Excerpt Reveal: Drunk Dial by Penelope Ward

 

Drunk Dial

By Penelope Ward

Release Date: August 21, 2017

From New York Times bestselling author Penelope Ward, comes a new, sexy standalone novel.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Look up Landon Roderick, that boy from childhood whom I’d never been able to forget—even though he so easily forgot about me—and call him.

Then again, anything sounds like a good idea when you’ve had a little too much wine before bed, right? It was supposed to be just a quick, meaningless, prank call. Instead, I went off on him—unloading thirteen years of pent-up emotions.

I didn’t think he’d call me back.

I certainly could never have anticipated the weeks of sexually tense phone conversations that followed as I got to know the man he’d become.

Turned out, Landon had never really forgotten me, either. That special connection we had was still there. I opened up to him, but there were also things about me he didn’t know. And he had his own secrets.

Over the countless hours we talked on the phone, I wondered what would happen if we actually saw each other. One night, I did something impulsive again. Only this time, I went to the airport and booked a ticket to California. We were about to find out if one phone call could bring two lost souls together or if my drunk dial really was all just a big mistake.

A complete STANDALONE.

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Excerpt

Copyright © 2017

By Penelope Ward

 

After that evening, I hadn’t heard back from him for a few days.

Then, one night, a text came in from the same phone number I recognized as Landon’s. It was the first time he’d texted me.

I looked down to find he’d sent a photo.

I gasped.

It was a heavily tatted man set against the backdrop of the ocean at sunset. Oh, my. It was him—a selfie.

Fuck. Me. He was beautiful.

I wouldn’t have even known it was Landon were it not for the blue eyes I recognized instantly. The shaggy, caramel hair I remembered from the past was now a darker shade of brown and shorter, cropped closer to his head. His arms and his chest were inked, his body so perfect that if I squinted, it almost resembled carved stone.

I couldn’t stop looking at him. My eyes wanted nothing more than to explore the ridges and valleys of his stunning body.

Was this a cruel joke?

This was not Landon!

But, it was.

With my thumb and middle finger, I kept zooming in and out, examining the details of the ink across his chest and on his arms. There was really nothing sexier than a guy with perfect arms and a full sleeve tattoo.

Even though his lips seemed fuller than I recalled, they still curved into a familiar grin that oozed confidence. The eyes and that smile were the only traces of the boy I remembered. I wished I could’ve leapt through the screen to smell him, touch him.

“Hi, Landon,” I whispered, for a brief moment talking to the boy inside, not the man in front of me.

This Landon was the polar opposite of the Ivy League yuppie image previously in my head. The only thing the man pictured might have majored in was badassery. He looked like a rockstar, a rule breaker, displaying a sense of arousing danger—someone who must have had women from all walks of life drooling over him for the sheer fact that either they couldn’t have him or shouldn’t have him. It suddenly became clear why, as he’d alluded to, a woman might have been begging him for sex. That made me wonder if he had any secret tattoos in spots I wasn’t allowed to see.

God.

A fire was burning inside of me, and I knew it was my crush exploding into a full-blown obsession.

A self-conscious feeling came over me. If I was scared to show him a picture of myself before, now I was really hesitant.

The message that went along with the photo simply read:

Now show me you.

____________________________________________

 

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list sixteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.

 

Connect with Penelope Ward

Facebook Fan Group | Facebook | Website |Twitter | Instagram

*****

Additional Books by Penelope Ward

Mack Daddy

AmazoniBooks | Nook | Kobo

Neighbor Dearest

 Amazon / Amazon UKB & N / IBooks / Kobo

Roomhate

 Amazon B & N ITunes / Kobo

Sevin

 Amazon / Amazon UKITunes / B & N / Kobo/

Stepbrother Dearest

 Amazon / B & N / ITunes / Kobo

My Skylar

 Amazon / B & N / ITunes / Kobo

Gemini

Amazon / B & N / ITunes / Kobo

Jake Undone

Amazon / B & N / ITunes / Kobo

Jake Understood

Amazon / B & N / ITunes / Kobo

*****

 

 

Excerpt Reveal: Toying With Her by Prescott Lane

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Toying with Her by Prescott Lane
Release Date: August 17th
Genre: Contemporary Romance

toyingwithher

Toying with Her, an all-new standalone from Prescott Lane is coming August 17th!!!

