Sunday, September 27, 2020

New Release Day: Here For You from Sourcebooks Casablanca


Here for You

by Pat Simmons

Publication Date: 9/1/2020


Emotional, poignant women’s fiction from acclaimed inspirational romance author Pat Simmons featuring a hero and heroine who are better at taking care of other people than themselves, a dark moment that shakes their faith, and a profoundly satisfying happy ending.


Caregivers sometimes need a little TLC too.


Rachel Knicely’s life has been on hold for six months while she takes care of her great aunt, who has Alzheimer’s. Putting her aunt first was an easy decision—accepting that Aunt Tweet is nearing the end of her battle is far more difficult.


Nicholas Adams’s ministry is bringing comfort to those who are sick and homebound. He responds to a request for help for an ailing woman but when he meets the Knicelys, he realizes Rachel is the one who needs support the most. Nicholas is charmed by and attracted to Rachel, but then devastating news brings both a crisis of faith and roadblocks to their budding relationship that neither could have anticipated.

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With Aunt Tweet gone, there would be no more ministerial visits. It was up to Rachel to do her own soul-searching, and she needed inspiration now more than ever to ease the hurt of her wounded spirit.

She continued her stroll down one aisle of the parking lot, inhaling the unseasonably warm April air and gaining strength from the sunshine. Although her mind was drifting as she recalled happy times with her aunt, she heard footsteps behind her.

“Rachel.” The voice was unmistakable. Had she conjured him up? A breeze brought a whiff of a familiar cologne to confirm Nicholas was nearby.

She shaded her eyes from the sunlight with her hands until he stood

within a few feet of her. She had never seen him dressed up before, and he was handsome beyond measure in a suit and tie. He looked serious until he caught her staring again, and he smiled.

“I saw you step out. I wanted to check on you. Are you okay?” He frowned.

“Will I ever be?” she said more to herself. “I was hoping no one saw me,” she said, “especially Jacqui.”

“Yes, you will, and I did.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “I’m flying out in a few hours, but I would like to pray with you before I go.” Why did his words seem to lighten her burdens? “Thanks for coming here.” Rachel’s eyes watered, but she got a handle on her emotions. “I didn’t realize ministers attended the funerals, especially those who are out of town.”
“I wanted to be here for you. The location didn’t matter.”
“Thank you, Minister Adams.”
“Always Nicholas to you. I don’t need the title to do God’s work.”

His words were kind and thoughtful.
“Okay.” She studied him, really looked at him. Was there a special lady in his life waiting for him to propose? If so, the woman had a keeper, Rachel thought as he watched her.

Nicholas blinked first, then cleared his throat. “I called a couple of times to check up on you. Did you get my messages?”

Rachel shrugged. “Jacqui has been checking messages, answering emails, and stuff. I’m sorry.” She bowed her head, embarrassed.

“Hey.” That low voice of his gently commanded her to look at him. “I’m available to listen about anything whenever you want to talk.”

He reached for her hands. His fingers were coarse but gentle. “Father, in the name of Jesus, let Rachel feel Your presence from this day forward. Comfort her when she’s lonely, and when she’s weak, give her strength. And let the memories of her aunt give her joy...”

His words were like a balm to her spirit. Rachel whispered, “Amen,” with him when he finished. “Thank you.”

“Anytime. Take time to heal emotionally and mentally. There’s no expiration date for the process, and remember what I said—if you call me, I’ll listen.” He frowned, and his stare was intense. “I mean that, Rachel,” he said and squeezed her hand.

Although the gesture was comforting, Rachel yearned for a hug, one of those cocoon-type embraces where she could close her eyes and sigh as she snuggled. But she had no one to offer her that.

When he released his hold, his eyes seemed to dance with amusement as he glanced down at her feet. “Oh, and I wouldn’t walk too far in those heels. My feet hurt even thinking about it.” He shivered, then chuckled before he swaggered away.

“A man with a sense of humor.” Mirth stirred in her belly until a chuckle escaped her lips. He actually had made her laugh.

