Allie Boniface's Blog

December 13, 2016

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Welcome, readers! It's been a little while since I've posted here, I know, but I have exciting news: each month I'll be posting a special Free Read, both here and in my newsletter, that's a companion piece to one of my current books. Why? Well, it gives me a chance to write a prequel, or an epilogue, or a character sketch, or just delve a little deeper into one aspect of the story that I didn't before.




​Even better, along with every month's Free Read, the companion book will be on sale! (Okay, except for this month, because it's a Samhain title and Samhain still holds the right to this one). BUT I hope you'll enjoy this short story, which takes place about 6 years before the start of Winter's Wonder

Enjoy "It's In The Cards"!

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It's In The Cards

     “Want another?” Bud Howe held out a beer, dripping with ice cold water from the cooler at his feet.
    Zane Andrews shrugged. “Sure.” He finished the one he’d been holding, tossed the empty in a nearby barrel, and popped open the new one. He kicked back in the ratty recliner and took a long look around the Howe garage. Mounted deer heads hung next to Chevy signs and old, peeling pin-up calendars. The entire place smelled of diesel exhaust and sweat.
    Headlights skated across the ceiling, and Bud jumped. “Shit. My old man’s home.”
    Zane swallowed most of his beer and helped his friend hide the evidence before they beat it out the back door. Pauly Howe was about as mean as they came, and if he was home before five, that meant he’d been laid off. Again.
    “Where we goin?” Zane asked as they climbed into Bud’s beat-up Camaro, hidden around back of the garage. From here, a dirt road led straight through the woods behind the Howe’s mobile home. If Bud kept the lights off and stayed below twenty miles an hour, they could make it to the street without getting caught.
    “I don’t know. What’s going on tonight?”
    “In Pine Point? Nothin, same as any other night.” Man, if Zane had a steady job, he’d save up some money and get the hell out of here. But dropping out of high school last year had left him with little more than his hands and his winning smile to find him a job.
    That meant he had to take part-time gigs doing construction work, hauling Christmas trees, or raking leaves and plowing driveways when and where he could.
    They broke from the woods onto the south end of Main Street, where Bud gave the Camaro full throttle. Nothing but a few streetlights until they got closer to the high school, and then it looked like a goddamn party. The whole building was lit up, cars filled the parking lot, and people milled around the bleachers and the ball fields.
    “What’s going on there?” Zane rolled down the window in time to hear rock music and laughter.
    “Probably after-graduation all-nighter.”
    “Oh.” He stared at the circular drive outside Pine Point High, filled with guys and girls in town who’d actually made it through school. Zane hadn’t had the patience to sit through class after class of monotone teachers. He cracked his knuckles. He kind of wished now that he had.
Bud grinned. “Wanna crash it?” He cut the wheel so hard Zane’s teeth ground together.
    “Sure,” he said as soon as he’d peeled his cheek off the window. Then he reconsidered. He hadn’t exactly left high school on the best terms. And it wasn’t like he was rocking a full-time, six-figure job now. A second of doubt skated through him. He didn’t make a habit of going backwards in life. Walking through those halls would probably just remind him of the ways he’d screwed up.
    Bud careened into a parking spot before Zane could say he’d changed his mind. “Look at that.” Bud gestured at a group of cheerleaders holding red plastic cups and giggling. “I forgot how good-lookin’ hometown girls can be.” He ran one hand over his hair, perpetually sticking up in the back, and grabbed a wrinkled pack of gum from the console. “Want a piece? In case, ya know...” He grinned again at the giggling girls.
    “Nah. I’m thinkin’ I’ll be doing good tonight if I don’t get slapped.” He’d left more than a few broken hearts behind him. If he ran into Candy Adams or her best friend Chelsea, it might be drama central.
    Bud chuckled as they climbed from the car. “What you need to do is find someone who doesn’t know you yet. Grab her, kiss her, and win her over with those baby blues, the way you used to.”
    Zane shook his head. “Sure. Like that’ll happen.”

