Monday, February 19, 2018


The Accidental Elopement
Scandalous Miss Brightwell Series (Book 4)
By Beverley Oakley

Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to on lucky winner. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other stops on the tour. You may find those locations here.

A seven-year secret. A tragic misunderstanding. Can love outwit fate in this twisted tale of misadventure and thwarted dreams?

          Earl Quamby’s niece, Katherine, and Jack, a foundling home lad adopted by a local family, have been loyal friends for as long as they can remember.
          As Jack is about to leave England to make his fortune and Katherine is being courted by two eligible suitors, they unexpectedly realise their friendship has blossomed into passionate love. A love, they are warned, that has no future.
          Despite a brave attempt to defy the forces keeping them apart, tragedy results and the pair is separated.
          When chance throws them together seven years later, Katherine, newly widowed, is being pressured into a marriage not of her choosing to avoid scandal and Jack feels he must honour his pledge to the worthy Odette whom he met in India and whose father is dying.
          Katherine knows that revealing a long-held secret may win Jack to her but she also knows conflicting obligations from past and present may tear him apart.
          Can master matchmakers, Fanny, Antoinette and Bertram Brightwell, outwit fate in its latest attempt to keep these star-crossed lovers apart and deliver them the happiness they deserve?

This is Book 4 in the Scandalous Miss Brightwell series but it can be read as a stand-alone.



Order The Accidental Elopement now for the special price of $2.99 and you'll get an ecopy of Scandalous: Three Daring Charades in the Pursuit of Love. Just send a screen shot of proof of purchase to beverley (at) eikli.com and she'll send you the link for your free book.


Excerpt: 
In this excerpt, Katherine is hiding in a dark corridor to avoid dancing with someone she has no wish to see during her first ball as a newly arrived London debutante. She then receives a rude shock!

