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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Spotlight: Excerpt of Love Times Infinity by K.L. Ramsey




Author: K.L. Ramsey
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer: Jessica Greeley

The last thing Karlie Angel wants to do is travel home to attend her younger sister’s wedding. As if catching her boyfriend in bed with her little sister wasn’t humiliating enough, now she must watch them say, “I do.” Karlie has given up on love, men and her own happily ever after. She just wants to get this nightmare wedding over with and head back out of town. But she didn’t count on Drew Jackson.

Drew had been in love with Karlie since senior year of high school, but she belonged to Jake Ashbrook then. Now, he sees Karlie’s return as his only chance to claim her. He just needs to convince Karlie to let him into her heart. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words, especially when Karlie’s past comes back to haunt her. Drew must find a way to keep her safe and convince her not to run again.

Love Times Infinity is the first book of The Relinquished Series.

“Hey there,” he greeted. “You’re up. I was gonna let you sleep in. You must be tired.” He grimaced with his last statement.

“Yeah, well, someone didn’t let me get much sleep last night.” She winked at him.

“Um, sorry about that.” He crossed the kitchen, handing her a mug of coffee with cream and sugar. “I know that I can be a little demanding. I hope it wasn’t too much, baby.” He leaned in and kissed her. “How’s your coffee? I saw how you took it last night with dinner. Hope I got it right.”

God, she loved that he paid that much attention and took care of her. She went up on her tiptoes and kissed him.

“Yes, perfect. Everything was perfect. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I kind of like you being so bossy in bed. It’s hot when you talk dirty to me.” She started to sip her coffee, but he took it away from her. He put both of their coffees on the counter and pulled her into him.

“Well, I guess it’s good that you like me bossy because that is all I know how to be with you in my bed. Baby, I just couldn’t get enough of you. If I am being totally truthful, I’m hard right now.” He ground his erection into her stomach.

She decided a distraction was in order, if she wanted any kind of nourishment. Good Lord, but the man was built for sin.

“Do I smell bacon?” Yeah, that would work. He smiled, seeming to know her ploy of distraction.

“Yeah, I thought you’d be hungry after last night.” He winked at her and started to make her a plate.

“I can do that for myself,” she said, shooing him away.

“No, I like taking care of you, Karlie. You will just need to get used to me doing things for you.” She didn’t want to feel hopeful about what he just said. She didn’t want to read too much into their relationship or whatever this was that they were doing. But she couldn’t help but feel anything but hope in what he said to her. He wanted to take care of her.

She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his shoulder, pressing her front to his back.

“Mmm, baby, if you keep that up we won’t be eating breakfast.”

Her hands dipped lower, cupping his cock and rubbing him through his boxer briefs.

“Baby,” he growled, turning to lift her up to sit her ass on the kitchen table. He started kissing up her neck, standing between her spread legs.

“Wrap your legs around me,” he said, taking her mouth, hard, fast, licking and nipping her lips. “Fuck, you’re not wearing underwear!”

She smiled at his realization. He seemed to pick up speed, pulling down his boxers and sliding past her slick folds.

“This is better than breakfast anyway,” Karlie purred, as Drew lifted her T-shirt up, exposing her breasts.

“Hell yeah, it is,” he agreed.




Amazon ✯ Amazon Int'l ✯ Smashwords ✯ B&N ✯ Goodreads



K. L. Ramsey currently resides in West Virginia (Go Mountaineers!). In her spare time, she likes to read romance novels, go to WVU football games and attend book club (aka-drink wine) with girlfriends.

K. L. Ramsey was born and raised in Maryland where her life changed when she signed up for a creative writing class. Knowing that someday she wanted to become a writer, K.L. received her BA in English from Salisbury State University.

Somewhere in her mid-forties, K.L. decided to write her first romance novel, proving that dreams can be realized at any age.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Mini Musings - February Edition


Dirty Talk - This one ended up being an OK read for me.  I normally love second chance romances, but this one was frustrating.  The lack of communication was annoying.  There was too much internal dialogue, especially in the middle of a conversation.  That drives me crazy. The whole man whore thing was kind of cliche and gross. He is hoping to win her back, but still mentions his little black book a few times.  The audio production was pretty good.  I did like the alternating narrators.  But it wasn't enough to make me love it.

