Sunday, August 28, 2016

This is Aloha ....


Ua ola loko i ke aloha.
Love gives life within.

I created this blog in March 2010 during my first year in Hawaii.  It replaced an email newsletter I sent to romance readers who wanted to support military families. The blog grew to include book reviews, author interviews, Hawaiian culture, and international travel.

My blog allowed me to connect with other romance readers - we celebrated the hope in our beloved books.  We also mailed hundreds of letters to deployed personnel.  


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`A`ohe lokomaika`i i nele i ke pâna`i.
No kind deed has ever lacked its reward.

My part time job is now migrating to full time work. I also have increased responsibilities with my ohana. Thus, I am taking a temporary hiatus from SOS Aloha.

I will still post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I will post the links to those reviews on Facebook (link) and Twitter (link) - make sure you follow me on Social Media!

Likewise, I will continue to post travel adventures over at ALOHA ON MY MIND (link).

I welcome your emails to chit chat at sos.aloha@yahoo.com.


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He kehau ho`oma`ema`e ke aloha.
Love is like a cleansing dew.

I have contacted this week's winners.  I still have books to giveaway ... I'll let you know via Facebook and Twitter when I am hosting giveaways!

Thank you for being a part of my journey as a reader, reviewer, blogger, and advocate for military families. 

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City




Saturday, August 27, 2016

Aloha to Jodi Thomas and SUNRISE CROSSING (Ransom Canyon Book 4)

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Return to peaceful Crossroads, Texas—where community comes first and love thrives in the unlikeliest places—with SUNRISE CROSSING, the fourth title in the six-book Ransom Canyon series by New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas. The sweeping drama, and the story of a rugged hero and mysterious heroine set against the beautiful Texas landscape, will delight fans of Western romance.

Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can't stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting?

The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy…

Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he'll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.


SUNRISE CROSSING is available wherever books are sold and at HQNBooks.com.


Check out this book trailer with gorgeous scenery for Western Romance at this link.


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A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.

With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at jodithomas.com.

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I am giving away a print copy of LONE HEART PASS, Book 3 in the series, to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about sunrises - where have you seen one?  I enjoyed a gorgeous sunrise while camping with the Boy Scouts on Bellow Air Force Recreation Center - a beach in Hawaii!

2. Comments are open through Saturday, September 3, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll contact the winner on Sunday, September 4.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City




Friday, August 26, 2016

Aloha to Nancy Lee Badger, Clan of Dragons, and SPARK


Aloha!  This morning, I borrowed the time machine from the Big Bang Theory to jump ahead in Nancy Lee Badger's CLAN OF DRAGON series - I spotlighted SMOKE, Book 2 (link), without first introducing SPARK, Book 1.  Nancy joins me again to put us on the right timeline ...


Over a decade ago, when my youngest son joined the United States Army, and took on the job of communications specialist, he got a tattoo. You have to understand that this was the first tattoo that anyone in our family had gotten, and it was a big one. A dragon covered a good portion of his back, and he was so proud of it. He was 18, and was no longer my responsibility, BUT I told him that the next time I wrote a Scottish novel filled with dragons, he would be my cover model.

Fast-foreword to 2016. I had decided to write a series called Clan of Dragons, and the time had come to take advantage of my son. He had served in Iraq, had attained the rank of Drill Sergeant, and had retired from service. However, “What momma wants, momma gets.”

Eric travels all over the country as a cell tower inspector, but when he planned to stop by to do his laundry, and share lunch with me, I suggested he bring his collection of swords and dirks (shorter blades worn at the waist.) While waiting for him to drive over from his apartment, I pulled out his dad’s Clan MacBean red and black kilt, and dug out my red wig. A sheet stapled to the deck wall made the background, and I snapped 14-15 poses. The next thing was to pick a pose that matched the theme of my story. I purchased a photo of the Black Cuillin Hills on the Scottish island of Skye, where the series is based, and used Photoshop to ‘color’ the kilt to match the purple kilt in my story. The result became the cover of SPARK, the first book in the series.


