Posts Tagged ‘contemporary romance’

It’s a Small Town Romance Sweepstakes!

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
This week, I’ve teamed up with 50+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of steamy small-town contemporary romances to 2 lucky winners
PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!
Oh, and did I mention you’ll receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering?
You can win my Forever Starts Today,  plus books from authors like
Tricia O’Malley, Jasinda Wilder and so many more.
Here’s an excerpt from Forever Starts Today…

Welcome to Forever, and to Enchanted Keepsakes. I’m the owner.”

She had a soft, lilting voice, and an accent he couldn’t place. She didn’t look old enough to vote, never mind own a business. “How do you know this is my first time visiting?” he asked.

She laughed, the sound was almost musical. “I’ve never seen you before.”

“You can’t know everyone.”

“The population’s not that large.” She held her hand out. “My name is Korinna.”

He shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Korinna.”

She cocked her head to the right and gazed up at him expectantly.

“Asher,” he added. “My mother and I are here to help my aunt Lorraine.”

“Of course. I know Lorraine. I hope she’s feeling better.”

She tilted her head to the left and studied him long enough he became uncomfortable and shifted his stance. “I’ll—”

“I was looking through some of my jewelry,” she interrupted. “I believe I have something that belongs to you more than it does to me, Asher.” Her voice gently flowed like a warm island breeze.

“Thanks, but I’m not interested in buying anything.”

“Well, that’s good, because I’m not offering to sell it to you.” She tapped a manicured nail against her bottom lip. “But it most certainly belongs to you.” She turned and walked back to the counter and her collection of items. She scanned them, one delicate hand hovering over something for a long moment before she removed it from the tray. She peered down at it, and nodded, the movement tight and decisive. Hiding the object from his view, she walked back to where he stood rooted to the floor wondering about this strange woman’s game. She peered up at him and held out her hand. “I’d like you to have this.”

Asher pulled his gaze from her strange eyes and looked down. Lying on her palm, upon a piece of purple velvet cloth, was a gold heart-shaped locket attached to a long gold chain.

He shook his head. “Pretty, but not my style. Thanks anyway.” He took a few steps away to another display, this one of chimes in various lengths and styles. He touched one with butterflies on top. The hanging cylinders knocked against one another creating a pleasant, tinkling distraction.

“Please.” She appeared at his side again. With a sparkle in her violet eyes, she nodded, encouraging him to take the locket.

“I’m sorry. You must have me confused with somebody else.” Somewhere in the back of the shop, a ring tone he recognized blared.

“Trust me, I don’t.” She grinned, and her eyes widened. “Forever starts today, Asher.”

Enter the giveaway by clicking here or on any of the above graphics
Giveaway starts on November 20 and ends on November 27.
Good luck!

It’s hard to resist a Good Man who’s a Bad Boy

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Title: Dax (Bad Boys of Willow Valley)

Author: Shannyn Leah

Genre: Contemporary Small Town Romance



It’s hard to resist a Good Man who’s a Bad Boy

Dax Colyn is one of the bad boys of Willow Valley. A fearless volunteer firefighter and hard ass mechanic, he makes all the woman swoon and he likes it that way. He keeps people at a distance since his mother died. He doesn’t want to let anyone in, much less a woman he knows he could fall in love with.

Ava Anderson keeps people away, too. Haunted by her tortured past and constantly fearful of the future, it’s only her daughter Olivia and Dax’s dad Rowdy that she’s let in.

But when Rowdy dies, it pushes Dax and Ava together, forcing them both to let go of their fears. They soon learn how hard it is to keep pretending and how easy it is to let others in. Especially when those people are family.


About Dax: Dax is the first book in Willow Valley’s Bad Boy stand-alone series. These hot contemporary romance books feature alpha males heroes and strong, independent women.

Fall in love with Dax Coyln, a volunteer firefighter and hard ass mechanic for his restoration business. He’s strong, solid, independent, until tragedy strikes that could tear him to the ground.