*****

    Becca Ericksen looked over her shoulder at the teachers clustered near the gymnasium door. “What if I get caught here? I’m not a senior.”
    “Who cares?” Her sister Ella fussed with her blonde extensions as she surveyed the gym, hung with disco lights and streamers. “What’ll they do, send you home? School’s over. It’s not like they can suspend you or take points off your perfect GPA.” She tugged the vee in her T-shirt a little lower, until the edge of a black lace bra peeked out. “Ooh, there’s Jason Kinderhall. That’s who I’m going home with tonight.” She propped her hands on her hips. “How do I look?”
    Becca resisted the urge to say Like a centerfold, because Ella would probably take it as a total compliment. “Like someone Jason Kinderhall would want to go home with.”
    Ella tossed her extensions and smiled. “Good. Now, please go have some fun of your own. Isn’t that why you came?”
    “I guess.” Becca frowned. And to prove to her stupid, cheating ex-boyfriend that she didn’t care at all that he’d left her for slutty Samantha Paulsen. She lifted her chin. Maybe she ought to find a Jason Kinderhall-type of her own.
    She pulled out her phone and walked into the school’s main lobby. The All-Night Party following graduation was a tradition almost as old as Pine Point High itself. Ella was right; juniors and even sophomores crashed it all the time, both to prove they could, and because there weren’t a lot of other ways to spend a Saturday night in this town.
    She leaned against the wall between a fortune teller and a tarot card reader. You coming tonight? she texted Mel and Katrina, her two best friends.
    Can’t. Babysitting, Mel sent back at once.
    I’ll try, Katrina replied a few seconds later. No car right now.
    “Would you like a reading?” the woman at the tarot card table asked. She had a multi-colored turban wrapped around her hair and earrings that dangled to her shoulders.
    “I don’t..." Becca began. Then she reconsidered. “You know what, sure. What the heck.”
    The woman picked up the deck and began to shuffle the cards. “Think about a question you’d like answered,” she said in a soft, musical voice.
    Becca glanced around.
    “Any question you’d like,” the woman went on as she placed the cards on the table. “It’s important to focus while you cut the cards.”
    Becca waited a moment, reached down, and split the deck in two. Will I ever meet a guy who takes my breath away?
    Okay, maybe that was a silly question. But tarot cards at a high school party were kind of silly too, right? And why not ask? Did it exist, a guy who could actually bring a girl to her knees with blind desire? She kind of doubted it. The few guys she’d dated so far were nice enough, but their kisses sure didn’t make her lose her mind.
    The woman lifted five cards from the deck and laid them on the table in a cross figure. She tapped one finger to her chin and then smiled as she pointed to the card in the center, a lonely-looking man holding a lantern. “This is the present. The Hermit card. It is where you are right now in relation to your question.”
    Hermit? That didn’t sound very promising. Becca shifted from foot to foot.
    “It suggests that you are doing some soul-searching on your own, and that you don’t mind being alone as you focus on the journey ahead.”
    That wasn’t actually too far off. Becca stuck her hands in her pockets and waited.
    “These are your past influences.” The woman pointed to the card on the left. “The Tower card, but reversed. This suggests that in the past, you’ve avoided risks or taking chances, making major changes, anything that might cause harm or failure.” She gave Becca a long look, as if waiting for an affirmation.
    Becca’s toes squirmed in her flip-flops. “Um, maybe that’s a little like me.” Or a lot. What was wrong with avoiding risky situations? Nothing at all, in her book. Except maybe that’s why her sister was the one with all the crazy stories-of-a-lifetime, while Becca was the one who listened to them.
    “This is your future,” the woman continued, pointing to the card on the right. “The Sun card. The Sun suggests warmth, success, good things in your future.”
    Now they were getting somewhere. Becca leaned in.
   “This bottom card, the fourth card, is the reason behind your question. It is the Empress, but reversed.” The woman gave a slight frown. “This means that you often rely on someone else for your guidance. You need to trust your own inner voice. You asked the question because you doubt the answer.”
   Well, that might be a little bit true. “But what is the answer?” Becca asked, growing impatient. Would she meet someone who took her breath away, or not?
   The woman looked at the card on the very top, two naked figures standing under an angel, and smiled broadly. “Ah. The Lovers. This is your potential. This card means that you have someone very special waiting for you. A unique, powerful connection that will surprise you.” She folded her fingers. “I hope you are ready for it.”
    Becca studied the card. A unique, powerful connection? Sure. Like that would ever happen. These cards were probably fixed to tell every hopeful teenage girl the same thing.
    “Thanks,” she said, and found a dollar in her pocket to drop in the woman’s tip jar. She shook her head and walked outside. Like a deck of cards could predict the future.
    “Whoa!” A pair of strong hands grabbed her just before she collided with someone.
    A very tall someone.
    A very good-looking someone.
    Her heart stuttered as she looked up into eyes so blue, she could drown in them.
    “Hey there, beautiful.” Zane Andrews said with a wink. Becca’s knees went weak. Oh good Lord above. They’d never spoken before. He probably didn’t even know who she was. He was two years older than her, maybe three, and rumor had it he’d dropped out last spring, a month before graduation. Now here stood Mr. Bad Boy himself, with his cleft chin and muscles upon muscles, his mile-long reputation of breaking half the female hearts in Pine Point High, a drop-dead gorgeous devil who’d once been suspended for his artistic talent of drawing dicks of all shapes and sizes on every locker room wall.
    In both the boys’ and the girls’ locker rooms.
    “Cat got your tongue?” he asked. He hadn’t yet let go of her shoulders. Without warning, he bent down and kissed her. Sure, strong, full lips claimed hers. A delicious slip of tongue moved over and inside her mouth, teasing her, tasting her, as a faint scent of his cologne wafted between them.
    Becca closed her eyes and was pretty sure that the entire world shifted under her feet in one single heartbeat.
“Guess it’s just me that’s got your tongue, huh?” he said when he finally broke away. He winked again. “Not that I mind.”
    Breathless, boneless, unable to speak, all she could do was stand there on the back steps and watch as he walked inside. Her mouth tingled. The space between her legs tingled.
    ...you have someone very special waiting for you. I hope you are ready for it...
    Becca ran her fingers over her lips. Five seconds had just rocked her sixteen-year-old world. Maybe she needed to give those tarot cards a little more credit.
    Zane turned around and caught her staring. He pointed to himself, then to her, and even through the glass door, she could read his lips.
    One day, sweetheart. You and me. One day…