I am using other poses for the next book, SMOKE which transforms Eric into a blond wearing a green kilt, holding a dirk. He is very proud of helping me with this project, which came about because of the dragon tattoo on his back. That part is un-retouched!

A dragon by any other name would still breathe sparks.

Book Blurb for SPARK, Clan of Dragons, Book #1

What can a young dragon do to prove to his older brothers that he is their clan’s best chance to save their species? In the Black Cuillin Hills, on Scotland’s Isle of Skye, Evan heads to the village of Morhban to find a way to interact with humans. To learn their language and customs, and to get close enough to a red-haired beauty to mate with her, the brown-winged purple dragon shifts into a copper-colored horse. When his new hooves protect her from Lord Toal MacMorgan’s inappropriate demands with a well-placed kick, she thanks Evan by brushing his silky coat. Things are looking up.

When an unfamiliar horse kicks Toal into the creek, releasing Vika from his roaming hands, her appreciation turns to horror. A sputtering Toal demands that the animal die. Anger makes Vika agree to a wager. A three day hunt will determine the fate of the horse she names Spark. Failure will mean his death, and the loss of her freedom. Pirates, wolves, a wild boar, and a handsome stranger lead her on a wild ride. She discovers her heart is in as much danger as her life.


An excerpt from SPARK ...

Unfurling his wings, Evan arched his back. He flapped the thin leathery membranes, and the sun turned their normally muddy brown into the color of melted copper. He gazed at his older brothers. “I propose we head to the village, land in the forest, and watch the villagers go about their day. An idea will spark inside of me, and I shall begin me quest for a mate.”

Dougal said nothing, but nodded his huge, red-scaled head. Wynn sighed, and unfurled his snowy wings in silent agreement. They acted like they doubted he could accomplish such a feat.

Evan jumped into the air. As his wings snapped and propelled him into the morning sky, Wynn followed him. He did not look back to see if Dougal followed them. He had faith in his oldest brother to do the right thing.

Although one future had died with Cliona and her unborn bairn, Dougal was still a young two hundred and thirty-eight years, and strong. He was a mighty warrior, and he would come around, should their experiment bear fruit.

That fruit would be a bairn. Evan’s offspring. The thought of mating with anyone made Evan’s head swim, and he flapped his wings with renewed gusto, and shot even farther ahead of his brethren. Something surged through him. Something akin to hope pierced his chest, right through to his dragon heart. He had a feeling luck was on his side, and an adventure would give Dougal hope that he might find another mate. With his brothers at his back, how could he lose?

Buy Links 


More About the Author

Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, this former Army Mom moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Association of Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games surrounded by…kilts!

Connect with Nancy Lee Badger
Blog 

Nancy is givig away a digital copy of SPARK to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. If you picked the colors for your "clan", what would they be?

2. Comments are open through Saturday, August 27, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 28. 

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Book 2 in the series ...


Aloha to Nancy Lee Badger, Dragons as Warriors, and SMOKE (Clan of Dragons Book 2)


Nancy Lee Badger joins us for a guest post ...

When I decided to write a series called Clan of Dragons, the time had come to take advantage of my son. He had served in Iraq, had attained the rank of Drill Sergeant, and had retired from service, but I told him many years ago that I wanted to use him as a cover model the next time I wrote a series that included dragons. The reason? The large dragon tattoo on his back. Since Eric travels all over the country as a cell tower inspector, getting him to visit on a sunny day, so I could photograph him outside on my deck, took some planning. 



The day came, and he brought his collection of swords and dirks, and I snapped over a dozen poses of him dressed in his dad’s Clan MacBean red and black kilt.. I purchased a photo of the foggy peaks on the Scottish island of Skye, where the series is based, and used Photoshop to ‘color’ the kilt to match the green kilt in my story, and added blond hair. The result became the cover of SMOKE, the second book in the series.


