“A Measured Risk (Regency Risks Book 1)” by Natasha Blackthorne #Spotlight

A Few of My Favorite Things

Historical Romance Month continues this week on Nesie’s Place with the work of author Natasha Blackthorne in the spotlight! Natasha’s Fashionably Impure and Intimate Secrets series will be featured.

A Measured Risk cover

“A Measured Risk (Regency Risks Book 1)”

Genre: Historical Romance/Victorian/Gothic

Release Date: September 26, 2013

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He is her most dangerous temptation and now he is demanding her submission. Dare she take the risk?

Emotionally scarred in the horrific accident that took her husband’s life, Lady Cranfield is imprisoned by her lingering terror of horses and carriages. She longed to be closer to the fascinating Earl of Ruel. She sensed intuitively that he could teach her how to overcome the terrors that held her in bondage.

And now she’s willing to risk almost anything-her reputation, even her virtue-to find out. But what he proposes startles her.

When the shy, studious and socially awkward young widow approached him, Ruel instantly sensed she would be the sweetest, most submissive experience of a lifetime-if only he can gain her total and complete trust. He makes her a non-negotiable offer. His help in return for her submission and obedience.

But Lady Cranfield grew up neglected by her ducal parents, raised by servants and then later ignored by her handsome, charming husband. She’s learnt to protect her heart at all costs and she trusts no one but herself.

How can the jaded Earl of Ruel break through her self-protective defences and show her how to love when he has spent his lifetime avoiding that tender trap?

Erotica Romance ~ Light BDSM ~ Rubenesque / BBW ~ Regency Historical ~ Character Driven Story ~ Drama ~ Shy Heroine ~ Novel Length 86,000 Words

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Excerpt from A Measured Risk by Natasha Blackthorne ©Copyright 2013

She backed all the way into the bookcase.

“Why did you run away?” His deep voice settled in her belly, rich and warm, like crème brûlée on a cold winter’s night.

“Because I wanted you to follow.” She tried to sound sophisticated and seductive, but her voice choked off on the last word.

Ruel placed his hand on the shelf above her head and blocked her path to the door. His tall, solidly muscled body leaned over her, surrounding her with the sumptuous, sinful scents of tobacco, Scotch whisky and something masculine and undeniably dangerous. A slow, sensual smile stretched his hard mouth.

He appeared different. Softer. More approachable.

At the change, her insides seemed to flip over.

“Well, sweeting, getting us off alone was a very inspired idea.” He touched one of her fallen ringlets. “I am bored to distraction with endless talk of hunting and fencing.”

As he slowly wrapped the curl around two fingers, he brushed her collarbone. Fiery sparks tingled down her spine, so intense that she shivered and her nipples beaded, pressing against her stays. By some instinct she hadn’t even known she possessed, she arched her back, presenting herself for his assessment.

His eyes shone so vividly blue against his bronzed face that they resembled cornflowers. She swallowed tightly and wished for a long drink of claret. This more personal side of him suddenly seemed far more hazardous than his usually fierce exterior.

Well, no matter. There was nothing to fear. She would allow only as much contact as need be to get to know him a little. Since being torn from her lonely yet secure life in Ireland and thrust into Society at age sixteen, she’d spent her time allowing people only as near as was comfortable. She was an expert at emotional evasion.

It should be easy to regain her control.

But now, as rays of the late-afternoon sun played over his pale hair, turning it the colour of winter wheat, all her carefully rehearsed words flew from her mind.

Say something—anything—else he will think you’re a bird-wit.

An intimate smile, one that invited her to play, tugged at his mouth.

“In a situation like this, alone with a gentleman, it’s perfectly normal for a lady to feel some apprehension.” His hushed voice, barely audible above the piano and boisterous singing from down the corridor, accentuated their isolation. His gaze became so piercing that she had to lower her eyes.

He brushed his fingertips over her cheek. “She will invariably ask herself if he will try to kiss her.”

She jerked her eyes back to his face. God, he couldn’t mean to—not yet, surely… Peculiar, heated chills swept over her. She tried to take a step back, but found her bottom flush against the bookshelf.

He leaned closer; so close that his Scotch-scented breath tickled her face. “And just in case you are wondering, Lady Cranfield—the answer is most assuredly yes.”

She should demand that he put his arm down so she could pass by and leave. She really should. But she couldn’t stop looking at his hard mouth and wondering what it would feel like upon hers. He was so close to her that his breath blew on her lips. If she moved but a fraction, she’d be kissing him.

Kissing him.

Dear God. Her breaths began to come very fast and short. Her throat went tight with a suppressed moan.

His eyes burnt as brightly as aquamarines. He looked so fierce. If he kissed her, if he dared… Oh God, it would be so harsh. That cruel-looking mouth could express itself no other way.

Excitement rushed through her, sending tingles to every point of her body, even her toes.

But no, he wouldn’t. Not yet.

He kept leaning closer. He didn’t close his eyes. Instead, he seemed to focus all the harder upon her.

Her heart pounding, unable to move away, she braced herself for his assault.

His lips brushed hers, barely. A gossamer caress.

He lifted his head.

It was done.

Ended.

And it hadn’t even begun.

He held her chin, appearing so cool, so unaffected. His kiss had seemed to sear her. An urge to put her fingers to her lips arose in her. She resisted it, for it would give away too much of how she was affected.

Never show your feelings.

He traced his thumb along her lower lip, slowly, deliberately, as he studied her with eyes that now glittered with something powerful and predatory. Heat pooled in her pelvis, low and spreading even lower.

