Teaser Tuesday: Badland Bride

Dakota Hearts Book 2
Badland Bride

Raised an Army brat, Regis Simpson was used to calling new towns home, learning to quickly make friends but never letting anyone get too close.  When devastating floods tear through the Badlands of South Dakota, she thinks Rudolph is just another town that needs to be rebuilt.  Nothing more.  The sooner she gets her work done, the sooner the people of Rudolph can heal and she can move on to the next town in need.  She never counted on the sexy town doctor, Keith “Hawk” McKinnon or his determination to break down walls she’d spent a lifetime building, making it impossible for her to leave.

Nothing pained Hawk McKinnon more than seeing people he’d known his whole life hurting.  He traded a high-paying salary at a city hospital to come back to Rudolph and make a difference where he’d dug his roots.  When the beautiful Regis Simpson comes to town offering help, he’s immediately drawn to her even though she’s spent a lifetime packing armor around her heart.  But once her work is done, she’ll be leaving again.  He’s determined to do everything possible to make her stay.

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Army brats weren’t wusses. She’d been dealing with tough situations from the moment she’d pushed her way into the world. At least that’s what Regis Simpson’s daddy always told her. She should've known better than to traipse through mud and rubble without proper boots, no matter how stylish her flats looked in the store window. Her reward was the nice chunk of medal from the rusty fence that had somehow embedded itself into her ankle when she’d slipped.
     “You’re going to need a tetanus shot for that.”
     Regis looked up at the man standing over her. He’d just taken her on a thirty minute walk around his property to assess flood damage. It wasn’t pretty. Now as she was sprawled out on the muddy ground, smelling earth and Lord knows what else decaying, she tried to focus on the wetness from the ground seeping into the fabric of her pants rather than the pain in her leg.
     “I’m up on my shots,” she said, trying her best not to pass out as she pulled her leg away from the twisted fence. 
     Regis took the man’s proffered hands in hers and welcomed his help. She’d already been out to six properties today and couldn’t remember all the people she’d talked to.
     Tim Bennett. That was this guy’s name, right? Relief flooded her. She hated when her brain became overloaded with details. And Mr. Bennett had bigger worries than the damage she’d done to her leg to help keep her straight. Everyone in Rudolph and the surrounding towns in the Badlands of South Dakota were worried about whether or not insurance would cover enough to repair the damage to their property after the worst ice storms and flooding in a hundred years had swept through the area. That’s what she did and the only reason she was on a marathon tour of destruction. And there were days she wondered why she was still doing it after five straight years of living out of a suitcase and calling the local motel in Anytown, USA her home.
     “No, you really should have Hawk take a look at that. It looks pretty bad. Might need stitches.”
     “Hawk? What is he, a local Native American shaman or something?”
     Mr. Bennett smiled. “More like the local dare devil. Or he used to be anyway. People around here joke he went into medicine just so he could stitch up his own wounds because the thieving insurance companies cancelled his policy.”
     The joke fell flat and Mr. Bennett’s smile immediately faltered as if he suddenly remembered who he was speaking to. “Let me see if I can find something clean to wrap that leg.”
     “I’d appreciate that.”
     Regis couldn’t exactly blame Mr. Bennett for being nervous. It didn’t matter what town she was in across America. When a natural disaster struck an area, it caused upheaval and destruction that she needed to help these fine folks fix. She was their hope of a swift recovery…so long as she approved their claim.
     And that, she was sure, was the reason for Mr. Bennett’s nervous energy.
     While she waited, she carefully tried to put weight on her foot but felt warm moisture seep into her shoe as pain shot up her leg. She quietly let out a colorful stream of expletives that she knew sounded odd coming out of the mouth of someone in her position. But being raised by a single father on Army bases around the world, she heard a thing or two that made even her toes curl.

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Teaser Tuesday: Her Dakota Man

Dakota Hearts Book 1

Everyone knows that the Dakotas didn’t get the name Badlands for nothing.  Harsh weather and rough living are a way of life.  But single dad, Logan McKinnon, had seen more than his share of bad times after the death of his wife a year ago.  The last thing he needs is Poppy Erickson, an old flame and his late wife’s best friend, showing up unannounced to help after devastating floods nearly washed away their hometown.  With no place to stay in town, he has no choice but to offer her a bed at his house.  But can he live under the same roof with a woman he’d once loved passionately without feeling he’s betraying his late wife?

Poppy Erickson had spent the year wondering how all their lives might have been different after hearing the death bed confession of her childhood friend.  She’d left South Dakota years ago because she couldn’t bear to watch the man she loved loving another woman.  But now she knows the truth.  She’ll keep the promise she made to a friend, but will Logan understand when he learns the truth?  More important, can they again recapture the passion that had been between them all those years ago?

