Complicated Life + Giveaway by @JoanReeves #mgtab

I guess this post is one I file in “better late than never.” I couldn’t get logged in last night. Periodically, I have difficulty with this because my anti-virus screams “unprotected site” so it takes me doing everything but standing on my head to get it to open the site anyway.

Last night, I just gave up and went to bed. For the first time in about 2 weeks I slept soundly. By soundly, I mean head hit the pillow and I didn’t regain consciousness until 10:30 this morning. Ack! Panic time. Way past my usual jump out of bed and tackle the day time.

I think I started the year tired, and I haven’t recovered yet. Do you feel that way sometimes? Completely overwhelmed by all the things you must do? I do.

I often feel as if I’m pulled in a dozen different directions. Family, accounting for our LLC, mothering my daughter with her medical issues, laundry, occasional housework to keep the dust bunnies from taking over, blogging, writing a book, promotion–oh my goodness. Do you have an endless list like mine?

This year, I resolved to change that. Some how. Some way. Author Dani Haviland told me recently to take at least 5 minutes every so often just to catch my breath. That’s really good advice.

In case all of you lovely readers live an organized and orderly life wherein you have to deal with only one thing at a time, I guess you can skip to the end of this post where I have a GIVEAWAY offer. Me? I’m working as fast as I can in order to get a couple of books written before the next catastrophe comes down the pike.

I’m trying to learn to take it one day at a time. That would be easier if each day have a few extra hours in it. But I know I must adapt and learn to accomplish amidst constant interruptions — large and small.

The acerbic Dorothy Parker put it perfectly one day when she was constantly being interrupted while trying to write. “What fresh hell can this be?” *LOL*

In case you’re looking for advice on how to work effectively and keep your sanity, here are a few suggestions I’m trying to incorporate.

1. Breathe. Every time you find yourself ready to blow a gasket, just take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

2. Say very calmly, “T

his too shall pass.”

3. Take another breath.

4. Say, “I have all the time I need to do all the things I want.”

5. Take another breath and then take a 5 minute break to walk around and visualize yourself when you’re calm and at peace.

Giveaway Offer

Sign up for my mailing list and you’ll automatically receive a free ebook then you’ll know about new releases when I’m fortunate enough to get one finished. *ROTFL* You’ll also know about special promotions and giveaways.

To sweeten today’s Giveaway, here’s a bonus Smashwords Coupon for Blame It On Chocolate, my Valentine romance short story. I’m giving away 20 copies of this funny romance. Prior to completing checkout, enter Coupon Code: CN85U – Expires: February 28, 2018. Remember it’s only Good for 20 redemptions so first come, first served.

Sweet and Sassy Valentine Collection is another good way to take a few moments to relax. Still only 99cents, this romance collection will delight you. Reading is like taking a little vacation between the covers of a book.

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. All of her books have the same underlying theme: It’s never too late to live happily ever after. She lives her HEA with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. Visit Joan online at her Blog and Website. Follow her at: Facebook * Twitter * Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page. Remember to receive a free ebook of one of Joan’s popular romance novels, just click here to sign up for Joan’s mailing list.

 

Joan Reeves

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Joan Reeves makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband.

They have 4 children who think they are adults and a ghost dog, all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter.

Joan lives the philosophy that is the premise of her romance novels: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

 View website

Winter Blues and a Little Romance by @NatalieAnn121 #mgtab

I know those that are reading this could be from all over the world, but here in Upstate New York, winter is in full force.

And mid February is the worst for me. This is the time of year I start to feel the winter blues! I’m watching the calendar and counting down the days, just waiting for March 1st. Even though it can snow in March, it’s still almost spring in my eyes and that’s good enough.

In order to pass the time, I try to curl up with a good book. Anything to take my mind off the blustery snow outside the window in my sunroom. It’s not really a sunroom this time of year though. The first view is what I’m waiting for again! All the lush green out of my window with birds chirping everywhere. The second is some of the deer in my backyard trying to get cozy too.

If you’re like me and trying to wish some of the days in the calendar away and are looking for a good book to curl up with, go no further than three of the newest Valentine Day boxed sets just released by the authors of Authors’ Billboard.

