“Other Side” by Ray Hollar-Gregory

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“Other Side

Genre: Contemporary/African American

Release Date: July 5, 2016

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Other Side is a riveting psychological tale set in the New York City metropolitan area. The themes are viewed through the experiences of Jordan Baros a young middle-class African American attorney. The title Other Side is an attempt to explore the duality of personality, character, and actions of people. Jordan faces his conflicts and value propositions through four relationships that are juxtaposed and contradictory. His pursuit of validation and truth is explored through his mother, wife, mistress and a sex worker. The anecdotes from each encapsulate a broad perspective of political and social issues in a multicultural society. Jordan’s journey and the women’s stories of relationship struggle and maturation provide the platform for all the characters development.


Ray Hollar-Gregory, Esq. was born in Newark, New Jersey and attended schools in Montclair, New Jersey. After college, he attended law school and worked in various corporate legal positions prior to specializing in healthcare as an attorney and ultimately a business executive. Always socially progressive he transitioned from the practice of law to become the Executive Director of New York City’s Health and Hospital’s Medicaid program (MetroPlus) for disadvantaged health recipients. Presently he is a college professor teaching legal and business courses as part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. He has published in academic journals and written many winning legal briefs and memos. This is his first novel.

“Secret Shifters of Spokane Complete Series (Books 1 – 4)” by Selena Scott

99¢ for a #LimitedTime!


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“Secret Shifters of Spokane Complete Series (Books 1 – 4)

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: July 22, 2017

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FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED – On sale for a limited time, so don’t miss out

When passion ignites a fire that becomes too hot to ignore!

4 brothers who hold a deep family secret. Join them as they fight against all odds for their true mates. If you love bear shifters, sassy mates, and a little intrigue, you won’t want to put this series down!

Book 1 – Danil’s Mate
Book 2 – Emin’s Mate
Book 3 – Maxim’s Mate
Book 4 – Anton’s Mate

Danil’s Mate – Book 1
A curvy reporter who’s just arrived in town and an alpha bear shifter who holds a deep family secret. Can their attraction become something more and can she tame the animal within him?

Emin’s Mate – Book 2
Emin knows how to handle a seductress. But there’s something different about this sweet, innocent woman in the forest that has him confused as hell?

Maxim’s Mate – Book 3
When one night of passion becomes something more than either of them could ever have imagined. Now Maxim is playing for keeps!

Anton’s Mate – Book 4
In the exciting conclusion of this series can Anton protect his family but reveal his true feelings for AJ? What will this mean for the Shifters of Spokane?

This series contains strong sexual themes/language and is not intended for readers under the age of 18.


Selena Scott is an avid and devoted writer based on the beautiful west coast of Ireland. Selena loves nothing more than to let her thoughts run wild by putting pen to paper. Dragons, bears, curvy girls, alpha males and sexy storylines are what really gets Selena excited.

For her latest releases just sign up here. http://selena0.gr8.com/ or drop her an email at Selena@emeraldromance.com

Facebook: Selenascott@emeraldromance

“Let Us Dream” by Alyssa Cole

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“Let Us Dream”

Author: Alyssa Cole

Genre: Historical Romance/Multicultural/20th Century

Release Date: February 28, 2017

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**2017 RITA Finalist**
A rebellious cabaret owner and her stubborn chef pursue life, liberty, and happiness in 1917 Harlem…and find love where they least expect it.

After spending half her life pretending to be something she’s not, performance is second nature for cabaret owner Bertha Hines. With the election drawing near and women’s voting rights on the ballot, Bertha decides to use her persuasive skills to push the men of New York City in the right direction.

Chef Amir Chowdhury jumped ship in New York to get a taste of the American Dream, only to discover he’s an unwanted ingredient. When ornery Amir reluctantly takes a job at The Cashmere, he thinks he’s hit the bottom of the barrel; however, working at the club reignites his dream of being a force for change. His boss, Bertha, ignites something else in him.

