Thursday, May 26, 2022

UNBRIDLED COWBOY by Maisey Yates

 







Book Summary:

Welcome to Four Corners Ranch, where the west is still wild…and when a cowboy needs a wife, he decides to find her the old-fashioned way.

Cowboy Sawyer Garrett has no intention of settling down. But when he becomes a single dad to tiny baby June, stepping up to the responsibility is non-negotiable. And so is finding a wife to be a mother to his infant daughter. So he decides to do it how the pioneers did: He puts out an ad for a mail order bride.

Evelyn Moore can’t believe she’s agreed to uproot her city life to marry a stranger in Oregon. But having escaped one near-disastrous marriage, she’s desperate for change. Her love for baby June is instant. Her feelings for Sawyer are more complicated. Her gruff cowboy husband ignites thrilling desire in her, but Sawyer is determined to keep their marriage all about the baby. But what happens if Evelyn wants it all?


EXCERPT:

 CHAPTER ONE

There’s no way around it. I’m going to need a wife.”

Sawyer Garrett looked across the table at his brother, Wolf, and his sister, Elsie, and then down at the tiny pink bundle he was holding in his arms.

It wasn’t like this was an entirely new idea.

It was just that he had been thinking the entire time that Missy might change her mind, which would put him in a different position. She hadn’t, though. She had stuck to her guns. When she found out she was pregnant, she told him that she wanted nothing to do with having a baby. She wanted to go through with the pregnancy, but not with being a mother. Not even when he proposed marriage. Oh, they hadn’t been in a relationship or anything like that. She was just a woman that he saw from time to time.

In fact, Sawyer Garrett could honestly say that he had a very low opinion of relationships and family.

Present company excluded, of course.

But when Missy had said she was pregnant, he’d known there was only one thing to do. His dad had been a flawed man. Deeply so. He’d acted like the kids were an after­thought and all he’d really done was let them live under his roof.

Sawyer wanted more for his child. Better. He’d deter­mined he would be there, not just providing housing and food, but actually being there.

If he could spare his child the feeling of being unwanted, he would.

And that was where this idea had been turning over in his head for a while.

The fact of the matter was, Garrett’s Watch had a lousy track record when it came to marriage.

The thirteen-thousand-acre spread had been settled back in the late 1800s, with equal adjoining spreads settled by the Kings, the McClouds and the Sullivans, all of whom had now worked what was known in combination as Four Corners Ranch in the generations since.

And where the Garrett clan was concerned… There was nothing but a long history of abandonment and divorces. The one exception being Sawyer’s grandparents. Oh, not his grandfather’s first marriage. His biological grandmother had run off just like every other woman in their family tree. As if the ground itself was cursed.

But then the old man had happened upon an idea. He thought to write a letter to one of the newspapers back east asking for a woman who wanted to come out to Oregon and be a mother to his children. They’d had the only successful marriage in his direct line. And it was because it was based on mutual respect and understanding and not the emotional bullshit that had been a hallmark of his own childhood. He barely remembered his own mother. He remembered Wolf’s and Elsie’s, though. Two different women. Only around for a small number of years.

Just long enough to leave some scars.

Hell, he didn’t know how he wound up in this position. He was a man who liked to play hard. He worked hard. It seemed fair enough. But he was careful. He always used a condom. And Missy had been no exception. He’d just been subject to that small percentage of failure. Failure.

He hated that. He hated that feeling. He hated that word. If there was one thing he could fault his father for it was the fact that the man hadn’t taken charge. The fact that he just sat there in the shit when everything went to hell. That wasn’t who Sawyer was. But Sawyer had to be responsi­ble for his siblings far sooner than he should’ve had to be, thanks in part due to his father’s passivity. If there was one thing Sawyer had learned, it was that you had to be respon­sible when responsibility was needed.

He wasn’t a stranger to failing people in his life, but unlike his father, he’d learned. He’d never let anyone who needed him down, not again.

Marriage,” Wolf said. “Really.”

Unless you and Elsie want a full-time job as a nanny.”

Elsie snorted, leaned back in her chair and put her boots up on the table—which she didn’t normally do, but she was just trying to be as feral as possible in the moment. “Not likely,” she said.

Right. Well. So, do you think there’s a better idea?”

Reconsider being a single father?” Wolf said.

I am,” Sawyer said. “I’m aiming to find a wife.”

Wolf shook his head. “I mean, reconsider having a baby at all.”

