Friday, November 30, 2018

Cover Reveal with Giveaway: The Dating Alternative by Jennifer Woodhull

Today Jennifer Woodhull and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for THE DATING ALTERNATIVE, her New Adult Contemporary Romance which releases December 26, 2018! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!

On to the reveal! 

Author: Jennifer Woodhull
Pub. Date: December 26, 2018
Publisher: Jennifer Woodhull
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 288

Brie picked the wrong guy—gave him the wrong finger. 

When her fiance walks out three weeks before their wedding, she slowly picks up the pieces with the help of her friends. A serial monogamist, she's not quite ready to start dating again. There are some things she misses about having a boyfriend, though. Her friends convince her to try something more casual. Random hookups have never been her thing. When a guy she has flirted with for a while offers his services to solve her dilemma, she can't help but be intrigued. Now she's trying to keep things casual, but when she's wrapped in his arms, it's hard to remember she's not supposed to be falling for him. 

Max has had a few hookups since he split with his last girlfriend. Lately, though, he feels like something is missing. He has crushed on the girl he affectionately calls Cheese for years, but the timing was never right. When he finds out they're finally single at the same time, he is poised to make his move. Unfortunately, she's only looking for something physical. Of course, Max is happy to oblige, but the more time they spend together, the more certain he becomes that she's the perfect girl for him. 

He pulls out all the stops, and just when he's about to make his move from the friends-with-benefits zone to serious dating, Brie completely ghosts on him. Now he has to figure out if she has really walked away, or if something more serious is keeping him from the girl of his dreams. 

Funny, sexy, and satisfying, The Dating Alternative is a standalone new adult/contemporary romance. 
Chapter 1 Excerpt – Sabrina

As I lay on the bed, wearing my ex-fiancĂ©’s t-shirt and remembering the night he left me six months ago, I realize that tears are slipping silently down my cheeks.

I’ve done reasonably well, too. The first week, I was catatonic. The first month, I was practically a zombie. In those days, even showering on my day off had been a challenge. Within a couple of months, though, I was doing better. By the ninety-day mark, I could be mistaken for someone who hadn’t been virtually left at the altar.

Now, lying on the bed six months after Grant had thrown away our life together, I was almost indiscernible from a normal girl. Looking at me most days, you would never know that my life had been ripped apart by an exotic Olympian named Isabel and my former fiancé, Grant.

I sit up, realizing how far I’d come since that night. I put the back of my hand up to one cheek, then the other. No more. That asshole doesn’t get another single tear from me. Control-G-Delete.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Woodhull is based in the Southern United States, spending time in her second home of England, and traveling as often as she can. Her love of travel permeates her work, and her characters often find themselves exploring new and foreign surroundings.

A keen observer of human behavior, Jennifer often draws inspiration from something as simple as a fleeting connection, or the glimpse of a unique trait or characteristic. Her favorite place to write is on airplanes.

"The drone of the engine, the scores of people, all traveling to something or from something, and being disconnected from digital distractions are a combination that provide the perfect place to write," she says. "If you see a woman in seat 9F who is balancing her Macbook on her lap because it's time to close your tray table, please have patience. I'm just trying to finish one more sentence."

Join Jennifer’s Newsletter!

Giveaway Details:
5 lucky winners will receive an finished copy of THE DATING ALTERNATIVE, US Only.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book Blitz with 2 Giveaways: Valiant by Merrie Destefano

Book info:
Title: Valiant
Author:  Merrie Destefano
Published by: Entangled: Teen
Publication date: December 4th, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
The Valiant was supposed to save us. Instead, it triggered the end of the world.
Earth is in shambles. Everyone, even the poorest among us, invested in the Valiant’s space mining mission in the hopes we’d be saved from ourselves. But the second the ship leaves Earth’s atmosphere, our fate is sealed. The alien invasion begins. They pour into cities around the world through time portals, possessing humans, forcing us to kill one another.
And for whatever reason, my brother is their number one target.
Now the fate of the world lies in the hands of me, a seventeen-year-old girl, but with the help of my best friend, Justin―who’s suddenly starting to feel like more―maybe if we save my brother, we can save us all…

There’s a pain in my chest as I remember the first time I stumbled across a man with fists lined with metal spikes. I was walking through downtown Santa Ana with Justin, and it was one of those times when I thought, He’s totally going to kiss me tonight. It was back before I began traveling through time, before I found out just how dark the world could be. We were laughing and heading toward a frozen yogurt shop, and he slid his arm around my waist.

