Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: His For the Holidays

Title: His for the Holidays
Authors: LB Gregg, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon, ZA Maxfield
Publication Date: December 6, 2010
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: M/M Romance, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance
Spicing Up the Season
Hope brightens a bleak Edinburgh December. A man gets a second chance with his high school crush. A decade-long game of cat and mouse comes to a passionate conclusion. And Santa Claus drives a red muscle car. Heat up your holidays with this collection of four festive tales from some of the top talent in the male/male genre.

Anthology includes:
Mistletoe at Midnight by LB Gregg
Nine Lights Over Edinburgh by Harper Fox
I Heard Him Exclaim by Z.A. Maxfield
Icecapade by Josh Lanyon

Mistletoe at Midnight By LB Gregg
Owen McKenzie has traveled to Vermont to spend an old-fashioned Christmas with his family when he finds himself staying at the same inn as his first love. Owen is disconcerted to realize he's still attracted to Caleb Black but refuses to pursue him. Caleb left him once, and Owen's not going down that road again.

Caleb is ready for a second chance with Owen and gets it when fate and the matchmaking McKenzies conspire to strand the two men in a rustic cabin during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. Can Caleb convince Owen to rekindle their romance so they can stop spending their holidays apart?

Nine Lights Over Edinburgh By Harper Fox
Detective Inspector James McBride is riding high on the belief that he's about to bust a human-trafficking ring. But just five days before Christmas, his unorthodox methods catch up with him and his world comes crashing down.

McBride tries to concentrate on his new day job as security for the visiting Israeli ambassador. He even starts to feel a renewed sense of self-worth when the leader of the Israeli team, the aristocratic Tobias Leitner, takes a bullet for him in the line of duty. But he can't forget the trafficking case, especially when his investigations result in the kidnapping of his own daughter! McBride has no one to turn to for help-no one, except Toby.

Can these two very different men work together to bring about a holiday miracle-and heal one another's heart in the process?

I Heard Him Exclaim By Z.A. Maxfield
Who Likes a Skinny Santa?

Steve Adams's heart hasn't been in the Christmas spirit ever since doctors put a stent in it and ordered him to clean up his act. No longer filling out his Santa suit or allowed to make merry, he's forgoing the holidays this year and heading to Vegas to indulge in the few vices left to him: gambling and anonymous sex.

His road trip takes a detour when he encounters Chandler Tracey, who's just inherited guardianship of his five-year-old niece. Overwhelmed, Chandler's on his way to deliver Poppy to his parents. But fate has other plans and, after car trouble, Chandler and Poppy accept a ride home with Steve. Though the heat between the two men is obvious, they put it on simmer while they band together to make Poppy's Christmas as perfect as possible.

Steve soon comes to believe that while Chandler is the right person to look after Poppy, someone needs to look after Chandler. Fortunately, Steve knows just the man for the job.

Icecapade By Josh Lanyon
On the eve of the new millennium, diamond thief Noel Snow seduced FBI special agent Robert Cuffe, then fled into the dawn. Now a successful novelist, Noel uses his capers as fodder for his books, and has modeled his hero's nemesis (and potential love interest) on Cuffe. Though he leaves Robert a drunken phone message every New Year's Eve, Noel hasn't seen or heard from him in a decade.

So he's thrilled when his former lover shows up at his upstate farm one Christmas Eve. Elation quickly turns to alarm when Robert accuses Noel of being responsible for a recent rash of diamond heists. Robert is all business and as cold as ice: it seems his only interest in Noel is to put him behind bars.

Innocent of the crimes, and still as attracted as ever to the oh-so-serious lawman, Noel plans a second seduction-providing he can stay out of jail long enough!

Author Bios:
LB Gregg (Lisabea) writes fun, fast-paced contemporary male/male romances for a variety of publishers including Riptide, Samhain, and Carina Press. Her wildly successful Men of Smithfield books feature hot, hunky men looking for love in small town New England.

Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

She lives with her SO Jane, who has somehow put up with her for a quarter of a century now, and three enigmatic cats, chief among whom is Lucy, who knows the secret of the universe but isn't letting on. When not writing, she either despairs or makes bread, specialities foccacia and her amazing seven-strand challah. If she has any other skills, she's yet to discover them.

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four manages to find time for a writing career, she'll answer, "It's amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework." 

Josh Lanyon
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Angela James(Editor)
Editorial Director of Carina Press, Harlequin's digital-first imprint, and veteran of the digital publishing industry, Angela James is a long-time advocate for digital publishing. She has enjoyed nearly a decade of experience in digital publishing, including successfully launching, building and serving as executive editor for two digital-first presses. Angela frequently travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers and to drag them to the digital dark side. She’s the creator of online self-editing course, Before You Hit Send, which she offers to authors at all stages of their writing career. You can find Angela daily on both Twitter and Facebook. 

Though Angela does not do much acquiring and editing these days, spending most of her time on the administrative end of things, she continues to edit a small group of authors she’s had a long-time editorial relationship with, as well as the special, invitation-only, Carina Press holiday collections. In addition, she’s been known to be seduced into editing the random novella that catches her attention while she’s browsing the submissions inbox. And Angela is still waiting for someone to write her the ultimate cowboy space opera romance adventure, in the vein of Firefly. For that particular project, she’ll give up sleep in order to edit!

LB Gregg
Twitter  /  Website  /  Amazon  /  Carina Press  /  Goodreads

Harper Fox
Twitter  /  Website  /  Amazon  /  Carina Press  /  Goodreads

ZA Maxfield
Twitter  /  Website  /  Amazon  /  Carina Press  /  Goodreads

Josh Lanyon
Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Website  /  Amazon
Kobo  /  Carina Press  /  YouTube  /  Goodreads

Angela James(Editor)

Amazon  /  B&N  /  Kobo  /  Audible  /  Carina Press  /  Goodreads TBR

Devotion(The Seductors Series #3) by BL Wilde

TITLE –  Devotion
SERIES –  The Seductors Series
AUTHOR – B L Wilde
GENRE –  Erotica
PUBLICATION DATE – 12th September 2014
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) -  60K
COVER ARTIST –  Jo Matthews

Falling in love is never easy, but when you’re a Seductor who has fallen for your target, it’s impossible.
Now that Jade has learned the whereabouts of the powercore made by Oliver’s company, her mission is almost over. The chances of being able to stay with him at the end of her contract are slim and she knows that. Would her organization really keep their word? When has a Seductor ever been able to stay with their mark?
When disaster strikes near the end of her assignment, Jade is faced with the biggest decision of her life—she must choose between her heart’s desire and doing the right thing for the sake of the world. Her choice may just be the catalyst that sets her free.
What happens when the truth comes out? Will Oliver be able to let her go this time? Or will their love for each other be enough to finally bring The Seductors down?
One thing is for certain—devotion will seal their fate.

