Excerpt Reveal: Black Tie Optional

The Proposal meets Two Weeks
Notice
 in Ann Marie Walker’s 

new standalone romantic comedy, Black
Tie Optional!

 

BLACK TIE OPTIONAL
Wild Wedding #1
Ann Marie Walker
Releasing May 30, 2017
St. Martin’s Press

The
Proposal 
meets Two
Weeks Notice
 in Ann Marie Walker’s new standalone romantic
comedy, Black Tie Optional, which New York Times bestselling
author Jennifer Probst calls, “a fun, sexy romp that will keep every
reader entertained!”

Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory
kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after
you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that
stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to
his full, sensual lips – on the surface he’s pure perfection.

 
Too bad
he’s an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying
the environment one species at a time.
 
Everything
about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a
sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to
her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.
So it makes
perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.Cole
needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a
marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension.
Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.
 
Chapter One
 
Just like
clockwork, Olivia thought. She watched the gas-guzzling SUV roll to a stop
alongside the curb, its hazard lights blinking as if some sort of justification
for bringing a full lane of Chicago’s morning rush hour to a grinding halt.
Every day the sleek black car stopped in exactly the same location so the
almighty Coleman Grant III could get the same extra hot, double shot Americano
from the same big-chain coffee shop, bypassing the smaller, neighborhood
establishments trying to stay afloat as corporate America runs them into the
ground.
            A mountain of a man in mirrored
aviator shades jumped out of the front seat to open the rear door, giving
Olivia a clear view of the luxury vehicle’s interior. Two leather captain’s
chairs with fold down keyboards and armrest tablet holders sat facing several
television monitors mounted above what appeared to be a full-service bar.  Forget running a business, it looked as
though Coleman Grant ran NASA from his back seat. Honestly, what could possibly
be so important that it couldn’t keep until he got to the office? The commute
from his Gold Coast penthouse to his Loop headquarters was less than two miles.
Hadn’t the guy ever heard of just chilling out with some tunes?
            Olivia approached the car just as
Grant climbed out of the back seat. He paused to button the jacket of his navy
blue Tom Ford and for a moment she forgot he was an arrogant, self-righteous
prick hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time. For a
moment, she allowed herself to take in the physical perfection standing in
front of her. From his dark wavy hair that stood in an artfully rumpled mess,
to the blue eyes that seared her skin, to his full, sensual lips – everything about
Coleman Grant oozed power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the
sheet clawing, heart-stopping, gasping-for-air-after-you’ve-screamed-so-loud-you-can’t-breathe
kind. But then his eyes narrowed and his lips curved into a knowing smirk and
Olivia remembered exactly who she was dealing with.
            “Mr. Grant,” she began.
            The bodyguard moved to step between
them but Grant waved him off. “Ms. Ramsey, what a surprise,” he said, not at
all surprised since this was the eighty-third day in a row she had approached
him. Not that it mattered. She had no plans to stop these sidewalk sessions
until he either agreed to her demands or filed for a restraining order.
            He made his way toward the coffee
shop with Olivia tight on his heels. “You know, most people simply make an
appointment with my assistant.” 
            “I’ve tried that, Mr. Grant. But for
some reason your schedule is always full.”
            “Pity,” he said, his voice void of
all emotion. When he reached the glass doors, he yanked one open. “Please,
after you.” 
            Bastard. Normally he charged in like
he owned the place, never mind if she or anyone else got a face full of door. How
dare he try to throw her off her game by acting chivalrous. As if the man had a
courteous bone in his body. Olivia stood frozen in place, debating how best to
handle this latest twist in their balance of power. As she did, Cole’s gaze
raked her from head to toe, from her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her
faded jeans with the Bonaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots splattered
with mud from the previous day’s site visit.
            She hated to admit it, but the
scrutiny of his gaze was unnerving. And it wasn’t just the laser like focus.
There was something about his expression, as if he wasn’t looking at her fully
clothed in a shop brimming with customers, but rather undressing her with his
eyes. She shifted in place, debating if she should call him out for his piggish
behavior or simply stick to the topic at hand.
            “Suit yourself,” he finally said,
stepping through the doors and leaving her alone on the sidewalk. 
            Not so fast. She took a deep breath
and joined him at the service counter.
“Mr. Grant, as I’m sure you’re aware, the northern long-eared bat was
