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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Tuesday Tales – New Year

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Hey everyone! Happy Holidays and welcome to Tuesday Tales! I’m stepping away from my Steampunk tale to introduce a book I will be working on. I hope you enjoy!
**Warning…there is a bit of strong language.**

Don’t forget to check out the other awesome authors of Tuesday Tales!

For being such a fucking small town, it seems like it goes on forever.
Reese squinted against the blaring May afternoon sunshine as he stared down the main drag. Here he was. Home. Braden, Iowa. He jammed his hands in his jeans pockets as he glanced down at his bags on the ground. This was the last place he wanted to be.
Slowly rotating his shoulder back, he winced in pain. It was a subtle reminder of why he came home. The submission hold that screwed up his arm, that kicked him to the injured list, sent him here. When the new year began, he was partying it up on the Las Vegas strip drinking and sleeping with any woman that came his way.
Now, five months later, he was standing on the threshold of his hometown wounded and homeless. He hitchhiked his way out of this hellhole. Unfortunately, he hitchhiked his way back. With a defeated huff, Reese picked up his bags and slung them over his good shoulder. My life fucking sucks.

Trudging his way past the churches and stores, he stopped in front of the small bar. The front windows were nearly covered in obnoxious beer signs. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open, stepping into the cool darkness.
“Wow, look what the cat dragged in.”
Reese forced a smile on his face. “Hey, Buddy.”
Buddy scanned Reese from head to toe, brushing his shaggy blond hair from his face as he did. “Saw your last fight. Brutal, man. Thought you had him. You had his blood smeared all over the octagon. He got lucky wrenching your arm like that.”
“Yeah. Tell me about it.”
“What brings you here?”
“I’m out for the next few months. Rehab. I was hoping I could take you up on your offer.”
“What offer was that?”
Reese took a deep breath. “I need a place to crash while I heal. My roommate kicked me out so his girlfriend could move in.”
Buddy stared at him for a long, hard moment then grinned. “Mi casa es tu casa.”
Reese smiled. “Thanks. For all I know I won’t be there long. If the Sheriff finds out I’m here I’ll probably be thrown in the slammer for murdering my Dad.”

Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales blogs!

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Stuff Your Kindle Blog Hop

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Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted.  Ready to stuff that brand new Kindle with some new books?  I’d love to help!

I will be awarding an e-book copy of two of my latest releases, Trial By Fire (Black Irish #4) and Breaking the Silence (Hard Drive #2) to two lucky winners!  Just leave your name and e-mail address in the comments below!

And don’t forget to hop back and check out the other the incredible authors participating in the Stuff Your Kindle Blog Hop!

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Trial By Fire (Black Irish Series #4)

Sloan’s only chance of freedom is Abbey…but is she becoming him?

Blurb:

Being lured home to Belfast, Northern Ireland, by the lie that he is a free man, Sloan O’Riley is arrested for the bombing in London he never committed.  His only chance to stop his condemnation and execution is his wee wife, Abbey.

Abbey throws herself into her husband’s past with the Irish Republican Army to construct the one thing that can free him – a bomb.  With the help of her mother and Sloan’s sister, Maggie, she targets empty, crumbling buildings throughout Belfast to cast doubt on Sloan’s guilt.

As things heat up in the courtroom and on the streets of Belfast, Abbey fights for Sloan’s freedom.  Will her actions free Sloan from prison and from those who would like to see him dead?  And will their love withstand Abbey becoming just like Sloan?

Excerpt

Sloan stared out the window at the asphalt as the wheels of the jet skidded across the black surface. He was back.

His gaze took in the Belfast International Airport, flicking around, looking for military vehicles or platoons of troops ready to take him prisoner. All he found were flight crews darting about on baggage carts to prepare the next flight, and the occasional traveler peeking out the window of the terminal.

He let go a large sigh, his sensual, trademark smirk gracing his lips. I knew there was nothing to worry about. He glanced over to Gordon and Liam, meeting their scowls. They almost seem disappointed that Fitzgerald told me the truth.

