Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Part 6 in Thurmount Holiday (see the category Thurmount Holiday for the other entries).

Insignificant preamble. You all weren’t getting a segment of Thurmount Holidays for today’s daily prompt because I didn’t think I could write one after going to a Christmas Party so I wrote something earlier in the day. However, I kind of like Will and Kayla and when I got home, I thought: well, let’s just see if I can write something, anything. So, here it goes:

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

For years predating me, Will’s family, Blake’s family, Layla’s family (you haven’t met Layla yet, but hang on) and mine have gotten together for a Christmas tree trimming party. The party alternates years at different houses. Will, Blake, and me have missed it for the past three years.

When I was pudgy, it was not a fun time. Blake would have all manner of condescending remarks about my weight. And, yes, I know what you’re thinking. How could you date a guy like that, much less think you were in love with him?

Simple. Try being fat.

I have no doubt that it’s a psychoanalyst’s daydream. A fat girl turning svelte and falling in love with her tormenter. Geez, when I read it, it’s just plain sad. I am sincerely boo-hooing in my cheerios. However, it’s probably also the reason why I have never considered Will as anything more than a friend. He’s never treated me badly. He has always, 100% of the time, treated me well. He’s been there; he’s been fantastic; and I have never looked at him as a sexual being until this morning.

I hang back as the families come in. The house crowds quickly and eggnog, wine, beer and bourbon are poured and then there’s the cutting of the spirited fruitcake from Granny Tyler that’s made with her spiced cherries, dates, apricots, apples, roasted pecans and lots and more of bourbon that would have you rethinking every nasty thing you’ve ever heard about fruitcakes.

Megan has Christmas music jingling from multiple mobile speakers around the house. The fire is snapping in the living room. The house is rowdy and yet nostalgic, making me hunger for the holidays more than I have in years, maybe just because I haven’t been back and immersed in them.

I watch Will and Blake. Will keeps glancing around and I realize he’s looking for me, but I stand back for a few moments. I feel like I just need to really see him because the atmosphere is changing between us, and it may even be an atmosphere of my own manipulation, but I need to have a slight understanding of it.

He’s drinking an oatmeal stout that I recognize as one he and I had loved at a bar on one of our stops in Santa Fe. He and Blake don’t talk; they don’t even hang near each other. Blake is trying to be the life of the party, but he forgets that everyone here has always known him and, while he might be a star in Nashville, in this house he’s just Blake Hunter, son of William and Brenda.

When I enter the living room with the three boxes of Christmas ornaments I’d been sent for, Will looks up and smiles. I keep trying to find a way to tell you about Will’s smile. It transforms a perfectly nice looking face into a handsome one with straight white teeth and crinkles at the corners of the kindest blue eyes that are like the Caribbean sea off of Cancun. I wish he’d trim some of the errant beard that seems to want to creep up his cheeks, but it’s not like that’s something we can’t handle

Blake shows me his surly side with his nose inching upward and his lips pressed tight. He’s called me a fat bitch in the past and right now he’s more than willing to call me the latter half of that.

Megan hands me an eggnog. It’s only after I’ve taken a sip that I realize that it’s mostly creamy colored bourbon with lots of nutmeg. Hallelujah!  I sip deeply and hang on.

As if on cue Layla enters. Layla is immune. She’s immune to the cold. She’s immune to bad press. She’s immune to Blake Hunter. She’s immune to any and every butt kicking negative thing that could ever be said about her. She’s my hero. Up until she decides that Will is going to be her conquest for the night.

“Will Garrett?” she asks as she sidles up to him. He looks momentarily taken aback. He has never been on Layla’s radar before.

“Hiya, Layla.”

“You have just become the most delectable thing I have ever seen.” Her fingers run over those errant beard whiskers.

I watch feeling like one of those people who dawdle by traffic accidents, except I’m pretty sure my lower lip is dipping and that I’m about to pout or do something mean. It could go either way. I have never had an issue with Layla, like I said, she’s my hero. But right now….

Megan thrusts a bourbon neat at Layla. How my little sister knows what drink to provide without asking, I don’t know, but Layla looks happy and actually throws back the contents of the glass. See what I mean? That’s kind of awesome, except for her grabbing the corners of Will’s collar and pulling him close. Will looks out of his element and his eyes search desperately. I hope for me.

I sashay forward, at least I hope that’s what it looks like, and grab Will’s arm and smile at Layla. “Layla, so good to see you!”

Will moves his arm around my waist. I’m sure it’s for self-preservation, but he also pulls me close against him. It is in no way unpleasant.

Layla is smart. She looks at us, our arms, our faces and shrugs and grins as if it were all a game. And maybe it was.

