Baby, Let’s Cruise…

I would love nothing more than to pack my bags and jump on a cruise ship. And, maybe I’m extra nostalgic for cruising this summer because last year around this time I was on a cruise ship.

Ah, what a difference a year makes.

If you’re like me and are jonesing for a nautical adventure, you can live vicariously through my novel Caribbean Caliente. It’s set on a cruise ship, during the early 2000s, and there’s LOTS of dancing and just plain joy in this book. If this sounds like something you could get on board with (see what I did there?) read on for the blurb and an excerpt.

She didn’t plan to fall for a man on what was supposed to be her honeymoon…

After Justus Kendall found her fiance cheating on her, she ended the relationship, but took the honeymoon with her best friend.

On a boat, in the middle of the Caribbean, she meets Miguel Amores, a Latin dancer and entrepreneur from Miami. A chance encounter leads to a dance competition and reveals their scorching chemistry. Justus and Miguel soon find out they’re compatible on and off the dance floor, knowing there’s no future, yet unable to deny their attraction.

When the cruise is over they agree to go their separate ways, but neither can forget about those seven days of Caribbean heat.

“This round show us you know how to dance to current music. Bust out your newest dance moves. DJ Wild, are you ready?” The DJ let loose with an air horn as an affirmative.

What’s Your Fantasy by Ludacris blasted through the speakers and Justus felt a blush creep up her neck. She was supposed to dance in front of all these people with Miguel to a song with lyrics that talked about licking someone from their head to their toes? And of course, Mr. Sexy Dancer himself was grinding his hips toward her in a way that made her want to squirm.

As the rap song continued to describe sexual fantasies, she couldn’t help but picture Miguel in some of the scenarios. Miguel with tortoise framed glasses playing the teacher and she the student. Miguel as a sexy vampire and her the helpless human unable to resist his otherworldly charms. Maybe the sexy situations depicted in the song weren’t that far-fetched after all. The music suddenly stopped and she wasn’t sure if she was happy or disappointed. She’d been so intent on the fantasies laid out in the song lyrics she’d danced on auto-pilot. The audience came through for them. She and Miguel made it to the final round.

“Our last round will be our most difficult,” Antnonio intoned grimly. “We’ll be judging our remaining couples with a full song, and you’ll have to infuse freestyle into this next type of dance.”

“Man, this prize better be pretty sweet. They’re making us work our asses off for it,” she murmured to Miguel.

He bit back a laugh. “I happen to know what the prize is, and I’m making sure you get it.”

Damn, this man is competitive. 

“DJ Wild, what’s our final dance style? Give us a hint.”

The DJ played a snippet of the song I Touch Myself, and of course, the crowd erupted into cheers at the lyrics.

“So the dance style is cheesy 90s songs?”

Miguel burst out laughing. “You’re bad, but I like it.” He arched a brow at her and she relished the devilish look in his eye.

“The style, ladies and gentlemen, is solo dancing.” Antonio threw his hands in the air. “I know! We pulled out all the stops with this last dance. So, to be clear you will dance solo, but will be judged as a couple. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked…” he ate up the audience’s laughter. “The couples will dance near each other, but not touching, not together. Imagine if you will that you’re in a crowded night club, you’re dancing…DJ Wild, help me out here,” Antonio snapped his fingers and the DJ put on a thumping track. The assistant cruise director swayed to the beat. “Now imagine you’re in a crowded night club, dancing, alone. And suddenly, across the dance floor you see that one person. Your eyes meet. Come on, ladies, gentlemen, you know what I mean. Make us feel that electricity.”

“Sure, nothing too difficult there, only have the pressure of tons of strangers watching. Oh, and I’m totally sober. Typically if I danced the way he’s talking about, I’d be tipsy.”

“Justus,” Miguel sputtered her name around chuckles. “You should do stand up.”

“I’m not that funny. I’m just snarky.” She shook her head and smiled at him as they took their positions on the floor. “Ready to help me win this thing?”

“Hell yeah.”

When the song about masturbation came over the speakers, at least Justus was prepared for it this time. And, she knew exactly what she would do to win this competition. She turned toward Miguel and held his gaze. The crowd, the noise, the lights, all of it faded away. It was only her, and him, and the music. Justus moved her body and ran her hands up and down her torso. She popped a hip left, then right and tossed her hair over her shoulders. In return Miguel, rolled his hips and stared her down.

They took small steps toward each other, but danced at least six feet apart. There was no way they could touch each other, but their eyes did all the things their hands and lips couldn’t do in that moment. She bent at her waist, then popped her booty out and ran her hands along the outer edge of her jean clad ass cheeks. Her face flushed and her breathing was shallow and quick. It wasn’t only from the movement. The intense sexual tension between her and Miguel was as thick as a rope. It pulsed between them and took on a life form of its own.

Miguel matched her sexy move with one of his own. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt, each one coming loose of its hold, his gaze never leaving hers. She was faintly aware of the shouts and catcalls from the women on the sidelines. That was the first reminder she had that people were watching them. That this was all a competition. It wasn’t a real thing. It wouldn’t end with her in his arms, his mouth and body crushed against hers. Her footsteps faltered, but she caught the nearly imperceptible shake of Miguel’s head. He held her stare and freed the remaining two buttons from his shirt and shrugged it off.

