Tuesday, May 25, 2021

New! Beach Brides Boxed Set - 99 Cents


New Release!

Grab your beach hat and a towel and prepare for a boxed set brought to you by nine New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors…

Beach Brides! Fun in the summer sun!

When a group of diehard romantics share a silly dare to stuff a note in a bottle addressed to their dream guy and cast it out to sea, will they actually find him? Or will their romantic wish remain adrift?

Find out with these nine delightful sweet romances that will keep you reading well into the night!

MEG (Julie Jarnagin)

When a reality dating show producer finds a message in a bottle from the perfect female contestant, he must convince her to choose one of the contenders and figure out how to keep from falling in love with her himself.

TARA (Ginny Baird)

A Savannah billionaire finds a message in a bottle on the beach when he’s about to propose to his socialite girlfriend, and his whole life turns on a dime.
NINA (Stacey Joy Netzel)

Jaded and guy-shy after too many heartbreaks, Nina is sure no one guy could ever meet the impossible criteria specified in her message in a bottle—until she meets wounded veteran, Finn Regan. 

CLAIR (Grace Greene)

For Clair Bennett, will her message in a bottle bring her the antidote to heartache, or the bad fortune that allows the man who broke her heart to hurt her yet again?

JENNY (Melissa McClone)

When a soldier responds to an author’s message in a bottle, she can’t resist replying, but their online friendship takes a surprising turn when she receives a call that he’s been injured and wants to see her.
KIM (Magdalena Scott)

Jon was engaged when he “landed” the message in a bottle on a fishing trip, and it disappeared before he could decide whether to respond. Now unattached, he’s on a road trip with Kim, whose gratitude despite a painful past reminds him of the touching note he wishes he’d kept.

ROSE (Shanna Hatfield)

Tanner Thomas has no interest in contacting the woman who wrote a heartfelt, hopelessly romantic letter his mother found in a bottle on the beach. So why won’t thoughts of her stop tormenting him? Desperate to get her out of his mind once and for all, he makes a surprise trip to meet her, completely unprepared to fall in love with a stranger he meets on the beach.

LILY (Ciara Knight)

An owner of an advertising firm discovers a picture in a bottle that will land a multi-million-dollar contract and save his company, but the price for the image may be too high—his heart.

AMY (Raine English)

When a wealthy CEO of a popular matchmaking service is ordered to give up his playboy lifestyle, finding a message in a bottle from a woman guided by fate just might be what he needs to carry out his phony engagement scheme.

 Get your copy today at any of these retailers!


Barnes & Noble



Google Play


Here's a short excerpt from Amy:

 Amy had no idea what to make of the stranger in front of her. He might be one of the hottest guys she’d ever laid eyes on, but one minute he seemed to be mocking her and the next he was offering her some sort of proposition. Her best bet would be to take her bottle and simply walk away. There was no doubt that Cherie had been wrong about her prediction. This hunk was not her soul mate. However, there was something about him that made her want to hear what he had to say. Maybe it was nothing more than curiosity. But whatever it was, her feet were planted firmly on those rocks, at least for the next few minutes.

“I’m listening,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest.

“How would you feel if you weren’t single when your friends arrived—but a newly engaged woman instead?” His voice held a rasp of excitement.

Warning bells went off in her head that this man could be a little unbalanced. “What exactly are you saying?”

He sent her a wide smile. “That we should get engaged.”

She was becoming more uncomfortable as the conversation went on. “There’s something wrong with you.” She reached for her bottle, but he held it securely in his hand. There was a glint in the smoldering depths of his eyes that told her he was enjoying her struggle to remain composed.

“Don’t worry. We wouldn’t wind up getting married. After an agreed-upon amount of time, the engagement would be called off, and we’d go our separate ways.”

Awkwardly, she cleared her throat. “Why?”

“Why would we go our separate ways?”

“No! Why do you want to get engaged?” she asked as casually as she could manage.

“Because if I don’t, I’ll lose my job.”

She swallowed hard, trying to get out a feeble answer. “I’m sorry. This is crazy. I can’t get engaged to a stranger.”



Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sweet Summer Romance Audiobooks #mgtab


Get your copy today!

Is it possible to find true love through a message in a bottle?

Spending a week on a Caribbean island with the members of the Romantic Hearts Book Club is like a dream come true for Lisa Kaye. On their last night, each woman writes a personal message to her “dream hero,” stuffs it in a bottle and tosses it out to sea. Lisa’s real dreams crash, however, when she returns home and loses not only her job but her boyfriend on the same day. Determined to start over, she returns to Enchanted Island, the idyllic place of her childhood to manage her aunt’s bed and breakfast hotel.

Fifteen months pass without a clue to the fate of her bottle. Then it happens. She receives an email from the man who found it and she doesn’t know what to do. Should she ignore it or take a chance at finding true love?

A sample of this audiobook is at Amazon.

Amazon Audible



Nook Audiobooks

Google Play



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It sounds too good to be true...

The invitation from “Perfect Match Online Dating and Travel Agency” offers Ava Godfrey an all-expenses-paid week on Enchanted Island with the man of her dreams. Seven days of Caribbean sunshine, tropical beaches, and candlelight dinners sounds like heaven. The only catch--she can’t meet her Prince charming until she arrives on the island. The scenario sounds risky, yet she finds the prospect intriguing. Will she find her “perfect match” or will she encounter the perfect scam?

They send him to deal with the diva...

Jeffrey Thomas has a job to do--cancel Ava Godfrey’s contract. She’s cost his boss a small fortune by turning down not one, but two matches sent to Enchanted Island by the agency. He’s determined to cut her loose until he meets the spunky, fun-loving redhead and is irrevocably attracted to her. Though he’s tempted to stay on the island and find out if she’s his perfect match, his priority is to persuade her to go home. But when Ava’s purse is stolen along with her identity, Jeff’s only concern is helping her recover what she lost. Will he lose his heart to her in the process?

