Thursday, December 2, 2021

Discover Bite Me For Christmas and Enter the Giveaway today!

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Megan Slayer will be awarding a prize pack featuring a necklace made by the author to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

He came to her in a dream, but he’s more like a nightmare in tight jeans, and she wants a taste.

Rachael isn’t good at magic, and she’s not versed in life, but this witch wants to lay her hands on the sexy vampire who’s come to her in her dreams. Can she have her Christmas wish -- the vampire?

Gavin wants the witch, but he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of her. Part of him wants to devour her magic and save himself, but what if being saved doesn’t involve dying?

Anything is possible with a little Christmas magic.

Read an Excerpt

©Megan Slayer, 2021, All Rights Reserved

Rachael admired the twinkle lights she’d strung around the kitchen. Somewhere people were enjoying themselves. They might even be making love under the Christmas tree. She’d like to try that -- sex in front of the tree.

Instead, she’d pulled the chore of kitchen clean-up. She always pulled that chore and the rest, too.

She draped the washcloth over the faucet and surveyed the room. Everything appeared to be back in place.

When she peeked into the living room, Serena and Millie were deep in another round of cards. The last Rachael knew, they were playing hearts. Rachael tiptoed out to the back porch to admire the snow. The cauldron bubbled with some batch of potions. She had no idea what her sisters made, only that she had to clean out the pot when they finished. The tangy smell filled the enclosed space and made her dizzy.

She crinkled her nose. If she knew how, she’d change the scent to something nutmeg-y or pine -- anything but the overwhelming aroma.

Something flashed among the white snow. She folded her arms and stepped up to the screened-in windows. Maybe the flash was the play of firelight on the snow.

The snow glittered and mesmerized her as it fell -- that had to be it. The flash was falling snow.

She hummed the tune of a Christmas carol and fought back tears. Christmas shouldn’t be this depressing, but she couldn’t help herself. She tried to make the day bright, but Christmas Eve would forever be the day her parents died and her world turned upside down. The loss turned her sisters bitter, too. The official account said nothing about her being at fault, but her sisters swore she’d created the fog, which caused the collision.

She wished she knew the truth.

One day, she wanted to know, but she also wanted to replace the sad memories with good ones. She’d never forget her parents, but she needed to move forward with her life.


The flash returned, but this time, a man appeared among the snow.

Her blood sizzled, and she gasped. She knew this man.

Her vampire.

“Gavin,” she whispered. “You’re here.”

“You did ask for me for Christmas.” He moved across the snow and stood in the doorway to the porch. “Said you wanted a vampire for Christmas.”

She longed to touch him, but feared she’d draw her sisters’ attention.

“You did request me, didn’t you?”

About The Author:
Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the LRC for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

Author Amazon Page
Book Bub Author Page

Buy Links:

Changeling Press
Barnes and Noble

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Book Spotlight/Giveaway: The Infant Spirits

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Five winners will receive a digital copy of the book. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When a poltergeist takes root in a hospital, can a determined ghost chaser undo a devilish long-lasting curse?

Clarisse Garcia has always fought evil. A driven spirit hunter, she demolishes demonic threats before they can corrupt the innocent. But even this hardened woman is stunned when she enters an eerie Tasmanian maternity ward filled with the anguished cries of babies’ souls.

Undeterred, Clarisse dives headfirst into helping release the spirits bound to a sinister demon. But when the foul entity targets the unborn life in her womb, she faces her toughest battle yet to save her offspring’s future.

Can this spiritual warrior protect her child and free the tormented young ghosts?

The Infant Spirits is the fourth standalone book in the blood-curdling Haunting Clarisse supernatural horror series. If you like chilling apparitions, wicked demons, and a mother fighting for her child’s very existence, then you’ll love Janice Tremayne’s bedtime nightmare.

Read an Excerpt

New Norfolk, Tasmania 1879

“You’re dirty rotten, Delaney, you witch.” Abbey kicked as hard as she could, but Delaney felt capable of handling her outbursts. She was more robust than Abbey, whose frail body was no match for the hard taskmaster with the nickname Haggus.

