Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Running with the band - ONE MORE PROMISE

When I originally planned this series, I wanted it to be called "Rock and Roll Fantasy".  Unfortunately, I write sweet contemporaries so the word 'fantasy' was a no-no.  Or so I was told. When we decided to tie the series in to my Shaughnessy Brothers series, things just fell into place.  But we still needed a series title. What we eventually came up with was Band on the Run and honestly, it fit.  All three of the men in the series are running from something and while I was never a fan of the song, the title worked.

Just a little background information for you.
 ONE MORE PROMISE is book two in the series and focuses on bass player Dylan Anders and his life after a forced stint in rehab.  Doing his best to clean up his image and get his life back on track, he's faced with having to deal with some community service.  It comes in the form of a literacy campaign where he'll be one of their celebrity endorsers.  Good news for him, not so good news for the publicist in charge - Paige Walters. 

Paige wants a roster of authors and intellectuals.  What she gets once her bossy sister steps in and takes charge, is a group of celebrities she doesn't know - including Dylan.  And to add insult to injury, her main task is basically to watch over Dylan.  Needless to say, this doesn't go over well for either of them and sparks instantly fly.  Basically Dylan is trying to not come off as the same guy he used to be - the one who hit on and slept with all the women he worked with, and Paige doesn't think a guy like Dylan could possibly be interested in or attracted to her.

The struggle for both was real!

I had the MOST fun writing this book.  Part of it is because I love a musician hero (my own husband is a drummer), but mostly because Paige and Dylan were such opposites that I was able to do so much with them!  She's a nerdy-hipsterish girl and he's...well...a rebellious rock star!  Here was my inspiration/mood board for the book while I was writing:
Here's an exerpt from ONE MORE PROMISE:



   Turning, he saw Daisy walking toward him. She smiled brightly but seemed a little bit shy about approaching.
   “Hey, Daisy,” he said, smiling at her. “How are you?”
   She giggled softly. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?”
   He nodded. “I’m doing well, thanks for asking. Um…have you seen Paige? I can’t find her.”
   “Really?” Daisy asked, seeming confused. “She was by the door a minute ago.” She looked past him toward the entry and nodded. “Yup. There she is. You must have walked right by her.”
   Dylan turned around and looked toward the door, but he didn’t see Paige. He spotted a staff member talking to one of the
   Ho-ly… Words escaped him.
   He blinked hard and then focused again and swore his eyes were deceiving him.
   “She looks great, huh?” Daisy said from beside him. “But don’t tell her that. When I said it earlier she nearly bit my head off.”
   “Wait, she… What?” He turned his head to look at Daisy and found her nodding.
   “It’s true. She got ambushed by Ariel and her glam squad or something like that, and they gave her a makeover. I think she looks amazing, but she doesn’t want to hear that. Maybe her Spanx are a little too snug.”
   “Her… What the hell are Spanx?” he asked, but at this point, he didn’t care. He wanted to go over and talk to her.
   He needed a minute to…get his head in check.
   The dress she was wearing looked like it was made for her. It showcased all her curves. With all her layered dressing, Dylan never would have imagined she was hiding a body like this. All lush curves and a tiny waist and just… Wow. He felt himself starting to sweat. He was already struggling with the erotic dreams of her where he had no idea what was underneath her layered wardrobe. But now that he’d seen her like this?
   Yeah…he’d be wise never to close his eyes again.
   “That burgundy color looks amazing on her. That’s what I told her,” Daisy was saying beside him.     
   “It brings out her eyes. And that’s another thing—her contacts! She never wears them because she says they’re a pain, but look at her face without those glasses! Her eyes are naturally huge. All this time I thought they were getting magnified from the glasses, but they’re not. Go figure. And look at her hair…it’s like something out of a shampoo commercial! Why does she wear it in a ponytail if it can look like that?”
   “I gotta go,” he murmured and made his way toward Paige, feeling as if some invisible force was pulling him forward.
   His eyes scanned her from head to toe and the stilettos on her feet were the stuff of fantasies—superhigh, superskinny heels and tiny straps andDylan groaned. He needed to focus on something else before he reached her; otherwise, everyone would know what kind of thoughts he was having. Seriously, he was already getting hard, and the closer he got, the worse it was getting.
   Baseball stats.
   Guitar tuning.
   Chess.
   All these things were innocuous thoughts, and yet somehow, his mind had managed to turn them dirty.
   Baseball had him thinking of all the bases he’d like to reach with her.
   Guitar tuning had him imagining playing her the way he’d play a guitar.
   And naked chess.
   He was screwed.

