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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Arcanus Amator by Elyzabeth M. VaLey



Arcanus Amator

As an Arcánús, one of Cupid’s blessed children, Amandus’s mission in life was to aid his father in bestowing love upon others.Unfortunately, when he found his own soul mate he was incapable of making her perceive their connection. Furthermore, she doomed their love forever. Amandus’s only hope is a spell concocted by Cupid: The Arcánús Amator: Spell of the Secret Lovers.

Hailey is desperate for love. She’s so desperate that when she finds a spell on the internet that promises to connect soul mates, she decides she must try it. Convincing her friend Hannah to help her, the girls embark on a one-night craze that will produce life-changing results and bring to life what was thought to be only a myth.






Excerpt:
She frowned. “What the hell’s happened?” She was quite sure this was not how the spell worked. Granted, she hadn’t exactly read the entire information sheet on the website.
“No one does,” she whined, bouncing on the balls of her feet while staring at the flickering flame of the candle. The thing was more than 20 pages long. It was like reading one of those software agreements. No one read the damn thing. She’d read the instructions and the first page with all the warnings and that was more than enough. Taking a deep breath, she managed to settle her nerves a little. Everyone thought she was the ditsy blonde obsessed with the occult, but she wasn’t. She was a hard worker, impatient when things didn’t go as expected. It was partially the reason why she’d filed through so many relationships. Why stay with a guy when he clearly had nothing to offer? Some of her friends argued that she didn’t give them a chance. She begged to differ. She’d given them a chance, they just hadn’t taken it. 
True, her impatience sometimes got her into some trouble but it also saved her from a lot of it. That, however, wasn’t the case now. Annoyed that the spell had gone awry, she brushed back her bangs impatiently. Whatever had happened was not important. The priority was getting Hannah back home. Scanning the room for her discarded laptop, she did a double take.
Obstructing the exit to the living room stood the most gorgeous man she had laid eyes on. He was massive. His head almost brushed the top of the doorframe. His heavily muscled arms were crossed in front of him, his chest bare except for the intricate design of a red-inked tattoo that started around his left nipple and descended across his side to his hip. Low on his hips, he wore a long black skirt made out of what looked like leather.
Hailey hesitated a moment before finally glancing fully at his face. Her breath stilled as their eyes locked. A clear shade of violet, they were not from this world. Swallowing, she took a step backwards without breaking her stare. The stranger’s eyes glittered with curiosity and amusement.  
“Careful with the center of the star,” he warned.
Hailey stumbled and froze. His voice was deep and commanding and had a familiar ring to it that sent her senses reeling. Shaking her head slightly, she continued moving away from him.
“Watch—”
Breath exploded from her lungs as she crashed into a shelf, a few ornaments she and Hannah kept, crashing to the floor.
“—out. Are you all right?”
Hailey winced, the back of the shelf digging into her skin, but she nodded anyway. The stranger flashed her a grin that made her knees weak. Hailey swallowed. The urge to see him smile again clawed at her insides like a desperate hunger.
Ignoring her, he glanced down at the pentagram, his silky dark curls framing his strong jaw and straight nose.
“You don’t look like you knew what you were getting into.”
Hailey held on to the bookcase behind her. She was afraid that if she moved the whole thing would topple over her head and she’d wake up, realizing that the man in the center of the room was nothing more than a dream.
“Read the first page of the instructions and didn’t bother to read the rest, huh?”
His eyes lifted to hers with a sassy smirk that lit up his violet eyes. Hailey stared speechless, the urge to touch the man making her palms itch as if she’d stepped into poison ivy.
“Yeah, you never did care what you got into, Ariadne.”
 Goose bumps sprouted over her flesh and she released the shelf, rubbing her arms in an attempt to warm her suddenly chilled skin. Ariadne. The name rang in her ears like a long forgotten memory always running at the edge of her vision, just a breadth away from her grasp.
“I—”
No words came out as he carefully watched her face, almost as if saving every detail of her features into his memory. Her mouth felt parched, her tongue too large, as she searched for words that wouldn’t come.
 “Yes?”
Butterflies danced in the pit of her stomach and her chest tightened, making it difficult to breathe. Fear mingled with a strange sense of joy. Names, places, and moments in time danced in the edge of her vision, taunting her to remember them, taunting her to say them aloud but fleeing before she could take hold of them.
“My name isn’t…”
The man raised his dark eyebrows, the shadow of a smile lifting the edge of his full lips.
“I know.”
“Oh.”




