Archive for the ‘Adult Fiction’ Category

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Title: THE KILL CLUB

Author: James Glass

BLURB

Welcome to The Kill Club—an informal men’s club is set in a luxurious hunting lodge located on twenty-thousand acres of Pensacola, Florida woodlands. The members gather to hunt the homeless, streetwalkers, and others deemed lowlifes.


After serving in the military, Navy SEAL Nick Sparrow decides to start a new career in his hometown of Pensacola. A freak winter storm pummels the area and he crashes his muscle car. Forced to hitchhike, he crosses paths with a member of the Kill Club who mistakenly thinks Nick is a vagrant.


Nick left a life of danger in Afghanistan only to be hunted by men from his own country. Swept up in the battle of his life, he will need to use all his skills to survive both the Kill Club and the freezing weather.

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Title: Slide Tackled

Author: Tonya Clark
Genre: Sports Romance
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Cover Design: Cover Lovin’ Designs by Jessa Russo

The Game: One-on-one.
The bet: Loser pays with their heart.

After four years of losing herself in a relationship that was all about her ex, Devyn Hansley’s new beginning presents itself when her soccer pro, playboy brother invites her to move in with him.
Devyn’s plan to stay away from relationships is sidelined when she meets the team’s deaf goalkeeper, and her anti-dating rule flies quickly out the window.
Kasen Mickelson know the rules when it comes to dating her best-friends’s sister: stay far, far away. But the wager was her idea–and Devyn doesn’t seem like the type of woman who likes to lose.
And Kasen’s certainly not going to let her win.
USA Today Bestselling Author Tonya Clark, lives in Southern California with her hot firefighter hubby and two amazing daughters. She writes contemporary romance featuring second chance, sports, MC, shifters, suspense, and deaf culture-inspired by her youngest daughter.
 
When not hiding in the office writing, Tonya has the amazing job of photographing hot cover models, coaching multiple soccer teams, and running her day job.
 
Tonya Believes everyone deserves their Happily Ever After!
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Title: Lady and the Vamp

Series: Mystical Matchmakers #2
Author: C.C. Wood
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Paranormal RomCom
Release Date: May 23, 2022
Astra may be a Valkyrie, but on the battlefield of love, she can’t win.
 
Every man she dates is boring, intimidated by her, or treats her like one of the guys. She has nothing against beer and wings at a sports bar, but to be wined and dined once in a while isn’t too much to ask, right?
 
Between her mother’s “suitable” Vikings and the supernatural dating service, Mystical Matchmakers, neither seem to be able to get it right.
 
 
Rune is a good-looking, successful vampire. The only people he kills are in the books he writes, yet every relationship he has seems to fizzle before he takes it to the next level.
 
Desperate for something deeper, he joins Mystical Matchmakers, and is immediately smitten by the tall, beautiful Valkyrie. Their first date is fantastic and Rune just knows that she’s perfect for him.
Until he hits an unexpected obstacle—her family.
 
Can their relationship survive a fight with the people Astra loves the most?
 

Born and raised in Texas, C.C. Wood writes saucy paranormal and contemporary romances featuring strong, sassy women and the men that love them. If you ever meet C.C. in person, keep in mind that many of her characters are inspired by people she knows, so anything you say or do is likely to end up in a book one day.
A self-professed hermit, C.C. loves to stay home, where she reads, writes, cooks, and watches TV. She can usually be found drinking coffee or a cocktail as she spends time with her hubby and daughter..
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Title: The Archer Brothers Box Set

Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Suspense Romance
Release Date: May 20, 2022
The Archer Brothers
 
Here with Me
A mission gone wrong
Choose Me
Brothers torn apart
Save Me
A race against time
Here with Us
A new beginning
Choose Us
A life changing decision

Here With Me → “A heart wrenching tale of love, romance, and suspense. A Definite Must Read!”

Choose Me → “This book is, to date, the best work of Heidi McLaughlin. The emotions that you feel for everyone involved moves you to tears at times.”

Save Me → “McLaughlin will have you frantically turning pages and make your heart beat faster because each page has something more surprising than the one before it. You’ll be dying to see what happens next!”

Here With Us → “I don’t know how she does it but every time Heidi McLaughlin brings something new to the table. Her stories are amazing and this one just adds so much to the Archer clan I already adore.”

Choose Us → “This one came with all kinds of twist and turns you never saw coming. I stayed on the edge of my seat and could not stop reading, as I needed to know more.”

Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.
Originally, from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband, two daughters, and their three dogs.
In 2012, Heidi turned her passion for reading into a full-fledged literary career, writing over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Forever My Girl.
When writing isn’t occupying her time, you can find her sitting courtside at either of her daughters’ basketball games.
Heidi’s first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe, and opened in theaters on January 19, 2018.
To stay connected with Heidi visit www.facebook.com/authorheidimclaughlin or heidimclaughlin.com
 
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Title: Formula for Love: A Nerdy Friends to Lovers Romance

Series: Excelling @ Love Book One
Author: Amelia Simone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 20, 2022
 
 
 
✰✰✰✰✰ Review – “The story is adorable, Rita and Ed are charming and lovely, and I want to be their friends! I loved this book!”
 
✰✰✰✰✰ Review – “A nicefun read with plenty of chuckles throughout the story.”
Can the Excel junkie and his new bestie with benefits design a lasting relationship given the right variables, or is their formula for love riddled with miscalculation?
Rita Ryan:
What happens when the World’s Hottest Nerd asks you for an extrovert adoption? You friend him, of course. Swapping favors lets you ask him to review your resume and helps you land the interview of your dreams. Maybe you exchange hopes…future plans…kisses. But you definitely don’t give Ed your heart. After all, love was never in the plan.
Ed Delancey:
How do you handle it when your scheme to make new friends lands you with the woman of your dreams? You hang on and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. The saucy grad student may know how to push your buttons, reveling in bringing you to the brink, but her job search makes her strictly off-limits. Hiring her is out of the question. Ditto, giving her your love.
Alternately steamy, nerdy, and sweet, the Excelling @ Love Series follows a group of strong women as they find love in their small college town. Filled with feel-good romance, found family, and flirty banter, the Excelling @ Love books are happy hour for the soul.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Amelia Simone is a reader turned writer based in the Pacific Northwest. Along with caring for her young family and enjoying food and wine adventures with her husband, she spends a lot of time in the backyard gardening and reading during her free time. (If you plant enough stuff, no one notices if you accidentally kill off half.)

When the weather cooperates, you can find her on her deck sipping coffee and writing her next book. Amelia believes that everyone has a little frog in ‘em, and a little royalty too. She enjoys writing light, hopeful romance about everyday people with the banter and teasing that make life fun. When the real world gets to be too much, she moves on to the sci-fi world she created for a little paranormal relief.


 
 
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Title: Rival Radio

Author: Kathryn Nolan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 20, 2022
These two on-air enemies can’t stop rubbing each other the wrong way in the booth…and the right way in bed.
Theo
Whoever said “keep your enemies close” never had to share a small, dark sound booth with her. Daria Stone is the infuriating host of “Choosing Yourself.” The name is almost as ridiculous as the concept. Permanently single? Please. The woman’s made a career out of rejecting everything I stand for.
I’m looking for the one. The right woman who’s ready for marriage and a lifetime together. Not some sultry, stubborn vixen who makes my life a living hell and insists a husband can be replaced by a curated collection of bedroom toys. And I know she’s wearing those skin-tight leather pants just to annoy me.
Daria
Dr. Theo Chadwick is a professional pain in my…workplace. Sure—on the outside, the man is gorgeous. But he’s also obsessed with finding his better half and getting his radio show, “True Romance,” syndicated so he can give false hope to lovelorn listeners everywhere.
He keeps pushing my buttons with his arrogant “expertise” about how wrong I am. I just want to see him snap. Maybe that’s how I ended up here, pinned against a wall with my legs wrapped around his waist…whoops…
Can these enemies put their feud on hold and play nice in a shared timeslot to save their popular beach town radio station? Or will their sparks burn everything to the ground?
Author’s Note: One-click if you love forced proximity, breakroom bickering, “we’re just getting it out of our system” one-night stands, a rag-tag crew of DJs, and beachy, retro boardwalk magic.
 

Theo: You’re listening to K-SUN FM, radio for the people. And it is a gorgeous Friday here in Sunrise Beach. I’m your host….what, may I ask, are you looking at?

Daria: Me? Nothing. Nothing at all. Just sharing the airwaves with my favorite coworker. The one who never annoys me by being a smug jerk with a stick up his —

Theo: Oh, yes please, do entertain our listeners with your creative insults, Daria. It will only make people respect our new show more.

Daria: I think the listeners like it. I think the listeners agree with me that you, Dr. Theodore Chadwick, need to loosen up a little. Have some fun. Go wild. When was the last time you got laid?

Theo: None of your business. And that’s also not the only way a person can go wild. Long walks on the beach. A candle-lit dinner just for two. A romantic ride on the —

Daria *muttering*: You are so fucking boring it’s insufferable.

Theo: The fact that you find romantic gestures to be ‘boring’ and ‘insufferable’ shows me that whoever risked your wrath in the past to bring you a bouquet of flowers was doing it all wrong. Maybe you just need someone to do it right.