Bertha and Amir clash from the start, but her knowledge of politics and his knowledge of dance force them into a detente that fans the flames of latent desire. But Bertha has the vice squad on her tail, and news from home may end Amir’s dream before it comes to fruition. With their pasts and futures stacked against them, can Amir and Bertha hold on to their growing love?


 

“Family Matters (In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2)” by Felicia Denise #CoverReveal


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“Family Matters”

Series: In the Best Interest of the Child, Book 2

Author: Felicia Denise

Cover Design: Jenn Cunningham

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: August 2017

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Synopsis:

Olivia Chandler’s journey to wholeness continues as she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of Olivia’s forgiveness?

A Halloween party brings together a surprising group of people, and Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. Another Bellamy has a second chance at love – if he can put his old-fashioned ways aside.

The death of someone close to Olivia has her re-thinking the value of emotional connections. She withdraws from everyone, falling back into her old habit of burying herself in work. A surprise confrontation pushes Olivia to her limits and puts her heart on the line.

Her continued avoidance of confronting Sarina Chandler pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce Bellamy. Olivia must make a decision. Save them… or surrender to her emotional demons.

Excerpt:

“Olivia Chandler? I’m Sandra Riley, Sarina’s case manager.”

The tall woman grasped Olivia’s hand into both of her own, shaking briskly. “We’re so glad you’re here today. This is a big step forward for your mother.”

“Nice to meet you, Sandra, and honestly, it’s a big step for me too.”

“Oh, I’m sure, Olivia. Any questions for me before you visit with Sarina?”

Visit with Sarina. She made it sound so cute and homey, Olivia thought.

“Does she know I planned to be here today?”

“Yes, she does. When Sarina asked about you a few weeks ago, she said she also knew you’d have little or no reason to want to see her, but she’d always hoped you come someday.””

Olivia stared at the woman blankly, not knowing how to respond to the comment.

“I’m sure this is confusing, Olivia, and now isn’t the time for me to explain all that Sarina has gone through, but please know she is fully cognizant of her aging, of you, her late husband”, Sandra paused only for a second, “she even remembers the accident. It’s everything between the accident and a few months ago that’s fuzzy for her. It’s as though a switch was flipped off in her brain that was recently turned back on.”

Olivia frowned but didn’t ask the question on the tip of her tongue.

“May I see her now?”

“Of course! Follow me.”

The case manager’s long legs covered the distance across the sitting area in no time at all, with Olivia almost scurrying to keep up with her. Margot and Randie teased Olivia about her brisk walking pace, but she had nothing on Sandra Riley! Olivia would guess Sandra to be at least six feet tall… and light on her feet.

Reaching an unmarked door in the far corner, Sandra held it open for Olivia, who walked through and found herself standing in yet another sitting room, only this one resembled the average family room. Large, comfy chairs, throw rugs and even a flat screen television graced the area.

“Welcome to Honey Ridge East, Olivia.”

“Honey Ridge East? I don’t understand.”

Sandra pointed to a bulletin board on the wall near the door they’d just come through.

“The residents here are grouped by floor, the severity of mental disorder, and the amount of care and supervision needed. The healthiest, most independent residents reside here in Honey Ridge.”

“My mother is here… in this section?”

She nodded.

Olivia tried to digest the information. Her mother was healthy? Required little or no supervision? Trying to reconcile this new Sarina with the bedridden, incoherent woman she last saw five years ago was difficult for Olivia.

“How long has she lived here?”

Sandra pursed her lips, thinking. Then she nodded.

“I’m pretty sure Sarina was here for the group’s Valentine’s Day dinner dance, so that makes it eight months.” Sandra tried not to laugh at the horrified expression on Olivia’s face.

“Don’t be shocked. We also have Easter Egg hunts and 4th of July barbecues.  The residents got a big kick out of the Halloween hay rides.” Sandra leaned in towards Olivia, “ And I hear Santa will visit on Christmas Eve.”

