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Review of “The Beast in a Suit” – Elena Kincaid

She’s no damsel. He’s no prince. Can their love still be strength enough to save them both?

Twenty years later, and the hole inside Emeline’s soul only got bigger, mourning the loss of her mother and brother and what could have been. A stranger comes along with changes to a career she loves, but will it be for the better and will he end up changing her, too?

Adam has been closed off to the world for nearly two decades, existing but not living. He doesn’t even realize the shell of a man he’s become until a woman he’s slowly falling for makes him examine his own reflection.

A modern twist on a classic tale filled with desire, passion, and one dangerous obsession.

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“You’re firing me?”

“Of course not,” he replied adamantly, finally turning to face her. “I meant what I said before. You’re very valuable to this company and you’ve more than proven it. I also meant it when I told you that you would do great on your own. I don’t want you to leave.” He took her hand in his. “I want nothing more than for you stay, but I don’t want to hold you hostage. That was unfair of me. Please, forgive me.”

The truth was, she had forgotten about his threat. With the way he turned the company around along with giving her his friendship, not to mention the fact that she was in love with him, she was happy there again. She hadn’t thought about quitting or about going out on her own. The fact that he remembered and was apologizing for it and even willing to let her go without any repercussions stunned her. She had already forgiven him a while ago.

She watched a sly smile form on his lips, a devilish gleam in his eye. “No one should have to work for an asshole.”

“Good thing I no longer think of you as an asshole.” She glanced down at their joined hands. “I would like to stay.”

“You would?” He sounded surprised, hopeful even, and the look on his face confirmed it when she raised her head.

“And what about you, Adam?” she asked. “Do you intend to stay?” She knew it was a premature question, given the fact that it would be some time before he could present a tempting sale, but she felt like she needed to know if he even considered the possibility of actually keeping the company and running it himself.

He reached out and toyed with a strand of her hair. “I’d gotten so used to working with soulless corporations, people who wouldn’t hesitate to stab each other in the back. I guess you can say I’m pleasantly surprised. Publishing Enchanted is more than a company. It’s a family.”

“You’re part of it now.”

“And I don’t think I want to give that up.” He let go of her hair and brushed his knuckles down her cheek. “I have too many reasons to stay.”

They were so close now, their faces mere inches apart. Emeline couldn’t even remember how they had gotten there, but now she only wanted to be closer. “Adam,” she whispered, right before he closed the final distance between them and kissed her.

His kiss was soft, tentative at first, as if gauging her reaction, but when she wrapped her arms around him, he deepened it, moaning into her mouth as their tongues finally met and entwined. Finally, she got her wish and fisted her hand in his thick locks. His hair was soft, just as she’d imagined. Even his beard was soft against her skin. And God, he was such a great kisser, exploring her mouth thoroughly, lips and tongues feverishly connecting.

It was her turn to moan when he pulled her onto his lap and his hands began to roam down her back, her arms, and skimming down the sides of her breasts. He stopped kissing her lips long enough to move down to her jaw, her neck, and then all the way down to that deep V in the center of her cleavage, eliciting another, much louder, moan from her.

She was so lost in him, she hadn’t even realized at first that they were no longer moving, had no idea when they had stopped. Adam took notice of it, too, and paused his attentions to her. They were both panting as they stared at one another, and this time it was Emeline who leaned in and kissed him. She whispered, “Stay,” against his lips, the ache inside her for him too great to be able to part with him.

He practically growled in response and the two of them poured months of longing into their next kiss.

“I’m going to devour every single inch of you,” he said.

Yes, please!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Emeline and Adam met by chance at a cemetery. He found her asleep, scolded her for her foolishness sleeping out there, and then he offered her money to get cleaned up. Emeline, feeling embarrassed and foolish, declined his offering and left the cemetery. As she drove away, neither had any clue their paths would cross again so soon.

Monday morning, Emeline met the new owner of Publishing Enchanted. He was the man from the cemetery. Their first encounter was a walk in the park compared to today’s events. She was not a fan of the boss or the changes he was going to implement. She even threatened to quit. Of course, her feelings towards him and his direction for the company soon changed. Hate became like and then like morphed into love.