There is a little bit of everything here and each set is only 99 cents! That’s 26 stories for $2.98!! Now where could you get a deal like that?

And if you haven’t read any of my books, Take A Chance is free until this Friday.

So grab a set or two…or three and snuggle in with some wonderful stories of love and romance.

FEBRUARY BRINGS VALENTINE ROMANCE #mgtab

This year, I can’t wait until Spring. It’s been soooooooooooo cold in Illinois. But meanwhile, February’s here and I have two new releases coming out this month, as well as stories in two new anthologies now available for Valentine’s Day with The Authors’ Billboard!!

First Is A Valentine She’ll Remember. Two Hearts Unbroken (Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Book 6) is my latest wounded warrior story, and this story is slightly different from the others in that my wounded warrior is a woman, who’s been through unimaginable horror when she’s captured in Iraq.

But despite her injuries as well as deep personal issues to resolve, Sarah Benton is finally ready to move forward two years later, and Lieutenant Brand Reardon is there to pick up the slack when Sarah’s life is once again endangered.

As my wounded warrior series continues, one element that’s changed is the twist of intrigue I began weaving into the stories beginning with Two Hearts Find Christmas. But despite the serious undertones, I still enjoy adding humor wherever possible.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Sarah. Sarah, are you okay?” Mel was asking with obvious concern. “Oh, I’m so sorry. What did I say?”

But Sarah didn’t seem to have the energy to open her eyes and respond as her whole body began shaking.

Suddenly, she found herself lifted to her feet and pulled into a warm masculine embrace.

“It’s okay, Sarah,” he whispered. “Everything’s alright. You’re alright.”

Opening her eyes, she blinked. “Brand? Uh…I mean, Captain Reardon?”

“Yeah, it’s me. And I’m even a Lieutenant now. I wasn’t sure it was you, though, when I first saw you come in. You look, uh…wow, like gorgeous. Not that I didn’t think you weren’t beautiful before.”

Sarah’s mind immediately snapped back to the present as she muttered, “You thought I was beautiful?”

He wore a wry grin. “Oh, yeah. Especially after seeing those legs.”

Wrinkling her nose, Sarah backed up and punched him in the shoulder.

Although Mel still wore a look of concern on her face, she began laughing.

“Um,” Sarah began. “What are you doing here in Crystal Rock?”

He gave her a huge smile, and Sarah remembered the reason she’d tried to stay away from him, even when she was part of his team.

She’d been attracted to him, this big giant hunk of a man, and it’d made her uncomfortable thinking of Jim, who’d been waiting for her back home.

“I’m here for the same reason you are,” he answered. “Retraining wounded warriors who want to remain in active service. I’ll be the Air Force liaison.”

She shook her head in amazement. How crazy was this? She’d never thought she’d ever see Brand again.

 

 

A VALENTINE SHE’LL REMEMBER

Memorable Valentine romances to sweeten the season of love.

There is no better way to celebrate the season of love than with each of these eight heroines and that one special Valentine they’ll remember forever.

And so will you…

SWEET AND SASSY VALENTINE

If you’ve ever been struck by Cupid’s Arrow, you know Love has the power to change you and your world. If you’ve ever been in love, then you know there is no feeling more exquisite than being held by the one you love. We, the twelve authors of SWEET AND SASSY ROMANCE, dedicate this Valentine Collection to you, the Hopeful Romantic!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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Tamara Ferguson

A member of the Romance Writers of America, Tamara Ferguson is the multi-award winning, #1 international bestselling author of the Tales of the Dragonfly Romance Suspense Series, the Kissed By Fate Series, and the Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Series.

Her latest wounded warrior romance novella, Two Hearts Unspoken, is included in the top-ten bestselling Holiday Anthology, Mother’s Day Magic…With Love, which was also #1 in Wounded Warrior Fiction. Since being released independently, Two Hearts Unspoken has become a #1 International Best Seller at Amazon as well as a #1 International Hot New Release, and is the 2016 SILVER MEDAL WINNER at Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Military Fiction.