“Dax?” She’d moved directly beside him and he felt her warmth radiate near his arm. “Rowdy says you haven’t gone back to the hospital for a follow up on your shoulder.”

She set the princess-patterned bag on his desk before he could reply, not that he needed to answer her. They both knew he hadn’t gone back to see the doctor. He hated hospitals.

A couple weeks back on their way back to the station after dousing a farm fire, the new guy had driven off the road and flipped the fire truck on its side, sending all five of the men to the hospital. Had the ambulance driver not given him a choice, he wouldn’t have gone in the first place.

Big deal. Firefighters got muscle sprains all the time. Although his shoulder was being a pain and not healing. He should have gone for the follow up, but he could scrounge up a thousand excuses to hold it off, too.

Ava unzipped Olivia’s knapsack and pulled out a container of gel. “Let me see your shoulder.” Her teacher’s tone again. Damn woman.


“I didn’t ask. Take off your shirt, Dax.”

He leaned back in his chair to get a better look at her. He put on his famously seductive grin and tapered his eyes. “I’ve been trying to get you out of your shirt for years and you think you can come into my office and, after one demand, think I’m going to just strip for you? Do you think I’m that easy?”

Her lips curved upwards. “You are that easy.”

“Take yours off,” he retorted.

Her jaw tightened, as did the grip on the jar in her hands. Humor swept away, her eyes didn’t waver from his, and he watched desire heat up in them. The attraction between them resonated around the four walls of his office and he knew sex with her would be mind-blowing. Except, he’d never sleep with her. He couldn’t. As much as he teased and flirted, at the end of the day, they didn’t mix. Hot and cold. Water and fire. Besides, his dad would whoop him good and serve him up for dinner if it ever went that far.

Ava’s fingers grasped the edge of her blue and white plaid blouse and hiked the material high enough to see her naval.

Goddamit. They were in his office and the wall overlooking the shop was encased with windows.

He caught her wrist, conflicted with wanting more, all of her and not wanting any of her at all.

“Alright,” he growled, pulling her shirt back down over her denim shorts.

He stood up, ignoring what looked a hell of a lot like hurt in her eyes and yanked his own black T-shirt over his head. He balled it up, frustration invading his hands and tossed it onto his desk.

“If I’d known it was that easy to get your shirt off, I would have flashed my sprained shoulder a helluva long time ago.”

One thing was for certain, the teasing had to end. She’d never given an inch and today she’d have given a whole damn foot.



Lakeshore Secrets (Marc)

Lakeshore Legend (Colt)

Lakeshore Love (Jake)

Lakeshore Candy (Riley)

Lakeshore Lyrics (Avery)


Get your copy of DAX today:







About Shannyn Leah

Contemporary romance author Shannyn Leah loves olives, lip gloss and reading (and writing) romance novels. Her love of words started at an early age and soon grew until, during her teenage years, she’d started writing her own novels. When her mom pushed to finally publish some of the stories, she quickly amassed two complete romance series (By The Lake and Caliendo Resort series) and, in 2016, released her first Fantasy Romance entitled The Gatekeepers (Part One of the Winters Rising series).

When she’s not writing contemporary romance books into the early hours of the morning, Shannyn can be found antiquing with her two favorite people, her momma and sister, in their picturesque London, Ontario hometown.

Shannyn would love to get to know her readers as you get to know her (just don’t send her any carrots!)


Get 3 FREE books and never miss special promotions, brand new release or the inside scoop by signing up for her newsletter


Connect with Shannyn
Facebook * Fan Club * Twitter  * Pinterest  * Google Plus   * Instagram  * Amazon * Goodreads * Website 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Change in Tide by Freya Barker

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Everybody loves to relate to the book they are reading. And I’m no exception, especially when I can relate to the world the story is created in.

I recently read a book by a Canadian author set in a Canadian location and the characters are, you guessed it, Canadian. This may not seem like much, but it actually is to us Canadian authors.  Because our selling market is primarily the USA, we tend to write to that market. That means changing locations, changing character traits and anecdotes, hell even changing our spelling! (Can I just say I’m constantly getting caught at the day job for ‘typos’ because I forget and write the American version of words 🙂 ).