His thoughts quickly returned to Abbey. He couldn’t shake her from his mind, his heart, since their lips had parted in Minneapolis. As soon as he checked into his hotel, he would call her and tell her he was safe. Then, he would send the jet back to get her, Maggie, Mary, and the children. In a day or two, she would be back in his arms, his face buried in the sweet curve of her neck, his hands roaming her body.

Once the celebratory lovemaking was over, he would take her to rediscover all the precious places of his childhood. He wanted nothing more than to share his past with the woman he loved, at least the parts of it that had been pleasant.

Once the jet had crept to a halt, the men rose and made their way to the door. They slowly descended the rolling staircase to the tarmac. Sloan’s grin widened. All was still good.

His smile faded when he heard the cock of a gun. He glanced to the side as over three dozen soldiers marched from around the aircraft, guns drawn and pointed at him.

“Well, well, well. Look who’s back,” a voice boomed over the crowd.

Sloan clenched his eyes shut. “Brown,” he growled.

The tall, balding man, dressed in his impeccable uniform, strode between the troops and stopped in front of Sloan. “I was hoping to get to say this again. Sloan O’Riley, you’re under arrest.”

“Go to hell.”

Sloan’s vision blurred as the butt of a rifle was slammed against his temple then into his rib cage. His knees buckled from the force. He fought to stay on his feet, to face his enemy standing tall and proud. He lost the battle as he crumpled to the ground. He grunted as his arms were wrenched behind him and cuffs were clamped on his wrists.

“Let him go!” Sloan could hear Gordon struggle against the men restraining him.

“Fionainn, I suggest you let the men do their job.”

Sloan’s head snapped up. Through the still-lingering haze from the blow, he could see Fitzgerald standing over him, his gaunt face beaming. “Welcome home, boy.”

“You set me up.” Sloan’s voice was violent through clenched teeth. His eye became hot as it began to swell. “I completed every task you gave me, completed every order. And you turn me over to the enemy?”

“Every task? Not everyone, Sloan.” Fitzgerald leaned into him, his hot breath inflaming Sloan’s ear. “I wanted blood, boy. Innocent, guilty…it didn’t matter. I wanted Northern Ireland in my grip. But you wouldn’t hit the targets I gave you. No. You set your sights on the military. Not the good, obedient soldier you thought you were.

“And then, you tried to leave. You met with those recruiters from the All Blacks that those imbeciles I let raise you invited to watch you play rugby. So, I fixed it so that you could never leave. I took one of your precious toys to London and left it there loaded with enough C4 to blow up say…a marketplace?”

For a moment, Sloan’s veins turned to ice as the revelation hit him like a shard of lightning. It had been Fitzgerald who had set him up, destroyed his life, and forced him to flee from his Ma and Maggie to save himself. It had been Fitzgerald who had murdered all those innocent people and pinned it on him.

Rage quickly replaced the chill within him. He rose in a lunge at Fitzgerald. Sloan was quickly brought back to his knees as the butt of another rifle cracked him across the skull.

Fitzgerald’s laugh echoed across the airfield as he strutted past Brown. “He’s all yours, Commander Brown. See to it that he is hanged, will you?”

“It’ll be my pleasure, Jack,” Commander Brown crooned.

Two soldiers roughly tore Sloan from the ground, dragging him to his feet. Sloan shook his head violently to clear the fog that had invaded his senses. His head throbbed. Fitzgerald’s confession echoed in his brain. Although Sloan knew the truth, it wouldn’t change a thing. His words meant nothing in a court of law. Here, he was a terrorist. A murderer. No amount of protesting would change anyone’s mind.

He looked up slowly, his eyes catching Liam and Gordon’s. Both men were restrained by at least three law enforcement officials apiece. Sloan ripped his gaze away from them. He couldn’t take the looks of horror on their faces. He knew what they meant.

