Cover Reveal and Excerpt from Two Truths and a Lie

The third book in the Games We Play trilogy, Two Truths and a Lie releases next Tuesday. This was such a fun series to write.

This is Brenda's story. Unlike her cousins, Brenda is far from confident of their ability to make a success of their family's hotel, The Wild Geese Inn. 

Here's a sneak peek:

A month earlier…
“Is there some reason you keep staring at me, Mr. Murphy?”

It had been approximately fifteen minutes since Brenda had made Max’s acquaintance—since she’d overheard him checking in, recognized his name as one she’d been waiting for, and hurried over to introduce herself. It had been maybe ten minutes since she’d invited him into her office so that they could discuss their mutual business in private, and so that she could warn him against accidentally mentioning said business to her cousins. 

And for most of that time Max had been staring at her. Even now his gaze was tracking her every move, coming to rest, every now and again, in all the most unexpected places: her neck, her lips, her fingers, her hair, her breasts.

Well, okay, maybe not all those places were unexpected, but enough of them were to make her feel exposed.

She wouldn’t have characterized herself as being unusually vain, and she was certainly no stranger to male appreciation—or scrutiny—but Max’s unwavering attention, coupled with her own intense awareness of it, of him, was quickly becoming a problem. If for no other reason than it prevented her from scrutinizing him.

Her cousin Gwyn would probably have bolted by now. Her cousin Luke might have already thrown a punch. Brenda preferred to clear the air and set things straight. “Is there something wrong with my appearance?”

“No, not at all.” A flush colored Max’s cheeks. “I apologize. It’s just that you remind me of someone I used to know.” He looked her right in the eyes as he said it. And there was a hint of challenge in his gaze, as though he were daring her to make something of it. Suddenly, Brenda felt it too, a vague but unmistakable feeling of familiarity. An overwhelming sense of yes, there you are. At last. If she were superstitious she might term the sensation déjà vu or concoct some ridiculous fantasy—that they’d been lovers in a past life, for example, or soul mates destined, since before either of them were born, to meet and fall in love. But she wasn’t superstitious, so she called it what it was: meaningless coincidence.

She cleared her throat. “Anyway, getting back to what I was saying, my cousins don’t know that I’ve been in contact with Fairfax, and I’d prefer to keep it that way for now.”

“I understand.” He glanced away, at last, an odd expression on his face. Brenda couldn’t decide if he looked relieved or disappointed. “And, to be honest, until there’s an actual offer on the table, I’d rather they not be involved either. However, I do anticipate being around quite a lot in the next few weeks, asking questions and whatnot. They might find that curious. What do you suggest I say if they wonder why I’m here?”

“I’m glad you asked, because, as it happens, I’ve given the matter a good deal of thought.”
He smiled faintly. “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me in the least.”

Brenda wasn’t exaggerating. Over the past few weeks, she’d thought of little else. Luke might be enamored with the idea of having his own bar, and Gwyn was clearly emotionally attached not just to the business but to the building itself. But Brenda was the realist. The one who’d gone to school for hotel management. The only one, or so it seemed at times, who realized how much trouble they were all in.

She’d taken on a variety of tasks since November in an effort to refamiliarize herself with the hotel. She’d helped out in the kitchen, taken a shift or two in the bar; she’d made beds, and ordered supplies, and checked guests in and out, but anyone could have done as much with equal or—in many cases—superior results. Growing the business, protecting her and her cousins’ inheritance, making sure the three of them didn’t end up losing everything—that was her job, her passion, her only real contribution. That was the one thing she could do better than anyone else.

And she was failing at it.

So, yes, she’d gone looking for solutions—because someone had to suck it up and be the adult. When she learned that the Fairfax hotel chain was potentially interested in acquiring the property, she’d done the sensible thing and followed up with them. And when they’d told her they were sending an inspector—one Max Murphy—down here to check out the property, she for damn sure had given thought to the question of what kind of cover story she could use to explain his being here.

“I thought we’d tell them that you’re an author,” Brenda explained. “We could say you’re here doing research for a book you’re writing.”

“I’m not sure I follow. What kind of book are we talking about? Like a travel guide?”

“No. I was thinking more of a novel that you’re planning to set in a hotel like this one. That way you can ask whatever questions you like and no one will think twice.”

“I don’t know how I feel about that.” Max hesitated. “It seems a bit far-fetched. And I’m not sure how convincing I’d be as an author.”

Brenda shrugged. “Obviously, it would be best not to say anything at all. But I think, if they ask, we should have a story ready.”

“I’ve always felt that, in situations like this, it’s best to stick as close to the truth as possible.”

“I agree. So what would you suggest?”

Max smiled. “We could tell them we’re dating.”

Oh, like that’s not far-fetched? Brenda started to laugh, then quickly turned it into a cough when she realized Max was serious. “Sorry. I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“You’re not married, are you? Or otherwise involved?”

“No,” Brenda shot back. “Are you?”

“Do you really think I would have suggested we date if I were in a relationship with someone else?”
“Sure. Why not? You might be polyamorous, or in an open relationship, and not see anything wrong with it. Or you could be a liar, or a cheater—”

“In which case I probably wouldn’t admit it, anyway.”


“Were you always this cynical?”

“No. I used to be shockingly naive. But then I grew up.”

“I’m sorry,” Max answered. His voice was unexpectedly gentle.

“I don’t know why. It’s hardly your fault. Frankly, I’m not even sure why I asked. It doesn’t matter, does it? Since we’d only be pretending to date.”

“What if we weren’t pretending? What would you say if I were to ask you to have dinner with me—for real?”

“I’d say no.”

“Because I’m not your type?” He said it lightly, with his smile still in place, but there it was again, that hint of something in his eyes that looked absurdly like pain.