Anyway, on my way north for a family wedding, I happened to read Freya Barker’s brand new release A Change in Tide (Northern Lights Book 1)


Here’s the Blurb…

What impact would it have when everything suddenly faded to black? 

For Mia, a crowded subway ride changes her entire life. Retreating to the wilderness helps her cope with a world that is suddenly too loud, too turbulent.
Her existence safely contained to the small cottage on the lake, she is unprepared for the neighbor that moves across the bay

A career-ending injury has Jared permanently benched. His reputation as The Enforcer won’t survive the unanticipated responsibilities awaiting him.
Away from the public eye, he adjust to his new reality, under the quiet observation of the intriguing hermit on the other side of the water.


I LOVED this story and am not ashamed to say that while I should have been working on my own (rather late) story, I was reading hers.  It was compelling. It was personal. It was sweet and it was sexy. It covered some complex issues. Each character had their own story with their own hardships to struggle through. They all had flaws, nobody was perfect. They screwed up. They had vulnerable moments. They apologized. They moved towards that happily ever after.

The main characters, Mia and Jared, are likable and believable, as are the supporting cast. They made me smile. They made me laugh. They made me hurt for them. They made me root for them. They each felt broken and lost in their lives, yet regardless of their personal insecurities, they managed to find their way to each other. Their chemistry is a slow burn that finally erupts. And boy am I glad I was there to see it. I particularly enjoyed the insight they had into each other’s comfort zone, or lack thereof, and how they pushed the boundaries in a safe and secure way until the other person experienced something new and a bit scary, but better than anticipated.

While I do tend to read books higher on the heat level and on the erotic level, I absolutely love settling in for a good love story. And that’s exactly what I found in this book. This story is beautifully written and was a pleasure to read.

Admittedly this was the first book I’ve read by Ms. Barker. But I can tell you, it will not be the last. If you haven’t tested these northern shores yet, I highly recommend starting with A Change in Tide.

You can find out all about Freya Barker at her website
And you can find A Change in Tide at

~ * ~ 

It’s the Worth the Risk Cover Reveal

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Note: this is a re-release of my debut novel that was released in Jan 2013 through Etopia Press. Same title, different cover. The story has been re-edited and about 1200 words added to enhance the story, but it has not been significantly altered in any way. The book will be sold at a cheaper price than the original version, however, unless you would like an updated version, there is no need to repurchase the book.

A weekend of hot sex can’t erase past heartbreaks, but it might lead to a better tomorrow.

Molly arrives at a beautiful park, ready to spend the holiday camping with friends. This weekend is the highlight of her year—or it was, until Tanner Daivies showed up. Her high school crush is all grown up, sexy as sin, and he’s demanding answers—answers Molly isn’t sure she can give.

Years ago, Molly Simpson broke his heart. When the woman he loved told him she needed space, Tanner gave it to her—for ten long years.  Now he’s back. He’ll settle for closure but hopes for a future. Sex with Molly is scorching hot and brings back plenty of memories. When they’re together, it’s clear they were never meant to be apart.

It may be time to deal with the past. But is reliving it worth the risk?


“Come for me, baby.”

She froze. That quick, the climax that had been spiraling out of control fizzled and sputtered out. She collapsed against the bed and swallowed back an anguished cry, biting her lip hard in the process. “Stop.” She pushed him away when he reached for her and sat up, struggling to back up against the headboard.

“Molly, what’s wrong?” He remained on his knees at the side of the bed, confusion marring his handsome face.

She squeezed her eyes tight and sighed. When she opened them, his face shimmered out of focus. “Tanner—” She licked her dry lips to try again.

He waited.

Her heart cracked wide open. God help her, she couldn’t do this to him? Words fell from her mouth, stumbling over each other in her haste to spit them out.

But it wasn’t the words she’d practiced.

