Husband Material is LIVE

Cover Design by Jena Brignola.  Cover image by Scott Hoover.  Cover model:  Sonny Henty

This is my second new book in less than a month. That has to be a record for me. Husband Material was a super fun project though, and I loved every minute of writing this little story. It is a novella, but it almost doesn’t feel that way to me.

It’s the story of a guy who has really given up on the idea of love and has resigned himself to being alone. And of course, right then is when he meets Giselle…someone quite unlike any woman he’s ever known before. He cannot resist the way he is drawn to her, and they have an explosive night together. But she can’t be pinned down. Giselle is a free-spirit, dancing and laughing her way through life…and Gage will have to play by her rules.

But changing up your life can be a good thing sometimes.  Maybe the French beach fairy is exactly what Gage needs to change his feelings on love.   Oh, oui!

Readers familiar with my books will find a sprinkling of Easter Eggs throughout Husband Material…I hope you enjoy discovering them.  I know I certainly did putting them in there.  *wink*  Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end. 

SYNOPSIS:

She left me the week before our wedding.

Said I wasn’t “husband material.”

Actually, I’d have to agree with my ex on that matter…because I’m just better off alone.  But everything changed for me the day I met a mysterious beauty sketching on the beach.

Giselle…

We had one magical night together…and then she was gone–a French beach fairy who flitted away with the dawn.

I searched until I found her again.

And now I can’t let her go…because maybe I am husband material after all. 

~*~

*Husband Material is a STANDALONE novella, and the third book in the LEFT AT THE ALTAR series: a collaboration of six New York Times Bestselling Authors: J. S. Scott, Ruth Cardello, Raine Miller, Sawyer Bennett, M. Malone, and Melody Anne, releasing separately.

STANDALONE books in the Left at the Altar series

          

 

 

 

 

Filthy Lies is LIVE

Cover image by Scott Hoover. Cover design by Jena Brignola.

That’s another book published for the Blackstone Dynasty series. Since I don’t do this as quickly as I’d like to, it feels big to me. James and Winter’s story is probably one of the most angst-filled romances I’ve ever written. (Possibly even nudging ahead of Ethan Blackstone.) I want you to know that I try very hard to write lighter stuff, but the story always ends up with a whole lotta angsty longing and “she is mine” on the pages. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. I do try.

Winter is a good person with a huge heart. James is also a good person, but doesn’t see himself that way at all. He’s a bit of a damaged soul, trying his best to make it in the world while dragging his baggage along with him.

I had an amazing writing journey with Winter and James as the two of them found their way to an emotional and much love-filled HEA. Fair warning: There might be tears!

Go forth and read the book!

️ US https://amzn.to/2tR34nf
 UK https://amzn.to/2yVkNiT
️ CAN https://amzn.to/2tC9asf
️ AUS amzn.to/AUSFilthyLies

 

Filthy Lies, BLACKSTONE DYNASTY II

RELEASING Monday, July 30th. PRE-ORDER NOW > 

The second book in my Blackstone Dynasty series, FILTHY LIES, a Friends-to-Lovers romance set in Boston. Book two in a series but can be read as a standalone romance.

Cover image by Scott Hoover Photography. Cover design by Jena Brignola.

*´¨`*On the day I turned fifteen years old I knew I loved James Blakney.  There was a look in his eye that told me he’d finally noticed I existed in a realm beyond best-friend’s-much-younger-off-limits-don’t-even-think-about-it-little-sister.  Call it womanly intuition, despite the fact I was barely qualified for being an actual woman at just fifteen—and only in the biological sense—but still, I knew I loved him.
What I never expected from him was a proposal of marriage nearly eight years later. I know it’s not supposed to be a real marriage, but James is certainly making it feel that way.
He’s also hiding something from me.
But I’ve hidden the truth from him as well.
Lies.
So many filthy lies.
~Winter Blackstone•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*

 

A Blackstone Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Um…I think that should be Happy New Year instead.  Yes, I am late with my Christmas story this year, but I try to keep to the message from a tale that has stayed with me throughout the years, and makes the meaning of the greeting the same, be it Merry Christmas or Happy New Year.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”  Ebeneezer Scrooge.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  December 1843.

One of the things I love most about my character worlds is the ability to manipulate the time continuum.  I can keep time at a standstill until I want to revisit the moment where I’ve left a particular couple, and come right back to them as if not an hour had passed.  That is exactly what I’ve done with this year’s Christmas story.  We are picking up where we left off last year with Caleb and Brooke taking a last minute trip to London for Christmas  >> (Hawaiian Honeymoon).  Additionally, we have Ethan and Brynne celebrating the holidays in Somerset with Hannah, Fred, Zara and her brothers, Jonathan and Marie, and feeling extra blessed about an upcoming event >> (It’s a Wonderful Life).  As a special treat, I get to bring both worlds together for you in…A Blackstone Christmas.

My wish is that 2018 be filled with joy and good health and prosperity for each and every one of you.

Blessings xo

R

 

December 23rd

 

CALEB

“My cousin, Hannah, runs this huge old manor house as a B&B in Somerset, and she just won’t take no for an answer about us staying the night.  Are you going to be okay with that?”

