Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Blog Tour: Excerpt from The Fae Keeper by H.E. Edgmon


By H.E. Edgmon
On Sale: May 31, 2022
9781335425911; 1335425918
$18.99 USD $23.99 CAN
432 pages
In the heart-stopping sequel to The Witch King, Wyatt and Emyr attempt to rebuild Asalin despite unexpected new enemies within their kingdom.
Two weeks after the door to Faery closed once more, Asalin is still in turmoil. Emyr and Wyatt are hunting Derek and Clarke themselves after having abolished the corrupt Guard, and are trying to convince the other kingdoms to follow their lead. But when they uncover the hidden truth about the witches' real place in fae society, it becomes clear the problems run much deeper than anyone knew. And this may be more than the two of them can fix.
As Wyatt struggles to learn control of his magic and balance his own needs with the needs of a kingdom, he must finally decide on the future he wants—before he loses the future he and Emyr are building…


Here is a sneak peek:

Excerpted from THE FAE KEEPER by H.E. Edgmon, © 2022 by H.E. Edgmon, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

Two weeks after my boyfriend dies in my arms, we go to the woods in the middle of the night to close a portal to another world. 

Emyr—my boyfriend, now less dead and more of a king— brushes his knuckles against the back of my hand as we weave through honey locusts, moonlight making puppets of our shadows. He doesn’t say anything, but there’s no need to. 

Briar and Jin, walking side by side a few feet ahead, fill the silence for us, their yellow and purple energies batting back and forth at each other as they do. 

“So, we’ll do this one, and then—” 

“Right, these three, yeah. Are we sure about—” 

“I don’t know. Maybe we should go back to—” 

“I was just thinking that, yeah, and I was also thinking—” 

Their conversation is both about me and not, and I only manage to half follow it. They’re still knocking out the logistics of what we’re about to do, making last-minute decisions on the sigils they’re going to use to close the door to Faery.

“What if it doesn’t work?” Briar asks, and she’s still talking to Jin, but her eyes meet mine when I look her way. I can only face her dark, tender stare without an answer.

Because I don’t have one.

This isn’t the first time we’ve tried closing the door. Briar, Emyr, and I have been out here a few times on our own. But Briar and I can barely come up with an ounce of magic between us, and Emyr is a fae Healer. None of us is exactly perfect for the job.

“It will work,” Tessa snaps, pushing past Emyr and me to force her way to the front of the group. “So, that’s a pointless question.”

My charming sister. We brought her into this endeavor the same time we told Jin, once we realized we were never going to fix the problem on our own. Tonight’s the first night we’ll try all together.

And it has to be tonight.

In the morning, Briar leaves Asalin, the fae kingdom hidden in upstate New York, for her home in Texas. She and her mother, Nadua, are going to start tracking down their family’s changeling contacts, gathering more information on the secret network of their people around the world. Changelings keep their true nature hidden, pretending to be human to avoid fae eyes, not wanting to face the same mistreatment the witches do.

But Emyr is king now, and he wants something better. With Briar and Nadua on his side, maybe we can make allies out of these creatures we didn’t even know existed. 

Which would be fucking great, because allies are something we’re desperately in need of. Briar might be leaving Asalin tomorrow, but so are the rest of us. Emyr, Tessa, Jin, and I are heading to North Carolina, to follow up on a lead on the whereabouts of Derek and Clarke Pierce.

The sibling duo who killed Emyr. Who then escaped from Asalin and went on the run.

Under normal circumstances, hunting down his own assassins would not be the king’s job. But since one of Emyr’s first royal decrees was to finally shut down the Guard—the corrupt fae police force, previously led by Derek—in a move that wildly pissed off most of his kingdom, and the people he trusts not to murder him (again) are basically limited to the five of us in the woods right now…

Well, we don’t have a lot of options.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be fine.” I am trying to get better at sounding all confident and positive about things, even when the hamster in my head is screaming and its wheel is on fire. I’ve learned recently that being intentionally shitty about everything is not a personality, actually, or at least not one that’s fun to be around.