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One look on Logan McKinnon’s face told Poppy that his foul mood had very little to do with the devastating destruction all around the Badlands of South Dakota…and everything to do with her showing up in town after nearly ten years.
     She didn’t have to be standing next to him to feel his anger simmering just below the surface of his composure. Sitting in her rental sedan was close enough. What the hell was she thinking coming back home? Why had she made that ridiculous promise to Kelly?
     She parked the car next to his truck and took a deep breath, mumbling under her breath as she pulled the door handle, “This may just turn out to be the stupidest thing you have ever done, girl.”
     Truth was, even as pissed off as Logan looked, he was still an amazing sight to see. Part of her had hoped that she was wrong. That she’d gotten over him a long time ago. That she’d take one look at him, make sure he and Keith were okay, and be able to get back in her car and drive right to the airport in Rapids City.
     He turned to her, standing tall and proud. His thick dark hair blew in the March wind, fluttering around his face and making him all the more strikingly handsome.
     Yep. Stupid.
     He was taller than she’d remembered, and he’d long since lost that too-lean teenage body that had driven her crazy in her youth. He worked hard on his ranch and it showed in how much his arms and chest had filled with muscles.
     Despite the cold, he’d taken off his jacket while he worked in the yard and Poppy had a clear view of just how much his male body had filled out in places she’d dreamed of touching.
     Lord, help her. She was in trouble. And she hadn’t even stepped out of the car yet. She pushed the door open and stepped outside to get it over with. It was either going to be the shortest visit on record…or the life changing experience she’d been dreaming of ever since she was a teenager.
     “Hi, Logan.”
     Logan starred at her for a long, agonizing moment. She read the emotional tug of war playing on his face as the sudden chill from the South Dakota winds bit into her exposed skin like a whipping.
     Then his expression turned hard. “What are you doing here?”
     He must have heard the car drive up. But Logan’s four-year-old son, Keith, remained so focused on the mud puddle he was poking a stick into to even notice anyone was around. That was good. The next few minutes would go easier for both of them if Keith weren’t aware of the tension.
     Logan stared at her as if he’d been startled. Or maybe too focused on making sure his son was safely playing nearby to notice her car had driven up.
     Or perhaps he’d been too pre-occupied with assessing the damage the recent angry South Dakota weather had done to his property. Poppy had seen just how Mother Nature had shown no mercy to her childhood town as she drove from the airport to the ranch. She couldn’t exactly blame Logan for being in a foul mood because of that.
     Seeing her was just the icing on the cake.
     “What the hell are you doing here, Poppy?” he repeated.

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Teaser Tuesday: Cold Harbor

Heroes of Providence Book 6

FBI Agent, Charlotte "Charley" Tate has loved only one man in her life.  The one man she betrayed, Tyler Jacobsen.  Tyler had given up a career he loved as a Providence police detective after realizing how easily a beautiful face and sweet smile had led him astray. Now Charley is back in his life as they fight to undo the organized crime corruption that has infiltrated the city he loves by a Colombian drug lord.  Can he work along side a woman he still loves without risking his life...and his heart?

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There are worse ways to die than drowning. Of course, as Charlotte Tate stepped through the door of the pilot house deck on the one hundred and seventy foot yacht, Mystique, she couldn't think of even one.

Oh, yeah. A bullet to the brain execution-style wasn't very appealing. That would certainly ruin her day, she thought as she moved quietly, blood racing through her veins so fast she could hear her pulse thrumming in her ear. Her choices were to swim out into the bay as far as she could and likely suck water into her lungs until she was unconscious—unless, of course, she actually managed to get to shore—or sit back and make it quicker by letting Franco blow her brains out on the deck. That scenario was very likely in her immediate future if she didn't do something to prevent it from happening. Like, now!

It was time to go for a swim.

Heart pounding, she slipped past the bathroom into the spiral stairway located in the center of the yacht and carefully made her way down to the main deck, secure in the fact that she had a few precious minutes to formulate some type of a plan that didn’t involve her dying. The yacht was moored about a half mile, maybe less, from shore. Who knew how bad the current was between the two to keep her from making it to the beach? Given her limited options, it seemed like the best one for her.

Instead of bolting onto the main deck, Charley waited a few stair treads up from the bottom and listened. Laughter roared from the deck above her, where Franco was having one of his infamous dinner parties. No doubt one of the other women he'd invited had slid into Charley's chair at the table as soon as she'd excused herself and vacated her seat. Charley was counting on it. It would keep Franco occupied a little while longer if some other gal had her hands on his thigh.

Movement on the main deck kicked her heart rate up and had her chest pounding. She recognized the voices of two crew members as their voices became louder. Flattening herself against the wall as best she could, she remained still as they walked by the landing. All it would take was for one of them to see her out of the corner of his eye, and it would be all she wrote. Goodnight, Charley!

She kept her breathing even as the chef and one of the crewmen walked to the crew's quarters behind the guest cabins. The chef was grumbling that Franco hadn't even complimented him on the dinner, which Charley had to admit had been truly amazing. She hoped this dinner wasn't her last.

When they were out of sight, she quickly decided which way to turn. She could escape by the powerboat tied to the side of the yacht. That would ensure she made it to shore, but Charley wasn't sure if she could get it freed from its mooring and get it started without being heard and shot in the process. Being a fairly notable member of the Richie Trumbella crime organization in Providence had given Franco access to a lot of gunners. Richie was gone, having been killed in a night club shooting the year before. That left his goons to find another leader in Franco.

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Teaser Tuesday: Final Hours

Heroes of Providence Book 5

Serena Davco's nightmare is almost over. Or so she thinks. Her baby has been returned to her and now she waits anxiously for her husband to return home safely after being imprisoned by Colombian gangsters. But her joy quickly brings her deeper into danger and despair when Cash returns and has no memory of her, the love they shared or the baby they created. But the danger from his escape has awoken a sleeping giant that could lead to murder for them all.