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I hope you enjoyed this read! Happy Holidays to my wonderful, faithful readers. I hope you have a warm, safe, happy December with all the people who matter most to you :)  And if you never got a chance to read Winter's Wonder, maybe it's the perfect gift for yourself this year :)  Picture
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Published on December 13, 2016 16:29 • 6 views

October 27, 2016

Picture Last post of the week, readers, but don't forget to visit the Orphaned Wildlife Center, my inspiration for writing about animals and sharing excerpts with you all. The OWC does amazing work, and I hope you're following them on Facebook so you can see the antics of all their furry residents. It's a daily pick-me-up, for sure!

Today's animal excerpt comes from Miracle of Love, the holiday novella in my Hometown Heroes series. All the Hometown Heroes books stand alone, so you don't need to read them in order. Miracle of Love takes places during a blizzard on Christmas Eve, in a favorite local bar where some hometown heroes, and some strangers passing through town, have gathered for the night. And it just so happens that some unexpected animals show up to join them; namely, two donkeys who've lost their way in the storm:
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“No,” Finn said as he opened the door. “You are not bringing Doc Eller’s donkeys into my bar.”
“One of ‘em’s got a lame foot,” Lucas said. Snow swirled in eddies around their feet, and Annie shivered. “And they’re not blanketed.”
Julia looked from the guys to Annie and back again. “Donkeys?”
“You might think this is unusual,” Annie said, “but you’d be wrong.” She shook her head. “Finn, you have to put them somewhere,” she called across the room. She turned back to Julia. “They get out every so often. Jerry Eller has a farm up past Franny’s bed and breakfast.”
“And he has donkeys?” Brady asked.
“They’re guard donkeys.” Annie’s cheeks flushed.
“Guard donkeys?”
Finn stormed back to the bar, jaw twitching. “Try not to let them mess up my place too badly, will ya?”
Mick held open the door while Lucas led the animals inside. Annie grabbed a handful of towels from behind the bar and went over to help. The poor creatures, only about as tall as her shoulder, looked up at her from baleful eyes. She handed Mick a towel and together they began to rub the snow from their soft brown coats. He bumped her arm a couple of times, and sparks went all the way north to her shoulder and south to her girl parts.
“Unbelievable,” Finn said from behind the bar. “Welcome to Crazytown, everyone. We are officially off our rockers here.”
Julia smiled. “I don’t know about that. Looks to me like you’re kind-hearted people who take in any strangers from a storm, man or beast. Like I said, Lindsey Point’s a place I’d like to live someday.”
Finn shook his head, but he pulled two pots from a cabinet and filled them with water. “They okay?” he asked.
Annie finished drying one donkey and looked at its hooves. “I think so. Any of you have Doc Eller’s cell number? So we can tell him they’re here again?”
“They break through their fence every so often and take a walk down Main Street,” Lucas explained. He took the pots of water from Finn without a word and set them on the floor near the door. “Doc bought them a couple years ago to guard his cattle herd.”
“Now that I’ve never heard of,” Gabe said. “Guard dogs, yes, guards with rifles, yes, but guard donkeys? That’s a new one.”
“They’re pretty effective,” Lucas said. “Doc said he’s thinking about getting two more next year.”
“Then he better build a stronger fence,” Finn grumbled.
Annie stroked one donkey’s side, feeling its solid warmth. It snuffled her hand as if seeking food. “Sorry, buddy,” she said in a quiet voice. “I think you’re stuck with water for now. If we ask Finn for anything else tonight, he might go ballistic.”
Mick smiled and ran his hand over the other donkey’s head. “Guess this is one of the stranger things that’s happened in the Great White recently.”
“It’ll make a good story to tell your little one,” Annie said. She leaned down and spoke to Julia’s belly. “A few days before you were born, your mommy ended up in a small town bar where the power went out and the locals danced to the Beach Boys and rescued two wandering donkeys.”

