Sunday, December 29, 2013

Love, Valentine Style!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Well, Christmas is over. But I love holidays and I’m looking forward to the next one! Are you ready for Valentine’s Day!? My fellow authors and I are celebrating the day of love with a brand new anthology of Valentine’s stories!

I’ve made my name by writing classy, sexy erotic stories. But there comes a story where hot and heavy bedroom antics just don’t apply. And that’s what happened when I started writing Grace’s Valentine’s story. She’s shy, and she doesn’t think she’ll every find a man, especially not the right man. And when she does meet him, well, she’s automatically going to a little suspicious. After all, how could a good-looking man like Brian want someone like her? You’ll find out in my contribution to the anthology! Here’s a blurb from each story to whet your appetite, then I’ll give you an excerpt of Be My Other Valentine! Thanks to Pamela Fryer for the fab cover!

In Love, Valentine Style, the magic of Valentine’s Day comes alive in a very special holiday anthology of never-before published novellas by award winning and Amazon bestselling authors. You will not find these stories published anywhere else, and this box set will be available exclusively at Amazon for only .99!

Be My Other Valentine by Jasmine Haynes
Five years ago, Grace was given a sacred duty by a woman dying of cancer: Every Valentine's Day, Grace must deliver a special cake to a girl named Valentine, addressed from the girl's mother in heaven. But this year, Grace's van gives up the ghost before she delivers her cargo.

His daughter Valentine is all Brian has left of his wife, but he's forgotten the cake Valentine receives every year, and they've moved to a new house with no way to contact the baker who follows his wife's wishes.

In their quest to fulfill a dying woman's last request, can Grace and Brian find their own Valentine?

Hotel Amore by Pamela Fryer
After being jilted at the altar by her fiancé, Virginia Montgomery quit her job and moved a thousand miles away to manage Hotel Amore on Little West Cay, hoping she'd never see that no-good coward Thomas Bennet again. But Fate and Mother Nature conspire and whip up a little Valentine's Day magic to bring Virginia and Thomas back together.

Civil War Valentine by Haley Whitehall
Charlie Bristol comes to Seattle to set up a traveling Valentine's Day exhibit. The director of the museum surprises her with a package of Civil War valentines from an anonymous donor. She is touched by the heartfelt messages. Does such powerful love still exist?

During a nap she dreams she's alive during the Civil War and meets Elliot Lowery, the author of the valentines who mistakes her for his fiancée Charlotte. She and Elliot negotiate the murky waters of wartime romance. When she wakes she's still under the dream's spell and Valentine's Day love is in the air. Can love work some miracle time and death cannot overcome?

Forever My Valentine by Raine English
Miranda's determined to avoid the man whose heart she broke. Until she finds an engagement ring engraved with a decades' old date. The only man who can help reunite the precious ring with its owner is the last man she wanted to see.

When Ian sees Miranda come into his antique shop, his defenses go up. She walked away from him once without a backward glance. But when their eyes meet and sparks fly, the frost begins to melt from around his heart.

A snowy Valentine's journey to bring the ring to its elderly owner could turn into a second chance at romance for Miranda and Ian. Or prove that their love was never meant to be.

Finding Mr. Right by Lois Winston
In this sequel to the award-winning Hooking Mr. Right, Grace Wainwright, has become romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy. Thea Chandler, the original Trulee, now married to her Mr. Right, is a successful cookbook author and co-host with Grace of Love Recipes. When producer Beck Delaney announces a Valentine theme for February's shows, Grace freaks. The worst day of her life occurred on Valentine's Day, and she wants no reminder of it. Beck has his own reason for hating the holiday but must bow to sponsor demands. When a citywide blackout traps him and Grace in his 34th floor office, their adversarial relationship really begins to heat up.

Valentine Rules by Mel Curtis
It started as an innocent assignment-accompany an actress fresh out of rehab on shopping trips-but gained Gemma Kent a makeover and notoriety as a mystery woman with the Twitter handle: GlitterfrostGem. Everyone in Hollywood is speculating about her identity. In real life, Gemma wears combat boots, Poindexter glasses, and a prickly attitude. Now Randy Farrell, the man she can't get out of her head, wants a date with Glitterfrost Gem! Which would be great if he realized that invisible Gemma Kent and Glitterfrost Gem were one and the same.

Be My Other Valentine
Copyright 2013 Jasmine Haynes

The van coughed and grumbled as Grace Collier turned the ignition key. Her mechanic was good, but the old beast of a vehicle was starting to spend more time in the shop than it did on the road. It needed replacing, but she’d just spent a fortune on a new state-of-the-art rack oven, not to mention the floor mixer she’d had to replace six months ago, and there wasn’t any money to spare right now.

She should have taken her car, but the van was tricked out with special cubbies for holding confections so they didn’t slide or fall. She’d heard horror stories of five-tier wedding cakes toppling when the driver turned too quickly. So Grace wasn’t taking any chances with this morning’s special delivery.

