Monday, May 23, 2016

New Romance from Dariel Raye!





Destiny’s Favor (Orlosian Warriors Bk. 2)
Destiny’s Favor synopsis


His world shifted the moment she was born. Now, nothing can stop him from making her his.

Imagine meeting a man who looks like an angel, wings and all? What would you do if this man told you he existed with only one purpose – to claim you and only you?

Destiny Carter is a feisty, take charge, Rubinesque beauty with a tough façade, who finds herself in that age old quandary, “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” A string of lackluster relationships leave her hopeless and ready to settle…Until she meets Japheth, the man her fiancé claims is his best friend! Japheth’s arrival is heralded by an attack on Destiny’s life, and instinctively, she knows this is just the beginning.

Born more than 200 years ago, Japheth looks like an angel but he’s far from it. In his world, the ratio of men to women is 500 to 1, and although he’s a superior being, he’s willing to break the most sacred law of his brothers, even drink human blood, to have one meant for him alone.

When he meets Destiny, he knows she’s the one he’s been searching for. To claim her, he will have to betray a friend, risk his life, and hardest of all, humble himself enough to win her love.


Only $0.99 for a limited time
 Get a FREE review copy of “Calm Assurance (Orlosian Warriors Bk. 1) to catch up on the series now! Enter the Rafflecopter below to find out how to get your free copy + win other prizes!




Calm Assurance (Orlosian Warriors Bk. 1)
Calm Assurance synopsis
Two hearts, two different worlds, uncompromising love.

A straight-laced Nephilim-descendant and a human trouble-magnet?

When Asriel - Orlosian Warrior, descendant of Nephilim, law enforcer – is sent to guard Malina, a human with a penchant for drawing trouble like a tornado, she becomes his obsession.

With no hope of finding love in his dimension, he breaks the cardinal rule, leaving his home to protect her, but she has also drawn the attention of his enemies, and he is forced to face demons from his past. If Asriel chooses to stay with Malina, not only does he risk forfeiting his right to ever return to his dimension, but he will need her blood to survive.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble



Dariel Raye
Dariel is an animal lover who writes IR/MC (interracial/multi-cultural) paranormal and dark urban fantasy romance. She is presently writing a shifter series, “Dark Sentinels,” a reluctant hell-dweller series, “Kushiel’s Keep,” two Nephilim series with vampire-like heroes, “Orlosian Warriors” and “Cain’s Progeny,” “Lifegivers,” a paranormal romance series with a variety of beings, a crossover paranormal thriller shifter trilogy with romantic elements, “Gateway,” and an erotic fantasy newsletter serial. To learn more about Dariel and her books, visit her blogjoin her newsletter, and follow her on Amazon.



Dariel on the Web
Dariel’s Blog - Dariel’s Website
Dariel’s Newsletter - Dariel on Twitter
Facebook Page - Dariel’s Amazon Author Page
Dariel on Goodreads - Dariel on Tumblr - Dariel on Tsu



Monday, April 18, 2016

Crave your men hot, alpha, and strong? #NewRelease


Hotshot Heroes: Strong Enough to Love
Genre: Contemporary Romance Anthology/Action & Thriller
Release Date: April 2016
Authors: Mimi Barbour, Jennifer Lowery, Chantel Rhondeau, Lyssa Layne, D’Ann Lindun, and Rachelle Ayala
Length: 2200 pages!
99 cents or FREE with Kindle Unlimited


Crave your men hot, alpha, and strong? Then fall in love with Hotshot Heroes: Strong Enough to Love - 6 full-length action-suspense romances plus one bonus novella from NY Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors. Fall in love with sexy agents, cowboy sheriffs, firemen, bikers, and more. Danger, excitement, and heart-pounding romance await the women who love these brash and protective men. Get yours today.

Purchase Links:
Global Amazon link: http://smarturl.it/HSHero

Book #1: Special Agent Maximilian - Mimi Barbour

Nik Baudin meets his identical twin – one he never knew existed. Taking over his identity, he becomes Special Agent Maximilian and gets embroiled in dangerous conflicts along with Max’s beautiful partner, Maya.

Mimi Barbour is an incredibly busy New York Times, USA Today and award-winning, best-selling author who has five series to her credit. The Vicarage Bench Series – Spirit/Time -Travel tales that have a surprising twist / The Angels with Attitude Series – Angels Love Romance / The Elvis Series – Make an Elvis song a book / Vegas Series – 6 books full of romantic suspense, humor and gritty conflicts / and… the fast-paced, edgy yet humorous romantic suspense, Undercover FBI Series. She also has numerous box collections and single titles to add to her credits. Mob Tracker is a new series she’s working on now which will be published in 2016. 




