Archive | June 27, 2016

Light, Bright and Sparkling by Elizabeth Famous Blog Tour & Rafflecopter giveaway 6/27/16

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Synopsis

Annabelle Montclare, a spritely singer/actress, is navigating the Hollywood scene with aplomb, never taking herself too seriously, when she collapses on stage. Warren Fitzgerald, a world-renowned gynecological surgeon, saves her life, and in return Annabelle goads him with her good-natured impertinence, flirting shamelessly while recovering.

Dr. Fitzgerald isn’t interested in a meaningless fling with a pop star–not to mention it’s unethical to date a patient. But when the two cross paths ten months later at a Beverly Hills charity gala, they’re unable to take their eyes off each other as they exchange verbal jabs about his bigheadedness and her provocativeness.

Warren, who’s cheated on girlfriends in the past, is ready to hit the brakes and fulfill his lifelong desire to become a dad. Annabelle, who’s ten years his junior, is focused on carving out a creative path all her own. What happens when a sparkling presence, a girl born to entertain, becomes entangled with a grounded, strong-willed man who might rein in her exuberance or drive her head over heels?

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Excerpt

On her way out, Annabelle stopped in the front lobby to sign the program for a young lesbian couple in matching blazers and spotted Dr. Fitzgerald heading to the door. She called to him, “Good night.”

When she stepped outside, he was looking her way as he waited in line by the valet stand. He buttoned his earth-brown coat with his left hand and waved her over with his right. She meandered toward him, in no rush.

“Hey, listen,” he said, “there’s a diner by the old port that opens early. At sunrise, the whole area including the boardwalk is preternaturally calm.”

It was only half past one. Pitch-black outside. “You want to go to breakfast?” she blurted out with a twang.

“I’m off today. Are you busy…later this morning?”

“Well, well, well, how about this for an about-face.”

He stood tall, waiting for an answer, both hands dug deep into his pants pockets.

Spreading her arms, she ascended into a slow pirouette to prolong his wait, drawing attention from the crowd shuffling down the carpeted steps of the main entrance to the hotel.

Landing her turn like a professional, she asked, “What time?”

“Seven?”

“Seven a.m.!”

“Why not?” he asked.

Did it occur to him that he’d seen her naked from the waist down…and been flashed by her bare breasts when he checked her breathing after surgery? Before exiting the hotel, she had stopped at the woman’s lounge and checked herself out in the mirrors. Sans tight dress or push-up bra, she looked pretty with a soft touch of makeup and a slight sheen from her excitement about running into him.

He reached for her parking ticket, his fingertips brushing against her palm, then pivoted toward the valet dressed in tails and requested that her car be brought first. His decisiveness was potent in a way that was such a turn-on. The luxurious cashmere-like fabric of his suit jacket was inches from her touch, tempting her. Nobody who dressed as he did was alone on Saturday nights. His self-possession, his lack of hesitation, was similar yet different from his authority back at the hospital—and similar yet different from his hauteur when he dismissed her from his office.

“Uh, I’m going to have to ask you for a third time about your girlfriend,” she said when he finished conversing with the valet. “I heard you were living with someone?”

“Right. I don’t believe you know Lorraine, do you?”

“That’s why I keep asking.” Neither her courage nor her smile failed her. She would say what she wanted to say. Rocking from one foot to the other, she was nothing if not light on her feet.

“Perhaps it’s time you called Rochelle at the hospital…to catch up on things.”

It was true she hadn’t texted Rochelle in a while. It was over ten months since she had been rushed to the hospital in pain and almost as long since Rochelle first filled her in on his relationship with the professor of women’s studies.

“Anyway, I’m off on a serious errand,” he said. “I need to visit a former colleague who’s struggling with some personal issues.”

“At one a.m.?” she exclaimed.

“There’s a halfway house near the diner I mentioned. The middle of the night is when there are no AA meetings, and he’s having a bit of a crisis at the moment.” His voice was steady, no hitches. “So what do you say? Will you meet me afterward for breakfast?”

Few guys could pull off looking confident without overdoing the I’m-cool-and-unconcerned act, but she could tell it wouldn’t be awkward if she said, “No, I’m too tired.”

“I guess I can make it…on only five hours sleep,” she said. “I don’t have much planned for today, except the most boring meeting at noon to go over hair and makeup, so you better be entertaining.”

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AboutTheAuthor

Elizabeth Famous grew up on a family farm in rural USA before dashing off to the big city and going Ivy League. Never satisfied with doing things the usual way, she married a man from the other side of the globe and won a doctoral fellowship in humanities. Raising her lively and opinionated children is the greatest challenge of her life.

Ms. Famous likes to write about flawed characters dealing with challenging situations not touched upon in traditional romance novels.

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Breaking His Rules by R.C. Matthews BlogTour & Rafflecopter giveaway 6/27/16

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Book Title: Breaking His Rules
Author: R.C. Matthews
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: May 19, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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When I landed the best bartending job in downtown Chicago, the rules were as clear as the Grey Goose martini I mixed for him. Don’t sleep with the patrons. I had no problem with that. Money didn’t impress me. But Damon Baxter’s eyes did. Midnight blue, just like the name of his nightclub. The way they undressed me made me consider risking the most sought after job in the service industry. Nailing the position had been hard. Obeying the rules? Even harder.

Good thing I like it hard. I was never one for following orders. For one night with him, I would have sold my soul to the devil. And that’s exactly what I did. Let me tell you, hell in the company of Damon Baxter was blissfully hot. I offered him a single night of pleasure, but when he demanded another in that deep and sexy whisper, what could I say? He was my boss, and I always aimed to please…when it pleased me.

