Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! Mad Dog and Annie

Sighing, Anne Barclay nudged her cart along the narrow aisle. A front wheel jammed against the magazine rack, and when she jostled the cart to free it, her purse swung from her shoulder and knocked a candy display off the counter.

“Mo-om!” Mitchell wailed, embarrassed.

“Got it,” a rough male voice said behind her.

She turned, her face already hot. Maddox Palmer stood in line behind her, his hands steadying the box of candy dispensers and his hooded eyes amused.

Her mouth dried. Oh, no, she thought. She didn’t want to recognize the speeding of her heart or the flutter in her stomach. Feelings like that could turn on you. Men could turn on you.

“I’m sorry,” she blurted.

“No problem,” he said.

Mitchell was watching, his green eyes guarded. Growing up with the echoes and bumps-in-the-night that marked his parents’ marriage had made him sensitive to undertones.

She touched his forearm, hiding her own misgivings to reassure him. “My son, Mitchell. Mitchell, this is Mr. Palmer. He... I...” He shot that boy and the department fired him. “We went to school together,” she finished weakly.

Maddox nodded. “Hey.”

“Nice to meet you,” Mitchell mumbled politely.

Ann lifted a plastic gallon of milk onto the moving belt. “What are you doing here?”

Maddox grinned at her, that rare, invitation-to-trouble grin he’d turned on her in seventh grade, and she almost forgot to be afraid. “In the grocery store? Buying groceries.”

She glanced back at his cart. Beer, bread and cigarettes humped together with a roll of paper towels and a carton of orange juice. “You don’t eat much,” she observed.

“I can’t cook much.”

She smiled faintly. “That would explain the cereal and peanut butter.”

“I eat out a lot,” he said defensively.

“I imagine you have to.”

He shrugged. “Don’t you? Working in a restaurant and all.”

Val encouraged Ann to take her meals at Wild Thymes, but she resisted accepting charity. And she couldn’t afford anything else. She shook her head, letting her hair veil her expression. “I don’t work dinners very often. And I like to cook.”

“Yeah? What does she make?” he asked Mitchell.

Put on the spot, Mitchell shuffled. “Well...” R

ob would have snapped at her son to speak up. Maddox just waited, like one of those Catholic priests. Or a cop.

“Tacos,” Mitchell managed to say at last. “She makes good tacos. And spaghetti and hot dogs and stuff like that.”

Cheap meals. A far cry from the beef and three sides Rob had expected on the table every night. She waited for Maddox to make some disparaging comment.

“Sounds good. Maybe I should come to your house for dinner.”

Was he angling for an invitation? Was he—Ann stumbled over the thought—could he be lonely? She had a sudden memory of him at ten, his cool pose a front for his desperate longing to be noticed. She remembered his quick flush of gratification when she’d offered him a stick of gum, and the time he’d beat up Billy Ward for calling her “Chicken Legs.”

She concentrated on unloading her squashables from the cart, aware that the checkout girl had stopped snapping her gum to listen. What was a nice person supposed to do? “Oh, my dinners are nothing fancy. Nothing you would want.”

“Try me,” Maddox said softly.

His eyes met hers, hot and hooded and intense, and her insides constricted like they did when she was afraid, only this time it wasn’t with fear.

* * *

Hope your holidays are full of wonderful reading!

MAD DOG AND ANNIE, now available on Kindle and Nook

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! Carolina Man

Luke watched Kate Dolan’s butt as she walked past him in her neat navy suit, her sensible heels clacking on the wood deck like gunfire. He’d handle her, too, given a little encouragement.

He shook his head. Obviously, he’d spent too long in Burqa Land. He was not hitting on his dead ex-girlfriend’s lawyer. Even if she did have great legs. And—despite the stick up her butt—a really nice ass. Hard not to notice that.

She hugged her arms across her body, as if the chill had penetrated the blue jacket she wore like body armor. “It’s nice out here.”

He breathed in the smells of salt, sea grass, and pine. Took a pull of his beer, as if he could permanently wash away the dust of Afghanistan. “Yeah.”

She turned to face him, the sun behind her firing her curly coppery hair to gold. “Quiet,” she offered.

“No snipers,” he said.

She looked at him, startled.

Ah, shit. “You didn’t come here to talk about the weather,” he said, covering. “Or the view.”

“Are you all right?” she asked.

He was jet-lagged and exhausted. But at least he was all here. Ten fingers, ten toes. No right to complain. “Fine.”

Her gaze searched his face, uncomfortably perceptive. What color were her eyes? Blue? Green? With the light behind her, it was hard to tell. “Because we can do this another time.”