Whether you like or love your boss, Elena (author) pointed out being involved with a boss/co-worker never comes without drama. In Emeline and Adam’s case, drama seemed to follow them wherever they went. A coffee shop, charity ball, parking garage, no place is safe when you have a deranged stalker harassing you.

Emeline and Adam each had their chance to come to each other’s rescue in their own way. However, despite everything, feelings were hurt and blood was shed.

Despite the drama, The Beast in a Suit cut the tension with random spots of humor. The bicycle lessons were actually adorable. It reminded me of Phoebe (from the television show Friends) and the less than graceful way she rode a bike.

 

Before I conclude my review, I would like to discuss a couple more things.  

1.) I’m not sure I could train for a triathlon in 2 weeks. I think it’d pass out long before I ever saw the final line.  😀 

2.) I was moved by Adam’s speech regarding why he was holding a charity ball for Cancer Families. Elena (the author) was absolutely on point when she had Adam says these key lines…. 

“Cancer is like an unwelcomed guest, insinuating itself into countless lives and definitely overstaying its welcome.”

“Cancer ravages the mind and body, it incites, fear, and then it leaves devastation behind.”

“No one should have to worry about not being able to afford their medical care, or of not being able to pay their mortgage, or to put food on the table during that trying time.” 

 

I have a friend who is battling cancer. I know the financial burden her family is facing. Physically, mentally and emotionally, her and her family are weighed down by what cancer has brought upon them. If you have any money to spare, please donate to those in need or to any cancer research organization. Desperate families need your help. We need a cure for cancer before more lives are taken, before someone else loses a friend or family member to this terrible disease. 

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Elena Kincaid is an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author. She writes Paranormal and Contemporary Romances with alpha males who stop at nothing to protect their women, heroines who are anything but damsels in distress, and stories where the only love worth fighting for is the forever kind of love.

She was born in Ukraine and raised in New York, where she currently lives with her daughter. Her desk is constantly cluttered with journals, sticky notes, and torn-out pieces of paper full of ideas. When not working, Elena loves to spend time with her family, travel the globe, curl up with a good book, and catch up on her shows.

 

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Author Showcase – Laura M. Baird (Rory’s Christmas Angel)

Print Length: 110 pages

Instinct kicks in as Frankie Chandler, former Navy nurse, now soon to be veterinarian, witnesses an accident and rushes to save a man’s life. When State Trooper Rory Sanders arrives on the scene, he’s awestruck at the sight of the gorgeous woman taking charge. Once the frenzy is over, both are reluctant to walk away from their mutual attraction. But they’ll each have to get beyond their hesitations, such as Rory telling himself it’s okay to let love in while raising his daughter after losing his wife, and Frankie who’s never had a serious relationship in her life because she’s been focused on school while also helping raise her nephew. Will the power of love win out and make their Christmas wishes come true?

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~~ Excerpt ~~

 

Widower, Florida State Trooper Rory Sanders encounters ex-Naval nurse, Frankie Chandler, at a road-side accident. One look has him bewildered at his instant attraction. Is it a sign that he’s ready to open his heart in order to find love again?

While pursuing her degree in veterinary science as well as helping raise her young nephew, Frankie doesn’t have time for a relationship. But fate has no concept of time when the striking Rory Sanders bursts onto the scene.

Rory ran to the scene and catalogued what was happening. An older man stood by while a younger man and a woman were crouched down attempting to pull someone out of the car. He couldn’t see the woman’s face as her back was to him. All he could see was a red and black flannel shirt atop jeans that fit snugly to a shapely backside.

Jesus! What’s wrong with you? You’re at an accident, not here to ogle this woman!

As he got closer, he heard the woman yell, “Three!” And everything seemed to happen at once. He heard the clicking of the seat belt, and he saw rapid movements of the man and woman cradling the victim as they carefully maneuvered him out of the crunched car. He saw the woman turn and bright green eyes collided with his, leaving him momentarily stunned. Short blond hair haloed her face as a rosy blush colored her cheeks. Probably from the exertion. Or more likely from the heat of the car which suddenly had flames bursting from the engine compartment.

“Move!” the woman yelled.