Brenda shook the odd notion away. “No. That has nothing to do with it.” Sweet Lord, Max was practically the poster boy for her type. She’d been attracted to large, red-haired, bearded men from a very young age. Since that one time that her Aunt Glynis decided it would be fun to take Brenda, Luke, and Gwyneth into New York City to give them a street-side view of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. One glimpse of the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe & Drum Corps marching up Fifth Avenue, row upon row of kilt-wearing men, tall, broad, and imposing, was all it had taken. Brenda had been hooked. But physical attraction wasn’t everything. “If you must know, I don’t date, not in Atlas Beach.”

Max quirked an eyebrow. “May I ask why not?”

“There are several reasons actually.” None of which were any of his business. “I don’t have a lot of time right now, for one thing, what with running the hotel, negotiating with Fairfax—”

“Creating inventive cover stories.”

“Yes, thank you. That too. For another, the dating pool here is very small, and I’ve known most of the men in it since preschool. You’d be surprised how off-putting that can be.”

Although, unfortunately, not off-putting enough where some of the men were concerned.

* * * *

To read more about the series, check out my website: http://www.pgforte.com/GamesWePlay.htm

Brenda's relationship with Max is a sexy sham designed to keep her cousins from learning of her plans to sell their family's inn. Falling in love for real? That was not supposed to happen. 

All work and no play has been the story of Brenda Donovan's life for the past few months. Concerned about the future of her family's inn, she's been searching for a buyer for the business -- without her cousins finding out what she's up to. She has no time for relationships. But pretending to date sexy Max Murphy, the hotel scout who's there to assess the property? That's totally doable. Especially when games, role-playing, and light bondage are included in the package. Falling in love was never supposed to be part of their deal, however, and now her heart's in play. 

Max has no problem with hiding his true identity from Brenda's cousins. But are they the only ones he's deceiving? When all is finally revealed, will the cousins lose the Wild Geese Inn? Or will they add another member to their growing family? 


Release Day! Never Have I Ever

It's release day for Never Have I Ever, the second book in my Games We Play trilogy.

It's also Mardi Gras! So here's a Mardi Gras themed  (well, sort of) excerpt. Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Mardi Gras…

By Tuesday evening, Kristy was back to barely speaking to Luke. And Luke was back to wanting to kick himself up and down the street a couple of times for having let that happen. He’d meant to upset the status quo—sure. But in the opposite direction. He guessed he could blame the boggart for that. And maybe his cousin for putting stupid ideas in his head.

He hadn’t been scheduled to work the day before, but he’d shown up at the bar anyway, intending to give Kristy a break so she could get some dinner. Kristy was busy when he’d arrived, and Luke was surprised to see that the ladder Cam had been using to hang up the decorations, and which Luke had watched him put away the previous day, had reappeared—right in the middle of the fucking galley.

 “What’s this doing here?” he asked, annoyed at Cam for leaving it there and at Kristy for not moving it out of the way. Unless it was there for some other reason. Had something else gone wrong, some new problem that no one had thought to mention to him? In that case, he was still annoyed with Cam and Kristy—and with the boggart, for causing trouble, and with whoever had taken it into their own hands to solve the problem without involving him.

When Kristy didn’t respond to his query, Luke raised his voice to ask again. “Hey, DiLuca! What’s with the ladder?”

Kristy started. She turned in his direction and frowned. “Oh, I don’t know. D’you want help moving it?”

Luke shook his head. “No, that’s okay. I got it.”

It wasn’t until he’d taken hold of the ladder to close it that Luke noticed the plastic bucket that had been perched on the top shelf and which was already tipping and raining down five gallons of water and ice chips on his head.

What the fucking fuck?

It was all Luke could do to keep from cursing out loud, especially when laughter broke out all along the bar from patrons who’d obviously enjoyed the show he’d just put on. He fought through the shock and the anger and was still trying to put a self-deprecating smile on his face when Kristy scurried over, nearly skidding to a stop at the sight of him.

“Luke…what happened? Are you all right?”

Luke nodded. “Yeah, it’s just this bucket…” He snagged it off the floor, ignoring the impulse to kick the offending object across the room with enough force to put it into orbit. Or at least through the front window. More breakage was the last thing they needed right now.

“Oh, so that’s where it went,” Kristy said in surprise.

Luke stared at her. “What?”

“The bucket. I couldn’t remember where I put it.”

“Wait…you did this? You put a bucket of water on top of a ladder?”

“No, of course not. It was filled with ice.”


“I guess it must’ve melted.”

Luke stared at her. Maybe Gwyn was right. Maybe Kristy was behind at least some of the pranks. “Are you saying you wanted to dump a bucket of ice on my head? Seriously? What are we, twelve?”
If she wanted to play games, he had a good one for her. A little temperature play, a little restraint. He could trap her up against the bar and run a couple of those ice chips over her nipples till she begged for him to warm her back up again with his tongue.

“Luke, of course I didn’t.”

“Clearly, you did.”

She leaned in close. “Have you lost your mind? You’re making a scene.”

“Trust me; this isn’t me making a scene. Me putting you over my knee, on the other hand—that’d be a scene.”

Kristy reared back like he’d struck her. The look in her eyes was more than just surprised—and nowhere close to being interested. She looked stricken, betrayed. Luke could only stare at her in dismay. Obviously he’d said the wrong thing.

“I’m going on my break now,” Kristy announced. She grabbed her things from beneath the bar and fled, leaving Luke, already cold and uncomfortable in his wet clothes, to deal with everything else.

By the time she returned, he was too angry to say anything else to her. He went home to change, and when the time came to head back to the bar to help with the cleanup, he stayed right where he was. 

He reasoned that Monday night was slow, that it wouldn’t hurt her to close by herself for a change, that a little space, at this point, was the best thing for both of them. But the truth was that he was just too frustrated to deal with her sanely.

He told himself that he didn’t want to make things worse, but almost twenty-four hours later, he had to admit that he might have chosen the wrong tactic.

