ANNA’S HEART–99¢ Pre-Sale!

ANNA’S HEART is out Tuesday, June 16!
Reserve your copy for just 99¢.
books2read.com/AnnasHeart

When world-famous movie star Angus McGregor booked four weeks at her family’s Wyoming guest ranch, Anna Graves had no idea her life would be forever changed. There’s no way the handsome red-haired actor with the panty-melting Scottish accent could ever be attracted to her, right?

Determined to make the most of an opportunity to advance his career, Angus arrives at Sweetwater Ranch on a mission to become the best cowboy Hollywood has ever seen. The last thing he needs is a romantic complication. But Anna is different from any woman he’s ever met. If only she’d let down her guard around him.

Here’s a little teaser from ANNA’S HEART.

As the last of the stragglers left the dining room, Anna left her mother and Simone to finish breakfast cleanup. A huge stockpot of hearty beef stew simmering on the stove would be ready for lunch in a few hours. Simone and Mrs. Graves would eventually make their way upstairs to join Lana in freshening up the handful of guestrooms located in the main lodge.

Anna would see to the cabins by herself, a job she’d insisted on as Simone and her baby bump had grown more and more unwieldy. Sweetwater Ranch wasn’t a hotel, really, so the day-to-day housekeeping was fairly light. While fresh sheets were available upon request, staff didn’t make beds or change the sheets on a daily basis.

On the other hand, between riding horses, working with cattle, and practicing outdoors skills, guests tended to get grubby as they participated in ranch activities, so daily fresh towels were a must. Anna also preferred to spot-clean the bathrooms and kitchens, straighten anything out of place, and remove the trash each day.

It was definitely easier when she split the duties with Simone, but over the past few months, Anna had worked out a routine that allowed her to finish her housekeeping duties in about an hour. And that left her plenty of time to make sure she was ready for her afternoon riding session before she headed back to the kitchen to help with lunch.

As usual, she started with Cabin 1 and worked her way back. The first five cabins, the newest of the bunch, were nearly always occupied for every session, summer and winter alike. When they had a larger-than-normal group of guests, the older cabins were used, beginning with number 6.

She herself occupied number 7, then numbers 8 and 9 were available to guests. Ross lived alone in Cabin 10. Andy and Simone had an apartment on the top floor of the main lodge, while Anna’s parents remained in the family quarters just off the lodge kitchen. It was where Anna and her brothers had grown up, and their father before them.

The newer cabins had been built when Anna was in high school. They were nicer than the older ones, but they were smaller. As she drove the golf cart from Cabin 5 to Cabin 6, she wondered what movie star Angus McGregor thought of his rustic accommodations. On the one hand, his cabin was larger than the others. But on the other hand, it was older. The amenities weren’t as new and the bathroom and kitchen hadn’t been updated.

Fresh towels folded over her arm, Anna snorted as she walked up the front steps of Cabin 6. Angus McGregor, cooking for himself in the little cabin kitchen!

Right! I’m still surprised he deigns to show up at mealtime, she thought to herself. Figured he’d call the front desk expecting room service.

Pausing at the door, she knocked lightly. “Housekeeping!” She knew that at that time of the morning, he was in Andy’s riding group. It was why she did these chores right after breakfast. Everyone had someplace to be, and it was a rare instance when someone was actually in their cabin.

Still, it was better to be on the safe side. She knocked again, then unlocked the door and let herself in. A quick scan showed the open living room/kitchen combination to be neat and tidy, save for a bunch of index cards spread all over the kitchen table.

She craned her neck to look at them briefly as she made her way to the kitchen trash can. Quickly, she removed the bag and replaced it with a fresh one, placing the old bag beside the front door. Everything else in the kitchen looked in order so she carried the fresh towels down the short hallway to the bathroom. Still envisioning the famous actor trying to cook something on the older-model gas stove, she smirked as she opened the bathroom door.

Clouds of steam rolled over her as a very naked Angus McGregor, towel in hand, froze stock-still.

“Anna?” Eyes wide, he moved the towel down to his waist, but not before Anna got an eyeful of a most impressive cock.

“Holy shit!” she gasped, stumbling backward into the hallway wall.

As she turned and rushed down the hallway, she heard his bare feet padding along behind her.

“I’m so sorry,” she offered without bothering to turn around. “You’re supposed to be riding right now.”

“Aye, about that,” he answered, “I switched to a different session.”

“I knocked, I swear I did.” Clutching the towels, she still faced the door. “I didn’t mean to just barge in on you.”

“I’m just back from a run. I didn’t hear ye over the shower. Anna?” His tone was soft.

Slowly, she turned around, willing her eyes to stay away from the bulge beneath the towel around his waist. She allowed her gaze to skim up his rippled abs to his muscular chest and wide shoulders. Water still dripped from his hair and he swiped a hand across his face.

Oh, yeah, that’s definitely better than staring at his package.

“It’s okay, really. Just a miscommunication is all. No worries.”

Utterly humiliated, Anna nodded mutely and turned back toward the door.

“Anna? Can I have the fresh towels?”

