#SampleSunday - Hometown Hero (4)

#SampleSundayGiveawaysGoodreads GiveawayHometown HeroHomecoming MariettaBlame The MistletoeMakricosta DynastyRecipes

UPDATED Sept 28th, 4:00pm: Hometown Hero is available. Buy at 99c before Sep 30th!

Count down to launch day. I'm so excited! And there's lots to cover (new giveaways and a recipe!) so keep reading.


First I wanted to mention that I was finalizing the newsletter for Hometown Hero Launch Day before I started this blog post and I pulled the latest winner from my newsletter subscribers. Morgan from Connecticut has won a signed copy of The Russian's Acquisition.

Want in on that action? Join my newsletter!. Bonus reason: Hometown Hero will have a special introductory release price of 99c. I will send you my newsletter Monday morning as a reminder to get Hometown Hero before the price goes up.

I also wanted to clear up a small spot of confusion about Blame The Mistletoe (which you can pre-order here. That's the confusing bit. Blame The Mistletoe has gone up on NetGalley so some lucky readers are getting a sneak peek at it and they haven't got access to Hometown Hero yet. They are wondering if Blame The Mistletoe is part of a series and yes, it is meant to be read after Hometown Hero.

I also wanted to remind you that Hometown Hero is one of five in a series set during Homecoming in Marietta, Montana. Here's the line-up of authors who collaborated on this series along with the release dates for their titles:

And now, #SampleSunday...

Please keep reading after this for a chance to enter for the Hometown Hero Prize Package and other giveaways.

If you've missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

  1. Chase caught an eyeful of Skye. Then he said something stupid.
  2. Skye gives Chase an earful. Then she feels stupid.
  3. Skye was caught on camera. And feels extra-super stupid.

Chase feels pretty bad about the whole thing too:

~ * ~

“She’s not a wing-nut. I won’t say that,” Chase insisted wearily to the team’s publicist.

His phone had exploded last night, about fifteen minutes after they got home. Flynn had elbowed his lanky, teenaged frame into Chase’s room and said, One of the guys got Ms. Baynard’s meltdown on his phone. He posted it while we were at the dance. I just told him to take it down, but it’s already been shared like a hundred times.

Chase had just stared at his brother. He was here to keep Flynn’s life under control, not lose his grasp on his own. The players in the series were the ones under the media microscope right now, not the guy who was out with an injury, leaving his team at the bottom of the standings. He’d been so relieved by the idea of coasting under the radar for the next few months, he’d actually been pissed when he’d learned the town wanted to honor him with Quinn Douglas and a handful of other outstanding local athletes. Quinn deserved it, but not him. He felt like a tool.

Now they were up into the hundred-thousand territory of shares on YouTube. Network news was asking for a statement.

“So you don’t want to refute anything she said?” the publicist demanded in a surly voice.

“I don’t have a tiny dick! Let’s get that straight,” he growled.

An hour later he dropped Flynn at school and met up with the physiotherapist he was supposed to visit twice weekly while he was here. The scar from the surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff was healing nicely, but bringing all the muscles back to full strength and range of motion was taking more time. The kind of time that had already been making him antsy when he’d thought Flynn and everything else in Marietta was fine. He hated downtime, preferring the intensity of being caught up in the season: the training, the need to keep his head in the game. Some found the demands exhausting, but he found them a perfect distraction from the mess of real life.

Messes like Flynn taking up drinking and getting kicked off the football team.

All his life, Chase had had one goal: Don’t grow up like the old man. That had meant leaning toward baseball over football, which had been his father’s first love and ultimate downfall. Not making the cut for a college team had sent his dad into a bottle and he’d never come out.

Chase and Flynn had inherited their father’s natural athleticism, but now Chase worried Flynn had inherited the same destructive thirst as well.