He was still trying to figure out how to get back in her good graces when his cousin Brenda stopped by the bar, accompanied by a red-headed guy who looked vaguely familiar, though he couldn’t place him.

“Hey, Luke,” she said. “How’s it going? It looks like we’ve got a good crowd in here tonight.”

“Yeah, it’s good.” They were busy as fuck, which would have been great, except that it only made Kristy’s rigid, cold, distant politeness all the more annoying. He was too busy, too rushed, and too annoyed to tease her out of her bad mood—in part because he was forced to ask her for everything he couldn’t immediately put his hands on because she refused to anticipate his needs, refused to do anything more than the bare minimum. He hadn’t even realized until now how much she did, what a very good team they made, how effortlessly they worked together, and how they balanced each other out.

If she ever spoke to him again, he’d have to be sure she knew how he felt.

“Okay, well, that’s good,” Brenda said, her voice hesitant.

Luke sighed. “Yeah. It is. Sorry. We’ve just been swamped. Can I get you something?”

“I’ll have a limeade. Thanks.” Brenda turned to her companion. “Max? You want anything?”

“Uh…sure. How about a Guinness?”

“A man after my own heart,” Luke said as he grabbed a pint glass. For some reason, Max’s drink choice was also ringing a bell somewhere in the back of his mind, but he had neither the time nor the inclination to track it down.

“Max is a writer,” Brenda told him, still sounding ill-at-ease—something else he had no time tonight to think too much about. “He’s researching hotels and bars and…and whatever…for a book he’s going to write.”

“Very cool,” Luke replied politely. In reality, he couldn’t care less.

“Yeah, so, if he has any questions about anything, you think maybe you can help him out?”

“Sure thing.” He slid Max’s glass across the bar to him, then went to work on his cousin’s drink. He mixed lime juice and sugar in a glass, then realized there were no lime wedges on his station. He picked up the soda gun and called to Kristy, “Hey, can I get some limes over here?”

“Here you go,” she said as she brought them over.

“Thanks, hon.” He smiled at her, trying to warm her up, and was relieved when a little of the haunted look left her eyes. But even as the first hint of a smile curved her lips, he pressed the trigger and then gasped in shock as seltzer sprayed everywhere, soaking Kristy’s face, her hair, her shirt. “Uhhh…”Shit.

Laughter erupted along the bar. Tears appeared in her beautiful eyes. The need to fix things, to make her smile again, to erase the hurt expression on her face overrode Luke’s common sense. “Wet T-shirt contest anyone?” he joked lamely, wincing as color flared on her face and the tears spilled over. It occurred to him that he’d just made things worse.

Kristy ran from the bar, and Luke would have followed if Brenda hadn’t stepped in his path.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she whispered fiercely. “I understand you two are supposed to be friends, but why do you always have to be such a dick to that girl?”

“I—” What the fuck? “I am not!”

“Luke, you embarrassed her in front of the whole bar! Did she just quit?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. She probably just went to change into some dry clothes.”

“Well, I hope that’s all it is. I swear, I don’t know why she puts up with you. We’ll be lucky if we don’t get hit with a harassment suit or something.”

“It was an accident,” he insisted. “And stop overreacting. We’re fine. She dumped a bucket of ice water on my head just yesterday. You don’t see me freaking out, do you?”

“She did what?” Brenda’s eyes widened. “Here in the bar? So you thought you’d retaliate? What the fuck, Luke? I don’t know what either of you are thinking. And I don’t understand why you think Gwyn and I should put up with this nonsense either. This is a business. Not a…not a frat house.”

And you’d know about those, wouldn’t you? Luke thought as he glared at his cousin. For once, he managed to rein in his wayward tongue. “It was an accident,” he repeated coldly. “Now, go away. I’m busy.”

Luke walked away from his cousin and concentrated his attention on the far end of the bar for the next few minutes, until Brenda and her friend had left the bar. He loved his cousin, but she took bossiness to a whole new level. And she absolutely was overreacting.

An hour later, however, Kristy still hadn’t returned, and Luke was starting to wonder if Brenda hadn’t been right after all. Could Kristy have quit? She wasn’t answering her phone—that much was certain. Or maybe she just wasn’t taking his calls? When Gwyn appeared a half hour later, looking concerned and asking, “What the hell did you do to Brenda?” Luke was in no mood to make conversation.
“Cover the bar for me,” he said as he all but pushed Gwyn into the galley. “I’ll be right back.”

* * * * *

After having been friend-zoned by Kristy when they were kids, Luke has mostly resigned himself to being "just friends" with her, but working together, night after night, is shredding his self control.
Kristy loves Luke but if anything was clear to her back when they were kids, it was that gawky, awkward, tomboys didn’t stand a chance with the king of the schoolyard. She watched her older brothers set their caps for Luke’s glamorous cousins, and get shot down. So she did what she had to in order to salvage her friendship with Luke. She hid her true feelings and her need for him to take control.

Luke wants Kristy in the worst way--actually, in all the worst ways: tied up, held down, bitten, whipped. But he can either keep her as a friend, or take her to bed and lose her forever. His biggest mistake--so far--was in hiring her to work alongside him in the bar he and his cousins inherited from their grandmother. He knows Kristy needs the money and the job, but Luke’s self-control can’t take the constant contact with the girl he wants to dominate--both in and out of the bedroom. Something has to give--and soon!


Cover Reveal and Excerpt from Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever, the second book in the Games We Play trilogy, releases next week!  The lovely purple on the cover is a nod to Mardi Gras, which is the holiday around which it's set...and which, not coincidentally, happens to fall on February 28th this year. Release Day.

Don't you love it when things work out like that?