Follow Me (Amateurs 2) - This one was slightly better than the first book.  There was more of a mystery.  The characters were slightly more interesting.  They have changed some since the first book so that was a plus.  I did like Maddox and Seneca's relationship.  The book again ends in a cliff hanger, so I'll probably read the third book to see how it all plays out.  Warning: Don't read this one before the first one.  If you do, it will spoil a big reveal in the first book.

Twisted Truth: I enjoyed this novella.  It's a quick story, but packed with a good mystery and a lot of action.  I had not read any of the other stories featuring these characters but it stood up well as a stand alone.  There were a couple of unanswered questions that hopefully the sequel Truth Be Told will clear up. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Author: Jane Harper
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Date of publication: February 2018

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?


Force of Nature is the second book featuring agent Aaron Falk.  We first met him in The Dry.  I enjoyed that book, so I was looking forward to reading this one.  This time around, five women go into the woods for a corporate team building weekend and only four come back out.  The missing woman, Alice is involved in a case that Falk is working on.  

I actually liked this one a bit more than the first one.  The story is told through flashbacks and the present just like the first book.  I found the pacing smoother and faster here.  I was engaged the entire time and definitely didn't call the ending. I'm not going to give anything away so I won't talk plot too much.  With a lot of suspects, I was kept guessing. We learn a bit more about Falk in this one.  I still really like him as a character.  I didn't feel like you really needed to read the first book to get a sense of his character and motivations.  References are made to the happenings in the first book, but this is an easy stand alone. I highly recommend this one as well as The Dry.  I look forward to following Falk on his next case.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Blog Tour: Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Author:Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date of publication: January 30, 2018

Doesn’t matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It’s over.”


When Drix was convicted of a crime—one he didn’t commit—he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor’s newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.
Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor’s daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn’t may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.
When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle’s parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix’s messy life.
But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can’t imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves—Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence—and each other to finally get what they deserve.

Say You'll Remember Me is a YA contemporary featuring two teens from opposite side of the tracks.  Hendrix "Drix" is back from doing a year in a juvenile delinquent rehab program.  He was there for a crime he didn't commit.  Ellie is the governor's daughter who is feeling stifled by her parents and her life. This ended up being just an OK read for me.  I didn't like it as much as I was hoping I would.

I had a hard time finding a character other than Drix to like.  He was the one person that really seemed to grow.  Ellie was really annoying and frustrating.   Her parents were over the top and Drix's family wasn't all that likable either.  One thing I did like about Drix and Ellie's relationship was that they really became friends first before they got physical.  Not that they really do much.  This is a pretty clean YA. 

But, there were a lot of cheesy and cliche moments throughout the book. I rolled my eyes a few times.  The whole scenario with the dog and the hotel was a bit too much.  I can't really see any hotel acting the way they did when it comes to the governor of a state.  They usually bend over backwards to accommodate and it was a puppy who did no damage. The reaction was not one I would have expected.  One part of the book did ring true for me.  There are way too many kids who are too poor to have good representation and end up taking plea bargains for crimes they didn't commit.  One other thing I would have liked was if the issue of domestic violence was better handled.  A follow up to Holiday and her situation would have been nice. 

I think fans of this author will enjoy the book.  It wasn't bad, it was just OK.  Give it a try and see for yourself.


Purchase Links

About the author:


Katie was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.
She is the author of the Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road series. Say You’ll Remember Me will be released in 2018.
Katie loves to hear from her readers.
.
Connect with Katie

Excerpt tour for SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME:
Monday, January 8th: What is That Book About
Tuesday, January 9th: Girls in Books
Wednesday, January 10th: Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, January 10th: @everlasting.charm – IG feature
Thursday, January 11th: From the TBR Pile
Friday, January 12th: Stuck in Books
Tuesday, January 16th: Books and Spoons
Wednesday, January 17th: Snowdrop Dreams
Thursday, January 18th: Mama Reads Blog
Friday, January 19th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Monday, January 22nd: Books a la Mode
Tuesday, January 23rd: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, January 24th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Thursday, January 25th: A Holland Reads
Friday, January 26th: Cheryl’s Book Nook

