very expensive kibble. And gave me that look.
I swear to God, the dog was psychic. Or I’d given in to her demands once too often—I wasn’t sure which. I moved to the cupboard and pulled down the very expensive wet food. And cursed. I hadn’t brushed her teeth the last two nights. After a very expensive dental bill, I’d decided I’d rather brush her teeth every night than lose another thousand bucks. It’d also cost her three teeth. That was really the determining factor.
And she didn’t really fight anymore. She just liked to put on a good show.
Sighing, I dumped the food into a bowl and separated it into Sofia-appropriate sized bites. I barely put the bowl on the floor before she’d scarfed most of it down. No delicacy here—she ate like a starving wolf after a long winter. Or like she hadn’t been fed for a month. Sheesh.
Hot chocolate. And ginger snap cookies.
I pulled the milk from the fridge, then grabbed two mugs. It took entirely too long to prepare two mugs, but in the meantime, I grabbed a sandwich bag and added four cookies. I’d prefer presenting the cookies on a nice plate Hillary had insisted on giving me—because she insisted I would eventually have company—but two mugs and a plate was just too much to carry. I doubted Ravi’d care how I presented the cookies.
I snagged Sofia’s wet-food bowl off the floor and put it into the dishwasher. Then I selected a small frozen soup bone for her.
Her eyes lit with glee—a double treat.
Enjoy it, pooch.
Not going to happen again any time soon.
Unless Ravi stays…
Nope, not going there.
I held out the bone, and she angled her head to grab it with her little teeth.
She made a beeline to her bed in front of the fireplace. She dropped the bone and sniffed it, clearly trying to decide the best way to approach this.
About the Author
Gabbi lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black.
We have two new SEALS in Paradise stories! The latest releases are by my friends, Parker Kinkade and Kris Michaels! All buy links are below!
Cash “Inferno” Mancini is a take-charge, get-shit-done kind of guy. All he wants to do is help his family bring in the fall harvest, eat some holiday turkey, and then get his ass back to his SEAL team. If it weren’t for his unexpected roommate, he’d be halfway to done already. Cash had no doubt that Aspen Calloway was put on this earth just to annoy him. With her sweet smiles and cheery attitude. With her constant smiles and those pouty lips he’d like to…
Author’s note: To this Christmas story I’ve also sprinkled two handfuls of Guardians and a dash of an assassin in a Christmas sweater! Come find some old friends and maybe a glimpse into next year’s first release in the Kings of Guardian Series!
Forced to take his ‘Use or Lose’ vacation days, Romeo Platoon Leader Ted (Bear) Black begrudgingly heads home to Hope City and all the nonsense surrounding Christmas. He’d rather stay in San Diego and spend his downtime working, especially when he’s unexpectantly reunited with the woman who was the star of the worst date he’d ever experienced.
Noel Laurent is heading home for Christmas. Her life in San Diego is lacking one thing. Snow! Christmas is the absolute most magical time of the year, and she can’t miss any of the wonderful traditions and events surrounding the season, even if she has to share her travels with the stoically silent Ted Black. Forced to spend time together, Noel is determined to infuse Christmas’s magic and wonder into her travel partner, despite his grumpy disposition. After all, miracles still happen, especially at Christmas!
Aaron has come to Fairview to find his ex’s teenage sister, who went missing in the city. As a witch both rich and powerful, Aaron follows a trail that leads him to a bar frequented by supernaturals and to a bartender who attracts Aaron’s attention — and not just because the bartender is keeping something from Aaron. When Aaron runs out of leads, he follows the mysterious and pretty bartender, and the next thing Aaron knows, he’s foiling an attempted abduction.
Ilya has built a quiet life in Fairview mixing drinks and flying under the radar. He is a banshee, and the psychic ability and mild telepathy that comes with that makes Ilya a sought-after commodity. That carefully constructed life Ilya built for himself breaks into a thousand pieces when a handsome witch starts asking questions and becomes Ilya’s rescuer mere hours after they meet.
The witch, Aaron, vows to protect Ilya and to keep his secret. Now Ilya has to decide whether he will give Aaron his trust and risk a lonely but safe life as a night bartender in a wintry city in which people disappear only to then turn up murdered.