No one had thought to light a candle sconce and this second corridor turning she’d taken was as black as a dungeon. Katherine couldn’t even see her hand but she wasn’t frightened of the dark. No, Katherine was not fainthearted.
Yet she did squeal when, taking another step, her progress was impeded by a very large object and, with no warning at all, she found herself flying through the air, landing with a painful jarring of her wrists upon the cold, hard flagstones.
“Good Lord!” came a disembodied young male voice in the dark before a groping hand located a piece of Katherine – namely a hank of hair – which caused her to shriek even louder when it was quite unnecessarily tugged. Whether this was to establish who or what she was, she had no idea – and perhaps neither did the tugger for immediately a profound apology was issued before the groping hand was operating with complete abandon in the dark.
This time it found Katherine’s breast just as the voice said in tones of utter mortification, “Forgive me! Are you hurt? Here, let me help you. That’s what I was trying to do, I promise. I didn’t realise you were on the ground? Take my hand. Really, I can’t apologise enough.”
Katherine had made one unsuccessful attempt to stand but it was a struggle in her flounced skirt and multiple corded petticoats. She swatted away the supposedly helping hand and hissed something unintelligible – somehow unladylike language seemed less of an offence when she couldn’t see to whom she was speaking.
But when the disembodied groping hand entered her orbit once more – in fact, brushing the bare flash above her garter and getting in a good squeeze of her thigh flesh, her temper which had never been one of her strong points, snapped and she lashed out with a sharp slice through the inky air.
A loud yelp made her realise she’d perhaps been a little peremptory and certainly too violent in this unladylike action and even though she felt disinclined to apologise she did say, ungraciously, “I’m sorry I hit you but a lady can only take so much of all this groping in the dark. I mean…what were you doing?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” came the response, now at ear level. In fact, she could feel the soft whisper of breath against her cheek which made her step back, saying, “I asked first.”
“I was chasing a cat. Bending down in fact. And then something crashed into me. Or on top of me.”
“That was me.”
“Yes, of course it was you. There’s no one else here, is there?”
Katherine bridled at his tone. She was unused to being spoken to as if she were at fault when, in this case, she most certainly wasn’t. “I think that’s a very rude response,” she told him. “Just as it was very thoughtless of you to crouch down where anybody could simply trip over you.”
“Anybody – or rather, anybody else – would be carrying a candle. I think I have every reason to be deeply suspicious of the motives of anyone who is not.”
“Well, you don’t have a candle. And I would suspect the truth of anyone hiding away in the dark, claiming they were crouching over an imaginary cat,” huffed Katherine. “In fact, I’d wager there was no cat here at all. I would have heard it. No, you were sneaking away from something, weren’t you?”
“And if I was, what business of yours? Whoever you are.”
Katherine could not imagine the audacity. “You certainly are no gentleman to speak to a lady in that fashion.”
“Since that lady hasn’t bothered to declare herself, I think I could be forgiven.”
“A gentleman would have declared himself first,” Katherine said hotly. “What were you sidling away from? There’s a noisy ball going on in the next room. If you were a gentleman, wouldn’t you be gallantly asking the ladies to dance instead of hiding in the dark? Perhaps there’s someone you’re afraid of seeing? A lady who has expectations of you behaving towards her as a gentleman.” Katherine said this triumphantly before elaborating on her theme. “My guess is that you’ve given some poor young lady the idea that you’ll dance with her all night and now you’ve changed your mind and are sneaking away.”
“Since you put forward the idea, I’d suggest the reason you’re here is exactly the same. You’re trying to sneak away from a gentleman to whom you’ve already promised two dances. Meanwhile he, poor fellow, is searching for you vainly in the ballroom while you’re here making a mockery of him.”
“He can do that all by himself,” Katherine sniffed. “But I never promised him anything and I never will.”
“Ha! I was right.” The voice sounded very pleased with itself. “Well, I feel sorry for this fellow without even seeing what you look like, miss. Poor fellow!”
“Poor fellow, indeed. George can pine til the cows come home. I’d even suffer talking to you than have to spend another five minutes with his sweating hands squeezing mine and his moon eyes boring into me…and his horrible, putrid breath choking me and his—”
“Poor George! I was just starting to feel sorry for him until you described the exact George I, too, am so at pains to avoid tonight.” The voice became more confidential and the mood relaxed.
Katherine crossed her arms and waited for him to speak again for she was rather interested in his George and then quite amused when the voice began to describe the very George against whom she railed.
“Well, you have described my cousin to a very fine point,” she laughed. “And if you are as well acquainted with him as you seem to be, then you obviously know exactly why I am here in the dark.”
There was a small silence. And then, “Your cousin?”
“In my family there are two Georges: Young George who is the son of my aunt and her husband, Lord Quamby, and Odious George who is his uncle, George Bramley.”
“Then we’re talking about the same George!” The voice sounded stunned.
A quick gasp from both of them was followed up by a delighted cry in unison.
“Jack!”
“Katherine!”

Other Books In The Series:
Rake's Honour (Book 1)

Beautiful, impoverished Fanny Brightwell has a few scores to settle—and a heart to win—before she can secure the wealthy, aristocratic husband her ambitious mama demands.
Pick up a free copy here!

Rogue's Kiss (Book 2)
Would a potential suitor be bolder if he were told the lie that the maiden he desires has only six months to live?
Devil's Run (Book 3)
A rigged horse race - with a marriage and a lost child riding on the outcome.

~*~*~*~*~
About the Author:

Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.

Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.

Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth-century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

You can get in contact with Beverley at:

website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

Thanks for stopping by today. Doesn't just looking at the book covers take you away to a different era and way of life?

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Grab the Popcorn, It's Video Time


It’s been awhile since I’ve shared any awesome new videos from the Penguin Random House channels. This week seemed like a good time to “share the love.”

First up this week we’re looking at love stories in honor of the recent Valentine’s Day holiday. I’m including the video for the first clip and you can click on the link at the end of the cutline on the other videos to be taken to their corresponding clips on YouTube. I’m going to try to make it so if you click on the video photo it will take you to the clip. If that doesn’t work just click on the link at the end of the cutline.

Love Stories | Six Picks

Read it Forward editors Abbe and Emma share their favorite love stories that have a happy ending.


