Thursday, February 14, 2019

Romance Is in the Air Kickoff: Giveaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card or $100 in PayPal Cash

Romance Is in the Air
A Celebration of Clean Romance

Wahoo! Romance is in the air, and we are celebrating with a $100 giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Code or $100 in PayPal Cash.

Today's giveaway is just a prelude for what's to come. During the next few weeks, we will be giving away $500 in prizes so be sure you are following Clean Wholesome Romance so you don't miss your chance to win!

Just look at this AMAZING group of authors we will be showcasing!




Giveaway Details
Prize: $100 in Paypal Cash or a $100 Amazon.com eGift Card
Ends 3/15/19

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via PayPal or gift codes via Amazon.com. 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. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and sponsored by the participating authors. Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Corner of Heartbreak and Forever Release Week Blitz and eBook Giveaway

Today, we have the release week blitz of Addison Cole’s THE CORNER OF HEARTBREAK AND FOREVER! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: The Corner of Heartbreak and Forever

Author: Addison Cole

Genre: Sweet Romance


About The Corner of Heartbreak and Forever:


Fall in love with Addison Cole's rich and romantic storytelling, and discover the magic of the Montgomerys.

In The Corner of Heartbreak and Forever...

Leaving New York City and returning to her hometown to teach a screenplay writing class seems like just the break Grace Montgomery needs. Until her sisters wake her at four thirty in the morning to watch the hottest guys in town train wild horses and she realizes that escaping her sisters' drama-filled lives was a lot easier from hundreds of miles away. To make matters worse, she spots the one man she never wanted to see again-ruggedly handsome Reed Cross.

Reed was one of Michigan's leading historical preservation experts, but on the heels of catching his girlfriend in bed with his business partner, his uncle suffers a heart attack. Reed cuts all ties and returns home to Oak Falls to run his uncle's business. A chance encounter with Grace, his first love, brings back memories he's spent years trying to escape.

Grace is bound and determined not to fall under Reed's spell again-and Reed wants more than another taste of the woman he's never forgotten. When a midnight party brings them together, passion ignites and old wounds are opened. Grace sets down the ground rules for the next three weeks. No touching, no kissing, and if she has it her way, no breathing, because every breath he takes steals her ability to think. But Reed has other ideas...

The Corner of Heartbreak and Forever is a Sweet with Heat novel and conveys all of the passion you'd expect to find between two people in love without any graphic scenes or harsh language. If you're looking for a more explicit romance, pick up the steamy edition, Embracing Her Heart, written by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster. Addison Cole is Melissa's sweet-romance pen name.

Get Your Copy Today!

KINDLE | iBOOKS | KOBO | NOOK | GPLAY | PAPERBACK


Read an Excerpt:

“Grace…” Even after a decade her name tasted sinfully good rolling off his tongue.
Her hand slid from the doorknob, hanging limply by her side. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. A long moment later, “Reed,” slipped from her lips like the secret he’d once been.
His gut clenched with longing. He couldn’t help but study her—and that angered him as much as it eased the worries about his ability to feel that had plagued him for years. He hadn’t been all in with a woman since Grace, and he’d begun to think he’d exaggerated what he’d felt when they were together. But there was no misreading the heat thrumming through him. She looked incredible, and confused, and as her hand settled on her hip—the hand he remembered all too well digging into his back when they’d made love all those years ago—he realized she also looked angry. Definitely angry.
But still incredible.
In the space of a breath he was fighting the urge to figure out how to spend time with her and recapture the fire between them despite everything she’d put him through.
“Are you done gawking?” she snapped.
“I…Sorry. You caught me off guard. I was expecting to see your parents.” He held her gaze, forcing a smile even though he suddenly felt stuck somewhere between a teenager caught peering through a window, a jealous ex-boyfriend, and a lust-filled man.
She folded her arms over her chest, forcing a barrier between them, and smirked.
Ouch
At least he hoped it was a smirk rather than a scowl. After the clues he’d missed with his ex-girlfriend, Alina, who had been sleeping with his now ex-business partner, he no longer trusted his instincts where women were concerned. And when it came to Grace Montgomery, he’d never been able to think past the emotions she stirred within him and the future he’d hoped they’d have. She was the tsunami that had obliterated everything else in his world, and as he struggled to find his voice, he fought the urge to tangle his hands in her thick, lustrous hair and remind her of what she’d walked away from.
“I hope you don’t look at my mother like that,” she snapped.
“What? No. C’mon, Grace.” In her eyes he was probably a quintessential jerk, checking her out without any thought to their past. In reality, he’d been taken just as off guard by his leering as she was. “I don’t usually—”
“Don’t usually let your eyes wander?” She scoffed. “Right.”
“Believe it or not, yes,” he said angrily. “Who do you think I’ve become? I didn’t expect you to walk out here at all, much less wearing nearly nothing and…” He tried to figure out what to say next, what to feel...
“Why are you here, Reed?”
He didn’t need this. Not when he had just begun rebuilding his life. After being screwed over by Alina, he’d vowed to stay away from anything that made his head spin, and Grace definitely made his head spin.
He studied her, while trying not to at the same time. The chip on her shoulder was bigger now, overshadowing the sexy smirk on her lips. She’d always exuded confidence, but somehow that, too, seemed more intense. His heart thumped harder with the memory of the first time he’d spotted her standing on the sidelines in her cute cheerleading uniform as he headed out to the football field. She’d challenged him with her glare, as if she were playing on the rival team rather than cheering for them. She’d hated that cheerleading outfit, but man, he’d loved it. And that challenge she’d emitted? He’d taken her up on that in a hot second.
But she’d kicked him to the curb once, he reminded himself. Why was he giving her any consideration at all? He had a job to do, and sure, he’d momentarily lost his footing and checked her out, but it wasn’t like that was a crime. She was hot, and they had history. That’s as far as it goes.

About Addison Cole:



SIGN UP for ADDISON'S Sweet with Heat newsletter. Fun, flirty romance with a dash of heat. www.AddisonCole.com/Newsletter

DOWNLOAD the first book in Addison's Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers series free: READ, WRITE, LOVE AT SEASIDE here on Amazon.

Addison Cole is the sweet alter ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. She writes humorous and emotional sweet contemporary romance. Her books do not include explicit sex scenes or harsh language. Addison spends her summers on Cape Cod, where she dreams up wonderful love stories in her house overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Addison is proud to be part of the Main Street Romance family, a partnership with bestselling authors Nancy Naigle, RaeAnne Thayne, and Chris Keniston, bringing sweet happy-ever-after love stories to the Main Street Romance community. Join them at www.MainStreetRomance.com ~ open 24/7 just for you.

Addison enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Connect with Addison:


Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Google Plus | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cover Reveal: "Ms. Baker" by Lea Coll

Today, we have the cover reveal for Lea Coll’s MS. BAKER. Check it out and be sure to grab your copy on March 26th!

Title: Ms. Baker

Author: Lea Coll

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 26th


About Ms. Baker:


Ever since Jack protected Samantha from a high school bully, the two have been friends. But she wants more from the sexy firefighter. Too bad Jack has always seen her as the shy sweet girl, who can’t stand up for herself.

She can’t resist his boyish smile when he stops by the bakery for coffee. Or stop herself from bringing baked goods to the fire station.

It’s time to prove she’s all grown up and can take care of herself.

And show him, she’s done being friends

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

ADD ON GOODREADS!

Exclusive Excerpt:


My eyes traveled around the room until I saw Jack leaning against the counter by the coffee machine in his department-issued navy blue shirt, blue cargo pants, and boots. I flushed to find his eyes on mine. I couldn’t get the feel of his hands or lips out of my head. He made no move to grab a donut, so I walked over to him. “Not hungry this morning?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m always hungry,” he said, his eyes steady on mine as he took a sip of his coffee.

After the dream I had, I couldn’t help but take that comment literally. “You should eat an apple cider donut before they’re gone," I said, my heart pounding, I turned to grab a plate to hide my face, but Jack grabbed my hand pulling me back. “Don’t worry about it, I can get it myself,” he said.

The movement knocked me off balance and I fell back onto his hard chest. His arm came around my middle to steady me. “Whoa there,” he whispered into my ear, as his body curled around mine. “I said I can get it myself. You’ve been on your feet all morning. Why don’t you sit down and rest?”

I heard the guys joking around me, but couldn’t follow their conversation.

“Samantha?” Jack’s voice caressed my ear again.

“Yeah?” I asked, breathing in the smell of coffee, and leaning my head back a little to look up at him. His eyes crinkled in amusement and his lips tilted up into a smile.

“Are you going to sit down?”

His chest was warm on my back, and my hands instinctively gripped his bare forearms, which were wrapped around my waist. I wanted to sink back into him even more, but I reluctantly moved out of his hold, feeling the loss of warmth immediately. I shook my head to clear it and pulled a stool from the island to sit down. The guys were still standing around the counter, but the box of donuts was almost empty.



Catch Up on the Series!



About the Author

Lea Coll worked as a trial attorney for over ten years. Now she stays home with her three children, plotting stories while fetching snacks and running them back and forth to activities. She enjoys the freedom of writing romance after years of legal writing.

She grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and currently resides in Maryland with her family.


Connect with Lea:

Website | Facebook



Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Council of Nereth Book Blitz: Giveaway for a $20 Amazon Gift Card


The Council of Nereth
by T.J. Amberson
Publication date: December 2, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Six months have passed since the Council of Nereth was formed. The land is at peace. The people are thriving, secure in the knowledge that Raelin, the evil sorceress who once ruled over them, is no more. Like the other members of the Council of Nereth, Edlyn has returned home to live and work, waiting for the time when the council will meet again. Busy serving the people and restoring the manor of her childhood, Edlyn keeps her deepest wishes hidden away in her heart. On Edlyn’s eighteenth birthday, a messenger from the capitol arrives to her home and delivers devastating news: Maddock has gone missing, and the worst is feared. Edlyn rushes back to the capitol to join the other council members in a desperate search for Maddock. Soon, a ghostly attack confirms the terrifying truth that evil forces are upon Nereth once again. With time running short, Edlyn and her companions must find Maddock and save Nereth before it is too late.

EXCERPT:

“I am afraid there is no time,” the man interrupted. He crossed the threshold and closed the door behind him. “I apologize for the abruptness of my visit, but I must implore you to hurry. My name is Dalton. I am the new Chief Officer. I was sent by Sir Briac to escort you to the capital without delay.”

For one instant, Edlyn stood in stunned silence. Then her heart thudded in her chest, and she lunged across the room for her still-damp cloak. “Of course. I shall ready myself immediately.”

“Oh, Miss Edlyn.” Lancy wrung her hands. “I do hope that the cause for your summons is nothin’ too serious.”

“It must be of great importance. The council was not scheduled to meet for another month yet.” Edlyn hung her sword over her side. As she donned her boots, she raised her head and addressed Dalton again. “Did Sir Briac say anything to you about why we are being so urgently summoned?”

“It is in regards to Sir Maddock.”

Edlyn froze. “Maddock?”

Dalton removed his hat and pushed his wet, shoulder-length brown hair from his face. “It would seem that Sir Maddock has gone missing.”

“Missing,” was all Edlyn could manage to say, her breathing growing strained.

Dalton replaced his hat. “After the council members parted ways last June, Sir Briac never received any correspondence from Sir Maddock. Concerned for his welfare, Sir Briac led soldiers into the Colleland to ensure that all was well. But Sir Maddock was nowhere to be found. No one seems to know what happened to him, and our ongoing searches have not uncovered even a trace of a clue.”



Author Bio:
TJ Amberson hails from the Pacific Northwest. With a love of writing in several genres, TJ strives to provide well-written, age-appropriate, & original novels for tweens, teens, and new adults.




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Saturday, February 9, 2019

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

Pathways by Camille Peters

Eileen has never been interested in love. Ever since her father's abandonment, she's vowed to never experience such pain again. But the enchanted forest has different ideas. When the continuously shifting pathways lead her to a mysterious stranger, Eileen finds her promise to fiercely guard her heart increasingly difficult to keep.

One night when she becomes lost in a storm, the enchanted forest's pathways lead her to the castle, home to the kingdom's Dark Prince, where Eileen finds herself entangled in what many consider an opportunity but which Eileen believes to be a curse: competing for the Dark Prince’s hand through a series of tests that judge one’s royal worth. Eileen is neither royal nor interested in becoming a princess. But the mysterious stranger she met in the woods has his own reasons for helping her succeed, but the cost of his assistance may be too high: that of Eileen's heart, the one thing she's vowed never to give.

Inspired by The Princess and the Pea



Praise for the Book

"This was SUCH a cute book! The characters were very well developed…The supporting characters were just as endearing ... as the main characters. The descriptions of surroundings were impeccable, I could just see the environment and feel the feelings that were invoked by them. The plot was really well thought out, the ideas were super creative, and I love the general fairy tale feel...I couldn't put it down, I just fell in love with the characters and I can't WAIT for the next one!”

"I ADORE the creativity in this book! The forest is so magical and has so many enchanting moments throughout the story. I loved being transported into a fairy tale theme as I read; it was a perfect escape into a sweet and charming era! I absolutely loved the direction the story went and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the adventure Eileen stumbled upon. There are so many fun characters in the story, each with unique personalities! This is such a darling story about loyalty, romance, friendship and all with a fairytale feeling!”

"This is a delightful story of romance and adventure, centered near a magical forest that guides its travelers to discover not only its own enchantments, but also to find true love along the way. It is also a story of growth and overcoming one's weaknesses, and of going forward despite one's fears. Both of those things are inspirational to me, and I found myself relating to the characters and hoping for their success. An enjoyable journey to give hope to your heart!”

"I really enjoyed this story. The characters are fun and delightful and they were well developed. I liked that it was only loosely based on an existing fairy tale and branch out in interesting ways to create romance and drama. I get really bored with the same re-telling over and over and this was fresh and new.”


Excerpt

A knock sounded on the door. I bit back a sigh, both of impatience and relief. “Come in.”

I gasped as the door swung open, for it wasn’t Alaina who stood there but—“Aiden?”

He beamed, his eyes lighting up as they settled on my face. Warmth seeped over me to see him again after all these weeks, and my heart performed several cartwheels as he stared at me, his expression tender.

“Aiden!” I fell into his arms, burrowing myself against him.

He nestled against my hair. “It’s wonderful to see you. I admit I thought it’d be much longer before our paths crossed again, and I’m pleased that’s not the case.”

I tipped my head back to gape up at him. “Wait, what are you doing here?”

“An excellent question; one I was about to ask you. May I come in?”

I slowly nodded. He shut the door behind him, his eyes never once leaving my face. The shock of seeing him at the palace of all places slowly subsided and I tentatively smiled. “I can’t believe you’re here. I never thought I’d see you again.”

He returned my smile with a lopsided one of his own and my insides fluttered. “I promised we’d see each other again. How are you?”

I sighed. “I’m in a bit of a predicament.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Indeed. So you’re a secret princess keen on trying to persuade the prince to marry you?”

I pulled a face. “No, this is all some horrible misunderstanding.”

“Is it?” He folded his arms and leaned against my bedpost. “And how did a common girl end up in such a plight?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. A secret danced within his dark eyes, taunting me. “You don’t happen to know the answer, do you?”

He chuckled, and the warm sound I’d fiercely missed washed over me. “I do, actually.” His smile widened. “I’ve really missed you, Eileen. I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Why am I here?” I pressed my hands on my hips and glared at him, demanding he answer me.

He straightened and came over until he stood directly in front of me, enveloping me in his warmth and causing the strange sensations that only came from him to fill my heart. “It so happened I witnessed your unexpected arrival last night.”

“What are you even doing here?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m a member of the court.”

My brow furrowed. “I don’t understand. How does your being a member of the court explain why I now find myself trapped here?”

“Because thanks to my position, it wasn’t difficult to convince the guards that you’re one of the princesses come here to woo the prince.” He winked.

I gaped at him, my heart pounding furiously. With each beat my insides burned, my anger searing and poisonous. “You told them what?”

He frowned. “I told the guards that you’re a princess.”

“You mean to tell me,” I hissed through gritted teeth, “that it’s your fault I’m tangled in this dangerous mess?”

Perplexity twisted his expression. “Mess? It’s an opportunity.”

“An opportunity for what, exactly? To be executed?”

He rolled his eyes. “Why so dramatic?”

My fists tightened. “If I’m caught posing as a royal, what do you think will happen? You think the royal family will merely have a good laugh before releasing me? No, they’ll send me to the gallows.” My blood chilled. I needed to escape. I stomped to the door, but Aiden blocked my exit.

Author Camille Peters

Camille Peters was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she grew up surrounded by books. As a child, she spent every spare moment reading and writing her own stories on every scrap of paper she could find. Becoming an author was always more than a childhood dream; it was a certainty.

Her love of writing grew alongside her as she took local writing classes in her teens, spent a year studying Creative Writing at the English University of Northampton, and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English and History. She’s now blessed to be a full-time author.

When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing, and when’s she’s not thinking about writing she’s ... alright, she’s always thinking about writing, but she can also be found reading, playing board games with her family and friends, or taking long, barefoot walks as she lives inside her imagination and brainstorms more tales.


Giveaway Details
Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash
Ends 2/28/19

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. Susan Heim on Writing is not responsible for Rafflecopter content or prize fulfillment. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Edge of Forever Cover Reveal: Giveaway for Signed Books!

Today, we have the cover reveal of The Edge of Forever by J. Saman! Check out this gorgeous cover and be sure to pre-order your copy today!

Title: The Edge of Forever

Author: J. Saman

Genre: Contemporary romance

Release Day: March 19


About The Edge of Forever


Weston Kincaid was my first … everything.

My brother's best friend should have come with a warning label. The man was a cautionary tale, and we were the ill-fated cliché. The star quarterback to my loner art geek. But I didn't listen. Not to the warnings. Not to my instincts. I fell, and I fell hard.

Then he was gone. In the blink of an eye, I went from loving him to hating him.

A decade and a lifetime later, he's back. Only instead of being the star jock, he's now a surgeon. A sexy, irresistible surgeon who happens to save my best friend's life. And as if all that isn't bad enough, he has it in his gorgeous, arrogant head that we should pick up where we left off.

Little does he know, I'm not the same girl he left behind.

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

Amazon | Apple | Nook | Kobo | Indigo

Exclusive Excerpt:


Twisting back in the other direction, I start, my arms dropping to my chest as a small frightened gasp escapes my lips. Someone is standing in the doorway, leaning against the metal frame watching me. Our eyes lock. My breath catches in my chest. Because there is no possible way I’m seeing who I think I’m seeing.

My eyes blink. Focus. Then blink again.

No. Just no.

My lungs burn from lack of oxygen. My cheeks heat and my stomach flutters with nervous butterflies as I squint, trying to confirm what my body seems to already know. What my body remembers.

“No way,” I whisper aloud.

A slow easy smile curls up the corners of his mouth, his pale green eyes turning from incredulous to astounded to possibly amused. We stare at each other for a moment, unable to drag our eyes away. He tilts his head to the side, his smile turning lopsided as some of his hair flops over his forehead. My heart. Holy crap, it’s out of control. I forgot how gorgeous he is. How devastating that smile is.

Visions of the last time I saw him flash unbidden into my brain. I can’t stop them, and the faster the images come, the hotter my face and body grow...

Ever so slowly, he stalks across the room in my direction with a purpose I cannot ignore.

And then I realize where I am. And then I realize what he’s wearing. Scrubs.

I blink again. Admiring his chest and then his legs and then his shoes and then back up to his face. Because suddenly he’s standing before me, so goddamn tall and beautiful as he says, “Aria Davenport.”

“Weston Kincaid.”

What are the freaking odds? Ten years and a lifetime in between and now here I am. Staring up into the eyes of the man who was my first … everything. The man who shattered my adolescent, love-sick heart into pieces when he left.

About the Author:


J. Saman loves all types of novels, but finds herself always going back to writing/reading romances. She's addicted to Diet Coke and sour candy, and swears way too much. She's an admitted lover of picking at old wounds, second chance romances, love triangles and the perfect amount of angst. She writes smart, strong women and sexy alpha (slightly nerdy) men who have a softer side.

Connect with J. Saman:

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Forever Yours Clean Romance Event Featuring Author Jess Heileman: Giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash



Abigail by Jess Heileman

Since the death of her mother, Abigail Blakeslee has lost all desire to become a debutante and enter Society. But now, foregoing her first Season has brought an unwanted invitation to join her aunt and cousins for a summer at Timpton House, the large estate of the Stanton family.