     I loved spending time in Macon with Oliver and his family, but I was glad once we got back to New York. I had him all to myself, and as selfish as it sounded, I loved it when we were alone. New York held the most memories for me with him.
     “I think your uncle is warming to me,” I mused as we sat eating the dinner that Mrs. Davis had prepared for us. “He actually wished me a safe trip when we left this morning.”
     “It’s definitely progress,” Oliver chuckled.
     “Now that we’re back in New York, you need to tell me what you want to do for your birthday. It’s only a few weeks away.”
     “Well, we are fucking on my desk at work for sure. You promised me,” he winked, licking his lips. Damn him! He was too sexy for words.
     “You’re sex crazed,” I giggled, shaking my head. “What about going out to dinner somewhere? We could go away for a weekend, too.”
     “A dirty weekend away?” I threw my napkin at him. “What?”
     “Stop thinking about sex!”
     “That’s difficult. I happen to have an incredibly sexy girlfriend that I want to fuck all the time.”
     “If you think about it, you’re the reason I’m sex crazed. This is your entire fault, Jade.”
     “Oh, that’s right—blame it all on me,” I laughed, taking a sip of wine.
     “Do you have any idea how happy you make me?”
     “No, but I know how happy you make me.”
     “I’m not hungry anymore.” Oliver suddenly had that look in his eyes again. The ‘I’m going to rip the clothes from your body and fuck you’ look. Instantly, I had to hold my legs together. It looked like he was going to try a prove a point.
     “You’ve hardly eaten. I hope you’re not coming down with anything,” I replied, innocently.
     “I’m not coming down with anything, but I certainly will be going down on something tonight.”
     “Oh, God,” I whimpered, choking on my sip of wine.
     “All this sex talk is making me horny. I’m going to give you a thirty second head start, then I’m planning on making you cum as many times as I can on my staircase. There are thirty four steps total. I’m thinking that’s at least ten orgasms I’ll be able to give you, maybe more, until I throw you on my bed and slide my cock inside you.” I couldn’t move. I sat there gawking at him. Ten orgasms. I couldn’t handle that! “Run Jade, I mean it. I’ll start on this table if I have to.” I stood up and ran. My heart was pounding hard in my chest. Why was I running anyway? I wanted Oliver to catch me.
     I managed five steps on the staircase before he caught me from behind. “That was a feeble attempt to try and get away. Anyone would think you wanted me to catch you,” he whispered into my ear, sucking on my earlobe as his hands moved to undo the buttons on my jeans. “I’m going to drive you crazy, Beautiful. I hope you’re ready.” I couldn’t answer; his hands had already slipped inside my jeans and I was lost. Oliver began to put pressure on my sex through my panties. Why didn’t he just push my panties to the side? It was so frustrating. “Do you like that, Beautiful? I can feel your panties getting damper. How many pairs have I ruined now?”
     “Too many to count,” I panted, gripping the banister for support as he sped up the movement of his hand. “W…What about Mrs. Davis?”
     “She’s staying with a friend tonight. We’re all alone.” I could hear his smirk as he planted kisses down my neck. Starting to climb already, I knew my first orgasm was quickly approaching. “That’s it, Jade, give it up. I want to hear you let it all out.” I came, groaning out a string of nonsensical words, trying to hold myself up as I came undone. “I’ll give you a minute this time to compose yourself and run.”
     “Are you being serious?” I gasped, still clutching the stairs. “I can hardly stand!”
     “A minute and a half then,” he smirked, tilting his head. “You can manage a few more steps, Jade.” I wasn’t sure I could. “Just put one foot in front of the other.”
     “Alright, Mr. Cocky.”
     “Interesting choice of words.” I rolled my eyes and began to take a few unsteady steps, but it was difficult when I was still in a state of bliss. “You’re making this too easy,” he chuckled, pulling me so I was facing him. He backed me against the railing, gazing down at my chest. With one swift tug, he pulled my top over my head. “I’ll never get enough of undressing you,” he mused, running his fingertips across the top of my breasts and then into my bra, stroking my aching nipples. While his one hand continued to tease my sensitive skin, his other went south and slid right inside my panties. “Fuck, I got you well and truly worked up, didn’t I?” He ran his fingers through my slick folds, and I had to bite my lip to fight the pleasure. I had no control over myself when it came this man. “Shit, I can’t wait to fuck you. I can feel my cock already leaking at the thought.”
     “Ugh, Oliver, you can’t say stuff like that to me!”
     “Is gets you excited. I know you love it when I talk dirty.” He slid his fingers inside me and began another excruciating pace. “Do you know what I’m going to do after this?” he whispered, biting down on my left nipple through my bra. I couldn’t help but cry out—it felt amazing. “I’m going to strip you naked and taste you. You know I love eating you out.” I wasn’t going to survive the night, but if this was how it ended, death by an Oliver orgasm was the way to go.