He didn’t care that I broke his rules. But was I ready to break my own?

excerpt

As my gaze roamed from group to group, I was struck by the broad range of patrons. There were a few celebrities in the mix—professional athletes, local newsmen, and the sort. A lot of businessmen and the women who chase them. Both young and old. But they all had one thing in common besides the fact that they’d been invited to experience The Lounge; they all wore extravagant clothing and jewelry.

Gucci. Armani. Louis Vuitton. Fendi. Valentino. Dior. Versace. I clicked through the names as I scanned the crowd, and that was when I saw him…staring at me with an intensity that stole my breath away. One second gazing into his eyes told me he had already raked his mouth down my neck and suckled the sensitive skin between my breasts with his luscious lips. I could almost feel his mouth enclose around my hardened nipples and the sharp flick of his tongue.

The color of his eyes eluded me, neither dark brown nor light blue. His stance was bold. His custom-tailored suit had clean lines, and a stark white shirt hinted that he spent hours in an office. But the day-old stubble on his face proved he didn’t mind getting dirty when he felt like it.

Was he staking a claim with his direct stare? Because I already felt like he owned me. My heart fluttered in response to the raw masculinity he exuded. Confident. Brazen. Unapologetic. Everything I adored in a man rolled into one sweet package.

My tongue swept across my bottom lip, causing the corner of his mouth to curve up. Sweet Jesus. He could feel me mentally undressing him as well. Stopping was not an option. Not when I wanted to run my fingers through his thick hair, cut stylishly long on top and tapering down until the short hair hugged the back of his head, stopping right where it met the collar of his shirt. He was older than my usual type. But he was spectacular. And I knew right then and there that I’d break the rules for him.

With a tilt of my head, I smiled and then lowered my eyes to resume slicing the lemon that lay untouched in my hands, dismissing him. And then I waited for him to come to me.

Like I knew he would.

meet the author

R.C. Matthews is the author of contemporary romances featuring bold, sassy heroines and magnetic alpha heroes. Warning! The chemistry between her characters is off the charts hot, so read at your own risk. She resides in the Midwest and is surrounded by men: her husband and three sons. During her free time you’ll find her watching The Walking Dead, reading a fabulous book or hanging out with her family.

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Wrecked by Jessica Blake Blog Tour 6/27/16

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Synopsis

After her family’s megalithic pet store chain goes under, Grace Silva’s plush life in L.A. is turned upside down. Now too ashamed to be seen running to catch the bus (instead of being driven by the family’s chauffeur), Grace books it out of Cali and heads for Crystal Brook, North Carolina. Without her trusty posse and plentiful opportunities to party, Grace finds herself at a loss living with her aunt and uncle. Crystal Brook is cozy. It’s friendly. It’s peaceful… And Grace hates it.

The only good thing the town has going for it is the hot and rumored wealthy hunk living down the street. Seeing a possible way out of her fall into the ‘common life’ (as her friends deem it), Grace does everything she can to catch Luke Howard’s eye, but not even her trustiest tricks seem to work. Scrambling to find an avenue, she begins volunteering at the local food pantry where Luke spends much of his time. Forced to come face to face with the kind of circumstances she’s never even imagined, Grace begins to see that the seemingly impossible task of getting the guy is just the beginning of her long journey towards something better.

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Jessica Blake is the author of the hot alpha billionaire romance series, The Billionaire Prisoner, along with her friend Alice Ward.

Since she was a young college girl reading and writing romance was what she loved the most and she enjoys entertaining her fans through her books.

Living in Miami, she likes to sit by the pool with her laptop and write her next hot romance.

However, when she is not reading or writing romance, she also enjoys being with her beautiful family.

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THE REAPER’S SACRIFICE by ABIGAIL BAKER RELEASE DAY BLITZ & Rafflecopter giveaway 6/27/16

It’s been two years since I tried to overthrow Death…

Now, all I have to show for it is a life in exile without my lover and personal Grim Reaper, Brent Hume. He bargained his soul for my safety. If I could get him back, I would, but I don’t don’t have the first idea how. So I live for the night when Reaper’s bring nightmares to the living—and Brent visits me in mine. Doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep, but I’ll take what little of him I can get.

When Death comes calling, sending me into an old foe’s camp as a spy, my inner rebel awakens once more. If I play my cards right, I might improve upon my growing Master Scrivener powers and finally free Brent so that we can be together for good. I know he’ll do anything to keep me safe—even if it means I’ll never see him again. And that scares the Hell out of me.