No one said finding love was easy, but when you invented the world’s best selling vibrator, it’s near impossible. Yep, that’s right. That little toy hidden in your bedside table is my brain child. It’s aptly named Woman on Top. And you know what they say . . . it’s lonely at the top.

So I’m headed home to my Southern roots. It’s supposed to be an extended Summer vacation — nothing more. But Rorke Weston has other plans for me. Plans that not only involve me being on top, but also underneath him.

It’s been said you never forget your first. For me, that’s definitely true. No night has ever lived up to the one I spent with Rorke.

He’s turned into quite a man. Tan from the Southern sun, and stubborn as the day is long. And there’s nothing sweeter than the swipe of his tongue.

Rorke wants his chance. The one we never had. But that was a long time ago. When I still believed in Prince Charming and Happily Ever Afters. Even ten years later, I feel a pull. And it’s not simply Rorke yanking down my panties.

Do second chances really happen? Or is my heart simply toying with me?

Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/G7qAFh

 

Excerpt:

 

Hammering the nail with one hard pound, I mutter, “Friends?”

That should be a cuss word, especially coming out of her full, pink lips. I toss the hammer aside, scanning the mostly-converted barn. Yep, I live in a barn. Well, not any barn. The barn where Sterling and I lost our virginity. I know just the spot. It’s the spot where my bed is now.

I didn’t plan it that way. In fact, I didn’t even really think about it until she showed up in town the other day. I came home, walked in, and realized I’ve designed this place around her. Crazy, but true. That woman has burned herself into the deepest parts of my soul. Deeper than even I realized. She was my first, a memory. I thought it was over. I thought we’d only ever get that one night. She had her life, and I had mine. I didn’t see this coming.

This old barn sits on the edge of my parents’ property. It sucks to be almost thirty and still living on my parents’ land. Technically, I’m not living at home, but sometimes it feels like it. Unfortunately, buying my own house on my teaching salary isn’t in the cards, so a few years ago, I started converting one of the old barns.

Every nail, every piece of wood in here has been touched by me. And it’s almost done. It’s wide open, designed that way mostly because it’s less work than putting up a bunch of walls. The only room with any privacy is the bathroom. I left the distressed rafters from the ceiling exposed and just refinished them. The original sliding barn doors have been replaced with new ones. Almost one whole wall houses my personal library. The only thing left to finish is the kitchen. The upper cabinets are in, but my only appliances are a refrigerator and microwave. So any real meals I eat come from the main house — my parents’ house. My plan is to use part of my summer vacation to finish it up.

I look over at the bed. My subconscious must have taken over with that decision. Sterling is etched into the fiber of this place. Maybe that’s the reason I haven’t ever brought a woman to see this place before? Who knows? The subconscious is a tricky bitch.

But the memories of that day and night are so vivid. It’s all flooding back now that she’s back.

I remember a buddy of mine had rushed me home my freshman year of college, making the two-and-a-half-hour drive from New Orleans in just under two. But I was too late. I wasn’t here when Levi took his last breath. Those few days are a blur. Everything is a blur until the moment I stood up at his funeral to speak; her green eyes were the only thing I saw, her whimpers the only ones I heard. I hadn’t expected her to be there. I hadn’t expected her to fly home from college to say goodbye to my brother, but she had. And I didn’t expect her to find me at my parents’ house after the funeral. I swear, there were hundreds of people there, and it was the loneliest day of my life. I had to get out of there and started walking. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but when I need to think, I tend to walk. That day, Sterling was by my side. We didn’t talk, roaming around the fields until we ended up at this old barn. It was the place that Levi and I escaped to. As little kids, we’d used it as a fort, a clubhouse. Later, it held our bikes and four wheelers.

I remember being embarrassed bringing Sterling inside. It was old and filled with our junk. The only place to even sit was an old, beat up sofa. We made good use of it, though.

I’ve never been as unprepared for something as I was that day. Unprepared to put my brother in the ground, unprepared to lose my virginity, unprepared to let her walk away.

I chuckle remembering exactly how unprepared I was when our naked bodies first touched. My brain thought “condom.” But I didn’t have one. My dick promised it’d pull out. But I had no idea the kind of willpower that would take. I swear to God, I had every intention of pulling out.