You can share this on Twitter by including @ReadItForward and clicking on the following link: https://twitter.com/ReadItForward/status/963522478420168704

To share Read It Forward’s post on Facebook just click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/ReadItForward/videos/10156107781814715/

You can check out the video on YouTube.

Romance authors play the Meet Cute Game


Romance authors put their 'shipping superpowers to the test in the Meet Cute game, where they must imagine how two disparate characters might meet.

You can share this on Twitter by clicking on the following link: https://twitter.com/penguinrandom/status/963456653046833152

To share the video on Facebook just click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/PenguinRandomHouse/videos/10156104226987389/

You can check out the video on YouTube.

Meet the Author: Christi Barth (TRYING IT ALL)


You can share this on Twitter by clicking on the following link: https://twitter.com/penguinrandom/status/963080502994526214

To share this video on Facebook just click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/PenguinRandomHouse/videos/10156104214852389/

You can check out the video on YouTube.

Baby Elephant Interview

Couldn't resist this one.



You can check it out on YouTube.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you’re looking forward to a fabulous weekend. Do you have a favorite love story that has a happy ending? If so, would you share with us?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Clairvoyant and Present Danger {+ Giveaway}


CLAIRVOYANT AND PRESENT DANGER by Lena Gregory
◊ Series: A Bay Island Psychic Mystery, Book 3
◊ Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: Berkley (February 6, 2018)
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 0425282775
◊ ISBN-13: 978-0425282779

SYNOPSIS:

A haunting vision reveals a ghostly grave in the latest Bay Island Psychic Mystery from the author of Occult and Battery.

Whoever said that dead men tell no tales has never met Cass Donnovan...
Cass has always relied on her abilities to guide her, but after communications with a ghost land her in the middle of a murder investigation, she has to wonder if her gifts are really more a curse.
Cass knows she is meant to help track down the killer--much to the chagrin of local law enforcement--when the apparition leads her to a dead body on the beach near her psychic shop, Mystical Musings. But the police are not the only ones who wish Cass would stick to reading palms. Someone is trying to scare her off, and it will take all her powers of premonition to catch the killer before Cass herself becomes the next victim...


When you combine mystery, a touch of the paranormal, a lovable four-legged fur baby, and friends you are bound to have an interesting time. Author Lena Gregory knows how to present that right mixture of these elements in the latest installment in her Bay Island Psychic Mystery series.

With a title like CLAIRVOYANT AND PRESENT DANGER you know there is going to be intrigue and perils. With Gregory’s writing and this zany cast of characters you know you’re in for a tantalizing read that will hold you spellbound until the very end. This story moves at a good pace and has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Cass Donnovan is a protagonist many readers will be able to relate to. She is strong and determined but has faults and flaws that make her very realistic. The friendship among the main core of characters adds depth to the story, while the addition of a massive dog no one can resist enhances the tale.

The charming setting will draw you in while the characters make you feel at home.

Clairvoyant and Present Danger by Lena Gregory, A Bay Island Psychic Mystery (Book #3), Berkley, @2018, ISBN: 978-0425282779, Mass Market Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


Thanks to the wonderful folks at Penguin Random House, I have a print copy of CLAIRVOYANT AND PRESENT DANGER by Lena Gregory to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Saturday, Feb. 24.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Have you ever visited a psychic?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Day For Lovers and Friends



Today throughout the U.S. and various parts of the world,  flowers, candy, and cards (among other things) will be exchanged between lovers, friends, family, and acquaintances. 

I share the hearts above with you today in hopes that you know that y'all are very special to me. I may not be here on a daily basis right now, but my thoughts are still with each of you.

Wishing you a joyous and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! May your day be filled with all that you wish for. 

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you have any special plans for today? What would your ideal Valentine's Day be?