Here's a sneak peek:

The Saturday before Mardi Gras…
“Hey, DiLuca,” Luke called to Kristy as he helped her close the bar—cleaning tables and stacking chairs. “D’you know what a drunk’s idea of a balanced diet is?”
“Wait, I do. I know this one.” Kristy looked thoughtful as she straightened up from the table she’d been wiping down. “Uh…a drink in each hand? Something like that?”
“Yeah.” Luke frowned. “A beer in each hand, actually. Did I tell you that one already?”
Kristy smirked. “Well, you must have, right? I don’t know anyone else with your encyclopedic knowledge of corny jokes.”
“Oh.” That was a relief. But why was that the case? It shouldn’t have mattered all that much if other people were telling her stupid jokes. It shouldn’t have mattered at all, come to think of it. It wasn’t right that he was so invested in keeping her to himself. But he was just the same.
“So, this memory problem you’re having, is it age-related or due to alcohol consumption?”
“Don’t be a brat,” Luke admonished as the urge to punish her—never far below the surface anyway—rose up to tempt him. He loved her all the more for being bratty, but the whole not being able to do anything about it? That royally sucked. “And cut the crap. You’re only a year younger than I am, and—”
“And I can drink you under the table. Yes, I know.”
Luke shook his head. “You’re really asking for it tonight,” he muttered, wishing she were. Oh, if only she were doing it on purpose. If only she really wanted what she was tempting him to give her. “Keep it up and I’ll go home and leave you to finish closing on your own.”
“Is that supposed to frighten me?”
“Ha-ha.” It was an empty threat, and they both knew it.
One of the main reasons he’d hired her to tend bar was so that they could split the shifts between them and give him a couple of nights off each week. But the sad truth was that, these days at least, he didn’t really have much of a life outside of the bar. So more often than not he’d stop in to check things out even on his days off. He’d tell himself he’d only stay a few minutes, that he’d leave after a drink, maybe two. He never did. Some nights he and Kristy would hit a diner when they were done, sometimes they wouldn’t, but at the very least, he’d always help her close.
It was part of their routine. He’d flirt with her and tell her stupid jokes. She’d laugh at him and call him an idiot. Afterward, he’d go home and fantasize about all the ways he’d like to punish her for being such a brat, all the ways he’d like to have her.
It was pathetic—he knew that. But the upside was that he got to spend time with her nearly every day, to indulge his hopeless passion for the girl, to watch her laugh. He got to take care of her, to make sure no one hit on her inappropriately…or at all, for that matter. Because that’s what friends did. Because that’s what kept them friends, kept her from cutting him out of her life or drifting away.
The downside was his sneaking suspicion that he was keeping them both from moving on with their lives.
“How about this one? Why can’t anyone ever find a place to sit at an Irish family reunion?”
Kristy slid him a sly smile. “I don’t know, Luke. Why?”
“Because the rooms’ll be filled with Dores, Walls, and Curtins.”
“Huh?” The smile disappeared, replaced by an expression of puzzlement. “I don’t get it.”
“Dore, Wall, and Curtin are all Irish family names,” Luke explained.
Kristy shook her head as she turned back to her work. “You people are weird.”
You people? Weird? Luke shot her another stern glance. She didn’t even see it. She was bent over another table, arm extended as she stretched to capture a stray coaster that seemed stubbornly determined to remain just slightly out of reach.
Every time she got a finger on it, it slipped from her grasp and scudded farther away. Luke watched as she wriggled and stretched, going up on her toes in her efforts to reach just a little bit more, which only served to put her ass—already showcased by the snug, stretchy pants she always wore—on tempting display. Something he was sure she was completely unaware of.

She’d better be unaware of it, damn it. Because if he ever found out she was doing it on purpose, teasing him to the point where he thought he’d lose his mind…but no. He knew better. She had no idea the kind of effect she had on him. She never had. Or, if she did, she didn’t want it.

Games We Play, book 2

After having been friend-zoned by Kristy when they were kids, Luke had mostly resigned himself to being "just friends" with her, but working together, night after night, is shredding his self control.

Kristy loves Luke but if anything was clear to her back when they were kids it was that gawky, awkward, tomboys didn't stand a chance with the king of the schoolyard. She watched her older brother set their caps for Luke's glamorous cousins and get shot down. So she did what she had to in order to salvage her friendship with Luke. She hid her true feelings and her need for him to take control.

Luke wants Kristy in the worst way -- actually, in all the worst ways: tied up, held down, beaten, bitten, whipped. But he knows he has no chance of ever having her. They'd been childhood friends and sweethearts, until she friend-zoned him in the fifth grade. He knows he can either keep her as a friend, or take her to bed and lose her forever. His biggest mistake--so far--was in hiring her to work alongside him in the bar he and his cousins inherited from their grandmother. He knows Kristy needs the money and the job, but Luke's self-control can't take the constant contact with the girl he wants to dominate -- both in and out of the bedroom. Something has to give -- and soon!


Excerpt from Truth or Dare--available now!

Truth or Dare is the first book in my new trilogy--Games We Play. The series revolves around three cousins (no, that's not them on the cover, btw! Each cousin has his or her own book. ) who've recently inherited a quirky old hotel/bar/restaurant complex in the fictional town of Atlas Beach, NJ.

Here's a peek:

The last of the dishes had all been put away. The last of the guests had departed. The memorial for Moira Walsh Gallagher was well and truly finished. At the large staff table in the kitchen of the Wild Geese Inn, the small hotel Moira had owned and loved, her three grandchildren shared a last glass of whiskey and a last slice of apple pie. Pumpkin pie might have been a more traditional choice, given that it was now just days after Thanksgiving, but Moira had never cared for pumpkin.
“If we’re really gonna do this,” Brenda Donovan said in her usual bossy tones, “there are a few things we’re gonna have to get straight right from the start.”
Her cousins, Luke Kelly and Gwyneth Carmichael, exchanged a long-suffering look. Brenda was two months older than Luke, five months older than Gwyn, so they’d never really bought into her whole I-know-best-because-I’m-the-oldest superior attitude. You might think after twenty-eight years, Bren would have figured that out, but say what you will about Jersey girls, they’re stubborn as fuck. Once an idea gets stuck in their heads, there’s very little chance of it shaking loose.
“What do you mean if we’re going to do it?” Luke glared at his cousin. “How is that even a question? We’ve talked about running the inn together since we were kids.”
Gwyn nodded in agreement. “Grams could have sold the place numerous times over the years. It’s not like there weren’t offers. She turned them all down.”
“She kept the place going for us,” Luke added. “Until we were ready to take over.”
“And you two think we’re ready now?” Brenda protested. “Seriously?”
Luke scowled. “That’s not what we’re saying. But what other choice is there?”
Brenda shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe we should look into some of these offers, see if any of them are still on the table. I mean, look around you. There’s no one here. How’re we supposed to stay in business if we don’t have any customers?”
“Of course there’s no one here right now,” Gwyn snapped. “You didn’t expect us to have Gram’s dinner here today and keep the restaurant open to the public at the same time, did you?”
“And the hotel? Did you close that too?”
Gwyn rolled her eyes. “Don’t be dense. It’s winter. No one vacations here in the winter.”
“Exactly,” Luke agreed. “They go to Florida or the Bahamas, places like that. That’s why so many businesses in town are only open for the season—or only open weekends the rest of the year.”
“We do that too, in a way, with the rental units,” Gwyn said. “Most of them are only open in the summer.”
“That’s right.” Luke nodded. “Maybe we should close the hotel in the winter as well? Or only take reservations for the weekend?”
“Oh, sure,” Gwyn glared at him. “Great idea. The staff’ll love that.”
“It won’t help anyway,” Brenda said, sounding gloomier by the minute. “I looked at the numbers, you guys. We can’t afford the upkeep if we’re only open part of the year. We need to figure out a way to bring in more customers somehow, not less.”
“The bar’s still open,” Luke pointed out, adding, “Not tonight, obviously, but in general. And we have customers who come in all year round.”
“But even that’s not pulling in enough,” Brenda told him. “Sure, the bar’s helping to keep us afloat in the off months—for now—but we’re hemorrhaging money. I don’t know how Grams made it work without going bankrupt or taking out a mortgage. But I don’t think even she could have kept it going much longer. She hadn’t drawn a salary in years. Her savings are nearly gone. If this place is going to survive—not to mention pay the three of us—we’re going to have to make some hard choices.”
“We could advertise,” Gwyn suggested. “You know, ‘spend a romantic weekend at one of Atlas Beach’s most historic hotels’ and that kind of thing? Or offer special, prix fixe dinners for some of the winter holidays like, I dunno, Valentine’s Day, for instance?”
“We could hold special events in the bar too,” Luke added. “New Year’s, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day.”
Gwyn beamed at him. “We could do dinners for all of those too. Also Christmas and maybe Groundhog’s Day and—”
“Groundhog’s Day?”
“Sure. We could make it like the movie, with a dinner dance, or auction, or whatever that was. We could even have a screening in the game room.”
“C’mon, Brenda,” Luke urged. “What do you say? Don’t you want to do this?”
“Of course I do. It’s what I went to school for, isn’t it? But with the economy the way it is and the weather we’ve had the past few years, I don’t know if it’s feasible.”
“Stop with all the defeatist bullshit,” Gwyn said. “We need you, Brenda. I can take on a larger role with running the hotel and everything, and Luke’s got the bar under control.”
“Well, mostly.” Luke shot Gwyn an apologetic look. “It could do with some repairs, new furniture, new equipment, et cetera. And don’t look at me like that, Gwyn. She’s not entirely wrong. There’s a lot that hasn’t been kept up with.”
“Which is why we need Brenda,” Gwyn agreed. “Someone has to deal with the business side of things.”
“It would be a big adjustment,” Brenda pointed out. “I’d have to quit my job and move down here from the city.”
“Oh, please,” Luke said. “You’ve been telling us for years that you miss it here, that you wish you could move back. Well, here’s your chance. And don’t even try and pretend like you wouldn’t get a nice severance package, because I know you would.”
“Think how much money you’d save on overhead,” Gwyn added, “if you were living here rather than in the city. If it doesn’t pan out, you could always go back.”
Brenda sighed. “I guess.” She eyed the others uncertainly. “So you really want to do this, huh?”
“Hell, yes, I want to do this,” Luke assured her. “I’ve always wanted my own bar, even if it is haunted.”
“Don’t be silly,” Gwyn told him. “The bar’s not haunted.”
“Of course it’s not!” Brenda agreed.
“It’s the hotel that’s haunted,” Gwyn continued. “The bar is infest—”
“Stop that,” Brenda interrupted angrily. “That’s what I started to say before. If you really want to do this, there are conditions. We have to stop with all the hocus-pocus.”
“For example?” Gwyn asked.
“Number one,” Brenda said, “the hotel is not haunted. It’s an old building, Gwyn. I know you love it. But you have to admit it’s not in the best of shape. The walls are too thin, the stairs creak, the pipes make noises, the lights flicker, it’s drafty—that’s all normal.
“And maybe you think it sounds romantic, but when you tell our guests that the hotel is haunted—”
“Which it is.”
“—you’re just calling attention to the hotel’s deficiencies.”
“What else?” Luke asked, jumping in before the girls got into it. Too much of his childhood had been spent watching the two of them fight and make up.
“Number two. There is no boggart in the bar.”
“Okay, stop,” he said, starting to get annoyed himself. “Now you’re going too far. You don’t know that for a fact.”
Brenda shook her head. “C’mon, Luke. How’s that even make sense? It’s an Irish bar; what would a mischief-making Scottish spirit even be doing there?”
Luke grinned. “Making mischief. Obviously. Besides, it’s people they attach themselves to, I think. They’re family spirits, like the bean sidhe. Who’s to say there’s no Scotch-Irish somewhere in our family mix? There’s some funny stuff goes on in that bar, Bren. I’ve seen it.”
Brenda nodded. “I’m sure there is. Do you know why people go to a bar in the first place?”
“To have a drink?” Gwyn suggested.
“Exactly. And what happens when people have a few too many drinks?”
“We make money?”
“They get clumsy. They trip over their own feet. Sometimes they fall down. They misplace things—their keys, their wallets, their phones.”
“Their clothes?” Gwyn smiled at her cousin. Brenda ignored her.
“They make stupid jokes and play stupid pranks and generally act—”
“Stupidly?” Luke supplied.
“And that’s all there is to it. There’s no supernatural troublemaker behind it. The only spirits in that bar are the ones that come in bottles.”
Gwyn gasped. “There’s a genie there now too?”
This time Brenda glared at her.
Luke sighed. “Is there a number three?”
“Yes.” Brenda pointed toward the restaurant’s dining room. “You know that odd-colored stone floor tile in the entryway?”
Luke and Gwyn exchanged a smile. “You mean the Blarney Stone?” they asked innocently.
Brenda glared. “No, I don’t mean the Blarney Stone,” she repeated mockingly. “For fuck’s sake, guys. The Blarney Stone is right where it’s always been. In Blarney Castle. It’s part of the friggin’ wall. No one chipped it out and shipped it across the ocean.”
“Okay, fine,” Gwyn said. “I’ll give you that one. I always thought that was crazy. What would the Lia Fiál be doing here?”
“The what now?” Luke asked.
“The Lia Fiál,” Gwyn repeated. “The Stone of Destiny? That’s what they used to call it.”
“Oh. Well, then that actually does make sense, doesn’t it?”
“What does?”
“That business about how if you kiss your true love while standing on the stone you’re destined to be together. Destined—get it?”
“Yes, Luke.” Gwyn rolled her eyes. “We get it. It’s still crazy.”
“Number four,” Brenda continued without waiting for the others. “There is no family curse.”
Luke and Gwyn looked at her in pained surprise. “Well, of course there isn’t,” Luke said. “You mean the ‘nothing will prosper the family Walsh in Atlas Beach until the Wild Geese return and are reunited with their loved ones’ nonsense? Yeah, that’s bullshit.”

