“Christmas at the Candied Apple Café” by Katherine Garbera #Spotlight


 

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There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…

Santa is coming to New York!

Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!

Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.

If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!


EXCERPT

Mads is trying to convince Iona to do business with him and when he showed up unexpectedly at the Candied Apple Café, Iona’s mom invited Mads and his daughter, Sofia, to a brunch with Santa after the six-year-old revealed she doesn’t believe in St. Nick.

***

Saturday dawned blustery and cold. Perfect for getting in the mood for Christmas. Iona was having a tree delivered later that evening but this morning she had the “Brunch with Santa” her mom had organized for Catholic charities.

Iona checked her phone, hoping for an urgent message from Cici or Hayley that would have given her the perfect excuse to skip it but there was just a cheery photo of Cici’s baby Holly sleeping in their group chat.

Iona was one of Holly’s godmothers — Hayley being the other — and she admitted she was in love with the tiny baby. Cici having a baby had kind of awakened something unexpected in Iona. She’d never thought she wanted a family, preferring business and, given her track record with men, that was a good thing, but holding Holly had made her feel … well, like maybe someday if the right guy came along, she’d consider having a family.

She texted back a bunch of emojis and then mentioned the Santa brunch thing in case Cici wanted to bring Holly. She’d be so cute and would provide a distraction from her brother and his new boyfriend. She still felt kind of like something was wrong with her that even a matchmaker couldn’t find her a guy.

Which was fine.

Really.

She had enough to keep her busy at work. The Candied Apple Café made her happy. She hopped out of bed, showered, and dressed in a pair of red and white striped leggings and an oversized cream-colored sweater. She braided her hair before putting on her knee-high black boots, grabbing the large Land’s End tote full of dry goods to be donated at the breakfast and headed out the door.

She pushed the button for the elevator and heard someone coming behind her, and glancing over her shoulder, she was surprised to see that it was Mads and Sofia.

“Hiya,” she said. “I guess we’re neighbors.”

“Hi back. We just moved in back in September,” Mads said.

“I think you’ll love the building,” Iona said. She couldn’t help but notice how the gray argyle sweater Mads wore brought out the stormy gray color in his eyes.

“Some of the kids in my class live here too,” Sofia said. “Are you going to the breakfast thing with your mom?”

“I am,” Iona said. “Are you guys?”

Sofia got a stubborn look on her face before turning her head down to look at her feet. “Yes.”

She glanced at Mads and he shrugged. “We are trying to do new things this year and seeing Santa isn’t a bad idea.”

Sofia didn’t say anything else and sort of pouted on the way down. Mads didn’t seem too upset with his daughter. She had the feeling he just didn’t know what to do.

“I have a car and driver if you want to ride with us,” Mads asked.

“Thank you.” Iona thought maybe the two of them could use a buffer so smiled and joined them in their car. It was heated and warm as she slipped inside and slid across the seat. Sofia got in next and put on her seatbelt and Mads closed the door, getting in the front in the passenger seat inside.

Iona realized she hadn’t been with a child since she herself was one and had no idea what to talk to Sofia about. The little girl didn’t seem bothered by the silence and stared out of the window as they drove through the city.

“What’s your favorite part about winter?” Iona asked, already knowing that Christmas was a sensitive subject for Sofia.

The little girl shrugged.

“I used to love a good snow because that meant school would be closed,” Iona said.”

“I like snow too. Last year Papa and Uncle Piers took me skiing in Vermont. That was funny because Papa kept falling down.”

“I didn’t keep falling down, Sof,” Mads said from the front seat. “It happened one time when Uncle Piers shoved me.”

Sofia giggled.

And Iona had to smile at that. “Theo — that’s my brother — used to always try to beat me to get outside when we were growing up so he could hit me with a snowball.”

“Did he do it?” Sofia asked.

“Sometimes. He’s got a really good throw so I sometimes I had to sneak out the back to get him.”

“We had a snowball fight too,” Sofia said. “I won. Papa and Uncle Piers were covered in snow.”

Iona smiled as the little girl entertained her with more memories from their Vermont ski holiday. And she glanced up and saw that Mads was watching his daughter in the rearview mirror.

He caught her eye and mouthed the words thank you.

She nodded. They pulled up at the center where the event was being held and the driver got out to open the door for her.

“She hopped out of the car and waited for them. There was a line to get in and they were separated. Iona dropped off her donated goods and caught a glimpse of her brother and Nico handing out bags to each of the kids after they visited Santa.

She’d go over, say hi, and then find her mom and leave. She didn’t want to be the awkward third wheel at this thing.

“Iona?”