I am using other poses for the next book, SMOLDER, which transforms Eric into a warrior with long black hair. I am very proud of my son’s service to his country, and for helping his mom with this project.

A dragon beneath a full moon might howl, but would still breathe smoke.

Book Blurb for SMOKE, Clan of Dragons, Book #2

The green dragon tumbles off a craggy peak, and lands in a pile of snow. When someone walks on Wynn’s head, he jumps free, and accidentally slams a wolf against a tree. When the unconscious beast shifts into a naked female, explanations are in order. Wynn enjoys shifting into a wolf to run through the forest, but she is a stranger. When she wakens, he explains he and his two brothers mean her no harm. After she allows them to carry her injured body into a cave, his brother Evan’s mate, Vika, cares for her. Kera reveals she is hunting a human, who might be a pirate. Wary about the golden-haired shifter’s mission, Wynn fears for her safety, and his heart.

While tracking the human who murdered her lover, Kera awakens in deep snow to dragons staring at her. One looks as if he wants to eat her, and the other smells like smoke. With an injured hip, and no energy to shift back into her wolf, she allows a pretty human to care for her. The dragons take up her search, but the pirates enter the cave. Kera leads the pregnant human into the underground river. Only by fighting for their lives do they escape. While assisting a human lad in the village, a man recognizes her, and abducts her. Wynn shows up in human form, and they fight against the man who is the cause of her nightmares. Her wolf pack wants her back, but the dragon has stolen her heart. Will she stay in Wynn’s bed, return to her pack, or possibly die while killing her lover’s murderer? Either way, her life will forever change.

Amazon AUS

Excerpt from SMOKE ...

The odor of the dragon’s breath overpowered the scent of pine and fresh-fallen snow. Kera ran a hand down her leg, and didn’t feel any blood, but the limb throbbed. When heavy footsteps grew closer, a momentary wish to dip her body into the nearest fairy pool disappeared. How foolish. The urge to escape beneath its cool, clear water, or feel the massaging action of a cascading waterfall, was not strong enough to forget her current predicament, or the wintry weather.

The dragon moved toward her as it circled the tree. Its long white fangs glistened, and its hot breath melted the snow at her feet. Kera searched the area for a weapon. Unfortunately, the snow around the tree was heavy, and had covered everything.

Gazing upward, she thought to grab a limb and climb to safety, but she stopped when an odd voice said, “I apologize.” Who spoke to her in the presence of a dragon? Curiosity would be her downfall someday, but she peered from behind the tree and saw the green dragon, and only the dragon.

“Did you…say something?”

I be speaking to a dragon? Did I hit me head as well?

“Aye, lass,” the dragon said. “I apologized. I did not mean to throw you so hard, but your wolf form surprised me. There be friends of mine nearby whom I wish to protect. I can…ahh…see you be not only a wolf.”

With her secret out, a weight lifted from her shoulders. “I, also, apologize. I hope I did not hurt you by walking on your head. I heard something fall from the mountain, then I smelled you and…I was too curious for me own good.”

“You have a lovely smile, but I see pain in your eyes. Be you injured?”

She nodded, then immediately wondered if admitting her vulnerability made her a target. While contemplating her next move, the dragon leaned closer and sniffed her hip.

“No blood. You should come with me.”

Before she could answer with a resounding nay, a roar shook the tree, and dumped snow from the branches above them, onto their heads.


Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, this former Army Mom moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Association of Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games surrounded by…kilts!

Blog 

Thank you, Nancy, for your family's service!  Nancy is giving away a digital copy of SMOKE to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about heights and/or tattoos .... would you climb a cell tower?  Do you have a tattoo?  That's a negative on both accounts for me!

