Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

15715864Christy Nelson embarks on her new career in Real Estate by holding her first open house. Entering the wrong house, by accident, she finds the nude sleeping body of a young man.

Navy SEAL Kyle Lansdowne, on a mission to find his AWOL Team buddy, is staying at his buddy’s home while investigating the disappearance. When someone breaks in, he takes protective measures. He doesn’t expect to find that a beautiful young woman is responsible for his teammate’s abduction.

What starts out as a meeting by accident becomes a hot affair neither one is ready for. Kyle is conflicted about getting Christy involved in his mission, but his hand is forced when he learns the same San Diego gang responsible for his teammate’s abduction has kidnapped her.

Battling a cadre of dirty law enforcements hell-bent on getting military equipment, especially state-of-the-art firepower, Kyle is forced to admit that he would die to protect her.

Accidental Seal can be purchased from Amazon

Why do you need to read this book? Loved this book. This takes a military hero (Kyle) and sets him loose in the civilian world to find a missing friend using the skills that he learned in HIS world. I loved the protectiveness and determination to succeed. He made a great hero for Christy who needs something good to happen in her life. Pick up a copy!

 

Excerpt:

The house appeared nicer than he’d described. The advertised price, he said, was the lowest in the neighborhood, going back ten years. Hopefully she’d pick up a young couple out looking for their first home, complete with good credit and a wad of cash from Mommy and Daddy. Wouldn’t it be great to make a sale on her very first day on the job?
She parked in the driveway, popped the trunk, and brought out three sandwich signs with the Patterson Realty logo, on loan from Wayne. He was out with his family today. She hoped the Somervilles didn’t stop by since she’d feel uncomfortable looking into the eyes of Wayne’s wife, a woman he probably cheated on and would again, if he got the chance. One of Christy’s other rules: no married men. She wasn’t about to change that, either.
A perfumed late spring breeze blew softly against her face and neck, sending a thrill up her spine. The air ripened with possibility. This was her favorite time of year.
The walkway looked freshly swept. After placing one sign in the front yard, she stacked the other two beside the front door and inserted Wayne’s key. While the lock accepted the new shiny silver metal, the tumblers stayed in place, frozen.
Way to go Wayne. Waste my time and give me the wrong key!
Irritation bubbled, ruining her cheerful, spring-induced mood. She yanked on the front handle and pushed against it out of frustration. It opened.
“Anybody home?” Her voice wavered like that of a small child. She waited. No answer.
Christy stepped inside, onto a striped cotton rug lying cockeyed behind the front door. The smell of fried food hit her. She walked across the wooden floor of the living room, her stilettos clacking. She cracked open a window. Air scented by fresh blossoms poured in, diluting the smells of ordinary life. She grabbed the newspaper tossed on top of an ottoman and folded the crinkling pages under her arm, aiming for the kitchen to find a trashcan. She passed the dining room table, which was strewn with a map of the area, a couple of felt-tipped pens, and a letter-sized yellow lined tablet. She collected these items as well and made her way to the kitchen.
Christy threw the tablet and newspaper onto the tiled countertop and placed her hands on her hips to assess the scene before her. She squinted at several days’ worth of dishes piled high in the sink. Next to it, a large stainless steel bowl sat encrusted with dark green and purple leaves at the bottom, evidence of a salad—several days old.
Maybe Wayne had neglected to tell the sellers about the open house. She decided it was entirely possible. “How can you expect to sell a house this way?” she muttered, then sighed and removed her jacket, slinging it over the back of a clean-looking kitchen chair. She decided to take a tour of the place, checking for other things to clean or straighten before she’d be ready to hold it open.
But this house was such a mess, an uneasy darkness chilled her. She tiptoed down the carpeted hallway, feeling like an intruder, past empty rooms, to a closed door at the end.
Probably the master bedroom.
Something about the whole scene was strange. These people left without cleaning up dinner from several days before, in a hurry. She’d been told short sale houses rarely showed pride of ownership, but this felt absolutely creepy, like she’d stepped on someone’s grave. The hair at the back of her neck bristled as she gripped the doorknob. She lightly tapped with her other hand, and then opened the door.
A naked body lay on the bed.
Holy crap.
Hesitant to look at first, she pushed through her fear. She saw movement. Tanned skin, a muscular male chest that rose and fell. Earphones were wired to a phone balanced on his open palm. The man was very much alive, and healthy. Her eyes drifted further down to a dusting of dark brown hair that led to an impossible-to-miss erection. His penis stood at attention, like a deep rose-colored light standard under a matching fireman’s hat of deeper pink.
Blood pumped to her ears, making them ring, as her heart raced. A wave of anger coursed over her at the realization she had been the victim of a very sick joke perpetrated by Wayne and one of his disgusting friends.
Christy silently closed the door and tiptoed back down the carpeted hallway, her three-inch heels wobbling on the thick, padded surface. Her knees knocked against each other as she picked up speed, her anger building. She grabbed her jacket, keys, and purse, and crossed the living room, headed toward the front door. She was almost free.
Christy wouldn’t give the prankster the satisfaction of knowing she had even seen him. She wanted to stomp her foot and kick something through the window. This was Wayne’s doing.
That sonofabitch and his lopsided plugs will pay for this.
She pulled the door handle and was rewarded by the smells of a warm spring day bleeding through the inch-wide crack she’d created. An enormous hand and forearm came from behind her and slammed the door shut. She saw a familiar blue-green tattoo of some animal tracks on his muscled forearm just before his other hand gripped her mouth. Callused fingers pinched the sides of her cheeks. The grip hurt.

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of The Romance Novel!

10418725Having all of her is the only thing that will satisfy him…

Shawn Griffin and Rachel Cooper have been best friends practically since birth, thanks to their families’ close relationship. But for the past few years, Shawn has been fantasizing about getting his best pal in his bed. When she announces she’s taking a trip to reconnect with an old lover, Shawn knows the time has come to put up or shut up. If she wants to go to New York City, fine. But he’s coming with her.