The screams and whistles from the observers almost tuned out the music. Her gaze took in the copper hued skin, stretched taut over muscles. The smattering of chest hair that led to the trail that ended at the waistband of his jeans. God damn, her fingers burned to touch him. It was more than her fingers that wanted to touch him. Her mouth salivated at the thought of the trace of salt she’d taste if her tongue followed the trail of that hair into his pants. She dropped to her knees and tossed her hair back and forth, swaying her torso to the music. The thought of what she’d rather be doing on her knees played out in her movements. Justus looked at him and slowly rimmed her lips with the tip of her tongue. Heat burned in Miguel’s eyes and without breaking their gaze he thrust his hips in a seductive rhythm. The invasive squawk of an air horn broke their lusty spell.

“Wow. Like…wow, right? I’m just speechless. That was crazy.” Antonio fanned himself with his hand and looked at the audience.

Miguel walked to her and extended his hand and helped pull her to her feet. “I’m impressed,” he murmured and pressed himself against her. She felt how impressed he was. Without breaking their gaze he bent and picked up his shirt, but didn’t put it back on. The two of them walked to the side of the dance floor and stood next to the other couple remaining in the competition.

“As amazing as all our couples have been, there can only be one winner. Are we ready to vote?” The crowd roared. Antonio gestured to the other couple and the crowd broke into mealy applause. That had to be a good sign for her and Miguel, right? Antonio stood in front of them and gestured for the crowd to vote for them. The noise was deafening.

“Couple eight has won. Now, for your prize.” Antonio treated the crowd to a broad grin, drawing the suspense out and loving it. “You win two free excursion trips of your choice. We’ve got the trip to our private island coming up, so you can do any side trip you want there. Horseback riding on the beach, helicopter tour. Your choice.”

Justus squealed and turned to Miguel. He’d won this for her. Overcome with joy she threw her arms around him and planted a kiss on his lips. Laughter, shouts, and whistles surrounded her.

What the hell did I just do?

“Well someone’s very happy to win.” Antonio’s Captain Obvious comment was met with laughter.

Heat flooded her face and she followed Antonio to the side where he took her details and gave her two vouchers for the excursions. She couldn’t even look at Miguel. Yes, they’d performed a semi-pornographic dance routine, but hell, she’d just planted one on him in front of a huge crowd. Surely she’d compromised him in some way, since he taught and gave lectures on the boat. Antonio asked Miguel something and she used that as her excuse to break free from him. She ran across the floor and found Krystal in the crowd.

“Holy shit. I need a cigarette after watching that.” Krystal treated her to a high five, then wrapped her in a quick hug.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m mortified. I need to get the hell out of here.”

Caribbean Caliente is available at Apple BooksBarnes & NobleKobo, and Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon UK, and Amazon AU.

What Will the Post-COVID Romance Hero Look Like?

I’m a life-long romance reader. And I’m old enough to remember the surge in paranormal romance novels that flooded the market in the years following 9/11.

During that time readers couldn’t get enough of supernatural romance heroes. Successful series that launched during this time include The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward and The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, (both in 2005).

So why was paranormal so hot in the early 2000s? Because we’d lived through watching real-life heroes like police, fire fighters, and military personnel lose their lives to the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Post-9/11 we craved a hero that wasn’t of the same world where the brave can fight valiantly and still be helpless to stop bad things from happening.

a man with glasses and dark hair

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last several weeks, and I can’t help but wonder what kind of hero readers will want and authors will write in a post-COVID-19 world. I can see a resurgence in supernatural or paranormal heroes. I can also envision the rise of medical heroes and heroines.

Above all, I think readers are going to continue to turn to the lighter side of romance, like romantic comedies and romance novels that either dial down the angst or at least balance angst with light-hearted settings and sympathetic characters.

Speaking of, stay tuned because I have a series launching at the end of summer that takes place in a bar (a light-hearted setting, indeed!) and the series is filled with ultra fun and sympathetic characters. More on this new series in the coming weeks!

 

A Little Fun to Get You Through the Week

Hi! I’m writing this post without wearing pants. I also haven’t brushed my teeth or hair yet today. Welcome to week 856 of quarantine!

I think I’m actually in like week nine of quarantine, but who the hell knows, tbh.

Anywho, I figured you could probably use something a fun to get you through the rest of this week and I have a solution. It’s a snippet from my novella Wild Ride, a story about a shy quiet girl who embraces her rowdy side.

Read on for an excerpt, and if you enjoy it, please share this post with someone who could use a fun read!

She’s in for one Wild Ride…

Fresh from being dumped for being too boring, shy and geeky Cynthia Goode decides to shake up her dull life by entering a provocative contest at a popular country western bar. She doesn’t win first prize at the Naughty Nightie mechanical bull riding contest, but she does win the attention of sexy biker Brody Cruz.

Living out what she thinks is a fantasy, she lets Brody take her home for a night she won’t forget.