“Come on, baby,” she crooned, leaning forward to pet the dashboard. “You can do it, I know you can.” The engine suddenly roared to life. Animals, children, old people, and finicky vans needed a little sugar and spice, just like the name of her bakery.

The predawn streets were practically empty. In the bakery business, you had to be an early riser, no pun intended. She had another baker and two kitchen helpers who started work at three-thirty, but she was still down at the shop no later than four o’clock in order to be ready for the on-the-way-to-work crowd dying for a sweet treat in the morning. Her cinnamon rolls were to die for, if she did say so herself. Grace loved the smell of crisp morning air. Winter in the San Francisco Bay Area didn’t bring snow except on the mountain tops, and while the days could be gorgeous and relatively warm, the early mornings were downright cold for her Bay Area-bred bones.

Today she had a side trip to make. She lived in San Carlos, the bakery was in Burlingame, about ten minutes north on 101, but she had to get off in San Mateo. The brief detour would cost her only another ten minutes.

At the bottom of the ramp, the van coughed and sputtered, and for a moment, she was terrified the poor thing would expire right there. Maybe she shouldn’t have called it a beast. But then she pressed the gas and rolled onto a deserted Hillsdale Boulevard, which led up to the mall. She stopped for a light, though it was beyond her why it had turned red when there wasn’t another car in sight. She had a few blocks to go; the house she wanted was on the other side of the mall.

Five years ago a pregnant woman had walked into Sugar and Spice. Grace could still see her image as if she haunted the bakery. Though she had an ethereal beauty, she wasn’t healthy and glowing the way Grace thought of pregnant women, far from it. Her request had been very special: she wanted a baker who would commit to delivering a cake every year on Valentine’s Day. Every single year for as long as Grace was capable. That was a lot of cakes, since at the time Grace had only been thirty-three, and Sugar and Spice had only been around for three years. Though it was a birthday cake, the woman wanted it to be decorated in pinks and reds for Valentine’s Day. For a little girl. Her daughter. It was to be delivered in a plain pink box with no markings identifying the bakery, and accompanied only by a card. The woman had signed one sample and told Grace to copy it each year. Starting the following Valentine’s Day, not this one. The card’s words were as indelibly written into Grace’s mind as was the woman’s gaunt but beautiful face.

To my special Valentine, from Mommy. I will always love you, even up here in heaven.

Grace hadn’t asked questions. She hadn’t felt the woman was capable of answering without breaking down, nor was it Grace’s business. They’d negotiated a price, though Grace thought it was far too much; she would have done it for free.

She saw the obituary a week later. The same name that had been on the credit card she’d charged. Survived by a husband and an infant daughter, the woman had died on Valentine’s Day. Of course, she’d known she would die giving birth to her little girl. Precognition? Grace would never know, but she’d kept her promise to deliver the cake to a little girl who’d lost her mother. She would always keep that promise. She knew the woman’s name, she knew the father’s name. If he moved, she’d track him down.

She had to. Deep inside, she felt the love that woman had for her baby. Grace would never be a mother. She would never get married. She had Sugar and Spice, she had her work, and that was more than enough.

Except on Valentine’s Day when she always felt the ache for something she would never have as she delivered the cake to a house with a white picket fence on a tree-lined street in a quiet neighborhood. Last year, there had been a tricycle on the front porch. She’d left a cake in the shape of a lamb, with small pink marshmallows as its fleece, tiny chocolate chips for its snout and hooves, and a garland of gumdrop flowers around the neck. The marshmallows and chocolate chips had taken forever to apply. They’d been worth it.

She pulled away from the light, the van coughing again. She’d made it through the intersection when it sputtered. And coughed. Then died. Oh no. It couldn’t be. She cranked the ignition and pumped the gas. The van rolled a few more feet, allowing her to pull to the side of the road, though she was still partially blocking the lane. Dammit.

“I didn’t mean it about being a beast,” she told the van. But no amount of apology made the engine engage again.

She turned on her flashers, though thankfully the street was deserted so she wasn’t stopping traffic. Give it two hours, though, and things would be a mess if she didn’t get the van started again.

After calling roadside assistance, she tugged on a pair of gloves and slid out the door. Pulling her quilted jacket tightly closed against the cold, she opened the hood. Maybe she could see something. Except that she didn’t know a thing about engines, and it all looked normal to her.

She was going to be late for the morning rush. She’d be late with the cake. God, what if someone was awake in the house and saw her? It would violate the promise she’d made. No way. She couldn’t. There was only one choice. She’d have to walk the few blocks. And hope she made it back before the tow truck got here.

You can read another excerpt of Be My Other Valentine on my website. You can find Love, Valentine Style exclusively on Amazon.

Just a couple of reminders. get your free copy of She’s Gotta Be Mine in ebook! Enjoy! Kindle, Kindle UK , BN, iBooks, iBooks AU, iBooks UK, Kobo, Smashwords, All Romance, Coffee Time.

