Daily Archives: 27/02/2018

RELEASE BLITZ ~ The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown


The Sometimes Sisters

Carolyn Brown

Release Date February 27, 2018

A bittersweet inheritance reunites three estranged sisters in a novel of family, trust, and forgiveness from New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown.

When they were growing up, Dana, Harper, and Tawny thought of themselves as “sometimes sisters.” They connected only during the summer month they’d all spend at their grandmother’s rustic lakeside resort in north Texas. But secrets started building, and ten years have passed since they’ve all been together—in fact, they’ve rarely spoken, and it broke their grandmother’s heart.

Now she’s gone, leaving Annie’s Place to her granddaughters—twelve cabins, a small house, a café, a convenience store, and a lot of family memories. It’s where Dana, Harper, and Tawny once shared so many good times. They’ve returned, sharing only hidden regrets, a guarded mistrust, and haunting guilt. But now, in this healing summer place, the secrets that once drove them apart could bring them back together—especially when they discover that their grandmother may have been hiding something, too…

To overcome the past and find future happiness, these “sometimes sisters” have one more chance to realize they are always family.

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The Sometimes Sisters
Release Day Feb 27, 2018

“The sometimes sisters,” Dana said. “That’s what we called ourselves when we came to see Granny in the summertime. I’m sure not Cinderella, and they are my half sisters, not my stepsisters.”

“Okay, then.” Brook sighed. “But I’m glad you’re stayin’ in here and I get the room where we always slept when we came to visit. It’s strange, her not being here.”

Dana thought she’d cried until there were no more tears, but when she noticed that old, familiar quilt folded and lying across the foot of Granny’s bed, the dam wouldn’t hold. She sat down in the wooden rocker where she’d seen Granny rock both Harper and Tawny so many times and let the grief surface again.

Brook rushed over to her and cried with her, right on the floor in front of the chair. “We’ve got to stop this, Mama. This is going to wear us both out. Let’s talk about something else, like where I’ll be going to school.”

“Frankston—it’s a public school.” Dana dried Brook’s face with the sleeve of her knit shirt.

“That little bitty town that we came through?” Brook’s voice squeaked on the last word.

“It’s where I went until I finished eighth grade. It didn’t kill me to go there, and I don’t expect that you’ll suffer, either.” Dana managed a weak smile. “Change is good. Remember that. You’ve got your own room, and we have a house instead of an efficiency apartment at the back side of the stables.”

“But Mama, I’ve never gone to public school. I bet they don’t even have uniforms,” Brook groaned.

“And you’ve made friends wherever we lived,” Dana countered. “Maybe if things work out, you’ll get to spend all of your high school years here.”

“I hope not!” Brook exclaimed. “This is right on the edge of nowhere. Granny don’t even have Wi-Fi, Mama.”

“Get used to it, kiddo. We could be here for a long time,” Dana said. “Go unpack all your things and settle in. We’re supposed to be at the café at noon. If we are lucky, we’ll get to start running this business tomorrow. And be glad you get to go to school, because you could be cleaning cabins all day.”

“No!” Brook’s hands went to her cheeks. “You’re kiddin’, right?”

“If you want a little paycheck like you got on the horse ranches, you’ll work at whatever needs done around here weekends and in the summer. It’ll probably be either cleaning rooms or else helping in the café, but it’ll be work.”

“But I hate housework,” Brook groaned.

“Think of it as a paycheck.”

Another groan escaped her daughter as she left the bedroom and headed across the hallway to her own new room.

“I hate dishes worse than any other housework,” she called out.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Brown was born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma. These days she and her husband make their home in Davis, Oklahoma, a small town of less than three thousand people where everyone knows everyone, knows what they are doing and with whom, and read the weekly newspaper to see who got caught.

A plaque hangs on her office wall that says I know the voices are not real but they have such great ideas. That is her motto and muse as she goes through the days with quirky characters in her head, telling their stories, one by one, and loving her job.

She has been married almost half a century to a retired English teacher that she calls Mr. B and he does not read her books before they are published because she cannot afford a divorce. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them busy and young.