I thought for sure that she’d kill me, and quickly launched into the lamest apology in the history of the universe. Just thinking about it makes me cringe. I was never so thankful for anything in my whole life as when she kissed me to shut me up, whispering she was on the pill.

Some might think it’s a dick move to be banging a girl the day you bury your twin brother. But it wasn’t like that at all. It wasn’t cheap. I didn’t think of it as a one-night stand, even though technically it was. It’s impossible to explain. It was us clinging onto life, onto each other. Emily Brontë wrote, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” And after that night, our souls have been forever linked.

Every single second of that night is burned into my mind, my heart, my skin.

After that night, we stayed in touch for a long time — email, phone calls. But we were thousands of miles apart. And our paths never crossed again. If I was at home on break, she wasn’t. It just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. She is the one that got away. We never got our chance.

Now she’s back, and she thinks we can be friends? I spent my entire childhood and teenage years being “friends” with her.

She wants to be friends? That’s fine. I’ll be her friend. But I’ll be damned if that’s all I am.

About the Author:

Prescott Lane is the Amazon best-selling author of Stripped Raw. She’s got seven other books under her belt including: First Position, Perfectly Broken, Quiet Angel, Wrapped in Lace, Layers of Her, The Reason for Me, and The Sex Bucket List. She is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and holds a degree in sociology and a MSW from Tulane University. She married her college sweetheart, and they currently live in New Orleans with their two children and two crazy dogs. Prescott started writing at the age of five, and sold her first story about a talking turtle to her father for a quarter. She later turned to writing romance novels because there aren’t enough happily ever afters in real life.

PrescottLane

Connect with the Author:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrescottLane1

Twitter: @prescottlane1

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lfhlrh

Instagram: instagram.com/prescottlane1

http://www.authorprescottlane.com

Excerpt Reveal: Beneath the Truth by Meghan March

 

 

From USA Today bestselling author Meghan March comes the final sexy standalone set in the Beneath world of New Orleans.

I used to believe there were lines in life you don’t cross.
Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal.
Until I learned people don’t always practice what they preach.
I turned in my badge and gun and walked away from everything.
Then I got the call no one wants, and I’m back in New Orleans.
What I don’t expect is for her to be here too.
Another line you don’t cross?
Don’t touch your best friend’s little sister.
She’s always been off-limits.
Too bad I don’t follow the rules anymore.

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Excerpt:

“Fine. If you don’t want to play me, I’m sure there’s someone in this bar who will.”

She rose from the bar stool and smoothed her dress down her thighs. I swore it looked longer at the cemetery than it did right now, inching up her toned legs. The shoulders and chest were sheer black lace, as sophisticated as could be, but the lace took on a sexier edge in the dim light of the bar. I’d lay money on her being the classiest thing this place had ever seen. And damn, what those heels did for her . . .

I ripped my gaze away from her ass to focus on her face.

Her lips flattened in obstinate challenge before she strutted toward the pool table. And yeah, I used the word strutted because there was no other way to describe how she walked in those stilettos now that her attitude was flaring.

Heads turned to follow her progress, and two guys jumped off their stools to follow her.

Oh, hell no. Not a chance, assholes.

I pushed off my seat and stalked toward her. Ari’s back was to me when I stopped behind her at the cue rack. She spun around, unaware of my presence, and smacked into my chest, a pool stick trapped between us. She sucked in a breath, jerking her head up.

“Sorry. Didn’t realize you were so close.”

Years ago, she never would have lost track of where I was if we were in the same room. The realization was a blow to my ego, although not unexpected. I no longer made the cut on her priority list, and that stung.

Rather than move and give her space, I reached around her to snag a cue off the rack, letting my arm brush her shoulder.

Ah . . . there it is. Her facial expression remained static, but her involuntary shiver gave her away. Maybe I’m not off the list completely.

I didn’t know why it mattered, but after the last few brutal days, I needed something good to distract me from the shit show that was my life. And there was no doubt in my mind that Ariel Sampson was everything good.

Her spine straightened and she bobbed around me, avoiding contact in favor of racking the balls and lining them up.

“Do you want to break?” she asked.

“Ladies first.”

