Cover reveal for Loving Lily!

loving-lily

release date June 20, 2013!

Click here to read an excerpt.

Description:

Lily desperately wants to start over after her family dies in a series of suspicious accidents, but just as she’s moving on, her car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, a handsome hero comes to her rescue.

Matt is everything Lily didn’t know a man could be: strong, kind, and willing to stick around, even when they discover someone is trying to kill her, too. Lily isn’t sure she’s worth his protection: she’s forty years old and too outspoken to be sweet, but Matt can’t help loving the curvy woman with the fabulous sense of humor. Lily can’t help falling for the sexy ex-SEAL who seems to like her just as she is.

When a storm and a dangerous vendetta threaten Lily’s life, will Matt’s strength and Lily’s resilience be enough to stand between love and disaster?

Chapter One of Devotion — Ximena and Zefirino

Devotion

I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I’m getting into before I read a book. I love ebook samples because they give me an idea of the author’s writing style. I’m posting the first chapter of Devotion so everyone can meet Queen Ximena and her devoted bodyguard, Zefirino.

editors

Click on the cover to buy from Evernight Publishing. Click here to read an excerpt.

Description:

Queen Ximena is devoted to her people and will gladly sacrifice herself for them, even if it means her death. Her bodyguard, Zefirino, is devoted to her and will gladly sacrifice himself to keep her alive.

When a terrible enemy suddenly attacks their planet, how will they protect those they love without losing each other? Together they survive an assassination attempt, invasion, and capture, but they both know that their duty may eventually tear them apart.

How can Ximena give her life for her people when she knows that Zefirino will die trying to save her? Who does she put first: her planet, or the lover she isn’t even supposed to have?

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Chapter One:

Ximena ran her fingers along the white marble walls as they walked. The cold surface soothed her nerves and helped her orient her thoughts properly. Too much confusion in her mind led to bad things, not that she’d ever let it get to that. Her authority was a heavy responsibility, but she’d been raised to shoulder it since birth.

The tunnel they moved down was brightly lit, almost enough to hurt her eyes, but not quite. The marble that sheathed everything might have looked sterile except for the few black doors that dotted the long passage. They were the secret entrances to every room in the Palace, used by only a few servants and security personnel. It was a major breach of protocol for her to be here.

“Why are you doing this, Xi?” Zefirino asked.

She shrugged tiredly, unsurprised by his question. She’d been waiting for it. “It is my responsibility.”

He put a hand in front of them, stopping her. The mark of his rank, Aegis Strike Leader, was tattooed on the palm of his right hand. She eyed the circle with the two strikes bisecting it and stifled a sigh. He let his hand drop. “No, it is not. It is too dangerous. I could question her for you. I should question her for you.”

She frowned at him. His handsome face was troubled. She wished she could reach out and smooth the worry lines away, but such familiarity would shock him, desperate as she was to feel his skin, accept that he was a living, breathing man who stood beside her always. She sighed out loud, instead. “We tried it your way and she would not speak. I need to do this.”

He looked at her steadily, the olive green of his eyes never wavering. Not for the first time she found herself admiring the cool green of his stare. He was a handsome man, not that she allowed herself to think of him that way very often. She looked down, wondering how he could stand there like that, so still. He never fidgeted. His tight black uniform hugged his body, highlighting the muscles hard-won through years of training. Weapons were strapped to his arms and legs, small black lumps against the synthetic fabric of his clothing.

“You know I am right,” she said finally, meeting his eyes again. She ignored the curious looks of the others in the passageway. They knew better than to question her presence here. She was their ruler, their queen. Zefirino was her personal bodyguard and head of the royal security force, as his father had been before him. Of all the people in the Palace, they had the right to go anywhere and do anything they wished. She rolled her shoulders, trying to ease the tension that coiled in her spine like a snake. The right to go anywhere meant that she went fewer places than most.

Zef licked his lower lip thoughtfully. She hid a smile, turning away from him. He would hate to be reminded of the one childhood habit he could not train away.

“Fine. But I will be there with you at all times.”

“I would expect nothing less,” she said, looking down the gleaming marble at the black door set in the curve of the tunnel. “It is time.”

He said nothing as she walked to the door and paused in front of it. After a moment’s hesitation, she put her eye to the security panel set at shoulder height. The electronics in the door identified her retinal pattern. With a flick of her eyelid, she keyed on the hidden camera so that she could look out into the courtyard. Sitting on the stone bench near the waterfall was the woman they’d come to see. Her long, brown hair was expertly arranged to fall over her left shoulder. Her lips were painted a deep red. Ximena controlled the urge to run her hand down her own hair. It’d taken an hour to wrestle her curly red mane into submission this morning.