Copyright © PG Forte
To read about the other books in the series check out my website: http://www.pgforte.com/GamesWePlay.htm
Gwyn has her hands full these days trying to help save the family business--a quirky hotel on the Jersey Shore. She has no time for romance. But when the two men with whom she once spent a drunken ménage weekend show up with a sexy proposition, how can she resist? Berke and Cam might have broken her heart seven years ago, but Gwyn is older now and wiser. She’s not looking for forever. She just wants a good time. And, after all, it is Valentine’s Day.

For Berke and Cam, the weekend isn’t just about fun, or adding some spice to their marriage; it’s about winning back the woman who got away, and convincing her to give a committed three-way relationship a shot. They each have skills that could help make the hotel a success—and they’re not above bartering to get what they want. but first they have to get past the walls Gwyn’s built to keep them out. But while Cam’s biggest concern is making sure Gwyn doesn’t break Berke’s heart a second time, Berke is worried about what Cam will think if he learns about Berke’s part in screwing things up the last time around.


Going Wild by Sydney Somers

Going Wild by Sydney Somers
A Spellbound/Sapphire Falls Story

Love at first sight, or a past they don’t remember?

More about the story!
Artist Angel Lancaster is determined to get out on her own, and away from her overprotective family and their secrets—at least for a little while. Sapphire Falls is the last place anyone would expect her to go, and the perfect spot to map out her new life. If only she knew what that was supposed to look like. The one thing it doesn’t include? Men, like smokin’ hot country boy Cade Marshall.

Cade doesn’t really believe in love at first sight…until Angel walks into his life. From the first moment he lays eyes on her vibrant smile, pink-tipped hair, and mysterious green amulet, he’s sure they’ve met before. Angel doesn’t quite see it that way, but he’s not letting that minor detail stop him from uncovering the truth behind their too-hot-to-handle connection. Angel might be hiding something, but so is Cade. It’s October in Sapphire Falls and he knows his hometown’s reputation, especially when it comes to falling in love.

More about Sydney!


Going for Brook, by Kinsey Holley

Today I'd like to welcome Kinsey Holley, my partner in crime! Aiken the hero of her story, Going for Brook plays an integral part in my book, Going Back to Find You. And my hero, Jason, does Aiken a couple of favors in return in Kinsey's book, Going For Brook. There's also a cat that we share. lol! Jaiken is the best bromance ever, yo!

He can’t live with her, he can’t leave without her.

Brook’s parents passed away four years ago. They were happy in Sapphire Falls, but because they, and Brook, were…different, they didn’t let her spend as much time with kids her age as she wanted. Grown-up Brook is enjoying the friendships she’s formed with Hope Bennett, Peyton Wells, Delaney Bennett, and others. She loves Sapphire Falls and doesn’t want to leave.

Aiken Kavanagh came to Sapphire Falls from Silicon Valley right before the car wreck that claimed Brook’s parents’ lives. Charlie Lyall was one of Aiken’s closest friends. They went back a long way—a very, very long way. Aiken promised Charlie he’d stick around Sapphire Falls until Brook was ready to leave.

Because she has to leave. She’s only got a few more years before people start asking questions she can’t answer.

More about Kinsey!


Going Haywire by Rachelle Ayala

Today's special guest is Rachelle Ayala, whose character, Honey Meyers, had an interesting encounter with my character Liz. Check out Going Haywire to read more about Liz’s encounter with Honey, and a zombie! And also, to find out what was really going on Saturday night at the bonfire!

Welcome, Rachelle!

Giving up sugar right before Halloween. Brilliant.
Going on vacation with an ex. Not so bright.

Honey and her ex-husband, Max, travel to Sapphire Falls to give their two young children the perfect Halloween treat. Max wants Honey back, and he’s counting on the magic of Sapphire Falls to seduce her into a second chance.