Ari rolled her eyes and reached for the chalk. With her stick prepped, she leaned over the edge of the table, her ass jutting out and the hem of her dress riding up her thigh.

Lord . . . I groaned silently. This was torture.

Haven’t I been through enough? I tossed the question skyward and received no sign the big man had heard me.

I tore my gaze off her ass and scanned the bar. Mistake. My fist tightened around the pool cue as a reflex, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t use it to smack every jerk in this bar back into line if they didn’t quit staring. Double standard? Sure. But I didn’t care.

With a step behind her, I blocked the most direct view and turned to glare at all of them. Thankfully, Heath’s interest was hooked on the waitress working our table. One by one, the gazes dropped away, and I turned back to Ari, marginally satisfied that they picked up what I was throwing down. Off-limits, assholes.

Ari cursed and stood up straight, leaning lightly on her pool cue. “Dammit. I had that shot.”

I scanned the green felt and found half her balls were missing. “Jesus, what were you doing? Trying to clear the table?”

Her nose went up in the air. “Trying? If I wanted to clear the table, it would be clear. It’s just angles.”

“Brainiac as always.”

Ari shrugged, but I caught a hint of a smile. “Didn’t you hear? It’s cool to be a geek now.”

I had no doubt that wherever she lived in California, she was exactly what was cool. Shit, she had every man’s attention in this bar.

“You were always cool in my book, Red. My turn.” Even though I wanted to wait for her smile, I chalked my cue and sank two shots before missing the third.

“Not bad.” Her nonchalant tone made me grin.

“I try.”

Her eyes finally locked on mine. “I succeed.”

Hell. Why was that statement so damned sexy coming from her lips?

She pushed off her pool cue and spun around to face the table again, her dress sliding up another inch as she bent over the table.

My dick pulsed against my jeans.

Heath is going to kill me.

 

 

meghanmarchpic

Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | TWITTER | PINTEREST

Excerpt Reveal + Giveaway : Ready To Run by Lauren Layne

A reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: 
a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.
READY TO RUN
I Do, I Don’t #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 22, 2017
Loveswept

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.


PRE-ORDER TODAY!

Exclusive Excerpt

Damn. Charlie hadn’t been lying about the hot blonde.

The woman walking straight toward him was all tight jeans, high heels, and confi-dence. And hot. Very, very hot.

Charlie muttered something admiring under his breath, and Luke’s gaze flicked to the man beside the woman. Tried to place him. Couldn’t.

Not too many guys around here who wore light-purple shirts and white pants with the same easy comfort that Lucky Hollow residents wore jeans and flannel.

No doubt about it—neither was from around here. Not by a long shot.

The man was a half step behind the woman, and Luke assessed that the woman was calling the shots.

His eyes narrowed as he realized that she hadn’t once wavered in her approach.

She knew what she was after:

Him.

She got closer and Luke saw that the face matched the body. Wide blue eyes, full lips, sassy shoulder-length blond hair that was just tousled enough to make a man wonder how it had gotten that way—to want to be the one to muss it.

Her gaze flicked over him, and Charlie whistled and muttered under his breath. “She just checked you out, man.”

She had indeed, but Luke was far from flattered. It hadn’t been the assessment of a woman checking out a man so much as a predator evaluating its prey.

As though she was evaluating him for . . . something.

Blondie stopped in front of him, and the second her blue eyes locked on his, Luke felt a little jolt of awareness and was irrationally annoyed. It had been a long time since he’d been quite so aware of a woman.

Once, he’d enjoyed the feeling—sexual chemistry was almost the perfect combination of pain and pleasure. A subtle punch in the gut that you wanted to experience again and again.

These days, though, he was having a hard time getting past the pain part. The shitty parts had outweighed the good parts just one time too many. Now he mostly settled for casual hookups with a divorcée a few towns over who was even less interested in com-mitment than Luke was.

He had zero use for attraction to a pretty, bold woman in high heels.

Luke noticed that for a sheer moment she had a slightly off-balance look, as though she too had felt the annoying zip of arousal when their eyes met, but she recovered quick-ly.

Pasting a sunny, generic smile on her face, she stuck out her right hand. “Luke Elliott. I’m Jordan Carpenter. This is my colleague, Simon Nash.”

Good manners had him setting down his equipment and extending his own right hand toward hers even as his brain caught on her name. Familiar, and . . .

