Getting Lucky Release + Giveaway!


Getting Lucky

I'm so excited to finally release the second book in the Portland Pioneers series, GETTING LUCKY.


Noah Fox’s life is changing. Ever since he was hit in the head by a pitch, nothing has been the same. Fighting daily headaches and the growing fear that his baseball career is over, Noah goes in search of the woman who once loved and left him.


What he finds in the tiny town of Sand Point is nothing he could have ever expected. A trained chef and a certified “foodie,” Maggie May King has been perfectly content to devote the last three years of her life to running her baby, the Sand Point Café. Noah’s never met anyone less awed by his good looks or his celebrity, and even though she’s the last person he should be befriending, he finds himself seduced by Maggie’s sweetness and her even sweeter orange rolls.


When I published The Lucky Charm, all I had of Getting Lucky was the setup of Noah Fox's injury and a wild, crazy idea that maybe the last person he should be interested turns out to be the ONLY person he's interested in.

What can I say? Apparently I love making things difficult for myself.

By the way, that will totally be written on my tombstone: "Beth: making things difficult for herself since 1984."

I also made the crazy, ambitious choice to try to write this book in four months. Yes, I know some people write like four books in four months. Unfortunately I own this whole other business and I don't think my clients would have been very happy if I disappeared into my writing cave. I don't think my fiance would be very happy either.

I've talked about some of the struggles I had writing The Lucky Charm, which in all its iterations took me about 2 and a half years to finish. So four months was pretty ambitious. My worst fear was getting to the end of the draft and realizing it all had to be different.

But guess what! You learn so much writing your first book. So many, many things to avoid. So many things you keep saying to yourself, "I wish I'd done this differently." Getting Lucky was my opportunity to make good on the learning experience, and this book practically wrote itself.

Noah was so fun to delve into--a little bit more melancholy at first than he was in The Lucky Charm--and Maggie May was a breath of fresh air. I didn't actually end up putting this in the book, but Maggie May's mom is definitely a huge Rod Stewart fan, and yes, that is where she got her name!

An Excerpt from GETTING LUCKY:

Noah Fox was practically holding a press conference in her Café. Apparently word had spread overnight that a famous baseball player had arrived in Sand Point and this was apparently the most exciting thing anyone had experienced in years, because the awed expressions on everyone’s faces was just plain sickening.

Unsurprisingly, he was eating up the attention, smiling and laughing like he was just like them, but he wasn’t, Maggie inwardly raged. She stomped right up to his stupid, hot self and poked him hard in the arm. She resolutely ignored how firm and muscley his biceps felt.

“I hear you’d like to talk to me,” she said when he turned to her.

“Oh, Maggie. Just the woman I wanted to see,” he said with so much transparent delight she wanted to smack it right off that ridiculously handsome face. No man should look that good, she thought rebelliously, it was unfair to the rest of the mortal world.

“My office,” she spit out, and walked off, weaving between the tables and slack-jawed customers, not even bothering to glance behind to see if he’d followed her.

He was in Tabitha’s thrall, and Maggie was apparently the only way he could find her; of course he’d follow.

They reached the office and she gestured him inside and shut the door behind her. It was only at that moment, looking up at him, thinking, god, he’s so tall, that she realized she’d made a slight miscalculation.

The office was so small, there was barely room for her desk and a single chair, with the built-in shelves towering over her desk, but Noah was definitely not a small guy. He filled the open space so completely, Maggie pressed her back to the door and still felt nearly overwhelmed by his over-sized presence.


But she couldn’t back down now by opening the door and moving this meeting to another location. That would be tantamount to admitting he got to her and he really didn’t. She wasn’t as weak-willed and superficial as the rest of Sand Point—or her sister—was.

“You have time to talk to Tabitha last night?” Noah asked with nearly as much transparent eagerness as Hannah had displayed earlier.

Maggie shook her head sharply. She really didn’t want to go into why she’d been so distracted either. Even though this Noah Fox presented himself as everyone’s super genial friend, he was still a complete stranger.