When Carolyn is not writing she likes to sit in the back yard and watch the two tom cats protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, other cats, spiders and blue jays.

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SPOTLIGHT ~ The Color of Love by Sharon Sala


He might be winning her heart before she even knows who he is…

Welcome to Blessings, Georgia, the small town with a big heart! Anyone from a small town can tell you that gossip never stays quiet for long. The biggest news lately is Ruby Dye: she’s been receiving gifts from a secret admirer. But Ruby isn’t sure she can trust this newfound happiness. Nobody knows the dark secrets she keeps about her life before she arrived in Blessings. Is this the beginning of a would-be romance, or is she the target of something more sinister?

Everyone admires Ruby and her determination to do the right thing, especially local lawyer “Peanut” Butterman. He’s finally ready to tell her how he feels. But when trouble arrives on Ruby’s doorstep and their little town is threatened, Peanut may have to prove himself in ways he never imagined.



Chief Pittman drove through town with lights flashing, then pulled into the alley behind the bar to the small, clapboard house.

There was no smoke coming out of the fireplace, no lights on anywhere inside, and when he saw the front door open and a tall, gangly boy and a huge bloodhound emerging, he jumped out to open the back door of his cruiser.

As he did, a woman followed them out. She was blue from cold and shivering. She coughed, then couldn’t stop. Then the boy approached and held out his hand.

“I’m Charlie Conroy, Sir. Thank you for calling.”

Lon wondered how desperate they were and then decided to deal with that later.

“You can put your dog in the back and ride up front with me.”

“Yes sir,” Charlie said, loaded up Booger, then got into the front seat.

Lon turned around.

“Mrs. Conroy, I’m Chief Pittman. Thank you for allowing your boy to help us. I’ll have him back as soon as possible, okay?”

“Yes, it’s okay,” she said.

And then another little voice piped up, and Lon saw a tiny little girl standing in the doorway, also wearing her coat over her clothes. She was crying.

“Mommy, Mommy, I’m cold.”

“I have to go,” Alice said, and ran back to the doorway, picked up the little girl and disappeared into the house, shutting the door behind her as she went.

Lon got in. The boy was already buckled up.

“We’re going straight to the nursing home.”

“Yes, sir,” Charlie said, his heartbeat jumping as the Chief drove away.

“So what’s going on at your house? Don’t you have any heat?”

“We don’t have any utilities, sir. We got cut off.”

“When was this?” Lon asked.

“Oh, a few days ago, but I’ll get the money earned to get them back on.”

“Is this why you put out the fliers?” Lon asked.

Charlie nodded.

“That was very industrious. How old are you?” Lon said.

“I’m twelve, but I am the man of the family now,” Charlie said, and then turned his head as they passed the school, looking at it with a mixture of longing and despair.

Another two blocks and he pulled up in front of the nursing home. One of his deputies was already there gathering info, while the other one on duty was back at the station. People were gathering here as the news had spread, ready to help search.

“Here we go,” Lon said, as he pulled up and parked. “You get your hound and follow me.”

“Yes sir,” Charlie said, and leaped out, grabbed Booger’s leash, and took off after the Chief.

Nathan Rose, the nursing home administrator, was trying not to panic as he explained what he knew to the Deputy, Ralph Herman.

“We’ve never had this happen before,” Nathan said. “We lock the doors at night and everything. Wanda is the one who discovered her absence.”

Ralph eyed the aide in purple scrubs. She looked to be in her late twenties, and she also looked scared to death, like someone was going to lay the blame of this on her.

“So, Wanda, how did you know she was missing?” Ralph asked.

“She wasn’t in her bed when I came on duty at six a.m., so I went looking for her, assuming she’d just fallen asleep somewhere else inside the building. They do that sometimes, but I couldn’t find her. That’s when we all began to search. She’s not here.”

“Were there any unlocked doors?” Ralph asked.

Willa’s shoulders slumped.

“The one from the kitchen leading out into the back alley. There’s an extra lock up high. She’s so little, I don’t know how she reached to open it.”

“Either someone helped her, or it was unintentionally left unlocked,” Nathan said. “It’s the only explanation.”