“I brought my karaoke machine,” she says and then holds a black box up at us. “I can’t abide y’all not singing!”

I shrug. “I don’t really sing.”

“You’re a hoot,” she says.

“No, you are!” I say, laughing. We all laugh. It’s silly, I know. But even more silly is singers doing karaoke.

“Let’s do ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’” Will says, still holding me close.

“Okay.” My breathing has sped up. Severely.  I’m wondering if I’m getting a cold.


We Need a Little Christmas

Part 5 in Thurmount Holidays (see the category Thurmount Holidays for the other entries).


Well, this is different. I’m walking down Pendleton Street to meet my little sister, Megan, at the new bistro (Thurmount has a bistro! How awesome is that?) passing people who point and laugh at me. I’ve been laughed at before, not in a few years, and mostly when I weighed a lot in high school and the cheerleaders would do what cheerleaders have been doing since the beginning of the dawn of cheerleaders picking on unpopular teenagers. I grew out of that phase — not exactly the phrase for losing weight, is it?—and then when Blake decided I was “hot,” I strangely became popular. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: it sounds a lot like the plot of a teen movie.

I did not gain a hundred pounds overnight. I did look in the mirror before leaving my parents’ house; I looked normal enough or as much as usual. So why the laughter?

Passing Thirsty’s I look at the announcement flyer of The Thurmount Trio’s charity performance next week and keep walking then stop dead in my tracks and turn back. Someone has superimposed the body of a male swimmer in a speedo over my body. I rip the flyer from the window. It’s not taped or glued on. It’s been photoshopped. These flyers are all over town. That explains the laughter.

When I enter the Pendleton Bistro, the patrons who see me fall silent. This is fun. I look around for Megan. She’s at a secluded booth looking at her phone when she glances up and sees me. She is biting her bottom lip in an effort to not grin, I’m sure.

I slide in. “Good morning. Lovely morning, isn’t it?”

She nods her head, evidently afraid that if she doesn’t bite her lip she will erupt in laughter. I place the flyer on the table in front of her. She reddens with the effort of containing her laughter. Even my sister, the one I protected for so many years. What is the world coming to?

“So you saw this?” I ask.

She takes a deep breath as if to clear away all of the residual laughter. “Uh-huh. They did a good job with the neck.”

“Oh, yeah. I was really concerned about the neck,” I say. “Any idea who did this?”

Megan pours coffee from a black carafe into my coffee cup. I add milk and a teaspoon of sugar. It’s a luscious dark roast. The pleasure is all mine.

“Probably Angie Dalton. She’s really good with photoshop.”

“That’s not enough to assume she did it.”

“Mike saw her putting them up.”

“That on the other hand is pretty condemning. Angie Dalton? Huh.”

“She told Blake you were so out of line for the way you talked to him last night. What did you say, anyway? I’ve heard that you said his penis was the size of a baby carrot.”

I chuckle. This is kind of funny. It’s a good thing it happened today and not a few years ago.

“His size or lack thereof never came up, oddly enough,” I say.

The waitress comes over. I don’t recognize her so I presume she’s new to Thurmount. She sees the flyer on the table and then takes a good look at me and grins. “You must have pissed somebody off. Those things are plastered all over town. What can I get y’all for breakfast?”

We order then enjoy our coffee. The door opens and Will comes in. I notice that women perk up at his arrival and I try to see him the way that they do. He is scruffier than Blake with sandy blonde hair that curls around the collar of his coat and a close beard. His aqua blue eyes gleam with intelligence.

“I always thought you and him were a perfect match,” Megan says following the direction of my eyes.


“Because even when you were chubby, he was nice to you unlike Blake. And, he’s sensitive, like a poet, isn’t he? He is way sexier than Blake in my opinion. But I never did go for beefcake.”

Will sees us and waves. I gesture for him to come over, but he points to a booth a few back from us and I see that his Aunt Louise is there talking on a cellphone as she is apt to as she’s one of the top performing realtors in the county. Heck, probably in this part of the state.

I watch him hug his aunt who put away her cell on his approach. He says something that makes her laugh and I can’t help smiling.

“Maybe there’s hope for you yet,” Megan says.

“What? What am I missing?”

“You’ve been missing what’s right in front of your face for a long time.”

He smiles this gentle smile. His blue eyes sparkle. He sees me watching him and raises an eyebrow as if trying to get me to explain myself using charades. I wink and blow him a kiss. The wink’s what I do. The kiss is new.


end 12/9/2016

S. Darlington

Review of The 12 dares of Christmas


The 12 dares of Christmas

by Leigh W. Stuart

City Owl Press

November 22, 2016

Lauren Hall is in the middle of a charity function to support the local animal shelter when the guy who’s supposed to jump out of the cake and do a striptease for the local knitting society is late.