“Just ignore her language, Louise. She’ll calm down after the doctor gets here with the morphine. It will knock her out, I hope.”

“You’re a demon, Delaney. Fess up and stop hiding behind that nurse’s uniform, as if you’re the moral light of this cursed place!” Abbey lifted her head and spat toward the nurse, narrowly missing her face with the thick, yellowish mucus that stuck onto her white uniform.

Louise placed her hand over her mouth and nearly chucked. She was an inexperienced nurse, used to the private hospitals in Hobart for dignitaries and the rich. However, she’d had no option but to work at Willow Court Asylum, following her husband’s posting to nearby military barracks.

Abbey continued her rage, holding on to the belly with both hands and pressing slightly in a futile attempt to stop the pain that was ripping through her body. She was eight months pregnant and was giving birth to a pre-mature, illegitimate child. No one knew who the father was, and nobody cared. That was the way it was back then, with a woman caught destitute in an asylum and locked away from the rest of civilization. They turned a blind eye to sexual assaults by staff that were commonplace amongst the patients.

About the Author: Janice Tremayne is an Amazon bestselling and award-winning ghost and supernatural writer. Janice is a finalist in the Readers' Favorite 2020 International Book Awards in fiction-supernatural and was awarded the distinguished favorite prize for paranormal horror at the New York City Big Book Awards 2020.

She is an emerging Australian author who lives with her family in Melbourne. Her recent publications, Haunting in Hartley and Bolder Blindsided, reached number one in the Amazon kindle ranking for Occult Supernatural, Ghosts and Haunted Houses categories hot new releases and bestseller. Janice is well-versed in her cultural superstitions and how they influence daily life and customs. She has developed a passion and style for writing ghost and supernatural novels for new adult readers.

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New Release Spotlight/Giveaway: Christmas in North Bend

Christmas in North Bend by Wendi Zwaduk

Word Count: 67,143
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 248



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Book Description


Are second chances possible? They can be in North Bend.

Alex West left North Bend behind and became the famous author RR Taylor. He’s happy with his jet-setting lifestyle, until a book signing brings him to North Bend. Surrounded by the beauty of the small town and the closeness of the community, he starts to rethink his reasons for leaving. Seeing his high-school flame, Molly Adams, brings all the old feelings back into focus. He wants to make her Christmas bright and win her heart, too.

Can he convince her to believe in the magic of Christmas and their second chance, or is the blossoming romance destined to melt with the holiday snow?



Alex West stood in the middle of the concourse at Cleveland Hopkins airport and toyed with the handle of his bag. His assistant, Jill Gosk, fiddled with her phone and growled. The people on the plane had been irritated by the lateness of the flight and the snow delaying their landing a few minutes. He didn’t mind. Christmas, even seven days away, was the time to slow down and spend precious hours with family and friends—not stress over things he couldn’t control.

“What’s the matter?” He noticed a dusting of snow on the windowsill and wished he were out in the cold. He loved Christmas in Ohio, even if he hadn’t spent much time in the state in a few years. “Jill?”

“The car should be ready so all we have to do is retrieve your bags from the claims area. According to my app, the bags are down there.” Jill glanced about. “This is a tiny airport.”

“It’s not LAX, but it works.” He pointed to the corridor. “Let’s get the luggage.” He nudged her forward. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. Girl, you save my butt almost every day.” He grinned and fell into step beside her. “How’s Nick?”

She blushed. “I—I didn’t think you knew about him.”

“He called to tell me you were together,” Alex said. “I told him I was happy for you. I’m glad you found each other.” He rode the escalator to the ground floor. The sound of Christmas carols echoed in the air, along with the din of conversation. He watched the people moving about. There were stories in these folks. Stories about love lost, love found, people reconnecting and the joy of Christmas. He chuckled to himself. He could use these bits and pieces for his own upcoming writing. The book wouldn’t write itself and he needed the right push to get started.