“Have you notified her next of kin?” the deputy asked.

“She doesn’t have any,” Nathan said. “She brought herself here three years back and hasn’t had a visitor from outside Blessings, since.”

At that point, the Chief walked up and didn’t waste time explaining.

“Nathan, I need something that belongs to Gertie…something that would have her scent on it…like her shoes… of a piece of her clothing…something that hasn’t yet been washed.”

Nathan saw the boy and the bloodhound and didn’t ask questions.

“Wanda, you heard him. Bring something that will have Gertie’s scent on it.”

Wanda turned and ran into the building as the deputy recognized the boy.

“Hey, that’s the kid from the flyer,” he said, then glanced at Lon. “Good call, Chief.”

“If it works, we can all thank Peanut Butterman. It was his suggestion.”

Charlie had outgrown his coat months ago, and had been wearing his Daddy’s clothes all winter, but he didn’t have a coat. It had burned up in the explosion. He shivered slightly as he waited, thinking nothing of the discomfort because it had become the norm, but Lon saw it.

“Be right back,” he said, and jogged toward his cruiser, popped the trunk and then came back with a heavy, fleece-lined flannel jacket. “Put this on,” he said, as he handed it to Charlie.

Charlie’s eyes widened.

“I might get it dirty.”

“Son, it’ll wash,” Lon said. “Put it on.”

Charlie didn’t argue. The warmth that enveloped him was so welcome it brought tears to his eyes.

“I thank you,” Charlie whispered.

Lon patted the boy’s shoulder as Wanda came running back holding a pair of cotton socks.

“Gertie wore these yesterday. They were still in her shoes. Will this work?”

Lon glanced at Charlie, who nodded.

“They’ll do just fine,” Charlie said, then glanced at Lon. “Are you ready, Chief?”

Lon glanced around at the small crowd of people who’d gathered to help search.

“We’re going to try this first before we send everyone out in differing directions. If some of you want to go home, you’re welcome. But if there are any who want to follow us and the hound, then fan out in a grid behind him and do your best to keep up.”

A few waved and headed back to their cars, but a good dozen of them stayed.

Lon heard one searcher call out.

“That hound won’t track. I reckon the rain has washed out her tracks and scent.”

“We’ll see,” Lon said, and watched as Charlie Conroy got down on one knee and shoved the socks up under Booger’s nose.

As he did, the hound began to whine, as if sensing he’d just be given a task.

“Hunt, Booger! Hunt!” Charlie said.

The massive bloodhound lifted his head, sniffing the air, then put nose to ground and moved toward the back of the building with Charlie hanging onto the leash. The moment they reached the back door, Booger bayed.

“He’s on the scent,” Charlie cried, and off they went, through two blocks of housing, across the baseball field and then up into the woods, with the cops and the searchers behind them.


A set of Blessings, Georgia novels!

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Sharon Sala
It was a job she hated that drove Sharon Sala to put the first page of paper in an old typewriter, but it was the love of the craft that kept her writing. Her first efforts at writing came in 1980 when she began a book that wound up under her bed. A second book followed in 1981 and suffered a similar fate, but she claims the writing bug had bitten hard. However, she let life and the demands of a growing family delay her from continuing until a tragedy struck.

Her father died in May of 1985 after a lingering illness and then only two months later her only sister died unexpectedly, leaving her almost blind with grief. She vowed then and there that she was not going to wind up on her deathbed one day with regrets for not following through on her dreams.

She joined writers groups and attended conferences and slowly learned her way around the written page. By 1989, she decided she had come far enough in her writing to attempt another try at book-length fiction and began a book that would later be entitled SARA’S ANGEL. As fate would have it, the first publisher she sent it to, bought it, and she hasn’t looked back.

As a farmer’s daughter and then for many years a farmer’s wife, Sharon escaped the drudgeries of life through the pages of books, and now as a writer, she finds herself often living out her dreams. Through traveling and speaking and the countless thousands of fan letters she has received, Sharon has touched many lives. One faithful reader has crowned her the “Reba of Romance” while others claim she’s a magician with words.