I hoped my wife would tell me the truth about what she wanted to do.  Brooke was the most undemanding person I had ever known in my life, so it was a crap shoot on whether I’d get this right or not.

“I will definitely be okay with it if you are, Caleb,” she answered serenely, stretching languidly among the sheets, where she looked far too sexy to even consider letting her leave the bed, let alone our hotel room.

A day ago we were honeymooning in Hawaii, today London, but it didn’t matter to me.  I had my Brooke, and I’d go anywhere she wanted.  This trip to London was for her, so it was going to play out exactly however she decided it would.  Once she’d told me she hadn’t been back to the land of her birth since she’d left to live with her grandmother at fifteen, and how much she missed London, especially at Christmas, I knew where we’d be spending our first holidays together.  Being able to give her even the simplest gift of a visit back home to England felt like I was winning.

“I know we said London, but their place is a good three hours by car, I can just call her back and say we can’t swing it this trip if you’d rather just stay in the city—l don’t want to force my family on you—”

She put two fingers over my lips and pressed down, effectively shutting me up without saying a word—something at which she was an expert.  “You never force me to do anything, and I very much want to meet them.  I need to know everything about my new husband—who spoils me rotten constantly—and that includes getting to know his English cousins, especially if one of them runs a B & B in a huge old manor house in Somerset.”  She moved her fingers away and replaced them with her sweet lips instead.  “Now come back into bed and warm me up,” she murmured softly.  Her kiss kept my mouth silent, but who needs words when you have the most beautiful wife in the world naked in the sheets, hopped up on pregnancy hormones, with nothing but time to give her what she just asked for?

Have I mentioned what a lucky bastard I am?  Or how, for like the first time in forever, I am digging the holidays this year?  Merry effing Christmas, and glad tidings of great joy, Blackstone.  Don’t fuck with good fortune when your wife needs you to fuck her instead.  I am probably going to hell for that filthy thought, but I’ll worry about that at another time.  I’m on my honeymoon with the love of my life, who at this very moment has her gorgeous naked body pressed right up against me in the bed.

Say what you will, but one thing about me is never in doubt.  I am a man who definitely knows where his priorities lie.

***

Five hours later.

 

BROOKE

The unusual winter snow draped over the hills and dales like a white fur coat.

Absolutely breathtaking.

Even though winter was probably not the very best season for its full potential of beauty, I still soaked up the sight of the English countryside like drops of water melting into a dry sponge.  The surprise Christmas snowfall was merely an added treat.  I did not realize how much I’d missed the sights and sounds of home—and because so much time had passed since I’d experienced it—the blast of the reconnection was truly overwhelming for me.  I struggled to control the rush of my emotions, and the pull of tears that threatened to spill over as I stared out the window at the lovely countryside of my homeland.  The urge to tears was nothing new.  I lived with it daily due to my PBA.  It was easier to control these days now that I understood what had happened to me in that accident, thanks to Caleb and his endless research.  If he hadn’t figured it out, I would still believe I was just an emotionally damaged freak with no explanation whatsoever for my overreactive behaviors.

“Are you okay, baby?” Caleb whispered against my ear.  He was so intuitive, and had been from the first.  My husband amazed me with his patience and kindness whenever I had one of my “episodes.”  Quite simply, Caleb was the very best cure for my unwelcome melancholy feelings, hands down.

I nodded yes and gripped his hand with both of mine.  I kept my eyes out the window and focused on the beauty of the scenery.  “I hadn’t realized how much I missed…just seeing it—being here.  Thank you for bringing me.”  I let Caleb’s strength and love support me through the moment until the intense emotions melted away, ever grateful he’d hired a driver to take us to Somerset, so I could have him beside me in the back seat where I could touch him.  Caleb’s touch worked miracles on me even though I was dealing with the effects of pregnancy hormones on top of my PBA.  The next months were going to be very interesting.

“Good.  I’m glad we came then.  And I will always take you wherever you want to go,” he said as he drew me back to lean against his strong chest, “as long as I can get the information out of you,” he teased.

I nodded again, still focused on the countryside as he held me close. “Can you tell me a little about your family before we get there?” I asked, content and warm with Caleb wrapped around me like a blanket and the comforting view out the window.

“Sure.  I think you’re going to like them a lot.  They already love you, and they haven’t even met you yet.”

I took a deep breath as I settled, listening to the steady voice of my husband as he described the people he clearly adored:

There was Hannah who ran the B&B at Hallborough House, the ancestral estate of the Greymonts, set along the scenic Somerset coast.  He told me about her physician husband, Dr. Fred Greymont, and their three children—two older boys, Colin and Jordan, and a little girl, Zara, about five or six.  Hannah also had a brother, Ethan, who had a country home nearby and would also be there with his American wife and baby daughter.  Caleb and Ethan were about the same age and kept up with each other on Facebook, and even did some business between their two companies.  He mentioned that Ethan and his wife, Brynne, hadn’t been married all that long, describing their posh country wedding last year at Hallborough, and how all of Caleb’s family had come over for the wedding.  It was the final family trip for their father before he passed away.  I’d also meet Jonathan Blackstone and his wife Marie.  Jonathan and Caleb’s dad had been close, and the backbone of the relationship between the American and British Blackstones.

