Friday, January 18, 2019

Sneak Peek Excerpt - - The Lost Girls of Paris

I love WWII stories and I love Pam Jenoff's writing (her novel, The Orphan's Tale received a 5 star-Top Dish review from me).  Can't wait to read this one! 

The Lost Girls of Paris
by Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Park Row
Release Date: January 29, 2019

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

The Lost Girls of Paris

“Women? I don’t understand.”
The idea had come to her weeks earlier as she watched one of the girls in the radio room decode a message that had come through from a field agent in France with a swift and sure hand. Her talents were wasted, Eleanor thought. The girl should be transmitting from the field. The idea had been so foreign that it had taken time to crystalize in Eleanor’s own mind. She had not meant to bring it up now, or maybe ever, but it had come out nonetheless, a half-formed thing.
“Yes.” Eleanor had heard stories of women agents, rogue operatives working on their own in the east, carrying messages and helping POWs to escape. Such things had happened in the First World War as well, probably to a greater extent than most people imagined. But to create a formal program to actually train and deploy women was something altogether different.
“But what would they do?” the Director asked.
“The same work as the men,” Eleanor replied, suddenly annoyed at having to explain what should have been obvious. “Courier messages. Transmit by radio. Arm the partisans, blow up bridges.” Women had risen up to take on all sorts of roles on the home front, not just nursing and local guard. They manned anti-aircraft guns and flew planes. Why was the notion that they could do this too so hard to understand?
“A women’s sector?” Michaels interjected, barely containing his skepticism.
Ignoring him, Eleanor turned to face the Director squarely. “Think about it, sir,” she said, gaining steam as the idea firmed in her mind. “Young men are scarce in France, but women are everywhere. They blend in on the street and in the shops and cafés.”
“Do you want to go?” the Director asked. Eleanor considered the question. Yes, a part of her screamed. To see what was going on over there. To feel the rush that came from truly making a difference. Of course, she could not. The very nature of who she was made it impossible to blend in.
“I’m of better use here. As for the other women who work here already…” She hesitated, considering the wireless radio operators who labored tirelessly for SOE. On some level they were perfect: skilled, knowledgeable, wholly committed to the cause. But the same assets that made them ideal also rendered them useless for the field. They were simply too entrenched to train as operatives, and they had seen and knew too much to be deployed. “They won’t do either. The women would need to be freshly recruited.”
“But where would we find them?” the Director asked, seeming to warm to the idea.
“The same places we do the men.” It was true they didn’t have the corps of officers from which to recruit. “From the WACs or the FANYs, the universities and trade schools, or in the factories or on the street.” There was not a single resume that made an ideal agent, no special degree. It was more of a sense that one could do the work. “The same types of people—smart, adaptable, proficient in French,” she added.
“They would have to be trained,” Michaels pointed out, making it sound like an insurmountable obstacle.
“Just like the men,” Eleanor countered. “No one is born knowing how to do this.”
“And then?” the Director asked.
“And then we deploy them.”
“Sir,” Michaels interjected. “The Geneva Convention expressly prohibits women combatants.” The men around the table nodded their heads, seeming to seize on the point.
“The convention prohibits a lot of things,” Eleanor shot back. She knew all of the dark corners of SOE, the ways in which the agency and others cut corners and skirted the law in the desperation of war. “We can make them part of the FANYs as a cover.”
“We’d be risking the lives of wives, daughters and mothers,” Michaels pointed out.
“I don’t like it,” said another one of the other uniformed men from the far end of the table. Nervousness tugged at Eleanor’s stomach. The Director was not the most strong-willed of leaders. If the others all lined up behind Michaels, he might back away from the idea.
“Do you like losing a half-dozen men every fortnight to the Germans?” Eleanor shot back, scarcely believing her own nerve.
“We’ll try it,” the Director said with unusual decisiveness, foreclosing any further debate. He turned to Eleanor. “Set up an office at Norgeby House and let me know what you need.”
“Me?” she asked, surprised.
“You thought of it, Trigg. And you’re going to run the bloody thing.” Recalling the casualties they had discussed just minutes earlier, Eleanor cringed at the Director’s choice of words.
“Sir,” Michaels interjected. “I hardly think that Ms. Trigg is qualified. Meaning no offense,” he added, tilting his head in her direction. The men looked at her dubiously.
“None taken.” Eleanor had long ago hardened herself to the dismissiveness of the men around her.