When a guy, a very cute ginger sporting a close beard, enters and knows her name, she  presumes that he is the cake guy. It’s actually Gabe Nicholson, her brother’s best friend, who is doing a favor for her brother, Cooper, by responding to her call for help. She gives him stripper pants and eggnog-flavored body oil. And then begins the first dare of the season . . .

I loved this book! It is fun! It is sexy! It it is ridiculously sweet and big-hearted! I loved Gabe and Lauren!

After several days of trying to get into another book and finding my attention elsewhere, last night I thought I had better find something else and chose this one because it sounded like fun. It was. It also cured me of thinking that my attention couldn’t be held by a book at the moment because I just didn’t want to put this one down even when the clock told me I had better.

Everything just works so well about it. Sometimes an author will launch into a sex scene and it will seem so rote that it’s boring, but the ones in The 12 dares of Christmas were steamy and really unforced and oo la la! This book is, amongst many other things, sexy so if you are put off by the hot and steamy, you might want to give this a pass.

The chemistry between Lauren and Gabe was immediate. She is worried that her over-protective brother will find out that she’s seeing his best friend while Gabe continually says he’s not afraid of Cooper. They are so into each other that they sometimes don’t think of the repercussions.

Lauren’s Aunt Jo, best friend, Abby, and boss, Isabelle, add a lot of humor and fun to the mix and there were lots of cutes with puppies and kittens and Gabe’s interactions.

While the book takes place over just a matter of days, Lauren and Gabe seem natural. There are no unrealistic droppings of the “l” word and the ending with that in mind is more than extremely satisfactory.

The 12 dares of Christmas was definitely a novel that was over before I knew it, and I didn’t want it to end.

This may be the best Christmas read of the season for me; if not, it’s really close.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

From Amazon: The 12 dares of Christmas

rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly (5 out of 5 butterflies)

C-I-O: God of Wine Release Blast, Excerpt and Giveaway!



God of Wine
Immortal Matchmakers, Inc. #3

By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Released Nov 25th, 2016

From New York Times Bestseller Mimi Jean Pamfiloff…
Book #3 of the Immortal Matchmakers Inc. Series. (Standalone)


Acan, the God of Wine and Intoxication, has been partying for over ten thousand years. And New Year’s Eve, when humans around the world succumb to his naturally occurring spike in powers, is his big night. Only this year, things are bit different.

A plague is sweeping the immortal community, and he’s turning downright evil. All those New Year’s bashes will turn into bloodbaths if he doesn’t stop it. Sadly, the only known cure is finding a mate, and he is a giant, rude, beer-bellied mess. Definitely not husband material.

But can a little gym-time and help from the pros at Immortal Matchmakers, Inc. turn him into a divine sex-machine? Absolutely!

So watch out, ladies! The God of Wine is lookin’ for love. And he has absolutely no clue what he’s doing.



Buy Links:      AMAZON | B & NITUNES | KOBO

Author Info

Remy PamfiloffMIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author. Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance closet and follow your dream. Mimi lives with her Latin Lover hubby, two pirates-in-training (their boys), and the rat terrier duo, Snowflake and Mini Me, in Arizona. She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men


e0f91-tastytoursgiveawayPrizes: 5 Winners. 2 winners will receive IMI Bumpersticker + Post it + God of Wine paperback, bookmark and magnet. 3 Winners will receive God of Wine paperback, bookmark and magnet.

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gow-teaser-04“You heard me. No more cocktails. No more beer. No more flaming assholes or Jell-O shots or even cough syrup.”

Belch gasped. No more flaming assholes? But those were the highlight of his mornings:

– ½ ounce grenadine

– ½ ounce crème de menthe

– ½ ounce crème de banana

– ½ ounce 151 rum

Light on fire.

The breakfast of champions. “What is this blasphemy I hear from your lips, sister?”

She poked his forehead from across the bar. “You! Have to. Get. Sober.”

Why the hell would he do that? People needed to party. He needed to party. It was the Universe’s will and purely instinctual for him. Asking him not to party was like asking the sun not to shine or for glue to stop being sticky.

“Because you have less than four weeks to find your mate—wait, make that two weeks.”

“Why two?” he asked.

“You know we all like to take the last two weeks of the year for vacation. So should you fail to find a mate, we really should lock you up beforehand. Wouldn’t want to ruin everyone’s fun, would you?”

“No. Fun is an essential part of a balanced and complete existence. Which is why I refuse to give up mine.” He stared defiantly, feeling disgustingly sober already. After all, he’d only had a few—ten or eleven beers. Or was it twelve?