“Oh,” Noah replied, ducking his head down low, a faint flush of embarrassment on his cheeks, and for the second time, she saw the depth of the darkness in his eyes. And didn’t it intrigue her more this time than it did before? Maggie cut off that thinking hard and sharp. She was not going to forget what Hannah had said before she’d been forced to interrupt her search for a repair.

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” Maggie said more than a little testily. “Or what you’re saying.”

His disarming smile was practically a master class in innocent charm. When he folded those muscled arms against his firm chest, she had to remind herself yet again that he was a huge jerk.

“I don’t appreciate you going around talking about me that way,” Maggie repeated. “We’re not involved. You’re here to find Tabitha.”

His white teeth flashed against that tan skin again. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Maggie’s temper roiled. This was probably how he lived his whole stupid, privileged life—going around doing whatever the hell he wanted, and blasting women with that goddamn smile when his trail got too messy and he had to clean up a bit. “Buddy,” she bit off, “you do not want to fuck around with me today. It’s been a spectacularly awful twenty four hours, and I really can’t take your bullshit right now. So cut the crap and stop making people think I’m why you’re here.”

“What’s happened? I hope it wasn’t me that made things tough on you.” He had the nerve to look genuinely concerned.

Maggie grimaced. “Hardly. You’re not so high on my priority list that you showing up in my town ruins my life. If we want to start with this morning, my exhaust fan wouldn’t turn on and Cal, who could normally fix it in a heartbeat, won’t answer his phone because he’s probably mad at me. And now I’m going to have to spend money I don’t have on a repair.”

She hated the sympathy in his stupid face. “I could take a look at it for you,” he offered and it was such a nice thought she actually stopped herself from rolling her eyes again. She could be difficult sometimes, but she prided herself on not being an ungrateful bitch.

“That’s really not necessary. You wouldn’t know what to look for.”

Noah shoved his hands in his pockets and Maggie resolutely ignored the way the muscles and tendons of his arms flexed at the movement. “I’m actually pretty handy with stuff like that,” he said softly and so unassumingly she never would have guessed he was the same show-off who’d dealt out smiles and genial handshakes in the dining room only five minutes ago.

It was proof of just how close Maggie was to the end of her rope that she considered the idea. It wasn’t like he could do much harm, right? He’d really only be marking time until Cal decided to stop pouting.

“Sure, why not,” she finally said, leaving out her silent assumption that he couldn’t break it worse than it was already broken.

“And, for the record,” he said genially, “I never told Hannah anything. She made her own assumptions.”

Maggie suddenly remembered she was supposed to be furious with him. The ability to disarm women was probably another one of the many tricks he had up his sleeve. “Hannah isn’t prone to vast exaggeration,” Maggie insisted, “some exaggeration, yes, but not making up stories out of thin air.”

In the approximately fifteen minutes they’d spent in each other’s company, she’d never seen him look uncomfortable, but he did now. “I might have hinted a little,” he allowed. “But she was so. . .determined to flirt. And I don’t do that.”

“Anymore,” Maggie added helpfully.

He shot her a look like she was crazy, and it was a testament to how bizarre the last day had been that Maggie actually preferred that look to the panty-melting smile he usually employed.

“I mean,” she added, “that you don’t do that anymore.”

He was beginning to look downright disgruntled and Maggie was secretly—or maybe not so secretly—thrilled at this. He was cute mad. Maybe even cuter than when he was trying to be so hot all the time. “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” he practically grunted.

“You said you don’t do that. But look at you.” She gestured absently in his general direction but she’d forgotten how cramped the office was, and her fingers brushed the soft fabric of his t-shirt and the firm stomach muscles beneath it. Snatching back her hand, she glanced up at him, ready to apologize for nearly groping him, but the sudden heat in his eyes caught her off-guard.

Maggie knew she should reach behind her, open the door and stop this conversation right now. She didn’t, though, and the only reason she could figure was it had been so long since a guy looked at her with that soft, almost reluctant attraction, even though she knew he was only looking because she faintly resembled her elder sister. She’d needed something all day to cleanse her palate of Cal’s ridiculous flirting, and Noah seemed made-to-order.

“Look at me?” he asked. “What about you? Are you so ugly that nobody could ever imagine you flirting?”