I didn't think the author was going to top Desire but then Hunger came out.  Definitely didn't think she could top Hunger, guess what?  She did.  I don't do spoilers so in regards to plot I'll just say WOOHOO!!  Hot romance, hot drama, hot espionage, oh and did I mention it's hot?  Seriously though, Miss Wilde has brought us characters, situations, settings all wrapped in this amazing series that run the gauntlet of emotional heaven and hell.  We get answers in Devotion that could easily wrap up the Seductors Series but I'm told there will be another novel and a short novella yet to come.  Can't wait to see what Miss Wilde brings us in the future both with the Seductors Series characters we've come to love and new characters, stories, and worlds not yet created.  If you haven't read books 1 and 2, then I highly recommend that you go do so now before reading Devotion.  If you have read Desire and Hunger, what are you doing sitting here reading my review of Devotion, go set your eyes feasting on Oliver and Jade.  Go on, you know you want to.


Top 10:
Most seductive film characters

1. John Grey - 9 ½ weeks
2. John Cage - Indecent proposal
3.  Alex Forrest -Fatal Attraction
4.  Johnny Depp character -  Chocolat
5. Robbie Turner - Atonement
6. Jack Dawson - Titanic
7. Johnny Castle - Dirty Dancing
8. Edward Cullen - Twilight (Had too) ;)
9. Patrick Verona - 10 things I hate about you
10. Han Solo - Star Wars

OMG, they are all men. How did that happen? ;)

Desire #1
Jade has worked as a Seductor in a secret organization for five years now. Her main job? To earn the trust of her targets and secure the object or information her company was hired to steal—by any means necessary. She’s damn good at it, too.

With five years left on her contract, she is handed an assignment that turns her world upside down.

Oliver Kirkham is the attractive, young CEO of Kirkham Industries, a weapons manufacturing company, and is currently in possession of some very important blueprints—blueprints that could change the way war, as we know it, works. He’s extremely focused and doesn’t have time to date, at least until he comes to the rescue of a shy but very alluring Jade Gibbs.

What happens when one night of passion turns into more? Will Jade allow her feelings for Oliver to get in the way of her mission? Or will she do what she was hired to do and secure the steal?

Hunger #2
When Jade walked out on Oliver six months ago, she left her heart behind. Little did she know her mission was far from over. Given a new mission—to secure a secret nuclear power core—she’s thrown back into his world and has to earn his trust once more. The only problem is that she’s competing directly with another Seductor that she despises, who has already been on the mission for two months.

Oliver was devastated when he discovered Jade had left him, so he closed himself off to the world, focusing solely on his job. Everything is thrown into chaos when she resurfaces, working for an old friend of his. 

Will Jade be able to win Oliver back while fighting her jealously that another Seductor might steal the mission from her? Consumed with love, controlled by a hunger she has never known, can she protect her heart a second time around if Oliver takes her back?

Author Bio:
B.L. Wilde is a British author obsessed with many things, including heated love stories. Fully supported by her husband, she can often be found at her desk working on her next project.
Her journey into the world of erotica began when she started writing online stories over five years ago, and she hasn't looked back since.

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From Author: Ebook TSS bundle. Desire, Hunger, Devotion
From My Family's Heart:  Swag Pack

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A Very Merry Black Hollywood Christmas by FL Jacob

Title: A Very Merry Black Hollywood Christmas
Author: FL Jacob
Series: Black Hollywood #2.5
Genre: Erotic Romance
One evening.

What happens in the club stays in the club.

Be a guest at the hottest party of the year. Join Caston Black for the Black Hollywood Christmas party at the infamous Black Hollywood Club.

Anything can happen. Anyone could be there. Sex, Seduction, and Sin. Take a step into temptation with the BH crew.

*PLEASE NOTE* This book is for 18 years and older. This book contains sexual encounters and graphic language that some readers may find objectionable. Contains graphic material #tis not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. 