“Here. Our bags are in carousel C.” Jill marched up to the revolving belt filled with luggage. “Keep your eyes peeled.”

“Sure will.” Alex sighed. He trusted Jill with his schedule and his business dealings. She knew how to get him from point A to point B without issue. He slid his gaze over the array of bags. “Either I’m wrong, or I don’t see mine.” He pointed to her lavender suitcase. “There’s yours.”

She nodded and grabbed her bags from the belt. “Got them. Yours should be along.” She checked her phone again and turned the screen around. “See? The app says they’re here.”

“Right, but they’re on the second time through and mine aren’t there. I’ve kept an eye out.” He glanced over her shoulder at the phone. “The app is wrong.”

“It can’t be.” She massaged her temple. “They have to be here.”

He’d learned not to let minor setbacks get to him. Being a writer meant having a thick skin. Just because one person didn’t like his work didn’t mean a myriad of others agreed. Besides, who could be upset at Christmas? “It’s okay. We’ll go to the lost luggage department.” He guided her and her bag away from the carousel. “My bags are probably halfway to Chicago.”

“I’m so sorry, RR.”

She’d used his pen name. He shouldn’t be annoyed, but he’d rather be referred to by his given name in this instance. “Don’t sweat it. We’re on the way to my parents and I’m sure I can borrow some of my father’s clothes until my luggage gets here—if we didn’t simply go to the wrong carousel.” He’d bet the bags were on the wrong plane, but he saw no reason to get upset. “It’s going to be all right.” He strode up to the counter.

The woman at the desk smiled, but before he could speak, Jill stepped forward.

“Hi. I booked the flight for Mr. Taylor and we’ve arrived, but his luggage hasn’t. I have the information on the app and everything.” Jill held up her phone. “See?”

The woman smiled again. “Let me check your information.” She paused. “RR Taylor? As in the author RR Taylor?”

“That’s me.” He offered his hand. “I’m heading over to North Bend for Christmas with my family and to do a book signing the day after tomorrow. If you’re available, you should stop in.”

“I’m working all week,” the attendant said. “But it’s great to meet you. I’ve read all your books. I loved Crispin in New York.”

“Thank you. If you have a piece of paper, I’ll autograph it for you.” He waited for her to give him something to write on, then signed the page with a special note for her. “There. Enjoy.”

“Thank you.” The attendant beamed. “Wow.” She tucked the paper into her front pocket. “I wish I had better news for you concerning your bags. According to my tracking system, your luggage was rerouted to New York and will be back in two days. We can call you when it’s at the terminal.”

“No,” Jill said. “He needs his clothes.”

“I’ll get by.” He placed his hand on Jill’s arm and turned his attention to the attendant. “Thank you. Where can I leave my information?” Not having his clothes or the presents he’d brought for his family wasn’t ideal, but he had little choice.

“I’ve got it on file with your baggage and flight numbers,” the attendant said. “I’ll be in touch.”

“Thank you. I hope I have my luggage before Christmas. If I don’t, then I don’t. I hope you have a Merry Christmas, too.” He nudged Jill. “We should go.”

“I messed up,” Jill said. “This is bad.”

“You didn’t mess up.” He nodded to the sign directing them to the car rental counter. “Why don’t you check on the car?”

“Oh yeah.” She darted away with her phone.

Alex sighed. Jill was a sweet woman, but so highly strung. He thanked the cosmos she’d come into his orbit to help with his promotional needs, but he could use a break from her. He followed behind her, but at a bit of a distance. One of his plans wasn’t going so well. Time to check on another of his schemes. He sent a text to Nick.

Are you at the hotel? She’s upset about my luggage being lost. Might need to be extra sweet to her. Do you have everything you need for tonight?

Alex didn’t wait for a response and instead tucked his phone into his jacket pocket. He hurried after Jill. He’d worked with her boyfriend to facilitate Nick’s proposal that night. Jill would be happy, Nick would have the woman he loved and Alex would have a break.