“Well?” Zef asked.

“So pushy,” she murmured. Her companion flashed her a rare grin. Ximena rolled her eyes at him then squared her shoulders and pushed open the door.

The courtyard was shockingly humid after the cool, controlled environment of the Palace. Zefirino settled into position near the door, trying to blend into the wall and look menacing at the same time. Ximena allowed herself a quick smile. There was no way Zef could ever blend in, he was simply too tall. Too commanding. The door closed silently behind her as she walked forward, but the woman didn’t look up.

“I’ve been waiting almost an hour.” She examined her fingernails, still not bothering to acknowledge Xi’s presence.

Ximena halted several feet away, considering her words carefully. The woman did not bow or indicate in any way that she was in the presence of her queen. Strange. It would not do to appear defensive. She spent too much time in committee meetings to be entirely happy with the way the woman was acting. She had to deal with squabbling councilors nearly every day and wasn’t pleased to be here handling yet another difficult person when she would have preferred to be resting. All too soon she would have to attend dinner where yet more opportunities for lobbying would need managing. Compromise was a hallmark of her reign and the unification of all the outlying provinces the result, but that kind of policy took a great deal of patience. She stifled a sigh. Self-pity is not a queenly trait, she told herself.

“I hope you enjoyed the fountain. If one must wait, it is better to do so in the presence of beauty,” Ximena finally said, walking forward and gesturing at the water. It arced in an interwoven pattern of half-circles, changing at half-minute intervals. The scent of moisture hitting sun-baked concrete tickled her nose.

The woman swiveled around on the bench and set her feet on the ground. She wore a long, red robe, belted with a brown leather utility belt at her waist. Ximena took in the empty weapon slots with equanimity. Zef’s people would have searched the woman before letting her this far onto the Palace grounds.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the woman stated, eyeing Ximena’s simple white formal robe with a slightly raised brow.

Ximena’s cocked her head. “Are we to trade aphorisms all day or will you offer your name?”

The woman cocked her head. Her dark brown eyes glittered with some emotion Ximena didn’t recognize. “I am Cleo.”

Ximena clasped her hands together. “Cleo. What brings you to Palace City?”

Cleo pursed her lips, eyes darting to Zef and back again. She pivoted on the bench and looked out over the stone wall separating the Palace courtyard from the public grounds. Children shrieked as they ran into and out of the water.

“Look at them, so young. Their minds have nothing in them except the urge for play or sleep or food.” Cleo looked back over her shoulder at Ximena and smiled, but only half her mouth tilted up. “Don’t you think so?”

She looks more bitter than happy, Ximena thought, forcing her impatience down. Behind her she sensed Zef’s wariness as if it were a physical thing. He shifted his stance, relaxing and tensing his muscles in a precise sequence so that none would grow fatigued.

“They look also for love,” Ximena offered finally. She let her hands fall to her sides. No sense in holding the traditional greeting posture when the woman didn’t acknowledge it by voice or body movement.

“Love?” Cleo laughed. “Is that how you see children?”

Ximena didn’t allow even the tiniest bit of discomfort to mar her face. She didn’t know why the woman had demanded to see her or who she had bribed to get this far, but her very presence here in this courtyard said much about her ability to maneuver the slick, political dangers of Arcadia. “Children are a blessing.”

The woman stared at her with her perfect hair, perfect skin and lips, and Xi tried to appear calm and expectant, though she felt anything but. Suddenly the woman whipped her hand up, an antique pistol nestled like a viper within her fingers. Xi stepped back as the metal flashed in the sunlight—shocking and unexpected on this cloudless day. As if in slow motion, Ximena saw her squeeze the trigger but she was already diving behind the second stone bench, Zefirino too far away to protect her. She concentrated briefly, infusing her hands with energy, then picked up the bench and shoved it over as the sharp, percussive pop-pop-pop of the bullets hit the door, the wall, and the edge of the stone paving.

“Ximena!” Zef cried and Xi knew he was trying to get to her but he would be too late. She must save herself. Deep in her mind she relaxed her rigid control and let her training take over. Bullets from the pistol continued to fly around her and she spared an anguished thought for Zefirino, her companion since they were children, but she needed to focus when she used Vim. The ordinary citizens called it magic, and thought it an easy gift, but she knew better the price she paid for her strength. Magic was a child’s tale.  Vim was real and exacted some very difficult costs depending on what she did with it. To save her life and Zef’s, she would gladly pay.