She went weak all over, as if she’d lain in a sunny window seat for too long. Her knees almost buckled. She forced them to lock. To be strong.

It should not have affected her so profoundly. It had been just a peck—not a true kiss at all. William had poured out all of his skill upon her and hadn’t garnered even a tenth of the reaction in her that this man’s peck had.

Ruel traced her jaw line with his fingertips. Unthinkingly, she leaned in to his touch.

“Of course, once he has kissed her, then it’s his turn to wonder…” His voice sounded unnaturally loud in her ears. “How will she respond? Will she withdraw, or can he ignite some hidden fire?”

She sensed that he was toying with her. She didn’t understand flirtation—why had she imagined she could carry off this ruse? Was he making advances in order to have a laugh with Francesca and her simpering friends later? Hurt blossomed in her chest. She resented him for that. She ought to feel indignant, superior, uncaring—anything but hurt.

“Please don’t make sport of me.”

She cringed. Was that quavering, pleading voice really hers?

An infinitesimal pause. “Now, why on earth would I do such a thing?” His voice was as smooth as velvet.

“To please your vanity,” she replied, trying to regain her wits.

“Here.” He placed her hand to his chest. The contours of his muscles were hard, powerfully developed. Even more so than she’d expected. His body heat radiated through the satin and, beneath her hand, his heart’s beat was rapid and strong.

“Is that vanity?” He put a finger under her chin, giving her no choice but to face him. “Is it?” He gentled his grip.

The warmth in his voice settled over her like luscious hot chocolate. Melting her insides to quivering burgoo, rendering her speechless, unable to move.

“My dear, lovely Lady Cranfield, I am going kiss you again.”

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Felicia’s Review

March 7, 2015

5/5 Stars!

Fantastic Read!

After a carriage accident, Lady Anne Bourchier, Countess of Cranfield, witnesses the death of her husband, and subsequently has a soul wrenching fear of carriages and horses. As this is the only mode of land transportation, she becomes a virtual prisoner on the her former estate, now run by her late husband’s cousin. Anne desperately needs to overcome her fears for several reasons, one being the horse farm inherited from her father…in Ireland. She can’t very well get there, or run it while her fears have firm control over her.

She turns to Jonathan Lloyd, Earl of Ruel, one of the new Earl’s guests for a two week hunt. Impressed by his powerful presence, Anne is convinced he could help her overcome the fear no one else but her hand maiden knows about. After a fainting spell, Anne confesses her problem to Ruel and asks for his help. As one who’s given up on love, Jonathan’s first thought is to walk away and not be bothered with the silly young woman. But his protective nature takes over when he sees the fear deep inside Anne, and knows it’s not just carriages and horses that are her problem. Even though he’s committed to a future marriage of convenience, he decides to help her overcome her fear…in exchange for her total submission to him for thirty days. As the only child of two emotionally distant parents, Anne was literally raised by servants, and has learned to trust only herself, mask her feelings and guard her heart. She should be able to handle the Earl for 30 days.

What ensues is a battle of wills and emotions. Jonathan seeks to take advantage of Anne’s submissive nature and she is more than willing. While the sex scenes are more than a little steamy and well written, this story is about so much more than sex. They each believe they know themselves, but as the month unfolds, personal revelations – and in Anne’s case…epiphanies – are numerous. And, they’re both determined to get what they want from the other without involving their hearts.

Anne and Jonathan are both very likable. There are times when Anne is annoying and irritating, and Jonathan is nothing less than a jerk. But we come to understand their motivations (or lack of), and still want them to work past their differences. Just when we believe things are settled though, MORE truths are revealed!

Several supporting characters pass through, each more deliciously vile than the last. Of note, there is Kean, who served with Jonathan during the war, and Maria, Jonathan’s bride to be. In my world, they both go over a cliff in a tragic carriage accident, and good riddance. However, they do have important parts to play, so we suffer in silence…for now.

This story does continue in book 2, Trust Me, but there is NO cliffhanger. The author selected an excellent ending point that gives the reader a chance to exhale and get ready for the rest of the story.

Plot and character development are spot on, which makes it easy to get deeply invested in these people and their story. This is not a historical romance to be missed.

(I was gifted an ecopy of A Measured Risk from the author during a book chat party in December 2014.)

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Natasha is sponsoring a Rafflecopter where THREE lucky winners will score books! Enter today!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Natasha BlackthorneEscape into the past with intensely erotic, emotionally driven love stories. Natasha Blackthorne writes character-focused historical erotica romance featuring strong internal conflicts played out in non-traditional and unconventional situations. Her stories are most frequently about the intimate journey of the characters as they learn to open their hearts to love.

Her heroines are not perfect ladies. They are wildflowers and wallflowers who enjoy flirting with the forbidden. Whether they are bold or shy, her heroines’ strong desires and deep emotions drive the plot and drive their heroes to the point of no return.

“I haven’t been disappointed with a Natasha Blackthorne historical romance as of yet…the men, yes..they are strong and dominant, but they also support their women in everything. These men are written with strength and purpose… Thank you Natasha for helping me love historical romance once again.” ~ Salacious Reads

“Natasha Blackthorne has become one of my favorite authors, I love her wonderfully sweet, strong, terribly damaged characters.” ~ Kimberly, a reader.

 

 

 

 

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Only 5 days left! Historical Romance Month #Giveaway

A Few of My Favorite Things

Hope you’ve enjoyed Historical Romance Month here on Nesie’s Place. These amazing authors have given generously of their time and their work.