Aaron buried his hands in his coat pockets and gave the bleak Fairview midday sky a hard look. Not that the sky gave much of a damn. It was late November, just after the Thanksgiving weekend, and for most of the morning, it had sleeted in a way Aaron had never before experienced in his life. It was like a hot shower, except the cold, freezing water got all the way through to your skin and passed the cold to every inch of your body.
“Damn city just might be cursed with bad weather,” Aaron mumbled as he walked along a street in the Old Town, which should lead him to a bar friendly to the not-quite-human clientele if his online research skills hadn’t failed him. A deep black cloud caught his attention. It zapped across the horizon as if blown by a particularly vicious breeze. Aaron frowned before he picked up his pace. The sooner I’m done here, the sooner I can go back to Morrowvale where November doesn’t suck so bad your balls want to freeze off in surrender, he thought.
In all honesty, Fairview wasn’t a bad place. The city itself was nice enough. The parks and trees here littered the streets with the bones of leaves turning to sludge in the puddles left from the earlier sleet showers, and the people, while ignoring both other people and the suck-tastic weather, dressed a little nicer than the average Morrowvaler. Aaron had also never had Japanese food as good as he’d had an hour ago in a small, unassuming place he’d accidentally walked into, at least not outside Japan. That counted for something, at least in Aaron’s book.
Traffic was in what passed for a bit of a midday lull in Fairview. The honking had ebbed to a not-eardrum-shattering noise, and Aaron managed to cross the street without it feeling like he was gambling with his life.
The Ragdoll was a basement bar, and if Aaron hadn’t been looking for it, he probably would have missed the small neon sign that was either broken or just off this early in the day. A wrought-iron fence further hid the sign and the door, which lay at the bottom of a flight of stairs. This could be a private gambling den or the hideout of a bunch of Russian spies, Aaron thought.
He walked down the stairs and pulled the door open just as another sleet shower was getting ready to wash the streets and everyone walking outside with icy wetness. Aaron shivered as he crossed the threshold and blinked into the softly lit bar.
Last week’s Thanksgiving paper turkeys and fall-colored garlands were still up, though a busboy collected the decorations into a cardboard box labeled “Turkey Day” in black sharpie. There were no Russian spies and no gambling going on here.
Surprisingly, there were several patrons in the bar this early in the day. Aaron spotted a handful starting their day’s drinking early, but most nursed mugs of coffee or were digging into sandwiches which, admittedly, looked better than was right in a basement bar. Judging by their business suits, those were just office workers who knew where the good sandwiches were at. The music was pop, playing just loud enough to offer background noise without becoming obnoxious. This place, despite the outward appearance, looked hip, trendy even. Fucking Fairview. This city is as confusing as a clown at a dinner party, Aaron thought.
Aaron’s fingers closed around the talisman in his pocket. With his touch and the smallest pinch of magic, he felt the worked metal coin activate and the spellbound to it sizzle to life. Three people, including the strawberry-blonde girl behind the bar, whipped their heads around to look at him. So, this place really is supernatural friendly, Aaron thought. The talisman heated rapidly in his pocket. And Dora definitely was here before she disappeared.
That confirmed, he let go of the talisman and walked straight to the bartender. The other two patrons who’d noticed his magic had gone back to ignoring him like the good Fairviewers they were.
“Hi,” Aaron said, giving the strawberry blonde his best winning smile. “What’s good here?”
She shrugged. “Depends on whether it’s drink-o’clock in your world or not. If not, the pumpkin spice latte kills. If yes, you look like a Macallan kind of guy.”
Aaron grinned at her. “You’d be right about the whiskey, but I think I’ll go with the latte,” he told her.
He was doing his best with the charming vibes, which usually worked even if he turned it on women, but the bartender just nodded and went about preparing his coffee. Aaron watched her, more interested in the fact that she was making coffee at a bar decked out with an impressive assortment of liquor than anything else. The coffee machine was one of those intimidating ones that took up some primo counter real estate, and from the looks of it, it saw some use.
When she was done, she brought the latte over to him and puffed a dash of cinnamon over the foamy top right in front of him. The warm scent of the spice immediately made Aaron feel just a little more optimistic about everything. The mug was the cutesy kind with a grinning, red-nosed reindeer on the side.