I started to drift off, and then I felt him watching me. Ollie, he said in that old world Kentucky drawl. Ollie, hear me?
“Brent?” Within this dream, I sat rail straight in the plastic lawn chair as crickets chirped nearby. He’d never been able to speak directly to me in the dreams before. My eyes welled with tears on hearing him again. But the dark presence I had come to know as Brent was nowhere. He had never failed to show himself in my dreams since we’d parted. And I was still asleep, right? From one side of the yard to the other, I searched. Nothing. “Brent, where are you?”
Ollie… His voice was closer, but he wasn’t there. I miss you. His voice broke.
My eyes watered. Immediately tears poured rivers down my cheeks. It didn’t take much to make me cry these days. But this…his voice, the anguish in just three little words, was enough to crack me wide open. “I miss you, too. Where are you? Are you here? In Montana?” Please, please, be here, Brent.
He grew silent, but was near. I waited for the entire world to grow still in anticipation of his reply.
What do you miss most? he asked.
Somehow I laughed at the question, which felt too common and boring for this method of interaction. I rubbed my eyes in the vain hope he’d appear before me as the Kentuckian backwoods lumberjack that I loved. “I miss the way you feel against me. I haven’t forgotten.”
How could I forget? Electricity had buzzed between us. Little sparks jumped from my body to his when we were close. That was not a feeling that could ever be forgotten. And it was one of the rare things that kept me going. I had to believe I would feel this again one day, and I would lose myself in it for eternity.
“What do you miss about me?” I asked.
If I listed everything, then you’d laugh at me. If I told you I missed everything, darlin’, right down to those freckles on your cheeks, would that be enough? Too much? Invisible fingers, icy, as death should be, fluttered across my forehead. There was nothing there for me to see. Brent was so close but still millions of light years away.
I’m trying to bring change, he said, moving from anguish to business. But it’s not happening fast enough. I’ll need your help soon. Are you ready?
“Just tell me what you need.”
Soon. His presence, usually dark and ominous, grew faint. He didn’t feel as powerful as he once had, and that terrified me. Nonetheless, I’d rather have him near, even if for only this moment. I wanted to grab ahold of him, dig my fingers into the flesh around his wrists, and pull him straight through the dream wall between us. I wanted to but…I Couldn’t.
“Will I ever get to see you again?” I had to know the answer, and I held onto the question and my hope like a vise, like I was holding onto him alone.
You’re being set up. Don’t trust them…
“Brent, what do you—”
Don’t trust them, Ollie.
“Who?!”
Coldness trickled like rainwater down my shoulders and spine.
They’re coming for you. They’re here.

Book One:  The Reaper’s Kiss

Abigail Baker shares her home with a Siamese cat endearingly named “The Other Cat” and two rescued mutts with mundane human names that people think are cute. In addition to writing about rebellious heroines, she enjoys hiking, discovering craft beers, baking the perfect vanilla bean cupcake, and rock climbing (going as far as scaling 800 vertical feet to the summit of Devil’s Tower National Monument in 2013).

Abigail won first place in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2010 Colorado Gold Writing Contest for Romance for THE BLOODSUCKER and first place in RWA’s Golden Network’s 2011 Golden Pen in Paranormal Romance for TATTOO OF YOUR NAME ACROSS MY SOUL (now THE REAPER’S KISS, Deathmark Book One). She regularly blogs about life observances, lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and can be easily found hiking any of Colorado’s best trails.

I’m Not Going Anywhere by Virginia C. Hart BookBlitz & Rafflecopter giveaway 6/27/16

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Book Title: I’m Not Going Anywhere (Fabulous Five Series, #3)
Author: Virginia C. Hart
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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Chloe Ryder had it all. Until she didn’t…

While the rest of her friends, otherwise known as the Fab Five, were away starting college, Chloe was left alone to endure a hellacious senior year of high school. Surrounded daily by a sea of familiar faces, she shared no bonds or friendships with her classmates. Everyone else had a place in the high school social scene. Everyone but Chloe. Bad enough was her label as the class outcast. But her dysfunctional home life made matters worse. An already fragile relationship between she and her mother began to unravel, turning Chloe’s once perfect existence into a nightmare. Worst part, though? The one person she’d counted on to help her through it – Flynn Caulder, her best friend’s brother and the secret object of her affection – was nowhere to be found. It was obvious he still resented Chloe for the decision she made years ago. Above the catty remarks and whispered gossip of others, Flynn’s actions were the ones that hurt the most. Flynn simply treated her as if she didn’t exist.

Right up until the one night he didn’t…

Handsome, popular, athletic and smart, Flynn Caulder made life look easy. Whatever he wanted, he got. Except the one person he couldn’t have. At some point, Chloe Ryder became more than his sister’s best friend. Brave enough to finally tell her so, she waffled with uncertainty, which he took as rejection. It was then he vowed to shut Chloe completely out of his life, determined to forget her. Though, he never could. With his sister, Suzanna, no longer around, Flynn’s resolve to keep Chloe at a distance is tested and eventually breaks. He takes off his mask of indifference, showing his true feelings for Chloe haven’t changed, but instead grown stronger. It leads to one magical night together neither of them will ever forget. But for entirely different reasons.

Now, three years later, Chloe and Flynn find themselves pulled together again by the magnetic connection that just won’t go away. Though they try to fight it, it becomes apparent time apart has done nothing but strengthen their feelings for one another. Can they make it last this time? Or will the pursuit of dreams once again take precedence over their relationship? They only have a summer to figure it out. And the clock is quickly ticking…

excerpt

I cry for the young high school aged girl who felt so lonely, the highlight of each day was crossing off another square on the calendar. Just one X closer to leaving her small hometown in search of something bigger and better. I cry for the younger sister who no matter how many accomplishments she racked up during her years in the high school drama club, no matter what lead roles she won, no matter how many people sang her praises for numerous flawless performances, she never received the acknowledgement she craved from her mother. She finally realized that in her mother’s eyes, she’d never measure up to the bar that her sister set and surpassed in everything she ever did. I cry for the girl with stars in her eyes, who dared to dream the impossible. The girl who was on top of the moon when she opened the acceptance letter and full scholarship from one of the most prestigious drama schools in the country. The girl who fought tooth and nail in convincing her parents to let her travel thousands of miles away to study her chosen field in the pursuit of her dreams. My body jerks uncontrollably, my sobs intensifying as my heart bleeds for the girl who eventually had to decline her scholarship, accepting the unjust punishment handed down by Mommy Dearest. Even though that scholarship was earned with hours of practice and late night rehearsals, the bad daughter didn’t deserve to reap the rewards of all her hard work and effort. Finally, I cry for the naïve girl, who desperately yearned to become a woman. The girl who after exhausting all the other ways to garner a man’s affection, resorted to the one act she knew would be the quickest way to winning his heart. Only after giving everything she had to give of herself on that one night, she quickly learned the awful feeling of rejection. The final flow of tears I cry is for the multiple losses this young girl had to experience. The loss of her dream, the loss of her first love, the lost respect of her mother. But most of all, the one, singular, most important loss she’ll never get over, the loss that leaves her hollow to this day.

