contemporary romance

New Release | Claiming the Cowboy for Christmas

THE HILLS OF TEXAS

Her thermostat was set to frosty, until her Christmas cowboy cranks up the heat.
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Ashley Hughes would love to cancel Christmas this year. Instead of holiday plans, she’s back in her Texas hometown planning her twin sister’s wedding — to her ex! Nothing like small town speculation to make her life cheery and bright. No one believes that she’s over the groom, until a certain cowboy secret crush steps in to be her plus one. Ashley’s tried to friend zone Jennings since high school, because she’s always known kissing the casual charmer would lead to a love she’d never forget.

Jennings Hill would be the first to admit that his feelings for his ex-best friend are more likely to land him on the naughty list. When he sees Ashley again, he only wants to help but then a rumor links them romantically and that’s when their lives get complicated.

The more time they spend together, the more Jennings worries she’s not over her ex, but Ashley starts wishing Jennings was her present wrapped under the Christmas tree.

AMAZON | B&N | APPLE | KOBO | GOOGLE

Tule Publishing | 10.8.19

* All books in this series can be read as stand alone and out of order.


EXCERPT

In short order, they downed their shots and men appeared and took each girl away for a dance. After pretending to enjoy a turn around the floor with one of them, Ashley checked their booth, which stood empty, their shot glasses littering the tabletop. Rather than sit there by herself as cowboy bait, she headed to the bar. “Hey, Bud. Can I have an IPA?”

“You got it.”

“Ashley Hughes?” a female voice squealed from her right.

Here it comes. “Mandy Walker!” Ashley could do the bubbly girl thing when required. “It’s been ages. How are you?”

The blonde valedictorian of their senior class held up her left hand sporting an obnoxiously large diamond. “Married.”

“Let me guess? Jason Hubbard?” The two had been high school sweethearts, so figuring that one out didn’t exactly require a PhD.

Mandy laughed. “Who else?”

“You look fantastic. Marriage must agree with you.”

“You look great, too.” Mandy sobered and Ashley braced herself for what she suspected was coming. “Although I expected this to be your bachelorette party.” A concerned light dulled Mandy’s green eyes and her pouty pink lips turned down. “How are you handling Taylor marrying Eric?”

I’m fine with the marriage thing. It’s the rest of my life thing that’s still a mystery.

Ashley pretended not to notice the downshift in mood, holding on to her bubbly facade. “I’m thrilled for them. They make each other so happy.” Both were true statements. The problem was no one seemed inclined to believe her about the first bit, likely made worse by her conspicuous absence all this time. Her own fault. That and a nasty bout of bronchitis.

Mandy, sweet but not the brightest bulb in the box with social cues, didn’t take the hint. “But you must be disappointed. Everyone expected you and Eric to marry. When they announced their engagement last summer, it was such a shock.”

To everyone except Ashley.

“Things were over between me and Eric long before then.” A glance across the room revealed a glowing Taylor. She’d never seen her sister so incandescently happy.

Mandy patted her arm. “Of course, honey. Way to stay strong.”

Ashley idly wondered if a bullhorn might get the message through. But, while the mental image of blowing back Mandy’s over-teased hairdo with the sound filled Ashley with wicked satisfaction, she decided against it.

Where would she find a bullhorn in a bar anyway?

Besides, a long time ago, she’d come to the conclusion that the louder one defended themselves against small-town gossip, the more people talked. Luckily, Bud chose that moment to hand her an ice-cold glass of beer. She tipped it toward the other woman. “See you around, Mandy.”

Seeking a quick escape, she spun away only to smack into a wall of muscle, her beer sloshing all over her hand.

“Sorry.” Ashley stumbled back into the bar. Muttering, she shook off her hand, and checked her outfit hadn’t suffered any damage. Satisfied she’d survived, she directed her gaze up, way up, into amused instantly recognizable blue eyes bracketed by laugh lines. Familiar eyes. The Hill family were practically identified by their eyes.

“Oh, no. Not you.” She groaned. Apparently, Lady Luck had completely abandoned her tonight.

She could deal with the stares, the pretend sympathy, and the unavoidable small-town speculation from nearly everyone else, but not from Jennings Hill. He saw too much and pushed too hard, and she wasn’t ready for that.

If anything, his teasing grin grew, casting her a careless kind of challenge she’d always found irresistible, even when they were kids. “Nice to see you too, Hughes.”