Book #2: Murphy’s Law - Jennifer Lowery

A storm strands widow Sara Sheldon and her young daughter at ex-Army Ranger Jon Murphy’s remote cabin. She’s running from her husband’s powerful family, and he’s running from guilt for what he did while held prisoner in Azbakastan. Attraction sparks, but survival is at stake. Besides, he's no’ nearly as honorable as she thinks…

NY Times & USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Lowery grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer. Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side.

Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers. She loves everything there is about romance. Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines. She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love. 

Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family. 

Connect with Jennifer:
Read more about her books on her website: http://jenniferloweryauthor.com/
Please "like" her Facebook author page! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferLowery/
Sign up for Jennifer’s Newsletter and get a FREE book: http://jenniferloweryauthor.com/join-my-newsletter/

Book #3: Blazing Hotter (Love Under Fire – 2)Chantel Rhondeau

Former bad boy Frankie Hernandez struggles to recover from debilitating injuries sustained fighting his last fire. Now this firefighter is falling for his physical therapist, Cassie Flick. When a serial killer strikes town and threatens Cassie, Frankie will do whatever it takes to protect the woman he loves.

Best-selling author Chantel Rhondeau once thought a great mystery or fantasy book with strong romantic themes was the highest level of reading bliss. After reading her first romantic suspense novel, she never looked back. Chantel is author of seven romantic suspense novels, three Christmas novellas, and the contemporary romance McCallister’s Paradise series. She lives in the western United States, and when she's not writing she loves playing cards with her family, bowling on leagues, and snuggling with her lazy kitties.

Newsletter (Get FREE ebook for signing up): http://eepurl.com/3f3jr 

Book #4: My Calling Lyssa Layne

It's taken Saylor Warner six years to recover from the death of her uncle. Jonathan “Beck” Beckerdyte has spent the last six years trying to stay out of the public eye. Following his calling leads him into the field of civil service. Beck's made it his life's mission to protect Saylor... except she has no idea. 

Lyssa Layne is a blogger turned author after being inspired by Rachelle Ayala. She enjoys hot romances and loves to shock her readers right until the final page. Lyssa enjoys chasing after her four-year-old daughter, being a tourist in her own city, and anything involving peanut butter.


Book #5: Longshot D’Ann Lindun

A sheriff with something to prove. A burned out FBI agent. A human trafficker determined to stop them both will test the limits of their endurance … but he can’t stop them from falling in love.

Falling in love with romance novels the summer before sixth grade, D’Ann Lindun never thought about writing one until many years later when she took a how-to class at her local college. She was hooked! She began writing and never looked back. Romance appeals to her because there's just something so satisfying about writing a book guaranteed to have a happy ending. D’Ann’s particular favorites usually feature cowboys and the women who love them. This is probably because she draws inspiration from the area where she lives, Western Colorado, her husband of twenty-nine years and their daughter. Composites of their small farm, herd of horses, five Australian shepherds, a Queensland heeler, two ducks and cats of every shape and color often show up in her stories! 

D’Ann loves to hear from readers! Please contact her at: mailto:dldauthor@frontier.net

Book #6: Playing Without Rules (A Baseball Romance) Rachelle Ayala

Marcia Powers hid a big secret from her ex-boyfriend, baseball player Brock Carter. She had good reason, or so she thought. Now Brock is back in town and wants Marcia back. Will he lose every dream, including baseball, when he discovers the real reason Marcia sent him away?

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She writes from sweet to steamy and believes that everyone should find love as often as possible, even if it's within the pages of a book. Rachelle is working on a sweet series of romances with pets and firemen, Have a Hart Romances, and one full of bad boys, Bad Boys for Hire. She also writes sports romances in both football and baseball, as well as many holiday romances, both sweet and spicy.

Newsletter (Get FREE ebook for signing up): http://bit.ly/RachAyala

Bonus Book: Bad Boys for Hire: Ryker, Bad Boys for Hire Series Book #1 - Rachelle Ayala

Florist Terri Martin lives a calm and peaceful life. Maybe too calm and too peaceful because she can’t remember the last time she was in a relationship.

