Cover Reveal – Rare Form: Descended of Dragons

Jen Crane eBook cover (1563x2500)

A Secret Past

Fiery redhead Stella Stonewall can’t decide between a margarita and a manhattan.
The rest of her life? Please. Stella has never really fit in, and her pretty world comes crashing down when she learns it was never her world at all.

Rowan Gresham is domineering, brooding, and as sexy as chocolate-dipped sin. When he transports Stella to the magical realm of her parents she recognizes her rightful place immediately. Gresham’s motivations are less clear.

A Scorching Chemistry

The enigmatic Gresham aids in Stella’s metamorphosis and their chemistry ignites, though a long-time girlfriend and a significant age difference stand in the way.

A Battle for the Rest of Her Life

Stella’s life fast-tracks to extraordinary when she enrolls at Radix Citadel for Supernatural Learning, an enchanted college whose students turn furry on the regular. As Stella learns to navigate the magical new world of Thayer she must also find her animal form, a task as elusive as her ancestry. Stella soon faces an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn to manipulate an animal form she never knew she possessed.

Pre-order  |  Goodreads

Rare Form by Jen Crane
Descended of Dragons, Novel 1
Publication date: October 6th 2015 
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Jen

 

Meet the Author
Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, Jen Crane has been in love with fantasy and science fiction since seeing a bootleg tape of Quantum Leap in the 90’s.She has a master’s degree, and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. She’s been published in reputable newspapers and magazines.

One day, though, she said, “Life’s too real for nonfiction. I’m gonna write about love and magic.”

Jen is happily living out her dream in The South with her husband and three children, striking that delicate balance between inspiration and frustration.

Sign up for sneak peeks, news, and giveaways at
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Author links:
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You’re Invited to the Wedding!!!

Break out the finery, boots, and the hankies too. Parker Kincade has invited us to Lauren & Gavin’s wedding. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited!!

An Amazon exclusive bonus short from Shadow Maverick Ranch

Only $0.99!

The wedding you’ve all been waiting for…

You’ve been cordially invited to the wedding of Gavin Mathis and Lauren Delgado…

Wedding Invite 2

 

ParkerKincade_WhiteCollarWedding_800pxGavin has waited long enough to make Lauren his. He is counting the days until he will stand before his family and friends and pledge his life to hers. For better or worse. Forever.

Lauren is more than ready to say her vows, but with the construction of their new home far behind deadline, she knows there’s only one thing she can do … cancel the honeymoon so she and Gavin can supervise the completion themselves.

Gavin knows arguing with Lauren will get him nowhere. But missed deadlines aren’t worth missing a pleasure-filled week alone with his bride-to-be.

It’s time to take matters into his own hands…

 

White Collar Wedding

By Parker Kincade

Publication Date: November 18, 2014

PREORDER TODAY! ONLY $0.99

Available exclusively at Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

http://www.amazon.com/White-Collar-Wedding-Shadow-Maverick-ebook/dp/B00P0HH0LA/

Excerpt

Chapter One

Three weeks before the wedding…

“We’re going to have to cancel.”

Gavin held onto his patience by a thread. “Lauren. Be reasonable.”

His bride-to-be spread her arms and twirled in the middle of what should’ve been their new kitchen, if the fucking contractor had done what Gavin paid him a fortune to do.

Lauren laughed with a manic tone Gavin could go the rest of his life without ever hearing again.

“I am being reasonable. How can we leave for our honeymoon when…” She waved her hand to encompass the area. Her beautiful eyes turned glassy with tears.

Son of a…

Gavin wanted to hit something. Lauren wasn’t prone to shed tears over messes and missed deadlines. She shared his no-nonsense approach to business. More than once he’d been in awe of her strength, the steel in her spine as she’d out-maneuvered countless boardrooms of men.

Every woman had her limits. It seemed the business of building their home had caused Lauren to hit hers.

What was supposed to be the happiest time of their lives had turned into a complete nightmare.

He glanced around the room, which was nothing more than a construction zone. The custom cabinets had been installed, leaving gaping holes where the appliances should be. There were no countertops. No trim. No. Goddamn. Sink.