Do you enjoy historical fiction from the WWII era?

Have you read any of Pam Jenoff's books yet?

Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master's in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as the preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.  

Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney both at a firm and in-house in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers. 

Pam is the author of The Kommandant's Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Winter Guest, The Diplomat's Wife, The Ambassador's Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair and The Things We Cherished. She also authored a short story in the anthology Grand Central: Original Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children. 

Other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, January 15th: Some Kind of a Library
Wednesday, January 16th: Jennifer – Tar Heel Reader
Thursday, January 17th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy
Friday, January 18th: The Romance Dish
Monday, January 21st: French Village Diaries
Tuesday, January 22nd: Where the Reader Grows
Wednesday, January 23rd: Rockin’ Book Reviews
Thursday, January 24th: Broken Teepee
Friday, January 25th: Amy’s Book-et List
Friday, January 25th: Reading Reality


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review - - Crave the Heat

Crave the Heat 
by Marnee Blake
The Smokejumpers - Book 2
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Reviewed by PJ

Smokejumper Dak Parrish has come home to Oregon to fight fires—and to mend fences with his family. He left the Warm Springs Tribal Reservation after feuding with his father. Now, with tribal lands threatened by an arsonist, Dak gets a chance to make amends by acting as a liaison between the reservation and the forest service criminal investigator—a woman who sparks a surprising and hungry flame in him.
After a trauma on the east coast, Heidi Sinclair left DC to start fresh as a criminal investigator in Oregon. But her first serious investigation provides one stubborn obstacle after another—including an arrogant firefighter she suspects knows more than he's saying. Though she tries to battle her attraction to Dak, it’s too late. As they track down the arsonist, someone will do whatever it takes to keep old secrets buried, even if it turns everything Heidi and Dak have fought for to ashes . . .

My thoughts:

Marnee Blake brings the heat (pun intended) as well as suspense, intrigue, life or death danger, and heart-tugging romance in this second book of her new contemporary romance series centered around a group of smokejumping firefighters who risk their lives each time they're called out. I thoroughly enjoyed book one and have been looking forward to returning to Oregon for more emotion-packed stories. Crave the Heat does not disappoint! 

This time around, it's Dak Parrish whose heart is on the line. Dak was introduced in the first book of the series but we don't really get to know him until now so you'll be fine jumping into the series at book two. You can always go back and read book one, Tempt the Flames, later. (read my review here) Dak is a good guy and I was immediately drawn to him. He's a person who always tries to do what's right, what's honorable, but circumstances have placed him in a position where he may have to make a choice that puts his honor at odds with his heart and scuttles his relationship with Heidi before it even has a chance to become one. Heidi isn't in any rush to jump into a relationship. She's determined to prove her worth in her new position, there's trauma and feelings of betrayal in her past that she has yet to deal with, and she suspects Dak may be keeping information important to their investigation from her. Not ideal circumstances for two people who are slowly falling in love while on the trail of a serial arsonist, yet neither of them can deny the flames of desire that flicker between them nor the emotional attachment that deepens the more time they spend together. I enjoyed the chemistry between these two as well as their emotional evolution, both individually and as a couple. They so deserved a happy ending and I was pulling for them though, for a while, I had no idea how Blake was going to pull off their HEA.

As for the mystery portion of the book, Blake excels at crafting a story that keeps me on my toes, eagerly anticipating what's coming around each corner. She's done that with each book she's written. I figured out the identity of the arsonist early on but it didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of the rest of the story. There are still plenty of twists throughout that had me wondering what would happen next and the climactic scenes, one in particular, left me gasping. 