Terri calls Bad Boys for Hire to book herself a date for her thirtieth birthday party, but before she can hire one, she meets Ryker Slade and his bad-ass motorcycle.

Old vendettas resurface and soon, Terri has more than she can handle when she learns that her and Ryker’s love is as doomed as Romeo and Juliet’s.

Ryker thinks he has a way out, but can Terri escape her fate, or will she find her lover dead before she wakes? 


Get Hotshot Heroes now! 

Purchase Links:
Global Amazon link: http://smarturl.it/HSHero

Monday, February 29, 2016

New Mystery/Thriller from Barbara Winkes!

Title: Amber Alert
Author:Barbara Winkes
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: February 1, 2016


~~BLURB~~
When her two-year-old niece is kidnapped, Major Crimes Detective Ann McCoy uses every bit of leverage she has with Agent Cal Davis to stay on the case. More children are missing. Their parents, like Ann’s sister and her wife, are desperate for answers.

While the investigators look at the disturbing possibilities, a pattern emerges. They find an organization hidden in plain sight that has no boundaries when it comes to pushing their agenda-even at the cost of harming families and children.

Buy Now: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BE15V3Y/


~~EXCERPT~~
Cal sets a mug of steaming coffee in front of me.

“After this, I want you to go home,” he says, adding “Hear me out?” when I jump to my feet, ready to give him all the reasons why I shouldn’t.

“Your sister and her wife have already been interviewed, but there might be a gap that only you can close. I want you to think hard, about the cases you’ve worked, who got out of prison lately, anyone who is likely to link you to them. Find everyone who ever threw a homophobic slur at them.”

The thought makes me flinch, but I nod and sit back down. “Do you have any suspicion? I thought Martinez said the parents weren’t-”

“I don’t know yet. There were two single mothers, one gay couple, and one het. Then, Chrissie and Rachel. It’s not a pattern.”

“But…?” I prompt. It’s a world I don’t inhabit, but I hear things from Rachel, Chrissie and their friends sometimes. They are frustrated how some groups who pretend to care about faith and family, spread lies about same-sex couples and families. Usually, they don’t revert to crime. The overall lack of equality for these families has for a long time protected the hate-mongers. Not so much anymore since the Supreme Court’s marriage decision.

They might be deluded and angry, but not stupid enough to break the law--or are they? I can’t imagine them going as far as actually snatching children.

“No ‘but’. Just make sure you cover all angles.”

“Will do. God,” I say, “This is a nightmare. I worked on a couple of kidnapping cases.” “What happened?” he asks.

I take a long sip of the coffee, before I answer. “One was a custody battle gone bad. The dad turned himself in and brought back the boy.”

“…and the other one?”

“Didn’t come back.”

He lays a hand on my shoulder, squeezing gently, and I get up once more. I don’t want to get into any details, not now, not ever. What’s equally as important, I don’t want to give him any reasons to cut me off. I finish my coffee and say goodbye, picking up my keys and jacket on the way out.

As I’m driving out to Chrissie and Rachel’s, I’m pondering the homework he’s given me. Is it more than just a distraction? I’m sure Cal and his team are just as aware of any dangerous individual out there as I am, if not a lot more so. No one stands out, and there’s no one who has threatened me personally, or seems likely to do so. We’re aware of hate crimes in the area, but those are usually somewhere in between damage to property and violent assaults.

Rachel and Chrissie go pretty much under the radar, as far as I know. They don’t go out much, especially since they have Rosie. Why them? My train of thought inevitably brings me back to the most horrifying ideas. There are criminals who stop at nothing, people who think that money should buy them everything…and it does. There’s always the theory of the single offender.

Someone new in town? I park in the same spot as just yesterday, a little over twenty-four hours ago. The light has changed, and I only now realize how many hours have passed. My fears are screaming at me, It’s been too long already, but I have to ignore them. I have to go face the parents of a missing two-year-old, and I’ll have to ask them some hard questions.

Their friend Paula is with them, which gives me a pang of guilt for showing up so late. There’s nothing new I have for them, and what I’ve heard earlier, they can’t know. Everyone is subdued, so I try to bring up the subject as diplomatically as possible. I know they’ve had some heated online discussions, enough reason for me to rarely use the Internet for private purposes. There are just too many unpleasant people out there.

“I don’t know what you want, Ann,” Chrissie says. She’s tired, frustrated and scared. It’s showing.