Later that night, back at Tabitha and Marcus’s house in her old neighborhood, the sisters’ heels, dresses, and makeup came off. They lounged in the family room in their flannel pj’s, reminiscing about Aunt Tweet and the sizeable inheritance she had left them.

Marcus entered the room. “Came to check on you ladies and give my wife this.” He leaned over the sofa and brushed a kiss against Tabitha’s lips.

Rachel’s heart fluttered; she longed for that type of deep-rooted affection. The couple was a perfect match for each other. He had been Tabitha’s rock when she needed it. Aunt Tweet had been a handful while she stayed with Tabitha, but Marcus had somehow wormed his way into their lives and charmed her aunt and Tabitha too.

“Okay, I came for what I needed. Carry on.” He grinned and ducked to escape the pillow Tabitha aimed at her new hubby’s head.

When Tabitha faced her sisters, Rachel and Kym were smiling.

“You’ve definitely got you a winner, Sis,” Kym said and sighed. “Honestly, I thought Rachel would beat us to the altar.”

“Me too,” Tabitha agreed, “but I have no regrets about being first. Aunt Tweet harped on having no regrets, and I have none being Mrs. Marcus Whittington.”

“I don’t know why you thought I would get hitched first.” Rachel shook her head.

Kym gave her a surprised look. “Because you draw men like a car

show—from your sultry voice to your calculated catwalk to your form- fitting fashions. You, dear baby sister, have men wrapped around your manicured finger.”

“I think that was wishful thinking, but you don’t see any standing in line with a ring, do you?” Rachel challenged them.

“Nicholas Adams might be a prospect. Marcus likes him, and he did make a special trip to be by your side during our sorrow.” Tabitha nodded. “And that man is downright good-looking.”

“Nope.” Kym shook her head. “He’s hot—sizzling,” she teased. “He’s a minister. That’s what he does—prays and is there for people.” “I think you need to rethink that, because I would give that darker

version of actor Daniel Supta a second look.”
“It’s Sunjata who played on Graceland, and both men are unmistakably handsome. I figured ministers are attracted to women of God like missionaries or evangelists, and as my two sisters have pointed out, I may have other men wrapped tight, but Nicholas—I mean—Minister Adams’s focus is on God’s work.”

“If you say so,” Kym said and eyed Tabitha. “You may be part of his work in progress in a personal way.”

Nicholas wasn’t interested in her in that way. He hadn’t asked for a date or dinner but offered her prayer, which, surprisingly, Rachel couldn’t get enough of, as if she were dying of thirst and hearing it quenched it.


Excerpted from Here for You by Pat Simmons. © 2020 by Pat Simmons. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.


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About the Author

PAT SIMMONS is the author of more than thirty-five inspirational romances. She has worked in various positions in radio, television, and print media for more than twenty years. For fourteen years, she oversaw the media publicity for the RT Booklovers Convention. She lives with her husband in Florissant, Missouri.


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Saturday, September 26, 2020

New Release Day from Sourcebooks Casablanca: Never Let Me Go


Never Let Me Go

by Kianna Alexander

Publication Date: 9/1/2020


Tender, emotional contemporary romance—you’ll fall in love with this band-of-brothers and the strong women they’re determined to win.


Architect Maxwell Devers is laser-focused on winning the contract to build a new cultural arts center—his biggest project yet. But as a single dad of a beautiful baby girl, he has to find some help if he’s going to stay on track.


Yvonne Markham is thrilled to get her first nanny assignment. She knows the high-paying job will speed her progress toward owning a child care center of her own. Maxwell’s daughter is a delight, and she quickly comes to love the bouncing baby girl. Falling for her handsome new boss, however, was not part of the plan…


Hang on to your heartstrings: This multicultural romance features a single father, a sweet baby daughter, and the nanny who falls in love with them both.

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Yvonne clutched her black leather purse tightly, the straps crushed between her fists as she crossed the parking lot toward Devers Architectural. The conversation she’d had at the Wittenmyer office with Mrs. Cross thirty minutes prior was still playing in her head.