Daria: Oh, and that person would be you, I’m guessing?
Theo *smirks*: Please, Daria, I spend way too many hours of my life with you in this damn sound booth. Taking you on a date is my idea of a waking nightmare, yet I’m wondering why you’d jump to that conclusion. You weren’t…asking me on a date, were you?

Daria: Is the sky purple? Have frogs started falling from clouds? Has a portal from Hell suddenly opened up and —

Theo: Why I thought I could ask a simple…listen, just tell them why we’re here? Please?

Daria:…our book comes out in seven days. Friday, May 20th. Be there or, uh…miss out on whatever shitshow is happening between me and the good doctor over there, currently gripping his microphone like he’s about to break it in half.

Theo: You are….very frustrating to me. As you, the listeners, our entire staff and all of Sunrise Beach is aware of now.

Daria: Such a gentleman. Oh, look, here come the frogs now.
Kathryn Nolan is an adventurous hippie chick and loves to write steamy romance. Her books are filled with slow-burn sexual tension, memorable characters, tons of heart — and are often set in wild and beautiful locations.
 
Kathryn started her writing career in elementary school, writing about Star Wars and Harry Potter and inventing love stories in her many journals. She blames her obsession with slow-burn on her similar obsession for The X-Files.
 
Kathryn is a wanderer at heart, and loves to spend her free time hiking, camping, and traveling in her camper van (“Van Morrison”) with her cute, nerdy husband and Walter, their rescue pup. Kathryn is a Philly girl who just moved back home after spending more than 8 years living in Northern California — and six months traveling across the country in her camper van.
 
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Series: The Malone Brothers 
Titles: A Kiss Beneath the Stars, In Your Arms, His to Hold, Finding Forever with You
Author: S.L. Sterling
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Thunderstruck Cover Design
~ AVAILABLE NOW ~
I’d never needed a week away with my brothers so bad until I’d broken up with my girlfriend. Sun, sand, surf and a few drinks to pass the nights away. The female persuasion was the farthest thing from my mind…that was until I lock eyes with the stunning brunette sitting on the other side of the bar.


She turned those pretty grey-blue eyes on me, and it was that moment that I set my sights on her. It didn’t take me long to figure out that she was there alone, even though every time she’d make eye contact with me, she’d glance over her shoulder like she was waiting for someone. It wasn’t my style to gawk, but she was damn cute.

I’ll never forget my first conversation with her either. My brothers and I had decided to move the party from the bar to my hotel room. Things got loud, and before I knew it she was standing on the other side of my door. I was even more surprised to find her wearing nothing but a short t-shirt. Only she wasn’t here to join the party, instead she was raging with anger at the fact we’d kept her up half the night.

As she walked away from me, pulling her t-shirt down to cover herself it was then I decided I was determined to show this uptight but gorgeous woman how to have a little fun. What started out as a fling for me, quickly grows into something more. As vacation ends, we agree to keep seeing one another, but soon I find her pushing me away. Scars from her past have her terrified of the future, and I fear our love will be over before it even begins. I just need to figure out how to convince her that we are worth fighting for.

Those searching for a sizzling contemporary romance that tugs at the heartstrings need to look no further than A Kiss Beneath the Stars by USA Today Best Selling Author S.L. Sterling!

You don’t realize how the small day to day struggles of family life combined with running a successful business can affect your marriage, until it’s too late. They leave you too exhausted to deal with the big things that truly matter.


I knew things had been strained between Hope and me. So, when she suggested going away for our 10th wedding anniversary I couldn’t say no. She’d planned for weeks and after a couple of hours together we were just beginning to get intimate. That was when my phone began blowing up. There was an emergency with two of my clients and I had no choice but to put an end to our getaway. I figured she would understand, she always understands, but it didn’t hit me just how far we’d fallen until I saw the disappointment line her face.

I offered to take her with me, that we’d celebrate our anniversary together there, but she refused. Instead, as soon as the wheels of the plane touched the ground, I found a text message from her accusing me of having an affair. Now doubts, fears and uncertainties of the past resurface while I rush back home to save what is left of my crumbling family and repair the rocky ground we are treading.

From USA Today Bestselling Author S.L. Sterling comes this insightful artistry of the hopes and trappings of a real-life love story.

I was in the middle of the biggest merger of my career when my love life took a nosedive. My now ex-girlfriend wouldn’t leave my apartment, so I moved into my office, only to be caught by my brothers one morning after I’d gone on a bender.


Angry and bothered that I’d violated company policies more than once I was put on a two-week forced vacation effective immediately. One week into what was supposed to be peaceful solitude to get my life back on tract, I decided to cut my trip short and return to work. Instead, I end up stranded at the airport during the worst snowstorm of the year.

That was when I saw her. Mia, my best friend’s sister, all grown up and intoxicatingly beautiful. It had been twenty years since we’d laid eyes on each other, yet the chemistry still crackles between us. Soon, one thing leads to another and we find ourselves riding out the storm in the most enticing way, tangled in bed sheets.