It might have been the first time I thought, This guy is it; he’s the one I could fall for. I knew he was a Genetic and that nobody wanted us to be together. But I didn’t care. He was sunshine on a dark night. He was heat when the cold winds blew.

I put my head on his shoulder.

It was only natural.

It was exactly right.

Then I saw the metal man, his brow furrowed as if his heart held all the anger in the world. He was chaos and destruction and he was walking toward us, eyes like fire, like he wanted to kill us both.

Maybe he was looking at Justin. Metal men hate Genetics, because in a real battle, Genetics win. It doesn’t matter how much metal you’ve grafted onto your skin or bones—it might make you stronger, but you’re slower, too. Nobody can match the speed and natural strength of a Genetic. So, this guy might have been looking at Justin and challenging him, but it felt like I was going to be collateral damage.

One swing of his spike-covered fist and I’d be dead.

But I didn’t have to worry about it for long, because Justin pushed me behind him. I couldn’t see his face, but I could see the metal man. Doubt flickered in his eyes; he paused and glanced to the side. He was probably looking for a way out.

Justin took a step forward, his hands curled in fists. When he spoke, his voice came out like thunder, a loud, low growl that rumbled through my spine.

“Don’t even think about it,” Justin said. “Take one more step and I’ll rip out your metal implants, one by one. They hurt going in, so you better believe it’ll be a mother when I pull them out.”
He paused to laugh, but I’d never heard him laugh like that before. It was chilling, like he was a different person. He continued to warn the metal man. “Especially when I twist those implants sideways and the roots tear off chunks of your flesh.”

The metal man narrowed his eyes, and there was a split second when I thought he was going to tackle Justin.

Maybe he would have.

But he didn’t get a chance. It was like Justin knew the metal man’s plan, like it was an open football playbook. Justin rushed him, grabbed the guy around the waist, and slammed him against the brick wall of a local tattoo parlor. It took the wind out of the metal man’s lungs, and he was temporarily stunned. Justin could have slugged him; he could have broken the guy’s arms; he could have killed him.

All he did was lean close enough to whisper in the guy’s ear.

Then Justin stepped back and let the thug slide to the sidewalk in a heap. The metal man caught his breath, his eyes flickered, and he glanced up at us. Then he floundered to his hands and knees and crawled away as fast as he could. By the time he got to his feet, we were surrounded by a Friday-night club crowd, most of them drunk and all of them laughing at the metal man as he ran away.
Justin didn’t even hit the guy.

Sometimes you can win by intimidation alone.

So, do I melt every time I see this boy, who was willing to fight to protect me?

You better believe it.

Author Bio:
Born in the Midwest, former magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.


Blitz-wide giveaway

  • Kindle Fire 7, 8 GB in black
  • Handmade Keychain with Valiant Cover
  • A Valiant Card
  • Valiant Chibi Stickers (1 set of 6 characters)
  • Valiant Chibi Bookmark
  • Valiant Bookmark
  • Signed Valiant Book Plate
  • Set of Valiant Quote Cards
    • Please note if the winner is international, a $50 Amazon gift card will be substituted in place of the prize pack.


2nd Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: The Secret to Dating Your Best Friend's Sister by Meghan Quinn


How do you date your best friend's sister? Easy. 

Step one: Pretend you want her to set you up with someone else. That will bring the two of you closer. 