And that was just the kitchen. The master bathroom didn’t have a shower. The guest bedrooms didn’t have flooring. The walls throughout had yet to be painted.

Anger fired his blood. Oh, he was definitely going to hit something—the chubby jaw of the bastard who’d left this shit undone.

“We aren’t canceling our honeymoon.” He’d waited more than twelve years to make this woman his. They were less than a month from making it official. Lauren deserved the wedding of her dreams, which included their honeymoon in Hawaii. He’d be damned if she wouldn’t get it.

Seemed Lauren had other ideas.

“Let me rephrase. It’s done. I called the travel agent this morning.”

“Damn it, Lauren. You should’ve talked to me before you made that decision for both of us.”

“Talking about it wouldn’t have changed the situation, Gavin, and you know it. Look around. Our home is in shambles. We’re scheduled to move in a month. You really think that’s going to happen if we aren’t here every single day to make sure things are getting done?”

Gavin couldn’t help but take her comment personally. He didn’t believe in micro-management. He paid good money to others so he wouldn’t have to. But the fact remained: the ranch kept him so busy these days that he hadn’t done his job to make sure their house was completed on time.

“So we postpone our move-in date. We’ll stay at the cabin a little longer. It’s not the end of the world, and certainly not worth missing out— ”

“No. We need to stay and deal with this mess. We can go on our honeymoon later.”

“With calving season right around the corner? You know I can’t leave my brothers to handle all the work.”

“They handled it themselves all the years you lived in London. You think they couldn’t handle one more?”

Gavin stared at the woman he loved, wondering at what point she’d decided to turn on him.

“That’s not what I meant,” he said slowly. “Clay has his hands full with the new stock coming in over at Ainsley’s. Even with Jared’s help, it’s all Pax and I can do to keep up without Clay. You know we’re hiring more help, but until then, it’s all hands on deck, baby. We’ve talked about this.”

He reached for her and muttered a curse when she stepped away.

“Lauren.” Gavin folded his arms to avoid the urge to reach for her again. “When I came back to Texas, I made a promise—to myself and to my family. I have a responsibility to be here for them.”

Lauren shoved both hands through her hair, leaving behind a mess of shining waves Gavin longed to bury his own fingers in.

She sighed. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I didn’t mean … of course we can’t go away during calving season. But we can’t go away now either. I wouldn’t be able to relax knowing things are such a mess here.”

Gavin was on her before she could retreat. He pulled her into his arms and breathed a sigh of relief when she melted against him. “I can think of a few ways to help you relax.”

“I have no doubt.” She nuzzled his chest. “I know it’s not ideal, but we could spend our wedding night at the beach house. Maybe spend a day or two there?”

He loved his—their—place on Galveston Island. However— “November isn’t the greatest time for swimming in the Gulf.”

“Who said anything about swimming?”

Gavin stroked a hand over her silky hair, struggling for the words to express how precious she was to him. He settled for, “All right, baby. If that’s what you want, that’s what we’ll do.”

He’d find a way to give this woman the moon if she asked for it, but spending what should be their honeymoon fighting with housing contractors was not his idea of a good time.

He had to make this right.

It was time to call in reinforcements.

* * * * *

Her Wicked Captain & Contest

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Her Wicked Captain

River Rogues #1

By: Sandra Jones

Releasing November 4, 2014

Samhain Publishing

She played right into his hands.

Possessing uncanny people-reading skills like her mama, Philadelphia “Dell” Samuels has spent thirteen years in her aunt’s rustic Ozarks home, telling fortunes over playing cards and trying to pass as white. But the treacherous Mississippi River childhood her mama dragged her away from finally catches up to her on a steamboat captained by her old friend Rory Campbell.

Known to his crew as the Devil’s Henchman, Rory is a gambler in need of a miracle. Following the cold trail of his boss’s wife and bastard daughter, Dell, Rory has only one goal in mind: saving his crew from the boss’s cruelty by ruining him. The only one who can defeat the Monster of the Mississippi is the man trained to take his place. Rory’s convinced he can lure his boss into a high-stakes game against a rival, and with Dell’s people-reading skills, the monster will lose everything.

