Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Dakota Homecoming



Dakota Hearts Book 10
Dakota Homecoming

Julian McKinnon hasn't been home to South Dakota and the family that had always been his anchor, and they want to know why. He may seem like the black sheep of the family, but telling his family he was an undercover FBI agent after all they'd been through didn't seem like a great idea. Now there's another McKinnon wedding planned for the holidays and the family has made it clear Julian isn't going to miss it for any reason. That leaves his informant wide open. The only way to make sure she's safe is to bring her home to meet the family. Aside from Georgie Garcia (Gigi) being too close to the front line of one of Mexico's notorious drug lords, she's incredibly beautiful, making it hard for Julian to separate his job from his growing feelings for her.

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Excerpt 

“You’re going to have to take your informant with you to South Dakota.”

Julian McKinnon listened to the voice over the phone.  Kelly Montgomery, the head of the Chicago office, had only recently contacted him about his missing son.

“You’re serious,” he replied.

“I can’t have her hanging around here.  We’re being watched.  And if we’re not, we will be.  This development is too sensitive to risk having Georgie Garcia slip through our fingers.  You understand what I mean.”

He did.  But it only complicated an already tenuous situation he’d put himself in with his family.  “Sir, the only reason I’m going home is because my brother is getting married.  If I show up with a woman…”

“What?  You’ve never brought a girl home to meet your mother before?”

Julian shifted his jaw to one side and glanced out the window of his motel room.  Motels had been his home for the better part of six months.  He was looking forward to going home.  Looking forward to Aunt Kate’s good cooking and his mother’s pampering.  He needed it.

“Don’t make me laugh.  I’m still stunned.  None of us, bar my sister, Grace, would ever think of bringing someone home until there was a ring involved.  The second we do, my mother has us married off.”

Kelly laughed.  “Your mother sounds like my wife.  To some extent, that’s the reason we’re having this conversation.  Given what happened to her sister, I wouldn’t blame her for wanting to disappear.  But she is the only link I have to finding my son’s whereabouts in Colombia.  I can’t risk that Georgie Garcia will slip through our fingers.”

“But, sir…”

“Make it happen, Julian.  If you’re going home, she’s going with you.  It’s either that or skip your brother’s wedding.  I don’t care what you tell your family.  I don’t care what she tells your family as long as she never mentions Eduardo Sanchez’s name to them.  You know that wouldn’t be safe.”


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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: One Dakota Night



Dakota Hearts Book 9
One Dakota Night

Grace McKinnon had her chance at love, and she lost. She'd married a thrill seeking rodeo man who was never around. All she wants now is to find someone she can depend on while she raises her young son who is determined to follow in his father's footsteps. When she meets her cousin Ethan's friend, a form Navy SEAL, she thinks it's just more of the same. Same man, different suit. But Grace soon learns that life can be thrilling with the right man...as long as she's in his arms.

It had been a long time since Jace Strickland had some decent time off to think about anything other than the military. At a crossroad in his life, he has two months of leave to decide whether to reenlist in the Navy or discover something else in life that gives him the same rush as being a Navy SEAL. Meeting single mother Grace McKinnon at a veterans event in South Dakota was an unexpected pleasure. Given the nature of the life he'd chosen, he'd never been the forever kind of man. He craved adventure. But Grace's sweet lips and loving heart makes him wonder if the ultimate rush in life...is loving one special woman for the rest of his life.


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Excerpt 

“He hates me.”

Grace McKinnon propped her foot on the first rail of the fence and leaned against the splintered wood as her ten-year-old son rode around the paddock on a horse called Moondust. Her cousin Ethan and a friend of his from the Navy—her cousin’s HOT friend—was giving Liam instruction. Liam was hanging on every word.

“He’s ten. He hates everyone,” Gray said.

“Right now he’s reserving it all for me. Boys don’t really hate everyone until they’re about thirteen.”

“How do you know?”

“I grew up with four brothers and five male cousins. I could write a book on the subject.”

She glanced up at her brother, who was taller than her by nearly a foot, and groaned. Even with her cowboy hat on, she had to squint her eyes from the summer sun.

“These days he’d rather be with Ethan and his friend, or with you, or Ian, or Luke than with me. Anyone but me.”

“You’re his mother.”

As if that was supposed to make her feel better. “I don’t recall any of you treating Mom the way Liam treats me.”

“Mom and Dad didn’t get divorced.”

Her stomach rolled. “Thank you very much for reminding me of that.”

Gray sighed and draped his arm around her shoulder protectively. “That wasn’t a put down.”

“Yes, it was. I failed at my marriage.”