**This is a novella taking place over the span of one night and it is told in alternating POVs. It is recommended to read the Have I Told You and I Won't Give Up on You to know who all the characters are but it isn't necessary. ENJOY!**

 Caston pulls me into him, wrapping his arms around my waist.  “You better believe that I’d knock someone out, anyone, who is kissing you with the wrong intentions.”

    His mouth finds my hot neck and he places a few kisses under my ear before sucking lightly.  My pussy throbs knowing what he is saying.  My love for him is beyond words.

    “So you’d let someone kiss me that we both agreed on?” I ask between moans.

    I can feel his mouth turn up in a smile on my skin.  “Of course.”

    “Possibly tonight?” egging him on without saying outright what I want.

    “Possibly.” He leans back to look at me and his crystal blue eyes have deepened with lust.  “Someone in particular you had in mind?”  I can feel his arousal grow as our conversation keeps going.

    Before he has a chance to respond, I feel another set of arms slide around me.  I know who they belong to immediately.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt them but it sounds like I might be getting more of them tonight.

    “Hey there, sexy lady,” her voice whispers in my ear sending a shiver down my spine and heated desire flows through me.

    “Sara,” I half whisper, half moan.


Author Bio:
I am a mommy of two, wife to an amazing man, and full time employee. Life is crazy and busy!  I started writing again for a group of women I met who shared my love for books. They brought back the passion for writing I haven’t seen since high school. Starting this process was tedious and nerve-wracking, but my amazing ladies and my fabulous husband have inspired me to take my love for writing to the next step.

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A Very Merry Black Hollywood Christmas #2.5
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Have I Told You #1
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I Won't Give Up on You #2
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***Along with my Rafflecopter, I am hosting a scavenger hunt throughout the blog tour. Daily there will be a new # word that will be used to form a sentence. (For the Blog Tour Schedule please stay tuned to The tour runs for 7 days so the sentence will be 7 words. On Sunday, after the last word is revealed email the sentence in the subject line of your email with your address in the body to I will chose a winner by on Monday, November 24th to choose the scavenger hunt winner! Good Luck!***  

The winner will receive:
Set of Black Hollywood Ornaments

Fighting My Faith by Quirah Casey

Title: Fighting My Faith
Author: Quirah Casey
Genre: Romance/ YA

Imagine having everything you’ve ever loved taken away from you in the span of a month. Your best friend, your parents, your family. Your soul. That’s what happened to Delilah and now she doesn’t know what to believe in or who to trust. Because she surely can’t trust her family, or the person who was supposed to always be there for her. God.

What Delilah does know is that she needs money so that she can get away from the small, righteous town where she grew up as soon as she graduates. So she joins the illegal fighting gym in town. When she encounters her broody, charming, and handsome neighbor at the gym, her life starts spinning out of control again. Only this time in a good way. Maybe.

Cayden has always despised his parents. He’s never understood their devotion to the hypocritical churchgoers in their town. Especially their neighbors, if anything they’re the worst of all. So when the girl from next door shows up at the gym saying she wants to fight for money Cayden can’t help but think it’s a cruel joke, until he realizes she’s serious and there’s something wrong with her. The way she refuses to sleep at her house, the way she’s closed off sometimes, and the way she stopped going to church. Cayden has no idea what’s wrong with her, but he’s determined to find out, and help her.

Cayden and Delilah are about to be tested. Can they handle the pressure, or will it be too much?

Cayden looks down at me and there’s some kind of emotion in his eyes that I can’t read. “I wish you would’ve told me,” he says and his voice is completely opposite from when he was talking to my father. His voice is soft, warm, and caring.

A single tear leaks down my face and I drop my head. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t,” I say.

He lifts my chin and I look into his eyes that are twinkling from the moonlight. “Delilah, I know I haven’t known you long, but I do care about you. You can tell me anything, especially if someone hurts you.” He runs a hand along my cheek wiping away my one tear and sending tingles throughout my whole body. The moment is so intimate and my heart rate begins to pick up. It’s only us and the moon.