The girl who held my attention all those years ago, now holds my heart. But when we are forced to go head-to-head in the boardroom will our second chance be over before it even begins.

Fans of steamy office romance, with a friends-to-lovers twist, will be gripping the copy machine and swooning over His to Hold by USA Today Best Selling Author, S.L. Sterling

My best friend Sophie was gorgeous, at times uptight and desperate.

Her biological clock was ticking and after yet another failed relationship she pulled me aside.
“Listen Chase, you know I adore you and you know I need you. Historically, you always come through for me.” She swallowed hard while I listened. “It’s no secret that I want a baby, the semi old fashioned way.”
I nodded not really believing what I was hearing.
“I want you to do it.”
“You want my swimmers?”
“Yes, through natural injection.”
Sex with my best friend. The best friend I had once upon a time wanted in a bad way.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got this covered,” I assured her. She looked relieved and maybe even a little excited.
Seven Days, Six nights, and lots of sex. What more could I want?
Oh right. A way to turn this into forever so I could raise my child too.
From USA Today Bestselling Author comes this friends to lovers romance filled with laughter, love and heartbreak you do not want to miss.

 
S.L. Sterling was born and raised in southern Ontario. She now lives in Northern Ontario Canada and is married to her best friend and soul mate and their two dogs. 
An avid reader all her life, S.L. Sterling dreamt of becoming an author. She decided to give writing a try after one of her favorite authors launched a course on how to write your novel. This course gave her the push she needed to put pen to paper and her debut novel “It Was Always You” was born. 
When S.L. Sterling isn’t writing or plotting her next novel she can be found curled up with a cup of coffee, blanket and the newest romance novel from one of her favorite authors on her e-reader. Her favorite authors include Kendall Ryan, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward, Lauren Blakely, Alessandra Torre and Willow Winters. 
In her spare time, she enjoys camping, hiking, sunny destinations, spending quality time with family and friends and of course reading.
 
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Title: Possessing the Princess
Series: Global Outlaws Syndicate World
Author: Rie Warren
Genre: Dark Mafia Standalone
Release Date: May 20, 2022

ARIS
I want her.
And what I want, I take.
She isn’t the first thing in my life that’s off limits.
But she will be the last.
 
ROYA
I didn’t know The Lykos was his nightclub, not at first. I didn’t realize the sexy half Greek half Russian man was the criminal mastermind behind Dubai’s thriving mafia underworld either. I’m not even supposed to be roaming around on my own, outside of the royal palace where my father the Sheikh rules my very existence, but I just can’t resist the lure of dancing . . . the lure of that man, Aris Volkov.
 
After one night at The Lykos—when the club comes under attack by my deranged uncle—I’m forced from one captivity to another. That’s right. Aris takes me. He kidnaps me. He despises my father as much as I do, and he’s just ruthless enough to use me to get what he wants . . . absolute vengeance.
 
I used to fantasize about Aris but now I’m determined to hate him. Easier said than done. He treats me like his own personal plaything, introducing me to delights of the flesh. He doesn’t care that I’m a royal princess. That my modesty has been protected all my life. That I have zero experience with men and I’m embarrassingly out of my depths.
Badass, sassafras Rie Warren is an OG Amazon All Star author of Bad Boy books and MC romance. She delivers five star sex, suspense, and the best banter around. Her stories are one hundred percent original, do not contain fluffy plots or virgin brides, and wring every last emotion from readers to leave them with a satisfied smile. Rie’s tough alpha males are never brought to heel, but are instead healed by the feisty femme fatale of their perfect match. She grew up in Maine, went to college in Iowa (Iowa, what?), lived in Scotland, and married in Englishman. In true roundabout fashion, they came back to the States, settled in South Carolina’s lowcountry, putting down southern roots and pursuing their arty endeavors. Tale spinner and character diviner, Rie is a lover of sleep, wine, and rude memes often involving either Disney characters or Winnie the Pooh. She is raising two teen daughters along with an entire brain full of unruly characters. Rough-talking alpha men? Rie has that on tap. Stubborn sassy heroines? You bet. Smoldering sex scenes that’ll set your Kindle on fire? Check, check, check. Keep a fan handy, you’ll need it.
 
 Follow the signup link below to her romance newsletter for sneak peeks, new releases, first looks, and her quirky sense of humor. https://www.subscribepage.com/riewarrenromanceAnd, as always, happy sexy reading to you!
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Title: Spec

Series: Hell’s Handlers MC Florida Chapter #2
Author: Lilly Atlas
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: May 19, 2022
 
 
 
 
 

Scott survived hell serving his country. After more than two decades of service, the man honorably discharged from the army isn’t the same man who went in. Instead, he’s angry, violent, guilt-ridden, and in agony. The only thing keeping him going is the brotherhood he’s found in the Hell’s Handlers MC. Until she shows up, ruining his safe space.
 