“You didn’t fail. You just married a jerk.”

“My son hates me.”

“Fine, he hates you.”

Glancing up at Gray again, she saw his teasing grin and couldn’t stop the laugh from escaping her lips. “You can at least lie to me when I whine. What good are you otherwise?”

“He’s a kid. He wants male companionship. All boys are like that.”

Grace observed Liam on the horse as he talked to the man standing with her cousin.

“Who is this guy with Ethan?”

“Strick? Technically his name is Jace. He’s a Navy SEAL. Ethan worked with him when he was in the Navy.”

“Strick? That’s a name?”

“Last name is Strickland.”

“What’s he doing here?”

Gray gave her a sidelong glance. One side of his mouth lifted to a grin. “Why are you so interested?”

She rolled her eyes. “Knock it off. I’m not. Well, I am to a point. Liam seems to be hanging on his every word.”

“I think Ethan brought him out here to check on Tessa’s new project. They toured the Wounded Veterans Center yesterday.”

“He’s an investor?”

“A donor. He has money to burn. I don’t know how. And Tessa doesn’t care as long as he’s impressed enough to give her the funds to push this project over the edge. She’s relying on donors to run the Rolling Rock Equine Rehabilitation Center. Strick is a horse guy.”

Grace glanced over at Jace “Strick” Strickland, who was now lovingly stroking the neck of one of the horses as he spoke to it. He had to be talking very low to the horse because she couldn’t hear what he was saying.

“Grace?”

She snapped her gaze to her brother. “A horse guy, huh? Does that mean rodeo?”

Gray chuckled as he leaned against the rail of the fence. “Not exactly. His family owns a stock company out in Wyoming. He was looking for something to be a part of, so Ethan invited him out here.” Gray sighed. “When is Joe picking Liam up?”

“Day after tomorrow.” Grace couldn’t hold back the sigh that made its way up her throat. “He’ll be gone for a month.”

“Wow. How’d Joe swing that one?”

“It was a compromise. Liam asked him if he could live with him permanently.”

“Ouch,” Gray mouthed.

“I told you. He hates me. You have to peel Haley from Tessa every time her ex has visitation and my kid doesn’t even give me a backwards glance.”

“First of all, Haley is a girl and she’s only five. You were like that with Mom and Aunt Kate for the longest time. Don’t beat yourself up. Liam will get over it.”

“I wish I had your confidence.” She released another sigh. It was getting old lately, resigning herself to things she had no control over. The worst of it was that Joe was actually considering having Liam spend more time with him on the road. It opened up a whole slew of problems that Grace hadn’t planned to think about and now didn’t want to think about. Spending time on the road with his father during the summer was one thing. But during school…she didn’t even want to think about how much that would disrupt her son’s life more than his parents’ divorce already had.

But Grace had no choice if she didn’t want to fight the way Tessa and her ex-husband were fighting over custody. She had a front row seat to just how ugly that could get. And the fact that Liam had done nothing but talk about being with his father since the moment he finished the school year only drove that point home harder.

What the hell was she going to do with herself for the next four weeks without her son?


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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Dakota Cowboy



Dakota Hearts Book 8
Dakota Cowboy

The last thing Luke McKinnon wanted in life was to work at the family oil business. He'd done a good job steering clear of that by setting up a successful law practice in Sioux Falls. But when the patriarch of the family falls sick, Luke steps in. He's only trading his crisp white dress shirt for a t-shirt and hardhat until his father is back on his feet. He doesn't plan on sticking around. That is...until he meets Tessa.

Single mother, Tessa Rock isn't afraid of hard work. She can hold her own with the ranch hands on her daddy's ranch and on an oil rig. She doesn't have time for a man to mess up her fragile life...until Luke McKinnon shows up on her rig. The handsome lawyer is probably used to having beautiful women draped on his arm. But at the end of the day, it's a miracle if she can get all the dirt and grime out from under her fingernails. The two of them couldn't be more different. But none of that matters. She quickly learns what a fool she'd been to think of Luke as just a lawyer who can help her get what she wants. One night in his warm embrace, and seeing the heart and soul of a man who loves so deeply, Tessa realizes she wants the man...for the rest of her life.


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Excerpt 

Rumor had it Luke McKinnon was a lawyer.  He was the kind of lawyer who untangled all the knots that married people spent a lifetime tying up.  The kind who won tough cases for the clients he represented.

At least, that is what Tessa Rock had overheard during lunch earlier that day.  She’d pretended not to listen.  She even pretended not to notice Luke McKinnon when he’d come into the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee, although in truth, it was hard not to notice a man like him.  There was something commanding about him.  Not unapproachable or intimidating.  Luke McKinnon was a man who made it hard not to notice him in a room full of men.

