Friday, March 16, 2018

Promo Blitz: "Lucknow" by Annie Hall

Women’s Fiction
Date Published: February 2018
Publisher: Threekookaburras

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When Rosie's marriage suddenly ends one night in Sydney, nothing makes sense anymore. She doesn't know what to do next. Her sister, Juliette, suggests she come and live where she is — in Lucknow,  a town in Central Victoria, that they knew in their childhood. It doesn't seem to offer much at first. But her life changes in ways she had not thought possible. Lucknow isn't just a romance; it's about life in a small country Australian town.

Praise for Lucknow:

"Heartbreak, comedy, tragedy, farce, romance, secrets, even love. Annie Hall lifts the lid on the way things are in this Australian country town with the beguiling name of Lucknow." — Carmel Bird


While Hamish was being minded by Mrs Pickett for a couple of hours, Juliette and Rosie grabbed their bathers and headed out to the old reservoir. It was the perfect time for a swim, the sun had real warmth, the wind held its breath, there was a clarity of light in the air and the fragrance of eucalyptus and spice. The old reservoir shimmered and sang with bird calls that afternoon. Save for two fishermen sitting on the levee wall mute and still as statues, Juliette and Rosie had the place to themselves. Near the water’s edge they baked on bare rock like lizards, their towels rolled under their heads for pillows. Juliette lay on her back staring at the sky while Rosie lay on her front gazing at the water.

‘I heard about your quiet night at the pub,’ Juliette said. ‘Jade said you were announced on stage as single. Really putting it out there, aren’t you Rosie? Next it will be an ad in the local paper.’

‘I had no idea Eloise would do that,’ Rosie said. ‘It was so embarrassing.’

‘You don’t know the half of it,’ Juliette said. ‘If you heard what they were saying about you.’

‘Like what?’

Juliette looked at her sister, and didn’t want to hurt her feelings. ‘It’s a wonder you weren’t raffled off like a tray of meat.’

There was a pause.

‘Eloise grew up here. People know her, they don’t know you. You’ve just arrived.’

She looked at her sister, always slight, like a teenager in her blue bikini with yellow buttercups. She didn’t look strong enough to have had Hamish or gone through a torrid marriage breakdown. She is tougher than she looks, Juliette thought. If she didn’t physically show signs of suffering she must have felt it somewhere. But where did Rosie feel it? wondered Juliette.

‘I know I’ve just arrived, Juliette,’ Rosie said, yawning. ‘To another age, it seems, as well as another place.’

‘In Lucknow, you must take care,’ Juliette said earnestly. ‘Gossip spreads faster than a virus, it’s more invisible than hepatitis. It just floats around and somewhere decisions are made about you, your reputation is decided. It might not be the truth but it is what will pass as the truth.

‘You will be stuck with it. And, and,’ Juliette said, warming to her point, ‘it will be very hard once your reputation is fixed to change it. It will stick with you no matter what you do. If people find that you vary from your reputation then they will find it curious, but they won’t disbelieve the gossip.’

Rosie thought about what Juliette was saying. ‘If people can’t distinguish the truth from gossip then why is their opinion of any value?’

‘They only know what they hear,’ Juliette said. ‘You need to take care.’

The smooth grey rocks were hot beneath their bodies. Rosie felt sweat beginning to trickle and the water looked invitingly cool.

‘I’m going in,’ she told Juliette. ‘Race you.’

As warm and brown as a bottle of beer in the shallows, the water was chilly and fizzy as champagne at waist height. Rosie dived under and came up tingling with shock at how cold it was. Juliette was already ahead, arms and legs slicing cleanly through the water. Rosie set off like a threshing machine, churning the water white as she overtook Juliette and raced the one kilometre to the other side. She stood in the shallows, her ribs heaving and subsiding as she gasped for air, her body bent, head down near her knees, eyes swimming with red, brain nearly blacking out from a lack of oxygen. Juliette came up behind her, the water draining off her body in silvery rivulets and watched her sister.

‘You always push things,’ she said, casually. ‘You always go too far.’

About the Author

Annie Hall has worked as a journalist in country towns as well as Sydney and Melbourne. She lived for a number of years in the Goldfields area of Victoria.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Whitcomb Springs Book Blast: Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash


In the spring of 1865, a letter arrives in Whitcomb Springs for Evelyn Whitcomb. The Civil War has ended and the whereabouts of her husband is unknown, but she doesn’t give up hope. With courage, the help of a friend, and the love of a people, Evelyn finds a way to face—and endure—the unexpected.