Only when the well of tears has finally dried up, do I relinquish my firm grip around Brian’s body. He looks down into my red, swollen, watery eyes. Wiping the last of the wetness from my face, Brian places a soft kiss on my forehead. “Feel better now?”

“Maybe just a little, yeah.”

“Think you’re ready to talk about it?” Brian asks with trepidation. I’m sure he’s scared any second now I’ll start another round of boo‐hoos.

“I don’t know, Brian. It’s some pretty heavy shit.” Heavy is an understatement. In the past three years, I’ve been living like I’m carrying the weight of a two-ton elephant on my back. There’s one piggy‐back ride you don’t want to find yourself on the bottom of.

“Hey, I’ve got an idea. Hold on,” Brian says as he jumps off the bed. He immediately goes to his constant travel companion, his mini-camcorder and tripod. He begins setting up his equipment at the end of the bed, the lens pointing toward me. As he tests for the appropriate camera angles and adjusts the tripod height, he starts to explain. “Okay, pretend you’re auditioning for the character in my series. And since it’s an impromptu audition with no lines to memorize or scripts to read from, I’m gonna need you to improvise. You have all the creative freedom to do or say whatever you want_”

“Good, because I’m about to get real creative when I call you every name in the book!” I retort. Seriously, has Brian lost his freaking mind?

“Just do it, Chloe. You’re vulnerable and raw right now. Use those emotions to give me your story. You don’t have to use real names. Heck, I’ll even make up the names as you go. You’ve already peeled away layers of hurt and angst. Now, you just need to let the words flow like the flow of your earlier tears. I promise you’ll feel better at the end. Plus, I’ll have some excellent footage to show casting, guaranteeing you an audition for my drama series. Ready?” Brian goes back to fiddling with the camera all set to hit the record button. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of sharing something so secret with someone outside of my immediate group of friends. But to be honest, Brian is the perfect confidant to spill my secrets. Having no relationship other than causal friendship with the rest of the Fab Five, only having met them this weekend, I know Brian’s loyalty is reserved just for me. Plus, I think he can be impartial once he knows all the players and details of my story. I can’t say Suz, Landon, James, or Patrick could remain unbiased.

“Seriously, Brian? You really want me to reveal my deep, dark secrets in front of your camera? Seems kinda silly if you ask me.” Actually, I’m closer to agreeing than I’d like to admit. I’m always best in front of a camera. I can go into character mode, removing myself from the story, pretending to be someone else. But with something that really happened, something that left me permanently scarred, could I really separate myself?

“Would you just do it already? Confession is good for the soul, you know. Plus, I’ll soon be moving across the country and you refuse to go with me. Least you can do is give me this recording of your exquisite beauty and abundant talent. Footage I’ll need to ease the ache of missing you so much,” Brian says through a smile. Boy, he is laying it on thick.

“Alright, enough of that. Gee, you’ve resorted to stroking my ego just to get me on film. You’re ruthless! Now I know you’re going to be just fine out there in Hollywood…the land of cut throat/back stabbing deals. Okay, I’ll tell you my story. But I better not see any of what I say written into your drama script,” I warn. Although the things I’ve lived I’d never wish on anyone else, they could be the makings for some fantastic storylines.

“Oh, it’s that good, huh?” Brian teases, trying to lighten the mood and get this pseudo- audition started.

“Good, no. Bad, sad, heartbreaking, depressing, hopeless…well, you get the picture.” Taking a deep breath to steady my nerves I exhale slowly. “Okay, here it goes…” So begins the story of how I came to love and hate Flynn Caulder. And why I’ll never be able to completely wipe him from my memory or my heart.

meet the author

Virginia C. Hart resides in her beloved state of South Carolina, where she was born and raised. Married for sixteen years, she and her husband have two beautiful children. After graduating from Francis Marion University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, followed by a master’s degree in education, Hart has been teaching part-time at the local technical college for a decade.
When she’s not teaching or chauffeuring her kids to cheer or soccer, Hart is likely to be found typing away at a new book, furiously reading yet another book, or visiting her favorite South Carolina coastal spots.
I’m Not Going Anywhere is the third novel in Hart’s Fabulous Five series.

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Lee The Emerson Wolves By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz 6/27/16

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No matter how hard she tried, Kimber Gray always seemed to manage to get knocked back down a peg or two. She was a top rate chef and graduated at the top of her class, but no matter how hard she tried no one would acknowledge it. Now, blackballed in the only profession she knew, she was a failure to the one that mattered most–her daughter, Hannah. With no recourse left to her, she’d have to grovel and beg her aunt for help.

Lee Emerson was glad to be back home for a while. He loved what he did, being a food critic and helping failing restaurants was a dream job come true. But he was tired of the traveling and just wanted to take care of things around the house and relax for a change.

Slone, Hunter’s mate, wanted to open a fancy restaurant and have Lee run it. He wasn’t so sure about that, but he’d love nothing better than to hire that chef that had prepared the last meal he’d had in France before he left. It was the best meal he’d ever eaten, and he had been disappointed when he found out the man had left before he could tell him so. The slush claiming to cook the meal, wasn’t the cook and he’d bet his last dollar on it.