Presently, Tamara’s working on Two Hearts’ Christmas Wish, the fourth story in her multi-award winning Two Hearts Wounded Warrior series, Emergence, the third book in the multi-award winning Tales of the Dragonfly Novels, and a novella for the next installment of the bestselling Wedding Pets and Kisses anthologies, featuring stories by multi-award winning, bestselling and USA Today authors.

Since she remains a full-time caregiver for an autistic son, you can usually find Tammy working at home, where she spends a lot of time not completing her numerous home improvement projects, because she’s writing or helping author friends promote their books on twitter.

Pets are Priceless Pains in the Butt

Whether it’s an old one-eyed cat you started feeding as a stray or a custom-bred ‘designer dog’ you paid thousands of dollars for, all pets are priceless. Or should be considered as such. They’re a limited time joy, their unconditional love unmatched by emotional two-legged humans.

Granddaughter Ruby and her Pomeranian guardians

If a box isn’t available, the sink will do!

A dog’s wagging tail (or a stub of one) when you enter the room and cat’s snooty aloofness when you find him in your favorite chair, daring you to remove him, (his way of saying, ‘Pick me up and hold me, too!) go beyond words.
Yes, it costs to be a responsible pet owner, but here are a few priceless—or at least low cost—hints on how to keep your home cleaner and maybe more enjoyable for you and your pet.
Sheets and shedding. Almost all cats and most dogs shed, and seem to enjoy lazing on beds. I found that laying out a simple yet colorful sheet on top of my bedspread is a great ‘hair and dander’ catcher. I wash it once a week, rotating it with another colorful sheet so the bed is never bare. After all, it’s much easier to wash a sheet than a fluffy comforter! Make sure you dry your sheets in a dryer with a dryer sheet and a clean lint trap. You’ll be surprised, and a bit grossed out, on how much shed fur it traps!
Keep a towel near the door during rainy and snowy seasons to wipe down the dog when he comes in after his outdoor duties. If you make it a loving experience, they’ll not fight or try and get away. This saves lots of frazzled nerves from keeping wet pets off clean floors and/or furniture.
Cleaning cat boxes is a necessary chore, but doesn’t have to be labor intensive. I bought an amazing cat box, manufactured in Canada. Omega Paws is a ‘roll me over’ enclosed box that traps the cat litter clumps in a drawer. After inverting the box, simply pull out the trap drawer on the side and dispose of the waste in the trash. I bought mine on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2mI3Tej). Just make sure you use clumping cat litter. No matter what type of cat box, though, a nappy rug under and in front of it catches loose litter from kitty paws. Shake regularly to limit litter spread to the rest of the house.
If you live in an area of the country where fleas and ticks are present, make sure you use a once-a-month deterrent such as Revolution. Oregon is famous for the prevalence of fleas, yet I’ve never seen one nor had to deal with ear mites. I stay on top of the regimen because prevention is so much easier than eradication. Call your vet about what he suggests (department store brands have been known to kill dogs!) and ask if he gives quantity discounts. Mine buys the product in bulk and offers a deep discount if I bring in my small dogs for their monthly dabs on the back of the neck. Buy four packages get one free is also an option with some vets.
Do you love men who love critters? Read about Jay, the young mechanic who has a way with feral cats, and a young woman’s heart, in Kit Kringle: An Alaskan Tale. Part of Unforgettable Christmas (only 99 cents for the whole box set).

Kit Kringle: An Alaskan Tale, part of Unforgettable Christmas

 

 

Dani Haviland

Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.
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Die Hard Christmas…Huh? @JoanReeves #mgtab

I didn’t set out to write a Die Hard Christmas story. It just happened.

It’s funny how the mind works–and doesn’t work. And thereby hangs the tale of a book.

Recently, I uploaded the final manuscript for my latest book, DEAD HEAT, a romantic suspense that surprised me when I realized that it was set a couple of weeks before Christmas!

Now, I didn’t set out to write it as a Christmas book–and it’s not what you’d call a Christmas book unless it’s of the Die Hard Christmas genre. *LOL*

What happened was that I was brainstorming ideas last year about how I wanted to develop the Outlaw Ridge, Texas series. The first book in the series was HEAT LIGHTNING. I knew I wanted the word HEAT in the title of each book, but I didn’t necessarily want the book set in summer.