Will He Get Shut Down?

What happens when a practiced flirt and bad boy thinks the town good girl is hitting on him?

Here’s an excerpt from Taming the Troublemaker!

“I see,” he said without thinking. Then shook his head, having trouble focusing. All he could think about was the fact that Beth Cooper—the most prim and proper schoolmarm in town, an angel as far as most of the people in town were concerned—was hitting on him.

He ran his gaze over petite features and creamy skin, perfect even under the dim parking lot lights. Her pale blonde hair was ruffled in a way that gave her a little-girl-lost vibe he had to admit he was sort of into.

Autry’s body stirred in a reaction that neither Stella nor any other woman in that bar had engendered. Except Beth was off-limits and he had a bet to win. “Beth… I’m flattered that you’re interested—”

Her eyebrows scrunched down over those amazing eyes. “Oh, my God. I’m not hitting on you.”

He ignored the protest. She was getting shut down after all, of course pride would make her protest. “It’s definitely the most creative approach I’ve seen. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I would have taken you up on whatever it is you’re offering.”

Hands plonked down on slim hips. “Autry Aaron Hill, you’d be the last person I’d be interested in.”

“Oh, really?” He cocked his head, his customary flirtatious grin slipping into place with practiced ease. “You’ve never wondered even a tiny bit?”
Because he sure as hell had.

Her pink lips parted in a gasp. “Of course not. Listen, if you’ll just give me my purse, then we can both get going.”

Autry crossed his arms, a spark of mischief prompting him to not let that go. She might have been in the “off-limits” box but he’d also caught glances. If most any other woman had looked at him with that mix of curiosity and need, he would’ve walked over and whispered something naughty in her ear before dragging her off for fun. But Beth was too innocent, too much of a good girl to try those kinds of moves with her.

“I tell you what, Elizabeth Ann Cooper…” He deliberately mimicked her use of full name. “I will give you your purse back on one condition.”

Narrowed eyes greeted his statement. “What condition?”

READ TO FIND OUT!

Stands alone with its own HEA,  but feel free to buy all 3 in the series and get started on Saving the Sheriff and Resisting the Rancher!

New Release: Taming the Troublemaker

TAMING THE TROUBLEMAKER

THE HILLS OF TEXAS #3
One daring kiss with the playboy tempts the good girl, but can she tame him?

Autry Hill may be a cowboy to his boots, but he’s also gained quite the reputation as a charmer and playboy. His parents aren’t sure he’s ready to take the reins of the family’s prosperous Texas ranch, so they set up a challenge: No women or scandal for the next six months and the ranch house he grew up in is his. Easy peasy, Autry thinks. He’s already tired of late nights and romancing, until elementary school teacher Beth Cooper happens to cross his path. Suddenly Autry is losing his heart, his mind, and what’s left of his reputation.

Good girl teacher Beth Cooper is far too practical to fall for Autry Hill, even if she had a crush on him way back when. The man’s been breaking hearts since middle school. But when he becomes her unexpected champion and then they work together to help one of Beth’s troubled students who’s about to lose everything, she sees a different side of Autry – serious, compassionate, determined and dedicated. And that Autry is nearly impossible to resist. Does she need to?

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EXCERPT

“I tell you what, Elizabeth Ann Cooper…” He deliberately mimicked her use of full name. “I will give you your purse back on one condition.”

Narrowed eyes greeted his statement. “What condition?”

“A kiss.”

“What?” she squawked, arms flailing. “No way. It’s my purse.”

But even as she protested he could see the flush rising in her cheeks, despite such low lighting. She was definitely interested. One itty-bitty taste to satisfy his curiosity, then back to becoming the straitlaced, stand-up citizen he was determined to prove he could be.

“It’s my truck,” he shot back. “And you’ve insulted my manhood implying I’m not worthy of you.”

Her lips flattened and she shook her head. “Some things never change.”

Autry paused, though he didn’t allow his smile to slip. “What does that mean?”

“It means you had a one-track mind in high school, and years later, you obviously haven’t grown out of it.”

Damn. He’d forgotten Beth’s tendency to call him on his bullshit. Plus, he had that damn bet to consider. Regardless, he would never have made her do it. He might have a thing about teasing her, and he had to admit to kind of hoping she’d take the dare, but he’d never forced himself on a woman. Ever.