“There you go,” she said with little enthusiasm, though not exactly unfriendly.
“Thanks, miss,” Aaron said. Before she could walk away again, he focused on her instead of the latte. “Could I ask you something?”
“I’m guessing I’m not your type, so go right ahead,” she said.
Aaron’s eyes widened, and it was the girl’s turn to chuckle. “Half-succubus,” she said in a whisper. “The gay-dar is practically built-in.”
He nodded, fighting the color rising to his cheeks. “Right. Makes sense.” Aaron cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you’ve seen this girl,” he said and pulled the photo Patrick had given him from his pocket. It showed Dora smiling, her blond hair shimmering in the sun.
The half-succubus took a look, then shook her head. “No, sorry. Friend of yours?”
“My ex’s sister, believe it or not,” Aaron said. “She went missing, and I tracked her first to Fairview, and now here.” Aaron had the cellphone gods to thank for that. It made using his magic almost unnecessary, although Aaron still liked to confirm the actual person had been to a place, not just their phone, hence his talisman.
About Alexa Piper
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them.
There’s nothing artificial about the popularity of the “fake” trope in romance books. Phony fiancée, temporary wife, stand-in wedding date, boyfriend-for-hire, fake affair. Its popularity isn’t limited to books; how many fake relationship romantic comedies can you name? Here are a few to get you started:
While You Were Sleeping Overboard The Proposal Can’t Buy Me Love To All the Boys Leap Year Green Card The Wedding Date
Earlier this year, I signed up to write in a fake-date themed anthology. Picture me rubbing my hands in glee, and then picture me doing a happy dance when I learned the story also needed to include a holiday angle.
A holiday fake date—two of my favorite tropes. The story was already loaded with potential for fun, but I ramped up the humor and complications by setting my story in a small town filled with nosy neighbors and interfering friends.
Unwrapping Archie is one of 22 stories in Holiday Fake-Out, a 99¢ limited-time anthology headlined by Heather Graham. It’s the story of Archie Caddel and Anabelle Cypress, best friends since kindergarten, who find it convenient to let their family and friends assume there’s more to their relationship than just friendship. However, on their annual trip home for the holidays, their lie spirals out of control until the truth catches up with them. Things are further complicated when the close-knit townsfolk of tiny Joy Ridge, Pennsylvania, decide to give them a nudge in the right direction.
Let me tell you the 5 best things about writing a fake romance. I hope you’ll share what you enjoy most about reading these romances and check out the Holiday Fake-Out box set!
Forced Proximity – Part of the farce is pretending to be in love, or at least infatuated, with each other, which requires the hero and heroine to act like a couple. That often means sharing the same bed, traveling together, or otherwise being joined at the hip.
Friends to Lovers – taking a couple who think they’re “just friends” on a journey to romance is so much fun to write because the characters are just as surprised by the turn of events as readers.
It’s Complicated – While faking a relationship seems like a simple solution to whatever problem the hero and/or heroine is dealing with, the plan is bound to fall apart at some point. Upping the stakes, shifting priorities, discovering what really matters in life can only happen after the (fake) happy couple has dealt with lots and lots of complications.
Fake It Til You Make It – “Oh, you mean we have to hold hands and kiss and maybe do some other juicy stuff to convince everyone we’re a real couple? Twist my arm, baby. Especially when the hero is sizzling hot and irresistible, and I’ve secretly been fantasizing about him for years!” said every fake romance heroine ever.
I Didn’t See That Coming – Most fake relationships only require the farce to last for a limited time. Tensions rise as the hero and heroine get closer and closer to the end point, wondering if maybe the romance is real, debating whether they should take a risk and admit they’ve fallen in love, questioning the possibility of a happy ever after instead of a temporary thrill. As an author, driving my characters and the readers to the edge and then wrapping up all the loose ends into a neat little bow is especially satisfying.
About the Author
EmKay Connor is the author of sexy, sassy contemporary romantic fiction infused with quirky humor and engaging characters. Her over-the-top, instalove, escape reads are set in tropical locations, rustic locales, glamorous destinations, and friendly small towns where her heroes and heroines discover passion and fall in love. For more information about EmKay Connor and her books, visit her website at http://sexysassyromance.com/