Maggie knew she wasn’t ugly. She also wasn’t her sister. “Hardly.”

“Hardly,” he chuckled, “Not quite how I’d put it, but I guess that works.”



Beth Bolden lives in Portland,Oregon with one cat and one fiance. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. After graduating from university with a degree in English, Beth unsurprisingly had no idea what to do with her life, and spent the next few years working for a medical equipment supplier, a technology company, and an accounting firm. Now Beth runs her own business as a Girl Friday for small business owners, assisting them with administration, bookkeeping and their general sanity. Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal.

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Recipes from Getting Lucky - Potato Leek Soup

Another week and another recipe from Getting Lucky! I know I promised I'd make Maggie's infamous orange marmalade buns this week, but when you see the recipe, you'll understand. The recipe is a bit more complicated and I couldn't find the time this week, so soup it is! But soup is amazing, guys, especially in the fall, and this is a great recipe.

But first, a snippet from Getting Lucky:


Here's how you make Potato Leek Soup:

Start with a pot and some butter. So many great recipes start exactly this same way. I'd say this is about three tablespoons.


The absolute best part of this recipe is how adaptable it is. It's pretty much impossible to mess up.

Next, you're going to cut up your leeks.

Leeks. I know, right? Who uses leeks? They're kind of scary looking.


Don't let the weirdness of leeks scare you off. They give great flavor. You just need to know how to deal with them.

First, you're going to want to cut off the dark green leaves, until just the white/light green stem remains.

Like so!


You're also going to want to cut off the other end too. I just didn't snap a pic of that because I'm an utter failure as a food photographer.

Next you're going to cut your leek in half.


Here's the thing about leeks. They're tricky. They also seem to grow with a lot of dirt in-between all those layers. Gross, right? So we need to chop up the leek and then wash the chopped up pieces thoroughly. Dirt is not the seasoning we'd like in our soup.


I don't care if it doesn't look like there's any visible dirt. Wash the pieces anyway.

I usually put all my cut up leeks into a big bowl, then fill with water and swish the pieces around thoroughly.


Then you're obviously going to want to drain all that dirty water out.

Just imagine I have a picture of draining the leeks + dirty water into a colander.

Make sure to shake out as much water out of the leeks as you can. You don't want extra dirty water in your soup.

Your butter has probably melted by now and is now sizzling away nicely. Drop the leeks into the pan and let them cook on medium heat for a few minutes, until they're nicely wilted but not brown.


Basically, don't be like me and get distracted and forget your sauteing leeks.

Next, we're going to add the garlic.  A few cloves minced. You can always add more or less, depending on your preference for garlic. Also, if you find the leek mixture has gotten a bit dry you can definitely add more butter (or olive oil, if you're trying to be more health conscious).


Obviously I was not trying to be more health conscious.

Let the leek and garlic mixture saute a few minutes longer but this time be very careful not to let the garlic over-brown. When garlic burns it gets really nasty and bitter. Not good for soup.

Now we're going to add the stock. You can use chicken or vegetable stock here. I used a combination of both because I had some extra sitting in the fridge. I don't think beef stock would work very well here, though.


I'd suggest adding approximately two quarts of stock. I also added salt and pepper at this stage. About a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. We'll be seasoning the soup later on in the cooking process, but it's always a good idea to season as you go. Plus this is the liquid we're going to be cooking the potatoes in and we want it to be well-seasoned.

Next the potatoes!


I swear by Yukon Gold potatoes. I love them. I love them just about any way you can prepare a potato. But you can use really any kind of potato you'd like--regular baking potatoes, red potatoes, etc. But really, Yukon Gold are the best. And most grocery stores are carrying them as a regularly stocked item these days. In my humble opinion, their flavor just can't be beat.

You're going to peel the potatoes, then chop them into smaller pieces.


Once the broth, leek and garlic mixture has come to a boil, it's time to add the potatoes.


You want to cook the potatoes at a simmer for 15-20 minutes. The time is going to depend on how large your potato chunks are. I always start checking at fifteen minutes. You want the potato to be fully cooked through but not too mushy. Mushy potatoes = BAD.

Now it's time for one of my favorite kitchen implements. The potato masher!


