Tag: eHarlequin

Lightning Review: The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress by Lucy Monroe

Posted January 5, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress by Lucy MonroeReviewer: Holly
The Billionaire's Pregnant Mistress (Petronides Brothers Duo #1; Greek Tycoons #4) by Lucy Monroe
Series: Petronides Brothers Duo #1, Greek Tycoons #4
Also in this series: The Markonos Bride
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Publication Date: December 2004
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 184
Add It: Goodreads
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When Greek billionaire Dimitri Petronides is forced to give up Xandra Fortune, his beautiful mistress, he's certain she won't be too distraught. For all the intense passion they've shared she's never let him into her heart, and such a commitment-shy woman could never be his wife...

But after their split, Dimitri discovers that Xandra Fortune is not who he thought she was - and she is also pregnant with his child. Now he has to track her down and claim his mistress as his wife!

*Disclaimer: This review was written ages ago. I was doing some routine maintenance and found it hidden in a folder. I don’t know how I’d feel if I read this book now.

Dimitri was an awesome hero. Seemingly cold and unfeeling, he had the perfect constitution for a tortured hero..which he was. Though I was EXTREMELY angry at him for his mistreatment of the heroine early in the book, LM is wonderful at turning characters around and making me love them…despite their idiotic actions.

I loved that Xandra didn’t just fall at his feet, either. She really stuck to her guns and refused to be cowed by him. I love that in a heroine.

Overall it was a great read. I liked the interaction between the h/h and I loved watching the story play out. I love it when a story gets me tied up emotionally, as this one did.

Petronides Brothers Duo

3.75 out of 5


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Publisher Spotlight Excerpt: Wanted by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Posted June 1, 2010 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 0 Comments

Read an excerpt of Wanted by Vicki Lewis Thompson, available on June 1st by Harlequin Blaze.


Present Day

Nick Chance was pissed. There was no logical reason to fence this rocky section of the Last Chance Ranch. It would make a lousy pasture and was too far from the barn to work as a corral.

But big brother Jack had decreed that it should be fenced “just in case” they’d need it someday. There went Nick’s day off. Jack had discovered that Nick had no vet duties today, either at home or at any of the other ranches in the valley, so he’d handed Nick a posthole digger.

Nick had been tempted to suggest where Jack might shove his posthole digger, but going off on Jack wouldn’t solve anything. The guy was harder on himself than he was on anyone else. The rollover that had killed their dad last fall wasn’t Jack’s fault, but nobody could tell him different.

So Nicholas Chance, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, was driving one of the battered ranch trucks instead of his primo medical rig, and he was digging postholes that didn’t need digging. What the hell. He’d work on his tan. Climbing out of the truck, he took off his shirt and tossed it into the cab. Then he grabbed his worn leather gloves from the dashboard.

Before he lowered the tailgate and got serious about the project, he parked his butt on the fender and took a moment to appreciate the view of the Tetons. A raven gave him a flyby and what Nick interpreted as a caw of approval.

He couldn’t stay mad in country like this. His gaze roamed over the soft gray-green of sage livened up with spring flowers, including two of his mom’s favorites–pink wild geraniums and sunflowers. Rain had fallen the night before, swelling the creek that he could hear gurgling, although it was hidden by evergreens.

He caught a whiff of loamy earth and wet pine needles. The June sun was warm, but not warm enough to melt the snow still clinging to the jagged peaks. Nick never tired of looking at them.

A favorite memory surfaced, as it often did when he gazed at the mountains. Jack, leaning against the corral, had informed ten-year-old Nick and nine-year-old Gabe that the mountains were named by a French guy and Tetons was the French word for tits. Nick and Gabe had fallen over laughing, but Jack, a worldly fourteen, had predicted that someday they’d find the subject of tits fascinating instead of screamingly funny.

Nick smiled. As usual, Jack had been right, although Nick considered himself more of a leg man than a breast man. Gabe, on the other hand, liked his women generously endowed. Jack generally did, too, although since last fall he seemed to have lost all interest in anything frivolous, which apparently included dating.

Nick had plenty of interest in dating and didn’t consider it the least bit frivolous. But he had no current girlfriend, and Jack’s slave driver mentality didn’t leave much time for developing a new relationship.

Nick sighed and levered himself away from the truck. Jack’s mom had taken off when Jack was a toddler, so losing their dad had hit him extra hard. Nick and Gabe still had their mom. So did Jack, but despite all the love Sarah Chance had given him, he’d never forgotten he was her stepson.

The guy had issues, and Nick understood that, but things would have to change soon or Nick would be forced to take him on, even if Jack was officially in charge according to the terms of their dad’s will. Jack might be top banana, but Nick, Gabe and their mother, Sarah, each owned a fourth interest in the ranch, which meant they had some leverage.

At least they’d all agreed not to sell the place despite the outrageous price the ranch would bring. With very little private land left near the Jackson region, the Last Chance was worth a fortune. But it was not for sale.

That had to be some comfort to the hands, who loved living and working on a privately owned spread. These days the Last Chance raised horses instead of cattle, but it was still a working ranch and that was a triumph in today’s economy. Making ends meet could sometimes be a challenge.

Jack seemed to take that challenge a little too seriously, though. His idea of a workday had expanded until everyone was putting in twelve to fifteen hours. The hands were ready to mutiny and their foreman had dropped broad hints about quitting.

Gabe was the lucky one, Nick mused as he let down the tailgate and grabbed the posthole digger. Gabe’s cutting-horse events gave him an excuse to leave for most of the summer. He was the best competitor of all of them, and by riding in those events he promoted the Last Chance horses and theoretically brought in buyers. He also didn’t have to put up with Jack.

Pulling one of Jack’s surveyor’s stakes out of the ground, Nick tossed it in the back of the truck and jammed the posthole digger into the dirt.

By his tenth hole he’d dug up enough rocks to last him the rest of his life, and stacked them in a pile about three feet tall, his personal monument to stupidity. He was sweaty and bored. Like all the Chance men, he was perfectly capable of manual labor. But he’d spent years in school to become a large animal vet partly because he preferred a mental challenge to a physical one.

Planting the posthole digger in the ground, he took off his gloves and tucked them in his back pocket. Then he pulled a blue bandanna out of the other pocket, removed his straw cowboy hat and mopped his face. After replacing the bandanna and settling the sweat-stained hat on his head, he started counting the remaining surveyor’s stakes to see how many holes he had left before he could be released from bondage.