A fierce protectiveness gripped Sawyer’s chest. “It’s a little late, don’t you think?”

Wasn’t too late for Missy to walk away yesterday,” Wolf said.

Too late for me,” Sawyer said.

It had been. From the moment he’d first heard her cry. The weight of… Of everything that he felt on his shoulders when this tiny little thing was placed into his arms. It was difficult to describe. Impossible. He wasn’t good with feel­ings when they were simple. But this was complicated. A burden, but one he grabbed hold of willingly. One he felt simultaneously uniquely suited for and completely unequal to. He didn’t know the first thing about babies. Yeah, he had done quite a bit to take care of Elsie and Wolf, and… He could see where he’d fallen short. Elsie was just a hair shy of a bobcat in human form, and Wolf suited his name, and, well…big, a little bit dangerous, loyal to his pack, but that was about it.

It’s not too late,” Elsie said. “In the strictest sense. You haven’t even given her name.”

No. It was true. He hadn’t settled on anything yet. And he knew there was paperwork that he had to do.

You want me to give her back?” He shook his head. “It’s not like I have a receipt, Els.”

That’s not what I meant,” Elsie said. “It’s just… It’s a hard life here.”

And I aim to make it a little less hard.”

So, you’re going to… What? Put an ad in the paper?”

Granddad did,” he said.

And it had changed their lives for the better. The history of Garrett’s Watch might be rich with failed love stories, but it was a marriage of convenience that had brought real love to the ranch.

Their grandmother—their real grandmother (blood didn’t matter here, staying mattered)—had loved them all with a ferocity their own mothers hadn’t managed, let alone their father.

She had taught Sawyer to tie his shoes and ride a bike. She’d hugged him when he’d fallen and scraped his knees.

She taught him tenderness. And he was damned grate­ful for it now, because he had this tiny life in his care, and if it weren’t for her, he would have never, ever known where to begin.

And thanks to his grandfather, he knew what else he might need.

However crazy his siblings thought it was.

It’s not 1950,” Wolf pointed out.

Though, sometimes, on Four Corners you could be for­given for not realizing that. For not realizing it wasn’t 1880, even.

Time passed slowly, and by and large the landscape didn’t change. Sure, the farm implements got a little bit shinier.

On a particularly good year, the savings account got a little bit fatter.

But the land itself remained. The large imposing moun­tains that surrounded the property that backed Garrett’s Watch. The river that ran through the property, cutting across the field and the base of the mountain. The pine trees, green all through the year, growing taller with the passage of time.

They were lucky to have done well enough in the last few years that the large main house was completely up­dated, though it was ridiculously huge for Sawyer by him­self. Wolf and Elsie had gone to their own cabins on the property, which were also sturdy and well kept.

In truth, this whole thing with the baby had been a wake-up call. Because whether or not he could look out the win­dow and see it, time was passing. And when Missy had asked him what he wanted to do about the baby, the an­swer had seemed simple. It had seemed simple because… He had no excuse. He had plenty of money, and had the sort of life that meant he could include a kid in most any­thing. His dad had done him a favor by showing him what not to do. They were largely left to their own devices, but it was a great place to be left to your devices. And he’d had to ask himself… What was he hanging on to? A life of going out drinking whenever he wanted, sleeping with whoever he wanted.

He was at the age where it wasn’t all that attractive, not anymore.

Thirty-four and with no sign of change on the horizon. In the end, he decided to aim for more. To take the change that was coming whether he was ready or not.

Turns out not very ready. But again, that was where his plan came in.

I’m aware that is not 1950,” he shot back at his brother. “I can…sign up for a… A website.”

As if he knew how the hell to do that. They had a com­puter. Hell, he had a smartphone. They had a business to manage and it made sense. But the fact remained, he didn’t have a lot of use for either.

Elsie cackled, slinging her boots off the table and flip­ping her dark braid over her shoulder. “A website? I don’t think people swipe on their phones looking for marriage. I think they look for… Well, stuff you seem to be able to find without the help of the internet.”

His sister wasn’t wrong. He found sex just fine with­out the help of his phone. That was what Smokey’s Tav­ern was for.

The way I see it,” Sawyer said, speaking as if Elsie hadn’t spoken, which as far as he was concerned was the way it should be with younger siblings, “marriage can work, relationships can work, as long as you have the same set of goals as the other person. It’s all these modern ideals… That’s what doesn’t work.”