“Brother, you can’t find your woman if you’re passed out or drunk. You need to be coherent and focused, and above all your senses cannot be dulled, or how will you know when you find her?”

He grumbled incoherently and stared into the mirror behind his sister, watching the old janitor sweep between the empty tables to his back. The bar wouldn’t open until four p.m., but he always loved to come early and prepare to greet the sad, the forlorn, the overworked masses in need of a little fun. To stressed-out humans, he was like an instant happy pill, and frankly, he enjoyed seeing their faces light up when he prepared the beer bong.

“Sorry. Nocando. I’ve been partying for over ten thousand years.” Merely a teenager in deity terms, but he’d been a late bloomer in finding his special powers.

“And?” Forgetty grabbed a rack of clean glasses and a dish towel and began checking for spots before storing them under the counter.

“And…and…if I stop, I will get a hangover. An epic, immortal-sized hangover.”

Forgetty blinked at him. “Don’t be such a child. You can handle a little headache.”

“Headache? Dear gods! I thought a hangover was feeling tired. Now I have to deal with a headache, too?”

She rolled her eyes.

“What? I’ve never had a headache, and in case you haven’t heard, headaches hurt. I am not a fan of pain.”

“You either get it over with now, or you’ll be doing it when we lock you up in Sedona, where there’ll be no booze, no fun, and no partying until the Universe has sorted things out and this flipping issue is flipping resolved, which might be a very, very long flipping time.”

Gah. Sedona. That was where his brother Kinich had his massive estate. Nearby was one of their largest immortal prisons and Uchben bases. Uchben served primarily as the gods’ mortal army; however, Uchben of every profession—doctors, teachers, accountants, scientists—were dispersed throughout the globe. After all, fourteen gods could hardly keep an eye on so many humans. Thankfully, however, the gods’ role was not to babysit every being on the planet. It was merely to ensure humans weren’t wiped out as a species, as was the case seventy thousand years ago when the super-volcano Toba erupted. The entire human population dwindled down to a few hundred as ash blocked out the sun for a decade. That was when the gods simply appeared. No one knew why or how exactly, but over time, they evolved along with humans and slowly began to specialize. Lately, the gods had begun taking mates and having children. A very new event in their history. Some had even transferred their powers to their significant others and shared their divine duties.

Well, fuck that. I’m not sharing my powers! And I’m not going to that horrible prison. Arizona is hot, and they have big bugs. Ick.

“I won’t do it. I’d rather die. Now, pass me that tequila.” He pointed to the expensive stuff on the top shelf.

“Nope.” Forgetty shook her head.

“How dare you defy me when I’m thirsty and in need of a tasty Mexican spirit…” His words faded as she dialed on her cell phone. “Who are you calling?”

She gave him her back. “Hi, all. This is you-don’t-know-who. I’m leaving a message in the emergency voice mailbox to inform you that Acan’s evil switch is flipping.”

Oh no! Forgetty was sending out an alert to his brethren.

He jumped and reached across the counter, swiping the phone from her hands. “You quisling! You cannot do that.”

She cocked a blonde brow. “I can. I will. And you’ll end up locked away.”

“Fine. Okay. Name your price. I have some thirty-year-old Margeaux tucked away. Or how about a nice Chateau OohLaLa.” He couldn’t remember the name of the winery, but OohLaLa sounded fancy, right?

“You will stop partying. You will get into shape. You will make yourself appealing to more than just drunk women looking for a good time they’ll forget they had, and you will find your mate in two weeks.”

Now standing and trying not to get annoyed by the room not swaying, he planted his hands on the bar. “Just how do you propose I do that?”

She smiled, her turquoise eyes twinkling. “We’re calling the Immortal Matchmakers.”

He scoffed. “Zac and Cimil? They couldn’t find their way out of an empty beer can.” Zac, God of Temptation, and Cimil, Goddess of the Underworld, had been banished to the human world for breaking several divine laws—illegal use of powers, lying to fellow deities, acting without regard for another god’s mate, the list went on and on. Zac and Cimil had also been stripped of their powers until they matched up one hundred immortal couples. The punishment was supposed to teach the two about the importance of love, family, and helping others rather than themselves.

Stupid. Zac would never learn, and Cimil was evil to the core. Always would be. Gods, I love her. So much fun.

“They do not have powers. What is the point?” he asked.

Forgetty sighed. “They don’t need powers to throw a party and invite every eligible single immortal woman they know. All you need to do is show up sober. And wear pants. Pants would be a nice start. Feel free to practice that one starting today.” Forgetty lifted a brow.

He looked down, past his beer belly, finding his big salami dangling against his thigh. “Damn. I could’ve sworn I stopped by my taco truck and grabbed my pants.”