Honey is leery of Max and his tricks, but when he woos her with a Halloween romance complete with bonfires, hayrides, parties, and paintball, Honey warms to the idea of a new beginning.

Unfortunately, there's something off about Max that Honey can't put her finger on. When their vacation goes haywire, Honey must decide whether the treat of true love is worth all the terrible tricks life can play.


Honey Myers had never been known for making good decisions.
If she had, she wouldn’t have:
1. married and divorced Max Wolff
2. agreed to go to Sapphire Falls with her ex-husband
3. decided to give up sugar right before Halloween.
So here she was, waiting at the taxi stand at a tiny airport in the middle of Nebraska with her son, Mattie, age four, and baby daughter Sara, barely sixteen months.
Problem? The last taxi had left the stand, the other passengers were busy piling into assorted pickup trucks, jeeps, and large jalopy sedans.
“Mommy? I’m hungry,” Mattie whined.
Sara babbled, chewing on her fingers and drooling, clearly overdue for a feeding.
“Where are we?” Mattie’s voice grew more high-pitched. “Why isn’t Daddy here?”
Good question.
When ex-Max, that was her nickname for him, had suggested a fun, family-filled vacation to the annual Sapphire Falls Halloween festival, Honey had been resistant. After all, ex-Max grew up in that small town and couldn’t escape it fast enough. He’d hated it and told her a million reasons why he would never, ever set foot in that boring one cow town till his dying day.
Clearly, he wasn’t dying, or one could hope. But as ex-husband’s went, ex-Max wasn’t too bad. He paid child support, he didn’t flaunt his dates around her, if any, and he even affirmed her decisions for Mattie’s preschool. He was also a good father during the few weekends he was around.
And not being around was his major failing.
Like now.
“I’m cold and I want a hotdog.” Mattie looked up at her with the pale blue eyes he inherited from his father. “Please?”
Sara squirmed in her stroller and her face scrunched, letting out an irritated cry for food.
Honey scrambled in her bag and handed both her children juice boxes, yes, full of sugar, but being abandoned by her ex-husband at a Podunk airport called for emergency rations.
She barely felt guilty as she fumbled with her cell phone for the Uber app to find a driver. They’d had a long flight and she had to get to the Rise & Shine Bed & Breakfast and find food or risk a double toddler meltdown.
“Ma’am, I can take you where you want to go,” a deep, booming male voice said, as a man jumped out of his extended cab pickup truck.
“Are you an Uber driver?” Honey narrowed her eyes at the broad-shouldered man who’d started picking up her luggage. As country boys went, this guy wasn’t bad at all. Square jaw, pale blue eyes, and dark brown hair made him quite the package. She could easily see him on a billboard selling tractors.
“Nope, this here’s Ford country.” He hefted her suitcase into the truck bed.
“Wait, I can’t go with you if you’re not from Uber.” Honey grew up in the big city, and she wasn’t about to become another statistic.
“I’m hungry,” Mattie shared with the towering farm boy who wore bib overalls, a plaid flannel shirt and a brown corduroy jacket.
“Here, have a Tootsie pop.” The man dug two wrapped Tootsie pops from his pocket.
Honey held up her hand. “I’m afraid we can’t accept that or the ride. Please take my luggage from your truck.”
But did anyone pay attention to her? Her son took the candy and gave the man a high-five.
Her daughter squealed with delight and clapped her hands, and her suitcases were soon joined by her roller bag and Sara’s stroller.
“It’s getting dark,” the man said, helping her into the cab. “Max said I’d find you here. He’s already at the Rise & Shine waiting for you.”
Which was why he was the ex-husband and she was going to need a lot of chocolate to get her through this haunted Halloween weekend. Except she couldn’t have chocolate—at least the kind with sugar in it.
“I’m Troy Caine, Max’s best buddy growing up.” The man introduced himself after making sure both Sara and Mattie were strapped into their car seats.
If it hadn’t been for the kindness of strangers, Honey wouldn’t have even made it to the taxi stand with luggage, children, and all their paraphernalia. But then, this trip had been the first time Max was able to leave his investment banking job for four days straight, and he wanted the kids to enjoy a small town Halloween.
Honey, too, had always been curious about Max’s love-hate relationship with Sapphire Falls, so when he'd mentioned an all-expense paid trip to his hometown, she’d jumped at the chance—right after she’d bet her sister, Candi, that she could kick her sugar habit, cold turkey.
“Well, thanks for picking us up.” Honey remembered her manners. “How far is it to Sapphire Falls?”
“About thirty minutes.” Troy steered the pickup onto the interstate.
They drove by miles and miles of empty fields with grain silos sticking like sentinels every so often. The sky was a cloudy gray and the landscape was flat.
“Is there really a waterfall in Sapphire Falls?” Honey imagined a trickling spray of bright blue water.
“No actual waterfall, but we do have an awesome river.”
“That’s not the same thing. How can you get away with the name Falls in a town without an actual waterfall?”
Troy snickered and rubbed his nose. “That’s because it’s not water that’s falling at Sapphire Falls.”
“Come again?” Honey noticed the sign on the turn off for Sapphire Falls, population 1221. Someone had put a line through the 1221 and painted 1388.
“It’s people.” He slowed down as the road narrowed. “They come and fall in love, and they never leave.”
He ended that sentence with a wicked laugh.

Read the rest of the chapter HERE

About Rachelle:

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She writes from sweet to steamy and believes that everyone should find love as often as possible, even if it's within the pages of a book. Rachelle is working on a sweet series of romances with pets and firemen, Have a Hart Romances, and one full of bad boys, Bad Boys for Hire. She also writes sports romances in both football and baseball, as well as many holiday romances, both sweet and spicy. She has won the 2015 and 2016 Readers Favorite Gold Award and the 2015 Angie Ovation Award.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/RachAyala
Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/rachelleayala
Website: http://rachelleayala.me

We're Going to Make It by PJ Fiala

Today I'd like to welcome author PJ Fiala to my blog. My character, Liz, from Going Back to Find You, appears in PJ's book We're Going to Make It. PJ's characters Viv and Sage were some of Liz’s first customers, and she remains very grateful for their patronage. Thanks again, PJ and welcome!