ONE MORE PROMISE comes out on Tuesday and I cannot wait!!  You can preorder your copy now at  https://mailchi.mp/chasing-romance/one-more-promise 


And if you're looking to get caught up on the series, you can read book one now - ONE MORE KISS.  This is the story of Shaughnessy guitarist Matt Reed.  He's in crisis mode.  The band is on hiatus and Matt takes a chance on branching out and taking the lead in a Broadway show.  Unfortunately, it fails horribly - like it closes in 3 days!  Painfully embarrassed and being harassed by the paparazzi, Matt goes into hiding at the home of his best friend Aaron.  What he doesn't count on is Aaron's younger sister Vivienne or his attraction to her.  Or the fact that they have a bit of a history that he doesn't remember!

And the series really gets a big of an intro in The Shaughnessy Brothers series in THIS IS OUR SONG.  This is book four in the Shaughnessy series and focuses on Riley Shaughnessy who is the lead singer of the band named after him.  The band goes on hiatus and Riley is trying to put out a solo album.  The only problem is that he has writer's block and seriously doubting himself.  To buy himself a little time with his record label, he agrees to be interviewed by a popular music magazine.  When the beautiful Savannah Daly shows up to interview him, he's not sure which is worse - writer's block or fighting his attraction to the beautiful journalist.

Happy Reading, Friends!!



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Top Five Myths About the Glamorous Life of an Author


Five Myths About the Glamorous Life of an Author:

5.    That it’s glamorous at all. There are waaaay too many pairs of sweatpants involved for my life to be considered glamorous.

4.    That I lounge around, waiting for the muse to strike. Yeah…if I did that, I wouldn’t have completed even a full chapter. As with most jobs, the bulk of writing is drudgery. It’s a drudgery that I love and wouldn’t give up for any other job, but still…drudgery.

3.    That after I write the first draft of a book, my editor moves a few commas around, and then it’s ready for publication. Nope. My books change a LOT during edits. I’d say a third gets completely rewritten. If rough drafts were houses, mine wouldn’t be move-in ready. They’d be fixer-uppers (the super-scary, get-out-before-something-falls-on-us kind of fixer-uppers).

2.    That I control covers, blurbs, titles, pricing, sales, and other promo stuff. My marvelous publisher takes care of those things. When my inner micromanager rears her ugly head, I try to follow the kindergarten motto: “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” It usually works.


1.    That there’s some kind of fame involved. When I dropped off a set of my Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue books at my tiny local library, the librarian gave me an up-and-down look and asked, “You’re the author?” In her defense, I was wearing my Elmer Fudd hat. In my defense, it was very cold outside.


SURVIVE THE NIGHT (Book 3 in the Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series) is out Feb. 6, 2018!

 Survive the Night out Feb 6

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Flu

There's never a good time to be sick, but I have to say that my daughter always manages to pick the very worst times. Not that she chose to catch the flu, but I wish she could have caught it when we were off for Christmas or off for the ice storm. NOT when we were supposed to be getting back to a normal schedule.



So while I juggled all the various medicines she needs, doctor's appointments, and my writing deadlines, I also became an expert at how to entertain an elementary school child for 8 days of no school.

