#SampleSunday - Hometown Hero

#SampleSundayMontana BornHometown Hero Tule PublishingHomecoming MariettaHalcyon Hotsprings

Welcome to Marietta!

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The cover of my new book is gorgeous, right? I wish I was as talented as the amazing staff at Tule Publishing. Alas, no. It took me all morning to craft this banner from a photo I'd taken a few years ago. MrC and I were celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary (we're actually high school sweethearts) and we took off to Halcyon Hot Springs in Nakusp. Here's another photo from that very relaxing weekend.

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Wish you were there? Me, too.

But enough nostalgia. I'm introducing my upcoming book to be published by Tule's Montana Born imprint. The stories in the various series are written by a number of award winning authors and are set in the fictional town of Marietta, Montana, full of ranchers, cowboys, bad boys and good girls.

I have two Marietta books coming this fall and a third planned for the spring. They're all linked, so once you meet Skye and Chase in Hometown Hero, you can visit them again in my Christmas book, Blame The Mistletoe, and then again in early 2015. Trust me, Marietta is a place you want to come back to.

Note: My Marietta stories are novellas so they're shorter than my Harlequin Presents. (HPs usually weigh in at around 180 printed pages. These novellas are more like 100 pages and yes, you'll be able to get a print copy via Print On Demand. I'll have more info on that soon and will share it in a later post.)

Hometown Hero will have an introductory price, one day only of ninety-nine cents ($0.99)! Sometimes Amazon doesn't make the switch right away and you can squeak that discounted price a day before or after the sale date, but if you want to be sure to get this at $0.99 then plan to grab it on September 29th. And sometimes those discounts aren't available outside the US. These are things beyond my control. I'm sorry.

So what's this story about? Here's the back cover blurb:

Skye Wolcott planned to marry, have children, and live happy ever after in her hometown of Marietta, Montana. Then her marriage imploded in a cloud of scandal. Now she’d be happy if people would just stop talking about her.

Chase Goodwin worked hard to get away from Marietta, where poverty colored his past. Living his dream as a major league baseball player, he has no reason to return beyond helping his half-brother escape as successfully. The last thing Chase would consider is staying.

Then he sees Skye Wolcott, a girl he always had a thing for in high school. They get off to a rough start, but are soon carrying on like high schoolers. Chase wants her to join his fast-paced, larger than life world, but Skye’s a small town girl at heart. Can she convince him that Homecoming is more than a game, and he’s back where he belongs?

Want more? Here's the opening few pages:

~ * ~

Chase Goodwin was in the one place he had never wanted to come back to, especially in September: Marietta Senior Secondary.

At least he was in the gymnasium, the part of the school he could tolerate if he wasn’t on the field. Watching a basketball game would have been his preference, but it was a school dance complete with the kind of club music he hated. Not that he’d minded the dances so much ten years ago. The girls were as giddy and nubile as he remembered, but so young. They nearly leapt out of their skin to land on a boy. The boys were all limbs and pimples. Had he overflowed with that much fascination coupled with terror back then?

“It’s like watching kittens and puppies,” he said to Max beside him, one- time catcher to his pitch when it wasn’t football season. Max was a good four inches taller than his own six two and was twice as wide. He’d taken over Mr. Kelton’s job running the P.E. department and watched the poorly lit, gamboling teenagers like he was watching the progress of a game, ready to shout orders to pass.

Max flashed a grin. “You said you wanted to know what your brother was up to.”

No, what he’d said was, If you want some help with the teams, I’d love to keep busy while I keep an eye on my brother. Max had put in a good word for him with the new football coach, Mitch Holden. In exchange, Max had roped Chase into chaperone duty. So here he was, suckered into reffing body contact at a dance to raise money for the homecoming float.

Another slender, ripening body swished across his field of vision. Don’t look, he reminded himself, but—hold the phone. He recognized that ass.

Deep in the back of his brain, where a crew was supposed to be working to retrieve her name, every single cell dropped his tools to take a long drink of the female that had paused about ten feet away to talk to his old classmate, Chelsea Collier.

The woman was a knockout, athletic and tight beneath a red plaid shirt knotted at her waist. Faded blue jeans hugged her firm round ass and were painted against long thighs before they disappeared into sassy red cowboy boots. Her shiny brown hair cut a precise line across her shoulder blades, held off her face by a headband like Alice in Wonderland’s—exactly the way she’d always worn it and it was still too innocent a look for a body like that.

He couldn’t hear her over the music, but the way she leaned close to Chelsea and gestured gave an impression of animation and humor. From her profile, he could see pale, clear skin without so much as a freckle to mar it. Her cheek rounded and he glimpsed perfect teeth, braces gone. She smiled and nodded.