That’s when he saw her. She stood facing him, about twenty yards away on the dirt road he’d come in on. She slowly lowered her big-ass camera complete with telephoto lens, but he suspected she’d already taken at least one shot of him, if not more. He decided if she had the balls to take a picture of a perfect stranger without asking, he could give her the once-over without feeling like a male chauvinist pig.

She was on the tall side, at least five-eight. She’d dressed in fancy brown boots, a long tan skirt and a pale yellow, sleeveless blouse. Both the blouse and the skirt buttoned up the front. Apparently he was more sexually deprived than he’d realized because his first thought was easy access.

Technically her short, curly hair was brown, but that didn’t really describe it. In the sun it seemed to be made up of a dozen shades ranging from milk chocolate to bronze. She was too far away for him to see the color of her eyes, but close enough for him to tell she was pretty, with high cheekbones, an aristocratic nose and full lips. Large gold hoops dangled from her earlobes.

She’d slung a brown leather backpack over one shoulder, and he expected her to put the camera and telephoto in it now that she’d been caught photographing the locals as if they were some form of exotic wildlife. But she surprised him. Curving her lips, she raised the camera again.

He couldn’t resist. With a grin, he tightened his abs and flexed his biceps.

All her life Dominique Jeffries had been criticized for being too impulsive. But after a two-year stint as Herman’s girlfriend, she’d learned to rein herself in. Now that she was no longer Herman’s girlfriend, having been traded in for his boss’s daughter, she wondered if she’d forgotten how to be impulsive.

At least she’d come this far. After being humiliated by her ex, she’d desperately needed to get away. She’d chosen the place she’d dreamed about all her life–the Wild West.

And yes, she’d considered the fact that she might find a wild cowboy here, too, someone who would soothe her damaged ego. Her trip to Wyoming was a test to see if the old Dominique was still in there, and whether she dared let her out to play.

This authentic cowboy would be a perfect way to discover if she still had what it took to be spontaneous. But not too spontaneous. She wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the portrait photography business she’d built in Indianapolis. Much as she hated to admit it, Herman had helped her become financially stable for the first time in her life, and having money in the bank felt good.

But she had another sort of good feeling in mind today, one that came from flirting with a hunky guy. Her newfound cowboy was already making her laugh with his muscle flexing routine. “Nice pose,” she called out. “Care to show me the flip side?”

He turned, displaying buns to die for and back muscles like she hadn’t seen in…well, in two years. Herman wasn’t much for working out. She took a couple of shots, but she was here for more than the photography. A camera functioned as an excellent icebreaker.

Talk about overkill. Her shirtless cowboy was taking care of melting any ice that might be in the vicinity.

When she looked at him, she was surprised there was still snow on the mountains.

She couldn’t believe she’d happened upon such a great specimen of rugged Western male on her first day. This guy was the anti-Herman. And that was really what she’d come here to find. After being a good girl for two years, which had gotten her…well…dumped, she longed to be a little bit wicked.

“Got what you needed?” he asked over his shoulder.

Not quite, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. “Sure. Thanks.”

He turned around. “I should be thanking you. You gave me a break from digging postholes.”

“Glad to be of service.” She unscrewed her lens from the camera and stowed everything carefully in her backpack before walking forward. “I’m here on vacation.”

“No, really?”

She laughed. “I know. Hard to believe. I’m sure I look very Jackson Hole to you.”

“Depends.” His gaze lingered as he surveyed her outfit. “We get Hollywood types up here.”

Being mistaken for a Hollywood type gave her a needed boost. Being ogled did, too. When she’d thought herself in love with Herman, she’d considered him frugal. Now she saw him as stingy, both with his money and his compliments.

This cowboy didn’t seem like the stingy type. She loved the way he talked, slowly and deliberately, which she guessed came from living in the wide-open spaces.

His eyes, she discovered on closer inspection, were green.

“I’m not from Hollywood,” she said. “I’m from… actually, never mind where I’m from. It doesn’t matter. I’m on vacation from that place. No need to mention it.”

“Where’re you staying?”

She considered that a promising question, as if he might like to know how accessible she’d be while she was in the area. “Here.”

“Ah. Overflow from the Bunk and Grub, I’ll bet.”

“That’s right. Somebody ended up staying an extra week so Pam sent me down here.”

“Happens all the time. I hope you’re not too disappointed to find yourself on a ranch instead of a cozy B and B.”

“Not at all. It’s magnificent.” And so are you. It was okay for him to ogle her, but she felt uncool ogling him. Yet she couldn’t help it. His bare chest was a sight to behold–dusted with reddish-brown hair, muscled, and gleaming with sweat.

He nudged his hat back with his thumb. “Bet they put you in Roni’s room.”

“I’m not sure. Is she a NASCAR fan? There’s lots of NASCAR stuff in there.”

“She’s a mechanic for one of the teams, only comes home for holidays.”

Dominique hoped Roni wasn’t his girlfriend. She hoped nobody was his girlfriend. “I’m glad her room is available.” Are you? She peeked at his left hand, but lack of a ring meant little these days.

“First time in Wyoming?”

“Yes. I wanted to see something different.”

“You mean like mountains and moose?” His green eyes sparkled with laughter.

“I suppose you think it’s funny that I wanted to take your picture.” She was close enough to catch his musky scent. She used to love sweaty sex. Herman had been an efficient lover, a competent lover, but he preferred air-conditioned bedrooms, so there hadn’t been much sweat involved.

“Actually, I’m flattered. It’s not often some good-looking woman points a camera at me for no good reason.”

“I had a reason.” She hadn’t meant that to sound quite so husky and seductive. She cleared her throat. “What I meant was–“

“No, no, don’t backtrack on me. I liked the implication of the first answer.”

“Which was?”

“That you think I’m hot.”

“Maybe.” She found his swagger incredibly sexy.

His smile revealed even white teeth. “For the record, I think you’re hot, too.”

Now that was good to hear. With such white teeth, he must not chew tobacco. She’d thought about that as she’d fantasized a close encounter with a cowboy. A chaw of tobacco didn’t figure into her fantasy. Eeuuww.