Cynthia stripped down and butterflies swam in her belly. She’d greatly underestimated how scary walking across a bar and onto a raised circular stage would be dressed only in a corset, lace panties, stockings and heels. Nevertheless, she strutted toward the emcee, the spotlight tracing her movements as she walked. A series of howls and whistles erupted when the man helped her gain her footing and straddle the bull. 

They think I look hot. Well, at least if I plummet off the bull right away it’s good to know I’ll look sexy as I fall flat on my face.

The emcee reiterated the rules to her and Cynthia tried to concentrate on what he said. 

“Keep your clothes on. Hold on to the pummel with one hand. Keep your other hand raised high. Try to add some personal flare. Aim to ride for eight seconds. Have fun, sugar.”

With that he smacked the side of the machinery and gave a nod to the man controlling the device. The bull started up, the base spinning in a slow circular motion while the saddle rocked front to back. Cynthia gripped the pummel with her right hand and lifted her left hand high in the air. She gazed out into the crowd and flashed a smile. Several cat-calls and shouts rang out. 

I can do this.

The device started to speed up, the movements becoming rougher. Cynthia undulated her body as she’d seen the other contestants do. She rocked forward as the bull tilted back and used her knees to grip the wide body. A shrill whistle sounded from the crowd around her and she smiled. She thought back to the look on Paul’s face when he saw her wearing the corset. 

“Cynthia? Did you lose a bet?”

What an asshole. Not every man thought the way he did, thank goodness. From the shouts, some of the men in the bar found her attractive. Determined to put on a decent show, she tossed her hair. 

Or she tried to anyway.

The small movement made her lose visual focus. Suddenly the machine bucked at the same time that it spun to the left. She tried to recover, but her body slid to the side and she fell onto the mat in what she worried was an ungraceful heap. 

“Let’s give contestant five a big round of applause, everybody,” the emcee said. 

Two bouncers rushed forward to help her off the mat so the next contestant could take her place. When they got her off the stage and let go of her, Cynthia smiled and tried to take a step forward. She wobbled and the room spun. Drinking, bull riding and stilettos so did not mix well together.

“You good?”

“I think so,” she clutched his massive forearm. She blew out a breath and tried to walk again. “I think I’m okay now.” 

The bouncer led her out of the cordoned off area near the mechanical bull and then let go of her arm. She scanned the bar, trying to find Nina, but it was still difficult to focus. She craned her neck, but she didn’t see Nina at the bar where she’d left her before the bull ride. Someone pinched her ass and she let out a yelp at the sting. Where the hell was Nina with her skirt? 

Panic crept in like a fog. What the hell was she even doing? She was standing in a bar in her underwear. No, not her underwear. If she’d been wearing her standard skivvies it wouldn’t be nearly as mortifying. Her usual full-coverage briefs, what Nina insisted were granny panties, would’ve at least kept her from showing off her ass cheeks like two prized melons. 

“I’m so stupid,” she said softly to herself. Scanning the bar again for her friend, she still didn’t see Nina anywhere. Straining her neck every which way, she took a step forward without watching where she was going and wobbled, crashing into a solid torso. 

 “Easy there, sweetheart.”A pair of large hands cupped her shoulders.  “Why don’t you lean against me? I don’t think you’re ready to walk just yet.” 

Cynthia nodded, knowing the kind stranger was right. She only wished she wasn’t wearing her undergarments. 

“Thanks for the help—”

She looked up into the man’s face and her mouth went dry. He was tall, even in her stilettos he towered over her. His dark hair was short on the sides and long on top. Her gaze trailed lower, to the way the black tank hugged his broad chest. How could such a simple garment look so outstanding? Maybe it had nothing to do with the construction of the  plain cotton and everything to do with the man wearing it. 

“It was nothing. I’m Brody. And you are?” He asked with his mouth near her ear.

She had half a mind to give him a fake name, something exotic. But then she remembered that she was a horrible liar. She’d never get an alias out with a straight face. 

“My name’s Cynthia,” she shouted above the hoots of the observers and the emcee’s announcements.

His gaze landed at her throat and her fingers flew to her pendant reflexively. The word GEEK was stamped on its surface. She wore it with pride, because damn it, she was a geek at heart and had no shame in it. What would a guy like Brody think of her geeky ways? 

“That’s a cool necklace.” His gaze connected with hers again and she let out a little giggle. Had she heard him right? He thought her geek necklace was cool.

“Thank you. I made it myself.” 

“Really? Awesome.”

She felt her face flush under his praise. Her jewelry business wasn’t something she told people about. Even when someone complimented her on one of her pieces. It was always something she shied away from telling people about. 

“Well, Cynthia, I feel compelled to see you safely out of this area.” He leaned closer while tightening his hold on her. Surprised, she inhaled sharply. Her nose was filled with a rich, sexy cologne. “This place is a wolf den tonight. I wouldn’t feel right leaving you now. That okay with you?” 

She glanced around at all the men nearby and then back to him. Her gut told her she could trust him. She nodded. Brody steered her away from the throng of males, his hand riding low against the curve of her hip. In a weird way, she liked the way he took control and led her away from the crowd. 