“Taco truck? What happened to your house? Wait.” She stuck out her hand. “Don’t tell me. You threw another wild party and burned it down.”

How did she know? The woman was psychic. “Not on purpose. It is simply that I enjoy creating those flaming drinks the crowds so love.”

“You could make them outside.”

“What fun would that be?” The thrill of a flaming cocktail was just as much about the flavor and presentation as it was about the subconscious fear of something exploding in a blaze of glory.

C-I-O: Unbreakable Seal Book Blitz, Excerpt, Interview and Giveaway!

Unbreakable Seal
Summer Lane
Publication date: December 9th 2016
Genres: Adult, Thriller

Chris Young has it all.

Elite training, undercover missions, and a life of adventure. As one of the best Navy SEALs in the world, he finds himself in the thick of some of the most violent situations on planet earth.

He’s a warrior.

But when his wife is murdered by terrorist assassins, everything he thinks he knows changes. For Chris Young, everything is about revenge, and finding the people who killed his wife.

He will assemble a team. He will come up with a plan.

He will make them pay.

From the #1 bestselling author of the Collapse Series, Bravo Saga and Zero Trilogy, comes this thrilling adventure novel about one man’s quest to avenge the person he loves most.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble


Chris leaned on the counter. He looked down at his hands, calloused and dirty. They were strong hands. Killing hands. The tools of his trade, and he was feeling strangely detached from life in Afghanistan today. His head still echoed with the sound of bullets and the screams of horses. He could still smell the blood and the death.

It was inside him—part of him. Like a physical thing, the blood and carnage of this place had wrapped itself inside his chest and hardened there, making it impossible to sleep at night or to walk from the barracks to the chow hall without resting his hand on his gun, waiting for the attack to come.


Author Bio:

Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 15 novels, including the books of The Collapse Series, The Zero Trilogy, The Bravo Saga, Collapse: The Illustrated Guide and the newly released Unbreakable SEAL. She owns WB Publishing, Writing Belle, and is an experienced creative writing teacher and journalist.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter



Blitz-wide giveaway (US/CAN)

Amazon Echo Dot

5 Autographed Collapse Mini-Posters

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unbreakable SEAL

Interview with #1 bestselling author Summer Lane


 What was it like writing SEAL – and what writing methods helped you get it done?

Writing SEAL was crazy! I had a really tight writing schedule – impossible, almost – and I had only a few weeks to write the manuscript’s rough draft. I powered through it with lots of coffee (channeling my inner Lorelai Gilmore), tons of tea, and countless hours of hard work. One of the most helpful writing methods for me is to take a small break every 2-3 hours and to make sure office music is playing at all times.

What kind of music do you listen to while you’re writing?

Anything that provides stimulation. I love classical music, but when I’m trying to write a certain type of book and/or scene, I will sometimes switch the playlist up to something more upbeat for action, morose for sad scenes, sweeping and profound for drama, etc.

How do you stay focused?

Here’s the thing: a lot of people think that writing is basically just somebody sitting down at a computer and pounding on the keyboard, magically popping a bestseller out and working in fuzzy slippers. While I can’t deny the fuzzy slippers (oops), there’s a lot more to it than that, thank you very much. Just as you would be fired for continually failing to show up at any job, if I decided not to work, I pay for it, too. I stay focused by keeping myself in check, reminding myself how far I’ve come, and how far I’d like to continue to go. I break my massive goals up into smaller goals – you can accomplish ANYTHING if you do that. Don’t believe me? Try it! It’s possible, I promise! J

Favorite adventure movie of the moment, favorite song of the moment, favorite book of 2016 and favorite TV show?

Okay, here we go. Favorite movie of the moment would have to be Rogue One, even though I haven’t seen it yet. I just know it’s going to be great! My favorite song of the moment is still It Was Always You, by Maroon 5. It’s been my favorite song for over a year, so I think technically the “moment” has passed. My favorite book of 2016 was probably Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I honestly LOVED it, because it was fun and clever and it pulled me into its world. Either that or Puppies, Dogs and Blue Northers by Gary Paulsen (don’t even get me started on Woodsong). My favorite TV show is Gilmore Girls – the original series, not to be confused with the revival. I also really enjoyed Stranger Things. What great writing and originality! Daredevil was pretty incredible, too. I loved John Bernthal’s portrayal of the Punisher. And I’ll stop now, haha.


Let It Snow


Part 4 of Thurmount Holiday. Check the category Thurmount Holiday for the other entries.


Will and I sit in the back corner of Thirsty’s nibbling on nachos and drinking beer while waiting for Blake. It had been Blake’s idea to meet after the tree lighting “to catch up.” Thursday is karaoke night and in honor of the tree lighting all of the songs are holiday-related. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a well-meaning, but vocally deficient person wail “Joy to the World” aided by a hefty dose of Daryl Hollister’s spiked homemade eggnog.