recently granted protection as a threatened species under the Endangered
Species Act.”
            “Rather difficult to forget given
your daily reminders. Although I must say, Ms. Ramsey, you disappoint me. No
visual aids today?” He turned away from the counter with his extra hot, double
shot Americano to find Olivia standing behind him with an 8 x 10 glossy in her
hand.  “Ah, it seems I spoke too soon.”
            “This particular species of bat has
been the most impacted by white-nose syndrome and the resulting decline in
their numbers is what—”
            “Those really are the most vile
creatures,” Grant interrupted. “Have you ever considered taking up the cause of
a more appealing animal, say a manatee?”
            “There aren’t any manatees in Lake
Michigan.”
            “Precisely.” He smirked. “Perhaps
you could move? I’m sure you could find some poor, unsuspecting Floridians
worthy of your attention.” He raised his left hand and for the first time
Olivia realized he was holding a second cup. He thrust it in her direction and
without thinking she took it, dropping the photograph as she did. “You seem
like the type who would order your latte with a hundred and one specifications,
but hopefully skinny vanilla will do.”
            Olivia blinked. He bought her a
coffee? What the actual fuck? Did he really think he could charm his way out of
the hot seat? She had spent her entire adult life and most of her teens
speaking on behalf of those who couldn’t. It was going to take a lot more than
a few random acts of fabricated kindness to get her off his back.
            She was about to tell him not only
where he could stick his latte but how in her twenty-eight years on earth she’d
never ordered a “skinny” anything, when he turned toward the door. She bent to
scoop up the photo then hurried after him, fast talking her case all the way to
the curb where his bodyguard stood waiting with the door already open. As
usual, Grant didn’t say a word, much less defend his stance. Instead he simply
flashed a grin that would have made her drop her latte, not to mention her
panties, if she didn’t find him to be lacking in not only morals and ethics but
quite possibly a soul.
            He gave her a quick nod before
ducking into the car.  “Until tomorrow,
Ms. Ramsey.”
            With that, the door slammed shut and
the SUV pulled into traffic to the sound of protesting horns.
            “Asshole,” Olivia muttered under her
breath. “Gorgeous asshole, but still.” She turned on her heel and started down
the street with her head held high. Coleman Grant III might have been trying to
make a mockery of her attempts to persuade him, but their standoff was far from
over. A slow grin curved her lips as an idea began to take shape. She’d just
pulled her smartphone out to send herself a reminder when it began to vibrate
in her hand.
            “Are you bringing your swimsuit?”
her best friend asked before Olivia had even managed a hello.
            “To the desert? You’re joking,
right?”
            “I wasn’t sure.”
            “Cassie, I know you’ve had your head
buried in cookbooks for the past few years but surely you can remember how a
vacation works…lounge chairs, suntan oil, blended drinks with tiny umbrellas
that make you say ridiculously inappropriate things to cabana boys.”
            “I have never said anything
inappropriate to a cabana boy. And that’s sexist by the way.”
            “Cabana person?” Olivia laughed at
her own joke. “I’m playing. But you’ve got to lighten up a bit. We’re headed to
Vegas, Sin City, what happens there stays there and all that.”
            “You sound like a tourism ad.”
            “All I’m saying is you better be
ready to party Hangover style.”
            Cassie snorted. “Yeah, cause that
worked out so well for them.”
            “I promise I won’t leave you
stranded on a hotel roof.”
            “This is a bad idea. I should be
staying here and looking for a job.”
            “You’re the sister of the groom. You
can’t very well ditch out on the bachelor/bachelorette festivities. Besides, if
I can break my ‘Harass Coleman Grant’ streak for a few days, then you can
certainly give the stand mixer a rest.”
            “How’s that going by the way?”
            Olivia groaned. “New day, same
story. ”
            “Maybe it’s time to—”
            “Move on? No way.” While it was true
that working freelance allowed Olivia a certain amount of latitude, she prided
herself on never giving up. There was no way Coleman Grant was going to blemish
her perfect record. “I’ll just have to double my efforts.”
            Cassie laughed. “I’m actually starting
to feel sorry for the guy.”
            “Don’t be fooled by the looks. He
might be hotter than Ryan Reynolds and Ian Somerhalder combined, but underneath
that perfect exterior beats the heart of an ogre.”
            “Sounds like someone has wet
panties.”
            “Why Cassandra Miller, is that
smutty talk I hear coming out of your mouth? There may be hope for you yet.”
            “Don’t change the subject. You’ve
got the hots for this guy.”
            “Hardly. He’s eye candy all right,
but he’s also a spoiled, self-centered asshole who think it’s his way or the
highway. Not this time though.” Olivia nodded to herself. One way or another he
was going to give in to her demands. Coleman Grant III had finally met his
match. He just didn’t know it yet.