While they scrambled to pull the man further away from the vehicle, Rory shot forward to assist. He grabbed near the victim’s shoulders while the woman held the torso and the younger man moved to hold the legs. Together, they got the victim a safe distance from the burning car before setting him down, he and the woman kneeling at his upper body. Looking at the man, he noticed a gash across his forehead that was bleeding freely, and he appeared unresponsive.

Before Rory could act, the woman was tearing off her flannel to reveal a black tank top beneath. As well as more shapely anatomy. Rory tried hard not to stare at the generous breasts and the well-toned arms, at the intricate tattoo gracing an arm—the design he couldn’t quite make out due to the woman’s quick movements.

“He’s unresponsive!” she yelled. “Hold this to his head while I start CPR.” She shoved her shirt into Rory’s hands while she assessed for a pulse. She must have felt one, because her next step had been to check for breathing. As her cheek hovered above the victim’s mouth, she looked down at the man’s chest. Her next move then had been to tilt the chin up and pinch this nose while she gave breaths.

Oh, to have that beautiful face so near to him. To have those lips touch his.

Rory shook his head to clear his incredible thoughts, wondering what the hell was wrong with him.

“His pulse is faint but he’s not breathing,” she said. “I’ll continue breaths until the ambulance arrives.”

That prompted Rory to speak. “An ambulance should be here shortly, coming from Gainesville.” While kneeling down on the opposite side of the victim, across from the angel … er … the woman, he continued. “I’ll relieve you if needed. I’m Trooper Sanders. Rory Sanders.”

After two more breaths, the woman pierced him with her emerald eyes and said, “I’m Chandler, Frankie Chandler.” Her voice had been almost lyrical even in the tense situation, and he shouldn’t have been zeroing in on her plump lips, but that’s exactly what he did.

“Used to be a nurse in the Navy,” the older man supplied as he stated his name while standing over the scene. “I didn’t think it wise to move the man, but she seemed certain it had to be done. Good thing, seeing as he would have burned to a crisp if not for her actions.”

Rory looked to see flames licking over every inch of the vehicle. He clicked his radio to update the situation, saying they’d need a fire truck and a wrecker on scene. Once he got the affirmative from Dee, he faced the group again.

“That’s for sure,” said the younger man. “I’m Frank and that’s my truck.” He indicated to the parked semi with a nod of his head. “Saw this guy weaving all over, in and out of traffic until he clipped my truck and flipped. Scariest thing I ever saw.”

Rory looked at each person before his gaze fell back onto Frankie as she finished another round of breaths. Or was it Franki? Or Franky? Dammit! Concentrate! “Pretty brave and quick thinking.”

“I couldn’t not help. Instinctual training took over.” She once again positioned her face over the victim’s mouth while feeling his pulse. Bringing her head back up, she said, “Still not breathing and his pulse is even weaker. May have to start compressions.”

Rory nodded. “Are you still a nurse?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I’m in my final year at U of F, becoming a vet.”

“A veterinarian?” Rory asked, knowing he must have seemed dumbfounded. All he could do was stare at Frankie, wanting to know more.

“Yes.” She smiled. And boy, what that did to her face, her entire presence. Even with the smudged dust on her skin and her hair in disarray, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “Are you all right, Sanders?” she asked.

Was he? 

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Wife, mother, former U. S. Army, and dental hygienist, I can now add published author to the list. I’m slowly transitioning out of hygiene, hoping to make writing a full-time endeavor. After writing for many years, my publishing dreams came true in August of 2017 with the release of my debut contemporary romance, “Keyed Up”. Since then, I’ve had the fortune to work with several publishers, and as of June 4th, my eighth title was released. Hopefully many more are on the way!

I write in a variety of romance subgenres: contemporary, comedy, and erotic, with stories containing suspense and small-town romance in the works. I’m constantly learning, loving the journey, and all the amazing people I’m meeting. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy all romance from contemporary to erotic to paranormal to suspenseful.

I strive to write stories I can be proud of and enjoyed by many; ones that are not only sexy and fun, but thoughtful as well.

I grew up on the East Coast and now reside on the West Coast, having lived in FL, GA, SC, MA, ID, and WA. Hubby and I hope to fill our passports with stamps from Scotland and Fiji, to name a few destinations. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the beauty of the PNW.