Olivia finds herself in Florida, seeking out the man her brother called his best friend after her fiancé proves to be a monster in disguise. But Scott isn’t what she expected. His immediate hatred and hostile attitude send her reeling. Thankfully, the rest of his club is more receptive to her presence. But how can she stick around knowing the man she came to meet can’t stand her? Before long, Olivia realizes deep anguish drives Scott’s bitterness and sour outlook on life. His pain calls to her, causing a need to soothe the beast.
 
As Scott discovers the woman invading his universe isn’t who he’d judged her to be, he’s drawn to her with a power he can’t resist. But Olivia’s trip to Florida is fueled by a dark secret that might destroy their fragile connection before he can fully understand it.
 

★★★★★ Review – “This book had so many feels coming out of me.”

★★★★★ Review – “Great, amazing story!!!”

★★★★★ Review (Words Turn Me On) – “A love that was hard to break down the barriers, emotional, it will make you cry, laugh, fear for their emotional and physical safety, and see the amazing chemistry start to melt the edges of their frozen hearts.”

 
 

 
 
Lilly Atlas is a contemporary romance author, proud Navy wife, and mother of two spunky girls. By day she works as a physical therapist for a hospital in Virginia. Lilly is an avid romance reader, and expects her Kindle to beg for mercy every time she downloads a new eBook. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet, and she can often be found absorbed in a good book.
 
 
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Title: Custom Made for You
Series: Coulee Bluffs Book One
Author: Ginger Ring
Release: May 14, 2022
Genre: Sweet, Small Town, Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Kim Killion of the Killion Group
Big City Girl Meets Small Town Life.
Small, scenic, and far from her life in the Twin Cities, Coulee Bluff is the perfect place for Ava Wellington to hide from her politician father’s cheating scandal. Since it’s also her mother’s home town, she now has the chance to finally meet her mom’s high school friends and learn more about the community.
Her summer job as a nanny is a stretch. She was raised by one, but Ava intends to leave her country club life far behind and blend in. Falling for a bike builder with tattoos, and a daughter, isn’t part of that plan.
Kruz Tanner has been burned in the past by a pretty face, so the last thing he needs is to date someone from across the river. Yet the stunning new redhead in town draws him to her like no other.
Dating her may be a bad idea in more ways than one.
Or maybe his luck is about to change?

Custom Made For You

By Ginger Ring 

 

Chapter One 

 

The half-naked man leaning against a mailbox was not what Ava Wellington imagined when her mother warned her to beware of any wildlife standing along the side of the road, but then, she’d never been to her mom’s hometown before.

Ava slowed her car as she drove past, hardly able to believe her eyes. The guy was so drop-dead gorgeous one couldn’t help but gawk. He looked dangerous, all right, but probably not in the way her mother meant. Who would want to “beware” a man like that? If this was normal for Coulee Bluff, Wisconsin, maybe this summer job wouldn’t be too bad after all.

By the time Ava focused back to the road, there, in the middle of the highway, sat a huge rocklike boulder. It was too big to straddle with her car and hitting it would take them both out. She slammed on the brakes, the tires slid on gravel, and her silver Honda skidded to a stop in a shallow ditch. 

Hands shaking and heart pounding, Ava shifted the vehicle into park. Sliding a loose curl behind her ear, she took a deep breath and shook her head. What the heck just happened? 

The sound of knuckles knocking on her window caused her jump.

“Are you okay?” The ‘roadside wildlife’, who’d partially been responsible for her current predicament, stood outside her door. Ava fidgeted in her seat as she tried to figure out which button lowered the side window. After locking and unlocking the door at least twice, she finally found the right switch. The glass lowered, bringing with it a rush of hot, humid air. 

All Ava could do was stare. From a distance it had been his muscled chest catching her attention, up close, it was his face. If guys could be called beautiful, this one certainly was. His deep, blue eyes were almost teal. They were the shade of a tempting pool at a resort she’d once stayed at. She nearly drowned in the swirling water so that should be a red flag to be cautious in this situation as well. And then there was the chiseled jaw, straight nose, and five o’clock shadow he sported. Swoon. It was as if she’d ordered the perfect man delivered to that very mailbox and he’d arrived at her front door.

“Are you all right, Miss?” he asked again. The scent of pine, leather, and gasoline tickled her nose. 

“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks. I guess I got distracted and didn’t see that big rock in the middle of the road.” She blushed and pointed to the slow-moving reptile making his way across the yellow line. Was that a turtle? It was huge. “What is that anyway?”