“Do you think you could help me find my friend?” Her words were drowned out by hoots from the rowdy crowd. She turned and caught sight of the next contestant on the bull. The woman wore an aubergine teddy that set off her dark skin. As she undulated on the machine, the filmy material billowed around her like a purple cloud. The DJ had put on a provocative song and the contestant was milking the song lyrics, incorporating the suggestive words into her ride. 

“What? You’re gonna have to get real close to me so I can hear. This crowd’s going ape shit.” He’d stopped walking, tightening his grip on her so she would halt too. Brody pressed his body against her and leaned down, so his mouth was near her ear. He swept her long hair off her shoulder. His breath was a warm caress against the skin on her neck. “See, I bet you can hear me much better now.”

She nodded. Her pulse pounded in her ears, and lower, she felt the beat thrumming in her core. Their gazes connected, held. The strobe light circled and limned his irises. His light brown eyes were flecked with gold. She swallowed hard and with trembling hands she gripped him by the shoulders and gently urged him downward. He lowered his head toward hers. 

Oh, God, does he think I want to kiss him?

She did, of course. What red-blooded woman wouldn’t? He was gorgeous and seemed captivated by her. She turned her head and angled her mouth toward his ear. Instead of speaking, she froze, her fingers tightening around his muscled shoulders. For the first time since arriving at the bar, the intensity of the erotic atmosphere threatened to overwhelm her. 

The heavy bass strumming from the speakers. The humid air and male bodies pressed in close. The catcalls and shouts from the men cheering on the contestants. And, damn it, the lyrics of the 90s R&B song where the sexy male voice promised that his saddle was waiting and commanded a woman to jump on it. Maybe that was good advice. Maybe she needed to jump on it. Well, not on Brody’s…saddle, but she could at least capitalize on the situation. What possible harm could come from a little flirting with this handsome stranger?

Want to know what happens next between Cynthia and Brody? Get Wild Ride for just 99 cents at  AmazonAmazon AUAmazon CAAmazon UKBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboPlayster, and Scribd.

A Steamy Kiss to Get You Through This Thursday

It’s Thursday. I don’t know about you, but I need help remembered what day it is. Quarantine has definitely got me…a little confused.

If you need a pick me up to get through the rest of this week, I’m sharing a sexy snippet from my latest release, Exclusively Hers.

There’s never been another man like him in her life. Heroic. Daring. Gorgeous.

When reporter Cassie Pierce interviews Aidan West at the scene of an accident, she’s mesmerized by his deep blue eyes and intense, laser-like focus. The fact that he pulled a pregnant woman and her small son from a wrecked vehicle after it plunged into a lake impresses her too. After the interview, Aidan makes one request, that she only refers to him as an anonymous Good Samaritan.

Dying to tell this story, she agrees to Aidan’s mysterious terms. Although everything between Aidan and Cassie is supposed to be all business, there’s an undeniable pull that’s impossible to resist. When Cassie agrees to go out with him she realizes Aidan has another side. His intense focus carries over to his love life. Aching to further explore the explosive chemistry between them, Cassie does something she’s never done before: becomes romantically involved with someone she’s interviewed.

As parts of Aidan’s past resurface her journalistic instinct flares, putting her in the uncomfortable position of choosing between love or a career-launching exclusive story.

Snippet:

“I had a great time tonight. It’s funny, but this didn’t feel like a first date.”

“It didn’t to me either. Normally things can seem…forced. I never felt that once tonight.”

“Me either,” he said and cupped her chin. 

They gazed into each other’s eyes a few moments until he tilted her head back and put his mouth to hers. Cassie started to part her lips, but it appeared Aidan was going for a short, quick kiss. He broke their hold, but wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her head to his chest.

“I had a great time,” he said again. “But I should probably go before things get any farther.”

“Why? Who says things can’t go any further?”

He was quiet a moment and she felt his grip around her shoulders loosen slightly. 

“You’ve been drinking. I don’t want you to do something that you’ll regret later.”

“Look at my eyes,” she lifted her head from his chest. “You’re in security. You’ve probably had to handle your share of intoxicated people when they get loud and rowdy. Do I look drunk to you?”

His clear blue irises stared into hers for several moments.

“No, you don’t look drunk.”

“Then what’s the issue?”

“I like you and I want to see you again. You’re a good woman, Cassie. I don’t want to screw anything up because I can’t control myself around you.”

“So, a good woman can’t enjoy sex with someone she’s attracted to and has a good time being around? Come on, Aidan. I see what kind of person you are, with your intense, astute ways. I know control is important to you. It seems like you take pride in restraining yourself, but this is one time you can give in and let go of it.”

“No, that’s where you’re wrong.” 

She knitted her brows together, unsure of his meaning. 

“I am going to keep my control tonight.”

He wrapped his hands around either side of her head and drew her mouth to his. The second kiss was so different from the first. He wasn’t timid. It wasn’t the soft, reverential peck of man trying to test the waters. This was the hot, insistent kiss of a man in charge who knew what he wanted and had no problem claiming it. The pressure of his lips and commanding stroke of his tongue promised an experience just shy of sinful.

