Thursday, September 3, 2015

Aloha to Anna Schmidt and THE DRIFTER


Caught between a greedy corporation and a desperate love of the land, Maria Porterfield barely has time to mourn her father’s death. If her family is to survive, it’ll be up to her to take charge—but she can’t do it alone. When a mysterious drifter rides into town, the handsome cowboy seems like an answer to her prayers. But Chet isn’t interested in settling down, no matter how tempting the offer…

Chet made his way West looking for a fresh start—the last thing he wants is to get involved in someone else’s fight. But something about Maria awakens a powerful need to protect the fierce beauty at all costs. He never thought he’d find love, but as danger presses in, he may find there’s more beyond the next horizon than just another long and dusty trail.


Amazon

Award-winning author Anna Schmidt delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for her ability to seamlessly integrate actual events with her fictional characters to produce strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin.


Forever Romance is hosting a special giveaway at this link ... and offers an excerpt of THE DRIFTER:  

The rain started just after midnight. Maria was awakened by the plop of large raindrops on the canvas of the tent. She lay very still, willing each plop to bring more and more until there was a true downpour. When it happened, she grinned, then laughed out loud and shook Trey. “Wake up,” she said. “It’s finally raining.”

From outside the tent, she heard first grumbles and then shouts of pure joy as the men came awake and realized that they and their belongings were soaked. Trey sat up and rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. Then, as he became aware of the sounds of the rain and the men’s shouts, he grinned. “Can I go?” he asked.

“We both will,” Maria said, tossing him his boots before pulling on hers. She lifted the flap and followed Trey outside. In seconds, they were both drenched, and she had to laugh when she saw Happy and Bunker and Slim dancing around what had been the campfire. Even Roger was smiling, and when he saw her, he came to her at once and bowed. “May I have this dance, Miss Maria?”

Deciding it was time to put aside her irritation with Roger and his jealousy, she took hold of his hand as they joined the cowboys circling the fire pit. She looked for Chet and saw him standing off to the side, his face turned up to the sky and the balm of the falling rain.

“Come on, Trey,” she called and broke the circle to grasp her brother’s hand. Trey pulled Chet into the circle as well.

“And promenade,” Bunker shouted and began weaving his way along the circle, nodding to each man he passed until he reached Maria. “And swing your partner,” he bellowed as he practically lifted Maria off her feet and swung her around. She basked in the swirl of faces spinning past and laughed. “Put me down, Seymour,” she ordered, but she wasn’t serious. The truth was that she could have stayed that way all night—her face pelted with rain, the air already beginning to cool, and the promise of new growth on the range something she could practically taste.

Bunker set her on her feet and instructed the others to bow to their partners as he was bowing to her, his grizzly beard sopping wet. As she promenaded with Bunker down the line, she felt a lightness and joy that she had not known in months. The rain and the cadence the men kept to substitute for music made her feel as if just maybe everything would be all right after all. These men were like family, and together they would find their way.

“Change partners,” Bunker shouted and spun her away and straight into the arms of Chet Hunter.

All at once, the world went still.

He held her as if she were something fragile and precious, and yet she could feel the warmth of his hand spanning her waist and see the silhouette of his rock-solid muscles beneath the soaked fabric of his shirt. He locked his gaze on her face—and as he guided her through the dance, she found that she could not look away. No, it was more like she did not want to look away.

Then a flash of lightning lit the night sky, spooking the horses, and as suddenly as the celebration had begun, it was over. The men ran to calm the horses, leaving her standing next to the dead campfire. But before he left her, Chet leaned in close and said, “Best find cover, Miss Maria. Looks like this might be some storm.” He hooked an errant curl behind her ear. “Go,” he said, and his voice was husky—intimate.

She did not move, not even when he glanced back at her. She thought she saw the hint of a smile cross his lips, but then he was lost in the blackness of the night. As she hurried back to the tent she shared with Trey, she tried to remind herself that the moment they had just shared was nothing more than a mutual celebration. Would he be any different when he saw her? Of course not. Chet Hunter was a good and kind man—who worked for her, who had made it clear that in time he would be moving on.

She was the one who was going to feel awkward when she saw him next. She was the one acting like a love struck girl experiencing her first real crush. She was the one who could not seem to think about anything except how his arm had felt when he danced with her and how those lips had quirked into that half smile…and how very much she wondered what it might be like to kiss the handsome drifter.