Jill stopped walking and her shoulders slumped. Her brow crinkled. She still had her phone to her ear. “You don’t understand. I reserved the car a month ago. We need that vehicle. I don’t care if it’s the holidays. We have places to be. No, I don’t want…my client is leaving. Hold on.” She stopped Alex. “Wait.”

“Take a breath. It’s Christmas. Everyone is on the edge and you getting upset isn’t helping. The more you and I flip out, the more upset everyone else will be.” He pointed to the rental counter. “Let’s check on the car in person.”

“I’ll handle it.” Jill pushed past him. “Wait over there.”

He should argue with her, but he’d just given his speech on being calm. Disputing wouldn’t get him anywhere. Part of him didn’t mind taking his time while getting to North Bend, but the rest of him wanted to unite Jill with Nick. Then she’d relax. Good thing Alex had flown Nick in ahead of time and had him installed in the hotel in North Bend.

Alex waited by the bank of windows and stared out at the planes on the tarmac. His thoughts wandered. Why had he stayed away from North Bend for so long? He loved the snow and quiet of Ohio and appreciated the small-town feel of his home base, but his apartment in Los Angeles had everything he needed. His favorite restaurants were within walking distance and while he didn’t want for anything entertainment-wise, he missed his friends in North Bend. The people he’d grown up and come of age with. He had so many fond memories of the town. Plus…there was Molly.

He held his bag tighter. Before he’d left town, he had to see Molly. They’d been so tight. He’d once thought he’d marry her. He’d never forget the blue of her eyes, the softness of her hair or the way she blushed when she smiled. They’d been the best of friends and she’d been his first girlfriend. First lots of things. Then they’d gone their separate ways. When they’d been together, he’d told her everything. She’d confided in him when she’d flunked her driving test and when she’d thought he wanted to fix her up with their mutual friend Tony. She hadn’t been in love with Tony—she’d loved Alex.

Flashes of his years with Molly came to mind—volunteering at the Santa Barn, secret Santa shopping and all those visits to the library… He’d heard about her opening the bookstore and vowed he’d sign books at the shop.

Wouldn’t she be surprised when she saw him? Was she single? He’d forgotten to ask his mother about Molly’s relationship status when he’d planned his trip back to Ohio. But wouldn’t his mother have mentioned Molly being married? Wouldn’t Molly have invited him to the wedding—if she’d gotten hitched?

Jill stomped up to him. “Okay. So, here’s the problem. We must have a car, but we can’t have two like I wanted. Just one, so we have to share.”

“I thought that was the plan.” It had been when he’d canceled her vehicle. She didn’t need a separate car if Nick had one and they’d be together.

“This isn’t right. Your luggage is missing, we’ve only got one car… What else can go wrong?” Jill asked.

“The luggage will come back and the car situation is fine.”

“Oh no.” Jill pinched the bridge of her nose. “It’s snowing.”

“I’ve driven in snow.”

“It’s cold.”

“Ohio is cold,” Alex said. He stared at her. “You’re holding something back. What’s the rest of the issue?”

“I miss Nick. It’s Christmas and I’m not with the one I love.” She sighed. “I need some sleep and a few hours to regroup. I hate being this grouchy.”

“You’re stressed. It happens.” He grasped her shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. You never know—Nick might be waiting at the hotel.”

“Fat chance.” She sank onto the closest chair. “You don’t understand. I’m being pouty, and I hate it. The thing is, I thought I could do this job, but I feel like I’m failing. I’m sorry.”

“Stress is a pain in the neck.” He sat beside her and took the keys from her. “Take a few moments to recover. While I’m driving us to North Bend, why don’t you call Nick? That’ll make you feel better.”

“Ugh. That’s the other part of this. I tried to call him, but I can’t get an answer.”

He checked his phone. The LED light flashed green, meaning he had a new text. He retrieved the message from Nick.

Here and ready for the surprise. I can’t wait.