Kimber had had it. Her aunt had gone too far this time, and there was no way she’d expose her little girl to such meanness again. They’d live on the street first, and she was trying to tell Slone that she wasn’t a charity case. That she could provide for her daughter somehow, when the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen cornered her, snarling that he’d protect her with his life.

Ah, hell no. Who in the hell did he think he was?

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Chapter One 

 
Chapter 1
“He’s in his cups again.” Kimber only nodded. The woman standing in front of her started to tap her foot. “Well? Are you going to take over or not? Wendell has said that he’d rather die than to have to work in his place again, and Mark said that he is sick of working hard for him and getting no credit. It is up to you to take over for this evening’s dinner.” “I’m only the fourth cook, not the chef by any means.” Kimber knew she could do it, but it would be bad for her if she did. “He’ll fire me.” “No, he won’t. Who would he get to take over for him should he do this again? No one, I’m telling you. He’s done this too much, and no one wants to cover for him. There are no others that can or will do this. You are all we have.” Kimber glanced at the clock above Mrs. Stanton’s head. “You have plenty of time, yes?” “I’ll need help. And I won’t clean up after.” Mrs. Stanton looked pissed, but finally nodded. “And I want to have my own menu. Not his.” “You are going to make him upset, but I need a cook. Do what you must. But you had better be ready in time if you don’t want to have to worry about him firing you.”  Kimber nodded and moved to change her jacket. As the fourth chef in a restaurant this size, and always busy, all she ever got to really do was the garnish on the plates, make the salads when they were different than the regular salad, and occasionally she’d be allowed to do the side dish. Not often, but enough for her to feel good about still working here. Kimber Gray was a first-rate cordon bleu chef and had worked in one of the most prestigious restaurants in Europe. Someday it was going to look good for her to have that on her resume when she applied to work as first chef somewhere. At ten minutes until the dinner hour, she stepped back from her counter. The dinners would be perfect…the steaks were cut, and the fish—trout that had been earmarked for a trout almandine—had been changed to a stuffed trout with wrapped grilled asparagus, with a baby-laced Swiss sauce. Everything was as ready as she could make it. And when the first order came in, Kimber let out a long breath and began working on it.  The night wasn’t really busy, but she kept on top of everything. Appetizers were inspected to make sure that they fit with what the customer was ordering. Plates were spotless when she put her food on them, and looked like works of art when they left to be served. Kimber even made sure that two of the staff had clean jackets just before they left to work.  Things were just as perfect as she could make them. After all, she wanted this to be perfect, her solo night as head chef. She was pleased when very little came back on the plates that had been sent out, and even less of the small desserts that she’d made up when she’d realized there wasn’t any to be had.  The strawberries had been fresh and the cream would have gone bad by tomorrow, so she used them both to create a lovely dessert. The fresh blueberries had been sitting in their juices since yesterday, but they were usable and she wanted some color on the plate.
By the time the restaurant was ready to close, she was more than ready to go home. But the last minute order had her staying just a little longer to complete it. The special had gone over well. And with this order, a single person had gotten the last of it. The wrapped asparagus was perfect even though it had been made up in advance, and there was leftover sauce that she put in one of the small cups and sent out with the meal. By the time the dinner was out the door, she had nothing left but a slice of cheese and a single dessert with some smashed blueberries on the side. Pulling on her coat, she watched as the rest of the staff scrambled to clean up. As per her arrangement with Mrs. Stanton, she wasn’t going to be joining them. Kimber did notice that the work station that she normally worked at wasn’t even touched as yet, but it wasn’t her problem. Home was awaiting her. She was so excited when she got to go back in the employee area to clock out for the night. She was nearly home when her phone rang. “One of the last patrons would like a word with you. I think he wishes to complain.”  It was Chef Hayes. His voice was slurred and he sounded very pissed. But Kimber knew that she’d done just what had been asked of her. Had he been sober, she would not have had to do his job. “I’m sorry, but if he wishes to complain, that would be to you or to Mrs. Stanton. I’m nearly home.” He started cursing and she felt her anger rise. “What is his complaint?” “Get your skinny little ass back here and find out. And you left your station in a mess. How many times have I told you to make sure that your area is cleaned when you are finished?” He huffed. “You will never be more than a grill cook for so long as you live. Why I took you on is beyond me. And I might not have if things had been different.” “Different how? And I had an arrangement with Mrs. Stanton.” He started laughing and Kimber felt the hair on her arms dance with her anger. “She said so long as I did the cooking, that others would clean my area. Also, had you not been in your cups, as she calls it, none of this would have mattered. Someone had to do your job, and I think I did a fine job of it.” “Fine job, is it? I’ll say what is a fine job and not. It was shit. It’s always shit when you’re working. And since when is she in charge of my kitchen?” Kimber felt her own anger take on a new level when he laughed again. “You will be here in the morning first thing. I will take care of this posthaste. Do not be late, Gray, or you will rue the day that you came to think you were a chef.” She was a chef. And for the rest of her walk home in the rain, she let her tears fall. She was a chef, damn it, and she wanted to someday work in the finest restaurant as one. But there had been stumbling blocks along her journey, and she had had to work harder at her life choices. It seemed to her that for every step forward she had made, there had been four to take her back. Kimber was sick of it. As she entered her tiny apartment, she looked at the woman who cared for her home and daughter while she was away. Fern Blue had been with her since Hannah had been born. And now, eight years later, they were more like mother and daughter than sitter to employer. Fern had needed her as much as Kimber needed Fern, so it had worked out well for them both. She woke when Kimber opened the door to hang her coat.
“All tuckered out, she was. I had her take a lovely bath at around six and she fell asleep on my lap. We had us a good bowl of popcorn before.” Kimber nodded and sent Fern to her room. Going to her daughter’s room, she paused in the doorway to watch her. Kimber would bet anything that Hannah had been up since she’d been in this room. “What are you doing up so late, young lady?” Hannah turned and grinned at her, the book she’d been reading still in her hands. “What is it you’re reading now?” “Moby Dick.” Kimber moved into her daughter’s room and looked at the worn book. “Mr. Fillmore gave it to me. He said it was a classic. I think Mr. Fillmore is a classic.” “I’m sure he is too. But you should be sleeping. Don’t you have school tomorrow?” Hannah nodded and wrapped her body around Kimber’s when she picked her up. “You’re almost too heavy for me to carry anymore. When will you be carrying me?” Hannah laughed as she put her in bed. As her daughter closed her eyes, sleep taking her almost immediately, Kimber looked around the room. She felt tears fill her eyes when she thought of all the ways she’d failed her only child. The furniture in the room was second hand. Some of it was third or fourth hand, even. Her clothing was all things that she’d picked up here and there…a friend’s child had outgrown them, a tag sale that she’d found out about. Her books were new. Not the writers that her daughter adored, but her work books and other subject books for her classes, and the extra classes that she’d been taking.  