2. Comments are open through Saturday, August 27, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 28.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

My favorite dragon is Nessie, often seen from Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Aloha to Julie Lence and Western Romance

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Two weeks ago, hubby and I visited Colorado Springs.  While hubby golfed, I soaked up the local sights.  As I walked down Old Colorado City, I noticed a poster for Julie Lence's book signing.  I invited Julie to be a guest on my blog:

Julie was born and raised in upstate New York. She married her high school sweetheart and accompanied him on his twenty-year career with the United States Air Force. Presently, she resides in the Pikes Peak region, where she’s a stay-at-home mom enjoying a career writing western historical romance.

Throughout her school years, Julie enjoyed reading and writing. A friend introduced her to the romance genre in the late 80’s and she was instantly hooked. She credits Judith McNaught’s flawless voice and Johanna Lindsey’s addictive and endearing Malory family as her inspirations to pen her own novels. Combining her fondness for horses, John Wayne’s cowboy persona, and the television series, Dallas, she settled into writing western historical romance series early in her career.

Julie self-publishes her work at Amazon.com. She also edits and designs her own covers. When she’s away from her computer, she enjoys taking care of her family and home, exploring the Rocky Mountains and meeting fans of the romance genre.

Learn more about Julie and her books at julielence.com.

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Thule AFB, Greenland
Public Domain (link)

Kim: Thank you for serving as a military spouse! Can you share a funny moment during your military travel?

Julie: Hi Kim. Thank you for having me as your guest today. My husband served 20 years with the Air Force. During that time he did one remote tour to Greenland. The rest of his assignments were stateside. We met people from all different parts of the United States and became great friends with many.

Our moves were generally hassle free, with a lot of drive time. The only move that rattled me was our final move back to Colorado for retirement. A few pieces of furniture were broken and some odd things went missing. As for funny stories, I don’t have any that will make you laugh out loud, but one I thought strange was our first move from Scott AFB to McGuire AFB. The movers were at our apartment packing when someone from the base moving office showed up to see how things were progressing. He and one of the packers had a lengthy discussion on how lamp shades should be packed. The man from the base was very adamant the shades should be packed his way, and he had his reason. The mover didn’t really care, as he had done a good job wrapping and protecting them inside a box. Strange exchange and one I remember 30 years later. 

Pike's Peak

Kim: Tell us about the Pike's Peak region - what is your favorite sight, sound, and smell?

Julie: Back in the 90’s, the hubby drew an assignment to Cheyenne Mountain Air Station. I was excited to come here, as I have a love for all things western and Colorado is a beautiful state. We fell in love with the Rocky Mountains so much we retired here.

The Pikes Peak region is home to close to 500,000, and is a big tourist area. We have Garden of the Gods Park, the Air Force Academy, and just to the south, the Royal Gorge Bridge. One of my favorite things to do is walk around Old Colorado City and visit the gift shops. Much of the western décor in my home came from some of those shops, and the shops in Manitou Springs. We have excellent Mexican food and steaks here, but my absolute favorite is seeing Pikes Peak almost every day from my front porch. (Some days the clouds are so low, they completely cover the mountains.) And watching a rain shower move off the peak across town. I live on the east side and it takes about 30 minutes for a storm to reach me from the peak. Another favorite is taking a drive thru the mountains and inhaling the scent of pine. And distance here is very deceiving. Pikes Peak is about 20 miles from my home, yet on some days it looks to be 2 miles away. The same applies to the Spanish Peaks in the southern part of the state. They are about 100 miles from me, and on a clear day a visitor would never guess they’re that far away. My last, but not least, favorite things are the horse farms and the antelope herds.

Garden of the Gods

Kim: What did you learn about yourself as you navigated the self pubbing route?

Julie: That I could publish a book on my own, and that I could design my own covers and actually like doing that since I stunk in art class. I am very dumb when it comes to computer technology, but Amazon makes it easy to self-publish an e-book and Create Space makes it easy to self-publish the print version. If I have questions or run into a problem, both sites have a professional and friendly staff to help solve problems. But the best part is having total control over the entire process, from writing and editing the story to designing the cover. As soon as I hit that last button on Amazon to make the book available for purchase, I feel a rush of happiness and pride unlike anything I experienced working outside the home.