Tessa Rock knew she needed Luke McKinnon.  The question was how to approach him with her troubles without everyone else on this oil rig jumping into her business.

Tessa picked up one end of a section of pipe that had been dropped on the platform by Dibs Dobinski, the crane operator, and then she turned to Matt Henley, another roughneck worker on the MW oil rig she’d been working on for the past year.  She’d worked tours with both of these roughnecks and had gotten to the point where they’d fallen into a rhythm that functioned like a well-oiled machine.  She waited until Matt gave a nod and she lifted the pipe, holding steady so he could ease the pipe into the fitting.

Once the pipe was secured, Tessa turned to see if Luke was still talking to his brother, going over production numbers.  Ever since John McKinnon had been laid up in the hospital after suffering a heart attack on that very platform, Luke had been visiting the rig, trying to keep it producing oil. And that was just fine with Tessa.  Working on the rig wasn’t any harder than working on her ranch, but she needed this paycheck if she had any chance of keeping the Rolling Rock Ranch and making it solvent again.  If she lost the ranch, she’d lose everything.

That wasn’t going to happen if she had a breath left in her.

She needed to keep herself focused on her work like she did every day she spent at MW Oil.  It had taken her a long time to win over the acceptance of a crew that initially wasn’t too sure about a woman being on the platform with them.  Now that she had, she didn’t want a handsome face to undo everything she’d worked hard for this past year.

And she couldn’t deny that Luke McKinnon was a man who commanded attention just by standing there.  But if she didn’t get her mind off the man and on her work, she wouldn’t be standing here much longer.

“Ready!” she called out to Dibs.  Rinse, Repeat.


A few moments later, she heard yelling from below.

“Damn,” Matt yelled.  Tessa still held a section of the pipe in her hand, but with Matt’s outburst, she turned and spotted the pipe Dibs had secured on the crane swinging toward them as if it had a will of its own.

“Watch out!” she heard someone call out.

In the split second it took her to realize the pipe she was holding was going to connect with the pipe that was swinging from the crane, Tessa dropped the pipe and rolled across the platform out of the way just as the two pipes collided.  As she rolled, her hardhat slipped off her head and disappeared over the side of the platform.

When she stopped rolling and the pipes settled, Tessa glanced over at Dibs and took in the panicked expression on his face as he stood up inside the crane, and then shut it down.  She gave him a thumb up to let him know she was okay.

“Sorry, Tessa.  When I felt the wind, I should have checked to see if that pipe was stable.  I didn’t see it coming until it was almost right at you,” Matt said, heading toward the pipe that had rolled across the platform.

“It’s okay.  No one was hurt.  Just give me a minute to get my hardhat.”

“Earth to Tessa!” Matt called out, pointing above her.  “Watch your head!  You have a pipe coming your way!”

Tessa turned her attention back to the platform, and to the task at hand.  Her cheeks flamed after having been caught gawking at Luke McKinnon.  At least, that’s what the smirk on Matt’s face told her he was thinking.

She grabbed the pipe that Dibs was easing over to them to keep it steady, and repeated the same process she had for the last ten pipes they’d fitted today.

Tessa quickly ran to the stairs leading down to the ground from the platform she’d been working on.  She spotted her hardhat on the ground at the same time she saw Luke McKinnon walking toward it.  He got to it before her and picked it up with the hand that wasn’t holding the clipboard and turning it as if he were inspecting it for damage.

“I guess this is yours?” Luke said, handing her the hardhat.

“Thanks.”  She took the hardhat, but didn’t put it on her head.

“Were you hurt?”

“Up there?  No.  It gets gusty on the platform.  Every so often the wind takes one of those pipes like it’s the rope of a kite.”

He frowned.  “You mean a near accident like that is normal?”

She glanced up at the platform.  Matt was waiting for her.  He could wait a minute.

“No,” she said. “But it does happen.”

He pointed to his head.  “Better get that back on then.”

“Where’s yours?”

He seemed taken aback by her response.

“I don’t work on the platform.”

“You are today.  That means a hardhat for everyone here.  I’m surprised Gray didn’t mention it.  He’s very careful about such things.”

“I’ll remember it next time.”

She started to turn away, but then stopped.

“They say you’re a lawyer,” she said, watching his face.  She knew that a first impression was important, and she didn’t want to leave Luke with the impression that she was a shoddy worker.

“Not today,” he said.

“If I’d have asked you last week, what would you have said?”

“Last week?  I would have said I was the son of an oil company president.”