Rachel doesn’t know what to think of Shawn’s sudden interest. Determined to live life on her own terms, she refuses to fall right in line with her wealthy family’s wish that they get married and have perfect little babies. She just didn’t count on how determined her seemingly laid back – and extremely sexy – best friend would become after setting his sights on what he wants. Her, over and over again.

But when tragedy strikes, Rachel begins to wonder if she’ll lose not only her lover but her best friend too.

Insatiable is available at Amazon

Why do you need to read this book? This is a great, hot read. I loved how Shawn finally goes after what he wants. Great story!

Excerpt from the author’s website:

She had a choice to make. To go or to stay. To have an incredible adventure or to stay snuggled in the soulless crypt of her comfort zone.

Fighting back a grin, Rachel Cooper sipped her iced tea. Well, well, aren’t we being melodramatic tonight.

Not that a bit of melodrama wasn’t called for in circumstances such as these. The unknown beckoned, via a cream square of linen stock that weighed down her ancient designer bag like a not-so-metaphorical rock. As she made the rounds at Stacia Winter’s outdoor summer soiree, she resisted checking to make sure it hadn’t been whisked away by an errant breeze or a malfunctioning clasp.

That little sucker wasn’t escaping. No way, no how.

She hadn’t expected the surprise run-in last month with her high school sweetheart to yield anything more than a few pleasant tingles. After all, Ryan had only been home for a short time and she’d bumped into him at the lone grocery store in Calvin Bay, California, on the day he was due to leave. He’d still been the three Ds: dark, deceitful, and damn hot, but she’d believed their quick convo by the beer cooler would be the extent of their reunion.

Until the mail had arrived three days ago.

If she accepted the invitation to visit him in New York, would she be taking a gigantic step backward? Her mind said yes. The rest of her was much more ambivalent.

Such a trip required boundaries. If she made it clear that this journey into the past was for pleasure-seeking purposes only, dashed with a bit of closure, then what harm could be caused by a two-week jaunt to the city that never slept?

Besides, she hadn’t had a vacation in forever. Or sex. The importance of that particular one-two punch couldn’t be overstated.

Smothering another grin, Rachel let her gaze roam over the guests clustered around Stacia’s enormous pool. Most of them wore virtually nothing in the oppressive August heat, but she knew each wisp of silk and swatch of spandex had cost more than she earned in a month as a middle school music teacher. Squarely stationed amid that pastel sea stood the solitary roadblock to her no-holds-barred vacation sex.

Shawn Griffin.

She’d met Shawn mere moments after leaving the womb, thanks to the Coopers’ and Griffins’ lifelong friendship. To Rachel, the word “cult” sometimes seemed a more apt description of the close relationship the families shared.

They vacationed together, had adjacent compounds, and whenever their respective businesses overlapped — the Griffins owned an architecture firm known throughout the West Coast, and the Coopers published the mag for tony fashionistas this side of the Pacific — they employed each other’s firms exclusively.

Following that grand tradition, Shawn had become her best friend before she’d had a chance to consider whether it was what she truly wanted. Her elder by eighteen months, he’d simply always been in her life.

She could recognize his spicy cologne at fifty paces, and if she closed her eyes, imagining his arms encircling her waist centered her faster than any fictitious happy place. He’d been by her side, and she by his, through the best and worst of what life had dealt them.

Taking a slow sip of her drink, she narrowed her eyes to peruse the snug cut of Shawn’s pleated gray trousers. Best friend or not, the guy had a drool-worthy behind. Hell, she wasn’t blind, was she?

Shawn’s surfer-god looks were enhanced by the inside-of-a-seashell smoothness being born into oodles of money had granted him. He’d inherited his feline green eyes and golden hair from his mother and his laserlike focus from his father, CEO of Griffin Industries, LLC. But where he’d gotten his ability to soothe her tempestuous moods, she’d never know.

Though Shawn nodded at whatever Stacia whispered in his ear, his gaze sought Rachel’s. Such was their way. She’d always thought an invisible cord connected them, binding them to each other in a manner no one else could understand.

What he would never understand, however, were her plans to go to New York. She’d yet to decide if she’d kept Ryan’s invitation a secret because she’d known Shawn would disapprove, or because she sensed he was right.

As tempting as the past could be, going back represented more than a chance to add a new epilogue to the ending of her relationship with Ryan. She just might get her heart chipped again.

One way or another.

“Rachel?”

She smiled at the intriguingly unfamiliar man who had appeared at her side. “Hi. Do we know each other?”

“No, but I know of you.” He gave her a cocky smile, one that went well with his reflective sunglasses. “Want to dance?”

Why not?

She took the mystery man’s tanned forearm, her gaze again connecting with Shawn’s. Ignoring the sudden quickening of her heartbeat, she let her partner steer her into the music.

He was watching her again.

If he were being honest, Shawn could admit he’d spent a great deal of his thirty years watching Rachel. But he wasn’t a stalker. Alas, no, he was her closest friend, which in some ways was even worse.

She wasn’t gorgeous in the conventional California sense. Her curves, currently displayed in a black jersey dress, were a shade too generous, her dark hair a tad too unruly as it cascaded over her sun-kissed shoulders. Her eyes weren’t a tranquil blue, but an intense, snapping brown that made any other color seem bland in comparison.

He’d been in love with her for, oh, half a dozen years or so, and in serious infatuation even before that.

But Rachel wasn’t in love with him. Instead, she’d chosen to give her love — or its nearest statistical equivalent — to a number of their town’s eligible men. And now, while Shawn sipped his Grey Goose martini at the latest in the long string of parties that had dotted his summer, she danced with bachelor number thirty-five.

He’d cajoled her to come with him to this thing, but she wasn’t dancing with him. Nope. She preferred to dance with the first himbo who twirled the pretty pink umbrella in her mixed drink.