“You must have thought it was urgent,” he pointed out. “Or you wouldn’t have driven out here.” She took a deep breath that expanded her chest, parting the lapels of her jacket. She wore some kind of lace thing under it, and a thin gold chain that dipped between her breasts and caught the light. Nice. “I had the evening free.”

“Lucky for me,” he drawled.

Under her makeup, she flushed to the roots of her hair like only a true redhead could. Which set off another line of speculation he had no business pursuing.


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! The Comeback of Conn MacNeill

Conn cleared his throat. “You know, there’s no reason this has to be an adversarial relationship. I’m here to do a job, that’s all.”

“I agree. As long as your job doesn’t interfere with mine.”

“You’ll hardly notice I’m here.”

Val's gaze skittered over the height and breadth of him, from his shoulders rising above the narrow padded bench to his feet sticking out from under the table.

When she looked back up at his face, her eyes were bright with amusement. “Now, why do I have difficulty believing that?”

Conn’s blood surged. His jaw tightened. He had a sudden vision of laying her down across the table in front of him like an exotic dish for his delectation. He wanted to free her hair to spill over the edge. He wanted to part her firm, round thighs and push inside her soft, warm body. He wanted to take that pale mouth with its full upper lip and watch those gray eyes darken in passion.

Conn set down the roll slowly. As a plan of action, it had a lot of appeal. As an approach to a woman he barely knew and was hired to analyze and advise, it probably lacked something. Subtlety, maybe. Sense.

His appetite for this woman unnerved him. Maybe this kind of reaction was appropriate for Patrick, blissfully happy with his new wife. It was only to be expected from Sean, whose appreciation for anything female was well-known and often indulged. But Con, the middle brother, the cool, logical one, had always let reason rule his selection of partners.

There was nothing reasonable about this attraction at all.

From The Comeback of Conn MacNeill
Now available on Nook - Kindle - iTunes Kobo

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! Carolina Home

“Where have you been?” Tom asked.

The smell of his skin, the scent of his shaving cream, spicy and familiar, enveloped Tess. She pressed a kiss between his shoulder blades.

“Helping Luke make up his bed.”

Tom frowned at his reflection. “You think after ten years in the Marines, the boy can make his own bed?”

She smiled at his grumpy tone. “I don’t mind. It’s nice to have some time with him alone.”

“You work too hard,” Tom said. “He takes advantage of you.”

Tess knew her man. She’d loved him for almost forty years, since he was a cocky Leatherneck on leave in Chicago, sauntering into her family’s restaurant in Little Italy, trying to pick her up before she could write down his order.

“You’re not upset about the bed,” she said.

Tom didn’t answer. He didn’t talk about his feelings. He never had.

She twisted around him, keeping her arms loosely linked around his waist, until they were front to front. “It’ll be all right,” she said softly. “Luke needs us. Taylor needs us. She’s our granddaughter.”

Tom grunted. “What happened to her mother? You get that out of Luke while you were making his bed?”

“Dawn’s lawyer told Luke it was some kind of brain bleed from a congenital condition. No prior symptoms, no warning.” Tess shivered. “It was all very sudden and horrible.”

Tom stroked her back, instinctively giving comfort. “Christ. Was Taylor with her?”

“No, Dawn was at work when it happened. Apparently she was a receptionist at the law office. The lawyer said they got her to the hospital right away, but it was already too late.”

They stood a moment in silence. What if it had been her daughter, her baby, struck down like that in the prime of life? Tess wondered. She couldn’t stand it.

“How’s Luke?” Tom asked.

He had always counted on her to keep up with the details of their children’s lives, to tell him as much—or as little—as he needed to know.

“He doesn’t say.” And in that, Tess thought, their younger son was very like his father. “But you can see he’s affected by her dying like that. He’s not heartbroken, he was over Dawn a long time ago, but he still feels it. And now this business with Taylor . . . It’s just so much for him to deal with right now, in the middle of a deployment. Did you see how thin he is?”

“He’ll be all right as soon as he gets back to his squadron.”

She bit her lip. “It’s still a distraction.”

“Not as much as you think.” He rubbed her neck, his strong hand reaching under her hair. “Men compartmentalize better than women.”

They were still pressed together, front to front.

Tess grinned suddenly, realizing her husband’s focus had shifted. “Is that what you call this? Compartmentalizing?”

His fingers found the knot at the base of her skull. “That’s one word for it.”

She sighed in pleasure, letting her head drop forward as he kneaded the ache away. “I just worry about them, Tom, no matter how old they are. Matt’s not happy, and Meg’s living with that man who’s never going to marry her, and now Luke—”

“You can’t live their lives for them, honey.”

“I’d do a better job,” she mumbled.

His laugh rumbled in his chest. “You did a good job already. It’s their turn now.”

“But I want them to have what we have.”

“I’d be happy if they’d just stop dumping what they have on you.”

She raised her head. “Tom!”

“We’re not getting any younger, Tess. It would be nice to have the house to ourselves before we’re too old to enjoy it.”

“Mm. You, me, and an inn full of guests. Very romantic.” She settled her weight more firmly against him, enjoying the feel of him hot and potent against her stomach.

He patted her butt affectionately. “You don’t want me going soft in my old age, now, do you?”

She laughed at him. “I can feel just how soft you are.”

He smiled down at her, the old gleam in his eyes, the one that still made her breath come faster after all these years. “Why don’t you come to bed and I’ll show you?”


Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TEASER TUESDAY! Patrick MacNeill

At one-twelve in the morning, Kate emerged from her dinky office clutching her fifth cup of coffee and an armload of charts. The unit was never totally dark or entirely silent. The halls vibrated with a fluorescent hum and the blips and beeps of monitors. From behind closed doors, she heard a cough, a moan, a muted television. Laughter and chatter drifted from the nurses’ station as they celebrated somebody’s birthday.

Solitary Kate hadn’t been invited, though she knew that if she stopped by the charge nurse would offer her a piece of cake. She turned the other way, down the hall, toward the patient rooms. The kernel of doubt hadn’t gone away. It swelled under her breastbone, a small, indigestible lump, a tiny hot spot that upset her stomach and her concentration.

She wasn’t on call tonight. Roberts, the attending, had taken the four o’clock rounds. She had no real reason to drop her sliding stack of paperwork and squeak down the brightly painted, dimly lit floor like a ghost in orthopedic shoes. No reason. Only a burning in her gut. Quietly, she depressed the handle to Jack MacNeill’s room and opened the door.

A pale rectangle of light spilled across the bed to the raised footrest of the recliner on the other side. Between the tall metal guardrails, Jack sprawled with little-boy abandon, covers pushed down and arms and legs every which way. A teddy bear with a limp bow and well-loved plush supported his bandaged hand. In the chair, facing his child, slept Patrick MacNeill.

Even relaxed in sleep, he looked hard and male and faintly dangerous. His wide shoulders crowded the oversize recliner to its limit. Ignoring her reaction to that long, well-muscled body, Kate slipped to the foot of the bed to check Jack’s chart. But she couldn’t dismiss the queer twist of her heart at the sight of Jack’s face turned confidingly to his father, or the way Patrick’s large hand protectively spanned his son’s knee as they slept.

Don t let it get to you, Katie Sue.

She forced her attention back to the patient chart, angling it to catch the light from the door. Blood pressure, temp, intake and output all looked normal. Good. Stepping to the side of the bed, she reached for Jack’s swaddled hand.

And then something made her look up, across his out-flung legs, into the deep-set, dark blue eyes of Patrick MacNeill.

From THE PASSION OF PATRICK MACNEILL Kindle - Nook - Apple - Kobo

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Club Discussion Questions for Carolina Girl

1. The opening line of Carolina Girl is "At thirty-four Megan Fletcher was determined not to turn into her mother." How does that statement make you feel?

2. As in Carolina Home, there are four point of view characters in Carolina Girl: Meg Fletcher; Sam Grady; matriarch Tess; and ten-year-old Taylor. Which character did you identify with the most? Which engaged you most emotionally? Why?

3. How does Meg's perception of her mother change after Tess's accident? Over the course of the book? On p. 282, Tess says,

"Sometimes love means taking turns. Finding compromises.” “Except you never got your turn. You were always the one who compromised.” “What do you mean?” “Even after Dad retired, you did what he wanted. Lived where he wanted. Moved back here.” “Meg . . .” Tess frowned, her familiar features transformed by the darkening cap of hair goo. “I thought you knew. That was my choice. Your father would have gone anywhere. Back to Chicago, if that’s what I wanted. My brother Nick would have taken me back into the restaurant. But I fell in love with North Carolina when your dad was stationed at Lejeune. You kids always liked it here. Running a bed-and-breakfast was my idea. The Pirates’ Rest is my dream.”
Her assertion surprises Meg. Did it surprise you? Why or why not?

4. What attracted Meg to Derek? How do you feel about her kissing Sam while she is still in a relationship with Derek? Is it cheating?

5. Meg and Sam's first sexual encounter in high school was less than perfect.

It hadn’t been all bad, she remembered. Even though he was drunk, even though she had no idea what she was doing, making out with Sam had been exciting. ... Meg drew an uneven breath. She could even look back now on the inevitable fumbling, painful outcome with a certain nostalgia. At least when Sam was laboring inside her—Oh,God, Meggie, you’re so tight—she’d felt like a necessary part of the process." p.161
How did you react to that description? Did you find their reactions believable?