Now the extent to which you "mash" your soup is up to you. I still like mine quite chunky but you if you want a really smooth texture that's fine too. You could theoretically even cut your potato pieces a little smaller and not do any mashing at all! That's the greatest thing about this soup--you can modify it so much to your personal preference and it always tastes great.

Well, it always tastes great unless you don't wash your leeks properly :(

It appears that I forgot to take a picture of the mashed soup. Whoops. I fail. Just pretend. Or make it yourself and then you can see exactly what it looks like!

Next, we're going to prepare the cheese. You can put so many kinds of cheese into this soup. I like a combination, and used cheddar, both medium and extra sharp white, and some monterey jack for a little kick. You could use mozzarella or fontina or swiss or any other type of cheese. I wouldn't recommend blue cheese or feta or goat cheese, probably, but if you try it and it works, let me know! Also, if you're against cheese (and really, what's wrong with you?), you could potentially even skip it.


Don't bother with the cheese grater. Just cut it up into small chunks.


Now we add it to the soup. Make sure you've turned the burner down to a very low simmer. You don't want your soup boiling away this whole time. Your potatoes will most definitely be mush by this point if you do that.


I wanted my soup a little creamier, so I added a few splashes of half and half. It also helped to thicken it a little. You could use milk, heavy cream or theoretically nothing. Sour cream might even be an interesting addition. I also added some dried parsley, which you could skip or add fresh, if you have it. This is also the perfect opportunity to re-season the soup.

You definitely want to taste it after you add the cheese. Cheese can be really salty, depending on the kind you use and you don't want to over-salt the soup. So add your cheese, and then taste it, seasoning it until it tastes just right.

I apparently also failed to take a pic of the final product, but really, you're going to make this soup anyway. Right? Yes?


Frequent Flyers is NOW available!

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Eye of the Storm
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Eye of the Storm by Beth Bolden – Commercial pilot Captain Grant Montgomery III lives for the rules; flight attendant Tess O’Brien loves to break them. The storm brewing between them might be even wilder than the record-breaking blizzard outside. "I loved Tess. She reminded me of so many people in my large Irish family, and I saw some aspects of myself in her too." - Goodreads Reviewer

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Fly Me To The Moon by Bev Elle - Ticketing agent Jessamy Taylor has been in a dating slump that was exacerbated when she moved her sickly mother in. Truth is, she's never gotten over the quirky Dr. Griffin Sanderson whose OCD drives her crazy, despite his excellent bedside manner.

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Unscheduled Departure by T.M. Franklin – Rowan Elliott is devastated when her boyfriend, Finn, tells her he’s moving across the country to take over the family business, and thrilled when he changes his mind at the last minute and gets off the plane. But then things get . . . weird. And Ro’s left wondering if her boyfriend’s really who she thinks he is.

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About the Authors
Beth Bolden

Beth Bolden lives in Portland,Oregon with one cat and one fiance. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. After graduating from university with a degree in English, Beth unsurprisingly had no idea what to do with her life, and spent the next few years working for a medical equipment supplier, a technology company, and an accounting firm. Now Beth runs her own business as a Girl Friday for small business owners, assisting them with administration, bookkeeping and their general sanity.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. Her first novel, The Lucky Charm, was published in May 2014 and its sequel, Getting Lucky will be available December 1, 2014.

Connect with Beth Bolden

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Angel Lawson

Angel Lawson lives with her family in Atlanta and has a lifelong obsession with creating fiction from reality, either with paint or words. On a typical day you can find her writing, reading, plotting her escape from the zombie apocalypse and trying to get the glitter out from under her nails.

She is the author of five books, including the Wraith Series, Serial Summer, FanGirl, and Vigilant. She is the co-author of the New Adult Paranormal book, Odin's Murder with Kira Gold.

Connect with Angel Lawson

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T.M. Franklin

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing nonfiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. Her first published novel, MORE, was born out of a challenge to write a novel in thirty days issued during National Novel Writing month. MORE was well received, selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, and won the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards.