Good. Nick was in place. Alex tucked his phone in his pocket again. “Well, why not try again? He might have been temporarily engaged.” Drat. He should’ve chosen a different word. “Just call him.”

Jill stared at him. “How can you be so calm? Is it because you’re going to see Molly over Christmas?”

“Maybe.” Not really. Thinking about seeing his friend excited him. He hasn’t spent time with her in forever. He missed their friendship. Plus, he wanted to know why they’d drifted apart.

“Well, she seems nice.” Jill stood. “I feel better. Thanks for letting me freak out.”

He joined her and started toward the doors leading to the row of rental cars. “You’re welcome.”

“How long is the drive to North Bend?” She fell into step beside him. “It’s far away from here, isn’t it?”

“About an hour and a half.” He stopped at the parking slot containing the SUV. “This is what we have?”

“The dark blue behemoth. It was the only one not rented out.” Jill tried the passenger-side door. “It’s not the compact one, but it’ll do.”

“See? That’s the Christmas spirit.” He climbed behind the wheel of the SUV. “Here’s to the next leg of our journey. You’ll have plenty of room to stretch out and it would appear there’s satellite radio, so your favorite channels are on here, too.”

“Something is finally normal,” Jill said. “Yes.”

“As for you doing your job, don’t worry. I wouldn’t be in Ohio without you.” He could, but she needed the reassurance. “It’s Christmas. We start being jolly as of right now. We won’t let work get us upset and won’t worry about the signing. The spirit of the season is around us and we’re going to have fun.” If he had his way, Jill and Nick would be engaged that night and he’d have the next book started. Merry Christmas.

Buy Links

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First For Romance

About the Author

Wendi Zwaduk

Wendi Zwaduk is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to BDSM and LGBTQ themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on and the former AllRomance Ebooks. She also writes under the name of Megan Slayer.

When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

You can find out more about Wendi on her website or on her blog. You can also find her on Instagram, Bookbub and Amazon.


Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card! 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Notice: This competition ends on 7th December 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Surprise Announcement from Isla Madden-Mills

"Spider is a delicious, forbidden read you won't be able to put down."
–Melanie Harlow, USA Bestselling Author

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills has a surprise just for you! SPIDER has an incredible new look, and to celebrate it’s ZERO PENNIES for a limited time only!

From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills comes a new standalone romance about a flawed hero and the woman he can’t forget.

"She crossed my path and changed my whole direction."

He called himself Spider.

I just knew him as the sinfully gorgeous guy with eyes of fire that fate sat next to me on the airplane.

I didn’t know who he really was . . . British rock star . . . my stepbrother.

He kissed me because he thought we’d never see each other again. We would.

Everyone warned me about him.
They told me he was ruthless and cold and screwed up.
They said he’d leave me with a hole in my heart.

Maybe I should have listened.
Maybe I should have built up a fortress to keep him out.
But I crumbled instead.

They say an unbreakable thread connects those who are destined to meet. If that’s true, then the moment he sat next to me, we were bound together forever.

He just had to figure it out before it’s too late…

Don’t miss this steal! Grab your copy for ZERO PENNIES today!
Amazon Worldwide:

About Ilsa Madden-Mills
Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her angsty new adult romances and romantic comedies.

Eight of her eleven novels have placed in the Amazon Top 10 Best-seller List: Dirty English #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things #6; Boyfriend Bargain #8; The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, #4.

A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero.

She's addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online.

Connect with Ilsa
Stay up to day with Ilsa by joining her mailing list:
Join her Unicorn Girls Group on FB, the best way to keep up:
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Blog Tour Featuring Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan & Chandler Baker/GIVEAWAY


Ring in the Holidays with Excerpts from Festive Reads by Bestselling Authors Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker


This winter, rejoice in a festival of entertaining new tales from Amazon Original Stories. Unwrap unique short reads by bestselling authors to keep your holiday season merry and bright. Visit to browse a curated selection of stories—free for Prime Members and Kindle Unlimited Subscribers—and read on for excerpts from the titles by Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker. 