A sample of this audiobook is at Amazon.

Amazon Audible



Nook Audiobooks

Google Play



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More audiobooks...

Searching for your next favorite listen? Download and enjoy these Clean & Wholesome romance audiobooks today!

Clean Audio Romance – May 1 – 31st


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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

She's hiding from him in plain sight...

 For one week only!

The Bootlegger's Wife

On sale for 99 cents


Available on Kindle - Kindle Unlimited

A 5-star rating in the Readers’ Favorite International contest!

It’s 1925 in St. Paul, Minnesota, a haven for hardened criminals—and the women who find themselves trapped in a dangerous game…

Charlotte LeDoux’s nine-year marriage to bootlegging kingpin, Gus “Lucky” LeDoux, is falling apart. The same day Char learns she’s pregnant, she catches Gus in the act of adultery and it’s clear he has no intention of ending the affair. Soon after, their nightclub is raided by Federal agents. As she flees from the chaos, Char becomes separated from Gus and she’s faced with a choice: search out her fugitive husband or change her identity and disappear. With her life in shambles and her future in doubt, she knows what she must do to protect her child.

Char alters her appearance and takes a job in domestic service for a private investigator. At first, living in Will Van Elsberg’s home is quiet, comfortable and safe, but everything changes the day Gus seeks out Will to find his missing wife. As Will’s investigation closes in on her, Char must once again make a decision. Should she run away again or face her violent husband and fight for her freedom? With her back to the wall, Char discovers she has more strength and determination than she ever thought possible.

Book One of the Moonshine Madness series.



    As I hurried through the inky darkness in sloshy T-strap shoes and a wet dress, I gradually felt no discomfort, only a strange sense of calm. Pulling my shawl tighter around my shoulders, I thought about what I’d do next. I had no idea where my husband was—in jail perhaps or...dead. Knowing Gus, he was still alive. He hadn’t earned the nickname “Lucky LeDoux” for nothing. To my astonishment, however, I didn’t care one way or the other. I only knew that I couldn’t live this life anymore—as a bootlegger’s wife.

    The thought of leaving Gus terrified me, but at the same time, it gave me a sense of hope for my baby’s future. Sadly, I knew better than to believe things could go back to the way they were before Prohibition when Gus worked in his father’s brewery. Once the Volstead Act passed—the eighteenth amendment—the LeDoux Brewery had been forced to shutter its doors, destroying the family income and causing his father, Rene Sr. to suffer a fatal heart attack. Gus’ deep-seated anger at the government for devastating his family and the folks who’d depended upon the brewery for their livelihood had fueled his decision to forge ahead despite the risks. Enlisting many of his former employees, he’d formed a new operation bootlegging Minnesota whiskey and operating La Coquette.

    Now, he was a criminal, wanted by the Feds…

    Before Prohibition, Gus and I had lived a simple life as an ordinary couple and we were happy together. Nowadays he preferred collecting barrels of money and spending it on women and other sinful pleasures more than he loved me. Even so, he’d never let me go if he discovered I planned to leave him—especially in my present condition. This I knew without a doubt.

    Albert’s lifeless form flashed through my mind and I shuddered, wondering if I would ever feel safe again. My eyes smarted with tears. I couldn’t bear the thought of subjecting my child to the perilous life my husband had chosen.

    I had two choices—locate Gus and live in constant danger or start a new life for myself and my unborn child. Casting apprehension and excuses aside, I told myself I needed to follow my instincts and do what would be best for my baby. It didn’t take long to choose my path.

    Charlotte LeDoux had ceased to exist.

Kindle and Kindle Unlimited


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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A New Small Town Series by Denise Devine

Plus--A Sweet March Promo!

Available on Kindle for 99 cents. Free on Kindle Unlimited!


Annika Nilsen is a small-town girl, but she's got big-city dreams...

At twenty-eight, she's stuck in her hometown of West Loon Bay, Minnesota, population 397, with no boyfriend, no money, and no future. Life is boring and predictable until her best friend convinces her to take a road trip out west to see what they're missing. Everything is going according to the plan until her brother suddenly shows up with his bandmate, Alexander Lange. Annika's attraction to Alex is instantaneous, giving her second thoughts about leaving. She's faced with a choice--cancel her trip and betray her best friend or leave Alex behind. Someone must lose. Will it be her?

Alexander Lange has learned the hard way that fame and fortune don't always equal 'livin' the dream'...

After ten years on the road and multiple double-platinum hits, Alex and his band are burned out. They've come home to West Loon Bay to reunite with their families and reassess their lives. The last thing Alex needs is a girlfriend, but the moment he sees Annika, he's instantly drawn to her. The problem is, she's leaving town and while he's desperately trying to convince her to stay, it becomes apparent that someone else wants her permanently out of the way. Can he save the woman he loves or will he lose her to an unknown enemy?


    Alex and Annika walked the rest of the way to the water’s edge in silence except for the soft tapping of their tennis shoes on the blacktop. When they reached the public boat landing, they gazed at the full moon lingering above the skyline with a dark silhouette of clouds floating behind it. The bright, silver-blue sphere cast a wide, V-shaped streak of moonlight glistening across the serene waters of the vast lake. Alex pulled back his arm and threw the stone, watching it skip across the water until it disappeared out of sight. He sighed, realizing how much of the simple things in life he’d missed out on in the last decade.

    They talked about other subjects as they walked back to the café, but once they reached the back stairway to Annika’s apartment, they lingered at the bottom step in awkward silence.

    “I enjoyed our walk, Alex,” Annika said at last, giving him the feeling she wasn’t ready for their time together to end. “I’m glad your band decided to come back home for a while.”

    Alex smiled, taken with how fascinating he found the slight Scandinavian lilt to her voice. Everyone who was born in this area or lived here most of their lives had it, too. Not all the time; just in a certain phrase now and then or an occasional word. He’d probably sounded the same way to people on the road when he first left West Loon Bay, but it had faded from his voice long ago.