He stepped toward her, the first move he’d made in her direction. “So what are we going to do about our mutual hotness?”

Her breath caught. She’d started this interchange, but he’d just taken charge and issued a challenge. He probably expected her to turn tail and run.

She hadn’t come all the way to Wyoming to run away at the first sign of adventure. She was bound and determined to rediscover her impulsive side. Her heart pounding, she stood her ground. “I’m not sure. Any suggestions?”

He hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans so that his hands framed his crotch. “I can think of a way to handle it.”

She could tell he still expected her to back down. Well, he was in for a surprise. Trying not to hyperventilate, she gazed into his green eyes. “So can I.”

He stared at her. “You’re not playing games, are you? “

“No.” She swallowed and tried to breathe normally. “Are you? “

“I was a minute ago, but…damn, lady. Are you suggesting what I think you are?”

Adrenaline poured through her system. “Look, the last month has been hell. My steady boyfriend dumped me when his boss’s daughter proposed. I scheduled this vacation to get away, to be in a completely different environment, and I…” The adrenaline began to fade, leaving her shaky. “The thing is, we don’t have cowboys in Indianapolis.”

He studied her in silence.

Her words seemed to hang between them in an embarrassing display of misplaced chutzpah. She began to squirm. “Forget I said any of that. I’ll be going now.” She turned.

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Publisher Spotlight Excerpt: Blackwolf’s Redemption by Sandra Marton

Posted May 31, 2010 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 2 Comments

Blackwolf's Redemption (Harlequin Presents)Read an excerpt of Blackwolf’s Redemption by Sandra Marton, available now from Harlequin Presents.

Blackwolf Canyon, Montana, 5:34 a.m., one hour before the summer solstice, June 21, 2010

The moon had set almost five hours ago. Still, night clung tenaciously to the land.

The high, rocky walls of the canyon seemed determined to hold to the chill of darkness; a razor-sharp wind swept down from the surrounding peaks and whipped through the scrub, its eerie sigh all that disturbed the silence.

Sienna Cummings shivered.

There was a wildness to this place, but in these last moments before the dawn light pierced the bottom of the canyon, she could almost sense the land’s ancient, often bloody history.

A heavy arm wrapped around her shoulders.

“Here,” Jack Burden said, “let me warm you up.”

Sienna forced a smile and stepped free of the expedition leader’s embrace.

“I’m fine,” she said politely. “Just excited. About the solstice,” she added quickly, before Burden could pull his usual trick of turning whatever she said into a suggestive remark.

No such luck.

“I’m excited, too,” he said, managing to do it, anyway. “Lucky me. Alone with you, in the dark.”

They were hardly alone. There were four others with them: two graduate students, an associate professor from the Anthropology Department and a girl Burden had described as his secretary. From the way she looked at him, Sienna doubted if that was her real job, but that was fine with her; for the most part, it kept her obnoxious boss from sniffing after her.

Except at certain moments.

Like right now.

Never mind that they were about to view something remarkable. That soon, the sun’s light would be visible between the huge slabs of rock a third of the way up Black-wolf Mountain. That a shaft of that light would stream down and illuminate a circle some holy man had inscribed on a sacred stone thousands of years ago. Never mind that this would be the first summer solstice in decades that outsiders had been allowed in the canyon at all, or that everything here was about to change because the land was about to be sold to a developer.

All Jack Burden could think of was seducing her.

Yes, there were laws against sexual harassment. All she had to do was file a complaint with the university—and then live with the knowledge that her career would stall. It was the twenty-first century, women were the legal equals of men….

But in some of the ways that counted most, nothing had changed.

Some men still thought it was their right to take what they wanted, especially when it came to women.

“It’s almost time,” one of the grad students said breathlessly.

Sienna drew her thoughts together and focused on the jagged peak ahead of them. Half an hour, was more like it, but the waiting was part of the experience. She’d been on lots of ancient sites; she’d seen the summer sun rise at Chaco Canyon, traced the glyphs on the great temple at Chichén Itzá. One magical night, she’d been permitted to walk among the monoliths at Stonehenge.

And yet, there was something special about this place.

She could feel it. In her bones. In her heart. She would never say such a thing to anyone—she was a scientist, and science scoffed at what people claimed to feel in their bones. Still, there was something special here. About this night. About being here.

She must have made a little sound. A whisper. An indrawn breath, because Jack Burden leaned toward her.

“Aren’t you glad I brought you with me?” he said.

He made it sound like a gift, but it wasn’t. Sienna was months away from her doctorate; she had studied Blackwolf Canyon for two years. She had earned her place on this expedition. She knew everything about the canyon, from the ancients who had settled it, to the Comanche and Sioux warriors who had fought for it, to its mysterious last-known owner, Jesse Blackwolf, though what had become of him was uncertain.

He, too, had been a warrior. He’d fought in Vietnam a decade before she was born, returned home in what should have been triumph—and virtually disappeared.

She’d tried to find out what had become of him, telling herself it had to do with her studies, her thesis, but it wasn’t true. The man had captured her imagination. Ridiculous, of course. Cultural anthropologists studied cultures, not individuals. But there was something about Jesse Blackwolf….

“Here it comes,” one of the grad students yelled. “Just another couple of minutes!”

Sienna nodded, wrapped her arms around herself and waited.

Blackwolf Canyon, Montana, 5:34 a.m., one hour before the summer solstice, June 22, 1975

Jesse Blackwolf s horse shifted impatiently beneath him.

“Soon,” Jesse said softly, stroking a calloused hand along the animal’s satiny neck.

Eyes narrowed, Jesse looked at the jagged peak ahead of him.

Half an hour, and he could ride out of this place and never look back.

His ancestors had come here to celebrate their gods. He had come to say goodbye to them. There was no room in his life for nonsense.

He hadn’t planned on this final visit. What for? A summer solstice was a summer solstice. The earth reached the top of its northernmost tilt and that was that.

His ancestors had figured it out and they’d venerated the process. They’d made a big thing out of these final minutes that marked the start of the longest stretch of daylight in the year.

Not him.

It wasn’t belief in superstition that had brought Jesse here. On the contrary. It was disbelief. Looking at this foolishness as it happened seemed vital. He’d accepted it as a boy but he was a long way from boyhood. He was a man, older and wiser than the first time he’d ridden out to view the solstice.

