When love calls, it’s rarely easy but always memorable, and definitely worth turning the pages. Recapture the thrill, the delicious anticipation of finding your happily ever after in these 10 unforgettable, hot stories by some of today’s brightest names:
Her Knight in Black Leather – J.M. Stewart
Destination Wedding – Robyn Neeley
Drawn to Jonah – Jennifer DeCuir
On the Fly – Katie Kenyhercz
Wildly – Debra Kayn
Falling for You – Heather Thurmeier
Beginning Again – Peggy Bird
Spiraling – Rachel Cross
Save My Soul – Elley Arden
Sweet Gone South – Alicia Hunter Pace
Wildly by Debra Kayn
Shauna Marino left Cottage Grove, California an innocent teenager, gangly, wild and with no fashion sense, always diving headfirst into whatever feelings ruled the moment. Now, she’s back to fix her mistakes. She’s gained a respectable job, set a plan in motion to benefit the town, and all that’s left is to prove to Grayson Schyler she’s changed. Maybe this time, he won’t tell her no when she shows up naked and asks him to make her a woman.
Grayson Schyler, former Wimbledon champion, would've recognized Shauna anywhere. She’s made his life sweeter one moment, and hell the next. As someone in the public eye, he’d gone to great strains not to allow the media to misread their relationship, which wasn't always easy when Shauna was around. Now she’s back, asking for his help, and all he can think about is if she came back to make him pay for what he’d done.
Grayson moved forward, making her retreat, walking with that lazy long stride that had the ability to hypnotize her. His gaze was so intent, her breasts hardened and she forgot why she was wasting her time arguing. His hair lay over his forehead in a sexy I-don’t-give-a-damn way that tempted her to reach up and sweep it back. But she didn’t. She couldn’t get that close.
The back of her thighs hit against the car, her breath barely coming through the constant throb of her body. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to take what’s mine.” He lowered his head, hovering inches from her mouth. “I don’t care if I get it here, in the middle of Main Street, or if you come over to my house and let me have you there. But I’ll be damned if we’re gonna pussy foot around this subject any longer.”
“But … ”
He shook his head. “I’m done fighting, Shauna. I want you. You hear me? I want you as much as you want me. For as long as you want me.”
Oh my God. She forgot to breathe. She’d waited forever to hear him admit his feelings toward her, to confess it wasn’t her overactive imagination dreaming up a future with him. She sucked in air, filling her lungs. Everyone had thought her crush was one sided, but she knew better.
Top-selling romance author Debra Kayn lives with her family in the beautiful coastal mountains of Oregon where she enjoys riding motorcycles, gardening, playing tennis, and fishing. For more info on Debra, http://www.debrakayn.com.
On the Fly by Katie Kenyhercz
Jacey Vaughn has a newly minted MBA when her father dies unexpectedly and leaves her his NHL team. Well-versed in business but not so much in hockey, Jacey navigates this new world with a few stumbles. She definitely doesn’t plan on falling for the team captain. At the first hint of scandal, a local Las Vegas reporter latches on, and Jacey finds herself in the newspaper with headlines that hurt instead of help. Jacey’s determined to keep her father’s legacy alive and make the team successful, but while she has no problem denying her feelings to the media, she can’t lie to herself.
Carter Phlynn has known nothing but hockey his entire life. Drafted into the NHL at age eighteen, winning the Stanley Cup is all he’s ever wanted. Nothing has ever disrupted his focus. Not until he meets his new boss. Jacey gets under his skin like no one else, and while dating the team owner would be a disaster for his career and reputation, he can’t get her out of his head. Carter has never had a relationship last more than a month, but the more he’s around Jacey, the more he can’t picture his future without her.
With a sigh, she glided over to where he waited. For good measure, she stuck out her arms and feigned a wobble. Can you ice skate? That was something of an understatement. Her father had gotten her a pair of ice skates as soon as she could walk. Carter didn't need to know that.
“You gonna make it?”
“I think so.” She came to a stop against the goal post and turned around to mimic his stance.