Her stories are often dark, dealing with the realities of this world, and yet she’s able to weave hope and love within the words for the readers who clamor for her latest works.

Always an optimist in the face of bad times, many of the stories she writes come to her in dreams, but there’s nothing fanciful about her work. She puts her faith in God, still trusts in love and the belief that, no matter what, everything comes full circle.

Her books, written under her name and under her pen name, Dinah McCall, repeatedly make the big lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and Waldenbooks Mass market fiction.
Sharon Sala.

A woman with a vision.


SPOTLIGHT ~ One More Promise by Samantha Chase


Dylan Anders is making amends

…to his family

…to the public

…to the woman who just walked into his life

Paige Walters must learn to forgive

…her busy father

…her bossy sister

…and the wonderful man she horribly misjudged

Ambitious Paige Walters is ecstatic when she’s hired to recruit musicians for a literacy campaign—it’s her chance to prove she’s got the chops to make it in the family business. When Dylan steps in, she immediately dislikes him and vows not to let the fallen idol screw it up. But as the work brings Paige and Dylan closer together, their attraction grows…and so do their challenges…





For the love of it… She had done everything except offer a naked limo ride and Dylan still hadn’t made a move!

A girl could only wait so long.

And boy, oh boy, was it worth the wait.

Every inch of him was hard and muscled and felt so good wrapped around her. She wanted to climb him like a tree. Coupled with the softness of his lips and gentleness of his caress, Dylan Anders was every naughty fantasy she’d ever had—and all he’d done was kiss her!

Paige’s hands anchored in his hair as she went from being the one controlling the kiss to the one being controlled. Dylan’s kiss went from wow to ohmygod in less than a second. He kissed, he tasted, he devoured, and Paige was more than willing to be devoured.

For hours at a time.

When his lips left hers to lick the shell of her ear—she really liked that—and her throat, she let her head fall back as she fought to catch her breath.

“Come home with me,” she panted. “Please. Please, Dylan.”

He bit her gently and then soothed that tender spot with his talented tongue and she was certain they were on the same page. She ran a quick checklist in her head: Bed made? Check. Bedroom clean? Check. Legs shaved? Check. If she could just get him to the car…

Dylan lifted his head, and she could feel his entire body practically vibrating. Good. She wanted—no, needed him like that. Turned on and unable to say no. Playing the seductress was so not her thing, and she had never been sexually aggressive, but everything about this man brought that out in her.

“Paige,” he said breathlessly.

“Yes?” This was it!

“I… We can’t do this.”

Say what?

“What do you mean we can’t do this? We already are doing this!” It was pointless to pretend she wasn’t pissed off. There was only so much a girl on the verge of climbing a man could take!

Dylan took a step away. And then another. And another. He raked a hand through his hair, making it stand on end, and even that managed to look sexy on him!

The bastard!

“Look, I think lines are getting blurred,” he began. “We talked about this, Paige. I told you why we can’t get involved.”

“And you know that, to the world, it’s going to look like that already. I don’t see why we can’t take advantage of this situation. It’s obvious we’re attracted to each other. I don’t see what the big deal is!”

He studied her for a long moment and Paige wanted to walk up to him and shake him.

But she didn’t.

“Because you deserve better than this,” he said, his voice void of emotion. “You deserve better than a fake relationship with someone like me. Trust me.”


But he didn’t. He turned and walked away, and Paige watched him go.

There was a part of her that said to run after him and make him see that he was wrong. But the logical, regular part of her told her to respect his wishes and let it go.

With a weary sigh, she collected her things and made her way out of the studio. She stopped at the front office and thanked the receptionist on her way out. As the warm afternoon sun hit her face, Paige reached in her bag for her sunglasses and slipped them on.

And then stood on the sidewalk and contemplated what to do next.

She didn’t have errands to run, and she didn’t want to go into the office. She could drive around the city, but traffic was always a nightmare, so that wouldn’t be a relaxing endeavor either. Pulling out her phone, she checked the time. Three o’clock. There was always… Nothing. There was nothing that she wanted to do. No hot yoga, no Zumba, no spinning class. Then she laughed at herself because it had easily been six months since she’d been to the gym, so why even consider those activities?