If you like contemporary romance with complex characters, hold-your-breath suspense, betrayal, life or death danger,  emotional romance, and plenty of sizzle, I enthusiastically recommend Marnee Blake's Crave the Heat as well as book one in the series, Tempt the Flames

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review - - The Sergeant's Unexpected Family

The Sergeant's Unexpected Family
By Carrie Nichols
Small-town Sweethearts - Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Release Date: January 15, 2019 (Mass Market Paperback
Release Date: February 1, 2019 (Digital format)
Reviewed by PJ

After losing friends while serving his country, Sergeant Brody Wilson shut himself off from the world. Enter beautiful Mary Carter, his brother’s former girlfriend, and her adorable infant son. Despite his best efforts, Brody can’t close off his heart to beautiful Mary and little Elliott. But will pushing them away cost the wounded warrior the family he’s always dreamed of?

My thoughts:

One of the (many) things I enjoy about Carrie Nichols' books is the fact that she doesn't shy away from difficult issues. The Sergeant's Unexpected Family is no exception. With a deft hand, Nichols brings together a former soldier who has practically become a hermit in his quest to escape the pain of war with a strong, resilient woman in search of a community where she can build a home for herself and her baby. He would prefer never to leave his farm and the animals he's taken in there while she jumps on every opportunity to make friends and become part of the town where she's landed. Then there's the fact that Brody's presence is the very reason she's come to little Loon Lake, Vermont.               

Mary's son was fathered by Brody's half-brother, a man who wants nothing to do with either Mary or their child, a man from whom Brody is estranged. That's fine by Mary. She had already clued in to the man's true personality and stopped dating him before she discovered she was pregnant and, financially, she can support her child without his help. But Mary has no family and if something were to happen to her, her son would have no family. She wants Brody to know his nephew. She's there to form connections with Brody for her son. She never expected them for herself. 

Carrie Nichols really tugged my heartstrings with this story. I so enjoyed watching Brody slowly begin to open up to both Mary and Elliott as well as others in town. The scenes between Brody and Elliott made me want to wrap my arms around both of them. So sweet. And Mary and Brody are perfect for one another though it takes time, and overcoming a few obstacles, for that to become apparent. I like that Nichols gave them that time, and the space, to grow their relationship and overcome the emotional hurdles standing in the way of a happy ever after. I like her ability to pull me into a story and into the hearts and minds of her characters. I feel as if we've become friends and I'm traveling this journey with them. It's a feeling that brings me back to her books, again and again.

If you enjoy emotionally satisfying small-town romance that leaves you smiling with joy and eagerly looking forward to more, give Carrie Nichols a try. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tour Review - - There's Something About a Cowboy

There's Something About a Cowboy
By Rich Amooi
Release Date: October 25, 2018
Reviewed by PJ

Rule #1: No Dating Cowboys.
A fake fiancé doesn’t count, right? Oh boy . . .

Amy Weaver is tired of her dad meddling in her love life. Fed up, she hires an actor to play the part of her fake cowboy fiancé when she goes home for her grandpa’s ninetieth birthday. Sure, Luke Jenkins has got looks, charm, and muscular legs, but this is business, pure and simple. Things are fine and dandy until she finds out he’s a real cowboy, not an actor. Now, she’s stuck between a rock and his chiseled jawline, falling faster than a sack of horseshoes. How the heck is Amy supposed to ignore the sparks between them and stick to her rule of not dating cowboys? All bets are off.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Amy and Luke. There's so much fun to be had when characters, in this case Amy, make (wrong) snap judgments. Of course, Luke is much more than the pretty face, and gorgeous body, Amy assumes him to be and just the person to shake up her comfort zone. Prickly, confident Amy is exactly the kind of woman Luke is drawn to and when a bet between them the night they meet ends with a soul-stirring kiss, he takes the job she offers to explore what could be. She, of course, thinks it's because he needs money. 

What Amy has assured Luke will be an easy-money birthday celebration at her family ranch quickly turns into much more. Amy's ex shows up, her jerk of a father tests Luke at every opportunity in an attempt to get rid of him, and her grandparents (champion scene stealers - I adored them) are primed to nudge Amy and Luke down the aisle at the first opportunity. Then there's the chemistry between Luke and Amy, the snappy banter, events that have Amy reassessing her life goals, again, those adorable, scene-stealing grandparents, other quirky relatives who add to the general chaos as well as generating plenty of humor, and the fact that, sometimes, first impressions are far from reality. All in all, a fun ride that had me smiling from beginning to end. 