“Cayden,” I say softly, dropping my bag and placing my hand over his. His fingers move under mine as he rubs my cheek. The simple touch almost makes me melt on the spot.

“Yes?” he asks, but I’m sure he knows what I want to say.

The moment is so perfect. “Kiss me.” It’s not a question or a plea, it’s a demand. One that Cayden instantly obeys. He never takes his eyes off of me as he brings his lips down onto mine and a fire ignites within me. I kiss him back this time, and it’s magical. His free hand tangles in my hair and I wrap my arms around his neck. My eyes flutter close as he pulls me tighter against him. The kiss is hot and passionate, yet slow. We both release all of the pent up tension since we met out. Cayden tastes like mint, but underneath it’s all him. I don’t know how, but I can taste him.

Author Bio:
Quirah Casey believe it or not is 15 years old
☹Well this girl is a lost cause. She spends most of her time
Reading and writing books. She loves to play sports and has
A smartass mouth that always gets her in trouble. Loves Math
And thinks all children younger than her are spawns of Satan. To
Her love is a foreign word that people throw around like basketballs
Even though it doesn't really exist, it's just a hopeful myth. All in all
She’s a fierce rebellious country bumpkin.☹

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Flirting on Ice by Veronica Forand & Susan Scott Shelley

Title: Flirting on Ice
Authors: Veronica Forand & Susan Scott Shelley
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: November 17, 2014

Mr. Perfect has found his kind of trouble…

Professional hockey player Zac Elliott is in top form. He’s having the best season of his career, the local fans can’t get enough of him, and he’s in the middle of the most successful contract negotiations of his career. When the sexy little spark between Zac and the team owner’s daughter blazes to life, no matter how forbidden, he can’t resist.

Philanthropist Heather Ryan can’t keep her hands off of Zac. If her father finds out, it could end Zac’s career and ruin her reputation. What they share is deeply passionate and intensely private...until the press exposes their illicit relationship.

Now the fans have viciously turned against Heather, Zac’s game is faltering, and even his team has deserted him. The only way out of the penalty box is for Zac to play hockey like life— and love—depends on it. . .

Author Bios:
Veronica Forand is an attorney and an award-winning writer of romantic suspense.

She’s lived in Boston, London, Paris, Geneva, and Washington, DC and currently resides near Philadelphia. An avid traveler, she loves to roam across continents with her husband and kids in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and finding the perfect piece of chocolate.

Veronica is represented by Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Susan Scott Shelley is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

She currently resides outside Philadelphia with her very own Superhero and spends her days writing about tough heroes, smart heroines, and love being the strongest magic there is.

In addition to writing romances, she is also a professional voiceover artist. Her favorite things include running, sports, hard rock and old Hollywood movies.

Susan is represented by Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Veronica Forand
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Susan Scott Shelley
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Red Hot Christmas by Carmen Falcone & Michele de Winton

Title: Red Hot Christmas
Authors: Carmen Falcone & Michele de Winton
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 17, 2014

Christmas Scandal by Carmen Falcone
After doing time for a crime she didn’t commit, paramedic nurse Sydney Bell avoids trouble at all costs. Yet, trouble comes knocking on her door when a dying patient begs her to deliver a mysterious message to hunky Argentine investor Alejandro Soto.

Alejandro needs to publish the one book that will help restore his image and aid his uncle’s political campaign. It's full steam ahead until a feisty redheaded woman storms into his office and offers a clue to his biographer’s death. He’s skeptical about Sydney, and laughs it off but after she’s attacked, Alejandro realizes he has no choice but to protect her, whether she likes it or not. He can't have another death on his conscience.

A crazy attraction threatens to make Sydney surrender to her Argentine savior, but will she be ready for the Christmas scandals that will rock them along the way?