Step two: Go on date with lots of random women, proceed to get stupid drunk and talk about your best friend's sister, thus gaining the courage to finally make a move. 

Step three: Randomly show up at her apartment and confess your love. Women love that, right? 

It all seemed so simple. A fool-proof three step process that will guarantee the love of you life to fall madly in love with you. 

At least--that's what I thought was going to happen. But my attempts to win over Julia Westin backfired in more ways than I can count. The thing about Julia? She's smart--really smart--and her wicked gaze cuts through all the charm I've tried slinging her way. She's not interested in games, my gifts, or my stories. She might want me too; but she's not giving in that easy...




About the Author:
USA Today Bestselling Author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. Author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Release Blitz Review with Giveaway: Next In Line (Wait With Me #2) by Amy Daws

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What happens when the cute mountain man you made out with in an ice fishing shack turns out to be your brother’s best friend?

A whole lot of awkward, that’s what.

Now Live-couple


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What happens when the cute mountain man you made out with in an ice fishing shack turns out to be your brother’s best friend?
A whole lot of awkward, that’s what.
Maggie’s mind is reeling when she discovers the guy she became tangled up with at Marv’s Bait & Tackle isn’t a stranger like she thought.
The big snag: Sam and Maggie’s chemistry is hot enough to melt ice, which makes keeping their secret far more difficult than either expected.
Especially when one of them decides they want this arrangement to be more than just a catch and release.

buy links 


 Amazon Universal Link



Bearded Lumberjack in Hat holding a big Axe on Shoulder Review 
My rating:  5 stars

Not sure if there is any way to say just how much I loved this book, without using some kind of fishing pun.  But I fell for Sam hook, line, and sinker.  The author used the bits from her own tire shop writing experiences to reel me in and get me laughing.  It started out with the main character Maggie, being a total fish out of water as she tried to find her more adventurous side, to prove her ex-boyfriend wrong for calling her basic.  After helping her with the fishing, Sam kind of decided that he was going to teach her to fish instead of just giving her a fish, that way she would be adventurous however she wanted.  Part of the helping came from knowing that if she went off by herself she would probably get hurt, or you could say he just felt like he wanted to keep her safe, and also away from other guys who were trying to take her up on her new experiences.

I totally loved getting our couple from the last book, Miles and Kate, to be such a big part of this one.  When Kate came back, her romance author sense of humor and topics of conversation were the best!  She tried to help Maggie see that there were definitely other fish in the sea besides her ex.  Then there was the steamy scene halfway through the book, where, holy mackerel, was that sexy!  Not just sexy, but sooooooo realistic! But soon the romance developing between Sam and Maggie was a sweet one, you could tell they both wanted more, but each was sure the other was not right, or else that they weren't relationship kind of people, in Sam's case anyway.  

Maggie gets into a bit of a fine kettle of fish when her ex just shows up. Now her brother Miles didn't know about the breakup, so when Sam showed up at the dinner where it had been just Maggie, Miles, Kate, and Maggie's ex, Maggie got a little green around the gills wondering how to deal with that.  Maggie's ex seemed to feel like he was a big fish in a small pond when he visited her in Colorado, even going so far as to say he didn't want to play professional football there.  That was a big hit to poor Miles, who of course was a Broncos fan.  He also thought getting Maggie back would be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.  Soon both Maggie and Sam were thinking that the other might be the one that got away for them.  Which led to some almost jumping the shark types of ploys to get the other one back.  I won't say what, you need to read and see how it all works out.  

Yes, Maggie definitely spent too much time carping about how much she wanted her ex back, and that was totally annoying.  However, all the other characters didn't let her get away with it, they kept telling her there were bigger fish to fry than getting that guy back.  So that made up for her behavior.  

Once again Daws made me stay up later than I should have so that I could finish and find out just how it all would end and everyone could get their HEA.  I love how she brings her other characters back in, I so want a friend like Kate.  I kinda wonder if being friends with the author would be a similar type of experience.  Now I'm eager to find out if book 3 will be Lynsey and the lovely Dr. Dick that we met in this one.  