Tanner loved her. He’d want to take care of her. She refused to destroy his plans when he could do nothing anyway. “I can’t do this anymore. I think we should split up.”

His head lurched back, and an odd sound exploded from his throat. “What? Is this a joke?”

“No. It’s no joke. I’m sorry.” She grabbed the comforter, wrapping it tight around her body, right up to just under her chin. Distance. She needed distance.

“I’m confused, Molly. Everything’s been good. We’re graduating; we’re ready to begin our lives. What do you mean you can’t do this anymore? For Christ’s sake, we’ve been together forever.”


He jumped to his feet and marched a few steps away. He stopped, spinning to stare at her, his mouth hanging open as he swept his arm back and forth between them. His words, when they came, filled her with anguish. “What the hell was this? A good-bye fuck?”

She flinched at the harshness in his voice. “I’ve been thinking a lot lately,” she tried. She hated this. But thought it best, for Tanner. He had such a bright future. “I’ve never been on my own. I need to be on my own for a little while.” Cold seeped into her fingers and toes. Tiny shivers racked her body. Molly held tighter to the blanket, willing her teeth not to chatter, not to stutter over the words she struggled to say. “We’ve never dated anybody else Tanner. Maybe—“

“Maybe what?” he demanded, his eyes a mix of anger and deep hurt.

“She gulped over the lie lodged in her throat. “I believe we owe it to ourselves to explore our options.” Inwardly she winced. What a grown-up piece of crap.


Cover Credits Go To:

Cover Photo: Copyright Kruse Images and Photography

Models:  Lance Jones and Kimberleigh Michelle

Cover Design: Bookin’ It Designs


Available Tuesday, March 7th!

It’s Release Day!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Her Choice Quote Card #3


Family Ties, Book 1 * * * Kobo * B&N

He’s not her father’s pick. But he’s her only option.

Gage Barrett’s goal is to bring one of the biggest crime bosses in the city to his knees. The man runs drugs, extorts money, and has the profits laundered by the pretty Angelena’s father. Gage just has to get close enough to find the evidence he needs to put the guy away for good before another family is forced to live through a pain Gage is all too familiar with.

Angelena Bianco doesn’t understand why her father is so insistent she marry the son of one of his clients. Santo is a thug and she wants nothing to do with him. It will be a cold day in hell before she’ll walk down any aisle to that man. When the day comes for her to get married, it will be to a man of her choosing, not her father’s.

Lena has two months and few options. She needs to find a husband, fast before she’s forced into a situation she can’t live with.

Chapter One


“Mary said you were looking for me?” Angelena Bianco smiled at her father as she strolled into his study, though confusion settled in when he didn’t immediately acknowledge her.

When he did raise his head, he didn’t look her in the eye. “I’ve found you a husband.”

She stopped in her tracks. “Excuse me?” Her father had found her a husband. She didn’t realize she was looking for one. She continued forward into the room and laughed, though the sound lacked true amusement.

“It’s time you married.”

Laughter cut off cold, Lena stared openmouthed at her father. Where was this coming from? Her father had never pressed her to marry. Why now?

She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. Make that two. She tried a different tactic. “Papa—”

“The deal has been made, Angelena.”

Angelena Bianco dropped like dead weight into the overstuffed wingback chair. Her father’s desk, large and nicked with age, stood centered in front of the east-facing wall. The mid-morning sun streamed between the heavy paisley curtains hanging in the twin windows of her father’s office, slicing the dark interior into sections. Dust mites danced in the shimmering beams, tickling her nose. As a small child, she’d been comforted by the cozy feel of the room and the smell of the books lining the shelves. She’d sit for hours curled in one of the chairs while her father worked, sometimes peppering him with questions, more often simply relishing the opportunity to share the space with him.

Over the years, however, he’d changed. He smiled less, rarely laughed, and preferred the solitude of his office to spending time with his only daughter. As she grew older, they spent less time together and he answered fewer questions. When she became more curious about his business, he began working behind a locked door. These walls no longer held a sense of security, but rather a wealth of secrets.