    “The pleasure was all mine, Annika. I think it’s important for you and Erik to get together.” Meant as a friendly gesture only, he took her narrow palm in his, but the moment her smooth skin pressed against his calloused hand his pulse jumped.

    “I—I’d better go call Erik,” she said, sounding flustered as she jerked her hand away.

    He tried to give her back the flashlight, but she refused to take it.

    “You’ll need it for the walk home. You can return it to me later.” She tried to back up, nearly stumbling on the stairs. Turning, she bolted up the stairway, but stopped at the top and spun around. When their gazes connected, she drew in a sharp breath and hesitated as though she wanted to say something else. She waved at him instead. “Good night, Alex!”

    He watched her disappear into her apartment then he headed down the alley. It was at least a mile walk back to his cabin using the trail around the lake, but he needed the fresh air and the time alone to clear his head.

    Annika Nilsen was a refreshing change from the women in his past. She wasn’t obsessed with her looks and yet he found her natural beauty more appealing than any woman who’d ever attracted him. She didn’t hang on him or flaunt her sexuality by wearing skin-tight dresses or tops exposing miles of cleavage. She didn’t need to make overtures like that for him to notice her. The fact that she didn’t even try was what got his attention the most.

    Unfortunately, even though Annika was—amazingly—still single, she was Erik’s sister. That automatically made her off-limits; totally off the chart degree of off-limits. No way would Erik ever go along with one of his bandmates getting up close and personal with her, but Alex didn’t blame him. After the decadent, self-destructive lifestyle they’d lived on the road, Alex wouldn’t want any of his buddies getting within five miles of his sister, either, if he had one. Annika deserved better than to get swallowed up in the shadow of a burned-out rock star. Someone who’d been “Zander” for so long, he didn’t have a clue who he was anymore.

    Alex sighed as he trudged across the city park toward the edge of town and the “Tremolo Trail” that circled the lake. He needed to get her off his mind and move on.

    The image of Axl Rose flashed into his mind singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The words made him realize how incredibly lonely he was—and had been for as far back as he could remember.

♥♥ Book one of the West Loon Bay series. Get your copy now! ♥♥



For Sweet Romance Fans!

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Monday, March 15, 2021


For Sweet Romance Fans!

Searching for your next favorite story?


Look no further! These bestselling authors have teamed up to offer a delightful selection of new books. Available for a limited time!

Kindle Unlimited Sweet and Swooney Small Town Romance


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Merry & Bright Sweet Christmas Collection #MFRWHooks

Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited! Get your copy now!

It's the happiest season of all...

With snowflakes dancing in the frosty air, and the ring of carols everywhere, Christmas holds a special place in our hearts, our favorite time of the year. Set in the Midwest, this sweet collection of "Happily Ever After" Christmas stories are sure to brighten your day and lift your spirits. Enjoy them all year!

A Merry Little Christmas

Merry Connor is struggling to feed her two children, pay heat bills, and fix her secondhand car.

Though she’s barely making it financially, life is good. That is, compared to two years ago when she lost everything—thanks to her lying, deceiving ex-husband. She’s come a long way since then and doesn’t intend to look back. Even so, it’ll be a long time before she trusts anyone with her heart again.

Tony Lewis hasn’t had a merry Christmas since his wife and son perished in a car collision three years ago.

The holidays are lonely without his family, but his heart begins to mend when he meets Merry Connor and her two rambunctious kids. He can’t stop thinking about her and yearns to get closer to her. Will she turn him away once she learns of his connection to her ex-husband?

A Christmas to Remember

Katie McGowan is desperate to make it home for Christmas.

Since the death of her husband in a snowmobile accident two years ago, her family has filled the void left by Josh’s passing. Returning home from a business trip on December 23rd, Katie finds herself trapped by a blizzard in Alexandria, Minnesota. Stranded travelers have filled the hotels, leaving her no choice but to take an executive suite in the same resort where Josh died.

Ryan Scott intends to spend the weekend at Lakewood Resort, riding his new snowmobile and dodging Christmas.

His parents’ sudden divorce announcement has ruined his holiday and he’s in no mood to socialize. His plan derails, however, when he meets Katie McGowan and she steals his heart.

Overwhelmed by memories of the past, neither Katie nor Ryan believes they are open to the possibilities of a new relationship. But a little bit of Christmas magic, along with a stray dog rescued from the storm, gives them a reason to unwrap their hearts. Together, they find the courage to rediscover the joy of the holiday season.

Once Upon a Christmas

When old friends reunite, will a new enemy keep them apart?

Ashton Wyatt has spent a decade running from her past.

Hanging out with a bad crowd in high school cost Ashton her reputation, her boyfriend and her relationship with her parents. Determined to start over, she has moved far away, but can't escape the loneliness that shrouds her heart. When she receives an offer to return to the small, tourist town of West Loon Bay to revive The Ramblin' Rose bar with her sister and her cousin, she accepts the challenge, hoping to repair the bond with her family as well. But just when her life is on the mend, she crosses paths with someone from her past and things spin out of control...

The last thing Sawyer Daniels needs is to get mixed up with the town's wild child.

Sawyer did his share of partying and keeping the cops busy in his misspent youth, but he has long since abandoned that crowd in order to make some sense of his life. He's already under contract to renovate The Ramblin' Rose when he learns Ashton Wyatt is back in town. Though the situation gets off to a rocky start, their friendship grows as they work side by side. He doesn't realize how much he's grown to care for her until a stalker puts her life in danger. Now that he's finally found his true love, is he about to lose her?