 

Ann Marie
Walker
 writes
steamy books about sexy boys. She’s a fan of fancy cocktails, anything
chocolate, and 80s rom-coms. Her super power is connecting any situation to an
episode of Friends and she thinks all coffee cups should be the size of a bowl.
If it’s December she can be found watching Love Actually but the rest of the
year you can find her at AnnMarieWalker.com where she would be happy to talk to
you about alpha males, lemon drop martinis or supermodel David Gandy. Ann Marie
attended the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in Chicago.
 

 

Cover Reveal: The Negotiator

Tasty Book Tours Presents….

 

THE NEGOTIATOR
A Hot Romantic Comedy
Avery Flynn
Releasing April 24th, 2017
Entangled Select
Wanted: Personal
Buffer
 
Often snarly,
workaholic executive seeks “buffer” from annoying outside distractions AKA
people. Free spirits with personal boundary issues, excessive quirks, or
general squeamishness need not apply.  
Salary negotiable. Confidentiality
required.

Workaholic billionaire Sawyer Carlyle may have joked he needed a “buffer” from their marriage-obsessed mom, but he didn’t need a waiting room filled with “candidates” to further distract him. (Thanks, bro.) But when a sexy job applicant shooes his mom and the socialite in tow out of his office, Sawyer sees the genius of the plan. And the woman. In fact, Miss Clover Lee might just get the fastest promotion in history, from buffer to fake fiancé…

This “free-spirit” might look like hot sunshine and lickable rainbows, but she negotiates like a pitbull. Before Sawyer knows what hit him, he’s agreed to give up Friday nights for reality tv, his Saturdays for flea markets (why buy junk still baffles him), his Tuesdays and Thursdays for “date nights” (aka panty-losing opportunities if he plays his cards right). And now she wants lavender bath salts and tulips delivered every Monday?

Yup, she’s just screwing with him. Good thing she’s got this non-negotiatable six-weeks-and-she’s-gone rule or Sawyer may have just met this match…

When Avery
Flynn
isn’t writing about alpha heroes and the women who tame them, she is
desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She has three
slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and has a slight shoe
addiction. Find out more about Avery on her website, follow her on Twitter,
like her on her Facebook page or friend her on her Facebook profile. Also, if
you figure out how to send Oreos through the Internet, she’ll be your best
friend for life. Contact her at avery@averyflynn.com. She’d love to hear
from you.

 

 

Book Review: Under Her Authority

Sleeping with the enemy is
never a good idea, especially when she’s your boss.
UNDER HER AUTHORITY
L.T. Shade
Released Feb 14th, 2017
Totally Bound

 

No one
tells Shane Williams what to do. His world. His rules. Which is why he ran away
from home at eighteen to pursue his dream of making a name for himself outside
of small-town Georgia. Ten years later, he is one of the hottest creative
directors on the east coast and the majority shareholder in a digital media
firm in Charlotte. Handing over the business portion of his company to his
trusted friend and business partner, and keeping his true identity as the
founder a secret, has its perks. But Shane is about to find out one of its
flaws.
 

At the expense of her relationships, Rosemary Berkowitz has always done
what it takes to succeed. As a female leader in an all-boys tech field, she’s
tougher than nails. She may be a sweet country girl, but underneath her
innocent exterior, Rose is a boss with an iron fist. She never backs down from
a challenge, and when she wants something, she goes after it full force.
 

No matter how sexy his smile is, the attention of a tattooed bad boy is
the last thing Rose wants. After a club outing with her best friend turns into
steamy night with a mysterious stranger, Rose wants nothing more than to move
past her one-night stand—however amazing it was—and continue to mend her broken
career. Little does Rose know that fate has other things in store for her.

 

Reader
Advisory: This book contains some scenes of public sex.

My Review:

That is one amazing story! I loved it from start to end and I was so caught up in the relationship between our main characters that I lost track of time. It is still difficult to believe that this is a debut novel, as the writing is impeccable and the way the plot was built is also amazing.

Even from the very first pages, I started to admire Rose. She is not afraid to admit she is still heartbroken after her ex, but strong enough to understand that it could have never worked out. The author has done an amazing job showing her sensitive side, but also the braveness in her personality. Determined to focus on her career, she still has dreams of falling in love and be loved and respected.

Sparks start as soon as she meets Shane – sexy, with a bad boy attitude and a dominant personality. The attraction between them is up in flames, one night stand and all that. Things get even more interesting when they find out Rose is his boss at the office.