After many foiled attempts to rebuild their relationship, she’d given up. Now they simply co-existed in the same house, sharing pleasantries and the occasional meal.

But today, not so much. Today, anger edged out every other emotion. Disbelief, a little bit of humiliation, and even a smidgeon of hurt at the insinuation she wasn’t equipped to find a suitable man simmered underneath. Maybe he sympathized over the fact that she had yet to meet a man willing to commit to a future with her. It’s not as if she dated scores of men looking for Mr. Right. What gave him the idea she wanted to get married in the first place? It’s not like they ever talked about it.

She replayed his words in her head. “Wait a minute. The deal has been made? What is this, some kind of business arrangement?”

“In the old country—”

She threw up a hand and closed her eyes, taking another fortifying breath, and counted to ten before she opened them again to stare across her father’s workspace. He watched her, the blank expression on his face not offering a hint of what was going through his head.

“We don’t live in the old country, Papa. We don’t do arranged marriages anymore. And I certainly won’t agree to one,” she stated softly. Clearly, she’d made a mistake remaining at home for so long out of concern and sympathy for her only living relative, wishing that one day they’d reestablish the father daughter relationship she yearned for.

“Well, I did grow up in the old country, as did your future father-in-law, and I’ve decided to choose a husband for you.”

She glared at her father. “Listen, Papa—”

He shook his finger at her.

She suddenly felt five years old, being taken to task for muddying the hallway floors. Damn if that little recollection didn’t leave a funny feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“You’re almost thirty years old, Lena. Past time to begin your life as a wife.”

She rolled her eyes. “You make it sound like a job.” She was way past the age when her father could make such an important decision for her. Especially when he had no clue as to her preferences for a husband. Not that she had any. “If Mama were alive, she’d whack you with her soup spoon for such a comment.” At least she hoped her mother would have. Doesn’t every mother want her children to live their own lives, make their own choices, get a good education, a solid job and eventually get married? When the time was right?

“If your mother were alive she’d be nagging you for grand babies.”

Lena sighed and looked down to where she’d grasped her locket, the only keepsake she had of her mother’s. It held a picture of her parents on the day they married, and one with her mother holding her as a baby. “I’d like to think she’d want me to fall in love first.”

Her father tsked, but a sad look came over his face and his eyes glazed over. Was he thinking about the wife he lost so long ago?

“I’m not marrying a man I don’t even know, Papa.”

Her father shook his head. “That won’t be a problem. You do know him.”

At this, her head shot up. She tried to catch her father’s eyes, but he appeared to be scouring the papers spread out on his desk before him.

“Who?” A sense of foreboding slithered over her skin, raising goose bumps in its wake.

He cleared his throat and ran his finger down one of the pages he pretended to read, stopping halfway, moving that same finger across a line of print. Three times.

“Who?” she demanded, fighting not to grind her teeth together.

He licked his lips and fidgeted with his glasses, then scratched his nose. He dropped his gaze back to the papers, then over to stare at the blank computer screen. Next, he scanned the rows of books on the shelves.

Every nerve ending on Lena’s body went on high alert. The hair stood on the back of her neck.

“Papa,” she growled. “Look at me. Now.”

He raised his head, but looked over her shoulder instead of at her. His typical technique for avoidance.

“Who, exactly, did you make this arrangement with?”

He swallowed. His throat moved up and down. Was that a bead of sweat on his brow?

She knew. Before he gathered his thoughts. Before he opened his mouth. She had no idea how. But she knew who her father had signed her life away to before the words could pass over his lips. Rage, disgust and bitter disappointment battled as they rushed through her system.

“Father?” she whispered. Her throat had gone dry and she couldn’t bring herself to use the loving, more affectionate term of Papa. The one he used to bend to when she was a child, especially just after her mother died.

He winced, but then schooled his reaction into one of determination. “With Giovanni Soranno. His son, Santo, has asked for your hand. And I have accepted on your behalf.” He nodded firmly as though that sealed the deal.