So This is Christmas

Annabelle Lee - She's looking forward to a weekend of catching up, munching cookies, and enjoying Christmas cheer with her childhood girlfriends. She hasn't had a vacation since this time last year and desperately needs the time off. Her business has taken a toll on her life, leaving her exhausted and questioning the price of success. She arrives early at Ellie Stone's family cabin to relax and decide the direction of her future, but to her dismay, she's not alone. Ellie's twin brother is also there and declares he isn't leaving until Friday.

Christopher Stone - He's the boy who mercilessly teased her when they were kids. He's grown into a handsome man with a career in professional baseball and a pop-star girlfriend. He appears to have an idyllic life, but the longer they talk, the more Annabelle suspects his love life isn't as perfect as he claims. She can't deny her attraction to him and knows he's attracted to her as well.

Best Friends Forever - Will this week proceed like old times or turn out to be a new chapter in her life?

For more great Christmas stories, visit the HBS Holiday Marathon 2020 Christmas Collection!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Alana: Sweet Xmas Romance 99 cents #MFRWHooks

 Kindle Countdown Deal - 99 cents

Betting on Paris Series

Available on Kindle for 99 cents. Free on Kindle Unlimited!


The rest of the day unfolded in blessed peace and quiet. The stray dog she'd temporarily named Dusty, curled up on the porch and went to sleep.

Toward late afternoon, Alana grabbed one of Grandma Essie’s vinyl shopping bags and took the footpath behind the house to the grocery store. The path ran parallel to the back boundaries of all the houses on the block and wound through a small copse of trees, down the hill to the center of town. It ended at the public parking lot which was situated at the north end of Main Street.

Alana stopped into the grocery store for dog food then treated herself to a soft-serve cone dipped in chocolate. The afternoon temperature had reached eighty degrees and as the sun waned, the air began to cool, creating a pleasant evening.

She hiked back up the hill, her bag now heavy with five pounds of dry dog food and assorted cans of wet food. Due to yesterday’s early rain, she had to step carefully along the wet, slippery earth, making sure to watch out for loose rocks or exposed tree roots. The last thing she needed was to trip and fall, scraping her knees and ruining her dress.

As she neared the top of the hill, she heard a man’s deep, angry voice. It sounded like it came from the backyard next door. Without warning, a large furry animal—soaking wet—streaked across the path, disappearing into the brush. Horrified, she gasped. That looked like Dusty! What had happened to her?

“What on earth is going on?” she said aloud.

The shopping bag landed with a loud thud as she let it drop to the ground. She slammed her purse on the flat stump of a sawed-off tree. With a surge of anger spurring her on, Alana charged along the path, her arms swinging as she searched for the person responsible for spraying water at Dusty and frightening her. She couldn’t permanently keep Dusty, but even so, the poor thing had taken up residence on her porch and for now, that gave her a sense of responsibility toward the sweet canine.

It didn’t take her long to find the culprit. Just beyond the thick stand of lilac bushes that had initially shielded her view, a man stood at the edge of the adjacent property with his back to her, watering a young apple tree with a garden hose. This must be Drew Sinclair, the same man her friend Jemma thought so highly of…

How dare he point that hose at Dusty and chase her off! Who does he think he is?

Her fists clenched with fury as she stomped toward the tall, lean man with thick blond hair, clad in a pair of snug-fitting jeans and a black T-shirt stretched over wide, muscular shoulders. The moment she brushed past the lilacs, he spun around, showering her with icy cold water. “I told you to get—”

“What—a-a-a-a-h!” Alana gasped in shock then screamed as the frigid water deluged her, saturating her from head to toe. “Stop! Turn it off!”

“Where did you—how did you…” Looking totally flummoxed by her presence, he quickly turned off the sprayer, his deep blue eyes widening as he tossed the hose away and approached her. “I’m truly sorry, I didn’t mean to get you all wet! I didn’t realize you were there until it was too late. When I heard the brush moving, it sounded like that coyote had come back—”

“That was no coyote. That was a homeless dog you were picking on!” She shivered, chilled to the bone. Clutching her skirt, she shook the water from it and glared at him, unimpressed with his convenient excuse. “Look at what you did to me! My dress is soaked, my hair is sopping wet, my shoes are probably ruined!”

“You’re shivering.” He reached out to warm her upper arms with his hands, but she jerked away. “You need to get warm. I’ll grab a blanket for you from my porch—”

No thanks. I’m going home to change.” She needed a nice hot bath to warm her up and a glass of wine to calm her down. She turned to leave, then whirled around, firing one last question at him. “What did you think you were doing, attacking a poor, defenseless dog?”

“This town has been having major problems with coyotes lately. Some people have had their pets snatched right out of their yards. My daughter would be devastated if her cat disappeared.” He held out his palms in frustration. “I didn’t mean it any harm. I simply wanted to discourage it from coming onto my property.”

“Well,” she replied acidly, “I think you’ve gotten your wish. Neither the dog nor I will ever bother you again.”


She stood before him, tall and curvy in a dripping flowered sundress with a tiny waistline and flared skirt. Her long, dark hair, reaching just below her elbows, glistened with moisture in the late afternoon sun. Everything about her, from her manicured nails to her beautiful jewelry suggested she was a woman of fine taste. His younger self would have been attracted to her type like a magnet, but nowadays, with the pain of Monique’s betrayal still deep in his heart, Reid stayed far away from classy women like her.

Just the same, he felt like a fool for turning the hose on her. He should have looked first instead of acting on impulse. Her dress and shoes were probably ruined. Judging by the incensed look on her face, so was any chance to make things right. Even so, he had to try.

“I’m sorry about your dress,” he offered with sincerity. “If you’d like to drop it off at the dry cleaners in town, I’ll pay to have it cleaned and pressed.”

“That won’t be necessary. The dress is washable. It’ll be fine. I can’t say the same for my dog, though. She ran away looking terrified.” Her wide amber eyes flashed in disbelief as she folded her arms. “What did that poor animal ever do to you? It’s simply trying to survive!”