P.S. - How did my fishing idioms/puns review format work for you?

“Maggie,” I state, my voice deep in warning. “Stop worrying about Sterling and live in this moment. We are in the middle of a hot spring, surrounded by rocks and mountains and snow and nature and…life. Your ex should be the last thing on your mind. You should be taking this all in.” 

“I am taking it all in,” she snaps back defensively. 

“But are you? Are you really?” I stare deep into her eyes, not in judgment but in understanding. “I know you have a plan, but sometimes plans need to be forgotten so you don’t miss out on life.” 

“Life? Like right now? With you?” she says the words slowly like each one is a sweet she’s tasting for the first time. 

“Hell, maybe,” I reply, my voice growing deeper from the darkened look in her eye. “You seem busy living for a fictional future. Maybe it’s time to stop turning the pages for a bit.” 

The corners of her lips twitch as she watches me for a breath. Her tongue darts out to wet her lips as she pulls her bottom one in with her teeth. She turns around to prop her arms on the rocks, her eyes taking in the scenery all around us. She exhales heavily and then turns to sit on her knees in front of me. 

My eyes take in that luscious body of hers, curvy in all the right places and smooth like velvet. Leaning in until her face is only inches from mine, she says, “Kiss me, Sam.” 

 “What?” I ask with a laugh and pull away from her, assuming this must be her idea of a joke. 

She bites her lip and narrows her eyes with determination. “Kiss me.” 

“What are you doing?” I shift nervously in the water to put more space between us. I swear to God, the temperature of the water has just risen ten degrees. 

Lifting her shoulders, she replies, “I’m living life in the moment.” 

 “But you want your ex back.” A fact she shouldn’t need to be reminded of. 

“I do…someday.” Her eyes wander down to my chest. “But he’s not here tonight. And you’re a short-term kind of guy, and I’m a temporarily single girl. So why don’t we live in the moment right now…together?” 

“You don’t want this,” I reply with a shake of the head, gulping down the contents of my glass in one swig. I set it down and hoist myself up on the edge of the rocks, needing some cool air to clear my head. 

“I think I do,” she replies, lifting her brows at me. “I know I do. I’ve wanted it since the day we met.” 


“It’s true. Why do you think I threw myself at you in your fishing hut, Sam?” 

My body roars to life at that memory, of her body close to mine, of feeling her in my arms and tasting her perfect lips. Maggie could kiss. Even in her haste, she knew how to kiss. 

 Maggie moves closer to me like a tentative cub tracking its first prey. She kneels between my legs, and I tense when she runs her hands up the outside of my calves. “You’re a good guy, Sam. You may not be a long-term kind of guy, but that’s not what I’m looking for from you anyway.” 

Her hands roll over my quads, shooting a zinger right up my groin to my cock. I reach down and grip her hands harshly to stop their movement. “What are you looking for exactly, Maggie? Be very fucking specific.” 

Her long black lashes are wet from the steam as she looks up at me and quirks her brow as she replies. “I’m asking for no-strings fucking.” 

“Jesus Christ,” I growl and have to force myself to look away from her. She looks way too fucking hot right now in that little black bikini, her breasts pressing together from the position of her hands on my thighs, and her blue eyes wide and innocent. My dick develops its own heartbeat as it presses into my board shorts. 

How did this evening turn into Maggie seducing me? I’m fucking nine years older than her, for God’s sake. I should be the one seducing her. But all of a sudden, she’s the alluring bait dangling right in front of me, and I’m a fish who hasn’t eaten in weeks. 

I look at her with pleading eyes. “Your brother will kill me.” 

She smiles a sexy smile, that dimple in her cheek ever present. “Miles doesn’t need to know about my sex life.”


Its Live Giveaway


 Enter Here!

