With her marriage and dance studio wiped out by divorce, Becca Collins reluctantly agrees to teach Two Step lessons at a country bar. Carson Quill isn’t thrilled about spending his Saturday nights playing guitar in a local dive, but a certain dance instructor with long legs and dark curls caught his eye. Does love have a shot in a bar called Last Chance?
~~ Short Excerpt ~~
“You don’t have to do this,” Becca said quietly as he led her to the center of the dance floor.
“Dance with the most beautiful woman in the room? Of course I do,” Carson replied, taking her in his arms.
He paused for a beat, listening to the vocals, before starting to dance. Becca heard the playful undercurrent of the keyboard while Eleanor and Greer sang in harmony that they weren’t going home alone tonight. Somehow, Carson had mastered the quick, quick, slow steps integral to Two Step just from watching her teach it. He moved easily with the rhythm of the music, smoothly leading her into a turn without rushing the move.
“You’re good,” she exclaimed.
“I always pay attention in class with the right teacher,” Carson replied. He smiled at her, and the rest of the world disappeared. His touch was subtle, yet firm, as he led her in perfect time with the music. No words were needed. Too soon, the song drew to a close, and with his arm circled around her waist, Carson escorted her to her table. With a light kiss on the lips, he thanked her for the dance, then turned and walked back to the stage.
Mariposa Cruz balances writing with working as a fulltime corporate paralegal. For her Mariposa Musings blog she has interviewed a variety of real life characters from romance authors to psychics. She works, writes and dances Salsa in Reno, Nevada.
Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.
No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.
Back on the ranch in Colorado, Ochessa works as hard as any man. Then Nick tempts her into playing even harder as a woman—both are consumed by their growing love for one another.
Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…
Naked to the waist, and bent over the horse trough, his sculpted muscles standing out in sharp relief, Nic scooped handfuls of water over his head. A growl escaped him as he straightened to his full height, and slicked back the dripping mane of dark hair. Arms still raised, he met her gaze, as the excess water trickled happily across his bare chest.
Involuntarily she sucked in a deep breath. The distance between them felt charged with lightning, thunder pounding in her brain, leaving the rest of the world dead silent.
A look of surprise flickered across Nic’s face. His muscles flexed and bulged as he lowered his arms to his sides.
“Good evening, boss.” He emphasized the last word as if were a personal joke.
She swallowed hard, and fought to find her voice. “Time’s a wasting, Breedlove. Why are you still hanging around the ranch? Shouldn’t you be out earning your keep?”
“Well, we all have our own way of doing things, and my way is usually different from the norm.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
Retrieving his hat, he carefully dislodged a thistle from the battered brim then settled the coveted headgear upon his head. “What would surprise you, Ochessa?” He studied her with an expression that sizzled and danced through her like water on a hot griddle.
“Not seeing you every time I turn around would be a good start.”
“You’re not very good at lying.”
She nudged a dried up cow pie with the toe of her boot. “Maybe not. But I am good at recognizing a load of bull when it comes my way.”
He gave a deep chuckle, and reached for the shirt dangling from the water pump. “Sounds like you’ve been on both ends of the shovel.”
“No more than anyone else, I guess.”
He stood his ground, casually shucking into the article of clothing, his movements so sure, no wasted motion, no hesitation. Did he live his life the same? Taking what he wanted when and where he found it? She imagined him wanting her, taking her, and as his gaze slid down the front of her body, memories of their stolen passion again flared hot in the pit of her stomach.
His eyes brightened as if the same thoughts held him transfixed. Then his expression hardened, and the gleam in his eyes turned to flint. “I should have some information for you soon. I’ll be out of your way come morning.”
The fluttering in her belly turned to a panic. His leaving disturbed her more than running into him at every turn. Yet, it was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Confusion had her at a loss as to how to respond or how to proceed. It felt as if she’d captured a wild creature, and now before ever knowing what made him so intriguing, so unique, she had to set him free.
His mouth softened into a mocking smile. “I’ll be back in a day or two. I’m only going to Denver.”
Apparently her face was an open book, and now she felt the fool. “Don’t hurry on my account. I was only worried Lucky might miss you.”