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Author Bio:
Defined as weird since she was about eight, Elyzabeth honors the title by making up songs about her chores, doodling stars and flowers on any blank sheet of paper and talking to her dog whenever he feigns interest.
Losing the battle to the voices in her head is her favorite pastime after annoying her younger sister with her singing. Writing stories full of passion and emotion where love conquers all is her happy pill and she'll forgo sleep to make her readers live the dream.
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Return to Drake Springs by Cheryl Norman #Giveaway





RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS
A Next Door Category Romance ~ Drake Springs, Book One
Cheryl Norman

Lance George debates his decision to return to his hometown, but the price is right on the abandoned veterinary hospital he hopes to buy. He’s saved his money to open his practice by living frugally and purchasing wisely. There’s no room in his life for wasteful spending. His alcoholic mother squandered everything she had when he was growing up, leaving him with an obsessive motivation to achieve financial security.
Iris Porter is unaware that she broke Lance’s heart in high school. She’s too busy trying to earn a living in a tough economy. She hopes to reclaim her old job as a veterinary assistant when Lance reopens the town’s only animal clinic. Popular and friendly, Iris is known to be generous to a fault. When a friend’s baby is stricken with leukemia, she organizes fundraisers and enlists Lance’s help.
Lance’s feelings for Iris rekindle when he realizes how much she’s changed. The high school snob is at odds with the caring, sensitive woman who wants to help a family in need. But can he reconcile Iris’s generous spirit with his overpowering need for penny pinching?


Short Version:
Popular cheerleader Iris Porter had no time for geeky Lance George in high school, but much has changed in nine years. Lance has matured into a handsome, successful veterinarian while Iris struggles to pay bills working part-time jobs. Can they finally find romance together? Or can the quintessential miser tolerate her freehearted, generous nature?