She turned to find Mads standing a few feet away from her with his cell phone in one hand and Sofia next to him.

“Yes.”

“Would you mind taking Sofia to the gingerbread decorating area? There is an emergency at the Common and I have to be on the phone so won’t be able to help her,” Mads said.

“Sure. It will be fun,” Iona said, holding her hand out to Sofia, who took it readily.

She was aware of Mads getting on his phone as they walked away.

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~ Author Bio ~

Katherine GarberaUSA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 60 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children, and a very spoiled miniature dachshund.

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~ R A F F L E C O P T E R ~

Giveaway – Win 5 x Signed Copies of Summer in Manhattan

5 lucky winners will win a copy of Summer in Manhattan, Katherine Garbera’s previous book for Harper Impulse.

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“The Big Event” by Anne John-Ligali #CoverReveal


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~ The Big Event ~

You are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action.

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes.

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most.

 

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvCuVY2m538

Publication Day – 30th November

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Kindle Unlimited


~ About The Author ~

Anne John LigaliAnne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book, and several children’s books.

~ Social Media Links ~

AUTHOR BLOG: http://annejohnligali.com/

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“In Too Deep (Doing Bad Things Book 2)” by Jordan Marie #BlogTour 18+


 

I did a bad thing.

I did a really bad thing.

I’m not a bad person, I swear. I just made a few mistakes.

Mistake number one was agreeing to rent my hotel out to an insufferable a**hole, named Aden Smith­.

Mistake number two was ignoring his threats to sue me when he handed over a list of items he deemed “unacceptable”.

Mistake number three was diving into the pool to save his life when he fell. It would have been less complicated to hide his body.

When the hospital refuses to let me know how he is, I panic.

Claiming to be his wife might be my biggest mistake yet—especially when he believes me!

He might have been the one drowning, but I’m sinking in a bed of lies, going down fast—and there’s not a rescue in sight.

Aden
I planned to apologize. Really—I did. I was dreading it. In my experience when you apologize to a woman you show them weakness, and with weakness they smell blood. It never ends well. Still, I shouldn’t have said what I did about her. I was going to the office to say I’m sorry, see if there was literature about where I can find a place with take-out food and leave—quickly.
One thing stops me.
I open the door to the office and this small boy comes running out at me, completely naked. He slaps his hands against my legs, just reaching above my knee. I stop quickly so I don’t plow him over.
“You my Daddy?” he asks. I know nothing about kids, but I do know one of the last things I ever want to hear from one are those words. His question strikes fear in my heart, but the fact his hands are covered in some dark brown unknown substance terrifies me. I watch as it smears across the legs of my favorite jeans. I’m not sure what it is, but he’s not wearing any clothes—including a diaper. Do kids his size wear diapers?
“Jack! You get back here right now young man!”
“Daddy!”
The child screams the name like it’s being torn from his heart, the moment White’s cousin captures him in her arms and pulls him away. The scream is so piercing I wince.
“Do you need something?” she asks over the noise. Her face instantly hardens, whereas just a moment ago she was smiling, even chasing after her son.
“Does he belong to you?” I ask, all thoughts of giving an apology gone. My voice is that of a growl really. It seems this woman brings out the worst in me.
“I—”
“He destroyed my clothes.”
Her eyes go round and briefly I notice she has brown eyes…almost as dark as whatever the child rubbed all over me.
“Daddy!” he screams again, and the woman’s face blushes a deep red.
“Hush, Jack. That’s not your Daddy,” she hisses.
“He doesn’t know who his father is?” I don’t bother keeping the censure out of my voice. This entire revelation doesn’t surprise me. I’m making a mental note to punch White in the face the next time I see him.
“It’s just chocolate. It will come out of your pants. You should probably flush it with club soda or…”
“Do I look like I do laundry?”
“Well—”
“Does your hotel even have laundry service?”
“There’s a laundry mat in town,” she says defensively.
“Charming.”
“Daddy!” the child screams again.
“Listen, Jack and I were—”
“Wrestling in chocolate?”
“Is there something you need?” she all but growls, her face tight with irritation.

Want to catch up on Going Down Hard, Book 1 in the Doing Bad Things series?

A QUIRKY WRITER GOING WHERE THE VOICES TAKE HER.
USA Today Best Selling Author Jordan Marie, is just a simple small town country girl who is haunted by Alpha Men who talk in her head 24 hours a day.

She currently has 14 books out including 2 that she wrote under the pen name Baylee Rose.

She likes to create a book that takes you on an emotional journey whether tears, laughter (or both) or just steamy hot fun (or all 3). She loves to connect with readers and interacting with them through social media, signings or even old fashioned email.