A modern day drifter in San Antonio ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Aloha to Julie Ann Walker and TOO HARD TO HANDLE

 

Hi everyone! Julie Ann Walker here, delighted to be talking today about my mad love for men on motorcycles whose hearts happen to be as big as their... ehem... hogs. (That's slang for their bikes! Get your heads out of the gutter, you naughty readers! *wink, wink*)

But seriously, from the King of Cool, Steve McQueen, to Marlon Brando in The Wild One, to Charlie Hunnam in Sons of Anarchy, there has always been something about a guy riding around with rolled steel and a V-Twin engine between his legs. It sets our hearts aflutter. And in my Black Knights Inc. series, I try to take those badass bikers to a whole new level by also making them covert government operators. The series is all spies on bikes, leather and chrome, romance and redemption, action and adventure. So, what's not to love? Nothing! I guarantee it.

Read on for an excerpt of TOO HARD TO HANDLE. You'll see the men of Black Knights Inc. have heart, humor, and everything a woman could want in a man...

“Luke Winterfield,” Dan growled. “Under the authority granted to me by the government of the United States of America, I hereby inform you that you’re totally screwed. You made a choice to sell out your country and now you’re gonna face the consequences. Reap the whirlwind, asshole.”

“Nice,” Zoelner said. “Have you been holding on to that one for a while?”

“Came up with it in Bogotá,” Dan admitted, a definite grin in his tone.

“I like it.”

“Thought you might.”

“Really though,” Zoelner went on, “I was expecting some quote from Ted Nugent or Eminem.”

“I can come up with my own material, you know,” Dan insisted. “It’s just I like to give credit to my hometown whenever I can. To make up for the place getting such a bad rap.”

“Maybe it’s because so much bad rap has come out of there,” Zoelner mused. “Insane Clown Posse comes to mind.”

“Hey,” Dan whispered urgently, “don’t say that too loud. You’ll have groups of juggalos beating down your door.”

Zoelner snorted.

“And just so you know,” Dan went on, “what I’ve learned out of this lifetime is you should be proud of where you come from.”

“I’m waiting…”

“Kid Rock said that. Via his Twitter account.”

“And there it is.”



"The Man" is back
Dan "The Man" Currington is back in fighting form with a mission that takes him four thousand miles south of BKI headquarters, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. He's hot on the trail of a rogue CIA agent selling classified government secrets to the highest bidder, when Penni DePaul arrives on the scene. Suddenly the stakes are higher, and keeping Penni safe becomes Dan's number one priority.

And this time she's ready
A lot has changed since former Secret Service Agent Penni DePaul last saw Dan. Now a civilian, she's excited about what the future might hold. But before she can grab onto that future with both hands, she has to tie up some loose ends-namely, Dan Currington, the man she just can't forget. And a secret that's going to change both their lives-if they can stay alive, that is.


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Julie Ann Walker is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.

julieannwalker.com
facebook.com/jawalkerauthor
twitter.com/JAWalkerAuthor
Goodreads link

Sourcebooks is giving away a signed set of Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights, Inc. romantic supsense series at this link.

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Wednesday's Warriors: Aloha to Tracy Solheim and SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

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The author of Risky Game returns with a football team owner who’s a real player, and the woman who’s ready to call him out on everything...

Dot-com millionaire Jay McManus is discovering that owning a pro football team like the Baltimore Blaze isn’t easy. An anonymous blogger is out to destroy his reputation, and now his team is being sued by its own cheerleaders. If Jay’s not careful, he could lose big—and not just financially.

Bridgett Janik’s brother may play for the Baltimore Blaze, but she’s not thrilled to be defending Jay McManus, the man who broke her heart. It’s bad enough she has to mingle with Jay during games, but working beside her former lover may be too much for her body—and her heart—to resist.

Jay’s determined not to let Bridgett slip away from him a second time. But, as the two follow the mysterious blogger’s trail, secrets—both past and present—are revealed, and Jay and Bridgett must decide if their relationship can be something more than just sleeping with the enemy.

 Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Tracy Solheim brings the tailgate party to Charm City just in time for football season! Let's play Seven Degrees of Separation ...