Under Rory’s tutelage and protection, Dell agrees to the tortured captain’s plan. Passion and peril quickly bring them together as lovers. But when Rory’s plan goes awry, the lives of the innocent depend on Dell’s ability to read the situation correctly—and hopefully save them all.

Link to Follow Tour | Goodreads link

Buy Links:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

Sandra Jones Pic

Historical romance author Sandra Jones was born and raised in Arkansas. She loves living in a cabin overlooking White River where she enjoys watching eagles and dreaming about the adventurous frontiersmen who once traveled past in steamboats. When she’s not reading, writing or researching, she’s the cook for her cranky old tom cat, her husband of more than 25 years, and her two grown sons. She also loves to chat with her fans.

Author Links

Website: http://www.sandrajonesromance.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandrajones.author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SJonesRomance

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SandraJones

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$15 Amazon or B&N gift card, RT Swag, a signed copy of Five Golden Rings

Excerpt

        “What sort of danger are you bringing me into?”

“Nothing for you to worry about. I’m good with pistols. I’m good with lots of things.” His voice held a smile, and he flicked the top button of her dress open with the tiniest motion of his index finger.

“Stop that.” Shock zinged through her. She planted her hands on his shoulders to push away, but he resisted, anchoring her in the circle of his brawny arms. “Let me go! Stop teasing. You’re trying to distract me. I demand to know what trouble you’re bringing Jeremiah and me into.”

“You demand?” His laughter vibrated his chest beneath her palms. “Lady, you can’t make demands on my ship. The cardsharps who frequent Moreaux’s gaming salons are a different breed than the fur traders and muleskinners you know. They’d as soon put a bullet in your chest than lose a hand of cards, but as long as you’re with me, you’ve got no one to worry about.” He ran his index finger gently along her cheek. “’Cept maybe me.”

A sharp retort sprang to her tongue, but the hungry look in his eyes froze her. His gaze fell to her mouth, and he eased forward. Anticipation held her captive as his lips brushed over hers, warm and gentle, fitting like the missing half of a pair. Her eyelids fell shut against the sparks in her mind, and she swore she felt them ignite, the heat flowing up her chest and neck.

When he sat back, she opened her eyes to find him regarding her through dark eyes of his own. Wanting more, she folded her lips together, savoring the wondrous sensation of his mouth on hers a moment longer.

“Did you see that coming, angel?” he whispered.

His teasing words were like ice water in her face. “I see everything I want to see. Be serious.” Truth be told, she was glad she wasn’t standing at the moment. His surprising kiss could’ve swept her feet out from under her. She looked down at him haughtily. She’d show him she wasn’t to be played with. There’d been other men who’d tried to spread her legs, who’d kissed her first—though never as sweet and seductive as Rory’s kiss. But she’d bested every man, found their weaknesses, turned their superstitions against them. Rory wasn’t any different. He thought to bring her back to his boss like a prize? Well, she was nobody’s trophy! “What makes you think you can kiss me, Captain?”

His hand slid behind her head. He smirked. “You’re the one who came to me. Now”—he twined his fingers in the back of her hair and murmured—“let me kiss you properly.”

Dell refused to come any closer, but he bent his knees, propping his feet up on the other chair and causing her to fall against his body. Her hands flattened on his chest, feeling the solid muscle beneath the linen of his shirt. His lips covered hers again, and his hand caressed the back of her neck in a gesture so tender and intimate, unlike anything she’d ever felt before. The tip of his tongue touched her bottom lip in request. She couldn’t deny her curiosity a moment longer, so she opened for him, allowing his tongue to seek hers.

He tasted of smoke and rum, provocative and forbidden as he coaxed her, melting her inside and out, until she gave way and parried, matching movement for movement. When she fell fully into his erotic dance, he purred low in his throat. His fingertips trailed up and down her neck, stroking her skin with care, but his lips were urgent. She drank him in, following her instinct to dissolve in his embrace, allowing him to deepen his exploration. Her fingers fumbled under his open shirt, questing for his skin and finding the fine hair of his chest.