If you're looking for a feel-good contemporary romance that will make you chuckle, make you sigh, tug at your heartstrings, and leave you happy you took the time to read it, then Rich Amooi's latest book, There's Something About a Cowboy should be on your reading list.

Do you enjoy romantic comedies?

Have you read any of Rich Amooi's books?

How do you feel about younger men? What if he's a sexy as all get out cowboy who just happens to also be an award-winning barbecue pit master who makes a mean apple pie? You'll have to read the book to find out what Amy does but you can sign me up right now! ;-) 

Purchase Links –

Fun, Quirky Romantic Comedies from a Guy's Perspective. Rich Amooi is a former radio personality who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Social Media Links –

Monday, January 14, 2019

Spotlight on UNTOUCHABLE with Exclusive Excerpt

By Jayne Ann Krentz
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 8, 2019

Quinton Zane is back.

Jack Lancaster, consultant to the FBI, has always been drawn to the coldest of cold cases, the kind that law enforcement either considers unsolvable or else has chalked up to accidents or suicides. As a survivor of a fire, he finds himself uniquely compelled by arson cases. His almost preternatural ability to get inside the killer's head has garnered him a reputation in some circles--and complicated his personal life. The more cases Jack solves, the closer he slips into the darkness. His only solace is Winter Meadows, a meditation therapist. After particularly grisly cases, Winter can lead Jack back to peace. 

But as long as Quinton Zane is alive, Jack will not be at peace for long. Having solidified his position as the power behind the throne of his biological family's hedge fund, Zane sets out to get rid of Anson Salinas's foster sons, starting with Jack.

*Exclusive Excerpt*

Winter awakened from the chase dream gasping for breath. Her pulse skittered wildly.
The unnerving nightmare took various forms but each version had two things in common—she was always on the run and she always knew that, sooner or later, the monster would find her. On some nights she ran through a dense forest, seeking a cave in which she could hide. In other variations she struggled to swim to safety through a gelatinous sea.
Tonight, however, the dream took a new and disturbingly different dreamscape. She had found herself racing through a fiery maze, desperately searching for the way out but knowing all the while that she was only going deeper.
Crap. She had adopted a dreamscape that had been constructed by a client. It was the first time that had ever happened. She had her own nightmares. She did not need to borrow Jack’s old, well-used dreamworld.
Meditation guide, center yourself.
Lightning crackled outside, strobe-lighting the night for a few seconds. The wind sang a song that sounded as if it came from another dimension.
The storm had made landfall. That was probably what had awakened her.
But for some reason that didn’t feel like the right explanation.
She pushed the quilt aside and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. The room was cold. The comforting glow of the porch lights and the plug-in night-light had disappeared. That meant that the power had been knocked out.
There was a battery-operated camp lantern in the kitchen cupboard. Arizona had given her instructions on how to use it. There was also a powerful flashlight in the kitchen drawer.
But first she had to navigate the darkness of the bedroom and hallway. She fumbled for her cell phone. It was right where she had left it—on the end table. She gripped it and tapped the flashlight app. The narrow beam of bright light illuminated the path into the front part of the cottage.
She slid her bare feet into her slippers and stood. She was surprised and more than a little annoyed to discover that she was still struggling to calm her breathing and her pulse. It’s just a storm. You enjoy storms. The energy is exciting.
She focused on her breathing and told herself that there was no good reason to still be on the edge of panic.
If your body is fighting your mind there will be a reason. There is always a reason. It may not be a good reason but it will, nevertheless, be a reason. Listen to your senses.
She stopped focusing on her breathing technique and went through her senses one by one. She could not have seen anything because she had been asleep. Perhaps she had heard some small, unusual sound. She listened intently but the storm was still in full roar. The rain slammed against the windows. The wind shrieked and wailed. Underlying it all was the endless boom and crash of the surf at the foot of the bluffs.
She went down the hall.
She was crossing the living room area, heading for the small kitchen, when she heard the muffled groan and snap of metal and wood being wrenched apart. Shock flashed through her.
She turned toward the front door just as it slammed open.
Cold, wet wind howled into the cottage. A man loomed in the doorway, silhouetted against the glare of a lightning strike. The beam of a flashlight speared the darkness, sweeping the small space. She could just make out a long object in his other hand.
There was a loud thud as the crowbar he had used to gain entrance hit the floor.
Instinctively she looked to the side to avoid being temporarily blinded. She fumbled with the cell phone. It slipped from her fingers and clattered on the wooden floorboards. The narrow ray of light angled uselessly across them.
There was no time to retreat to the bedroom and lock the door. Her only chance was to make a run for the kitchen door. But even as that realization hit she knew the odds of escaping into the night were nonexistent. The dining counter that marked the border between the living room and the kitchen was in the way. It might as well have been a brick wall.
Lightning flashed again in the night. She watched in shock as the intruder yanked a long knife out of a sheath.
“I told you not to run from me, Winter,” Kendall Moseley said. “Now I’m going to have to punish you.”

Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Jayne Ann Krentz, 2019. 


Have any of you read UNTOUCHABLE yet? Thoughts? 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Excerpt from The Highland Renegade by Amy Jarecki

The Highland Renegade
by Amy Jarecki
Lords of the Highlands - Book 5
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: January 8, 2019

She is the daughter of his sworn enemy.
Famed for his fierceness, Laird Robert Grant is above all a loyal Highland clan chief. But when redcoats capture his rival's daughter, he sets aside their feud and races to her rescue. Aye, Janet Cameron is beautiful, cunning, and so very tempting, but a Cameron lass is the last woman he should ever desire.

He is her one hope of happiness.
Janet refuses to meekly surrender, not even when surrounded by foes. She takes every chance to escape, first from the English soldiers and then from the wickedly handsome Robert. Yet with each day they spend together, his unexpected gallantry chips away at her reserve little by little. As danger and treachery loom, can she trust him enough to choose love over vengeance?

by Amy Jarecki

Janet awakes in the mountains
Janet’s head throbbed while she dreamed of running. Warmth surrounded her, though her mind hovered beneath the threshold of consciousness. Something told her the morn had come and she must wake. But every time she began to stir, the pounding in her skull grew worse.
When something shifted against her back, her eyes blinked open for a moment, then lazily closed. She winced at the pain not only from the megrim, but because her entire body ached.
Dear Lord, please let me sleep for a few moments longer.
Something was clamped around her waist, and a deep voice sighed. A very deep, masculine voice that in no way should be behind her when she was sleeping. Janet’s eyes popped wide while her body stiffened. Not daring to take a breath, she slowly turned and looked back.
Holy snapdragons!
With a jolt she drew her fists beneath her chin. Of all the people in Christendom who could be slumbering alongside her, it had to be Laird Grant. Deliciously handsome, rugged-looking Mr. Grant. The wound on his cheek oddly served to add to his allure while he breathed through slightly pursed lips. Soft, gentle, masculine lips. Were they as kissable as they looked? Her tongue tapped the top of her mouth as she considered how wickedly delicious he might taste.
No, no, no, no! This is an abominable state of affairs.
She inched up the stiff blanket and peered out. Good heavens, they weren’t alone. Men covered with snow lay around the embers of a fire. Oddly, she was warm and dry, yet snow continued to fall. Shifting her gaze upward, she understood why. She’d been sleeping beneath a rock shelter—with Mr. Grant.
Lord have mercy, what if my father learns of this?
Suddenly panic seized her chest, making it impossible to breathe. If she didn’t escape this very instant she might die of utter mortification. How had she ended up in such a precarious situation? Yes, Mr. Grant had ridden to her rescue. He’d given her his cloak when she was on the verge of freezing to death. Thank the stars for his kindness, but she hadn’t given him leave to do…to do…good glory!
This state of affairs might ruin her for the rest of her days. She could ill afford to stay wrapped in a cocoon with Mr. Grant a moment longer.
Janet kicked her feet, but they wouldn’t budge. She pushed against the blanket, but it was as stiff as oak bark. Had they bound her in this contraption? Had they taken advantage and accosted her while she was out of sorts?
Her megrim throbbed tenfold while she thrashed and kicked. “Let me out!” Gaining a bit of room, she jabbed her elbows into the big Highlander behind her. In her panic, Janet’s chest tightened, making it harder and harder to breathe.
“God’s blood, woman!” Mr. Grant bellowed. In a heartbeat the blanket released her.
She sucked in a gulp of precious air.
Sitting up, he threw the blanket aside and sprang to his feet. “Have you caught fire?” he demanded, grabbing her shoulders and looking her from head to toe, his eyes wild and filled with alarm.