1. Find a series you can watch together, preferably one with multiple seasons.
This was easy. We'd been reading Little House on the Prairie, so I bought season 1 and we watched a few episodes every day.



2. Find easy crafts that have multiple steps.
Do one step, watch your series, then send her back to do the next step.

3. Make use of the camera feature in those ipads.
Kids can spend hours making videos of toys, dancing, singing, pets, or even pretending to give interviews.

4. Play school.
I emailed the teacher and had her send work from school. I told her it could just be classwork, not even stuff for a grade. I write while my daughter does schoolwork.

5. Find a good book.
Fortunately, my daughter is reading Harry Potter and is happy to read another chapter when she gets bored. But her reading stamina is only about 30 minutes. So I also found some good audio books she can listen to when she gets tired of reading.

So wash your hands, take your vitamins, and get enough sleep. But if the worst happens, now you have a plan.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Writing for charity

As writers we have a golden opportunity to share our feelings, hopes, or awareness without preaching, making our message palatable to a much wider audience. Moreover, we have the chance to change our world. For instance…

Tug of Attraction, Book 2 in The Love Spells Gone Wrong series, released in 2015 by Lachesis Publishing Inc.  A portion of the proceeds go to the Endometriosis Foundation to benefit research of this not uncommon, but rarely addressed disease. http://www.endofound.org/   My heroine Brigit has endo, so this isn't your typical romance! (Sex can be painful for a woman with endo.) http://www.books2read.com/tugofattraction

I'm thrilled to say my publisher has the ebook on sale everywhere for 99 cents until the end of the month! I'm also thrilled to tell you my daughter made the adorable cover and won The Maple Leaf award for best Cover! 
   
Blurb:
Failed actress Brigit Love moved back to New Hampshire from Hollywood with one goal: to have a child. So far her only babies are furry and live at the animal shelter where she works. Brigit isn’t willing to marry to get what she wants, so doing things in “the correct order” may not be possible. Even her Wiccan spells don’t seem to be working. Until she comes up with an outrageous idea that just might do the trick.

Handsome tugboat captain Ethan Cox loves his life as a happy bachelor and his only goal is to keep things exactly the way they are. No wonder his coven friend Brigit thinks he’d be the perfect guy to plant the seed and walk away whistling, especially with an iron clad contract protecting his interests.
Ethan truly wants to help Brigit, but the contract she draws up stating he must give up all rights and responsibilities leaves him with a sinking feeling. Will he lose Brigit’s friendship and make coven rituals awkward if he refuses—or lose even more if he doesn’t?

The Cupcake Coven (Book 1 in the Love Spells Gone Wrong series) is getting great reviews! It has even garnered a reviewer’s choice award! Read on:

“The Cupcake Coven by Ashlyn Chase has the perfect blend of humor and romance that kept me turning the pages...Ms. Chase brings me a great story set in New England that I didn’t want to end. I hope to hear more about this great town and those that live there in the future. I fell in love with everyone in this book. Five shooting stars and a Reviewers Choice award.”

—Redz, Redz World


More great news! Speaking of New England--we have a new home for our Fall in Love with new England romance reader/author conference. Join our facebook page or check the website for more details. www.fallinlovewithnewengland.com


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Gutted to hear of the passing of Ursula K. LeGuin

I meant to write this post about something else. But as I sat down to put words to doc, an email alert popped up on my phone. It was from my father-in-law, a longtime fan of science fiction, and it told me that Ursula K. LeGuin had died.

Ms. LeGuin’s work has for decades been deeply influential to me as a woman, as a writer, and as a human. When I was writing Chloe’s story – the third book, yet to come, of the Wanted and Wired trilogy – I drew heavily on Genly Ai and Estraven’s trek across the glacier. LeGuin's elegant prose was too spare for the weight of meaning it held, but somehow it served anyway. Kind of like a ballet dancer seems fragile but is in truth amazingly strong.