Lena gasped. For a long moment she sat dumbfounded, at a loss for words as her heart beat at a frantic pace behind her breast once it restarted after the initial shock. She almost tilted her head to see if water might drain from her ears and clear the whooshing sound.

“You can’t be serious,” she whispered.

When he didn’t smile and tell her this was his first ever attempt at some twisted practical joke, she jumped from the chair and smacked her hands flat to his desk, hardly noticing the sting to her palms.

He jerked back.

Guilt etched his face, but she forced down the instinctive desire to mollify him.

“You had no right.” She growled the words between teeth clenched tight, so angry she shook.


“Don’t—” Fury roared through her. Tears swam, blurring her vision. “You had absolutely no business making such an agreement without my knowledge. None! I’m an adult, Father, not a child. I don’t need my daddy picking a husband for me. I don’t want my daddy picking a husband for me.” She spun around, giving him her back, closed her eyes and counted to ten. To twenty. To fifty. “Call it off.”

“I can’t.”

Yes, you can.”

“You don’t understand—”

She twirled around so fast, she felt her hair, always so snug in its clasp on her head, shift and wobble, threatening to lose its tenuous hold. “No, you don’t understand, Papa. Santo is arrogant. He’s crude. He makes me feel like a piece of meat he wants to chew on.”

Santo Soranno had been sniffing around her since she’d hit puberty. When she’d finally gone off to college, it had been a reprieve from his constant sexual innuendos and advances, some more blatant than others.

She remembered when he’d cornered her after school one day during their senior year. In the empty hallway, Santo had pushed against her back, pressing her into the lockers. Then he’d skimmed his filthy hand along her torso toward her breast, slow and torturous. If it wasn’t for his younger sister appearing out of nowhere, Lena had no clue what might have happened. Nothing deterred or scared him, not even back then. Other than his father. When Rosa reminded Santo their father planned to pick them up and didn’t like waiting, he’d cursed and copped a quick, painful feel, then retreated.

And now, her father has apparently agreed to just hand her over to the grown up version of that boy.

A shiver rolled over her, leaving her icy cold. “Papa, Giovanni may be a client of yours, but I’m not one of his fans. And I detest his son.”

Santo’s father creeped her out. Rumors abounded he was involved in organized crime, but of course there was no solid proof to substantiate such claims. A rich man, he had many business holdings. Although he preferred not to be in the public eye, he did good things for the community. People hesitated to press the issue when he constantly gave thousands to charities and built homes for people who needed them.

But his youngest son, Santo, was a bully who had no trouble using scare tactics and threats to get what he wanted.

“He’s one of my best clients, Angelena. I’ve known Giovanni for years. You went to school with his children. This will be a good match.”

Angelena had the insane urge to giggle.

Giovanni Soranno had to be close to sixty, but he looked ten years younger. Handsome was too weak a word to describe him. He exuded charm, wore his wealth like a conservative business suit, and had impeccable manners. He laughed showing off a beautiful smile. He played the all-American man. Hell, he even encouraged his friends and business partners to call him John instead of Giovanni. Lena, though, had no use for him. That smile of his never warmed the blackness in his eyes.

Every ounce of gossip had at least a grain of truth to it. He appeared too perfect. And in her experience, nobody was perfect. However, his acting skills were stellar.

Unfortunately, every time she tried to warn her father to be more selective in the people he dealt with, he brushed her fears aside, claiming she watched too much television. He insisted Mr. Soranno was a respected businessman.

But where Giovanni was as suave and smooth as a car salesman, Santo was as disgusting and rude as a punk ass gang banger. He had his father’s looks, but none of the personality. If his father was the snake, Santo was the oil.

Lena cringed, bile rising in her throat. No way in hell was she marrying that horrible man. “I will not marry him, Papa.”

“Yes, Angelena, you will.”

No. I won’t.” She stifled the urge to stomp her foot like she did when she was ten and he refused her requests for a sleepover.