“It’s a turtle.” Mister tall, dark, and hot answered with a laugh. He rested a forearm on the roof of the car and gestured toward the beast. “Haven’t you ever seen a turtle before?”

“Yes, in aquariums. They are usually about this big.” Ava held her hands together in a small circle. “That thing is like a prehistoric monster or something.”

“That’s because it’s a snapping turtle. They’re pretty big.” His smile showed off perfect white teeth. 

“I can see that. Is it dangerous?” She hated to ask but what if she ran into one again? It also gave her a chance to admire him some more. Ava wiped clear the direction her brain had drifted like an eraser to a white board. She’d come to Coulee Bluff to get away from her men problems, not find new ones.

“Yeah, they can be. I wouldn’t recommend trying to pick one of up or getting too close. They can snap at you from about a foot away. And I do mean snap.” He emphasized the fact by clamping his fingers and thumb together. “They have a jaw that will take your toe, or finger, right off.” 

“I appreciate the advice, and I will be sure to stay clear of snappers.” Ava laughed. There was no way she’d get within ten feet of one of those things, at least not on purpose. She frowned as he wandered to the front of her car and stopped to take a quick look underneath. Were there more snappers? Hopefully not. Rounding the rear of the car, he came back to her side. 

“Your car looks fine. You should be able to just drive out of the ditch.”

That was a relief.

“Where ya headed?” He stood with a hand resting on his hips, and she couldn’t help but admire the black hair on his pecs and his flat, tan stomach. When she couldn’t find the words, he bent closer. His face was too close for comfort, and Ava breathed in the scent of him again. The man smelled like the outdoors; earthy, and fresh with a touch of what? Something not of nature. Grease, oil, tires? His hands sported a haze of grey as if he’d been working on something dirty.

Returning her attention to those stunning, baby blue eyes, Ava was suddenly hypnotized and unable to look away. A train whistle sounded in the background. A gentle breeze drifted in the window. That rogue lock of hair blew in her eyes again, breaking their connection. 

“I, ah, better get going. Thanks for your assistance with the, um, turtle and all.” 

“My pleasure.” The sexy man stepped back and placed his hands on his slender hips again. Wiping her forehead with the back of her hand, she couldn’t help eying his six pack abs and dark chest hair one more time. Dark jeans accented his long lean legs. Scuffed black work boots completed his country boy outfit. Her mouth dry, she licked her lips. Suddenly she wasn’t in such a hurry to leave. 

“Hey, do you know where 954 Shore View Drive is?” She rested her wrist on the top of the steering wheel as she smiled out the window. Did she appear as awkward as she felt? Thinking of other questions to ask so she could study the lines of various tattoos on his arm. None of the guys at her private, religious school had those. Well, that she knew of. 

“You’re on Shore View Drive.” He pointed to the blacktop. “Just keep going down the road about a mile, it’s the last one on the right. It’s on stilts.”

“Stilts?” Did she hear him right? She’d never heard of a house on legs.

“Actually, they aren’t stilts, they’re cement pillars. They keep the home above the flood waters, and keep the snakes out.” He moved toward the car.

“Flood waters, snappers, snakes. The rental people said it was a nice place.” Ava felt faint. She hated snakes. Just thinking of them gave her the chills. 

“Don’t worry. It’s a nice place. All the houses along the shore are built above ground. You’ll be fine. There aren’t any flood concerns right now and if there was, you’d know about it well in advance. The lock and dams protect us here.” 

“What about the snakes? Is it their time of year?” Ava winced as goosebumps rose on her skin.

“Hold on a sec, I’ll be right back.” Tall, dark, and handy, jogged back toward the garage. A graceful lope, if she did say so herself. He ran back, carrying a business card in his hand. “Here, take this. If you have any snake problems, give me a call, and I’ll be right over.” He handed her the card.

When his fingers brushed hers, Ava flinched. A jolt ran up her arm sending heat to her cheeks. Did he feel it, too? Regaining her composure, she read the card. Tanner’s Custom Bikes, Kruz Tanner, Owner. It was followed by a phone number, address, and a list of some of the services he provided. 

She gave Mr. Tanner the once-over. Damn, a real-life motorcycle man? Even though Kruz had his own business, her father would be appalled to see her conversing with someone that rode a motorcycle, or even worse, made a living working on them. Ava sat up straight. It was time to stop daydreaming and concentrate on finding her new home. She placed the card on top of her purse and shifted her car into drive.

“Well, thank you again. If I encounter any reptiles, I’ll be sure to give you a call.” Ava waved and hit the button to roll up the window. The cool current of air conditioning refreshed her as she drove out of the ditch. After promising herself to keep eyes on the road, Ava risked a quick peek at him in the rear-view mirror. He was still there. In the middle of the road. Watching. The handsome man unnerved her to say the least. Why? It wasn’t like they’d be hanging out or anything. 

