The Las Vegas Romance Writers group is hosting its First Annual Spring Tea on April 22nd. Our guest speaker will be New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas, and our tables will be hosted by local authors (including me!). If you’re in the Las Vegas area, we’d love for you join us for fun, food, tea and prizes! Tickets are available at the LVRWA website. Hope to see you there!
She’s the face of the law, he exists in the shadows of crime.
Together, they’re all wrong … but it feels so right.
Hi everyone! I’m super excited to announce that Crossing the Line will be released on December 12, 2016 and is available now for pre-order at the following e-book retailers: Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Barnes & Noble
I hope you’ll enjoy Sloane and Jared’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
ADVANCE READER COPIES FOR REVIEWERS
Are you a reviewer who would like the chance to read an early copy of CROSSING THE LINE? Review copies are being made available! Sign up here for your copy.
*Please note: because of the change in Amazon’s review policy, please note that review copies are not given in EXCHANGE for reviews. Rather, advanced copies are given for review purposes.
ENJOY AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
Sloane Westbrook tamped down her nerves and stared at the county’s official seal affixed to the wall behind her new boss’s desk. First day jitters were to be expected, but she was confident that by the end of the day, after she’d met the staff and settled into her new office, she’d be fine. More than fine, actually. She couldn’t wait to get started.
“Welcome to the madhouse,” Peter Evans said with a boyish grin as he closed the file on his desk. Behind the round wire-rimmed glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, his brown eyes glinted with amusement. “I hope by the end of the week you won’t regret your decision to join my team.”
“There’s no chance of that,” Sloane said with a smile.
“Before we get started, would you like some coffee?” he asked as he pushed back from his desk and stood.
“Normally, yes. But I’ve already had two cups.”
“Only two?” Peter picked up a mug proclaiming him the ‘World’s Best Dad,’ moved to the low credenza to the right of his desk, and poured himself a cup of coffee from the half-empty pot sitting on a burner. “This is my fourth cup this morning.”
Sloane took the opportunity to survey the room. Unlike her former boss’s office in Pittsburgh, there was nothing over-the-top or ostentatious about Peter’s space. Framed college and law degrees hung on the wall behind his desk, along with a few pictures of Peter posing with individuals whom she presumed were prominent officials and leaders of the community.
Returning to his desk, Peter sat, then leaned back in his chair and sipped his coffee. “To start with, I’d like to give you some case files to research and determine if we have enough evidence to go forward with charges. Due to budget constraints, we’ve been understaffed for some time, and as you can imagine, the amount of backlog is incredible. You’ll have your work cut out for you.”
Sloane schooled her expression as she nodded. Although disappointed, she was fully aware she wouldn’t get a shot at a big case just yet. As the newest hire in the District Attorney’s office, she would have to earn the respect of Peter and her peers before being assigned anything high profile. To that end, she wasn’t about to ruffle the feathers of the other ADAs by acting like a demanding diva.
“I’m ready to dig right in,” Sloane said just as the intercom on Peter’s desk phone buzzed.
He leaned forward and pressed a button. “Yes, Jennie?”
“The PPD called. They have Jared Hunter in for questioning. You said you wanted to be notified.”
“Thanks. Please let them know I’m coming over.” He hit the com line again and shot her an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, but I’ll have to cut this short. I need to get over to the police department.”
“No problem,” she said. “I can wait, or if you’d prefer I can get started on those case files you mentioned.”
He regarded her thoughtfully for a few seconds, then set his mug on the desk and rose from his chair. “I have a better idea. Why don’t you come with me? You need to know the players in this town, both good and bad.”
Sloane’s pulse accelerated sharply. Anyone familiar with the Masters crime organization knew the name Jared Hunter. It was rumored that Hunter was Anthony Masters’ second-in-command and wielded a great deal of power. Suppressing her excitement, she stood and buttoned the jacket of her favorite pale pink suit. “I’d like that. Thank you,” she said, and then together they left his office.
“I’m familiar with Anthony Masters,” she said a few minutes later as they waited for the elevator. “I understand Jared Hunter is one of his high-level associates.”
“Yes. We’ve brought both of them in many times but we’ve never been able to get a conviction.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, for starters, Masters retains one of the best attorneys in the state.” The elevator chimed, then the doors slid open. “You’ve heard of Damon Howard?”
She grimaced. “Oh yes, I’ve heard of him.”