Cash knew he had gone to Colombian to bring down a drug lord disguised as one of Colombia's prominent businessman. But three months of trying to survive their torture had stripped him of many of the details of his life. Now that he's been rescued by a covert team, he's shocked to see just how much of his life he doesn't remember. If he can't piece together his past, how can he possibly keep his family safe from the danger he knows still threatens them.

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Colombia—present day

The guards were at it again. As if watching over a man so hated by Eduardo Sanchez, the Colombian kingpin who was responsible for locking Cash Montgomery in this hellhole months ago, wasn't important enough to fill their day, they had to stage rat races in the cells just to keep boredom from overtaking them.

The snap of sticks hitting the aging concrete floor and the squeak of rodents filled Cash’s head and drowned out the noises that had been racing through his mind. With each blow to the floor, he cringed. But it was just as well the guards were occupied, Cash thought, staring through the cell bars down the empty hall toward the laughter in the other room.


Everything inside him jumped. He didn't need them anywhere near his cell. Didn't want any of the attention they'd give him. Instead, he lay on the bare mattress and pretended to sleep.

The laughter rose to a jarring level, bouncing off the concrete and shooting Cash's heart rate through the roof. The slightest noise, whether the rats scurrying for food or the drip of a faucet was enough to wake him. And it didn't take much since he never slept very long or very deep, regardless of how much his body protested.

Sleep was dangerous. When he slept, he was vulnerable to attack. And on those rare occasions Cash had succumbed to sleep out of sheer exhaustion, he'd woken to brutality that was enough to break any man.

His body was scarred for sure, and there were angry fresh wounds that would eventually heal. But he was still in one piece and there had to be a reason for that. He didn't understand exactly why Eduardo Sanchez had taken such a big interest in keeping him within an inch of living, but he did know what the man was after. That much was always made clear. Sanchez thought Cash had the answers to his questions about a painting and a code that was more than thirty years old.

But Cash had no clue what that was all about. And maybe it was just sheer ignorance on his part that kept him alive. If he had that information and had spilled it during one of the many brutal interrogations he’d been subject to, he’d be dead.

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Teaser Tuesday: Desperate Hours

Heroes of Providence Book 4

Bounty hunter, Gil Waite is after Sonny's brother. All he cares about is "finding the fugitive" and collecting his money. But Sonny Montgomery is after so much more.  Her precious baby niece, Ellie, who was kidnapped by a Colombian drug lord.  She won't betray her family by falling in love with the one man who has the power to destroy her family. But she needs to escape Colombia and has no choice but to trust Gil, a man whose rugged exterior hides the heart of a hero she can't resist.

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Sonny Montgomery had an itch she couldn’t scratch. It sat dead center between her shoulder blades, just out of arm’s reach. Like a persistent mosquito buzzing around her ear, it nagged at her. But she couldn’t stop to deal with it. Even a small move like that could attract unwanted attention on these South American streets.

She needed to remain invisible. To be in and out of Colombia without anyone being able to recognize or remember her. Any connection to her family, either by name or face, would spell certain death for her and the baby.

And Cash. That is, if her brother was still alive. If the Colombian kingpin who had kidnapped Cash’s baby girl from her cradle in Eastmeadow, Massachusetts, just four months ago had shown him enough mercy not to kill him, then Dylan would find him. She was sure of it. But Sonny couldn’t think about that now. She was a long way from safety on her journey. She had to trust that those who had a job would do them so they could all reunite in Miami when this was over.

She held tight to the basket of fruit—it was heavy and her arm ached. She focused her mind on the ache instead of all she couldn’t control. Slipping her free hand beneath her striped poncho, she checked to make sure that her traveling papers were still in her money belt, which was strapped to her waist. They were.

Thanks to the duplicate passport the U.S. Embassy had issued for the baby, they’d both be able to fly out of Colombia without incident. Hopefully. The Colombian government might challenge it. But she was ready to battle that if it happened.

Sonny was long past struggling with what she was doing. Never in her life had she entertained the idea of doing anything illegal. And here she was in Colombia, ready to steal a baby and flee to the United States.

But it was the only way. Even her brother, Dylan, a former Marine and a Providence police officer, had assured her of that. Off the record, of course. Ellie had been stolen from them. The Colombian authorities wouldn’t recognize that crime. This was the only way. The only way.

It had rained during the night and the pungent smell of mud, earth and rotting garbage permeated the quiet, early-morning streets. A thick mist drifted up from the already hot ground. In an hour, the fruit market in the center of the city would be open. Some of the street vendors were already setting up their carts full of goods, ready for the tourists who would soon crowd the road, eager to barter for a bargain.

It was a long walk from her little room near the foothills to the center of town. Every noise she heard made her insides jump. It was a dangerous walk so early in the morning, alone. Torres had warned her to be on guard. But escaping the city would be much easier if she met him in town rather than having him meet her in the foothills and then go to the airport. The sooner the better. They didn’t want to contend with the morning traffic, which could end up making her late.

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Teaser Tuesday: Reckless Hours

Heroes of Providence Book 3
"One of those 'darker' books - almost like an Alfred Hitchcock movie..."