Royal Gorge Bridge

Kim: What's next for Julie Lence?

Julie: Currently, I’m working on a new series. My first series featured 3 cowboy brothers. My second series featured 3 outlaws. This new series features 3 step brothers who are outlaws. Working with 
cowboys is fun, but outlaws are even better. Untamed, they can do or say just about anything.

Cog railway rounding Windy Point circa 1900.
Public Domain (link)

Mahalo, Julie, for your family's service!  I am giving away Air Force swag to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about Colorado - what do you know about the Centennial State?  I know its home to the United States Air Force Academy outside Colorado Springs.

2. Comments are open through Saturday, August 27, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 28.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Helen Hunt Falls near Cheyenne Mountain
Public Domain (link)



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Washington Loves Readers Luncheon - Spotlight on MK Meredith


Reminder - I have a special giveaway for August at this link.

The Washington Romance Writers (WRW) are hosting their annual Reader Luncheon (link) on Saturday, October 8, 2016. I look forward to meeting MK Meredith:

I've had a lifelong love affair with peanut butter -- the only two things coming close in the battle for my affections are gorgeous heels, and maybe Gerard Butler...or was it David Gandy? Who am I kidding? My true loves are my husband and two children who have survived my SEA's (spontaneous explosions of affection) and lived to tell the tale. 

I've been reading romance long before I should have and can’t think of anything better than to fill my life with the promise of happily-ever-afters.

Why romance? ~ There is nothing more exhilarating than to write about one of the most powerful entities on earth. Love can be the fall of kingdoms and move mountains, destroy lives and create new life, inspire the dark and summon the light. Love is a challenge, a hope, and a miracle all wrapped into one. Love is life. I write about life.

Learn more about MK and her books at mkmeredith.com.


MK is gearing up for the release of SEDUCING THE TYCOON, available September 19 from Entangled Publishing:

International tycoon Drago De Luca has the world at his feet and he knows it. But back home in Italy, his beloved grandmother's family inn is on the verge of closing down for good, thanks to hotshot American heiress, Chase Huntington, and her new hotel. Drago has to protect Nonna's inn, even if it means getting close enough to Chase to convince her she needs to leave. But the more time he spends with Chase, the more he's drawn to her passion, her love of his culture, and the way she looks in those Louis Vuitton heels.

Chase Huntington would give anything to enjoy her time with charming, sexy-as-hell Drago in the style capital of the world, but she has to make sure the new Huntington hotel opens successfully. How else can she prove she's not just fashionista with a fortune—she’s an heiress savvy enough to take over the family’s biggest hotel back in California? But somewhere between boutiques and business plans, she falls head over Louboutins for Drago. But when Drago's true motive for spending so much time with her comes to light, it could destroy everything Chase built and everything she thought she found in Italy.

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I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about peanut butter - love it or loathe it?  I love miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

2. Comments are open through Saturday, August 27, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, August 28.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Aloha to Erin Nicholas and TWISTED UP (Taking Chances Book One)

 

Reminder - I have a special giveaway for August at this link.

Avery Sparks is a master at controlling chaos—and she gets plenty of opportunities as fire chief and head of emergency management in her hometown of Chance, Nebraska. The only thing she can’t seem to control are her feelings when she’s around Jake Mitchell, the man who was her first everything the night of their high school graduation. But Jake was so quick to leave Chance—and Avery—behind that she swore she’d move on.

While Avery’s job is to minimize drama, Jake embraces the chaos of an emergency. After enlisting in the Army National Guard, Jake became a nationally recognized leader in disaster recovery. Yet a life on the road has left him restless. So when a class-four tornado wreaks havoc on Chance, he’s eager to return home—and to the woman never far from his mind.

Now, Avery and Jake must team up to help their hometown weather a siege of violent storms. But it’s clear to them both that nature isn’t the only force they’ll have to reckon with. Will Avery and Jake’s whirlwind love affair be an all-new disaster—or can they recover from their stormy past to build a future together?