Maybe she teased guys as easily as she breathed, but she didn’t sleep with most of the men she dated. Nah, his Rachel never held back the deets when it came to her conquests.

Or at least she hadn’t before the last couple months. Lately, she’d been reticent to discuss anything deeper than which movie they should rent.

Hell, it wasn’t like he actually wanted to hear about her lovers. Not that he hadn’t had a couple of his own in the recent past, mainly to make it seem like he wasn’t some lovesick jerk following around a woman who viewed him as the only guy she could watch chick flicks with.

He hated chick flicks, but what was he supposed to do? Thus far, tearing up the sheets hadn’t been on the table.

“You planning on sitting here brooding all night?” Rachel grabbed the seat beside him, then the drink out of his hand. He’d saved her his olive, which she snagged off the tiny sword with a slick lip roll that made him shift uncomfortably in his Armani suit. “Not that it doesn’t work.”

“What works?” Shawn motioned to a passing waiter. Almost immediately, another martini was in his hand and Rachel was again after his olive.

If only…

“The whole broody male thing. That dangerous, leave-me-alone aura paired with a dark gray suit that fits like a wet dream.” She laughed at his swift glance in her direction. “No wonder none of the women dare approach you.”

He took back his martini. Damned if she didn’t set his cock twitching with every flirtatious swish of her tongue over her mouth. “You did.”

“You don’t scare me.” Leaning in, Rachel tangled her nails in his blond hair and tugged. “I’ve seen you naked, remember?”

“That was thirteen years ago.” He edged back, hoping to avoid picking up her scent on his clothes. She always smelled of coconuts and sun-warmed tanning lotion, an irresistible combination to a man who’d grown up with the Pacific practically in his backyard. “And I’ll remind you, you interrupted me in the middle of a cold shower.”

She flipped his toothpick between her fingers. “Uh-huh. Next, you’ll tell me you weren’t through puberty yet.”

Shawn was about to toss back his answer — and yeah, she’d hit the nail on the head — when a sickening thought caused his already knotted stomach to plummet. Was that why Rachel refused to consider him as anything but buddy material? Of all the possibilities he’d entertained, her thinking he had a small penis hadn’t been on the list.

For one stony moment, he contemplated his drink. Then he slanted her a slow, measuring look. “Anytime you want to see what’s under the hood, Rach, just let me know.”

To his unending pleasure, she flushed. “No, thanks.” She cleared her throat. “I’ll just ask one of your harem if I’m curious.”

“What harem?”

She jerked a thumb ringed with a narrow silver band toward the opposite side of the property. Three women of varying heights with glimmering blonde hair and brightly hued minidresses stood together, avidly watching him and Rachel.

Mindy, Mandy, and Michelle. He’d enjoyed all three of them at one time or another over the past year.

“They’re friends.” Shawn shrugged and pushed away his drink. He’d be damned if he drowned his sorrows in vodka all night.

“Friends who want seconds.”

He flashed a grin. “Or thirds.”

Rachel tossed her long dark hair, and the ends whipped across his cheek, stirring her scent. And his blood. “Pig.”

“Oink, oink.”

She sniffed. “And you say I’m indiscriminating.”

“You are. A guy with a Rolex and a sweet car is all it takes, baby, and you know it.”

He knew she wasn’t like that at all, but he appreciated immensely the way her eyes fired with indignation. Hell, he preferred any reaction from her than conviviality.

“You have a Rolex and a sweet car.” She managed to look down her nose at him, though he was several inches taller than her five-nine. “Haven’t been there,have I?”

Unless first kisses counted, which they didn’t. Not when said first kiss occurred sixteen years ago during a round of spin the bottle. “Nah.” He went back to his drink. “Actually, I’d guess I’m one of the few guys here who hasn’t seen your breasts.”

“Wrong again, smart-ass.”

Happy not to press the point, Shawn surveyed the assembled guests. People were everywhere. Clumped together in groups on the manicured lawn, lounging on floats in the mammoth pool, draped on chaise lounges sipping mai tais. Everyone seemed to be in a party mood but him.

And judging from Rachel’s long-suffering sigh, it was about to get worse.

“I might as well tell you now.” Her long fingers stroked his toothpick. “I’m flying to New York tomorrow.”

“Gonna give East Coast sex a try for a change?” Though the question was meant in jest, the purse of her lips made his shoulders tighten.

Great. Just frickin’ great.

“I’m going to…connect with an old friend.”

“Ever consider connecting with your oldest friend?” When she rolled her eyes, he could tell she’d taken his statement as yet another joke. Damn best-buddy curse. “Which old friend?” His suspicions mounted at her silence. “I didn’t know you knew anyone in New York, except –”

Rachel nodded briefly. “I’m going to see Ryan.”

She waited for his response, even if it were merely an assessing flicker of his mossy green eyes. She got nothing.

Typical Shawn. If he was disappointed in her, a Tibetan monk made a chattier companion.

“So you’re just going to sulk now?”

“I’m hardly sulking.” He tossed back his drink in two swallows. “It’s your life. Your choice what you do with it.”

She tapped her glossy fingernails on the glass tabletop as the music shifted to something more upbeat. The last rays of sun had disappeared, but the pinprick white lights draped between flaming tiki torches lit up the night. Even the air changed, becoming sultrier, sexier.

California nights couldn’t be beat. Unless you were trying, as she was, to get away before the life everyone thought you should be living closed in around you.

It wasn’t as if she was leaving town permanently. Was it really so awful she wanted to take a vacation? To do something impulsive without getting the public consensus first?

“I value your opinion. I –” Her heart gave a nasty jolt as he reared to his feet and seized her suddenly limp wrist. “What’re you doing?”

He glared at her, firelight gilding his golden hair. Smoking in his unfathomable eyes. “It’s called dancing. Let’s do it.”

Because the phrase let’s do it made her a bit too hot and shivery, she took a steadying breath. “Oh.” She rose and shoved her chair back from the table. Her arms and legs couldn’t seem to work together, leaving her feeling no more coordinated than a marionette bopping on the end of a string. “Weird time to dance, don’t you think?”