She infused more energy into her muscles as quickly as she dared then picked up the bench a large man would have trouble pushing even a pebble’s length and ran with it towards the woman. The rough stone, designed to look rustic, warmed her palms. The water from the fountain looked like it was floating, as if gravity had disappeared, but Ximena couldn’t spare the time to consider the changes in her mind when she used Vim as she always had before. This was no meditation exercise. Several bullets hit the stone, it vibrated minutely, and then she was on top of Cleo, shoving the stone down onto her. She thought the woman would die instantly with two tons of weight on top of her body, but instead she struggled, pushing up against the bench with inhuman strength. Ximena shoved down and heard the woman’s bones crack. Horrible. She pushed harder, trying to finish it, but Cleo shoved one last time. The bench shifted up and off her body for a moment, then crashed down. She didn’t move after that.

How did she do that? No one is that strong, Ximena thought, shocked, then her thoughts fractured and reality zoomed into her body and mind like a glider hitting a wall. She gasped and stepped out of the way of the bench sliding down and off the woman’s body. It tumbled to the ground with a hollow boom. Fragments of the broken stone caught in Ximena’s robe.

“Xi! Are you hurt?” Zefirino was finally there. He had his hands on her arms and Ximena thought she might pass out from the shock of his warm palms on her skin for the first time in decades. His terror for her had clearly overthrown years of training.

“I am fine, Zef. I am unhurt, see?” She gestured as best she could with his fingers still wrapped around her forearms. He looked down, a dull flush rising over his olive skin. He dropped her arms and stepped back.

“My apologies, my queen.”

Ximena suddenly felt like sobbing. One touch, just one and I am undone. “No.” She waved a hand. It trembled and she hugged it to her waist. “No apologies are necessary, Zefirino.” She explained away their lapse with a shake of her head.

“The security recordings—”

“Will show you rushing to my defense,” Ximena stated. She turned and looked at the red ruin of the woman. I did that, she thought very quietly to herself. A part of her mourned the necessity, but as always, her sense of duty took precedence.“The children?” The silence of the courtyard felt oppressive. Even the water seemed to fall more softly.

“Evacuated at the first shot,” Zef said. He looked away. “I saw to them first.”

Ximena knew he regretted his actions.

“Zef.” Cautiously she put a hand on his arm. Startled, he whipped his head around. His green eyes held tears. “Zefirino, you did what I would have ordered. It is the most sacred rule of our society that children are to be protected.”

He swallowed. “But you are my queen. My duty is to you first, always.”

“No! In this I am nothing more than an ordinary woman. A woman grown and quite capable of looking after myself. You did what was right. You did right, choosing the correct path above all else, just as you always have and will.”

He searched her face and Ximena hoped he saw her unshaken belief in his fidelity. He must have, for he gave a short nod and stepped back. “I do not understand how she could have hidden the pistol.”

Ximena took a deep breath and edged toward the body. “I do not either. We have both been over the protocols a dozen times, as have your men.”

Zef crouched down, poking at the woman’s skull with his telescoping stick weapon. “Xi. Something is odd here.”

She grimaced, but obediently moved closer. She could hear the sounds of Zef’s security detail moving up through the public courtyard. They had only moments before chaos would be upon them. “What is it?”

He glanced at her then plucked a fiber from the mess of red on the stone. “This woman is not human.” He frowned. “Or not entirely human”

Ximena leaned closer, staring at the piece of fiber in his hand. “Zef, surely not.”

“I know, it sounds crazy.” He poked some more, plunging fingers into what used to be a living brain.

Ximena leaned closer, ignoring the stench of sun-heated blood congealing around them. What she saw beneath Zef’s fingers made her heart seize in her chest. “Is that—?”

“Yes.” Zefirino showed her the silicon circuit he’d teased from the mass of brain tissue. “She is a synthetic life form. An android. A myth made real.”

Ximena stared at his hand. His fingers, so familiar to her, held the nightmare her great-grandmother had foreseen in a Vim dream two centuries ago. She closed his fingers over the chip, not caring that the blood coated hers as well. “This must remain our secret.”

Zef nodded, his expression both disturbed and resolute. Their eyes met and she saw the knowledge of what had just occurred in his expression. He was the only other living person who knew what her grandmother had dreamed, all those years ago. He knew because they’d been raised together as companions, as playmates, as friends, even though she was royal and he was not.