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Fast and the Furriest {+ Giveaway}


THE FAST AND THE FURRIEST by Sofie Ryan
◊ Series: Second Chance Cat Mystery, Book 5
◊ Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: Berkley (February 6, 2018)
◊ Language: English
◊ ISBN-10: 1101991224
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1101991220

SYNOPSIS:
         
Sarah Grayson and her trusty companion, Elvis, race to tail the right suspects in the fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries.
Sarah Grayson owns Second Chance, a shop that sells lovingly refurbished items, in the charming town of North Harbor, Maine. But she couldn't run the store without the help of her right-hand man, Mac--or her dashing rescue cat, Elvis.
Mac's life before North Harbor has always been a little bit mysterious, but it becomes a lot more intriguing when a woman from his past shows up in town, and then turns up dead. Suspicion falls on Mac, but Sarah--and Elvis--know he can't be the killer, and they hope they can prove his innocence quick as a whisker.


Who can resist a cozy mystery with a mischievous cat as a sidekick? Not me!

Author Sofie Ryan has created a cast of eclectic characters that readers can’t help but fall in love with in her Second Chance Cat Mystery series. Her latest release, THE FAST AND THE FURRIEST, is a prime example of the well-balanced stories the author writes. The story flows at a good pace holding your attention from beginning to end. The twists and turns along the way may have you picking the wrong villain if you’re not careful.

The North Harbor (Maine) setting draws you in and the delightful residents make you wish you could visit in person. The protagonist, Sarah Grayson, is realistic and easy for readers to relate to. Sarah’s charming cat, Elvis, enhances the story and the members of Charlotte’s Angels, along with Mr. P., add another layer of intrigue.

This is the fifth installment in the series but can be read as a standalone. The author shows that second chances can be fun, mysterious, and full of adventure. Don’t wait for a second chance to read this fun story.

The Fast and the Furriest by Sofie Ryan, Second Chance Cat Mystery (Book #5), Berkley, @2018, ISBN: 978-1101991220, Mass Market Paperback, 304 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


Thanks to the wonderful folks at Penguin Random House, I have a print copy of THE FAST AND THE FURRIEST by Sofie Ryan to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 18.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Don’t you just love the covers of the Berkley cozy mystery series?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Queen Moxie {+ Giveaway}


◊ QUEEN MOXIE by Hank Quense
◊ Series: Princess Moxie, Book 3
◊ File Size: 4861 KB
◊ Print Length: 85 pages
◊ Publisher: Strange Worlds Publishing (February 1, 2018)
◊ Publication Date: February 1, 2018
◊ Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
◊ Language: English
◊ ASIN: B0775W1NWP

SYNOPSIS:
         
In this humorous tale, it is now ten years since Moxie became Queen of Usca in south-west Britain. A tribe of Picts shatters her peaceful reign by migrating from the north and occupying territory just outside her border.
Moxie decides to build a fort to help control the wild Picts. To her surprise, she discovers that the fort has been built on land claimed by the forest fairies. Oberon, the King of the fairies, destroys the fort using magic.
Moxie threatens Oberon with military might. Oberon threatens Moxie with magic. To counter Oberon, Moxie asks Camelot to send Merlin to help her out and Arthur agrees.
Once Merlin arrives, Moxie demands that he confront Oberon and use magic spells to defeat the Fairy King. Merlin isn’t thrilled by the request. Moxie wants him to cast field magic spells, a type of spell casting that Merlin has never been able to master.
The Picts hear about the fort and decide Moxie has become hostile. They determine to attack rather than wait for Moxie to attack them.
Meanwhile, Moxie’s only child, the ten-year-old daughter, Aethelwine, decides she won’t be the next queen, leaving Moxie without an heir.
Tristan, a Knight of the Round Table, has been exiled by Arthur for insulting all the nobles with his songs and is staying in Moxie’s castle. He is working on a play to be staged in Stonehenge. Tristan hopes the play will end his exile since it praises King Arthur and Camelot
Faced with threats from the fairies and the Picts, Moxie decides to take on the fairies. Merlin tells Moxie and Oberon they are both idiots for fighting each other when the real threat comes from the Picts who will be able to conquer both after they fight a battle and are weakened by casualties.
Moxie and Oberon agree to a treaty and combine forces to confront the Picts who have been reinforced by boatloads of warriors.
Can Moxie and Oberon convince the Picts to back down?
And what about Aethelwine?
Is Tristan’s play any good?