“You’re in luck, Ms. Markham,” Mrs. Cross had said. “You’ve been with us for a very short time, and we already have an assignment for you. I’ll need you to be at this address within the hour.”


After that, her boss had gone on to give a vague description of the job. A father had requested someone of the highest skill to care for his baby girl, and the client had offered a generous bonus to get someone over right away. Yvonne’s jaw had dropped when she heard the salary, but she’d quickly shut it. Wittenmyer was the top agency in town, and she didn’t want to look like a poor country urchin in front of Mrs. Cross or the two coworkers also in the office.


Now, as she approached the beautiful, contemporary building, she wondered why she was meeting the client here instead of at his home. She pushed the thought away, knowing she’d find out the answer soon enough. For a fifteen-hundred-dollar bonus, we could’ve met wherever he liked.


Entering the building, she stopped at the reception desk.


The petite redhead there greeted her right away. “Welcome to Devers Architectural. I’m Mary Alice. Can I help you, miss?”


Feeling her hand begin to cramp, Yvonne finally loosened her grip on the purse straps. “Hello. My name is Yvonne Markham…”


Mary Alice stood. “Oh, from the agency. Just go down the hallway to your right. Carson will be waiting for you.”


“Thank you.” Yvonne turned and went in the direction she’d indicated, taking in the soft-hued decor, wood paneling, and modern art. The place was immaculately decorated, but then she supposed she should expect no less from an architect.


At the end of the corridor, a rather nervous-looking young man with brown hair and blue eyes stood, tapping his foot. When she approached, he asked, “Are you Yvonne?”


She nodded. “I am. Are you Mr. Devers?”


The tapping stopped, and he seemed less agitated now. “No. I’m his intern, Carson. I’ll escort you in. He’s waiting for you.”


Carson turned and opened the heavy wooden door behind him, gesturing for her to enter.


Yvonne entered the room with Carson close behind her. It was a small office, and by Carson’s quick steps, it appeared they were only passing through. They came to another door, this one made of the same wood but with an intricate monogram, MD, carved into it.


Carson knocked.


“Come in,” called a deep voice from within.


Carson opened the door and stepped away. “Go in, please.”


Yvonne took three cautious steps into the room. This inner office was much darker than the outer one, and looking around, she could see most of the window blinds were shut.


Except for one window, where a man stood, looking out. His back was to her, but she could see his shape clearly. His frame, tall and broad-shouldered, seemed imposing despite the size of the room. Without being able to see his face, she couldn’t gauge his mood. The dimness of the room didn’t exactly make her feel  welcome. This was her first encounter with her very first client, and she didn’t want to do or say anything that

might offend him. She stood by the door, waiting for him to speak.


After a moment or two of silence, he spoke. “Come in, Ms. Markham. Have a seat.”


She eased to the chair by his large, oddly shaped desk and sat down, placing her purse in her lap.


He turned then, and her eyes widened at the sight of the sleeping baby in his arms. Sure, it was the first  meeting, and she didn’t know exactly what being an architect entailed. Still, she doubted bringing a baby to work was standard practice for professionals in the field. I suppose that’s why I’m here.


He moved away from the window, circling the room and opening the vertical blinds, all while carefully balancing his slumbering child. As the light began to fill the space, it became far more inviting. Once all the windows were adjusted, he came to stand behind the desk.


As she looked at his face for the first time, a prickling sensation went down her spine. The afternoon sun streaming into the room let her see his smooth, caramel-skinned handsomeness, and she thanked the heavens for the good weather. He had a strong jaw, piercing brown eyes flecked with green, and the most kissable lips she’d ever seen. His suit, a rich shade of royal blue, had obviously been tailored with care to fit his tall, muscular frame. She knew she should say something, but staring at him seemed to be all she could manage.



Excerpted from Never Let Me Go by Kianna Alexander. © 2020 by Kianna Alexander. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.



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About the Author

Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She's a voracious reader, history nerd and craft fanatic. A native of the TarHeel state, Kianna lives with her husband, two kids, and a collection of vintage 80's Barbie dolls in Raleigh, NC.