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
When you look back on the history of the Old West, you’ll see more men recognized than women. However, women did have a great impact on this time period much like they do today.
No matter the era, women are strong, fierce, warriors who can hold their own in a fight. In Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats, Gini brought us Orchessa Starr. She had more skill with a firearm than a rolling pin. She ran a ranch and was well respected for her leadership. She was strongly independent, brave, and fiercely loyal to all those around her. She’s the type of character, a woman, I’d loved see portrayed more in books.
Nic, the drifter, was your typical male character you’ll see in many stories. He was adventurous, charming, flirtatious, and brave.
They might’ve had their differences, at first, but they came together to make one dynamic team.
Gun battles, outlaws, mystery, death, deception, romance, and love…. Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats was a very well written Old West story.
Where the past and the present meet adventure and romance:
Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly and danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.
Gabe Miller’s marriage ended so fast it had hardly begun. Which is why he couldn’t quite believe his luck—or his “ex”—when she returned a few months later with the news that legally they were still husband and wife. And that the child she was carrying was his son.
Gabe feared Marissa would bolt again, making a custody battle his only option—unless he could turn back the clock and woo her the way he should have during their whirlwind romance. But even with his boy’s future at stake, mending fences with a woman—especially the one he loved—wasn’t something the strong, silent type found easy to do….
One day soon, he’d get rid of this wedding ring.
Gabe Miller tossed the gold circle into the air and snatched it back again, trying not to think of the woman who’d slipped it onto his left hand, third finger. Trying not to think of what she’d had inscribed inside.
Ha. What a crock. Forever hadn’t lasted but three short weeks.
Scowling, he shoved the band into the velvet-lined jeweler’s box and slid it back beneath the stack of flannel shirts in the dresser drawer. Call him a dumb cowboy, but it’d taken his own wife’s desertion to finally get the message rammed into his thick skull:
Never trust a woman.
He turned. Warren stood in the bedroom doorway, his whiskered face scrunched into a frown.
“Shake a leg. The boys’ll be raring to eat any minute now.”
“Right.” He hustled along the hall in his elderly ranch hand’s wake. Their two pairs of boots sounded loud on the bare wooden stairs. He glared at the older man’s back, then felt immediate guilt. Warren hadn’t caused his ugly mood.
He followed him into the kitchen.
“We gotta get us a cook, boss. It’s been months since Joe and Mary went back east.” Warren flipped a switch, powering up the coffeemaker Gabe had gotten ready the night before. “Lord knows, a rancher’s got enough to keep him moving, sunup to sundown. And you’re kept busier than most, considerin’ the size of your spread, and managing it yourself ‘n all.”
“We’re doing just fine, Warren.” He kept his tone neutral, knowing how much the older man hated that he couldn’t pull his weight with the younger hands any more.
“Yeah, ‘long as you don’t try gettin’ too fancy.”
“Okay, so the pancakes didn’t work out too well.”
That earned him a chuckle.
Gabe grabbed the egg carton and a pack of pork links from the refrigerator. Sure, this’d been the last thing he’d needed–undertaking kitchen duties once his ranch cook and her husband had moved on. And Gabe did have more to handle than most of the local ranchers. Something Marissa hadn’t understood.
He rubbed the back of his neck and tried to swallow a growl. Tried to stop thinking of Marissa.
Lost cause, that idea. He brooded on it, anyway. Why in heck did he wake up this morning–alone in his big bed–with the feeling today would turn out worse than the usual? He couldn’t manage to push the feeling of gloom from his mind, the way he’d shoved the wedding ring back under his flannel shirts. The ring he should have tossed out, just the way she’d tossed him aside and walked out, months ago.
That, right there, was the problem.
She’d taken off three months ago today.
Jared and Hank and the rest of the cowhands trooped into the kitchen. Their usual whooping and hollering drowned out the sizzle of eggs and sausages.
“Hey, boys, hold it down a bit,” Warren grumbled. “Don’t know where you get your energy this early in the morning.”
Gabe grimaced, knowing his own bad mood had caused the complaints. He was used to rowdy cowboys before the sun was even up–he’d breakfasted with ranch hands all his life. But he remembered those days–those way too few days–when he’d skipped the chow-downs out at the bunkhouse and spent every last early-morning moment he could bedded down with his wife.
