Monday, November 24, 2014

Aloha to MK McClintock and A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

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MK McClintock joins us for a cozy chat to celebrate A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS:

MK McClintock spins tales of romance and adventure inspired by the heather-covered hills of Scotland and the majestic mountains of home. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, she lives and writes in Montana.

Kim:  I am envious of your extensive travels! Can you share a funny story? I know, I know, it's hard to pick just one.

MK:  I haven’t been to nearly as many places as I would like, but I can definitely say that Scotland is my favorite thus far. There were a few interesting experiences, one of which took place as soon as I left the airport. Many Americans have stories about driving on the opposite side of the road, but boy was it an experience. Luckily I knew how to drive a manual transmission. I was very careful to stick with the speed limits, but I kept noticing that everyone else seemed to be passing me on the road. Each person who passed looked directly at me with the strangest expressions. To this day, I feel like they somehow knew I was a tourist who didn’t know what I was doing. Almost everywhere I went, I opened the door on the wrong side of the car, which isn’t embarrassing unless someone else sees. Then there was the haggis . . . it was an awesome holiday.

Kim:  Culinary school - how fun! What is your best dish to make?

MK:  O was always more into the pastry side of the business. Asking me to pick a best is a tough one, but I’d have to say chocolate croissants for pastry. For a regular dish, I’d have to go with a cast iron deep dish pizza. It’s not fancy or French, but it’s mind-blowing delicious.

Kim:  Montana - what is your favorite sight, sound, and smell?

MK:  Watching a bald eagle soar over the lake with the mountains in the background. The sound of waves crashing against the lake shore on a stormy day. The fresh scent of pine after a rain or on a snowy day.

Kim:  Tell us about A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - what inspired it?

MK:  It’s a collection of three historical western short stories that all have a bit of sweet romance, but really focus on family and the special moments that can happen around the holiday. I really wanted to put out a Christmas book, and I had all of these stories rolling around in my mind that I could easily have put into full-length novels. I then considered a short story collection because I understand how insanely busy the holidays can get. Story lines and settings just seem to pop into my head, but those are usually inspired by places I’ve been or something I read during research. I named four of the characters after nieces, and their personalities definitely inspired their character counterparts!

Kim:  What's next for MK McClintock?

MK:  The audiobook version of A Home for Christmas is in production, and I’m hard at work on my third British Agent novel, which will be out in early 2015. I also have two more installments to my Gallagher series planned for 2015. Needless to day, I’m going to be pretty busy this winter. Lucky for me, Montana winters can be long and cold which makes for great writing weather.

Thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you and your readers today! I can’t express enough how much fun I had writing these Christmas stories, and how honored I am to be sharing them with everyone.


Mahalo, MK, for sharing your holiday cheer with us!  I am giving away holiday swag to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your home ... how do you decorate for the holiday?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 29, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 30.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about MK and her books at mkmcclintock.com.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Aloha to Shannyn Schroeder and HER WINNING FORMULA



The Wishful Traveler

I am not well traveled. I rarely go far from home, even though there is a huge part of me that would like to. My mom took our family to Ireland and London when I was a small child. It was the year after my father had died and she wanted us to meet his family. I was so young, though, that the trip didn’t make much of an impression. We went to Wisconsin Dells once and I went to Houston with my aunt to visit another aunt (all we did was sit around the apartment).

When I turned 18, my graduation present to myself was a trip to London. I went for 2 weeks. Although I traveled alone, I was able to stay with my dad’s aunt so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel. It was a great trip. I still have vivid memories of what it was like to stand and wait for the tube or sit and people watch at Picadilly Circus. I only wish I would’ve gone to Scotland from there, spent more time exploring. Ever since then, I promised myself that one day I’d travel more.

But then there was college and then a career and marriage and kids. Having kids prompted me to do more traveling, but it was all kid-related: many trips to the Dells, a trip through central Illinois to visit 3 kids’ museums in a weekend, Indianapolis for another kids’ museum, a trip to Michigan where we rented a house walking distance from the lake, a few trips to Disney World… You get the picture. But in all of those trips, it was about making memories for the kids, not me.