6. What were Sam's strengths and weaknesses as a romantic hero?

7. How are Tom Fletcher and Carl Grady alike? How are they different? How does Carl's "hard-assed, hard-charging approach to business and to life" affect Sam personally and professionally? Do you think it has an impact on his relationship with Meg?

8. How did Meg's interactions with the secondary characters (Josh, Cynthie, Taylor) affect your perceptions of her?

9. Did Taylor change or grow over the course of the book? How do you feel about her story arc being unresolved at the end?

10. How do you feel about Meg's final decision regarding her career?

Bonus question :-) - The next story is about the youngest Fletcher sibling, Luke (Carolina Man, March 2014).

Who do you think the heroine will/should be?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Help choose Allison Carter's wedding dress!

Allison Carter is getting married! And I need your help choosing her wedding dress. Please visit my Facebook author page by midnight on Saturday, August 31, to make your choice and be entered in a  drawing to receive an autographed copy of Allison's story, Carolina Home OR one of my Sweet Home, Carolina ebooks.
And thanks for your help!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! The Passion of Patrick MacNeill


Her hands stilled on the shoulder strap. She looked out at the moon- and fluorescent-washed parking lot. “What? “

He shifted on the seat beside her, checking to see if Jack still slept, and his knee brushed her thigh. With the engine shut off, the car’s interior was warm and close and very silent.

“I respect that you don’t have room for a grand passion in your life. Neither do I. Thing is,” he continued slowly, “I’m already spending too much time thinking about you. Wanting you. Imagining how it could be between us. Maybe it would be less...distracting for us both if we found out.”

She turned to face him, choosing indignation over the quaking in her stomach. “Are you suggesting we sleep together to get it out of our systems?”

“That’s one way to put it. Neither one of us wants a complicated relationship in our lives.”

With an effort, she kept her voice low, to avoid waking the child in the back. “And am I supposed to be flattered by this limited offer?”

He shook his head, his smile gleaming in the darkness. “Not flattered. Interested, maybe.” She was interested, all right. More tempted and more scared than she’d ever been in her life. She folded her hands tightly together in her lap to disguise their shaking. “I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.”

“Kate.” His deep voice was gentle. “I don’t want to hurt you. I like you. But you need to know up front how things are with me. I may want you until my teeth ache with it, but Jack is the center of my life right now. If that’s not enough for you, if I misunderstood you, just tell me no.”

Her nails dug into the backs of her hands. Kate had long ago accepted that she wasn’t the kind of woman men wanted to marry. Wade, brutally breaking their understanding, had gone so far as to suggest she wasn’t the kind of woman men wanted, period. But Patrick wanted her. And maybe she owed it to herself, just once, to experience a man like Patrick MacNeill.

From THE PASSION OF PATRICK MACNEILL, now on Kindle and Nook

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! The Temptation of Sean MacNeill

Rachel pushed open the screen door, blinking against the flood of sunshine that slanted under the eaves of the porch and poured over the driveway. A dark blot formed in the center of the brightness, taking on shape and substance and power. A man’s shape, she identified a moment later, lifting something—a box—from the back of a truck. Sean MacNeill, in a T-shirt with the arms ripped out and a faded baseball cap, moving like Apollo in the heart of fire.

Her knees, her spine and her jaw all sagged. She caught herself reacting to him for a moment purely as woman to man, warmed by the glow of his tall, dark and blatantly sexy good looks. It was totally involuntary. It was... stupid, she reminded herself.

Doug’s death had trapped her in a high-stakes game with uncertain rules and her children’s future on the table. A joker like Sean MacNeill wouldn’t help her odds at all. But, goodness, he was gorgeous to watch.

He saw her. Setting down the box, he straightened, pushing back the brim of his cap with his forearm. His slow smile thumped into her midsection and quivered like an arrow. “Hey, beautiful.”

“Oh, please.” She flapped her hand. “You can call me Rachel.”

“Rachel.” He lingered wickedly over the name, rolling it in his mouth like something delicious. “Well, it suits you. But then, so does ‘beautiful.’”

She was amused. “Me, and everyone else you know?”

He came up to the porch, all long bones and male muscle, and tipped back his head to look at her. Her heart actually fluttered. “How do you figure that?” he asked.

“Well, for a man who must spend his time in the company of a lot of women, ‘beautiful’ is convenient. I mean, it saves you the trouble of remembering who you’re...” Rolling off of, she thought. “With,” she finished.

From The Temptation of Sean MacNeill Available for Nook and Kindle.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cover reveal! CAROLINA MAN

Author squee! It's Luke's book cover!(Pub date March 2014)

Isn't it gorgeous? Wonderful artist Tony Mauro did the art.

Fun fact: Tony also did the trade illustration for Stephen King's Under the Dome.