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Friday, September 25, 2020

New Release from Sourcebooks Casablanca: A Tail for Two


A Tail for Two

by Mara Wells

Publication Date: 9/29/2020


All paws on deck!


Carrie Burns has a successful business, a young son, Oliver, and an energetic Jack Russell terrier. She doesn’t have time in her busy schedule for her ex-husband and his talk of working together again. But when she runs into Lance in the dog park, their lives are turned upside down.


Lance Donovan wants to promote his fledgling construction company by helping his brother Caleb with a big condo conversion. Lance even knows the perfect interior designer to make this project a success—his ex-wife, Carrie. But after a fateful meeting at the dog park, Lance finds himself not only petsitting both his brother’s dog and the beloved Jack Russell terrier he had to leave behind in the divorce, but babysitting a young son he never knew he had while his ex-wife tries to get back into dating. How did life get this crazy?


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Carrie called the elevator, nerves stretched so tight she thought she could hear them twang as she walked. That had been close, too close, and now here she was owing Lance for saving the day, for charming Kristin into extra time, for getting her business back on track. She felt unsettled by the whole thing, from her panicked call to him to his casual acceptance of the job. The Lance she knew wouldn’t have been so calm, would’ve argued about Kristin’s timeline and threatened her with all the things that could go wrong if the job was rushed. When had he learned to schmooze a client like that? When had he traded his anger for charm? For all that she’d lived with the man for five years, she found herself staring at him like she’d never seen him before.

“Come by the Dorothy tomorrow.” Lance followed her into the elevator, unaware she was silently freaking out. “You could bring Oliver.”

That snapped her right back into the moment. “To an active construction site?”

“Right, bad idea. I heard it as soon as it left my mouth.” He smiled ruefully, a familiar expression that made him her Lance again.

“You take lunch breaks?”

He leaned broad shoulders against the back wall. “Yeah, most days.”

“You can have lunch with us.” She busied herself looking for something in her purse. Keys? Sure, it didn’t matter. She just couldn’t look at him. “If you want.”

Lance waited until she looked up, and his eyes locked with hers. “Oh, I want.”

Carrie stilled. Caught. Because she wanted, too. She watched him watch her, sure that want on his face was reflected on hers. He’d always read her so easily. It was one of the things she loved about being with him, how completely she felt seen. Understood. Only now she wished he wasn’t quite so perceptive.

He took a step toward her. She took a step back and another until she was pressed against the elevator doors. He followed, stopping when he was close enough that the heat of his body radiated through the thin T-shirt, warming her. Melting her resistance, one particle at a time. She grasped the strap of her bag tightly with both hands. She would not reach for him.

“You want me, too.” It wasn’t a question, but her head bobbed in agreement. His eyes flared at the movement, pupils darkening, widening. He leaned toward her. She wobbled on her heels, knees suddenly too weak to support her. Lance shot out a hand and steadied her, using his grip to pull her closer.

He lowered his head. He was going to kiss her. She knew it, knew she should do something to stop it. Nothing good could come of kissing Lance. But he’d come and helped when she called, hadn’t stayed angry at her about Oliver. And he smelled so good, a citrusy soap and that something in the air that was simply Lance. Her Lance.

“Yes,” she said even though he hadn’t asked a question, and his lips crashed down on hers.

It was fierce, their first kiss since Oliver was conceived, like the years apart had left them both starving. She was starving. She let go of her bag’s strap and fisted handfuls of T-shirt, hauling him closer until her breasts pressed into his chest. She moaned at the pressure. He changed the angle of their kiss, going deeper, harder. She couldn’t breathe and didn’t care. He was all the air she needed. God, she’d missed him. Missed this, the very us of them together.

The door dinged and opened, bringing fresh air against her back. She gasped and pulled away, stepping backward and over the threshold, wiping her palms down the front of her chocolate skirt. What a mistake. What a colossal mistake. She should say that out loud, tell him to forget it happened. She opened her mouth, but one look from his smoldering eyes silenced her. Instead, she turned and fled. She was pretty sure he’d get the message. Lance Donovan was not something she could have, and her raging hormones would simply have to calm down and get over it.