The big gray stallion snorted softly. Jesse’s hard, chiseled mouth turned up in what might almost have been a smile.

“Okay,” he said, “maybe you’re right. Older? Absolutely. Wiser? Who knows.”

The horse snorted again and tossed his massive head as if to say, What are we doing out here when we both should be sleeping? Jesse couldn’t fault the animal for that. Trouble was that an hour ago, he’d awakened from a fitful sleep, taken Cloud from the warmth of his stall, slipped a bridle over his head and obeyed the sudden impulse to ride out to the canyon and watch the sunrise.

Damn it, Jesse told himself coldly, be honest!

He was here by plan, by design, by the need to sever, once and for all, whatever ties remained between him and the old ways.

Impulse had nothing to do with it.

He’d known that the solstice was coming. You didn’t have to be part Comanche and Sioux for that. His mother’s Anglo blood was more than sufficient. So were the three wasted years he’d spent at university. The sun reached a certain declination, a certain height and angle in the sky, and twice a year, you had a solstice.

Solstices were real.

It was the god myths that were bull.

The stuff about the renewal of the earth, of the spirit. The nonsense about what it meant to a warrior to be on this very spot at the moment the sun rose behind the jagged peaks of Blackwolf Mountain, shone its light between the two enormous stony slabs on the rocky shelf some forty feet above the ground, then centered on the spiral the Old Ones had etched into the horizontal stone between them.

The idiocy about how viewing this particular rising sun could change a man’s life forever.

Jesse gave a bitter laugh.

His father had believed in all of it, as had his grandfather, his great-grandfather and, most probably, every Blackwolf warrior whose DNA he’d inherited.

For most of his thirty years, he’d believed in it, too. Not all of it—a twentieth-century man with the better part of a university degree under his belt wasn’t about to buy into mythology.

What he had believed in was respecting the old ways. Respecting the continuity of tradition. And, yes, he’d even believed in honoring, if only a little, events like the solstices.

What harm could there be, even if a man knew the scientific reasons for why such things occurred?

His father had brought him to this place when he was twelve.

“Soon the sun will rise,” he had said, “and the light of time past and time yet to come will fall on the sacred circle. The vows a man takes at the summer solstice will determine his true path forever. Are you ready to make a vow, my son?”

At that age, Jesse’s head and heart had brimmed with stories of his warrior ancestors. His father had told those tales to him all his life; his mother—born in the East, to parents who had never met an Indian until they met their new son-in-law—had read them to him from the children’s books she wrote and illustrated.

And so, of course, Jesse had been ready.

As soon as the sun began its slow rise into the heavens, he’d tilted his face to its light, arms outstretched, hands open and cupped to receive its gift of brilliance and warmth, and he’d offered himself, everything he was, to the spirit of the warriors who had gone before him.

His father had smiled with pride. His mother, told of his vow when he and his father rode home, had hugged him. Even as he grew older and slowly began to understand that the old stories were just stories and nothing more, he’d been glad he’d made the vow, glad his father had included him in this ancient tradition.

But by the time Jesse was in college, everything seemed changed. There was a war taking place in a distant land. Boys he’d grown up with were dying in it. He would not be drafted; college kids were not going to be put in harm’s way.

It seemed wrong. He was descended from warriors. What was he doing, hiding away in stuffy classrooms at a university where some had taken to ridiculing everything he believed?

At twenty, Jesse knew it was time to honor the vow he’d made when he was twelve.

He left college. Enlisted in the army. His father had been proud of him. His mother had wept. He went through basic training, was plucked from the others and offered the chance to become part of an elite group called Special Forces. He served with honorable men in what he thought was an honorable cause….

And watched everything he’d believed in turn to dust.

Cloud whinnied and pawed the ground. Jesse blinked, brought his thoughts back where they belonged, to this place where it had all begun, his descent into a way of life that had deceived him.

The solstice was starting.

The sky had taken on that faint purple light that marks the end of night as the sunlight began to fall on the mountain. Light filled the narrow space between the two great slabs of rocks placed there by his ancestors thousands of years ago.

The sun rose higher.

Jesse drew a deep breath.

The last time he’d sat a horse in this place, he’d been filled with childish idealism. Not anymore. He was a man, with a man’s knowledge of the world. He had lost everything: his father to cancer, his mother to despair only months later, his own honor to a war that had been a sham.

So, yes. He would make another vow here as the sun rose. He would vow to rid the world of superstition. He would sell the canyon, sell his thousands of acres, and if some ambitious snake-oil salesman decided to charge admission to view the solstice or the equinox or the moon-rise, let him.

He had already put a stop to the age-old tradition of permitting his people to ride here to view what they considered a sacred rite. Men—boys, especially—should not be taught to put their faith in things that could someday make a mockery of their beliefs.

This was a place of lies and ignorance. It was time to put a stop to it.

The sale papers were already on his desk. He would sign them, courier them to his attorney, and all this nonsense would be—

Cloud whinnied. Jesse looked straight ahead at the beam of bright sunlight beginning to slip between the two slabs of stone.

He drew an unsteady breath. His pulse was racing; he felt light-headed. Damn it, superstition could be a powerful—

What in hell was that?

He’d expected the shaft of light to fall on the so-called sacred stone. One thing about science: once you understood it, you could count on it to perform the necessary parlor tricks.

But what was that other light? That sudden green zigzag overhead?

There it was again. An electric bolt of color that shattered the sky.

His horse danced backward, shying with fear. Jesse grasped the reins in his right hand more tightly, murmured words of assurance to the horse.

To himself.

Lightning, in a clear dawn sky? Lightning without thunder? Lightning the color of emeralds? The weather could be unpredictable here. This was northern Montana, after all, a place of mountains and valleys and…


Another streak of lightning sizzled through the sky behind the jagged peak. The sun vanished; darkness covered the land. Cloud rose on his hind legs and pawed the air, crying out with fear. Jesse fought to calm the agitated animal.

The sky lit again. Green lightning flashed between the stone slabs and pulsed at the heart of the sacred circle.

The stallion went crazy, screaming, trying to throw Jesse to the ground.

The breath caught in Jessie’s throat.

The lightning had stopped.

The darkness vanished.

The sun appeared, a bright yellow ball against a clear blue sky.