The phrase, dead heat, fit the scope of the story since the heroine and the villain are in a dead heat with the prize being her life or death.

I decided to set DEAD HEAT in the winter–December in West Central Texas to be precise.

My husband read the manuscript to make sure I got the “guy stuff” correct. (That’s guns, bullets, fighting moves, etc.) He asked, “Is this a Christmas Romance?”

I said, “Huh?”

He laughed and asked, “Do you realize you set it just before Christmas?”

I said, “Huh?”

No, I did not realize that. I was just living in the world of Outlaw Ridge, Texas, and trying to figure out how Sabrina, the covert operative heroine, can keep her secrets from John, the Navy SEAL hero who was her lover, yet enlist his help to save herself from an international criminal intent on capturing her.

I guess it’s a perfect case of tunnel vision. In any event, I ended up happy with this edgy romance that I first finished in August as a 20,000 word novella. When I was bored during Hurricane Harvey’s 4 days of pounding rain, I played around with the story and ended up expanding the novella so much that it became a full-length novel of 63,000 words by the time I typed THE END for the second time.

THE END — now I can live happily ever after with this latest book up on pre-order and due to publish Nov. 14.

About Joan Reeves

Joan is a New York Times and a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. All her fiction have the underlying premise:  It’s never too late to live happily ever after. Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between the hustle and bustle of Houston and a quiet house in the country where they grow fruit trees while battling gophers, skunks, coyotes, deer, and the occasional copperhead snake.

Be the first to know about new books and giveaways. Get a free ebook just for signing up for Joan’s Reader Friends.

Joan Reeves

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Joan Reeves makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband.

They have 4 children who think they are adults and a ghost dog, all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter.

Joan lives the philosophy that is the premise of her romance novels: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

 View website

FALL INTO THANKSGIVING #mgtab

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and because my family is divided throughout the Midwest, it’s easier for most of us to get together then as opposed to Christmas.

Fall foliage makes for a brilliant display here in Illinois, and decorating for the holidays is a pretty big thing in our area of the country. So, as both a former wholesale and retail florist, I’m sharing some methods for preserving greens.

PRESERVING FALL FOLIAGE

Glycerin/Water Method keeps the leaves fairly flexible. This preserving method works because the natural moisture present in the leaves is replaced by the glycerin solution, maintaining the leaf’s texture and form.

  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Flat pan or disposable plates
  • A weight or something to keep leaves submerged
  • Leaves
  1. Mix the glycerin and water so that it is one part glycerin and two parts water. You only need enough to submerge the leaves — about one cup.
  2. Pour the solution into a flat pan, place the leaves in the solution, and then put the weight on the leaves to keep them submerged. (Tip: try using two Styrofoam or other disposable plates. Put leaves and enough glycerin solution to just lightly cover the leaves in the bottom of one plate. Then put the other plate on top of the leaves and solution. Now you can put a weight of your choosing on the top plate without getting the weight in the solution.)
  3. Keep the leaves submerged in the solution for 2-6 days.
  4. Dry the leaves gently with a paper towel. They should feel soft and pliable.

Pressing between wax paper.

  • Leaves
  • Wax paper
  • Thin towel or paper
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  1. Place a leaf between two pieces of wax paper.
  2. Put a towel or a piece of thick paper over the wax paper.
  3. Press on the towel or paper with a warm iron to seal the wax sheets together. This takes about 2-5 minutes on each side, depending on how moist the leaf is. Once you have finished one side, flip the leaf over and do the other side.
  4. Cut around the leaf, leaving a small margin of wax paper to ensure that it will stay sealed.
  5. Rather than cutting out the leaves, you may want to try to peel the wax paper off the leaves, leaving a coat of wax behind to protect the leaves. Try this on one leaf first to see if this method works for you.