It was arousing as hell.

She let out a soft sigh when his tongue caressed hers. Cassie walked her fingers up the wide wall of his chest until she reached the smooth, firm column of his neck. She slid her hands around it and toward the back until she made contact with the hair at his nape. She entwined several of the thick, wavy strands through her fingers. 

He tilted her head back further and broke free from the kiss. She shivered as he trailed his lips down her jaw and along the side of her neck. His mouth nibbled on the sensitive spot, making her squirm beneath his hold. Her breathing was quick and shallow. She was sure that he could feel the speed of her pulse as he kissed the base of her throat.

Want to know what happens next? Get Exclusively Hers on Apple BooksBarnes & NobleKindle USKindle AUKindle CAKindle UK, and Kobo.

 

Steamy excerpt from Caribbean Caliente

Caribbean Caliente is out now! I’m excited to share this book with the world, especially right now when things feel so heavy. This book is light, happy, and FUN! If you’re looking for some new romance to read, I hope you’ll check it out.

Blurb

She didn’t plan to fall for a man on what was supposed to be her honeymoon…

After Justus Kendall found her fiance cheating on her, she ended the relationship, but took the honeymoon with her best friend.

On a boat, in the middle of the Caribbean, she meets Miguel Amores, a Latin dancer and entrepreneur from Miami. A chance encounter leads to a dance competition and reveals their scorching chemistry. Justus and Miguel soon find out they’re compatible on and off the dance floor, knowing there’s no future, yet unable to deny their attraction.

When the cruise is over they agree to go their separate ways, but neither can forget about those seven days of Caribbean heat.

Get it in digital format at Apple BooksBarnes & NobleKobo, and Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon UK, and Amazon AU.

Excerpt

“I didn’t peg you as being a stickler for the rules.” His green eyes toured her body. Warmth spread through her at his look. “Come on, don’t I get an answer?”

She didn’t want to tell him the real reasons why she wanted to know if he was single. She didn’t want him to know she’d been cheated on recently. And she sure as hell didn’t want him to know how he, a near stranger, stoked her desire. Still, she had to come up with something to say.

“In dance class you seemed like a nice guy, but I couldn’t imagine a nice guy asking another woman out right under his girlfriend’s nose. I had to ask you about Tammy because I had to make sure my intuition was right.”

“Fair enough. And what about my other question.”

“Why did I agree to go to the competition with you tonight?”

He nodded. 

“I like to win. What better chance would I have than to dance with an instructor?” She hoped he bought her excuse. It was partially true, but she’d have agreed to dance with Miguel even if he had two left feet. 

“Hmm, a stickler for the rules, competitive, and you don’t shy away from confrontation, either. You’ve intrigued me, Justus.”

Heat spread through her. “It’s mutual,” she whispered, and immediately regretted it.

Miguel smiled at her confession. “Okay. Now that you know the truth, what does that mean? I’ve passed your test, then?”

“Yes, and it means that I can have fun dancing with you tonight at the competition, and have a clear conscience about it.”

Miguel glanced at the clock on the wall. “Speaking of, I’ll see you in a few hours. I have a few things I have to do before I go to the competition.”

“Okay, I’ll see you there.”

 She broke their stare and turned her head from side to side, looking pointedly at the way his arms were braced against the wall, keeping her in place. He dropped his arms. She took a couple steps forward, but Miguel grabbed her wrist and drew her back into the corner.

“Wait.” He looked left and right then gazed down into her face. “I don’t want there to be any room for doubt in your mind.” 

He cupped her chin and tilted it back then slanted his mouth over hers. The contact was brief but intense. He applied just the right pressure and suction. And holy hell were his lips soft. She placed her hands on his chest, feeling the corded muscles there and the heat from his skin warmed her palms. The searing gaze he treated her to afterward caused her nipples to tighten and a ribbon of desire to unfurl in her lower belly. The man could well hold a patent on the smoldering sexy stare.

“Justus,” he called to her. 

She spun and faced him, sure her cheeks were scarlet. “Yeah?”

“I like to win, too,” he told her with a wink. 

Want to read more? You can find Caribbean Caliente at Apple BooksBarnes & NobleKobo, and Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon UK, and Amazon AU.

Give Me Another Hit of Nostalgia

I’ve been working on a story for a while now. It’s called Caribbean Caliente and it’s set on a cruise ship during the summer of 2002. I wanted to write the story during this time frame because of the freedom I’d have with characters who didn’t have smartphones, back before social media was a thing.

And, who doesn’t love a big ol’ slice of nostalgia pie? If you’re looking to add to your reading list-and who isn’t these days?-this book is coming atcha on Tuesday, March 31!

For now, I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Caribbean Caliente where my hero and heroine compete in a Dancing With the Stars-esque competition on the cruise ship.

Blurb

She didn’t plan to fall for a man on what was supposed to be her honeymoon…

After Justus Kendall found her fiance cheating on her, she ended the relationship, but took the honeymoon with her best friend.