**********

Super-cool announcement!! Miracle of Love is on a limited-time $0.99 sale, so you can read this story in its entirety for less than you'd probably spend on a cup of coffee. Find out more at any of these retailers:

Amazon
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​Apple iBooks  
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Published on October 27, 2016 21:00 • 9 views

October 26, 2016

Picture Ah, Winter's Wonder: this whole book is about animals! Becca is the manager of a local animal shelter who has little time for anything but rescuing strays and finding them homes. Zane would love to tear her away from her work for a night or two (and tear off her clothes while he's at it), but it seems like some furry calamity always gets in the way. To his surprise, though, a stray dog (see a theme here in my books?) ends up saving both Zane and Becca on what becomes one of the coldest and most treacherous nights of the year:
**********

She pressed back the flaps of the box as far as she could and took another look inside. Bony. Matted. And they smelled of their own urine and feces. But beneath all that, she could see beautiful calico markings. They weren’t big, though she couldn’t tell if their size came from malnutrition or youth.
“Okay, babies,” she murmured, “we’re going to give this a try.” She waited a moment. They didn’t hiss up at her or lay their ears flat, all signs of feral cats. They didn’t do anything at all. She touched one of them. It flinched, its coat rippling with the effort of trying to move away from her. She touched the other. No movement at all. Slowly, she ran her fingers down its spine. Then again. It blinked at her and opened its mouth without making a sound.
Becca slipped both hands under the cat and lifted it out of the carrier. It didn’t wriggle or fight or do anything at all. She sat on the edge of her desk chair and continued to pet it, ignoring the greasy mats in its coat and the horrible stench it gave off. After a moment, the other cat poked its head out of the carrier to see what had happened to its companion.
“Curious, baby?” she said. “You’re safe now. Nothing’s going to hurt you here.” She kept her voice low. She continued to pet the cat in her lap. A minute passed. Jultio returned with the heating pad and lamp. “Can you set up one of the cages in the back room with those inside? There are some clean towels and blankets in the hall closet too.”
He nodded. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know. They’re malnourished, for sure, and probably have worms and mites, but they’re not as bad as I thought they would be.” Janet would be here soon, she hoped, and she could turn over the medical stuff, the serious stuff, to her. “They’re just so cold, both of them.” The one in her lap had started to shake, though whether from nerves or a low body temperature, she couldn’t tell.
Julito left, and Becca reached toward the cat in the carrier. Its head ducked down again, but she reached for the soft spot behind its ears. “I ended a date early for you two,” she said aloud. “An honest-to-goodness date, with a guy that’s hotter than anyone I’ve ever gone out with, and who was about this close—” she stopped petting the cat long enough to make an inch sign with her thumb and forefinger, and the animal looked reproachfully up from the box, “—to taking off my clothes.” She bent close to the cat in her lap. “Am I crazy?” Yes, she answered herself. I am most definitely crazy. Ella would never let her hear the end of it.
Then, at exactly the same time, both animals started purring. Rusty, broken, as if they hadn’t made the sound in a long time—maybe ever—the rumble broke from both their throats. Becca started to cry.


**********
If you'd like to read more, Winter's Wonder is available on all major retailers. I hope you enjoy! It's the perfect beginning to the upcoming holiday season....