When Emyr’s knuckles graze mine again, I lace our fingers together. He squeezes, his gold energy wrapping like a cuff around my wrist, his claws digging into the fragile skin on the back of my hand. I don’t pull away, even when it starts to hurt a little.

We’re greeted in front of the door by Boom. The hellhound sits twenty feet away from the opening, red eyes sharp and keen as he keeps watch, black hackles raised along his back. He hates this place. 

Which really makes me feel good, you know, about what the hell is over there.

I reach over with my free hand to scratch the top of Boom’s head, nails scraping the base of his ears. “You can go home, bud. You don’t have to be here for this.”

He huffs, tilting his neck back to nip gently at my fingers, and then returns to his superimportant task of glaring at the door.

Though I’d really rather not, I turn to look in the same direction.

If you don’t know what you’re looking at, the door to Faery isn’t much of a door. It isn’t much of anything at all except a feeling—a wrongness. Two elm trees, ancient but long dead and blackened, have grown twisted together in the middle of the woods, their branches tangling into ugly knots to form an unnatural archway.

Before, when I looked at the door, I would see nothing. Not beyond it, to Asalin’s forest on the other side of the trees. Not through it, to the world of Faery inside. Just…nothing. It was as if my eyes couldn’t, or wouldn’t, focus on it. It was the same for all witches, while Emyr, like the rest of the fae, could see through it to whatever desolate wasteland was on the other side. But there was nothing for me here except the heavy feeling of something forbidden.

Now it’s the same, but it isn’t. I still don’t see Faery, not really, I don’t think. But I see…flashes. Sometimes, there is that strange, elusive, almost staticky nothing that sets my teeth on edge. And sometimes, for the briefest moments, there is something else. Something just as difficult for my brain to process, something so abhorrent that my eyes simply refuse to register it’s there until it’s gone again.

I want this fucking door dead bolted. Immediately.

“Alright. Let’s get to it, then.” Tessa claps her hands together and turns to look at Jin, raising her eyebrows. “You bring the thing?”

“Oh, right, yeah.” Jin digs a hand into their oversize mesh cargo pants, pulling out a small metal box, passing it over into Tessa’s waiting hand.

Tessa turns back around, and her soft lilac energy jumps to life, slicking from her fingertips and up her arms. She lifts the box to the base of one of the branches, and, with a deep breath, shoves it into the bark. The black elm allows her to do it, the tree opening itself up to her magic to accommodate the strange little device, making space for it to nest perfectly in the wood as if it’d grown there.

As soon as she does, the doorway begins to flicker. Once, quickly, and then a few more times in rapid succession, and then, a soft blue light fills the archway and doesn’t dim again.

This is why we needed these two.

Jin’s pet project for a while has been taking human technology and finding ways to integrate it with witch magic. They’ve invented cell phones that allow them to send spells through cyberspace, and laptops that let them share magically binding documents in the cloud. And this? This is a security system, ripped off from human designs, programmed with witch magic, that we’re about to install with sigils for a passcode.

Yes, we are, in fact, going to close the five-hundred-year-old door to the magical fairy-tale planet with a dressed-up ADT alarm. Because of course we are.

We need Tessa to make sure Jin’s spellwork is able to weave itself into the forest properly. As an Influencer, Tessa can shape the world around her.

It’s also nice to have a fae on hand who isn’t about to lose her shit at the sight of the tech magic.

Jin and Emyr worked on these projects together. He helped them with their design, their shared visions.

And then Clarke and Derek used Jin’s cell phone to send the magic that killed him. Now, even watching this display unfold in front of us, I can feel the way Emyr tenses at my side, the way his hand tightens around mine even more.

I wince when his claws prick blood, and he jerks away. I snatch his hand back with an absolutely not scoff. He doesn’t squeeze this time.