Ava had come to Coulee Bluff for the summer to relax in a country setting and to babysit the granddaughter of her mother’s childhood friend. She’d barely made the turn off to Coulee before stopping to drool over a sexy, biker dude. That wasn’t like her at all. Ava had always liked the business suit type. Well, to be honest, that was all she’d been exposed to. Proper, rich, and well-mannered young men with the John Wellington stamp of approval clearly visible on their foreheads.

Mr. Tanner looked like a man who wrestled alligators for breakfast and ate fried snakes for lunch; all while welding metal and working on Harleys. The last thing she needed was to get involved with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks or in her case, the wrong side of the river. Shoving the man’s card deep into a side pocket of her handbag, Ava read the numbers on the mailboxes as she passed. 760, 830; there it was, 945 and yes, believe it or not, it was on stilts.

After turning into the driveway, Ava parked on the gravel next to the house. With purse in hand, she cautiously stepped out into the heat to get a better view of her new home for the summer. Despite the round concrete columns holding it up, the house was similar to your average, ranch-style home. Her heels wobbled on the crushed rock driveway until she safely reached the first step. 

When she stopped at the top of the stairs, Ava turned to survey her new surroundings. Always living in the city, being this close to nature was an over-whelming experience. Taking a deep breath, she inhaled the marshy scents of the nearby river and backwaters. She tried to identify every smell but could only recognize the odors of fish and flowers. The oppressive heat reminded her of swamps and the tropics. Just the brief time outside made her skin glisten with sweat. 

Ava entered the five-digit combination on the keypad lock. Getting the first glimpse of her new digs turned out to be a nice surprise. She hadn’t known what to expect especially after hearing about the stilts and snakes. So far, no snakes, and the stilts were really nothing to worry about unless there was an earthquake. After placing her handbag and car keys on the counter, she took a quick tour of her new surroundings.

The kitchen had fairly new appliances, spotless counters, and even a dishwasher. That probably wouldn’t get much use since it would be just her living there. To the side of the kitchen was a half bath and nearby laundry room. Behind the kitchen were two rooms, a large bedroom with a queen size bed and full bathroom. Next to that was a small room that could be used as an office. The furniture was all clean and appeared brand new. The décor was pretty much an outdoor, cabin theme. A few antique fishing poles and a pair a canoe paddles accented the walls. The color scheme of rusty red, hunter green, and dark brown ran throughout the place.

Ava returned to the kitchen and smiled at the open living room. A 55-inch flat screen TV was visible from any area of the room. On each side of the television where patio doors opening to a screened-in patio. Ava opened the sliding doors and stepped out. It was easy to imagine spending many hours out there reading and viewing the boats traveling up and down the Mississippi. A huge barge floated by in the distance; the crew of the tugboat working on its deck. An eagle soared overhead, and the roar of a railroad train whistle added to the Mississippi River adventure literally right outside her front door. Excitement rushed through her as she grabbed her keys again to unpack the car. There were so many amazing things in the area to capture on canvas she couldn’t wait to get started. It took several trips to gather all her painting and drawing supplies.

As she reached the top step for the final time, her ring tone sounded. Closing the door to nature’s clatter, Ava found her cellphone. The name flashed on the screen made her smile. Even though she was twenty-three years old, her mom, Lauren, still checked up on her as much as possible. After the trauma of the last few months, Ava was glad she did.

“Hi, mom. How are you?” A sense of calm settled over her knowing her mother always had her back. 

“I’m fine but I’m calling to see how you are. Did you find the place all right?” She pictured her mom. Her blonde hair styled perfectly, not a hair out of place. Probably dressed in a chic suit, ready for Friday night dinner at the club. Her fingers fidgeting with the strand of pearls around her neck. 

“Yes, I found it just fine. The home is nice, I like it. Dad would call it a dump, but it works for me.” Ava walked out onto the deck to watch the boats go by as she talked. “Why did we never spend summers here? It’s so pretty.”

“You know your father, he’s not one for small towns.” The man hated them. 

“But you grew up here.” It’d always puzzled her why he cringed, or left the room, whenever someone even mentioned Lauren’s hometown. The fact that he’d finally relented to let her spend the summer here was nothing short of a miracle. After graduating college, her father was eager for her to start work in the family business. Unfortunately, burning the candle at both ends for the past year had left her burned out and not willing to continue employment with his marketing team.

Who was she kidding? Once the scandal hit, Ava was the last thing on her father’s mind. Still, it was odd that her mother insisted Ava avoid using her last name and not to mention who her parents were. It was probably for the best. If the local press found out she was here, they’d be all over her for a statement. 