Review tour for SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME:
Monday, January 29th: What is That Book About
Tuesday, January 30th: Katy’s Library blog and @katyslibrary
Tuesday, January 30th: Lost in a Great Book
Wednesday, January 31st: @annikabbauer / @beach.house.books
Thursday, February 1st: Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, February 2nd: Not in Jersey
Monday, February 5th: Girls in Books blog and @girlsinbooks
Tuesday, February 6th: Just Commonly
Tuesday, February 6th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Wednesday, February 7th: Jathan and Heather
Thursday, February 8th: Rockin’ & Reviewing
Friday, February 9th: Stuck in Books
Monday, February 12th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday, February 13th: Snowdrop Dreams
Wednesday, February 14th: @athousandbookstoread
Thursday, February 15th: Thoughts from a Highly Caffeinated Mind
Friday, February 16th:Mama Reads Blog
Monday, February 19th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Tuesday, February 20th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, February 21st: Novel Gossip blog and @novelgossip
Thursday, February 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Friday, February 23rd: Read Love Blog
Wednesday, February 28th: Bookworm Everlasting blog and @bookwormeverlasting


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt of Asleep From Day by Margarita Montimore



Author: Margarita Montimore
Publisher: Black Wing Books
Date of publication: January 2018


A traumatic car accident erases Astrid’s memories of September 9th, the day she spent with an oddly charming stranger named Theo. Ever since, she’s been haunted by surreal dreams and an urgent sense that she’s forgotten something important. One night, she gets a mysterious call from Oliver, who knows more about her than he should and claims he can help her remember. She accepts his help, even as she questions his motives and fights a strange attraction to him.
In order to find Theo and piece together that lost day in September, Astrid must navigate a maze of eccentric Boston nightlife, from the seedy corners of Chinatown to a drug-fueled Alice-in-Wonderland-themed party to a club where everyone dresses like the dead. In between headaches and nightmares, she struggles to differentiate between memory, fantasy, and reality, and starts to wonder if Theo really exists. Eventually, she’ll need to choose between continuing her search for him or following her growing feelings for Oliver. Astrid might go to extreme lengths to find what she’s lost . . . or might lose even more in her pursuit to remember (like her sanity).
Note: While a sequel is possible, it is currently intended as a standalone.

I had to think about Asleep From Day for a bit before deciding if I liked it or not.  I am still torn. The story involves Astrid who loses her memory about the day before she was hit by a car.  We take a journey with her to discover what happened on that day and who she spent the day with.

On one hand, I was definitely sucked in and found the story compelling.  I wanted to join with Astrid as she discovered what happened on her missing day.  The author did a great job of building the suspense as Astrid begins to remember bits and pieces.  The story flashes back to that day as she starts to remember, so we get to see what really happened.  I also enjoyed the book because  I graduated from college in Boston a few years before this story takes place. The setting made me feel very nostalgic for the 90s Cambridge/Boston scene.  A lot of the landscape has changed now, so it definitely brought back memories.

On the other hand, I found the book frustrating in a couple of ways.  First, the book is set in 1999.  I know it was 1999, not because of the title pages with the date, but because the story was riddled with pop culture references from that year.  You all know how I feel about those.  It was a bit too in your face. As if for some reason, I needed to be reminded that is was 1999. This story really could have taken place in any year and it would have held up fine.  The other reason is the ending.  I hated that ending; I'm not going to lie.  I really felt cheated especially since this is intended to be a stand alone book.  I don't want to fill in the blanks myself.  I want to know what happened.

So, would I recommend it?  Yes.  Despite my issues with it, the story overall is enjoyable and the writing is good.  I thought the characters were engaging and ones I grew to really like.  Give it a shot and try it for yourself.

Enjoy this excerpt:


Outside a pizza place is a pay phone. Who else can I call? Hand on receiver, before I can decide, the phone rings. I pull back, like I’ve been burned.

Briiiiiing!!! Briiiiiing!!!

There’s absolutely nobody around, no one who might be waiting for a call.

Briiiiiing!!!

“Hello?” Why am I answering the phone? It’s not like--

“Astrid?”

If déjà vu is a feather down the spine, this sensation is a razor.