Christmas Secrets by Michele de Winton
All Gabby Phillips wants is a Christmas without drama. Fat chance. Not when the new owner of her department store is tall, dark and dangerous, Nicolas Morganti, the man she ran out on. The same man her father stole half a million dollars from and the man her body still craves in the deepest hours of the night. Now she has to keep her cool, and her biggest secret - because if he finds out he has a son, he might just take the last scrap of Christmas spirit she’s got left.

Nicolas Morganti always gets what he wants. This Christmas that includes his competitor’s huge department store chain. But when he’s told money is missing and that Gabrielle Phillips works there, it doesn’t take him long to point the finger. Nobody's ever run out on him before, and the way Gabby left was colder than a snow storm. Now it's time to settle the score. Revenge can be gift wrapped, right?

Christmas Scandal
“You storm into my office and want to investigate me? Sweetheart, this isn’t an episode of Law & Order.” He stretched to his full height and walked closer to her. The temperature dropped a few degrees as he stared into her hazel eyes. “You told me you had a message for me. What is it?” he asked, skeptical. If nothing else, his former fiancΓ©e Carla had provided him with a PhD in reading women’s body language.

She lifted her chin, and he wished he could come closer and assess her—and savor her—like the bouquet of a new wine. What an interesting woman. Freckles peppered her nose and high cheekbones, and her lips thinned into a tight line. Her jaw was a tad too square. His gaze dropped to her soft neck; there was a line above her collar where her skin was swollen and marred. Wondering how she’d gotten that scar, he cocked his head for a better view, but she moved and her scar disappeared into her cotton shirt. How big was it? By the time his eyes reached hers again, she had taken a couple steps away from him.

She ran her fingers along the collar of her shirt. “Maybe this was a mistake.”

She started to walk away, but he reached out and took her elbow. “You don’t walk in here, do this little show, and leave. Tell me whatever you came to say.” How sick was he of women playing games? Extremely.

Fear flickered in her eyes, and she turned her attention to his fingers clasping her flesh. She yanked back her arm, clenched her teeth. “Don’t touch me.”

That’s…different. He shook his head and offered her more space, lifting his hands in surrender. “I won’t touch you,” he said, his drawl a notch smoother. “Just tell me.”

“Frank Lewis tried to tell me something. It was hard to understand him, but he mentioned your name, and said he was sorry for…putting you at risk.”

A chuckle floated up his throat. “Are you serious? What else did he say?”

“That was it,” she said.

“What’s your name?”

“I’m Sydney Bell. Listen, I have no ulterior motive to come here—and trust me, I have no talent for pranks. That’s what he told me before he lost consciousness.”

He inhaled and peered at her. Ever since he’d touched her, she’d lost some of her apparent composure.

Shuffling her feet, she finally studied his office, without as much as a smile of approval. Her attitude hinted that all she wanted was a distraction.

“Right. And I should take your word for it?”

“You can ask my coworker Patty if you don’t believe me.”

“Did you tell the police?” The last thing he wanted was an absurd rumor to make it to the headlines. What could possibly Frank have on him to put him at risk? With his uncle’s reelection campaign in full speed, his family couldn’t afford a scandal. Another one.

“No.” Her expression changed, fear crept in around her eyes. Alejandro’s hackles raised but she didn’t give him a chance to dig into why she kept the police out of it. “Look, sometimes people say weird things when they think they’re injured. It seemed odd at the time but I was trying not to make too much of it. Then this morning, I checked the news and saw that he died. I figured, maybe I should pass that message on.”

Alejandro drew back and studied her. She arched a thin eyebrow at him and tilted her head to the side, which exposed a bit more of her scar. He leaned toward her, narrowed his eyes as if there were a way to see more. Was she a burn victim? Had she gotten in trouble with the law?

She cleared her throat, and pulled the hem of her collar up. “A—Are you done gawking at me?”