Have you ever read a story that is hard to share because you’re afraid of giving too many spoilers? That’s how I feel about QUEEN MOXIE, a delightful new tale by Hank Quense.

This tantalizing story deals with King Arthur, knights, fairies, magic, fascinating lands, and a queen trying to defend her throne and be a mother at the same time. The football game (oops) adds a touch of reality and another layer of amusement to this amazing story.

This fun story is filled with adventure, humor, and eclectic characters. The queen has her hands full defending her land and dealing with her nine-year-old rebellious daughter. This tale will have you laughing from beginning to end.

QUEEN MOXIE is a charming story that will give you an entertaining new outlook on the era of King Arthur and the people of that region. This is a story you won’t be able to put down.

Queen Moxie by Hank Quense, Princess Moxie Series (Book 3), Strange Worlds Publishing, @2018, ASIN: B0775W1NWP, 85 Pages, 4861 KB

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the author. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.


To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. This is a delightful book, I hope you’ll check it out. Be sure to enter the giveaway. Have you ever thought of King Arthur and Camelot battling fairies? 

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Friday, February 2, 2018

One Night in Havana {+ Giveaway}

One Night in Havana 
#34 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing
by Kathleen Rowland
Kathleen will be awarding 3 lucky winners a $10 Amazon Gift Certiticate. Winners will be chosen randomly with Rafflecopter. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 About the Book:   A desperate competition and sizzling attraction leads to dangerous desire. New York Marine biologist Veronica “Roni” Keane is attending the Havana Bay Conference in Cuba. Tomorrow only one grant will be awarded which will provide the winner with professional recognition, resources for a project, and living expenses for two years. She hopes to continue her deceased father’s work, but smooth operator, Carlos Montoya, has won many grants in the past. Carlos, a freelancer for the Havana Port Authority, works to help protect Havana’s reputation as a bastion of safety. As international travelers flock to the island, attracted by its 1950’s time-warp and colonial architecture, the drug business is running rampant, particularly on Roni’s cruise ship. Something’s not right, and when her scuba tanks are tampered with, Carlos brings in the military police to investigate. For her safety, he keeps her close, but he craves her body. Their attraction leads to a fun night with a bit of kink. But Roni finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when the criminals blame her for alerting the military police and come looking for her. Can Roni trust Carlos to protect her? Will she stay in Havana if Carlos wins the coveted grant, or kiss her lover goodbye? An erotic romance with mystery. 