She rolled her eyes and turned back, handing over the towels. “Oh, yeah, of course. I just…well, I usually exchange them for the old towels.”

“Do ye want this one?” His grin was wry.

“No! Holy shit, no keep that on,” she squeezed her eyes shut and waved her hand. “I’ll get it tomorrow.”

She opened the door and let herself out onto the cabin’s covered porch, then stopped.

“Wait a second! You switched to what different riding session?” Turning back around, she placed her hands on her hips.

Lips pursed as though he were suppressing another grin, he leaned his shoulder on the doorway. “I’ve never ridden a horse before. I requested tae be placed in the Beginners’ group.”

“But that’s my group.”

“So I was told. I didn’t think ye’d mind.”

Anna worked her mouth, unable to come up with the proper words.

Blue eyes sparkling, he watched as though to see what she’d come up with.

Finally, her articulation skills gained traction. “But it’s a kids’ group. They’re all kids.”

He nodded. “Aye, I was told that, too. And they’re beginners, just like me.” He tilted his head thoughtfully. “If ye don’t want me in the group, just say so.”

“No, it’s not that, it’s just…” Anna’s heart pounded and she felt her head spinning. She willed herself to be anywhere except where she was. “Fine. It’s just fine. If you don’t mind riding with the kids, I’m sure they won’t mind.”

She hurried down the steps and got into the golf cart. “Well, again, sorry for…” She trailed off, feeling sheepish. The amusement sparkling in his eyes didn’t help at all.

“I’ll see ye at lunch,” Angus said, chuckling.

“See you,” Anna nodded, pressing the accelerator and speeding off down the trail.

ANNA’S HEART by Pandora Spocks

Through release day, ANNA’S HEART is just 99¢.
Reserve your copy today!
books2read.com/AnnasHeart

Ready for Pre-Order!

The wait is over!
Finally…the last book in the Redheads & Ranchers Series!

On June 16, ANNA’S HEART
will join JENNY’S VOICE and HUNTER’S PRIDE
as the third and final Redheads & Ranchers Book.

AND…
It’s on pre-order for the special price of just 99¢ until Release Day.

Here’s the official book blurb:

She’s a rancher with a heartbreaking secret.
He’s Hollywood royalty, poised to take a chance that risks his reputation and his career.
Now that they’ve found each other, can he win her heart?

Anna Graves works hard helping to run her family’s Wyoming dude ranch.  Still reeling from the tragic loss of her smokejumper fiancé in a horrific wildfire, she is content to hide from the world as she teaches horseback riding lessons to tourists by day and reads smutty romance novels by night.

When world-famous Scottish actor Angus McGregor needs to brush up his cowboy skills in preparation for his starring role in a new Western, he heads to Sweetwater Ranch in the boondocks of Wyoming.  He is immediately fascinated by Anna, who won’t give him the time of day.  Can he break down the self-protective wall she has built?

If you like hot cowboys, Scottish accents, and happily-ever-afters, you’ll love ANNA’S HEART, the third book in the Redheads & Ranchers series!

Reserve your copy of ANNA’S HEART now!
https:/www.books2read.com/Anna’sHeart

Weekend Excerpt–Summer is Coming!

Because you know you’re hot for teacher…

Here’s your first peek at this summer’s hottest anthology, SUMMER SESSIONS! It comes out June 1, and best of all, it’s going to be available FREE at your favorite online bookseller.
Check out the blurb:

School is out!
But the lessons are just getting started.
This summer, five of your favorite steamy romance writers,
who also happen to be current and former classroom teachers,
are bringing you SUMMER SESSIONS,
an anthology of HOT reads for those endless summer nights.
This anthology includes sexy summer break books by JC Winchester, Linzi Basset, Maggie Jane Schuler, Patient Lee, and Pandora Spocks.
SUMMER SESSIONS, from Bratty Ginger Books, who brought you last summer’s International bestselling anthology, A TASTE OF SUBMISSION,
is available only through the end of August 2020.
So, hurry and grab your copy before it’s gone.

My own contribution to this project is JUST ONE NIGHT, my naughty little summer novella. Here’s a little snippet.

     The pair parked themselves at a tiny table at the edge of the piano bar, the first place they’d come to in their search for a cocktail.  Katie watched him as he approached the bar and ordered for them.  She couldn’t get over how handsome he was, how he’d come outside looking for her.  This was precisely what she needed to take her mind off of her man problems back home. 

   She smiled up at him as he returned to their table, carrying a margarita for her and a Scotch for himself.  “Cheers,” he said, raising his glass to hers.

     “Cheers,” she murmured in return, and she sipped gratefully, counting on the liquid courage her glass offered.

     “You know, we’ve gone about this all backward.”  He rested his drink on the table and offered his right hand.  “My name is—“

     “No!  No names,” Katie quickly interrupted.

     Mac blinked in surprise.  “No names.  Why no names?”

     “Just…because,” she stammered.  “No names, no personal information, we’ll just…keep it casual.”

     “Keep it casual.”  Mac frowned.  “Okay.”  He gave her a curious look.  “Do you want me to leave?”

     She shook her head, red curls swinging.  “No, I’d like you to stay.”