Reluctantly accepting, Abigail is thrust into the vexing world of social propriety and matchmaking she had hoped to avoid. More vexing still is her cousin’s suitor, the young Timpton heir -- Edwin Stanton. Moody and distant at times, remarkably endearing at others, Edwin seems a puzzle she can never solve, but can never quite put away. Bet then, Abigail has her own secret to hide -- her own mystery to conceal. Perhaps such puzzles are better left unsolved, or perhaps love can find a solution.





It was several minutes into the first course that Uncle Stanton leaned toward me. “By whom do I have the privilege of sitting this evening?”

“Miss Blakeslee, sir.” I offered, perplexed how he had forgotten our introduction already. “We met just now in the drawing room.”

“Of course. Miss Blakeslee. Such a pretty sounding girl. And I have heard you are quite exquisite though I wish I could see you for myself.”

It was only then I noticed the cloudiness of his eyes. “Forgive me, sir. I did not realize you—” the words to finish seemed too harsh to speak.

“That I am blind?” He chuckled. “I’m flattered you took so long to realize. Was it my handsome face that made you overlook the defect or the confident way I hold myself?”

I was convinced it was the darkness of the drawing room, but I had no intention of saying so. “I believe it was both, sir.”

He chuckled again and reached a hand toward me. Placing my hand atop his, I gave it a gentle squeeze which he affectionately returned.

After some general small talk around the table, a few failed attempts to entreat Miss Hawkins into conversation, and seeing the focused regard Sir Wycliffe paid to Hannah, I gladly directed my attention to Uncle Stanton. There was something about his openness that endeared him to me immediately.

“And, if you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Stanton--”

“My friends and relations call me Uncle, and, if you find no offense in being placed amongst that group, I must insist you do also.”

“I would be honored, Uncle.”

“And I’m guessing by how you began to phrase your question, you were curious how I lost my eyesight?”

Now that he said it aloud it sounded alarmingly impolite, and I felt relieved he couldn’t witness the color that filled my cheeks. I still needed to learn to not let my curiosity take precedence to propriety. “I—well, I—” I stumbled over my words, endeavoring to think of another question to propose.

“Truly, I don’t mind,” he said, sensing my hesitation. “But I fear there is little to tell. A few years ago, I began having problems with my vision. Things grew dark at the edges and gradually expanded toward the center until all I now have is a general sense of light and dark. I sought the best physician in London, who assured me there was nothing to be done. So, I have resigned myself to enjoying the world through my other senses.”

I smiled. “That is a commendable outlook on such a hardship.”

“As I see it, I only had two choices -- to be bitter or to not. I simply chose the more enjoyable of the two. Though I will admit, I often wish I could create a more romantic story surrounding it all. You see, I have a very dull imagination--” he hesitated, “not that I care to mislead anyone, but the truth is hardly worthy of attention.”

“I don’t credit myself with much creativity, but perhaps both our minds together might come to a tale worth sharing -- or, in the least, to entertain ourselves?”

“Miss Blakeslee, that is a capital idea!”

“Well then, let us think. The grandest stories are always believable,” I paused, trying to determine an appropriate setting. “You were just telling me of your time in the British Fleet.” He nodded. “It would be fitting, and perfectly romantic, if your tale occurred at sea. Perhaps a heroic rescue?”

One side of his mouth lifted. “I daresay I prefer to play the hero.”

“And nothing is as heroic as rescuing a damsel in distress, do you not agree?”

“I most certainly do.”

I couldn’t resist grinning as a story surfaced in my mind. “I believe it must occur at night, for the mystery of things is always greater at night. You are walking the deck as Captains do, on watch for pirates or smugglers, when you hear the cry of a woman. You follow the sound to the starboard side of the ship and search the water, wondering who could be in such a state of anguish. The water is dark, with only an occasional reflection of light from the moon dancing off the waves. It would be impossible for someone to be out there, but then--” I nearly giggled at the intensity of Uncle Stanton’s concentration.

“Well, what was it I saw?” he asked eagerly.

“A woman, of course.”

“In the sea?”

“In the sea! And the most beautiful woman you have ever laid eyes on. But what was most peculiar was how her cry transformed to a song -- an entrancing melody that wrapped around you, pulling you toward her.”

“But she is in the water? How is she rescued?”

“You are a hero, Uncle. You must jump in to save her!” He lifted his eyebrows in surprise, and I covered my mouth stifling a laugh. “Don’t look so startled at the notion, I daresay if it were a real occurrence you wouldn’t hesitate a moment. And our story must be accurate -- that is why I came to this conclusion.”