After a long, lonely year, two people stumble toward each other in If the Fates Allow a holiday short story by Rainbow Rowell the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl.


Reagan crept to the side to get a closer look. It looked like the deer had managed to snag its foot between two crossbars and a small tree that was growing right next to the fence.


Mason was still inching toward it, with his hands out.


“What are you doing?” Reagan asked again.


“I’m going to help it get free.”


“It’ll get itself free.”


“I don’t think it will. It’s wedged pretty good.”


The deer broke into frantic movement, struggling against the fence. “It’s going to injure itself,” Mason said.


“It’s going to injure you.”


This wasn’t a fawn or a hungry little doe; the deer was as long as Reagan was tall—it must have weighed two hundred pounds.


“Shhhh,” Mason was saying. Maybe to the deer, maybe to Reagan. He was crouching behind it, which seemed like the dumbest decision in the world.


Mason,” Reagan whispered.


“It’s all right,” he said, reaching for the trapped hoof. “Her other legs are on the other side of the fence.”


“I think that’s a buck.”


“She’s not a buck, look at her head.”


The deer struggled again. Mason froze. Reagan took another anxious step toward them.


When the deer stilled, Mason shot forward. He bent the tree back and grabbed the trapped hoof, lifting it free.


The deer pulled the leg forward—and in the same motion, kicked its other hind leg through the fence, catching Mason in the chest.


“Oof,” he said, falling backward.


The deer ran away, and Reagan ran to Mason. “Jesus Christ!” she shouted. “I told you!”


Mason was lying on his back in the snow. Reagan went down on her knees beside him. “Are you okay?” she asked, touching his arm.


His eyes were wide. “I’m fine,” he said. “Just surprised. Is she okay?”


“The deer?”


He nodded.


“She’s fine,” Reagan said. “She’ll live to spread ticks and disease, and destroy crops. Where’d she get you?”


He pointed to his shoulder.


“Can you move it?”


He rotated his shoulder. He was broader than he looked from a distance. Broad even under his coat. His neck was thick, and one of his ears was partly inverted, probably from an old injury. He had snow in his ears and his hair. His hair was much darker than Reagan’s, almost black.


“Did you hit your head?” she asked.      


“No. I think I’m okay.”


“That was so stupid, Mason—that could have been your face.”


“I think I’m okay,” he repeated. He lifted his head up out of the snow and pushed up onto his elbows.


Reagan moved away from him.


He stood up, so she stood up, too.


“That could have been your neck,” she said. “That was so stupid.”


“Okay,” he said, nodding. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”


Reagan’s heart was still pounding. Mason looked worried. There was snow on his glasses, and his mask had fallen below his nose. He was holding her arm. “I’m sorry, okay? Are you hurt?”


“No,” Reagan said. “I’m just . . .”


Mason was holding her arm. He was standing right next to her.


Reagan made a fist in the suede collar of his coat and pulled herself closer to him.                      


His head dipped forward, more fiercely than she was expecting, to kiss her.


Read More About If the Fates Allow Here >>



From Suzanne Redfearn, the bestselling author of In an Instant, comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding in The Marriage Test.


The server appears. “Something to drink with dinner?”


“Do you have a white burgundy?” I ask, feeling like something bright to match my mood.


The server points to the French section of the wine list.


“Oh,” I say, as the list is limited and pricey. “I only want a glass. I’ll just take a—”


“A bottle of the finest white burgundy you have,” Justin interrupts.




He waves me off.


The server leaves, and I lean in to kiss him. “I love you.”


“For ordering a bottle of wine?”


“For ordering a bottle of wine to make me happy.”


I sit back again, and he returns his hand to my knee. “Good evening.”


I look up, and my breath catches. Standing a foot from our table is Annabelle Winters, my chef idol since college. She’s five feet tall with narrow shoulders and wide hips. Curls of wild black hair escape her white cap, flour dusts her black chef coat, and in her hands is a cutting board with a round loaf of bread.