And drop by the 12/21 blog to enter my drawing for two free audiobook copies of Fool’s Gold. I’ll be announcing the two winners on the Jan 6th blog!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dark Garden in San Francisco, Corsetry and Couture!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

My writer friends and I had a fabulous time last week on our field trip to Dark Garden Corsetry and Couture, in San Francisco! Dark Garden specializes in corsets and foundation garments, and their apparel is absolutely gorgeous. The shop is inviting, filled with frilly undergarments, fancy hats, pretty jewelry, and of course, the corsets.



In the backroom, ladies are hard at work making the custom corsets. The materials are beautiful, satin in dazzling patterns and much, much more. Upstairs there are a variety of costumes, wedding dresses, many of the outfits to be worn at the Edwardian Ball. It’s a very cozy atmosphere, and when we were there, our fitters were attentive and knowledgeable. They gave us all the time we needed. Bella, Shelley, and I tried on the corsets, while Jackie took all the pictures (Jackie already has her stunning corset). Sadly, Jenny was ill and couldn’t make the trip with us. Next time, Jenny! And thanks for being photographer, Jackie!


I thought the corsets would be uncomfortable, and I have to admit that they took a bit of getting used to. But after wearing the garment for a little bit, my body adjusted, and I actually liked the tight feeling. The corset makes you stand taller and sit straighter. And yes, you can breathe!

The first one I tried on was a cincher. See how it makes me hold my back straighter while I perch on the edge of the sofa. I don’t think I look uncomfortable, do I?


Here's a sample of a corselette. Though it's a very sexy garment, I wasn’t as fond of the feel of the corselette. It sort of poked me in the wrong places, if you get my meaning. But I’m sure for some it’s the perfect thing.





Now here’s my favorite. The Signature Sweetheart corset. http://www.darkgarden.com/products/sweetheart. I liked this one the best, especially in the red. As you can see, the corset really gives the figure a nice shape and accentuates the assets.

 
 
 
 
Here’s a Sweetheart and an underbust corset. Don’t they look fabulous!

 
 
 
 


Then we just started having fun with the photos and props! Anneka is the boutique manager and Sophia was our expert fitter. The ladies gave us their 100% attention, with at least an hour’s worth of fittings. Sophia helped us take the photos, too, dressing me up with beautiful red beads, hat, the parasol. Yes, I was hamming it up!

 
 
And here's a photo of the four of us in gorgeous hats.

 

So now I just have to convince my husband that he really wants to buy me a corset for Christmas! I’d love to have a Sweetheart in red poplin with a black lace overlay.
 
If you’re in San Francisco, be sure to stop by Dark Garden, http://www.darkgarden.com/. They'll treat you so well! And pop over to http://magnificentdevices.wordpress.com/ with Shelley Adina to hear more about the field trip!

Just a reminder, get your free copy of She’s Gotta Be Mine in ebook! Enjoy! Kindle, Kindle UK , BN, iBooks, iBooks AU, iBooks UK, Kobo, Smashwords, All Romance, Coffee Time.

And drop by the 12/21 blog to enter my drawing for two free audiobook copies of Fool’s Gold. I’ll be announcing the two winners on the Jan 6th blog!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Win a copy of Fool's Gold Audiobook!


Happy Holidays!

I’m so excited! Lots of things happening around here. First, She’s Gotta Be Mine is free right now. You can check for links at the bottom of the blog. I’ve also had my cover artist, Rae Monet, make all new covers for the Jennifer Skully books! You can see them all on this blog. My other big news is that my husband and I have been working on getting more audiobooks out. And last week two new books went live on Audible, Baby, I’ll Find You and Somebody’s Lover. You all know how I love audiobooks. This month I’ve listened to 6 books while cleaning, doing laundry, taking my daily walks, driving to my Mom’s once a week, and finishing up the Christmas shopping. This month’s best audiobook was Lis Whiel’s A Matter of Trust. Loved it!

To celebrate the new releases, I’m giving away two audiobook copies of Fool’s Gold. To enter the drawing, leave a comment on the blog, along with your email address so that I can contact you. I’ll choose the winners on the Jan 6th blog! Good luck!

Okay, first up is Baby, I’ll Find You. June Wayne did a fabulous job narrating. She’s just so good. Of the Skully books, this is my husband’s favorite. For me, it was a very emotional work. My brother Michael gave me a lot of help on the book, too. Here’s a short blurb to whet your appetite.

A man without a future, a woman determined to give him one...

Jamie Baylor goes all the way to Yosemite to find musician Colton Amory, the man of her dreams. The problem? The man who wrote such beautiful music turns out to be a self-pitying jerk. Or so it seems, until Jamie digs deeper and discovers the terrible tragedy that has ruined Cole’s life.

Can two people with nothing left to lose find it all?

A story that will make you laugh and make you cry.

You can find Baby, I’ll Find You at Audible, Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes.