Shit. Shit!

He managed to stop from jerking his hand back, but just barely. Instead, he gritted his teeth, gave her hand a perfunctory shake, and then fixed her with a glare. “You’re wasting your time, Ms. Carpenter. And mine.”

Blue eyes narrowed. “Aha. So you did get my emails.”

Those. The voicemails. The letters.

“Sure,” he said with a nod, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Just like I suspect you got the message that I didn’t want to be a part of your show.”

Charlie looked from the woman to Luke and back again. “Show?”

Ryan ambled over, his shit-eating grin telling Luke that this damn woman had already spilled the beans on why she was here. “Luke’s gonna be a national heartthrob.”

“International,” said the blond guy in the purple shirt.

Jordan Carpenter didn’t look at her companion, but all three firefighters did.

The other man gave the sort of easy smile that probably had him making friends easily. Luke didn’t want a new friend.

Especially not one who wanted to use his shitty romantic past for the sake of TV ratings.

_______________________________________

 

Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband.

A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she’s written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAYNew York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.

 

 

Two Gifted Ebook Copies of FROM THIS DAY FORWARD (Wedding Belles #0.5 

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Excerpt Reveal: The Beauty of Us by Kristen Proby

 

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes a sexy, new standalone contemporary romance in her Fusion Series, THE BEAUTY OF US, releasing August 22, 2017! Check out the chapter below and get to know Trevor and Riley!

 

About THE BEAUTY OF US:

New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.

Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Add to your Goodreads

And Don’t Miss the First Three Novels in the Fusion Series, LISTEN TO ME, CLOSE TO YOU, and BLUSH FOR ME!

 

 

Chapter 2

~Trevor~

I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.

Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends.

It’s really no big deal.

But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.

So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.

We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.

But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.

I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.

I have several new e-mails.

The most recent is from Riley Gibson.

Trevor,

Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.

Enjoy Portland,

Riley

I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.

And animated.

Working with her will be fun.

And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.

And that too should be fun.

After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.

I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.

They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.

I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.

Loud enough for me to hear.

“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”

“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”

“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”

“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”

“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”

“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.

“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”

“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”

The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.

Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.

“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.

I love a woman with grit.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”

“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”

“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”

“With potty mouths,” she says.

“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”

“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”

“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”

“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”

“What are you, my life coach now?”

“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”

She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”

“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”

“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”

“What’s wrong with your roof?”

“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”

I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”

She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”

I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”

“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”

“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”

She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”

And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.

Jesus.

And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.

I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.

[no ornament]

“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”

“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.

“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”

“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”

“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”

“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”

Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”

“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”

“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”

“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”

“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”

“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”

“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”

“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”

“Nope, just Coke.”

She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”

“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”

“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”

“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.

“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”

“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”

“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”

“For what?”

“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.

“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”

“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”

She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”

“I’m thirty-seven.”

“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.

“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.

“Did you really write down questions?”

“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”

“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”

“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”

“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”

“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”

“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”

“Why?”

I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”

Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”

“I thought so.”

“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”

“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”

“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”

I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”

“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”

I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”

“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”

“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”

“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”

“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.

That’s fucking sexy.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”

“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”

“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.

“Why were you really on all of those sites?”

She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”

“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”

“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”

“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”

“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.

“I know many women who like Star Wars.”

“Well, I would watch one or two.”

“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”

“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”

“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.

Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Are you always this observant?”

“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”

“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.

“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”

“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”

“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”

She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”

“There are people who still wash by hand?”

“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”

“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.

“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrée.”

She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.

“Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.

“You will.”

“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”

I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.

You sleep well tonight, Riley.”

“Okay. Bye.”

She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.

And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.

How the fuck am I going to do that?

 

Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US! You can read it here!

 

About Kristen Proby:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

 

Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

 

 

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Sneak Peek: Beautiful Mistake by Vi Keeland

 

Beautiful Mistake 

By Vi Keeland

Release Date:July 17, 2017

Available for Pre-order on iBooks, B&N, Google Play, and Kobo now!

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The first time I met Caine West was in a bar.

He noticed me looking his way and mistakenly read my scowling as checking him out.

When he attempted to talk to me, I set him straight—telling him what I thought of his lying, cheating, egomaniacal ass.