I don’t remember what I meant to post about today. I think it was some kind of craft tip for writers, but I can’t even gather those thoughts. After I read the email, I went right to my bedside, grabbed my much-battered copy of The Left Hand of Darkness, and flipped to a favorite passage:

“Because they were born in the house of flesh, therefore death follows at their heels. They re in the middle of time. In the beginning there was the sun and the ice, and there was no shadow. In the end when we are done, the sun will devour itself and shadow will eat light, and there will be nothing left but ice and the darkness.”

Later, when one character dies, the narrator describes that person's journey forward as one into darkness, and the description feels peaceful compared with the narrator’s path, which is to prison.

I always took that to mean that those of us who witness the deaths of our friends are imprisoned in the middle of time, chased by shadows. The verse earlier in the book, from which the title is pulled, notes the inherent duality of light and darkness and the understanding that one only exists because the other does.

It is my hope that Ms. LeGuin will find comfort and peace in the darkness.

I am thankful for and continue to be inspired by the words she left behind.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Five ways to combat those winter blues.

I'm not one for winter. Not even when it comes to the holidays. I hate the cold, the ice, the snow. I hate being cooped inside my house for days on end, only leaving to pick up my kids for school and occasionally going to the doctor and grocery store. Seriously. Nothing says depressing to me like grey snow and dirty cars along the road ways.

This winter has been especially rough. My husband has been suffering from a back injury for months, only having surgery a week ago today. He's better now. BUT he's also home with me, and now I feel like the two of us are suffering through the winter blues together. Ugh.

Don't get me wrong. I've come up with some things to keep me functioning throughout the winter. So, thought I'd share with you all what those are. 

In the comments, talk to me about what YOU do to keep yourself sane over the winter months. :)

1. Netflixing: 

There was a time long ago when I didn't think I'd ever become a binge TV watcher. That, has obviously gone by the way side because I am currently a Netflix junkie. The show that's been getting me thought? Jane the Virgin. HOLY CRAP. This show is life to me, surpassing even my TWD obsession. Jane is the worlds best heroine--and the fact that she's a romance writer is even better. Seriously. If you haven't watched this one, I highly HIGHLY recommend it.

2. Reading:  

Of course this has gotten me through some icky, snowy days. And since my TBR pile is endless, it's been a welcome distraction. I've been on an LJ Shen binge lately. I love her grumpy heroes. So much. 

3. Mall-walking:

Don't laugh... But I've been doing this a lot more than I ever thought I would at the age of 36. I try to go at least once a week, usually before the crowds hit, because the flu is practically an epidemic around my parts right now. Doing this not only helps keep me active, but it also gives me a chance to people watch. And I'm a HUGE people watcher. There's always bound to be one person that gets my writerly brain going. 

4. Closet organizing:

Ugh. This is totally NOT fun. But, in the end, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Like, I've actually done something other than sit on my butt all day Netflixing and Reading. As someone who suffers from major writer's block at times, I find my mundane closet organizing to be pretty damn fulfilling for my  under worked brain. Obviously I don't do this a lot, but when I do, it honestly fills my days, and sometimes, that all I need.

5. Writing:

This shouldn't come as a huge surprise. I've actually been working pretty hard on getting new words down. Not only am I co-writing my first book, but it's for a story that hit me pretty hard last year after a grocery store mishap and a one certain bag boy at the grocery store. It's a long story. One you may or may not have heard about if you follow me on Twitter. But with the help of my friend Jessica Calla, we are bringing this reality to life...in our book, of course. I'm also hard at work on a bull riding story about a man and lingerie, and the spicy little red head who loves to make things cowgirl sexy. That's all I can give you at the moment. I'm hoping to hear more on the release of book three in my Reckless Hearts series, Recklessly Ever After. I have finished that story and now I'm waiting on edits and a cover. Right now, a tentative release date of October is set.

So, there you have it. The five ways I've been able to combat the winter blues. They are not the most exciting of things, but hey! A girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do.