Shaking her head, Olivia was incredulous.

“What kind of mental hospital is this? I mean, um…I thought…”

The case manager guided Olivia past the sitting area while answering.

“River Ridge Meadows is a private care, private pay, voluntary commitment facility. We’re fully licensed by the state and the federal government. Insurance isn’t accepted here, and no resident is here against their will. We currently have one hundred and sixty-one residents ranging in age from seven to eighty-six. Most are from throughout the state, but there are a few from other parts of the country, and even four from Europe. River Ridge has two permanent, board certified psychiatrists, two permanent, board certified medical doctors, six psychologists, and a nursing staff of 40 which includes licensed physical therapists.

The residents here are used to a certain way of life, and we provide that here, within reason. That’s why we also have an event planner and a social activities director on staff.”

Sandra stopped at the top end of a short hallway. “But we have all the time in the world for me to tell you about River Ridge, and even give you a tour, if you like.” She nodded towards the end of the hall. “Your mother is expecting you.”

Olivia pressed her hand against her stomach, the tiny nervous tremors threatening to morph into a full-fledged earthquake. Heat enveloped her body as the familiar tang of bile crept up the back of her throat. Closing her eyes, the nervous woman tried to will the anxiety away.

You’ve come this far, Chandler, don’t you dare freak out now!

 

~ Author Bio and Links ~

A wife, mother, daughter, sister, blogger and indie author, Felicia loves all things book-related and coffee-related. A southern girl by birth, the fifty-something, voracious reader now resides in Arizona (via Michigan and California) with her husband of thirty-three years. Their three adult children also reside in Arizona – with their dogs. Felicia frequently reminds them she is the only one of her parents’ nine children who isn’t a grandparent.

Writing has been a hobby of Felicia’s since grade school, but other than serving as editor and writing for her high school newspaper, she never publicly shared anything until the early 2000s when she began writing fan fiction. At the urging of a good friend, Felicia took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo in 2015, writing what would become her first published book, In the Best Interest of the Child, released in the fall of 2016. Her latest book, Free, a Novella, released May 30, 2017.

Sometimes serious and always sarcastic, Felicia continues her literary search for the ultimate non-alpha, non-billionaire, non-bad-boy hero with a non-sassy, non-feisty, non-bad-decision-making heroine whose relationship exemplifies true romance. Recommendations are always welcome!

 

Website

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“Always True to Her (Emerson Book 2)” by Maureen Driscoll #Spotlight

A Few of My Favorite Things

Historical Romance Month continues this week on Nesie’s Place with the work of author Maureen Driscoll in the spotlight! Maureen shares her personal insights on books from two of her series, The Kellingtons and The Emersons. Also, THREE random commenters will win ebooks each day this week! Good times!

This is from the second series I did, about the Emerson family.  The Kellingtons are rich.  The Emersons start out poor and they remain that way through (most of) five books.  That did not go over too well with some readers.  And this book got the most hate, though it’s probably my favorite.

For me, it’s fun to think of the fantasy where the rich guy comes in, loves you truly and sweeps you off your feet while showering you with money (basically all the Kellington books, except Lizzie’s husband is also rich and titled).  But for me, there’s something really romantic about loving someone despite the fact your life is still going to be a struggle.  I went through two periods in my life (once after my divorce and the other when the recession hit), when I was hugely in debt.  I was weeks away from having to move in with my mom in my 40s, when things finally started turning around.  You don’t forget times like that when splurging on yourself might be getting a $2 Wet n Wild eyeliner.  So I wrote a series where life was a struggle, but love was abundant.

In this book, James Emerson returns to England with his six-year-old daughter Anna in tow.  She was the result of a liaison he’d had with a Native American woman.  So not only are they facing poverty, but also the bigotry of society against a mixed-race child.  But none of that matters when he meets Irene, the sister of the man who cheated him out of land in America.