You see, the gorgeous jerk had wined and dined my best friend–smooth talking her into his bed, all along failing to mention that he was married.

He deserved every bit of my tongue-lashing and more for what he’d done.

Especially when that lazy smile graced his perfect face in response to my rant.

Only it turned out, the man I’d just told off wasn’t the right guy.

Oops. My mistake.

Embarrassed, I slunk out without an apology.

I was never going to see the handsome stranger again anyway, right?

That’s what I thought…until I walked into class the next morning.

Well, hello Professor West, I’m your new teaching assistant.

I’ll be working under you…figuratively speaking.

Although the literal interpretation might not be such a bad thing—working under Professor West.

This was going to be interesting…

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An excerpt from Beautiful Mistake…

 

The class was completely empty. I wasn’t even sure he knew I was still in my seat. If he did, he was good at ignoring me as he packed up his laptop.

“Contrary to the rumors you’ve probably heard, I don’t bite.”

I jumped when he spoke. Now that the lecture hall was no longer filled with students, the acoustics of the large space bounced his deep voice all over the walls.

I stood and began my walk of shame down to the front of the classroom. There was no doubt I owed the man an apology, even if he wasn’t a professor—a professor who would be my new boss for at least the next fifteen weeks. I wanted to kick myself in the ass for not apologizing last night before I left the bar. Now it would seem like I was only doing it because of the situation I was in.

Which was true, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t want it to seem that way.

I took a deep breath. “I’m so sorry about last night.”

His face was unreadable. “I figured you might be, right about now.”

“I obviously thought you were someone else.”

“So I assumed. You thought I was the asshole. The one with the big dick, was it?”

I shut my eyes. For the last ninety minutes, I’d replayed the entire exchange from last night over and over in my head. I thought I’d remembered everything I said, but apparently I hadn’t. When I reopened my eyes, Professor West was still watching me. His stare was pretty damn intense.

I started to babble. “My friend Ava went out with this guy Owen for a month or so. He was full of shit from day one, but she didn’t see it. Actually walked up to her when she was leaving work one night and said, ‘Do you mind if I walk you home? My mother always told me to follow my dreams.’ She fell for it, the entire act, from the first day. Then one Saturday, he was supposedly out of town on business, and she was across town running errands for her mother. She took a shortcut through Madison Square Park on her way back from the grocery store and ran into him. He was with his wife and kids.”

“And you thought I was him, apparently?”

I nodded. “She came in during my shift and started drinking Long Island iced teas. When Owen walked in, she pointed to where he was standing and said he was the one in the blue shirt.”

“And we were both wearing blue shirts, I take it?”

I couldn’t help but smile, thinking of Ava last night. “Actually, no. Ava’s not much of a drinker. Turned out she was more sloshed than I thought. Owen’s shirt was brown—not even black that could be mistaken as navy or something.”

I saw Professor West’s lip twitch.

“Anyway, I’m really sorry. I barely gave you a chance to speak, and then when I realized what had happened, I was so mortified I didn’t even stop to apologize.”

“I accept your apology for last night. Even though you shouldn’t be approaching a man in the hallway to tell him off alone, your intentions were admirable.”

I should have shut up and been grateful he’d accepted my apology. Should have. “Why can’t I approach a man in the hallway?”

He leveled me with a stare. “Because you’re five foot nothing in a loud bar, and no one would have heard you if I’d dragged you into the men’s room and locked the door.”

I folded my arms over my chest. “I can take care of myself.”

“I didn’t say you couldn’t. I said you shouldn’t put yourself in those situations.”

“But you insinuated that I couldn’t by making that statement.”

He zipped his leather bag closed. “Ms. Martin, I just accepted your apology for calling me an asshole last night. Would you like me to retract that acceptance?”

God, I really was an idiot. Being around this man seemed to turn me into a psychopath. “No. I’m sorry. I acted like a jerk, and I’d like to start over, if that’s possible.”

He nodded. “Everything prior to this morning is forgotten.”

“Thank you.”

“But this morning is not. I won’t accept lateness. Don’t let it happen again.”

I swallowed. “It won’t.”

He lifted his worn, brown leather laptop bag over one shoulder. “Meet me here at five tomorrow. We’ll go over the syllabus and the classes you’ll teach, as well as my grading rubric.”