Hank, best known as the ranch’s clown, looked over Gabe’s shoulder. “No pancakes today, boss?”
The rest of the men guffawed.
“All right, so I’m not much of a cook.” Marissa was. He shook the thought away. “Better knock it off, or y’all will be taking turns at the stove yourselves.”
Silence fell heavier than a bale dropped from the hayloft. His back still turned to his men, he reached for the egg carton again and grinned. Shut them up, all right.
In the calm, he heard the noise of a car’s engine outside. Awfully early for visitors.
Warren pushed up the blind over the kitchen sink and squinted through the window. “Seems like you got company, boss.” The old cowboy’s voice had gone rusty.
Gabe stepped to his side. “Must be Doc, right? Nobody else’d–”
What he saw through the window shut him up, too. The light over the back porch stabbing through pre-dawn darkness. The white Mustang purring in the drive. And the woman sitting behind the wheel.
He must not have woken up yet after all, must have dreamed Warren’s call and his trip to the kitchen. Because, Lord only knew, he was dreaming now. Blinking didn’t help. The picture didn’t go away. He closed his eyes for a long moment and opened them again. Nope, she was still there.
Looking right at the lighted kitchen window.
He stumbled back a pace.
“Easy, now.” Warren might’ve been talking to a skittish colt. He pulled the forgotten carton of eggs from Gabe’s hands. “Got it under control here, boss. I guess you got some business needs taking care of.”
“Yeah, right.” He looked through the window again, gritted his teeth and set his jaw.
Mitch Weston’s back in Cowboy Creek, and self-proclaimed matchmaker Jed Garland has his single granddaughter Andi on his mind. Mitch is a lawman, good with the little ones and easy on the eyes. He and Andi were high school sweethearts, for heaven’s sake! Why can’t they see they’re perfect for each other?
Because Andi already lost one husband to a dangerous job, and now she’s all about playing it safe, for her sake and her children’s. Being a cop is everything to Mitch. After discovering Jed’s plan, Mitch and Andi come up with their own: they’ll pretend to get engaged and then break up due to irreconcilable differences. Jed’s got his work cut out for him—because this match needs a Christmas miracle!
As Mitch strode through the doorway, Andi crossed her arms, rested her hips against the table, and gave in to the pleasure of seeing him. In tight black T-shirt, jeans and black biker boots, he looked taller and tougher and sexier than ever before. That T-shirt and his black hair made his eyes startling blue.
“Jed and Paz told me I would find you here.”
She frowned. “Is everything okay? Do they need me to take Missy off their hands?”
“No, they’re feeding her Paz’s Christmas cookies, and they said that’s keeping her out of trouble. They also said your kids won’t ever want to go home.”
Just what Jed was hoping for, she knew.
“What can I do for you?” she asked. When he grinned, she crossed her arms more tightly. “I’m very busy.”
“That’s why I’m here. Jed figured he’d keep me out of trouble by giving me a job.”
She stood straighter. “I don’t need a helper, thank you.”
“Too late. I’m on board. What do you want me to do?”
She turned away and rummaged through a carton of ornaments. “Nothing. I’ve got everything under control.” The words made her think again of her reaction to his kiss. Of her loss of control.
“Andi, walking away yesterday didn’t make me go away. Pretending to be busy here doesn’t mean I’ll disappear. Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you?”
“At the moment, you are.”
“Well, that’s a start.”
She shot a look over her shoulder and found him smiling down at her. He was so close, she could have taken a step back and found herself in his arms.
I’m Barbara, and I write small-town romance that usually includes quirky characters and a touch of humor.
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Penelope Brand’s hookup with billionaire Zach Ferguson was casual. Until he announces her as his fake fiancée to avoid scandal—and she discovers she’s pregnant. Now Zach demands they say, “I do,” for their child. But Pen won’t settle for a sham marriage. If Zach wants to keep his Lone Star lover, it’s his whole heart or nothing…
Standing before the mayor, was it any wonder the man had earned the hearts of the majority of Dallas’s female voters? Chase Ferguson was tall, his dark hair pushed this way and that as if it couldn’t be tamed, but the angle of his clean-shaven jaw and the lines on his dark suit showed control where it counted.