“Because I have way too much pent-up energy and need to do something with it,” she murmured and walked to her car. Inside, she started the car, turned on the air, and still tried to think of what to do. She didn’t want to go home. Home was where she had hoped to be with Dylan right now.


Samantha Chase Prize Pack!

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Samantha Chase

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller/contemporary romance writer Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Although she waited until she was in her 40’s to publish for the first time, writing has been a lifelong passion. Her motivation to take that step was her students: teaching creative writing to elementary age students all the way up through high school and encouraging those students to follow their writing dreams gave Samantha the confidence to take that step as well.

When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading contemporary romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

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NEW RELEASE ~ Colliding With You (Touched by Magic #2) by Kelli McCracken

Colliding With You
Touched by Magic #2
by Kelli McCracken
She was once his inspiration. Now, he is her salvation.
Cori Clarke spent twenty-one years walking in her sister’s shadow. Being her bridesmaid is a duty she cannot refuse, even though her sister is marrying a man Cori always desired. The wedding is not a total loss once she runs into Jesse Woods, the older brother of her childhood friend. There are plenty of reasons to resist him, yet part of Cori is begging for Jesse’s touch. Regardless of how hard she fights against her desire, an exposed secret leaves her in urgent need of his help.
A complicated relationship is the last thing Jesse wants or needs. Being in a band left little time to find a girl genuinely interested in him, not the rock star he was becoming. Before he and Cori reconnected, he never thought he would be attracted to one of his sister’s friends. Cori always meant more to him, but admitting as much means confessing to something he has hidden for years. He cannot afford to make himself vulnerable to any woman.
When Jesse’s agent makes a ridiculous request, he spins it in his favor, allowing him to help Cori escape a dire situation. Now that she is his responsibility, he is in an awkward position. Being together dredges up old feelings. The ones Jesse has tried to forget. The ones Cori is just discovering.
Colliding with You is the second book in the Touched by Magic Series. If you like contemporary romances packed full of sass, steam, and second chances, then you’ll enjoy Kelli McCracken’s sensual tale of love and loyalty.

Buy this tantalizing romance today!

Early Reviews
Kelli’s writing is always smooth, smart, and engaging. Colliding with You was sweet, sexy, and heart-warming. I would highly recommend.  ~ CJ at Book Happiness 

I loved how Cori and Jesse’s story developed. I loved how it ended. It was all wrapped up nicely. I highly recommend this book. ~ Jackie

Author Information

Most days you’ll find Kelli McCracken knee deep in chocolate bars, coffee, and kooky characters. She is a connoisseur of chocolate, professional percolator, and a master in the art of procrastination.

“Writing a novel is like running a three-ring circus. It’s chaotic, characters don’t do what’s expected, and they leave you with a trail of shit to clean. I’m the ringmaster of insanity. Welcome to the show.”

When she isn’t chasing kids, working on crafts, or sneaking a Kit Kat (or two), Kelli spends her time writing.  Of course, it can’t be all work and no play. Once procrastination strikes,  you can find her hanging out on Facebook, Pinterest, or Spotify. Be sure to stop by and say hi. She loves chatting with readers.

5 Random Facts About the Author

1) She’s a huge Star Wars fan
2) Her favorite authors include: J.R.R. Tolkien, Johanna Lindsey, PC & Kristin Cast, and  Stephen King
3) Music inspires her writing
4) She loves singing (even if it’s off key)
5) If she could meet anyone dead or alive, she would choose Steve Jobs


Books authored by Kelli McCracken

Soulmate Series

Get swept away in a hot series by Kelli McCracken. Soulmate Series follows the journey of Dylan McBride, Heaven Lewis, and Layne Perry, a trio of Psi with a fate like no other. Can they save the world before it’s destroyed at the hands of The Fallen, or will their souls betray the love prophesied to save them?