Brown eyes, he recalled, even though he couldn’t see them. She had melty brown eyes like a baby animal. The kind that made you want to cuddle her to your chest so she wouldn’t get stepped on. She used to look at him like that when he came up to his locker and she was already at hers. She’d hide behind her door and watch him like she didn’t quite trust him.
Maybe she’d known she made him hard.

Skye Wolcott.

God, he hadn’t thought about her in years. He’d made a concerted effort to forget everything about this town except to send money home and check in with his brother as often as possible. His reaction to Skye was as strong as he remembered, though. He tried to turn it off, exactly the way he had intentionally resisted the lure of her then. She’d been taken and so had he. She’d also been a lifer, obviously intending to die here in Marietta. He’d been determined to get a scholarship, preferably baseball, and leave. He’d set her on the out-of-bounds shelf and barely chucked her a Hey when he saw her.

He was ready to talk now. Hey girl. Damn.

“You’re staring, dude,” Max said, keeping his own eyes forward.

“That Skye Wolcott?” he asked, pretending he wasn’t sure. Pretending that was the only reason he was asking. Pretending he wasn’t blindsided by old lust that threatened his well-developed, no distractions, determination.

A blank pause before Max gave a jerky nod. “Yeah. She goes by her married name, Mrs. Baynard. It took me a sec to remember that’s who she used to be.”

Married? Fuck.

Oops. Where the hell had that come from?

Wait, “Terry Baynard? She married him?” Dusty pieces of history fell together, reminding him of the other reason he’d held off pursuing her.

“Yeah. People are saying she turned him gay.” Max rolled his eyes at the small-minded concept. “They’re divorced now. He moved to San Francisco, but she still uses his name. I don’t get how they’re still friends when he lied to her all that time and she was as shocked as anyone when he came out, but I guess they are.”

Chase stared at Skye’s back, dumbfounded. And a tiny bit uncomfortable. She must have known Terry was gay. Maybe the guy had been deep in the closet, but he’d known Terry was gay. He’d honest-to-God believed she was Terry’s beard. He had thought she was being nice to a guy who was obviously terrified of being found out, which had made him like her even though he barely knew her. He hadn’t totally understood why a girl like Skye Wolcott, with so much to offer, would tie herself up like that, but he hadn’t seen the point in going after her, wrecking Terry’s setup, when he wasn’t sticking around.

“So she’s not married,” he said, grasping at the most important detail.

“Yeah, but she’s not interested,” Max said matter-of-factly. He was married with two kids so his dismissive warning wasn’t male possessiveness. It was the tone they used to take when out-of-town players thought they could hit on the local girls. Small town wasn’t all small minds. There were things about it, people here that were nice. They were a community, a team. They looked out for each other. Chase knew that and respected it.

“I’m not interested either,” he drawled. “Especially if she has the power to turn men gay—”

Oh shit. The music stopped. His voice, pitched to carry over the pulsing beat, came out nice and loud and hit Skye right between the shoulder blades. He saw her back jerk like an arrow had struck the middle of her spine. She turned and her vulnerable brown eyes weren’t the least bit soft and helpless.

Her eyes narrowed, dark and ferocious, wounded and angry. They fixed on him like the dark spiral of a tornado seeking its touchdown point.

Oh hell.

~ * ~

What do you think? I hope you liked it, but if small town's not your thing, don't worry. My next Harlequin Presents, The Russian's Acquisition, is coming November 1st and that one is available for pre-order.

I'll also have a Goodreads Giveaway for The Russian's Acquisition starting in a couple of weeks.

If you're a fan of my Makricosta Series, you'll be thrilled to know I've turned in Demitri's story. I'm awaiting revisions and don't want to jinx anything, but I expect him to come out sometime mid-2015.

I have another Presents to write by the end of the year and that third Marietta story. While I was away I did make notes on what I want to accomplish next year. It's typically ambitious. We'll see how I go.

I'm starting to concentrate on my fall titles, but here's a last look at my summer books, which are still available:

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All my Harlequin titles are available on the Mills & Boon UK site. eHarlequin and Mills & Boon Aus have them too.

Prefer Amazon? US | Canada | UK | India | Germany | Brazil | Spain | Italy | Japan | Australia 

These other fine retailers have my books too:

Nook | KoboARe | BooksaMillion | ChaptersIndigo | iBooks

Thanks so much for continuing to visit. Now that Demitri has been delivered, I'm taking a few days to catch up on things and hope to be finally, finally back to a regular posting schedule. Have a great weekend.