Using a microwave:

  • Fresh leaves that have not dried out
  • Paper towels
  • Microwave
  • Acrylic spray from a craft store
  1. Arrange the leaves on top of two paper towels. Lay another towel over the leaves to cover them.
  2. Microwave the leaves for 30-180 seconds. Be very attentive and careful. Leaves that are cooked in the microwave too long can catch fire. The drier the leaves, the less time they will need. Leaves that curl after removal from the microwave have not been in long enough. Leaves that are scorched have been in there too long. Only dry them for a few seconds at a time.
  3. Let the leaves sit for a day or two and then finish by spraying an acrylic sealant on both sides of the leaves.

Learn more (includes some other cool projects): https://learning-center.homesciencetools.com/article/how-to-preserve-leaves/

And how does something like designing relate to my writing?

Sometimes the easiest way to come up with a new story is to write about what you know, and since I have a degree in Ornamental Horticulture, Tales of Dragonfly includes a heroine who’s not only a florist, but a wedding planner and designer.

In Flight: A Tales of the Dragonfly Novel

A woman who’s afraid to trust. Successful designer, Penny Wentworth has arrived from New York to take charge of the wedding flowers for the new owners of the Dragonfly Pointe Inn. As a single parent of a severely autistic and mentally impaired son, she has no romantic illusions; her experience with an abusive husband has left her wary of relationships.

A man who’s afraid to love. Haunted by his past since discovering a six-year old girl brutally murdered at Dragonfly Pointe over twenty-two years ago, Sam has intentionally avoided returning home. But after resigning from his job as a homicide detective in New Orleans when his marriage fell apart, Sam is now the chief of police in Crystal Rock, Wisconsin.

An undying passion that’s endured throughout the years. Penny’s escort for the wedding, Sam had once been the object of every single one of her teenage fantasies.

When Sam’s search for a killer leads him back through his tarnished past, will a woman who’s afraid to love be able to forgive a man who feels undeserving of her love?

My newly revised story, In Flight, is also included in the Bestselling Hotshot Charmers for only 99c.

I hope everyone has a beautiful Fall-

And a fantastic Thanksgiving to those of you in the U.S.!!

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Tamara Ferguson

A member of the Romance Writers of America, Tamara Ferguson is the multi-award winning, #1 international bestselling author of the Tales of the Dragonfly Romance Suspense Series, the Kissed By Fate Series, and the Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Series.

Her latest wounded warrior romance novella, Two Hearts Unspoken, is included in the top-ten bestselling Holiday Anthology, Mother’s Day Magic…With Love, which was also #1 in Wounded Warrior Fiction. Since being released independently, Two Hearts Unspoken has become a #1 International Best Seller at Amazon as well as a #1 International Hot New Release, and is the 2016 SILVER MEDAL WINNER at Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Military Fiction.

Presently, Tamara’s working on Two Hearts’ Christmas Wish, the fourth story in her multi-award winning Two Hearts Wounded Warrior series, Emergence, the third book in the multi-award winning Tales of the Dragonfly Novels, and a novella for the next installment of the bestselling Wedding Pets and Kisses anthologies, featuring stories by multi-award winning, bestselling and USA Today authors.

Since she remains a full-time caregiver for an autistic son, you can usually find Tammy working at home, where she spends a lot of time not completing her numerous home improvement projects, because she’s writing or helping author friends promote their books on twitter.

Happy Friday the 13th by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Okay, let’s see a show of hands. Who is worried that Friday the 13th brings bad luck?Who’s superstitious?

Not Me

Let me step out from under this ladder where I’m petting a black cat and tell you that I’m not superstitious at all. However, I have a fondness for superstitions because my mother was unbelievably superstitious. I think this is because she was an only child born to a middle-aged couple. My grandparents were actually born in 1882, and my mother was the spoiled darling of them and their elderly siblings and friends.

I’ve always thought it was weird that I–a child of the volatile Sixties–had grandparents who were born just 17 years after the Civil War ended. My grandfather told me stories from his youth such as seeing Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Many people in that era were superstitious. When I helped my mother write her memoir in 2008, just 2 years before she passed, she wanted to include a chapter on Superstitions. I was amazed that there were so many bad luck omens that ruled peoples’ lives.