There are two reasons this book gets hate.  One is that I think everyone expected them to fall into a pot of money at the end, which did not happen.  And the other is that book three starts with a huge jolt at the end of book two.  But, again, it remains my favorite.

If you’ve ever been at a point when money was truly scarce, what was the small treat which brought you the most joy?

~~~~~~~~~~

Always True To Her

“Always True To Her (Emersons Book 2)”

Author: Maureen Driscoll

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency/Victorian

Release Date: August 22, 2014

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ADVISORY FROM THE AUTHOR: This book contains explicit language of a sexual nature. If you don’t like explicit sex in your books, you won’t like this story. It’s also pretty light on the history. One story ends on a cliffhanger, though the main story is resolved. If you hate any type of cliffhanger — as many, many people apparently do — there’s nothing to see here and you may want to move on, though I appreciate your stopping by. However, if you like romance, humor and an ending that’s more realistic than most happily ever afters, there’s a chance you may like this book…

From the author of the Kellington series of Regency romances, comes the second book in the Emerson saga.

Lord James Emerson has returned to England intent on regaining the land that was stolen from him in America. He has come, with his daughter in tow, to confront the family of the man who cheated him out of his life’s savings. But he did not expect to meet the woman who steals his heart.

Miss Irene Wallace is certain her brother could not have acted so dishonorably. Yet it is hard to believe the man who loves his daughter so much is lying. She decides to work with Lord James to resolve the issue in the interest of justice. But instead, she finds herself falling in love with her brother’s enemy.

ALWAYS TRUE TO HER is a passionate Regency romance about the bonds of love and family.

~~~~~~~~~~

Maureen DriscollDanielle Fishel calls Maureen Driscoll her “most favorite author of all things naughty and delicious.”

Maureen is a television writer based in Los Angeles whose credits include MADtv, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Nickelodeon’s BrainSurge.  She was also a former recipient of a Walt Disney Studios screenwriting fellowship, where she wrote a romantic comedy based on her rather painful divorce.  The script didn’t make it to the big screen, but it did teach her a few things about happily ever after.

Before moving to Hollywood, Maureen spent nearly a decade working on Capitol Hill.  Her Dating Geroge Clooneynovel Dating George Clooney is a political satire inspired by those years.

She has written two Regency Romance series, one centered on the Kellington family and the other on the Emersons.  She is launching a third in 2017 called the Jasmine Cottage series and has also written a time travel romance set in America in the 1920s called The Tycoon Murderer, to be released later this year.  She can be found occasionally on Twitter at @MaureenDriscoll, slightly more frequently on Facebook at Maureen Driscoll Author and almost never on her blog at MaureenDriscollRomance.wordpress.com.

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“Gallant Rogue, Reluctant Heroes Book 3” by Lily Silver #Spotlight

A Few of My Favorite Things

This week, the work of Lily Silver is in the spotlight here on Nesie’s Place! Get ready for adventure, intrigue, and of course, romance! Lily is also sponsoring an awesome Rafflecopter with a Kindle Fire as the grand prize! ($50 gift card for an international winner!)  Check out the excerpt, then scroll down for the Rafflecopter and a FREE gift from Lily!

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“Gallant Rogue, Reluctant Heroes Book 3”

Author: Lily Silver

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

Release Date: October 15, 2014

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Gallant Rogue Excerpt, Day 4

Gallant Rogue is Book Three in the Reluctant Heroes Series. It features the story of Jack and Chloe. Captain Jack Rawlings was a support character in Dark Hero. He is Donovan Beaumont’s closest friend and ally. Together, Donovan and Jack were pirates in the East Indies, years before the events of Dark Hero take place.