 Amazon Buy Link

 Excerpt: -- Chapter One
“Why, Veronica Keane.” A voice heavy with a Spanish accent drawled from behind her. “A dive bar?” A taunting tsk. “What do we have? A slumming New Yorker?”
She stiffened and closed her eyes. She knew that voice and its owner, Dr. Carlos Montoya, a finalist like her, competing for the same damn grant at the biggest Cephalopoda conference of the decade. Her heart pitter-pattered against her ribs. To turn toward him would intimate distress, or worse yet, weakness. She wouldn’t fail to win this grant, not when she was a final contender. “I like this funky little place.” Sia Macario Café, smack in the center of Havana, allowed her to observe locals and their daily lives.
“You need to eat with all the mojitos you’ve downed.” The big tease wasn’t  counting. This was her first drink, but his rumbling, sexy timbre hinted at all kinds of dark, hot promises. She’d rubbed shoulders with the Cuban scientist all week. This splendid specimen of Latin male brought on a physical ache that punched low.
A flare-up stirred fear. For her own good, she needed to resist. “I ordered camarones enchiladas.” By now she knew the menu on the chalkboard by heart. She tipped her head back to whiff grilled shrimp soon to arrive in sofrito sauce with fried sweet plantains.
“The flan is good. Just like my abuela makes.”
“I bet. Your grandmother would be happy to hear that,” she said, knowing he brought out the best in most people. Two days ago he'd invited her and a handful of others scuba diving. The chance to ogle him had been one of the perks. He’d worn nothing but swim trunks, his bare chest on display. Every glistening muscle was finely etched. Not a drop of fat on him. Since he’d not given her the time of day, she’d checked him out without him noticing.
The hard-bodied host had led the way toward habitats of soft-bodied creatures. To find where invertebrates lived was never an easy task. Octopuses squeezed into narrow passages of coral for protection and gave females a place to keep their eggs. She’d discovered the remains of a few meals nearby.Octopuses scattered rocks and shells to help them hide.
 This grant meant so much to her and no doubt to him as well. Veronica mindlessly toyed with the gold necklace around her neck, but anxiety crackled through her brain. Unlike this man of action, she lacked the flamboyant personality necessary to talk people into things. Carlos had that ability. He'd made friends with judges on board while she’d conversed with an older woman about a box of scones made with Cuban vanilla cream.
That day the wind had picked up to a gale force, and this woman named Bela with Lucille Ball red hair needed help walking to her home. The half mile down the seaside promenade, The Malecón, had provided her with time to practice her Spanish. Turned out Bela was Carlos’s grandmother. She’d worked as a maid when the Castro government came to power. When private homes were nationalized, titles were handed over to the dwelling occupants. Bela owned a crumbling home in the respected Verdado district and rented out rooms.
What Veronica detested about Carlos was his abnormal level of talent for schmoozing. Not that he wasn't charismatic; he drew her like a powerful magnet with emotions hard to untangle. Why was a self-assured woman who ran her own life thinking about a man who commanded everyone around him?
She inhaled a breath and turned around on the barstool, caught fast by a gut punch of Carlos Montoya in the flesh. She sighed and surrendered to the tendrils of want sliding up between her thighs.
Tall and muscular, his lush dark hair curled to his collar giving him a wild, roguish appearance. His face was lean and chiseled. His mouth full and tempting. His eyes the smoky-gray of a grass fire and fringed with black lashes as dense as paintbrushes. He smiled. A faint hint of mockery curved his mouth, a sensual mouth she imagined to be either inviting or cruel. Or both at the same time when he leaned over a woman with a diamond-hard gleam in his dark eyes while she drowned with pleasure. She fought a fierce desire to run her hand across his broad chest, tip her face upward, and…
His breath tickled her face.
Not going there. She blinked and forced her mind to focus. Carlos Montoya was not the kind of man you lost focus around. But that image of putting her mouth full on his and peeling away his shirt once introduced in her mind was impossible to expunge. Pointless even to try.
He was an intimidating blend of intellect and sexy danger. Both qualities had her leaning back against the bar’s edge. If it weren’t for him, she’d have a chance at winning the grant.
His lips twitched. “You’re staying on one of the cruise ships, am I right?” He rolled up the sleeves of his linen jacket to reveal a dusting of manly hair.
”Yes." Her cabin served as her hotel room while attending the January meetings with perfect high-seventies temperatures. His eyes locked with hers. She willed herself to move and yet she remained seated, clutching heat between her legs, a wetness so intense that her breath stalled in her chest while her heart hammered faster. Soon she’d return to freezing New York City.
“So, Bonita, give.” He slid onto the bar stool next to her. “What brings you down from a lofty ship to grace us lowly Cubans with your presence?”