“We don’t start that kind of dispute, and we’ve only answered a few times when somebody sought us out.”

“Lately, was there someone in particular?”

“Don’t you think I’ve asked myself that a million times?” Her voice is rising. “No, there isn’t anyone. Don’t tell me you’re wasting your time looking there. Yes, it’s annoying when people feel compelled to tell you that you’re going to hell. It sucks big time. Those are teenage bullies, and they’re also proud grandfathers, or wives. Unfortunately, it’s not a crime to be a self-righteous asshole, but other than that, they stick to the law. Don’t you watch the news? The ‘turn away the gays’ bills kept popping up even before we had marriage equality, and now there are still many places where you can get married, but also fired or evicted just for being gay. So far, the law works fine for them.”

Rachel and Paula exchange a look, and then Rachel gets up and says, “Honey, I’m sure Ann is hungry. Why don’t you stay here with Paula for a moment?” I have the suspicion that food is the last thought on her mind. No one here cares about food at this moment. When the kitchen door is closed, she wipes a hand over her face before giving me an intent look.

“Okay, tell me the truth. What are we looking at?”

“I told you. There is no news, and you’d be the first to know anyway.” “Really,” Rachel says. I don’t like the sarcasm. “Why are you asking these questions? We both know that it’s not the haters’ M.O. They are happy with leaving a few hateful comments on Facebook, not even knowing how far they’ve gotten their heads up their asses. They won’t even take responsibility for themselves, why would they kidnap a child?”

I let her speak while wondering if I paid so little attention before. I didn’t know she was so angry, or Chrissie, for that matter.

“It’s not that, right?”

“We must consider every angle.” I keep it vague, for her sake and mine.

“We took down the balloons just this morning,” she says, fiddling with her wedding ring. “I can’t stop thinking about that man. What if he’s one of those sickos who--”

“No,” I say firmly. “No. Right now, there’s only very little that we know, so let’s not jump to conclusions.” I can tell from her expression that there’s more.

“Look, if you have any idea, no matter how vague it is, now would be the moment--” “How can you even think that?” she snaps. “I’ve been going over every little detail, every possibility, a million times. We don’t exactly make enemies on a daily basis. You know a lot more about these things than we do, but you’re not telling us anything, just asking questions. You have no idea how much that scares me...I went on the Internet. Chrissie doesn’t know about it.” She swallows hard. “There are some sick people out there. ‘Baby brokers’?”

“Don’t do that.” It’s not a suggestion. “I know it’s hard.”

The look she gives me says clearly “You don’t know anything.”

For what it’s worth, I have to try.

“You can’t do this. You’re going to drive yourself crazy. It’s not the time to think of worst case scenarios. We’ll bring her home, Rachel!” Damn all those cop shows for spelling out all the horrible possibilities in more detail than anyone can bear.

“I can’t take this much longer.” She turns away from my gaze.

“It will be okay.” If we say it a few more times, we might be able to make ourselves believe. Rachel gives me a grateful smile that doesn’t quite cover the underlying emotions of fear and despair.

“Is there something I can fix you?”

“No, thanks. I’ll have something on the way back. It’s going to be-” A long night, I almost say, but stop myself in time. Tonight, tomorrow, no one of us has an idea, but it’s nothing I can say out loud in this house. I follow her back into the living room where the trace is set up. The tension in the room is palpable.

~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~



A psychologist/trauma counselor by training, Barbara Winkes left her native Germany to live with her wife in Québec City. Telling stories has always been her passion. She loves to write suspense and romance with female protagonists who try to solve the puzzle of their love life, a murder case, or sometimes, both.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Spicy Excerpt - Tangled in Tinsel by Stacy Eaton #XmasHot


HO! HO! HO! Santa’s bringing love this Christmas…and a little spice. From hauntings to bad boys to matchmaking dogs, SPICY CHRISTMAS KISSES delivers the joy and warmth of the season. But be careful–some of these ELEVEN romances are HOT HOT HOT!
This collection of spicy holiday stories is on sale for a limited time only. A STEAL at 99 cents! Grab your copy today!
~ Purchase Links ~

  Check out book 5 in Spicy Christmas Kisses 
~ Tangled in Tinsel - Stacy Eaton ~







Casey Lowe is new in town and has shoved her previous life into the closet. As the holidays arrive, so do the surprises, but not with presents. Can Casey learn to fix the issues, or will her next door neighbor Thad Wagner have to continue to rescue her over and over? As Christmas arrives, Casey will have to untangle herself from more than just the tinsel.