Jack has had a tragic history. He was engaged to a woman and she died horribly. He blames himself for her death, for not being there to save her. He has a strong, driving need within demanding he save the girl because of that tragedy of his youth. This is a strength but also a flaw. In Dark Hero, Jack misunderstood the marital conflict between the main characters Donovan and Elizabeth, and felt it his duty to take Elizabeth away from Donovan to ‘save her’. His need to redeem himself in his own eyes for failing to save his beloved is at times overwhelming, In Gallant Rogue, he gets that chance at redemption.

His friend asks him to escort a family member to Spain and to deliver her safely to her relations. Donovan (Dark Hero) knows Jack would protect Chloe as fiercely as he would himself if he accompanied her to Spain. Jack has had secret feelings for Chloe for many years. He almost proposed, but Chloe married someone else before he could do so. Now he’s being asked to spend several weeks with her as they sail across the sea to Spain, and those close quarters and intimate exchanges are killing him. He cannot act on his desire for her as Chloe is a recent widow. He believes it would be dishonorable to take advantage of her at a vulnerable time. He also believes it would interferewith his duty to protect her if he allows himself to become distracted by a blooming romance. Jack’s greatest flaw is that he’s gallantto a fault.

Chloe is also a support character from Dark Hero. She is the love child of a Spanish estate steward and an African slave. Her adoring father died suddenly when she was a girl. She was sent to live in the slave quarters with her maternal grandmother by the cruel plantation owner. She has endured scorn all her life because of her origins. When Elizabeth came to the island as a new bride Chloe found acceptance and friendship. She became Elizabeth’s personal maid, and then her companion. She married a relative of the family and became part of it. Chloe’s happily ever after ended abruptly when her beloved Gareth was killed in an accident. Now she is determined to escape the lingering prejudice and scorn that have shadowed her since birth in the West Indies. She decides to sail to Spain to find her father’s family, and reinvent herself there as a Spanish Lady. Her paternal uncle is a Marquess, after all.

Spain is on the brink of war. It’s 1808 and news from Europe is slow coming to the West Indies. Spain has been under the thumb of France and Napoleon for years, but is just starting to revolt. Chloe and Jack are confronted by the presence of soldiers from France, England, and Spanish Guerilla warriors hiding in the woods. Jack will have quite a task keeping up with Chloe because she is determined to find her Uncle Miquel at all costs. As they traverse the Spanish countryside in search of the missing Marquess, they encounter outward danger and inner simmering passions.

This book is unique in the series as it does not have the strong Gothic tone of the previous books. The characters determine a book’s tone in my work, and both Jack and Chloe did not have any deep magical or supernatural leanings. This book is an adventure romance set on the high seas and in Spain. Jack and Chloe’s story is one of redemption, re-invention, and re-kindled passions of a lost love.

Chloe is a wonderful character who embodies much of the modern woman of this age. She doesn’t want to be defined by the labels society has placed on her. She wants to break out of the exterior definition of her ‘place’ that society has forced upon her. She will not turn back from her quest to find her father’s family. Her singular determination brings surprising results that have a greater impact on the situation in Spain than she could have ever dreamed. Jack is one of my favorite heroes. His gallantry and his sense of honor is the kind that makes me swoon, and isn’t that what we read romances for! I hope he’ll charm your heart as well in Gallant Rogue.

Excerpt from Gallant Rogue, Copyright Lily Silver 2014

The screams coming from the cabin next door brought Jack up from his bunk at a rush.

Jack  grabbed the pistols he kept at the ready, a habit from his pirating days, shoved them into the waist of his trousers and reached for his sword. He was out the door and across the hall in a trice.

Three other officers joined him there, all in similar states of undress. Jinks, Lt. Morgan, and Mr. Harris. They looked to him to take the lead and breach the portal.

He hesitated. The shrieking had stopped.

Did she have a bad dream? He really didn’t want to go plowing in there and startle the poor woman with his sword raised and his men following; not in the middle of the night.

“Go on then,” Jinx prompted behind him. “You are the captain, after all.”

Jack grimaced and bit his tongue to contain a raw retort. When had the proper and respectful Mr. Jinx acquired such cheek? Jack raised his fist to the door, determined to at least announce his presence to the poor woman before leading the charge of men into her private suite.