He followed her to her Blazer and leaned in the window once she’d pulled on her seat belt. “See you tomorrow?”

Oh God, tomorrow. She swallowed. “Yeah.”

He tapped the top of her car. “Sleep well.”

“I always do,” she lied. Then she lied to herself all the way home about how letting Lance back into her life was only for Oliver’s sake. And Beckham, of course. Yeah, it was all for them. She would put the kiss out of her mind. Old habits and all that. She was sure it meant as little to Lance as it had to her. If she never mentioned the kiss again, she doubted he’d even bring it up. It was better this way, really. She repeated that in her head until it started to sound true.


Excerpted from A Tail for Two by Mara Wells. © 2020 by Mara Wells. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.


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About the Author

Mara Wells loves stories, but especially stories with kissing. She works in academe, and lives with her family and two rescue dogs—a poodle-mix named Houdini Beauregarde and Sheba Reba Rita Peanut, a chihuahua-mix in Hollywood, Florida.


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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Pre-Order Blitz: Blood Shadows by Robbie Cox


Blood Shadows by Robbie Cox releases on September 24th!


A steamy paranormal romance with a guaranteed HEA.


Add to your TBR:


𝐏𝐫𝐞-𝐎𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐍𝐨𝐰 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝟗𝟗¢ (*𝘓𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦):


*𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘚𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝟸𝟾𝘵𝘩


Blood Shadows Blurb:


The past has returned. So have the nightmares.


Miles Lysander struggled for decades to put the past behind him and recapture the serenity he experienced before the Korean Conflict. With the help of Deana Abbington, he is almost there. However, a stranger has appeared in Black Hollow, bringing back memories of time Miles would prefer to forget.


Seeing her grandfather on her doorstep excited Deana Abbington, and she couldn’t wait to show him around town. However, a run-in with her grandfather’s past, brings the visit to a quick boil, and Deana is put between one of the people in her Struggling Paranormals Anonymous group and the man she strove to be like her entire life.


Can the present survive the collision with the past? One-Click Blood Shadows now as worlds collide and nightmares walk the streets during the day.


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Cover Design by Brandon at B Creative Designs -



Welcome author N.J. Walters


Top Five Reasons to Love Autumn


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, I know that comes from a Christmas song but, for me, that time of year is autumn. Even more than New Year’s Day, I find it a time of new beginnings. Maybe that’s a throwback to childhood and starting school in September. Whatever the reason, I love autumn, and here’s five reasons why.



  1. The colors! The summer flowers and blue skies are gorgeous, but nothing holds a candle to the vibrant hues of fall. The red, orange, gold, and yellows are spectacular as the leaves turn.


  1. And after the leaves turn, they drop to the ground, turning it into a scrunchy carpet that is impossible to resist. I love going on walks in the fall and kicking and scrunching through the leaves. What can I say? I’m a big kid at heart. Last year, I went out Halloween morning to catch the bus. It was still dark, the moon visible in the sky and the sidewalks covered in leaves. Absolute perfection.


  1. Halloween. It has it all—movies, music, pumpkins, costumes, and candy. What’s not to love? I enjoy watching the seasonal movies—not the slasher ones, though. Dracula Untold, The Crow, Lost Boys, Sleepy Hollow, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Underworld, and Ghostbusters are my kind of Halloween movies. Then there’s the music—Thriller, Ghostbusters, Love Song for a Vampire, Werewolves of London, and so many more. Fun or scary, there’s something for everyone.


  1. Pumpkins. I love pumpkins. I’m in awe of the creativity of some people when it comes to carving them. I mostly stick to the basics, but I have done a couple simple patterns.


  1. Hot chocolate! I know this is the time of year for pumpkin spice everything—muffins, lattes, cookies, room fresheners, and more. You name it, they probably have it in pumpkin spice. Me, I’m a big fan of hot chocolate. And when the days cool down, I can finally justify having the occasional one with mounds of whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Yum!


If that’s not enough to make you love autumn, the cooler nights and shorter days make it the perfect time to curl up on the end of the sofa with a cup of tea or glass of wine and read a good book. It’s one of life’s great pleasures.