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Amy Daws is an Amazon Top 25 bestselling author of sexy, contemporary romance novels. She enjoys writing love stories that take place in America, as well as across the pond in England; especially about those footy-playing Harris Brothers of hers. When Amy is not writing in a tire shop waiting room, she's watching Gilmore Girls, or singing karaoke in the living room with her daughter while Daddy smiles awkwardly from a distance. 

For more of Amy's work, visit:

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Cover Reveal: Best Laid Plans by Lauren Blakely


They say the grass is greener on the other side…

As a good girl, I have to wonder if it's better on the naughty side of the fence.

BEST LAID PLANS, a sexy new standalone romance from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely, will be releasing on March 1, 2019 on all retailers! A friends-to-lovers romantic comedy with a fantastic twist on lessons in seduction, don’t miss the stunning cover below, and pre-order your copy today!

Photography by Rafa G. Catala. Cover Design by Helen Williams.

About BEST LAID PLANS (Coming 3/1/2019):

That time I had the brilliant idea to ask my good friend for lessons in sex-ploration…

Awkward? Maybe. But how else is a good girl going to find out if she likes being naughty? I might be sweet as cherry pie, but I’m also bold and damn curious. And Gabe is charming, trustworthy, aces at seduction (or so I hear) and—bonus!— willing to give me lessons. But to guarantee it won’t ruin our friendship, I have some specific requirements for his instruction. I want these classes to be hypothetical more than hands-on. So what if he’s hella sexy? I can handle that, no problem.


I have it bad for Arden. She’s bright, brilliant, insanely fun, and I want to take her home and spend all night together—and then spend the day with her, too. When she asks for my help, I see my chance to win her sweet heart by showing her how much fun we can have getting spicy. Trouble is, she has a different idea of what “sex-ploration” should mean. Now I’m going to have to get really clever to win her over.

Good thing I know exactly how to upend her best laid plans.



✦Amazon PB ➜

✦Apple Books ➜

✦Kobo ➜

✦Nook ➜

✦Google Play ➜

✦Kindle LIVE alert (via Lauren's newsletter) ➜

✦Audible ➜

✦Goodreads ➜


What’s better than one Audie-nominated romance narrator? Two of them!

Joe Arden and Erin Mallon team up to bring you Lauren’s latest standalone rom-com Best Laid Plans, plus they recorded a bonus behind-the-curtains conversation with all sorts of juicy details about audiobooks!

Get the latest audio news from Lauren Blakely here:

About Lauren Blakely:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that's hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family, including her smoking hot and funny husband and her two brilliant and kind children. She has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs -- she might have four dogs, or maybe five. If she's lucky, she'll soon have six dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 100 times, and she's sold more than 2.5 million books. In December she'll release UNZIPPED, in January BIRTHDAY SUIT, and in March BEST LAID PLANS.
To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter!

Blog Tour with Giveaway: SAPD SWAT Series by Nikki Mays

Addicted to You
SAPD SWAT Series Book 2
by Nikki Mays
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Comedy

Michelle is my addiction. She’s sweetness and light wrapped up in a delicious package. Almost as delicious as the confections she makes. Until now, I’ve kept my distance to make sure my darkness doesn’t taint her. She’s better than a killer who sits behind a scope.

I watch her from afar. Getting dragged under her spell a little further with every sweet smile and mischievous grin. I know I’ll cave one day, give into the craving to be near her. Being in her presence is a feeling like no other, one I can’t seem to resist.
Unfortunately, I’m not the only one living under her influence. While I was watching her, someone else was watching too. But she belongs with me, no matter what anyone else wants.
Now I need to make sure she gives me my next fix of her, even if she’s too stubborn to admit she wants to. She’s my addiction, cure and redemption all rolled into one. Her soul calls out to my own. I’ll make sure she’s as addicted to me as I am to her. She’ll crave me - if it’s the last thing I do.