 

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Author Showcase – Barbara White Daille (Snowbound with Mr. Wrong) (One Week to Win Her Boss)

~~ On sale for $.99 all through November! ~~

Worst. Day. Ever. After Lyssa Barnett’s sister tricks her into reprising her role at Snowflake Valley’s annual children’s party, she doesn’t think anything can be worse than squeezing into her too-small elf costume. Then tall, dark, and way too handsome Nick Tavlock shows up to play Santa…and an unexpected storm leaves them snowbound in the isolated lodge.

The last thing Nick wants is to spend a cozy Christmas Eve with a trio of kids and the woman who dumped him. But as much as Lyssa frustrates him, he can’t stop thinking about her. And soon, he’s fighting very un-Santa-like thoughts of kissing a certain sexy Miss Elf under the mistletoe. As Nick starts to fall for Lyssa all over again, he knows it will take nothing short of a miracle to have Lyssa in his arms on Christmas Day. 

 

~~ EXCERPT~~ 

Lyssa could so easily see Nick with children of his own…and hers… But she had already decided there was no point in dreaming about a future with him. Considering his single-minded focus on work, he could never be the man for her.

She got to her feet and, forcing a smile, said, “I think it’s time for some hot chocolate.”

Four voices rose in agreement, and she escaped gratefully to the kitchen. The more she saw of Nick connecting with the kids, the harder it was for her to watch and the more she wanted to stay away. Yet she knew this trip to the kitchen was only a temporary reprieve.

She just hadn’t realized how temporary.

She had barely started heating the milk in a pan on the stove when Nick entered the kitchen. He came to lean against the counter beside her. “Need something?” she asked brightly.

“Yeah. To tell you I forgot how much fun it is being around you. It’s been a great afternoon.”

She flushed. “No thanks to me. That’s all on the kids. They’re quite a bunch.”

“And you’re quite a woman.”

“No, I’m—”

He reached up and touched his finger to her lips. “Don’t do that, Lyssa. Don’t sell yourself short.” He moved his hand to trace her chin. A shiver tickled along her jaw. “You know what else I need?”

“Hot chocolate?”

“That, too. And this.”

He leaned down and brushed his mouth against hers. He tasted so like the man she had fallen for months ago. His kiss was so tender, so sweet, she couldn’t help but want more. Another thought hovered at the edges of her mind, a thought she felt sure she didn’t want to know. Not now. Not here. Not when his taste and his touch and his total concentration on her were all exactly what she needed.

One dizzying kiss led to another and then another, until she had to curl her fingers in the fabric of his T-shirt to keep herself standing upright. But finally she forced herself to come to her senses. She tilted her head back and whispered, “Stop.”

“Why?” he murmured.

“What would we say if one of the kids walked in?”

“That the chocolate will be ready as soon as I’m done kissing the cook.”

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Single mom Amber Barnett loves family, kids, Christmas…and unfortunately, her boss, confirmed bachelor Michael DeFranco. It’s a crush she really needs to get over. Except, when she’s temporarily forced from her apartment, her only option is to stay at Michael’s private ski lodge, where she’s the housekeeper. No problem. Her handsome boss rarely visits Snowflake Valley unexpectedly, plus he’s spending the holidays with his family. Or so she thinks…

A stormy Christmas Eve reunion leaves Michael seeking the solitude of his lodge, where he finds Amber in residence—and in trouble. Attempting to save her from her matchmaking family, he announces they’re a couple. His good deed backfires when they’re instantly included in each and every holiday event in town. So much for solitude.

Only the more time he spends with the beautiful, cheery brunette, the more he yearns to make things real between them. But he and Amber want different things, and Michael could never be the family man she’s looking for.

 

~~ EXCERPT~~ 

The jingling of Santa’s sleigh bells jolted Amber Barnett awake on the couch. Following the bells came a thud, a crash, a clatter, and a long string of muttered curses. That couldn’t be. Santa wouldn’t swear like a sailor, especially not on Christmas Eve.

Time to wake up. She was hearing things and not making any sense. Well, it had been a long, stressful trip here. With the storm racing toward Snowflake Valley, heading up to her boss’s mountain lodge after her family’s open house might not have been the brightest idea ever. But it was the best solution she could come up with.