Bonita. Pretty lady was not an endearment coming from the mouth curved in a taunting smile, but not a slight either. Not with his deep, melodic voice speaking words as if he knew secrets about her. What secrets did he know? Would he pry into her personal life? She doubted this bad-boy college professor acknowledged boundaries.
“Just drinks and dinner.” She scrambled for composure. “Aren’t we attending a world-class conference? I find the local population to be friendly and kind. That’s not slumming.”
The bartender set down a saoco. “Hope you like it, senorita.”
“Gracias,” she said. “Very nice, served in a coconut.”
“Ah, the saoco,” Carlos said. “Rum, lime juice, sugar, and ice. The saoco,” he repeated, disbelief heavy in his words. “Um. Wow. Once used as a tonic for prisoners of the revolution.”
“Medicinal?” She couldn’t help it. She chuckled and sounded as if a rusty spoon had scraped her throat raw, but it was genuine. The warm glow in its wake was welcome and needed. .
He leaned an elbow on the bar, his beer bottle with the green-and-red Cristal label dangling between his fingers. “Be careful with that one.” He dipped his head toward the front door as if he needed to go somewhere soon.
That fast, the glow snuffed out. She cleared her throat and gripped the fuzzy surface of the coconut container.
He placed a five-peso coin with a brass plug on the counter and whirled it. The spinning motion mirrored a dizzying attraction going on in low parts of her belly.
She cleared her wayward mind and nodded toward artwork on the opposite wall. “I plan to buy a painting tonight.”
“Don’t buy anything unless the seller gives you a certificate. You’ll need one to take art from Cuba. Artists deal in euros in case you don’t have pesos.”
She’d come prepared but said, “Thanks for the info.”
His coal-black eyes widened as he gazed from her head down to the tiny straps around her ankles as if she wore high heels and nothing else. “You give off a Barbie doll image,” he replied and stood up.
“Huh?”
“Where’s Ken, anyway? Kenneth Morton. He came with you to the talks in Antarctica. Five years ago.” He grinned, and the mortification in her belly gave way to a longing which she had no business feeling toward her competitor.
“Ken and I broke up.” She hesitated for a moment. “You have a gift for remembering names. Like a salesman.”
“A person’s name is, to that person, the most important and sweetest sound. Back then I introduced myself to Ken in the men’s room.”
“I remember now. Didn’t you give a talk on a specialized pigment in the octopus?”
“Ahh, si.” He splayed his fingers over his chest. “A pigment in their blood is—”
 “—called hemocyanin. Turns their blood blue and helps them survive subfreezing temperatures. Were you awarded something?”
“The antifreeze protein grant? No. It went to a deep-diving photographer. He wasn’t chicken about getting lost or trapped under the ice.”
She slid from her stool and strutted around, jutting her chin in and out like a chicken. “Bock, bock, bock, bock, bock, begowwwwk.”
He chuckled. “Cute chicken dance. Very cute in that skimpy black dress.”
Her cheeks heated, and she clutched her necklace. He’d seen plenty of women in body-fitting attire. In Cuba, women wore dresses to meetings. If she'd harnessed sexier mojo, she’d have livened up presentations. Her presentations with an abundance of dull data went south. She slid back against her stool and clutched her purse to her stomach as if the small satin bag could calm the nerves playing deep down kickball. She belonged in her tidy New York office filled with computers, modems, and research manuals. Not in this softly lit café where passion oozed from a man’s pores, and artists displayed their canvases. Here was where Havana’s trendsetters congregated, and Ernest Hemingway wrote about desire.
“Good luck with your purchases, Veronica Keane.”
Okay, so they weren’t going to pretend they were going head to head for the grant.
As if he had more to say, he grinned at her, his perfect white teeth flashing.. “Do you find us different, like apples and oranges?”
“What am I, an apple or an orange?”
“Hmm. You’re an apple.” He was doing that sexy voice thing which made her brain shut down. Heady. 
It started with an unexpected spark, an instant attraction, the jolting jab of oh-I’m-feeling-something. Something like a flashfire in her belly, but now they were talking. “Am I the apple of desire? Want to take a bite out of me?” She pulled in a breath. Had she really said that?
Bonita, do I ever.”
“Tomorrow is the final ceremony.” Would she watch him walk to the podium to accept the grant? 


About the Author: 
Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with an erotic love story sure to melt their hearts.  Her latest release is One Night in Havana, #34 in the City Nights series.
Kathleen also has a steamy romantic suspense series with Tirgearr Publishing, Deadly Alliance is followed by Unholy Alliance. Keep an icy drink handy while reading these sizzling stories.
Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.   She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji.  Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.
Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors.  While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write.

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