He wanted to believe that one Friday night of being a jackass did not a drunkard make, but he’d been out with his injury so he’d flown home to yank his half-brother back onto the straight and narrow. A few heart-to-hearts with Max, Mitch Holden and the other coaches, and he’d earned Flynn a chance to keep up with practice on his various teams. Flynn would bench-warm through the next few games, but sport had been Chase’s salvation through high school. Flynn had potential if he would only keep at it. If nothing else, Chase prayed that having a sober father-figure show up and act like he gave a damn would carry some influence.

The fact he was a god to some of Flynn’s posse was a plus. They wanted to hang with him so Flynn didn’t have to make excuses or feel torn between his brother and his friends. He and Flynn got on well, regardless. Flynn’s mother—and her pregnancy with Flynn—might have been the reason Chase’s mother had left, but he didn’t blame his kid brother. At least Flynn’s mother had stuck with their dad.

She’d been the main breadwinner until Chase had been old enough to get a real job. That had meant Chase had been the babysitter, dragging Flynn with him if he wanted to go anywhere, balancing him on the handlebars of his bike so he could make practice. Later, Flynn had met him at the feed store after school where Flynn had waited out Chase’s four-hour shift, asking Chase for help with his homework between Chase’s spurts of loading and unloading trucks.

He hadn’t felt good about leaving Flynn when he was drafted, even though his step-mom had had a decent paying job by then. Now he wondered yet again if it had been a mistake, but everything he’d accomplished since leaving Marietta had allowed him to keep a roof over their heads. He and Flynn had talked more than once about Flynn coming to live with him, but Flynn liked his friends here and Marietta was a solid town full of solid people, even if their father wasn’t one of them.

Chase really felt he’d done the best he could and he was here now, when Flynn was struggling. That had to count for something. Flynn was a good kid at heart, he reminded himself, just going through the typical strains and growing pains of approaching graduation and adulthood.

He hoped that’s all it was. He’d find out while he was here. His entire focus for the rest of the month would be Flynn.

If he could work up the nerve to go into the school and collect the forms that would allow him to hang around students and help with extra-curricular events.

Damned background checks. He’d told Max he would go all-in. Parent driver, chaperone, whatever they needed. Just get the forms from the office, Max had said.

It had sounded like a five-minute formality, but that had been before the school secretary had publicly disemboweled him.

Now that formality had become an entry into the Gorgon’s cave. He’d texted Max this morning, asking if he could pick up the forms for him. Max’s response: Hell no. Max had felt bad last night, saying, I shouldn’t have said anything to you about it. I know better. A town like this, you can’t move on if everyone keeps bringing up your shit.

Chase knew something about that, growing up overhearing neighbors talking about his dad, watching people shake their heads with pity and disgust when they heard he was Gary Goodwin’s boy. Just thinking about it brought back the sick knot in his belly, the one he used to get before a game, knowing some jerk from a neighboring team would trash talk about his father, trying to get a rise out of him. Trying to get him thrown from the game for fighting.

It’s why he’d been so anxious to leave town. Hell, he liked Montana. He liked the big sky and the clean air. Sitting in the car in the school parking lot, window open, he took a moment to drink in the sweetly familiar scent of a late summer morning in Marietta. The mower was taking down the grass on the field, the sun was baking dust onto the asphalt, the pines were sweating just enough to tinge the breeze with their faint scent. It smelled like a promise.

Rock music approached with the rumble of an engine. A kid with his mother’s car pulled in and slung a backpack over his shoulder. He gave Chase a double-take and a crooked, slightly puzzled grin. He obviously recognized him and wondered what he was doing sitting in the school parking lot.


Maybe Skye had called in sick.

Maybe he could apologize and smooth the whole thing over.

Maybe he should just do it.

Leaving the rented SUV, he trailed the kid and entered that unique sound of a school with classes in session, teachers’ voices rising indistinctly above the restlessness of students who resented putting their social lives on hold.

They’d painted. He’d noticed that last night. Had a few more trophies in the case.

Quit stalling. He forced his feet to take him to the office.

Ah hell, there she was, turning away to hang up her phone then swinging back around in her chair to her computer screen, face pale, expression stoic, gaze lifting as she realized someone was at the open door.

Her eyes widened and he heard her thoughts in the persecution that flashed across her face. Are you serious right now?