And then we turn to Jasmine Haynes. Somebody’s Lover is narrated by Shana Savage. She’s got a very sexy voice that both my husband and I think suits The Jackson trilogy perfectly. Somebody’s Lover has always been one of my more emotional stories. As I listened to it again during the proofing process, I felt myself tearing up. I love the Jackson family and their stories. Here’s a brief blurb for you.

A family torn apart by tragedy...

Widowed three years ago and the mother of two, Taylor feels that life as a woman is passing her by. She longs to be somebody’s secret lover. To Jace, Taylor was his brother’s wife, untouchable yet irresistible, but when he discovers her fantasies, Jace swears he’ll be the one to make them reality. Can his family ever accept another man in Taylor’s life, let alone the black sheep of the family?

You can find Somebody’s Lover at Audible Amazon Amazon UK iTunes.

I hope you’ll listen to excerpt of the audiobooks at Audible!

Don’t forget to leave a comment and your email to be entered into the contest for the audiobook of Fool’s Gold. Here’s a little reminder about the story!

You met Sheriff Tyler Braxton in She’s Gotta Be Mine. Now he’s back with his own tale in Fool’s Gold.

Goldstone, Nevada: It’s not your typical vacation getaway.

When his sister puts out a distress call, Sheriff Braxton heads out of Cottonmouth to Goldstone, Nevada, never suspecting he’s going to have to offer advice to the lovelorn. A scary enough prospect, but when murder happens, he’s suddenly hip-deep in small-town secrets. Then there’s Simone Chandler. Is she the real thing, or, as with everything else in Goldstone, is she Fool’s Gold?

Be sure to get your free copy of She’s Gotta Be Mine in ebook! I believe it’s on Sony, too, but I don’t have that link. Enjoy! Kindle, Kindle UK , BN, iBooks, iBooks AU, iBooks UK, Kobo, Smashwords, All Romance, Coffee Time.

Stop by the blog on Monday, 12/23, for a blog about my field trip to Dark Garden, a custom corset shop in San Francisco. Loads of fun, and we all tried on corsets! See the pics!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spotlight on A Christmas Fling: A Magical Tale of Romance and Adventure by Beth Barany

I'd like to introduce my good friend Beth Barany. Thanks for joining us, Beth, and for answering all my questions. It's great to hear about your process! I'm very happy to share your story with my blog friends. Love the excerpt! Good luck!

Thanks, Jasmine, for having me on your blog to give a shout out about my new sweet paranormal romance novella, A Christmas Fling, and answer your wonderful questions.

How does it work having a two-writer household? I saw Ezra’s post on Facebook saying that he’d proofed the book. How closely do you two work together on projects? Do you edit for each other, brainstorm, etc.?

My husband and I work closely together on our book projects. We do edit for each other and do some brainstorming together. For those who don’t know, my husband Ezra Barany is the bestselling author of The Torah Codes, a Da Vinci Code type thriller. I’m editing the sequel right now, as a matter of fact.

Ezra also designs my book covers. We do have to coordinate our projects. Since we edit for each other, we have to make sure our publication dates aren’t on the same days or even week. We do a lot of negotiating around who is getting the focus from who and when. When I’m on deadline like I was recently for A CHRISTMAS FLING, he drops nearly everything to help me by proofing my story. I’m horrible at catching my typos. Thank god he’s there to catch them and to assure me the story is good. I especially like it when he underlines things in the draft and marks “Ha! Ha!” at funny things and also tells me where he was touched by the story.

Back to brainstorming. I usually only talk out thorny plot problems. Sometimes too I like to tell him about a really fun or sweet scene I just wrote. He shares with me little bits of his stories that he’s working on that he likes. Mostly, though, we let the other get the full experience of the story once it’s written. We do spend a lot of time together sitting quietly working on our own writing.

Also, we advise each other on marketing campaigns and help out where we can.

Thanks for the questions, Skully, and for helping me share my book to your readership!

About the Book

She’s a Santa’s Elf. He’s a Human.

What if falling in love put the life you cherished in jeopardy?

Dahlia, a Santa’s Elf, has 21 days left before Christmas to create the best toy in the world without using magic or revealing her true identity. Stuck on how to complete the prototype, and working as a temp in San Francisco’s financial district with no time for love, will her innocent Christmas fling get her unstuck, or will she turn her back on her beloved career for her heart?

Liam, an up-and-coming financial analyst, swore off women after getting dumped by the love of his life. He just found out his ex is going to the company Christmas party with his rival Michael Hendricks. Up for promotion against Hendricks, Liam has to win the favor of his boss. His best bet is to invite the vivacious secretary Dahlia to the party. Will Dahlia be a welcome distraction, or will she turn his life upside down?

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

As I’m just starting out in romance, I’ve heard the most from my early readers and they are saying sweet things, like: (and giving me 5-star reviews!)