“No.”

Shawn tugged her away from the table and onto the makeshift dance floor. Before she could argue further, she was in his arms, her body neatly cleaved to his. Chests, stomachs, thighs. Right on down the line.

Her pulse tripped a moment before her feet. What was the matter with her tonight? “I was trying to have a serious conversation. Not to –” Her stumbling feet stopped altogether at the solid column of heat pressing into her belly. Her eyes widened. “You’re hard!”

He didn’t even have the courtesy to look ashamed. Actually he appeared amused. “You don’t say.”

Rachel rubbed her hand over her mouth, easing back to keep from bumping into it again. “I’m your best friend. You shouldn’t get aroused when you’re dancing with me.”

“Why not? You’re a beautiful woman.” He spun her out smoothly, brought her back so his body spooned hers and his long, thick length nestled into the cleft of her ass. She closed her eyes, appalled that her heart rate climbed with every sway of his hips. Oh, God, this felt so good. So incredibly intimate, even with the other couples dancing just a few feet away.

This wasn’t right. He was her best friend, the man everyone had told her she should want. But she didn’t. Didn’t.

Yeah, she’d wanted sex, but not with Shawn. And now that he was dirty dancing up against her for everyone to gawk at, she could admit her need to escape to New York was partially his fault. Just because their families and most of their friends had thought they belonged together ever since he’d accompanied her to her first junior high dance didn’t mean it made sense.

What was between them wasn’t about passion. She’d seen too many good friendships trashed when sheet aerobics were added into the mix. He meant way too much to her to risk what they had at the request of her hormones. Or because their mothers thought they’d make gorgeous babies.

She’d never blithely gone along with her family’s wishes before. No reason to start now. Even if she’d just gotten a firsthand feel of how well he’d, uh, grownsince she’d seen him in the shower so many years ago.

“Why haven’t you been talking to me lately, Rach?” Shawn’s breath steamed into her ear, sending a trail of fire from the nape of her neck to her toes.

“What do you mean?”

“You used to tell me things.” He walked his fingers down her shoulder, and she fought back a shudder. “Private things. Now you keep everything between us G-rated.”

Because of this, you jerk.

She squeezed her eyes shut. How long had she been feeling this bizarre undercurrent between them? Weeks. Months, even. A heaviness in her chest when he stepped too close, a thrill along her spine every time he linked his fingers with hers.

She was lonely, that’s all. It’d been too long since she’d shared anything more than takeout Chinese with a man, so of course Shawn sent her libido into overdrive.

“You’re just doing this to keep me from Ryan.” Reassured she’d finally discovered his angle, she craned her head to stare at him. “You’re pretending there’s &heat between us because you don’t want to deal with the fallout if something goes wrong. You’re trying to protect me again. But it’s none of your goddamned business what I do. Or who.”

The venom in her tone shocked even her, but he only laughed. “Yeah, I’m pretending there’s heat.” His large, warm hands slid down her sides, hardly touching her, but setting off a wicked burn of anticipation between her legs she couldn’t control. “You’re in denial, Cooper. I’m not.”

Her pussy flooded with moisture, proving how right he was. “Yeah, sure. Suddenly, you’re all hot and bothered.” She hoped he couldn’t hear the quaver in her voice, but she doubted she’d get her wish. He simply knew her too well. “I think it’s just because you don’t like the idea of me leaving.”

“Just because you’re blind, don’t ascribe motives to my actions that aren’t there. No, I don’t want you to see him. Ever.” An emotion she couldn’t read flashed in his eyes. “But not just because of me. Have you forgotten he dumped you at eighteen to run off to New York, when you were –”

“Don’t. Just don’t.” Rachel hissed out a breath. “It’s been ten years. I’m over it. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wondered what if &”

“You know what if. His career was all he ever cared about. You came second.”

She rubbed her eyes, willing her mind to settle and her body to stop betraying her by trembling each time he brushed against her. The last thing she needed was to be dissuaded when she’d finally gathered up the nerve to go after what she wanted.

Or at least what she thought she might want, even if it was only temporary. Which equaled pretty much the same thing.

“We were kids then. Things are different now. He’s achieved the success he’s always wanted. Besides, ever heard of a harmless fling?”

“A fling? With a man you used to be in love with? Get real, Rachel.” With a snap of his wrist, he spun her out again, twirling her until she collided hard into his muscled chest. She gasped, but he didn’t seem to notice. “Where do you think you’ll fit into his world?”

Swallowing, Rachel tipped back her head. She was actually dizzy, and she was beginning to think it wasn’t from Shawn’s killer dance moves. “We’ll see, won’t we? I’ve been down that road once before. Now I want to see where this one takes me.”

“As you wish. If you need to go, go. But I’m coming with you.”

That she hadn’t expected.

“Say what?” At his mulish stare — and the demanding press of his hands against the small of her back — she swiftly backtracked. “Look, Shawn, Ryan’s publisher is putting on this big masquerade party to celebrate the release of his new book. We’ll have one memorable night. Or a memorable couple of hours.” She huffed out a breath when he cocked a dark blond eyebrow. “I hardly need a chaperone.”

“No, but you may need a friend.”

Immediately she softened. Staying mad at Shawn was a losing proposition. He was, after all, the person who’d helped her balance on her first two-wheeler and hadn’t stopped steadying her since. “There are phones, you know.” She laid her hand lightly on his chest. “I’m only going for ten days. Once school starts up again, I won’t be able to get away. This is the right time.”

“Let’s say he falls madly in love with you again.” Even as she wondered if she’d imagined the hurt undercutting his deep, honeyed voice, she dismissed the idea. Why would he possibly be hurt? “Then what? You leave your position at CB Middle School, leave your family, leave –”

Me.

He hadn’t had to say the word aloud.