She glanced at the small playpen near one end of the couch. In the dim light from the table lamp, her four-month-old daughter lay looking up at her peacefully, unbothered by whatever Amber thought she’d heard.

Amber leaned down to tuck Penny’s lightweight blanket around her. “We left later than planned,” she murmured, “and the snowstorm was worse than I expected. And okay, maybe we shouldn’t have come here at all.” She looked around the large living room she had decorated for the holidays only a week ago. “But it’s not like I had much of a choice. The mean old electric company turned off our service. It was either hide out here for a few days, or go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and face everyone.”

Right. And let Callie and Lyssa know she had screwed up—yet again.

The thought made her shudder. Her older sisters loved her and she loved them. But living with their tendency to fly to her rescue? Not so much to like there. It was as if they both felt they couldn’t trust her to do anything right.

Her ex’s attitude had been even worse. With him, there was no seemed about it. He told her outright and on a regular basis she needed him to take care of everything. Another good reason she now called him her ex.

A loud thump made her heart leap.

Those noises she’d heard hadn’t come from a dream.

Someone was in the kitchen.

It couldn’t be her boss. Michael was spending the holidays with his family in California.

The footsteps grew louder. He—or she—was getting closer to her and her daughter. Scoop up Penny and run. But the car keys were in her room. She would never reach the stairs in time. And even if she could make it as far as the front door, how could she escape on foot in a snowstorm?

Nobody’s getting between me and my baby. She grabbed a heavy ornament sitting on the coffee table.

The footsteps came even nearer to the door.

Swallowing a shriek, she raced across the room and past the dining area. Her slippers padded silently on the wooden floor.

As she reached the doorway, her weapon held high, a towering man stepped through the opening. Recognition hit—too late. Fear and adrenaline had her in full swing. The ornament zeroed in on her boss’s snow-frosted head.

Michael lunged, reaching up to wrench the weapon from her hands. “What the…? Amber?”

Well, one consolation—if you could call it that—he looked as shaken up as she felt. The reply whooshed from her mind straight to her mouth. “You’re not supposed to be here!”

“Neither are you. And especially not armed for battle. I didn’t mean to scare you. Heck, if I’d known you were here, I’d have called ahead, if only to keep you from trying to knock me out with a…with a…” He looked down at the ornament in his hand. “A troll?”

“It’s not a troll. It’s an elf. A Christmas elf.”

“Oh. Well. That makes it all right, then, doesn’t it?”

Her laugh shook so badly, it rattled. “Well, after all, it is Christmas Eve.”

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I’m Barbara, and I write small-town romance that usually includes quirky characters and a touch of humor.

Have fun looking around the site and my blog, The Daille-y News.” And consider signing up for my newsletter, where you’ll get insider info on my writing life, sneak previews, and access to subscriber-only book giveaways.

 

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Author Showcase – Jana Richards (Home Fires) (The Girl Most Likely)

Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancé’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.

Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg. Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?

 

“I made such a mess of things,” she whispered. “I’m sorry for all the fuss I caused
everyone.”

Erik took a step toward her. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have let you go alone in the dark.”

“You didn’t know I would stupidly walk out onto thin ice.” She shook her head. “I wanted to help. I wanted to be useful. I can’t stand feeling so bloody useless.”

“You’re not useless. You’re an amazing woman. Anders is a fool for letting you go.”

She stared at him, her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you.”

He opened his arms and she stepped into them, wrapping her arms around his waist, clinging to him. He held her tightly, inhaling the sweet, clean scent of her, never wanting to let her go.

“Don’t cry. Everything’s all right now.”

“I know I’m being stupid. Tears don’t solve anything,” she said against his chest. “But I was so cold, and so scared. I thought I was going to die.”

He tightened his hold and kissed her hair.

“Don’t think about it any more. You’re safe now.”

He heard her sigh, felt her relax against him.

“Yes. I’m safe.”

She lifted her head to look into his face, her dark eyes shiny with tears, her lips slightly parted, and Erik stared at her mouth, wanting desperately to kiss her, to capture her sweetness. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. To his surprise, she didn’t run off or turn away in revulsion. He was so close her breath mingled with his, her breathing shallow and erratic. His heart slammed against his chest, his body thrumming with need. For the first time in over three years, he felt alive.