But that nerve-shredding shrieking started again, combined with a steady thumping sound as if someone were being chased and beaten with a stick.

Jack burst through the door, expecting darkness and a sizable intruder to greet him. Instead, he was met with bright lights as all the lanterns in the cabin seemed to have been set ablaze. Chloe was in the corner with her back to the door. She didn’t seem to notice the men filing in. Her arm was raised. She appeared to be in the midst of bludgeoning something.

“Mrs. O’Donovan,” he said in a light tone, trying to get her attention. Her hair was flowing in a gleaming, obsidian waterfall down her back, reaching nearly to her round bottom. Jack cleared his throat and tried again when she didn’t respond to his gentle speech. “Mrs. O’Donovan,” he repeated in his strict captain’s tone. “Is there a problem with your lodgings?”

She turned, and seemed startled to see him standing in the portal with his men. Her lovely ebony arches fell as she frowned. “Yes, there is.” She pointed to the large windows to her left. “It’s that silly girl, shrieking as if to raise the dead over a rodent.”

All attention moved from the delectable and vivacious Spanish beauty clad in a light muslin gown to the thin, pinch–faced adolescent girl, who was standing on the window seat clutching a blanket about her chest and looking as if she were being set upon by an entire crew of pirates.

The maid blinked. Her lower lip quivered slightly. She looked at the men with terror. “There was a large rat in here.”

“Marta, get down and help me,” Chloe scolded. “Your ridiculous shrieking has awakened the crew. The least you can do is help me catch the little blighter.”

“A rat?” Jinx dropped his pistol arm so that the business end was pointing at the floor. “All right, mates, let’s not tarry. Let’s get the dreadful beastie out of here for the lady.” He gestured with his free hand for the men behind him to find the creature for Mrs. O’Donovan.

“Oh, I have him,” Chloe replied without emotion. “At least, I think it is a he.” She set her weapon, a parasol she’d been holding by the pointed end so she could use the wooden handle as a cudgel, on the trunk beside her. Without flinching, the woman picked up the dead rat and held it by the tail for all to see, letting it dangle beneath her fingers as her face registered triumph. The rat’s head was split open. Dark ruby blood oozed from its nose and brow. The left eye appeared to be displaced, crushed by the blow of Chloe’s parasol handle. “If one of you wouldn’t mind burying him at sea, I’d be most grateful.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Jinx, Lt. Morgan, and Harris all pushed forward to assist her. The trio tripped over each other in their rush to aid the fair lady. It was Harris in the end that took the bloody little creature from her.

Muted crying could be heard from the window.

The maid. Jack felt little sympathy for the girl. He hoped this was not going to set a precedent. “Stop whining,” he admonished. “Get your mistress some water so she may wash the blood from her hands. And shame on you, for letting her do all the work.”

“I can’t stand rats, sir.” The girl blathered through fractured sobs. “Disgusting creatures.  I’ve never had to catch one before…”  Sniff. “My father always does it, or one of my brothers.”

“Water, Marta. Now,” Mrs. O’Donovan commanded. “And my shawl, thank you. I shouldn’t wish to put you out too much in your duties.”

Jack couldn’t contain a chuckle. Chloe was well and truly angry. And she should be. Why didn’t the maid just knock on one of the cabin doors and ask an officer to help them capture the beastie if she was that upset? Instead, she climbed on the furniture, took to shrieking like a banshee while leaving her mistress to attend to the problem.

The girl hopped down from her perch. She hurried to the washstand and fetched the bowl and a towel and brought them to her mistress. Mrs. O’Donovan pushed up the sleeves of her elegant nightgown and began washing her hands while the maid stood holding the bowl for her. Mrs. O’Donovan carefully dried her dainty hands, and shooed Marta away with a silent mouthed word.