He dropped the smile entirely and turned to his truck to unlock it. “I’m just teasing you, Beth. Of course, you can have your purse.”

He grabbed a gray sack the size of a backpack, and just as heavy, from the passenger seat and handed it over to her.

“Thank you,” she said primly as she backed away from him.

Like he was a leper or his flirting might be contagious.

But then the dimples that had teased him as a youth came out to play, her eyes lighting with mischief. “I didn’t figure you for someone who gave up so easily. Guess I won this one.”

With a wiggle that had certain parts of him perking back up, she turned to her truck.

Autry stared at her back for all of two seconds, assimilating her words. Oh, hell no. This slip of a woman was not winning anything… whatever that meant.

He was around the truck to her driver’s side in a few quick strides. Beth squealed when he spun her around by the waist.

“I always win,” Autry said.

He took her lips not harshly, but firmly and chastely, the scent of something light and alluring swirling around him as she gasped.

He was tempted as sin to dip his tongue inside the warm recess of her mouth to tease hers, but he wouldn’t push it that far. With more effort than it should’ve taken, he forced himself to stop at the one peck, pulling back to gaze down into wide, bemused eyes. God, he wouldn’t mind continuing though, his body vibrating like a tuning fork.

With Beth Cooper of all people.

Then he went rigid with shock as Beth went up on tiptoe, wrapping her arms around his neck and putting the first kiss to shame as she showed him what kissing should always be like.

Author Spotlight: Jessica Lauryn

Y’all know how I love to spotlight my fellow authors, and Jessica is such a sweetheart. I know you’ll love her latest release!

A Sultry Performance

Chris Gordon, stage manager at Rabourn Theater, suspects his late wife’s hit-and-run was never an accident. He believes the man she was having an affair with, Oakley Sutherland, was responsible and he vows to get Evelyn justice, igniting a plot to ensnare Oakley, working through Oakley’s fiancée, Victoria.

A well-known exotic dancer by night, Victoria Morrow has been fighting to make a better life for herself, and she won’t be taken advantage of. But when the most handsome man at Rabourn Theater takes an interest in her, she finds herself spiraling down a path she never expected to. Can Victoria resist Chris’s charms? Or will both of them fall prey to the danger that lurks in the wings?

AMAZON | B&N


EXCERPT

“I’m fine.” Victoria hid her eyes.

Chris tucked a disheveled wave behind her ear. “You don’t look fine. You’re trembling, and you look as though you’ve been crying.”

Victoria did her best to hold it together, like she always did. But seeing the compassion in Chris’s eyes, compassion that ran deeper than anything she had ever been on the receiving end of, the emotions welled inside of her. As the tears spilled down her face Chris took her into his arms. His strength surrounded her. He brought her inside of it, brushing one strong hand up and down her back.

“Victoria,” he whispered, “why are you marrying that man?”

Victoria tried, but couldn’t think of a single reason why she was. For years, she’d been telling herself that she was humoring Oakley, biding her time with him until she could approach him from a position of power. But the more time passed, the more she questioned whether that day would ever come. The night Oakley had asked her to marry him, there hadn’t been any question in her mind that she was going to say yes. Such had been the way of their disgusting farce of a relationship. She presented a hard-edged front to the world, but when it came to the man who’d been manipulating her for half her life, it was as though she had no power at all, as though she might just as well be nothing more than a mouse.

Avoiding Chris’s eyes, because she couldn’t possibly hide the truth from him if they were looking at each other head-on, Victoria simply said, “I love him.”

Chris’s arms stiffened and Victoria froze in turn, barely breathing as he took her by the shoulders, saying, “Victoria, that man just embarrassed you in front of two hundred people. He berated you, he manhandled you and he exploits you every night of your life. How could you possibly love a man like that?”

Victoria gnawed her lip, completely at a loss for words. She had no defense for the man in question and by aligning herself with him she was sacrificing more of her identity every day. Not that the life she’d led had made her crazy about relationships in general, but she wasn’t even opening herself to the possibility of another man’s companionship, to his soothing words and soft touch. Was it so wrong to want these things, so impossible to have them? Bringing Chris into the middle of her relationship with Oakley was liable to prove dangerous for both of them. But Chris was strong. He had to be, to have survived the loss he had.