“I understand tonight is a special occasion,” she says, a Mediterranean accent rounding the words. I tilt my head as Justin nods. “In my home country, we have a tradition: remarkable moments are celebrated by the breaking of bread. So, I made this loaf specially for you.” She sets the board on the table, wisps of steam spiraling from the golden, flaky crust. “This is pogača, the bread of my childhood and a symbol of love.”


With a small bow, she pivots away.


“That . . .that was . . .I can’t believe it . . .that was Annabelle Winters.”


Justin smiles wide, a proud grin that crinkles his cheeks. “You told her it was a special occasion?”


“It is,” he says. “We are together.”


I look at the loaf. “Wow. Pogača. My grandmother told me about this bread. It doesn’t use eggs or milk, and it’s cooked on a hearth over an open fire.”


“It’s still warm,” he says. “It must have just come out of the oven.”


I lift it to my face and inhale deeply, warm yeast and flour filling my nose. “Mmmm.” I hold it toward him.


He takes a breath, then leans back and nods. “Well, go on . . . break bread.”


Grinning like a kid at Christmas, I grip the edges and start to twist.


“Wait!” Justin yelps, stopping me, the loaf suspended.


He falls from his chair to the deck, my leg flopping from his lap along with his napkin.


I giggle. “What are you doing?”


“Okay,” he says, now kneeling on one knee. “Keep going.”


The people at the table behind us have stopped what they were doing and are now looking at us, and I notice Annabelle Winters beside the entrance watching as well. I look at the bread, then at Justin, then back again, and blood rushes to my face as I realize what is happening.


“Really?” I say.


He nods toward the bread.


Cheeks spread wide, I tear it in two, sending gold crumbs raining onto the tablecloth.

Poking from the steaming center is the corner of a stainless-steel cylinder.


I dig my fingers in to pry it loose and set it on the palm of my hand. An inch and a half tall and two inches in diameter, it’s engraved on top with two doves surrounded by a ring of leaves.


The woman behind us shifts for a better view.


Heart pounding, I prize off the lid. Sitting on a bed of white satin is a stunning sapphire ring, the center stone blue as the deepest ocean, a single diamond baguette on either side.


“Ava Nicole Barnes,” Justin says, his voice elevated for the audience, “keeper of my heart, guardian of my soul, and woman of my dreams, will you make me the happiest man on this earth and do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”


Read More About The Marriage Test Here >>




Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes the sharp witted short story, Model Home, about the reality of reality TV.


On the ninth take, things get heated between the husband, Todd, and his wife, Noreen.


He complains that this house only has three bedrooms, leaving no possibility for the man cave he was promised he’d get if they gave up their downtown Milwaukee loft for the suburbs. She seems flabbergasted that he can’t see the advantage of sacrificing that space for what is by far the biggest backyard of the three houses they’ve looked at.


Todd says in a tone that manages to sound both jokey and hostile, “If we buy this house, you can’t complain when I play my electric guitar in the living room. Have you thought of that?”


Noreen replies, “I’m only ever thinking of Colby and Mason.”


If you ask me, they both deserve an Oscar. The tension is palpable, even though everyone present knows they already bought this house seven months ago.


House Number One belongs to Todd’s cousin. It isn’t for sale. House Number Two is soon to be listed. The owner was happy to provide access, since being featured on our show, even as a reject, will sell the place in a minute.


I, the wise referee/realtor/designer, smile and say for what feels like the one trillionth time in my life, “Sounds like you two have a lot to discuss. Babe, let’s leave them to it.”


I wonder briefly if I’ll ever get to say these words again on camera, but I have to put the thought from my head.


I never call Damian babe in real life. Especially not now, but even back when I could stand him.


He doesn’t meet my eye. He’s staring into space, going out of his way to look disinterested. No one notices but me. Lately I think of my husband as a disappointment turducken: a lack of ambition wrapped in a beer gut wrapped in a statement tee designed for a much fitter man.