 

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Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he’s eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

 

He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”

He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”

“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”

“Thanks Finn.”

“For what?”

“For believing in me.”

“Are you going to be okay now?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”

He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?

“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”

“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”

Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.

If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

 

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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Showcase – Jana Richards (Flawless) (Chill Out) (Burning Love)

France, 1942. The world is at war. The Nazis have stolen the infamous blue diamond, Le Coeur Bleu, intending to barter it for weapons that will destroy the Allies. Jewel thief Hunter Smith is given a choice; help the French Resistance steal back the diamond and avenge the death of his best friend, or stay locked up in an English prison. He chooses revenge.

Resistance fighter Madeleine Bertrand’s husband died when he was betrayed by Hunter Smith. How can she now pretend to be married to the arrogant American? How can she betray Jean Philippe’s memory by her passionate response to Hunter’s kisses? Neither is prepared for the maelstrom of attraction that erupts between them. To survive they must uncover the mysteries of the past and conquer the dangers of the present. But first Madeleine must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband and the Resistance or with the greatest love of her life.

 

 

“From now on you will be known as Jacques Lemay, Monsieur Smith.”

Monsieur Gagnon filled his pipe, dropping bits of tobacco onto his wife’s immaculate floor. Madeleine sat off to one side of Monsieur Gagnon’s kitchen, watching as Madame Gagnon prepared breakfast for her husband and their “guest.”

Madeleine silently seethed as Smith—non, Lemay—helped himself to another piece of bread. Did he have to eat so much? Didn’t he know that food was scarce here in Lille, just as it was all over France? 

She listened as Smith handed over the new two-way radio to Monsieur Gagnon and explained its use.

“It’s supposed to have a clearer and stronger signal than the radio you’re using now,” Smith said. He flipped a few dials to illustrate. “They also told me it is easier to scramble the signal to avoid detection.”

“Bon.” Monsieur Gagnon beamed in pleasure. “Good communications are essential to our work. Thank you for bringing it.”

“No problem. What else can you tell me about my cover here?”

“You are to work as a junior gardener at the chateau. I wrote to the head gardener, as if I was you, inquiring about work. He’s desperate for help. The Germans have rounded up many young Frenchmen and shipped them east to work in factories in Germany, so there are few able-bodied men available. You start tomorrow.”

He paused as his wife set a bowl of porridge in front of him. Monsieur Gagnon could not be connected with Jacques Lemay in any way; their comings and goings to this house had to be done with the utmost discretion. Madeleine knew the importance of keeping Monsieur Gagnon and his wife safe. He was the heart of their operation, their connection to the outside world through the radio he operated. If something went wrong and Hunter Smith was captured, it was crucial that no trails led back to Monsieur Gagnon. The safety of their réseaux, their Resistance network, depended on it. She hoped Smith understood the danger.

“I said in the letter that you had not worked as a gardener before, so he is not expecting you to know the difference between a delphinium and a dianthus.” Monsieur Gagnon poured milk onto his porridge. “But he is expecting you to work hard. If you don’t, you could be fired, or your cover could be blown.”

“I can manage.”

“The job might require a little more than sticking a shovel in the ground occasionally and spreading a bit of manure,” Madeleine said. The others turned to stare at her.

She immediately regretted her sarcastic remark, regretted throwing his words in his face. She shouldn’t let this man get to her, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. They needed to work together for the sake of the mission. But she hated him. After what he’d done to Jean Philippe…

Hunter’s gaze locked with hers, and the heat of his anger scorched her clear across the room. She refused to back down from the challenge in his stare. She’d be damned if she’d let him intimidate her.

“Madeleine, enough.” Monsieur Gagnon spoke sharply. “Regardless of your feelings, we need him. He is our only hope for getting the diamond out of the hands of the Nazis.”

He was right. If they couldn’t steal Le Coeur Bleu, Jean Philippe would have died for nothing. She couldn’t let that happen.

She inhaled deeply and looked away. “All right. We’ll work together.”

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Renata Cabral needs to hide for the weekend. Her cousin’s Valentine’s Day wedding means she’ll face embarrassing questions from her large, extended family. Questions like “Why aren’t you married yet?” Since the breakup of her last relationship, she’s not ready to answer that question. She invents a work-related excuse and escapes to a friend’s lakeside cottage.