“In Too Deep (Doing Bad Things #2)” by Jordan Marie #ReleaseBlitz 18+


 


I did a bad thing.

I did a really bad thing.

I’m not a bad person, I swear. I just made a few mistakes.

Mistake number one was agreeing to rent my hotel out to an insufferable a**hole, named Aden Smith­.

Mistake number two was ignoring his threats to sue me when he handed over a list of items he deemed “unacceptable”.

Mistake number three was diving into the pool to save his life when he fell. It would have been less complicated to hide his body.

When the hospital refuses to let me know how he is, I panic.

Claiming to be his wife might be my biggest mistake yet—especially when he believes me!

He might have been the one drowning, but I’m sinking in a bed of lies, going down fast—and there’s not a rescue in sight.

Want to catch up on Going Down Hard, Book 1 in the Doing Bad Things series?

A QUIRKY WRITER GOING WHERE THE VOICES TAKE HER.
USA Today Best Selling Author Jordan Marie, is just a simple small town country girl who is haunted by Alpha Men who talk in her head 24 hours a day.

She currently has 14 books out including 2 that she wrote under the pen name Baylee Rose.

She likes to create a book that takes you on an emotional journey whether tears, laughter (or both) or just steamy hot fun (or all 3). She loves to connect with readers and interacting with them through social media, signings or even old fashioned email.

“In Too Deep” by Jordan Marie #TeaserTuesday



I did a really bad thing.
I’m not a bad person, I swear. I just made a few mistakes.

Mistake number one was agreeing to rent my hotel out to an insufferable a**hole, named Aden Smith.

Mistake number two was ignoring his threats to sue me when he handed over a list of items he deemed “unacceptable”.

Mistake number three was diving into the pool to save his life when he fell. It would have been less complicated to hide his body.

When the hospital refuses to let me know how he is, I panic.

Claiming to be his wife might be my biggest mistake yet—especially when he believes me!

He might have been the one drowning, but I’m sinking in a bed of lies, going down fast—and there’s not a rescue in sight.

Complete Standalone FULL-LENGTH NOVEL. Happy Ending, Laugh Out Loud Comedy and an Alpha Hero with his eyes and other things only on one woman all contained inside.

~ PreOrder ~

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5 Days of Nicola Rendell – “Hail Mary” 18+


 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg
At a boxing gym in Chicago, Mary Monahan accidentally knocks out the most handsome man she’s ever met. After she wakes him up with a few slaps and some smelling salts, the very first thing he does is ask her out for ribs and beer. His name is Jimmy. He looks like a Gillette model. And he’s just too hunky to resist.

Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi is mystified that Mary has absolutely no idea who he is. Mystified and refreshed. He is, after all, not your everyday NFL quarterback. He shops at Costco, has a soft spot for Pinterest, and is in the midst of an epic losing streak.

Jimmy falls for Mary fast and hard, the way he does everything—balls out and like it’s fourth and long. And he realizes he’s finally met his match. That stamina he’s so proud of? Doesn’t stand a chance against her Kegels.

But what they don’t know is she’s also his new physical therapist, recently hired by the Bears to work on his rotator cuff…and groin injury. If she can’t help him, he’ll be traded faster than they can say “offensive penetration.”

In spite of the thousands of internet memes featuring Jimmy’s face with captions like: “HEY GIRL, WANT TO TOUCH MY BALLS?” Mary finds herself falling for him and his unrelenting desire to make her his.

Until a toddler shows up at Jimmy’s door.

And throws their lives into total chaos.


Holy shit.”Jimmy reaches out and unpinches his fingers over Frankie’s face. “That looks like an ewok.”He leans in, putting his enormous elbows on the table so that everything on it sloshes and slides like we’re at sea. I clamp my hand to my side of the table and try to right the vessel with my shoe. Victory. Not even a drop of beer lost.

“Frankie Knuckles is his name.”

“Jesus,”he says with a snort, looking at the picture. “What a bruiser.”

Not exactly. He’s 13 pounds, allergic to wheat, afraid of aluminum foil, and carries a half-stuffed drool-crusted panda bear around with him everywhere he goes.

“Do you like dogs?”I ask, as casually as I can muster.

In my head, I swear to God, I hear the theme song from Jeopardy. This is a moment of truth. I’m not sure I’ll ever see this guy again, but I’d like to. I’m not sure I’ll ever know his lips on mine, but I want to. But this question, the dog question, this could be a deal-breaker. I find non-dog lovers to be very, very suspicious. I once heard Ted Bundy disliked dogs, and I thought, Of course he did. But this guy, Jimmy, he’s so perfect that we’ve got to be headed for a catastrophe. This might be it. Just my luck he’s going to say, I’m allergic, or I have twenty-nine cats, or I’m really into snakes.