His face beamed with pride. “I’ve always had a propensity for acting brashly around beautiful women.”

“And so, this is no different. And after you jump into the freezing water, as extremes make the account more exciting, you swim to where you expect her to be but find nothing. You search frantically, diving under the water and yelling for her -- for now that you have seen her you will save her or die in the attempt. But you grow tired and, just as your strength is exhausted and you begin to sink, you are pulled from the sea.”

“And how should I be saved?”

“A shipmate would be a reasonable rescuer. Possibly a fellow watchman or someone who heard your distress as you searched?” I received a reassuring nod. “When they got you on deck, although you had taken in much water, your only concern was for the woman. ‘Woman?’ they’d say, ‘There was no woman in the water.’ Had they not heard the cry or the mesmerizing song? Were they not lucky enough to behold the enchanting face? They’d surely blame it on your longing imagination -- though we know how dull it is -- or likely a bad meal. And I fear she would forever be a mystery to you, plaguing your very existence -- the image of this siren etched in your mind and her song on your heart. And your eyes would ultimately grow dim because nothing in this world could compare with the splendor you once beheld.”

A satisfied smile lit his face and my own expression soon mirrored his.

“You have given me quite a story, Miss Blakeslee; yet I am certain I shall never tell it as well. I’d ask you to transcribe it, so I might memorize it,” he chuckled, “but that would do little good as I’m no longer able to read.”

His laugh was contagious, and I easily joined him. Glancing around to make sure no one had observed my casual behavior, my eyes locked with Mr. Edwin Stanton. His stern look took the smile from my lips and drove my gaze to my plate.

“What is it, Miss Blakeslee?” Uncle Stanton asked gently.

I marveled at his discernment, most people with perfect eyesight would fail to perceive what he did. “I believe I have offended your great nephew with my behavior.”

“And how did you come to that conclusion?”

“The intensity of his stare -- as though he is condemning me from across the table.”

“Many emotions can cause intensity, Miss Blakeslee. But, if he is displeased, let me ease your mind -- you can hardly be the cause. These last few years he has had no difficulty finding things to aggravate him. Perhaps it is his way of being hospitable -- ensuring he treats us all equally.”

“Perhaps,” I said, taking comfort in the idea his ill temper hadn’t began with my arrival. Looking back toward the other side of the table our eyes met again, but this time he redirected his attention to the smiling face of Helena.




Ooh, I really enjoyed this story! It definitely had a Pride and Prejudice sort of feel for me with the brooding hero, the passionate and intelligent heroine and plenty of misunderstand and judgments on both sides. Abigail is so easy to love. Honestly, she is kind, compassionate and freely herself even when it goes against what is "proper." She is a defender of people and exceptionally loyal. See? What's not to love? ~Aimee brown

I bought this book last night and then ended up staying up way to late to finish it! But I was enjoying it so much I couldn’t put it down! It reminded me of Edenbrooke in style and that I loved the heroine, Abigail, and her desire to stand up for good causes despite society pressures -- she had so much goodness! I loved her story and how it all connected. ~Crystal

This is Jess Heileman's first novel, and I am excited for her to write more! Edwin and Abigail were easy to love and cheer for, and there was a host of secondary characters who were also fun to get to know! ~Alisa

Abigail sucked me in from the first page and I had a hard time putting it down. A sweet Regency romance with all the back and forth love vs duty inherent in this type of book, which helps make them one of my favorite! The characters are well developed and believable. ~Cheryl-Lynn




Author Jess Heileman

In kindergarten, Jess won a first-prize ribbon for her original creation, Pigs in Wigs. It was a solid storyline: There was this pig that wore a wig -- and it rhymed. Not impressed? Neither were her children when shown the very masterpiece that influenced her to become an author. “You won a ribbon for that?” Yes. Yes, she did.

Thankfully, life has since exposed her to a thorough education with its share of awards and accolades -- and, more importantly, to the trials and human experiences that form the heart of a storyteller and the substance of great stories.

Besides her love of writing, Jess is an avid reader, shameless people observer, international café loiterer, and partially retired photographer. She loves being a mother to five amazing humans and a wife to the greatest man she knows.





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