Noah Brownlee has been hiding for two years. But now he’s ready to come home and mend his broken relationship with his brother. When a friend offers the use of his lakeside cottage, Noah arrives in the middle of a blizzard with his English Mastiff, only to find the place is already occupied. With her big brown eyes and quirky sense of humor, Renata stirs feelings he thought long dead.

As the blizzard rages, the candy hearts predict love. Can Valentine’s Day work its magic between them?

 

The bedroom door swung open and Renata stood in the opening wearing a short robe that revealed her lovely legs. A light floral fragrance drifted to his nose—he envisioned a field of flowers. Spike brushed past her and entered the room.

“Oh! I didn’t realize you were with Spike.”

“I’m sorry. When he gets a notion, he’s pretty hard to stop. I’ll get him out.”

“No, that’s okay. I don’t mind having him in my room. Besides, I doubt you could make him leave if he doesn’t want to.”

She was probably right. “You’re sure? He snores something awful. And did I mention the drool?”

She smiled. “Yes, I discovered the delights of sleeping with Spike last night. But I have to admit, I kind of like having the big lug around.”

“You’re sure you don’t mind?”

“I’m sure.” She took a step backward into her room, holding the door between them. “I should get some sleep.”

“Yeah.”

She hesitated, as if waiting for him to speak. For a moment he thought she was going to invite him into her room. But then she swallowed and lowered her gaze.

“Goodnight, Noah. Sleep well.”

“Goodnight.”

She quietly closed the door. Noah’s heart beat frantically as he stood outside. He wanted her in a way he hadn’t felt in a very long time, a deep primal urge, an overwhelming desire. Should he knock, ask to come in, ask to spend the night with her? Should he throw caution to the wind and let her know how he felt?
He raised his hand, ready to knock. What if he’d misread the way she’d responded to his kiss? Were his feelings for her simply a product of their isolation together? If she made love with him tonight, would she later regret it?

Fear slapped him in the gut. He couldn’t face another rejection. He let his hand drop to his side and walked to his room.

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After causing three cooking fires in her apartment, Iris Jensen finds herself evicted and homeless. She lands on Riley Benson’s doorstep, looking to rent a room in the beautiful old home he’s restoring. It’s only for six weeks until Iris leaves Portland, Oregon for her new job on a cruise ship. Firefighter Riley knows firsthand what a bad tenant she can be. But he needs money to finish the work on the house he loves. And something about Iris pulls at his heart…

Meanwhile, in Heaven, two angels watch over the young lovers. Angelica and Hildegard work in Heaven’s Relationship Division, where angels match mortals with their soul mates. The angels believe so strongly in Iris and Riley’s love that they break Heaven’s rules to help them. Can the angels convince them their love will last a lifetime?

 

~~ Excerpt ~~

Riley looked into her beautiful blue eyes and her smiling face and did the only thing he was capable of doing at the moment.

He kissed her.

Maybe later, he told himself, when sanity returned, he’d think of a hundred reasons why pulling Iris into his arms, holding her snug against his body, and plundering her soft, sweet mouth was not a good idea. But for now, right now, as she wound her arms around his neck and made tiny sounds of excitement deep in her throat, it felt exactly right.

Heaven. Having Iris in his corner made him believe everything was possible.

He stepped backward toward the stairs, pulling Iris with him, intent on taking her upstairs to his room. He suddenly tripped, nearly losing his balance. He glanced behind him and saw the object he’d stumbled over. A set of luggage sat next to the stairs, still bearing tags from the retailer.

“What the hell is this?”

Iris kissed his neck. “I’m sorry. I should have taken them up to my room.”

Iris had bought new luggage for her trip. Her plans hadn’t changed.

She’s leaving me.

The thought acted as effectively as a bucket of cold water tossed over his head. What was he doing? She was leaving in three weeks and didn’t plan to return. The calendar in the kitchen reminded him of that every day. Why start something that would only lead to heartache?

He’d already lost too many people in his life.

And Riley instinctively knew that if he let himself get close to Iris, let himself love her, a part of him would not survive when she left.

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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

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