He shrugged. “You barge in and say I’m supposed to be at risk, well, it’s been a day, and I’m still doing just fine.” He returned to the glass console and drank a mouthful of whisky. The burning alcohol coated his throat and loosened his limbs, but still didn’t give him any of the answers he sought. Had his psycho ex sent this woman to rattle him? And if so, why? This silly little prank could throw him off. It was in bad taste, no doubt. Why would Carla do that? And why on earth would she go through Frank to get to him? It didn’t add up.

“Good for you, Mr. Soto. Then my work here is done.” She spun on her boots without as much as a farewell. A woman of few words. He lifted his glass, staring in her direction. Hell, he had to admire that.

Why not admire a bit more? Her cell beeped, and she pulled it to read a message. He quirked his head to glance at her ass, and imagined the great butt those jeans hid. But something stilled her. Her phone slipped from her hands.

He reached her in a couple of long strides. She bent to grab her phone, and he didn’t miss the trembling of her fingers as they gripped the screen.

“Are you okay?” he asked, though no, she didn’t seem okay.

Her spine locked into place, and she glanced at the phone once more before meeting his gaze. Her skin paled. She licked her upper lip and took a deep breath. Her eyes darkened to a murky brown, and a quick twitch told him she was trying too freaking hard to remain emotionless.

“You got some bad news?”

“It was an email from my work. Patty…is dead,” she whispered.

Christmas Secrets
Cupping her chin in his hand he tipped her head up and looked into her flashing indigo eyes. Dynamite. No wonder she was such a good con-artist.

Closing his own eyes to avoid her hypnotic gaze softening his resolve, Nicolas waited. And, yes, she brushed her lips over his.

Her mouth fitted perfectly with his and she tasted of summer—the bright air of a sunny day, the crisp white wine she’d just drunk. For a countless moment the kiss was all there was. The mingling of their breath, their lips, their heartbeats.

But like it had in the Santa grotto, their passion grew quickly and without thought. Nicolas ran his hand from her chin to brush the soft fabric of her shirt. As if it had a mind of its own a button came undone with no effort from his fingers. Then another, and another. Soon her shirt was completely open and he lay her back on the sofa, his mouth moving down as he did so. Baring his teeth he nipped at her breast through the pale pink lace of her bra and she arched her back, thrusting herself upward to meet him. This was the Gabrielle he remembered. The woman of open passion and transparent need. She raked her hands through his hair and writhed under him, clearly as ready as he was to consummate their meeting.

“You feel so warm,” he whispered against her soft stomach. Yet the subdued light from the Christmas tree stole the usual olive tone of her skin and cast an alabaster hue to her body. She was so pale. So delicate. So ready.

Author Bios:
Carmen Falcone learned at an early age that fantasizing about fictional characters beats doing math homework any day. Brazilian by birth and traveler by nature, she moved to Central Texas after college and met her broody Swiss husband—living proof that opposites attract. She found in writing her passion and the best excuse to avoid the healthy lifestyle everyone keeps bragging about. When she’s not lost in the word of romance, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, being walked by her three crazy pugs, reading, catching up with friends, and chatting with random people in the checkout line.

She loves to procrastinate, so please indulge her and drop her a line @ 

Michele de Winton loves sunshine, chardonnay, (preferably together), beaches, trees, great vegetarian food, steamy writing and happy endings. She’s been known to be an all round arty type and it's no wonder that her first romance had a little sparkle of the stage tucked into its pages.  Being a writer was not was she was supposed to be when she ‘grew up' but then neither was being a dancer. Her poor parents. They thought that when she toddled off to law school they'd bred a responsible, useful adult and instead they got a performer and word junkie. Sometimes her performing past jumps into the dress up box and requires attention. But most of the time she’s content to stay in her PJs. All day. She writes surrounded by the whisper of trees from her home in New Zealand and with only intermittent interruptions from her two young sons and husband. (Okay more like regular interruptions, but dreaming is free.)

Carmen Falcone
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Michele de Winton
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