Her lips lifted just a fraction.  “You still are.  I heard your father is doing much better.”

The worry he’d been feeling over the last few weeks was deep and showed on his face.

“You hear a lot of things.”

“I asked.  I like your father.”  And Tessa did.  She’d always liked John McKinnon.  He didn’t treat her like someone who didn’t belong on his oil rig.  True, he was a gentleman, much like Gray had always been.  But he showed how much he valued her and respected her work.  With so little other positive in her life, that one small thing seemed huge.

Luke was clearly pleased at her compliment.  “He’s a good guy.  It’s hard not to like him.”

“Then why the guilty face?”

He eyed her and then glanced up at the platform.  “Aren’t you supposed to be doing something?”

“Yes.  But I’ve clearly touched on a topic that is sensitive.  Sorry about that.  I have no filter.  I just say what’s on my mind.”


“I’ll remember that, too.”

She put the hardhat on her head.  “You’re not going to fire me for it, are you?”

He frowned.  “Why would I do that?”

She couldn’t help but smile.  “Thanks.” 

When she remained standing there, he asked, “Was there anything else?”

There was so much more.  However, this wasn’t the place. 

Tessa shook her head.  “I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

“At least for today.”

Her stomach dropped.  “Are you leaving us already?”  He couldn’t leave.  She hadn’t even had a chance to talk to him.

“I meant I’ll be here until my father is well enough to come back to work.”

“Oh, let’s hope that’s soon.”

She walked away and felt his eyes on her back as she walked toward the ladder. When she reached the ladder to climb to the second platform, she turned around. Luke was still standing in the same place they’d spoken together, holding his clipboard in his hand.  He was staring at her.  Unlike most men who would turn away when caught, he continued to look at her.  She smiled and was rewarded with the same.  A stab of regret hit her as she turned away.  She’d been so focused on talking to him that she couldn’t see his smile up close or see if his eyes lit up, making his smile genuine or something he just pasted on for show.  Something told Tessa Luke wasn’t the kind of man to put on airs that way.  And she liked that.

Later.  Definitely later.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: His Dakota Heart



Dakota Hearts Book 7
His Dakota Heart

How do you say goodbye to a love when it had no ending? Gray McKinnon has spent two years struggling with moving on when the woman he loved suffered an accident that left her in a coma and no hope of recovery. Everyone urged Gray to move on. He's had plenty of offers to help him mend his broken heart on and off the rodeo circuit. But moving on is easier said than done when your heart belongs to someone else. At least, he thinks so until he sees Nina Hendrix again.

Nina couldn't help falling in love with her big sister's cowboy any more than she could bring her sister, Jen, back from her coma. She's kept her distance from Gray out of respect for her sister. But when her family decides to move Jen to another medical facility a few states away, she can't help but reach out to Gray, even though she has no illusions that he could love her the way she loves him. She won't let herself be just another woman passing through his life, helping him forget. But one night in his arms makes her realize there is no future for them if every time he looks at her he sees the one woman he can never have.


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Excerpt 

Eight seconds.

That’s all Gray McKinnon needed.  He wasn’t so broken down at thirty-two that he couldn’t hold his seat on the back of a bucking bull for eight seconds, despite the whispers that he was as ancient as the dirt beneath him.  He’d cut his eyeteeth at rodeos, like most of the McKinnons.

Gray positioned himself on the back of the dusty bull named Frozen Tundra. He wasn’t as rank as some of the other bulls being drawn today.  Even if he kept his seat, the bull’s score may not be high enough to give him placement today.  But it didn’t matter. He wasn’t here to prove anything to anyone.

Except himself.

When he was sure his rigging strapped to the bull was secure, he nodded that he was ready and the chute opened.  He expected power beneath him and Frozen Tundra didn’t disappoint.  The bull tucked its head and showed him just how unhappy he was to have Gray on his back.  The next Gray knew his hand broke free of the leather strap and he was airborne a few seconds.  Then his body connected hard with the dirt.  He didn’t even have time to be disappointed, or to react to the pain that shot through his body.  He saw the rodeo clown headed toward him to distract Frozen Tundra and Gray knew he had to get out of the path of the charging bull.  Still feeling the adrenaline rush, Gray scrambled to his feet as quick as he could and ran to the sideline.  Only when he was climbing the rail did he feel pain shoot up his wrist.

Fifteen minutes later Gray sat in the tented medic area with an ice pack on his wrist, staring at an empty gurney as the sound of rodeo erupted in the nearby arena.

“You’ll have to keep that ice on you for another ten minutes or so.  Probably should have an X-ray, too,” the medic said.  “You work at the rig?”