Whitcomb Springs is the introductory, stand-alone short story of the Whitcomb Springs series set in post-Civil War Montana.

Excerpt from Whitcomb Springs

Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory -- April 25, 1865

The letter fluttered to the table. Evelyn stared at the sheet of paper but could no longer make out the words as they blurred together. Surrender. She prayed this day would come, they all had, and after four tortuous years, the war was finally over.

There would be more capitulation on the part of the South, and too many families who would never see their men again ... but it was over.

Separated, yet not untouched, from conflict, Evelyn Whitcomb lived in the same town her husband and their two friends founded one year before news of the Civil War reached them. By way of her sister, who lived in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania with their parents, they were kept informed as often as Abigail could get a letter through. Evelyn often wondered if she should have returned to Rose Valley to help with the war effort, much as her sister Abigail had done, yet she found the needs of Whitcomb Springs to be vast as the town continued to grow.

Many men and boys left, leaving their wives, mothers, and sisters behind to fight for a cause they didn’t fully understand, yet still felt it their duty to serve. Others remained behind to continue working in the mine and watch over those families with or without kin.

Evelyn read over Abigail’s letter once more, letting the words settle into her mind, for even now she struggled to believe it was over—that her husband might return home.

Dearest Evelyn,

For too many years now I have shared with you the horrors and travesties befallen many of the young men with whom we spent our childhood. News has reached us that on the ninth of April, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Oh, sister, I dared not believe it was true when Papa brought home the news. He tells us not to become overly excited for there will surely be a few more battles waged until the news reaches both sides, but we can thank God that this war is officially over.

Your news of Daniel’s disappearance has weighed heavy on my mind these past months since we heard, and Papa has attempted to learn of his whereabouts, to no avail. We have not given up! There is much confusion right now on both sides and Papa said it could be weeks or months more before the men return home. Do not lose faith, sweet Evie.

Your most loving sister,


Author MK McClintock

MK MCCLINTOCK is an award-winning author of historical romance and westerns, who has written several books and short stories, including the popular "Montana Gallagher" series, the "Crooked Creek" series, and the "British Agent" series. She continues the search for a time machine that can transport her to nineteenth-century Montana or Scotland—either works. MK enjoys a quiet life in the Rocky Mountains where she spins tales of romance, adventure, and mystery set in bygone times.


After the death of Nora Hewitt's husband, the citizens of Whitcomb Springs didn't see odds favoring the young widow for holding onto the ranch with only her ten-year-old son to assist. That changes when a gentle giant of a man offers a helping hand.

Motivated by compassion and his own grieving heart, the blacksmith becomes a mentor for the troubled boy and befriends the attractive widow, scandalizing the town gossips. Propriety is wielded like a weapon to separate them, but Providence makes its own plans through fire, loss and redemption.

Excerpt from Healing Fire

Sawdust floated into drifts beneath the workbench, swirling in the cold Montana morning air. His breath a thin fog, Dominik Andris sang to himself as he ran his palm down the length of the cedar plank. Deep and resonant, the Austrian’s voice might have suited his appearance had it not been for its soft timbre. Broad-shouldered, square-jawed, and generally solemn in bearing, most people avoided him except when his skills as a blacksmith or undertaker were required.

Today, someone had need of him as the latter. A rectangular box stood propped against the back wall. Nearly complete, the box lid before him was carved in designs more suitable for a cradle. Dominik picked up a carving knife, dwarfed in his hands, and bent to correct a curve on the delicate vine tracing its way from one end of the lid to the other. He ran his fingers along its length, testing for burrs in the grain. His humming ceased and a line formed between his brows, a frown not directed to his work but to the reason for it.

As he straightened, he rubbed at the back of his neck and a little groan escaped his lips. He took a sip of cold coffee before crossing the workshop to the back wall where he picked up the box in one hand. The weight of it or the absence of weight, struck a painful chord. Just four feet in length, it was enough. Enough to hold the body of the child, the woman’s child.