Excerpt from Memory Lane, My Mom’s Memoir

My mom’s memoir contains a long list of superstitions. Here are 13 for Friday the 13th.

  1. To drop a dish rag means you will have company.
  2. Telling your dreams before breakfast makes them come true.
  3. If you lay a coat on the bed, someone will die.
  4. If the palm of your right hand itches, you’ll shake hands with a stranger.
  5. If the palm of your left hand itches, you’ll receive money.
  6. A rooster crowing on the roost means a death.
  7. If your right eye itches, you’ll have good luck.
  8. If your left eye itches, you’ll have bad luck.
  9. If you give a knife to someone, you’ll cut your friendship in half.
  10. Spilling salt means a family quarrel.
  11. Find a penny, and you’ll have good luck.
  12. Sweep anything out of the house with a broom after dark, and you’ll have bad luck.
  13. Never sweep beneath someone’s feet or they’ll never marry.

So have a chuckle or two over superstitions and make Friday the 13th a day to have fun instead of anxiety. Better yet, chase away bad feelings with some feel-good romance novels like those in A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER. It will be a holiday collection YOU’LL remember. Get it today for the pre-release price of 99 cents. This set will publish on October 19.

About Joan Reeves

Joan is a New York Times and a USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. All her fiction have the underlying premise:  It’s never too late to live happily ever after.

Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between the hustle and bustle of Houston and a quiet house in the country where they grow wine grapes and fruit trees while battling gophers, skunks, coyotes, deer, and the occasional copperhead snake.

Be the first to know about new books and giveaways. Get a free ebook just for signing up for Joan’s Mailing List.

Joan Reeves

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Joan Reeves makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband.

They have 4 children who think they are adults and a ghost dog, all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter.

Joan lives the philosophy that is the premise of her romance novels: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

 View website

Vengeance rules her life… Maggie’s Revenge by Jacquie Biggar #RomSuspense #MilitaryRomance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

JacquieBiggar_MaggiesRevenge_800px

DEA Special Agent Maggie Holt is fierce, smart, beautiful– and in over her head.

Maggie has been working undercover 15 months when she is taken by Chinese-Mexican cartel leader, Chenglei. She tries to escape with 8 other women and is captured and brutally punished.

Adam O’Connor is angry and frustrated. It’s his fault his partner, and one-time lover, is missing and no matter how many leads he chases, they don’t bring Maggie home.

An unexpected break in the case sends Adam south to Texas. His old SEAL Team Chief, Frank Stein, offers his home and his help in the search effort.

Will these two strong men find Maggie? And will their decades old friendship be destroyed by their love for the same woman?

Read the exciting continuation of the Wounded Hearts Saga this December!

Pre-order Your Copy Today!

she scared him. Magdalena Holt had the power to rip his safe, secure world apart and Frank wasn't sure he could handle the fallout.

Excerpt

Maggie wiped the sweat dripping into her eyes and scowled at the still-too-damn-hot sun taking its sweet time to dip behind the hills. She looked at the other women hunkered under the Humvee to grab what shade they could, and sighed. They were bruised and bloody, but alive. That’s all she could ask for right now.

Well, that and a tank of gas would be nice.

And a cool shower.

A steak dinner.

Her own bed.

Maybe she was hallucinating.

She laid the rifle across her thighs and leaned against the massive tire of the truck, one of the only spots she could touch without getting burnt. Someone with a sense of humor must have a plan for her, otherwise how could she have escaped a Mexican prison after months of captivity, get shot and survive it, then outgun a truckload of banditos and still be able to sit here boiling to death?

“You should join us,” Olga called, her voice raspy. “It’s safer under here. You don’t look so good, my friend.”

Maggie tried to make her smile reassuring, though the pain in her side was getting progressively worse. She’d glanced at it a few minutes ago and been dismayed by the redness surrounding the wound. “Soon. I need to do a reconnaissance of our friends over there first. I’m just getting up the energy.”

She hated how weak and dizzy she felt. They had neither the time for her to fight through an infection—and unless one of the ladies knew some desert secret—nor antibiotics to help the healing process.