“You have my honor in your hands, as always, my queen.” Zef wiped the chip against his black uniform then bowed his head over their fingers. He handed it to her under cover of her robe and she slid it into her hidden pocket before the others found them with it.

© 2012 Marie E. Blossom

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Where to Buy: 

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Chapter One of Seducing Liselle — meet John

seducing-liselle

I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I’m getting into before I read a book. I love ebook samples because they give me an idea of the author’s writing style. I’m posting the first chapter of Seducing Liselle below so everyone can meet John—the hero who saves Liselle from the cold.

Description:

Liselle isn’t looking for a hero, especially not at the ripe old age of forty-three, but when John saves her from a blizzard, she can’t help falling just a little bit in love. He’s sexy, strong, and ex-military, with a sassy niece and four older sisters who clearly adore him.

Even so, looks alone aren’t enough to convince her that he can be trusted. After all, her brother and father tormented her for years—she knows better than to think a man can make her happy.

When John comes to her rescue, will she let old habits rule? Or will she let him heat her up and melt the fear in her heart?

________________

Chapter One:

John parked the truck, frowning as the rattle of the engine told him that something was going to cost him a lot of money, probably very soon. He hoped the noise it wasn’t the transmission, he’d replaced that five years ago, but you never knew with a truck this old. It used to belong to his Grandpa and he refused to give up on it. He couldn’t toss it away like so much scrap metal.

He got out and slammed the door shut, leaning against the cold metal as he tried to talk himself into going inside. His old wound throbbed and he looked at the sky. It was definitely going to snow tonight. He stretched, wincing as the scar on his shoulder gave a deep thrum of protest. He ignored it, like he always did, but what he couldn’t ignore was the sound of angry female voices piercing the frigid January air. He wasn’t sure what kind of trouble his niece had gotten into this time, but his four older sisters seemed pretty bent out of shape over it. He stared at the house, wondering when the hell this had become his life. Facing down a bunch of tribal leaders in Afghanistan hadn’t been this stressful, but then, a roomful of pissed-off females was more dangerous by far, particularly when you were related to them. He sighed as the door opened and a woman stepped outside. Time to man up and pretend he wasn’t scared of a group of women half his size.

“John! What are you doing, standing out there in the cold? Get your butt in here and tell Jean she’s being an idiot,” his sister Julie called from the porch. She was the closest to him in age, forty-three to his forty-one. He sighed again, this time loud enough for her to hear. When she glared at him, he bit back a grin. She was cute when she was irritated with him.

“What did your daughter do this time?” he asked.

Julie huffed. “Your niece got a tattoo. And I don’t know why Jean cares.”

John laughed. “Um, because she’s Jean?” He crunched across the leftover snow and bounded up the porch steps.

“She didn’t go batshit when you got your nipples pierced,” Julie said, indignantly. “I even showed her pictures!”

“I was overseas, where she couldn’t yell at me. And besides, I took them out again.” John scooped her up, amazed once again at how small his sister was compared to his six feet. Was she even over five feet tall? “Are you shrinking?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, no. I am not shrinking. I’m barefoot and you’re enormous.” She swatted at his head.

“It’s freezing out here and you don’t have any shoes on? You’re going to get frostbite.” John picked her up and clomped to the front door. “Get the screen, would you?”

“Put me down, you Neanderthal!” She yanked on his ear.

“Ow! Stop that.” He juggled his sister and the screen door, trying not to drop her.

“Put me down.” Her fingers headed for the ticklish spot behind his left arm.

“Shit, Julie, you fight dirty,” he groused, dropping her abruptly, but not before he managed to get in a tickle himself. She shrieked and he guffawed, foot jammed into the screen door, his sister digging her sharp fingers into his waist. “Cut it out, woman!” He grabbed her hands and leaned down to give her cheek a raspberry when the inner door abruptly opened. They both froze as a burst of warm air wafted over them. John sniffed. Mmm, pot roast.

“Are you two quite finished out here?” Janet asked. Of the five of them, she was the oldest, forty-nine years old and correspondingly mother-ish.

“Hi Janet,” he said feebly.

She rolled her eyes at him and hugged him. “Where have you been hiding? It’s been a whole week since I’ve seen you.”

He hugged her back, closing his eyes and letting himself just feel. Janet always managed to calm him down, even when he was at his most agitated. He credited her with helping him adjust to being back in the States when he’d gotten his medical discharge. “I was working, you know that.”

She squeezed him harder and let go. “You couldn’t spare one night to come to dinner?” She pulled him inside and jerked her head at her youngest sister. Julie meekly slunk inside, looking like she was sixteen instead of in her forties.