“Tell you what, I'll give you a head start.”
She just smiled.
“Down and back, okay? Ready, set, go!”
She took off like a shot, arms pumping, knees high, just digging into the ice with the sides of her blades. Behind her, shocked laughter echoed. Then it was replaced by the sound of his own skates. At the other goal, she skidded sideways in an awkward hockey stop and tried to regain momentum, heading back for the other end, but Carter had the experience, and he turned in two seconds. He passed her and pivoted to skate backward, adding insult to injury. She squinted at him and surged forward. Amusement played openly across his sharp features until he stopped and she didn't.
Jacey hadn't really considered the consequences of hurling herself at him. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And before she could reverse it, she collided against him with a solid thump. They spun in a circle, their legs tangled, and Carter fell backward. She had no choice but to follow.
Katie married the military man of her dreams, so home is wherever the Air Force sends them. She loves hockey and writes about hockey love. Her fictional team is the Las Vegas Sinners, and her real-world team is the Pittsburgh Penguins. She likes strong, capable heroines who bring out the vulnerability in their tough guys. Visit her here, http://www.katiekenyhercz.com.
Her Knight in Black Leather by JM Stewart
Cat Edwards has spent her life playing the wallflower in an effort to escape the repressive weight of her mother’s tarnished name. Dragged to a bar by her best friend in an effort to forget a broken heart, the shy bookworm is determined to be someone else for the night, but quickly gets in over her head. She discovers chivalry isn’t dead after all when a mysterious stranger comes to her rescue. He’s wearing black leather and a mischievous smile that promises to be exactly what she needs.
When his terminally ill father suffers a setback, Michael Brant returns to the town he swore ten years ago he’d never return to. He’s come back this time determined to make peace with the past, but being home brings up memories he doesn’t want to remember anymore. His first night in town, he’s captured by a damsel in distress. Cat’s beauty is made all the more alluring when he realizes she has no idea who he is. He can’t resist spending a single night in her arms. With her, he’s only a man, disconnected from his family’s name and the past that haunts him here.
As the town erupts with the news of his return, Michael’s dark past comes back to haunt him, putting Cat in danger. Someone is threatening her life and the life of her family. Desperate to keep history from repeating itself, Michael offers her his family’s name in order to keep her safe. When the lie spirals beyond their control, can they stop their hearts from becoming entangled as well?
A beat of silence passed, and Michael let out a heavy exhalation behind her, a sound of acceptance, defeat, dejection. He stepped up behind her, his warm, solid body pressing against her back, pinning her where she stood. Reaching around her, he opened a cabinet door, revealing a shelf full of glasses and mugs. “Because I was afraid.”
His words and the truth behind them settled into her core. She knew that feeling. Too well. “Of what?”
“What did you need from me last night, Cat?” His hot breath teased her neck, the sensitive skin below her earlobe, and images invaded her mind. Of his mouth latching on there, leaving his mark. The possessive look in his eyes when he plunged inside her body, claimed her as his. How simultaneously wrong and right it felt to be claimed that way. They were strangers, yet deep down, she couldn’t deny she gave him a piece of herself last night.
“I wanted the fantasy. You were a little wild, a little dangerous. A Harley-riding bad boy in black leather with a wicked gleam in your eye who challenged anyone to try to judge you.”
A faint chuckle sounded behind her, so infectious one corner of her mouth curled in response.
“You were everything I wanted to be and exactly the type of man I never go for.”
J.M. writes what she likes to call sweet and spicy contemporary romance. She’s a stay-at-home mom who lives in Seattle Washington, with her husband, two boys, and their two very spoiled puppies. She’s been devouring romances for as long as she can remember. Visit her at http://authorjmstewart.com/
Spiraling by Rachel Cross
Blue-blooded Amelia “Amy” Astor was a champion, America's sweetheart, and on track to give the US Olympic medal glory before she gave it all up to join skating's equivalent of the circus. Now she's a professional princess, the lead in Enchanted Ice. But in an industry that values young, cheap, and healthy, her age, salary, and injuries are a liability.