Author Samantha St. Claire

SAMANTHA ST. CLAIRE was born in 2016, the alter-ego and pen name of an author of historical fiction born a few decades earlier. She may have found her niche in western historical fiction, served up sweet. Never faint of heart, her signature protagonists face the hazards of the frontier with courage, wit, and a healthy pinch of humor.

Welcome to Whitcomb Springs! This is a collection of short stories, and the occasional novella, written by multiple authors. The series is filled with stories of adventure, danger, romance, and hope, and is set in the fictional town of Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory. The stories span the years of 1865-1885. Although each story may be set during a different time, they are stand-alone and may be read in any order. While the first stories will publish on March 15, 2018, this is an on-going project, so new stories may be published at any time by one of the participating authors.

For a complete listing of all currently available and upcoming Whitcomb Springs stories, visit

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash
Ends 4/8/18

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or PayPal cash. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop: Enter to Win a Paperback Copy of "The Ladies of Ivy Cottage," by Julie Klassen

Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by Mary at BookHounds! After entering my giveaway, be sure to hop around to the other blogs participating in this event for the chance to try your luck at winning more great prizes! On this blog, I am offering a paperback copy of the following book to one lucky winner!

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage
by Julie Klassen

A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood ... somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she's inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.

Rachel's hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what -- or whom -- has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.

Enter to win a paperback copy of this book through the Rafflecopter below. Open to U.S. residents only. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM Eastern time on March 28, 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now hop around to the other blogs participating in this hop for the opportunity to win more prizes!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, which I am passing along to the winner in this giveaway. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through my link.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Willow Woods Academy for Witches Book Tour and Giveaway for a $5 Amazon Gift Card

Willow Woods Academy for Witches
Willow Woods, Book 1
by R.L. Weeks & Skylar Mckinzie
Genre: YA Fantasy Mystery

An unforgettable YA novel filled with mystery and magic. Fans of Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures will love this series.

Kat and Angie have just enrolled at Willow Woods Academy for Witches against their parents’ wishes. They're thrown into a magical, mysterious world that is everything they dreamt it to be. However, when an ancient book falls into their laps, their worlds are turned upside-down.

Ten years ago, a rivalry between the covens of Willow Woods Academy and Morwood's School cost many their lives and cast a dark shadow over the academy. Now, Morwood's has opened again for the first time since the incident, and mysterious happenings are occurring -- and they all seem to be surrounding Kat. 

School's never easy, and with her exams coming up, a stalker in the trees, and her family name shadowing doubt over what side she's on, the first year of school is more of an adventure than she had ever anticipated.

An Excerpt:

Katarina Ash shimmied down the drainpipe of her parents’ plantation-style home in St. Francisville, LA, and dropped lightly onto the flower bed below her bedroom window. She quickly glanced around to make sure none of her parents’ staff was wandering the grounds, grabbed her duffle bag, and sprinted down the long, winding driveway to the road where her best friend would be waiting. The gravel of the driveway crunched under her feet in the quiet of the darkness.

The fight with her mom and dad at dinner tonight had been the catalyst for her and her best friend to finally take action. A security guard strolled up the path in front of her, so she ducked behind one of the huge trees that peppered their property. Her mind drifted back to earlier that night. Her father had been determined—from the time she turned twelve and found out about her parents’ secret—that she would never learn of her heritage or set a foot into North Carolina, much less the Willow Woods Academy for Witches. When she asked them why, her dad’s response was always a plain “never happening” and her mom’s was “it’s for the best.”

Tonight, however, she was determined that those answers weren’t enough. They were going to explain to her what was so bad about the academy, and why her mother and father had turned their backs on their families and heritages, or she would find out for herself. She walked into the dining room with her head held high.

“Tomorrow is my fourteenth birthday, and I will be going to the academy, with or without your blessing.” Her mother sighed, burying her head in her hands.

“You’re upsetting your mother, Katarina. You’re not going, and that’s the final word on the subject. We want nothing to do with witchcraft or the school that ruined our family,” her dad said, his eyes clouding over as he spoke the words.

Katarina crossed her arms, for once intent on defying the father she had once thought could do no wrong. She tossed her long black hair over her shoulder defiantly, her brilliant green eyes shining. “That’s just not good enough, Dad.”