Thank goodness, the men had not been trained troops. It took only moments for the firefight to end, with no injuries to the women. Maggie hated to kill them, but there was no choice. It was them or her. The grenade blast had done a good job of creating chaos among the men. They’d jumped from the truck, fearing another blast, and then it was a simple matter to pick them off from there.

She used the butt of the rifle to climb awkwardly to her feet and trudged through the sand toward the carnage, stiffening at the sound of steps behind her. She turned and frowned. The women trailed her, Olga in the lead brandishing a piece of lead piping that had been lying on the floor of the Humvee.

“Go back,” Maggie cried. “It’s too dangerous. At least until I make sure they’re…”

Olga reached her side and clasped a hand around her waist, careful to avoid the wound. “You can barely stand,” she whispered, for Maggie’s ears alone. “Do not be so brave, you’re stupid. We need you to get out of here. I need you,” she added.

Maggie gulped tears of gratitude. They may be in the middle of a war, but she’d made a friend for life.

She nodded. “Okay, let’s do this.”

***

Chenglei poured his tea and ignored the foot soldier sweating in his doorway. The child he’d been training lay sobbing quietly on the floor at his feet. Her leg was red and angry-looking where the hot liquid had spilled. She’d been warned on the proper etiquette; he never repeated himself.

It was a sign of weakness.

And Chenglei refused to fail.

“Tell me, how is it your militia cannot manage to capture five scrawny women? This is beyond my understanding.” He glared at the soldier. “Did I not make myself clear? I want them,

dead or alive. Why could your fools not accomplish this one small matter?”

The man wiped a shaky hand over his brow, then resumed Parade Rest position. “I am sorry, señor. I lost good soldiers today. The woman, she has training. My men were not expecting a firefight. They did their best under the circumstances.”

Under the…

Chenglei sipped his tea and tried to calm his nerves. The girl’s sniveling wasn’t helping matters. He gave her a shove with his toe. “Go to your room. I do not wish to see you again this night.”

She hiccupped and lifted her head, eyes red, cheeks flushed. She would be a beauty one day; if he didn’t kill her first.

“Go,” he snarled, some of the fury churning within escaping despite his control. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Once.

Twice.

There, see. The monster who beat at the doors of his mind did not rule him, he was its master. Just as he was the ruler of his fate. And one stupid American woman was not going to change that fact. He waited until the child slipped out of the room before addressing the captain.

“You are right. The woman—the one with dark hair—she is a spy.” The soldier stiffened. Chenglei hid his satisfaction. “She is here to destroy the cartel. We must do whatever is necessary to stop her. Do you understand?”

The man gave a sharp nod, the light of retribution shining out of his dark eyes. “. I will round up another team, and this time, she will not get away.”

Bueno,” Chenglei murmured. “Bring her back alive, if you can. I do not care about the rest; your men may do as they wish with them. But Señorita Holt and I have business to finish; I want her returned to me.”

The captain bowed and backed out of the room, closing the heavy brass-plated door behind him. Chenglei had a love of beauty and was careful to surround himself with only the very best of everything. The wall-hangings dated from the sixteenth century, as did the Aubusson rug he sat upon, legs crossed. The rich greens and golds pleased his eye and the silkiness of his robes gratified his skin.

Success.

He’d made something of his life; he wasn’t about to let some gringa federal agent take that away from him.

I’m so excited to share Maggie’s book with you. Her story began way back in #2 of the Wounded Hearts series, The Rebel’s Redemption (soon to be available in Audible format), and quickly became a fan favorite. It’s taken me a while to give her journey the attention it deserves. Her voice has haunted me for long enough, it’s time to tell the tale!

When writer’s say they work in solitary, that’s not strictly true. At least, it isn’t for me. My characters live in my mind. They argue, dream, demand, ask for advice, rule my heart and my pen.

While I’ve written a few standalone novels, I have to admit I favor writing in a series. I like building a world and filling it with strong, interesting people readers can connect with, have empathy for, fall in love with.

If I can do that, I’ve done my job 🙂

Jacquie Biggar

Lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her her husband, daughter, and grandson. Loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. Spoils her German shepherd, Annie and calico cat, Harley.
And can’t function without coffee.
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