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A Daring Contract

Another Christmas tale…remember I said I had two this year! adaringcontract-kw-ebook-1

I haven’t written an arranged marriage before because it’s hard to write them so they make sense…unless they are historical or maybe scifi. And these characters were in it for maximum emotional impact! Here’s a little taste:

Christmas was only a few weeks off. Doug loved Christmas. Her eyes brimmed again and she brushed aside the tears. Last ones, at least until we get back in the truck. Pushing her curls back from her face, she fastened them with a silver barrette and sailed back out into the hallway. Tony waited there, and held out his arm for her to take. This time she shook her head. “I have to do this myself. Stand on my own two feet. Doug would want me to.”
“He always told me, if anything happened to him, to take care of you, you know.” But he let his arm drop to his side and settled for walking at her side to the doors marked Stearns, Stearns, Holliday and Steele. “This is us. I am not sure why we have to be here. We did our wills together, left everything to each other. Except for a few bequests to charity. But nothing that should require a formal reading.”
Tony held the door open and shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out. Maybe he decided to give me his tools.” Instrumental holiday music streamed out and she longed for the bad eighties tunes from the elevator. Directing her gaze away from the tasteful, silver and blue decorated Christmas tree in the corner, she tried to ignore it all. This Christmas was not happening at her house. Why would it?
“Like you need that ‘handyman set’ he kept around the house. If you want it, it’s yours, no matter what. Do you want it? To remember him by?”
He chuckled. “Nah. I don’t want anything of his. I have a lot of good memories of him and he and I , and of the three of us together. The Three Musketeers.”
An older woman sat behind a big glass desk. She stood when they entered. “Hello, Mrs. Steel. I am so sorry for your loss. Mr. Steele was well-liked by everyone in the office. Is this Mr. Chavez?”
“Yes,” Kim said. “This is Mr. Chavez.” The strain of keeping her voice steady about killed her, but the woman’s kind expression soothed her enough to go on. “I think we are expected.”
The woman spoke into her desk then stood. “Follow me, please. The rest of your party has already arrived.” Opening a door behind her desk, she waved them through then joined them in the hallway behind. “I will take you to Conference Room 3, and Mr. Stearns will be in shortly. He has been quite distraught as you can imagine.”
The conference room held a long, glossy wooden table capable of seating at least twenty people but only two seats were occupied. A half dozen folders were distributed in front of the occupied chairs and several others.
“About time you got here.” Her mother-in-law rested her folded hands on the folder at her place. “Is that what you wear to show respect to your dead husband?”
Kim’s wobbly knees tightened. “Good morning to you, too, Mother Steele.” She cleared her throat. “Edna.” She’d used the term of respect during her marriage, but the woman was the least motherly person she’d ever met and enough was enough. Edna Steele wore a dark tailored suit and low heels. Her dark-blonde hair, so similar in color to her late son’s, was in a neat twist at her nape. Everything expensive and in very good taste. At nearly sixty, she looked barely fifty. Kim as sure she herself looked older at the moment. But she’d kept the peace for all these years and didn’t have the strength to care any longer.
“Good morning, my dear.” Her father-in-law rose and came around the table to kiss her cheek. “Although not very good.”
Her heart broke for the man. At least twenty years older than his wife, he’d always been kind to her, despite his disappointment that his only son chose to make his way in the world so far from home.
She rested a hand on his arm. “No, not very good.” Before she could say more, the elder Mr. Stearns, senior partner, entered and moved to the head of the table.
“If you don’t mind, I will dispense with the pleasantries and get right to the reading of the will. I know Mr. and Mrs. Steele have a flight to catch and a copy of the document has been provided to each of you. As in most cases where a couple has been married for a number of years, Doug left the bulk of his estate to his wife, to Kim. There are a few bequests go over, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

Celebrate! A Love Brothers Anthology

I love Christmas baking and movies and music and writing Christmas stories. It’s no secret because I have a stack of them in my backlist. Often they are part of the 1Night Stand Series at Decadent Publishing. This year I was privileged to be part of two wonderful projects. Today I’d like to share a little about Celebrate! Liz Crowe has been writing about the Love family of Lucasville Kentucky for quite some time but as our holiday present, she invited several of us to join her for a huge Christmas celebration in her world.
If you’d like to hear more about us and check out all the author giveaways, join our groupchristmas-cookies!