Surrender to You
SAPD SWAT Series Book 1


Mellie has been hypnotized by a pair of gorgeous green eyes, attached to a very yummy package for months now. Unfortunately for her, her brain goes on hiatus anytime Morris Jackson is around. Looking like a bobble head whenever he asks her anything isn't the best way to go about getting a man like him interested. Not like ruggedly handsome men go for quirky, accident prone introverts like her. Plus, even if she did have a snowballs chance in hell with him, him being her brothers SWAT teammate doesn't bode well for her. A girl can dream though!


Those blue eyes sucker punched him the minute he looked into them. It felt like the ground had literally gone out from under him. Mellie is everything that he could ever want and everything that he shouldn't have. Even if he didn't know that she's too good for a guy like him, her brother would never be okay with it. He is over protective and proud of it. But at some point you have to say screw the consequences and go after what you know is meant to be yours.

Too bad someone wasn't happy for them when the found their way to one another. Someone will make sure they don't stay together by any means necessary. They'll even kill to get what they want.

Nikki Mays is a pen name that was created from her maiden name. She is a wife and mother, who lives in a small town in New Jersey. She has been with her husband for a decade and is surprised that he's still alive. She began writing as a creative outlet after becoming a stay at home mom. She decided that she needed something exclusively for herself, not just being mommy. She has two crazy boxers that love to keep that "Evil" mailman out of the yard. Besides writing and spending time with her little hellions, she enjoys cooking and baking. She has recently taken up gardening and made her loving husband plant her a mini fruit tree orchard, as well as a garden taking up half an acre. Nikki loves to be stalked by her readers and encourages all interaction.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Release Blitz: Love With Me (With Me in Seattle Series #11) by Kristen Proby

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Best friends from college. Plus-ones since med school. A chance for something new...

Love With Me, the latest in the beloved With Me In Seattle Series by New York Times Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is Live!

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Jace Crawford heals hearts for a living. More than that, medicine is his life. To become the leading cardiothoracic surgeon on the west coast, he’s made sacrifices. No social life. He barely has time to sleep. Love? Forget about it. But when everything goes horribly wrong on his table, and he unexpectedly loses a patient, Jace is suspended from work.

When a man has nothing but his job, what does he do when that’s gone?

Joy Thompson collects unwanted strays. A dog with one eye, a three-legged cat, a bird that swears like a sailor? All part and parcel of her veterinary business. It helps pass the time.

Until Jace calls out of the blue to ask her out on a real date. Spending extra time with him is dangerous. Her feelings for her best friend have always been stronger than simple companionship. If she gets attached, what happens when he goes back to work and leaves her behind?

But as the weeks progress, falling for each other is inevitable. This time, Jace’s heart is the one that will need fixing before both of them end up broken.

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Download your copy today!
Amazon Worldwide:
Add to GoodReads:

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About Kristen:
Kristen was born and raised in a small resort town in her beloved Montana. In her mid-twenties, she decided to stretch her wings and move to the Pacific Northwest, where she made her home for more than a dozen years. 

During that time, Kristen wrote many romance novels and joined organizations such as RWA and other small writing groups. She spent countless hours in workshops, and more mornings than she can count up before the dawn so she could write before going to work. She submitted many manuscripts to agents and editors alike, but was always told no. In the summer of 2012, the self-publishing scene was new and thriving, and Kristen had one goal: to publish just one book. It was something she longed to cross off of her bucket list.

Not only did she publish one book, she’s since published close to thirty titles, many of which have hit the USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists. She continues to self publish, best known for her With Me In Seattle and Boudreaux series, and is also proud to work with William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, with the Fusion Series. 

Kristen and her husband, John, make their home in her hometown of Whitefish, Montana with their two pugs and two cats.