1. On this day in 1912, Arthur Rose Eldred received the first rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America. Eldred later enlisted in the US Navy during WWI.

2. Eagle Scout James Lovell graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  He later became a Naval aviator and Apollo 13 astronaut.

3. James Lovell is portrayed by Tom Hanks in APOLLO 13.

4. Tom Hanks was inducted in the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame for his portrayal of Captain Miller in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

5. US Army Ranger alumni include football player Alejandro Villanueva.

6. Alejandro Villanueva played college football for the United States Military Academy (Westpoint) Black Nights.

7. Each year, the Black Nights challenge the Midshipmen in the celebrated Army Navy game.  Baltimore hosted the Army Navy game six times, including last year's victory for Navy, 17-10


1598534617572862Risky Game (Out of Bounds, #3)

I am currently enjoying the Baltimore set SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY - look for my review this coming weekend. Meanwhile, I am giving away the first three books in the Out of Bounds series - GAME ON, FOOLISH GAMES, and RISKY GAME - to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Leave a comment about football - do you have a favorite team from high school, college, or professional leagues? Now that my son is attending the University of South Florida, I'll be rooting for the Bulls!

2. Comments are open through Saturday, September 5, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, September 6.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


1908 Army-Navy college football game at Franklin Field.
Library of Congress - Public Domain

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Aloha to Shana Galen and THE ROGUE YOU KNOW


Bad Boy Inspiration by Shana Galen

When we think about Regency England, we tend to think of the balls, the carriages, the gowns. We forget that for every duke or marquess, there were hundreds of thieves and pickpockets living in the slums of the city. Covent Garden was an area of London with plenty of rookeries, and the thieves who lived there often banded together because there’s protection in numbers. My fictional gang called the Covent Garden Cubs is made up of the leader Satin, his second-in-command Beezle, and an assortment of pickpockets and house-breakers with names like Gap, Racer, and Stub. The gang also has one girl, Marlowe, and I wrote about her in Earls Just Want to Have Fun. Her best friend in the gang in Gideon, and he’s the hero in The Rogue You Know. Gideon is the ultimate bad boy who can cheat, lie, and steal with the best of them. He was orphaned at a young age and had no choice but to steal to survive. Now Gideon wants a different life for himself, and if he can just complete one last job, he’ll have it…or die trying.

When writing about my bad boy hero, I had plenty of inspiration.

1) Flynn Rider from Tangled

Yes, I know Flynn is animated, but he is the main inspiration for Gideon. Like the Disney bad boy, Gideon is charming, funny, and self-deprecating. Flynn makes no apologies for his lifestyle, and while he may try to hide his sensitive side, his love for Rapunzel brings it out.

2) George Gordon Byron, Baron Byron

Byron was a poet, nobleman, and ultimate bad boy. Described as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Byron titillated the Regency world. He generated enormous debts, had numerous affairs and liaisons, and ultimately died young and tragically abroad. A bad boy with the heart of a romantic is always an inspiration.

3) Danny in Grease

We’ve all seen Grease so many times we forget that Travolta’s character was really a bad boy. He’s dangerous for Sandy’s reputation and just plain dangerous, period. But like any bad boy we love, love wins Danny over and he’s willing to change to be with the woman who means everything.

4) Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You

I love a bad boy who sets out to corrupt the good girl and then is corrupted by her instead. Heath Ledger is fabulous as the new kid in school who agrees to date the heroine…for a fee. “How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.” The banter between Patrick and Kat makes this bad boy movie memorable.

5) Nick Gentry in Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

While Gideon may be on the wrong side of the law and Nick Gentry a Bow Street Runner, Nick definitely serves as an inspiration. He’s a man with a dark past and much to hide, but Charlotte is able to peel away the layers one by one. Her love for him, and his for her, redeems this bad boy and makes us love him all the more.

I enjoyed taking inspiration from each of these bad boys and creating the character of Gideon. He may be a thief and a rogue, but he is also capable of deep love. And that’s what my books are about—characters for whom love changes everything.

Who are your favorite redeemed rogues?



She's beyond his reach...
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London's dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society's most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

...and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London's glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it's too late. But as she descends into London's underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she's willing to pay...for the love of a reformed thief.