As a writer, I’ve played it safe with setting. All of my single title books take place in and around Chicago because I’ve lived here my whole life. It wasn’t until I wrote my Hot & Nerdy trilogy that I left Chicago for two of the novellas, but even then, setting only played a small role. I did my research and kept it simple.

I went to RT in New Orleans last year. It was only the second time I’d ever gone on a trip without my kids. The conference was fun, for the most part, but I enjoyed walking around just experiencing parts of the city. By the time my week was over, and I was sitting in the airport, I opened a notebook and wrote an epilogue for my first book. It took place in New Orleans. The flavor of the setting was all over that short piece. I wrote about the things I saw on my walks, the food I ate, the sounds I heard, the smells I smelled. No amount of research could really give me that.

My hope as I continue to write and explore outside my comfort zone is to travel more, to make my writing more authentic. Of course, I still have my kids and travel is expensive, so I’m not sure how to make it happen, but I can wish.

What is your favorite place to visit?


Kim's photo from the Honolulu Airport
Note the surfboard case!

HER WINNING FORMULA

Spring break was supposed to be a last blast of fun for three friends before the reality of adulthood set in. But for the trio’s science whiz, it’s an education in instant attraction…

Chemistry major Felicity Stone can tell you everything about the way chemicals interact, but when it comes to social interaction, she needs schooling. Abandoned by her friends, Felicity is faced with spending spring break alone—unless she accepts a gorgeous stranger’s invitation to pose as his girlfriend at a family wedding. Not one to turn down a research opportunity, Felicity never expected it to produce such breathtaking results…

Teacher and baseball coach Lucas Tanner is fascinated by Felicity’s potent mix of spirit and scientist, not to mention her delicious curves. When Felicity asks him to return the favor by teaching her how to pick up guys, he can’t refuse—but he’s not at all happy with the idea of her using a formula for flirting on anyone but him. Can he convince her that together they have the perfect chemistry?


Kindle link
Nook link
iBooks link
Kobo link

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the new Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends and their last spring break. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.

shannynschroeder.com
Goodreads link

Kim's photo of the island hopper

Shannyn is giving away a digital copy of HER WINNING FORMULA.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Answer Shannyn's question - what is your favorite place to visit?  Mine, of course, is Hawaii.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 29, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 30.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

Kim's photo of Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekly Winners


From my travel blog, ALOHA ON MY MIND (link),
- Di wins a book choice from my convention stash.


Sharon Hamilton's SEAL's PROMISE
- Mary K. wins a book choice from my convention stash.

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Elizabeth Langston's I WISH
- Karen C. wins convention swag from me.


Catherine Lloyd's DEATH COMES TO LONDON
- Diane wins a print copy from me.

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Mia Marlowe's A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME - Author interview
- Susan P. 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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Aloha to Mia Marlowe and A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME - Book Review

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When his father, Lord Somerset, tumbles off the roof, Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is called home from his Grand Tour to take the reins of the estate while the marquess recuperates. Somerset is in serious financial difficulty, which can only be remedied by marriage to an heiress, Miss Sophie Goodnight, lately arrived from India with her nabob father.

Unfortunately, Richard believes he has already lost his heart to Lady Antonia Pruett. And Miss Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming Somerset’s purse with feet, so she foils their families’ attempts to throw her and Richard together at every turn. To make matters worse, the reason Lord Somerset fell off the roof in the first place is a secret that threatens to upend all their lives.



Romain "ruin" at Schönbrunn
Released to Public Domain (link)

As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled. - Victor Hugo

Mia Marlowe once wrote that she's rather have an adventure than a new sofa.  This is a telling statement that is reflected in her writing.   Mia delivers a romantic adventure in the English countryside with A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME.   She brings together the classic elements - an impoverished lord, a merchant's daughter, a scheming family, a flippant friend, an almost fiancee, and a host of "downstairs" staff betting on the outcome.  Just as humor is rolling along, Marlow takes the reader on a few twists to add her unique touch to Regency romance.