“Hey, I said I’m sorry,” he said, becoming frustrated. “I didn’t know it belonged to you. If you care about it so much, why don’t you take better care of it? It was so skinny and scruffy-looking I thought it was a coyote.”

She rolled her eyes in annoyance. “She’s a stray, but I’m feeding her in the hope that her condition will improve. After the way you just traumatized her, however, I wouldn’t blame the poor pooch if she never comes back!”

They were getting nowhere. In an attempt to lead the conversation into more friendly territory, he purposely softened his tone. “That’s very kind of you to take responsibility for its welfare.” He extended his hand. “By the way, I’m Reid Sinclair. I didn’t get your name.”

“I didn’t give it.” She ignored his gesture of neighborliness and instead kept her arms tightly folded. “I’m Alana Morgan, Essie’s granddaughter. I plan to be in town only a couple of days and I’d like to be able to walk outdoors without worrying about my dog getting drenched again—or me—so do me the courtesy of finding something else to use for target practice.”

Target practice? You’re being ridiculous.

“Look, lady, I wasn’t using the dog for target practice. I told you, I simply wanted to get her out of my yard—”

With a dismissive wave of her hand, she whirled around and began walking away before he’d finished talking. Her refusal to listen to reason made his temper flare. “Well, if you don’t like it then from now on maybe you should keep your dog in your own yard!”

The instant the retort left his lips he regretted it. He hadn’t meant to come across as a bully, and he didn’t know why he’d suddenly lost his cool with her, but there was no way to take the comment back now. He stood in silence and watched her walk away, disappointed in himself for insulting Essie’s granddaughter. He should have tried harder to sympathize with her reasons for being upset instead of alienating her further. She was the one person who might believe his theory that Essie had been pushed off her back steps. That Essie had been murdered.

She said she’d be around for merely a couple of days. Given their disastrous meeting tonight, he might not get another chance to speak to her, but if he did, he had to find a way to bring up the subject and tell Alana Morgan what was on his mind.

Essie deserved that much.

Available on Kindle for 99 cents. Free on Kindle Unlimited.

Betting on Paris!

Four exciting stories linked by a unifying theme. You’ll want to read each one!


Sometimes the best bet is the one you lose…

Four best friends. Four promises.

Each year in mid-August, the former college roommates meet up on a girls-only trip somewhere in the world. This year, it’s Paris, the city of museums, art, and romance. One night during their vacation, the girls engage in a serious talk about the sorry state of their love lives and collectively decide they are swearing off men. Instead, each woman is intent on pursuing her life’s goal. Falling in love is the last thing on her mind!

Find all the Betting on Paris novellas at Amazon!

Josie by Beth Gildersleeve

Ryley by Donna Lovitz

Alana by Denise Devine

Annika by Rose Marie Meuwissen


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Merry Christmas, Darling for 99 cents #MFRWHooks


Merry Christmas, Darling

A sweet romantic comedy

by Denise Devine

On Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Chapter 1

Friday evening, December 18th

“Merry Christmas, darlin’.”

Rock Henderson lounged against the doorway of Kimberly Jo Stratton’s condominium, wearing a killer grin, a bright red Santa hat, and a sleek tuxedo. One hand gripped a bottle of champagne; the other displayed two crystal flutes dangling upside-down between his long, slim fingers.

“I’ve brought you a little gift.” He raised the bottle. “Vintage holiday cheer.”

The grandfather clock in the opposite corner of her dining room chimed nine times as Kim tightened the sash around her pink chenille bathrobe. Rock’s assistant had called at the last minute and said he would meet with her at four o’clock that afternoon to discuss the war brewing between the residents of their condominium complex, but he never showed. She’d skipped the hospital’s Christmas party to keep that appointment, only to get stood up. By seven o’clock, she’d given up on him and changed into her pajamas and robe. How dare he drop by at this late hour, unapologetic, unconcerned about the situation, and ready to party?

At her feet, a fawn Chihuahua with a white face yapped non-stop, jumping at her ankle like a wind-up toy. “Hush, Sasha,” she snapped at the small dog, worried that all the commotion would draw attention and expose her plan to other tenants on her floor.

“You’re five hours late, Henderson.” Intent on keeping their meeting confidential, she grabbed him by the lapels and hauled him into her living room. “Did you get lost?” Her gaze swept pointedly over his formal attire as she quickly shut the door. “Or were you sidetracked by someone more glamorous than your lowly, working-class neighbor in 601E?”

Sasha looked up at Rock, let out a high-pitched yelp, and dashed out of sight, her fluffy tail curled between her legs.

He moved close, murmuring in Kim’s ear. “I had an emergency, but I’m here now.”

Rock Henderson, a self-made millionaire and CEO of his own software design company, possessed the charm of a Hollywood heartthrob and the reputation of a ladies’ man who switched girlfriends as often as he changed the oil in his sports car.

“Come on, darlin’,” he coaxed in that deep, throaty purr she’d heard him use on other women in the building, “just hear me out before you chew me out.”

An emergency that required a tux? Yeah, right. A laughable excuse if she’d ever heard one. No way could she count on his cooperation if she couldn’t even trust him to keep his word. He held out the bottle to show her the label, but she ignored his ill-timed bribe for standing her up, and instead, glared into his coffee-colored, deep-set eyes. “You’re drunk, Rock. Get on your private elevator and go home. And stop calling me darlin’!”

“I’m stone sober,” Rock muttered as he strode past her, giving her a wry, sideways glance. “And for the record, I did not pass up our meeting for a hot date. I’ve just spent a long and difficult day dealing with an issue that literally landed on my doorstep.”

He scanned her newly refurbished living room, illuminated only by the TV screen and twinkle lights on her Christmas tree. “Nice place you’ve got here,” he said, abruptly changing the subject. He collapsed his broad, six-foot frame onto a cream loveseat, stretched out his legs, and toed off his patent leather dress shoes. “Ah-h-h... feels good.”