Cautioning herself not to allow her thoughts to get away from her, knowing that Oakley would probably kill a man he perceived to be a serious enough threat to him, Victoria lifted her chin. “I know what it looks like, but I couldn’t count the things Oakley has done for me over the years. He’s protected me, and I sleep soundly at night knowing that no one is going to hurt me. He makes me feel safe.”

She realized right away that she shouldn’t have put things in those terms because the twinkle in Chris’s eyes told her exactly what his reply was going to be. She ought to run. He was giving her a chance to do just that, but her legs refused to stand. Instead, they eased sideways, leading the way like the smokestack on a train as her body leaned helplessly into that of the man sitting beside her.

“Tell me, Victoria—” Chris looked into her eyes, “does Oakley Sutherland make you feel like this?”  


ABOUT JESSICA LAURYN

#1 BookStrand bestselling author Jessica Lauryn has been writing since before she could hold a pen. Her days of storytelling through the art of playing with dolls inspired her to write romantic suspense novels The Romance Reviews describe as having “Just the right amount of passion and romance!” Villains often reform in Jessica’s stories, and just may become heroes themselves! Jessica is an avid antique collector, as well as a proud member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, New Jersey Romance Writers.

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Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Contemporary Romance

Romance.pngContemporary romance was my first love when it comes to romance novels. My mother was an avid historical romance reader and got me started on romance with those books. However, it wasn’t until I bought a handful of 1960s Harlequins from a used bookstore that I truly feel in love with the romance genre. These days I love almost every genre of romance, but it all started with contemporary.

Here are my top 10 reasons for why I love contemporary romance:

1. Strong Female Characters

I love strong, independent heroines who can truly take care of themselves. It’s been a long time since every heroine needed saving in the romance genre. Yes, the book is partly about their growth as a person. So I want the romance to show how hero and heroine compliment each other. But that doesn’t mean the heroine has to be weak. She can be strong and still be even better with the hero. In contemporary romance, women of today deal with today’s issues with integrity, strength, and grace.

2. The Men (Guys You Could Learn a Few Things)

One complaint of naysayers against romance is that the men are not written realistically, but how women fantasize about them. I say…what’s wrong with that? From contemporary romance in particular, I think real men could pick up a tip or too. And it’s not that women want a ripped body or three back-to-back orgasms. What I like about the men in contemporary romance are who they are as people. The heroes tend to be men of integrity who do the right thing in tough situations, who treat people fairly, who genuinely like the heroine, and so on. In addition, they are supportive of the heroine, wanting only the best from her. They make each other better people when they are together. They are true partners. Isn’t that something to strive for in real life?

3. Witty Interactions

I love the witty exchanges in contemporary romance. The back and forth that shows how the hero and heroine are on the same playing field. Those witty exchanges make me laugh, help build the dynamic between the characters, help build the sexual tension, and are just plain fun. Plus, think about all those times when you thought of the perfect response to a conversation you’d had. These books are a chance for a character to say all the things you wish you’d thought of in the moment.

4. A Sweet Escape

The older I get, the more I believe that real life is hard enough. I have a relatively wonderful life, and even I have my downs. Why would I want to read something that focuses on the down side? I’d much rather escape into a happy world where love conquers all. My down time (reading, watching TV, etc.) is my time to let go of the worldly cares and woes, and just…escape. In my opinion, we don’t need to add more drama or more negatives to life through art. And yes, I get that art is often a reflection of life. But my personal preference is for art which reflects the beauty of life. What is more beautiful than love?

5. A Different Life

My path in life is relatively set. I am a mother, a wife, my career experience is in business and writing/publishing. It is highly unlikely that I will suddenly take up paleontology or become a high-powered attorney. Through these books I get to experience a tiny bit of what it’s like to live other lives. I get to be many personalities, I get to experience many jobs, I get to have different backgrounds or relationships. Again, I wouldn’t change my life in any way, but it’s fun, just for a minute, to be someone else. By the way, by reading all these different characters, I also get exposed to people who think and feel differently than I do, which helps me understand and empathize with people around me in real life. That’s just a bonus.

6. Different Paths to Love

Everyone has a different love story, which means there are infinite paths to love out there. I love all the different tropes–plot devices used to bring couples together–such as enemies to lovers, accidental pregnancy, inheritance, neighbors, and so forth. I love them not because they are common, but because there a ton of them, and a ton different ways to approach each one. More are invented each day because more ways to meet your lover are invented. For example, thirty years ago, internet dating wasn’t even a thing. Each love story in the real world is unique, and that is no different in the written world.