My story is Love is Coming to Town and here’s a taste: Lucasville had been the nicest town Summer had been through so far. The headlights from whoever had been behind her on the road disappeared before she got there, which eased her paranoia. Holiday decorations glowed along the main street, dispelling the darkness of the snowy winter afternoon. At home, they would have already celebrated the solstice, welcomed the dawning after the longest night of the year with food and drink and dancing. A drum circle. Even a silly solstice tree hung with strands of popcorn and cranberries, birdseed pressed into the shapes of birds and animals, and other goodies to feed their friends in nature. Half the time it was so warm the cranberries melted off in puddles of goop before the birds could get to them, but the ants liked that.
Lydia and Bob would tell the story of how they first moved up to the big ranch in the mountains, along with a bunch of their friends, in the late 1970s, to form a utopia. God, she’d grown up with those people. Peace-loving, kind, and maybe a little out of touch. Home schooled, she’d learned to read from the author of a series of sci fi books set in an alternate universe, discussed philosophy with a disillusioned Harvard professor, and learned basic math from a rocket scientist who declined to work in an industry with military potential. She hadn’t known they were geniuses, but they were. Lydia had been in movies. Not that she’d shared that with her daughter. Living off the grid, with only the electricity provided by the early gen solar panels courtesy of yet another one of the geniuses in their community, she never even saw a movie or much TV until she insisted on getting a job.
For the last year or so, she’d been waiting tables at the diner/truck stop at the base of the mountain while she considered whether to go to college and study for a degree. On the always-on TV, she’d been surprised to see her mom in a black and white art movie on the late late show. When she’d asked, Lydia shrugged it off and went back to brewing mead.
Beekeeping was her art now.
The lights of Lucasville faded from her mirror and left her alone on the road again. Growing up in a puppy pile of siblings and commune brothers and sisters, she’d never been alone before. Amazing how a few months with him could change her outlook. The drifts of glistening white at the sides of the road soothed her. In a crowd, he could be anywhere, but here, he could not hide. As long as she saw no other vehicles, she was safe. She just had to keep going, but for how long. Forever? A hand cupped over her belly she murmured soothing nonsense.
Her parent s had provided her with a safe, happy childhood. Leaving them so Mike wouldn’t be hanging around the farm was the least she could do. How far could she be from Canada now? Somehow, in her mind, crossing that border would offer the protection she needed. It had worked for Vietnam draft dodgers, a couple of whom had lived with them off and on over the years, and the country was mentioned with reverence every time politics came up. A place to escape from a new, terrifying regime.
She’d go there and get a job waiting tables or something, raise her baby in peace and tranquility and state-provided health care. Summer could do it. She could protect the baby and her family from the fallout of her naiveté. Bob and Lydia and the others hadn’t meant to leave her so unprepared for life; they’d merely sheltered her and the other kids from ugliness, taught them the beauty of living on the land…and neglected to take into account the real world rolling on outside their pretty white picket fences.
It wasn’t their fault she’d fallen into the hands of an abusive man. Not entirely.
The bus shimmied again and she gripped the wheel as the rear fishtailed. She sailed toward the side of the road on a patch of invisible ice. Stop, she had to stop it and stamped on the brake. The slide became a spin and her heart raced as she flew down the road, the elderly bus turning around and around, her view of unending whiteness stealing any sense of direction until, as the blacktop curved, she flew into a snow bank at the side of the road and stopped.
The rattling, spluttering engine gave one more kachunk and stopped.
The single working windshield wiper stopped.
The heater stopped.
The falling snow did not stop.

Winter Solstice Run 2016

As the snow falls, the pack gathers in Los Lobos. Secrets will be revealed and new love stories will be told. It’s time to run with the Tao Pack once more.

 

 

Winter Fairy Tale by TL Reeve

Sayer Blackcrow, isn’t looking for a mate or even contemplating settling down. So spending his evenings in Custer for a woman he doesn’t want to like, but finds he can’t resist, is the best thing for him. However, what he won’t admit to anyone is that she is his mate. When Drew and Gee show up ten days before the Solstice and announce he must bring home his mate or face the wrath of his alpha, he does what he has to. Doesn’t mean he likes. it. What’s worse, Gee announces there’s to be a scavenger hunt and he’s to participate with Kizzy.
Kizzy Rhapsody, isn’t sure what’s going on. One minute she’s living in Custer and the next she’s in a town she had no idea existed. What she does know, is her friend has been keeping secrets and the man who brought her there isn’t talking either. Though she enjoys being in Los Lobos, she can’t stand the lies, or falling for a man who isn’t willing to trust her. But, with the Winter Solstice festivities approaching, she agrees to give both a chance.
Fresh, local honey is their item.
With no bee hives on pack lands, Sayer and Kizzy must work together to find their object. When a chance phone call, takes them out of town for their item, Sayer realizes his quirky little human is more than meets the eye. With the solstice upon them, he finds himself willing to move heaven and earth to make these festivities the best time of her life.
And if he ends up mated to her? Well, there are worse things that could happen.