Book One: What The Heart Wants
Book Two: What the Heart Needs
Book Three: What the Heart Takes
Book Four: What the Heart Desires

Mystique Antiques Series

Book One: Only in Time

Heart & Soul Series

Heart & Soul is a contemporary romance series by author Kelli McCracken. The first book, Heartstrings, follows the journey of Jo Hayes, a pianist who, after a tragic accident, must rediscover herself as well as the life she once knew.

Book One: Heartstrings

Touched by Magic Series

A touch of spice. A touch of heart. A touch of magic. Fall under the spell of Kelli McCracken’s new Touched by Magic Series. The first book, Longing for You, follows the story of Theo McCabe, an up and coming musician on the verge of being a star, and Cassie Clarke, the only woman who’s ever affected his heart.

Book One: Longing for You
Book Two: Colliding With You

Author Links

To learn more about the author:
–Sign up for her Newsletter at http://www.subscribepage.com/v5z6k0
—-Get a free book when you sign up

Follow Kelli on:
–Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AuthorKelliMcCracken
–Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Kelli_McCracken
–Website at www.KelliMcCracken.com

Join Kelli’s Fan Group:



SPOTLIGHT ~ Survive the Night (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit) by Katie Ruggle


“Vivid and charming.” — CHARLAINE HARRIS, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author


He’s always been a haven:

For the lost. The sick. The injured.

But when a hunted woman takes shelter in his arms, this gentle giant swears he’ll do more than heal her battered spirit—he’ll defend her with his life.

K9 Officer Otto Gunnersen always had a soft spot for anyone in need. As Monroe’s very own Dr. Doolittle, he dedicates himself to rehabilitating the injured souls that cross his path—but for all his big heart, he’s never been in love.

Until he meets Sarah Clifton’s haunted eyes. Until he realizes he’ll do anything to save her.

All Sarah wants is to escape a life caught between ambitious crime families, but there’s no outrunning her past. Her power-mad brother would hunt her to the ends of the earth…but he’d never expect Sarah to fight back. With Otto and the whole of Monroe, Colorado by her side, Sarah’s finally ready to face whatever comes her way.

It’s time to take a stand.





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As she walked through the aisles, Sarah knew she was beaming like an idiot. She couldn’t help it. This place was amazing. It was part farm-supply, part hardware store, part department store. According to Jules, it was one of the few businesses in Monroe that stayed open all year round. Most of the shops and services closed for the winter.

They cut through a car-part aisle. Rounding the corner, Sarah sucked in a sharp breath.

“What?” Jules grabbed her arm and yanked her back into the aisle they’d just left. Grace followed, her expression concerned. “Is it someone you know? Do we need to go out the back?”

“No,” Sarah said hastily, embarrassed by her overreaction. “Sorry. I just saw…” Otto. The name rang in her head, but she didn’t want to admit that she remembered it. She hadn’t shared the details of her eventful morning walk three days earlier. Since Grace and Jules weren’t aware of the garage-roof conversation, Sarah knowing Otto’s name after so brief an introduction seemed like evidence of her budding, illogical crush. Her cheeks got hot, but she tried very hard to ignore that she was blushing—and the reason for her red face. “I just saw that cop I met last week. It was dumb. I just overreacted.”

“Otto?” Grace asked, and Sarah nodded, feeling her face heat even more at the sound of his name. Seriously, something was wrong with her. “Oh, he’s harmless. Really. I mean, so are Hugh and Theo, but they just come off a little more…harshly?” Grace gave Jules a help me look before turning back to Sarah. “You don’t need to be afraid of any of the cops here. We just didn’t want to overwhelm you by introducing you to all of them. They can be…” She looked at Jules again.

“Intimidating,” Jules supplied helpfully, and Grace nodded. “Otto really is the easiest to get along with of all three of them. You’ll love him once you get to know him.” Sarah tried not to grimace at the phrasing. She couldn’t admit that was why she was so nervous around Otto. The big cop was already in her thoughts much too often, and they’d exchanged just a few words. If she got to know him, she had a feeling she’d be in serious trouble.