That was smack in the middle of my shift, but I’d figure something out. “Okay.”

“Are you done for the day?”

“I am. I actually have to get to work. I’m covering Ava’s shift because she isn’t feeling too well after last night. We both work at O’Leary’s.”

“You waitress there?”

“Waitress, bartend, occasionally tell off patrons.”

That earned me a full smile from Professor West. God, he should do that more often. No, forget that. He definitely shouldn’t.

“I’ll walk out with you.”

We walked through the halls together and out to the parking lot. When we arrived at my car, I stopped. “This is me. So…five o’clock tomorrow?”

Professor West looked at my beat-up old Subaru. “You’re parked in a spot reserved for the Provost. You got a parking ticket.” He squinted. “Actually, it looks like you have two parking tickets. Was your inspection expired or something?”

Crap. “Umm…no. I keep an extra ticket in the glove compartment and stick it on my windshield when I’m forced to park illegally.”

His brows shot up. “Inventive.”

“Obviously it doesn’t always work.”

“Obviously.”

“They need more parking. When you’re late, it’s impossible to find a spot.”

He studied me. “Lateness is a frequent occurrence for you, I take it?”

“Unfortunately, it is.”

“Then I should clarify something I said earlier.”

“Oh, no, that’s not necessary. I won’t be late for your class.”

He took a step closer and leaned in. “I’m glad to hear that, Ms. Martin. But that’s not what needs clarification.”

I swallowed. God, he smells good.

“Earlier I told you I didn’t bite students.” He smiled, and I felt the wickedness from it shoot down to some interesting places. “I don’t. But I make no promises about not biting feisty TAs.”

 

 

★★★★

We hope you enjoyed this extended preview!

 

 

 

 

author-photo

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. With more than 1.5 million books sold, her titles have appeared in over eighty Bestseller lists and are currently translated in sixteen languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

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Excerpt Reveal: The Sound Of Light by Claire Wallis

The Sound Of Light

By Claire Wallis

Release Date: July 17, 2017

Pre Order: Amazon 

 

Synopsis:

My littlest girl has always been a bit peculiar. It was nothing I could ever put a finger on, but I always knew there was something inside her that made her a different kind of special. A deeper kind.

K’acy’s got a light around her, one that’ll just about knock you over, especially if you don’t see her coming. She’s got music in her soul, too. Deep, resonating music that echoes and hums, just like the notes that come from the bass guitar she’s had attached to her hip since the day she turned thirteen years old.

She’s got a hell of a secret, yes, but she does what she’s got to do to make it one worth having. She takes care of people. She changes their stories. I spent my life telling both of my girls that you always gotta do what’s right, even when it hurts, and it makes me proud to know she was listening.

I saw the way she looked at that boy on the day they met, and I knew right then that things were going to change. Two different people from two different worlds is nothing but a recipe for heartbreak, and when the lies pile higher and higher, it can change a person into something they’re not.

It took me dying all those years ago to finally figure out just exactly how special my K’acy really is, and even though I’m not with her anymore, I don’t want that boy and his family to change her. I want her to keep doing what’s right, even when it hurts.

Because that’s who she is inside. That’s her deeper kind of special.

**This stand-alone novel from Claire Wallis is intended for readers age 17 and up.**

Crowd at a concert with hands up in the air

 

Excerpt

I’m playing my StingRay again. This time, I’m by myself, in the back of a dive bar called The King’s Court. It’s my regular Wednesday-night emotional-housecleaning gig. The one I use to forget about the rest of the world. I don’t get paid to stand here, slapping my fingers against the strings in a solo performance that’s, more often than not, completely devoid of an audience much larger than a half dozen. I do it because I need to. Because it helps me forget.

Jarrod is sitting at the bar nursing a beer. He’s the only person who’s religiously here on Wednesday nights, and I like it that way. Flying under the radar is just fine with me. I don’t need “regulars”; I just need music.

The StingRay sits against the perfect pocket formed by the front of my hip, tied to me with a thick strap of leather and a set of strings that go straight to my heart. I play for two solid hours, thinking of nothing but the music coming out of me. My foot presses down on the compressor pedal from time to time, serving to both balance the sound and decompress my soul.