The current singer is doing a seductive version of “Silver Bells” and I know the instant Blake Hunter walks through the door because she stops singing and giggles. Then she yells into the microphone, “Hey, Blake Hunter, did you come to hear me sing?”

My stupid heart jumps and pirouettes. I angle to see Blake. He’s still not wearing a jacket though it is definitely below freezing outside. He is sopping up the attention, hugging and kissing the women and slapping the men on the back. I lean back and feel Will’s eyes on me. I dip a tortilla chip into guacamole and make believe I’m being nonchalant, but I know I’m not fooling Will. I will never fool Will.

It’s ten tension-filled minutes before Blake makes his way back to us. He shakes Will’s hand and then kisses me on the lips, again, as if he has some sanctioned right.

Angie, who was a couple of years behind us at school, is the waitress and she instantly materializes, her attention focused on Blake. She leans over, giving him an eyeful, which he takes full advantage of and always has, even when we were together. Let it never be said that there was a cleavage view offered that Blake Hunter missed. I spare a glance at Will and he is looking at me. That’s the way it’s always been. Blake looking around, me looking at Blake, and Will looking at me. It kind of makes you think.

After Blake orders a beer, he devours the nachos. “I’m only here for a week, what about y’all?” he asks, while chewing. “I’ve got to get back into the studio and start recording. Got anything for me, Will? Some new song that doesn’t work for y’all? There was that one about a girl I liked. Have y’all done anything with it?”

“I don’t think I have anything for you,” Will says before taking a long draught of beer.

“Nothing? What about you, babe? You were always one for those funny honkytonk songs about strong women and shit,” Blake says, snagging more chips and filling his mouth.

I wince. “Been awhile since you ate?”

“Crap, yeah. I have been so busy, you wouldn’t believe. Right before I got on the bus to come here, I had to do some charity crap in Kentucky. The only food they had were crappy little mini things like sliders and quiches that are about the size of a quarter, I kid you not. A man needs meat, whole frickin’ sides of beef,” Blake says.

When Angie returns with his beer, he slides his arm around her and practically buries his face in her cleavage. She laughs and pushes him playfully. Blake seems to be taking full advantage of his country star persona.

“Isn’t she a treasure?” Blake asks and looks at me and Will before refocusing his attention on Angie. “Are you new in town?”

“This is Tom Dalton’s little sister,” Will says.

“Tom Dalton? Do I know him?”

I can’t stop rolling my eyes. “You’re kidding, right? Tom Dalton was the running back. You used to hang together.”

“That’s twelve years ago. You expect me to remember twelve years ago?” Blake asks, his mouth hanging open, as he holds his hands up and looks around. “Am I right? I have been living the life, babe, the life. Not sitting on my ass and going down some frickin’ memory lane like you all. The Thurmount Trio. What kind of shit is that?”

You’ve heard about red heads and temper? It’s like Blake has flipped a switch on me and I am burning. Maybe I am being unreasonable. Maybe not. I grab my wallet from my messenger bag, throw some cash on the table, and then smile broadly at Blake who is watching me with a look I do know. He thinks I’ll have a tantrum and then five minutes later I’ll be running back in here, pawing at him, wanting him to forgive me. That woman disappeared two years ago and I was glad to see her go.

“Well, Blake, it’s been real . . .real what? I don’t know. Entertaining? Enlightening? Are those words slightly too big for your comprehension? Are you coming, Will?” I ask and then yank on my red wool coat.

“Are you coming, Will?” Blake mocks me. “Of course, he’s going. He’s your little dog.”

I see Will’s hands clench into fists, which startles me. I grab his coat off the hook and put my hand on his arm.

“Will Garrett is more of a man than you’ll ever be, Blake Hunter, and don’t you forget it,” I say as I ineffectively push his shoulder with my forefinger.

As we leave Thirsty’s, aware of the stunned looks people are giving me, I grab Will’s hand. The sudden thrust of cold takes my breath away when we step outside. The wind is kicking snowflakes around. I stand there a moment to take it in and feel my temper immediately dissolve.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” I ask looking at the falling snow and the glittering Christmas lights that line Pendleton Street. The bare trees glisten with white jeweled blankets. I stick out my tongue to catch a snowflake and then grin at Will who is smiling at me.

“Very beautiful,” he says and my breath hitches with an unfamiliar reaction to my best friend Will.

Not knowing what else to do, I do what I always do when I’m nervous. I sing: “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . .”


end 12/8/2016

S. Darlington




C-I-O: Skirting the Ice Release Blast, Excerpt, and Giveaway!