Janet gave him a hearty push as she scooted away. “No, you brute!” Looking down, she froze. Her life was all but over. How could he have removed her clothing and left her wearing nothing but a shift and stays? She was practically bare, and now she had nearly a dozen men staring at her. In her undergarments of all things. Swiftly hopping to her feet, she grabbed the leather blanket they’d been wrapped in and clutched it beneath her chin, trying to shake away the miserable pounding in her skull. “I demand you tell me why I am in such a compromising state of undress.”
His Lairdship spread his palms to his sides as if pleading innocence. “I beg your—”
She shook her finger. “You—you—you have taken advantage of a helpless maid. My brother was right. You are a scoundrel of the worst sort.”
“I did no such thing! If I had not taken action and removed your damp garments, you would have succumbed to the cold.”
She spotted her cloak and gown draped across a big rock under the shelf. Careful to ensure the blanket covered as much as possible, she scooted toward them.
“Beg your pardon, Miss Janet,” said Jimmy, shaking the snow off as he stepped toward them. “But Robert speaks true. You were half-dead when we arrived last eve. And he bellowed at us all, telling us to mind our own affairs and leave ye be.”
The lad’s words only served to make her shudder. She snatched her cloak and threw it over her shoulders. Had they all stood by and gaped while the laird removed her outer garments? She reached for her gown, suddenly realizing her stays had been loosened as well.
How dare he?
“I bid you all turn your heads whilst I dress,” she said in a commanding voice—at least she sounded as commanding as possible given her disgraceful state of dress.
Once all backs were turned, Janet pulled on her gown and tied the laces as best she could. Thank goodness her clothing was dry—even her shift and stays had dried, though they were as frigid as ice. When certain her cloak covered every possible loose string, she glanced to the laird’s satchel. “May I have my shoes, please?”
“If Your Ladyship will allow me to turn.”
“I am composed.”
“Very well.” He retrieved the shoes and gave them to her. “We have a bit of dried meat. We shall eat and be off.”
She slipped her feet inside the shoes, the fit a bit snug with Mr. Grant’s stockings. Janet looked down. No, I’m not giving them back until I’m safely home. “Are we heading for Achnacarry? My father will have a word with the colonel at Fort William. I’m certain he can set things to rights with the lieutenant.”
A rider approached from the glen, the snow making him look fuzzy at first. “Redcoats spotted!”


Have you read any of Amy Jarecki's books? Do you have a favorite?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Winners - - Most Anticipated Jan - Feb

The randomly chosen winners of a package of books from my

Most Anticipated Books of Jan - Feb post are:


Patty B from NY

Bonnie K

Martha Lawson


Please send your full name and 

mailing address (U.S. only) to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sneak Peek Excerpt - - The Conspiracy

The Conspiracy
By Kat Martin
Maximum Security - Book 1
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: January 22, 2019

Harper Winston’s brother has disappeared. Pursuing his dream of sailing the Caribbean, Michael hasn’t responded to texts or emails in days. When even the Coast Guard can’t find him, Harper is forced to take desperate measures. Which means going to Chase Garrett, once her brother’s best friend, now the only man she can trust…or so she hopes.

As the successful owner of Maximum Security, Chase has learned to trust his gut. He knows Harper’s father is mixed up in a deadly business, and suspects there’s more to Michael’s disappearance than meets the eye. Getting involved again with the Winstons goes against everything he stands for, yet old loyalties die hard. As the case draws him closer to Harper and deeper into the Winstons’ snarled crime family, he is forced to put everything on the line to keep Harper safe…and both of them alive.