They stepped into the elevator and Peter hit the button for the first floor. “I detect a trace of contempt in your voice.”
“I have a hard time respecting attorneys who represent mobsters.” Sloane preferred working on the behalf of victims, not perpetrators. She’d seen too many guilty people get away with their crimes to summon up much sympathy for known criminals who managed to slip through the fingers of Lady Justice.
“Everyone is entitled to a defense.” The elevator doors slid open. “And everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Peter added as they stepped into the lobby.
Sloane shot him a wry smile. “And someone has to defend the accused. Trust me. I get it. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Peter’s bark of laughter echoed off the lobby walls. “I think you’re going to fit right in at the DA’s office.”
After a short trek across the street to Piedmont’s main police precinct, Sloane accompanied Peter into a large squad room bustling with uniformed officers and other law enforcement personnel. She followed her boss until he stopped to talk with a weary looking man of about forty, who wore a shield on his belt and a gun strapped to his hip.
While Peter and the man spoke, Sloane surveyed the room. Like most detective divisions she’d visited, the desks were set up in groups of two and facing each other. From her experience, most detectives worked in pairs; the desk arrangement made it easier for partners to work their cases together.
Not far from where Peter stood, Sloane’s gaze fell upon a man sitting in one of the chairs next to an empty desk. His back was to her and she couldn’t see his face, but she could only assume it was Jared Hunter. Her assumption proved to be correct when Peter moved to stand beside him, and then addressed him.
“Mr. Hunter, thank you for coming in. We have some questions about the explosion at Pier 9 last night.” Peter’s tone was polite, but the friendly demeanor he’d displayed with her was long gone.
Jared Hunter turned his head toward Peter. From her position, Sloane took note of his chiseled-in-granite profile, neatly trimmed caramel-brown hair, and broad muscular shoulders showcased by the black T-shirt he wore, and quickly revised the mental picture she’d formed in her head of Anthony Masters’ trusted henchman. For whatever reason, she’d expected an older man, not one close to her own age.
Hunter remained silent. He and Peter stared at each other for several moments before Jared broke eye contact and looked away. “You know the drill, Evans. I don’t talk to the cops without my attorney.” The tone of his voice indicated minor annoyance rather than anger. Another surprise. Sloane took a step forward, itching to get a better look at him.
“We’re not charging you with anything. We’re just looking for information…since the warehouse is owned by your boss. You don’t seem all that interested in helping us find the perpetrators. Why is that?” Peter’s patient tone didn’t garner a response. Jared Hunter said nothing further and Peter let out an exasperated sigh, then turned to Sloane. “This is his usual routine. Get used to it.”
Hunter half-turned in the chair to check out who Peter was speaking to and Sloane quickly stifled an astonished gasp. Not only was Jared Hunter younger than she’d expected, he was devastatingly handsome. Not in a pretty-boy-that-uses-a-mirror-more-than-a-woman way, but in a rugged-and-wielding-a-hammer-while-he-built-a-house sort of way. His brilliant blue eyes assessed her for several seconds and to her chagrin, she grew warm under his intense scrutiny. His gaze raked over her body before he turned away, coolly dismissing her. She shook off her annoyance; the man was a low-life criminal for heaven’s sake. She shouldn’t give a damn what he thought of her. Good, bad, or indifferent.
“Evans, unless you’re pressing charges against my client, I suggest you release him immediately.”
Sloane turned to find a handsome African-American man standing behind her. She recognized Damon Howard immediately. He’d been all over the Philadelphia news two years ago defending a professional athlete accused of domestic battery.
“This is an informal inquiry regarding an incident at the pier last night. Nothing more.”
Damon Howard’s dark brown eyes flickered with irritation. “My client has no knowledge of that incident or who caused it.”
“Where have I heard that before?” Peter didn’t bother to veil his sarcasm.
“Charge him or release him.”
Peter waved a dismissive hand. “Fine. He can go.”
Jared stood and—wouldn’t you know it—in addition to being drop-dead gorgeous, he was also tall. Six-two or thereabouts, Sloane judged easily since she was on the taller side herself. Without another glance at Peter, Hunter moved toward the exit, but then halted directly in front of her. Overwhelmed by the sheer force of his presence, she had to fight the urge to step back and put some space between them. Trying to ignore her unexpected reaction, she met his piercing gaze with a steely one of her own until something she couldn’t define gleamed in his eyes. Just as quickly, his expression became shuttered and he stepped around her and strode out of the room without a backward glance.