It was a lot to take in, but I was grateful for the distraction.  I was looking forward to meeting them all, they sounded so lovely, but truth be told, the country-manor-turned-B&B—Hallborough House—was what I found the most intriguing of all.  There was something about the name of the house that rang a bell with me.  I had my suspicions as to why, but couldn’t be sure until I saw it with my own eyes.

***

CALEB

Brooke had been quiet in the car on the drive up from London, as if she were deep in thought, or maybe she was just processing the emotions from being back in England after such a long period of a time.  We hadn’t really done much at all since arriving in London, except for a quick stop to collect our warmer clothing, and a fantastic Christmas dinner last night in Covent Garden at a new place called Frog.  In December, Hawaii and England are on such opposite ends of the thermometer, I’d called ahead and had a shopper pull together winter wardrobes for both of us, so we’d be set up for the wintry weather the minute the Gulfstream landed.

But it wasn’t the snowy weather causing my Brooke to tremble.  I’d sensed excitement from her as we came through the gates of Hallborough and up the drive to the front of the stately manor house.  I had to help her out first, so I could deal with paying the driver and our luggage, but when I turned back to her a few moments later, I got the best surprise of the day.   My wife was grinning from ear to ear as she took selfies standing in front of Hallborough House.

“So, I gather you like the house.”

“It’s beautiful.”  She gestured for me to come to her.  “Take a selfie with me.  I want pictures of us here.”

I complied, but had to wonder why she was so excited by the house itself.  But before I could ask, I felt little arms wrapped around my legs from behind along with the excited thumps from wagging dog tails.

“Uncle Caleb!”

“Who is that grabbing me, and why are there wolves attacking?” I teased.

She popped her head around with a giggle.  “It’s Zara, and they’re just dogs, not wolves.  This is Rags and that one is Sir, Auntie Brynne’s dog,” she explained patiently with a pat to each dog’s head as she named them.  “They like playing outside in the snow.”

“I don’t blame them.  I’d play in the snow too if I had their fur.”

She just stared up at us in all her adorableness.

“Well, I am very sorry I didn’t recognize you right away because you’ve grown so much since I was here the last time.”  I crouched down to her height so we could speak eye to eye.  “How old are you again?”  I asked.

“Five.”  She held up one hand with her fingers splayed out.

“Are you sure you’re not twenty-five?  You’ve grown a lot.”  I thought it was sweet she called me ‘uncle’ when I really wasn’t.  Obviously her parents had referred to me that way.  Charmed the hell out of me, regardless.

She giggled again and nodded her head.  “I am five right now, but I’ll be six on my birthday,” she explained patiently.  She focused her attention on Brooke before asking, “Are you Uncle Caleb’s native wife?”

Brooke bent down to join our little conversation, stifled a laugh and answered, “Yes, I am his native wife.  I’m Brooke, and I’m pleased to meet you, Zara.”  She held out her hand.

“Pleased to meet you, and welcome to Hallborough House, we hope you enjoy your stay here with us,” Zara answered back, shaking Brooke’s hand with complete sincerity, as if she’d done it many, many times before.  It made sense since she was used to guests coming into her home constantly, but seeing a little girl take on the role of concierge was priceless.

“Was it your mom or your grandpa who said Brooke was a ‘native’?”  I couldn’t resist asking, and I knew she would tell me.  Zara was honest to a fault underneath all that charm.  If I ever had a daughter, I hoped she might be like her.  This kid was one in a million.

“Uncle Ethan said it,” she informed us.

Not a surprise.  I knew Ethan would get a laugh out of the fact I married a Brit, especially since he’d recently married an American.

Zara took each of us by the hand and steered us toward the house.  “Let’s go in now, the boys will come for your bags and take them to your room.”  Hannah and Freddy were obviously raising their kids right, teaching them to help with the family business.

“Do you know what ‘native’ means, Zara?” Brooke asked as we walked, our footsteps crunching along the snowy ground.

“Yes,” she said with a serious nod of her head, “It means you know the Queen, and can say your words properly.”

I just about died laughing right there in the snow.

***

BROOKE

It simply wasn’t possible for us to have been made any more welcome by Caleb’s family.  Hannah greeted us at the door with open arms before doing the introductions all around.  They were all there waiting impatiently for us to arrive, but it felt more welcoming than anything.  They were just happy to see Caleb again, and to meet his new wife.  The fact I was British, only made for some fun jokes to break the ice.

I could see that the UK Blackstones had been blessed by the same good genetics as the US ones.  Hannah’s brother, Ethan, had similar features to Caleb and his brothers, and just as easy on the eye.

Handsome men, every single one of them.

There was a darkness to Ethan though, almost unrecognizable at first, but definitely present.  I could relate; the same dark shadows bounced around inside my head too.  Seeing those shadows lift the instant his lovely wife, Brynne, or his baby girl came into view, gave me hope.   Caleb did the same for me.

Little Laurel was such a gorgeous baby, and came right into my arms when I held them out.  I needed to get in some baby practice because I’d have my own in less than six months, which was still a concept I was getting used to.  I almost didn’t want to let Laurel go when it was time for her to have a nap, but it was a good excuse to ask if I could have a tour of the house.