Her father gave her a warning glare. “Katarina--”

Her mother hit the table with her fists so loudly that dishes clattered. “Because, Katarina, that school and those people killed your sister. Now, march up to your room and don’t come out until you have a civil tongue in your head.” She thrusted her arm outward, pointing upstairs toward Katarina’s room.

“GO!” she yelled, when Katarina started to speak. She turned and fled back up the stairs, as much from the shock that her gentle mother had raised her voice at her as the revelation that she had revealed. She didn’t have a sister and never had.

Pulling her mind back to the present, Katarina made her way slowly to where her best friend waited. “Well, it took you long enough. Geez, Kat, what did you have to do?” Angelina Dupree stepped away from the curb, rolling her expressive blue eyes at her best friend.

They had been tried and true friends since the day Angelina had beat up little Brian Pillman for pushing Kat down on the playground. Angelina’s mom had been the one to tell both girls about their family history, as Mrs. Dupree was proud of being a witch and her heritage, though they still refused to sign the permission form for Angie to go to the academy. She said it was fair. She had also stopped Angie’s older brother from attending Wandor’s Academy, and would stop Damian, Angie’s younger brother from attending next year too. Angie was the only one determined enough to just go and do it, permission or not.

“I’m here now, Angie. Are we going or not?” Kat said, not wanting to get into trying to explain now.

“It looks like someone doesn’t want to be left behind.” Angie pointed to where a solid black cat with tons of fur was winding his way around Kat’s feet. She bent down to scoop her cat up, his piercing green eyes seeming to ask her why she thought she could leave without him.

“Well, I can’t leave him out here, and I can’t very well take him back to the house or we’re busted.” Angie laughed. “Well, Sebastian, it looks like you’re going on a trip.”

“Yes, more of one than I think even we imagined.” After putting Sebastian in her book bag and leaving the zipper open, Kat got out a map of North Carolina and studied it for a moment. “I guess it’s now or never. Our bus leaves at midnight.”

Kat took one last look at the rambling plantation house that could be seen in the distance and swore never to come back there again. Her parents may have thought they could stop her from fulfilling her destiny, from becoming what she was meant to be, but they were wrong. She grabbed Angie’s hand and gave it a squeeze before they walked off into the night.

“Willow Woods Academy for Witches, here we come.”

Willow Woods Academy for Witches and Wizards
Willow Woods, Book 2

An unforgettable YA novel filled with mystery and magic. Fans of Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures will love this series.

The girls are back at school, but Angie's dreams about a secret order may be more than just dreams.
Lara Ash is about to find out that all choices have consequences, and that being back from the dead isn't as fun as she first thought. She catches the eye of Angie's older brother, Grayson, and clings to him as her world falls apart. The rift between her and Angie Dupree, her sister Kat's best friend, causes Kat and Angie to fall out for the first time. 

Angie meets two new friends: the peppy Isolde and secretive Lizzie. However, they seem to be holding secrets of their own. 

When it comes to crunch time, can the group work together to stop an evil from destroying their lives, or will their own secrets be too much?

This book is recommended for readers aged 13+.
Warning: This book deals with bullying and has scenes of mild violence.

R.L. Weeks is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Dead Loves Life Series, Bloodlust, The Fallen, Willow Woods Academy for Witches, Cursed, and the owner of Enchanted Anthologies, publisher of Fractured Fairytales Books 1 & 2, A Deadly World: Vampires in Paris, Things Only the Darkness Knows, and Christmas Nightmares. 

She lives in a small village in the UK. When she's not writing, she's traveling, reading (paranormal, fantasy and horror being her go to genres) and designing covers for Dark Wish Designs.

Skylar McKinzie lives in the small town of Screven, GA. When she’s not writing, she’s cooking, baking, reading, and spending time with her family. She also loves long walks and sitting by the bonfire in October, which is her favorite month of the year. 

She writes horror and paranormal romance. She is working on her next novel due to be released by the end of the year.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover Blog Tour: Giveaway for a Paperback Copy

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover by Susan Wittig Albert

Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Presevero Press
Hardcover; ISBN-13: 978-0996904032
eBook; ISBN 978-0-9969040-5-6

Series: The Darling Dahlias, Book 7
Genre: Historical Mystery

NYT bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to Depression-era Darling, Alabama ... ​where the ladies of the Dahlias, the local garden club, are happy to dig a little dirt!