Kim followed him, ignoring the obvious compliment to flatter her into a good mood. They both knew her one-bedroom unit looked like a walk-in closet compared to the ballroom-sized penthouse he occupied on the twentieth floor. She folded her arms and stared down at him. “Look, Rock, if all you want is someone to drink with—”

“Hey, hey, wait a minute.” His dark brows arched as he set the champagne and flutes on the metal and glass coffee table. “You’re the one who pressed my assistant repeatedly for this meeting. I’m simply providing refreshments.” He pulled off his Santa hat and tossed it across the armrest of the loveseat. A thick lock of tousled black hair fell across his forehead. “What exactly do you want?”

Realizing she might actually have a chance to persuade him to accept her point of view, Kim sat on the opposite loveseat, picked up the TV remote, and muted the sound of Pillow Talk. “I’d like to discuss what happened at the association meeting last week.”

“Lucky me,” he countered in a bored voice as he began peeling away the foil on the top of the bottle. “I’ve made it a rule to avoid those things. Most of the discussion is nothing but a complaint session. I have a corporation to run, clients to satisfy. It’s immaterial to me whose overnight guests are taking up too many parking spots or whether we plant red flowers or gold ones along the front of the building.”

If only...

The meeting last Wednesday nearly turned into an instant replay of a reality TV episode, almost degrading to the point of chair-throwing and a down-and-dirty brawl. Kim pushed the image of the emotionally charged crowd to the back of her mind as she edged closer to the coffee table separating her and Rock. “But you do understand the real issue in the latest controversy, don’t you?”

He crumbled the foil into a ball and slipped it into his jacket pocket. “With all the arguing going on everywhere I turn, I’d have to be an alien from Mars to be ignorant of this one.”

“Then tell me, which side are you on?” Her heart skipped a beat. She hoped he understood how much the outcome was riding on his opinion. How drastically things could change if he elected to support the opposing view. “Are you for or against changing the bylaws to prohibit pets in this building?”

“Don’t care either way.” He unwound the wire cage protecting the cork then pointed the bottle toward the ceiling. “Pardon the pun, dar—my dear, but I don’t have a dog in this fight.” His brows drew together in concentration as he gripped the cork between his thumb and fingers and gently pulled. It made a long, low hiss as pressure escaped. After a few moments, he eased the cork out, but no bubbly liquid gushed forth. Only a slight mist curled above the opening.

“Rock, the preliminary vote ended in a tie and no one will budge.” She leaned forward, placing her palms on the table. “Your vote could swing the decision either way.”

At a time when she expected him to be serious, he chose to grin. “What you’re really saying is, you want me to cast my vote in favor of the status quo so you can keep your mutt, right?”

A low growl unfurled under the Christmas tree followed by a succession of rapid snorts.

Rock glanced around in surprise. “What was that?

“My dog and she isn’t a mutt,” Kim replied as Sasha glared at them from between two presents wrapped in red foil. “Here, Sasha.” She patted the empty cushion next to her and smacked her lips. “Come on, sweetie. Rock’s not going to hurt you.”

The pint-sized canine crept from the shadows with pointed, white-tipped ears laid back, her bulbous brown eyes focused on Rock as she cautiously approached the loveseat. A ridge of fawn hair spiked in protest along her spine. Multi-colored lights twinkling on the tree reflected a rainbow of hues against her white chest and finger-length legs. She jumped on the loveseat and settled on Kim’s lap with a snort, never taking her attention off the stranger sitting across from them.

“So that’s what all the fuss is about, huh? No offense, but it looks like a furry rat.” Grinning, Rock handed Kim a flute of champagne. His fingers grazed hers as the crystal changed hands. A sharp tingle sparked like a live wire up her arm and down her spine. Rock had that effect on women. All women, to be precise; but then, who could resist a tall, dark, handsome man who owned a penthouse on the Minneapolis riverfront and drove a red Jaguar?

She could and she’d made up her mind a long time ago she always would. Growing up, she’d watched her mother fall in and out of love with men like him—successful, high rollers who loved the chase but didn’t know the meaning of commitment. The late Veronica Stratton would have schemed night and day to net a fish like Rock Henderson. Based upon her mother’s experience, Kim knew first hand that you didn’t catch a shark. The shark caught you and always left you deeply wounded in the water. She’d rather swim alone than take that chance.

Sasha glanced back and forth, voicing her own opinion with an occasional “R-r-r-ruff.”

“This time it’s more than a mere fuss, believe me.” Kim slowly twirled the glass between her fingers. “If the majority vote swings in favor of banning animals, a lot of residents will sell out and move, including me. Most of the pet owners have been here since this complex was built. We’re more than just friendly neighbors; we’ve become as close as family and I don’t want my family to split up. Some of our elderly residents depend upon their neighbors for help so they can continue to live independently. Who would they turn to if we left?”

Rock frowned as he filled his glass. “With all those units for sale at the same time, the value of everyone’s property is bound to decrease.”

“Including yours.” Kim sipped her champagne and waited for that little tidbit to sink in.

Rock looked her straight in the eye. “Perhaps there’s a way we can accommodate each other.”

She froze, suspending the flute midway to her lips as her suspicion grew. His insinuation that they might be able to find a workable solution should have alleviated her fear. Instead, it angered her. It always came down to sex, didn’t it? Men didn’t have anything else on their minds. “If you’re suggesting I sleep with you as a tradeoff—”

“No, no.” He waved away the notion. “Just live with me for about a week. I need your help.”

What did he have in mind—a live-in maid with a little hanky-panky on the side? Did he really think she’d fall for that lie? Her disgust boiled over.

“Why? Are you in between girlfriends? Looking for a little distraction until something better comes along? If you are, you’ve looked in the wrong direction! I’m not a member of your fan club.”

He gave a little tug on the lapel of her robe. “I’ll make it more than worth your while.”