Which modern ideals?” Elsie asked. “The kind that saw every woman in our bloodline leaving every man in our bloodline all the way back to when people were riding around in horse-drawn carriages?”

Yes,” he said. “That is what I mean. People think­ing that they needed to marry for something other than…common need.”

He was pretty sure his grandparents had loved each other in the end. But it reminded him of something other than ro­mance. It reminded him of his connection to the land. You cared for that which cared for you. It sustained you. You worked it, and the dirt got under your nails. The air was in your lungs. It became part of you. Of all that you were.

That was something better than romance.

 

Excerpted from Unbridled Cowboy by Maisey Yates. Copyright © 2022 by Maisey Yates. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.


Buy Links:

BookShop.org

Harlequin

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

 

Author Website: http://www.maiseyyates.com/

Facebook: Maisey Yates

Twitter: @maiseyyates

Instagram: @MaiseyYates

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

SWEET HOME ALASKA by Jennifer Snow

 





SWEET HOME ALASKA

Author: Jennifer Snow

ISBN: 9781335448613

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Publisher: HQN Books


Book Summary:

 When old feelings resurface, will the truth bring them back together?

Skylar Beaumont never wanted to return to Alaska. Still, when duty calls, she can’t refuse. And, as a third-generation “Coastie” and the only female captain in the local coast guard, she has too much to prove. Being stationed in her hometown of Port Serenity isn’t ideal—but she’ll tough it out until her transfer goes through and she can move on to warmer waters. That’s the plan, at least, until she crashes into Dex Wakefield. Again.

Shocked to see his secret high school sweetheart after all this time, Dex can’t help but wonder if he should finally come clean. Skylar deserves to know the real reason why he abandoned the dream they’d shared—and broke her heart. But this small tourist town is home to one big grudge where their families are concerned… And leaving the past behind might be the only way Dex and Skylar will finally realize that their first love deserves a sweet second chance. 


EXCERPT


CHAPTER ONE

They say you can’t go home again. If only that were true.

As Skylar Beaumont drove past the town limit sign with its featured serpent queen, Sealena, welcoming visitors to Port Serenity, the weight of expectation immediately set­tled on her shoulders.

Could she really do this?

Her heart had been pounding since she’d deboarded the plane in Alaska, her insecurities barely contained during the two-hundred-mile drive to her hometown.

Her reflection in her coast guard uniform in the rearview was one she’d never doubted she’d achieve. A third genera­tion coastie, Skylar had been around the sea her entire life, fascinated by its mysteries, astonished by its paradoxical sense of danger and calm. She’d always known she’d follow in her father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. She just hadn’t exactly wanted to follow those legendary footsteps back to the jagged shores along her hometown.

Being stationed here meant that everyone would natu­rally assume she’d gotten this far this fast because of her family name…that her father or grandfather had had some influence over her unusually speedy career advancement. Nothing could be further from the truth. She’d busted her ass at the academy for four years, working harder than everyone else, putting in extra time and excelling in her courses. Then she’d worked alongside the experienced crew of the North Star cutter on the East Coast for two years, gaining her on-sea requirements to write the captain’s exam. And she’d aced it.

But maybe her last name had helped a little in securing the competitive spot at the academy in the first place…

Nope. She squared her shoulders and gripped the steer­ing wheel tighter as she fought against the self-doubt. She’d been accepted into the highly competitive program based on her transcripts, her letters of recommendation (not from anyone with her last name) and her own application letter. She’d earned her spot.

Still, expectations were high and she had a lot to prove.

She was there now and until she could request a transfer or apply for a new position, she’d have to make the best of it.

Pulling off the highway, she drove along Main Street, which cut through the center of town. It was just after nine, and the shops were flipping their Closed signs to Open. Tourist season hadn’t officially launched yet, but in the coming weeks, as the late spring weather turned milder, the town’s population would explode, nearly tripling with visitors. By summer, all the local inns would be full and the outdoor restaurant patios would be a constant flutter of laughter and loud music. The marina and beach would be hotspots for families, fishermen and water sport en­thusiasts.

Skylar scanned the familiar surroundings as she drove. She’d lived in Port Serenity her entire life. She’d loved it there as a child, especially during tourist season. She craved the bustle and all the strange, exciting faces of visitors flocking there for the chance to see Sealena for themselves.

A glimpse of the serpent sea witch was a rare occurrence indeed, but not an impossibility according to the old fishermen who were happy to recount their tall tales to anyone willing to listen, encouraging tourists to pay an outrageous price to get out on the water for the search themselves. It had been fun to see the renewed excitement on people’s faces as tourists arrived in Port Serenity for the first time.