In the seventh book of this popular series, it looks like the music has ended for Darling’s favorite barbershop uiquartet, the Lucky Four Clovers—just days before the Dixie Regional Barbershop Competition. Another unlucky break: a serious foul-up in Darling’s telephone system—and not a penny for repairs. And while liquor is legal again, moonshine isn’t. Sheriff Buddy Norris needs a little luck when he goes into Briar Swamp to confront Cypress County’s most notorious bootlegger. What he finds upends his sense of justice.

Once again, Susan Wittig Albert has told a charming story filled with richly human characters who face the Great Depression with courage and grace. She reminds us that friends offer the best of themselves to each other, community is what holds us together, and luck is what you make it.

Bonus features: Liz Lacy’s Garden Gate column on “lucky” plants, plus the Dahlias’ collection of traditional Southern pie recipes and a dash of cookery history. Reading group questions, more recipes, and Depression-era info at

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Praise for The Darling Dahlias Series

"This sweet book captures the true tone of a small town." —Times-Picayune, New Orleans

"Cozy fans will be delighted to learn that the prolific Albert—known for her clever puzzles, engaging characters, love of nature, and outstanding historic research—is debuting yet another exceptional series." —Booklist Starred Review

"Albert does a beautiful job of blending a whodunit with a vivid portrait of an idyllic Depression-era Southern town." —Publishers Weekly

"Excellent timely regional Depression Era amateur sleuth that brings to life the atmosphere of a period in which people are concerned over the economy that has left no chicken in almost any pot." —Follow the Clue

"The author of the popular China Bayles mysteries brings a small Southern town to life and vividly captures an era and culture—the Depression, segregation, class differences, the role of women in the South—with authentic period details. Her book fairly sizzles with the strength of the women of Darling." —Library Journal Starred Review

About the Author

Susan Wittig Albert is the NYT bestselling author of over 100 books. Her work includes four mystery series: China Bayles, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the Robin Paige Victorian mysteries. She has published three award-winning historical novels, as well as YA fiction, memoirs, and nonfiction. Susan currently serves as an editor of StoryCircleBookReviews and helps to coordinate SCN's online class program. She and her husband Bill live in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, gardens, and raises a varying assortment of barnyard creatures.

For more information, please visit Susan Wittig Albert's website. Visit the Darling Dahlias Facebook Page. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, February 28
Review at Back Porchervations

Thursday, March 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, March 2
Review at Trisha Jenn Reads
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, March 3
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Monday, March 5
Review at Peppermint Ph.D.

Tuesday, March 6
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, March 7
Review at Linda's Book Obsession

Thursday, March 8
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, March 12
Feature at Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, March 13
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Wednesday, March 14
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, March 15
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Friday, March 16
Review at View from the Birdhouse
Interview at Donna's Book Blog


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away one paperback copy of The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Darling Dahlias

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We ♥ Small Town Romance Blog Tour: Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash

Marrying the Wedding Crasher by Melinda Curtis

This bachelor’s pretend girlfriend just made a shocking discovery--

She’s pregnant!

Although they dated for only a month, Harley O’Hannigan just agreed to be Vince Messina’s plus-one at a Harmony Valley wedding. Big mistake, given her deepening feelings for the tall, dark, unavailable bachelor. And what about Vince’s long-buried family history? Then there’s the growing secret that could transform this pretend relationship into the real thing...

Praise for Melinda Curtis:

"Wonderfully entertaining!" ~Jayne Ann Krentz, NYT Bestselling Author (referring to Playing for Love)

"Reading Slade and Christine's story reminded me of why I enjoy romance. SEASON OF CHANGE has found a place on my keeper shelf!" ~Brenda Novak, NYT Bestselling Author


Warm hands engulfed hers, not the slightest bit vengeful. “Harley?” A gentle voice, one she should be able to identify if her head didn’t feel like someone had stuffed it with thick insulation. “You’re safe. He’s gone.”

Harley opened her eyes on a shuddering breath. A familiar face greeted her.

Vince. They both worked for Jerry, remodeling houses.

Vince. Friendly black eyes, a sturdy nose and black hair. That black hair. It had required a second glance when they’d first met. He had fantastic hair. The kind of hair Disney gave its princes.

Her heart was racing for the exit and her hands had started to tremble in his. Vince’s hands, not Dan’s.