~~EXCERPT~~

(copyright) 2015 Stacy Eaton

Ten minutes down the road, a siren caught my attention, and I saw the telltale red and blue lights flashing in my rearview mirror. 

“Shit. How fast was I going?” I glanced at the speedometer. “Only sixty-five. What’s the speed limit here?”

“I don’t know,” Brandy said as she glanced over her shoulder. “Maybe it’s your neighbor.”

“Crap, let’s hope it’s not.” I slowed and pulled over to the shoulder, hoping he was only trying to get around me. No such luck as he stopped behind me. “Damn, I think it is him,” I said as I stared harder into the mirror.

“That’s good. I’m sure you can get out of this then,” Brandy said as she put mascara on. “Actually, I’m glad you got pulled over, now I can put my mascara on without getting it all over the place.”

“Figures you would find something good in me being pulled over by the police,” I retorted as I dug through my purse for my wallet. A tap on my window brought my head up fast, and I lowered the window as I glanced up.

Lord, have mercy on my soul! This man was incredible looking. His short hair was light brown and parted on the side. His blue eyes were striking as they stared down at me.

“Morning, ma’am. I’m Officer Wagner of the Celebration Police Department. Do you happen to know how fast you were going?”

I opened my mouth to speak and found words escaped me as I watched his lips to see if they would continue to move. He had the most incredible lips I had ever seen, and I wondered how they would feel.

He tipped his head to the side and studied me. “Ma’am, are you alright?” 

“Casey,” I stuttered out.

“Excuse me?”

“My name is Casey, not ma’am.” 

Brandy snickered beside me, and I almost elbowed her.

A smirk raised one side of his mouth and displayed the cutest damned dimple I had ever seen. “Okay, Casey, do you know how fast you were going?”

“Um,” I cleared my throat. Did I tell the truth? Of course I tell the truth! Jesus, I knew what happened with the police when you didn’t. “Sorry, I was going about sixty-five, but I don’t know what the speed limit is.”

“Actually, you were going sixty-nine when you were clocked, and the speed limit is thirty-five.”

I cringed, “I’m so sorry. We woke up late, and I’m rushing my friend to the airport. She has a flight out at eleven. I honestly didn’t know the speed limit.”

“Well, Casey, now you do, and I hope that in the future you will obey it.” He grinned down at me and held out his hand. “I’m Thad, by the way, I believe we’re neighbors.”

I looked at his long elegant fingers as they came my way. Why was my heart beating like it was trying to get out of my chest? I placed my hand into his and we both stared at one another. “Casey,” I said again lamely.

“It’s nice to meet you, Casey. Do me a favor and slow down. Get your friend to the airport safely.”

“Yes, sir,” I stated automatically while I realized I was still holding his hand. I yanked mine back, embarrassed at my reaction to him.

He laughed a deep laugh and put a smile on his face that made his eyes seem brighter than they had been just moments before. “I’m letting you off with a warning today, not because you are my neighbor, but because you did me a favor last night. Thank you for dropping the food off at home for me.”

“You’re welcome, and thank you for not giving me a ticket. I promise I’ll pay better attention.”

“Drive safely, Casey,” he leaned down and peered past me to Brandy, “and have a safe flight.” Thad’s subtle cologne reached my nose with his movement. Thank god I was seated, or my knees might have buckled.

“Thank you,” Brandy replied.

Thad stared at me for another moment before he stood up, “I’ll see you around, Casey. It was nice meeting you, and welcome to Celebration.”

“Thank you.” My voice came out huskier than it should have, and I cleared my throat as he walked away. I used the side mirror to watch him; his back was as nice as his front. When he reached his driver’s-side door, he turned and our gazes locked in the reflection. He winked and climbed into his truck.

“Talk about a hottie,” Brandy said as she fanned her face. I put the window up and checked my mirror again to make sure it was safe to get back onto the road.

I’d learned two things just then: One, Officer Thad Wagner was an extreme hottie; second, he was also a very dangerous man, if only to my starving hormones.

~~About the Author~~

Stacy Eaton is an International Best Selling Amazon author of twelve books and a full-time detective who has a passion for putting the pieces together while investigating the crime. She is also a wife, mother, business owner and on the board of directors for her local domestic violence center. When she’s not ‘working’, she’s ‘writing’. Stacy loves chilling with her family and photography.