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Excerpt:
Lance George cruised into town in a fog of black insects and misgivings. He’d had good reason to leave home years ago. Was returning a mistake? He’d debated during the entire three-hour drive from Tallahassee and still questioned his decision. But he was here now. The moving company had his packed belongings ready to deliver. Inhaling a breath for courage, he slowed at the Welcome to Drake Springs sign.
Searching familiar landmarks, he recognized the Hurricane Lantern, a rustic restaurant located on Highway 471. To his left stood the stately Wilson home, vacant and for sale. Five blocks past the city limits sign, Highway 471 became Main Street. He passed the First Foster Bank and Boyd’s Diner, both still in business. A left turn here would take him to the high school, but he’d skip that detour down bad-memory lane.
The stoplight at Main Street turned red and he applied his brakes. A flash of purple grabbed his attention. Was that—? No, it couldn’t be. What were the odds he’d return to Drake Springs and immediately see the girl of his adolescent dreams? In the flesh—and what beautiful flesh—Iris Porter stepped into the crosswalk walking a bicycle to the opposite side of Main Street. It may have been nine years since he’d seen her, but with her blond curls sticking out the edges of a bicycle helmet, she looked as adorable as ever.
She turned her head and met his gaze but kept walking. She wouldn’t recognize him, and even if she did, why would she acknowledge him? She had deemed herself too good for him. He’d been a bookworm. A nerd. His limited circle of friends didn’t include babes and jocks. No reason to hope her opinion had changed.
She continued toward the courthouse. She hadn’t lost that subtle but alluring sway of hip that drew the attention of every male student standing in the halls at Foster County High—especially him. Instead of mounting her bicycle and riding, she chain-locked it to an oak tree.
“What’s your story, dear Iris?” He eased forward with the morning traffic while keeping her purple shorts and T-shirt in his peripheral vision. She still had her cheerleader’s legs and slender shape. If anything, she was thinner now. She disappeared inside the Foster County Courthouse. “Doing a title search? Paying your taxes? Filing for divorce?”
Iris’s rejection in high school had driven him to succeed and improve himself, so maybe he should thank her for stomping all over his heart. He continued his drive through town, leaving behind Iris Porter and all conjecture about her.
When he reached Ortega Street, he turned left and pulled into the parking lot of his destination. A business property that once housed Hodges Animal Clinic faced Main. Behind sat a modular home included with the business property. The lot looked weedy, abandoned, and neglected. No wonder it had such an attractive price tag. The realtor must have taken the online photos in winter, before the spring foliage filled in the blackjack oaks. Now shade cast most of the lot in darkness, forming a thick barrier against the hot Florida sun.
A middle-aged, heavyset woman stood in the gravel parking lot. He parked his Transit Connect beside her late model Buick. He’d recently purchased the economical business van in preparation for his new practice. It was small enough to serve as his personal vehicle, too. Unlike his mother, Lance did his research and made practical choices. Impulse buying got people in trouble.
“Doctor George?” The woman approached him with outstretched hand even before he’d fully exited his van. “I’m Barbara Sinclair.”
“Thank you for meeting me.” He shook her delicate manicured hand.
Everything about the woman looked professional, from her perfectly groomed, chestnut hair to her business attire. A few years and a few pounds ago, she was probably a real babe.
“I feel as if we’ve already met, from your e-mails. I believe this property will suit your needs.”
“It looks less cheerful than in the online photos.”
She winced. “Weeds grow quickly in Florida. The reduced price should more than make up for the little TLC the place needs.”
“Right.” He’d reserve judgment until he inspected the buildings. He locked his van, an action that earned him a bemused smile from Ms. Sinclair. She probably thought it overkill for a small town like Drake Springs, but she refrained from commenting. “Could you show me the office first? If it doesn’t suit, there’s no need to tour the house.”
“Exactly my thought. Follow me.”
He fell in step beside her. “What happened to Otis Gibbons? I thought he was the listing agent.”
“You know Otis?”
“I’m originally from Drake Springs, hence my interest in opening a practice here.”
She opened the door, stepped aside, and motioned him in. The faint odor of antiseptic mingled with the woman’s cologne as she moved past him. She’d been a bit generous with her atomizer. “Otis sold me the business when he was elected county commissioner. He didn’t want any question of conflict of interest.”
“Right.” He shut the door against a swarm of love bugs. Those inescapable black insects that frustrated Floridians every May and September seemed especially thick this spring.
“It may be a bit warm. I turned up the air conditioning about thirty minutes ago when I opened the building.”
“Feels comfortable.”
“The air conditioner is fairly new. Four years old, I’d say.”
The office was a converted Florida Cracker style house, with porches and a breezeway. The reception area was in the former living room. A pass-through with added counter separated the public area from the office. A few animal carriers sat along one wall of the former dining room. “How many exam rooms?”
“Three. The hall gives access both from the reception area and the operating room. There’s also a bathroom.”
“Hmm.” The equipment was gone, probably sold by Doctor Hodges’s estate after her death. Stainless steel tables, gleaming as if recently polished, dominated each examination room. “How long did you say this had been vacant?”
“About three years, but Otis has kept the power connected. He also hired a cleaning service to make regular visits.”
Too bad Otis hadn’t arranged for lawn service as well. “That’s been costly for Otis.”
“Frankly, he expected the property to sell quickly. It’s an attractive location, and Drake Springs is growing. But even Florida wasn’t immune to an economic recession.”
She led him around to the operating room, at one time the house’s kitchen. A door led back to the dining room/office, where the receptionist’s desk and file cabinets now stood. The rear of the house had a utility room, still equipped with a clothes washer and dryer. One wall held stacked cages. A breezeway led to fenced pens outside. He would have preferred more kennel room, but this could work.
“Well, Doctor George, what do you think?” She closed the back door and walked down the steps. “Want to see the residence?”
“Yes, I do.” He followed her past the fenced pens to the back door of the doublewide mobile home. “Where do people take their animals for medical care since this clinic closed?”
“Right now they’re driving twenty-five or thirty miles, to Lake City or up to Georgia. Trust me, this town will welcome you with open arms.”
He was counting on it. He’d saved a tidy sum of money and had qualified for a loan, but he needed equipment, supplies, and utility deposits. He wanted to make this property work, because it’s all he could afford.
The blue painted metal roofing on the home matched the roofing on the clinic. He’d guess the modular home to be less than ten years old, although the roof made it look newer.
“Is the roof new?”
“About four years old.” She unlocked the back door of the residence and led him inside. “Doc Hodges made several improvements before opening her practice.”
Not a fan of modular housing, he examined each room with skepticism. The floor plan was surprisingly open and pleasant, with vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows. A large great room separated two bedrooms and a bath from the owner’s suite and kitchen. The walls were painted or paneled, rather than the patterned wallboard he’d seen on older mobile homes. “Doctor Hodges lived here?”
“Yes. It was convenient, especially for emergencies with animals staying overnight.” She opened the blinds, revealing two windows overlooking the front porch and the front yard’s large crepe myrtle tree, just beginning to bloom. “Her mother sold all the furniture but not the appliances. Of course, if you prefer to live elsewhere, you could rent it out.”
He gave a noncommittal murmur, but he’d be nuts to live anywhere else. Living near the clinic made economic sense. He wouldn’t spend more than he needed to. The bedrooms were roomy enough, especially the owner’s suite with its own bathroom and walk-in closet.
“Cable and high-speed internet are available here, too.”
“Good.” He didn’t need television, but internet was vital to his business. “Immediate possession?” The sooner, the better, because he had no home. His mother had lost their house years ago, and Pops had no room to spare.
“Yes. Considering the amount of your down payment, you’ll have no trouble qualifying for the loan assumption. As soon as we can schedule the closing, you can hang out your open-for-business sign.”
“Well.” He chuckled. “It’s not that simple. I need equipment, for starters. And staff. You know any experienced veterinarian assistants?”
She led him into the kitchen. The appliances looked new. Doctor Hodges hadn’t been one to cook as far as he could tell. But Doc George enjoyed cooking. And he could make the most of this spacious, well-appointed kitchen.
“I know of one. She worked for Doc Hodges but lost her job, of course, when her boss died. She might welcome the opportunity to interview with you.”
“Thanks. First, let’s write the contract.” He followed her outside to the long front porch, additional construction to the original modular home, probably one of Doc Hodges’s improvements. It faced Ortega, a residential street with tidy, modest homes and mature shade trees. Empty except for a wooden swing, the porch could be a cozy retreat at the end of the day, assuming he wasn’t too busy to stop and relax.
Ms. Sinclair removed a ballpoint pen and business card from her purse. She wrote on the blank side of the card. “Here’s the name of the vet assistant when you get ready to hire your staff. You can probably find her at Miller’s IGA Market on Desoto, where she’s been working part time.”
He stuffed the card in his shirt pocket. “Thanks.”
They walked around to the front of the business via the sidewalk, which returned them to the gravel parking lot. “Let me get my brief case and I’ll meet you inside.”
Jittery with nerves, he went inside the building and paced the reception area. This was it. He was about to gamble—no, not gamble—invest his savings into his own practice. He’d have to start out conservatively, at least until he knew how many patients he’d have. One experienced assistant would be a good idea. He could hire more staff as his practice grew. He fished the business card from his pocket and flipped it over to read the name. His hand trembled. The card flew from his fingers.
He stooped to pick it up and read the name again. And smiled.
Iris Porter.