Rory turned his head, taking in a deep breath. His hands covered hers. “I was wrong. Maybe you’re the dangerous one.”

Dell bit her bottom lip as she tried to corral her racing heart. Suddenly uncomfortable in his lap, she readjusted, and he groaned. She discovered the reason for her discomfort—his rigid organ strained against her backside.

Rory tapped her chin with a light fingertip. “If you’re after respectability like you claim, you’ll not find it with me. Understand?”

Dell nodded and untangled herself from him. His arms fell away as she cast off his blanket and stood. Perhaps it was the wine she’d drunk or the heady comfort of his warm body, but she immediately wished she’d stayed put, enjoying more of his kisses. She hugged herself, looking at his boots, the deck, anywhere but at him that he might know her thoughts.

“Unless”—he shifted and spread his arms across the back of the chair in an invitation for her to feast over the naked muscles of his chest—“you’d rather lower your standards like your mama and wallow in decadence with the rest of us.”

“Like my mama?” Dell huffed. “Damn you! My mama was a decent woman. That’s why she got me out of that kind of life. One kiss—two kisses—doesn’t make me one of your tarts, Gory Rory. And you kissed me. I never asked you, I never gave you permission.”

He lifted a mocking brow. “You sure didn’t try very hard to refuse me.”

Dell spun away and headed back to the captain’s quarters. She heard him mutter an indignant “Gory Rory?”

His laughter rang in her ears as she closed the door.

BOX SET ALERT- Enchanted Lover: Tales of Everlasting Love

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ENCHANTED LOVER: Tales of Everlasting Love 

Seven Novels of Mystical, Magical and Paranormal Romance

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PARAMOUR by Margaret Ethridge (ghost)

Two men: one living, one dead, and both vying for her love. Camellia Stafford has never been alone in her room. For twenty years, she’s been engaged in a fierce power struggle with her bedroom’s previous tenant, Frank DeLuca, the ghost trapped in the light fixture above her bed.

 

ENTRANCED by Maddie James (time travel, reincarnation)
Jack and Claire set out on a wild search through time, not only for the resolution to a powerful attraction between them, but also for a historical artifact that holds the key to their future happiness–the coveted silver-plated chalice made from Blackbeard’s skull.

MYSTIC THUNDER by JC Wardon (witch, mystic)
Millennia of tempestuous ancestral history forewarn Rayne Cavanaugh to hide her ability to communicate with ghosts. But– When the nephew of the man she just can’t resist goes missing in the mountains of Mystic Waters, West Virginia, she must decide between self-preservation and love.

RUNNING OUT OF TIME by Cheryl Norman (time travel)
When Stacy Webber travels to Germany for her best friend’s wedding, she loses more than her luggage and purse. She lands in a different time, fifty years ago, with no idea how to return to her world.

TIMELESS by Jan Scarbrough (psychic, ghost, reincarnation)
When Beth Abbott receives a surprise inheritance from her birth mother, she travels to the family’s nineteenth century mansion in Old Louisville, KY, now a bed and breakfast. There she meets the resident ghost, a little girl whose crying not only scares, but also intrigues guests.

MAN OF HER DREAMS by Cat Shaffer (dreams, parallel times)
Jessi Flint has a perfectly good life with a successful business and the perfect man. So, he’s only in her dreams…until her flaky assistant goes to a New Age fair and Jessi suddenly begins receiving gifts with love notes signed by a mysterious Damian.

ALMOST MAGIC by J.M. Kelley (magic, witch, gifts)
When it came to Vivian Burroughs’ unique connection with nature, her grandmother always said, ‘Mediocrity may not burn as bright as a firecracker, but it seldom blows up in your face.’ But the old woman never advised her on what to do when a sexy new neighbor stokes the flames of attraction.