Website: www.stacyeaton.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Eaton/191880767522183?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/StacySEaton
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/32C5r

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#Excerpt Naughty and Nice by Crystal Green #XmasHot

HO! HO! HO! Santa’s bringing love this Christmas…and a little spice. From hauntings to bad boys to matchmaking dogs, SPICY CHRISTMAS KISSES delivers the joy and warmth of the season. But be careful–some of these ELEVEN romances are HOT HOT HOT!

This collection of spicy holiday stories is on sale for a limited time only. A STEAL at 99 cents! Grab your copy today!
~ Purchase Links ~

  Check out book 4 in Spicy Christmas Kisses 
Naughty and Nice (A Rough and Tumble Novella) - by Crystal Green  ~



Reclusive, gruff army veteran Jesse Navarro could deal with a Secret Santa who only wrote to him online. But when she shows up at the Rough & Tumble Saloon in the flesh, she has something even naughtier than a regular gift exchange in mind—and it’s perfectly suited for some wicked nights in Sin City…


~~EXCERPT~~

Even though Ivy Carroll suspected that her Secret Santa partner was the loneliest man on earth, she couldn’t help thinking that she’d gotten the luck of the draw.

As she stood at the doorway of the Rough & Tumble Saloon, where white Christmas bulbs decorated the bar and scraggly wreaths hung on the planked walls, she leaned against the frame, running a gaze over Lieutenant Jesse Navarro, in the flesh.

And, damn, it was some flesh.

He made her think of a strong, towering war god as he propped a black combat boot on a rickety chair, leaning his arms on his thigh. Stone-faced, he watched a few laughing men toss coins into a tarnished spittoon that matched the Old West surroundings. His legs were long and muscled in jeans, his biceps thick and defined, rock-solid. And under his dark, tight T-shirt?

Something in Ivy’s belly took a tight, rolling dip as she dwelled on those steel-beam shoulders, the obvious bumps and ridges on his torso that told her there were more and more muscles. Mmm, he was a hunk of a man, intimidating with an image of a primitive sun shaved into his dark, stubbled hair.

The thing was, he seemed different from the man she’d warmed up to online.

She’d seen a shadowy picture of the lieutenant when they’d been matched in a Secret Santa military vet program sponsored by a local community center, so she knew some of his face, knew that he was in his early thirties and had done a tour in Afghanistan and come home three years ago. But she hadn’t seen many other details in his gray-toned picture. At first, she’d wondered if he was a gruff, beer-bellied man who didn’t say much in real life and made her read between the lines of every cyber sentence. Or was he a big kid who was as wiry as that bartender who was fetching drinks for the bikers and rough men throwing down shots of whisky at the bar? She’d barely had a clue about Jesse, because he didn’t leave many digital footprints, except for the Desert Star Center’s boards.

But Ivy did know one thing: Lieutenant Navarro’s most recent message, a few days before Christmas, had struck her heart, making her think that no one should be spending the holidays at a bar. How much would she suck if she didn’t reach out to him from just a few miles away where she lived, spreading a little cheer to someone like that?

It was a just a bonus that he looked like this. Hotter than hell, a real man who was already turning her on.

As the jukebox played a countrified version of “Blue Christmas,” Ivy straightened from the doorframe and made her way across the floorboards. The guys at the bar turned to check her out, but she wasn’t afraid of road trippers or leathered tough men.

One of them whistled. “Hey, flower child.”

Ivy ignored them, still heading toward her lieutenant, and the crowd at the bar laughed. It caught the attention of Jesse.

He’d been in the process of standing to his full height, reaching into his back pocket, taking out a beaten leather wallet. As he paused, watching her, she saw that his eyes were dark and liquid, making something inside of her melt, too, desire trickling down and down until it bubbled.

Ivy smiled in greeting. He didn’t.

Stopping in her tracks, she paused as he went back to what he’d been doing before, extracting some money then handing it over to a cowboy with a gray hat angled over his gaze. The man nodded to Jesse and stuffed the cash into his own jeans pocket.

The lieutenant’s voice rumbled over the soft music. “Gideon, you could just ask your famous author wife for some cash instead of betting me for it over a game of spittoon.”

“I like having the pocket change.” The man shrugged. “‘sides, taking the money from you is the best part-time job I can imagine.”

“Yeah, well, I hear there’re some job openings in hell, quick-draw. You should go there and check it out.”