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Published on October 26, 2016 21:00 • 5 views

October 25, 2016

Picture If you followed my blog earlier this year, you might remember I posted a series about the reality behind my book Soldier of Love, about a war veteran who comes home but struggles with PTSD as he's trying to assimilate back into civilian life. Writing this book was one of the toughest but most rewarding stories I've tackled so far, because of my research into veterans and PTSD and the things I learned. For many vets, a service dog provides them with a way to deal with their struggles and diagnoses while also re-entering everyday life. For Heath, the stray who shows up at his doorstep does just that:
**********


Heath froze as a fat skunk waddled from the underbrush.
“Oh, no. Oh, shit.” He’d been sprayed once as a kid and never forgot the horrible smell. It had lingered on his skin for days. I’m not a threat, he tried to telepathically tell the animal. You have a whole beach and a whole woods to walk around in.
But the skunk didn’t get the message. It waddled closer, then stopped, sniffed, and raised its tail to the sky.
Heath turned, ready to run. If he got a good enough jump, he might be out of range when the animal did let loose. Then something else rustled. Not another one. Leave it to him to stumble upon a pair of lovebird skunks pissed off and ganging up on him. He glanced back in time to see the three-legged stray dog hop toward the skunk. It growled, its teeth bared. Then, to Heath’s utter surprise, the skunk turned around. The dog barked, and at that, the skunk waddled back into the woods as fast as it could.
A rush of breath left Heath’s lungs. “Thanks, buddy.”
The dog eyed him. Heath expected it to growl again, but it must have recognized him from all the scraps he’d tossed it, because it hopped toward him with its tail wagging. Funny-looking thing, borderline ugly, black with some brown along its haunches and bright yellow eyes.
Heath reached out, and to his surprise, the dog let him pet it. He could feel every bone, ribs and hips and skull, and his hand came away caked with dirt and sand. “You’re a mess, buddy.”
The dog barked in response, though whether agreeing or protesting, Heath couldn’t tell. He squatted down and petted it again. This time the dog leaned into him, as if it hadn’t felt human touch in a long time. Maybe ever.
“I’m a mess too,” he added. His legs still shook with leftover adrenaline and the effort of bolting through the woods, and after a minute he dropped to a seat. He’d probably ruin a brand new pair of pants, but it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t be wearing them again anytime soon.
Two seagulls swooped low overhead, squawking and searching for food. Somewhere behind him, Heath could hear the low rush of cars driving by. Other than that, silence wrapped around him. His eyes drooped with exhaustion. The dog nestled next to him and nudged Heath’s leg with its nose.
He looked around, taking stock. Possibly, he was trespassing. Probably, he’d wake up with one hell of a backache. But right now, he didn’t have the energy to move. He yawned. The dog rested its chin on his leg, and that was all it took. Heath curled onto his side, found a swell in the ground to rest his head, and went to sleep.

**********

Soldier of Love is available right now at all major retailers, if you'd like to read the whole story. Animals really can change and save our lives, can't they? 

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Published on October 25, 2016 21:00 • 3 views

October 24, 2016

Picture Eddie West, the hero of The Promise of Paradise, has been called many delicious things by readers, but my favorite is "drool-worthy." Yum, and yes he is. But he also has a soft side, which Ash, the heroine, gets to see the morning he rescues a stray kitten:

**********
Eddie stood in the hallway, a hangdog look on his face. By himself. Ash peered over his shoulder. No model-thin woman hovered behind him. No scent of leftover perfume hung in the air, either. Ash narrowed her eyes. “What’s going on?”
Eddie raked his fingers through his hair, making it stand on end. Barefoot, he wore a pair of frayed sweats, cut off at the knees, and an old Patriots jersey with the sleeves torn off. A fuzz of pillowcase was stuck to his chin, and Ash had to pin her arms to her sides to keep from reaching up to brush it away.
“Can you help me?”
“With what? Sounds like you’re starting up a circus down there.”
“No, it’s…” He glanced over his shoulder, and worry wrinkled his face. When he looked back at her again, she thought she might fall right inside those eyes, those pools of blue, and not come up for a week.
“I found a kitten.” He ducked his chin. “Outside.”
“A what?”
“A kitten. A really small one. It was hanging around last night, and then when I went out to get the paper this morning it was still there, sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. Soaking wet.”
“So you brought it inside?” Ash began to smile. Not a woman after all down there. Just a scared fluff of fur that her strapping, six-foot neighbor had decided to bring in out of the storm. Oh, hell. She was already halfway to falling for this guy. Now he had to turn into a total softy on her?
Eddie shrugged. “Well, it was sort of…limping around. And crying. And I thought if I left it out there I’d be about the worst person in the entire world, so…”
Ash took one step into the hallway. “And now you can’t catch it.”
“Yeah. Thought I’d keep it in the bathroom, but it got out.”
“Come on.” She pushed past Eddie and made her way down the stairs barefoot. She was standing in front of his door before she considered if she should have changed into something more substantial than a cotton robe that barely came to her knees.
“I think he’s under the chair,” Eddie said. As they walked inside, he pointed to a leather recliner in the corner.
Ash tiptoed over and kneeled down, wondering if the breeze on the backs of her thighs meant her robe wasn’t covering much. She readjusted. “I don't see anything.”
“Well…” Eddie turned in a slow circle. “I closed the door. He couldn’t have gotten far.”
Ash pushed herself back up and leaned over a blue corduroy sofa with its tags still attached. A dust ball danced across the hardwood, but no cat. She looked under the end table, and behind Eddie’s entertainment center, which took up half the living room with its enormous television.
Nothing.
“Maybe in the bedroom?” She felt funny looking in there.
“Maybe.” Eddie strode past her down the hall. He whistled under his breath, a meek little coaxing tune that made her smile.
Ash hung back and watched as he looked in the corners of his sparsely furnished bedroom. This place could definitely use a woman’s touch. Someone had hung navy blue curtains on the windows, but otherwise the walls remained bare. A desk and matching chair were the only other pieces of furniture she could see, besides the box spring and mattress lying on the floor. A queen size, she noticed, not too big and not too narrow. Really, just the perfect size for two people to curl up in.
“Ash?” Eddie waved a hand in front of her face. “You still there? Thought you were gonna help me look.”
“Oh. Sorry.” She glanced around at a faint meow. Eddie cocked his head. The meow came again. “Bathroom.” In an instant, he had darted past Ash, and a moment later he emerged holding a soggy ball of black and white. “Got him.”

**********

Want to read more? The Promise of Paradise is actually FREE on all retailers right now, so you can read without spending a penny. And remember that I'm posting animal excerpts from my books all week long here to raise awareness of the Orphaned Wildlife Center, so please visit their website or Facebook page if you have a chance :) 

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Published on October 24, 2016 21:00 • 17 views

October 23, 2016

Hey gang, if you follow me on social media, you already know I have the privilege of sponsoring the Orphaned Wildlife Center's 2017 calendar. And if you've never heard of the OWC, check them out! They are an amazing 3-person team who both rehabilitate wildlife with the goal of returning them to their natural habitats, AND provide a home to some very lucky, very loved, very LARGE bears.  Below are some pictures from the visit I took to the OWC last year. In honor of animal rescue, and general animal love, I'm devoting this week on my blog to those books I've written that feature a furry character. If you haven't read them, maybe you'll want to check them out ;) And I do hope that you hop over to the Orphaned Wildlife Center's website and consider ordering a calendar or two (they're almost out, so hurry!). Make sure to Like them on Facebook too, so you can see videos of their bears interacting with each other and their human caretakers. 

I'll see you back here tomorrow with my first animal excerpt of the week!
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Published on October 23, 2016 21:00 • 3 views

October 7, 2016

Picture Happy Friday, everyone! So I'm starting something new this month: one Friday each month, I'll be posting a "first kiss" scene here from one of my books. Today's featured kiss is from the very first book in the Pine Point series, Summer's Song. Enjoy! 

Blurb: 

What if everything you knew about your past turns out to be…wrong?
Ten years after leaving home, the last thing Summer Thompson expects is to inherit her estranged father’s half-renovated mansion. And the last thing she wants is to face the memories of the night her brother died—sketchy as they may be. Now a San Francisco museum curator, she plans to stay east just long enough to settle the estate and get rid of the house. Until she finds it occupied by a hunky handyman who’s strangely reluctant to talk about his past.
Damian Knight has something to hide: his mother and sister from a brutal stalker. They’ve found a measure of peace and carefully guarded safety in Pine Point. Yet when the lonely, haunted Summer steals his heart, he finds himself opening up to her in ways he should never risk. Especially to a woman who’s planning to return to the west coast—after selling their refuge out from under them.
Summer’s mounting flashbacks leave her confused—and more determined than ever to find out the truth behind her brother’s death. But in a small town full of powerful secrets, finding out the truth could cost everything -- even their lives. 