As the banner says, the books featured during May are a few of MY favorite things. So, on June 1st, I’ll share my favorite things with a random winner.

If you have commented on any historical romance spotlighted book post… you’re already entered. If not, what are you waiting for? Contest is open through May 31st.

The Prize? An ebook set of any historical romance series featured in May.

Option #1Nicola Davidson’s The London Lords and Fallen series

Option #2 – Lily Silver’s Reluctant Heroes Series

Option #3 – Maureen Driscoll’s The Kellingtons Series

Option #3A – Maureen Driscoll’s The Emersons Series

Option #4: Natasha Blackthorne’s Fashionably Impure, Intimate Secrets or Regency Risks

Someone is going to win some of my favorite reads… then we can be Besties! Will it be you?

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“A Fighting Chance” by Annie Stone #ChapterReveal

Coming June 5th
When Mackenzie meets Carter, it’s love at first sight. They have a blissful year together before trouble arrives. In the form of Carter’s two teenage sons.

When Hunter and Carey decide they want to live with their father in California, Mackenzie knows right away that she’s in for a tough time. And she couldn’t be more right.

The two boys show her on a daily basis that she’s not good enough for their dad. In fact, they make it quite clear their lives would be better without her. But could it be that Hunter has quite a different motive for hating her?
ONE
Mackenzie

I first met Carter on a Friday. I was standing talking to someone when he came in, and it was like every atom in the room was immediately drawn in his direction. The oxygen, the people, even the flowers turned their heads to look at him. His presence was so powerful I couldn’t help stepping a little closer. When his eyes met mine, an electric shock went through my body. I was literally glowing, and in that fraction of a second, I imagined what it would be like to be his woman. And then…
Nothing.
His eyes moved on to the next object, not even acknowledging my presence, leaving me absolutely crushed. I wasn’t worth a second look. Swallowing hard, I watched him walk over to Brittany, who had been in charge of interior design at his new company headquarters. I’d had nothing to do with the project—I was just here to support my best friend on what was going be a big evening for her.
And I had never felt as much contempt for anybody as I felt for her in that particular moment. Even though I loved her to pieces.
Carter Tilman, head of Tilman Finance Group, had occupied the number-one spot on our girls’ talk agendas the past few weeks. God, was he handsome, Brittany had told me so many times I’d started rolling my eyes at her. But now I saw him in the flesh. He was blond and blue-eyed, about six-foot-two and, from what I could see under his suit, well built. The perfect combination of sleek and edgy, he immediately made me imagine him being a somewhat less-than-perfect gentleman in private quarters.
But there he was, talking to Brittany! Not even giving me a second of his attention.
I kept watching him, inconspicuously following him around, trying to be near him. But not once did I manage to capture his attention. It made me feel small and insignificant. In his world, I didn’t even exist.
Just before midnight, Brittany signaled to me that she was done. With a slight sense of regret, I left. After all, there was no reason for me to stay. It would just make me sad.
Outside, I said goodbye to Brittany and her colleagues before walking over to my car. I was just about to open the door when somebody behind me said, “I was hoping to be introduced to you.”
Every molecule of my body strained toward him, but I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself, so I made a point of turning around slowly. “Really?” I asked, feigning disinterest.
He came closer, nodding. “You’re stunning. I just have to kiss you.”
And kiss me, he did. Our first kiss, which led to many others. Our first encounter, which turned into hundreds. Two lives fused into one.