He closed his eyes, clinging to the image of Abbey, Ame, and Ethan that he held in his heart. He had been a fool to leave them. Now, he would never see them again.

There’s no way out of this one. I’m as good as dead.

Buy Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Trial-Fire-Black-Irish-Book-ebook/dp/B00QH49O8M/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1418276666&sr=8-4&keywords=tricia+andersen

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Breaking the Silence (Hard Drive Series #2)

MMA Bad Boy Rico Choate falls for Avery, a deaf Marine – but will she stick around when she learns of his career in the octagon?

Blurb:

Rico Choate is a MMA bad boy with a love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude.  That is until he meets Avery Walker, a deaf Marine who lost her hearing when her transport was destroyed in an I.E.D explosion in Afghanistan.  He falls hard for her, even learning sign language from his friend, Chloe, so he can talk to her.

Avery has worked hard to overcome her deafness. She doesn’t need anyone’s sympathy. She’s living a perfectly normal life and has no time for celebrities who have everything handed to them on a silver platter.

Because of Avery’s pride, Rico to keep his career in mixed martial arts a secret.  But how long can he keep such a huge part of his life separate from the woman he loves?  And if she does find out, how will she react? Can Avery set her stubbornness aside, or will secrets and pride keep these two apart?

Excerpt:

The weekend finally arrived, but it was no break for Avery. She still had her early Saturday morning class to attend. She trudged down the steps wearily. Of all the times for the air conditioning to go out, this was the worst by far. The ninety-degree day seeped into the building, making the rooms hot and stagnant. Every last person in the classroom was drenched in sweat. Even for one class, it was unbearable.

Her face brightened as she stepped out the door and found Rico in his Jeep waiting for her. She nearly ran for the vehicle. Dropping her backpack on the floor, she climbed in beside him.

He looked at her concerned. Are you all right?

No air. I baked for the last hour.

Do you still want to do something?

Yes. You are the highlight of my day.

Where do you want to go?

Someplace cool.

Rico thought for a moment then grinned. I know the perfect place. But you are going to want to bundle up.

It is the middle of summer. Where are you taking me?

You will see.

Rico drove her home then waited in the Jeep for her to get clothes. Apparently, he wasn’t about to push his luck with Lindsay.

He then stopped at his place. Instead of having her wait in the car, he escorted her inside. His apartment was a loft in an old, renovated warehouse, complete with the freight elevators. It was sparsely decorated with a leather sofa and chair. It was the typical guy’s apartment.

There were several MMA magazines scattered on the end tables. He must really be into mixed martial arts.

It only took a moment for Rico to come out of his bedroom changed. Instead of the shorts and T-shirt he had worn before,he now had on a pair of jeans and a snug fitting Henley that accented his muscles. She swallowed back a moan. She hadn’t thought he could get any hotter.

He smiled. Ready?

Yes. Avery took his outstretched hand in hers. She waited as he locked the door then walked with him to the elevator.

Rico weaved from one interstate to the other until they were in Saint Paul. The entire time, he held her hand in his. He parked the car in front of a large, concrete building lined with windows.

Ice skating? she signed

He laughed. You wanted to be cool.

That is true. But I can’t do this.

He frowned. Why not?

I can’t ice skate.

You do not know how?

I do. When I was young, I was very good at it. But I cannot do it now.

Because you are deaf?

Yes.

He smirked at her. I did not realize that you ice skate with your ears.

That is not funny, Rico.

Come on, Avery. We’ll have fun. I promise I will not let you fall.

She gazed at him as he grinned at her. Her eyes wandered over his chiseled physique. He certainly could keep his word. She sighed as she hopped out of the passenger seat and turned back to him. All right. Let’s go.

Absolutely! Rico jumped out with her and raced around the vehicle to take her hand. He pulled her close and wrapped his arm around her waist as they strolled in.