And if you’re looking for a new book, you might check out the latest release in my Forgotten Brotherhood series.



Burning Ash

Forgotten Brotherhood, Book 3

(Paranormal Romance)


No one is more surprised than Asher, one of the oldest vampires on Earth, that he's attracted to vamp hunter Jo Radcliffe. She's smart, a talented slayer, and she's gorgeous. Something about her pulls at him, like no one ever has before. For a man, whose name strikes fear in everyone––this is something new and intriguing. And quite possibly deadly, if she discovers his secret.

Jo has two things in common with the handsome Asher––they are both slayers and someone is messing with them in a very-much-trying-to-kill-them way. She's not so happy about joining forces with a dude she doesn't know. But he's sexy as hell and really good at his job as one of the Forgotten Brotherhood, whose business it is to execute misbehaving paranormals.

She knows she's bait in a larger plot to harm Asher and the Brotherhood. And there is nothing he won't do, no line he won't cross, to keep her safe––which may be the weakness that destroys them both.







“Who the hell are you?” she demanded of the tall, lean man who was still mostly in the shadows. Whoever he was, he was dangerous, maybe even more so than the creature she’d just beheaded. He’d come out of nowhere and snatched the crossbow bolt out of the air like it hadn’t even been moving.


A shiver raced down her spine.


Dressed all in black, he blended with the dark. She hadn’t known he was there until he’d deliberately come forward. And she always had total situational awareness. It was a matter of survival.


Her profession had a very high mortality rate.


A nudge of his foot sent the vampire’s head rolling back toward the body. The undead would need to be burned if he didn’t start disintegrating soon, but she was keeping her distance from the man in black.


“Asher.” He gave her a half bow. “And you are?”


A quick shake of her head. “You don’t need to know.”


“That hardly seems fair considering I saved your life.”


“It didn’t need saving,” she asserted. “I’d already moved.”


“True,” Asher conceded. “You’re fast, but I didn’t know that. I should get points for the attempt.” He sauntered out of the dark and fully into the candlelight. The flames flickered over his face, exposing a strong jaw, straight nose, and high forehead. His blond hair was pulled back in a short tail at his nape. His skin was olive-toned or tanned, hard to say. Piercing brown eyes stared at her.


Good looking was much to tame. Handsome didn’t fit either. There was something dangerous and predatory lurking beneath the surface. Primal. Compelling. Yeah, that was it.


It was time for her to leave.


 About the author:

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

New September Release from Sourcebooks Casablanca: Beyond Power


Beyond Power
by Connie Mann
Publication Date: 9/1/2020

If you dare venture beyond Disney’s magic and Miami’s high-rises, you’ll find yourself in Florida’s untamed wilderness…

When your heart’s involved…
A bush pilot and officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Josh Tanner is one of the tough cops needed to manage the rugged areas of Florida. And the minute he finds Delilah Atwood deep in the woods without a good explanation, he knows something is very wrong…

All the stakes are raised…
Delilah barely escaped her ultra-fundamental militia family years ago. Now she’s back to save her sixteen-year-old sister, and no government man is going to stop her. Josh isn’t going to stand by and watch Delilah risk her life, but unless he can get her to trust him, she may end up being the militia’s next victim.

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I think I’m nearby. Shine a flashlight, call my name, I’ll find you.


Josh’s text sent a surge of relief through Delilah, and she sagged against the tree, eyes closed. “Oh thank God.” Seconds later, panic hit. Worried he would give up and leave before he found her, she scrambled to her feet, wincing as she accidentally put weight on her left foot. One hand braced against the tree trunk, she shouted his name, waving her flashlight over her head like a shipwreck survivor who’d finally spotted a Coast Guard vessel.

When he raced into the clearing, Delilah launched herself into his arms. He stumbled back a few steps before he caught his balance, wrapping her tightly in his arms, murmuring, “I’ve got you. I’ve got you.”