Does that put my cover six degrees of separation from fame? Or only two?

Anyway, I'm thrilled!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Freebie Friday Giveaway! SUMMER GIRLS and CAROLINA GIRL

I've got a SIGNED copy of Mary Alice Monroe's THE SUMMER GIRLS to give away along with a signed copy of CAROLINA GIRL. Leave me a comment on my Facebook page to enter the drawing!

I'll pick a winner Sunday night.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June Newsletter - Carolina Girl release day!

Carolina Girl, on sale today! At Amazon ~ B&N ~ IndieBound

Smart, ambitious Meg Fletcher had a major crush on her brother's best friend, Sam Grady. But back in high school, Meg had places to go, and Sam had things to prove, and except for one disastrous New Year's Eve, she never acted on her attraction.

Years later, in the wake of her company's restructuring, Meg is back in her family home on beautiful Dare Island to nurse her wounds and plot her corporate comeback. The last thing she needs complicating her life and her plans is Sam, all grown up and irresistible as ever.

But this time Sam is determined to make Meg notice him...

Carolina Girl is a reunion story, about first times – first crush, first sex, first big, big mistake – and second chances. It's about our fears of turning into our mothers and our discovery that maybe Mom isn't exactly the person we thought she was. It's about Meg and Sam. I hope you enjoy their story.

Happy reading!

Thank you for your support. It means more than I can say.

Visit with me, Mariah Stewart, Carly Phillips, Kristan Higgins, Susan Andersen, and Jesse Hayworth as we chat on the USA Today Happy Ever After blog about the reasons we love contemporary romance. http://usat.ly/17ljsgj

Want more Dare Island?

Click here to read an excerpt of Carolina Home about Meg's brother, charter boat captain Matt Fletcher. Matt is a stand up guy, a single dad--quiet, steady, tough, and sexy as hell. He’s the one who stayed behind, the man who’s put his own dreams on hold in support of his family. He keeps his love life uncomplicated and his heart intact by following two rules: No dating island women. And no serious relationships. Of course, all that changes when pretty young schoolteacher Allison Carter comes to the island and challenges both his son’s school performance and Matt’s notions of what his own life can be.

and in March 2014 look for Luke's story, Carolina Man!

Thanks for reading!

I hope you'll stay in touch!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Carolina Girl - TWO big giveaways!

I'm doing TWO big giveaways to celebrate the upcoming release of CAROLINA GIRL on Tuesday, June 4!

The lovely ladies of Book Binge are giving away a copy of Meg and Sam's story. Contest Ends: 6/4/13 (release day!) @11:59pm. US Only. Enter by leaving a comment at Book Binge, here.

And at Plot Monkeys, fabulous Carly Phillips is sponsoring a big beach giveaway - beach book, beach towel, and beach tumbler!

Leave a comment at the Plot Monkeys blog here. Winner announced Sunday.

Good luck! Happy summer and happy reading!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"I’m here if you need anything," Sam said.

Meg narrowed those shining blue eyes. “Like what?”

He shrugged. “An ear. A shoulder.”

“Thanks, but . . .”

“A full-body naked rubdown.”

That choked a laugh from her. He watched, satisfied, as some of the tension drained from her shoulders. “I can do without the extraneous body parts, thanks.”

“Anytime,” he said sincerely. “You let me know if you change your mind.”

And tried not to imagine her tight, compact body, round and responsive under his hands. Under him.

“In your dreams, Slick.”

Probably. Tonight, for sure.

He shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Tomorrow?” She looked wary, like he was coming over to make good on that full-body naked massage.

“To work on the ramp.”

“Oh. Yes. Good idea.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “I’d take that as a compliment if you didn’t sound so surprised.”

“I meant it as one.” An actual smile this time. “I appreciate you doing this for Mom.”

“Not just for your mother.”

“And Matt.”

Matt was his best, his oldest friend. Sam shook his head. “Not only for Matt.”

She pressed her full lips together. “You’re not doing it for me.”

He didn’t answer right away. He owed the Fletchers, Tom and Tess, more than he could say. Their home had been his refuge throughout high school, an escape from his stepmother’s moods and his old man’s tirades. Tom had taught Sam to change the oil in his first car. Tess had taken him in and treated him as one of her own, equally quick with a cookie or a scold. He would have done a damn sight more for either of them than build a ramp.

But his feelings for Meg were mixed in there, too, a potent brew of attraction and regret.

He smiled at her with intent.

“Oh, no,” she said. “You don’t even know me anymore. There’s nothing between us but one lousy hookup and some memories.”

He took his hands out of his pockets. Nothing between them? “Let’s see,” he suggested and made his move.

Carolina Girl, coming June 4 from Berkley Sensation

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! Carolina Girl

“Want to come?”