Reckless Hearts and The Right Kind of Reckless are now available! 



 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Linda Broday: Snow, a Giveaway and a Sale!

I know everyone in various part of the country are sick of snow and ice. This weather has sure played havoc. Down here in Texas our weather has been really wonky. One day it's in the teens or twenties and the next day the 70s. We never know what it'll be.

Two years ago my oldest daughter got married after years of being single and raising two daughters. A week before the wedding, weathermen said the day would be sunny and 60. The day before the happy event, it snowed and snowed. Roads were a mess and the entire town of Lubbock basically shut down. Guests had a difficult time arriving and some opted to stay home.

But that's not the worst part.

The florist didn't deliver the flowers. The bakery didn't make the cake. The Tux rental shop gave the groom's tux to someone else and he had to make do with one that was a little too large. Everything you can imagine went wrong.





At first, my daughter was in tears then she said the wedding would go on and they'd make the best with what they had.

It was a beautiful ceremony and she was so lovely.

This is what we do. We make the best of the hand we're dealt. The bundt cake at the reception was very tasty. The flowers bought at a grocery store were beautiful. And watching my daughter and her new husband smile through it all brought happy tears.

That's my snow story. Now I have a Goodreads Giveaway for my Feb. re-issue THE COWBOY WHO CAME CALLING. Four autographed copies! The giveaway ends on Feb. 6th. Click on the image to enter.



Also...Book #1 of the series KNIGHT ON THE TEXAS PLAINS is on sale at all outlets for $1.99! Pick it up and be ready for Book #2.




AMAZON  B&N  |  iBOOKS  |  KOBO


Life is amazing and the way we deal with it determines how satisfying and happy we are. Do you have a snow story? Or any story when things went wrong on as special day?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Love is the Antidote by Abbie Roads

Love is the Antidote

When the son of a serial killer falls for his father’s only surviving victim...

The first thing Mercy became aware of was her facing throbbing a low level beat. Her bones ached and her muscles felt too heavy to move. Her side burned with every inhale and exhale. Her stomach felt oddly distended and empty at the same time.

And she was going to milk it for all it was worth.

She finally had a viable excuse to stay in her room, avoid group, and cancel her session with Dr. Payne. The flu. She’d tell everyone she had the flu. Couldn’t be too far from the truth. It wasn’t like she was faking how bad her body felt. She would spend the entire day lying here, eyes closed pretending to sleep, and luxuriating the rare bit of isolation.

“Are you awake?” A masculine voice whispered.

Her heart slammed against her spine, her muscles leaped. She gasped a sound of undiluted shock and wrenched her eyes open.

The world around her had changed. Gone was the sterile room with bars on the windows. Gone was the stench of industrial cleaning products laced with cafeteria food. Gone was the entire Center. In its place was a cozy wood paneled room with a quaint stone fireplace and a man.

His hair was the color of dark caramel and cut just long enough to be swept messily the side. His features were angular and hard and so damned masculine it almost hurt to look at him. His eyes were the color of a changing sky—light in the center of the iris like a cloudless summer day and dark like a winter’s night toward the outer edge.

She knew him. Recognition stabbed her in the neck—in the scar she bore across her throat. The echo of that past pain stole her breath. She grabbed her throat, hand pressing over the cold scar. Her heart turned into a battering ram and beat against the bars of her ribs.

She went from lying on the bed to fully upright and ready to run.

“You.” The word was an accusation, a condemnation, a judgment, scraping its way up her throat and out her lips. She wasn’t going to show him an ounce of fear. He’d swallowed her fear twenty years ago and enjoyed the flavor.

He blinked a long lazy closing of his eyes and when he reopened them, the light in his gaze had been swallowed by the dark. “I’m not him.” He spoke with just as much conviction as her allegation had contained.

His words turtle-crawled from her ears to her brain, their meaning finally firing along her synapse and she understood.

Her body unclenched and she relaxed against the headboard with an exaggerated sigh. As the initial in-your-face shock wore off, she could actually see him. See the humanity in his features. Something his father would never possess. And if he’d intended her harm, she would have felt the energy of his foul intentions.

“I know you.” Her voice was softer and held a bit of wonder in its palm.

“I’m not him.” He repeated the sentence, nothing in his tone changing, but she saw something in his eyes—through his eyes. Sadness. Resolve. And just a hint of fear. That was her undoing. That he could be scared of her—wow.

“I—I—know. You’re Cain.” His name came out hard vowels and sharp consonants.

He held her gaze for moment, then shoved his hands in his jeans pockets and looked down at the floor.

Silence stretched between them.

For years she’d imagined what it would be like to have a conversation with him. Even from her first glimpse of him as a child on the TV, she’d recognized something in his eyes. Her eyes had that same scarred look. The look of having experienced something so painful it marked more than their bodies—it left gaping wounds on their souls. There was an unspoken solidarity in their shared pain.

But in all her fantasies of connecting with the only other person who knew first hand the evils of Killion, she’d never once thought there’d be this much silence.

Obviously, it was going to be up to her to make the first move.

“You know—” She cleared her throat, trying to go for a friendly tone. “—over the years I had thought about finding you. It always seemed like we had a bad bond of sorts. I just never did it because I didn’t know how you’d react.”

He raised his gaze to meet hers, the hard angles of his face easing just a bit.

That got his attention.

He looked at the scar on her neck while he spoke. “I’d thought about the same thing.” His words were spoken with a tentative quality, as if he worried about her response. “But I always wondered if I would remind you of…” He didn’t say the name.

“You look similar to him on the surface, but I see beyond the surface to you.”  She emphasized the word you. Wanted him to understand she didn’t equate him with his father. “You also look different to me somehow. Maybe it’s your eyes. Maybe it’s how you look at me. So different than he did.” She held her hand out to him. “Nice to meet you Cain. I’m Mercy.”

One second. Two. Three. Four. Five—finally he stepped toward her and grasped her hand in his. His grip was firm and dry, his skin rough and wonderful, his touch magnetic and hypnotizing. She got lost in the sensation of total connection. Of there being no boundaries between them, almost as if their skin muscle and bones had melded together into one—

He yanked his hand away from her so suddenly, hers was left out there in midair still holding the shadow of where his had once been. Something was wrong. She just didn’t know him well enough to understand.

He aimed his eyes toward the floor again. “You’ve been pretty sick. You went through the vomit stage. The fever stage. The drunk flirty stage was my personal favorite.” A smile almost grabbed a hold of his lips, but missed. “The crying stage.” He sucked in a breath and spoke while he exhaled. “The scared of me stage.”

The way he said those last words made him sound more like a little boy trying to be brave, rather than the six feet of hard muscled male—who also happened to resemble a serial killer. His tone made her want to reach out to him and offer comfort, but he was so skittish with her that she didn’t dare.


*Sharing is Caring*

~SAVING MERCY~
Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/SMAm1227


Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her characters a happy ending... After torturing them for three hundred pages.
WEBSITE
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

HIGHLAND PROMISE—SALE!!!

Highland Promise, the first book in my series, The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod, is on sale for $1.99 all this week (e-book only)! A great price for hours of time spent with the brawny Darach MacKenzie and the rest of his drool-worthy foster brothers!!




A wee excerpt for you!!