Both hero and heroine stand out with their personalities.  Richard is an honorable gentleman who find himself at odds with his conscience - does he follow his heart with Lady Antonia or protect his family with Miss Sophie?   As he comes to know Sophie, Richard realizes she is a "riddle with feet" - a riddle that intrigues him.  Meanwhile, Sophie has no desire to be a "purse with feet", yet she finds herself drawn to Richard as she steals away special moments with him, away from family, friends, and fiancee (once such scene takes place in a folly as pictured above).   Indeed, Marlow swept me off my feet with this heartwarming historical.  The icing on the tea cake is the inclusion of the "downstairs" staff as they also seek a better life.  It would be easy to label A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME as Regency Romance meets Downton Abbey - but it is much more with Marlow's storytelling.


A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME is Book 1 in the Somerfield Park series. I am looking forward to more romantic adventure with the Barrett Family!

Recommend read for historical fans who enjoy witty banters with non traditional characters.

I received a print ARC from Sourcebooks for an honest review.


Dunmore Pineapple
landmarktrust.org.uk

I am giving away Regency swag to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1.  If you were to build a folly in your backyard, what would it be? The Huffington Post featured follies at this link - naturally I like the Dunmore Pineapple, reminding me of my beloved Hawaii.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 29, 10 pm in Baltimore.  

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 30.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Check out my interview with Mia at this link

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Coming in June 2015

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aloha to Mia Marlowe and A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME - Interview and Giveaway


Mia Marlowe joins us today to celebrate the release of A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME:

Mia Marlowe is a rising star whose Touch of a Rogue was named one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Best Romances for Spring 2012. Mia learned about storytelling while singing professional opera. She knows what it’s like to sing a high “C” in a corset, so she empathizes with the trials of her historical heroines. Mia resides in Boston, Massachusetts. For more visit www.miamarlowe.com.

Kim:  Congratulations on your RITA nomination earlier this year! I was rooting for you in the audience! Can you share a special moment from that magical night?

Mia: Thanks so much, Kim! It was very special to have Plaid Tidings nominated for the award. My special moment actually came before the ceremony though. My wonderful editor at Kensington, Alicia Condon, took me out for supper at the historic Menger Hotel. This architectural gem was opened in 1859 and has served such famous folk as Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. Served with timeless elegance, the meal was to die for!

Kim:  I am excited for your Somerfield Park series! Where did you find "research" for the Edwardian era?

Mia: Actually, even though Downton Abbey inspired this series, the setting for Somerfield Park is still my beloved Regency—1817 to be exact. 1816 was known as “the year without a summer” due to a massive eruption of a South Seas volcano which impacted the world’s climate. It also caused the Barrett family, who own the 100,000 acre estate to suffer a devastating financial setback when none of their tenants could harvest a crop or pay their rent. Add to that an unfortunate investment of the rest of the marquessate’s funds in a whaling vessel which sank in a squall and you can see why Lord Somerset needs his son and heir, Richard to marry exceedingly well.

Enter Miss Sophie Goodnight and her father’s bottomless purse!

Kim:  From the book blurb for A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME,

And Miss Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming Somerset’s purse with feet, so she foils their families’ attempts to throw her and Richard together at every turn.

I am laughing already! From where does Miss Goodnight get her grit?

Mia: Sophie was raised in India, where her father made his fortune, so might have picked up a few unusual ideas. Such as, tiger hunts are far more fun than sipping tea in a doily-laden parlor!

Kim:  Yet I suspect that the hero, Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, has a few noble qualities. How does he stand out among the ton?

Mia: The Barrett’s are not noted for their demonstrativeness, but Richard is fiercely loyal to his family. As his father recovers from a tumble off the manor’s roof, he takes the reins of the estate and tries to solve their financial woes in a way that doesn’t involve him marrying for money. Of course, it’s the done thing when a titled family finds themselves with pockets to let, but Richard isn’t ready to be bought by Sophie’s staggering dowry.

Not even once he falls in love with the lady for herself.

Kim:  What's next for Mia Marlowe?

Mia: The second book in the Somerfield Park series is coming out next May—Never Resist a Rake. Lots of characters from book one return in this story—Porter, the bashful under-butler, and Mrs. Culpepper, the cook he’s smitten with, as well as Sophie and Richard. And I don’t think I could keep the Dowager Marchioness from butting into any book set in Somerfield Park if I tried!

Then in July 2015, I start a new series called the Order of the M.U.S.E (which stands for Metaphysical Union of Sensory Extraordinaires!) It’s sort of a “Leverage” style group of psychics who stand as the first line of defense against objects of a malicious bent being sent to harm the royal family. The Duke of Camden, who heads the Order, believes one must have slipped by them and is responsible for King George III’s periodic descents into lunacy!