It lit the canyon, the peaks, the tenacious shrubs and lodge-pole pines that clung to the inhospitable slope before him, but Jesse had eyes for only one thing.

A figure. A human figure that lay, still as death, in the very center of the sacred stone.

The climb to the ledge was as tricky and dangerous as Jesse remembered, more like sixty feet instead of forty because of all the maneuvering necessary to find the right hand and footholds, and the rush of adrenaline pumping through him didn’t help. He could feel his muscles tensing.

Jesse stopped, counted to ten, took half a dozen deep breaths as the sweat poured off his tanned skin. If he fell, then there’d be two of them for the vultures to pick over.

Two of what? his brain said. Had he actually seen somebody up there?

Hell. There was no time for that. He had to keep moving.

The ledge was right above him now. This was the trickiest part; he’d have to lean back with nothing behind him but air to get a decent handhold. Wouldn’t it be a bitch if he’d gone through all this nonsense and the thing lying on the stone wasn’t human at all? There was lots of wildlife here. Elk, deer, but neither of those could have scrambled up this high. A wolf? No, again. A bear, maybe. Or a mountain lion.

He might have made this climb just for a look at the carcass of a dead animal. Or an injured one. Hunters might have ignored his No Trespassing signs. Nobody from around here. They knew better. But an outsider…

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Publisher Spotlight Excerpt: Spontaneous by Brenda Jackson

Posted May 30, 2010 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 0 Comments

Spontaneous (Harlequin Blaze)Read an excerpt of Spontaneous by Brenda Jackson, available now from Harlequin Blaze.


My brother has hit gold.

That thought ran through Duan Jeffries’s mind while he stood on the sidelines and watched Terrence “Holy Terror” Jeffries escort his bride, Sherri Griffin Jeffries, around the huge ballroom as they thanked the numerous guests for attending their wedding.

From the moment Duan had met Sherri, he’d known she was the one woman who could make his younger brother happy. Just being in their presence was to feel the love radiating between them. And even though he was a downright cynical bastard when it came to the notion of true love, the two of them had made him somewhat of a believer.

The same held true for his sister, Olivia, and the man she’d married last year, Senator Reggie Westmoreland. That was definitely another love match. So okay, two cases weren’t bad. He shifted his glance across the room to his father and the woman by his side and chuckled inwardly. All right, he would make that three cases. His father had finally married his devoted administrative assistant a few months back. Duan didn’t know any man who deserved the love of a good woman more than Orin Jeffries, especially after all the hell the mother of his three offspring put him through.

Not wanting to think about the woman who’d given birth to him, the same one who’d deserted her husband and three children when Duan was twelve, Terrence ten and Libby three, he glanced at his watch, feeling tired and edgy. He had arrived in Chicago yesterday and come straight from the airport to the church, just in time to make the rehearsal dinner.

A private investigator, for the past three months he’d been working practically around the clock trying to gather enough evidence to hand over to an attorney friend who was convinced a man he was representing had been wrongfully accused of murder. It had been a hard case to crack and even harder to deliver the news that it was the man’s wife who’d set him up. With the evidence needed to clear the man of all charges, Duan had taken off from Atlanta on a direct flight to Chicago.

He glanced at his watch. He had another hour or so before the wedded couple headed for O’Hare and a two-week honeymoon in Paris. After they departed he would go up to his hotel room, get out of his tux and change into something more comfortable and…

Do what?

He didn’t have any immediate plans. Word had gotten around that some of Reggie’s brothers and cousins were hosting a card game later tonight in one of their rooms. He wasn’t surprised. He had known most of the Westmorelands from his high-school years in Atlanta and had rekindled friendships with them since Reggie had married Libby. The one thing he knew about them was that they liked to gamble, and their game of choice was poker.

Duan decided to pass after remembering what happened the last time he’d played with them. When the game ended he’d been three hundred dollars poorer.

If not poker, then what else was there to do?

He shifted his gaze to the woman standing across the room talking to the bride’s parents. Immediately, he felt a primitive thrumming heat run through him. Kimani Cannon. He would definitely love to do her.

She was the best friend of the bride and he had been attracted to her from the first moment they’d been introduced a few months ago at Terrence and Sherri’s engagement party in the Keys. He had immediately picked up on the strong sexual chemistry flowing between them, and the look Kimani had given him promised that they would hook up later to wear out somebody’s sheets. But before they could make that happen, he’d received an important tip on a case he was working and had to leave.

She was definitely nice to look at with her dark, sultry eyes, a cute pixie nose and full and shapely lips. He particularly liked the mass of dark brown spiral curls that crowned her creamy cocoa-colored face.

She was downright sexy from the top of her head past those shapely curves and gorgeous legs to the soles of her feet. And speaking of feet, he had a weakness when it came to women in high heels, especially if they had the legs for them, which she did. And the strapless satin baby-blue maid-of-honor dress that hit below the knees looked damn good on her, but he’d much prefer seeing her naked. He wanted to find out if his dreams came close to the real thing.

He took a sip of his drink and continued to watch her. Lust after her was more like it. And it wasn’t helping matters when all kind of wicked fantasies danced around in his head. He could envision doing something hot, naughty and X-rated with her—like locking himself between her legs and staying there until there wasn’t anything left to give or take.

His fingers tightened on the stem of the wineglass, not sure what part of her he enjoyed staring at the most, and quickly decided he liked everything about her. Even from across the room she stirred his blood, fired his senses and made him think about hot sex under silken sheets.

He dragged in a deep breath and reached up to loosen his tie, which suddenly felt tight. Hell, even his briefs were restricting. And the rumble deep in his gut, trickling down toward his groin, could only mean one thing. After a six-month abstinence, he needed to get laid. And he wondered if the woman across the room would in any way be accommodating.

No sooner had that thought worked its way into his mind then she glanced over in his direction. Their gazes locked and the chemistry flowing between them thickened, stirred and escalated. Heat shimmered in the air and then she broke eye contact with him. Placing her wineglass on the tray of a passing waiter, she headed out of the ballroom. He watched, mesmerized by the sway of her hips and those gorgeous legs in high heels.

Suddenly, he felt his feet moving to follow her.

Kim released a deep breath as she walked down the hall that led to the room the bridesmaids had used earlier to dress in. She heard footsteps behind her and didn’t have to turn around to know the identity of the person following her.