So when she's offered a job teaching Hollywood heartthrob Shane Marx to skate for a role in a hockey film, she leaps at the opportunity. Maybe with the right kind of exposure, she can survive one more season and put off decisions about her future a little longer. If she invites the wrong kind of exposure …well, there's that pesky morals clause waiting in the wings.
Shane Marx traded his boy band dance moves in TruAchord for acting lessons years ago. His blond, blue-eyed gorgeousness makes him the most sought after romantic comedy lead in the movie industry. But lately his clean-cut image has been tarnished by one sex scandal after another.
When America's ice princess meets Hollywood's hottest leading man, what could go wrong? Inside that sequined costume is a woman of steely determination who has conquered many of her demons. And beneath his sinfully attractive exterior, Shane Marx is a man still battling his.
“Am I being played here?” Shane asked.
“I'm not going to try to take naked photos, if that's what you're asking,” Amy said.
He ignored the dig. “Why did you agree to go out with me?”
“You're hot,” she said, playing with a strand of hair, blinking up at him with her best princess smile.
“I think you're here with me for the same reason I'm with you.”
“Publicity,” he said.
She stilled. “Is that why you asked me out?”
“My agent encouraged it. He's in the throes of panic over my image,” he stated.
“He's the one who set up the . . .” she glanced around furtively, “lessons.”
“I need the lessons, obviously, but he's trying to kill two birds with one stone here.” Shane said.
So he was using her the same way she was using him. “Why me?”
“You have to ask? Amelia Astor, princess, New England blue-blood. You're the ideal woman to rehab my image.”
It was the way he said it. As though he would never in a million years be seen with her otherwise.
“And here you are just in time to resuscitate my contract with Enchanted Ice.” Amy raised her glass.
“Cheers,” she said, without the slightest bit of pique reflected in her tone.
Goaded, she stretched out a hand and laid it, palm down on his rock hard, jean clad thigh, one finger tracing a pattern on the soft cotton. She leaned in and whispered, “I'm not incorruptible.”
He tilted his head back, and she watched his throat work as he finished his drink in one swallow and scooted closer. “No?”
“It doesn't have to be fiction, but I don't do fidelity,” he said as his long fingers tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear and he shot her a half-smile that sent a throb of excitement through her traitorous body.
Fueled by black jelly-beans and Pinot noir, Rachel Cross writes contemporary romance with brave heroines and sexy heroes. She lives in coastal California, with her surfer/pilot husband and two daughters. Her past includes stints as a firefighter, paramedic, clinical manager and Weekly World News tabloid model. Visit her at http://readrachelcross.com.
Beginning Again by Peggy Bird
When Liz Fairchild's husband leaves her for a younger man, she decides it's time to start over. So she sells her house, takes her generous community property settlement and opens an art gallery in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon. A little sweat equity, some interesting art to exhibit, assistance from a surprising source and she's ready to open.
Enter Collins, an up and coming sculptor who also happens to be young, sexy and determined to bulldoze his way into Liz's gallery, her life and her bedroom. He succeeds on all levels. His art is a hit in her gallery; his "to do" list for the bedroom eye-opening and his attention to her like nothing she's ever known.
But something isn't quite right. He disappears for hours at a time, returning from "business" looking unhappy and acting withdrawn. What's he keeping from Liz? Is it another woman? Another gallery? A family?
And does she want to get closer to this man or run as fast as she can to keep herself from being hurt?
“What the hell are we doing?” Liz Fairchild didn’t bother hiding her irritation from her ex-husband. “When I agreed to have lunch with you, I expected food and a martini, not a tour of Northwest Portland.”
“Bombay Sapphire is good gin but pouring it over a few ice cubes doesn’t make it a martini,” Mason Fairchild said with a grin, “even if you do throw in a couple olives. Although I’ve always been pretty sure you know that.”