First Kiss: 

        Damian reached over and brushed a strand of hair from her forehead. Summer's skin sizzled. He left his hand resting against her cheek, and she wanted to lean into it, to feel the impression of his palm deep down, where she'd felt cold and empty for so long. 
        "You're..." He didn't finish the thought. Instead he leaned over and lifted her chin. Hungry lips met hers, and she wasn't sure in the next instant whose hands moved first or whose voice rumbled low in the throat. All she knew was that she couldn't get close enough to him. 
        Their legs tangled. His fingers entwined with hers. One thumb stroked the tender skin of her palm before reaching down to caress a soft spot at the small of her back. She ran a hand over his hair, over the soft ridges in his ear and the bulk of his shoulder. He murmured something into her skin, a humming that set her nerves on fire. She let her head fall back, let him move from her ear to her neck to her collarbone in steps so slow and sweet she thought she might die from anticipation. Pinks and blues danced behind her eyelids. 
       She didn't want to open her eyes when he pulled back and let his hands rest on her waist. She wanted his mouth on hers again. Hell, she wanted his mouth in other places, and if it meant bare floor and sawdust and a sleeping bag, then so be it. But he didn't move. When she finally gave in and peeked, she saw him staring at her. 
        "Sorry." One dimple popped out. "That probably wasn't what you had in mind when you asked me to stay for dinner."

*****

Haven't read Summer's Song yet? You can purchase it today at your favorite retailer :) 

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Published on October 07, 2016 13:00 • 7 views

September 5, 2016

Picture I've been dabbling in the world of Facebook Live Video, so if you'd like a peek, stop by my author page on Facebook this Wednesday, September 7, at 8:00 pm EST. I'll be reading a snippet from The Promise of Paradise, which is currently FREE on all retailers. If you're around, please stop by and say hello!

​Amazon: http://bit.ly/ParadiseKindle
B&N: http://bit.ly/ParadiseNook
Kobo: http://bit.ly/ParadiseKoboBooks
Apple: http://bit.ly/ParadiseonApple
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Published on September 05, 2016 18:02 • 12 views

August 18, 2016

Picture Hello readers! It's officially less than ONE MONTH until Autumn Allure releases, and I'm thrilled that early reviewers are saying this about it:

"A great summer read...a sweet romance between a perpetual party boy and the local librarian who bond over his four year old daughter."

"Great book! I fell in love with it and couldn't put it down until the very end!"

 "I really loved this book, it was heartwarming and sexy."




Today, I'm sharing an excerpt, and then you'll find the giveaway question below. This scene is from early in the book, when Maxine has just moved into Nate's house to help take care of his 4-year-old daughter, Autumn, until Autumn's aunt returns from a missionary trip. Hope you enjoy it! 
********************************************

Max walked inside on her tiptoes and then wondered why she was bothering to be quiet. Autumn would see her in a moment. She stopped inside the kitchen of the farmhouse, taking stock. It was bigger than the one at her mother’s. Actually, the whole house was bigger, probably by almost half, but it was also older, with crooked walls and creaky floors and a front door that didn’t close securely. The kitchen itself looked out onto the front lawn and Pine Point Lake. Wallpaper with fruits and vegetables covered every inch.

The living room stretched almost the entire length of the first floor, with a small half-bath to the right, stairs to the second floor, and French doors that she guessed opened into the guest room and bathroom, where Nate said he slept.

A funny feeling washed over her. She’d be sleeping upstairs, just above Nate. She wouldn’t see him, of course, but he’d be there. Did he sleep in the nude? She usually did, although for the next two months it would be pajamas all the way. She flushed at the thought and then put it out of her head. We’re roommates, that’s all. It was practically a business arrangement. Which meant in no way should she be thinking about Nate Hunter sleeping in the nude.

Even if he did have a pretty good body and a smile that lit up the room.

She shook the thoughts from her head and walked over to the only other room on the first floor. Autumn sat inside, her back to the doorway. Her tiny voice recited a story Max had read at story time the other day.

She remembers almost all of it, Max thought with surprise. She knocked on the open door. “Autumn?”

The little girl turned. Her mouth fell open, and she dropped the book. “Miss Max!” She scrambled to her feet and wrapped her arms around Max’s legs.

“I guess that’s hello?” Nate said from behind them.

“I guess so.” She hugged Autumn back and sank to her knees.

“What are you doing here?” The girl looked from Max to Nate and back again.

“Well,” Max said as she crossed her legs, your dad and I—Did Autumn call Nate Dad yet? She had no idea. “I’m going to be staying here in the house for a little while,” she said instead. She’d worked out a reason in her head on the drive here, an explanation that a child would understand, but now the words tied her tongue. “Do you think that would be alright?”