Which leads me to the here and now, almost one year later.
“Are you excited?” he asks.
I nod, kneading my fingers. “Oh boy, am I excited,” I say in a strangled voice.
He laughs, quietly stroking my cheek. “Just don’t show any fear. They’re like predators. They can sense it.”
“Please tell me you’re joking!”
“I’m sure they’ll like you.”
“They” are his sons. Hunter and Carey. Ages seventeen and fifteen. I haven’t met them before because they live with their mother in Miami. But they’re coming to spend the summer with their dad in San Diego. And here I am. I can’t escape the inevitable, even though it scares the living daylights out of me. Seriously, I’ve never been this nervous, not even during finals week in college.
“Relax, sweetheart,” Carter says, reaching for my hand. He runs his fingers across my knuckles soothingly.
I look at him, trying to smile. It isn’t usually difficult, but today I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m meeting his sons. His teenage sons. I’m not even that much older than them… I’m twenty-five, and Carter is forty-three. Our age difference has never been a problem before, and people say age is just a number, but, come on—this just seems like a recipe for disaster.
“Here they are,” he says, pointing. Two tall boys who look a lot like Carter—and totally different at the same time—are walking across the baggage claim toward us.
Carey, the younger one, must be nearly six feet tall. He’s blond and blue-eyed like his dad. But while his father has a distinctly manly look about him, Carey brims with the beauty and energy of youth. His skin is spotless, which I take as a personal affront, because I still get zits in my mid-twenties.
Hunter is already taller than his father. He has close-cropped brown hair and brown eyes. His cheeks and chin are speckled with stubble, and for such a young man, he has a very masculine aura. The girls must be all over him. It’s true what they say. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
They’re both trying to appear cool, but I can tell they’re happy to see their dad. They each give him an affectionate hug, and he hugs them back happily. Carter has always seemed like a sexy bachelor to me, but seeing him with his sons is kind of cute.
“Okay, boys,” he says, putting his arm around me. “This is Mackenzie. Sweetie, meet Hunter and Carey.”
The boys’ bright faces darken, letting me know I don’t stand a chance. I stretch out my hand, and they do shake it, but they squeeze so hard I have to put effort into not screaming. “Nice to meet you,” I say, trying to sound cheerful.
Carter seems satisfied, at least. “Let’s go home. Mackenzie and I thought it’d be fun to have a barbecue.”
Carey turns his cold blue eyes away from me, defrosting them for his father. “Actually, we’re meeting up with some friends tonight, Dad.”
“Oh, well, why don’t we have dinner, then you can go?” Carter suggests cheerfully.
The boys seem mollified as their dad takes Carey’s bag and puts an arm around his shoulders, Hunter on his other side. They’re the perfect trio.
“Are you coming, sweetie?” Carter calls over his shoulder.
I follow them out of the airport, the lowly fourth wheel.
Back at the car, Hunter gets in front like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Carter looks irritated for a second but doesn’t say anything. Instead, he holds the back door open for me, and I silently climb into his Mercedes SUV.
Once behind the wheel, Carter is all cheer again. “What are your plans for the summer?” he asks.
“Friends, beach, babes,” Carey says automatically.
Hunter laughs. “In that order?”
Carey shrugs. “It’s not exactly a secret you go through all three of them like candy. Especially that last one.”
Carter throws his oldest a look. If I didn’t know better, I would think it was respect, but that’s impossible, right? Could a father be proud of his seventeen-year-old son’s sexual exploits? No. There must be something else behind that look.
Hunter turns around to grin at his brother. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, virgin.”
“TMI, thank you very much,” Carter says, and he actually sounds amused.
Hunter slouches down in his seat. “I thought you’d put those condoms there on purpose so we couldn’t help but find them.”
“Don’t corrupt your brother,” Carter laughs. “There’s still hope for him.”
“Did you hear that?” Hunter says. “You’re the good, normal, boring brother.”
“No, I’m not!” Carey leans forward to punch Hunter’s shoulder.
Hunter dodges it, laughing.
For some reason, I feel like I shouldn’t be here. They’re acting like I’m not here, anyway.
“Hey, boys, no punching,” Carter throws in. “Words are your weapons! You know the rules.”
“Hunter’s too stupid to use language as a weapon,” Carey grumbles.
“Stupid?” Carter repeats. “Was that report card a fake then?”
Hunter grins. “No need for that, Dad. Unlike Carey, I’ve got brains and looks.”
“Yeah, and your looks are shit!” Carey teases.
His brother turns around, looks straight at me, and then says to his brother, “I guess you want to spend the evening with Dad then…”
There’s a meaningful silence.
Carey looks at me for a second as well and then makes a cut-throat gesture with his hand, as if to threaten me, “They’re my friends, too.”
Hunter grins like a predator. “Be a good boy then.”
Carey snorts but doesn’t say anything.
I’m relieved when we get to the house—our house. Even though I know the toughest part is still ahead. Because the boys don’t know I’ve moved in with their dad. What on earth are they going to say when we tell them? It’s clear by now that they don’t hold back. And I don’t want those word-weapons trained on me…
Walking up the driveway, I look at the house like I always do. It’s huge, built for a large, happy family, and once again, I feel like an intruder. This is where they all used to live as a family. And now Carter lives here with a new woman. Me.
As soon as the boys get inside, they quietly claim the space around them. The house seems smaller with three big men in it.
“I’ll go fire up the grill, sweetie,” Carter says when I enter the kitchen.
I nod, and he gives me a hug, kissing me on the top of my head. Carey gives me a look so hostile I have to close my eyes, fighting back tears. I don’t want to show them how much they affect me.
As soon as Carter leaves, Carey steps in front of me. “Are you after our money?”
I give him an irritated look. “Excuse me?”
“Dad’s got a lot of dough. Is that what you’re after? Why else would you be with a guy twice your age?”
I’m speechless. Hunter nonchalantly leans against the fridge, not saying anything, but there’s something terrifying about the way he’s standing there all calm, his arms crossed in front of his chest. My eyes move from one brother to the other, and my mouth goes dry.
“Sweetie, can you bring out the steaks?” Carter calls from outside.
I swallow and glance at Hunter blocking the fridge. When I take one step toward him, he doesn’t budge. “Would you mind…”
He puts on his predator’s smile. “Would I mind what?”
“Moving over.”
He smiles down at me. “Say please.”
I want to tell him to fuck off but remind myself that he’s seventeen—and testing me. I can’t say to him what I would say to a twenty-five-year-old asshole in this situation. Pulling myself together, I give him my best unflinching look. “Would you please move over?”
He steps aside. “There you go, doll.”
Doll?
Do not react, I tell myself. Just ignore it. “My name is Mackenzie. Or Mac.” I silently curse myself. Great job! Now he knows it bothers me, so he’s never going to stop calling me that.
Flustered, I get the steaks from the fridge and take them outside.
Carter smiles at me. “Hey.” He pulls me closer for a kiss. “Is everything okay?”
I nod. “Yup. Just weird.”
He gives me a loving smile. “I know you guys are all going to get along great. I love having my three favorite people here with me.”
I snuggle up to him until he frees himself to put the meat on the grill.
“Hunt?” he calls inside. “Can you set the table out here, please?”
As the boys come out onto the porch with plates and cutlery, I go back to the kitchen to grab the sides I made earlier.
“You haven’t answered my question,” someone says behind me, and I flinch so hard I drop the bowl in my hands. My potato salad lands on the floor, and glass shards from the bowl fly through the air. One of them hits my shin, and I stare at the red drop trickling down my leg.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” Carter calls, rushing inside, alerted by the almighty crash I just made.
“Yeah.” I nod a little too fast. “Just dropped a bowl. Sorry.”
“No problem,” he says. He comes over, picks me up, and sets me down on the kitchen island before diligently picking up the shards and throwing the rest of the bowl in the trash.
As he begins to wipe the floor up, my manners kick in. “Hey, let me do that,” I say, starting to slide off the counter.
“Don’t worry, I’ll do it.” He smiles at me, and a knot in my heart dissolves. Carter. He loves me. I love him. That’s what I need to remember.
When he’s finished, he gets out a Band-Aid and carefully places it over the little cut on my leg. “There you go. All set. I hope Hunter didn’t burn the meat.”
“I heard that,” a voice calls from outside. “Like I’d make a mistake doing something as manly as grilling meat.”
Carter laughs and kisses me before we take the remaining sides outside. Once we’re all sitting at the table, Carter looks at both boys. “Weren’t you two talking about going to football camp this summer?”
“It doesn’t start for three weeks,” Carey reminds him. “And we’ll only be gone a week.”
“What positions do you play?” I ask, just to be part of the conversation. Truth be told, I already know Hunter plays wide receiver and Carey’s a second-string quarterback, which they proceed to politely tell me. In fact, as long as their dad’s around, they’re polite and reasonably friendly. They’re not going out of their way to make me comfortable, but it’s at least possible to talk to them. However, when Carter takes a call and disappears into the house, things change quickly.
“Answer my goddamn question,” Carey snarls.
Hunter just grins and leans back, crossing his arms in front of his chest again. In a few years, he’ll be a real giant. He’s already tall, and even though his muscles are pretty impressive for a teenager, I’m sure he’ll bulk up some more.
Realizing I’m on my own, I look back at Carey. “You can stop asking. Because it’s none of your business.”
He pulls a face. “So you are a gold digger then.”
I gather up all my courage. It’s difficult to remember I’m a confident woman with Hunter staring at me like I’m some insect he’s about to crush. He somehow manages to appear both cocky and laid-back at the same time—a skill most men do not attain in this lifetime. “I-I don’t want to argue with you,” I say, trying to keep my voice from wavering. “I want to get to know you both, and get along. I’m not here to cause trouble. I love your dad.”
“News flash, doll,” Carey says. “Just because you spread your legs for our dad doesn’t mean you can wrap us around your finger. Dad’s brought home a lot of women over the past three years. They all had one thing in common. You want to know what it is?”
I shake my head, but I didn’t really think that was going to stop him.
“They’re not here anymore.”
Like I said, I didn’t want to know. “Please don’t talk to me like that.”
“Like what?” Carey asks innocently.
“Condescendingly.”
“Hmm,” he says, like he’s mulling it over. “To be honest, I think I’m being pleasant.” He looks at Hunter like he’s waiting for instructions, but Hunter obviously doesn’t care to interfere.
And I don’t know how to react. What am I supposed to say? “I’ll tell your father”? That’s a sure-fire way of ruining whatever chance I might still have at building a relationship with them. Or should I tell them—again—that I don’t want them talking to me like that? Only to have them ridicule me again… Maybe I should get up and leave. But then they’ll think they can do whatever they want with me.
Fortunately, Carter returns then, but he’s wearing a frown. “That was your mom,” he tells the boys. “She wanted to know where you are.”
Their expressions change immediately. Carey suddenly looks guilty, while Hunter’s face hardens.
“She said she had no idea where you were,” Carter says, his voice stern. “She was worried.”
Carey looks at the floor, but Hunter snorts disbelievingly.
“Hunter,” Carter says, frustrated, running a hand through his hair. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
Hunter looks him directly in the eye. “We want to move back to San Diego.”
Carter looks stunned. “Excuse me?” he finally grinds out.
“You want me to say it again?” Hunter says.
Carter snorts. “Why?”
Hunter rolls his eyes. “You know Mom.”
“Yeah, what about her?”
Hunter runs a hand through his short hair. “She’s a mean drunk. And she brings home all kinds of men. It’s like living in a goddamn brothel.”
I swallow. I’d thought they couldn’t stand me because they loved their mom so much. But that’s apparently not it. They may have been treating me like dirt just a few seconds ago, but I can feel their pain now. No child should have to worry about whether a parent actually cares about them. I know that best of all.
Carter runs a hand over his face. “Hunter…”
“Come on, Dad! I know what you’re going to say. But we can’t stay there with Mom.”
Carter nods slowly. “Actually, you don’t know what I’m going to say.” He looks over at me quickly. “Mackenzie moved in with me a few weeks ago. So, this is her home now, too. If you two want to move back in, you have to get along with her, too.”
Carey gives his dad an exasperated look. “She moved in with you?”
“You have a problem with that?” Carter asks, and for the first time, he sounds slightly snappy.
“No,” his youngest mumbles.
“Hunter?”
“Anything’s better than staying in Miami,” he says.
Carter nods. “Mac?”
I give him a surprised look. “Yeah?”
“It’s your home, too. Are you okay with them moving in?” he asks.
“They’re your sons,” I say, even though I have to swallow before I finish my thought. “They’ll always be welcome here.” Deep inside, I thought it would be tough to spend ten weeks with them. But having them move in with us? It’s a whole different story. While Hunter’s about to start his last year of high school—and then he’ll be off to college or somewhere else—Carey would be with us for at least another three years.
Can I do this? It very well could be three years of hell lying ahead of me.
But, at this point, I’ll just have to wait and see.
Carter puts a hand on my shoulder and looks over at Hunter again. “If I let you move in here, I expect you to behave better than you did in Miami.”
Hunter and Carey both nod. “Promise,” they say in unison.
Carter snorts. Obviously, he doesn’t believe it. “Okay, we’ll still have to see. I’ll call your mom and let her know about your decision.”
“Awesome.” Hunter gets up. “Now, we’re out of here.”
“Be back at midnight,” Carter says.
“Dad, seriously?” Carey asks in the tone of a complete brat.
“You’re fifteen,” Carter responds.
“Hunter isn’t.”
“So Hunter can bring you back here at midnight and stay out another hour.”
“That’s totally unfair!” Carey whines.
Carter gives him a firm look. “What did you just say about good behavior?”
Carey gives him a sly smile. “You said better, not good.”
I struggle to keep a neutral face, because inside, I’m secretly applauding Carey. Carter though isn’t so impressed.
“Midnight,” he says.
“Can we take the car?” Hunter asks.
Carter nods. “Keys are on the table.”
They’re gone within a second.
“Rascals,” Carter says, sitting back down with me. He puts a hand on my leg. “Thank you, sweetie.”
“It’s your house, and they’re your sons. Of course they can move in with us.”
“It’s our house,” he corrects me gently.
I shrug. “Still.”
He runs a hand through his hair. “It’ll be different.”
“Sure.”
He looks at me. “What’s wrong?”
I’m kneading my fingers, and he zooms in on them. He knows I do this when I’m nervous, so there’s no point lying to him now. “They don’t like me,” I admit.
Carter nods slowly. “Give them some time. They’ve never seen me with another woman. Only with their mom. But it’ll be okay.” I realize then that he has no idea his sons actually know about every woman he’s ever dated.
“So, I guess they don’t have a great relationship with their mom?” I say, trying not to sound like I’m prodding.
Carter shakes his head. “Not anymore. They always did before. But then she cheated on me, and I left. She started drinking, and… I guess sometimes they still hold me responsible for it.”
I take his hand. “But it’s not your fault.”
He smiles wistfully. “I know. I couldn’t stay with her. But I’m sorry my boys got hurt.”
“You’re a great dad. They love and respect you.”
He nods. “They’ve always been my number-one priority.”
“Why did they stay with their mom?”
“It’s what they wanted. Lauren was not in a good place after the divorce, and Hunter always feels like he has to take care of people. Save them. He didn’t want to leave her alone, and Carey always does what Hunter does. I’m just glad he’s somewhat of a good role model.”
A faint smile flits across my lips. “So what trouble did they get into in Miami?”
Carter smiles. “Oh, man, they messed up a few times. Nothing serious, though. Hunter got in a few fights with his coach and had plenty of detention. And they were at a few parties that were broken up by the police. Carey was caught drunk once. I’d say it’s all pretty normal for their age. Judging by what my friends say, it could be much worse. Some kids are really out there. Hunter might be a bit of a hothead, but he’s sensible enough to make sure Carey’s always safe.”
“What if they don’t accept me?” I ask.
He strokes my hand. “It’ll be fine, sweetie. Don’t give up.”
I nod, even though I know I’m in for a rough ride.
I’m a contemporary romance writer, who likes her men tattooed, her women independent and her coffee strong.