I love a romance that combines professional needs with personal ones. I love how the characters struggle for balance and I love the twists their story has. A book that screams “Passion” all over!

Suffice to say I enjoyed it very much and that I cannot wait for L.T. Shade’s next book. Her debut is amazing and I wish her all the luck in the world J

Lauren
goes by the pen name L.T. Shade and lives in Miami, FL. She
loves black coffee and sexy heroes. Not exactly in that order. Nothing makes
Lauren happier than writing, or reading, about strong and capable heroines and
their happily ever after’s.
When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, overdosing on Cuban
coffee, interning as a book publicist and hanging out with her amazing family
and her American Cocker Spaniel, Princess Albie.

 

 

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Pre-Release Blitz: WALK OF SHAME

The City’s HOTTEST Cold War!
WALK OF SHAME
a Love Unexpectedly novel
Lauren Layne
Releasing April 18th, 2017
Loveswept

 

Sparks
fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in
this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling
author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.
 
Pampered
heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the
shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot
lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the
mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic
neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing
him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest
daydreams.
 

 

Celebrity
divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially
spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual
job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew
resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it.
But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise
kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether
they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the
answer just might be yes.
 

 

Lauren
Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen
romantic comedies.
 
A former
e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York
City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.
 
She lives
in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart
romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In
LL’s ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry
a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books. 
 

 

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Book Review: At Close Range

 When
her investigation brings them together, 
the sparks between them quickly get out
of control.
AT CLOSE RANGE
A Tracers Novel 
Laura Griffin
Releasing Jan 31st, 2017
Pocket Books

 

New York Times bestselling
author Laura Griffin “delivers the goods” (Publishers Weekly) again with
the eleventh title in the gritty, heart-pounding Tracers series.

When a lakeside tryst ends in a double murder, police detective Daniele Harper arrives on the scene determined to get answers. Clues are everywhere, but nothing adds up. Dani turns to the Delphi Center crime lab for help, but soon regrets it when her secret attraction to their chief firearms examiner threatens to distract her from the most important case of her career.As a ballistics expert and former Navy SEAL, Scott Black knows firearms, and he knows he can help Dani unravel her case. Scott has managed to hide his interest in his best friend’s younger sister for years, but when her investigation brings them together, the sparks between them quickly get out of control. Scott resolves to keep his hands off Dani and his eyes on the goal—identifying a killer. But when that killer zeroes in on Dani, all bets are off. There isn’t a line Scott won’t cross to convince Dani to trust him so that he can help her take down a ruthless murderer who has her in his sights.

 

 

My Review:

Laura Griffin comes back with a new title in the series “Tracers”. This is the 11th book, yet I still cannot get enough. I have read two order books (for which I did not get to make a review) and I couldn’t wait to start with another one. This is just one of those series one cannot seem to let go or get bored with.

This book brings detective Daniele Hunter in the spotlight. She has been assigned as the lead detective to a double homicide and is determined to get to the bottom of things. Yet some clues may not be a simple to interpret and the case proves to be a lot more difficult.

What I mostly liked about the plot was that all things were more complex then what surface may have shown. Starting with the case and all the way to the relationship between Dani and Scott nothing is as it seems. The attention to details and the great timing of major events is fabulous as well.

The writing was exceptional as always. The author did not lose herself in the details of the case and maintained a line between police related facts and romance. The story inclines more towards the first, so the case is the focus point. Even if the story is not told on the first person the author offers a glimpse into all characters and the POVs are nicely delimited with an “*” which helps separate ones from the others.

I intentionally left the characters discussion for the end as there are a lot of things to mention. First of all, all characters seem to have something to hide or at least they seem to have a shady side. They are very well developed and their role is vital to the case. There are a lot of names, but I cannot mention one who did not have a purpose. The most insight we have is for Dani, whose struggle to keep her team focused and to prove herself as a great detective, combined with the conflicted feelings she has for Scott, is very well captured.

This was a great read, I would include this one in the mystery crime area with a light Romance on the side. Even if I loved it so much, I decided to go with 4 stars, as there was a point when I felt a slight indecision on where to shift the case and there was one character who in the beginning seems to be a not so nice guy but later on he is very helpful in solving it. I suspected him as being the killer J I also did not understand completely why Dani became a target. Minor things for such an incredible story. Congrats to the author!!