A special thank you to Pg for allowing me to hop on her blog today and a warm welcome and thank you to all of her readers for stopping by.

Working on this story was a journey for me.  First of all I am excited to be included with all of these wonderful ladies.  Secondly, I love Sapphire Falls.  But, I had the added stressor of creating new characters to me, who will also spin off on their own journey in a new series for me titled the Bluegrass Security Series.  So, there were many elements to work around and with.  I found myself stressed out at times and then so excited at others that I couldn't type fast enough.  I hope you all enjoy my story of Sage and Levi and their escapades.  Oh, and how about a little excerpt?


In the security business things can happen fast – the same is true in the business of love.

Levi Jacobson spent 25 years serving his country in the Army. After his fiancée and the love of his life sent him a Dear John letter telling him she was marrying his best friend, he dug into his career with a vengeance, marching up the ranks to Major, right after vowing to stay away from women. Now retired from the military, and managing his security firm in Sapphire Falls, he can finally spend his days as he wants, earn a bit of money and enjoy small town life.

Sage Reynolds joined the Army at 18 to escape her small hometown and finally live her life as the woman she was – a tomboy. She excelled in everything Army; shooting, interrogation and surveillance. When her father became sick, she found herself back home in the small town she’d left as a teenager. A year later, her father gone, she needs a job and preferably in the big city. Overdue bills and no prospects force her to accept a job in Sapphire Falls for a man who is sexist, obnoxious and terribly attractive.

Levi and Sage need each other, at least as far as business is concerned. But, what about personally?


Standing in front of the door to LJS, Sage took a deep breath. She needed this job; she had to keep reminding herself of this fact. Once it was over, she could head south and open her own security firm and walk her own path. Opening and closing her fists she dipped her head and continued.
She opened the door and stepped into the office. The atmosphere was…non-existent.  Pale green walls, two metal desks from the fifties strewn with papers and empty coffee cups sat to the left of the front door. To the right was a little rolling cart with a coffee maker, sugar and creamer, both of which had been spilled and not wiped up, and a stack of Styrofoam cups. The wooden coat rack screwed to the wall next to the door was graced with one coat and three empty brass hooks. Her stomach dropped. Living in Army barracks over the years, the one thing drilled into her head was neat and tidy. Orderly. Unplanned inspections kept her on her toes.
A creak sounded, and she turned to see the man from the diner sitting behind one of the desks, his soft brown eyes sizing her up. She watched as his eyes traveled the length of her body, not in an overtly sexual way, just an assessment. Probably trying to determine if she was armed. She smirked when she saw the recognition register on his face. She stepped forward and held out her hand.
“Sage Reynolds reporting for duty. I assume you’re Levi Jacobson.”
His brows raised into his hairline, his jaw tensed, and his back turned rigid. “Is this some sort of joke?” His voice was deep, edgy, and tinged with unhappy.
“Excuse me? Joke?” She tried keeping the edge from her voice but wasn’t all that successful by the look on his face.
He stood, and instead of taking her hand, placed his on his hips. “I hired a man named Sage Reynolds to work security here with me.”
The snark tinted her voice. “You hired me—Sage Reynolds. We never discussed my gender. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter. I’m trained, dependable, reliable, and ready to work with you. For two weeks, that is.”
He took a deep breath, seemingly to keep his irritation in check. “I don’t think this is a job for a woman. I hired a security specialist. A black belt in Jujitsu. An expert in surveillance.”
She placed her hands on her hips and dug her fingers in to keep herself in check. She needed a job and a paycheck. “Maybe not any woman. But then again, I’m not like most women. I’m your security, Jujitsu black belt, and surveillance specialist.” Her heart hammered. Sexist. Figured.
The door opened, and a cool blast of air circled the room and turned up the corners of the papers sitting on Levi’s desk. A large man breezed into the room. That is, he breezed as much as a man his size could breeze. He was six-foot-four, broad as a refrigerator, and weighed about 320 pounds. He had sparkling blue eyes and blond hair in need of a trim, but he had a face that looked…happy.
He skirted around Sage and stopped at the coffee maker. Pouring a cup, he laced it with sugar and turned toward her. He glanced down to her Army boots and then back up to her eyes. A big smile creased his face as he held out his hand. “Chuck.”
She turned to face him head on, glanced at his offered hand and placed hers in it. She squeezed as she shook his hand. A firm handshake is the best introduction you can give someone, her father would say. “Sage.”
Chuck’s eyes grew big and round. With disbelief in his voice, he said, “You’re the new guy?” He turned his gaze to the man behind the desk.
“She’s not working here,” he clipped.
“You hired me to do a job, yet you’re firing me because I’m a woman? I’d say you’re a sexist and about ready to be served with a lawsuit.”

Thanks again and welcome to Sapphire Falls!

About the Author

I am a wife of thirty years, a mother of four grown children and the grandmother of four lovely grandchildren. When not writing a new story, I can be found riding my motorcycle and exploring this fabulous country of ours. My writing revolves around people anyone would love to spend time with. No self-absorbed billionaires for me.

Earning my Bachelor's Degree later in life fulfilled a dream for me. Then, I found the courage to write and I haven't looked back. I have several published books and continue to write daily. I have served as the VP of Communications for WisRWA and devote a large amount of my time helping other authors slog their way through this thing called publishing. 

I come from a family of veterans.  My grandfather, father, brother, two of my sons, and one daughter-in-law are all veterans.  Needless to say, I am proud to be an American and proud of the service my amazing family has given.

I love to hear from fans, so look me up and touch base.

PJ Fiala
We live in the land of the free, because of the brave.


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