“A Christmas Fling is a fantastic tale of love coming at the most inopportune time...If you want a story filled with Christmas cheer and a warm, tender romance, this is the story for you.”  -- C.A. Malone

“I absolutely loved this book. It was a nice quick holiday read ... I have been reading some really crappy books lately and this one came right along and renewed my spirits.” -- Shawntay Fenyo

“I loved it, a sweet little Christmas story. A story to my taste and liking. Dahlia and Liam, at the end tears in my eyes, a happy ending.” -- Brigitte Stotzka

“Strong female lead, interesting love interest – fun characters throughout and a great setting make this a wonderful holiday read.” – Chelsey J Nichols

About Beth Barany

Based in Oakland, California, Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance and adventure to transport readers to new worlds where anything is possible.

In her off hours, Beth enjoys capoeira, travelling, and watching movies with her husband, bestselling author Ezra Barany, and playing with their two cats, Kitty and Leo.

Where to Find A Christmas Fling


A Christmas Fling on Amazon: http://amzn.to/18ELyiY

A Christmas Fling on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1bytk64

Where to Find Beth Barany


Beth Barany’s website: http://author.bethbarany.com/

Beth Barany on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Beth_Barany

Beth Barany’s Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/bethbarany

Here’s an excerpt:

chapter 1
december 1, oakland, ca


Dahlia strolled through the small neighborhood park. It was great fun to think about how the children would enjoy her toy once she was done with it, but she had to complete it first. She only had twenty-two days to fix whatever was wrong with it before returning home. She’d gone over her designs and schematics and taken it apart and put it back together a dozen times, but it still wouldn’t work.

Dahlia left the park and headed down the street toward the detached studio she rented on Miles Avenue.

A dog bark had her look up just in time to almost but not quite avoid getting tangled up in a long leash. A man with the warmest brown eyes she’d ever seen gazed down at her, a half smile on his face.

She smiled back startled out of her daydreaming, but not before she noticed his endearing dimple on one side of his mouth.

She said, “Sorry, I didn’t see you. Thank goodness for your dog. Oh, she looks like a Husky.”

Dahlia shifted her bag to one hip, so she could bend down and pet the dog.

The dog wagged her tail.

Dahlia said, “You must feed her really well. Her coat is so soft and luscious.”

“She’s a Bernese Mountain Dog. Sally. My roommate’s.”

His voice was deep. She had to look up to smile into his deep brown eyes. He was a whole head taller than she was. Almost two meters. She translated into American measurements. Six foot three or something.

“My uncle, well one of my uncles has one—that he uses for work. But I hardly see him because he lives—” She paused. “I’m prattling, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are, but I like listening to your accent. Scottish?”

“Yes, wow, you guessed correctly. Most people here can’t do that. Yeah, we’re from Scotland, but it’s been a few generations.” She couldn’t very well tell him how Santa’s elves lived a very long time. It had only been her grandparents that had immigrated with Uncle, known as Santa to most, and some neighbors to set up the North Pole.

“So, you’re in school here?” He waved off toward what she knew was the art college a few blocks away.

“No. I’m here on an independent research project for a few more weeks.”

“So you’re from—”

“Alaska. Well, near Alaska, anyway. I—I best be going,” she interrupted and gestured to her bag of goodies. She shifted from foot to foot on the corner of Miles and Clifton Streets, still tangled up in the Bernese’s leash. “Gifts to wrap. For the kids. Big project.” She gulped and held out her hand. “I’m Dahlia, by the way. Dahlia MacMillian.”

With a half-smile, he shook her offered hand. His grip was firm and strong. “Liam. Nice to meet you, Dahlia MacMillian.” He led the dog around her, slowly untangling the leash.

How he moved with grace and power, even in his simple gestures. He was tall, lean and muscular, broad shoulders identifiable even in his sweatshirt with the UC Berkeley name and logo on it.

“There we go, Sally,” Liam said, his voice a rumbling, soothing cascade.

Sally licked Dahlia’s hand, bringing her out of her staring. She gulped and felt the heat of a blush creep up her neck and onto her cheeks. Dahlia stroked the soft fur to cover her embarrassment. It had been a long time since she’d felt attracted to anyone. Everyone she’d dated at the Pole was so familiar to her, and mostly related. She didn’t have time for a distraction.

She looked up when she heard Liam chuckling. He was shaking his head.

“What?” She couldn’t help but ask.

He shrugged. “I guess I should run into girls more often with my roommate’s dog. I didn’t realize it could be such a pleasant experience.”

“You must not walk her very often then.” Oh my, she was flirting. The Elf boys back home never brought that out of her. She felt her pale skin flush. Och, yes, this was a man, she thought. “Thank you, then. For the pleasant experience. And the untangling.”

“You’re welcome.” Liam said to her, smiling, that one dimple showing again. Then he spoke to the dog. “Come on Sally. Let’s finish your walk, so we can go watch the game.”

Dahlia waved good-bye and turned to go down the street and head for her apartment. But first she had to watch Liam walk away. He fit nicely into his jeans. For a moment, a pang of wistfulness washed through her. She shook her. She had other things to focus on, like completing her toy on time so she could get her Master Elf badge, and even win the Grand Prize.