I must have misheard.

“Astrid, are you there?” The same male voice from my dream, the static now on my end in the form of the noisy downpour.

“Who is this?” I ask. “How did you know I would answer the phone?”

Before he replies, tranquility trickles into my veins like one of those lovely drugs pumped into me at the hospital. Of course. There’s no need to worry about any of it. This is just another dream.

“You’ll find out who I am soon enough,” he says. “There are more important things you need to deal with first.”

“Sure there are. Like what kind of snack I’ll have when I wake up.”

A pause on his end. “You’re not dreaming, Astrid.”

It stops raining, abruptly.

“The car accident, the fire, your friend’s overdose,” he continues, “All of those are real things.”

Who are you? You’re scaring me.” I look around, expect to see someone lurking in a dark trench coat.

“I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have called. But I wanted... to reassure you, tell you you’ll get through this. I’ll be able to help you more later on.”

“Do you...” My mouth is parched, my voice hoarse. “Do you go by your middle name?” I clear my throat, hold onto the phone with both hands. “Please tell me your name.”

“You already know my name, Astrid. You just need to remember it. But first, you need to find a place to sleep.”

“You mean a place to wake up. Right here would be perfect.”

He sighs. “Don’t do that. Don’t deny what’s real.”

How am I supposed to tell the difference?

“Astrid, you’re going to be fine. That’s all I wanted to tell you. We’ll speak again soon.”

The line goes dead.

On Sale Now: Amazon Google Play iBooks Kobo B&N | Indigo
 
Add ASLEEP FROM DAY to your TBR: Goodreads


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About the author:


Margarita Montimore received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She worked for over a decade in publishing and social media before deciding to focus on the writing dream full-time. She has blogged for Marvel, Google, Quirk Books, and XOJane.com. When not writing, she freelances as a book coach and editor. She grew up in Brooklyn but currently lives in a different part of the Northeast with her husband and dog.

Margarita writes upmarket/literary fiction that tends to be left of center and flirt with multiple genres. While she loves all things dark, strange, and surreal, she’s also optimistic—verging on quixotic—and a pop culture geek, so her work tends to incorporate all those elements to varying degrees.


Connect with Margarita: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram Newsletter

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Off Limits by Clare Connelly


Author: Clare Connelly
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin DARE
Digital ISBN: 9781488082368

“I want to taste you tonight.”

With chemistry this hot, it’s worth getting burned…

Billionaire Jack Grant is totally off-limits to Gemma Picton. He’s wild, deliciously dangerous…and her boss. When working late turns X-rated, it’s better than her wildest imaginings—and Gemma’s imagined a lot! But Jack has major emotional baggage, so when Gemma starts wanting to heal his heart as well as enjoy his body, she knows she’s in big trouble…!

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available For FREE at:  Harlequin  |  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble


Excerpt: Copyright © 2018 Off Limits by Clare Connelly


I am holding my breath again. Is that how I’m going to get over this little hurdle? Suffocate myself? Is that even possible? I’m pretty sure we have some breathing trigger in our brains, but my brain is a bit pissy with me so maybe it would conveniently forget about the button.
I push air out consciously, quietly, and he takes his seat.
‘Anyway…’ I prompt impatiently.
His smile is a clicker. Is he laughing at me? Arrogant arsehole! That’s be just like him. See? That’s the problem! I know him. I’m not one of his other women. I know that is he as bastardy as he is sexy.
‘How did you sleep?’
I blink at him, my eyes wide. ‘You’ve already asked me that.’
‘You didn’t answer.’
I except a sign that speaks of anger. ‘Like I always do. Seriously, Jack. My desk is covered in paper. I have to get to work.’
I’m your work,’ he says with a shrug.
Insolent bastard.
He leans forward, and while his face is casual there is an urgency in the flecks of gold that fill his eyes. ‘Did you see him last night?’
I want to remind him of the salient fact I pointed out the night before. It’s not his damned business. But I’m not sure I can say that with such conviction now that I’ve tasted his mouth; now that I’ve been stunned by his desire.
Can I skirt around his question?
You’re my work? Okay, the thing is I have the New York guys waiting on contracts, you have a meeting in a week that I have to prepare for and Athens wants your input-which means my input- on a lease agreement. And I need to – ‘
‘Quiet.’
God! Don’t hate me, but when he’s bossy I love it. And he’s almost always bossy.
I glare at him across his desk; it’s best if he doesn’t know that this is just about my favourite version of him.’