Please, no.

“I fucking love dogs.”

And the crowd goes wild!

“Me too,”I say, smiling. It’s an understatement, but I don’t want to get pegged as crazy dog lady quite yet. With a non-greasy finger, I type in my passcode. “He’s a Brussels Griffon. And everybody says he looks like an ewok, but I’ve never actually seen Star Wars, so I can’t weigh in on that.

”He scratches his head and glances at the bar. “Never?”

“Never.”

He clears his throat. “I mean, I don’t want to be rude, but do you live under some kind of rock? Are you a hermit? Because I could totally be into that, but you know, full disclosure…”

Oh Lord. I could be into that. I swallow hard. Wait. What was the rest of that sentence? Right. Star Wars. “I just never saw it growing up, and now it’s sort of a thing. I’m not morally opposed to Darth Vader or anything. Just…never got around to it.”

Jimmy shrugs his massive sexy shoulders. He’s in a navy-blue thermal Henley and a gray Bears hoodie zipped halfway up. I’m pretty sure I can smell Bounce fabric softener tangled up with the Ivory soap smell. It’s hard to tell through the hickory smoke. It’ll require further up-close investigation. I’m definitely on board with that.

“Fair enough,”he says. “I guess it’s possible to not have seen Star Wars. Maybe? Did you grow up in Amish country?”

My giggle comes right from the depths of my stomach. “I grew up mostly in Vermont. My aunt was an apiarist.”

I feel like a jerk immediately. He probably thinks I’m quizzing him on his vocabulary…“

Holy shit. Bees?”

And the crowd goes wild again! “

So many bees. We didn’t have cable, but I can talk your ear off about honey.”He slides his lower jaw off to one side and looks me up and down. “Honey, huh?”

I snatch up my beer and take a gulp. He grins. “It’s okay. I see your lack of Star Wars and I’ll raise you. I’ve never seen The Princess Bride.
“Well, that’s ridiculous. Even we had that one on VHS. Auntie Cheryl said it was a feminist film. She feels like Buttercup was inspired by Gertrude Stein.”

He snickers into his beer. Did he just laugh at a second-wave feminist reference? I might love him already.

AP  new -about the author.jpg

Nicola Rendell writes dirty romantic comedy. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She grew up in Taos, New Mexico; after receiving a handful of degrees from a handful of places, she now works as a professor in New England. An Amazon bestseller, her work has been featured in USA Today’s Happy Ever After and the Huffington Post. She is represented by Emily Sylvan Kim at the Prospect Agency.
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5 Days of Nicola Rendell – “Confessed” 18+


 

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Free on Kindle Unlimited
AP new - synopsis.jpg
Lucy Burchett is the heiress to a notoriously disastrous family, and she’s left home for good. But when she runs a big, black pickup off the road, totaling it, she finds herself stuck in the middle of nowhere with the driver. He’s got a body to die for and a hair-trigger temper. Vince Russo looks like a felon, but he’s also pretty funny. He’s on the lam from the cops… and a psychopathic, Russian mob boss who wants to put his balls on a barbeque. Literally.

 

After a night of ill-advised cocktails and bathroom-wrecking sex, Vince just can’t get Lucy off his mind. But he’s got plans to rob her. And Lucy’s life is about to get a little bit criminal too.

 

But can a bad boy and a good girl really escape from their troubles together? Can they trust each other at all?

 

In the steady march of disasters that follow them west, they fight and they laugh. They tease and they’re tender. They’re either oil and water, or chocolate and peanut butter.

 

Except, they can’t run from the real world forever. And there’s a hell of a surprise in store for both of them…

 

 

He runs his hand through his thick black hair. “When I was your age, music was sexy. Seriously fuck-worthy.”He brings his lips right close to my ear. “Not like this shit playing now.”And then he pulls away. He slides his stool back from the bar and gets up. I watch him walk over to the jukebox. Even the way he stands is incredibly aggressive, masculine, and sexy. Can a stance be dripping with testosterone? Apparently.

 

He turns and catches me staring. The jukebox goes silent, and there’s just that one second of anticipation in the air. He hitches up his belt and gives me this predatory stare. I resist the urge to place my forehead on the bar. Mercy.

 

But then it happens.
Bongo drums.
Electric guitar strum.
Synthesizer.
Phil Collins.