Rico paid their admission as Avery slipped into the restroom to change into her lightweight sweater and jeans. She watched his eyes wander over her head to toe as a smile spread across his face. He certainly seemed pleased. He took both pairs of skates the attendant offered before following her to a bench. Then, they tugged on their skates and, carefully stepping on the thick, black mat on the floor, they made their way out to the ice.

They skated around the rink laughing, sometimes hand in hand, sometimes trying awkwardly to race each other. Avery hadn’t been ice skating in years, not since she’d lost her hearing. It had ended up on the virtual list of activities she stubbornly believed she could no longer do. Rico had proved to her she could.

She gazed up to him as he smiled at her. He certainly was turning out to be her hero. Not that she needed one. She didn’t. But it was definitely nice to have one, just in case.

They were so wrapped up in each other, neither of them noticed the little boys that flew between them until it was too late. The last one hooked his skate with Avery’s. She was off her feet in a split second. She clenched her eyes in anticipation of the cold impact on her butt. Instead, two strong arms kept her from falling. Her eyes fluttered open, and she glanced around.

Rico had caught her just as he’d promised. Her eyes locked with his sapphire blue ones. She wanted to protest, to joke just how cliché this was. Here he was, cradling her in his arms after saving her from falling, his lips dangerously close to hers. They must have looked like they belonged on the front of a romance novel. But her breath caught in her throat as she clung to him, her gaze drifting to his mouth.

She gasped as he gathered her closer and softly kissed her. Her fingers buried into his hair as he deepened it, his lips parting hers as his tongue slowly grazed across her teeth then tangled with hers. Their eyes met for a moment as the kiss broke. Avery fought against her breath coming out in ragged gasps, but it was no use. So, that’s what kissing Rico Choate is like. It was light years better than she had imagined.

Buy Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Silence-Hard-Drive-Book-ebook/dp/B00NR3JUQ2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411271702&sr=1-1&keywords=Hard+Drive+Series

Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t forget to stop by the other Stuff Your Kindle Blogs!

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Tuesday Tales – Dance

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Happy Tuesday! It’s time for Tuesday Tales! This week’s word prompt is “dance”. We are backing up in my Steampunk romance to where I left after the “stuffed” prompt. Let’s catch up with Gideon and Emma!

Don’t forget to check out the other awesome authors of Tuesday Tales!

Gideon gently closed the door to the townhouse softly. He laughed as he spun on his heel and descended the stairs. Snowflakes danced around his boots as he strolled along the brick covered street. He had risen early to make breakfast for his exhausted lover only to find the pantry bare. He slipped out to head to the shops for provisions.
His eyes caught two men mulling about the corner. He frowned as their cold, piercing eyes watched him walk by. He shook the paranoia from his mind. No one knew where Emma was. These gents were just passing the time.
The first stop was the butcher. The shopkeeper gasped at the sight of Gideon then greeted him with an endless barrage of words. Gideon chuckled to himself. Had he been out of sight that long. In mid sentence, the stout man paused. “What can I get for you, Miss?”
“I’m with him, sir.”
Gideon flew around, finding Emma behind him dressed in Sophia’s crimson cloak and pale yellow gown. He strode across the shop to her, bending low to keep the butcher from hearing them. “What are you doing here? Do you not remember me telling you that Katarina wants you dead?” he growled.
“You promised not to leave me there,” she pouted.
“You aren’t safe out here.”
Emma wrapped her arms around his. “I’m safe with you, Gideon. Besides, I snuck out the back door the moment you left and traveled through the alleyways. No one saw me.”
Gideon sighed. “All right. But keep the hood up. Understand?”
“Of course.”
Gideon tugged her close then ordered sausage and bacon. They stepped from the shop in the direction of the dairy. He glanced warily around the street. The two men were quickly approaching, each looking furious. Instinctively he pressed Emma against the storefront, blocking her from their sight.
“What are you doing?” she demanded.
He pressed a tender kiss to her forehead. “Trust me, my love.”

Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales excerpts!