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Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers' Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, "The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun," and RT Book Reviews calls her books "lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching." She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city. Now she writes full time. She's happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she's up to daily on Facebook and Twitter. 


shanagalen.com
facebook.com/ShanaGalen
twitter.com/shanagalen
Goodreads link

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Sourcebooks is giving away 10 copies of  
Shana Galen’s Covent Garden Cubs series starter EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN at this link.

To answer Shana's question, I have an affinity for Lord 
Byron - my father enjoyed his poetry and named my brother after him.   Lord Byron's daughter is Ada Lovelace.  From Wikipedia (link),

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithmintended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.

I studied Ada, a DOD computer program named for the Countess, during my initial training in the Air Force. Finally, Bryon's cousin and heir, Captain George Anson, visited the Big Island of Hawaii after inheriting the title of Baron Byron.


September sparkles with Romance


September brings us the 201st anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.  Above is the replica flag flying over Fort McHenry, inspiring Francis Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner on September 14, 1814.   September also brings these authors to SOS Aloha ...

9/1: Shana Galen's THE ROGUE YOU KNOW
9/2: Tracy Solheim's SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
9/3: Julie Ann Walker's TOO HARD TO HANDLE
9/4: Anna Schmidt's THE DRIFTER
9/5: Sophie Kinsella's SHOPAHOLIC TO THE STARS - Book Review
9/6: Weekly Winners
9/7: Grace Burrowes' THE DUKE AND THE DUCHESS
9/8: Chloe Barlow's CITY OF CHAMPIONS
9/9: Rachel Goodman's FROM SCRATCH
9/10: Tessa Dare's WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT

plus Susan Hatler's BETTER DATE THEN NEVER Boxed Set
9/11: Sharon Calvin and JAYHAWK DOWN
9/12: Celebrate Little Victories
9/13: Weekly Winners
9/14: Diane Barnes and WAITING FOR ETHAN
9/15: Ines Saint's NEED A LITTLE TLC
9/16: Wednesday's Warriors with Donna Steele
9/17: Eileen Dreyer's ISN'T IT ROMANTIC
9/18: Air Force's Birthday
9/19: Celebrate Little Victories
9/20: Weekly Winners
9/21: Shelley K Wall's LOVE ME
9/22: Open
9/23: Wednesday's Warriors
9/24: Carol Ross' IF NOT FOR A BEE
9/25: Gwyn Cready's FIRST TIME WITH A HIGHLANDER
9/26: Celebrate Little Victories
9/27: Weekly Winners
9/28: Lucy Farago's SIN ON THE STRIP
9/29: Kate Mary's NO REGRETS
9/30: Wednesday's Warriors

10/1: HelenKay Dimon's FACING FIRE
10/2: Open
10/3: Celebrate Little Victories
10/4: Weekly Winners
10/5: Jane Ashford FIRST SEASON / BRIDE TO BE
10/6: Adrienne Giordano's THE REBEL
10/7: Wednesday's Warriors
10/8: Rosanne Bittner THUNDER ON THE PLAINS
10/9: 
Denise Swanson and Change of Heart Series
10/10: Celebrate Little Victories
10/11: Weekly Winners
10/12: Lindsay McKenna
10/13: Happy Birthday, US Navy
10/14: Eileen Dreyer's PRINCE OF A GUY
10/15: Harlequin Heartwarming Christmas Anthology - Release Day Celebration
10/16: Heather Boyd's MISS MERTON'S LAST HOPE
10/17: Celebrate Little Victories
10/18: Weekly Winners
10/19: Laurie McBain's Dominick Trilogy
10/20: Open
10/21: Wednesday's Warriors
10/22: Open
10/23: Open
10/24: Celebrate Little Victories
10/25: Weekly Winners
10/26: Reserved - Avon Romance
10/27: Open
10/28: Wednesday's Warriors
10/29: Open - Avon Romance
10/30: Open
10/31: Celebrate Little Victories