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Category: Romance > Paranormal

Length: Seven full-length novels, Boxed Set

Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press

ISBN: 978-1-62237-340-6

Retail Price: $5.99

Ebook Price: $0.99 (Special Promotional Price)

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | KOBO | SMASHWORDS 

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Texas Twist by Cynthia D’Alba

Heads up gang! My fellow Diamond Doll has another book in her Texas Montgomery Mavericks Series releasing today. Check out the deets—okay seriously, I’m not one who says deet—details, check out the details below.

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Texas Twist

Texas Montgomery Mavericks

By: Cynthia D’Alba

Samhain Publishing

Blurb

Texas Montgomery Mavericks, Book 4

Real bad boys can grow up to be real good men.

Hit hard by the death of her parents, Paige Ryan needs to figure out what to do with her life. She moves to Whispering Springs, Texas, to be near her step-brother. But just as she starts to get her life on track, the last man she ever wanted to see again sends it right back off the rails.

Cash Montgomery was on the cusp of having it all. Three bull riding titles, fame, fortune and respect from his family. Until a bad bull leaves him injured, angry and searching for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. With nowhere to go, he moves into his sister-in-law’s old ranch house in Whispering Springs—which he’s surprised to find already occupied.

As Cash rebuilds the dilapidated home and Paige starts out on her medical career, their old friendship begins to reemerge and sparks are ignited. Paige knows that Cash is nothing but a heartache waiting to happen. But maybe this bad boy has grown up to be a real good man?

Warning: Watch out for falling lumber, falling in holes, and falling for the wrong guy…again. You can leave your hard hat on.

 

Buy Links

Amazon | B&N | iTunes

 

Cynthia

 Author Info

Cynthia D’Alba started writing on a challenge from her husband in 2006 and discovered having imaginary sex with lots of hunky men was fun. Her first book, Texas Two Step, released in 2012 to outstanding reviews and was a Samhain Publishing best seller. The second book in the Texas Montgomery Mavericks series, Texas Tango, was released by Samhain Publishing in November 2013. Texas Twist, a novella in the Texas Montgomery Series releases TODAY by Samhain Publishing.

She has stories in two anthologies released last year…Smoking Hot Firemen (“Something’s Burning”) and the Mammoth Book of Medical Romance (“Wake Me When It’s Over”). She’ll have a story in Cowboy Heat (“Back Stage Pass”) coming in 2014.

Cynthia holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a master’s degree in business administration, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, and a doctorate in higher education administration. She loves to chat online with friends and fans. You can find her most days at www.cynthiadalba.com  orwww.everybodyneedsalittleromance.com.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Group Blog | PersonalBlog

 

Anyone Love Sports Romance?

One of my Diamond Dolls has a new release and another has a Nigh Owl Top Pick bad-ass book. Check out Katie Kenyhercz’s new release, On The Fly (hockey) in this Contemporary Romance bundle, and Parker Kincade’s super smexy, Spring Training (baseball)!

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Bundle Blurb

When love calls, it’s rarely easy but always memorable, and definitely worth turning the pages. Recapture the thrill, the delicious anticipation of finding your happily ever after in these 10 unforgettable, hot stories by some of today’s brightest names:

 

Her Knight in Black Leather – J.M. Stewart
Destination Wedding – Robyn Neeley
Drawn to Jonah – Jennifer DeCuir
On the Fly – Katie Kenyhercz
Wildly – Debra Kayn
Falling for You – Heather Thurmeier
Beginning Again – Peggy Bird
Spiraling – Rachel Cross
Save My Soul – Elley Arden
Sweet Gone South – Alicia Hunter Pace

Excerpt from On the Fly by Katie Kenyhercz 

With a sigh, she glided over to where he waited. For good measure, she stuck out her arms and feigned a wobble. Can you ice skate? That was something of an understatement. Her father had gotten her a pair of ice skates as soon as she could walk. Carter didn’t need to know that.
“You gonna make it?”
“I think so.” She came to a stop against the goal post and turned around to mimic his stance.
“Tell you what, I’ll give you a head start.”
She just smiled.
“Down and back, okay? Ready, set, go!”
She took off like a shot, arms pumping, knees high, just digging into the ice with the sides of her blades. Behind her, shocked laughter echoed. Then it was replaced by the sound of his own skates. At the other goal, she skidded sideways in an awkward hockey stop and tried to regain momentum, heading back for the other end, but Carter had the experience, and he turned in two seconds. He passed her and pivoted to skate backward, adding insult to injury. She squinted at him and surged forward. Amusement played openly across his sharp features until he stopped and she didn’t.
Jacey hadn’t really considered the consequences of hurling herself at him. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And before she could reverse it, she collided against him with a solid thump. They spun in a circle, their legs tangled, and Carter fell backward. She had no choice but to follow.