If you’d like to be notified when my books come out, please sign up for my newsletter at miamarlowe.com!

Thanks for having me today, Kim!


Mahalo, Mia, for your always enchanting visit!  Given the multiple references to "purse", I share this picture with you!   

I am reading (and loving) A RAKE BY ANY OTHER NAME:

A Reluctant Lord. A Resistant Lady. A Superfluous Fiancée.

And a Devastating Family Secret…

When Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is abruptly called home to take the reins of the estate, he discovers the extent of the family’s financial straits. The remedy: marry the heiress their families have picked out for him. Unfortunately, he’s already planned to marry someone else.

Miss Sophie Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming his purse with feet…and she sabotages all attempts to woo her. But when Lord Hartley discovers the shenanigans in his father’s past, he realizes that deciding between two beautiful women is the least of his problems.

Amazon: link
Apple: link
Barnes & Noble: link
BAM: link
Book Depository: link
Chapters: link
Indiebound: link
Kobo: link

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Aloha to Catherine Lloyd and DEATH COMES TO LONDON - Book Review

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DEATH COMES TO LONDON is coming from Kensington on November 25, 2014:

A season in London promises a welcome change of pace for two friends from the village of Kurland St. Mary until murder makes a debut. With the reluctant blessings of their father, the rector of Kurland St. Mary, Lucy Harrington and her sister Anna leave home for a social season in London. At the same time, Lucy's special friend Major Robert Kurland is summoned to the city to accept a baronetcy for his wartime heroism.

Amidst the dizzying whirl of balls and formal dinners, the focus shifts from mixing and matchmaking to murder when the dowager Countess of Broughton, the mother of an old army friend of Robert, drops dead. When it's revealed she's been poisoned, Robert's former betrothed, Miss Chingford, is accused, and she in turn points a finger at Anna. To protect her sister, Lucy enlists Robert's aid in drawing out the true culprit.

But with suspects ranging from resentful rivals and embittered family members to the toast of the ton, it will take all their sleuthing skills to unmask the poisoner before more trouble is stirred up.

Boats on the Thames, 1850
Public Domain (link)

If you're curious, London's an amazing place. - David Bailey

Lucy Harrington, the reliable daughter of the village rector, accompanies her beautiful (and younger) sister to London for the season.   Although Lucy enjoys tending to her father's flock, she is eager to find a husband and set up her own household.   Lucy thinks she is leaving behind her special friend (and sleuthing partner) Major Robert Kurland.  Yet fate takes him to London at the same time to appear before the Prince Regent. Their paths cross among the ton ... and they find themselves knee deep in a murder mystery.  

Lloyd returns readers to the enchanting world of Regency England with two characters who continue to grow in their friendship and their attraction to the other.   Lloyd captures the pageantry of the ton while delivering witty dialogue and a hint of "penny dreadfuls".    Lloyd subtly addresses Lucy's apprehension to accept the limited opportunities for women in Regency England.  Likewise, she continues to reveal Robert's hidden wounds from his military service.  DEATH COMES TO LONDON is the perfect escape for fans of cozy mysteries and historical romances.

DEATH COMES TO LONDON is Book 2 in the Kurland St. Mary Mysteries series.  It can be read as a stand alone story.   However, readers will appreciate how Lucy and Robert became friends in Book 1, DEATH COMES TO THE VILLAGE.

I received an ARC from Kensington for an honest review.  

The New Ballroom at Buckingham Palace 
Louis Haghe (1856)
Public Domain (link)

I am giving away a print copy of DEATH COMES TO LONDON.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about what sandwich would you eat during afternoon tea at the Countess' house - cucumber, watercress, egg salad, or chicken curry?   

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, November 22, 10 pm in Baltimore.  

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 23.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Check out my review of DEATH COMES TO THE VILLAGE at this link.

Learn more about Catherine and her books at catherine-lloyd.com.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Aloha to HEATING IT UP, ONE HERO AT A TIME - Book Blitz Tour


Oh, its cold in Maryland!  If I can't be in Hawaii, then I'll just have to heat it up with Jennifer Jakes. She joins us today to celebrate the release of the box set HEATING IT UP, ONE HERO AT A TIME:


Kim:  What do you love about the era(s) in which you write? 