My stories are all about love, but some are of the romantic kind, some of the sad kind and others of the very steamy kind. So if you can stand drama, foul language and sex, you came to the right place.

Love, Annie
Author Links

“Hunks to the Rescue: 18 Hot Contemporary Romance Novellas” by Various Authors #BlogTour #PreOrder

Title: Hunks to the Rescue
Authors: Margo Bond Collins, Krista Ames, Raine English, Tamara Ferguson, Aileen Harkwood, Lynda Haviland, Jody A. Kessler, Katie O’Sullivan, Constance Phillips, Stephanie Queen, Nancy Segovia, Emily Wilder, Jan Romes, Debbie White, Michelle Jo Quinn, Victoria Pinder, Deb Christie, Eli Grace, Janice Ross
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Get ready for a sexy, thrilling ride!

Who hasn’t fantasized about being rescued by a red-hot hunk? Indulge those fantasies with this box set of alpha rescuers who have a delicious talent for romance. 18 stand-alone novellas from New York Times and USA Today bestselling, and award-winning authors will steam up your nights and leave you begging for more.

Whether the hunk you lust for is military, a firefighter, first responder, FBI agent, cowboy, bad boy mafioso, or that sexy, everyday guy who plucks you from danger only to kiss you senseless, this bundle has your hero.

18 hunks. 18 heart-pounding rescues—17 brand-new, standalone stories. Get ready for a passionate and thrilling ride!

Pre-order your copy now from these retailers. Plus, we have a Buy One Box Set, Get One Box Set offer going on here through June 12. Pre-Order Hunks to the Rescue, and get Beyond Hunks for FREE now!