On a boat, in the middle of the Caribbean, she meets Miguel Amores, a Latin dancer and entrepreneur from Miami. A chance encounter leads to a dance competition and reveals their scorching chemistry. Justus and Miguel soon find out they’re compatible on and off the dance floor, knowing there’s no future, yet unable to deny their attraction.

When the cruise is over they agree to got their separate ways, but neither can forget about those seven days of Caribbean heat.

Teaser

“This round show us you know how to dance to current music. Bust out your newest dance moves. DJ Wild, are you ready?” The DJ let loose with an air horn as an affirmative. 

What’s Your Fantasy by Ludacris blasted through the speakers and Justus felt a blush creep up her neck. She was supposed to dance in front of all these people with Miguel to a song with lyrics that talked about licking someone from their head to their toes? And of course, Mr. Sexy Dancer himself was grinding his hips toward her in a way that made her want to squirm.

As the rap song continued to describe sexual fantasies, she couldn’t help but picture Miguel in some of the scenarios. Miguel with tortoise framed glasses playing the teacher and she the student. Miguel as a sexy vampire and her the helpless human unable to resist his otherworldly charms. Maybe the sexy situations depicted in the song weren’t that far-fetched after all. The music suddenly stopped and she wasn’t sure if she was happy or disappointed. She’d been so intent on the fantasies laid out in the song lyrics she’d danced on auto-pilot. The audience came through for them. She and Miguel made it to the final round. 

“Our last round will be our most difficult,” Antnonio intoned grimly. “We’ll be judging our remaining couples with a full song, and you’ll have to infuse freestyle into this next type of dance.”

“Man, this prize better be pretty sweet. They’re making us work our asses off for it,” she murmured to Miguel. 

He bit back a laugh. “I happen to know what the prize is, and I’m making sure you get it.”

Damn, this man is competitive. 

“DJ Wild, what’s our final dance style? Give us a hint.”

The DJ played a snippet of the song I Touch Myself, and of course, the crowd erupted into cheers at the lyrics. 

“So the dance style is cheesy 90s songs?”

Miguel burst out laughing. “You’re bad, but I like it.” He arched a brow at her and she relished the devilish look in his eye.

“The style, ladies and gentlemen, is solo dancing.” Antonio threw his hands in the air. “I know! We pulled out all the stops with this last dance. So, to be clear you will dance solo, but will be judged as a couple. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked…” he ate up the audience’s laughter. “The couples will dance near each other, but not touching, not together. Imagine if you will that you’re in a crowded night club, you’re dancing…DJ Wild, help me out here,” Antonio snapped his fingers and the DJ put on a thumping track. The assistant cruise director swayed to the beat. “Now imagine you’re in a crowded night club, dancing, alone. And suddenly, across the dance floor you see that one person. Your eyes meet. Come on, ladies, gentlemen, you know what I mean. Make us feel that electricity.”

“Sure, nothing too difficult there, only have the pressure of tons of strangers watching. Oh, and I’m totally sober. Typically if I danced the way he’s talking about, I’d be tipsy.”

“Justus,” Miguel sputtered her name around chuckles. “You should do stand up.”

“I’m not that funny. I’m just snarky.” She shook her head and smiled at him as they took their positions on the floor. “Ready to help me win this thing?”

“Hell yeah.”

When the song about masturbation came over the speakers, at least Justus was prepared for it this time. And, she knew exactly what she would do to win this competition. She turned toward Miguel and held his gaze. The crowd, the noise, the lights, all of it faded away. It was only her, and him, and the music. Justus moved her body and ran her hands up and down her torso. She popped a hip left, then right and tossed her hair over her shoulders. In return Miguel, rolled his hips and stared her down. 

They took small steps toward each other, but danced at least six feet apart. There was no way they could touch each other, but their eyes did all the things their hands and lips couldn’t do in that moment. She bent at her waist, then popped her booty out and ran her hands along the outer edge of her jean clad ass cheeks. Her face flushed and her breathing was shallow and quick. It wasn’t only from the movement. The intense sexual tension between her and Miguel was as thick as a rope. It pulsed between them and took on a life form of its own. 

Miguel matched her sexy move with one of his own. He slowly unbuttoned his shirt, each one coming loose of its hold, his gaze never leaving hers. She was faintly aware of the shouts and catcalls from the women on the sidelines. That was the first reminder she had that people were watching them. That this was all a competition. It wasn’t a real thing. It wouldn’t end with her in his arms, his mouth and body crushed against hers. Her footsteps faltered, but she caught the nearly imperceptible shake of Miguel’s head. He held her stare and freed the remaining two buttons from his shirt and shrugged it off. 

The screams and whistles from the observers almost tuned out the music. Her gaze took in the copper hued skin, stretched taut over muscles. The smattering of chest hair that led to the trail that ended at the waistband of his jeans. God damn, her fingers burned to touch him. It was more than her fingers that wanted to touch him. Her mouth salivated at the thought of the trace of salt she’d taste if her tongue followed the trail of that hair into his pants. She dropped to her knees and tossed her hair back and forth, swaying her torso to the music. The thought of what she’d rather be doing on her knees played out in her movements. Justus looked at him and slowly rimmed her lips with the tip of her tongue. Heat burned in Miguel’s eyes and without breaking their gaze he thrust his hips in a seductive rhythm. The invasive squawk of an air horn broke their lusty spell.