Hannah was brilliant, read well beyond her years, and was a whiz at math. While her age had her listed as a third grader, the teachers at her school had been giving her work well beyond her grade level for months now, and it had improved Hannah’s wellbeing by not being bored in her classroom.  Dozing slightly, Kimber got up and went to the kitchen. There was just enough food in the cupboards to last until her next check. Instead of eating anything, Kimber made herself a cup of tea, her only luxury, and sat down to drink it. Something was going to happen tomorrow, and Kimber knew that with her luck, it wouldn’t be good. ~~~ Lee watched as the women worked the line. He’d arrived early this morning, just as the sun was coming up, and he wanted to make sure that everything he’d put in place before he left was where it should be. Then he was going to take a long, well-deserved nap. For about three days, if he was lucky.  The smack to the back of his head had him turning to his father. “You should have called when you were coming in. Someone would have picked you up at the airport. Now we have to figure out how to have a welcome home party on such short notice.” Lee hugged his dad and told him he loved him. “I love you too, boy. But you should have called. What are you doing here this early?” “I wanted to make sure that Dawn’s lines were working well before she went into production next week.” The two of them watched the line of women, three at the first part of the line and two more at each station after. The line, nothing more than a long set of burners that had been strung together, was going to make it so that Dawn could make ten to twelve batches of jams and jellies at each place, rather than just three or four as she’d been doing at her single stove. When he was satisfied that the work table was close
enough to the stove so as not to be a bother, he moved to the other part of the building. His dad asked him if he’d gotten things set up for Sloan. “Yes. I made sure she had good people in the kitchen and that they know what she wants done each day. I think that if I ever open my own business, I’m going to make sure that there is a kitchen with staff on duty like she has. It’s a nice place to eat. The food is healthy without being stale, and it’s a great place for them to go and relax. I do think that she’s going to need to expand in a few years, but she said that would be something that she’d have to look into. I think she said she was landlocked.” “Yeah, I heard her telling Hunter that when the time was right, she’d have to go over there and see to it. I’m thinking that they might be making a trip when that baby is here. She’s looking ready to pop.” Lee nodded. He knew that Sloan only had a month to go, and he was excited about holding his niece soon. “You hear about the little one that Luke and Jack got? He’s a pistol, all right. And he’s looking forward to having a fishing day with me soon. Mike and his boy have come down and they showed us what we need. When you gonna make me a granddaddy?” “I’m thinking that I should find a mate first, don’t you?” His dad snorted at him. “I’ve been sort of busy. And so you know, I’m not in all that big of a hurry to find her right now. I have a house, but it’s being worked on. I have a job, but I’m all over the world trying to make it work, and in the event that you didn’t notice, I’m working more than I am socializing.” “Yeah, I’ve seen that too. What do I have to do, go out and find her for you like I did the rest of them?” Lee just lifted his brow at his dad. “You know that I had to get Sloan and Hunter together. Luke would still be dangling at the end of his sticks had I not charmed my way into Jack’s heart first. And then there is Ellis and Jarrett. I’m about worn out keeping the women coming in just to find your mates for you all.” “I think you should just let the women find us. Graham has finished school, but he’s got things going on, and I have to find my own niche in life before I can even think of settling down.” Lee thought of his brother Graham. “Has he…you know, has he moved on yet?” “Not that I can see. Finding that body nearly done him in. I know that the police never thought he’d done it, but I think he still has him a few dreams about it. Can you imagine working on a log jam and finding a woman all wrapped up in them limbs? She’d been there for some time, too, those people said.” His dad watched the line as it moved in the right direction. “You thinking that he’ll stay holed up in that house of his for the next fifty years?” “I don’t know, Dad. When I talked to him last week, he told me that he’s doing fine, but he sounded like he wasn’t. I’m going to try and see him while I’m here. Sloan said that his house is coming along well.” His dad nodded. “But as for my mate, I think I can wait her out, don’t you?” “You mean wait until she falls in your lap before you figure out she’s the best thing that could have happened to you.” Lee had changed the subject on purpose, just to bring his dad around from thinking about it too much. His dad seemed to have gotten the hint for now, and asked about what he was looking at now in Dawn’s building.
“Jack told Dawn that she’d save big bucks if she printed her own labels. Jarrett set her up with the right kind of printer and the perfect paper, and all Dawn has to do is make what she needs. This will save her from having tons of inventory around just waiting to be used. Jack also told her that if she wanted to add something to them, like sugar-free if she went that far, then it would be easy to print up a few labels instead of a million or so that might not work out.” The machines were still now, the labels having been printed up a few days ago, but he liked the way it had been streamlined to not take up too much of her upper level. “I didn’t have anything to do with this part, but I can see that they had Jarrett up here. It’s nice.” As they made their way around the large building, Lee noticed that the kitchen area that he’d suggested be set up was well underway. Sandwiches were in the coolers right now, but he knew that in a few days, when people started to show up to work, there would be hot food as well as some cold for the employees. All of it was a perk to working here. He had also suggested to Dawn that she open a little shop one day and have some of her jams for sale in it, along with her scones and breads.  His dad moved to the large desk at the front of the building when they were nearly finished with their self-guided tour. Martha Brooks was running the phones today. Lee had heard from Hunter that Mary Peacock and Claribel Sharp had been taking turns working the desk for Dawn. The women had come from Hunter’s pack, but he knew that they loved working for his brother and his wife.  He was startled when the phone call that had just come in was for him. “I just found out that you’re in town.” He could hear the hurt in Sloan’s voice. “You go and see your brother before me? How could you?” “I haven’t seen Ellis or Dawn at all since I got here. I thought they were down there.” She told him she didn’t know anything anymore. “I’m sorry, honey. I just got in a few hours ago and had the plane bring me here instead of home so that I wouldn’t have to worry about this the entire time I’m home with you guys.” “Good save.” He laughed with her. “I’m just bored, if you want to know the truth. Your dad and I have put in as much garden as we dare already, but I want to get out there and dig the places up for my tomatoes. Did your dad tell you that we have first leaves already? They’re beautiful.” “No. He’s been hounding me about a grandbaby.” His dad popped him in the back of the head. “And he’s abusing me too. I tell you, I’d be better off just staying away sometimes.” “Oh no, don’t do that. What would I do without my family around me?” He didn’t answer her but smiled. “I’ve been thinking about some things that I’d like for you to look into. I have this place here in town that I want to convert into something…I don’t know, bigger. Like a steakhouse, but not.”  “You mean something more than the diner in your town, and with bigger ticket items.” She told him that was about right. “I ate a late dinner last night at this place where I was staying called simply Parfaitement Fait, or Perfectly Made in English. I had a stuffed trout that was so good I tried to go back and hire the chef. They told me that the chef had