Connect with Kristen:
Pinterest: @handbagjunkie  

Monday, November 26, 2018

Blog Tour Excerpt with Giveaway: Amethyst (The Smoky Blues Book 9) by Emily Mims

The Smoky Blues Book 9
by Emily Mims
Genre: Contemporary Romance 


Deke Gregory has a type – petite, feminine, pliable. His ex-wife was his ideal, but she wasn’t his, obviously. Faced with the realities of joint custody and a family “village” raising his son, Deke sets out to find a woman who ticks all his boxes and thinks he walks on water. Enter Doctor Taylor De Witt: tall, strong, willful, opinionated, and too busy to be bothered with soothing his rough edges. Imagine his surprise when he falls for her – hard.


Taylor De Witt knew she would be a heart surgeon since college. Now a single mother with a schedule that requires roller blades, she has little time for her family, never mind a social life. When she meets Deke Gregory she thinks he’s a Neanderthal – yummy, but from a different era. Little does she know what their mutual attraction will bring, including examining her life to include an everlasting love.

. Taylor and the man sat down with their children beside them furthest from each other. Mr. Jenkins introduced the man and his son as Deke and Brian Gregory. “And you’re Dr. DeWitt? Charlie’s mother?”
Taylor nodded. “Please tell me what happened.”
“I’d like to hear it as well,” Deke Gregory murmured.
“There’s not a lot to say. For whatever reason, Charlie punched Brian in the face this morning.” Mr. Jenkins looked grim.
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?” Taylor demanded. “My son wouldn’t walk up and hit a kid out of the blue.”
“It looks like that’s exactly what happened,” Deke murmured. “And I for one don’t appreciate it, not one little bit. This kid needs to be punished.”
“And he will be, I can assure you of that.” Mr. Jenkins turned to Taylor and Charlie. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying on this campus. We will be dealing with this in the strongest of manners.”
“And you wonder why I hate this school,” Charlie ground out.
Taylor looked from her son to Principal Jenkins to the irate father sitting next to the small blond boy with the darkening shiner. Deke Gregory looked like he was about to blow. Brian Gregory was small and pale and a good thirty pounds lighter than Charlie, and to her professional eye he looked like he might be contending with health issues. On the surface it didn’t look too good for her son, hitting a child so much smaller than him. But something niggled in the back of her mind. Something had been going on with Charlie ever since school started. Did Brian Gregory have something to do with that? Was that why Charlie had slugged him?
“As I was saying, we will have to deal with this in the strongest manner,” Mr. Jenkins intoned. “We have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying here at Mountainside Middle School.
Charlie will have to—”
“Wait a minute,” Taylor broke in. “We’re not through discussing what happened this morning.”
Deke looked at her unbelievingly. “It’s pretty clear what happened this morning. Your kid gave my kid a shiner. That’s all that matters, lady.”
She shot him a look of disgust. “No, it’s not all that matters. And that’s Dr. DeWitt to you. Or Dr. Lady if that’s all you can manage.” She ignored Deke’s glare and turned back to the principal. “Did you ask Charlie what prompted him to hit the other young man?”
“Well, no—”
“Why not?” she snapped. “Was it easier to blame Charlie than to get to the bottom of what happened?” She turned to her son. “Charlie, why did you hit Brian this morning? Does it have something to do with why you haven’t wanted to go to school for the last two weeks?”
Charlie nodded. His lower lip trembled and his eyes filled with tears. “He and his friends wait for me every morning. They watch me come out of Mrs. Foster’s room and say I’m stupid. They call me a dumb jock and say I’m not good for anything since I’m in special ed. I tried telling Mrs. Foster but she said to ignore them, they weren’t hurting anything and there was nothing she could do about it.” He raised tear-filled eyes and looked at Taylor. “I couldn’t stand it anymore, Mom. I couldn’t stand it and I hit him.” Charlie collapsed into noisy sobs.
“Weren’t hurting anything? That teacher’s out of her mind.” Taylor reached out and held her son. “It’s going to be okay, Charlie. I’ll get it stopped.” She looked at Mr. Jenkins with disgust. “Zero tolerance, huh? Looks more like zero give-a-damn from where I’m sitting.” She turned to Brian’s father. “Does your kid know what verbal bullying is? Haven’t you taught him that words hurt as badly as fists?”