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Tumble Dry by V.L. Locey

Welcome to the blog, V.L. Locey!

TUMBLE DRY

Blurb:

Roxanne Jones has one day off this weekend. She does not want to spend it carrying her unmentionables to the nearby Laundromat but Fate has different plans. When the washing machine in her apartment building dies mid-cycle, Roxanne has no choice but to finish her laundry across the street. Once inside the Tumble Dry launderette, she discovers that the dryers aren`t the only hot things to watch. In walks a younger man wearing the only clean items left in his wardrobe: torn jeans, sandals, tattoos, sex appeal, and a few well-placed piercings. When the two lock gazes no amount of fabric softener can stop the sparks from flying. It doesn`t take long for Donovan King, an English major at the local college, to not only woo Roxanne, he manages to begin to a steamy seduction that won`t end until both are well-tumbled.

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Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Tumble-Dry-Weekend-Getaways-Book-e…/…/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tumble-dry-vl-l…/1120795590…

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-tumbledry-1682006-…

http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php…

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/493907

Excerpts:

PG

“So do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Have a couple of spare quarters? Since you won’t let my man things gyrate around in the water with your woman things.”

Was he saying those kinds of things on purpose? Of course he was, if the puckish grin he now wore was any indicator. Oh, I did like this man. A lot.

“Honey, I’m not sure that your man things are man enough to gyrate with my woman things,” I parried. He chortled then leaned a hip into the washer, his arms folding over his bare chest.

“I’m pretty sure that they are.” He said it with utmost confidence in the prowess of his man things. I sucked down a large gulp, the twinge behind my eye reminding me to slow down. I sipped and enjoyed looking at him, spying a small, silver navel ring glistening from the neon lights overhead. My mouth was dry even though I had just swallowed some of my drink. His steady gaze made me fidget.

“Rather sure of your man things, aren’t you?” I finally said, as I tossed my change purse to him. He caught it with one hand, his eyes never leaving my face.

“Rather,” he commented offhandedly, opened the tiny bag then extracted four quarters. My tongue toyed with the end of my straw. He laid the purse on the top of the machine next to his then arranged the coins in the slots, all four standing erect. Mmm, what a nice word that is. Erect. Makes all sorts of dirty, sweaty images appear inside a woman’s mind, doesn’t it?

R

“Excuse me, sir, but this cart is mine.”

“Really? And how is that, Roxanne? Clearly I was here first.” He leaned over the cart, his scruffy cheek brushing mine he whispered beside my ear. “You were engrossed with erotic thoughts about my mouth and the pleasure it could bring you.”

He drew back. My brain shut down as my mouth dropped open. That was all the time Donavon needed to commandeer the cart.

“No I wasn’t.” There. Take that. I bet that verbal spear pierced a few vitals. Not.

Damn the man for reading me like that beaten-up poetry book of his. He shrugged a shoulder, the inked one. An emerald-eyed tiger rolled it’s head at the up and down motion.

“Yeah, you totally were. Would you like me to tell you the signs of arousal that you’re wearing at the moment?” He threw several pairs of wet jeans into the cart. They landed with a slap.

“The only thing that I’m wearing at the moment is a dash of lovely,” I countered quickly.

“Yes, you are incredibly lovely, and horny. Your nostrils are flared, your eyes are wanton, your nipples are hard, and you keep licking your lips.” He paused in tossing balled-up shirts into the cart. “You also keep crossing and uncrossing your legs.”

Shit. Okay. So the man knew I was sporting a big girl-boner for him.

“Maybe I just have hives.” I tugged the cart away from him then stalked over to my washer with the buggy in tow. I heard his throaty chuckle behind me.

“Maybe you want me to take you somewhere private and read you something…Sapphic.”

He was right behind me, his breath fluttering past my left ear, his body close enough to exchange sparks with mine. Damn. Damn. Damn. My spine stiffened, as did my nipples. They were now so hard they hurt.