     He gave a relieved smile.  “Good because I’d like to stay.  So…no personal information.  Do you want to talk about work?”

     “Oh, hell, no!”

     “Um, how about that weather?  That’s some pretty great weather out there tonight.”

     Katie laughed lightly.  “I don’t mean to be a pain.”

     Mac smiled back.  “You’re not a pain, exactly.  I just have to figure out the rules.  And you’re here with three other women?”

     “You could see that in the dining room.  Where you were staring,” Katie observed.

     “You know that because you were staring back,” he countered.

     “And you’re here with two other men.”

     Mac nodded.  “My brothers.  Oops!  Was that personal?”

     “Now you’re making fun.”

     He smiled ruefully.  “Maybe just a little bit.  This is kind of a bachelor party.  My kid brother is getting married.”

     “A bachelor party?”  Katie laughed lightly.  “Shouldn’t you be getting back to the debauchery?”

     Mac laughed.  “Not much debauchery with those two.  My older brother’s been married for years, and Tommy’s head over heels for his fiancée.”  He glanced up at Katie.  “Oops!  More personal information.”

     Katie sighed and sipped her drink.  “My friends and I get together for a week every summer.  We’ve known each other since high school.”

     “There now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

     Katie nodded firmly.  “We’re even, that’s all.”  She rested her forearm on the table and toyed with her glass.  Mac did the same, and as he did, his arm brushed against hers.  She made no effort to move away from him.  He intentionally rested his arm against hers, noting the electric charge he felt, wondering if she felt it, too.

     Glancing up, he saw that she was watching him intently.  “So…you don’t want any personal information.  You don’t want to talk about work.  You don’t want me to leave.”

     Katie shook her head.

     “Okay, well, we’ve got that settled.  What do you want?”  He watched her expectantly.

     She stared at her glass as she swirled the remainder of her margarita.  Her buzz from the dinner wine combined with the icy cocktail made her feel bold.  She looked back up at Mac. 

                    “Do you really want to know what I want?  I want just one night.  Just one night of anonymous, no-holds-barred, red-hot, no-strings-attached sex.  That’s what I want.”  She fixed him with a challenging stare.

     “Whoa,” he breathed, eyes wide.

     Katie looked down at her glass again.  “Too blunt?”

     Mac leaned back in his chair, lips forming an O.  “That was blunt, all right, but I can respect that.  I’ve gotta ask, though.”  He sought out her eyes.  “Is there some guy at home waiting for you to come back?”

     Katie shook her head.  “I’m not cheating on anybody.  You?”

     He shook his head, too, and laughed humorlessly.  “What was it you said earlier?  Oh, hell, no.”

     She lightly stroked his arm as it rested on the table, delighting in the goosebumps that appeared there.  Her gaze traveled from there to his lap, which seemed to be taking an interest in the proceedings, if the growing mound there was any indication.  She shifted her focus, taking in his torso to those lips she’d noticed earlier.  God, I just want to suck on that lower lip.

     She met his eyes again, saw the fire there, and knew it matched her own.  “So, what do you say?”

     “I say, have another margarita.  I just need to run to the little shop and pick up some…  Well, I didn’t actually expect that I’d need…”  He smiled apologetically.

     Her voice was soft.  “I’ll wait right here.”

     He took her hand and gently brushed his lips across her knuckles, gave her a wink, and left the bar. 

JUST ONE NIGHT by Pandora Spocks

SUMMER SESSIONS goes live June 1!
Be sure to add it to your TBR list at Goodreads.

Weekend Excerpt–Rannigan’s Redemption

RANNIGANS REDEMPTIONThe Rannigan’s Redemption Collection featuring all three novels, Resisting Risk, Running Rogue, and Ransoming Redemption is being released everywhere this Tuesday, July 26.

Rannigan’s Redemption is a contemporary erotic romance.  It’s the story of high-powered Manhattan defense attorney Michael Rannigan and his complicated relationship with sassy redheaded fellow lawyer, Maggie Flynn.

While the story is erotic romance, it’s also exciting courtroom drama.  Here’s a new excerpt.

I feel like shit,” Michael groaned.  It was halfway into the fifteen minute recess the judge had granted at his request.  In the privacy of the courthouse’s lawyers’ lounge, Maggie touched the underside of her wrist to his forehead.

“You look like shit.  Your eyes are all glassy and you’re warm,” she said, shaking her head.  “You should be home in bed.  Ask for a continuance.”

That morning he’d come to the office with a slight headache which he had ignored.  Now his head seemed ready to explode and he felt both cold and hot at the same time.  His body ached and he felt shaky.

“I don’t want to do that.  This little shit has taken up enough of my time.  Our time.”  In the eighteen months that Maggie had been with Murphy, Rannigan, this was the third time Nathan Menzel, errant son of Councilman Robert Menzel, had been arrested for criminal stupidity.  The last time, the charge had been trespassing and mischief at the home of a former girlfriend.  This was his second DUI arrest and this time, Nathan had upped the ante with a bottle containing oxy discovered in the console of his luxury SUV.