Meg’s heart gave an extra thud. She met Sam’s gaze as his question hung on the air, heavy with expectation. She wanted to say yes, she realized, dismayed. Yes, to the building supplies. Yes, to going with him. Yes, to pretty much anything he proposed that would get her out of this kitchen and away from the career coach’s stupid questions.

So take a break. You need a little fun.

No. The sooner she finished the assignment, the sooner she could begin the real work of finding a job. She wasn’t abandoning her schedule to go joyriding around the island with the Boy Who Had Everything.

She dug in her heels, resisting the tug of temptation. “I’m not scavenging materials off a construction site. I’m perfectly capable of buying what we need.”

“Think of it as close proximity sourcing. This isn’t about money, Meggie. It’s about time and energy. A trip to the mainland and back would cost me a couple of hours and half a tank of gas. This is quicker. Get in, get out. No problem.”

Okay, she could accept his reasoning. To a point. Time is money, Derek was fond of saying. In their relationship, household chores and errands were calculated and divided as neatly as the monthly utilities. So many minutes to unload the dishwasher or carry the trash to the garbage chute, so many hours to pay the bills or wait for the super or pick up the dry cleaning . . .

Sam wasn’t anything like Derek. Maybe, in this one instance, that was a good thing. “At least let me reimburse you for the cost of the materials.”


She was forced to be blunt. “Look, I don’t want to owe you any favors.”

“Consider it payback.”

“For what?” The instant the words escaped her mouth, she wished she could snatch them back. What did she want him to say? For being drunk? For taking everything you offered? For not calling you the next day or for weeks afterward? They were too old for any of that to matter now.

And if he apologized again, after all these years, she would hit him.

Carolina Girl, coming June 4 from Berkley Sensation

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teaser Tusday! The Reforming of Matthew Dunn

It seems only right in honor of the 2013 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart and RITA announcements (yay! congratulations, guys!) to post an excerpt from my 1998 Golden Heart winner. Enjoy!

Matt turned the pickup onto the rundown street he was forced to call home for the next three months. A half-starved cat ran for the bushes alongside an empty house. An old man, well wrapped against the chill, sat motionless on his porch. Three boys hung on the corner, watching with hostile eyes as the Chevy passed.

Matt found himself scanning the lot across from his place for a boyish figure with red hair. She wasn’t there. Pulling into the drive, he told himself he was glad. He didn’t need the hassles. He didn’t want the woman, any woman, even one with sunlight in her hair and the earth’s warmth in her smile and the devil’s own determination. And then he caught his eyes in the rearview mirror taking one last, quick check across the street, and his mouth quirked up.


Movement pulled his attention to the front of his house. His cop’s instincts went on alert. Someone crouched on the other side of the concrete steps, half hidden by a screen of bare- branched bushes. Vandal or robber? Matt’s lips compressed. He wasn’t wearing his shoulder holster. His gun was in the house under lock and key.

Stiffly, he got out of the car, never taking his eyes from the kneeling intruder. His boots crunched on the graveled drive. For all his size, he knew how to move quietly, but it was better if his unknown visitor heard him coming. He didn’t want to startle the guy into firing.

The jean-clad rump wiggled. Matt stepped away from the vehicle, arms loose, hands ready, and slammed the car door.

A dark head wearing an Atlanta Braves cap popped into view above the steps.

“Damn,” said Richie Johnson. “You trying to give me a heart attack?”

Matt felt his tension ease even as he tamped down his irritation. “What are you doing here?”

The kid waved a muddy trowel. “Planting.”

“Planting what?”

“Flowers, man.” His tone was defensive.

Matt grinned. So, real men didn’t plant flowers. He approached the porch. Soiled clumps of squiggly roots dotted the ground. A line of holes edged the bush in front of the boy. Tan sticks stuck up like grave markers from mounds by the house.

“I don’t want flowers.”

Richie shrugged. “Don’t tell me. Tell her.”

Matt didn’t have to ask who her was. “Where is she?”

“Back of her house. She keeps digging stuff up and bringing it over for me to put in,” he confided, faintly aggrieved.

Matt glanced across the street. Sure enough, here came Tinkerbell, slim arms corded with the weight of the pots she carried, small breasts outlined by her earth first T-shirt. He noticed her nipples. In spite of the sun, the air was chilly. She ought to have on a jacket.

Squashing his involuntary pleasure at the sight of her, he rested his weight on his whole left leg, hooked his thumbs in his back pockets, and waited for her explanation.


Now available for Nook and Kindle

Friday, March 22, 2013

Freebie Friday! Hank Phillipi Ryan's THE OTHER WOMAN

Hank Phillipi Ryan's THE OTHER WOMAN is collecting awards like Easter eggs. 