 

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling
author LAURA GRIFFIN started her career in journalism before
venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award
winner (for the books Scorched and Whisper
of Warning
) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier
Award (for Untraceable). Laura currently lives
in Austin, where she is working on her next book.
 

Sale Blitz: DRAW THE LINE

The performance artist and con artist come together 

for the ultimate marriage of convenience.

DRAW THE LINE
Kim Carmichael
Kindle Press

The performance artist and con artist come together for the ultimate marriage of convenience.

Performance Artist, Argyle Brink, lives his life as one big art exhibit. No matter if he is hatching from a gilded egg to show his emergence as a new persona, or donning a suit of mirrors to reflect reality back to his audience, he never misses an opportunity to take a chance and stand by his convictions. Only one thing has eluded him…fame.

In order to save her family’s estate, Malone Summersfield must never return to England. After conning an art critic into taking her across the pond as his fiancée, she thinks her life will be smooth sailing. However, when the man’s wife enters the picture, she realizes the con is all on her, and she needs to get married now. When the strange, yet handsome, performance artist offers to marry her for the price of co-starring in his reality show, she figures she’ll give it a go and become a living art piece.

The show takes on a life of its own, gaining ratings from the sparks between the two stars. Airing everything from their dirty laundry, to public sex in an abandoned zoo, and even living off the grid in a micro house, nothing is off limits. However, when the INS decides to investigate their marriage further, and Argyle uses their predicament to broaden his art, Malone wonders if she will ever come first in his life.

With their marriage, their show, and her citizenship at stake, the two must decide if the ultimate truth lies in the art or in their love.

ONLY .99 CENTS FOR LIMITED TIME

Excerpt:

Back at their loft, she caught his wrist before he slid the key into the lock.

He turned toward her, pressing his back to the door. “When you say my name my whole body responds.”

“How so?” Part of her was never sure if he was serious or in a constant state of playing a role that he didn’t even realize.

His gaze firmly on her face he held his hand out, palm up. “Put your hand on mine.”

She did as he requested.

“Do you ever wonder why there are five fingers?” He turned his attention to their hands together. “Is that all we needed? Would there have been a benefit to a sixth? Could we still have functioned with four?”

Something about his words, the way he took in everything mesmerized her and she shook her head.

“There’s something about holding hands.” As if it were a priceless vase he lifted her hand to his face. “A public sign of a union, but even when we’re alone I feel the need to hold your hand, have that connection to you. It’s intimate.” He dipped his head down and took his time kissing each one of her fingers.

A jolt ran through each of her fingertips. How long were they going to play these games? “Argyle?”

He gave her a quick glance then kissed her palm.

Be it extreme need that came from being denied or just wanting her husband, her body flooded at the simple, yet passionate, act. “Oh.” Would he ever turn off whatever experiment or art project he thrust them into and make love to her?

He slid his lips up to her wrist, giving her an open mouth kiss there before moving to her forearm.

“Argyle.” Again she tried to figure out her husband.

“Yes?” When he spoke his breath brushed against her skin, sensitizing her every one of her nerves.

She couldn’t take much more of his teasing and she let out a moan.

“Perhaps we should go inside.” He turned back to the door.

“Are you joking?” She caught his arm.

“I’m not one for much joking.” Once more he faced her. “However, if there is something you want, I’m sure that you will find it ready for the taking.”

Done with the games, done with his cryptic words, and unwilling to go to sleep in a state of want one more night, she pushed him back, stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.

She crushed her lips to his. However, while he opened his mouth and gave her access, he didn’t respond and she pulled back, the fire within her raging. What the hell was this?

He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her tight against him. “Why don’t you kiss me, explore me and only worry about learning me rather than concentrating on conventions and how to hurry to some preconceived goal?”

Unsure if this was one of his art works or what, she was left with no choice but to do as he requested. Again, she stood up on her toes, and this time rather than rush to kiss him, she caressed her mouth against his. Like before, he gave her complete access, his lips molded to hers and she kissed him, this time expecting nothing in return.

She took the time to take each of his lips between her own, studying his taste, manly yet sweet, and she let her tongue explore his mouth.

Between them, his erection grew, creating a large bulge that made her desire increase. Something about just kissing him, discovering him, and taking her time aroused her even more. By the time she pulled back, she was breathless as well speechless.

 

Kim Carmichael began writing twelve years ago when her love of happy endings inspired her to create her own. She has a weakness for bad boys and techno geeks, and married her own computer whiz after he proved he could keep her all her gadgets running. When not writing, she can usually be found slathered in sunscreen trolling Los Angeles and helping top doctors build their practices.