"Suspense! The secrets in this book are not easily uncovered....the sign of a good suspense novel."

"A story worth reading, especially if you like complex mysteries."

"I loved this book! It's full of drama, suspense, and new found love. I can't wait for books 4 and 5 to come out so I can see this family take back what's theirs!"

Her whole life had been a lie…

It was only supposed to be a random DNA test performed with her class. But it turned Professor Tammie Gardner’s world upside down and proved to her that the tragic death of her parents was no accident. After rummaging through old files, she discovers one clue where it all started and decides to travel across the country to find answers. But is her curiosity more reckless than wise? What she finds is love in the arms of Providence police officer Dylan Montgomery who is searching for his missing brother. They both want to know the truth. But is the truth worth the danger they've put themselves in by uncovering secrets no one wants revealed?

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“Take one step closer and I’ll shoot!” Tammie Gardner shouted threateningly, putting her hands up like a shield.

Bill stood in her classroom doorway and frowned. “Tammie, we need to talk.”

“Later, Professor Lewis,” she said, lifting her head only long enough to catch his expression after the formal use of his name, which he hated but she loved to tease him with. “I’ve just spent the last two hours sorting through all these papers. It’s a mess, but it’s an organized mess. I don’t need you sitting on my desk and tossing things around like you always do.”

This being only her second semester at Winchester College, she wasn’t used to how hectic the end of the school year was, and time had gotten away from her. With her full class schedule, she was fighting time to get all her grades completed by the end of the semester.

As a moment of silence dragged on, she glanced up. Bill was still frowning. “I’m serious. I need to talk to you, Tammie. This is really important.”

She chuckled, even as nerves made her stomach coil just a bit. She’d never seen Bill like this. Still, she waved him off. “Of course it is. It always is. But can it wait until I get these grades into the book?”

To keep the papers from flying around the room, Tammie had turned off the fan that normally bathed her face with a somewhat comfortable breeze in the oppressive June heat. This hundred-year-old university building seemed determined to remain hot, and her second-floor classroom felt like a sauna. Without the fan, sweat bubbled on her forehead and upper lip. She wiped it away as she glanced quickly at the door again.


“What are you doing back on campus so early, anyway? I thought you had some urgent, urgent errand to run.” Not looking at him, she searched her desk for paper-clips. When she found half a box, she started clipping and stacking papers until she could see her desk again.

“Tam, we need to talk,” Bill said again. This time, his words came out in a rush. It wasn’t like him to be this insistent and it caught her off guard. She recalled the conversation they’d had this morning when he’d mentioned his errand. He never said what it was and she didn’t ask. Bill was too predictable to be someplace other than where he said he’d be. Ever since she’d met him in junior high, she’d been able to anticipate his every move before he made it.

He was the most levelheaded, even-keeled person she’d ever met—not one to get rattled about anything. But he was still standing at the door, his narrow shoulders slumped slightly, his expression drawn. Her blood ran cold.

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Teaser Tuesday: Safe Haven

Heroes of Providence Book 2
"Heart-pounding and it kept me glued to each page.
A very enjoyable book with realistic characters."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recommend it to any mystery-romance fan."

When someone you once loved wants you dead, is there any SAFE HAVEN?

Finding out her ex-husband hired a hitman to kill her didn't leave Daria Carlisle all warm and fuzzy. But Detective Kevin Gordon's suggestion she flee the only home that had ever truly been hers was downright crazy. Forget that the sexy police officer made her heart pound and her blood stir. She'd worked too hard to get what little she had. She wasn't leaving.

Kevin Gordon didn't make mistakes, but he'd made a big one in letting Daria's ex slip through his fingers. Although he tried to make it very clear to Daria that the fixer upper home she considered a palace was no safe haven, she just dug in deeper and insisted on staying, leaving him no choice but to be her protector. Left on her own, she surely faced murder at an assassin's hand. But can Kevin spend every waking hour sleeping on her doorstep just to keep this stubborn woman alive without risking his heart to love?

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"Your husband hired me to kill you."

The last words Daria Carlisle expected to hear in her kitchen on a bright and sunny Sunday morning were those.  She stared at the man who'd just uttered the frightening words.  Words spoken with such ease and comfort it made her blood run cold.

She stood statue still, almost glued to the aged linoleum floor that was too frail to be salvaged.  Her gaze swept from his face to the decrepit floor as she dragged in a breath of air.  Earlier that day she'd been obsessing over how she was going to afford replacing the linoleum.  Hearing these words from a man she'd just invited into her home willingly put a slightly different spin on her priorities.

Your husband hired me to kill you.  The words just hung there in the air between them like some bright red cartoon balloon, mocking her.

She’d woken happy that morning, intent on starting the day by rummaging through the Sunday paper for a used miter saw to finish off the woodwork in the one hundred and fifty year old house she’d purchased because she’d fallen in love with the back yard.  Like the house, it too, needed much tender loving care and Daria was up to the challenge.  Oh, how had the day taken such a drastic turn so quickly?

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Teaser Tuesday: Material Witness

Heroes of Providence Book 1
Named one of KIRKUS REVIEWS Best Indie Books of 2012!

Who does she trust when the horror of one of her crime novels turns into a deadly reality?