Stolen Kisses by Merryn Dexter

A woman looking for a connection
Following her grandmother’s death, Sadie Burrows-King leaves the only pack she’s ever known in search of family ties. Crashing into Los Lobos, literally, she finds herself face-to-face with a man who calls to the lonely wolf inside her.
A man on the fringes of society
Orphaned wolf, Easton Quaid, survived the cruel years of Magnum’s reign by the skin of his teeth and the kindness of others, of the pack, but not really part of it. His world turns upside down when a new wolf blows into town. It will take every ounce of patience to claim her as his mate.
Stolen kisses
Set a task in the scavenger hunt, Sadie and Easton must work together. Proximity and attraction lead to stolen kisses and more between the pair. The mating call is strong, but is it too much for her to handle?
Secrets and celebrations
A new family, a new pack, and the temptation of a new mate. Sadie had everything she ever dreamed of, right? As the Winter Solstice celebrations get into full swing, old secrets are revealed. Sadie faces the decision of her life. Is she a solid, reliable Burrows, or a flighty, untrustworthy King? It’s not only her heart at risk if she makes the wrong choice.

Winter Awakening by TL Reeve

Sarah Philips has come home after almost twelve years. Married to a man she planned on claiming as her own, and telling him about the babies she carried, she never got the chance. Now, the mother of twin, ten-year-old rambunctious boys, she knows what true happiness is along with the gut wrenching pain of loss.
Ero and Luc Mathews, the dark and light twins, are waiting for the one. For the last year women have come and gone from their life without that spark of recognition. When Sarah steps into Los Lobos Café looking for a job, the punch to Ero’s gut, shocks him to his core. But, he worries the connection won’t be there for his brother.
Love and Luc aren’t synonymous with each other. Where his brother is the ever optimist, he’s more incline to sit back and let everything play out. However, when he sees Sarah in the Convenience store, he can’t stop thinking about her. There’s something hidden within those amber-colored eyes of hers.
With the solstice upon them, Gee enlists their help in a little scavenger hunt of sorts. They have ten days to find their item and present it to him on the night of the festivities.
Having to work together keeps them in close quarters, and ignites a passion she hasn’t felt since before her husband died. But, with two children and a nosey mother always asking questions, it doesn’t leave time to consummate their budding mating. However, on the night of the solstice, both men will have what is rightfully theirs. The only question is; can her heart stand another chance at love?

 

Winter Solstice Run ~ Giveaway!

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A Daring Contract 5 Star Reviews

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I know it takes time to write a thoughtful review and it makes all the difference in our day when you do! Thank you kind reviewer!
op Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 starswonderful story
By theresa on December 14, 2016
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New to me author that has another great story in the Carly Phillips Kindle World of Dare to Love. Kim and Tony are great and the chemistry is wonderful. can they be together. did her husband really do this. Will Tony be able to go through with this because of how much he loves Kim. Can not wait to find other great reads by this author
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5.0 out of 5 starsThis novella is a page turner with characters I actually love and want to know better
By Patricia Tierney on December 18, 2016
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I had given up on reading romances because they either sound a little fluffy or angry. Then along comes A Daring Contract by Kate Richards. This novella is a page turner with characters I actually love and want to know better. Her writing is believable, interesting and heart felt. Take a bad situation and flip it into an unexpected romance with a happy ending and I’m a fan forever. Must read more!!!
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A Daring Contract – Dare to Love Kindle World

As a romance writer, I have the privilege of sharing the journeys of characters who come alive for me. My family is sometimes unsure if I am talking about a character or a regular life friend in conversations…a common author problem. Sometimes I think our families need a support group in order to live with us. But they are real to me, and while I usually have an idea generally where a story is going, when the tale begins to unfold, the story people are in charge. That was very much the case in A Daring Contract. I hope you will enjoy the story and kind reviews are very welcome. In fact, I have a few review copies to share. Email me at katerichards09@gmail.com if you’d like to read one and post a review!

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A life cut short…
A drunk driver’s bad decision to get behind the wheel has ended the life of Attorney to the Stars, Doug Steele, leaving his wife, Kim, alone, less than a month before Christmas. Without the support of their best friend, Tony Chavez, she’d never have made it through the funeral.

A mysterious document…
At the reading of the will, Doug’s attorney presents Kim and Tony with a contract they signed the previous holiday season under the influence of eggnog. They don’t remember it, but the signatures look real. Seems they agreed, if Doug ever died, to marry before the next Christmas. If Tony hadn’t been in love with her since they were five, he’d laugh it off. Or cry.

You’re invited to a beach wedding…
It’s ridiculous, cannot happen, and Tony will never marry a woman who doesn’t love him as much as he loves her. Not even for his late best friend. Except somehow their event is the latest secret-location celebrity event. The A-list is coming. And one night in Kim’s arms has shown him even more why he cannot marry her. He loves her too much. And she cannot possibly feel the same way. Can she?