“Okay, it’s all yours.” Tessa waves her arm out, ushering Jin and Briar forward. “Make it quick.”

I know I should be helping them with the sigils. I’m supposed to be learning this shit, too. It’s important, and I’m already seventeen years behind, and if there were a witchcraft final exam, I would fail it. Big fail it.

But I don’t let go of Emyr’s hand to join them. I just stroke my thumb against his, watching the way his energy tightens like armor around his chest and hoping my touch makes him feel anchored to his body, because I love him, and I need to do this right now. And I let our friends close the door, and I don’t worry about not doing my part, because I know they love me anyway, and they need to do that right now. 

Minutes later, the blue light in the archway flickers again and then disappears.

“Okay…um. Okay, it’s done.” Briar’s words are soft, and she takes a few steps back, tilting her head to consider the elm trees.

“Are we sure?” Tessa demands.

“Positive.” Briar nods. She looks over her shoulder at me, offering a lopsided half grin, flashing one little dimple when she does. “It’s over. We did it.”

Next to me, Emyr exhales. Boom rolls onto his back in the dirt.

“It’s just a shame we couldn’t even take a peek inside.” Jin’s voice is a taut whisper, each word seemingly pried from their throat. Their eyes flit across the twisted tree branches covering the now-closed doorway, and I notice the way their hand gives the smallest of twitches at their side. “Not even a look.”

“If my father’s account of Faery is to be believed, we don’t ever want to go through this door.” Emyr sounds exhausted at the mention of Leonidas, his father, who lied about what was behind this door for decades. My black energy winds up and curls around his throat, stroking through the curls at the nape of his neck. “Besides, we have more important matters to deal with right now.”

“Whaaaat? C’mon.” I huff sarcastically, reaching down to pat at his backside. “Personally, I don’t think we have enough going on. What if we got another dog?”

I pretend not to see the scowl Emyr slides me. But Boom’s ears perk up with interest.

“I don’t give a shit what’s over there,” Tessa snaps, balancing her hands on her hips, still eyeing the doorway with contempt. “I’m more concerned about what might’ve already come through.”

Right. That part.

We definitely don’t have time to deal with that part.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t come back to bite us in the ass. 

About the Author
H.E. EDGMON (he/they) is a questionable influence, a dog person, and an author of books both irreverent and radicalizing. Born and raised in the rural south, he currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his eccentric little family. His stories imagine Indigenous worlds and center queer kids saving each other. H.E. has never once gotten enough sleep and probably isn’t going to anytime soon. THE WITCH KING was his debut.
Social Links:
Author website: 
Twitter: @heedgmon
Instagram: @heedgmon
Facebook: N/A

Monday, May 30, 2022

Books I DNF'd in May

Bombshell:  I have not ever really connected with the books from this author.  I gave it another shot.  I DNF'd this one early on.  I didn't like the writing. I didn't like the characters. And I felt like I should have read previous books in an series before this one.  I give up with this author.

Highland Warrior: I loved the first one and had high hopes for this one.  Instead, I was so put off by the opening scenes.  I didn't feel the chemistry between the main couple.  In fact, it just felt icky to me.  It was also missing the great banter that I loved form the first one.  

Mr. Wrong Number: Can we stop writing heroines who are SO clumsy and SO quirky?  No one is that clumsy and full of bad luck.  Unless they are just not paying attention.  I gave up about 25% of the way in.  I found Olivia annoying and didn't care to read to the end.

A Forgotten Murder:  I am sad that I DNF'd this one.  I had really liked the first two books. But this one was just boring.  It dragged on and on.  I gave up at 50%.  There were too many characters to keep track of.  I had a feeling it was also going to be more "will they or won't they" between Kate and Jack.  Not sure I will continue with the series.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

May Mini Musings (5 Mini Reviews)

Gone to Ground
:  This is the  sixth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series.  It is a nice addition to the series.  The mystery was fairly solid.  I liked how the relationships between the team has been developing over the series.  I will continue on with the next one soon.