Bestselling crime novelist, Cassie Alvarez, aka Cassie Lang, had murder on her mind when she walked into Rory's Bar under dressed and under cover to research her latest crime novel. Researching the cool, blue-eyed and dashingly handsome man at the end of the bar stirred her senses more than she wanted to admit. But was this man of leather armor all he appeared to be?

Playing White Knight to an innocent wasn't how Detective Jake Santos planned to spend his time under cover. But there was no way "CJ" was what she claimed to be and that nagging tightness in Jake's chest told him he'd better take her home to safety and leave it at that. Then the barroom exploded with gunfire, leaving a trail of dead that includes a notorious Providence organized crime boss and an undercover FBI agent. When Cassie’s name is leaked to the media as the only witness to the grisly murders, Cassie insists she only trusts Jake to protect her.

The FBI wants their star witness happy and will do anything to make sure Cassie testifies. But someone wants vigilante justice and it is clear to Jake that the shooter isn’t the only person who wants Cassie dead. Not knowing who to trust, he vows to protect Cassie at all cost despite the fact that guarding the beautiful novelist is a serious distraction.

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She was going to kill Maureen. There was no doubt about it now.

Cassie Alvarez yanked down the hem of her too-short red spandex mini-dress, trying to conceal what every man with a pulse at Rory's seemed to be ogling over. She was tired, cold and exposed, but it was no use. No matter how much she covered her bare flesh, she was all out there like the woman of the night she was pretending to be.

Damn Maureen…and damn her for listening.

It had taken Cassie all of ten seconds after seating herself at the bar to realize just how big a mistake she’d made in coming to a bar owned by one of Providence’s most notorious crime bosses. When you walk through fire, you get burned. With all the stares she’d gotten just walking across the floor, she felt like burnt toast.

Definitely murder. It was her forte. The only question left was how? She’d plotted many murders in the past. She was good at it. And nothing was too harsh for what Maureen was putting her through tonight. The least Maureen could have done was come here with her since it was her idea.

Maureen’s idea. But despite all the convincing, Cassie couldn’t figure out exactly why she’d actually agreed. Her editor had always been good at pulling her strings. And that nauseated Cassie even more than having her thighs stuck to the barstool.

Note to self: Learn to assert yourself with your editor even if she is your best friend.

Cassie vowed to do just that right after she was finished wringing Maureen's bony little neck.

Turning her attention to her diet soda, Cassie used her red-striped straw to play with the maraschino cherry that had sunk to the bottom of the glass. The bartender wiped the polished surface of the bar as he made his way closer to Cassie. She made eye contact with him when came close enough. With her hand still holding the sweating glass, he snatched her drink and dumped the contents into a bucket behind the counter.

“Hey, I was still drinking that.”

“You’ve been stirring it for an hour. It’s nothing but melted ice and you’re making a mess of my bar. Doesn’t look good. Here’s another one.”

Before she could protest further, he had a clean glass full of ice under the soda fountain and was filling it.

“Don’t worry. I don’t expect you to tip me twice.”

While her mouth was still dropped open, he made his way down to the other end of the bar, wiping as he went. She'd give anything to be home right now wearing her favorite Boston Bruins tee-shirt and the Brown University sweat pants that, even though they’d seen better days, Cassie refused to give up. Instead of three-and-a-half-inch stilettos, her feet would be warm in her fuzzy slippers. Instead, she was stuck in a bar watching people who’d be the inspiration for her next crime novel.

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Teaser Tuesday: My Lucky Charm

Fate with a Helping Hand Book 4
Sometimes fate needs a little help…

A little thing called desperation had Zoey Preston under the gun. She had two choices, find a job that would help pay enough for her to stay in Boston...or face moving back to the country to a house full of family and various animals. The last thing on her mind was love...until she meets the devastatingly handsome surgeon Marcus Drake. He's like her lucky charm. He's nothing like any of the doctors she's ever met. He drives a Harley and has a thing for Irish music. Too bad she's leaving town.

Hard work never bothered Marcus until the night he returned home after a bad day and realized there was nothing there for him. At a crossroad in his life, he decides it's time to make a change. Then he meets Zoey Preston. The green-eyed girl who can't stand the sight of blood is nothing like the woman he'd imagined would one day be his wife. But he soon realizes, she's is everything he wants...for life.

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Marcus handed Zoey the envelope across the counter. His hand grazed her fingers as the exchange was made, sending tingles of sensation up her arm and making her lightheaded. His deep blue eyes were unlike anything she'd ever seen. In fact, Zoey couldn't quite figure out if she'd ever met a man as striking as Marcus Drake. And he was a surgeon. Oh, the things he could do with those hands. Her cheeks flamed.

As if he were reading her mind, he smiled and lifted his eyebrows quickly and said, "I'd better be going."

"Okay," she said in a voice that sounded much too breathless for her ears.

"Can I have my hand back?"

Zoey glanced down and saw that their hands were entwined. No, not entwined. That would mean he was holding her hand. Instead, she was clutching his, making it impossible for him to move away from the counter. Acid coiled in her stomach as she snatched her hand away.


"No need to be. Good luck with your job interview, Zoey."

"Thank you."

Vicky came up alongside her and extended her hand to Marcus. He glanced at it quickly, but instead of taking her hand, he simply nodded.

"It was nice meeting you both."

Zoey watched as Marcus left the store and then walked down the crowded sidewalk.