“I wonder how the beastie came to be in here in the first place,” Lt. Morgan said to the room at large. “They don’t usually appear  this far above deck. They stick to the cargo hold, and the darkness.”

Jack and Jinx exchanged a hard look.

“Oh, I have an inkling of how it might have occurred.” Jack thought of a particular cabin boy who was wont to play such pranks to liven up the tedium of a voyage.

“Do you want the pleasure of kicking his bum, or shall I do it?” Jinx murmured, smashing his lips together with contempt. “Boy needs a lesson in manners, frightening a poor helpless female in the night, and a passenger, to boot.”

“Helpless?” Jack nodded toward Chloe. “I believe you are mistaken, Mr. Jinx.”

Jinx shot him a bold grin. “’Twas speaking theoretically, Cap’n. Shall I rouse the boy for you, then?”

“No. Let him sleep. In the morning, you may discipline him as you see fit. Make certain he understands that passengers are strictly off limits for his mischief.”

“Aye, Cap’n. Good night, ma’am, and… er…pleasant dreams?” Jinx made a polite bow to Chloe.

“Thank you for coming so quickly to our aid, Mr. Jinx.” Chloe gave the man a charming  smile. “It is a comfort to know if we were under attack we would be well protected, sir.”

“My pleasure, ma’am.” Jinx was grinning like a fox.

“Get back to your bunk,” Jack grumbled, adding a deep, warning growl to his words. “Out, now.” He pointed to the door with the tip of his sword, knowing his reaction to the exchange between Chloe and his first mate was irrational, but he was unable to contain his fury.

Jinx slunk away, as did the other men. Jack stood in the doorway, his sword in hand, disappointed that he, too, must leave. Chloe was stunning in her plain white nightdress that offered no embellishment save the lace at her wrists and throat. Her lovely features were framed by waves of sleek ebony. Did he imagine the sultry smile curving her lush red lips?

The maid hurried to her mistress’s side and made a great show of placing a silk paisley shawl about her shoulders, lifting her heavy locks and then resettling the jet waves once the shawl was arranged to modestly conceal Chloe’s bosom and shoulders. The spell was not broken by the maid’s intrusion. Jack lingered, wanting to just drink in the sight of this lovely, exotic creature sleeping just down the hall from his cabin.

“Is there anything more I can do for you, Mrs. O’Donovan?” He sounded hoarse. His throat had gone bone dry as he stood rooted to the deck staring at her like a starving man might stare wistfully at a feast he was denied access to.

“Yes, Captain. I could use a strong drink,” Chloe replied, smiling at him.

God, she was breath-taking.  She belonged in a fancy painting. The Goddess Awakened.

“A drink?” He felt like a clumsy lad. “I’ve some claret in my cabin. Shall I bring you a glass?”

* * * *

Chloe was anxious for this humiliating episode to disappear. Her behavior was not delicate or lady like. It was practical. More importantly, it revealed her true nature. If she were to convince her father’s family that she was a proper lady she must behave accordingly. Ladies did not kill rats in their rooms. They had servants to do it for them.

“No, Captain. I need some fresh air. And you,” she turned to the little brat who was the cause of this embarrassment, “you will be finding employment elsewhere if you disturb the captain and his officers again. Do you understand me, Marta?”

Marta nodded and bowed her head. Her childish brown braids fell forward, making her seem even younger than her seventeen years. “Yes, ma’am.”

Chloe paced across the cabin to the door, determined to put some distance between herself and the girl until her fury waned. It was bad enough Marta had awakened her with frantic shrieks.  Awakening the crew was intolerable.

Rodents, spiders, insects and reptiles were abundant in the West Indies. One learned to deal with them out of necessity. Rats were not her idea of a beloved pet either, but Chloe was not squeamish about dealing with them.

She pulled her silk shawl tighter about her shoulders and moved into the hallway. As she passed the blond warrior clutching a sword at her open door, she secretly grinned up at him. She would laugh later, not in front of Marta. The girl deserved to be shamed for disturbing the crew.