Jennifer:  I have always loved Westerns. Always! When I was a little kid, I would watch any type of movie or TV show that was Western. Reading? It was all about Sacajawea and other Native American stories. As an adult, I was able to do some Civil War re-enacting and got a “real” feel for living back in the 1860s. While I came to realize that, yes, I do romanticize some things (Life was INCREDIBLY hard back then. Too much work, sickness, etc), but there was the ever-present optimistic, undying, American spirit to better yourself and carve out a life in the West. That hunger for freedom, adventure and the determination that went with it, is why I love the Western.

Kim:  What one thing can readers expect from your books? 

Jennifer:  Can I have 2 ? LOL Emotion and heat!

Kindle #1 Best Selling author, Jennifer Jakes, was not only an RWA® Golden Heart® nominee for her debut novel, Rafe’s Redemption, she was also voted Best Romance of 2011 by DITHR. Her second book, Twice In A Lifetime, was a finalist in the 2012 International Digital Awards. Her third book, Eden’s Sin, was a novella written for an anthology with two of her Golden Heart® sisters. Eden’s Sin is also available as a stand-alone read. 



Love Across the Ages...Seven best-selling and award-winning authors bring readers historical romantic adventures set in Medieval Scotland, Regency England, Civil War America, the Wild West, and Gilded Age America. We’re Heating It Up one hero at a time with Scottish Highlanders, Regency Rakes, Union Spies, Mountain Men & Sexy Smugglers.

This LIMITED EDITION BOXED SET contains seven sensual, full-length novels.

NIGHT STORM by Tracey Devlyn

A promising young apothecary picks up the pieces of her life, only to collide with the ruthless thief-taker who once shattered her dreams and her heart.

RAFE'S REDEMPTION by Jennifer Jakes

He rode into town to buy supplies, not a woman…

SECRETS, SPIES & SWEET LITTLE LIES by Tara Kingston

A heart's destiny cannot be denied when a daring Union spy abducts a beautiful runaway bride he suspects of being a traitor.

THE HIGHLANDER'S TEMPTATION by Eliza Knight

A warrior on a mission is tempted by an alluring lass, and though she's been forbidden she'll break every rule for the pleasure of his intoxicating kiss.

CAMERON by Lane McFarland

To heal a warrior’s heart takes patience. But to resist a warrior’s heart takes fortitude.

THE CAPTAIN'S TEMPTRESS by Averil Reisman

Blackmailing her way onto a ship of gunrunners bound for the Caribbean, Samantha Etheridge proves to be more than a mere opportunistic reporter to Captain Sean Nolan--perhaps even a first mate.

A ROGUE'S DEADLY REDEMPTION by Jeannie Ruesch

Proving his worth to the woman he loves might cost them both their lives.

Amazon Kindle: link
Apple iBooks: link
Barnes & Noble Nook: link
Google Play: link
Kobo: link

Jennifer offers an excerpt from RAFE’S REDEMPTION ...

Maggie buttoned her coat while the men said their good-byes on the boardwalk. Rafe took the sack from her hands and strode toward the hitching post. Her gaze landed on his horse. The huge beast was the animal she had considered making her escape on. He looked as testy as his owner—and she had to tolerate the company of both. She glanced from horse to man and raised her chin a notch. After his less than complimentary words, she'd be damned before showing fear.

The icy wind whipped her hair when she started from the protective cover of the porch. She tucked the loose strands into the collar of her coat and stepped off the boardwalk.

Rafe frowned. “Wait.” He deposited her back on the porch and disappeared inside. He returned and dropped a man's felt hat onto her head. “To keep the snow and rain off your face.”

“Thank—” She stopped short as he pulled a pair of thick gloves from his pocket and pressed them into her hands. “Thank you.”

He shrugged. “Tom thought you should have them.” Then he walked to the horses, leaving her to follow.

Fine. He didn't want her gratitude. It made no difference to her as long as he kept his promise and took her to the fort.

She stepped off the porch as the snow whirled around. Bits of ice mixed with the large flakes and stung her skin. She tilted her head and leaned into the wind, glad for the hat and for Tom's thoughtfulness.