Hunks to the Rescue Website

Margo Bond Collins
https://margobondcollins.net/
https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins

Krista Ames
http://www.kristaames.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kristaamesauthor

Raine English
http://www.raineenglish.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RaineEnglish

Tamara Ferguson
http://www.kissedbyfate.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KissedByFate?ref=hl

Aileen Harkwood
http://aileenharkwood.blogspot.com/p/newsletter-sign-up.html
https://www.facebook.com/AileenHarkwoodAuthor/

Lynda Haviland
http://www.lyndahaviland.com/
https://www.facebook.com/lyndahaviland

Jody A Kessler
http://jodyakessler.com/
http://bit.ly/2qOfY28

Katie O’Sullivan
http://www.katie-osullivan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatieOSullivan

Constance Phillips
http://www.constancephillips.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ConstancePhillipsRomanceAuthor/

Stephanie Queen
http://stephaniequeen.com/
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieQueenAuthor/

Nancy Segovia
https://nancysegovia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/segovia.nancy/

Debbie White
https://www.authordebbiewhite.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DebbieWhiteBooks/

Author Quinn
https://quinnauthor.wixsite.com/quinnromancebooks
https://www.facebook.com/RomanceAuthorQuinn/

Emily Wilder
https://www.facebook.com/authoremilywilder
https://twitter.com/thewilderauthor

Victoria Pinder
http://www.victoriapinder.com
https://www.instafreebie.com/free/q21sO

Janice Ross
https://jgrwriter.com
https://m.facebook.com/jgrwriter

Eli Gace
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorEliGrace/

Deb Christie
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebChristie/

 

Pre-order your copy of Hunks to the Rescue (releasing June 13), and get a second box set FREE right now. Beyond Hunks includes 12 novels and novellas by the Hunks to the Rescue authors not normally published as a set, with a combined value of $26 individually. Don’t wait too long, however. This BOGO offer expires June 12, when Beyond Hunks will no longer be available. Details here: https://hunkstotherescue.com/box-set/

Orlando Universal Giveaway: We’re giving away a boatload of fantastic prizes during our pre-order giveaway, including a $700 Universal Orlando Theme Park Family 4-Pack, which includes 1 day passes to 2 parks and a special welcome at the park from Hunks to the Rescue author Lynda Haviland. To find out the details, click here https://hunkstotherescue.com/orlando-universal-giveaway/

Curated Writing Content

The great resources just keep coming! 😉

Story Empire

Content Curation treeAnother week has flown by, and with it comes another list of links to great industry content.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at Harmony Kent’s Harvesting the Crop of Your Writing (several tips for going from idea to published work) and Joan Hall’s If You Build It, Will They Come? (strategies for building fans). And when you’re done, explore the other industry links Story Empire authors found this week. Here they are:

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“Free, a Novella” by Felicia Denise #ChapterReveal

Release day approaches! 😮😀

Felicia Denise, Author

Free_full cover

“Free, a Novella”

Author: Felicia Denise

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: May 30, 2017

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Synopsis

Lenore Porter’s life had not gone as she planned.

The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.

The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.

But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.

Through health scares and severe family dysfunction and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness.

With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.

A short, final inspection of her former home turns into a confrontation with ghosts from the past, and decisions and events Lennie felt she’d dealt with and moved…

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“The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne (Intimate Secrets #1) by Natasha Blackthorne #Spotlight

A Few of My Favorite Things

Historical Romance Month continues this week on Nesie’s Place with the work of author Natasha Blackthorne in the spotlight! Natasha’s Fashionably Impure and Intimate Secrets series will be featured.

Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne cover

“The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne (Intimate Secrets #1)”

Genre: Historical Romance/Gothic/Scottish

Release Date: June 12, 2015

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Catriona, Lady Blayne is recovering from a most delicate situation. Driven to the brink of madness by love for her late husband, a young man too ill to meet the demands of the marriage bed, she teeters on the brink of scandal. Now she must face the carnal temptation personified by her husband’s cousin and heir, James, the new Lord Blayne. His sensual appeal, contrasted with his iron will and stern self-mastery fascinates her. She can’t help but ask: what if sensual indulgence is the only way out of her darkness? However, she is not free to explore the idea. There are those who seek to control the young widow, keeping her imprisoned through emotional manipulation and physical coercion. With her growing restlessness, the very people she loves and trusts the most are becoming an increasing danger to her sanity and safety.

James is determined to protect Catriona—but he will not soften to her again. She rejected him once and James can’t risk losing his heart a second time. As heir to the Blayne baronetcy, he must marry a woman socially and politically appropriate. Such a scandalously self-indulgent lady as Catriona won’t do. Yet the pretty girl he once knew has grown into a beautiful, curvaceous woman that is every man’s dream.

Especially his.

Erotic Romance; Regency Historical; Elements of Sensual Domination, Spanking and Light Bondage; Rubenesque Heroine; Character-Driven Story with Angst and Strong Internal Conflicts; Standalone Long Novel.

Reader Advisory: The characters discuss issues of abuse which took place in the heroine’s backstory. Frank sexual language & period appropriate sexual slang and general bedchamber naughtiness.

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Felicia’s Review

June 12, 2015

5/5 Stars!

Touches ALL of your emotions!

I love it when I finish a story and I have a big grin on my face! This is an excellent read!

However, I wasn’t smiling for quite a bit of the story. My heart was breaking for Catriona “Sunny” Blayne. Abandoned by her strict, religious parents, the common born Sunny is “left in the care” of the wealthy Blayne family. Everyone feeds off her warm, sunny personality…hence the nickname, ‘Sunny.’ Two young Blayne men want Sunny. The manly James, who’s in love with her and the sickly Freddy. James makes a move first, but it’s Freddy that gets Sunny to the marriage altar. Heartbroken, James goes off to sea to fight for honor and glory, and determined to never fall in love again.