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Connect with Clare: Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  BookBub

Monday, February 19, 2018

Spotlight: The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

Author: Kristy Cambron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of publication: February 2018

Broken-down walls and crumbled stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own. What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?
Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved old woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a forgotten castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to present in three time-periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

Purchase Links


About Kristy Cambron


Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the bestselling author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Book Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists for 2014 & 2015, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy’s first Bible studies, THE VERSE MAPPING SERIES, will release in 2018.

Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development from a Fortune-100 Corporation. Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and could probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

Visit Kristy online at www.KristyCambron.com, Twitter: @KCambronAuthor, Facebook: Kristy-Cambron-Author, Instagram: KristyCambron.

Connect with Kristy

Kristy Cambron’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, February 5th: Fiction Affiionado
Tuesday, February 6th: Literary Quicksand and @literaryquicksand
Wednesday, February 7th: @createexploreread
Thursday, February 8th: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, February 8th: Read. Eat. Repeat.
Friday, February 9th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Monday, February 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, February 13th: @Rissi006
Wednesday, February 14th: Splashes of Joy
Thursday, February 15th: @acozyreader
Monday, February 19th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, February 19th: @livethecozylife
Wednesday, February 21st: Reading Reality
Thursday, February 22nd: Rockin’ & Reviewing
Friday, February 23rd: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, February 26th: Little Homeschool on the Prairie
Tuesday, February 27th: @somekindofalibrary
Wednesday, February 28th: @readingbringsjoy
Thursday, March 1st: Broken Teepee
Friday, March 2nd: Just One More Chapter
Monday, March 5th: The Sketchy Reader and @thesketchyreader
Wednesday, March 7th: The Library of Mrs. Gardner and @mrs.literarylovely
Thursday, March 8th: What is That Book About
Friday, March 9th: Girls in Books and @girlsinbooks
Monday, March 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom
TBD: Books a la Mode – guest post


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Audiobook Spotlight: Saving Grace by Aubrey Wynne




Author: Aubrey Wynne
Narrator: Sara K. Sheckells

A tortured soul meets a shattered heart...

Chloe Hicks' life consisted of an egocentric ex-husband, a pile of bills, and an equine business in foreclosure until a fire destroys the stable and her beloved ranch horse. What little hope she has left is smashed after the marshal suspects arson. She escapes the accusing eyes of her hometown, but not the memories and melancholy.

Jackson Hahn, Virginia Beach's local historian, has his eyes on the mysterious new woman in town. When she arrives in Pungo, he is struck by her haunting beauty and the raw pain in her eyes. Her descriptions of the odd events happening in her bungalow pique his curiosity.

The sexy historian distracts Chloe with the legend of a woman wrongly accused of witchcraft. She is drawn to the story and the similarities of events that plagued their lives. Perhaps the past can help heal the present. But danger lurks in the shadows...



Chapter 1

January, 2006 

Four Seasons Riding Stable 

Chloe sat straight up, willing the fog in her head to dissipate. The bed sheets were twisted around her ankles. Sweat trickled down her back. The terror froze her limbs while she struggled to calm her thudding heart and listen for the sound all horse owners dread. But it was the smell that made her realize this was not a terrible dream.

Smoke.

Instinct took over and she scrambled from the four-poster, making a beeline for the back door and the barn. Her toe smacked against the corner of a wall as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Oh god, not my babies. Not Bunny. Panic weighed down her legs as her bare feet hit the gravel. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. She tried to run down the long driveway, her eyes riveted to the red-orange flames shooting up into the black sky. Paul emerged from the darkness, his face colored yellow from the fiery glow. He signaled for her to take the front of the building as he disappeared around the back.

The frigid night air slapped her awake, but a horrifying screech from a panicked horse kicked in her adrenaline. Chloe reached the big, sliding doors and tugged them open. Heat smacked her face, and the smoke assaulted her lungs. Coughing, tears running down her cheeks, she slid back the bolts and opened the stall doors. On the other side, Paul’s voice faintly reached her over the crackle that filled her ears.