She was sure she’d be able to make progress on her toy tonight. Maybe it was something about meeting a happy dog and tall brown-eyed man that made her feel hopeful. Yes, she would get her toy done in time.

***

Liam tugged on Sally’s leash. It had all happened so fast. She’d practically run into him. He’d had to yank on Sally’s leash to prevent the girl from running into him, which had made the normally quiet Sally bark.

The girl, well, actually more like a very nice looking woman—all that wild hair and those sparkly eyes that seemed to practically twinkle when she spoke. Must have been a trick of the afternoon light. She seemed so light-hearted. Dahlia MacMillian, with the soft lilt in her voice. Her mess of red hair part frizzy, part curl that turned golden red as the winter light touched it. A winter jacket covering tantalizing curves. Strong legs in hugging jeans. He almost wanted to make her do a pirouette so he could check out her ass. But he hadn’t.

She was so unlike the highly polished co-workers and high-rise office colleagues he worked with. He loved that environment. He loved his eclectic neighborhood, too. They were right next to an art school. By now he should expect to run into the artsy design type of people in this neighborhood in Oakland. So different from the financial district where he spent over sixty hours a week in downtown San Francisco.

He realized he’d been standing on the corner with Sally when she tugged on the leash, done with her business with sniffing every fifth bush. She needed to get walking. His roommate Josh Kleine, one of his best buddies from college, was away in Paris at a conference and had made him promise to walk Sally himself at least once a day. He did, even though a dog walker helped out during the week, while he was at work. But on the weekends, Liam thought he should walk Sally himself for her twice-daily walks, as he promised Josh.

“Okay, girl. Let’s go.” He picked up the pace and jogged with her up the quiet street.

Dahlia had been so friendly to the dog. She’d made him smile. God. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman made him smile like that. Maybe he could ask her out. No, he’d sworn off dating, even casually, since the fiasco with Christine back in February, seven months ago.

He turned up Clifton, crossed College Avenue, jogged up it a little more until he got to Broadway, then he crossed Broadway and took the dogleg turn and hiked up Broadway Terrace at a good clip to the golf course. On his way back down the hill, his cell phone rang. It was Josh, no doubt checking up on him to see how well he was treating Sally.

“Hey,” Liam answered.

“So?” Josh asked.

“She’s fine. We’re just heading back from our walk. We went as far as the golf course today. She’s got her miles in. Don’t worry. Second walk today, too.”

“And she got her food?”

“Of course. Who do you think I am?”

“It’s just the responsibility—”

“Seriously? We’re going to have this discussion again? I manage crazy-ass databases with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line for Cooper, Andrews & Sons. And you don’t trust me to feed your dog—”

“Cool your jets, Liam. Numbers don’t require regular feeding and—”

“Sally is your baby, I know, Josh. You’ll be back in a week, and you can look after her yourself. How’s the Transportation conference going? Meet any hot Parisian chicks yet?”

“It’s good. No, on the Parisian chicks. Just—no, never mind. Hey, I ran into one of your colleagues here. Michael Hendricks. He’s in your department, right?”

“Yeah, he handles the transportation portfolio analysis. Right. I forgot he was going.” Liam frowned.

“He told me he’s bringing his fiancée to the company Christmas party. And implied that you were going to lose out big time. Something about gaming you out of the corner office. MacAuley, that guy has it in for you.”

“Yeah, always does. He always wants what I have. Now he wants the same promotion I’m after.” He stole his girlfriend, ex-girlfriend from him. And Christine let it happen. “What’s this about bringing his fiancée to the party? What fiancée? Is it Christine?” He really didn’t want to see Christine ever again. He ground his teeth.

The promotion was a straight shot to a corner office, weekly golf with the shareholders, and a seat at the C-level table.

“I don’t know who,” Josh said. “Not surprised he plays the field. He’s a jerk. I heard his talk was poorly attended. Don’t worry, man. I didn’t go.”

“Thanks.”

“Anytime. Hey, how’s Brett? You guys do your weekly squash game last week?”

“Yeah. Like always. What? You’re homesick or something?”

“I don’t know. Yeah. Whatever. Something happened in our behind-the-scenes tour of the Paris Metro that shook me a little. I’m fine. We’re fine. It’s nothing. Just miss home, and my buds—”

“And your dog.”

“Yeah. I miss Sally. Put her on the phone.”

“Dude.”

“Come on.”

“I’m on the street.”

“So? It’s a crazy town, so just do it, okay? Hey, the French wouldn’t think it’s weird. They love their dogs.”

Liam huffed, but put his cell phone to Sally’s ear, so Josh could coo or whisper or whatever he did when he talked to Sally through the phone. Sally paused from her sniffing the millionth bush and lifted her ear a little, as if listening. He gave Josh a minute tops, then put the phone to his ear.

“Okay?”

“Yeah. Gotta go get some shut eye to get up early for the conference tomorrow. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Sure. Take care. And go meet some French women, will you? Sounds like you need to get laid.”