gone for the night, and all I got for my troubles was some drunk blowing his drunk-assed breath on me.” Her laughter made him smile. “And what would you have hired him for? You’re not thinking of being my competition, are you? I’m hoping so. Because I have to tell you that sounds delicious. Actually, everything sounds good to me. I’m always starved.” “You’re eating for two, so small wonder. And no, I’m not going to be competing with you in anything. I like to keep my own little corner of this world pissed off Sloan free. And the guy I talked to last night, I had a feeling…well, he didn’t strike me as the one who had made the meal. There was something…I don’t know. I knew that he was lying and he had no idea what I was talking about. He said I was to have had trout almandine and that I had it wrong. Like I said, he smelled of liquor too.” “Let me make a few phone calls. I know the restaurant. I don’t know what I can do, but I can find out for you. Perhaps we can persuade him to come here and open our venture.” Lee said nothing. He had thought when he went to school that he wanted to be this great cook. And now that he’d been working for Sloan and Hunter, he’d discovered that while he loved to cook, he was more into making the place work than being the chef. He enjoyed what he did more than anything he’d ever done before. Being a food critic for some really important newspapers was a dream he’d never even considered, but he loved it as much as he did figuring out problems at some really nice restaurants.  “Just let me know. Dad and I will be there by tonight. I’m telling you now so you won’t be disappointed that I will be there for dinner, but I need to go to bed. I think I’ve been up for three days straight.” She told him that they’d expect him for dinner, and that maybe Ellis and Dawn could make it back as well, and that he should ask them. “I’ll see what I can do.” After hanging up, he told Dad what they’d talked about as they made their way to Ellis’s house. The building that Dawn was in was close to the house, so they opted to walk. As soon as they were in the yard, Lee stood back and stared.  “Yeah, nice, huh?” He glanced over at Ellis as he came out of the barn just behind him. His brother looked very relaxed and happy as he continued. “We weren’t sure that we wanted it this big, but the more we thought about it, the bigger the house got. There’s room if you want to stay tonight. I know that Dawn would love it.” “Sloan and the rest of them are expecting all of us for dinner.” Ellis nodded and took him to the house. “Christ, this is gorgeous. What the hell? Did you win the lottery?” “No. We ran into some unexpected money.” Lee nodded. He’d heard about the inheritance from Dawn’s family, and that they had accepted her into their family with open arms. “When we showed them the house we were building before we left for our honeymoon, they were happy. But when we got back, there were more rooms on the framing, as well as a whole upper level that we’d had no idea about. Her grandparents said that when they come to visit they want to burden us with their presence.” Lee laughed and so did Ellis. He was taking them in the front of the house just as Dawn came from the back of it. He hugged her tightly, ignoring the growls coming from Ellis. Dawn looked wonderfully happy too.
“You’ll stay for dinner?” He told her what he’d told Ellis. “Oh. I guess we should go. The family has been excited for you to come home for weeks now. I’m so glad that you’ve made it home safely. How long will you be here?” “I’m hoping a couple of months. I have some projects here that I can take care of, and two on the burner for Sloan. But I’m hoping everything can be worked on from here.” She asked him about his house. “I’m hoping to get it done too. Mostly it’s just moving stuff in that I’ve already ordered. There are some decisions that I need to make. Most of them are things that I could probably have taken care of over the phone, but I wanted to be there too. I miss you guys.” “We missed you too. I guess you’ve been to the plant?” He nodded. “I’m so nervous. Not about the lines that you helped me get set up, but all of it. I’m so worried that I won’t be very good at this.” Ellis laughed before talking. “Yeah, those nearly two million dollars in orders mean that she’s going to fail big time. I mean, who would want to buy her things anyway?”  “You have that much in pre-orders?” Ellis told him that was just on her website. She had nearly double that for stores wanting to carry her line. “Holy shit, Dawn, that’s wonderful. I’m very proud of you.” “I’m nearly sick with it.” Lee looked at Ellis over her head when he hugged her again. He mouthed the word Basil and he nodded.  Her uncle, a man by the name of Basil Combs, had been found criminally insane by the courts. Other charges were pending: kidnapping, murder, as well as abuse to a corpse. But those were on the back burner until they could figure out the names of all the women, some dead and others still coming forward, that had in some way been harmed by the man. Basil’s mother had been murdered as well, and they were still trying to pin that on his list. The man had been taking women or children from their homes for decades. His “wife,” Neva, had been one of many that had been brought into the house as a play-thing, and had ended up living out the rest of her life with him. He’d also kidnapped Dawn’s mother, and had made her daughter’s life a living hell when she’d told him off. Life, as far as Lee could see it, was a never-ending line of people shitting on one another to get to where they wanted. Thank goodness his family wasn’t like that. As they boarded the plane a few hours later, Lee was dozing in the seat when his dad touched his arm. He had to stare at him for several seconds before he realized that he was talking to him about the phone.  “You okay, son?” He nodded and took the phone from his dad. “You look like you’ve not slept in about a month. You sure you should be going to dinner tonight?” “Yeah, I’m fine. Just really tired.” He put the phone to his ear just as the pilot was telling them they were ten minutes from landing. Lee said his name in the phone as he started to pull on his seat buckle. “Mr. Emerson? Is this Lee Emerson, the food critic? I’ve heard so many things about you.” Lee told him that he was in flight, and that he needed him to tell him why he’d called. “Sir, there is a problem with the request that I have in for Mrs. Emerson. She called my restaurant just today requesting the information on the chef that had cooked the night
you were there. I’m sorry, sir, but the chef said that the person you were asking for is no longer with the restaurant.” “I see. Can you tell me why?” He said that he wasn’t sure. That as the owner of the restaurant, he had given full control over the kitchen to his chef. “And so you have no idea that the man you left in charge was drunk when I saw him just before leaving? Nor that the meal that I had that night was one of the best that I’ve ever eaten?” “Drunk? Oh no, sir. That couldn’t have been our chef. He no longer drinks.” Lee looked at Ellis when he touched his arm. They were at the airport, but he wanted him to take his time with the call. “He said that when he spoke to you, you were confused about the food that you were served. Are you sure you had the right restaurant?” “I’m sure. And you can be sure of this…if he fired this person that cooked for me, then you have made the stupidest decision you have ever made when it comes to running a restaurant. And I’m going to write up an article on it and say that, too. Not only did the staff look relaxed and happy, but the food, all of it, was outstanding. I noticed that when I was speaking to him that the entire kitchen staff looked like they were ready for him to explode. And he did, twice, while I was there.” “I assure you, sir, that I’ve never heard of anything like this from this restaurant. You can be assured that I will look into this. There are some…well, I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ve noticed some issues on the paperwork on that particular place. I’ll take care of it.” Lee told him he’d better if he wanted to remain in business for long. “If I do find that you are correct, I will get back with you.” “You do that. But I have a feeling that the next time I talk to you, you’re going to be telling me that you’re going out of business and that it was all because of the chef you have now. If I were you, and you know my reputation if you’ve heard my name, I’d be looking into the chef you have now and start asking questions. You’re about to get a rude awakening.”
 