7. Explore the World

I get to live all over the world through the contemporary romance books I read. I’ve been to Australia (cities and the outback), the U.K. (cities and the country side), Amsterdam, all over the United States and Canada, France, Tokyo, the Amazon, South Africa, India, Russia. The list goes on and on. I also get to experience a tiny bit of those cultures–common phrases, what people do in every day life there, interesting tourist spots, and so forth. I’ve developed lists of places I want to visit because of the books I’ve read. Many of them off the beaten path.

8. A Host of Characters

I tend to be a serialist when it comes to my books–in other words, I like series. I get invested in all the characters and like to see other characters pop up in future books. That is a common occurrence in contemporary romance. Even better is that, in this genre, more often than not each book is a different romantic couple. There’s much less “Happily for Now” in contemporary romance than you find in other romantic genres. This is great for me, because I don’t want to read three books about the same couple.

9. The Emotional Connection

For me, reading romance is about the emotional connection. I can’t tell you how many people belittle the genre, saying they picked up a copy once and skipped straight to the love scene and couldn’t believe people read this. This reaction, to me, shows ignorance and lack of even trying to understand. Those people are missing the entire point of a romance. The emotional connection. Sex may or may not be part of that story, but if it is included, sex is only one form of expression of that emotional connection. If you skip straight to it, you missed to good stuff…learning about why that is an impactful scene to the characters and the story of how they fell in love. I love the love story in contemporary romance–the way the couple meets, how they interact and play off each other, and how, in the end, they make each other better people. An emotional connection like that is one to celebrate.

10. Happily Ever After

In the end, I want the characters I’ve emotionally invested in to have their “Happily Ever After.” I’m finding I can’t trust romances on television shows, or even movie franchises, any more. To keep the drama high, romances that finally get their HEA in those forms of media are often later ripped apart somehow. Look at Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Peaky Blinders, Downton Abbey, Hell on Wheels, and so forth. Even Friends couldn’t keep Ross and Rachel together very long. And yes, sometimes the couple ends up together in the end, but by then they’ve lost me. I love contemporary romance because they DO get their HEA usually without having 7 seasons of ups and downs in between. Yes, they have conflict which has to be resolved first, but once it’s resolved…HEA. This probably comes back to my #4 reason. I read and write this genre to escape into a HAPPY world where everything works out. A world where love and dedication to each other is something to be celebrated. I don’t need drama, I get enough of that in my life already.

 

What about you?  Do you agree with me? Disagree? Why do you love contemporary romance?  I’d love to hear!

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Announcing Kadie Scott

I am thrilled to announce that I am splitting my personality! For those new to me, I have been writing paranormal romance under the name Abigail Owen since 2010.

Meet Kadie Scott, my new alter ego. I’ll be writing all my contemporary romance under that name moving forward.

Kadie-HomePage

While writing and publishing paranormal romance (and loving every minute of it), I’ve also been working toward writing and publishing contemporary romance. 2017 will see the realization of that dream! I announced in December that I had signed a contract with Entangled’s Lovestruck imprint. We’re still in the early phases on my first book, so check back for more info.

To get ahead of my first release, I am splitting my personalities out now. The goal with this is to make it easy for my readers to know exactly what they are getting with each release.

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If you are a lover of contemporary romance and want to be in on all things Kadie Scott, here’s how you can follow the new me!

Website: http://www.kadie-scott.com

Blog: https://kadie-scott.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Lw2XH

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abigail.Owen.Books/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AOwenBooks

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/abbyowen/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/kadiescott

Amazon: Coming soon (I have to have a book out under that name).

BookBub: Coming soon (I have to have a book out under that name).

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If you are a lover of paranormal romance and want to be in on all things Abigail Owen, here’s how you can follow the new me!

Website: http://www.abigailowen.com

Blog: http://www.abigailowen.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Lw2XH

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abigail.Owen.Books/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AOwenBooks

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/abbyowen/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/abigailowen

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/abigailowen

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/abigail-owen

*Note: Any non-genre-specific blogs will be posted on both websites.

Twitter, Facebook, & Pinterest will both be under Abigail, but Kadie will be posting there as well. It’s too much of a pain to go gather followers from scratch, and I found using combined accounts for those media outlets to be common among authors with multiple pen  names.