The Locked Door
:  I thought this was a really good thriller .  It was a little slow in the beginning, but at about the 1/3 mark it picked up.  There were a bunch of twists.  I do love an unreliable narrator.  I do recommend reading this one.

:  This is a very short story about two people who have insta-love, yet don't communicate.  All of their time apart could have been avoided with one conversation.  Finn was way too insecure for my taste.  I was glad it was short.  I have a hard time believing these two would last.  The only one that had any rational thought was the band mate who pointed out the obvious.  Not sure I will continue with the series.

Death of the Black Widow:  I has really high hopes for this book.  I love both of these authors.  I was sadly disappointed with their combined effort.  This one wasn't what I was hoping for.  for a supernatural thriller, it's boring and kind of predictable.  The ending was less than satisfying.   The book goes between the past and present.  but it wasn't balanced.  I don't recommend this one.

Fractured Honor:  I really enjoyed this first book in the Crimson Point series.  The main focus of the book is Beckett and Sierra.  However, it also sets up the series for other character romances down the line.  I loved this couple.  Loved the dog and the kid next door.  I will issue a trigger warning  for pedophilia.  That I didn't expect.  The twist at the end was unexpected.  I can't wait to read the next book!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Review: Hide by Kiersten White

Kiersten White
Publisher: Del Ray Books
Publication date: May 2022

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don't get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win--to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts--Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she's an expert at that.

It's the reason she's alive, and her family isn't.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.

Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Hide follows Mack and thirteen other contestants in a giant game of Hide and Seek in an abandoned and run down amusement park .  The winner gets 50,000.  Only it turns out that things are a bit more sinister than that.  What can I say about hide?  I'll be honest, it wasn't good.

This is supposed to be an adult horror, but it read as very YA and not really horror.  The characters acted and talked like teenagers.  The characters were plentiful as well as their points of view.  There were too many and the transitions were hard to catch.  There was an attempt at some back story for each contestant, but I found I didn't care.  None of them were very likable. I would have liked it if the story focused on one or maybe two characters only.  

The biggest disappointment was the plot itself.  It was kind of boring.  I wanted more of the game.  There wasn't enough of it.  The ending was dumb.  It was like the author couldn't figure out how to end it, so she just gave us that throw away line.  I do not recommend this one.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Spotlight: Kingdomless by Michelle Garyfalakis


Book TitleKingdomless (The Evamore Series Book 1) by Michelle Garyfalakis
CategoryYA Fiction (Ages 13-17), 422 pages
Genre:  YA Fantasy Romance
Publisher:  Self-Published
Release date:   January 2022
Content Rating:  PG-13 +M: There is a scene where our main character is held at knife point and her attacker grabs her breasts without consent. The word 'nipple' is used in this situation. This is the reason for the added "M" in the rating.
 The remnants of the United Kingdom of Garth, once ruled by the legendary Dynasty of Evamores are in the throes of conflict. Ten years ago, King Wren of the West discovered Raelle washed up on the shores of the Balour Sea, with no memory of the first nine years of her life. She was brought back to the castle and dutifully cared for and cherished by the king and his three older sons. On her nineteenth birthday, the Western Kingdom's adoptive princess is secretly sent away by her stepmother to marry King Veras as a token of peace between the kingdoms. But, the Northern King has other plans.

As Raelle's amnesia melts away with the help of a northern storyteller, she discovers more about the Kingdom of Garth, magic, the lovetie connection of the Evamores, and her role in the grand scheme of things. She is confused, angry, and curiously comfortable in the North.