Gray nodded.  He’d been working in the family oil business since he could hold his own out in the field.  His father had insisted all of his children at least learn about the business before going off on their own.  Each McKinnon took their turn as they came of age.  Luke was the first.  He’d worked at MW Oil before heading off to college.  They’d all teased him that he’d purposely gone to law school to avoid having to come home and continue working under their father and uncle’s tutelage.  But he hadn’t been home since.  His brother Ian had been next, but then had left for a career in military soon after.  His sister Grace had been exempt from working on the rig, but still worked in the offices.  Julian was the youngest and the most stir crazy of all the McKinnons.  That left Gray.

“I’m working out in the field but I’m not doing anything with my hand that will prevent me from working.”

The medic, a man in his mid-fifties that looked as if he’d spent too much time in the sun, shook his head.  “Rules are rules.  You have an injury.  You need to get some film of it before you can be cleared to go back on the job.  I can’t force you to do it, of course.  But you put the company at risk without it.  If anyone at the oil company finds out you were injured, you’re going to catch hell Monday morning.”

Gray chuckled wryly.  “It won’t even take that long.”

The medic looked at him, his wiry gray and black brows pulling together into a frown.

“I’m having Sunday dinner with the boss.”

Dawning showed in the man’s expression.  “Then you best get yourself an X-ray before you sit down at the dinner table.  I’ll be back in a few minutes to take that ice pack and then wrap your wrist.”

Alone in the medic tent again, Gray listened to the roar of the crowd as another rider finished their ride.  He’d planned on doing his ride and then watching the other riders to get his head back into the sport.  As he flexed his fingers and felt the ache in his wrist, he decided maybe coming back to the rodeo was a bad idea in more ways than just a sore wrist.


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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Teaser Tuesday: Dakota Wedding



Dakota Hearts Book 6
Dakota Wedding


Ian McKinnon was just getting steady on his feet, looking forward to the opening of the Wounded Veterans Center and a big McKinnon wedding celebration, when tragedy struck again. The soldier who'd saved his life while in the military has died. He's charged with his most important mission: find his friend Carlos's family in Mexico or become guardian and raise Carlos's children. The only mandatory stipulation of his friend's will was that Ian live under the same roof with Abby Townsend, a firefighter from Carlos's firehouse. Abby knew the kids well and she could help ease them all through the transition of becoming a family. Okay, so Ian may not be daddy material, but he'd grown up with a whole lot of McKinnons running around. He could handle the kids just fine. The beautiful Abby Townsend was another story.

Abby took one look at Ian and shook her head with utter disbelief. What were her dear friends thinking by naming a man whose nickname was "The Hazard" as guardian of their three small children? She only needed to spend one year in Ian's house in South Dakota. She had to either find Carlos's family, or convince Ian that she was the better person to raise the children. Abby knows how hard it is to lose someone you loved. She'll be there to protect the children in any way she can. But can she protect her heart from falling in love with a man known for taking too many risks...and risk heartbreak again?


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Excerpt 

There was a time when the prospect of standing on two feet was beyond Ian McKinnon’s imagination. That had been a darker time in his life. A time he didn’t ever want to go back to again.

As he made his way up the driveway leading to the home he’d spent the last year refurbishing, feeling the early autumn sun on his face, he could finally see light. He felt at peace.

His cousin’s SUV sat next to his Jeep in the driveway. As he rounded the corner, he found Hawk sitting on the porch overlooking the river in the back yard.

Hawk smiled and stood up when they made eye contact. But the look on Hawk’s face immediately told Ian he wasn’t here for a social call.

“Can we go inside and talk?”

Ian sighed and tried to force a smile. “Something tells me I’m not going to like this conversation. So if it’s all the same to you why we just have it right here on the front porch?”

“I was hoping to spare you.”

Ian laughed without any humor. “That bad, huh? Just give it to me straight.”

Hawk shook his head and chuckled low. “You always did things your own way.”
  
Ian climbed the few stairs and pivoted so he could sit opposite Hawk on the porch. He braced himself for whatever news he was about to get.

“You got a call from Vermont this morning. Your mom took the call. No one has your new number.”

“I didn’t get the new number until last week. I haven’t had a chance to call Carlos and Brenda yet. Both of them are excited to come out and see the house and the Wounded Veterans Center now that it’s nearly complete. But both of them have my cell phone number. They could have used that.”

He was rambling and his stomach hurt just looking at Hawk as his cousin struggled with what he was about to say.

“Carlos and Brenda’s lawyer only had your parents’ telephone number."

“Lawyer?"

Hawk nodded, taking a deep breath. “Carlos and Brenda are dead.”


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