About Katie

Katie married the military man of her dreams, so home is wherever the Air Force sends them. She loves hockey and writes about hockey love. Her fictional team is the Las Vegas Sinners, and her real-world team is the Pittsburgh Penguins. She likes strong, capable heroines who bring out the vulnerability in their tough guys.

 

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SPRING TRAINING

He had his eye on the ball, but his sights set on her.

For baseball superstar Garrett Donovan, his contract with the New York Empire baseball team meant he’d finally have the means to secure a future for his family. He should focus on that…not on the sassy, beautiful Jessa Montgomery — or what she looks like naked. Getting involved with the daughter of the Empire’s owner would be career suicide. Jessa is a distraction he can’t afford.

Her father had warned her never to get involved with his athletes, so his request that she keep an eye on his new star player came straight out of left field. The last thing Jessa needs is another spoiled, egotistical ball player to deal with. But Garrett is none of those things. His no-nonsense attitude and smooth Southern charm make her blood burn and her knees weak. Giving into temptation, she is consumed by the pleasure she finds in Garrett’s arms.

Jessa wants to protect his career. Garrett won’t let anything get in
the way of their passion.

A passion that could cost him everything.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance Ebooks

About Parker

National Bestselling Author, Parker Kincade, writes edge-of-your-seat-sexy romantic suspense, hot and steamy sports romance, and erotic western romance. Her first novel, One Night Stand, won the 2013 Reader’s Crown Award for Best First Book, the category of Best Erotic Romance in the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Golden Claddagh contest, and was named finalist in the Romance Writers of America/Passionate Ink Stroke of Midnight contest.

Parker lives in the southern United States. She loves to read, play golf, spend time with her family and friends, snuggle with her beloved boxer, ice cream from the ice cream truck, and watching old musicals.

 

 

 

 

Lore Book Blitz – Tales of Myth and Legend Retold

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Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold

– A collection of six folklore retellings that will twist your mind and claim your heart.

by Brinda BerryKaren Y. BynumLaura DiamondJayne A. KnollsTheresa DaLayneCate Dean

Release Date: 03/2014

Lore

Includes:

SHIMMER: A heartbroken boy rescues a mermaid… but is it too late to save her?

BETWEEN is about a girl, a genie, and a ton of bad decisions.

SUNSET MOON: Eloise doesn’t believe in Native American magic–until the dreamcatcher spiders spin her down an unknown path.

THE MAKER: An incapacitated young man bent on revenge builds a creature to do it for him.

A BEAUTIFUL MOURNING: The story of a Maya goddess torn between duty and love, and the ultimate sacrifice she must make to achieve true happiness.

THE BARRICADES: When a human girl risks everything to save the life of an Eternal prince, will their feelings for each other change the world they know, or tear it apart?

Rafflecopter Code: 

(We’re giving away 6, $10 Amazon Giftcards if entrants like our pages on FB and tweet a message about LORE.)

<a id=”rc-a06abc2″ class=”rafl” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a06abc2/&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes 

Goodreads 

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Meet Featured Author Brinda Berry:

Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She’s terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.  She doesn’t mind being called a geek or “crazy dog lady”. When she’s not working the day job or writing a novel, she’s guilty of surfing the internet for no good

Find Brinda at www.brindaberry.com .