“I cannot break this agreement, Lena.”

She returned to the chair, but leaned forward trying for a conciliatory pose, desperate to get her father to see reason. “Do you really want me married off to a man I don’t love, never mind one I don’t even like being in the same room with?”

“I’m sure he’s not that bad. You may even learn to love him.”

She gaped, struggling to find words. Swallowing, she sat back in the chair and looked across the desk at somebody she’d respected her entire life, even more so after she’d watched him pine for the love of his life since the day she’d closed her eyes and never woke up.

“Learn to love him? Papa, you don’t learn to love somebody. Either you do or you don’t. And believe me, I have absolutely no plans to love that man. Ever.” Kill him perhaps, if forced to spend her life with him. But love him? Not even on her deathbed.


She needed to get him off this kick, and quickly.

Angelena stood and smoothed a hand down her dress, preparing to leave. “When I’m ready, I will find the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

“The wedding will be during the long weekend in September.”

“What!” How many more surprises would fall into her lap today? Considering it was not even noon yet, the day was young. “That’s two months away.” This was spiraling out of control faster than she could breathe.

“Santo isn’t in the country at the moment, but he’ll be home in plenty of time.”

Her flight instinct kicked in. She shoved down the scream battling to be set free.

“We don’t live in Sicily, Papa,” she finally said, her voice low but not too steady. “You and Mama left there long before I was born. I’m a modern, American woman. When, and if, I fall in love, I’ll decide if I’m going to marry him. The choice is mine to make. Not anybody else’s.”

“John has hired somebody to help you with all the necessary arrangements. You won’t have to do a thing but look beautiful. The wedding will be at their home.”

He wasn’t listening to a word she said.

“Goodness, what woman could turn that down?” She huffed. “Would I at least get to pick out my own wedding dress?”

He titled his head, casting her an offended look. “Of course.”

Her anger melted away, some of it. She sighed. There had to be a way to make him understand. She needed time. If Santo wasn’t in town, perhaps she had some. It wasn’t much, but she few options without completely disrespecting her father. “Papa, I won’t marry Santo. I will only marry a man of my own choosing.”


“At least give me some time to find a man I want to marry.” Any man would be better. Hell, she’d even, maybe, in a million years, with the possibility of a quick and painless death immediately following the ceremony, consider marrying Giovanni himself. A shiver of revulsion wormed its way up her spine.


Please, Papa.” Desperation consumed her. “Six months. Give me six months.”

“I don’t think—”

“Surely you can give me six measly months to find a man that I actually want to marry. If I haven’t found one by then…” Then she’d have come up with another plan. She’d run, leave the country, go into hiding and leave her father behind if she absolutely had to. However, the thought of not seeing him again tore her heart in two. There had to be another way. She just needed a little time to think.

Her father slouched in his chair and ran a hand over his face. “You have no choice in this matter. If you don’t marry Santo, his father—”

“What, Papa? What could Giovanni possibly do if I don’t marry his son?”

Her father blanched.

Fear settled like a gigantic boulder in her gut.

Her father gulped and wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. He closed his eyes and took a breath. A shiver racked his body.

His strange reaction scared the crap out of her. Could Giovanni actually do something to her father? There’d never been any hint of violence in the many rumors circulating about him. Not one. Questionable finances, unsubstantiated claims of course, and a few moments where she didn’t like the gleam in his eyes. But nothing that would warrant the unease she suddenly felt.

His son was a different story altogether.

“Angelena, you will marry Santo Soranno in a ceremony at their home on the Labor Day weekend in September as planned.” He stopped talking but his lips continued to move.

Lena had the distinct impression her father uttered a prayer.

Before she could try to change his mind again, a knock sounded on the den door, startling both of them. It creaked open and their housekeeper poked her head in.

“Mr. Bianco, there’s a phone call for you. Would you like me to transfer it into here?”