Hannah was more than happy to take me around, and Zara, her miniature assistant-in-training who slayed me with her charm when she informed me that the stunning portrait on the staircase was painted by Sir Tristan Mallerton in the early 1840’s.  When I asked her who the people in the painting were, she answered without missing a beat, “Sir Jeremy Greymont, Lady Georgina Greymont, and their children, Roderick and Anna-Marguerite.”

“Are you sure you’re really five?  I don’t believe it.  You know too much to be just five,” I teased.

She giggled up at me and nodded yes, swinging her hand clasped tightly to mine, as we toured the magnificent house I was sure my parents had visited on one of their many weekends to the country.

“How long has Hallborough House been operating as a B&B, Hannah?”

“Twelve years this coming spring.”

And twelve years made it a definite possibility.

“My parents loved to take weekends in the country.  They went everywhere, and stayed in places just like this when I was away at school.  I think they might have even come here, because my mother used to send me postcards of the places they visited.  I remember there was a beautiful house in Somerset, and I still have the postcard somewhere.”

“We have postcards in the gift shop,” Zara said.

“Well, then I must look at the gift shop’s postcards and see if they are the same as mine.”

“I can do better than that for you,” Hannah said with a grin.  “How long ago would your parents have come here?”

“It would have been about nine or ten years ago I’d guess.  They were killed in a car crash seven years ago, so not recently,” I explained as they led me to a bright room with a garden view that housed the gift shop.  I could imagine the ladies of years past using it as a sitting room because of the great light pouring in from the Gothic arched windows.

Hannah went to a bookshelf and began ticking through the volumes while I studied the postcards on a rack beside the desk.  Some were of other sights in the area such as Kilve Beach, and a very old seaside church that reminded me of Stone Church on Blackstone Island where Caleb and I were married just a few weeks ago.  I found one of the house that I thought could be the same as the postcard I had, but I couldn’t be certain.

“Let me see,” Zara asked.

I showed it to her, and she looked less than impressed, but informed me that building on the house was started in 1785 and finished in 1789.

“You are just a fount of information, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”  She was dead serious.

Ask a stupid question, Brooke.  Zara was as hilarious as she was adorable.

As I looked around at the beautiful room I could finally appreciate what drew my parents to leave the city and come to places like Hallborough for a getaway.  I also found it ironic that they had died on one of their country weekends away, but I’d always taken comfort in the fact they were together and doing something they enjoyed immensely.  “Can you check the registry for their names?” I asked Hannah hopefully.

“Of course, but even better are the photo albums.  They may have a picture in one of the albums.  Let’s take a look, shall we?”  She pulled out two leather volumes and brought them to the desk.  “These are the years you mentioned, please have a look through.”  She gestured to the books on the counter.

I approached carefully, almost afraid to be disappointed, but too curious not to look.  “You take pictures of your guests? I asked as I opened the first book.

“Only if they want to, of course, but most do.  It’s a tradition to take a Polaroid or two and make a page in the book with a message or whatever they want to share with other guests about their stay.  The Polaroid stays with the book, but most everyone gets a picture of the finished page with their mobile, so they can take it with them too.”

“Oh, that’s lovely,” I whispered, afraid to hope I might see a picture of the two people I still missed on a daily basis.

I turned pages slowly, reading the messages and seeing the happy smiles of lovers and friends and families who had all come to this place a decade ago on their travels from somewhere else.

I finished the first book and closed it before handing it back to Hannah who placed it back on the shelf.

“Feel free to look through any others if you’d like.  The year is written on the spine.”  She gave me a hug and said, “We’re so happy you and Caleb are here with us this year.”

“Thank you,” I managed to get out before my throat seized up.

“I’m going to take this little monkey to the kitchen and leave you to it.  Come find us if you need anything at all,” she said gently, probably sensing that I was getting emotional.  Zara gave me a sweet little wave as she left with her mum.

Once I was alone, I took the second book to a chair by the window and sat.  For a few moments I just looked out at the beauty of the grounds covered in snow before I opened the photo album and started looking at pages.

Seven page-turns into the book and there they were.  In life…in color…in a picture I had never seen before.  Susanna and Michael.  My mother laughing up at my dad as if he’d just said something incredibly clever.  Happy.  That’s how they were in the picture.  So happy.  My eyes filled with tears, growing blurry to the point I couldn’t even read the message on the page in the familiar hand of my mother’s writing until I gave myself a minute.

Once I was able to read it, the message wasn’t anything remarkable at all, just how much they’d enjoyed their weekend at Hallborough and that they would love to come back again someday.  That never happened, obviously, but that wasn’t the point.  The important thing was that they had been here and enjoyed themselves together…spending time with each other and finding happiness in those precious moments they were given.

The warm weight of Caleb’s arms came around me from behind.  I was so absorbed in my trip down memory lane, I hadn’t even heard him come into the room.

“Your parents came to Hallborough,” he said softly as he studied their picture.

“They did.”  I reached a hand up and cupped his cheek, needing to touch him.

“That’s why you were so excited about seeing the house.  You suspected they came here.”