Then, just before I finish, I start playing the bass riff that’s been echoing through me nonstop since I shook Adam Sinclair’s hand on Monday afternoon. The moment Jarrod recognizes the song, he looks up at me. He’s never heard me play a Chili Peppers song before, and he’s wearing a look of amused bewilderment. Hell, I’m confused myself. But “Soul to Squeeze” comes out of me in an unstoppable pulse of flawless notes. And, though I don’t say them out loud, the lyrics roll through the inside of my head like they somehow belong there. It’s disconcerting. I’m gonna catch hell from Jarrod for it, that much I’m sure of. But still…when I finish the song, I feel cleansed.

“What the fuck was that?” Jarrod asks, walking up to me just after I zip my gig bag closed. I stand, sling the StingRay over my shoulder, and turn to him. I can smell the beer on his breath.

“‘Soul to Squeeze.’ Why?”

“I know what song it was, smartass. I wanna know why the hell you were playing it.”

“I don’t know. It’s just been stuck in my head for the past couple of days. I had to purge the earworm.” It feels like we’ve undergone some kind of bizarre personality flip. This time, I’m the one turning away from him, just to keep from showing him too much. Too much of what, I’m not sure.

“Earworm? Since when do you get earworms that involve Anthony Kiedis?”

“Since Monday, I guess.” I start walking toward the front door, hoping to avoid any more questions. I have no reason to feel like I have something worth hiding, but if anyone’s gonna call me out on an awkward reason for playing a particular song, it’s Jarrod. He knows I don’t play anything without purpose.

“And what happened on Monday to get this particular earworm tunneling into your little brain far enough for it play on repeat for two entire days?”

“Nothing.” I open the front door and walk out into the night, turning to the right and heading to the closest bus stop.

Jarrod coughs into his hand, spitting a rough “bullshit” out with the sound. I stop and turn on my heels, staring him down as best as I can without raising my hackles, or his. I don’t say anything.

“Fine. Don’t tell me then. But you have to know that if you don’t, I’m gonna assume all kinds of stuff. Like maybe the Chili Peppers ‘discovered’ you on YouTube and want you to come on tour with them. Ooo, no…I’ve got it! Maybe you had a crazy sex dream about Flea. Like the kind where you’re screwing on stage or something. Maybe that’s what this is all about. Which is it, K’acy? The tour or the sex dream?” He nudges me on the shoulder with his outstretched hand, like a big brother would prod his little sister. I can’t help but smile.

“It’s neither, you big douche. It’s just someone I met at work. They remind me of that song for some reason.” I see the bus coming down the street. I turn away from him again and hurry toward the stop. I don’t want to miss this one because another 43D isn’t scheduled to come for another forty-five minutes. He follows close behind me.

“You met an old person who reminds you of the Red Hot Chili Peppers? You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

“Maybe it isn’t an old person.”

A split second later, the bus meets me at the curb and the doors open. I step on, leaving him standing on the sidewalk alone. As the bus drives past Jarrod, I look out the window and see him frozen there, wearing his Kranky Records “hugs and/or drugs” T-shirt and one hell of an enormous grin.

_____________________________________

 

Author Bio:

7942379Enamored with the process of creating messy characters filled with imperfections and wicked inclinations, Claire believes that you don’t actually have to like a character to fall in love with them – a good story, after all, is best served with a hearty side of evil (just ask Disney). Claire’s first New Adult novel, Push, was released by MIRA Books on May 1st 2014. The story speaks to her appreciation of enigmatic male characters, perfectly capable of charming themselves straight into your unwilling heart. She enjoys writing about characters that are, at any given moment, both loathed and loved. You know, the ones that refuse to be forgotten.

Claire Wallis has penned hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles over the last ten years, with science playing the lead role in almost all of them. Though non-fiction writing will forever be her first love, fiction has unexpectedly swooped in, hooked her by the soul, and become her true love. As a result of this coup d’état, Claire’s writing career has made a complete U-turn, and instead of rocks, plants, insects, and microbes, she is now putting human characters in the lead.

Claire’s previous jobs include working at a limestone quarry, hawking vegetables at a farmer’s market, clerking at the dollar store, and convincing new mothers that they need to renew their subscription to that parenting magazine in order for their child to survive. She lives in Pennsylvania with her amazingly awesome husband and son.

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