Get out of my house, Rock Henderson!” She scooped up Sasha and jumped to her feet. The dog wriggled from her grasp and landed on the loveseat cushion, barking as it dived to the floor and raced out of sight. “This conversation is over.”

She tossed the last swallow of champagne into his face and stormed out of the room.

*     *     *

Rock snatched the silk handkerchief from his front pocket and mopped his chin before the sticky liquid dripped onto his jacket.

Huh...that went well.

A moment later, Kim’s bedroom door slammed, reminding him that he needed her in his bed. Tonight.

“Ah, c’mon, Kim,” he coaxed gently as he crossed the room and rapped his knuckle on the door. “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I’m sorry if I made you upset.”

“Apology accepted,” she said, sounding tired, but deliberate. “Now, go home.”

“I’m not leaving until you come out and give me a chance to explain.” He tried the knob and found it locked. “Besides, there’s at least two more glasses of champagne left and I hate drinking alone.”

The tree lights suddenly flickered and went dark. He glanced over his shoulder just in time to catch that mutt with the cord between its teeth, pulling the plug out of the wall.

“Hey, you, stop that!” He walked over to the tree and knelt to rescue the dog, but snatched his hand back before the ungrateful little critter could sink a mouthful of pointy teeth into his thumb. “You keep chewing on that cord, half-pint, and I guarantee you’re going to turn into a grilled sausage, fully charred.”

Behind him, the bedroom door flew open and Kim rushed to his side, gasping in horror. “Let go of the cord, baby!” She pried the apparatus from Sasha’s mouth and snatched the dog into her arms. Without a word, she turned to head back into her boudoir, but Rock stepped in her path, nearly causing her to collide with his chest. The top of her head barely reached his chin and she couldn’t have weighed more than one hundred ten pounds soaking wet. Wrapped in all that pink fluff, she looked more like a ball of cotton candy than a tough-as-nails nurse practitioner.

She looked up, her gaze boring into his. “You’re blocking my way.”

“Just a minute.” He gripped his hands on his hips, unwilling to let her pass until he’d made his point. “I just saved your pooch from getting barbecued and that’s all you have to say?”

“You’re right,” she answered with a begrudging smile. “Thank you.” As she attempted to skirt around him, he cupped her elbow, steering her toward the living room.

“You’re welcome. Now, can we please start over?” Anxious to make amends, Rock ditched the flirtatious manner and lowered his voice to a gentler tone. “You said you needed my help.” He gestured toward the twin loveseats. “Let’s sit down. I have a proposal to make and I promise I won’t bite, though I can’t say the same for your mutt...er, baby.”

As if it understood, the mangy little cur rolled back its top lip, silently showing him a set of sharp fangs.

Rock cleared his throat and shoved his hands into his pockets. After the day he’d endured, he could use a nice, stiff shot about now, but preferably not tetanus. He nodded toward the living room. “Shall we?”

Kim hesitated as if weighing her options. “All right,” she replied with a sigh, “but don’t try coming on to me again or I’ll sic my dog on you.”

He agreed and followed her back to the loveseats, taking his previous spot. “Now,” he continued in a business tone, “I want you to listen with an open mind until I’m finished.” He took a deep breath and braced himself. Might as well cut to the chase and get it out there. “I really need you to move in with me for about a week...and pretend to be my wife.”

Her jaw dropped. “Excuse me?”

The sudden chill in the air almost made him shudder as she sat up straight, mirroring the image of an ice sculpture he’d once viewed at the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Her wide blue eyes regarded him with skepticism and distrust. He studied her for a moment, wondering what to say next. Her blonde pixie cut, upturned nose, and smattering of freckles fit the image of the proverbial girl next door. She’d probably make a great wife for the right guy one of these days. However, did she possess the skill to convince Zelda that she would be the perfect wife for him?

“Let’s have another drink.” Rock grabbed the bottle and began to pour, filling her flute. “I’ll start from the beginning.”

“Please do.” Her lips barely moved, the words slipping out in monosyllables.

“A couple of months ago I became engaged. That was my first mistake.” He set the bottle down and clasped his hands together. “Then I told my mother.”

“What’s wrong with telling your mom? That’s usually the first person you call to announce good news.” Kim picked up her bubbling flute. “I gather you’re not engaged any longer.”

“No.” He rubbed his palm over his emerging five-o-clock shadow. “She didn’t work out.”

Kim didn’t comment, but her raised eyebrows suggested she didn’t empathize with someone who talked about breaking up with his future wife like a business deal gone bad.

“Okay, there’s more to it than that. She double-crossed me.”

“She cheated on you?”

“It’s on par with infidelity as far as I’m concerned.” He shook his head, still angry about it. “She obtained confidential information through intimate conversations with me and turned it over to my competitor. Of course, when I discovered the leak and confronted her, she professed extreme remorse. According to her,” he paused, replaying the scene in his mind, “by that time, she had allegedly realized she’d fallen in love with me.”

“What does all this have to do with me getting your vote?”

“I didn’t tell my family what happened once the engagement ended.” He gave a cynical laugh. “My mother would’ve been so disappointed she would have never let me hear the end of it.” Squaring his shoulders, he downed his drink in three gulps and set the flute on the table. “Now that the wedding date has passed and no one received an invitation, everyone thinks I eloped.”

Kim burst into incredulous laughter. “Why don’t you just tell them the truth, Mr. Chief Executive Hypocrite? You didn’t like being deceived, so why are you deceiving them?”

Because you don’t disappoint Zelda, he thought glumly. Especially the way things stood now. “My mother’s heart is in bad shape. I’m afraid of what it would do to her if I told her what really happened. She’s so happy now that she thinks I’m married.”

“How is putting on a charade going to keep her happy? She’ll find out eventually and then you’ll have to account for lying to her, too.”