“You caught that from me?”  The level of Caleb’s intuitiveness amazed me.  It must be why he was so good in business.  He could read people.

He kissed the top of my head.  “I like to think I can know what you’re thinking but I don’t.  I just sense changes in your body language, and you were trembling when we drove up to the house, and then taking happy selfies in front of it two minutes later.  When Hannah said you were in here looking through the photo albums for your parents, I figured it out.”

“I’m glad you came to find me.”  I got up from the chair and went into his arms and let him hold me.  Caleb’s touch was my lifeline now.  He balanced my highs and lows with his ever-present strength and love.

“Me too.  I love seeing you so happy, it’s the best gift you can give me.  Well, that, and our baby,” he said sweetly against my forehead.

“I love you, Caleb Blackstone, and I needed this trip so much more than I could have ever imagined, but you imagined it.  You know me better than I know myself sometimes.  Thank you for bringing me here, but more than that, for loving me the way that I am.”

“I love you, Brooke Casterley Blackstone, and that is my most important job.  It’s what I do best.”

“I know.”

*The End*

The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone

Cover image by Scott Hoover Photography. Josh Kloss, model. Cover design by Louisa Maggio.

Well, there you go.  I always said if there was more story to tell for Ethan and Brynne then I would write it.   Mr. Blackstone has been whispering in my ear for a while now, so I’ve decided it’s time to let you in on our secret.  Why today?  August 25th is memorable because five years ago on this date Ethan Blackstone was revealed to the world when Naked, The Blackstone Affair, Book 1 was published.  So, to celebrate the 5th birthday of The Blackstone Affair you shall have a fifth book.  (you are welcome)

The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone will be entirely in Ethan’s voice, echoing how All In (Book 2) was written.

Five Years Ago Today Something Wonderful Happened…

Apparently today is the five year anniversary of the birth of Ethan Blackstone and his beautiful American girl. July 15, 2012 as reminded to me by Facebook Memories. 
 
After Mr. M and the boys had gone off to camp, I was left to my devices at home and got to writing on my story about a British Lord and the art conservationist come to help him with his collection of paintings. That story was what would eventually become PRICELESS.
 
But what happened later that night was life changing.
 
I found the picture of the nude model posing with her legs up and got an idea for a NEW story. Weirdly possessed by the striking image, I dashed off a chapter and sent it to my friend Franzi, asking her what she thought of my idea.
 

The picture that inspired me.

She told me to write it, and so I set aside Priceless and got to work on this new story instead.

I wrote a story about an American grad student studying in London who did some artful modeling on the side. We didn’t know then the reasons behind her need to make such provocative pictures, but the answer would come later on.

I wrote about a security specialist with a harrowing past from his time in the British Army who looked a lot like David Gandy, and named him Ethan Blackstone.  I gave him a filthy mouth, but made sure he remained a gentleman.  An alpha male in a beautiful suit addicted to Djarum Blacks and obsessed with a girl he saw first in a photograph.

The story was instalove chocked full of cliches and tropes, but I loved it, and so did the few readers I had already reading my historicals.  It combined all of the elements I loved to read in a romance book, but was something I had created from inside my own head.  It took me three solid weeks to write, and then a couple weeks more to edit and prepare it for publishing with a cover, etc.  Naked was my first indie-published book.  Little did I know clicking that publish button would change my life in ways I could have never foreseen at the time.

But change things it did.

Within a week it was moving up the Amazon charts and hitting genre lists.  I can remember clearly the day I came down the stairs and told Mr. M that I was going to break 100 books sold that day and was dumbfounded as to why.  I just couldn’t believe people were reading about Ethan and Brynne and connecting so deeply with their story.  My blog hits had jumped from about 15 to 500+ visitors in a day.  Book blogs reviewed the book and began sharing it around social media.  Sales increased and the book hit the top 100, then top 50, then top 20.  Agents started emailing me asking things I knew nothing about.  I was just an elementary teacher from California who liked to write romance in her free time.  Selling enough books to make a living at my writing gig wasn’t even on my radar.  But exactly five months from the day I was inspired to write this very special story…is when it happened.  I became a full-time writer and started an exciting new chapter in my life.

And the rest, is history.

xo R

Love in Transit

I am so excited about this project I can hardly stand it.  The creative genius of Jana Aston was the mastermind behind Love in Transit, an anthology of six different stories all created around the same blurb with contributions from the super-talented: Jana Aston, Ainsley Booth, Kitty French, BJ Harvey, Liv Morris, and your’s truly.

~BLURB~

You know those people that have a house full of motivational slogans? Embrace Every Moment, stamped on their coffee mugs. Always Kiss Me Goodnight painted above their perfectly made beds.

I’m not one of those people.

This morning I overslept, then slipped on a stray sock and banged my toe into the nightstand. The elevator in my building broke and I had to run down six flights of stairs. And then my local coffee shop was closed. For health code violations.

What’s that? Not the end of the world? You want me to suck it up?

Did I mention I’m wearing a wedding dress… on the subway?

It’s a Good Day for a Hot Mess. Someone embroider that on a pillow.

~*~

Pre-order Love in Transit here:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2q4xO1x
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2pvgFMD
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2qRDm2d
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2qYxHnm
iBooks: http://apple.co/2pc0fIR
Nook: http://bit.ly/2peS6nP
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2p33U0p

Releasing everywhere June 1st.

Filthy Rich is on SALE!

Happy Valentine’s Day (a bit early I know) but the month of LOVE is the perfect time for an awesome deal.
The publisher surprised me by putting Filthy Rich on sale.  Right now the ebook is just $1.99 and the paperback is only $4.99!!!   I have no idea how long this price will last as it is set by the publisher.  If you want a signed copy and know you’ll  be seeing me at one of my 2017 book signings then this is the best price you will find anywhere. The UK and CA stores are also running a sale on ebook only.

US ebook  *~*  US paperback

UK ebook

CANADA ebook

And just in case you missed the big “reveal” back in December, and were curious as to how my two sexy Blackstone men are related, then you’re going to have to read Hawaiian Honeymoon for the answer.

Enjoy!

xo R

 

Hawaiian Honeymoon

Merry Christmas!  This year’s holiday story gives us a little insight into Caleb and Brooke’s honeymoon in Hawaii. Sometimes we all need a little practice in the art of receiving as well as giving.  May the new year be filled with all that you desire and more.

xxoo R

December 21st

“So beautiful,” she said softly as she took in the view from the lanai, her long hair moving with the gentle wind that picked up around this time every day we’d been here like clockwork.

“Oh yes,” I agreed.  The fact that her view and mine weren’t even remotely the same didn’t matter.  My wife was appreciating the stunning beauty of turquoise water framed against the white sand beach, the breezy palm trees, and the exotic flowers of our honeymoon destination—an exclusive private beach estate nestled on the fringes of a nature preserve at La Perouse Bay, Maui.

I was simply appreciating the stunning beauty of her.

Standing at the railing in a red bikini covering all the most beautiful parts of her, she easily eclipsed our tropical love nest with no problem.  Memories of this morning when I kissed her awake in our bed were still fresh in my mind.  Hell, thoughts of her naked with me were never absent from my pitiful, Neanderthal man-brain.  The way she unraveled from sleepiness into sheet-clawing abandon with my name falling from her precious lips got to me every time.  I’d never have enough of my Brooke.

It was safe to say we’d made good use of our honeymoon thus far.  We were virtually alone in a private island paradise, so what the hell else was I supposed to do besides make love to my gorgeous wife as much as possible?  If she wasn’t already pregnant, then she probably would be by the time we made it back to Boston from the amount of effort we’d put towards that goal.  It was still early times though, so we weren’t getting our hopes up too far in the clouds until we were past the first trimester.  Brooke had been through so much tragedy with her first pregnancy, her comfort and ease during this one had become my number one fucking priority.  The fact she’d already endured one surgery the night of the Autumn Ball unfortunately put her at a higher risk for a miscarriage.  I didn’t want to dwell on the negative though.  Too many hours of my life had been spent on shit I couldn’t change, and on people who weren’t important, so best to let that go and focus on all of the good and wonderful instead.

Good was the amazing woman who had stolen my heart from the first moment she’d spoken to me.  Wonderful was the baby we’d made, and the life we were creating together.  I wanted Brooke happy and stress-free, and that was pretty much the sum total of my needs.

She turned and gave me an expression that said she was onto me.  “You’re not looking at this tropical paradise before us, are you?”

“Nope.”  I moved in behind her and leaned her back onto my chest, holding her against me as we both looked out at the view.  “I was so distracted by my wife’s beauty I couldn’t focus on anything else.”

“Good one, Mr. Blackstone.”

“What’s on your mind, Mrs. Blackstone?”

“Christmas,” she answered with just a hint of melancholy.

“Other than the fact it’s four days from now, what about it?  Do you want to be home for Christmas?”  Maybe she was homesick.  I knew how much she loved her cottage on Blackstone Island and craved the security of the place, in fact so much that I was building a new home there.  I wondered if taking her away from the island for so long was stressing her out.  And stress was so not good for her being pregnant.  “I can have the Gulfstream here by tomorrow to take us home early if that’s what you want.”

“And leave all this?” –she threw her arms out toward the ocean view— “Not a chance.  I fully intend to be snorkeling on Christmas day in search of spotting a pair of Moorish Idols—” she paused abruptly.  “Wait.  Do you need to get back to Boston for work?  You probably have so many fires to put out at BGE by this point.  A month long honeymoon is too long for you, isn’t it?”

“Hush.”  I tightened my arms around her and bit gently on the shell of her ear to put a stop to her runaway thoughts.  “I don’t need to do anything in Boston that I can’t do with a phone call to the person I pay to do the work in their job description.”  Relieved she wanted to stay in Hawaii, I relaxed my hold on her and slowly turned her to face me.  “A minute ago when I asked you what was on your mind, I thought I sensed something kind of sad from you when you said ‘Christmas’.”  Her hazel eyes grew a little sparkly with unshed tears as she looked up at me.  In the beginning her tears freaked me the hell out.  Now, I was used to them.  I understood her PBA was the underlying cause of the crying and didn’t second guess it anymore.  “It’s okay, you can tell me anything.  I’m the guy who loves you unconditionally, remember?”

She nodded and forced a small smile onto her pretty face. “I remember.  And I love you, Caleb, and I’m so happy we’re here for Christmas.”

“But…”

She shook her head and looked down.

“Tell me, maybe I can help.”  My skills at coaxing her into telling me what she wanted were improving.  Brooke was well aware that I had the means to give her the world.  The only problem with that was she didn’t allow me to do very much for her most of the time.  She didn’t ask for anything, and pulling those secret desires out of her was always a challenge.  I used to worry I’d never find a woman who didn’t care about my money.  The joke was on me because I’d not only found her, I’d married her and knocked her up.  And she still didn’t care about the money.  If there was something my Brooke wanted, then I damn well intended to give it to her.

“It’s nothing, really.”

“It’s something, and I think you should tell me.  Consider it a Christmas gift to me if you share with me something—anything that makes you happy at Christmas.”  I was officially a sap-bastard at this point, and did not care one iota.  It felt awesome.

She smothered a giggle and reached her soft hand up to my cheek and caressed me.  “You are impossible, and it’s far too extravagant a plan.”

“I am in love with my wife, and in case you weren’t already aware, I’m filthy rich.  There is very little that’s too extravagant for my budget.”  I kissed the palm of her hand which was still attached to my face.  “As long as it’s safe and enjoyable for you, you’re good.  Just don’t tell me your life-long dream is to go on a zip-lining tour of the islands, because that might be kinda very impossible.”

“No zip-lining for me.”  She shook her head ruefully.

“That’s a relief.”  I said while silently cheering her on.  Tell me.  Tell me.  Tell me.

She sighed deeply, averting her eyes, and I knew I’d worn her down.

“I have the best memories of Christmas with my parents.  There’s nothing quite like London at the holidays.  There’s something so magical about it.”

“You miss London.”  My mind was already working out a plan.

“I will always miss London.  I was born there and it was my home for fifteen years.”

“Have you been back to visit since you came to Blackstone Island?”

“No, I haven’t been back for seven years.”

“Brooke, do you want to go to London for Christmas?”

She hesitated before answering.  “Well, I’d love to go to London but we couldn’t possibly—”

“Let me try this again.  Brooke, will you let me take you to London for Christmas?”

“Oh, my God.  Really?  I would love to go but how can you arrange something like that so fast?”

“Oh, baby, I managed to marry you and arrange this honeymoon in the span of just a few days, a little trip to London is child’s play.”

She laughed at me.  “Of course it is.”

“How about three or four days in London and then we come back here and finish out our month so you can snorkel to your heart’s content.  I did promise you a month-long honeymoon where we did nothing but eat, sleep and make love.  I seem to recall that very clearly, Mrs. Blackstone.”

“We’ve been doing that to the letter.”  She muffled another laugh.

“I still want the full month, Brooke.”

“So do I, Caleb.”

“Thank you.”

“For what, my love?”  She was teasing me now, and I had a pretty good idea how this little exchange was going to end.

“For telling me what you wanted, and then for allowing me to give it to you.”

“I can’t believe we’ll be in London for Christmas.”  I think I need to show you my appreciation for such a lovely gift, but first I want to go for a swim with my kind and generous husband.”  She tugged on my hand as she headed for the gate that led down to the beach.

“I accept your offer to show your appreciation after our swim because I’d be a moron to turn that down, but I want you to know that you don’t have to.  For me knowing you’re enjoying something you want is enough.  You’re happy, I’m happy—it’s that simple.”

She stopped walking and stood before me.  “I love you so much, Caleb Blackstone, and by the way, it’s you.  You are what makes me happy.  Just you loving me the way you already do is all I will ever need.”  The kiss she gave me after her little speech, delivered in her proper British accent that made me hard just from hearing her speak a few words, helped erase any lingering doubts I might have about her being homesick.  In a way she was, just homesick for the land of her birth rather than the place she now called home.  I was grateful for the chance to be able to do this for her.

“I have family in London actually.  Maybe we can arrange something with them while we’re there.  I’d love for them to meet you.  Well, second or third cousins I think, because it was our grandfathers who were related, but they’re going to get such a kick out of the fact I married a Brit.  My cousin Ethan married an American girl last year.  Their wedding was my dad’s final trip before he grew too sick to leave his bed.”

“I’m glad he had the chance to visit one last time.  I would absolutely love to meet your family, Caleb.”  That was my Brooke, always so accepting and open for something new.  She wasn’t jealous of the past because she knew the future was the only part that mattered.  Smart woman I had married.  I was so damn blessed.

“You know the plane ride to London from Maui is a long one.  We’ll be traveling in the comfort of the Gulfstream of course, but seventeen hours is a long flight no matter how you slice it.”

“That is a long flight.  I wonder what we’ll do to fill all those empty hours up in the air.”  The sassy teasing went right back into her tone.

“Oh, I think showing you how much I love you is a good place to start.”

“But you do that all the time,” she said over her shoulder as her feet disappeared into the ocean, enticing me with her spectacular backside in tiny red bikini bottoms I’d be peeling off her after our swim.  Thank God for pregnancy hormones and what they did to expecting mothers.  She hadn’t turned me down yet.  Did I mention what a lucky, lucky bastard I was?

“I was going to add the part about how I can never do it enough,” I said as I lunged to grab her.

She flashed me the most stunning smile before diving into the clear blue water looking like the sea goddess she was to me.

I followed after my girl, and I always would.

~The End~

Four Years of Thankfulness

On this Thanksgiving Eve my mind turns to thoughts of just how much my life has changed in the past four years.

Thanksgiving Day fell on November 22nd in 2012 and I had two books on the New York Times Bestseller’s list that week.  Both NAKED and ALL IN were still indie published, I was still teaching 1st grade, and trying to figure out how I would juggle my precious time enough to write EYES WIDE OPEN in the next two months while managing the upcoming holidays and my teaching job.  Yes, I was busy, but I was also very happy to be full of so much hope and excitement for the future.  Dare I say my life was a lot more…simpler?  Of course it was, I had nothing more to do than work.  Hard work had never hurt me before, and I just had to buckle down and get it done.  Well, exactly one week later I was offered a major book deal for the trilogy, which I accepted.  That event set me on the path to realizing my dream of becoming a full-time author.  My life got even busier as I battled the learning curve of the publishing industry–something which will never end, by the way…but I digress.  The most important point is that I was so thankful for everything I’d been given.

Thanksgiving fell on November 28th in 2013, and that year I missed the dinner in lieu of putting on the finishing touches to CHERRY GIRL which was publishing the next day.  *sheer insanity to publish a book on Black Friday*  In the course of that year I’d traveled extensively, as well as moved my parents into assisted living in order to be close to me.  It was time.  My father had just been sprung from the rehab facility where he’d been recovering from a bad fall for the previous five weeks.  It seemed that as soon as I was semi-settled in my new career as a full-time writer, family illness stepped right into the forefront to demand my attention.  But I was still very thankful for my life and the freedom to help my parents when they needed me.  I knew I was blessed.

Thanksgiving 2014 found us in Sydney, Australia for a book signing combined into a whirlwind family trip. The Land of Oz was amazing, as expected, but I was exhausted mentally after the death of my father amidst the publishing of three new books that year (RARE and PRECIOUS THINGS, PRICELESS, and THE MUSE) in addition to some major traveling.  I fell and screwed up my knee which sucked, but I didn’t need surgery and it eventually healed in time.  Even though the previous year had been a hard one, I was still incredibly thankful for my family and our wonderful life that afforded us amazing experiences like trips to Edinburgh and Australia for book signings.  So very blessed.

Thanksgiving 2015 was only one year ago, but so much happened between the previous Thanksgiving I felt like my life was unrecognizable to what it had once been.  My mother died in May of 2015, just thirteen months after my father, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard on me.  I was sad, of course, but I wasn’t bitter in any way.  Death is part of life and we must accept when it comes calling.  No, the thing that turned my life upside down was the lawsuit that showed up exactly six weeks after I buried my mom charging me with breach of contract for two historical romances I’d published with a small press nearly five years earlier.  That really upended my life, and not in a good way.  It was very costly for my legal defense, while at the same time prohibiting me from publishing new indie books when the case was ongoing.  My readers weren’t happy with me because there were no new books for them.  I wasn’t happy as I struggled to keep my commitment to write a new book for Montlake at the same time while wading through all of the legal crap that bombarded me constantly with the lawsuit.  I’m sure my family wasn’t happy as they had to deal with the fallout of my emotions all over the place, some serious new health issues for me, and the financial stress from the lawsuit.  Still, as we sat down to dinner together as a family, I counted my blessings for all of the good and wonderful people in my life.  There was hope that things would get better again.  The lawsuit would end eventually, and I could get back to writing books in my “normal” life.  (The verdict arrived September 14, 2016, completely in my favor.  I won and the small press that sued me lost.)  🙂

So, that brings us to now.  Thanksgiving 2016, fresh on the heels of my first new release in two long difficult years. FILTHY RICH, book one in my new Blackstone Dynasty series, published exactly one week ago.  I can tell you that it feels equal parts good and strange to publish again after such a long absence.  This business changes rapidly, and what worked two years ago may not even be an option anymore.  I’ve had to learn a lot of things all over again, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure can be a challenge.   The old saying ‘you can’t teach and old dog new tricks’ comes to mind, but this “old dog” had no choice but to learn some new tricks.  I am once again counting my blessings this Thanksgiving because I realize I do have many.  Wonderful readers and fans who have waited patiently for a new book.  Book bloggers who generously read and reviewed (and pimped) the book to their followers. My author sisters and brothers, who encouraged me and helped spread the word to their own fan following about my new book. My husband and boys who stepped up and pitched in while I learned how to write a book again.  My friends who cheered me on and pushed me to keep writing when I was sure I’d lost my ability to coherently tell a story.  My heart is full for all of the good wishes and support I’ve been given for this new book.  Thank you to Kcee at Unbound Book Reviews for the book trailer.  I hope you watch it and are encouraged to give Filthy Rich and the world of my new Boston Blackstones a try.

Bottom line, I am thankful for the last four years as a writer, even the hard parts held value in showing me how rich my life is for the experiences and the people in it.

Be well and blessed this Thanksgiving.

xxoo R