11/1: Weekly Winners
11/2: Open

11/3: Open
11/4: Wednesday's Warriors
11/5: Open
11/6: Open
11/7: Celebrate Little Victories
11/8: Weekly Winners
11/9: Open
11/10: USMC's Birthday
11/11: Veteran's Day
11/12: Eileen Dreyer's THE PRINCESS & THE PEA
11/13: Open
11/14: Open
11/15: Celebrate Little Victories
11/16: Weekly Winners
11/17: Open
11/18: Open
11/19: Wednesday's Warriors
11/20: Open
11/21: Open
11/22: Celebrate Little Victories
11/23: Weekly Winners
11/24: Mingmei Yip's THE WITCH'S MARKET
11/25: Open
11/26: Wednesday's Warriors
11/27: Thanksgiving in the US
11/28: Black Friday
11/29: Celebrate Little Victories
11/30: Weekly Winners

12/1: Melinda Curtis' A MEMORY AWAY
12/2: Collette Cameron's HEARTBREAK & HONOR


1/11/16: Eileen Dreyer's A FINE MADNESS

WWI soldiers at Fort McHenry

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Aloha to Amanda Forester and THE HIGHLANDER'S BRIDE - Character Interview

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Their attraction is forbidden

All Highland warrior Gavin Patrick wants is to get back to his native Scotland. But before he can leave the battlefield, he’s given a final mission—escort Lady Marie Colette to her fiancé. Under no circumstances is he to lay hands on the beautiful, clever-tongued heiress…no matter how desperate the temptation.

Their desire, undeniable

Forced to pose as a married couple to make their escape from France, Gavin and Marie Colette find themselves thrown into peril…and each other’s arms. As the danger mounts, so does their forbidden passion. But it isn’t until Marie Colette is taken from him that Gavin is forced to decide—is he willing to lose the woman who stole his heart, or will he jeopardize his honor, defy his promise, and steal her in return?


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Indiebound

Full Name: Sir Gavin Patrick
Nickname (if applicable): Gavin
Height: 6’1”
Hair Color: Dark brown
Eye Color: Brown
Age: 22
Originally from: born in 1337 near Balquidder, Scotland

Describe yourself in 200 words or less: Hullo. I am Sir Gavin, pleased to make yer acquaintance. I hail from the Highlands, under the clan MacLaren, where my uncle is laird. I came to France several years ago on a quest, which remains undone. It grieves me to leave it unfinished, but I was ‘requested’ (neatly tricked, if ye care for the truth) to escort the spoiled Lady Mary Colette to the Highlands to her new husband. When I saved the life o’ the duc de Bergerac and he promised me a rich reward, escorting his brat of a daughter, wasna exactly what I had in mind. But, I am a man o’ my word, so the lady will be deposited wi’ her affianced husband as soon as may be. And trust me, it canna be too soon.

What matters the most to you in your life? Beyond serving the Good Lord, as every knight is sworn to do, my family and my clan are the most important things in my life. That is why I sought this quest, to find the resting place o’ my father, who died in battle in France, and mark it wi’ the honor that is his due. I regret I have not been able to find this place. And yet, in my return, I ken my mither will be greatly pleased to see me, so I shall be content in that. Perhaps when I return to the Highlands I shall find a bonny lass o’ my own and start a family. As soon as I can rid myself o’ the Lady Colette, that is.

What is your favorite way to pass the time? I have’na had much time to pass in leisure, truth be told. Since I have been in France I’ve been busy lending my sword to help the French fight against the increasing presence o’ the English. They are clever bastards they are, and they know how to fight, I’ll give them that. Back home, I did enjoy a bit o’ fishing. It shall be good to get back to the quiet life—if I can manage to sit still long enough to enjoy it!

If money was no object and you had 3 weeks free of responsibility what would you do with your time? That is a question that is. I am looking forward to seeing my clan again. ‘Tis not easy being a Highlander in the French court, wi’ some little noble always looking down their nose at me, or actually looking up their nose at me for I am taller here than any other knight I’ve met. And yet, I’ve got a bit o’ the wanderers soul to me, and I would no’ mind travelling a bit to see the world. Though I prefer to travel alone and no’ saddled wi’ this French lady and all her ladies and all her belongings. Saints preserve me!


Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at amandaforester.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sourcebooks offers an excerpt from THE HIGHLANDER'S BRIDE ...

France, 1359

Lady Marie Colette had one chance. She needed to secure the Highlander’s agreement to decline marrying her, and she needed to do it quickly, before her father returned. She had never before defied her father, but if he thought he could protect her by arranging a marriage with a Highland warrior and send her far away to Scotland of all places, he was much confused.