Duan Jeffries.

There was something about him that made her immediately think of sex, sex and plenty more sex. In that brief moment they’d made eye contact in the ballroom, she had detected the raw hunger within him, a need that was both possessive and magnetic, and it had drawn her to him, filled her with a desire to take him on right now.

Due to budget cuts at the hospital where she worked as an E.R. nurse, she hadn’t had much of a social life lately. Seeing Duan made her realize just how much she longed for some skin-to-skin contact. Licking him from head to toe would be a good start, but she figured they wouldn’t have enough time for that. A quickie would have to do.

She’d known the instant she met him four months ago that they would eventually get together. The vibes had been strong and she was disappointed when he’d left the Keys unexpectedly. The only reason she hadn’t initiated jumping his bones after the rehearsal dinner last night was because she and Sherri had planned to hang out with her cousins one last time in Sherri’s hotel room.

A shiver of anticipation flowed through her body when she came to a stop in front of the room. Without looking over her shoulder, she turned the knob, pushed opened the door and stepped inside.

It was only when she heard the sound of the door closing and the lock clicking in place behind her that she turned to stare up into what had to be the most gorgeous dark eyes any man could possess. And then there were the perfect angles, seamless planes and sensuous lines that made up an impressive and sinfully handsome face.

He took a step closer and she sucked in a quick breath when she felt his erection poke into her belly. She wasn’t sure who made the first move after that. It wasn’t really important. All that mattered was the mouth that swooped down, taking hers with a hunger that she reciprocated.

When she met his tongue with her own, he deepened the kiss and then it was on. Something frantic broke within her, within them, and a need as raw as it could get took over.

She felt his hand lifting her dress. The sound of silk rustling against silk inflamed her mind, and when those same hands made contact with the apex of her thighs, not even her panties were a barrier against the busy fingers that sought and found an easy opening.

And then those fingers were moving through the curls, beyond the folds, stirring her wetness and massaging her clit. She moaned at the invasion as well as the pleasure, and instinctively reached for his fly and eased down the zipper. Quickly inserting her hand beneath the elastic waistband of his briefs, she gripped the engorged hardness of his sex. He pulled his mouth from hers and released a guttural groan, and the primitive sound was something she understood and identified with.

“Condom.” He said that one word in a ragged breath and she relinquished her hold on him so he could fish into the pockets of his pants for his wallet. He pulled out a square packet.

She shifted her gaze from the condom to his erection, jutting proudly from a dark thatch of curls. The head of his shaft was big and smooth, and the veins running along the sides were thick.

Heat burning in every part of her body, she watched as he sheathed himself with such ease and accuracy that she figured he’d done this numerous times. When that task was completed, he glanced up and the eyes that stared at her nearly scorched her skin and made her regret they only had time for a quickie. Leisurely savoring every inch of him was something she would just love doing. But for now she would take what she could get. Leaning up on tiptoe, she pressed her moist lips against his.

His mouth immediately captured hers, kissing her hungrily, and she felt him tug her dress up. She had a feeling this mating would be a quickie like nothing she’d ever experienced.

He lifted her, cupping her hips in his hands, and she instinctively wrapped her legs around him. Like radar his engorged sex found its mark and he pushed forward, sliding between her wet folds. The size of him stretched her, filled her to capacity. And it seemed his erection got larger as he delved deeper and deeper…pressing her back against the wall.

He paused, as if he wanted to experience the feeling of being embedded within her, and in protest her inner muscles clamped down hard on him, then let go, repeating the process a few times. He snatched his mouth from hers, threw his head back and released a massive growl.

To her satisfaction he began moving, pounding in and out of her in a rhythm that matched the beat of her heart. She hoped and prayed the room on the other side of the wall was empty. She would hate for anyone to want to investigate what all the noise was about.

She felt his every thrust all the way to her toes—toes that were curled around his waist at that very moment. His erection was throbbing inside her with the intensity of a volcano about to erupt.

He leaned down and imprisoned her mouth again, kissing her hungrily. Was there anything this man couldn’t do perfectly? She moaned and worked her body against his, meeting him stroke for stroke, thrust for thrust.

She pulled back from the kiss, needing to see him, to look into his face, to know he was feeling the same things she was. Pure feminine satisfaction poured through her at the intense look on his features that told her he was. And if that didn’t convince her, then his thrusts did. They were powerful, each one an accurate hit, centering on her G-spot with clear-cut precision and a mastery that had her panting. And still he thrust deeper, pounded harder.

And then she felt it, the first signs of the explosive tension building inside her and inside him, as well. His muscular thighs began quivering with an intensity that she felt through his tuxedo pants. And then he let out a deep moan followed by a release that triggered her own eruption, and he clamped his mouth on hers to quell her scream.

Their tongues tangled once again and she was devoured by his greedy mouth. Giving in to pent-up passion and bridled lust, she wrapped her arms around him as he continued to rock into her, as if taking her this way was his due. His every right. And at that moment, it was.

Duan shoved his shirt into his pants as he glanced over at Kimani. She was smoothing her dress over those luscious curves. The woman was something else, and even now, while aftershocks of his orgasm were still flitting through his system, his body was aching for more. What was it about her that made him into one greedy ass where her body was concerned?

He breathed in deeply. The scent of sex mingled with the perfume she was wearing had to be filling her nostrils the way it was his. He liked the aroma. When she reached up and ran fingers through her curls to bring order back to her hair, he thought she looked simply beautiful.

He shook his head. He’d just made out with the maid of honor at his brother’s wedding. Hell, they were right down the hall from the reception.

“We need to move quickly if we want to be there when Terrence and Sherri leave,” she said, slipping into the shoes she had discarded earlier. Those high heels he liked so much.

He knew it was a stupid thought, but the only place he could imagine being at the moment was right here with her. “And just what will happen if we’re not there? ” he asked.

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Publisher Spotlight Excerpt: Tough to Tame by Diana Palmer

Posted May 30, 2010 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 0 Comments

Tough to Tame (Harlequin Romance)Read an excerpt of Tough to Tame by Diana Palmer, available now from Harlequin.


Cappie Drake peered around a corner inside the veterinary practice where she worked, her soft gray eyes wide with apprehension. She was looking for the boss, Dr. Bentley Rydel. Just lately, he’d been on the warpath, and she’d been the target for most of the sarcasm and harassment. She was the newest employee in the practice. Her predecessor, Antonia, had resigned and run for the hills last month.