While James is away, Freddy succumbs to his illnesses; which leads James to return home to lead the family, and eventually become the Earl. However, to keep his distance from Sunny, James does not return to the family estate, but instead resides in London. Something he will come to regret.

Called to the estate by his aunt (Freddy’s mother) to discuss sending Sunny away to rest and heal, James is taken aback to find the once young, carefree, girl he fell in love with is now a full figured, beautiful woman…who’s going insane.

I have to admit, upon first meeting Sunny in the garden, her behavior had me teetering between laughter and concern. She goes from being calm and introspective around the roses, to near hysteria when she realizes James is there and they are…alone. My first thought? “This broad is crazy as hell.” But then you pick up on her desperation and frustration, and you realize you need to know what is wrong with this woman, how did she get this way, and is there hope for her sanity.

James has all these thoughts, and little else, especially after questioning his Aunt Frances. She insists that what ails Sunny is “a delicate matter” best left to the ladies…and Sunny’s doctor, Meeker. The doctor who didn’t bother to show up for the meeting with James and Aunt Frances. Knowing that he’s being purposely left in the dark, James vetoes any plans to take Sunny anywhere until he speaks with her doctor.

And the battle of wills begins.

Everyone seems to know what’s best for Sunny. Her mother-in-law wants her “well” and returned as her companion…the daughter she never had. The doctor wants to whisk her out of the country for rest and better access to the latest treatments and therapies. Or so he says. James doesn’t trust Meeker or his aunt, and feels he’s duty-bound to protect Sunny. She is, after all, his cousin’s widow and can never be anything more as he’s hardened his heart to her. Or so he says. What does Sunny want? If only she knew.

At times, we see glimpses of Catriona. We understand her pain. We want her to get better. But those moments are few, because the psychological undoing of Sunny has been brutal. The second class status of women and societal mores of the times, coupled with Sunny’s strict, joyless upbringing of sacrifice and denial, compounded by her own guilt and self-loathing adds up to a monumental case of psychosis that would probably drive anyone mad. But, do mad people know they’re mad? The only thing I feel Sunny is “guilty” of is WANTING…yet she constantly parrots the admonishments of Meeker (I just can’t bring myself to call him Dr.) that her wicked, wanton nature of self indulgence and personal perversions will be her undoing. She’s broken and unseemly. She must SUBMIT to his care in order to get better.(Personal perversions? Yeah, that’s the pot calling the kettle black!) However, Sunny does speak up enough for herself for James to understand that she wants to go away and be out of Meeker’s reach. James grants her requests and personally accompanies her. (The SCANDAL of it all!)

Sunny begins to heal slowly, but it seems the better she gets, the worse James gets. He is in total awe of her and bliss with her, even though he continues to insist (to himself) that he does not love her, and they have no future together. Sunny is unsuitable for an Earl’s wife…but how about as a mistress? Would he dare? Their sex scenes are super hot and super steamy, but it seems to be James who’s unable to maintain control. The anger that he has held towards those who kept her as a virtual prisoner now turns inwards on his own dark soul. Isn’t he manipulating Sunny? Controlling her for his benefit and pleasure? Does he not crave her submission and will do anything to hang on to it? Of course, by this time, Sunny does a 180 and changes the game! LOL!

Just as I think I have this one all figured out, I look down and find out I’m only at 54% completion! Curse you, Natasha Blackthorne! My nerves will never survive this! LOL!

There are twists and surprises to make you sit up and say, “Whaaaat?” There are tender moments you’ll never want to end. There are moments when you’ll want to stand up and applaud Sunny! And, there are moments so vile and vindictive, you will find yourself sneering as you read them.

As characters go, I liked both Sunny and James. The times in which they lived, the families into which they were born, and the manipulations of others shaped their lives…much like any of us. But, can removing the manipulations of others let them grow into who they were meant to be…or who they need to be?

There are plenty of other supporting players. Meeker, whom I loathe, and Aunt Frances, whom I still haven’t decided on. I don’t feel she was a party to the evil done to Sunny, but she did have her own agenda. Did she turn a blind eye to get her way in the end or was she truly that naive and taken in by Meeker? This is a book #1 – will we see Aunt Frances again? De we really want to? I tired early on of dealing with the “ghost of Freddy.” To be fair, it wasn’t entirely Sunny’s fault that she was “seeing” him, but still. The more I heard about him, the more I felt he was an ass. And, I was right – called it! LOL!

This read is about the healing of Sunny, but it’s also about the healing of James…and he didn’t even know he needed healing. This story will trigger all your emotions, good and bad…and it is SO very worth it!

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Natasha is sponsoring a Rafflecopter where THREE lucky winners will score books! Enter today!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

Natasha BlackthorneEscape into the past with intensely erotic, emotionally driven love stories. Natasha Blackthorne writes character-focused historical erotica romance featuring strong internal conflicts played out in non-traditional and unconventional situations. Her stories are most frequently about the intimate journey of the characters as they learn to open their hearts to love.

Her heroines are not perfect ladies. They are wildflowers and wallflowers who enjoy flirting with the forbidden. Whether they are bold or shy, her heroines’ strong desires and deep emotions drive the plot and drive their heroes to the point of no return.

“I haven’t been disappointed with a Natasha Blackthorne historical romance as of yet…the men, yes..they are strong and dominant, but they also support their women in everything. These men are written with strength and purpose… Thank you Natasha for helping me love historical romance once again.” ~ Salacious Reads

“Natasha Blackthorne has become one of my favorite authors, I love her wonderfully sweet, strong, terribly damaged characters.” ~ Kimberly, a reader.

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