Love is Coming to Town!

 

Celebrate! With Liz Crowe and the Love Brothers this holiday season! The book will release on December 15th but why wait to get into the spirit!
You can join our party here
Sign up for  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or pick up the first book in the Love Brothers series here

 

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Diamond in the Rough – A New Red Petticoat Saloon Story by Abbie Adams and Maggie Ryan

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Marshal Tripp Houston makes his own luck and doesn’t believe in chance—until Lady Luck smiles up at him with her cat-like green eyes. If it’s the last thing he does, Tripp is dead set on bringing down the vile Shotgun Slick Gang. It’s been said that the outlaws have a woman traveling with them. Tripp is almost certain that woman is Diamond, especially with her sneaking around and asking lots of questions. But, if he’s wrong, and she is the innocent she proclaims, then once every last slimy one of the gang are swinging from a tree, he plans to hand in his tin star and settle down with the little card-dealing gem who ran away with not only his horse, but his heart as well. After all, he knows just how to tame a feisty gem.

Diamond won’t take no for an answer, especially when it comes to those bossy men of Culpepper Cove standing in the way of finding her sister Damaris—not even when it means she will end up with a hot, achy backside over the knee of one very stubborn lawman. The trail she’d been following for months led her to Culpepper Cove and The Red Petticoat Saloon where she entertains the men while dealing blackjack and sifting through their conversations for information that will help her find Damaris—but she doesn’t go upstairs. That is until the night she makes a silly bet, (it had worked for Jewel, hadn’t it?) and ends up falling for the man who tried her patience at every turn. Will the bet cost more than her virginity? She hadn’t wagered her heart, but she may very well have lost it to him already.

DISCLAIMER: This book contains the spanking of adult women and explicit sexual scenes including anal play. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase this book.

About The Red Petticoat series:

The Red Petticoat Saloon series is a collection of books written by #1 and USA Today bestselling authors. Each book tells the unique story of a different woman, ‘a gem’, who comes to the saloon to find a safe haven and discovers they become part of a family. Recurring characters appear in each book to allow readers a continuity as they learn about the women who have learned to bend but have not broken under the harshness that life has to offer. It is a series where strong, loving men find not only entertainment at the saloon but the special women who reside under its roof.

Purchase Here: Amazon Blushing BooksiBooksKoboAllRomance

Dear Readers,

Wow! Hasn’t this been exciting? I don’t know about you but I’ve always been a fan of old westerns and more than half in love with dusty old cowboys—and the sterner, the better. John Wayne definitely fueled many of my girlhood daydreams, alongside Sam Elliot and Clint Eastwood. Now, we have Gabe, John, Jeb, Bo and the rest of those dominant men of Culpepper Cove. I hope you’ll find Tripp and Diamond’s story to be fuel for some of your own daydreams.

It didn’t take long for Diamond to start telling me her story. When I heard about The Red Petticoat Saloon Series, I wasn’t sure that I could participate, but Diamond is a woman who won’t be ignored. She demanded her place in the series and she got it. Although, I have to say a big, giant thank you to Maggie Ryan, my co-author.

Sometimes, no matter how vividly the characters talk to you, life happens and you just don’t get a chance to tell their stories. This was the case with my story, Diamond in the Rough. If, not for Maggie, Tripp and Diamond would still be buried on my hard drive with a slew of other unfinished works.

Thank you, Maggie. As always, you make me look good—and I hope you already know I’d be lost without you. Thank you for helping bring these amazing characters to life.

And to our readers, I hope you will fall in love with Culpepper Cover and the Red Petticoat Saloon family.

Truly,
Abbie Adams

Excerpt

As soon as Gabe was gone she let loose of the stranger. “Marshal is it? Why didn’t you tell me you were the law instead of scaring me half to death? What is your game, Mister—what do you want with me?” Despite the anger she felt toward the man, when she looked into his eyes again and he spoke, heat pooled low in her tummy.
“No game. Like I said, I just want to keep you out of the hands of some outlaw, with vile intentions. But, honey, if you want to play games, I’d be delighted. I’ll even let you choose—but be warned, I never lose.” He tugged on one of her curls again.
She shoved his hand away and then stepped aside when she realized she had the space to do so. Before she stomped back into the saloon, she leveled on him. “Well, that makes two of us, Marshal. But there are some things you should keep in mind. First, here, the house takes all ties. And second, the play doesn’t happen until you take your seat at the table; anything else is just talk. Many men can talk a good talk, but that’s it.” She spun on her heel to leave him, but he caught her arm and turned her back to face him.
“I’ll be seated at your table tomorrow night, ladybug, but I’ll be interested to see if you are able to do any sitting.” He let her go with a cocky wink and a husky chuckle.