“It’s still no excuse for hitting Brian.” Deke Gregory’s lips were set in a firm line.
“The hell it wasn’t,” she shot back. “There wasn’t much else Charlie could do. He’d already gone to the teacher and gotten zip. Maybe if you’d taught your son how to behave, my boy wouldn’t have had to hit him. Your parenting skills leave a lot to be desired.”
She ignored Deke’s sharp intake of breath and turned back to the principal. “Mr. Jenkins, I don’t know how you intend to handle this. But Brian Gregory is equally as guilty of bullying as Charlie, and whatever you do to one you’d better damned well do to both. Do you understand? And while you’re at it, you might want to counsel your teachers about what constitutes bullying, so the next time a kid comes to them for help, they get it.”
Mr. Jenkins had the grace to look embarrassed. “Yes, I understand, Dr. DeWitt. And you’re right, of course.” He turned stern eyes on Brian. “Charlie’s mother is right. You are guilty of bullying. Are you aware of that?”
Brian slunk down in his chair, guilt and embarrassment all over his face. “He’s certainly aware of it now,” his father ground out.
Mr. Jenkins looked from Brian to Charlie and then to Deke Gregory and Taylor. “You know, I’m not sure punishment is the route to go today. I think the name calling and hitting would come to a swift halt if these two young men had a chance to get to know one another. They’re both good kids coming from different worlds who maybe can’t appreciate what the other boy has to offer. So what we’ll do is this. The boys can do in-school suspension tomorrow. Then sometime over the weekend, the boys, under the supervision of the two of you”—he looked from Taylor to Deke—“can take them on a four-hour outing of some sort. Not a movie, but something where the boys can interact and get to know each other.”
“It will have to be Saturday,” Deke said. “I have to work all day Sunday.”
“Let me check my schedule.” Taylor punched up her iPhone calendar. “As far as I can tell at this point, I’m free on Saturday afternoon.” She held up her hand when Mr. Jenkins started to speak. “But I’m on call this weekend. If I get a call from the hospital, I’ll have to cancel.” She
looked at Mr. Jenkins and Deke Gregory. “Does everyone understand?” “I hope you’ll make it a priority,” Mr. Jenkins said archly.
“I hope I can make it a priority,” she shot back.
Deke smirked but said nothing.
The boys were escorted out of the office. She and Deke walked to the visitors’ parking spaces together. “Tell me. Do you always tell other parents and your child’s principal how to do their job?” he asked dryly.
Her lips twitched as she tried and failed to bite back a snicker. “Only when they need it.”
“I see.” If Deke was amused, it didn’t show. “Would you like me and Brian to pick you and Charlie up for the outing?” He looked at her BMW convertible and his Tahoe.
“That might be a good idea.” He programmed her contact information into his telephone and they agreed he and Brian would pick them up about one. “Talk to Brian about what he’d like to do, and I’ll do the same with Charlie. We’ll decide on something when we get together.”
“Works for me.”
She followed his Tahoe out of the parking lot.
Brian Gregory was nothing like his father. The boy was small-boned and delicate to the point of being pretty, and if it hadn’t been for their matching set of vivid blue eyes she would have wondered about Brian’s paternity.
Deke Gregory, on the other hand, was one tough cookie. Big, tall. Vivid blue eyes shining out of a face carved from granite. Probably all kinds of muscles under the sport coat tailored to conceal a shoulder holster. Did he carry because he thought it was manly, or was it part of his job?
Whatever the case, he’d made her tummy do a few flips, and that hadn’t happened for a long, long time.

Author of eighteen romance novels under the pseudonym 'Emily Elliott', Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. 'Solomon's Choice' is her first romantic suspense and the first novel she has published under her own name. The mother of two sons, she and her husband Charles split their time between Central Texas and eastern Tennessee. For relaxation she plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele. She says, "I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she'll just let it."

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