She bit the inside of her cheek. In their nearly thirty-year friendship, Shawn had always demonstrated his loyalty through actions, not words. Or in this case, a soulful look that set off a quiver low in her belly.

Wow, he was really giving this acting job his all.

“No.” Quietly, she repeated, “No. I’ll never leave you.” Her fingers slid into the opening in his shirt, brushing over warm, smooth skin and rough hair, but the warning flash in his eyes made her snatch her hand back. “Don’t you get that yet, Griffin?”

She waited for his trademark slow grin. It always started with a slight twist of his lips as he upped the wattage degree by degree. But this smile wasn’t merely unhurried, it was nonexistent.

“I won’t wait forever, Rachel.”

While she struggled to decipher what he’d said, her world narrowed to him clasping her fingers in a punishing grip. As their gazes locked, her breath lodged in her throat.

“No,” she whispered, her lashes sweeping down to block her view as his mouth met hers.

It wasn’t a kiss. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, have labeled it as such. More, it was a claiming, a territorial seizing a heartbeat before his tongue demanded entrance.

Shawn, her brain screamed. This was Shawn. The child she’d built sandcastles with, the boy she’d called to take her to the hospital the night she’d miscarried Ryan’s baby.

Shawn, the man she loved more than anyone.

That was what had her slamming her hands against his chest, forcing him back.

“How could you?” She gave him only seconds to answer. When he didn’t, she tore off across the lawn.

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

15754620This short story is also included in the Anthology “Heroes Unwrapped.”

A free book offered at the above website:

Billy Bob (BB) Dalton thought he left his career as an underwear model behind when he became a Task Force Zeta special operative. Now they want him to be the military’s new poster boy. Will the older woman assigned to manage the campaign take BB from working undercover to under the covers?

 

BB Dalton: Under the Covers is available on Amazon

 

Why do you need to read this book? I’ve read several of Cat Johnson’s books – this wa s free read that I picked up. Short, Hot and Spicy!

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

11391526This Time Travel Fantasy Bundle includes Footsteps in Time and Prince of Time, books one and two in the After Cilmeri Series. It tells the story of David and Anna, two teenagers catapulted back in time to alter history and save the medieval kingdom of Wales.

Footsteps in Time: In December of 1282, English soldiers ambushed and murdered Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales. His death marked the end of Wales as an independent nation and the beginning of over seven hundred years of English oppression.

Footsteps in Time is the story of what might have happened had Llywelyn lived.

And what happens to the two teenagers who save him.

 

The Fantasy Bundle is available from Amazon

Why do you need to read this book? This is the fourth book that I’ve read in this series so far and in this one I learned a lot about this history of England from the version of the Welsh. Interesting perspective! Great book!

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

13623052Three years have passed since the events chronicled in Prince of Time…

Anna has made a place for herself in thirteenth century Wales as a wife, mother, and healer. David has taken more of the kingdom’s rule on his shoulders, even as his relationship with Lili has caused friction with his father, King Llywelyn. The King wants his son to seek a political marriage that will benefit his country – and possibly place the crown of England on David’s head.

England and Wales have shared a border and an uneasy peace for three long years.

And that peace is about to be broken….

 

Crossroads in Time is available from Amazon

Why do you need to read this book? The next book in this series – I’ve been totally enjoying where this story is going – the characters, the history lesson and the continuity from book to book.

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

10351343Prince of Time, Book Two in the After Cilmeri Series: Two teenagers are catapulted back in time to alter history and save the medieval kingdom of Wales … David and his man-at-arms, Ieuan, find themselves alone and on the run from a company of English soldiers who’ve sworn vengeance for the recent death of their king. Meanwhile, Llywelyn lays on his deathbed from a traitor’s arrow. And once again, it is David and Anna, and all they represent, that holds the key to the survival of Wales.

Prince of Time is available on Amazon

Why do you want to read this book? This is the second book in this series. I just soaked up all the new information that I learned about the earlier years of Wales. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

10842405Daughter of Time tells the story of a young widow, Meg, healing from the pain of a brief, unhappy marriage, who falls through time into the Middle Ages-and into the arms of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last Prince of Wales. He saves her, and she in turn saves him, thanks to her knowledge of future events. Although powerful forces seek to divide them, by working together, Meg and Llywelyn have a chance to navigate the dangerous and shifting alliances that constantly undermine his rule and threaten the very existence of Wales-and to create a future in which Llywelyn’s death does not come too soon.

Daughter of Time is a stand-alone novel within the world of the After Cilmeri Series. Other books in the series include Footsteps in Time and Prince of Time.

Daughter of Time is available on Amazon

Why do you need to read this book? I picked up this book for free as I thought it was a Time Travel Romance. It is, but it is so much more than that! I loved the love story, I got hooked on all the information I was learning about the history of Wales. On to the next in the series!

 

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

roses2Isabelle Lockwood was a duchess, until her husband of only a few months wrongfully divorced her for adultery. Since then she’s been a pariah, living in anonymous exile to escape the prying eyes and wagging tongues of the town. More than anything, Isabelle longs for a family of her own, and so has to marry again. But society is ruthlessly unforgiving. To clear her name, Isabelle must face down her past – and the man who broke her heart and ruined her completely.

Marshall Lockwood, Duke of Monthwaite, was blindsided by his young bride’s infidelity. After the divorce Marshall licked his wounds, throwing himself into his botanical studies to forget his disastrous marriage. Now his former wife is back in Town, as beautiful and enticing as he remembers. As the Season throws them together again, Marshall can’t shake the feeling that Isabelle might not be the adulteress he took her for.

Once a duchess is available from Amazon

 

Why do you need to read this book? I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I picked it up off of a BookBub email and the author was totally unknown to me. I was impressed by the characters, the story line and the overall tone of this book. A must read!

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!!

1044380An arranged marriage leads to unlikely passion…when the groom turns out to be a shameless rogue, in this Regency-period historical.