Unfortunately, that excitement seemed to dull over the years as Skylar had learned what this popularity had cost the town. As she’d realized that Port Serenity really only be­longed to one family: the Wakefields. Their name adorned almost every awning on the main street. Wakefields’ Phar­macy, Wakefields’ Convenience and Grocery, Wakefields’ Outpost and Fishing Supply… The wealthy Wakefields had reinvented the town and in doing so, they basically owned it. It was no secret that the mayor consulted the family pa­triarch, Brian Wakefield, on every major decision.

And no one opposed. Everyone appreciated the security the Wakefields’ businesses had provided when the fishing industry had struggled to support families. The influx of tourists meant every local had a way to make a living. Like her cousin Carly, who ran the bookstore and local museum. Restaurants, inns, cafes and gift shops capitalized on the sea witch’s popularity and likeness, making enough dur­ing tourist season to keep afloat all year. It was hard to fault the Wakefields.

Unless of course you were a Beaumont.

Skylar’s own family had been generations of civil ser­vants, protecting the community they loved. Her great-great-grandfather, Castor Beaumont, had been a state trooper. It was rumored that he’d been responsible for ar­resting Earl Wakefield, his former childhood friend, on smuggling charges. The man had done time for bringing contraband into Alaska through Port Serenity; the town had been divided and the family feud between the Wakefields and Beaumonts had begun.

Small towns held long grudges.

As she turned the corner at the end of Main Street and the ocean came into view, her chest tightened. It felt as though things had frozen in time the day she left. The scene unfolding was eerily familiar. A father and his daughter stood on the water’s edge skipping rocks along the surface. An older woman sat on a graffiti-tagged concrete bench wearing a pensive expression as she stared at the waves and the sun rising over the horizon. A young couple strolled along the wooden pier, hand in hand, a young puppy ex­citedly walking ahead with a stick in its mouth. Farther down, a seniors’ group did sunrise yoga on the sandy area of the small beach and several fishermen enjoyed a morn­ing beer on the docks with their fishing poles doing the work along the shore.

On the other side of Marina Way, there were boarded-up beach huts that would open in the hotter summer months, selling ice cream, refreshments, swim gear and overpriced Sealena-themed souvenirs. Among them was a small hut that advertised adventure whale watching tours, bird island excursions and trips to the ice fields in winter.

In the distance, there was a small research cabin that housed the Marine Life Sanctuary and beyond that, a light­house stood high on the hill above. Sailboats and power boats lined the coastline below.

Everything looked exactly the same as the day she’d left.

Though her pulse raced as she approached the marina and the nondescript coast guard station, her heart swelled with pride at the sight of the Starlight docked there. With its deep V, double chine hull and all-aluminum construc­tion, the forty-five-foot response boat was designed for speed and stability in various weather conditions. Twin diesel engines with waterjet propulsion eliminated the need for propellers under the boat, making it safer in missions where they needed to rescue a person overboard. Combined with its self-righting capability to help with capsizing in rough seas, it had greater speed and maneuverability than the older vessels. The boat was the one thing she had total confidence in. And she would be in charge of it and a crew of five.

The crew was the tougher part. She was determined to gain their trust and respect. She was eager to show that she was one of them but also maintain a professional distance. Her father and grandfather made it look so easy, but she knew this would be her hardest challenge, to command a crew of familiar faces. People she’d grown up with, peo­ple who remembered her as the little girl who’d wear her father’s too-big captain hat as she sat in the captain’s chair in the pilothouse.

Did that hat finally fit now?

Weaving the rental car along the winding road, and seeing the familiar Wakefield family yacht docked in the marina, her heart pounded. The fifty-footer had always been the most impressive boat in the marina, even now that it was over thirty years old. Its owner, Kurt Wakefield, had lived on the yacht for twenty-five years.

Kurt had died the year before. Skylar peered through the windshield to look at it. Had someone else bought the boat? Large bumpers had been added to the exterior, and pull lines could be seen on deck. She frowned. Had it been turned into some sort of rescue boat?

It wasn’t unusual for civilians to aid in searches along the coast when requested, but the yacht was definitely an odd addition. There had never been a Wakefield who had shown interest in civil service to the community…except one.