In truth, Sir Gavin was a fine specimen of a man. She was fair enough to admit it. He was a young man and built on a large scale, towering over most men. He had broad shoulders and a muscular chest, well-defined beneath the formfitting surcoat. His dark brown hair hung down to his square jaw and had a bit of a thick wave to it. He was clean shaven, a surprise considering he was a barbaric Highlander.

“I have heard rumors o’ yer beauty, but ye’re bonnier than anything I heard described.” Sir Gavin spoke in a rich tone with a lyrical accent, pleasing to her ears. However, if he thought he could win her over with compliments, he was much mistaken. She had been told so often she was beautiful that the words no longer had meaning.

“Please understand. It is impossible for me to marry you. But if you make an arrangement with me now, you will not leave empty-handed. Name your weight in gold to walk away.” Her heard pounded to make such a blunt offer. In truth, she would never have made such a crass offer to a French knight, whose honor would have been greatly impinged, but Sir Gavin was a foreigner. A Highlander. Were they not only here in France to profit off of the long war?

Sir Gavin’s eyebrows rose for a moment before falling back down in resignation. “I will no’ take the fortune of a lady, nor will I force anyone to marry me.” He spoke in a careless manner, as if what she offered was nothing to him.

Colette released a breath she had not realized she was holding. Had he just agreed not to marry her? Would he simply walk away? “So you will tell my father you will not marry me?”

A wry smile played about his lips and she had the distinct impression he was not taking the situation as seriously as she thought it deserved. “I am yers to command. If ye wish me to leave, I will go.”

Relief washed over her. She would not be banished to the wilds of Scotland with some strange, albeit attractive, man. “Thank you, Sir Knight. My father, he wished to protect me by sending me far, but I cannot see myself in such a wild, foreign place. We would be most unequally yoked.”

Gavin leaned a shoulder against the stone wall and stared out the dark window into the night. “The Highlands are a rugged place and my home is no’ nearly as grand as this fine castle. ’Tis a wild place, but in the evening, when the sun’s rays touch the high peaks, setting them aglow with the fiery light, ’tis so beautiful it robs yer breath. No finely decorated hall could ever compare.”

Colette opened her mouth but no words came.

He turned back to her, appraising her finery with a critical eye. “Someday, God willing, I shall take my bride there, a bride who chooses me above all men. We will no’ be surrounded by courtiers or pageantry or fancy clothes or ridiculous pointed shoes.”

Colette swallowed, heat creeping up the back of her neck. Had he seen the points of her shoes?

He stepped close to her, moving with a fluid grace that made her heart beat faster. “In the Highlands we dinna have all yer comforts, but what we do have we fiercely defend.”

“What do you have?” she asked in a voice barely above a whisper.

“Freedom. In the Highlands, m’lady, ye would be free.”

Free? She stared up at him. He dangled before her the one thing all her riches could never buy. He offered her freedom.

He leaned nearer and her eyes fell to his lips, which inexplicably appeared soft. She could not help but respond to the irresistible pull of his inviting mouth. He moved slowly, bending down so that their lips drew dangerously close. She breathed in the scent of him, an intoxicating mix of wood smoke, fine wine, and pure man.

The door creaked and her father strode back in the room as both Colette and Gavin jumped away from each other. The duc de Bergerac spread a scroll out on a table. “This is the marriage accord I have made with the Baron of Kintail.”

“Wait…who?” Colette tried to gather together her swirling thoughts in order to form speech. She glanced at Sir Gavin. The careless smile was gone. They had both made the wrong assumption.

Gavin wasn’t meant for Colette at all.

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Weekly Winners


We have winners at SOS Aloha:

Sophie Kinsella's MINI SHOPAHOLIC
- Chelsea B. wins a book choice from convention stash.

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Patience Griffin's SOME LIKE IT SCOTTISH
- Martha wins a copy from Patience.


Good things come in three 
- Gamistress66 wins a book choice from my convention stash.


Jodi Thomas' RANSOM CANYON
- Gretchen wins a book choice from my convention stash.


Winners, please claim your prize by sending your mailing address to sos.aloha@yahoo.com.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in charm City