Wanting More | A Sneak Peek

My new book, WANTING MORE, will be available on February 20, 2018. But before you meet Josh and Carina, I wanted to share the first chapter with you. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and are looking forward to WANTING MORE's release too! Thanks for your support!

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JOSH

“I can’t believe he did all of this!”

Josh Graham thanked the bartender for his beer and turned to face his best friend, Erin. Her initial shock had worn off and now she was coming to him for answers. She narrowed her eyes and placed her hands on her hips, which only made his smile grow. Her long blonde ponytail bobbed up and down as she tapped her foot against the cement.

“Did you expect anything less from Chase Montclair?” he asked. Although her fiancé had the money to rent out the entire Phillies’ ballpark tonight for their surprise engagement party, Chase had known what Erin preferred. Small, intimate get-togethers were more her speed. Josh had learned quickly during college that Erin was a low-maintenance, sneakers-and-jeans type of girl.

And nothing would ever change that, even if she was engaged to a multimillionaire.

“I mean, I refuse to believe he was able to pull all this off behind my back. Renting this place and getting all our friends here? He must have had some help.” She raised an accusatory brow and gave him her familiar smirk.

“He may have had an accomplice.” A few accomplices, actually. Since Chase had his hands full with a trial and the circus that surrounded it this past summer, he had called on his friends for help. After Chase had decided that the engagement party that should have taken place months ago was going to be held at Citizens Bank Park, home to his and Erin’s favorite baseball team, his friends happily took over. Josh was in charge of booking one of the park’s Club Decks. Nothing too fancy. Just a place to watch the game, hang out with close family and friends and enjoy some beers. Chase’s future brother-in-law, Paul, had pitched in by setting up hotel accommodations for the guests who didn’t live close by. Paul’s girlfriend, Mia, had sent out the invitations and ordered the baseball-shaped sheet cake. Josh gave Erin a wink, earning him a punch to his arm.

Josh looked over at Chase. He was in the middle of talking to Paul, but his eyes were on Erin. Josh suspected that Chase would always be protective of Erin, which put Josh’s mind at ease. Chase shifted his attention to Josh. He smiled and lifted his beer in the air. Josh returned the gesture.

“You sneaky bastards,” she said.

Josh gave her ponytail a gentle tug. “How are you feeling, sweetheart? Are you getting enough rest? Drinking enough water?”

“Yes, and I’ve increased my calorie intake, just like my favorite med student instructed.”

He pulled her into a hug, though he was careful not to hold her too tight. She was four months along and sporting a baby bump that stretched her red cotton Phillies t-shirt. “You’re going to name at least one of those little ankle-biters after me, right?”

She gave him a squeeze and stepped out of his embrace. “And if Chase and I are having twin girls? What then?”

Twins. An image of a little boy and girl flashed in his mind. Both were covered in sand and playfully being scolded by their grandmother. He dismissed the memory and focused on Erin.

“My middle name is Dylan, which is gender neutral…just saying.”

Erin laughed and rolled her eyes.

“Dylan Whitley,” he said, trying out the unborn child’s name.

“Dylan Montclair,” Erin said, nudging his chest with two fingers.

“Ah, that’s right. In just a few weeks, the beautiful Erin Whitley becomes Mrs. Chase Montclair.”

“Josh, please tell the hormonal mess in front of you that you’ve ordered your tux by now. You promised, man of honor!”

He forced his smile to stand down. “Oh shit! Between classes and exams, I forgot. But I have time, right?”

Her eyes widened. “You better be kidding or, so help me God, I’ll drag you down to that tuxedo shop first thing tomorrow morning, pregnant and all!”

He had always gotten a kick out of seeing her so riled up. “Black tux, white shirt, gray tie. Unfortunately my measurements were taken by a man named Eli, not the hot redhead who waited on Paul.” He raised her chin with two fingers. “It’s taken care of, boss.”

She swatted his hand away. “You’re lucky I love you. You know that?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest, trying her hardest not to smile.

Being friends with Erin was easy. She accepted him for who he was and made him laugh on a daily basis. And she could pull off smartass and sweet with little effort.

Just like someone he used to know.

Suddenly the roar of the crowd dialed down to a whisper, the smell of hotdogs and Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries faded away, and the vibrant green baseball field gave way to a long dark road, Bob Dylan on the radio, and his twin sister singing in the seat beside him.

The memory shook him but somehow he managed to respond. “Yeah, I know.”

“You bet your pretty little ass.” Erin stood on her tippy toes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “But I’m still going to make you pay for teasing your pregnant best friend…but not tonight. It will be when you least expect it,” Erin said. He plastered on a smile, even squeaked out a wink before she left and made her way over to Chase.

What the hell was wrong with him? Josh had a beer in his hand and was at a baseball game with his friends, people he considered to be his true family, and he felt like he could crawl out of his skin at any minute. He needed to get his shit together. Josh weaved his way through the small gathering. He glanced to his right and gave a chin lift to Paul’s friend, Rick. To his left he spotted Chase’s best man, Sam. Josh barely managed a nod and continued walking until he heard his name being called. Mia was practically skipping her way over to him. And flashing him a smile that made him feel guilty. He needed to get out of his funk and quick. He silently willed his lips to curl into a wide grin and his arms to encircle the woman he had really grown fond of over the last four months.

“Between Erin finding out that Paul and I secretly moved in a few streets over from her new home in New Jersey and walking into an engagement party she knew nothing about, I think it’s safe to say that we shocked our girl shitless today.”

A chuckle escaped his throat. “Erin’s had quite a day,” he said, releasing her.

She took a step back and her expression turned serious. “And the day’s not over yet.” Mia looked past him and then to her right and left.

“Looking for someone or am I just that boring to talk to?”

She immediately met his gaze and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, just keeping an eye out for my friend Carina. We haven’t seen each other for a few months. We kind of drifted apart…I let us drift apart,” Mia said with a sigh. ”Chase was gracious enough to let me extend an invite to her. But I was a little nervous that Erin may not…”

“I’m sure Erin doesn’t mind at all that your friend is going to crash this engagement party.” Though he meant for his comment to be lighthearted, her face drained of all color and worry consumed those dark blue eyes of hers. “Honey, trust me. Erin gets it. I bet she’s excited to meet your friend. But she’s probably, like I am, really happy for you.”

Josh knew why Mia had basically withdrawn from the world, cutting off her friends and those who loved her, and lived like a functional hermit for the last several years. But she was better now. The fact that Mia had invited one of her best friends to meet her new ones was proof of that.

“So how did you two reconnect?” he asked.

“Just this morning Carina called me and asked if she could come to New York to visit me. That she wanted to get away and hang out like old times. She sounded kind of down over the phone, like something was wrong. So I seized the opportunity and sprang the news on her that Paul and I had moved to New Jersey and that we were now just a twenty-minute drive from each other. My ear is still ringing from her squeals and screams.”

“Well, be sure to snag me when she gets here. I’ll catch Carina up on what she’s missed. Confirm that you’re still a brat, shit like that.”

“You’re a jackass,” she said.

“I’ve been called much worse,” he bragged.

She shook her head at him and feigned annoyance. “I’m going to go look for Carina. I left a ticket for her at the main gate, so I’ll head in that direction.” She knocked that smug smile off his face with an elbow to his ribs and left.

The second Mia disappeared from sight, that on-edge feeling he had been able to suppress somewhat while they spoke came raging back, leaving him agitated and pissed off.

He needed a distraction.

Josh walked over to the railing and stared at the crowd in the section just below him.

“Cold beer, get your cold beer here!” called a vendor.

Josh watched a man signal the vendor. He dug a few bills out of his wallet and handed them over. He received two beers in return and gave one to the woman beside him. She rewarded him with a smile and a kiss fit for the Kiss Cam. A few rows over a little girl was going to town on her cotton candy. Most seemed to reach her mouth, but some had found its way into her long brown hair. Her mother whipped out a baby wipe and tried to work the sticky, sugary goo out of her curls, but after a minute she gave up. People-watching was suddenly interrupted by the crack of a bat, forcing Josh to look up and see the Phillies tie the game with a solo home run. The fans cheered, high-fiving and screaming the name of the man who rounded the bases.

By the end of the fifth inning, Josh felt like he could breathe again. The muscles in his neck had relaxed. He no longer found it difficult to grip the metal railing due to sweaty palms. He was back. Back to being the carefree college student, the guy who enjoyed hanging out with his friends and didn’t let the past intrude.

He was fine. Everything was fine.

Josh inhaled the warm September air and decided it was time to rejoin the land of the living. Feeling more in control of his thoughts…of those damn emotions that he kept tucked away, he turned and started to walk in the direction of the bar when he caught a glimpse of the one person he didn’t know at this party.

Carina.

Silky, chestnut hair limited his view at first, forcing his eyes to navigate away from her face and explore her ample curves and toned legs. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and his breathing hitched. Green haunted eyes locked onto his.

Something told him to keep walking. To dismiss his quickened heartbeat and the fact that he felt like his throat was closing up. But instead, he just stood there and stared at this woman. And ignored the voice that begged him to get the hell out of the ballpark…away from her.

 


Where you can find WANTING MORE:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/WantingMoreKindle 
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/wantingmoreBN 
Kobo: http://bit.ly/wantingmoreKobo 
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/wantingmoreGR

2017's Beach Bag Reads

Last weekend, I finally got to spend a little time at the beach with my family. Finally, even if for a short period of time, we had no responsibilities except hanging out with each other and watching an awesome sunset. (The Jersey Shore is so beautiful.)

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Since I can't always get away, there's always a book to escape into. Am I right? So I thought I would share a list of books I'm looking to read this summer. Who knows? Maybe you'll find something you want to read too. If you can't get on vacation in the next few weeks, you know what they say: a book is the next best thing.

Spoiler: they are all romance novels. :)

Into the Dreaming by Karen Marie Moning - Man in a kilt...do I need to explain further why I want to read this book in Ms Moning's Highlander series? Can't wait to be whisked off to Scotland!

Notice by K. Webster - Holy Stalker alert! The blurb for this book!!! "I need to know everything about her. Her past. Her present. The way she takes her coffee. Exactly how she smells after a spritz of perfume in the mornings." It absolutely hooked me in and  I've needed to read this since yesterday.

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward - Who doesn't need some paranormal, bloodsucking hotness from time to time? I'm so excited to start The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series! 

Thousands by Pepper Winters - I pretty much love everything Pepper writes. I'm addicted to her dark, gritty romances and cannot wait for the fourth book in the Dollars Series. (August 22 can't come fast enough.)

Firefly by Molly McAdams - I instantly fell In love with Molly McAdams' blackbird and was so sad for it to end. I'll be snatching up Firefly, Book 2 in the Redemption series, the moment it comes out. (This is actually tomorrow: July 18!)

Mack Daddy by Penelope Ward - I've mentioned on my blog before that I adore Penelope's writing. So this list wouldn't be complete without one of her novels. I've been saving space in my beach bag since I've heard about it!

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If you have any reading recommendations for my next beach trip, please feel free to share! Comments are open below.

Here's to hot romance, a cold drink, and making the most of the down time we find!

The Music and KHC

Thursday, hello!

I can't believe it's already been a week since the release of KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS. I've been keeping busy with some new writing (as you can see from my celebratory spirits) but I still want to talk more about the behind-the-scenes about writing Eva and Jamie's story. I have a lot of favorite authors, and one of my features I look for on websites is music inspiration. I especially like how Molly McAdam's posts a new song every single day on her website.

Whether I'm locked in my room typing away or just daydreaming in the car on my way to work, music is always a part of my writing. So I thought I would share a 13-song playlist inspired by Jamie and Eva. No surprise that I have a little Bruce Springsteen on the list, but I was more shocked than anyone to add a country song to the list. I don't generally gravitate toward country at all but this particular song wouldn't leave me alone.

Without further ado, the Keeping His Commandments Official Playlist.

I hope as we get closer to the weekend, you find a new favorite for your own writing inspiration or maybe your next workout playlist.

More soon! xoxo

Release Day for Jamie and Eva!

I've been so excited and anxious for this day. KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS -- the first book I've self-published -- is out in the world TODAY. It's a long time coming; my last book came out in early 2016 and since then I've been reading a ton, finding my writing spark, and also (as you can see from this website), trying to figure out how best I can communicate with readers and other romance novel lovers.

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To fill you in a little more, I thought I would talk a little bit about my inspiration behind the book. Taboo romances are tough; Jamie is a Catholic priest and Eva is his step-sister. (Though they aren't privy to this info when they first meet... in a confessional.)

Forbidden romance storylines have always lured me in. The angst, the stolen glances, the heroine's fear that she's going to go to hell in a handbasket if she has just one more impure thought about the hero... I search high and low for these types of books. The moment I picked up Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, I was hooked. I also cried a lot. Crying, sobbing, nose running… lost it. But as much as that story broke me, I wanted more.

I wanted to read about characters who often lived by Murphy’s Law, characters you wanted to scream at one minute for being so damn clueless and cheer for the next. Penelope Ward's Stepbrother Dearest put me on an emotional rollercoaster that I never thought I would get off of. One minute I was flying high, convinced that the hero had seen the light, only to experience the unhealthy desire to strangle him. But I love the rush. The way I’m emotionally drained after reading one of Ms. Ward’s books. She guts me every time, and I adore her for it.

Since I love to read stories that can twist your stomach into countless knots, I decided to make a go at it and try to write one of my own. I apologized often to my characters as I penned KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS. Watching Jamie and Eva struggle wasn’t easy, but I knew they had to if they were to come off as believable, and more importantly, imperfect.

I grew up in a Catholic household, went to Mass every Sunday and observed the traditions. As a teen, I was intrigued by the idea that priests were forbidden to marry. They were human after all, so the question I always wanted to ask, but didn't, out of fear of sounding blasphemous was: How does one live a celibate life and avoid temptation, especially when it seems to loom around every conceivable corner? 

When I became an adult (and grew a little bolder) I had a conversation with a priest and touched on this subject. "Loneliness," he had said. That was what he had struggled with, especially at the holidays.

That word stayed with me as I developed Father Jamie Curran's character. So did the word, "human." It was important to me that he'd be betrayed as such. And that by the end of the story, the reader would understand both the man and the priest. 

I truly hope you enjoy it. Many glasses of wine and cups of coffee are to thank for getting me through the writing process.

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More on KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS:

Excerpt at Heroes & Heartbreakers: bit.ly/commandmentsexcerpt

Goodreads: bit.ly/commandmentsgr

B&N: bit.ly/commandmentsbn

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pYWszR