“You think reading me lesbian poetry will turn me on?” I inquired, trying to sound as if his smoldering nearness was having no effect. The smoky cast to my voice kind of ruined the indifferent attitude I was going for.

“I think you’re already turned on.” I heard the cart being nudged aside. I stood as still as a deer in a strange meadow, alert to every sound. My fingers gripped the lid to the machine as he stepped closer. The touch of his chest to my back was seismic. Desire didn’t just uncoil like a snake finding a warm rock, it rose up like a jungle cat, and then stretched, sharp claws of need raking open my calm exterior.

Vicki at Wedding

Author Bio:

 

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted goofy domestic fowl, and  two steers: one named after a famous N.H.L. goalie while the other carries the moniker of a 60`s pop legend.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

I love to meet new friends and fans! You can find me at-

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/VL-Locey/124405447678452

Twitter- https://twitter.com/vllocey

Pinterest-http://www.pinterest.com/vllocey/

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807700.V_L_Locey

My blog- http://thoughtsfromayodelinggoatherder.blogspot.com/

Secret Cravings Backlist Books:

Pink Pucks & Power Plays (Book One of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

A Most Unlikely Countess (Book Two of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

O Captain! My Captain!(Book Three of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

Reality Check (Book Four of the To Love a Wildcat Series)

Torquere Press Backlist and Upcoming Releases

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse (Part of the He Loves Me For My Brainssss anthology)

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 2: It Came From Birmingham

Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 3″ He’s a Lumberjack and He`s Undead

Love of the Hunter

Goaltender`s Penalty

All I Want for Christmas

 Every Sunday at One (Part of the 2013 Charity Sip Anthology)

 Night of the Jackal

And coming in 2015 exclusively from Torquere Press . . . An Erie Operetta and Early to Rise – A Toms & Tabbies Tale.

Tuesday Tales Pic Prompt

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Hi everyone! It’s time for Tuesday Tales! This week is a picture prompt. We are with Gideon and Emma in our Steampunk Romance. To make the picture work I had to jump ahead in the story.
Don’t forget to check out the other incredible excerpts from the Tuesday Tales authors!

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Emma clung to the seat of the carriage for dear life. Gideon glanced over to her and chuckled. Her knuckles were literally white. “I thought you liked my creations,” he purred.
Her answer came through clenched teeth. “Your little creatures never tried to kill me. Just your humidor. And this.”
“My carriage won’t kill you, my love.”
Emma glared at him, her beautiful blue eyes icy. She didn’t look convinced.
It wasn’t long before London faded into the background. The brick buildings and mulling people were replaced by snow covered fields and cottages. The carriage puffed steam merrily as it chugged down the dirt road, the clouds drifting lazily from the vehicle.
A small white house nestled amongst tall, towering evergreens came into view. A barn with a wooden fence bordering it stood just feet away from it. Gideon maneuvered the carriage through the snow to the house. Stepping out into the drift, he offered his hand to Emma. “Let me take you inside and get you warm. I will come for our things shortly.”
“Who lives here?” Emma inquired.
“No one. I purchased it during my leave before Sophia’s death. I hoped to move my family here. When they died I never came back. Are you coming in?”
Emma slipped her hand into his then hopped out of the carriage. Gideon scooped her into his arms before her foot hit the cold, wet fluff below. She gaped at him astonished. He flashed her a wink as he unlocked the door with one hand and carried her inside.
Gideon gently set Emma on her feet inside the door then strode to the fireplace to start the fire. As the flames began to flicker around the dry logs, he turned to her. “It will be a while for the room to warm. I will get you a blanket.”
She crossed the room and took his hand in hers. “I have a better idea.”
“That is?”
“Where’s the bedroom? The warmth of your naked body will keep me warm.”
A sly smirk spread across his lips. Her mere suggestion set him on fire. “This way, my lady.”

Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales!