"My luck changed the moment I met that man. Do you have any idea what he is?" Zoey said.

Vicky crossed her arms and nodded. "Stalker."

Zoey made a disgusted face. "Don't be ridiculous. He's a surgeon at one of the best hospitals in the country."

Vicky pointed a finger at her. "Does that mean he can't be a stalker?"

"He's my lucky charm."

"What luck? You're not even Irish."

"We're in Boston. Everyone is Irish when they're in Boston."

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Teaser Tuesday: The Knight and Maggie's Baby

Fate with a Helping Hand Book 3


"The secondary characters were amazing...a very good book."
~ Cocktails and Books

"...had me in tears because it was so beautiful. Such a lovely story of two people falling in love against the odds."
~ Crystal @ Snowdrops Dreams of Books

Sometimes fate needs a little help…

Billionaire, Jonah Wallace knows what it’s like to grow up without love. Despite having more money than the Queen of England, his childhood was cold and stale as he grew up in boarding schools. He’s dedicated his life to helping homeless and displaced children find the love and support they need by creating the Haven House Foundation, work that resulted in him being Knighted by the Queen.

Now that he’s living in America, his work is going along just fine…until his grandfather gives fate a little nudge by insisting he take a wife before he can inherit.

Coffee shop owner, Maggie Bonelli, is pregnant and the baby’s dad has gone AWOL. She knows too well the pain of growing up without a daddy. So when Jonah Wallace comes into her shop proposing marriage for a year, she takes him up on his offer, even if it’s only for a year. Live in a mansion and give her baby a name and a daddy to call his/her own. But can they keep their perfect arraignment strictly business…or will fate’s helping hand bring them love at last?

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“Don't you think you're rushing things just a tad?” She lifted her hand and pinched her index finger and thumb together for emphasis.

“I'll admit my proposal is a bit abrupt,” he stammered.

“A bit?”

“We've only known each other--”

“Forty-five minutes tops,” she blurted out. “Are you out of your mind?”

Her tone was incredulous. And he really didn't blame Maggie if she thought he was nuts. He felt nuts. Desperate, too. But he found himself defending his proposal.

“Quite possibly. But you see, that’s exactly my point. I have a bit of a time-crunch here, and it seems as though--”

Maggie folded her arms across her chest. “How silly of me. Here I thought you were sweeping me off my feet.”

He shook his head with a chuckle. “I do sound mad, don’t I?”

“Recognition is the first step toward recovery.”

Something rumbled up from deep inside him. Jonah laughed at himself, this disastrous day, and the absurd situation he'd been forced into by his grandfather. It felt good to laugh. That in itself was incredibly surprising, considering he hadn't managed to do much laughing at all since he'd learned of the impending plans for Wiltshire.

He peered at Maggie through moisture filled eyes. She wasn't laughing. But she was incredibly beautiful. Her sapphire eyes sparkled when she teased him. There were small freckles sprinkled across her nose that looked adorable with the sun shining on her creamy skin.

When she looked at him the way she was right now, it didn't seem like such a crazy idea to marry her. At least not for the reasons he was proposing. He hadn't given it a second thought. And yet, now he realized just how ridiculous he looked from her eyes.

“I'm not making a pass at you. Truly, I'm not.”

“You just asked me to marry you.”

“I'm asking for your help.”


His lips tilted up to one side. “Again.”

Maggie took two steps down the stairs until they were both standing at eye level. “Forget the phone call, the nice air conditioned ride in the limo, the coffee, the pie—”

“Which by the way was truly inspiring,” he interjected. “If I didn’t already tell you that.”

“You did. You don't even know me. You’re asking a total stranger to marry you.”

He shrugged. “I know that. But I know you make me laugh.”

“So that's all it takes for a happy marriage? Bet we could make a killing with that book.”

“I sound delusional,” he said. “Even to my own ears, which is pretty scary.”

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Teaser Tuesday: The Marriage Contract

Fate with a Helping Hand

"Hilariously funny!" "Delightful!" 4 STARS Romantic Times Magazine

What would you do to get a second chance at love? Sometimes fate needs a little helping hand...

When Ruthie Carvalho finds an old birthday card with a marriage proposal scribbled on the back, she figures she's hit pay dirt and is destined to get her 35 year old daughter married.

The trouble is, Ruthie can't stand Cara's boyfriend and Cara is just stubborn enough to push in the opposite direction of what her mother wants.

When Devin Michaels gets a phone call from his old friend's mom, he knows Ruthie is up to something. But he's at a crossroad. It's been 17 years since he's seen Cara and memories of their soulful talks and walks on the beach make him long to reconnect.

Going back to the seaside town of Westport Massachusetts to reconnect with Cara seems like just the thing to do. One look at Cara and the years seem to melt away. With a little help and “creative” planning from Ruthie, can these old friends become lovers and have a second chance at happiness?