Damon didn’t appear to find Hunter’s actions rude. Maybe he was used to it. He scowled at Peter. “How many times do I have to say this? If you don’t stop this incessant harassment of my client, I’ll file a lawsuit against both you and the PPD.”
Peter inclined his head. “Duly noted.”
Damon shot an inquiring glance toward Sloane. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“This is Sloane Westbrook,” Peter said. “My newest ADA. Sloane, this is Damon Howard.”
“Ah. Another do-gooder out to rid Piedmont of its criminal element,” Damon said with a hint of disdain in his voice as he extended his hand. “Good luck with that.”
“Thank you, but luck has nothing to do with it,” Sloane replied as they briefly shook hands.
Damon’s eyes widened slightly, as if surprised by her reply. “Maybe you can convince your boss to stop this harassment.”
“He was just trying to get information, Mr. Howard.”
“Trying to get information is one thing, but the continual harassment of my client is another.”
“I hardly think a few questions constitute harassment.”
A muscle twitched in Damon’s jaw. “You’re new here so I’ll cut you some slack. But you need to know that I will not tolerate anyone who violates my client’s civil rights.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.”
He seemed taken aback by her low key response. “You do that.”
After Damon left the squad room, Peter turned to her. “So, what did you think of Jared Hunter?”
“He’s not what I expected,” Sloane said, but didn’t add that he was also the most attractive man she’d laid eyes on in months. Somehow she didn’t think Peter would be pleased to know she found Jared Hunter compelling. But compelling or not, it was her job to put him, and men like him, in prison. She’d learned early in her career that even the handsomest of men could have the most evil of intentions, and to that end she never let anyone’s appearance affect the way she handled a case.
“Underneath that quiet demeanor is a cold and calculating man, Sloane. Please remember that.”
Peter’s ominous warning and somber expression sent a shiver up her spine. Still, when Jared Hunter had looked into her eyes she’d seen something in them besides coldness, and curiosity made her wonder what it was. There was one thing she did know, and that was whatever he’d thought of her, it wasn’t much. Those blue eyes of his had dismissed her as if she was utterly insignificant, and for reasons she chose not to examine further, it irritated the hell out of her.
“Don’t worry,” Sloane assured him. “I won’t forget.”
Please join the Thunderclap for the release of CROSSING THE LINE. It’s important to get the word out on release day, and I would love your help to make that happen.
Pledge to help my Thunderclap here.
Sloane Westbrook is passionate about the law, and when she signs on to fight crime as the new Assistant District Attorney in Piedmont, Pennsylvania, she fearlessly takes on the prosecution of an evil, serial rapist. But her continued encounters with powerful, sexy Jared Hunter bring a different kind of danger. Jared is the known associate of a local crime boss, which makes her attraction to him tantamount to career suicide…so why can’t she stop thinking about him?
Jared Hunter owes his life to the crime boss who took him in when tragedy struck, and his family turned their backs. Jared’s loyalty led him to the role of trusted confidant and security expert, which means he’s in way too deep to back out now. Even for a beautiful, intelligent, bundle of curves like the new ADA. But every encounter with Sloane makes him want her more—and when they’re snowbound together by a freak storm, his resistance shatters. How will he walk away?
Locked in a secret, fiery affair, both Sloane and Jared long for the life they could have together in the light. But to get there, can Jared break free of the darkness surrounding him? And can Sloane find the courage to make a decision that will either free them both, or shatter their lives forever?
I can’t believe it’s already the end of summer and time for back to school, fall, and the start of football season.
I took some time off from writing to deal with life, but I’m excited to let you know that I have a new release that is going through edits now and should be available by the end of the year. Once I have a blurb and cover to share, I’ll do a big reveal.
And now, the giveaway!
RWA CONFERENCE SWAG
The RWA National Conference was held in San Diego this year and to celebrate the end of summer, I’m giving my readers a chance to win all the swag I brought home with me. Below is what the lucky winner of the giveaway will receive:
RWA/Harlequin Tote Bag
RWA 2016 Beach Towel
Tritan BPA-free water bottle w/ citrus press
Print copies of the following books:
My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas
Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins
Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen
Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti
Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt
Last Chance Hero by Hope Ramsay
Wild Cowboy Ways by Carolyn Brown
Hi everyone! I’m super excited about today. It’s finally the release day for Stealing Second, the next installment in my Feeling the Heat Series.