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The Secret Cravings Publishing Wounded Warriors Project Blog Hop

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Hello everyone and welcome to the Secret Cravings Publishing Wounded Warrior Project Blog Hop! Each author in this hop is donating $30 to the Wounded Warrior Project. Check out their incredible work by clicking here!

What our men and women of the Armed Services is simply amazing. Thank you so much for keeping us free!

Since each of my series has a military character in them I will award one lucky commenter the entire Black Irish series in the e-book format of their choice (including the soon to be released Trial by Fire) and another lucky commenter will win the entire Hard Drive series! I will pick the winners Sunday night.

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Avery Walker is one of my newest characters and quickly became one of my favorites. A Marine who lost her hearing when her transport was destroyed in Afghanistan, she is feisty, strong and has a huge problem with celebrities. This proves to be a problem for her new love, Rico Choate, who just happens to be a well known MMA fighter.

Here is an excerpt from Breaking the Silence (Hard Drive #2)…
Avery’s heart thundered in her chest as she snapped awake. Her open mouth told her she had to be screaming. The back of her hand burned from something rough scratching against it. She frantically searched around. Her breathing slowed as she realized she was in her living room. The television flashed the DVD logo. She glanced at the cable box—two fourteen in the morning. She felt the couch shift beside her. She rubbed the back of her hand as she slowly turned around.
Rico massaged his jaw as he stared at her with concern. She felt her face flush hot. The light burn against her skin had been the stubble on his cheek. She had smacked him in her sleep.
He let go of his face to sign to her. Are you all right? Nightmare?
Avery shrugged. Sort of. Memories I would rather forget.
Rico’s expression darkened. Afghanistan. The bomb.
She nodded. He tugged her into his arms and held her tight. She felt his forearms let her loose while his biceps still hugged her tight. His fingers appeared between them.
I will never let anything happen to you. Ever. I promise you.
She looked at him, slowly exploring his cheekbones, his slightly crooked nose, his sapphire blue eyes. No one had ever promised to protect her. She took care of herself. No one had ever cared about her that much before.
She smiled as she kissed him. His lips parted, his tongue tracing her teeth before tangling with hers. She felt the butterflies let loose in her belly as his fingers, the ones that told her everything about him, now gently stroked her flesh at the curve of her back just above the waistband of her jeans. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. It’s late. You need sleep. I need to get home.
She gazed into his eyes before she signed her response. Stay here tonight, curled up on the couch with me. In case I have more nightmares.
He smiled warmly at her as he caressed her hair. Of course, I will.
Avery cuddled against his chest with a sigh. She could feel the thud of his heart against her cheek. She looked up and met his eyes.
Tell me about it, he signed.
About what?
What happened in Afghanistan.

Her breath caught in her throat. She had never told anyone about the bombing, not even her family. It had torn her Dad apart. She was Daddy’s only girl, and he couldn’t help her. But her father wasn’t Rico. Her family had never vowed to protect her. They had made decisions for her, as if she was no longer able to do so for herself. They had taken over as her caretakers when she didn’t need caretakers.
She needed someone to break down her walls, to hold her, to listen. Like Rico did.
She sighed. I was Military Police Officer at Camp Dwyer in the Helmand River Valley of the Garmsir District. Almost instantly, I became friends with Davey. I think he was hoping for more at first, but I had no interest. I was more worried about my career. I wanted to be like my Dad. Davey and I became best friends. We told each other everything. Having someone like that made living in a war torn country a little easier.
One morning, we loaded into the transport to travel to one of the checkpoints. Davey was going on about the Yankees. He had just caught a game. Even though I had told him many times I had no interest in baseball, he always bragged about them. And I always listened.
Her eyes burned. Out of nowhere, the truck filled with fire. I tried grabbing for Davey, but grazed his arm as I was thrown out of the vehicle. The explosion was the last thing I heard. I thought I saw gunfire above. I tried staying awake, tried to fight back, but everything went dark.
I woke up in the field hospital. I could see people talking to me, but couldn’t hear them. It was maddening. I found out my eardrums had been ruptured. I also suffered other injuries. She pulled back her long, blonde curls to show the scaring on her neck. Then, she pulled her shirt off her shoulder to reveal another set of scars. Rico dipped his lips against her skin, kissing her wounds. She smiled softly as the butterflies let loose in her belly again.
She took a deep breath to steady herself before she continued. When I was finally able to communicate, I asked where Davey was. He was big. He was strong. And he was probably tearing the place apart looking for me.
I was told he was killed instantly by the IED. I didn’t believe the doctor who told me. He just did not know Davey. But then, my commanding officer sat down and told me the same thing. Then, he told me I was being sent to a military hospital in the States. I didn’t have time to mourn. I couldn’t. I swallowed my feelings, thanked him for all he had done for me, and prepared to leave.
My parents met me at the hospital and immediately took over my life. They made my decisions for me. I no longer spoke for myself. They lined up every medical professional they could think of to research if my hearing loss could be reversed. It couldn’t. I could only take so much before I e-mailed Lindsay, moved here, and started my classes. That’s it. That’s how I got here.