“I’ll not be marrying the lass, Oslow, but if I did, she’d more than likely give me daughters. All of them looking like her, causing trouble. I’d be an old man in my grave before I was forty.”
“Nay. She’d give you sons. Braw lads as strong-minded and fearless as her. But if you’re not interested in the lass, I’ll introduce her to my Angus. He needs a wife, and I’m sure he’d be as smitten with her as Gare and Brodie.”
The blood heated in Darach’s veins, flushing his face. He looked toward the field, trying to make out what Caitlin and the two younger men were doing. Naught of consequence. Just playing with the kittens.
Playing with the kittens—like hell. Brodie was a right rogue with the lasses, and Gare was such a pitiful lad, caught betwixt man and boy, she’d want to save him just like she’d saved the baby bird. Most likely he’d try to make himself look as pathetic as possible with the hopes of ensnaring her, the devil.
Darach stood abruptly and made his way across the rocky shore to the field. Lachlan’s snort followed him. Sure enough, Gare and Brodie sat beside her, hanging on to every word. Scoundrels, both of them. He frowned, and they jumped to their feet. Let Caitlin see who was master and laird here—the most dominant MacKenzie male.
After sending them to Oslow, he sat on the grass beside her. She looked pleased to see him. Maybe now would be the time to tell her the kittens were going to the miller’s. He willed himself to begin, but one of the cats tumbled into his lap and mewed up at him. Bloody fiend.
“Och, would you look at that. He loves you, Darach. Maybe he will be called Justice, for he is drawn to you and you are the most just man I know.”
He puffed up and deflated at the same time. ’Twas a good decision to send the cats to the miller. Not only did it show Justice, but also Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. Surely she would see the right of it.
The kit ran up his body and batted his hair. Darach started in surprise. Grabbing it, he held the wee thing in front of him. The cat reached out and swatted his chin.
Caitlin fell sideways onto the grass, laughing. “You’ve ne’er had a cat before, have you?”
Darach grunted and brought the kitten closer. He had to admit it was sweet—big eyes and downy, soft fur. It suckled the stubble of his beard, and his heart turned over.
“They’re starved, poor babies,” she said. “He’s trying to nurse. All we had was water. It helped, but their bellies are empty.”

There would be lots of milk at the miller’s.

“Caitlin, I doona think…”She gazed at him, her eyes wide, trusting. A happy glow surrounded her, and the words stuck in his throat. Maybe she could keep the kits ’til they were old enough to be on their own. House them in the kitchens and out of his sight and the sight of his dogs for a week or two. Then they could go to the miller.
“Aye, Darach?”
“’Tis naught, lass. We’ll be home soon and they can have their meal.”
Picking up a kitten, she held it close. “I think this little lass will be Temperance, for she’s the only female and needs to have much restraint to live with three brothers. It must be a trial, doona you think?”
“I lived with four brothers, and aye, ’twas a trial.”
A wistful look crossed her face. “I did so wish for a brother. Or a sister. But my parents were not blessed with bairns after me. Instead, I had lots of pets—cats, dogs, horses, and pigs.”
“Pigs?”
“Aye, pigs are wonderful pets. Although I caused such a fankle when my father wanted to butcher the dear thing, I was ne’er allowed to bond with a pig again.”
“And what happened to it?”
“I doona know. I lost more than just my parents the night of the fire. Verily, ’twas a torment. I longed for pets after that, but I feared to show favor to any creature, lest my uncle hurt the animal. I was verra careful when I fed Cloud apples. The guards who followed me knew, I’m sure, but one older guard in particular didn’t mind.” She turned to smile at the stallion tethered with the other horses. “I’m thankful you saved him too.”
His stomach soured at the insight into her life after her parents’ death, at how afraid, alone and sad she must have been. Yet she’d shown none of that to him or his men. And he knew she must have felt it—her heart was as big as the loch.
“I want you to have, Cloud,” he said suddenly. It was the least he could do.
Her eyes grew round. “Truly?”
“Aye. But wait to ride him until we return to the keep. I doona want him to spook and throw you out here. Let him get used to you in the stables first, aye?” Where he could have a healer on hand and spread out some hay to soften her fall.

With an excited holler, she threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him backward. One arm settled around her waist, the other hovered just above her hair. The devil take him, he wanted to touch her, to hold her still for his kiss.


Sale ends January 21st. Buy your copy now!!!

—Alyson McLayne