“Well what do you want to do?” she asked.  “You still need to finish up with Padgett.”  Michael had just begun questioning Officer Charles Padgett, the arresting officer in Nathan’s latest stunt.

“Let’s just get this thing done,” he said.  “The sooner we finish, the sooner I can go home and pass out.”

Maggie looked at him doubtfully.  “Whatever you say.”

Back in the courtroom, Maggie sat in her place beside their young client at the defense table.  She and Michael were a duo this time, Dan being on vacation.  Michael approached Officer Padget who was seated on the witness stand.  Maggie’s former mentor Rance Stockwell, the prosecutor in this case, sat at the table across the aisle.

“You’ve testified that you pulled over a car driven by the defendant, Nathan Menzel, on the night of May 3, is that correct?” Michael asked.

“Yeah,” the policeman answered.

Michael paused and cleared his throat, leaning shakily on the railing of the witness box, his head down.  Looking up he murmured, “Just a moment, Your Honor.”  Then he slowly made his way back to the defense table where he sank into his chair.

“I can’t do this, Mags.  I can’t even stand.”

Maggie looked at him anxiously.  “What are we going to do?”

“You take it,” he said.  “You know this case inside and out.”

She stared at him, aghast.  “I can’t!  I’m not prepared.  They’re expecting you.”

“What the fuck, Michael?” Nathan demanded.  “I don’t want some chick holding my life in her hands.”

Michael’s eyes cut quickly to his client.  “Shut up, Nathan.”  He looked back at Maggie.  “You’ve got this, Mags,” he said fervently.  “I believe in you.”

Maggie was aware of anxious shifting in the seats directly behind the defense table but she refused to look at Nathan’s family.

“Mr. Rannigan?” the judge asked.  “May we continue?”

Michael leaned on the table and pushed himself up.  “Your Honor, I’m suddenly feeling unwell.  My associate, Ms. Flynn, will be taking over for me.”

“Noted.  Does the Prosecution have any objections?”

“None, Your Honor,” declared Rance.

“You may proceed, Ms. Flynn,” Judge

On the witness stand, Officer Padgett smirked.  Maggie straightened herself, took a deep breath, and slowly approached the witness stand.  “Officer Padgett, on the night of May 3 of this year, you pulled over a car driven by the defendant Nathan Menzel, is that correct?”

“Why yes, Ms. Flynn, I did.  Just like I told your boss.”  He snickered as did several others in the courtroom.  Maggie turned toward the courtroom frantically seeking Michael’s eyes.

“It’s okay,” he mouthed, nodding firmly.

“And can you tell us exactly why you pulled him over?”

“Well, like I said,” speaking carefully, as though to a slow child, “I pulled over Mr. Menzel because he was speeding.”

“How did you know he was speeding?” she asked pointedly.

“I read the number on the radar gun,” he answered.

“Would this be the same radar gun that was shown to be inaccurate?”

Padgett sat up straighter.  “Yeah, it’s inaccurate, but I just know to add about fifteen miles per hour to what the display shows.”

Maggie smiled a bit and turned toward the jury.  “So you just know to add the extra fifteen.  Are you sure it’s fifteen?  Could it be twenty?  Could it be five?  How do you know you don’t need to subtract?”

“Well, I just always…” Padgett began.

“Objection, Your Honor,” Rance said, not bothering to stand.

“Sustained.  Move on, Ms. Flynn.”

Maggie picked up a piece of paper from the table in front of Michael.  He watched her intently, a hint of a satisfied smile playing on his lips.  “Officer Padgett, do you recall January 15 of this year?”

Padgett’s smirk was back.  “I don’t know Ms. Flynn, that was a long time ago.  Could be I had a date that night.”  He snickered again.

Maggie glanced up at the Judge.  “Officer Padgett, you will answer the questions of counsel,” the judge admonished.

Padgett sat up and crossed his arms.  “Like I said, counselor, I don’t know.”

Maggie gave him a thin smile and held up the paper.  “I can help you out.  On January 15, you received disciplinary action for violating the civil rights of one Mr. Jose Santos.  You spent a week off unpaid.  Do you recall that now?”  The courtroom was still.

“I guess,” he reluctantly answered.

“How about the February before that?”  She held up the list again.  “Or the previous September, or the March before that?”

Maggie walked toward the jury box, smiling at them in a friendly way.  “I’m new at this.  Just graduated with my law degree less than two years ago.  I’ve never had disciplinary action taken against me.”  She glanced back at Padgett.  “But I imagine if I ever did, I’d remember the date.  I imagine it would stand out in my mind,” shrugging, “unless, of course, it happened so often I just couldn’t keep up.”

Rance stood behind the prosecutor’s table.  “Objection, Your Honor.  Counsel isn’t allowing the witness to answer.”

“Sustained.  You’ve made your point, Ms. Flynn.  Ask a question or excuse the witness.”

Glancing back at the defense table where Michael watched her with a proud sparkle in his eyes, Maggie returned to the witness.  “Can you irrefutably prove that on the night of May 3, you had adequate probable cause to pull over the defendant, Nathan Menzel and were therefore constitutionally entitled to search his car?”