Release Blast: ROLF’S QUEST

A wizard, a curse, a fated love…
ROLF’S QUEST
A Medieval Encounter #1
Aubrey Wynne
Releasing Feb 1st, 2017
Plato Publishing

 

A wizard, a curse, a fated love…
 
When Rolf finally discovers the woman who can end the curse that has plagued his family
for centuries, she is already betrothed. Time is running out for the royal wizard of King Henry II. If he cannot find true love without the use of magic, his line will end.
 
Melissa is intrigued by the mystical, handsome man who haunts her by night and tempts her by day. His bizarre tale of Merlin, enchantments, and finding genuine love has
her questioning his sanity and her heart.
 
From the moment Melissa stepped from his dreams and into his arms, Rolf knew she was his destiny. Now, he will not only battle against time and a powerful duke, but defy his king and the gods to save her.

Excerpt:

England 1154

The woods were dim with the day nearly at an end. They would not reach the next town before dark. She picked up her heavy skirts and walked farther into the trees; the quiet and solitude wrapped around her like a balm. Her horse followed, snatching at a random leaf that still clung to a branch. Common sense told her to turn around, but a noise—no, a song —floated over the stillness.

Without thought, Melissa moved toward the sound. She approached the edge of the forest and stopped just behind a large oak. A man stood on a hill, beckoning to someone or something. His voice captured her, bound her to the spot, and her eyes fixed on the scene.

Silhouetted against the blood–orange sun sinking into the horizon, the dark, powerfully built figure slowly raised his right arm toward the evening sky. The sides of his mantle fluttered in the autumn breeze as a hawk screeched in answer. He raised his left arm, and the howl of wolves echoed through the air in obedient response.

A sudden gust of air swirled the black, heavy cloak around the legs of the man, sending leaves flying about his feet as if they were commanded to dance. Melissa watched from behind the tree and held her breath, for fear of being discovered.

His resonant voice rose in a chant that captivated, then soothed. It spoke to her, beckoned her. She clutched at the rough tree bark to resist the physical pull. Then the chant abruptly ceased.

His head snapped around and golden eyes locked onto hers. His gaze seemed to pierce her very soul, and her body pulsed with excitement as he pushed back the hood, exposing raven hair and the chiseled features of an extraordinarily handsome face. The rising moon glinted off his chain mail, his hand now resting on his sword hilt. She gasped, her gaze transfixed on the most magnificent creature she had ever seen.

Distant voices threatened to encroach upon this moment of fate. She pushed the sound to the back of her mind and focused only on the mysterious man in front of her. The urge to move closer overwhelmed her, and she stepped away from the shelter of the tree. Her feet moved of their own will, and her arms reached out to this stranger who now filled her with an intense need.

The voices behind her grew louder. Footsteps rustled dead leaves and brush, intruding on the enchantment. Her mind, not yet ready to let him go, struggled to stay in his world. But the mystical influence receded, and she knew he had released his hold over her. An inexplicable emptiness took its place.

Melissa reluctantly turned toward the commotion behind her, certain he would be gone when she looked back over her shoulder. Would she see him again? Her father had spoken of a wizard rumored to have the ear of the king. Her mind a tangle of unexplained questions, she bowed her head and attempted a look of repentance as her father approached.

“Daughter! What were you thinking to wander off alone?” She heard more worry in his tone than anger. “These are hard times. I fear too many thieves lurk near the main roads.”

“Yea, my lord.” The relief on his face caused her to regret the impulse for a moment of privacy.

She cast one last glance at the hill but spied only a single hawk, circling low. The bird landed on a nearby branch, observing the group. As Melissa admired its beauty, her heart raced. One hand covered her chest as her eyes locked onto a pair of golden ones. It cannot be him. Unless…

The bird seemed to read her thoughts. With one sharp cry, the winged creature took flight and disappeared over the trees. She reached out to stop him, but he vanished into the night.

Bestselling
and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest
with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary
teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by
night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things
Christmas.
 
Her
short stories Merry ChristmasHenry and Pete’s Mighty
Purty Privies
 won the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Choice in 2013
and 2014. Dante’s Gift, the first in A Chicago Christmas series,
received the 2016 Golden Quill, Aspen Gold and Heart of Excellence awards.
Her
upcoming series “A Vintage Romance” was inspired by tales of her stepfather,
who served for the British Air Force in WWII. Wynne’s medieval fantasy series
“Medieval Encounters” will launch in 2017 with Rolf’s Quest.