“I had to finish up the detail work on that house out near Hershey,” he protested. “Do you know how long it takes to do crown molding?”

She shook her head and shut the door, locking it against the cold. The foyer behind her was brightly lit and he let his eyes rove over the house he grew up in: wooden steps with the old bannister that he’d refinished last year, the pile of coats on the rack near the door. He smiled wryly, wondering how the hell his sisters and niece Beth managed to live together without killing each other. He’d go mad if he had to sleep in this house.

“Tell me again why you all live here? And where is everybody? I could’ve sworn I heard you fighting,” he said, just to be irritating.

Janet smacked him on the arm. “We live here because it’s easier to take care of one monster-sized house than four small ones, idiot. And I made them go to the kitchen before the roast burned. Arguing in the foyer is just stupid. And I didn’t hear you complaining about having to live here when you came home two years ago.”

He grimaced good-naturedly, remembering how comforting it had been to sleep in his childhood room when he’d been recovering from the injury that had led to his discharge. He couldn’t argue with that.

“Bionic Uncle John!” Beth came running into the foyer and threw herself into his arms. “Wanna see my tattoo?”

He hugged the sixteen-year old close, grinning at her nickname. She thought his shoulder implant was cool. He loved that she took what he regarded as a horrible, career-ending injury, and made him feel … well, not good about it, but maybe okay. He looked at the small design etched into her skin. “It’s very pretty,” he said, wondering what the hell it was supposed to be. It looked like words, kind of? Or maybe the tattoo artist slipped and this was the result. No wonder Jean was so torqued up about it.

“Oh please, you don’t even know what it is,” Beth complained. She pulled her arm back.

“Okay,” he said, trying to buy time. “What is it?” he asked sheepishly. He squinted. It didn’t help. “I like the color?” he tried, but she just rolled her eyes.

“It’s a Fus Ro Dah tattoo,” she said.

“Fus Ro Dah?” What the hell was that?

She rolled her eyes again and he wondered how she managed to avoid getting a headache when she did that. She rolled her eyes a lot.

“It’s a Skyrim meme. It’s a shout meaning ‘force’ and you can use it to kill dragons. Also, the vids on the internet are hilarious.”

“You got a video game meme inked on your body?” He blinked. “No wonder Jean is freaking out,” he muttered.

She huffed and dragged him down the hall. “She’s not freaking out over this, jeez.”

He followed his niece, hoping he’d managed to stomp off most of the snow on his boots. If he left puddles on the hardwood Jenn would kill him.

“That’s not what your mother told me,” he said, poking Beth in the head.

She batted at his hand. “Well, she’s clueless, like usual. Jean is freaking out because my Dad’s sister is coming by this afternoon to meet me. Apparently, she had no idea me and mom existed.”

He stopped short. Julie ran into him, muttering about stupid men under her breath. John didn’t know if she meant him or her late, unlamented husband, and he didn’t care. Janet stopped, too, eyeing Beth as if she’d just pulled out a live grenade and waved it around. He figured she must have tried to convince the girl to approach the subject more carefully, but well, Beth was young. Teenagers weren’t known for their tact.

“Your father has a sister?” He very carefully did not modify the ‘father’ part of his question with asshole, deadbeat, loser, but he wanted to. Oh, did he want to. But no, he was an adult and he had to set an example. “And she’s coming here?” he asked. His appetite had abruptly vanished despite the delectable smells coming from the kitchen.

“Um—” Beth looked away.

John clenched his hands and shoved them in his coat pockets. It wouldn’t do to let his niece know how pissed-off he was, still, after all this time. He gripped the fabric on the inside of his pockets so hard his fingers ached. He remembered shoving his fists into the asshole’s face, despite the crippling pain of his newly reconstructed shoulder. He remembered the satisfying sensation of the asshole’s nose breaking into several distinct pieces. He’d also kicked the bastard in the nuts and still didn’t feel the least bit sorry because he remembered the bruises all over his sister’s face. And the cut on Beth’s, the one that had finally made something inside him snap.

“Why?” he gritted out finally, glaring at the wall over Julie’s head. He noted that the finish on the stair bannister needed to be touched up.

Julie’s shoulders hunched. “She had no idea he had a kid.”

“So?” Why was that a reason for waltzing into their lives?

Janet sighed and put a hand on his arm. Brave woman.

“Apparently he’d done a number on her, too, when they were younger, before she moved clear across the country to get away from him and their father. She had no idea he had a daughter until he died last year and the authorities contacted her to take care of his stuff.”