“Wow. Like…wow, right? I’m just speechless. That was crazy.” Antonio fanned himself with his hand and looked at the audience.

Miguel walked to her and extended his hand and helped pull her to her feet. “I’m impressed,” he murmured and pressed himself against her. She felt how impressed he was. Without breaking their gaze he bent and picked up his shirt, but didn’t put it back on. The two of them walked to the side of the dance floor and stood next to the other couple remaining in the competition. 

“As amazing as all our couples have been, there can only be one winner. Are we ready to vote?” The crowd roared. Antonio gestured to the other couple and the crowd broke into mealy applause. That had to be a good sign for her and Miguel, right? Antonio stood in front of them and gestured for the crowd to vote for them. The noise was deafening. 

“Couple eight has won. Now, for your prize.” Antonio treated the crowd to a broad grin, drawing the suspense out and loving it. “You win two free excursion trips of your choice. We’ve got the trip to our private island coming up, so you can do any side trip you want there. Horseback riding on the beach, helicopter tour. Your choice.”

Justus squealed and turned to Miguel. He’d won this for her. Overcome with joy she threw her arms around him and planted a kiss on his lips. Laughter, shouts, and whistles surrounded her. 

What the hell did I just do?

“Well someone’s very happy to win.” Antonio’s Captain Obvious comment was met with laughter. 

Heat flooded her face and she followed Antonio to the side where he took her details and gave her two vouchers for the excursions. She couldn’t even look at Miguel. Yes, they’d performed a semi-pornographic dance routine, but hell, she’d just planted one on him in front of a huge crowd. Surely she’d compromised him in some way, since he taught and gave lectures on the boat. Antonio asked Miguel something and she used that as her excuse to break free from him. She ran across the floor and found Krystal in the crowd. 

“Holy shit. I need a cigarette after watching that.” Krystal treated her to a high five, then wrapped her in a quick hug. 

“Yeah, yeah. I’m mortified. I need to get the hell out of here.”

 

Preserve Your Sanity, Read Romance

I need escape, and probably you do, too. One reason I write romance is because I feel strongly I’ve been given a gift to shine a positive light in a world that time and again tries to convince us that it’s full of darkness and negativity.

If you need a break from streaming services and social media, might I suggest you turn to a romance? Within the pages of a romance novel you’ll find themes of triumph, empowerment, self-discovery, hope, love, and of course, a happy ending.

Who doesn’t need a little (or a lot) of that right now?

You can find my books here. Or go search your library, or favorite online retailer…just read some romance.

Have a Happy Holiday Season with Free Books and Giveaways!

Can you believe it’s the holidays? It’s crazy to think there’s just a couple weeks left in 2019. The Romance Studio is hosting their annual Holiday Party, happening now until Monday!

Readers have a chance to win free books and other giveaways, including a chance to win a copy of my short story Safe Haven. I’m also sharing snippets from my books, so if you’d like to read an excerpt or two, stop by each day to see what stories (and scenes) I share.

 

During this holiday season and all year long, I want my readers to know how grateful I am for you! Thank you so much to everyone who has bought one of my books, left a review, a comment on social media and my blog, and subscribed to my newsletter. Writing is a solitary profession and it brings me joy to know that someone, somewhere has liked a story that I’ve written.

Have a joyous holiday season!

Giving Thanks for Free Books and Giveaways at The Romance Studio’s Thanksgiving Party

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is just around the corner and that means we’re headed into the holiday season. The Romance Studio is kicking off this festive time of year with their annual Thanksgiving Party, happening now until Wednesday!

Readers have a chance to win free books and other giveaways, including a chance to win a copy of my short story Marital Bonds. I’m also sharing snippets from my books, so if you’d like to read an excerpt or two, stop by each day to see what stories (and scenes) I share.

During this holiday season and all year long, I want my readers to know how grateful I am for you! Thank you so much to everyone who has bought one of my books, left a review, a comment on social media and my blog, and subscribed to my newsletter. Writing is a solitary profession and it brings me joy to know that someone, somewhere has liked a story that I’ve written.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

New Release Today!

Runaway Heiress is out today and I’m super pumped!

It’s the first full-length novel I have released in what feels like forever. This book is also set in Seattle and being that I live in the PNW, it makes the story line extra special to me.

Also, I’m a nosy person by nature and I’ve always wanted to be a fly on the wall in some of my fave celeb’s lives. I explore that a bit in Runaway Heiress because my main character is a reality TV star and apparel mogul. Yet, it’s not really who she is, it’s just what she does.

The novel opens on her wedding day, as she’s coming to terms with the fact that she’s living a lie. Katherine becomes a runaway heiress after she leaves her intended at the alter and flees scandal in NYC for Seattle. She finds peace in the beauty of the PNW, as well as comfort in the arms of a sexy writer she meets in Seattle.