Then, as if Jesse remembered that there was a woman standing not five feet away from him, he went even stonier, shooting her a look that she supposed was an apology of sorts.

Why was he acting so cold? Didn’t he recognize her?

The cowboy chuckled and sauntered away, leaving two other men—bikers, with their sleeveless leather jackets—to keep tossing coins at the spittoon from their seats and counting off whenever a quarter landed.

As sinful neon lights from the beer signs on the walls dimmed Jesse’s face, he slowly dragged his gaze back to Ivy, scraping over her with a look so rough and hot that her pulse skipped. First he took in her fringed boots, then up and over her flowy skirt that was fluttering with every chop of the ceiling fans, then her vintage white crocheted blouse that looked like a bunch of connected holly flowers. He stopped at the glittering holiday snowflake pendant she wore around her neck, her unbraided, wavy hair brushing it. His gaze dipped back down to her breasts, his eyes going even darker.

A thrill spun through her until she realized that he truly had no idea who she was.

Didn’t he recognize her from the picture on the Secret Santa boards?

She thought of the gentlemanly messages he’d sent, the thank yous, the faint insights into the life of a man who seemed like he was made to stay on the fringes of things. A polite yet distanced man.

Had he fooled her with the “polite” part?

She hesitated again, then fumbled into her roomy tooled-leather purse. She took out a small present she’d giftwrapped for him after she’d read his most recent email and held the offering out. That’s why she’d traveled the short way here—to cheer him up. This gift should do the trick.

His gaze turned to the little box then he stared at her again, his eyes like black smoke burning off a fire.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“Special delivery from your Secret Santa.”

When recognition finally dawned in that dark gaze, it almost seemed like he might’ve been moved by her gesture.

Then he barred his arms over his massive chest. “I just got those cookies you sent.”

O…kay “And did you like them?”

“They were much appreciated.”

Was that a yes? Ivy was used to people gushing about her baking, especially when it came to her Christmas magic cookie bars.

Behind her, the men were clearing their throats, but Ivy didn’t look to see exactly what they were doing. Teasing him because he had a sweet little Secret Santa?

She almost laughed because she wasn’t all that sweet. Her cookies definitely qualified, but her? Well, how many sweet girls were ballsy enough to track down a guy who’d seemed so alienated online?

After shooting the other men a deadly look, Jesse finally gritted his jaw and accepted her gift. He muttered something under his breath that she didn’t catch. A thanks?

Then again, who cared when he didn’t even open the present? He only moved toward the bar, where a few guys in flannel shirts moseyed out of his way like they didn’t want anything to do with his mood.

Ivy had the feeling it was a perpetual mood that hadn’t exactly come through crystal clear in their emails. Maybe he’d been slightly closed-off in them, sure, but this?

She stood next to him. “Don’t you want to see what’s inside the box?”

“I’m hoping it’s more cookies.”

“Oh, you can see that the package is too small for that.” They’d also joked online, as much as Lt. Jesse Navarro joked, and she’d had the feeling he didn’t do much of it in reality.

One of the men shouted across the bar. “Navarro, open it up! We wanna see.”

Jesse bristled.

Ivy hadn’t come here to make him tense and embarrassed. And if she had to admit it, she would confess that she’d been very curious about him, so a trip had seemed in order.

“Never mind all of them,” she said about the men. “But if you need some privacy to open your gift, I can leave you alone.”

She started to go, and Jesse grumbled something else she didn’t understand as he caught the edge of her blouse. The skin beneath the thin material tingled as she realized how long and strong his fingers were.

What would they feel like if he skimmed them below her blouse, brushing her waist? What if he slipped them into the waistband of her skirt, easing over her belly?

“Don’t get chased off,” he said. And when he lasered a glare around the bar, the men shut up and went back to their drinks.

Impressive. She just hoped Jesse never leveled her with a look like that...

From Naughty and Nice (A Rough and Tumble Novella) (A Sexy Bad Boy Romance)
Copyright: Chris Marie Green 2015

~~About the Author~~

Crystal Green is a RITA-nominated romantic fiction author who tries her best to avoid international incidents whenever she takes a break from her first love, writing, and travels to places near and far. She's the author of the Rough and Tumble hot romances as well as the new adult Aidan Falls series, and she has an alter ego named Chris Marie Green who writes thrillers like TERROR ISLAND, the Ghost for Hire series, and the Vampire Babylon series.

Twitter @CrystalGreenMe