“Po-ta-to, po-tah-to.” Dismissing his comment with a wave of her hand, she persisted. “Answer the question—where are we going?”
“You’ll see in a minute. We’re just about there.” After maneuvering his Mercedes around a streetcar stopped to pick up passengers, he pulled into a small parking lot behind what looked like a row of townhomes, nosed the car into a parking space and cut the engine. “This is it.”
“And what would IT be?”
“A live/work space a client of mine has on the market for a very attractive price.”
“If I knew what a live/work space was, that might impress me. But since I don’t, I’m back to asking why I’m not sitting at your favorite restaurant with a martini in front of me.”
“Patience has never been your virtue, has it?”
She pursed her mouth and cocked her head. “You of all people should know just how patient and understanding…”
“I apologize. You’re right.” He unfastened his seat belt and leaned over to do the same for her. “Just extend your understanding for another fifteen minutes and I promise there’ll be gin in your very near future.”
Peggy Bird is a writer and glass artist who lives and works in Vancouver, Washington across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon where most of her stories are set and where her three daughters, four grandchildren and two granddogs live. Visit her at http://www.peggybirdwrites.net.
Falling for You by Heather Thurmeier
Newly single Cassidy Quinn is thrilled to be a contestant on the new reality dating show The One. But her excitement turns to horror when the gorgeous bachelor turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. Seeing Brad again makes Cassidy realize she might not be as "over him" as she thought-and then she meets hunky cameraman Evan Burke. After watching his brother lose his wife in a tragic accident, Evan vows never to fall in love. But following Cassidy around as her personal cameraman makes him question his decision, and resisting her gets harder with every sunbathing, bikini-wearing day.
Cassidy and Evan begin a forbidden affair while her ex-boyfriend tries to win her heart back one groping, awkward moment at a time. If Cassidy can manage to stop falling off horses (literally), stop falling onto her ex-boyfriend, the bachelor (yes, literally), and stop falling in love with backstage playboy Evan, she might still make it through the show without becoming a tabloid sensation. But soon Cassidy must choose between the ex who broke her heart and the cameraman who might never love her back. For Cassidy, this reality show just got real.
“Stay still, Corona,” she pleaded, patting the horse on the shoulder. She swung her leg over the horse, determined to successfully complete one dismount before the challenge ended.
Her arms shook as she lowered herself carefully from the saddle, finally giving up their fight part way down. Gravity took her the last few feet and she hit the ground with both feet, stumbling backward a step before bumping into something solid.
“How, Cassidy? How do you always end up in my arms?” Evan’s voice rumbled in her ear, his warm breath on her earlobe making her girly bits tingle.
She found her footing and turned in his arms. She could see the dust and dirt clinging to his five o’clock shadow, his brow beaded with sweat. He desperately needed a shower and there was nothing she could have fantasized about more than being in one with him. Instead, she pushed herself back from him and swallowed her urge to climb him like a jungle gym.
“What can I say? I guess I just keep falling for you,” she said, before her brain caught up to her mouth and she was able to censor herself.
Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas, a hater of spiders, and a reality TV junkie. Her passion is contemporary romance—writing stories filled with laugh out loud moments, uber-hunky heroes, feisty heroines, and always a happily ever after. Visit her at http://heatherthurmeier.com.
Drawn to Jonah by Jennifer DeCuir
Quinn Baker followed her dreams of becoming an artist to New York City. But one failed marriage later and she realizes she has nothing to show for her fancy life in the city but a diploma she’s done absolutely nothing with.
Now with news of her grandmother’s death, Quinn heads back home to reconnect with the only family she has left, her sister, and figure out what she is supposed to be doing with her life. She finds an ally in handyman Jonah Goodwin. The widower asks an intriguing favor—teach him to read. The more time Quinn spends with Jonah and his adorable little daughter, Lily, the more she begins to rediscover herself, her passion for her drawing, and her longing for a child and a family of her own.