“Where did that come from? Speak for yourself.”

Liam barked a laugh and clicked off the cell phone.

Josh was worse than Liam’s own mother for the way he checked up on him. At least his mother only expected to talk to him once a week. Tonight. He groaned inwardly. First he’d watch the football game. Then he’d call his mom. She’d still be up in New York, testing out new pastry recipes for her boutique Italian pastry company.

In five minutes he reached the bottom of the hill and crossed Broadway, turned right on College. A few minutes later, he turned at Forest Street, passing the toy store. He’d never really noticed it before, though he must have passed it hundreds of times on his runs, and certainly seven times in the last seven days he’d been walking Sally for Josh. This store must have been where Dahlia had done her toy shopping, though he hadn’t seen the bag logo clearly. She’d had stuffed animals and some tubes of sparkles sticking out of the top of the bag.

Perhaps she had kids. A wistful pang washed through him. He thought he’d start a family with Christine, but she killed that dream before it had a chance to blossom when he caught her cheating on him with Hendricks. He hadn’t had a serious girlfriend since he ended it with Christine seven months ago. Thank goodness he hadn’t proposed to her. He’d been thinking about it. Since then, he’d sworn off all dating. And he’d sworn off love.

Love was for losers. He had to bring someone to the party and show up Hendricks, and Christine, if it was Christine that Hendricks was bringing. Show them he was fine. Have a great time. Live it up, and all the while beat Hendricks out by getting his analysis in on time and under budget, so he would get the promotion over Hendricks.

His stomach grumbled, tearing him away from the past.

“Time for an early dinner, eh, Sally?” he said.

She gave a soft woof. He picked up the pace and jogged back home to the house on Locksley he shared with Josh. Sally kept pace with him the whole way, the perfect running companion. She didn’t talk and could keep up with him. He’d take her out for their morning run tomorrow at 5 a.m. before he left for work.

It wasn’t until he put the key in the front door that he realized what Michael’s jab about bringing his fiancée to the Christmas party was all about.

“Damn,” he muttered under his breath. Hendricks was bringing Christine. The guy was trying to psych him out, acting like having Christine at his side was his ace in the hole, his secret weapon. Hendricks wanted to push Liam’s buttons and have him lose focus on the big job. He wanted Liam to crash and burn so that he would get the promotion.

Liam slammed the door and felt like throwing his keys down the entry hall. His buttons were pushed all right. But throwing the keys would startle Sally and leave marks in the hardwood that he didn’t want to have to deal with or explain to Josh. So he dropped his keys in the ceramic bowl his grandmother had made for him eons ago. He slipped off his shoes, lined them up next to the entry mat, and unhooked Sally’s leash. She trotted off probably to find her favorite chew toy and settle down for a nap by the fireplace.

He tromped to the kitchen, opened the fridge, and grabbed the celery and Parmesan. He knew how to handle his anger. He’d focus it into something creative. He chopped some onions and celery, hammering the knife against the cutting board. Got the water going. Heated up some homemade tomato sauce. Grated some cheese.

What the hell was he going to do? He really wanted this promotion. It was what he’d been striving toward for the last eight years, through grad school and propelling his way up the ranks in the financial companies he’d been employed at across the country, until he’d landed at Cooper, Andrews & Sons three years ago.

He pictured contacting the vivacious Dahlia, the girl he’d just met, but brushed that thought aside. He didn’t even know where she lived, or how to contact her.

His cell phone rang. “Hi Mom. I was going to call you after the game. It’s about to start.”

“Liam, dear, have you married and made me a grandmother yet?” His mom’s favorite question of the day.

“Mom, not tonight.”

“What? Bad day? Did your team lose?”

“Ma, the game hasn’t started yet. Just got back from the dog walk.”

“Then what?”

“Nothing, Ma.”

“You’re cooking, aren’t you?

“Yeah.”

“You always cook when you’re upset. What’s the matter?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Then at least tell me what you’re cooking.”

Liam sighed and relented, telling her what meal he had in mind. That took them both off his problems. For the time being.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ready for Valentine's Day yet!?


I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Today I want to tell all of you a Valentine’s anthology of short stories I’m doing with a fabulous group of authors! Here’s the cover our great leader, Pamela Fryer, has put together for Love, Valentine Style. She’s so talented!

I know that my books are a little over the top in the sexual arena, not ALL sex, but, well, pretty darn hot! This time I’m doing something a little different. Just to mix things up. My story in the anthology is a sweet romance. Yes, me, Jasmine Haynes, I wrote a sweet romance!

Here’s a rundown of the stories in the anthology, which will be releasing on the first of January, 2014!

The magic of Valentine’s Day comes alive in a very special holiday anthology of never-before published novellas by award winning and Amazon bestselling authors. You will not find these stories published anywhere else, and this box set is available only at Amazon!