I hope you will read on to learn more about my latest release!

The life of an heiress isn’t as perfect as it seems…

Katherine Dawson was born into a life of privilege as the heiress to an apparel dynasty. Between judging a reality TV competition for budding fashion designers and having been the face of her family’s clothing line for most of her life, she’s one of the biggest celebrities in her field.

When she becomes engaged to up-and-coming television producer Nathan Taylor, she appears to have it all. To any outsider, she has a picture-perfect life, so when Katherine leaves her groom-to-be at the altar and disappears, the tabloids are full of speculation over her sudden departure.

Fleeing New York to hide out in Seattle, she quickly finds that living the life of an heiress in hiding isn’t as easy as she thought, especially after she meets a magnetic writer named Royce Reynolds. In her new life on the West Coast, she struggles to keep her anonymity, and  experiences a relationship with a man who wants her for the person she is, not the celebrity she used to be.

 

“Daddy?”

Katherine Dawson’s voice echoed off the stone walls of St. Patrick’s cathedral. As one of New York City’s oldest churches, the structure had enough prestige and beauty to hold Sunday service, and memorials. It also provided the perfect setting for storybook weddings, like hers.

When her father didn’t answer right away, Katherine gathered the heavy material of her wedding gown in her hand and walked the few steps to reach her dad. She looked down at the enormous bouquet of flowers in her hand and almost lost her nerve. Yet, the longer she stared at the arrangement of white roses, calla lilies and orchids, the more it reinforced her gut reaction to this day. Like the stunning flowers arranged so perfectly in the bundle, she was also trussed up and made to look pristine. She too was arranged at her peak, the moment in her life when she was likely most attractive. She knew if she went through with this decision that just like the flowers, soon she would wither and lose her beautiful essence. Through the heavy wooden doors, she heard the faint strains coming from the fifteen-piece orchestra. They were preparing to play the wedding march. It was now or never. If she had any chance at escaping the glamorous affair, it was in this moment.

“Daddy.” She stood in front of her father and knew she must look as panicked and frightened as a wounded animal. “I have to get out of here. I can’t go through with this.”

Tears welled in her eyes, but she blinked fast to push them away. Once the waterworks started, she didn’t know when they might stop. She dropped her hold on the dress and reached for her father’s hand.

“I’m leaving. If you want to stay and deal with mother’s temper tantrums when she finds out I left Nathan at the altar, so be it. Daddy, I just can’t do this.” He stood silently, his gaze fixed on the flowers in her fist. Shame welled. She’d disappointed him. It felt like nothing she did could please her mom, but the idea of her father being upset with her was almost too much to bear. “Well, won’t you say something?”

Her father cleared his throat and brought his gaze to hers. It was then she noticed the tears that had formed in his eyes. She hated that she’d let him down, but she couldn’t go through life with such a momentous lie hanging over her head. She stood on tiptoe, wrapping her arms around him for a quick hug. “I’m sorry I’ve hurt you. I don’t want to be a disappointment to you, but I have to stay true to myself. You won’t see me for a while.” As she said the words, she knew it was true. Although she had no real plan and no idea how she’d pull off escaping her insane lifestyle.

“I’m going away, but I don’t know where yet. I’ve got to go find out who I really am without all the pressures of being Katherine Dawson hanging over my head.”

“Kitty Kat,” he whispered, using her childhood nickname, “I could never be disappointed in you. I’m crying because you’ve made me happy. Go find yourself. Follow your dreams. That’s what I’ve always wanted for you. I love you.”

“Daddy, I love you, too.”

She turned her head toward the heavy wooden doors again. The wedding march was playing. She had to go now. Preparing for the sprint she knew she’d have to do to make it to the limousine that waited outside, she kicked off her silver-sequined Louboutin heels. Dropping her bouquet on the ground and gathering her skirt in her hands, she hurried out of the front door and down the church steps.

In her haste to escape the wedding, she’d forgotten about the crowd of reporters and spectators gathered along the sidewalk and in the street. At least fifty black cameras took aim at her and several eager members of the paparazzi stood right in her path, their camera flashes going off. She refused to look into their lenses, even as they called out to her by name. Her gaze was locked in on the back door of the limousine. Once she got there, she’d be home free.

“Katherine! Katherine! Why are you running?”

“Have cold feet, Katherine?”

“Where’s the groom?”

Ignoring the inane questions from the media, she opened the door to the back seat of the car. Franklin, her family’s driver, jumped from the front seat, prepared to help her into the vehicle. Katherine met his gaze and she shook her head. He took her unspoken command and hopped back behind the wheel. She could handle the paparazzi. After all, she’d been dodging the vultures since she’d been a teen. Pulling the door closed behind her provided a moment of peace. However, her relief was cut short as half of the camera-wielding assholes formed a semi-circle around the limousine while the rest scattered to nearby cabs. The car had to move before they got trapped—or worse—were followed by the bloodthirsty press.

“Where to?”

Get Runaway Heiress in ebook at Apple Books, B&NKoboScribd, and AmazonAmazon CAAmazon UK.

Look for paperback and audiobook later in 2019!