“Hiya! Move it, move it.”

The fire had consumed the other half of the barn where the arena was located. Above her was the loft, filled with winter hay and the last of her savings, now adding fuel to the already intense blaze. She pushed the thought from her mind as the flames shot through the center of the alleyway and the arena caved in.

Grabbing one of the lead ropes that hung at each door, she smacked the first horse on the rump and sent him flying out of the barn. The first three horses on each side followed their stable mates into safety with little persuasion. But Duchess, her mother’s old mare, wouldn’t budge. Chloe threw the lead rope over her neck and forced a calm tone. “Easy, girl. That’s my girl. Walk on, now. Walk on.”

The old horse snorted and pranced but followed her out of the stall. When they neared the opening, she withdrew the rope and whacked Duchess’ hindquarters. With a leap, the horse disappeared into the gray haze. The acrid odor of scorched hair and burnt wood filled her nostrils. Embers popped and her cheek blistered. She wiped at it with her shoulder as she led two more horses out by hand.

Crack!

Above them, a beam gave way and formed a fiery V. The horses must have sensed it also because they lunged ahead, snapping Chloe’s shoulders forward. She struggled to maintain her balance but fell to the matted floor, her knees striking the hard rubber. A boom behind her sent a spray of sparks, and pain shot along her backside. From the corner of her eye, she saw a strand of her hair spark. Frantically, she beat at it with her bare hand, putting it out on her neck. The heat was sweltering now. Images wavered in the flames that licked at the dry timbers of the remaining stalls and the heavy beams above.

Scrambling to her feet, Chloe ran outside into the frigid night and stumbled down the drive to help Paul. As she reached the other side of the barn, she doubled over as a coughing spasm racked her body. Hands on her knees, gasping to pull air into her tight chest, she heard Paul yelling over the crackle and whinnies.

“Bunny won’t leave the stall, and won’t let me near her foal.”

“What about Jack?”

“He’s good. C’mon, the roof is gonna give.”

His hand tightened around her arm and pulled with such force her feet almost left the ground. Plunging back into the smoking hell, they entered Bunny’s stall and found the foal in the corner.
“Paul, I’ll get the foal then Bunny will follow.”

Another loud snap from above. She grabbed the lead rope dangling from the horse’s halter and handed it to the trainer. Running a palm down her mare’s neck, she spoke soothingly, “Atta girl, Bunny. There’s my girl. Let’s your get your baby out of here.” The mare’s ears perked at her voice and words. Chloe tossed a rope around the foal’s neck and pulled. The baby gave to the pressure and followed Chloe out.

Behind her, a loud, splintering crash was followed by a shrill squeal. Her stomach twisted as she turned to see her trainer pulling at the lead rope. A fiery beam pinned Bunny as she thrashed, her legs flying in the air. One hoof caught the man in the head, and he crumpled to the ground.

Fighting for air, her chest a tight ball of agony, Chloe stumbled back in and grabbed Paul under his arms. She dragged him with the last of her strength and shuffled backwards until her feet tripped on something solid. She fell, his body tangled in her legs as they both landed with a thud. A sob ripped at her raw throat at the sound of a muffled shriek. Tears spilled down her burning cheeks as she shook the lifeless body on top of her. Chloe collapsed hand rested on Paul’s chest, finding hope in the slight rise and fall of his shallow breathing. In the back of her brain, the sound of sirens wailed before the world went black.



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Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas.

Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete's Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards and Dante's Gift received the 2016 Golden Quill and Heart of Excellence award, as well as being a Maggie and Aspen Gold finalist.

Besides her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will release "A Vintage Romance" series inspired by tales of her stepfather, who served for the British Air Force in WWII. The stories will be set in the 40s & 50s. Her medieval fantasy series will launch in 2017 with Rolf's Quest.

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A place of handsome knights, dashing gentlemen, beautiful, sassy women, and romance from the past to the present. You’ll also have some opportunities to help promote Aubrey with her upcoming releases if you feel so inclined. There is fun to be had, prizes to be given, and heroes and heroines to fall in love with. Come join Aubrey's street team.