 

He walks back towards me and sits down, dead freaking serious, not a glimmer of fun in his eyes. Unfortunately, deep, deep down, I feel a laugh coming up. One of those incredibly painful church-and-funeral laughs. Phil Collins?

 

A little honking laugh does shoot out of my nose. I can’t help it. I’m only human.

 

He looks wounded. “This is classic music, Peaches.”

 

I move my hand to his forearm and grip it. I mean it to be apologetic, but the way he feels under my hand…it gets sexy in a hurry. “I thought you were going to go for something a little more…”I look him up and down, “broody.”

 

He’s dead serious. Phil Collins is obviously not a joke. “This is the sexiest song in the entire fucking world,”he says. Not for one second, not even to blink, does he look away from my eyes. And then he puts his hand to my waist, gripping me tight.

 

He nestles his chin in close to my ear and draws my body closer, between his parted legs. With his tongue just sweeping against my earlobe, he growls, “I can feel it…in the air tonight.”

 

My neck slides back for him. I feel the seam of his T-shirt under my fingers. Oh, Lord.

 

“I’ve waited for this moment…”He runs his finger up my arm. I breathe him in. “…all my life.”

 

Oh Lord.

 

Eye to eye now, he brings his fingers up my neck and knots them in my hair. I feel goose bumps down my spine. He draws my head to his. The feel of his stubble is harsh and gritty against my skin, almost scraping me. The hand on my waist slides me over my bar stool. I let my legs press hard and hot against his.

 

His tongue makes its way up the curve of my neck.

 

Oh. Lord.
Oh.
Lord.
His lips are almost touching mine now. “The hurt won’t show, but the pain, it grows…”

 

As the drums come in, his other hand comes up and takes my cheek in his palm. I feel my body heave slowly towards him, like a surrender. I can’t help myself, and groan, “Oh, Lord.” Out loud.

 

The pressure of his head changes against mine, and he leans in like I’m making him weak. He nudges me with his nose again, like he did on the ground earlier. So close I can almost taste him. But not close enough.

 

I press my cheek to his and whisper, “Kiss me.”

 

I feel the smile more than I see it.

 

Both hands come to my face, and he pulls me in. He decides the depth of the kiss and moves his tongue all the way into my mouth.

 

Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord.

 

Phil Collins hits us with the drums, announcing the obvious: This is a guy who knows what he wants and is going to take it. Who knows what he’s doing and is going to show me what he wants too. He tips my face in his hands, kissing me deeper, sweeping my tongue aside with his. I feel my grip weaken, and one of my legs slides off the stool. He wraps his huge arm around me. But then he pulls my lips from his, and I open my eyes a second later. “Why do I want you so bad, huh? Helen?”He drags his tongue along the edge of my ear.

 

“I don’t know,”I moan. “But I can feel it.”

 

He nods. “In the fucking air tonight.”

 

I inch my hand toward his hard-on.

 

He kisses me again, starting out way more tenderly than he left off. He fits his fingers between my ribs and grips me hard. I am outrageously wet and can feel the slippery wave between my thighs as I move my legs to bring him closer. I feel my wetness outside my panties even, in a cold smear on my thighs.

 

My fingers find their way to the back of his head to the base of his neck. I feel the muscles rippling even there. Solid columns of tension.

 

“I want to hear you scream,”he whispers. Phil Collins starts to fade out.

 

“I want you to make me scream,”I say.

 

“Jesus Christ.”

 

I let my lips just brush his ear. “Should we get out of here?”

 

“Room’s not ready,”he says.

 

His jaw nudges mine aside and then he explores my neck through a kiss. I go limp in his hands, but he keeps me right where I am. How he can be so tender and so vulgar, I don’t even know. He makes me want to do things I’ve never done before. He makes me want to set fire to all the rules of polite society. This guy here? He makes me want to get in trouble. Big trouble. “I’ve never had sex in a bathroom.”

 

He groans again. “Fuck you,”he says. “Get out of my head.”

 

He presses his mouth to my ear. His voice, it’s dark and dangerous. “Meet me there in two minutes. Don’t you dare make me wait.”And then slowly his stool screeches on the floor as he steps back from the bar.

 

 
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Nicola Rendell writes dirty romantic comedy. She likes a stiff drink and a well-frosted cake. She loves to cook, sew, and play the piano. She realizes that her hobbies might make her sound like an old lady and she’s totally okay with that. She grew up in Taos, New Mexico; after receiving a handful of degrees from a handful of places, she now works as a professor in New England. An Amazon bestseller, her work has been featured in USA Today’s Happy Ever After and the Huffington Post. She is represented by Emily Sylvan Kim at the Prospect Agency.

 

Author Links

 

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