Vince. He drove an old truck, not a new Ferrari. He’d offered her carrots once when he’d heard she’d forgotten her lunch on a remote job site. He’d bought her a drink after work one day, which had led to him buying her dinner—more than once—and then the infamous weekend away where he’d learned she’d quit being an architect. Not that he’d understood Harley and her inability to pick herself up after one undisclosed setback. He may have been seven years older than her, but that didn’t mean he could be judgmental about her career choices.

Note to self... I’m not safe with Vince, either.

“Hey.” Vince gave her hands a gentle squeeze. “Are you with me?”

With him? She would’ve followed him anywhere a few weeks ago, before the let-me-tell-you-what-to-do-with-your-life debacle.

Vince moved to sit next to Harley, tucking her beneath his arm, next to his bulky tool belt. “Breathe in. Breathe out.”

Sounded easy enough, but that heart of hers was hammering against her lungs, making her pant. Vince holding her wasn’t helping her recovery. Not that she moved away from him. Not one inch.

“Like this.” Vince took Harley’s hand and placed her palm on his sturdy chest.

She could feel his heart beat nearly as fast as hers, but she could also feel him fill his lungs with air.

“Breathe in. Breathe out.” Vince was big and warm and calm, and completely different than Dan. He’d never be a slave to fashion. He’d never take credit for someone else’s work. He’d never put his hands on a woman with intent to do damage.

In a distant part of her brain, somewhere where things weren’t pounding, Harley’s mother recited one of her Southern lectures. Life is hard, baby girl. You need to find yourself a big, strong man to lean on when times get tough.

Finding big, strong men was something of a specialty of Harley’s. It was finding the ones she could lean on forever that eluded her.

Author Melinda Curtis

Melinda Curtis is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of over 40 romances. She writes sweet romance for Harlequin Heartwarming, sweet romantic comedies and sexy sports contemporary romances. When not working on DIY projects around their home, Melinda and her college sweetheart enjoy watching Duke men's basketball and visiting their three kids and one grandchild. Sign up for her mailing list to receive two free reads.

Always the Hero by Anna J. Stewart

He never relied on anyone but himself ... but he needs her now!

Butterfly Harbor deputy Matt Knight wants two things: to date Lori Bradley and the chance to adopt Kyle, a troubled teen. Wounded in Afghanistan, Matt knows he can't move forward anchored to the past. But once he regains the guarded hotel manager's trust, will his need to protect those he loves cost him a future with this extraordinary woman?

Praise for Anna J Stewart

“The talented Anna J Stewart delivers every time.” ~Brenda Novak, NYT Bestselling Author

“Anna J. Stewart will tug at your heartstrings more than once while leaving you utterly besotted with her characters.” ~The Romance Reviews


Matt Knight was all about doing right by people. Especially those he cared about. But there wasn’t any moving forward, not with his life, not with Lori, as long as he was still anchored to the past.

The phone rang. Before Matt could reach for the receiver, Jasper answered.

“It’s for you, Matt. A Chris Walters?”

“That’s Kyle’s caseworker,” Matt said as he picked up his extension. “Chris? Kyle okay?”

“Doing well, actually.” The social worker’s encouraging words belied the tension in his voice. “We’re still on track for an early release. For now at least.”

“What’s that mean?” Matt squeezed the receiver so hard his fingers tingled. “What’s going on?”

“The judge in charge of Kyle’s case is retiring. His replacement is reviewing all the cases ahead of time and, well, since we’re jumping beyond foster age to adoption, she has some concerns about your living situation.”

“What’s wrong with my living situation?” Matt asked. “I’ve got a room ready for him, he’ll have a part-time job with the sheriff’s department, and most importantly he’ll have more stability than he’s known in years.”

“I’m on your side, remember? You don’t have to convince me. She’s not denying your petition, Matt, but she has suggested a female influence in the house wouldn’t be a bad thing for Kyle. And given your marital status...”

“That’s about to be resolved.” Matt looked down at the papers on his desk. “I filed the divorce papers and am getting ready to sign them as we speak.”

“Okay. We’ll have to see how that plays with the judge.”

“Given Kyle’s last female influence was too hopped-up on prescription meds to give him a second thought, I wouldn’t think this would be any judge’s first concern.” Matt hated to speak ill of Kyle’s mother, but the truth was the truth.

“It’s a concern, Matt. And the judge only suggested it would be in your and Kyle’s best interest if there was someone in your life to help bring a bit of balance. Even if it’s just a girlfriend, which brings me to what we talked about before. She’s going to want to call Lori as a character witness.”

“Lori? How does she know about Lori?” The last time his heart had pounded this hard he’d been dodging bullets.

“Because I listed her in my report. You said you were dating her, that you thought it was getting serious. Are you telling me something’s changed?”

Changed? Other than Matt all but ignoring her the last few weeks while he got his head on straight and cleared the emotional deck? “No, nothing’s changed,” Matt blurted before his brain could catch up with the panic seizing his chest. He’d made a promise to Kyle, and Matt Knight never made a promise he couldn’t keep. “We’ve been seeing each other for a while, off and on.” Most recently off. All the more reason to remedy that.

“She’s completely on board with me taking Kyle in.”

“So you’re okay with her listed as a character witness? She’ll back up your statement should the judge want to call her in during Kyle’s hearing?”

“Yeah, of course.” Matt swallowed the lie. Well, it wasn’t a lie exactly. Lori did know about Kyle but Matt’s current relationship with her might be a bit, well, up in the air. “Have they set a date yet for the hearing?”

“Um, yeah. Hang on, I’ve got that right...” The sound of shuffling papers scraped against Matt’s ear. “Three weeks from Monday. Looks like the judge has us penciled in for two in the afternoon.”

Matt scribbled the date on his calendar, noting that was the same day as the big welcome dinner that opened the Butterfly Festival. That would take some juggling given it was all hands on deck in town for the department. “I’ll be there.” Somehow. “I thought I’d come up and see him in a couple of weeks. Need to figure out my days off.”

“You’re on the visitor’s list for anytime,” Chris said. “I’m glad you told me about Lori. This will go a long way with this judge in approving Kyle’s placement.”

“I hope so.” With Kyle’s troubled past, the only other placement option for him would be a group foster home or to extend his stint in the detention center he currently resided in. “Let me know if there are any more changes.”

“You got it.”

Matt hung up. Why was it, even when he had the best of intentions, he ended up messing things up? At least now he had even more of a reason to apologize to Lori. As much as he wanted her back in his life, he needed her.

Kyle needed her. Unease settled in his gut like a stone. He hated lying. To anyone.

But especially to Lori Bradley.

“Everything okay?” Jasper asked. “Is Kyle still getting out?”

“He sure is.” Matt picked up his pen, clicked it open and scratched his name on the divorce degree. A few seconds later, he set the sealed envelope on the counter, where it would go out in the afternoon mail.

Author Anna J. Stewart

USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart writes sweet to sexy romance for Harlequin's Heartwarming and Romantic Suspense lines. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for her independent heroines. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural & Sherlock addiction, surrounds herself with friends and family, and tolerates an overly affectionate cat named Snickers (or perhaps it's Snickers who tolerates her). When she's not writing books or her monthly blog for USA Today’s Happy Ever After, you can find her at fan conventions or at her local movie theater, or building her client list for her content editing services.

Blog Tour Schedule

March 6th
Bargnhtress - Spotlight
Bonnie Phelps, Author - Spotlight
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Spotlight
The Avid Reader - Spotlight
T's Stuff - Spotlight
My Devotional Thoughts - Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing - Spotlight
Remembrancy - Review
Wishful Endings - Review
March 7th
Rainy Days and Pajamas - Spotlight
Bookworm Lisa - Spotlight
The Eco Lifestyle - Spotlight
Diana's Book Reviews - Spotlight
Stacking My Book Shelves! - Spotlight
Reading Is My SuperPower - Review
Always Books - Review
March 8th
Room With Books - Spotlight
Hearts & Scribbles - Spotlight
Queen of All She Reads - Spotlight
BookHounds - Spotlight
StoreyBook Reviews - Spotlight
Thoughts of a Blonde - Spotlight
Alina Snow Book Adventures - Spotlight
Among the Reads - Review
Rockin' Book Reviews - Spotlight
Kindle and Me - Review
March 9th
Heidi Reads... - Spotlight
Paulette's Papers - Spotlight
Tianna Holley, Author - Spotlight
Bunny's Review - Review
books are love - Spotlight
Kerrific Online - Review

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