“We'll have to ride double,” Rafe said when she stood beside him. “There's no room on the pack mule.”

He tied her sack to the saddle-horn, then turned. His steel gaze darted from her to the animals and he frowned, as if he'd just realized how close riding double would be. Maggie couldn't decipher his muttered curse, but judging by his dark scowl, she didn't want to know his thoughts.

He swung his lean frame onto the horse and settled in the saddle, then reached a strong hand down to her. She looked up—way up—at his outstretched palm. She placed her gloved hand in his and hoped she didn't fall. Her breath whooshed out in surprise when he pulled her up behind him as if she weighed no more than a sack of feathers.

Oh, God. A shudder ran through her and she covered her eyes with her hands. No wonder she hated horses. She cracked one eye open, glanced down…and buried her face into Rafe's back. They sat at least six feet off the ground! Thank God she wouldn't have to attempt riding alone. Except now her body pressed against his, a fact that stole her breath.

What should she do with her hands? If she held on to the back of the saddle she'd be dangerously close to his backside. Wrapping her arms around him seemed bold. She clutched the sides of his coat in her fists and wiggled until she found a comfortable position.

Rafe craned his head and glared over his shoulder. “Ready?”

Before she could answer he clicked his tongue to his horse, and they took off with a lurch. The mule's lead-rope bit into her leg as the stubborn animal lagged behind.

“Hang on. We've got to ride hard.”

She nodded, then added, “I'm fine. Do what you must.”

As they rode by Zeke's, Michael's triumphant face grinned through the window. She stared at him, unwilling to look away in shame. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction. Michael was the one who should be ashamed. Her father had entrusted him with the family's fortune and with Maggie. The money would be gone before Christmas.

Where will I be?

The enormous weight of her situation crushed her. She shuddered and bit back tears, again nearly overwhelmed by the urge to cry. She was just tired and hungry. That was all. By next week this trip—this whole nightmare—would be nothing but a bad memory.

***

Rafe tensed as Maggie went limp against him. A feathery sigh tickled the hair at his neck, the deep exhale rubbing her soft breasts across his back. Hell. He closed his eyes, but that was a mistake. Images of her ripped bodice, of hard nipples peeking over a silk corset sent a gut twisting shot of lust through him. Double hell.

She sighed again, her arm dropping forward to rest on his thigh. Christ. Two inches to the left and she’d be cupping his cock. He grabbed her hand and pulled it around his waist to keep her from falling off Moses. The last thing he wanted to do was dig her out of a snow drift. It wasn't that he wanted to feel her arms around him or have her body pressed any closer than it already was. Not that at all.

She mumbled in her sleep, her warm breath fanning his ear, tightening him with need.

A frustrated groan escaped through tense lips. What in the hell had he done? Hadn't he learned anything from the last time he'd defended a woman?

But damn it all, he couldn't let Skinner Joe buy her.

And now some man was looking for an army friend. Friend. Like hell. Rafe knew who searched. Simon. He'd find Rafe and Joe would help.

Rafe pinched the bridge of his nose as every horrible scenario imaginable flashed through his mind. What the hell had he gotten Miss Monroe into? He groaned. And why did she have to be from St. Louis. For all he knew, she could have been to his family home. And the last thing he wanted was questions or pity.

He grunted in disgust and pushed Moses a little harder. The cold wind howled as they started into the foothills. He tucked his chin into his chest and wished he had started a beard a little sooner.

Maggie moaned, then slid her free hand inside his coat, stroking his stomach like cat. He tensed. A hot need coursed through his body. No way would this be all right. He didn't want a woman around. He had been too long by himself.

He just had to stay away from her. He could ignore her for a couple of days. Then once the blizzard passed he'd take her to the fort.

“Think I'll freeze if I sleep in the barn with you, Moses?” A soft nicker came in answer, and he figured his horse laughed at him. Easy for Moses. He was gelded.

Another hour and they'd be home. Heat flooded his frozen face at the thought of this St. Louis society lady seeing how he lived. No doubt she was used to a mansion with servants to attend to every need.

So were you once.

He pushed the thought away, angry that Maggie made him remember things he'd rather not. That life was dead.

As dead as the man he'd killed.