Chapter One
Dallas, Texas
She knew who he was. The only man at the gala in a black tuxedo and shiny black alligator cowboy boots. Chase Garrett. The man she intended to hire to help her find her missing brother.
Harper Winston had known Chase since the day her father had thrown an obnoxiously extravagant party in honor of her sixteenth birthday.
Chase had attended with her older brother, Michael. She had spotted Chase in a swimsuit standing next to the pool, tall, with a lean, hard-muscled body, whiskey-brown eyes and thick, dark blond hair. In the sun it had gleamed like pirate’s gold.
Aside from the close-trimmed beard along a jaw that had hardened with maturity, Chase hadn’t changed. He still had the perfectly symmetrical features of a movie star combined with a toughness that appealed to a legion of women.
Now that she was thirty, Chase thirty-five, Harper still found him ridiculously attractive, though he’d never given her more than a passing glance.
He didn’t notice her tonight, though she wore an elegant strapless black gown that hugged her slender curves and set off the pale blond hair she wore long and slightly turned under. She glanced over to where he stood next to a stunning brunette, a successful lawyer in Dallas, the typical sort of woman Chase dated. Self-made career women, professors, bankers, stockbrokers. Not someone like her, the daughter of a wealthy Texas businessman, a woman who had attended Sarah Lawrence along with a bevy of other rich socialites from around the country.
It didn’t matter that she was nothing like they were. That she hadn’t the least interest in society. Her interests lay in the business world, in Elemental Chic, the company she had started, a line of affordable, stylish and well-made casual clothing and accessories.
She wasn’t cut out for teaching or social work, she had discovered during a year of volunteer work in South America, an adventure she had undertaken mostly because her father disapproved.
Harvard Business School was where she was meant to be, she had grudgingly conceded. As her father had insisted and was eager to pay for—business being one of the few interests she and Knox Winston, a self-made multimillionaire, had in common.
Unlike her father, Chase Garrett came from big money, which he disdained, though he and his two brothers had inherited a not-so-small fortune from Bass Garrett, Chase’s dad.
Harper lifted a champagne flute off a passing waiter’s tray and took a sip. Chase might not notice her tonight, but he was the reason she was there. She hadn’t seen him in years, but when she had read in the newspaper that he would be attending the gala, she’d seized the opportunity. She wanted to see the man he had become, the man she would be facing tomorrow morning.
It didn’t matter what he thought of her as a woman. She needed his professional assistance. Her brother was in trouble. She knew it deep in her soul. Mikey had disappeared, and Chase was among the few people she trusted to help her find him.
Chase owned Maximum Security, a firm that specialized in private investigation, bail enforcement, personal protection, business and residential security. She had done her homework, knew he had offices in Phoenix and San Diego as well as here in Dallas. Chase was wildly successful, his reputation impeccable.
No matter his opinion of her, he had once been a close friend of her brother’s, a man Michael trusted completely. She needed Chase’s help, and she was determined to convince him.
She wouldn’t give up until she did.
Standing next to Chase, Marla Chambers, his date for the evening, took a drink of her martini. “You don’t look like you’re having a very good time,” she said. “Should I be insulted?”
His mouth edged up. “Sorry. I was thinking about a case. I can’t seem to get it off my mind.”
“The missing teenage girl?”
He’d mentioned her earlier. He nodded. “Tammy Bennett. Her parents think she’s been kidnapped. They’ve managed to convince the police, who are in the middle of an all-out search. I think she’s a runaway.”
“Are you working for the parents?”
“No. I just happened to hear something on the street today. I’d like to check it out.”
She eyed him with speculation. “And you’re wishing you were doing that now instead of being here with me.”
He hated to admit she was right. His gaze ran over the attractive brunette he had been seeing for the past couple of weeks. He enjoyed Marla’s company. Enjoyed her in bed. But it wasn’t serious for either of them, and he kept thinking of the missing fourteen-year-old, a story that had been all over the news.
“She’s just a kid. If my source is right, she’s in very big trouble, and I might be able to find her.”
“I don’t suppose you could let the police handle it.”
“I could. I need to check it out first, make sure the tip is real.”