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Cara Cavarlho could think of a hundred places she wanted to be right now. 
    This wasn't one of them.
    She tugged on the rope dangling above her head. A musty cloud of dust hit her in the face as the stairs leading to the attic of her parents' Westport home dropped, gaining her access. Gripping the splintered stairs, she began her ascent into the “black hole”, she so affectionately dubbed the attic in her childhood, with mixed emotion. Ever since her parents decided to sell the home she had grown up in and move to Florida with the senior league, she found herself becoming overwhelmed with emotion.
    Of course, her thirty-fifth birthday being right around the corner wasn't a big help. That her mother kept reminding her of her single, childless status only added to her emotional unrest.
    She yanked on the metal chain dangling above her head and light quickly spilled into the sweltering crawl space. “It's a furnace up here!” she called down, immediately feeling the cool air below bathe her warm face.
    Whose idea was it to delve into this black hole on a hot August afternoon? Certainly not mine! she fumed silently.
    “I know. We should have done this earlier in the day, before the sun had a chance to heat the attic,” she heard her mother, Ruthie, call up from below. “Do you want me to get the fan?”
    I want to get out of here and not do this. “No. I can't stay up here long, anyway. I'm already sweating like a pig.”
    On her hands and knees, she carefully crawled along the aged planks, feeling them bend under her weight. Aerobics twice a week and running three miles a day had her wearing the same size she had worn since college. With each creak of the aged floor boards, she was glad she’d taken pains to keep her figure trim.
    Despite the dim light, it was difficult to see. She squinted and tried to focus. Boxes. There were loads of them scattered Helter Skelter around her, tucked into corners they'd been placed in years ago and long since forgotten. The life she used to lead was lost up here. Why couldn't things ever remain the same...?
    “Just start with a few, dear. We can rummage through them first and price anything you want to include in the tag sale,” Ruthie suggested.
    “Sounds like a good idea. I'll come back up tomorrow morning before breakfast to get more. I can barely breathe up here now.” Cara's eyes roamed the piles of memories one last time. After choosing the five boxes closest to the hole and carefully lowering them to her mother, Cara descended to fresh air once again.
    She helped her mother drag the boxes down the stairs and out to the back porch of the beachfront home. Plopping the last one on the wrought iron patio table, she puffed her cheeks and slid the back of her hand across her sweated forehead. The sooner we get through this the better.
    Ruthie was the first to begin the unveiling and plunged into the first box while Cara poured both of them a tumbler of her mother’s homemade lemonade. After a few minutes of digging, Cara found her tension ease. While she'd been dreading the idea of unearthing old memories, she found the task easier once she delved in and became lost in them.
    The first box was filled with old Christmas ornaments and treasures she and her brother, Manny, had made in school when they were kids. A paper doll chain. An old wooden whale Manny had made in woodshop. The next box had old crochet blankets and booties from when they were babies. While Cara fingered the soft yarn of a baby afghan, Ruthie dove into the box filled with old yearbooks and newspaper clippings from Manny's athletic high school days.
    “You suppose Manny would want to keep any of these things?” Ruthie asked, picking up a yearbook and fanning the pages open. A candied piece of what looked like edible underwear fell to the floor boards by their feet. Ruthie retrieved the “article” and held it up in the air between her fingers.
    Cara laughed, remembering the gag gift Manny had given her years ago. It was harmless, but she knew her mother wouldn't find the truth so humorous.
    “Those are mine, Ma. Manny gave them to me before he left for the seminary.”
    As she expected, Ruthie threw her an appalled look. “How would your brother know about such things? He's a priest, for goodness sake!”
    Cara sobered immediately, sucking in her cheeks to keep her laughter at bay. She knew her mother had a hard time remembering Manny as a normal everyday teenager before he'd left for the seminary. Now wasn’t the time to remind her.
    But as usually, Cara didn't leave it alone. She reached across the table for the naughty underwear. “What size are they anyway?”
    “Never you mind.” Ruthie dropped the brittle article of “clothing” in the green rubber garbage can by the table. “If your grandmother saw this, she'd probably take them for herself.”
    Cara gasped. “She would not!”
    “Oh, you'd be surprised. The other day I caught her standing in front of the full length mirror, trying on one of those tight bustiers Madonna wears all the time.”
    “You're kidding. You are kidding, aren't you?”
    Ruthie sighed heavily, a worried looked suddenly etching her face. “I think she has Alzheimer’s.”
    Cara’s hand flew to her chest. “Why?”
    “She's acting strange.”
    “So what’s new? She always acts strange. She's a free spirit.”
    Ruthie remained somber. “As we speak, she's at church.”
    “It's Tuesday.”
    “What? People only go to confession on Sunday?”
    She slapped the yearbook on the table. “She thinks she's Madonna. And there's the fishing thing.”
    Cara held up her hand to halt her. “Fishing?”
    Ruthie sighed and reached across the table, patting Cara's hand. “You’ve been away for a while, honey. You'll see what I mean after a few days.” Cara turned her attention back to one of the boxes in front of her and pulled out a pair of white baby booties.
    “Oh, were these mine?” she crooned, examining the tiny booties.
    “No, dear. I made them for your children, just after you were born. Not that they'll ever be used,” Ruthie quipped under her breath.
    “You made booties for your own grandchildren when I was still a baby? What about me? What did I get to wear?” Cara shook her head in disbelief. Utterly bewildered, she stared blankly at the silk threads sewn in minute stitches with loving care. Her eyebrows furrowed as she read the name embroidered on the heels. “Omar? What's this Omar you have embroidered here?”
