The Hero I Need: A Small Town Romance
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Thriller
Publication date: January 22nd 2021
He knew I was trouble the instant I showed up with a stolen Bengal tiger. But Grady McKnight didn’t flinch like a sane person—he took us in. Bruce the tiger found shelter. I met a hero grump. And Grady got a hot mess. Namely, me. Born-to-sizzle single dads and rogue zoologists don’t play nice. So freaking what if I said I’m his nanny? We needed a story when his two sweet daughters barged in. Hiding a contraband tiger isn’t easy. Neither is pretending he isn’t sending my pulse to pitter-patter heaven. Cupid, you sneaky little nugget. There’s only room for one hulking, growly, mesmerizing beast in my life. I don’t belong at warm family dinners, or in the fortress of his arms. Saving Bruce is my mission—not falling in love. This won’t end well. The longer I stay, the more he grins. Walls come crashing down. And my heart becomes willing prey for his carnivorous eyes. I must resist Grady flipping McKnight. Even if a scared, aching part of me knows I’m already his. Even if I know he’s the hero I need… Full-length romance thriller with the growliest Happily Ever After. It’s claws and effect when a wounded single dad saves a firestarter—along with her tiger, his girls, and his own beat-up heart.
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Nicole Snow returns with a fierce and hilarious office romance where two sworn enemies make undeniable lovers.
The Hero I Need by @nicolesnowbooks is a full-length romance thriller with the growliest Happily Ever After. It’s claws and effect when a wounded single dad saves a firestarter—along with her tiger, his girls, and his own beat-up heart!
“Car trouble?” a deep voice booms behind me.
The back of my head smacks the steering wheel in my rush to get up. Ow.
Pressing a hand against the stinging pain, I stand up, close my eyes, and say a quick prayer in my head.
The gruff voice isn’t Niles or Priscilla Foss’, but only God knows who they’d send after me if they’ve figured out Bruce the tiger is gone.
“Lady? You okay?” the stranger thunders again, this time closer.
“Yes! Never better,” I strangle out. Not easily with my heart pounding in my throat.
“Funny kind of better,” the voice growls to my back. “Looks more like you could use a hand.”
Hoping it’ll help, I gather my hair in one hand and lift it off the back of my neck, which is slicked with sweat in the humid night air, and finally turn around.
I have to release my hair in order to tilt my head back far enough to see more than a massive chest covered with a black t-shirt sporting a picture of a purple bob cat. Mouth open. Teeth showing.
And it turns out that slab of a chest is attached to a mountain with arms and legs.
He’s tall, dark, shredded, and deliriously handsome.
I won’t call him muscular because it would be an injustice. Like calling Samson a bodybuilder.
This man looks like he could hoist Bruce over his head without breaking a sweat.
Moving my eyes up over shoulders that’d make Atlas seethe with jealously and a thick neck worthy of a bull, my gaze lands on a face. An amused one, with deep manly lines around flinty hazel-dark eyes.
This looks like a face that’s used to smiling, even if he’s rocking that scary-hot vibe like he invented it.
Only, right now, there’s a smirk carved on his chiseled face that says he might be insane enough to try lifting a full-grown tiger as a feat of strength.
If there’s one thing I can’t do—besides let this guy climb inside my head and eat crackers nice and slow—is let him catch on to the fact that I’m hauling around some very illegal cargo, and it’s alive.
“What kind of trouble are you having?” he asks, his eyes twinkling in the dim light.
At the moment, breathing.
Next up, peeling my eyes off him and finding the willpower to mutter more than a squeak in reply.
His jaw is square, his nose straight, his hair short, but not too short. And his mouth, that smile, it’s—
It’s officially too much to handle.
I huff out a loud breath to stop a heavenly fantasy from forming and get my thoughts back to hell. Because that’s where I’m actually at right now, blundering around an isolated parking lot in the middle of the night with a strange man and a not-so-well concealed monster in my trailer.
Nicole Snow is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. She found her love of writing by hashing out love scenes on lunch breaks and plotting her great escape from boardrooms. Her work roared onto the indie romance scene in 2014 with her Grizzlies MC series.
Since then Snow aims for the very best in growly, heart-of-gold alpha heroes, unbelievable suspense, and swoon storms aplenty. With over a million books sold, she lives for the joy of making two people fight with every bit of their soul for a Happily Ever After.
Melanie A. Smith
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Wicked Dreams Publishing
Publication date: February 8th 2021
Mia Anderson has been living a life that was chosen for her. But her impending thirtieth birthday is the wake-up call she needed to stop wasting time on all the wrong pursuits. Just as she’s figuring out what she wants to do about it, her beloved grandmother falls ill and Mia drops everything to be with her. What she didn’t expect to find in her grandmother’s tiny mountain town is the courage to quit working for her father, supplied by a little tough love from her Gran. Now faced with an uncertain future, the last thing on her mind is finding love. Nate Edwards is living a solitary life deep in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. He’s content, or at least he thinks he is — until the granddaughter of a good friend shows up and he starts having feelings he thought he’d never have again. But Mia’s future isn’t in Alpine Ridge, so acting on it would lead to nothing but heartbreak. Still, their connection is undeniable and circumstances continue to push them together, despite their resistance. Will Mia stick to her decision to carve her own path? And if she does, will it be with Nate? Or is he doomed to an isolated life?
Sometimes you need a bit of tough love to get where you’re supposed to be
From award-winning and international best-selling author @melanieasmithauthor comes a standalone steamy contemporary romance about life choices, love, and finding yourself in between.
I roll my eyes at the obvious setup. Which totally worked. Dammit.
“Uh-huh. So since you’re not trying to get Nate and I together, you won’t mind me telling you I have no intention of dating him. This is a pitstop, Gran. I’m not staying forever, so there’s no point.”
Gran shrugs. “May as well have some fun while you’re here.”
“Nate seems … okay and all, but I wouldn’t exactly call him fun,” I point out. Smoking hot, yes. A towering, intense hunk of man I can imagine having fun between the sheets with, absolutely. But not in my Gran’s house. And in another life where I was the type of person to have casual sex. One where I also wasn’t in a tailspin.
She waves a hand airily. “You have to get to know him. Trust me, he’s plenty fun.”
I cock an eyebrow at her. “I still think it’s you who has the hots for this guy, Gran,” I tease her.
She blushes just enough to confirm that’s true.
Melanie A. Smith is an award-winning and international best-selling author of steamy contemporary romance fiction. Originally from upstate New York, she spent most of her childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Los Angeles for college. After that, she spent almost fifteen years in the Seattle Area, and now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas with her family.
A voracious reader and lifelong writer, Melanie’s writing began at a young age with short stories and poetry. Having completed a bachelor of science in electrical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s in business administration at the University of Washington, her writing abilities were mainly utilized for technical documents as a lead engineer for the Boeing Company, where she worked for ten years.
After shifting careers to domestic engineering and property management in 2015, she eventually found a balance where she was able to return to writing fiction.
Melanie is also a Mensan and enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and driving with the windows down and the stereo cranked up loud.
The Best Man Genres:
(From Connemara With Love #1)
by Alex Kelly
Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: November 12th 2020
I always turn up at just the wrong moment. I never know how to make the most of a situation; I don’t know the right thing to say, or when I should come or go. Let’s just say I have really shit timing. I’m not a smart guy. I don’t have great ideas. I’m practical, a hard worker; someone who lives for his family, and for the air that she breathes. It’s just a shame that the “she” in question never knew this. It’s a shame that I waited all these years to make my move. It’s useless to tell you, readers, that it was already too late; that I’d screwed everything up, once again. And, this time, my mistakes forced her to come home. Except she didn’t want to stay. And now she hates me – or maybe she doesn’t. I still haven’t worked out what’s going on between us, but like I said, I’m not the sharpest tool in the box. And even though this could be my last chance, I’m not going to be the one to ask her to stay. Not even if she turns out to be the one I’ve always waited for. Because she doesn’t belong in this place. And she doesn’t belong in my life. My name is Alex Brennan, and this is my story: of how I realised I’d lost the most important person in my life, before I even had her.
The Best Man by @askellywrites is a great contemporary romance and you can get it FREE on #KindleUnlimited! https://amzn.to/3aDhE6Y
I walk behind her wordlessly, until we get to the door of her building. I’m a gentleman, and she knows it. I’ve always walked her to her door – something her brothers have always taken the piss out of me for – because I want to be sure that she gets home okay, and that nothing happens to her. I don’t do it now because of everything that’s just happened; I’ve always done it, and I always will. I’m not ashamed of that. If there’s one thing my mother taught me, it’s that I should never be ashamed of who I am and what I feel, and I’m not going to start feeling shameful tonight. So I walk up to the top floor with her without being asked why. Once we get to her front door, Ellie sticks her key into the lock and opens it, then stands, unmoving, with her forehead against the wood, trying to work out what should happen next.
“Don’t ask me,” I say, helping her.
Ellie turns slowly to face me.
“Now’s not the right moment,” I say, because it’s true. Even though the only thing I want right now is to push her inside, lock us into her apartment, and make love to her until we can’t walk anymore.
She smiles and nods; she knows this is for the best, too. I step closer to her and stroke her face, before gently pressing my lips to hers. Then I say it, because I can feel her fear pulsing into my chest.
“I’ll never ask you, Ellie.”
I’m an idiot, but I carry on anyway, because I love her more than I love the idea of the two of us together.
“I’ll never ask you to come back.”
I let go of her face and take a few steps back.
“You know why,” I say; and from the way her eyes grow wide, I realise that she already knew my answer all along.
Alex Kelly writes uplifting, emotional and heartwarming Romantic Fiction and Family Sagas.
She’s a bibliophile, a Yogi, a lover of English literature and a baking enthusiast.
She was born in Italy but lives in Ireland with her husband, two children and a cat named Oscar.
The Haunting of Solomon House
Blair Graves, #1
by Marnie Vinge
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: January 25th 2021
Blair Graves’ father went missing seven years ago.
The legal death of her paranormal radio host father tilts her world sideways on its axis. When no will can be found, Blair is forced to adapt to a quickly shifting reality. One in which she’s forced to sell her family home.
When a historical fixer-upper catches her eye, she goes all in, hoping to escape her father’s legacy and the long shadow cast by his very public disappearance.
But when the house starts presenting more problems than just the creaks and groans associated with old age, Blair starts questioning what she knows about life, death, and what comes after.
When the very arrogant and handsome Cash Kelly–a ghost-hunting expert–offers his help, Blair is sure he’s the same kind of attention-seeking, conspiracy-promoting, dollar-chasing content creator hack as her father.
As she begins to question his motivations for helping her, the haunting escalates to a dangerous point, forcing Blair to confront the reality of the world her father believed in.
And what it means to be his daughter.
The X-Files meets Supernatural in this urban fantasy series about the strength of a father-daughter bond and how, sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.
I lean my back against the door and listen to the crackle of the fire in the fireplace. I’m not quite ready to put it out yet. I look around, wondering how to fill another hour before bed and my eyes land on the door that leads to the backyard.
My little furry friend.
I grab a coat, scarf, and some mittens and decide I’m going to spend a little time outside and see if I can spot the raccoon. Out back, I walk to the edge of the empty art deco pool. I glance to the bottom, now clean and free of the animal remains it once held. My eyes travel upwards to the tree line at the back of the property. I narrow them to slits, trying to make out any shape in the darkness.
And that’s when I hear it.
Almost a snort. A huge exhalation through a snout. An animal. An animal much larger than a raccoon.
And the same sound that woke me in the middle of the night.
A chill descends on me.
My heart begins to race. An instinctive part of my brain suddenly shifts into prey mode. That’s what I am. Prey. Meat. Sustenance for whatever is making that sound.
A bear? A mountain lion?
Why would I have heard it in the house? In my bedroom? So close to my ear that I could practically feel the hot air being forced from its lungs.
I stand, frozen on the spot, my eyes still trying to make out shapes in the darkness. But now, through a lens of fear, I feel like I see them everywhere. A shadow here, one over there. My eyes dart around, trying to follow whatever it is that I’m seeing—or that I think I’m seeing.
Fuck. I feel crazy.
Suddenly, I’m wishing Noelle and Hooper were still here.
That anyone was here.
That I wasn’t surrounded by empty fields for miles.
I’m sure of one thing, though, as I creep back to the house.
I may feel lonely.
But I’m not alone.
Marnie Vinge is a novelist and storyteller as well as the creator of the podcast, Eerie Okie.
She first started writing at the ripe age of 7, creating a science fiction horror story about a monster that lived in seaweed off the coast of Corpus Christi. Since then, she’s stretched her wings by writing urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and horror.
To check out Eerie Okie, search your favorite podcast platform. If you’re an Oklahoma ghoul who loves the morbid and macabre, it’s the podcast for you.
(Magical Romantic Comedies, #13)
by R.J. Blain
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: December 25th 2020
Becoming a bounty hunter and taking on the call sign of Murder Mittens wasn’t Harri’s brightest move, but what’s a lynx to do with millions of debt while working a customer service gig? The scars deforming her face won’t remove themselves, and she’ll bag and tag every criminal in the United States to get rid of them if necessary. Being assigned a handler could make or break her, but did the powers that be really have to toss Sebastian Sumners her way? The lion with a stubborn streak as wide as hers tests her patience on a good day, but nothing makes her purr more than goading him into roaring. Add in a protective family, a serial killer on the loose, and more trouble than any one cat needs, and it’s going to take a miracle for Harri to get through the most important job of her life. Warning: contains magic, humor, cranky shapeshifters, cats, murder, and mayhem. Proceed with caution.
Becoming a bounty hunter and taking on the call sign of Murder Mittens wasn’t Harri’s brightest move, but what’s a lynx to do with millions of debt while working a customer service gig? The scars deforming her face won’t remove themselves, and she’ll bag and tag every criminal in the United States to get rid of them if necessary.
Being assigned a handler could make or break her, but did the powers that be really have to toss Sebastian Sumners her way? The lion with a stubborn streak as wide as hers tests her patience on a good day, but nothing makes her purr more than goading him into roaring.
Add in a protective family, a serial killer on the loose, and more trouble than any one cat needs, and it’s going to take a miracle for Harri to get through the most important job of her life.
Why was murdering irate, irrational, ignorant, and flat-out wrong customers illegal? The idiot on the phone rambled about how it wasn’t fair that dumping coffee on his router invalidated his warranty.
I thought it wasn’t fair his stupidity might lose me IQ points, and I’d learned long ago that humans—or lycanthropes, such as myself—didn’t come with warranties or guarantees. I had bills to pay, and murdering one of the customers wouldn’t pay my bills.
Then again, in prison, I wouldn’t have to pay any bills. Every day by the end of my shift, I considered incarceration as a viable option.
Free board, free food, good medical care, and asshole inmates to beat on sounded a lot better than dealing with an idiot customer.
“Sir,” I said in the hopes of circumventing his tirade. Mr. Edward Lavell ignored me.
The idiots always ignored me. I bet my gender had something to do with it. On average, the men finished their calls five minutes faster, and every supervisor to review the situation came to the same general conclusion: customers took men in tech more seriously than women, and I, unfortunately, sounded too feminine.
“Sir,” I repeated, only to be ignored again.
Why couldn’t I just hang up on him? Oh, right. I valued my job. As I valued my job, I couldn’t hang up on him, I couldn’t curse, I couldn’t threaten to rip his throat out, and I couldn’t indulge in my desire to murder him.
There was a time and a place for murder, and on the job at a call center for a cable internet company was not the time nor the place.
For the fourth time since calling in, Mr. Lavell explained that it really wasn’t his fault he’d dumped coffee on his router.
“Sir, liquid spills are right in the contract for the router. I’m sorry, but I can’t change the rules for you. Spilling coffee on your router invalidates its warranty.”
“It’s not my fault the cup holder in my computer has a mind of its own,” he complained.
His computer’s cup holder has a mind of its own? The realization I dealt with someone far worse than just an idiot sank in. Every call center had legends of Code Red customers, who were in an entirely different class from the standard 1-D10T and the unfortunately common PEBKAC. With Mr. Lavell, I had it all. A problem certainly did exist between the keyboard and chair, and he’d definitely deserved his flag as an 1-D10T.
Until his call, I had remained safe from the evils of a Code Red customer.
By the time I got off the phone with him, I’d need some alcohol and someone to kill.
It’d be easier to find someone to kill than the alcohol; me and booze just didn’t mix, and I’d been banned out of every damned bar in town to keep the peace.
Maybe I could whip on some makeup, grab a gray wig, and pass for a little old lady. With my face covered in burn scars, it wouldn’t take much to pull off some makeup artistry and transform myself into an older woman rather than a mutilated one. I could become a conventional beauty given an hour and the right products. An old lady wasn’t an impossibility.
Alternatively, I could shift, pay my family a visit, and steal a bottle of liquor from one of the cabinets. With the number of lynxes running around the place, they might not even notice me before I made off with my alcoholic prize.
As sighing was not acceptable when dealing with paying customers, I took a moment to steel my nerves before saying, “Sir, computers do not include cup holders.”
That caught his attention. “What?”
“Sir, computers do not include cup holders,” I repeated, already dreading the moment I would have to explain what a CD was, how they were used, and what the player’s actual purpose was. Few systems still had any disc drives at all, as most companies had moved to online downloads of their programs and games.
The next few minutes of my life would not be fun, and I typed a message to my supervisor warning him I had a major 1-D10T on my hands, a possible Code Red situation, and to make sure he was aware I faced the demise of some IQ points, I notified him the customer had opted to use his disc drive as a coffee cup holder.
“What the hell is this thing for, then?”
“CDs, sir.” I closed my eyes and waited for the meltdown.
“First, you claim I invalidated my warranty, and now you’re telling me my cup holder plays music?”
“As this is an internet company, sir, I can’t help you with your CD player. However, it is not a cup holder, nor should it be used as one. As for your router, you owe $35.79 on the device. Once you finish paying for the damaged equipment, I can schedule a tech to come to your home and install your new router. Since you’ve been a customer for so long, I can waive the fifty dollar installation fee. Your monthly bill will not change if you opt to pay off the damaged equipment and start a new rental.”
If he gave me a hard time, I’d take my time and give him all of his options. None of them would be as good as my initial offer. I cracked open an eye and checked my messages with my boss.
He wished me the best of luck and promised to send flowers to my funeral. He also begged me not to tell my brothers about the menace wasting my time. If any one of my forty-seven brothers found out I dealt with customers screaming at me five days a week, they’d go on a rampage.
That my boss knew my family drove me crazy on a good day.
I figured my idiot family had gone on a hunt to meet my boss, and because we were all infected with lycanthropy, my boss wouldn’t have thought twice about their behavior.
Lycanthropes had a reputation.
Most days, it wasn’t a good one.
Only an idiot would piss off a bunch of male lycanthropes out to protect their precious little sister. Unfortunately for me, I counted as an endangered species, as the odds of a lycanthrope having daughters in the first place fell somewhere in around ten thousand to one.
I needed to notify my mother she needed to have more daughters. While she was at it, she needed to give me a new name, because nobody ever believed Harri was a woman’s name. I figured she’d meant to name me Harry because she’d expected yet another boy, swapping out the ‘y’ for an ‘i’ to make things easier on her.
When on the job, I went by Christine because Christine seemed gloriously feminine and nobody on the team used their real names. Technically, I was supposed to change my name every day, but I went by Christine for all new callers, and I only rotated through when I knew I was dealing with someone who gave me issues.
My method worked well enough, so my boss didn’t complain.
While Mr. Lavell spluttered and began the tedious process of mulling over his options, I began making plans for after work—assuming I escaped from my job without succumbing to the temptation of informing the customer he was most definitely wrong, he needed to go back to school to join the modern world, and it wouldn’t hurt if he learned to be civil.
I had to explain his options four times before he finally conceded he should stick with his old plan, pay for the damaged router, and move on with life. It took an extra ten minutes of listening to him whine before he finally hung up.
Above all, I hated the rule that we were not supposed to hang up on clients. It wasted time. Had I been allowed to just hang up, I would have wished him a good day, disconnected the call, and began the tedious process of adding notes to his file so the next customer service representatives stuck with him knew they had trouble on their hands.
My phone rang, but instead of a customer, my phone reported my boss wanted to speak with me. With slumped shoulders, I accepted his call and answered, “Sir?”
“I listened in on your Code Red.”
I hated when my boss actively monitored my calls; thanks to how the system worked, he could listen in on me at any time. But, a job was a job, and with my scarred face, finding a job became troublesome at best—and nobody in the call center knew or cared what I looked like. Oh, well. Before I jumped to conclusions, I’d ask. “What’s my grade, sir?”
“You did fine. You stayed professional, you didn’t come across as too condescending, and frankly, there’s no sane tech on this planet stays totally cool a Code Red. It could have been much worse.”
I checked the clock, breathing a sigh of relief that I’d hit the end of my shift and wouldn’t have to take any more calls. “What do you need?”
“I had a question about your schedule. You’re off for the next week, correct?”
“Yes, sir.” I had plans, and they involved the International Most Wanted List along with every legal bounty list I had managed to get my hands on in the past month. If my boss tried to put an end to my hard-earned vacation, I’d finally do what I should have done months ago, snap, and quit.
I wanted him to cross my last line so badly.
“Ted wants an extra shift. How would you feel about an unpaid day added to your vacation? I’ve already gotten approval if you’d like to claim the unpaid day.”
Score. I’d bid for time off almost a year ago, but sick days were the bare minimum the state allowed, which accounted to five for the entire year. An extra day tacked onto my vacation might let me bag an extra bounty.
Any day I bagged an extra bounty was a good day in my opinion.
“I can take an unpaid day, sir. That’s fine. Can you send me an email confirming the unpaid day off?”
“It’ll be in your inbox within the next ten minutes, and I’ll CC human resources notifying them you’re excused for that day.”
“Okay. Will the rest of my schedule remain the same once I’m back from vacation?”
“Yes. Ted just asked for extra hours, and the others with seniority declined the day off.”
I bet; on our income, every hour mattered. Most who worked for the call center had seen better days. I lived like I’d seen better days and I looked like I’d seen better days, but appearances lied. I only worked at the call center to maintain appearances. Thanks to depression in my teens and therapy that hadn’t gone like my parents had wanted, my entire family demanded I check in at least three times a week to ensure I remained human.
They believed if they took their eyes off me, I might shift into a lynx and never come back.
Two years ago, they wouldn’t have been wrong, but I’d found a new purpose in life. Not a single one of my brothers would approve, my mother would have yet another litter of kittens, and my father would be so disappointed.
Personally, I thought it was obvious. I worked in customer service. I was a prime candidate to become a murderous asshole. I did so legally, on behalf of the government and other legal entities, and I did so for a filthy amount of money.
Smiling stretched my scars, but I did it anyway. “If anyone needs any extra hours, I can afford another day or two off,” I offered. “I can take up to a week unpaid. I’ve been saving up to take some time off if any opportunities allowed.”
It would delay paying for the expensive procedure required to piece my face back together and remove the evidence of the fire that’d almost killed me as a child. It took a lot of magic to convince the lycanthropy virus I wasn’t supposed to be a scarred wreck.
A lot of magic cost a lot of money, and I figured I might have the three million dollars within five years if I landed a bounty every weekend and took on some of the more dangerous jobs. While I waited for my boss to mull over my offer, I considered the various jobs on offer.
I liked hunting other lycanthropes. Unmated males were easy catches, and the fugitives usually brought in a pretty penny. The last one I’d bagged as a live capture had added fifty thousand to my bank account.
Then again, if I landed an entire extra week, I’d make up the lost hours with a single small bounty, and anything else would be extra cash in my savings account.
My boss grunted, signaling he’d come to a decision. “I’ll keep that in mind and pitch the offer. I’ll email your personal and work addresses if there are any takers plus text your phone.”
“Thanks, sir. Have a good evening.”
He hung up, and before something could go wrong, I clocked out, filed my paperwork for my final call, and logged out of the system so I couldn’t be sucked back into doing even more work.
If all went well, I’d be a hundred grand richer by the end of the week and that much closer to being able to look in the mirror without wincing.