“Ms. Brand.” Hazel eyes lowered to a respectable survey of her person before Chase offered a hand. She shook it and he released her to signal to a nearby waiter. “Stefanie is around here somewhere,” he said of his younger sister. He leaned in. “And thanks to you, on her best behavior.”
The mayor straightened as a waiter approached with a tray of champagne.
“Drink?” Chase’s Texas accent had all but vanished beneath a perfected veneer, but Pen could hear the slightest drawl when he lowered his voice. “You’ll get to meet my brother tonight.”
She was embarrassed she didn’t know a thing about another Ferguson sibling. She’d only been in Texas for a year, and between juggling her new business, moving into her apartment and handling crises for the Dallas elite, she hadn’t climbed the Ferguson family tree any higher than Chase and Stefanie.
“Perfect timing,” Chase said, his eyes going over her shoulder to welcome a new arrival.
“Hey, hey, big brother.”
Now that. That was a drawl.
The back of her neck prickled. She recognized the voice instantly. It sent warmth pooling in her belly and lower. It stood her nipples on end. The Texas accent over her shoulder was a tad thicker than Chase’s, but not as lazy as it’d been two weeks ago. Not like it was when she’d invited him home and he’d leaned close, his lips brushing the shell of her ear.
Lead the way, gorgeous.
Squaring her shoulders, Pen prayed Zach had the shortest memory ever, and turned to make his acquaintance.
She was floored by broad shoulders outlined by a sharp black tux, longish dark blond hair smoothed away from his handsome face and the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. Zach had been gorgeous the first time she’d laid eyes on him, but his current look suited the air of control and power swirling around him.
A primal, hidden part of her wanted to lean into his solid form and rest in his capable, strong arms again. As tempting as reaching out to him was, she wouldn’t. She’d had her night with him. She was in the process of assembling a solid bedrock for her fragile, rebuilt business and she refused to let her world fall apart because of a sexy man with a dimple.
A dimple that was notably missing since he was gaping at her with shock. His poker face needed work.
“I’ll be damned,” Zach muttered. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“That makes two of us,” Pen said, and then she polished off half her champagne in one long drink.
Texas billionaire Chase Ferguson has one regret: leaving Miriam Andrix to protect her from his public life. When a snowstorm strands her in his mountain mansion, their passion reignites, and it’s too hot to resist! But reality—and scandal—arrives with the thaw. Chase turned his back on happiness once. Will he fight for what he truly wants this time?
At the entrance of Whole Foods, the automated doors swished aside and the fragrant scent of mulled cider wafted out. She lifted her head and closed her eyes to inhale her most favorite scent—autumn—when a competing smell mingled with the cider.
Sandalwood. Pine. A touch of leather… And eerily familiar. As was the voice that crashed into her like a runaway shopping cart.
She snapped her head up and her gaze collided with a man taller than her by several inches, his devastatingly handsome face broken up by the frown on his forehead and additional lines at the corners of his gray-green eyes. His jaw sported a barely-there five o’clock shadow, and his hair was in the same disarray she remembered from ten years ago—the one crooked part of Chase Ferguson that couldn’t be tamed.
“Chase. Hi.” She blinked again at the man in front of her, having the half-crazed thought that she’d summoned him with her mind. A week ago she’d received a photo of herself in an envelope she’d had to sign for. Along with the photo was a letter from the mayor of Dallas’s office—Chase’s office—that was signed by a woman’s hand. Miriam had read the two neatly typed paragraphs and tossed the letter into the trash. There was no action step for her, merely a “making you aware” note that she might be mentioned in Mayor Chase Ferguson’s upcoming campaign and “may be called upon in the future” for her cooperation.
But throwing the letter into the wastebasket hadn’t removed the memories of Chase from her head. For a solid week, she’d reflected on the summer they’d spent together, fumed anew at the senseless way he’d cast her aside and played out a few scenarios wherein she’d enjoy humiliating his mother—whom Miriam blamed in part for Chase breaking things off.
“I didn’t expect to run into you while I was here,” the man from her past was saying. It was the same deep, silken voice she remembered, but his Texas drawl was diminished, no doubt due to rigorous training from a speech coach.