Rico gazed down at her as he gently brushed her hair from her face. I am so sorry, baby.
Nothing to be sorry for.
You are an incredible woman, Avery. I do not deserve you.

She smiled. Probably not. But I love you, anyway.
Avery snuggled close as she yawned. Rico tugged the blanket she had brought from her bedroom around them both then settled into the pillow she had gotten for him. She pressed her cheek to his chest again, feeling the steady rhythm of his heartbeat as she drifted back to sleep.

***The Winner of The Black Irish Series is Jeanine and the winner of The Hard Drive Series is Amy Rose Bennett! Thank you everyone for commenting!!***

Don’t forget to hop back and check out the other incredible blogs of the Secret Cravings Wounded Warrior Project Blog Hop by clicking here!

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Things You May Not Have Known About My Books

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Heidi dared me to share a secret or two about my books. I don’t always take Heidi’s dares, but this one intrigued me. So here are a few things you may or may not have known about my books.

Black Irish – I originally shared this as a serial on this blog. And the original concept inspiration behind Sloan O’Riley was my late grandfather. Granted, once Sloan took shape he was definitely not Grandpa!

Queen of Savon – a dream inspired this book, a dream about me and two guys I was forced to choose between. There was a lot of white flowing curtains and a bed and…well, it could have gone completely different.
It was also written long before Black Irish.

Heartland – this was my favorite location-wise. Nearly all the landmarks are near where I live so it was fun to describe them.

The Troubles – this was my first book set in Minneapolis. I love, love, love Minneapolis. If I didn’t live where I am now I’d live in Minneapolis.
Also, I had the entire plotline of The Troubles in my head before I had Heartland. I forced myself to write Heartland before I could write a word of The Troubles. It was hell.

Breaking the Cycle – Breaking the Cycle was never supposed to be a series. All I wanted was to bring awareness to Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Everyone loved it so much I thought “why not?”.
Also, my love for MMA came from researching this book. Before my opinion was the same as most people’s. Now I am a mixed martial artist. 😊
Oh…and my coach, Keoni Koch, is the cover model!

The Thirteenth Knight – This was my first Tuesday Tale. Tuesday Tales is a group of writers who post a 300 word excerpt every Tuesday. They are a group of very awesome people. You can find us here.

Breaking the Silence – This was the first book I wrote where one of the primary characters was based on someone I know personally, someone I care a lot about. It’s probably my favorite character. No, they don’t know.

The Peculiar Princess – this was the first book I ever wrote. The illustration of Penelope is supposed to look like my daughter.

The Finicky Fairy – Like Peculiar Princess the illustration of Fiona is supposed to be my niece.

Innocent till Proven Guilty – the hotel in the book was a real hotel. By the time I was old enough to remember it was boarded up. The place totally fascinated me.

Trial by Fire (releasing December 11th) – I love badass heroines. I figured it was time for Abbey to be a badass heroine.