Padgett leaned forward red-faced, veins bulging in his neck.  “I can assure you that on May 3, or any other day, I did my job,” he snarled.

“Officer Padgett, you have a history of skirting procedure to do your job.”  Maggie waved the document in her hand.  “I suggest that you pulled over Mr. Menzel without probable cause and proceeded to violate his constitutional rights by subjecting him to illegal search and seizure.  Anything you may or may not have found after that is inadmissible.  It’s like it never happened.”

“Objection!” Rance shouted.

“Withdrawn,” Maggie said blithely.

You can pre-order Rannigan’s Redemption now and it will be delivered to your e-reader this Tuesday, July 26.

Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords

Weekend Excerpt–Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale

Smashwords is having their Summer/Winter Sale throughout the month of July.  You can save on hundreds of books in all genres.  For example, Resisting Risk, the first novel in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, is 75% off.

Curious?  Here’s an excerpt to tempt you.

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With the concert over, the dj was back in position and guests were taking advantage of the dance floor situated at the opposite end of the dinner tent from Michael’s table.  Michael and Maggie dodged enthusiastic dancers as they headed back to check on Ben.

White candles on the tables and white paper lanterns hung along the sides of the tent washed the scene in soft light.  Nearby trees had been strung with tiny sparkling lights and with nightfall the place took on the appearance of a fairyland.

Ben was asleep with his head on the table when Michael and Maggie returned.  The Murphys and the Methenys arrived at the table just behind them and their return caused Ben to stir slightly.

“Did you see Diamond Dave?” Pam gushed excitedly.  “He’s still so hot!”

“I didn’t see him but I heard him.  He sounds great,” Maggie commented.

“Michael, we’re going to be heading out.  We still have to get back to the city and pay the babysitters while we can still afford it,” Brian laughed and he moved around the table to shake Michael’s hand.  Pam and Renee gathered their purses and wraps.

“Did you guys share a car?” Michael asked.  “I didn’t realize.  Well, hey, I’m glad you made it out tonight.  We should go out together more often.”  He shook Jim’s hand and pecked Pam and Renee on the cheeks.

“Maggie, it was lovely meeting you,” Renee said.  “We’ll all get together for lunch or something.”

“That sounds great.  It was nice meeting you as well.  Safe travels,” Maggie said.  They stood and watched the foursome leave.

Maggie looked down at Ben, who was still asleep.  “I’m so sorry, Michael.  I never dreamed he’d be like this.”

Michael waved off the apology.  “Never apologize for someone else.  At least he’s quiet.”  They both laughed lightly.

“I should probably try to get him moving so we can go,” Maggie said.  “Ben, wake up.  Come on, seriously, we should be going.”

Michael watched her attempt to wake the sleeping Ben.  As she leaned forward over the table her tits came precariously close to spilling out of the deep v neckline and Michael was mesmerized, feeling himself become aroused.

“Hey Mags, let him sleep.  I’m stuck waiting here until my car returns.  Let’s hang out and you two can ride back with me.  Besides, they’re supposed to have fireworks in about an hour.”

“Really?”  Maggie gave a relieved smile.  “I wasn’t sure how I was going to get him home on the train.  I sort of pictured tossing him over my shoulder firefighter style.”

They both laughed as Michael removed his jacket and loosened his tie, placing the jacket on the back of the chair beside him.  He flagged down a waiter and quietly said something Maggie didn’t catch.  The waiter nodded.  “I’ll be right back, sir.”

Michael motioned to a chair beside him.  “Come, relax.”  As Maggie moved to Michael’s side of the table, the waiter returned with a bottle of wine and two glasses.  He opened the wine and offered it to Michael.

“That’s fine, thanks, I’ll take it from here,” he said, handing the man a generous tip.  Michael poured as Maggie sat beside him, their chairs facing each other.

She leaned an elbow on the table.  “That’s some service,” she commented.

He shrugged.  “You just have to ask nicely,” he said.  “Too many people behave like assholes.  Everybody likes to be treated with courtesy.”

They sipped without speaking for a while, enjoying the music from the other end of the tent.  Maggie spoke up.  “The Murphys and the Methenys were very charming.  I liked Pam and Renee.”

Michael nodded.  “Yeah, they’re good people.  Although the girls looked like bored house fraus out for a night on the town.”

Maggie let out a surprised laugh and playfully slapped his arm.  “They did not, they were lovely!”

“Just calling them like I see them,” Michael chuckled.

“Well I thought they were sweet.  And it’s sweet they had to get home to their kids.  They’re such nice families.”

Michael rolled his eyes.  “Don’t tell me.  Mary Margaret Flynn aspires to be a member of the Dowdy House Frau Club.  Ah, yes, the white picket fence, the 2.3 kids, the cocker spaniel.  You’d give up your career and move to the suburbs?”

Maggie blinked and spluttered, “The what?  I don’t…I mean you can’t just…”

He laughed heartily.  “Okay, Mags, don’t blow a gasket.  I’m just pulling your chain.”

“I’m not talking about giving up my career or moving.  People raise families in the city.  They do it all the time.  Don’t you want all that?  You know, a home, a wife, kids.  I mean, sometime, not now.  But seriously, Michael.  You mock all that like it’s pointless.”