I was lucky enough to see Hank last weekend at the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference. (That's me in the pink scarf; Hank is the tall and typically well-turned out blond in the black jacket.) 

Visit my Facebook page and leave a comment below the Freebie Friday post between now and midnight Sunday, March 24, to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of THE OTHER WOMAN. Winner announced Monday!

Good luck, happy weekend, and happy reading!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! from MAD DOG AND ANNIE

Maddox watched Ann walk away from him—Annie, with her grave, sweet eyes and her small, serious smile and her skin so fine a look could bruise it—feeling like he’d just been socked in the chest. Enjoy his meal? He’d be lucky if he could even taste it.

Hell. He’d stayed away for twelve lousy years, and she was separated.

He slid out from behind the table, overtaking her before she reached the hostess station.

“How long?” he demanded.

She slapped a receipt on the spindle by the cash register, her movements quick and agitated. “What are you talking about?”

He caught her elbow. “How long since you and Rob broke up?”

Broke up. Shit. Now he even sounded like some high school moron.

She turned, her face white. “Let go of my arm.”

He loosened his grip. “Just tell me how long.”

“A year. Let go of me.”

Her eyes were dark and enormous, the pupils nearly swallowing the green. Damn. He was thirty-one years old, a veteran cop, a sergeant, and the sight of the woman could still reduce him to a raging lump of testosterone. He released her abruptly.

Beneath her neat white blouse, her breasts rose and fell with her breath. “I have work to do,” she said clearly. “Customers. Would you please leave me alone?”

Customers. Right. He glanced around the dining room. People were staring. Bag lady Baggett had practically fallen into her plate in her eagerness to eavesdrop. And over by the kitchen door, the Misses Minniton were glaring at him as if he’d firebombed their garage sixteen years ago instead of merely throwing up into their rosebushes after drinking too much beer one hot August night.

“Sure thing, darlin’. You don’t have to ask me twice.”

Oh, now, that was cool. He sauntered back to his table, feeling like an idiot, and sat with his back to the wall so he could keep an eye on the room and on Annie. Gladys Baggett met his gaze and smiled, very tentatively. He stared back until she reddened beneath her makeup and looked away.

“Catfish sandwich,” the waitress said, sliding it expertly in front of him. “Will there be anything else?”

Her smile, wide and white against her honey-gold skin, suggested there could be. Not everybody in Cutler remembered him as the town screw-up. Of course, the waitress probably didn’t remember him at all. She must have been skipping rope on the playground when he’d left home.

“No. Thanks.”

He picked up the sandwich, looking over the thick sliced bread at Annie seating guests on the other side of the room. From a distance, she looked sixteen again, too skinny and so pretty with her quick, neat movements and shy smile. Her smooth light brown hair still brushed her shoulders when she walked, and she still had the nervous habit of tucking it behind one ear. From a distance, he couldn’t see the faint lines bracketing her mouth or the wariness in her eyes.

She didn’t come near his table again. Well, she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t want anything to do with him, any more than she had in high school. His fault, he acknowledged, coming on to her like a gorilla on Viagra. Again.

The catfish tasted like paste in his mouth. He needed a cigarette. Dropping a couple bills on the table, he made his way to the cash register, choosing a moment when Ann was ringing up another customer and couldn’t avoid him.


She took his receipt and busily punched some buttons on the register. “How was your lunch?”

“Fine. Look, I—”

“I’ll tell Val. She’ll be glad you enjoyed it.” She handed him his change, not quite meeting his gaze.

He was suddenly, unreasonably ticked off. Maybe once upon a time, in a dumb effort to win his father’s notice, he had run wild. But he’d never done anything to make Ann afraid of him. Only that one October night... And he’d stayed away from her after that, hadn’t he?

“Maybe I’ll be back for dinner,” he said.

She looked at him directly then, and her eyes that he remembered as the color of spring grass were cool and sharp as a broken beer bottle. There was a bump in the bridge of her nose he didn’t remember at all.

“We’re closed for dinner Monday through Thursday,” she said. “But I can make a reservation for the weekend if you like.”

“Never mind. I might not be around then.”

Just for a second, her pretty lips parted, and his heart revved in his chest like a dirt-track race car. And then she hit him with her fake, hostessy smile, and he knew he’d been imagining that brief moment of regret.

“That’s too bad,” she said.

“I’ll get over it,” he drawled. So, they both were lying. He wasn’t about to admit his breath still backed up in his lungs every time he looked at her. “Goodbye, Maddox.”

She didn’t have to tell him twice.