    “Your grandmother made you plenty of booties when I was a little girl. I was merely passing on the tradition. One that I won't hold my breath you'll continue.”
    Oh, this vacation is going to be good, Cara thought. A full three weeks helping her parents get the house ready for sale, and listening to poor Ruthie dig about her lack of grandchildren, was going to be a slow, agonizing death.
    It was times like this she could throttle her brother for becoming a priest and dropping all the procreation pressure on her shoulders.
    “And Omar,” Ruthie continued, “is the name I picked out for your first born son. What can I say? I had a thing for Dr. Zhivago.”
    “You were already naming my kids!? Omar?” She mouthed the name with disgust.
    “You didn't like Dr. Zhivago?”
    Cara drew in a deep cleansing breath of salted sea air, wondering how she could have been born to this crazy family. This was going to be an extremely long three weeks.
    Ruthie plucked out an old birthday card from the box and read it. “Devin Michaels. Mmmm. Now that's a name I haven't heard you speak in a long time.” Turning it over, she read the ink staining the back and squealed in delight, practically jumping from her seat. “Devin proposed to you!”
    “What are you talking about? He did not.”
    “On your birthday card. He proposed!” Ruthie sputtered, “How come you never told me about this?”
    “Let me see that.”
    Cara nabbed the card from her mother and speed read the note, smiling
    I, Devin Michaels, agree to marry you,
    Cara Cavarlho should both of us still
    be single at age thirty-five.
    Signed: Devin Michaels
    “I remember this.” The memories poured back one by one. She and Devin had just toasted her birthday. After sneaking out on her own birthday party, they sat on the concrete ledge of the watchtower at Gooseberry Point, watching the midnight moon, drinking cheap wine illegally, and toasting to their future success.
    She had been lamenting about Manny leaving for the seminary and the predicament he'd left her with regarding her mother's future grandchildren. If she dared to remain single—which, given her lofty career goals, she'd whole-heartedly planned to be at age thirty-five—Ruthie was sure to hound her for the rest of her life. Or at least until menopause, whichever came first.
    Devin joked that he would be chivalrous and rescue her from being eternally damned by her mother. What was nothing more than a little joke between two friends was now coming back to haunt her.
    Cara couldn't help but smile, remembering the boy, the friend Devin had been. They'd been inseparable that summer. There’d always been something special about Devin. Something just a little bit more…
    “Devin always had a thing for you, you know.” Ruthie raised her eyebrows and shined her matchmaking smile.
    “Thirty-five seemed so old to us back then.”
    “Still is when you're single, dear,” Ruthie returned.
    Some things never change.
    Cara rolled her eyes. “We were just kids, Ma.”
    Kids or not, back then they thought they knew everything. Most of all, what they wanted in life. Devin was going to take on the world as a lawyer. From the little bits and pieces she'd heard over the years from people back home, and news coverage on the tube of the highly publicized cases he'd won, he'd done just that, as a prominent Manhattan defense attorney.
    Winning one highly publicized case he'd taken straight out of law school, one that the prosecution as well as the world thought he'd lose hands down, had propelled him into the most exclusive law firm in Manhattan. It hadn't taken him long to make a name for himself and become a much sought after, multi-million dollar baby of law.
    Cara had her own plans in which marriage had no part. She had to admit pride in the fact that, like Devin, she'd reached the pre-set goals made that fateful summer. She had worked hard and become a home interiors expert, opening her own successful shop in the posh Back Bay area of Boston nearly ten years earlier.
    Looking at her mother's bright expression, and knowing what conclusions she'd already drawn, Cara said, “This was a joke, Ma.”
    “It's in black and white.”
    “Blue and white.”
    “How many assistants have you lost to motherhood already?”
    “Four,” Cara sputtered.
    “In a month or so, Louise will make five.”
    The heaviness of her mother's statement hit Cara hard. Especially in light of the feelings she'd been having of late. Forcing the thoughts away, she tossed out the usual response she used when her mother started this line of conversation.
    “That's why I’m not getting married. In case you hadn't heard, barefoot and pregnant went out long ago, Ma. Women have careers now.”
    “That may be so, but look me. I was so thrilled when you were born, I never once regretted leaving my catering business behind.”
    “My point exactly. You gave it up.”
    Ruthie scowled and snatched the card back, holding it to her chest as if it were the only hold she had on getting any future grandchildren. “That’s right. The women of your generation want it all.”
    “You say it like it’s a dirty word.”
    “It feels like it when I have no grandbabies to spoil. Mark my words. I may just get to see your father walk you down the aisle before I die after all. I think you should call Devin.”
    Cara cocked her head to one side and blinked hard, trying her best to gather up her control. “I haven't heard from Devin in over fifteen years! I doubt he hardly remembers me.”
    Even as she said the words, she knew it wasn’t true. She and Devin had been inseparable. Warmth spread from the center of her chest outward just thinking of their friendship. It had been a long time since she’d thought about Devin.
    Ruthie gasped. “Don’t be ridiculous! Devin would never forget you. If I know Devin, he’ll keep his word. He’ll honor this marriage contract,” Ruthie continued, as if she were in her own world.
    “You must have some feelings for him or you wouldn’t have kept his card all this time.”
    “I didn’t even know it was there.”
    “We’ll see.”
    The way her mother clutched the card, fanning herself from mid-day August heat, Cara knew this was only the beginning. These next three weeks were going to be the longest weeks of her entire life.
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