Read More About Model Home Here >>



Everyone is home for the holidays, clamoring for all the Christmas cheer only their mother can whip up. They can already smell the chestnuts roasting—or is that Mom’s hair on fire? From New York Times bestselling author Chandler Baker comes the laugh-out-loud short story, Oh. What. Fun.


During normal times, Mom loves to spend most of her day on the phone with one of us or the other. As soon as she hangs up with Channing, she’ll call Sammy; as soon as she’s done with Sammy, Tyler will call; and then she starts the whole process again. Not that we’d ever say this out loud, but we’re in the thick of our lives, so we’re busy with dating and kids and friends getting married and pregnant and such, and, well, Mom’s stories are kind of dull. Though obviously, in retrospect, this is an instance when we should have paid better attention.


Unlike Mom, Channing never complains about anything and so she didn’t make a big deal of it when Mom, again, forty-five minutes after the agreed-upon time, took over the kids, leading them on a special explorer hunt to find Canelo the Elf.


Mom is wild about that Elf on the Shelf. Canelo joined us three Christmases ago. The twins are in a Spanish- immersion program, hence the name, and Channing and Doug explained to us that if Canelo started the month of December at their house, he’d need to travel for the time spent at Grandpa and Grandma’s. It only made sense. So the trick is there are actually two Canelos. Mom bought a body double so Channing could leave hers safely at home. Canelo’s antics are one of those things we all tease her about: Somebody has too much time on her hands. But the truth is, we do kind of get a kick out of him.


Mom keeps the Elf ’s next move top secret from everyone, even Dad. Last year, Canelo relaxed in a Crockpot Jacuzzi filled with marshmallows; then he stole all of our toilet paper to build snowmen and rode a zip line down the stairs. This year was off to an impressive start as the twins took binoculars and donned safari hats to track down Canelo, who was wearing camouflage in one of the old oak trees. But we guess we’ll never know what else Canelo had in store, because Canelo hasn’t moved in two days. His painted, unblinking eyes stare at us from his perch, and none of us have been able to work out yet how it is we should explain this to the twins.


We think at some point during the Canelo expedition Sammy pulled up and plopped down on the couch, probably with his shoes still on, and started messing around on his phone. Every group of siblings has a “one,” and Sammy, for us, is the Boring One, mainly because he’s twenty-five and always on his phone. Also he just broke up with his girlfriend (see: always on phone), and yet when we tasked him with one very simple to-do—break into Mom’s phone—well all the sudden he apparently “didn’t know anything about phones.”


Sammy didn’t see anything or hear anything or smell anything unusual, but as we’ve already pointed out, this can’t be taken as gospel since he was preoccupied texting back and forth with his ex.



do you know what kind of laundry detergent you used to use on our clothes? Bc mine smell all weird now.



It’s the fabric softener. Downy infusions. Scent: Romantic.                                                          


Later, we passed around the conversation to weigh in by committee on whether she meant anything by it. We even consulted the Downy website while Mom handed out homemade eggnog because none of us care for the store bought, and there we learned that the Romantic scent carries “sensual aromas of delicate floral, white tea, and peony,” and at least half of us found it difficult to overlook a smoking gun like “sensual” right there as the subtext.


After dinner, Mom asked Channing if she’d mind watching the twins for a few minutes while she cleaned the kitchen, and we all took bets on whether Sammy and Mae-Bell would be back together by spring. The holidays can be hard on people, you know. Everyone except for Mom anyway, who just loves an excuse to corral us all together under one roof. Nothing makes her more upset than a year when she has to share Channing and the twins with Doug’s family. This year, Doug’s family was indisposed because they were up in Vermont visiting Doug’s aunt, but they probably could have been in the ICU and Mom would have been just as happy as long as the result was having Channing and the girls all to herself. Not to be alarmist, but of all the years to up and vanish, you just wouldn’t expect it to be one where Channing was set to be home the whole time.


Read More About Oh. What. Fun. Here >>



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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions . Megan Slayer will be awarding a prize pack featuring a neck...