****


Cheryl Norman grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and earned a BA in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After a career in the telecommunications industry, she turned to fiction writing and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort.  Her debut with Medallion Press, Restore My Heart, led to a mention in Publisher's Weekly as one of ten new romance authors to watch. Running Scared, a romantic suspense set in Jacksonville, Florida, and Washington D.C., received a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today. Reviewer Harriet Klausner calls her writing "Mindful of Linda Howard." She currently writes the Drake Springs series romance novels for Turquoise Morning Press.
Her passion for cooking and healthful eating led her to write four cookbooks and an award-winning blog, The Hasty Tasty Meals Kitchen (hastytastymeals.com). She also offers writers grammar help via her Grammar Cop blog, newsletter articles, and workshops.
In addition to writing fiction and cookbooks, Cheryl works with other breast cancer survivors to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of the disease. 
Books by Cheryl Norman (Amazon):
RETURN TO DRAKE SPRINGS (Book 1: Drake Springs Next Door series from Turquoise Morning Press)
RUNNING OUT OF TIME (Turquoise Morning Press)
REBUILD MY WORLD (Turquoise Morning Press)
RECLAIM MY LIFE (Medallion Press)
RESTORE MY HEART (Medallion Press)
RUNNING SCARED (Medallion Press)
ROMANCE ON ROUTE 66 Anthology (Highland Press)

Short fiction by Cheryl Norman:
Coming soon: Hometown Blessings (Highland Press’s Christmas Blessings anthology)
The Christmas Prayer (Highland Press’s The Heart of Christmas anthology)
Veiled Threat (Turquoise Morning Press’s The Wedding Day Collection)
Twilight Time (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)
Bad Moon Rising (Highland Press-Romance on Route 66)


Giveaway:   signed copies of the original Drake Springs novels, RECLAIM MY LIFE and REBUILD MY WORLD.  US only.


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