Illiteracy has kept Jonah from forging friendships and building a career his daughter could be proud of. Hiding his secret has always been a full time job. Yet something about Quinn inspires trust—she helps Jonah gain the confidence he needs to make a better life for Lily. But can she show him that, he too, is deserving of love?
Add in a dash of fairy magic and matchmaking from beyond the grave, and suddenly this small town has a lot more excitement than anything Quinn could find in the city.
Jonah was standing at the sink with his back to Quinn. Or rather, with his backside to Quinn. She paused for a moment, enjoying the view. Until she realized that Jonah was looking at her reflection in the kitchen window. If she weren’t so mortified, having been caught checking out the handyman’s butt, she might have noticed the fact that he seemed to enjoy the attention.
“Um,” she gestured at the gurgling coffeemaker.
“Yeah, I’d like some. Thanks.” Jonah grinned.
He peeked in on Lily, who was curled up on the couch, wrapped in Nanny’s crazy colored afghan. They sat down at the table, the silence awkward. Jonah looked agitated.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he blurted.
There it was. Her instincts were spot on. She nodded.
“I’ve been trying to come up with the right way to ask this.” Jonah drummed his fingers on the tabletop, his expression sheepish.
He was going to ask her out! She had to tell him no. It wouldn’t work. But he was so good looking, such a loving father. He made her feel things she had no business feeling. Oh, what the hell—she’d go out with him. Just this once.
“Okay, here’s the deal.” He breathed deep and leaned in close. “I was hoping that you would...teach me to read.”
Wow, it must have been the paint fumes coming off his speckled T-shirt, because Quinn could have sworn that Jonah just asked her to teach him to read.
Jennifer DeCuir is a busy mom still trying to figure out how to balance carpooling, volunteering and homework with writing time. Coffee helps … a lot. Visit her at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7255055.Jennifer_DeCuir
Save My Soul by Elley Arden
Psychotherapist Maggie Collins has always been a little off the proverbial wall, but now she’s also knee deep in a delayed quarter-life crisis. With her meager paychecks devoured by student loan debt, a car payment, and rent for office space, living at home with a flighty, folk-singing mother seemed like a good idea . . . at first. Now Maggie’s not so sure. She wants space to sort things out and launch a life of her own, but she needs a cushion of cash to get there. When an unexpected phone call brings an offer Maggie can’t refuse, she’s one deal with the devil away from moving out of her mother’s house.
The devil of contract negotiations, baseball agent Jordon Kemmons, has a problem the usual experts can’t fix . . . his star pitcher is too depressed to throw strikes. Even worse, Jordon's post-divorce grudge against women is turning him into a raging mess. If desperate times call for desperate measures, then cynical Jordon has made the most desperate move of all. He's hoping sexy psychotherapist Maggie Collins is the answer to all his rusty prayers.
Soon Maggie and Jordon are fighting an attraction that threatens everything they’ve ever believed. If it’s not just physical attraction . . . if it’s something more, maybe two wrongs can make a right.
Jordon didn’t stop at the end of the cart. He came around and grabbed her by the hips. “We’re done with this conversation. I’m not going to let you push me away because of your misguided notions and over analysis.”
Her mouth opened at his absurd insults. Before she could say a word, his fingers rested on her chin and he closed her jaw.
“Maggie, transference is bull shit. Freud was a flake. You shrinks like to wield power over weak-minded patients. I’m not weak, and I’m not your patient.” He slid his thumb across her bottom lip. “I do…feel exactly the way I said I do, but I won’t say it again until I’m damn sure you’re going to say it back. Until then, keep your shrink wrap away from my head. There’s enough going on in there without you digging around.”
Despite the hypnotic sensation of his thumb stroking her lip, she couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “I find you offensive.”
“No you don’t.”
Jordon leaned his face closer, and she swallowed. Her tongue reflexively brushed over her lip, tasting the tip of his thumb. He stepped into her, and she swallowed again, knowing his mouth would be covering hers in the middle of a busy supermarket. But the minute his arm wound around her waist, she didn’t care where they were. She wanted him to take what he wanted and leave her begging for more.