 

 

Forgotten Tomorrow by Renee Ericson Blitz &Rafflecopter giveaway 6/27/16

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Forgotten Tomorrow

by Renee Ericson
Publication Date: June 3, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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What if a love, once lost, came around for a second chance?

Ruby Miller’s future was on track when she entered her freshman year of college at the University of Chicago. Everything seemed easy, possible, and full of hope, especially with Brent by her side.

However, life didn’t go as planned and obstacles arose setting her on a very different path from the one she had envisioned. Now, five years later, she’s piecing her life back together and moving on from everything that once tore her apart.

What happens though, when the one person who carries every memory of Ruby’s happiest and darkest moments appears unexpectedly before her? Will she carry on or dive into the depths of his arms and their forgotten tomorrow?

*Forgotten Tomorrow is a New Adult standalone novel previously published as Forgotten Yesterday and Deciding Tomorrow.

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Family really is a pain…especially when your father is an addict.

For the last two years, high school senior Ruby has been her own rock and solace. She has learned to depend only on herself and hides her family’s issues by keeping herself somewhat unnoticeable. Despite her isolation, Ruby has intrigued the affections of someone unexpected. She finds herself loving life once again as his persistence sparks a romance awakening a well-protected heart.

While Ruby’s relationship with her father is constantly teetering, her new-found affection continues to blossom into something more than she ever thought possible. Soon, Ruby comes to realize that opening up your heart means being susceptible to love and disappointment.

Young Adult – Teen

*Suitable for ages 14+

**This book contains mature content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language.

About Renee Ericson

Renee Ericson is the author of More Than Water and the These Days series.

Originally from the Midwest, she now resides in a small town just outside of Boston with her husband and three children.

Most winters, Renee can be found on the slopes of the White Mountains skiing with her family. During the summer months, she likes to spend every spare minute at the beach soaking up the sea air. All those moments in between, she is talking to imaginary characters and caring for her children.

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