“I still don’t understand why she’s coming here.” John shrugged off her hand and unzipped his coat. The guilt he thought he’d feel for putting the bastard in the ground still didn’t show up. God. If he didn’t give his hands something to do he was going to punch something and his sisters didn’t like it when he did that. He knew his reactions were all wrong for the situation, but sometimes he just couldn’t help it. Situations where the people he loved were threatened shoved him right back into combat mode. His instinct was to protect, and this made him feel like danger was headed their way.

Julie shrugged. “She called and asked. Said she was considering moving back to Pennsylvania for work, and wanted to meet her niece.” She took his coat from him and smoothed a hand over the fabric. “She sounds nice. She’s coming here to meet everyone. If you ask me, that takes guts.” She looked up at him, her sweet face suddenly drawn. “And that’s why we wanted you here.” She paused, took a deep breath. “In case something goes wrong.”

He stared at her for a moment, her brown eyes showing all the pain she’d suffered at the hands of that bastard and he sighed. He smoothed her hair over her forehead and she leaned into his hand.

“If I’d known he was hitting you, I would have come home sooner,” he said.

She shrugged. “He wasn’t, you know. Hitting me. He wasn’t even around until about a year before your accident.”

John growled. “He should have stayed the hell away from our family.”

She turned. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Talking doesn’t help. It never did.” She headed for the kitchen. Janet gave him a look and took off after her.

John closed his eyes and tried to count to ten, but before he got to five, Beth was there, tugging at his hand. “Come on. Aunt Jenn made your favorite stuff for dinner, Uncle John.” She smiled tremulously at him and he relaxed. He never could deny her a damn thing, and she knew it.

“Yeah, okay, squirt,” he said, just to see her expression go sour. She hated that nickname. John didn’t care. He loved his niece and his sisters beyond all reason. As he followed her into the warm kitchen, he supposed that was all right. Family was supposed to stick together.

© 2013 Marie E. Blossom

Seducing Liselle will be half price for Evernight’s St. Patrick’s Day Sale!

EPSt.PattysDay

Evernight is running a one day sale on Sunday in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. ALL BOOKS will be 50% off. Plus, one shopper will receive a $50 EP gift certificate.

Do you know what that means? Yes! My latest novella, Seducing Liselle, will be $2.00 tomorrow. That is an amazing price to pay for several hours worth of hero awesomeness. All my other Evernight books will be half off, too. Click on the covers below to check them out:

seducing-liselle   bbd   Devotion

New Seducing Liselle teaser!

seducing-liselle

 

Seducing Liselle releases this Thursday! I’m so excited. This novella that’s special to me because I wanted to write a story that shows how a good man can help a woman become more herself—even while he’s saving her, she’s saving him. I wrote it for a very special lady who has been an enduring cheerleader of mine for a while now.

—–

Here’s a description:

Liselle isn’t looking for a hero, especially not at the ripe old age of forty-three, but when John saves her from a blizzard, she can’t help falling just a little bit in love. He’s sexy, strong, and ex-military, with a sassy niece and four older sisters who clearly adore him.

Even so, looks alone aren’t enough to convince her that he can be trusted. After all, her brother and father tormented her for years—she knows better than to think a man can make her happy.

When John comes to her rescue, will she let old habits rule? Or will she let him heat her up and melt the fear in her heart?

—–

Here’s a new little teaser from the novella:

Liselle’s heart flipped over. She took it from him, staring at the familiar metal tag, then ran a thumb over the gold chain that had somehow appeared around her neck.

“I don’t understand,” she murmured, running the necklace through her fingers.

“The string you had it on broke,” John said, his voice very, very gentle.

She swallowed, afraid to meet his eyes. “So you gave me this?” Was this man for real?

He touched a hand to her cheek, tilted her face up. His green eyes weren’t laughing now, they were warm and serious. The heat in them made her skin prickle. “Yes.”

“John—” she began, but he quieted her with a finger on her lips.

“Shh. Just … shh.” He leaned over and kissed her. His lips were slightly chapped. “I thought my head was going to explode when I saw you in that motel room. You were so pale, Liselle. God.” He kissed her again.

“I’m not worth this,” she said, trying to turn her head away. He wouldn’t let her.

“Bullshit.” He kissed her again. “Why won’t you let me help you?”

She blinked back tears. “This isn’t your job. I don’t want you to get hurt. Or Beth, God forbid.”

He sat back. “Liselle. Don’t you understand? I want to help you. Why won’t you let me?”