Skirting the Ice
Bannister Brothers #3

By: Jennie Marts

Releasing December 8, 2016

“The Bannister Brothers series has everything I love…hockey, humor, and heart!” – Kristin Miller- New York Times Bestselling author 

Buttoned-up accountant Jack Bannister lives an uncomplicated life until his teenage crush moves back into the house next door…all grown up and sexy as hell. Murphy Ryan is still wild and reckless, and danger has followed her to Colorado.  Jack will do whatever it takes to protect her, even it means letting her go…again.

Murphy Ryan is focused on building a new NHL women’s hockey team. But staying on her game is hard with the distraction, and the memories, of the hot nerd in the house next door. Jack Bannister had been her first kiss, and she wants him to be her last. With his dry humor and sexy glasses, being smart never looked so good.

Jack’s been given a chance to win back the one that got away, but worries this gorgeous hockey player is still out of his league. He’s kept his heart on ice, but now that Murphy’s back, she might be the one to finally thaw it.

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Author Info

jennie-marts-200-pixJennie Marts is the USA Today Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.



$15.00 Amazon eGift Card!!!

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His eyes widened, and he swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. Frozen in place, he only stared at her as he labored to breathe.

“Are you okay? Do you need your inhaler?”

“Yes. No. Wait.” He pulled in a deep breath. “I’m okay. It’s just that I’ve thought about this so many times. Dreamed of what it would be like. But I never imagined it would be like this. You’re a goddess. You literally take my breath away.”

Oh. My. Gosh.

Her heart ached at the pure honesty of his words.

He shook his head, letting out an embarrassed sigh. “Sorry. That’s pretty nerdy, huh? It’s gotta be so sexy to take your top off and have a guy have an asthma attack just from looking at you.”

If you only knew.

She sat up, pressing him back against the sofa as she straddled his lap. Pushing his hair off his forehead, she gazed into his eyes, trying to match his sincerity. “You just told me that seeing me half naked literally took your breath away. That’s actually sexy as hell.”

A grin tugged at the corner of his lips. A grin so cute that she couldn’t help but smile back.

“Jack Bannister. You are like no man that I have ever known. I’m sitting topless in your lap, and instead of mauling me, we’re grinning like loons.”

His smile widened. “I know. It’s ridiculous. I want to maul you. Well, I mean I want to everything you. It’s not like I’m normally a real suave guy or anything. But holy hell, when I’m around you, I feel like a gawky teenage boy again that’s never kissed a girl and is completely transfixed by an amazing pair of breasts.” His gaze flicked down to her chest and color brightened his cheeks. “I don’t even know what to do with my hands.”

She cocked an eyebrow at him. “Amazing, huh?”

He nodded. “Spectacular.”

His words made her bold, the way he looked at her bringing out her brazen side. “How about this—how about if you stop worrying about what you’re not doing and let’s focus on what we could be doing.” She pushed off his lap and shimmied out of her pajama bottoms.

Reveling in the sharp pull of his breath, she stood before him, wearing only a tiny pair of white lace thong panties. Even though she worked out consistently, no amount of skating could shave off the extra curve of her hips. But tonight she didn’t care.

He’d just told her that he thought she had the body of a goddess. Leaning forward, she took his hand and pulled him up to stand in front of her. “And don’t worry, I have plenty of ideas for what you can do with your hands.”


C-I-O:#PNR and #UF Giveaway Party!!

Welcome to the #PNR and #UF Giveaway Party!

Who’s ready for a giveaway you can get your hands on? A bunch of authors
got together to bring your this Big Box of Paperbacks Giveaway! One
lucky winner is going to win SIXTY-TWO (62) Paperback Books!
How’s that for an epic Book-Lover’s Prize?! If you are a fan of Urban
Fantasy, Dystopian Fiction, or Paranormal/SciFi Romance, you’re going to
want to get in on this! The best part is that even if you don’t win,
you’ll be subscribed to the sponsoring authors newsletters for a chance
to grab some freebies, snag some special offers, and enter more


Here are a couple of sneak peeks!


Excerpt from Foxblood: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon

The funeral was a typically sombre affair, alive with soggy tissues and streaky make-up. I stood at the back, letting the vicar’s voice wash over me, and spent the whole time staring at the flower-laden coffin, wondering if the lid would suddenly flip up and a fanged monster would escape to reap its vengeance on the congregation.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen, and as the mourners dispersed in the direction of the pub, I quietly snuck off home. I wasn’t in the mood for crowds and needed time to think, time to try to make sense of at least something, but as I turned to close the door, it was obstructed by a perfectly polished black shoe that belonged to…


“Seb, please,” he said, easing his way through. “Only my father calls me Sebastian.” He checked down the backstreet and closed the door securely. His eyes scanned the flat. “Nice place.”