A dark shadow overcasts all of the kingdoms, and the threatening influence of the fallen god Kellar seems to spread among the people, inciting disorder and violence. While the fate of the kingdoms may rest on Raelle's shoulders, she can't help but feel kingdomless. Betrayal is everywhere, from her own adoptive family to her newfound friends. Fearless, observant, witty, and determined, she is town between her attraction to King Veras' good nature and the unexplained pull to the Tracker Calak. The challenge that she faces is not simple. As the old gods, laws and magic awaken, so does her own sense of self. There is a choice to be made, step into the role expected of her, or dive into the unknown and make her own destiny.

This YA fantasy novel asks the readers important coming of age questions, captures the attention with witty dialogue, relatable characters, and a world that is reawakening its forgotten magic. The readers will be entranced and hungry for more (and perhaps a piece of chocolate cake).


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add to goodreads
Meet the Author:

MICHELLE GARYFALAKIS was born and raised throughout Ontario, Canada. She currently lives just outside of Hamilton, Ontario with her husband, four kids and Snowy (their friendly Samoyed-Border Collie). When she isn't obsessively typing out new stories on her computer, you can find her drinking coffee with a friend, snacking on some guacamole or binge watching Outlander (again). Michelle loves finding creative ways to communicate with people, and her passion for storytelling is the newest addition to that list. 

connect with the author: website  ~  facebook  ~  instagramtwitter ~ bookbub ~ tiktokgoodreads
Tour Schedule:

May 16 –
Cover Lover Book Review – book spotlight / giveaway
May 16 - Rockin' Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
May 17 - Character Madness and Musings – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 17 - Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
May 18 – Kam's Place – book spotlight
May 18 - My Reading Getaway – book review / author interview / giveaway
May 19 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
May 20 – Wottaread – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 23 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
May 24 – Freda's Voice – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 24 - Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 25 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – book spotlight / giveaway
May 25 - Cheryl's Book Nook – book review / giveaway
May 25 - Living in a Bookworld - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 26 - Writer with Wanderlust – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
May 26 - Westveil Publishing – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 27 – From the TBR Pile – book spotlight/ giveaway
May 31 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 31 - Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
June 1 – The Page Ladies – book review
June 1 - Sadie's Spotlight – book spotlight / author interview
June 2 – She Just Loves Books – audiobook review / giveaway
June 2 - Books for Books – book spotlight
June 3 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

KINGDOMLESS by Michelle Garyfalakis Book Tour Giveaway


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt from The Honeymoon Cottage by Lori Foster


Author: Lori Foster
ISBN: 9781335506368
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Publisher: HQN Books
A wedding planner, who has resigned herself to spinsterhood, organizes other people’s happy endings in this romantic new women’s fiction from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster.
A light, romantic family saga centered around Yardley Belanger’s country wedding planning business and her eccentric family, and set in a quirky small town with the unusual name of Cemetery, Indiana. (Sure, people have tried, but Betty Cemetery, who is descended from the town founders, will let the name be changed…over her dead body.)
At 31, Yardley Belanger is really good at her job as a wedding planner—organizing other people’s happy ever afters. Yardley doesn’t care that she has zero love life...all the eligible guys in Cemetery are men she grew up with, and none of them interest her anyway. She’s put her heart and soul into her business and has built a reputation specializing in country weddings—complete with a cottage by the lake for honeymooners—attracting happy couples and their families from all around.
Travis Long had to take on too much responsibility too soon. When their parents died, he took care of his younger sister, Sheena. For years, it was just them against the world. But now his baby sister is getting married, and Travis is struggling to accept this change. He thinks Todd isn’t good enough for Sheena, and without meaning to, Travis is noticebly judgmental of his sister’s intended.
Travis and Sheena are in town to plan her country wedding. Travis wanted something classier for his sister, but then he meets Yardley. He notices she puts her heart and soul into everything, and that she really listens to what the bride wants. Yardley has this no-nonsense way of interpreting what his sister says and doesn’t say.
How the hell is he falling in love during wedding prep for his little sister? Easy. He never expected to meet someone like Yardley Belanger.