Captain Rawlings was gazing at her with an expression of astonishment.

“Captain, I realize my suggestion may seem odd. My apologies, but given the situation, I need to leave my cabin for a little while.” Before I slap that girl silly, she thought but did not say. “Perhaps you could escort me on a walk about the deck, if that wouldn’t inconvenience you or the crew, sir?”

“No, not on deck, not at this hour of the night.” He gestured with his sword for her to proceed down the narrow hall. “Come to my cabin. I’ll pour you a drink to sooth your nerves.” He spoke the last with sarcasm, bringing a reluctant smile to her lips.

His door was ajar. The captain followed her inside his cabin and placed his sword on the table in the center of the room. Chloe was fascinated by the gleaming steel. She approached the table to admire the fine piece.

Captain Rawlings turned away from the table to open a small cabinet on the wall. “What is my lady’s pleasure?” he asked in a low, rough growl that resonated within her like thunder on the horizon. “Claret or do you prefer something stronger?”

“Stronger. A woman always prefers strength when asked,” Chloe confessed. She had already given the man ample reason to question her behavior in sullying her hands with a dead rat and then asking to share a drink in his cabin. What did she have to lose? “Do you have brandy? Elizabeth and I indulge in an occasional glass. The count’s mother joins us when she visits, of course.” She added the last as a means of softening her request.

Jack chuckled. “The notorious Alicia St. Vincent is never without her brandy and her cheroots.”

Chloe gazed up from her admiration of his fine sword to regard the man himself. The captain was a mystery to her. He was congenial and friendly when he dined at Ravencrest. On his ship, his natural habitat, she was finding him gruffer and sharper around the edges than when he visited her former home.

She studied his back as the sound of liquid splashing into goblets echoed in the room. Captain Rawlings was a veritable rock. The outline of his shoulders arched and bunched, seeming to wish to push through the confines of his cotton shirt. His hair was free from the restraining queue he wore out on deck. She wished she could touch it, run her fingers through the pale golden abundance. It fanned out like a regal lion’s mane, flowing past his shoulders.

Gold. Sunshine; warmth and hugs. And love.

Wasn’t that what Angelica Rose had prophesied would be her portion in Spain?

Yes, in Spain.

Presently, they were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, so she’d best restrain her errant fantasies about embracing this fierce lion of a man and stroking his golden mane.

Author’s note: What follows is a bit of swordplay in the middle of the night, as Jack teaches Chloe how to use a sword, some serious flirting on Chloe’s part, and a few stolen kisses before Jack comes to his senses and returns Chloe to her cabin unscathed.

~~~~~

As a special gift for visitors to Nesie’s Place, the awesome Lily Silvers is giving away Book 1 in the Reluctant Heroes series, Dark Hero – a $5.99 value! Use the Smashwords coupon to claim your copy. Giveaway ends June 1st!

Use the code XX39V at checkout to get this book for free!

Dark Hero Book 1

“Dark Hero, A Gothic Romance: Reluctant Heroes #1” on Smashwords

 

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“Prey (The Irish Mob Chronicles Book 1)” by Kaye Blue #CoverReveal

 

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Coming April 20th

 

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One look, and I know I’ll have her. One taste, and I’m insatiable. One wrong move, and I’ll lose her forever.

I’ve never met a woman who was worth the time and hassle of a relationship. I’ve got my hands full leading the family.

Nya, though … she’s not just a pretty face and smokin’ body. She’s a woman who knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to take it. After one night with her, I need more.

But the next morning, someone tries to kill me. At first I wonder if she set me up, know that I’m so gone for her it might have worked. But her fear when she finds out who I am, what I do, proves to me that she’s a target too.

And now the ones who want me dead are about to learn just how far I’ll go to protect what’s mine.
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Kaye writes hot, gritty, suspenseful romance featuring alpha males and the women who love them.
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