Widowed, penniless Sabrina Whitcomb isn’t looking for romance. What she needs is a husband, and she knows well enough that romance and matrimony aren’t always compatible. While providing for her twins and the child she now carries is paramount, wedding a virtual stranger—even a wealthy one, like Gideon St. Goddard, Duke of Stanthorpe—is no light matter.

Sabrina knows the friend who arranged the union would not promise her to a true scoundrel, but one look at her future husband convinces her that he is a shameless rogue. A shockingly handsome and desirable one, at that. Why has he agreed to marry her?

When Gideon flashes that wicked, seductive smile, the reason hardly matters, but the chance that he’ll steal her heart becomes all too real…

 

Undeniable Rogue is available on Amazon

 

 

Excerpt:

“Stare death down, Rogues, and take an oath to The Club.”

“The Rogues Club,” said the men.

Gideon St. Goddard cleared his throat. “Those of us blessed and cursed to survive, and remember, hereby vow to protect the families of those here, now, who go to their just rewards with the dawn.”

“Aye,” they all repeated.

Gideon nodded and read from the parchment they had composed together. “Every dead rogue’s widow, mother, sister, brother, ward, will be blessed with a family of rogues who provide for them. Every corporeal need—food, shelter, warmth against the cold, and when due: a spouse, an education or a living.”

“Aye.” The second response came stronger and held more conviction.

“Raise your flasks,” Gideon said. “And repeat after me. ‘We the members of The Rogues Club, so do vow.’”

After the vow, and a drink to seal it, cheers resounded and hands were shaken, so it hardly seemed possible that in a few hours any of them might meet their maker.

Soon, the men began to talk among themselves, exchanging information about their families, and Hawksworth approached him.

 

June 18, 1815

After Bonaparte’s Defeat

 

My dear Sabrina, if you read this, I have passed, yet the sun shines for me now that you are settled. As I vowed, I found for you a husband. With time running out, I exacted from him what amounts to a deathbed promise to wed and protect you.

He is the new Duke of Stanthorpe, honorable, and wealthy beyond your needs. Tell him of your enemy, I implore you, for he will help.

You suffered as the wife of my late half-brother, and for that I make recompense. I shall call you my beloved sister into eternity. Yours, Hawksworth.
 

Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!

18490213Living out of a car and waiting tables to make ends meet is hardly the stuff of fairy tales. So when a gorgeous man approaches Alyx Dagmar with a wild story about her royal lineage and an even wilder proposition, the aspiring actress is sure he’s got the wrong woman.

Self-made billionaire Daniel Voldakov needs connections before he can expand his software business into Europe. A blue-blooded fiancée would open all the right doors—and Daniel’s certain he can tempt the pretty but penniless Princess Alyxandretta to accept the part she was born to play.

Alyx can’t resist Daniel’s offer, and throws herself into the role. But as the paparazzi fall in love with their “storybook romance,” Alyx finds herself drawn to Daniel in ways she’d never imagined. Are his returned affections true, or all just part of the plan? He’ll do anything it takes to prove his love, and to make her see that the only happily ever after he wants is with her…the real her.

Some Like It Royal is available on Amazon

Why do you need to read this book? This is a lovely Cinderellaish story – totally delightful!

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

The pounding on the side of the car jerked her awake. Alyx shoved up her sleep mask and glared blearily at the window of her Volvo. If the cops seriously planned to make her move again, she might lodge a complaint with the city. The parking garage was open to the public and she didn’t pull in until after it opened. She’d parked in the back corner of the roof, on purpose, to avoid taking any choice parking from day dwellers.

But the blond haired, blue-eyed god cupping his hands against the glass to see past the glare did not look like a cop. Grumbling, she unfolded herself from the blanket. She’d just found the perfect position for her legs and back—one that wouldn’t leave her cramped awkwardly when it was time to get up.

She waved a hand at him as if to say “what?” and he answered with a two-knuckled knock on the glass and rolling his finger as though miming the window opening. She sighed. Yeah, he looked practically lickable, but she was about to get a ticket and she hadn’t paid for the last one yet.

Shoving the blanket off, she reached over and turned the hand crank. “Look, Officer, I’m sorry. I was too tired to drive home, and I thought I’d park here safely and get some Z’s.”

“Really? That’s why you pulled in two hours ago and hunkered down? And you’ve parked here for the last three mornings to sleep?” Hot caramel poured over ice cream didn’t sound as good as his voice. The pure liquid sex in the deep baritone ripped the cobwebs of sleep out of her mind and she crawled forward to peer up at him.

She knew him.

It was that guy from the restaurant—great tipper and really cute, but he’d seemed eager. Too eager.

Crap.

“You’re not a cop.” Grumpy accusation hung in the air. It was one thing for a cop to rouse her from sleep, but another for the guy who sat in her station night after night, staring at her with wild speculation in his eyes. Years of bouncing from foster home to foster home gave her radar for people who wanted something from her. She didn’t know what his game was, but…ugh. No, thank you. Determined to ignore him, she began cranking the window back up.

“Wait.” He thrust his hand through to catch the glass. He held up a carrier with two oversized cups of coffee from the corner Starbucks. The scent hit her with a vicious allure. Okay, she might forgive him waking her up. Maybe. “Can we talk?”

Maybe not.

She sighed.

“Ten minutes. All I’m asking for is ten minutes. I brought coffee. There’s croissants too.” He let go of the window to grab the paper bag off the tray and dangled it invitingly.

Bastard. But her stomach growled at the thought. She’d skipped her free meal the night before—the restaurant had been slammed and she needed the extra tips to cover the weekend immersion class coming up in Santa Monica. Cutting another look up at him, she weighed her options. If she ignored him, he’d probably knock again or report her. Either way, it wasn’t worth the hassle.

“Fine. Ten minutes. Back away from the door,” she ordered and waited until he complied before disentangling the last of the blanket and scooting over to let herself out on the opposite side of the car from him. That let her straighten her shorts and tank top to something a little more presentable.