Erin Nicholas was fourteen when she first fell in love with love stories. Not long after that she started writing romances of her own, often spending family vacations in the backseat filling notebooks with stories. Now the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sapphire Falls series writes about women getting their happily ever after with humor, heart, and hope. From the fireworks of that first kiss to the thrill of passion, Nicholas strives to create novels that celebrate the magic of true love.

Learn more about Erin and her books at erinnicholas.com.

Nebraska State Capital
Public Domain (link)

Montlake Romance is hosting a special giveaway at this link .... and offers and excerpt from TWISTED UP:

“I’ve got stuff to do.” Avery didn’t stop walking. 

She also pulled her hand away when Jake tried to grab it.

Oh, really?

He glanced around and located an open door to an empty room. He reached out and grabbed Avery’s belt and pulled her to stop.

“Hey!”

He turned her and pushed her into the room, stepped in behind her, and kicked the door shut.

“Jake!”

It was an empty conference room from the looks of it. He still turned her so her back was against the door so no one would come barging in.

Then he braced a hand on the door beside her ear.

“We’re supposed to like each other and get along.”

“So?”

“So running away from me doesn’t really make it seem like you like me.”

Avery slumped against the door. “You put her up to this, didn’t you?” she asked. “You asked Shelby to help you come up with some way that I have to be around you all the time and put up with all your . . . stuff . . . so that you can see if I’ll keep reacting to you and your . . . kissing and . . . touching.”

She was cute when she was so worked up that she stumbled over her words.

Jake leaned in a little and dropped his voice. “Honey, you’ve been reacting to my kissing and touching for a long time now.”

He felt the corner of his mouth start to curl at the flash of fury in her eyes.

Yes, he pushed her buttons on purpose.

But it was so easy. And the results were awesome.

Avery was a gorgeous woman. When she was pissed, she became downright mesmerizing.

He would know.

“I thought I could do this. I thought it might be a good idea for everyone to see us working together. But I don’t know if it is, after all,” she finally said, shaking her head.

“This is absolutely going to work,” he told her. “All this requires is you acting like you love everything about being with me whenever we’re together. Oh, look, you already do. Piece of cake.”

“I do not act like I love everything about being with you whenever we’re together.”

“You sure about that? I could do a public-opinion poll—”

“I have too many other things to worry about,” she said. “I don’t have time to play around with you the whole time you’re here.”

The idea of her playing around with him was just too damned tempting.

“You heard Shelby and Frank—this is going to be good for the town to see us getting along and working together. Our relationship is as important—maybe more so—than all that other stuff you think you need to do.”

“The things I think I need to do?” she repeated, her eyebrows nearly at her hairline. “You mean my job? Keeping this town safe? Doing what they pay me to do?”

“No one’s asking you to shirk your duties,” he told her calmly.

Her pulse was drumming at the base of her throat, and her breathing was quick and shallow. Her cheeks were pink, too. She was worked up, but he knew it wasn’t about the idea of not getting all her work done.

It was because of him. Because he was standing so close now.

In fact, he’d maintained the theory for a while that she acted ticked off and frustrated with him in order to hide the physical reactions that came from something else entirely.

He knew how he could prove it.

Jake leaned in. “You still get to be the hot, in-charge fire chief,” he told her. “But now you get to hang out with me while you do it. Think of it as a job perk. Handed down from the mayor himself.”

Her eyes narrowed, but the pink staining her cheeks deepened, and her lips parted as she breathed in and out. It might look like anger on the surface, but then why did she let him move even closer, and put one hand on her hip, and dip his head, and touch her lips with his without a single protest?

In fact, she sighed as their lips met fully and she put her hand on his chest.

Jake angled his head, increasing the pressure of the kiss, but it wasn’t until Avery’s tongue licked out along his lower lip that he slid his hand into her hair, held her head in his palm, and really kissed her. 


Covered Wagon In Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska.jpg
Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska
Public Domain (link)