He shook his head gravely.  “No.  I absolutely do not want that.  I like my life just as it is.  I come and go as I please.  I spend my money as I please.  If I want to go out, I do.  Otherwise I stay in alone.”

She regarded him seriously.  “But you don’t want to grow old alone.  Don’t you want someone to be there for you when life gets difficult?”

“I would think you of all people would get it,” Michael said, draining his wine and pouring another glass.  “People let you down.  They leave you and you have to fend for yourself.  It’s just easier this way.  You know what you’re getting.”

“Being alone in the world was never my choice.  And I hope to find someone to build a life with, to create a family with, if only to do better than what I had growing up,” she replied passionately.

“Your date tonight is an unconscious gay guy.  And how are you doing on that family thing?” he asked darkly.

Maggie swigged the rest of her wine.  “Well, it’s easier said than done,” she acknowledged quietly.

They drank in silence for a while, the mood between them soured.

“You know, Dan likes you,” Michael offered.

Maggie laughed.  “He doesn’t.”

“He does.  He told me so.  Asked me if it would be breaking firm policy to ask you out.”

“I wouldn’t go out with him,” Maggie said firmly.

“Why not?” Michael wondered.  “He’s a nice guy.”

“He’s a very nice guy.  I’m just not attracted to him.  It wouldn’t be right,” she answered.

Michael shook his head, bewildered.  They settled into quietly listening to the music as they sipped their wine.

Recognizing the intro to the next song, Maggie cried out, “Oh! Moon Dance!  I love Van Morrison.”

Michael gave her a sideways glance and held out his hand.  “Come on, Mags.  Dance with me.”

She took his hand as he helped her to her feet and she giggled self-consciously, her several glasses of wine causing her to wobble a little as they walked to the dance floor.  He turned to face her, placing his right hand on the small of her back and holding up her right hand in his left.

Maggie giggled again.  “So formal, Mr. Rannigan,” she smiled up at him.

He crooked an eyebrow at her.  “I’ve had lessons, Ms. Flynn.”  They began moving around the dance floor, swaying to the beat of the music.  Michael crooned along and made Maggie laugh by spinning her several times then pulling her close.  At one point he suddenly dipped her backwards, causing her to whoop in surprise.  Nearby dancers applauded as he pulled her back up and held her to him.  He could feel her heart pounding as she caught her breath.

“God, you smell good,” she whispered against his neck.

“That, Ms. Flynn,” he teased, “is because I showered and put on clean clothes today.”  His wit was rewarded by Maggie’s laughter.

Van Morrison finished moondancing and he was replaced by Eric Clapton singing about a woman who looks wonderful tonight.  Maggie stopped dancing and stepped back from Michael.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “I don’t know, Michael, it’s a slow song.” Maggie gazed up at him sheepishly, the self-conscious look back in place.

His soft brown eyes burned into hers.  “I’m not done.  And you do, you know.  You look wonderful tonight.”

Without waiting for her to reply, he once again pulled her close to himself with one hand on the small of her back, the other gripping her right hand and pulling it in to his collar bone, brushing it across his lips in the process.  He could feel her breath against his neck, then she sighed quietly and rested her head on his shoulder.  He hummed the rest of the song and when it was over, he continued holding her close.

A loud whistle followed by an explosion jarred them both as the fireworks display began over the water.  Michael released her and she stepped back.  “That was…” Maggie looked up into his face, eyes shining, “nice.”

He grinned down at her.  “Yes, it was.  Shall we go watch the fireworks?”

Resisting Risk is 75% off at Smashwords through the end of July.  Here’s the LINK.

 

Saturday Excerpt–Ransoming Redemption

Ransoming RedemptionRansoming Redemption, the final chapter in the Rannigan’s Redemption series, launches in just over two weeks on April 18.  It’s the conclusion of the story of the complicated relationship between Manhattan-based attorneys Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn.

Michael Rannigan sees the writing on the wall.  And he’s determined to find redemption.  He knows he’s spent his life keeping everyone at arm’s length.  He’s burned bridges and destroyed friendships, leaving a path of destruction in his wake.  But he thinks he’s found a way to make things right.  At least for the one person who’s never given up on him.

Here’s an exclusive excerpt.

“Her full name is Mary Margaret Flynn,” Michael said.  “Birthplace, Charlotte, North Carolina.  Father’s name, Patrick J. Flynn.  He was an architect, if that helps.”

The other man nodded, jotting quickly in his small notebook.  “You never know what might come in useful.”

“I don’t have a clue about the mother’s name.  Obviously I can’t ask Maggie.”

“That won’t be hard.  Do you have any idea about what the mother did for a living?”  Michael shook his head.  “Well, don’t worry about it.  I’ve done cases where I had less to go on than this,” he said confidently.

“I appreciate this, Sam,” Michael said, standing to shake the man’s hand.

“No problem, Mike.”  Sam’s brow wrinkled slightly as he regarded Michael for a long moment.  “I suppose it’s none of my business, but how are you doing?”

Michael smiled tightly.  “I’m hanging in there.”  The other man recognized the tone and knew not to push the issue further.