The man standing on the upper deck now, pulling the lines. Wearing a pair of faded jeans and just a T-shirt, the muscles in his shoulders and back strained as he worked and Skylar’s mouth went dry. She slowed the vehicle, un­able to look away. Almost as if in slow motion, the man turned and their eyes met. Her breath caught as familiar­ity registered in his expression.

And unfortunately, the untimely unexpected sight of her ex-boyfriend—Dex Wakefield—had Skylar forgetting to hit the brakes as she reached the edge of the gravel lot next to the dock. Too late, her rental car drove straight off the edge and into the frigid North Pacific Ocean.

Holy shit.

Dex Wakefield dropped the lines he was securing and hopped over the side of his boat onto the pier, risking a sprained ankle at the ten-foot drop. He hurried at a break­neck pace toward where the small Fiat bobbed among sev­eral small ice pans, the hood sinking below the water.

Skylar Beaumont had made quite the unexpected en­trance.

Ignoring the chill in the late April air, Dex kicked off his shoes and jumped into the water.

Goose bumps covered his exposed flesh and his breath came in small pants as he tried to adapt to the shock. Ice bobbed next to him as he took a deep breath and dove below the surface in time to see Skylar open the driver’s side door and escape from the sinking vehicle.

Swimming toward her, he reached for her and wrapped an arm around her waist as they moved toward the dock. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Saving your life.”

She removed his arm from around her waist before grip­ping the wooden planks of the pier overhead. Her breath came in quick gasps and her teeth chattered. “I’m fine. I don’t need your help.”

His ex hadn’t changed, not one little bit. Still as inde­pendent and stubborn as ever.

He moved back an inch and treaded water as she climbed out onto the wooden dock. Her coast guard uniform dripped with water, and her tight blond bun was slicked to her head.

The sight might stir a reaction from him, if his limbs weren’t about to freeze off. He was actually grateful for the chilled water. It numbed the myriad of emotions he knew he’d be struggling with soon enough.

Skylar was back. She was standing right there. On the dock. In Port Serenity.

 

Excerpted from Sweet Home Alaska by Jennifer Snow. Copyright © 2022 by Jennifer Snow. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.


Buy Links:

BookShop.org

Harlequin

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

 

Author Bio: 

Jennifer Snow is a USA Today bestselling author and screenwriter of contemporary romance and thrillers. Her novels have won awards and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly. Mistletoe & Molly, a romcom adapted from her novella, aired on UPTV and Super Channel, and she has four new films airing in 2022. A Canadian living in Torrevieja, Spain, with her husband and son, she loves to travel and spend time near the ocean. More information can be found at jennifersnowauthor.com

Author Website: https://jennifersnowauthor.com/contact

Facebook: jennifersnowbooks

Twitter: @jennifersnow18

Instagram: jensnowauthor


Painted Scars by Neva Altaj

 

Painted Scars
Neva Altaj
(Perfectly Imperfect, #1)
Publication date: May 24th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Nina
Charming, captivating, and seductive,
And a cold-blooded killer.
But I married the Pakhan of the Russian Bratva anyway.
I had to; it was part of the deal.

Now, I’m faking marital bliss,
As I tremble with fear,
And I cannot wait to be out of the clutches of this ruthless man.

Roman
I get anything I desire.
And I want this perfectly imperfect little manipulator.

The way she can deceive anyone into believing she’s crazy in love with me,
Just makes me want her even more.

She doesn’t know it yet,
But I am not letting her go.
The deal – is off.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

(Nina POV)

“How much do you owe them?” I ask.
“Three million dollars.”
I stare at him with my mouth wide open. “Dear God, Dad.”
I bend down and place my forehead on my knees, trying to control my breathing. I’m not marriage material, no one in their right mind would offer three million dollars in exchange for six months of marriage. There must be a catch.
“He’s ninety, isn’t he?” I mumble into my knees.
“I don’t know how old their Pakhan is, but I don’t think he’s ninety.”
“Eighty then. I’m so relieved.” I’m going to be sick.
“They said it’ll be a marriage in name only. You won’t have to . . . you know.”
“Sleep with him? Well, if he’s eighty, then he probably can’t have sex. That’s good. Eighty is good.”


Author Bio:

Neva Altaj writes steamy contemporary mafia romance about damaged antiheroes and strong heroines who fall for them. She has a soft spot for crazy jealous, possessive alphas who are willing to burn the world to the ground for their woman.

Her stories are full of heat and unexpected turns, and a happily-ever-after is guaranteed every time.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / TikTok / Bookbub


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1