“She’s not going to last much longer, so I don’t see the point in causing her any more pain than she’s already bearing.” Rock grabbed Kim’s glass and consumed her champagne, wishing he could just tell his mother the truth. Unfortunately, the tug-of-war relationship with his imperious mother didn’t work that way. “If she’s going to die soon then all I want is for her to go happy.”

“You don’t actually believe you’re going to pull this off, do you? I mean, I’m not the vain, self-centered type that you date. I don’t know how to act haughty and spoiled. She’s going to see right through me.” Kim set her dog aside and stood up. “Forget it.”

Desperation fueled his frustration. Rock stood to his full height, towering over her. “Look, you don’t have to be my type; you just have to be by my side for a week. I’ve got everything covered.”

If I agree to it, I’m not moving in with you.”

Heat began to build under his collar. “Oh, yes, you are, darlin’. The last time I checked, that’s the way married couples operated.”

“But we’re not married. We’re not even working out at the gym together.” She rose on her tiptoes and poked him in the chest with her index finger. “So, if you think I’m going to sleep in the same bed with you—”

He leaned forward and grabbed her hand. A surge of attraction coursed through him as he covered her petite fingers with his broad palm. It threw him off guard for a moment, but the prospect of spending the night with her suddenly intrigued him. “What’s the matter, darlin’, are you afraid you might like sharing a bed with me?”

Her eyes narrowed as she jerked her hand away. “Get over yourself, Rock Henderson. What I’m afraid of is that this is all just an amusing game to you and once we’re alone, you’ll pull out every trick in your little black book to try to seduce me—no matter what we agree on.”

“Don’t worry about that. You’re not my type—remember? I’ll be a perfect gentleman. Besides, before you know it, the week will be over. Look, I can’t disappoint my mother. If you want my vote, those are my terms. No wifey,” he pointed at her mutt, “no doggie.”

She clamped her jaw shut. After a few tense moments of staring him down, she said through clenched teeth, “When is Mother scheduled to arrive?”

His stomach churned. “She showed up this afternoon with her nurse.” He grabbed the champagne bottle by the neck, brought it to his lips, and drained the last few drops. The champagne went down like water, but it did little to relieve his apprehension.

“I had no idea she’d planned this visit. She decided to surprise me and lay over a few days in Minneapolis before flying to Vail to spend Christmas with my brother, Patrick. She wanted to meet my wife! I didn’t know what to do until I remembered my assistant telling me you had left messages with her saying that you desperately needed my help. So, I decided to pay you a visit and see if we could strike a deal. I couldn’t get away earlier to talk to you about it because I had to take Mother out to dinner. I told her you couldn’t make it because you were out for the day shopping with your girlfriends.”

His iPhone suddenly buzzed. He glanced at the screen and turned it off. “It’s her. I’d better go. She’s probably wondering why it’s taking so long to get a newspaper. How soon can you change and come upstairs?”

She gave him a stubborn look. “I didn’t say I’d do it, yet. I’ve been looking forward to taking a vacation at Christmastime for years. Do you have any idea how long it took me to gain enough seniority at the hospital to get this week off? I have gifts to buy, parties to attend, and lunch dates with friends. Playing house with you isn’t my idea of a vacation!”

“Yeah, but you did say that the fate of your residency here and all your long-time neighbors is hanging on my vote. You hold all the cards...”

“But, Rock, I don’t have the expensive designer clothes that your fiancée would wear. I live in scrubs and a lab coat.”

He shrugged. “The day I showed my fiancée the door, she departed in such a rage that she left some clothes in my closet—mostly things I bought.” He looked her over. “She’s taller, but you’re about her size. Just wear hers. They’ll look better on you than they did on her, anyway.”

He set the empty bottle back on the coffee table and headed for the door. Pausing with his hand on the doorknob, he turned back. “I’ll tell Mother you’re on your way home and due to arrive any minute. Oh, and by the way, your name is Diona Daye. Got that?”

“What?” She stomped across the room. “You mean I have to change my name, too? What are we going to do when someone sees me in the lobby and calls me Kim?”

“I don’t know. We’ll just make sure no one sees us together. At any rate, let’s concentrate on one issue at a time, like getting through the next hour or two.” He reached into his trouser pocket. “Here’s your security card for the elevator. It’s also my private entrance into the garage. You can move your car tomorrow.”

Something caught his eye. He glanced down as she slowly took the card. “Hey,” he remarked with a wide grin, “are those bunny slippers on your feet? I haven’t seen anyone wearing those since I was ten years old.”

“Yeah.” She stuck out her chin. “Gee, is that a tux you’re wearing? I haven’t seen anyone show up for a meeting with me in one of those ever.”

She sure was cute, but he knew better than to verbalize it.

He opened the door a crack and peered out at the empty hallway before looking back at her. “My company Christmas bash is going on tonight at the Hilton. It’s too bad I had to miss my own party, but Mother didn’t feel up to going. It cost a small fortune.” He gave her a wink, determined to let it go, and concentrate on the issue at hand. “See you in a few minutes, Diona.”

The throw pillow intended for his head hit the backside of the door as he slipped out and hustled toward the stairwell. Kim’s spunky temper felt like a refreshing breeze compared to Diona’s constant pouting. He exhaled; relieved that he’d caught on to Diona’s traitorous scheme before she’d caused too much damage to his company. Even so, she’d still managed to ruin his belief in marriage. Her duplicity had proved beyond a doubt that he couldn’t trust anyone with either his deepest secrets or with his heart. He had no idea if he’d ever meet someone who would change his mind, but for now, he planned to live his life one day at a time, leaving the past behind.

He slipped into the stairwell and bounded down the stairs to make it to the lobby and get on his private elevator, all the while wondering if Kim would hit it off with Zelda or if his mother would see right through her pretense. Time would tell, but one thing seemed certain. No matter how well Kim played her part, it would take a miracle to get through this week—with both women.

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