Both men heard a key in the lock and they turned in the direction of the front door.  “Hey, Michael, it’s me.”  Maggie walked into the living room, digging into her purse as she did.  “I forgot to check your mail, I can get it…”  She stopped mid-sentence as she looked up at Sam.  “Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize…”  Her face broke into a smile.  “Sam Mainor, holy shit, it’s been a while!  How are you?”

He returned her smile.  “Hi, Maggie.  How are you?”

“Well, I’m…” she frowned and looked from Sam to Michael.  “I’m great.  Michael, are you working?”

“Nah, Sam just stopped by to say hello.”

Sam nodded.  “I did, but I’m on my way.  Good to see you Maggie.”  He turned to Michael.  “I’ll call you soon.”

Maggie watched as Michael closed the door behind Sam.  The slight frown was back.  “What was that about?”

Michael shrugged.  “I told you.  He just stopped by to say hello, see how I’m doing.”  She crossed her arms and gave him a skeptical look, clearly not buying his story, so he changed tactics.  “How was your time with Beau?”

She whirled around and headed into the kitchen.  “Great!  We had a nice time,” she called over her shoulder.  “Have you ever been to Holly Springs?”  Michael followed her into the kitchen and leaned casually against the counter, watching her as she focused intently on searching through the fridge.  “Did you eat the chicken I left you?”  She turned to look at him.

Michael smirked at her.  “How was last night?”  He delighted as she blushed profusely.  “Somebody got laid,” he sang lightly.

“Dammit, Michael, do you always have to be so fucking infuriating?”

“I just do it to watch you blush,” he chuckled and she softened a bit.  “Seriously, you had a good time?”

Maggie looked up at him.  “Yeah,” she smiled.  “We had a very nice time.  He’s a really great guy.  Do you know, yesterday morning he did a ‘Make-a-Wish’ thing?”

“I saw it.  You were on television, Mags.”

Her eyes widened.  “What?”

Michael nodded.  “They ran the story before the game last night.”

Maggie breathed deeply, taking in the information.

“So where is lover boy now anyway?”

Maggie shook her head and her eyes blazed.  “Don’t you even start that bullshit!  Or I’ll be out of here so fast it’ll make your head spin and you’ll never see me again.”  Her tone was low and menacing.

He sighed.  “Sorry, Mags.  I’m just teasing you.  Where’s Beau?”

“He’s on his way to work.  I’m going to get a list of what you need and I’ll stop by after work tomorrow.  Are you ready for round two of chemo?”

His shoulders slumped as reality made its reappearance.  “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”  He turned and made his way back to the living room, sinking onto the couch and propping his feet on the coffee table.

Ransoming Redemption is out April 18, and it’s available now for pre-order at these fine online booksellers.

Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Kobo, & Smashwords

Not all caught up on Rannigan’s Redemption?  No problem.  Resisting Risk and Running Rogue are available now at those same retailers.

Saturday Sneek Peak–Final Exclusive Excerpt

Elegant young man in tuxedo looking down while sitting on a stooRannigan’s Redemption: Running Rogue is out on Tuesday!  It’s the highly anticipated second book in the contemporary erotic romance trilogy that follows the complicated relationship between high-powered Manhattan defense attorney Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn, the smart, spunky redhead he hired straight out of law school.

The first book, Resisting Risk, ended in something of a cliffhanger.   Running Rogue picks up the story right where that book left off.  Here’s the last exclusive excerpt before the release on February 9.

“Michael?” Maggie asked into the intercom.

“Hey, Mags.” His voice sounded tinny over the ancient device. “I know it’s late. I’m sorry. But when I saw your light on, I mean… Can I come up?”

Maggie hesitated, her finger hovering over the button. “What do you want, Michael?”

“Mags, I just…I just want to talk.”

She shook her head, checking the time again. What the hell? And he’s probably drunk. Standing out there in the rain like he’s got absolutely no sense.

She pressed the door buzzer. “Don’t wake my neighbors,” she admonished him.
Maggie pulled the wooly cream colored robe tighter around herself, tying the belt securely and she stalked to the door, opening it to wait for Michael. She watched him coming up the stairs, his soaked hair matted to his head. His wet shoes squeaked softly with each footfall. She started to say something snippy but noticed the haunted look in his eyes, so she simply stepped back and let him into the apartment. She closed the door behind him and walked to the kitchen counter where she leaned back, crossing her arms, head cocked at him expectantly.

Michael stood just inside the doorway, rainwater pooling all around his feet. He looked ill at ease and uncertain.

“Well?” she finally said.

He ran his fingers through his wet hair and sighed deeply.

“Oh for God’s sake, Michael!” She left him standing there and returned with a large blue towel. “You’re soaked.”

She took his jacket from him and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair. As he used the towel to dry his face and hair, she couldn’t help herself. “Are you drunk?”

He frowned and shook his head. “I’m not drunk. I had some bourbon. I might be drunk. A little.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Sit down. I’m making you some coffee so we can send you home. Have you eaten lately?”