Linking arms with Sarah, Grace started to lead her out of the aisle. Even though she was freaking out at the thought of talking with Otto again, Sarah tried to hide it. Her feet wanted to drag, but she forced her body to cooperate. She’d only known Grace and Jules a week, and they’d been nicer to her than anyone she’d ever known before. She didn’t want to admit her weird issues to them…not yet, at least.

“Otto!” Jules forged ahead, waving as she hurried over to the cop. He gave her a small smile before looking past her. When his gaze locked on Sarah, his expression stilled.

What does that mean? Why is he looking at me like that? she asked herself frantically. Unfortunately, she didn’t have an answer. Her previous life had kept her isolated, her social interactions limited to employees and business associates of first her father and then her brother. Sarah wasn’t sure how to read the big, blond cop, but she guessed that the frozen look was not a good sign.

He didn’t look away as they approached. Sarah couldn’t hold his gaze and dropped her eyes to the floor. It was impossible not to look at him, though, and she kept darting furtive glances in his direction. His hair was nearly white blond, cut short in a no-nonsense style. He wasn’t just a Viking lumberjack; he was like a Viking and a lumberjack had a baby, and that baby grew up to serve in the army and then become a Monroe police officer.

“Milk replacer? What orphans are you feeding now?” Jules asked, breaking what was turning into another awkward silence.

He finally looked away from Sarah to focus on Jules. “Puppies. Curtis Trammel’s shepherd was hit by a car.”

“He brought them to you?” Before he answered, Grace spoke again. “Of course he did. You’re the Dr. Doolittle around here, after all.”

Otto gave an uncomfortable half shrug, but Sarah had stopped pretending not to stare at him. He was a Viking lumberjack cop who bottle-fed orphaned puppies? If he’d spent years trying to think of the most effective punch to the ovaries, he couldn’t have come up with a better plan.

“Juju!” Ty called from across the store. “We’re going to get these guns, okay?”

“What? What guns? No, not okay.” Jules immediately charged toward the sporting goods section.

Grace grinned. Following after a stressed-looking Jules, she said over her shoulder, “This should be good. They probably want to mount them on their homemade drone.”

The two women disappeared around the corner of an aisle, and the realization hit Sarah—she and Otto were alone. Together. Sure, they weren’t really alone, since it was a public place with several people, including children, nearby, but…still. Alone. Together. Again. Her scalp prickled with sweat.

She tried desperately to think of something to talk about, but her mind was blank. There wasn’t a nearby herd of elk to supply a handy topic of conversation. It had been the same every time they’d met. Otto seemed to be a huge walking magnet, wiping her brain’s hard drive whenever he got near. “Um…how many puppies?”

He just stared at her, and uncertainty started to set in. Her question had made sense, hadn’t it? Maybe she should’ve clarified. But Sarah was afraid that, if she spoke again, she’d rush into a waterfall of babbly explanation, and that would just make her seem even more unbalanced.

“Your mouth…” He trailed off, his eyes fixed on her lips.

“My mouth…?” she echoed, and then horror hit her. There had to be something on her mouth. They had all just eaten lunch at the VFW-turned-diner where Jules worked. Was there something green and slimy in her teeth? Did she have residual barbeque sauce on her face? If so, she was going to kill Jules, Grace, and every last one of the kids for not telling her before she came face-to-face with a lumberjack Viking puppy rescuer. Sarah wiped frantically at her lips, feeling her cheeks heat. “What about my mouth?”

“It’s pretty.” His tanned face flushed to the color of brick. Abruptly, he turned and walked away.

Sarah went still, her hand still over her lips. There was a strange feeling in her stomach. It wasn’t the anxious dread she was used to, though. This was more of a hopeful fluttering, a funny little squeeze of happiness. Dropping her hand to her side, she smiled at Otto’s broad, quickly departing back.

He thinks I’m pretty.


When she’s not writing, KATIE RUGGLE rides horses, shoots guns, and trains her three dogs. A police academy graduate, Katie readily admits she’s a forensics nerd. While she still misses her off-grid home in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in a 150-year-old Minnesota farmhouse near her family.

You can connect with Katie at
KatieRuggle.comwww.facebook.com/katierugglebooks, or on Twitter @KatieRuggle


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