Marla shook her head, went up on her toes and kissed his cheek. “Then you’d better go.”
“What about you? You don’t look like you’re ready to leave.”
“I’m a big girl. I’ll stay awhile longer, catch a cab when it’s time to go home.”
Chase set his scotch down on one of the linen-draped tables. “Thanks, Marla. I appreciate this.”
“Call me tomorrow. Let me know what happens.”
“If I’m right, you’ll see it on the news.” Chase left Marla chatting with a friend and headed for the door. As he made his way through the throng of elegantly dressed men and women, an attractive blonde caught his eye.  Tall, with a slender figure, porcelain skin, and big blue eyes. She looked familiar.
As the puzzle pieces slid together, he recognized her, Harper Winston, the younger sister of his best friend in college. As a teenager, Harper had been pretty. Looking at her tonight, seeing her for the first time in years, he realized she had grown into a beautiful woman.
Unfortunately, she was a Winston. Her father, Knox Winston, was one of his least favorite people. Ruthless in business, his crooked dealings had made him a very wealthy man. But worse than his shady business enterprises was the mental abuse he’d heaped on his son that had put Michael on a downward spiral into drugs. And effectively destroyed his friendship with Chase.
Chase had steered clear of the Winstons ever since. He remembered hearing Harper had moved to Houston some years back. After that, he’d lost track of her and Michael, and he intended to keep it that way.
Though he had to admit as he took in Harper’s sleek curves and shiny silver-blond hair, he wouldn’t mind taking her to bed.
Even if the lady was of a similar mind, renewing his connection with the Winstons was the last thing he wanted. Besides, as he thought back on it, Harper had a reputation for being as cool and remote as she looked.
On his way out the door, he passed her. For an instant, her gorgeous blue eyes slid over him, and Chase felt a jolt of heat he hadn’t expected. He wouldn’t pursue it. Sleeping with Harper Winston, no matter how good it might be, just wasn’t worth it.
His thoughts returned to the task ahead, and Chase headed for the valet stand, a harsh October wind whipping against him on the way. He needed to get home and change. He couldn’t go to the Double Eagle dressed in a tuxedo—the bar was in Old East Dallas, one of the meanest sections of the city.
Earlier that day as a favor to Jason Maddox, a bail enforcement agent in his office who was looking for a skip, he had contacted one of his sources. During the conversation, his informant had mentioned the missing girl. Bennie had figured the tip was worth money, and if it turned into anything, Chase would gladly pay him.
It didn’t take long to reach the high-rise building on Pearl Street where he lived. He parked his silver Mercedes in the garage next to the brown Dodge Ram pickup he used for work.
Taking the elevator up to the seventeenth floor, he stepped into the entry and crossed the high-ceiling living room. An oversize sofa in a nubby cream fabric, dark brown throw pillows and lots of dark wood gave the condo a masculine tone that suited him. Stylized contemporary Western art hung on the walls.
With thirty-five hundred square feet of space, a spectacular view of the city, and a big terrace that opened off the living room and master bedroom, the condo was expensive and worth every dime.
Changing out of the tux, he pulled on a pair of worn jeans, a frayed blue denim shirt and a pair of scuffed cowboy boots. He retrieved the little .380 he carried when he wanted a weapon he could easily conceal, clipped the holster onto his belt behind his back and pulled his shirttail down over it.
It didn’t take long to reach the bar. The Dodge was ten years old, a few dents here and there, the paint a little faded, which helped it blend in. But the tires were new, and under the hood, the rebuilt engine ran like a scalded dog. He parked it on the street half a block from the bar and hoped the truck wouldn’t get jacked.
Looking at the trash on the sidewalk, broken beer bottles, used hypodermic needles, and drunks asleep in the gutter, part of him hoped his information was wrong and the girl wasn’t there.
The other half hoped like hell she was.
If he got lucky, maybe he could get her out of there.

While Chase Garrett is a successful businessman comfortable in a dashing tux and his silver Mercedes, he's also a rugged Texan, equally at home in worn denim and a pickup truck. Which do you prefer in a hero? Or, like me, do you enjoy a blend of both worlds?

One randomly chosen person who comments on this post before 11:00 PM, January 9, 2019 will receive a book from Kat Martin's Against series.

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