She pulled back to see his face, and suddenly, her lips met his—or his met hers, she couldn’t tell which—and they were kissing with the kind of desperation reserved for real shipwreck survivors. The kiss went on and on, sensations rushing over her faster than she could sort them out. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer still, nuzzling his neck, sighing as he murmured in her hair and placed soft kisses along her jaw. His grip shifted, and she realized her legs were wrapped around his waist after she’d climbed him like a tree. His hands cupped her bottom, and when she crossed her ankles to get closer still, she winced in pain.

The moment shattered, and he slowly pulled back. She blinked, dazed and not at all sure she wanted the kiss to end. His eyes said he felt the same, but even so, reason had reasserted itself. He brushed her lips once more, then steadied her as she unwrapped her legs and lowered them to the ground. She winced again when her injured ankle touched down. His grip on her waist tightened. “Easy. Go slow.”

With infinite care, he maneuvered her down against the tree, then crouched beside her. He ran his flashlight over her with crisp efficiency before he set it off to the side so it wouldn’t blind them. His touch was gentle as he tipped her head up so he could see her face. “Are you okay? Which ankle?”

She met his concerned gaze. “Left one. And I’m fine. Nothing much injured except my pride.” She couldn’t believe she’d launched herself at him. “Sorry I, ah, overreacted.”

One side of his mouth curved upward. “The forest can be unsettling at night.” Then his grin widened. “But feel free to overreact anytime you want.”

They grinned at each other like idiots for a minute before she remembered she had to keep her distance. But dang, the man could kiss. He removed her boot, and the sharp pain jerked her back to the present. He ran his big hands from her calf all the way to her toes, then carefully rotated her ankle, and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. When he was done, he gently slid her foot back into the boot, tucking the laces inside rather than tying them, since it was already starting to swell.

“The good news is I don’t think it’s broken.” He sent her the lopsided smile that turned her insides to mush. “The bad news is that I don’t think you’re going to be able to walk on it.”

“How far away is your truck?” she asked.

“Not too far if you have two good legs.” He stood and held out his hands to help her to her feet. The moment she was upright, he pulled her into his arms and wrapped her securely against his hard chest again. “I’m so glad you weren’t hurt worse.”

He kissed her again, gently this time, and Delilah slid into the kiss like a warm bath. She absorbed the strength of his arms around her and the beat of his heart thundering against her chest, feeling cherished and protected in a way she never had before. Slowly, reluctantly, she pulled back, and their eyes met and held, awareness buzzing between them like an electrical current. The heat in his eyes sent a low hum through her body. It buzzed through her a split second before he slapped at a mosquito on her cheek. She yelped in surprise, and he grinned. “Sorry. Bloodthirsty little buggers. Let’s get out of here.”

Keeping one of her hands in his, he turned his back and crouched. “Climb on. I’ll carry you back to my truck.”

Delilah was shaking her head no before he finished speaking. “You can’t carry me. I’m way too heavy.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Are you doubting my manly strength?”

The absurdity surprised a laugh out of her. “I would never doubt your manly strength, Officer Tanner.”

“Then climb on, and let’s get out of here already.” He crouched lower. “And stop calling me Officer Tanner.”

Since she didn’t have much choice at this point, Delilah gingerly climbed on. He scooped her up, piggyback style, and set off into the forest. He spun her around a few times as he walked, singing an off-key version of the seven dwarves song. “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s through the woods we go,” then he whistled the rest, making up words here and there.

Delilah laughed and attempted, badly, to sing along, appreciating his attempt to distract her from her throbbing ankle. She took her cue from him and decided to enjoy the ride, the feel of her arms wrapped around his neck, his rock-hard arms supporting her as he strolled through the forest as though she weighed nothing. She was used to thinking her way through life, but with Josh, she was learning to simply enjoy the moment.




Excerpted from Beyond Power by Connie Mann. © 2020 by Connie Mann. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.



About the Author

CONNIE MANN is a licensed boat captain. When she’s not dreaming up plotlines, you’ll find “Captain Connie” on the waterways, introducing boatloads of schoolchildren to their first alligator. She and her husband live in central Florida just a stone’s throw from Ocala National Forest.


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