After a brief pause, her mother, interrupted her thoughts. “Have you done anything yet? Stopped anywhere? There are some wonderful wineries and historical sites nearby.”

“I know, and I plan to visit all of them, but I just got here. The first thing I need to do is find a grocery store and buy some supplies.” At the mention of food, her stomach growled. 

“I know there’s a Piggly Wiggly about ten minutes away but there should also be a small convenience store in town, if you don’t feel like driving far.”

Ava couldn’t help but giggle at her high society mom saying, ‘Piggly Wiggly’. It was hard to picture her as a teenager working as a checkout girl, but Lauren had. 

“I’m not sure what I need yet, so I’ll probably just grab something to eat at the first place I see then buy a few things at the gas station.” 

“Well, make sure you call Claire tomorrow morning and get things set up for your job. I know it’s their busy season, so it’ll take a lot off her mind to know you’ve arrived.” 

“Yes, I will.” 

“And don’t worry, Claire knows everything that happened and won’t say a word.” 

“Okay.” Ava answered before an uncomfortable silence set in. She bit her lip, “Mom?”

“Yes, dear?” Lauren replied.

“I know this is your hometown, and you have no family left here, but really, why have we never visited the place?” Things had been strained between her parents for quite some time, but there were just too many unanswered questions about their past. 

“You know your father thinks that everyone that doesn’t live in a big city is a hillbilly. He also doesn’t like to be reminded of where I came from. If he knew I’ve remained in contact with Claire all these years, he’d be furious.” 

“But that’s crazy. You two were best friends. What difference does it make?” There was definitely more to the story. 

 “It’s just . . .” a loud sigh followed. “Hey, I think your father’s home. I’ll call you again soon, okay?”

“But mom.” 

“I’ve got to go. We’ve reservations at the Pendleton. Talk soon.” 

“All right, have a nice time tonight,” Ava tried to sound hopeful, but their relationship weighed heavy on her mind. 

The call ended with no farewell. It was hard not to worry. If her own life hadn’t been such a mess, maybe she’d have figured out what was going on long before her father went astray. Her stomach growled louder, bringing her back to the present. She needed to find some food. It was already past six, and she didn’t want to be driving all over an unfamiliar place searching for something to eat. Gas station food would have to do. 

Moments later, Ava put her Honda into reverse and drove toward the center of town. This time instead of looking at mailbox numbers she took a better look at her neighbors. The surrounding homes looked similar to hers. Some had garages or carports underneath. A few had cement pillars holding them up, while others were held in place by iron trusses. A lot of the vehicles parked outside had out of state plates. Boats on trailers were parked nearby. A man grilling outside waved in her direction. At least everyone was friendly so far.

She drove passed Tanner’s closed bike shop. What was the man that’d come to her rescue doing tonight? The guy was probably out for the evening with some tall, gorgeous blond. The thought disturbed her. Why should she care? It was important to guard her heart and not fall for the wrong man again. There had to be a good guy out there for her. One that cared who she was as a person, not what her last name was and what her family’s wealth might gain them.

Ava took a deep breath and crossed her fingers. She always felt like a fish out of water, hopefully coming to Coulée Bluff would help her find her place. A sign proclaiming food, gas, bait, and beer caught her attention. Well, two out four wasn’t bad. She did need some food and gas. According to the sign the Kwik Trip was just three blocks away. 

As she headed down the street, Ava turned on the radio. Was it a sign that the song, ‘Don’t worry, Be Happy’ was playing? The next few months were hers to enjoy and experience life outside the city and out from under her father’s thumb. Who knew, maybe Coulee Bluff was exactly where she was meant to be. The seedlings of her mother’s early life were here. She could feel it. Whether they would transfer to her, take root and grow, were yet to be seen. 

Ginger Ring is an award-winning author with a weakness for cheese, dark chocolate, and the Green Bay Packers. She loves reading, watching great movies, and has a quirky sense of humor. Publishing a book has been a lifelong dream of hers and she is excited to share her romantic stories with you. Her heroines are classy, sassy and in search of love and adventure. When Ginger isn’t tracking down old gangster haunts or stopping at historical landmarks, you can find her on the backwaters of the Mississippi River fishing with her husband.
Please check out these other great books by Ginger Ring available at fine online bookstores everywhere.
Love is a Dangerous Thing series
The Gangster’s Kiss
The Gangster’s Woman
The Gangster’s Hand
Genoa Mafia Series
Madison’s Mobster
Crossing Roman
Escaping Ryan
Taken to the Cleaner
Destroying Dominic
Playing Jasper
Chasing Arlo
Coulee Bluff Series- coming soon
Custom Made For You
Cheers For You
Standalones
The Pink Rose of the Prairie
Red Roses, Black Orchids
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