Buy Links: 
My thoughts:

After reading this book, I now know why I keep coming back to this author again and again.  It's been quite a week and I needed something to make me feel warm and happy. The Honeymoon Cottage was exactly what I needed to lift my sprits.  I can always count on a Lori Foster book for that. This is such an adorable, sweet yet slow burn romance.  I absolutely loved going on this journey with Yardley and Travis.  I loved watching Yardley finally realize that she is worth everything.  I was reserving judgment about her mom and aunt, but they showed some nice growth toward the end.  Along with Yardley and Travis, we are treated to watching two other sweet relationships.  The friendships (new and old) in this book are so endearing.  The town of Cemetery  is quirky and filled with wonderful characters and traditions.  I could go on.  Just go read it.  You won't be sorry!

Here is a sneak peek:

“Mother, didn’t you plan to go out?” It was nearing noon, and Aurora Belanger had yet to leave. Lilith, her mother’s sister, also lingered in the foyer right outside her office. It was as if they knew she had an appointment and they wanted to oversee the process. It was a fact that no matter how she succeeded, they expected her to fail, or sometimes they just disapproved of how she succeeded.

“Why the rush?” Aurora asked as she adjusted the V-neck of her sleeveless blouse to show more cleavage.

Granted, for an almost-fifty-year-old woman, her mother still had it. The problem was that she knew it, and she focused on looking sexy more than she did on making the business work. Yardley forced her mouth into a smile. “I thought you had some local honeymoon locations to scope out today.”

“I don’t scope out locations. And stop slouching.”

Automatically, Yardley straightened, but damn it, she hadn’t been slouching anyway. “So, what would you call it?”

“I visit, investigate, and collect valuable information that will enhance our clients’ experiences.” She shot Yardley a superior look. “It’s a key part of the business, you know. Certainly, the locations I suggest are more appropriate than that rustic Honeymoon Cottage you always recommend.”

“The cottage is amazing and you know it.” 

Aurora sniffed. “Most people are more interested in their honeymoon than the actual wedding.”

Meaning her mother’s contributions were more valuable than Yardley’s efforts? Baloney. She knew one thing though: Aurora’s choices were certainly more expensive. Folding her arms, Yardley said, “Huh. I guess a lot of happy clients didn’t realize that, because more than half choose the cottage, so—”

“Because it’s so disgustingly cheap,” Aurora insisted.

“Affordable,” Yardley countered, but why she bothered, she didn’t know. They’d disagreed on the point too many times to count.

“I need to leave soon for the café,” Aunt Lilith interrupted. She was four years Aurora’s senior, and though they shared similar features, she was more concerned with flaunting her intellect than her sex appeal. At least the niche, tea-parlor-type café Lilith owned turned a small profit, even though they’d transitioned from meeting prospective clients there to having them at the home office instead.

Lilith focused on Yardley with nerve-rattling acuity. “Whatever are you up to, Yardley? Do you have an appointment, hmm?”

“Yes, I do, and I need to prep for it. So… I’ll see you both later.” She took a step back. Then another. Neither of them budged. Damn.

Lilith gave her a longer look. “Don’t you have something more appropriate to wear?”

Looking down at her summer dress, Yardley frowned in consternation. It was one of her favorites. She adored the way the soft, flowing material gently draped her body. The skirt ended mid-calf, and it had just enough adornment to make it professional while still being comfortable. Plus Mimi had told her that the pretty blue floral pattern matched her eyes. “I love this dress.” 

“It doesn’t scream professionalism,” said her aunt.

“I’m not sure I want my clothes to scream.”

Ignoring that, her aunt said, “Yellow would be better for you, to offset your dark hair. Perhaps a business suit.”

A yellow business suit? She’d look like a block of butter.

“Nonsense,” said her mother. “Just the opposite is true. It wouldn’t kill you to wear something a little less matronly.”

“My dress isn’t matronly.” Was it? No, no, it was comfortable, damn it.

“You have breasts. Even though they’re small, you should showcase them.”

Yardley started to sweat. “Look, both of you—”

Aunt Lilith cut in. “Only you, Aurora, would think she needed to be sexy to sell a wedding. If you’d furthered your education, as I did, instead of getting pregnant so young—”

“That wasn’t my fault,” Aurora gasped in affront—as she always did when this debate got started.

“Well, it certainly wasn’t mine.” Lilith scoffed. “I didn’t have unprotected sex.”

“Likely because you, dear sister, have never experienced real passion.”

Lilith’s face went red. “No one said passion must equal an unwanted baby—no offense, Yardley.”

Yardley obligingly replied, “None taken.” This whole argument was so old, she knew the lines by heart. There was always some variant of the same thing. Over and over again.

It infuriated Mimi. If her friend was here now, she’d be blasting them both.

“I did the responsible thing,” Aurora specified with flair. “I raised my daughter. You’d probably have given her up.”

“How dare you?” Lilith pointed one manicured finger Yardley’s way. “I love Yardley.”

Now you do. But while I was carrying her?” 

“I was attempting to be the reasonable one.”

“You didn’t want her around, but now you try to claim her as your own.”

“At least I don’t advise her to show off her breasts!”

Yardley lifted her phone to look at the time…and then she heard two things. A man clearing his throat, and a young woman giggling.

OMG. Awash with humiliation, she turned to face her clients…and holy crapola. Pretty sure her ovaries just danced.

Travis Long was a feast for the peepers. She knew because her eyes were gobbling him up from head to toe.

He wasn’t the intended, thank God, just the brother. Is he married?

Good Lord, why did she care? But she answered herself real quick as she took him in feature by feature. Sandy-blond hair, steaked by the sun.

Dark brown eyes, fringed by ridiculous—like, really ridiculous—long, thick lashes.

Broad muscled shoulders.

Lean torso.

Long, strong legs.

Of course he had to be married. He’d probably had a dozen proposals by now. Some lucky woman would have snatched him up already.

Unless… Remembering her initial phone conversation, she thought maybe he was too aloof. Too unfriendly. A discerning woman wouldn’t be reeled in by mere good looks. Somehow she didn’t feel all that discerning right now.

Whatever this man does for a living, it works in his favor.

The young woman laughed aloud this time. “Don’t worry, Ms. Belanger. He has that effect on everyone.” She nodded at Aurora and Lilith, and Yardley realized they were both gawking, too. 

Appalled, Yardley loudly cleared her throat—and accomplished nothing. Her mother and aunt continued to stare.

“I’ve told him he could have made more money as a model,” the young woman said, “but no, my brother went into construction instead.”

Attempting to ignore the heat in her face, Yardley stepped forward, hand extended—toward the woman. Who would be her client. She was the one who mattered. “Hello. You must be Ms. Long.”

“Soon to be Mrs. Borden, with your help.”

“Oh, I do hope so. That I get to help, I mean. Not that you become Mrs. Borden. I’m sure that’s a foregone conclusion or you wouldn’t be here.” Shut up, Yardley. “Please, just call me Yardley.”

“If you’ll call me Sheena.”

Beside her, Travis shifted but said nothing. Compared to him, his sister looked extra petite. Her hair, lighter blond than Travis’s, hung just past her shoulders. They shared the same striking dark eyes and sinful lashes.

Sheena appeared to be just out of her teens. Maybe twenty or twenty-one. Young, excited, and brimming with optimism. Total opposite of her silent, possibly brooding, brother.

What could she say with her aunt and mother still eyeballing him as if they’d never seen such a fine specimen before? Honestly, in Cemetery, they probably hadn’t. “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to help plan your wedding.” Reluctantly, because she wasn’t yet prepared to gaze on him again, Yardley turned to Travis. It took her a second to get her lungs to work, and then she gasped, “I take it you’re Travis Long, the Victorian home enthusiast?”

“I am.” He briefly clasped her hand.

Very perfunctory. Not at all personal. Purely business.

But he had magic hands or something because she felt that touch radiate everywhere. With her tingling palm, she lamely gestured to the gawking duo. “My mother, Aurora Belanger, and my aunt, Lilith Belanger.”

Sheena greeted them with a little less warmth than she’d shown Yardley.

Travis merely gave them a nod, then said to Yardley, “I’m relieved to see you’ve kept the house true to the period.”

Oh goody, a safe subject, and one she was comfortable with. She could talk about the house and stare at him. “I’ve tried. Remodeling it has been a pleasure, but a slow process.” She wrinkled her nose. “Matching all that trim, finding the right valance windows, the iron railings—”

“And the slate roof. That impressed me.”

Oh, hey. She’d impressed him. Score one for her. “Most recently the kitchen got a facelift. I hope I did it justice.”

Sheena glanced around. “It’s beautiful. Can we do a tour of it later? I know it’d make this whole trip worthwhile for Travis.”

She shot a warning look at her mother and aunt. “Absolutely. I’ll show you everything.” What? “I mean, every part of the house. All the rooms. And stuff.” If only her mouth had a spigot she could turn off. “Even the upstairs rooms have been remodeled.” Had her mother and aunt left when they were supposed to, she’d have tidied their rooms for them. Now she couldn’t, meaning they were probably messy disasters.

Oh, how sweet it was to have a little payback against them. They were fanatics when it came to designing their rooms, but not so big on keeping them decluttered. Yardley knew exactly how they’d react—and they didn’t disappoint her.

“Excuse me,” Lilith said, exiting in a dignified, unhurried stride…until she was out of sight. Then they all heard the rushed clomping of her short heels on wood treads as she raced up the stairs. 

Aurora managed a wan smile. “Yes, I should go as well. Good luck, dear. Oh, not that my daughter needs luck, of course. She’s quite the talented wedding planner. Very popular here and in the neighboring towns. Why, her vintage weddings are heavily trending, or so she tells me. Personally, I prefer something a little more chic, which of course she offers.”

“Mother,” Yardley said, feeling her cheeks burn. “You don’t want to be late.”

“Oh, no. No, I don’t.” Aurora barely lowered her voice when she said in an aside, “Don’t slouch.” Then she turned and sashayed away, making a little less noise on the stairs than Lilith had. Unfortunately, they could hear them rushing around in their rooms, probably tucking away bras and shoes, clearing clutter from their desks, and hopefully tidying their beds.

It was the one thing she had in common with them: they each loved to show off the house. Since Aurora and Lilith had personally helped with the decor choices for their rooms, they were especially proud of them and loved to show them off.

Yardley pinned on her most professional smile. “We finished the upstairs as a divided living area, so both my aunt and my mother have their own private suites with bedrooms, bathrooms, and seating areas. My mother chose the side with the balcony, and Aunt Lilith has that romantic turret.”

“You live here, too?” Sheena asked.

“Yes, my bedroom is off to the right of the foyer, and the kitchen is to the left.” She gestured down the hall. “Only the dining room is used as my office. If you’d like to come this way, we can all get comfortable while you share your wedding ideas. Once I have a grasp of what you’re thinking, I can show you my portfolio and we can go over the budget.”

Excerpted from The Honeymoon Cottage by Lori Foster. Copyright © 2022 by Lori Foster. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Author Bio: 
Lori Foster is a New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author with over 10 million books sold. She received the Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews and her books have been chosen as editors picks by Amazon multiple times. Foster is actively involved in charity work, and all of the author proceeds from her anthologies have gone to various organizations, such as the Animal Adoption Foundation, the Conductive Learning Center, and One Way Farm. She lives in Ohio with her high school sweetheart.

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