Autumn nodded, her eyes wide. “Do you think you could read to me sometimes? Like at the library?”

She smiled. “I’m sure I could.” She waited, but there were no other questions about sleeping arrangements or how long Max would be staying. She supposed to a four-year-old, those details didn’t matter...

“Rachael bought a bunch of groceries yesterday.” Nate broke into her thoughts. “We can come up with something for dinner.”

“What do you like?” The question sounded heavy with sexual innuendo, and Max felt herself blush. Get a grip on yourself.  “Or maybe I should ask what Autumn likes? Four-year-olds tend to be pickier.” She looked over her shoulder. Autumn stood in the spare room with her teddy bear held tight to her chest.

Max walked into the kitchen and opened a cabinet. “Where do you keep the pots and pans?”

“Uh, the other one. To your right. But I don’t think she’ll eat it if it’s warm. She seems to have an issue with that.”

“I can give it a try.” Max squatted and opened the other cabinet. She found one frying pan and one medium-sized pot. Neither had a lid. “Do you have anything else to cook in?”

“I think there might be a baking sheet. Somewhere.”

She looked up. Nate leaned against the refrigerator with a sheepish expression. “Your parents still come up here, don’t they? I’m surprised your mom didn’t keep this place fully equipped.”

“She did. I, uh, kind of threw a few things away.”

“Like pots and pans?”

“And maybe a few plastic containers. And a couple of plates.”

Max stood and started unwrapping a loaf of bread. “Why on earth are you throwing things away?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t feel like washing them.”

She didn’t know whether to laugh or run for the hills. Instead she bit her lip and tried not to smile as she took the package of cheese and carton of milk he handed her from the fridge. “I see. Well, I don’t mind washing dishes, so maybe I’ll pick up a few things next week to restock.”

“You don’t have to.”

“No. But it’ll make things a tad easier.”

“You think I’m an idiot.”

“I don’t.” At that, she did laugh. “I think you’re a bachelor who’s used to living by himself and whose sister or mother took care of the household chores for most of your life.”

He smiled. “That’s about right.”

She glanced over her shoulder at Autumn. “What do you say we change that up a little? It’d be good for her to see her father using a little elbow grease in the kitchen.”

He tugged at the bill of his baseball cap. “I guess I could try. If you’ll help me.”

“Deal. I’ll help you learn your way around a kitchen, and you convince my mother I’m not a lost cause when it comes to men.”

At that, his smile disappeared. His gaze moved from her face to her hips, lingering for longer than a second on her breasts. “I won’t have any trouble doing that,” he said, and a squiggly feeling moved through her.

Is he flirting with me?

No. He was being nice, the way he probably was to people at the bar, the same way she was being nice by moving in and helping out with Autumn. Silly to think it could be—would be—anything more. She found some paper plates in a cabinet and proceeded to make them each a cold cheese sandwich. Nate opened a bag of corn chips that weren’t too stale, Max sliced an apple, and the three of them ate outside as the sun went down.
********************************
This book will release on September 15, but it's also available for pre-order now, if you just can't wait!

Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
Apple iBooks
Kobo Books 

And now for today's giveaway question: What is one of your earliest memories from when you met your significant other? Do you remember where you were or what you were doing? Did you think, when you first met him/her, that you'd end up falling in love? Share your story, and I'll choose one winner randomly from everyone who comments to win a $5 Amazon gift card. Can't wait to hear! 
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Published on August 18, 2016 21:00 • 10 views

August 11, 2016

Picture Welcome back, readers! I hope you're enjoying your summer.....is anyone watching the Olympics? I think my husband is one of the biggest fans. He watches everything from the prime-time swimming and gymnastics finals at night to the dressage, rowing, and judo that are on in the middle of the day. It's exciting to watch, isn't it? Especially when underdogs emerge. There have been some scary moments too, though, like when the Dutch cyclist crashed or the French gymnast broke his leg vaulting. Yikes. 

Still, it's fun to get swept away for a couple of weeks during the competition. I think I've asked this question before, but it's worth repeating, especially now. For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card today, answer me this:

What's your favorite Summer Olympics sport to watch? 

One lucky commenter will be chosen randomly from everyone who chimes in, so stop back tomorrow to see if you're a winner. 

*****

P.S. We're just about a month away from the release of Autumn Allure, so I'll be posting lots of excerpts in the next 4 weeks. Please stop by and enjoy!  Picture
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Published on August 11, 2016 21:00 • 6 views