“He’s gone to lunch,” came an amused whisper from behind her.

Cappie jumped. Her colleague, Keely Welsh Sinclair, was grinning at her. The younger woman, nineteen to Cappie’s twenty-three, was only recently married to dishy Boone Sinclair, but she’d kept her job at the veterinary clinic despite her lavish new lifestyle. She loved animals.

So did Cappie. But she’d been wondering if love of animals was enough to put up with Bentley Rydel.

“I lost the packing slip for the heartworm medicine,” Cappie said with a grimace. “I know it’s here somewhere, but he was yelling and I got flustered and couldn’t find it. He said terrible things to me.”

“It’s autumn,” Keely said.

Cappie frowned. “Excuse me?”

“It’s autumn,” she repeated.

The older woman was staring blankly at her.

Keely shrugged. “Every autumn, Dr. Rydel gets even more short-tempered than usual and he goes missing for a week. He doesn’t leave a telephone number in case of emergencies, he doesn’t call here and nobody knows where he is. When he comes back, he never says where he’s been.”

“He’s been like this since I was hired,” Cappie pointed out. “And I’m the fifth new vet tech this year, Dr. King said so. Dr. Rydel ran the others off.”

“You have to yell back, or just smile when he gets wound up,” Keely said in a kindly tone.

Cappie grimaced. “I never yell at anybody.”

“This is a good time to learn. In fact…”

“Where the hell is my damned raincoat?!”

Cappie’s face was a study in horror. “You said he went to lunch!”

“Obviously he came back,” Keely replied, wincing, as the boss stormed into the waiting room where two shocked old ladies were sitting beside cat carriers.

Dr. Bentley Rydel was tall, over six feet, with pale blue eyes that took on the gleam of steel when he was angry. He had jet-black hair, thick and usually untidy because he ran his fingers through it in times of frustration. His feet were large, like his hands. His nose had been broken at some point, which only gave his angular face more character. He wasn’t conventionally handsome, but women found him very attractive. He didn’t find them attractive. If there was a more notorious woman hater than Bentley Rydel in all of Jacobs County, Texas, it would be hard to find him.

“My raincoat?” he repeated, glaring at Cappie as if it were her fault that he’d left without it.

Cappie drew herself up to her full height—the top of her head barely came to Bentley’s shoulder—and took a deep breath. “Sir,” she said smartly, “your raincoat is in the closet where you left it.”

His dark eyebrows rose half a foot.

Cappie cleared her throat and shook her head as if to clear it. The motion dislodged her precariously placed barrette. Her long, thick blond hair shook free of it, swirling around her shoulders like a curtain of silk.

While she was debating her next, and possibly job-ending, comment, Bentley was staring at her hair. She always wore it on top of her head in that stupid ponytail. He hadn’t realized it was so long. His pale eyes narrowed as he studied it.

Keely, fascinated, managed not to stare. She turned to the old ladies watching, spellbound. “Mrs. Ross, if you’ll bring—” she looked at her clipboard “—Luvvy the cat on back, we’ll see about her shots.”

Mrs. Ross, a tiny little woman, smiled and pulled her rolling cat carrier along with her, casting a wistful eye back at the tableau she was reluctantly foregoing.

“Dr. Rydel?” Cappie prompted, because he was really staring.

He scowled suddenly and blinked. “It’s raining,” he said shortly.

“Sir, that is not my fault,” she returned. “I do not control the weather.”

“A likely story,” he huffed. He turned on his heel, went to the closet, jerked his coat out, displacing everybody else’s, and stormed out the door into the pouring rain.

“And I hope you melt!” Cappie muttered under her breath.

“I heard that!” Bentley Rydel called without looking back.

Cappie flushed and moved back behind the counter, trying not to meet Gladys Hawkins’s eyes, because the old lady was almost crying, she was laughing so hard.

“There, there,” Dr. King, the long-married senior veterinarian, said with a gentle smile. She patted Cappie on the shoulder. “You’ve done well. By the time she’d been here a month, Antonia was crying in the bathroom at least twice a day, and she never talked back to Dr. Rydel.”

“I’ve never worked in such a place,” Cappie said blankly. “I mean, most veterinarians are like you—they’re nice and professional, and they don’t yell at the staff. And, of course, the staff doesn’t yell…”

“Yes, they do,” Keely piped in, chuckling. “My husband made the remark that I was a glorified groomer, and the next time he came in here, our groomer gave him an earful about just what a groomer does.” She grinned. “Opened his eyes.”

“They do a lot more than clip fur,” Dr. King agreed. “They’re our eyes and ears in between exams. Many times, our groomers have saved lives by noticing some small problem that could have turned fatal.”

“Your husband is a dish,” Cappie told Keely shyly.

Keely laughed. “Yes, he is, but he’s opinionated, hardheaded and temperamental with it.”

“He was a tough one to tame, I’ll bet,” Dr. King mused.

Keely leaned forward. “Not half as tough as Dr. Rydel is going to be.”

“Amen. I pity the poor woman who takes him on.”

“Trust me, she hasn’t been born yet,” Keely replied.

“He likes you,” Cappie sighed.

“I don’t challenge him,” Keely said simply. “And I’m younger than most of the staff. He thinks of me as a child.”

Cappie’s eyes bulged.

Keely patted her on the shoulder. “Some people do.” The smile faded. Keely was remembering her mother, who’d been killed by a friend of Keely’s father. The whole town had been talking about it. Keely had landed well, though, in Boone Sinclair’s strong arms.

“I’m sorry about your mother,” Cappie said gently. “We all were.”

“Thanks,” Keely replied. “We were just getting to know one another when she was…killed. My father plea-bargained himself down to a short jail term, but I don’t think he’ll be back this way. He’s too afraid of Sheriff Hayes.”

“Now there’s a real dish,” Cappie said. “Handsome, brave…”

“…suicidal,” Keely interjected.

“Excuse me?”

“He’s been shot twice, walking into gun battles,” Dr. King explained.

“No guts, no glory,” Cappie said.

Her companions chuckled. The phone rang, another customer walked in and the conversation turned to business.