Finger combing her tousle of red hair, she wished she’d tucked the ponytail holder around her wrist. It was what she usually did, but last night’s shift left her dead on her feet by two a.m. and she’d still had to drive five miles to the parking garage.

Maybe she should really think about getting an apartment. But the ones she could afford were dumps and if she sank all of her money into a place to live, she wouldn’t be able to take classes.

A lose-lose proposition all the way around.

She squinted across the top of the car. Mr. Godlike kept his distance, but damn if the man didn’t look fantastic. Bronze skin, white button-down shirt open at the collar and sleeves rolled up. His dress slacks weren’t wrinkled and his blond hair curled just slightly toward his face. He didn’t even have the grace to look a bit stubbly and rumpled.

Padding barefoot around the car, she held out her hand for the coffee. He handed it to her and opened his mouth, but silenced when she held up a finger. She inhaled the sweet fragrance of the coffee and considered taking a sip—just one, what could it hurt? But the guy was few slices shy of a full loaf and this was LA. With great regret, she set the cup on top of her car.

Beware strangers bearing gifts…

“You have ten minutes. Go.” She leaned back against her car, cradling her Taser in her hand. He frowned and looked at the bag of croissants and then over at her again. She shook her head. If she wasn’t drinking his coffee, she wouldn’t take his tasty pastries either—no matter how good they smelled.

Sighing, he took his own coffee cup out before setting the holder on the black Lexus she hadn’t noticed parked right next to hers. With exaggerated care, he took a long drink before leaning back against his vehicle, mirroring her pose.

“My name is Daniel Voldakov. I own Spherecast Technologies.” He paused as if she should recognize the name.

Lifting her eyebrows, she glanced meaningfully at her watchless wrist.

“We’re the fastest-growing software company in the States. I’ve made great strides in Canada and South America, but we can’t get traction in the European Union markets. Too many competitors from old families there.” Irritation discolored the words. “But I have an opportunity that I’d like to explore and a proposal for you…”

Alyx sighed, rolling her head from side to side to relieve the crackle of tension stiffening the muscles. She concentrated on keeping her expression bland, waiting. The scent of the dark-roast coffee kept tormenting her, but her grip on the Taser remained firm.

“If you’ll agree to marry me—and by that I mean you don’t have to actually marry me, but we will have to be engaged—and lend me the use of your royal title, I can make the acquaintance of the Andraste Grand Duke Armand. Once we’ve cemented that introduction, I could use his influence to open the EU markets for the company.”

She knew he spoke English. The words and the accent were exceptionally clear. But the so-called proposal rang madness in her ears. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Marry me. Be engaged to me. I’ll take care of your bills, get you a real place to sleep and all you have to do is be my princess and help me get those invitations.” He swallowed another mouthful of coffee and took a step forward. “I know it will take a lot of work on both our parts. But we can definitely do this. You’ll be amply compensated. I promise.”

Yeah, she really should have opened the door and used the Taser on him. In fact she shouldn’t have opened the car door at all. As casually as she could manage, she scanned the upper lot of the downtown Los Angeles parking garage. Unfortunately at six-thirty in the morning, no one else seemed to need to park up here.

They were alone.

“I’ve got a great place in Beverly Hills. Twenty rooms, six bedrooms—you can have your pick. I’ll throw in all the clothes you’ll need and anything designer we pick up for events. They would be yours to keep.” He held out the verbal enticement like she was some kind of stray dog who would leap at the offer of a free meal.

Not that she wasn’t wishing she could drink his coffee and dive into the bag with the croissants in it, but that was hardly the point. “Do I look like a prostitute to you?”

Probably not the best question considering she stood there barefoot in shorts and a thin yellow tank top, but still…

“I’m not offering you money for sex, Princess. I understand who you are. I’m just offering you an opportunity to be someone and help me out at the same time. It’s a win-win proposition.” Strangely, his tone echoed with sincerity, but the words flirted with insanity.

“You think just because I’m an actress looking for work, I’m going to agree to some farce of a marriage so you can get me alone? Do I look stupid to you?” He could be Ted Bundy—or worse, Jeffrey Dahmer. All the serial killers in the movies looked sweet and some looked sexy. He didn’t smell like a meth head, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t stoned on something.

Pity, too. Because anyone who looked as good as he did should really not be a drug addict.

“No, Princess.” He took a step forward and she raised the Taser, looking to keep her options open if she had to run. She could shock him and leave him drooling on the concrete. Not a lot he could do with a twelve hundred volts running through his system.

He stopped and held up his free hand, open and palm forward. “Maybe I should start over.”

“Maybe you should get back in your car and go back to whatever wonderland you escaped from and we’ll forget all about this.” It was too far to run for the stairs, but she might make it around the car and back inside.

“Princess, I understand that you may not want to advertise your heritage, particularly if you’re living out of a car. But I’m the guy who can put you on top. That’s got to be worth something.”

Yeah, a one-way ticket to a hugging jacket was what it was worth.

“What’s with the princess shtick? Do you think if you say it enough it will happen? Like Beetlejuice?” She suddenly didn’t want the coffee anymore.

The man—Daniel Voldakov, remember his name, you may need to report him to the cops—sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Princess, let me start at the beginning?”

“I’m thinking your ten minutes are up. I listened. I’m not interested. Thanks for the coffee.” She jogged right and made it to the trunk of her car and around to the other side. He remained next to his vehicle—thankfully—a look of consternation wrinkling his forehead.

“Your birth name is Alyxandretta Dagmar. Your parents were Alexi and Sioban Dagmar.”

She froze, one hand on the driver’s side door. Daniel stared at her steadily and held up his hand as he ticked off the information.

“Your father’s father and his father before him were born in Norway, the grandson and son respectively of the Grand Duchess Elizabeta Dagmar of Russia and first cousin to the Czar Nicholas II.” He didn’t smirk. If anything, he sounded resigned.

“So?” Alyx could have bitten her tongue for interrupting when he went silent for a long moment.