“I don’t know.” Michael sank onto a chair at the kitchen table. He glanced around as Maggie busied herself putting a kettle of water on the stove and taking a French press from a cupboard.

“I hope I’m not causing a problem with your fiancé. Husband? Whatever.”

Maggie paused to look at him, her lips forming a grim line. “Yeah, well, that didn’t work out so…no worries.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

She worked in silence breaking eggs into a bowl and putting strips of bacon into a skillet as Michael sat at the table and occasionally used the towel to swipe at his face. On the stove, the bacon began to sizzle as the kettle whistled. Maggie poured the boiling water into the press and let it stand for a moment as she chopped a small onion and part of a green pepper.

“Did you know Stan Hodges died?” Michael finally asked.

Maggie arched an eyebrow. “I was at the funeral. Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” he answered vaguely. He watched her grate cheddar into the eggs. Then she pressed the plunger on the coffee and poured some into a cornflower blue mug with a white script ‘M’ on the side.

M for Maggie. Or Michael. He shook his head to dismiss the inane thought. Looking around the small apartment, he asked, “Why are you still here?”

Maggie glanced over her shoulder. “What, I should move uptown into one of your glass and steel monstrosities?”

“I was just thinking that you could afford a bigger place, that’s all.”

“This may be a tiny apartment but this building has soul. Once upon a time, a family called this place home. Maybe I can’t afford to own a whole townhouse but at least I can rent a small part of it.”

Michael watched her for a moment. “You could have bought your own townhouse if you’d stayed with the firm.”

Maggie turned around and leaned against the counter, crossing her arms. “If I’d stayed, I’d have been out of a job along with everyone else. You really tanked everyone, you know that, right?”

He looked down at his hands. “I wouldn’t have pursued the television thing if you’d still been there.”

She snorted, returning to her cutting board. “Bullshit. Being on the news every night is exactly your thing. You can’t put that off on me.”

She set the coffee in front of him. “What are you doing here, Michael?”

He stalled, sipping the steaming hazelnut blend. “This isn’t where I meant to be. I went out and ended up down here in the Village. I was at the Blue Note until they kicked everybody out. I got a little lost and then realized I was across the street from your apartment.”

Maggie turned back to her omelet, stirring in the vegetables. The bacon had quieted down and she turned over the strips, causing them to erupt into loud sizzling once again. “Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I’m sick,” he said quietly.

“I don’t doubt it. It’s forty degrees outside and you’re soaked. It’s a wonder you don’t have pneumonia.”

“It’s cancer.”

Maggie froze mid-stir. “What?” Slowly, she turned around.

“Cancer.”

“Shit.” She crossed to the table and sank onto the chair across from him, gaping at him wide-eyed.

“There was this spot. And then they found out it was melanoma.” Michael’s face twisted. “Mags, you wouldn’t believe the chunk they cut out of my shoulder.”

“Well, they got it then,” she said. “Good. That’s good, right?”

“Bacon’s burning,” Michael said quietly.

“Fuck!” She jumped up and took the pan off the burner.

“I like it that way,” he offered as she set the strips of bacon on a paper towel to drain and poured the omelet into the pan.

“So after they took the hunk out of my arm they did a biopsy. It was melanoma, just like the doctor said. Then they had me get a PET scan. Said they needed to see if it had spread.”

Maggie worked mechanically at the egg mixture in the pan, listening intently as he spoke. “And?” she asked as she slid the omelet onto a blue ceramic plate. She placed it in front of him and sat down again.

“And they called this afternoon to say they have the results. The doctor wouldn’t discuss it over the phone. He wants me to come in tomorrow.” He looked down at the plate. “He said I should have someone with me.”

“Oh my God. Michael.”

He nodded. “I started making phone calls. That’s how I found out about Stan. Which was after I called Murph and then Jimbo. They pretty much told me to go fuck myself.”

Maggie watched him grimly. I imagine they did.

“I called some of the women I go out with. I guess everybody has a lot going on.” He sighed. “I thought about calling you. But, I don’t know. I’ve been an asshole. Plus I figured you were busy with getting married and stuff.” He met her eyes. “I didn’t mean to come here, honest to God.”

She watched him pick at the omelet. “My agent’s pissed at me because I bailed on some appearances. Asking her to come with me is out of the question. She’s probably not in town anyway.”

Michael shook his head. “I don’t know why they’re insisting that someone comes with me to that appointment tomorrow. I should just go and find out what the scan shows, figure out where to go from there. It’s just…” His voice broke. “Mags, I’m scared shitless.” He put down the fork and held his head in his hands.

Maggie could never have imagined a scenario in which S. Michael Rannigan would break down sobbing at her kitchen table. She felt as though her heart would break.

“Michael,” she said softly, standing beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder. His body shook as he let loose the emotions that had been building since the day the nightmare had started. “It’s okay,” she murmured. “It’s okay, everything’s going to be alright.” She waited for him to quiet down. “What time is your appointment?”

You can get your own copy of Rannigan’s Redemption Part 2: Running Rogue beginning on Tuesday at these online retailers.  If you could leave a review where you buy the book, I’d be forever grateful!

Amazon, iTunes, B&N, Kobo, & Smashwords

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