Stealing Second is the story of Tom Morgan and Katherine Whitton, who both work for the San Francisco Blaze and share a painful past. Thrown together to help the team’s star pitcher, Tom and Katherine must decide if they can risk their hearts for second chance at love, or if they will let the wreckage of their past haunt them forever.
Read an excerpt here.
I hope you all love Tom and Katherine’s story!
To celebrate the upcoming release of Stealing Second, I’m excited to share an excerpt from the first chapter with you.
Striding through the locker room portion of the clubhouse, Katherine ignored the players in various stages of undress and made her way down the long hallway that led to the staff offices. When she reached the last office on the right, she crossed the threshold, found the edge of the door with her palm and with the force of her ire, slammed it shut.
A perverse sense of satisfaction filled her as Tom Morgan visibly flinched and jerked his head up from the open laptop sitting on his scarred oak desk. In the space of a few seconds, his blue-green eyes went from startled to annoyed. No surprise there; it wasn’t like she hadn’t been on the receiving end of that particular reaction before.
“You always did know how to make an entrance.” His lazy drawl still held a hint of Texas and never failed to heighten her pulse. A fact that irritated her beyond measure. “What’s got your thong in a twist this time?”
“Rick Taylor.” Katherine moved forward but didn’t sit down in the chair opposite his desk. She didn’t plan on staying long. And how did he know she wore a thong anyway? “Why am I the last one to know he’s thinking about resuming his baseball career?”
Tom leaned back in his leather chair, a ghost of a smile hovering on his lips. “I doubt you’re the last person to know, and I only found out two days ago.”
“Why didn’t you call me immediately? If Rick is trying to make a comeback, my department needs to be involved.”
“It isn’t my place to call you. It’s Doug’s.” His enigmatic eyes briefly skimmed over her body, then lifted. There was no indication whether he liked what he saw. Not that it mattered. Not anymore. “Besides, aren’t you the one who said you preferred I didn’t contact you after hours?”
“When it comes to anything media-related, I’m on call 24/7. You know that.”
Tom shrugged, drawing her attention to his broad shoulders. The Blaze T-shirt he wore didn’t do much to disguise his muscular upper body. Although he didn’t play anymore, he was still in excellent shape. Of course, he wouldn’t be one of those ex-athletes who let themselves go after their playing days were over. He was still a perfect specimen. Not that she spent a lot of time thinking about him or his body.
Okay, fine. Maybe she thought about his body once in a while. But only because it was an involuntary response.
“I assumed Doug would call you as soon as he got off the phone with me. Rick hasn’t made it official. There’s not much we can do until he does.”
Katherine gave him a grudging nod. He was right, but she didn’t have to like it. By all accounts, patience had never been one of her virtues. Starting from the moment she’d arrived into the world—three weeks premature. “I understand that. But I need to be kept abreast of the situation. I assume if he does intend to come back, he’s going to one of our minor league affiliates?”
“At the moment, that’s hard to predict,” Tom said. “We have no idea what his fitness level is. He’s basically missed two full seasons. If he’s in top shape and his skills haven’t diminished, he could be considered for one of the non-roster invitee slots at spring training with the Blaze. If not, he’ll start out in the minors. At what level would depend on him.”
“I’d appreciate it if you’d keep me in the loop. Due to the circumstances, this is going to be a big story. I’d like some advance warning so I can prep my staff and make sure we keep the media circus as far away from him as possible.”
“Anything for you…Katie.”
“Don’t call me that,” she snapped, annoyed that he seemed incapable of using her given name whenever they were alone together.
“Sorry.” The grin that played at the corners of his mouth indicated he wasn’t sorry at all. “Force of habit.”
She narrowed her eyes and gave him her best glacial stare. Not that it would do any good. As always, Tom would do as he damn well pleased. “Break the habit.”
And now for the giveaway! I’m giving away a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to someone who leaves a comment here. Just tell me which character you love most in the Feeling the Heat series. Or which secondary character in the series should have his or her own story.
The giveaway will close on Friday, May 15th at 9:00 PM (PST) and I’ll announce the randomly drawn winner on Saturday, May 16th. Good luck!
The giveaway is now closed.