Cappie went home late. It was Friday and the place was packed with clients. Nobody escaped before six-thirty, not even the poor groomer who’d spent half a day on a Siberian husky. The animals had thick undercoats and it was a job to wash and brush them out. Dr. Rydel had been snippier than usual, too, glaring at Cappie as if she were responsible for the overflow of patients.

“Cappie, is that you?” her brother called from the bedroom.

“It’s me, Kell,” she called back. She put down her raincoat and purse and walked into the small, sparse bedroom where her older brother lay surrounded by magazines and books and a small laptop computer. He managed a smile for her.

“Bad day?” she asked gently, sitting down beside him on the bed, softly so that she didn’t worsen the pain.

He only nodded. His face was taut, the only sign of the pain that ate him alive every hour of the day. A journalist, he’d been on overseas assignment for a magazine when he was caught in a firefight and wounded by shrapnel. It had lodged in his spine where it was too dangerous for even the most advanced surgery. The doctors said someday, the shrapnel might shift into a location where it would be operable. But until then, Kell was basically paralyzed from the waist down. Oddly, the magazine hadn’t provided any sort of health care coverage for him, and equally oddly, he’d insisted that he wasn’t going to court to force them to pay up. Cappie had wondered at her brother being in such a profession in the first place. He’d been in the army for several years. When he came out, he’d become a journalist. He made an extraordinary living from it. She’d mentioned that to a friend in the newspaper business who’d been astonished. Most magazines didn’t pay that well, he’d noted, eyeing Kell’s new Jaguar.

Well, at least they had Kell’s savings to keep them going, even if it did so frugally now, after he paid the worst of the medical bills. Her meager salary, although good, barely kept the utilities turned on and food in the aging refrigerator.

“Taken your pain meds?” she added.

He nodded.

“Not helping?”

“Not a lot. Not today, anyway,” he added with a forced grin. He was good-looking, with thick short hair even blonder than hers and those pale silvery-gray eyes. He was tall and muscular; or he had been, before he’d been wounded. He was in a wheelchair now.

“Someday they’ll be able to operate,” she said.

He sighed and managed a smile. “Before I die of old age, maybe.”

“Stop that,” she chided softly, and bent to kiss his forehead. “You have to have hope.”

“I guess.”

“Want something to eat?”

He shook his head. “Not hungry.”

“I can make southwestern corn soup.” It was his favorite.

He gave her a serious look. “I’m impacting your life. There are places for ex-military where I could stay…”

“No!” she exploded.

He winced. “Sis, it isn’t right. You’ll never find a man who’ll take you on with all this baggage,” he began.

“We’ve had this argument for several months already,” she pointed out.

“Yes, since you gave up your job and moved back here with me, after I got…wounded. If our cousin hadn’t died and left us this place, we wouldn’t even have a roof over our heads, stark as it is. It’s killing me, watching you try to cope.”

“Don’t be melodramatic,” she chided. “Kell, all we have is each other,” she added somberly. “Don’t ask me to throw you out on the street so I can have a social life. I don’t even like men much, don’t you remember?”

His face hardened. “I remember why, mostly.”

She flushed. “Now, Kell,” she said. “We promised we wouldn’t talk about that anymore.”

“He could have killed you,” he gritted. “I had to browbeat you just to make you press charges!”

She averted her eyes. Her one boyfriend in her adult life had turned out to be a homicidal maniac when he drank. The first time it happened, Frank Bartlett had grabbed Cappie’s arm and left a black bruise. Kell advised her to get away from him, but she, infatuated and rationalizing, said that he hadn’t meant it. Kell knew better, but he couldn’t convince her. On their fourth date, the boy had taken her to a bar, had a few drinks, and when she gently tried to get him to stop, he’d dragged her outside and lit into her. The other patrons had come to her rescue and one of them had driven her home. The boy had come back, shamefaced and crying, begging for one more chance. Kell had put his foot down and said no, but Cappie was in love and wouldn’t listen. They were watching a movie at the rented house, when she asked him about his drinking problem. He’d lost his temper and started hitting her, with hardly any provocation at all. Kell had managed to get into his wheelchair and into the living room. With nothing more than a lamp base as a weapon, he’d knocked the lunatic off Cappie and onto the floor. She was dazed and bleeding, but he’d told her how to tie the boy’s thumbs together behind his back, which she’d done while Kell picked up his cell phone and called for law enforcement. Cappie had gone to the hospital and the boy had gone to jail for assault.

With her broken arm in a sling, Cappie had testified against him, with Kell beside her in court as moral support. The sentence, even so, hadn’t been extreme. The boy drew six months’ jail time and a year’s probation. He also swore vengeance. Kell took the threat a great deal more seriously than Cappie had.

The brother and sister had a distant cousin who lived in Comanche Wells, Texas. He’d died a year ago, but the probation of the will had dragged on. Three months ago, Kell had a letter informing her that he and Cappie were inheriting a small house and a postage-stamp-size yard. But it was at least a place to live. Cappie had been uncertain about uprooting them from San Antonio, but Kell had been strangely insistent. He had a friend in nearby Jacobsville who was acquainted with a local veterinarian. Cappie could get a job there, working as a veterinary technician. So she’d given in.

She hadn’t forgotten the boy. It had been a wrench, because he was her first real love. Fortunately for her, the relationship hadn’t progressed past hot kisses and a little petting, although he’d wanted it to. That had been another sticking point: Cappie’s impeccable morals. She was out of touch with the modern world, he’d accused, from living with her overprotective big brother for so long. She needed to loosen up. Easy to say, but Cappie didn’t want a casual relationship and she said so. When he drank more than usual, he said it was her fault that he got drunk and hit her, because she kept him so frustrated.

Well, he was entitled to his opinion. Cappie didn’t share it. He’d seemed like the nicest, gentlest sort of man when she’d first met him. His sister had brought her dog to the veterinary practice where Cappie worked. He’d been sitting in the truck, letting his sister wrangle a huge German shepherd dog back outside. When he’d seen Cappie, he’d jumped out and helped. His sister had seemed surprised. Cappie didn’t notice.

After it was over, Cappie had found that at least two of her acquaintances had been subjected to the same sort of abuse by their own boyfriends. Some had been lucky, like Cappie, and disentangled themselves from the abusers. Others were trapped by fear into relationships they didn’t even want.

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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