Mary winked at Lena. She had started working for Lena’s parents a few years before Lena’s birth. After her mother’s death, Mary had been the surrogate Lena leaned on throughout the years. Right now, she wished she were five years old again. She could use a warm hug and perhaps some cookies and milk.

“Who is it, Mary?”

“It’s Mr. Soranno, sir.”

The tension in the room doubled, the oxygen sucked out like a backdraft. Lena faced her father. She opened her mouth.

He raised his hand. “Yes, Mary, you can transfer the call. Just give me a couple of minutes, please.”

“Certainly, sir.” Mary backed out and closed the heavy wood door with a soft click.

She needed to try one more time. “And if I refuse?”

When her father looked at her, sadness filled his eyes. He sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking every one of his sixty-two years.  “That’s not an option, I’m afraid.”

What the hell did that mean?

His desk phone rang. She once joked with her father about his ancient telephone. He’d clarified, saying it was an antique. Her father hated cell phones, computers, and current technology. Right now, they both looked at the relic as though a serpent would slither out through the handset.

“Why don’t you have Gage take you for a drive? Clear your head.” He spoke to her, but stared at the black heavy-duty telephone, his brows furrowed.

She stood and took two steps toward the door.

“I’m sorry, Angelena,” he said softly.

She stopped, but didn’t turn. She dropped her chin to her chest, took a deep breath, and then straightened her spine as she left the room.

As soon as she cleared the threshold of the office and closed the door behind her, she sagged against the wall. She needed a plan. Something quick and decisive that would put a stop to this entire fiasco. She’d rather die than spend the rest of her life with Santo Soranno. She needed another option. There had to be another option that didn’t include her slipping away in the night.

“Ms. Bianco?” Gage Barrett leaned against the wall opposite her. The man looked like he ate testosterone for breakfast. Decked out in his chauffeur’s uniform, one that fit him like a glove, it appeared ready to split at the seams if he flexed the slightest bit.

Their previous driver had been old and grumpy, and lacked the necessary skills to be a driver—like a sense of direction, or the ability to see above the steering wheel. She’d been concerned for their safety every time she climbed in the vehicle, more than once insisting she drive herself so he could rest his aging eyes and trembling fingers that clearly ached with arthritis.

Gage didn’t fit the image either. However, he was much easier on the eyes. He handled the car like an appendage and seemed to have an alertness that other drivers didn’t. His gaze took everything in, leaving her unsettled more than once after he’d given her a thorough twice over.

Short dark hair, broad shoulders that could probably carry the weight of the world, narrow waist and well over six feet, he had appeared out of the blue a couple of months ago. When she’d questioned her father about it, he’d simply said their previous driver had failed his re-test and couldn’t hold a license anymore. The limo company had sent Gage as the replacement.

With Gage, the only risk she worried about was the possibility of combustion—hers. One of these days, her panties would go up in smoke. He belonged on a romance cover or modeling sexy underwear, not behind a steering wheel driving a financial advisor and his daughter around town. She could even envision him on a recruitment billboard for the military, encouraging every hot-blooded woman and man to enlist.

“Hello, Gage.”

“Can I take you somewhere?” His deep baritone sent prickles over her arms. The good kind. The kind of shiver only a man like him could warm up.

She needed to get out of the house for a while. Maybe an idea would come to her if she cleared her mind for a few hours. “I’d like to go for a drive, if you have no other immediate obligations.”

He shrugged. “It’s my job.”

“Then, let’s go.” She pushed herself away from the wall, grabbed her purse from the hallway table, and strolled to the front door.

He reached it first and held it open for her. “After you.”

She passed by him and stepped out into the sunshine, catching a whiff of his aftershave. Very sharp and edgy. It fit.

“Anywhere in particular you want to go?” he asked.

“Anywhere you want to take me, is fine.” As long as it was far away from here, so she wouldn’t be tempted to listen in on her father’s call with her future father-in-law. * * * Kobo * B&N

Enter My Release Giveaway!
Running Until End of July

Rafflecopter Giveaway for WebSite Promo




a Rafflecopter giveaway