Elley Arden is a proud Pennsylvania girl who drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness. Visit her at http://elleyarden.com.
Destination Wedding by Robyn Neeley
Wedding planner Kate Ashby’s fear of flying is eased by a sexy stranger and one slow lip lock that rockets her into another obit.
CEO Luke Cannon has just traded seats with his identical twin. Little did he know that an innocent kiss while pretending he was his brother would soon create havoc.
What happens in the air doesn’t stay up there. Once on tropical land, Kate believes that the handsome stranger who gave her the best kiss of her life is now her new client, Drew Cannon, fiancé to the beautiful and wealthy Lauren Kincaid. While Kate struggles with the intense feelings she thinks she has for Drew, Luke discovers Kate’s been hired to plan his brother’s destination wedding. He also realizes the initial sparks they shared 30,000 feet up are now mistakenly aimed at Drew.
Can Luke get Kate to realize that the feelings she has are for him? He’s got forty-eight hours in paradise to try.
“Kate, I was expecting you.” He chuckled and pointed to her side. “Do you need some help with that?”
Kate looked down in horror. She had forgotten to zip up her dress! Her lacy blue bra and matching thong strap were visible. She yanked up the side zipper. “You have something of mine,” she said icily.
“Your dress from last night. Here it is.” He pulled back the closet door and handed it to her. “Looks like they were able to get the tomato juice stain out. Good as new.”
“Thank you.” She clutched the dress and turned to leave. On impulse, she spun back around. “You know. You’re an ass.”
He smiled down at her. His smile was just as warm as it had been last night. “I’ve been called worse. Listen, Kate, we need to talk. Let me get dressed real quick. Why don’t you come in and have some champagne.”
Kate peered in. Next to him was a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket and a glass plate of chocolate covered strawberries.
“I sent those to you and Lauren. There’s nothing to say. You, Drew Cannon, are my client. I don’t know what last night was about, but we will not be clinging champagne flutes unless it’s at your wedding!”
“Kate, you’ve got this all wrong. This isn’t what you think.”
“You commandeering my dress and posing as my boyfriend isn’t what happened?”
“Well, yes, but come in. I’ll explain everything. I think you’ll find it quite amusing.”
“There is nothing funny about my client being a lying, cheating schmuck.” She turned and headed back to her room.
The door slammed behind her.
“Kate, please stop. If you would just listen—”
She put her hand up to block his words. “Don’t follow me. I am only going to pretend to be nice to you because you are my client, and your wedding is going to catapult me to partner. I need this wedding to go off without a hitch.”
He swore under his breath.
“You don’t have to get nasty.” She pushed her keycard in and unlocked her door.
“No, it’s not you. I locked myself out.”
“Not my problem.” Kate entered her room and slammed the door.
“Kate. Come on,” he pleaded from the hallway. “At least let me borrow your phone to call housekeeping. You can’t leave me out here in a towel.”
“Consider it payback!” she yelled and peered out of the peephole. He had turned around. His beautifully sculpted backside was exactly as she had imagined. No tattoos, no scars. Pure perfection. Her nails would have a heyday…
Frustrated, she turned around and leaned against the door. So he has to go to the lobby in a towel to fetch a new key. He’d probably get some suggestive looks from women anxious to find out what was underneath it. That’s not payback. Her lips turned up in a devilish smirk. “But this is.” She gripped the door handle and flung it open.
“Thank you, Kate.” He started to enter. “I knew you wouldn’t leave me out here. I’ll only be a minute.”
“Not so fast.” She rested one hand on his chest and yanked off his towel with the other, leaving him naked. “I’ll just have this dry cleaned for you.”
She slammed the door and rolled up the towel, shoving it in the wastepaper basket. Now that was payback.
Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places; watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit; can’t live without Dunkin Donuts coffee and has never met a cookie she didn’t like. If you have a must read romance suggestion or a fabulous cookie recipe, she wants to know. Visit her at www.robynneeley.com.