“That’s my line,” she said with a flat smile, stepping aside to allow a woman pushing a stroller to go in ahead of her.
Chase palmed Miriam’s arm and physically moved her to the side of the automated door, and if she was still twenty-three and over-the-moon crazy about him, she might have said that his hand was warm and brought back memories of the summer they spent with each other, most of those days wearing as little clothing as was legal. Sometimes less.
“Yes, I suppose that would be your line.” His smile hitched at one corner and dropped like it’d never been there. He adjusted the paper grocery bag in the crook of his arm.
“What are you doing in Montana?” She had to ask. Because seriously—what?…
A Christmas Proposition will be available Dec 01, 2018.
“I need to get married…
And the only one who can help me is you.”
Trading one scandal for another, Stefanie Ferguson must marry to save her brother’s political career. Luckily, her brother’s best friend wants to help. But until this moment, Emmett Keaton has been off-limits. Now their convenient vows on Christmas Day unleash a passion too long denied. Will this marriage for scandal become a marriage for real?
Diana Rennie, daughter of a wealthy rancher, attempts to persuade mystery man Del Russell to leave his grievances behind and forgive her father for past mistakes. Her careful plan goes awry and results in a shotgun wedding and a prison sentence for Del.
Four years later, Del is back in her life with a vengeance—back for his rightful share of Diana’s ranch, back to prove he isn’t the criminal she thought he was, back to finish what the two of them started years ago in a passionate daze. And he isn’t going anywhere, no matter what beautiful, treacherous Diana does or says to try to get rid of him.
Teresa entered the room, her eyes troubled. “Signore, what–?”
“I locked her into the room and don’t want anyone to let her out.”
“Si. She is angry now, but that is good. Anger can be overcome. I do not like the way she has been these past weeks, a statue without a heart. She will learn you mean her no harm.”
It was the longest meal Del had ever sat through. The key to the bedroom door lay on the table in front of him. He vacillated between rushing up and releasing Diana from the prison of the room, and dropping the key into his pocket and leaving the house. At last he finished the cognac, stubbed out his cigar, and trudged up the stairs. Light showed beneath the door.
He entered the room prepared to be assaulted or to find it in shambles. But she surprised him yet again. She reclined on the bed, her skirt tucked around her legs, and looked at him with eyes as cool and glittering as ice water. He pushed the door shut behind him. Her expression did not change, but her chin rose.
The length of the room was between them, yet challenge ignited the air: mentally, like telegraphed messages crackling toward each other along the same wire; physically, like speeding locomotives on a collision course.
Someone tapped on the door. As if a switch had been pulled, a collision was thwarted.
“Signore–” It was Alfredo, apologetic. “Clem is downstairs. He needs the Signora’s help with the cows.”
She slid from the bed and smoothed her skirt. “Where did you put my shoes?”
Del rubbed his chin. He had veered onto a detour while she continued on at full speed.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Money and the thirst for power cause many people to go off the rails, no matter the time period. In The Queen of Paradise Valley, readers will go on a journey featuring murder, mayhem, and misunderstandings.
From the very start, Diana and Del’s lives are turned upside down by treachery. Things only become more stressful when multiple people conspire to take everything away from them. Of course, you know things will work out for them. However, their happily ever after was not an easy road to travel down.
Kidnappings, attempted murder, murder, fires, and even a run in with Baldface (bear) kept The Queen of Paradise Valley moving along in a steady pace. Whether Diana and Del were facing obstacles from dastardly outsiders or battling each other at home, quiet moments were few and far between.
Cat Dubie believes she was destined to write. Her love of words began early – she was making rhymes soon after learning to talk. With a crayon in hand she first drew stories, with a pencil she wrote them. As for reading, she was the girl who always had her nose in a book, the one who read with a flashlight under the covers or, when the moon was full, sat by a window for hours laughing, crying, loving characters whose adventurous lives wouldn’t let her sleep.
She has traveled the world in books. She has traveled back in time and into the future in books. Her keen interest in history determined the nature of her books, and the first Historical romance novel she read, settled the genre.
After working for various levels of government, she retired and now lives in the beautiful province of British Columbia, where she indulges in her need for creating stories about romance, adventure, passion, mystery, love …