“She was his only surviving relative and potential heir following the Czar’s execution in 1917. Your family was—is one of the wealthiest in Europe. The grand duchess fled Russia for Norway the night of the coup, barely making it across the border. Her husband was not as fortunate. Her son, Nicolai—named for her beloved cousin—was just four years old.” Daniel stepped forward and took her ignored coffee cup off the top of the car. “They were offered asylum by their family in Norway and remained there until your grandfather immigrated to the United States.”

Slack-jawed, she stared at him. She wasn’t certain what was more startling. The story or the ring of truth she heard in his voice.

Get in the car, Alyx.

But she didn’t open the door. The picture he painted with staccato facts echoed barely remembered fairy tales from her childhood. She recognized the names from vague memories of best-forgotten bedtime stories her father used to tell her.

“How do you know that?” Her father had always called her princess, but he’d worked as an accountant and her mother a schoolteacher. They’d lived in a pretty little yellow house for as long as she could remember. Papa had mowed the lawn. Mama had planted flowers. Alyx had played in the cracked driveway, drawing hopscotch with chalk.

At least she did before they died. A bad patch of ice and a drunk driver shattered her childhood. She’d been left with a single suitcase of clothes and an Imperial teddy bear that currently lay on the floor of her car. If she’d had any family at all, they would have come for her.

But they hadn’t.

“I know this because you’re a popular urban legend—well, your father was. His father lost all of his investments to bad gambling debts and a propensity for alcohol. His family cut him off, and he ran away to America to remake his fortune and they lost track of him. Rumors circulated in inner circles speculated about his son and his granddaughter. But they were dismissed as rumors. Until now.”

Rumors. Why did he have to sound like he believed this bedtime story? Sure… She was a princess. A princess with four years of college debt, low prospects and an acting career on the fast track to nowhere. Hell, she slept in her ten-year-old Volvo because it was all she could afford. “Look, I appreciate that you think you’ve hit the mother lode. But I don’t have any money. I sure as hell don’t have a title, and I wouldn’t know a grand duke if I tripped over him on the street—thanks for the titillating story, but no, thanks.”

Thinking about her parents made her nostalgic for those mornings when she’d woken up and run into their room to bounce on the bed. Or better, the breakfasts her mother had insisted on cooking every morning and the way her father would slide his hands around her mother’s waist and hug her from behind before twirling her into a dance.

Grief fisted around her heart.

She missed them.

Every day she missed them. She’d seen happily ever after.

And worse, she’d seen what happened after the last page of the fairy tale. She didn’t want to think about it now.

Daniel sighed and crossed from his car to hers, but remained on the other side of the vehicle. “I don’t think you have any money, Pri—Miss Dagmar. But I do. A lot of money. More money than I could ever spend. I want to give you money. I want to help you claim the title and position that you should always have had.”

“All so I can help you get your software company access to EU markets?” Skepticism poured thick on the words. No one did anything for nothing. And he was asking her to believe he just wanted her name—a name that frankly didn’t mean anything.

She’d gone to school with a man named Brad Pitt—he didn’t benefit from sharing the actor’s moniker and heaven knew neither did Tina Fay, who was only one letter off. Just having the right name wasn’t a game changer, particularly in her case. No one had heard of her—yet. She planned to change that. All she needed was the right part, the right role, and she could launch her acting career. Until then it was nights at Roughy’s Steakhouse and days at lessons and auditions.

“Exactly. It’s a more than fair and equitable trade.” His mouth compressed, frustration knitting his brows together. It added a darker, more attractive layer of intensity—and he wore it well. Her stomach clenched and she was glad that a car separated them. She’d never been attracted to insanity before and this didn’t seem like the best time to get started.

Reaching into a pocket, Daniel pulled out a card and slid it across the roof of the vehicle. “Think about it. I have all the proof at my attorney’s office—including copies of your birth certificate, the obituary for your grandfather, photographs of your great-grandparents and a detailed report from the private investigator I hired.”

That gave her a jolt. She stared at the card like it was a snake—or worse, an apple from a snake.

“Can you do that? Can you think about it?” His fingers were steady on the card’s edge and his gaze compelling. She made the mistake of staring into those too-blue eyes. Her gut said she could trust him, but her mind shrieked like a blonde racing away from an ax murderer in a horror movie.

Nothing good ever came from trusting a stranger.

But he didn’t seem to be going anywhere. She fisted the Taser in right hand, ready to zap if he did anything funny, and reached for the card. Her fingers brushed the edge, but he didn’t let it go.

“Call me. Anytime. I’ll meet you anywhere you want. Anywhere you feel safe.” The words unlocked the band of suspicion winding around her chest.

“Okay. I’ll think about it and I’ll take your card.” The admission cost her nothing and promised even less.

He nodded and let go of the card, watching until she picked it up. But he didn’t leave, standing there and staring at her.

“Princess, I know you think I’m crazy and maybe I am. But if you do this for me, I can promise you, you won’t regret it.” Shivers chased over her skin at the quiet, solemn oath. He gave her a tight smile and a little salute, and then finally retreated to his black Lexus. She said nothing, watching him slide into the driver’s seat. The engine rumbled to life with a smooth purr and he donned sunglasses before backing the vehicle out.

She watched him until the car disappeared around the curve and descended into the garage. Fingering the card, she padded over to the wall and glanced down the six stories to the street below. Two minutes later, his Lexus pulled out and turned onto La Cienega and blended into morning traffic.

Surprising herself, she looked down at the card. She should crumple it up and throw it away. That was what logic and common sense told her to do. But she wanted coffee—she opened the door and tucked the card up under her sun visor. Climbing back into the car, she put her keys in the ignition and started the engine. No way in hell could she contemplate sleep at this garage—not after her visitor and his wild proposition. Her mind hummed with the possibilities of it all, but it didn’t matter.

Fairy tales weren’t made of common sense and logic—they were leaps of faith.

 

 

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