~ * ~

This is my last excerpt from Hometown Hero. I'm sad, too. The scene after this one is a very fun few minutes where Chase is all sexy and Skye is all flustered. He actually feels like a massive tool after and they still aren't finished bumping into each other. Small towns!

But you'll have to buy the book if you want to read it because next week I have to switch up to The Russian's Acquisition, which comes out November 1st.

However, you can keep reading about Marietta. I've started a new #TeaserTuesday series from the story that follows Hometown Hero. Read the first pages of Blame The Mistletoe here.


As I said, lots to cover on this topic:

  • My Goodreads Giveaway for The Russian's Acquisition has started and runs until October 23rd. (scroll down)
  • Starting Sept 29th, I have a Hometown Hero prize package up for grabs. Enter before October 5th. (scroll down)
  • In October, there will be a special promotion with a bunch of Tule/Montana Born authors for a $500 Visa Gift Card. I know! You'll definitely want to enter that! It will run October 6th-20th and I'll post the links here and on my Facebook Page.
  • In late October, I'll have a Blame The Mistletoe Package (similar to Hometown Hero one) which will likely run for about a week.
  • Finally, sometime in November, I'll have a Facebook party with lots of giveaways from my author friends so you can hopefully win some romances to help keep you warm through those long winter months.

Here's the Goodreads Giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Russian's Acquisition by Dani Collins

The Russian's Acquisition

by Dani Collins

Giveaway ends October 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

And you can enter the Hometown Hero giveaway after September 29th here:

Hometown Hero Giveaway

Want to be sure you don't miss a new release? You can pre-order The Russian's Acquisition here and pre-order Blame The Mistletoe here.

Need something to read while you wait for all these new releases? May I suggest you start on:

The Makricosta Dynasty


Harlequin has marked down the digital copy of More Than A Convenient Marriage? by $2.00 until September 28th.)

Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk are also still showing a sale price. Hurry. I'm not sure how long those will last.

Note that the N.American version is a 2in1. Those are the first two books in this series. If you haven't read them yet, this is a great time to start since the book I'm currently revising, Seduced Into The Greek's World, is Book Four (Demitri's story). If you like to read in order, it goes:

  1. No Longer Forbidden?
  2. More Than A Convenient Marriage?
  3. An Heir To Bind Them
  4. Seduced Into The Greek's World (releases mid-2015)

All my Harlequin titles are available on Mills & Boon UK, eHarlequin and Mills & Boon Aus.

Prefer Amazon?
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These other fine retailers have my books too:
Nook | KoboARe | BooksaMillion | ChaptersIndigo | iBooks

Want to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...etc? Click here for Dani's Social Media links and take your pick.

Somehow the entire morning has got away from me. We're prepping for new flooring, had some people drop by, and I have a recipe for Hungarian Goulash I've been dying to make (thank you Natasha Pow!) Would you like to try it too? I'll post it below and sign off, because I really have to get back to revisions on Seduced Into The Greek's World.

Have a great weekend!

Goulash Soup

1 kg (2.2 lb) beef or venison
2 tbsp flour
Vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, leaves and all, diced
1 red pepper, seededand diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tbsp good sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tbsp caraway seeds, crushed (good luck with that)
4 tbsp (1/4 C) tomato paste
3 bay leaves
2 litres (3 ½ pints) beef stock
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped in small cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream (garnish)
Flat-leaf parsley (garnish)

Preparation method:
1. Trim the meat and cut into bit-sized chunks. In a large bowl, mix the flour with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss so that all the chunks are dusted with flour.
2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and brown the beef in small batches, setting each batch aside while you brown the next. Take care not to crowd the pan or the beef will steam rather than brown.
3. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan, add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until they start to soften. Add the beef, paprika, caraway seeds, tomato paste and bay leaves, then pour in the beef stock.
4. Stir well, cover the pan and simmer for at least 90 minutes until the beef starts to become tender. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Check the seasoning before serving.
5. Serve the soup in bowls with a generous swirl of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley.