Why I hate to LOVE a second chance romance...

Oddly enough, second chance romance is a trope that I simultaneously steer away from and run to. Which makes absolutely no sense, I realize that. Especially since I just released Back to the Start. So, first, why do I desperately try not to read books that fall in this category? Because I know my heart is most likely going to be ripped to shreds and I’m going to want to kill either the hero or heroine, maybe even both, at some point in the story. I know I’m going to get emotionally attached to the characters, be a weepy mess when they’re in pain, and scream when they make the worst decisions imaginable. I know I may lose hours of sleep binge reading, well into the night, just to shuffle out of bed the next morning, eyes swollen and feeling like death warmed over.

I know all of this, yet I can’t help myself. As I scroll through the hundreds of books I have downloaded, I must accept the truth. As much as second chance romance guts me at times, I NEED it. To make me feel alive, to remember that love is both complicated and simple. There is a reason why two people can’t move on, why their paths keep crossing. Why a person consciously and/or subconsciously compares everyone to THE ONE.

And that is why I run to and one-click books like this. And why I wrote one that had me cheering for my hero, crying for my heroine and falling in love with a couple who truly deserve a second chance at love.

I hope you enjoy Jake and Morgan’s story as much as I enjoyed (sometimes loathed😊) writing it.

Back to the Start | A Sneak Peek

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So excited to share an excerpt from BACK TO THE START with you! Release day is right around the corner (June 19th)!!!

Chapter One

Jake

Stand up straight. Stare dead ahead. Smile at your sister.

Jake McGinnis watched his sister, Carina, sway to the music. Her fiancé of only five minutes brushed a lock of hair behind her ear and wiped away the tears from her still-flushed cheeks. But they were happy tears. Which meant Josh Graham was a lucky man. As long as Carina’s fiancé kept a smile on her face, he was allowed to live.

“Look how happy your sister is, Jake. I’ve never seen her so in love,” his mom said.

Though Jake towered over Lucrezia McGinnis by at least eight inches, he would always be her little boy. It wasn’t like he was a momma’s boy or starved for her approval. She had always encouraged him to make his own choices and follow his dreams. Even when he was five and he declared that he was going to be an NFL quarterback, she didn’t shoo him away or tell him to have a plan B when that dream didn’t materialize. Instead, she had told him that he would have to work hard to make it to the pros, and then when he thought he couldn’t take anymore, he would need to work even harder. He leaned into his mom and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Lord knows Carina deserves it.”

“And so does that young man. He too deserves to be happy and in a family who loves him,” his mom said, nodding at the couple on the dance floor. “Josh is a good boy.”

His mom had moved to the States over forty years ago, but her Italian accent was still incredibly thick. Jake loved the sound of her voice, how comforting it was. So much so that it almost made him let his guard down. Almost. Jake returned his attention to his sister and the scene behind her. The Avalon Yacht Club’s floor to ceiling windows allowed him to see the sun setting over the bay, giving the large reception room a golden hue.

Josh took Carina’s hand and kissed her ring finger. The diamond sparkled. His sister’s smile took over her entire face. Jake had to admit that the man had class. Just last week, Josh had driven to his future in-laws’ house and asked for their daughter’s hand. After he received their blessing, Josh called each of Carina’s siblings and her best friend and her mom and invited them to come witness what turned out to be one hell of a proposal.

At first Jake had thought it was strange that Josh wanted to pop the question at his best friend’s wedding reception. Jake wasn’t an expert at weddings and etiquette, but he had wondered if proposing at someone else’s reception was some sort of party foul. But then he had seen the bride’s face, how happy she was when Josh dropped to his knee and told Carina and over a hundred and fifty guests that he wanted her to be his wife. There hadn’t been a dry eye in the place. Even Jake had gotten a little choked up.

But the moment had passed. And now it was taking everything he had to keep his shit together. Because just twenty feet away stood the reason that he felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin and put his fist through the wall behind him.

Deep breath. Straighten your tie. Unclench your hands. Don’t look at her.

He fucking looked.

And regretted it the second he laid eyes on her.

He had prayed to feel indifference. That the sight of Morgan Kelley wouldn’t invoke anything in him. But pain hit him harder than any linebacker ever could and the anger…it made his blood boil.

It was the anger he clung to. It was the safest choice and an emotion that he was well acquainted with. Anger had driven him these past eight years. Every time he had pictured her face, he would sprint a little harder. Each moment he had allowed himself to think of how she tasted, how she had melted into him the first and only time they were together, Jake would hit the weight room and lift until his arms were about to give out or his coach told him to fucking stop, whichever came first.

It was anger, not lust, not love, that had prompted him to fulfil his desires with many women over the years. At first, he had chosen women who resembled her. It wasn’t intentional; it was his subconscious that ached to be with her again, to look into her dark blue eyes and get lost in them, to touch every freckle that sprinkled her nose, and to fist her long, blonde hair. When it had finally hit him that he was seeking these women out for one reason and one reason only, he changed his requirements. From that moment on, the women he fucked had to be different from Morgan Kelley in every way. He didn’t want to see her face when he made a woman’s back arch with pleasure. He didn’t want Morgan’s eyes looking back at him, destroying what was left of his heart.

“May I have this dance?” Patrick McGinnis asked. His dad’s voice made Jake snap to attention. He forced a smile and tried to pretend that he wasn’t falling apart. Jake took his mom’s hand and placed it in her husband’s.

“Of course,” she said. His mom gave Jake a kiss on the cheek and whispered, “Now, are you going to ask her to dance or are you content with just staring at her from across the room?” His mom winked at him and made her way onto the dance floor with her husband.

Jake had no intention of asking Morgan to dance. It was tough enough to be in the same room as her. On the drive here, Jake had sworn to himself that he wouldn’t speak to her. Or look at her. Or imagine what her life had been like these past eight years…without him. His stomach twisted into knots, which pissed him the hell off.

Feel nothing…please.

Morgan glanced in his direction and then turned her back on him. He watched her signal the bartender. Memories of that day she had broken up with him came flooding back.

Her crying.

Her wincing, as if in pain.

Her saying the words he would never forget.

“We need to…break up, Jake. I can’t do this anymore.”

No. She wasn’t going to dismiss him again. In an instant he was at the bar, standing directly behind her and wondering what the fuck he was doing.

***

 

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