Be My Other Valentine by Jasmine Haynes

Grace is a baker and Sugar & Spice Bakery is her life. Five years ago she was given a sacred duty to perform by a mother dying of cancer: Every Valentine's Day, Grace must deliver one of her beautiful cake creations to a little girl named Valentine, and it must be addressed from the girl's mother up in heaven. But this Valentine's Day, Grace's delivery truck might finally give up the ghost before she drops off her precious cargo.

Brian lost his wife five years ago, and their little girl Valentine is all he has left of her. But what Brian has forgotten is that very special gift Valentine receives every year on Valentine's Day, and he's moved his daughter to a new house with no way to contact the mysterious baker who has followed his wife's wishes all these years.

In their quest to fulfill a dying woman's last request, can Grace and Brian find their own Valentine?

Hotel Amore by Pamela Fryer

After being jilted at the altar by her fiancé, Virginia Montgomery quite her job and moved a thousand miles away to manage Hotel Amore on Little West Cay, hoping she’d never see that no-good coward Thomas Bennet again. But Fate and Mother Nature conspire together and whip up a little Valentine’s Day magic to bring Virginia and Thomas back together.

You know what they say; Fate doesn’t take no for an answer, and it isn’t nice to mess with Mother Nature.

Civil War Valentine by Haley Whitehall

Recently divorced museum curator Charlie Bristol comes to Seattle to set up a display at the Fine Art museum chronicling the history of Valentine’s Day. The director of the museum surprises her with a package of Civil War valentines from an anonymous donor. She reads the heartfelt messages and is touched by his words. Does such powerful love still exist?

During a nap she dreams she’s alive during the Civil War and meets Elliot Lowery, the author of the valentines who mistakes her for his fiancée Charlotte. She and Elliot negotiate the murky waters of wartime romance. When she wakes she’s still under the dream's spell and Valentine’s Day love is in the air, but Charlotte has no reason to celebrate. The man she loves died 150 years ago. Unless love works some miracle even time and death cannot overcome.

Forever My Valentine by Raine English

She left him... He loves her... A snowy Valentine's gives them a second chance.

Returning home after a disastrous job relocation, Miranda is determined to avoid the man she left behind—and whose heart she broke. Until she finds a hidden treasure in a music box. An engagement ring engraved with a decades’ old date. And the only man who can help reunite the precious ring with its owner is the last man she wanted to see.

When Ian sees Miranda walk into his antique shop, his defenses go up. She walked away from him once without a backward glance. Since then he’s given up on love. But when their eyes meet and sparks fly, he wonders if maybe there’s a Valentine’s Day miracle in store for them.

A snowy night’s journey to bring the ring to its elderly owner turns into a second chance at romance for Miranda and Ian. But as the frost melts from around their hearts, it exposes old hurts and deceptions. This Valentine’s Day could be the start of something wonderful. Or the proof that their love was never meant to be.

Finding Mr. Right by Lois Winston

In this mini-sequel to the award-winning Hooking Mr. Right by Lois Winston (writing as Emma Carlyle,) editor Grace Wainwright, has taken over the role of bestselling author and romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy. Thea Chandler, the original Trulee, is now married to her Mr. Right and is a successful cookbook author. She and Grace host the top-rated Love Recipes cooking show. When producer Becket Delaney announces the first two shows in February will have a Valentine’s Day theme, Grace freaks out. The worst day of her life occurred on Valentine’s Day ten years ago, and she wants no reminders of it. Beck has his own reasons for hating the holiday, but the show must go on, and he absolutely refuses to deal with an uncooperative prima donna. When a citywide blackout traps him and Grace in his thirty-fourth floor office, their adversarial relationship really begins to heat up.

Valentine Rules by Mel Curtis

What started out as an innocent assignment for work –accompanying a popular actress fresh out of rehab on shopping trips – has gained Gemma Kent regular makeovers by said actress and a sidebar photo on People magazine’s cover! All the attention would be flattering, except she’s become famous as a mystery woman with the Twitter handle: GlitterfrostGem. Everyone, even the local gossip column, is speculating about her identity. In real life, Gemma wears combat boots, poindexter glasses, and a prickly attitude. Now Randy Farrell, the man she can’t get out of her head, wants a date with Glitterfrost Gem! Which would be great if he realized that invisible Gemma Kent and Glitterfrost Gem were one and the same.

I'm happy to be part of such a great group of writers. So look for Love, Valentine Style on New Year’s Day! Drop by my website for an excerpt of my story, Be My Other Valentine!

A couple of promo items. First up, come celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas at Coffee Time Romance! There are tons of discounted books from multiple authors! All my ebooks are 25% off! http://bit.ly/11nj8pP. And on Dec 4th only, Kinky Neighbors will be free on Coffee Time. So be sure to stop by!

And there’s more 12 Days of Christmas on Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde’s Facebook Giveaway. The grand prize is an iPad Mini and a $100 gift certificate. And every day, several authors will be giving away books and other prizes. I’m not sure what day my books will be up, so keep checking back Dec 1 to Dec 12! https://www.facebook.com/groups/647638851947987
 

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