Excerpt:

Shimmer by Brinda Berry

Draven Manning watched the naked female wade into the inky waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Silent as a hermit crab, he sat on the sand hidden by tall sea oats and studied her petite body, long hair thickly draped to the waist. She held a backpack, an odd addition to her nakedness, which she dropped on the sand. He could have loudly cleared his throat or walked back up to the house. But he didn’t.

Not that he was a total creeper. She’d appeared from nowhere like some magical mist formed in a female shape. The wind lifted strands of her hair away from her body increasing the otherworldly feel of the scene.

He continued to watch and acknowledged that wishing he could see better or had binoculars did fall into creeper territory. His friends always talked about what a nice guy he was. Maybe he didn’t want to be a nice guy.

Being the nice guy had landed him here in this tiny Gulf Coast town with his dad for the summer. He had no choice, because he couldn’t stand to look at the people he’d trusted. They had betrayed him, and he’d pretended it was no big deal. He lowered his forehead to his bent knees and pulled air into his lungs. A deep exhale steadied the shaking. He was eighteen, not eight. It was time to man up. Move on with life. Forget what had happened and quit feeling sorry for himself.

For a week, he’d strolled the beach by himself. In the daylight hours, families cluttered the sand so he waited for nightfall. He always returned to this spot on the sand to sit and think. He could’ve sat on the deck with the same view, but that’s where his dad always sat and smoked cigars.

His dad would already be in bed at this hour.

The girl swam farther and farther out to sea. Her moonlight swim went beyond his seeing range. She was far enough out that he couldn’t tell if a glint on the water might be her head or a fish or a buoy. She had to be an excellent swimmer.

Clouds moved across the moon to dim his view of her even more. A gust of wind blew sand into his face. He jumped from his spot and ran, his bare feet pounding on the packed sand. He saw the crashing wave deliver her body to shoreline and teasingly pull her back. Why hadn’t he noticed that she was in trouble?

He stomped into the chilly ocean. “Shit.” His jeans sucked up the water and clung to his legs. “Shit, shit, shit.” Waves pushed against his thighs, whipping him off balance until he braced himself for the tide.

She floated face down with her hair billowing out in thin tentacles. He grabbed her upper arms, flipped her body, and pulled her to shore. Her lower body dragged in the sand, so he picked her up. She probably didn’t weigh much, but her limp body sagged as he carried her like a sleeping child.

Out from the tide’s reach, he placed her on the sand and pressed two fingers against her neck. Not dead. Not dead. Not dead. But not breathing, either. He couldn’t remember the steps. His heart slapped against his chest like paper caught in moving bicycle spokes. People learned CPR just in case. He never expected to actually need it. He squeezed his eyes shut, heard Coach Vorlosky’s calm instructions, visualized each step, and began chest compressions.

One push, two, three, four…one push a second how many times? Maybe thirty. He’d barely passed the test and wished he’d paid more attention. “You better not die. I’ve had a shitty week. Come on, come on.” Her head lolled to the side. He grabbed her chin, tilted her head back, pinched her nose, covered her mouth with his and blew.

He hovered above her mouth to see if she breathed. Strands of long, dark hair draped over her face. He brushed the hair out of the way and started again. On his fifth round of administering CPR, he glanced around for help, which wouldn’t happen at 2:00 a.m. on a deserted strip of beach in the middle of nowhere.

Her loud gasp, sounding like the reverse of a balloon losing air, startled him.

She turned her head to the side and coughed out water. “What…” She coughed again.”…do you think you’re doing?”

He barely heard her. The girl must be out of her mind, which would explain why she thought a night swim by herself was a good idea. “Saving you.”

“I didn’t need your help,” she muttered.

He scooted back on the sand several inches—his heart starting to slam again—and rubbed his face. Sand coated his hand and clung to his eyelashes. “Not the way I see it.” His voice sounded strangled and loud.

She sat up and pulled her knees to her chest. Anger flashed in her eyes. “What’s your deal?”

“You weren’t breathing.” He wiped dripping water from his forehead with the back of his hand. “I was scared that you’d…never mind that thought. You’re alive.”

“Um hmm. Sure am. Back here on the shore whether I like it or not.” She was all hair and limbs with her arms wrapped around her knees.

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