* * *

Now available for Nook and Kindle

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesday! from Carolina Girl

Coming June 4, 2013

Sam remembered the summer Meg’s father had moved his family back into the old house falling down above the bay. Sam’s home life that year had sucked. Stepmom number two—pretty blond Julie, with her magazines and manicures—had moved out at Christmas, and before the school year was even over, Angela, broody, moody, and already pregnant, had been installed in her place. Once Sam might have been excited over the idea of a half sibling, but not then. He was fifteen, for Christ’s sake. It was embarrassing, having a father who couldn’t keep it in his pants sticking it to a woman twenty years younger.

The old man, of course, had swollen up like a bullfrog over this evidence of his mojo. You better watch yourself, boy, he said to Sam. Got yourself a little brother or sister now coming up behind you. That’s half your inheritance.

It made Sam sick.

That afternoon he’d escaped on his bicycle, taking his time going home after killing a couple of hours on the beach. It wasn’t like anybody would miss him. It was lame, not having a car. The old man had promised Sam a new Jeep Wrangler when he turned sixteen, but with all the fuss over the baby coming, who knew what would happen? So Sam straddled his bike at the bottom of the drive near the rental truck, watching the new family move in: a quiet boy about his own age, with big hands and shoulders; a skinny girl maybe a couple years younger; and a happy little kid who barreled in everybody’s way.

The front screen slammed. The girl came out of the house and down the walk. Sam was making a study of breasts that summer, as many as he could see up close or get his hands on. This girl was too young and too thin to have much of his new favorite thing, but he liked the way she moved, quick and determined. Her hair was dark and short and shiny.

She caught him watching and looked straight at him instead of down and away like most girls. Her head cocked at a challenging angle. “What are you looking at?”


He flushed. “Nothing.”

Her brother came up behind her and laid a hand on her shoulder. Sam jerked his chin in a silent what’s-up.

The boy gave him a cool look and a nod in reply. “Come on, Meggie. We’ve got stuff to do.”

The mother approached from the house. “Matt? Who’s this?”

She looked the way a mother was supposed to look, Sam thought, her dark hair slightly frizzy with humidity, smile lines at the corners of her eyes.

“Sam Grady, ma’am.”

The smile lines deepened, just like he knew they would. Moms—other moms, not his own—liked being called ma’am. “Nice to meet you, Sam Grady. I’m Tess Fletcher. There are sodas in the cooler if you’re thirsty.”

“When you’re done standing around jawing,” barked a voice from inside the orange-and-white truck, “I could use a hand with this couch.”

Sam and the boy, Matt, jumped forward at the same time.

And when the rental truck was empty and the boxes piled in every room, Tess Fletcher had invited Sam to dinner.

For the next four years, until he and Matt went away to college, Sam had hung out at the Fletchers’ every chance he got, shooting hoops with Matt in the driveway, scraping paint off the old windowsills, making himself agreeable, making himself useful, doing anything so they would let him stay, so he could pretend to be one of them.

Until he fucked everything up.

Nobody knew. Meg never told. But his guilt and her silence had created a wall, an invisible barrier between them.

He had a chance to fix things now. He wasn’t going to blow it.

Preorder it now at B&N and Amazon

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday!


MacNeill stayed out of her way. To reward him, she selected the two largest cinnamon buns and dropped them on a plate.

“Anything else?” She smiled at him.

Conn’s sexual response was instant and unwelcome. Holy saints. Val Cutler stood before him in jeans and a soiled cook’s apron, and he reacted as if she were naked. Above the line of the bib, he could make out the name of her restaurant, stenciled over her breast. She was flushed and messy, her braided hair springing loose around her face, a faint sheen of sweat above that full upper lip.

He wanted her mouth.

Dammit, the woman wasn’t even his type. He preferred them sleek and smooth and elegant. And right now, he’d prefer no distractions at all. He needed Edward Cutler’s recommendation more than he wanted his daughter.

“Something to drink?” he suggested levelly.

“Iced tea?”

His mother Bridget sometimes drank tea, Irish Breakfast steeped strong enough to stain the cup. The MacNeill men all drank coffee. The one time Conn had tried the Southern brew—at a rest stop outside Petersburg, where he’d been forced to pour more oil into his thirsty car—it had coated his teeth like flavored corn syrup.

“The sweet stuff?” he asked cautiously.

“No. I use a herbal blend. Raspberry, mostly.”

Worse and worse.

“Fine. I’ll give it a shot.”

She busied herself with a glass and ice. “Here you go. Thirty-five gallons brewed fresh every morning.”

He could see the marks of her warm fingers against the cold, cloudy glass. To test himself, to test her, he deliberately brushed her hand as he took it from her. Her fingers were slim and wet.

She gave him a freezing look. Conn grinned at his own conceit. Apparently his libido was safe with her, after all.

The Comeback of Conn MacNeill, available for Kindle and Nook!