“I like it.”

“It doesn’t bother you? Living over a funeral parlour?” he asked.

“Why would it? The neighbours are quiet.”

He didn’t laugh at my joke; neither did he comment. He simply stood silently, staring. It was very unnerving and made my legs go all wobbly. Perhaps if I turned away from him, he’d disappear again? It was worth a shot. I forced my jelly legs over to the front window and stared out at nothing in particular. The light was subdued, and the sky had darkened to an air force grey. A low mist was beginning to carpet the distant fields, and I wondered if snow had been forecast.

I knew my little experiment hadn’t worked. He was still there. I could feel his presence and smell his scent, a musky, inviting aroma that filled my senses and sent my head into a whirl, and it was getting stronger.

“Your friends interrupted us the other day. Can we talk now?” he whispered softly into my neck, and his fingertips traced a fiery trail down my spine.

“What’s the point? There’s nothing to say. I wish you’d just leave me alone,” I said, lowering my head in time to see Lara leaving the newsagents. She glanced up with a look of fury contorting her face as Sebastian’s hands reached around either side of me and grabbed the window frame.

“I can’t do that. I’m not that strong,” he said.

I studied the arms now imprisoning me, with their perfectly formed muscles straining against the rolled-up sleeves of his white shirt, and seriously doubted his statement. His stance was predatory and made me feel uncomfortable. I ducked under his elbow to escape, but he caught me around the waist and pulled me against him. Our bodies moulded together perfectly, and the strength of his grip made me feel like a china doll that he’d be able to crush in an instant. He was almost a full head taller than I was, and the warmth of his breath caressed my forehead. How easy it would be to reach up and taste those lips. I imagined the feel of them, and my own parted in an involuntary invitation.

The full Foxblood series can be seen here:


Autumn Winters, Realm Watchers Book 1  by J. S. Malcom 
rain has stopped, but fog crept in while I sat in Rory’s. I walk
through that fog now, the streetlights casting cones of luminescence
that capture swirling mist. I should go straight home, but I really want
a bottle of wine. J.J.’s Market is only two blocks off and I walk
toward neon signs advertising beer and cigarettes, drawn like a moth.
Not long ago, I was newly married, looking forward to finishing my MFA
in Design with the hope of someday starting my own business. I barely
drank and rarely got drunk. Now, I’m wandering around out here at night
trying to avoid ghosts and unwilling to go home without alcohol because
I’m afraid I won’t sleep. My eyes start to prickle and I wipe the back
of my hand across my face. 
no, I’m not alone. I can’t hear her behind me—her steps will never make
sound again. All the same, I feel her there and soon she walks beside
“Hello?” she says. 
I keep walking. God, it breaks my heart but I don’t want her next to me. 
“Can you hear me?” 
Yes, I can hear you. I say nothing. 
block to go and maybe I’ll just uncork that bottle right in the store.
With any luck, she’ll veer off and find some other lucky person to latch
really need your help.” Her breath hitches as her voice rises in pitch.
She’s also crying and I just can’t ignore her—it’s not about me
I slow down, then stop. I wipe my eyes, realizing that she’s not the only one crying. 
“Are you okay?” she says. 
Seriously? Things have gotten that bad? 
I take a deep breath to calm down. “I’m fine. Okay, I’m lying but I can deal with that later. What’s going on with you?” 
“I’m not dead,” she says.  
turn to look at her. No, she doesn’t look dead but many of them don’t.
Not to me, anyway. Some are more translucent while others appear
basically the same as you and me, give or take the glow around them.
That’s not guaranteed either. People are all
whether dead or alive. One of my new theories is that we all start out
as “dead” before becoming “alive” again. Like a lightbulb switching on
and off again here in this realm. I think it’s a circular system. It
seems an efficient use of energy. In this theory, ghosts are glitches.
But this girl next to me isn’t interested in hearing about my theories,
which change daily anyway. She just wants to know what’s going on.
really don’t want to go there right now but I’m stuck in this
situation. I look at her young, beautiful face. Trusting eyes stare back
at me.
“I’m really sorry,” I say. “Did it happen fast? Was it a car crash or something?” 
She shakes her head. “That’s not what happened.” 
I don’t want to take it to the next level but, evidently, I have no choice. “Did you commit suicide?” 
happens a lot too, I’ve come to learn. Suicide is a big one for getting
you grounded. You cause that kind of pain and you just can’t move on. 
She shakes her head again. “No. Please, that isn’t what happened.” 
I think for a moment, hesitating because I hate the dark stuff. I really don’t want to know if she was murdered.  
“I’m not dead,” she says. “I swear. They took my body!”