In addition to MORE and its sequels, The Guardians and TWELVE, Franklin has penned the Amazon best-selling short stories, Window and A Piece of Cake. Her Amazon best-selling YA romance, How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You, is Franklin’s first love story without traditionally recognized paranormal or fantasy elements. Although . . . T. M. is the first to argue that love is the best kind of magic.

Connect with T.M. Franklin

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Kira Gold

Kira A. Gold

is a textile artist living in Lexington, Kentucky. She has four accidental cats and an intentional collection of vintage marionettes. After midnight, she writes strange things in a blue bathrobe.

Her first book,


, with Angel Lawson, is a New Adult paranormal twist on Norse mythology. Her solo debut,


, is a Young Adult take on Hamlet, set in Vermont. Look for her next play on Shakespeare, a seductive and speculative MacBeth, early next year.

Like her author page here:


for book info and odd thoughts or follow her inappropriate insanity on twitter: @kiraagold

Bev Elle

Bev Elle is the author of sweet and spicy contemporary romance, women’s fiction and historical paranormal romance. A love of books--many already written, and those she harbors in her very active imagination. Writing is a passion she’s had for many years, but was unable to act upon. Bev Elle is the mother of three human children and two canines. She is also the lover of one husband. When Bev isn’t writing in her spare time after work, she is thinking of doing so.

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Amanda Weaver

Like many writers, Amanda Weaver spent her childhood telling stories. College steered her in a different direction and into a successful career as a designer. Several years ago, she picked up writing again as a hobby, to blow off some creative steam. One thing led to another, National Novel Writing Month happened, and here we are.

Amanda Weaver grew up in Florida and now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, daughter and two crazy cats.

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Cover 2.0

New, improved and even more awesome than before! Book-Cover-KINDLE

My awesomesauce cover artist and I spent some time this morning brainstorming on how to make a great cover even better, and I love what we came up with.

As an extra awesome bonus for the readers out there (you're out there, right? yes? I hope so!), I'm also including a large excerpt from the first chapter of The Lucky Charm. Enjoy!

---   ---  ---  ---   ---  ---


When Isabel Dalton was five years old, she proudly boasted to her parents that when she grew up, she was going to be a famous movie star. Mobs of adoring fans, endless red carpets and a neverending supply of rhinestone sunglasses would be hers. She imagined swanning around a glittering blue swimming pool, shaded by palm trees and a legion of Ken doll lookalikes.

But much to her parents’ relief, it turned out that Izzy’s imagination was vastly more developed than her acting talent.

And not much has changed in that department, Izzy thought darkly as she attempted a tolerant smile that her date probably saw through in less than a second.

“So you’re actually in a band? Like a rock band?” From Graham’s puppy dog expression to his pressed chinos (“Light starch only,” he’d informed her when, desperate for a conversation topic, she’d told him she liked his pants), he was about as far from a rock star as she could possibly imagine.

“It’s not a real band, actually,” Graham, the first date Izzy had been on in eight months and thirteen days, admitted sheepishly. “It’s actually a game, but there’s this bar that makes it a whole event. Like karaoke, but with Rock Band, the game.”

He paused and she could practically see the enthusiasm bubbling out his pores.

“They have a real stage, and everything. Every single downloadable song, too. You should come with me sometime.”

It was hard to fault Graham for having passion. It was also hard to fathom having a passion for a video game. This was what men her age did with their free time? Working sixty hour weeks for the Pacific Northwest Sports Network didn’t leave her much free time, but if she had it, Izzy knew she wouldn’t be spending her Tuesdays playacting in front of a drunk bar crowd.

Izzy glanced down at the dry chicken on her plate and contemplated sawing off another chunk, because if she finished her meal, maybe this bad idea of a date would finally be over. It had been an epically bad idea to accept Graham’s dinner invitation, but even she sometimes got sick of being alone.

So she’d said yes when Graham, the IT sub-contractor who’d fixed her work laptop, had asked her out, even though she’d known it was smarter to say no.

“What about you?” he asked, clearly underwhelmed by her own underwhelmed response to his favorite hobby.

“I’m head assistant to one of the executive producers.”

Graham cleared his throat. Maybe his steak was as dry as her chicken was.

“No, I meant, what do you do for fun.”

Fun. Fun. Izzy tried to remember the last time she’d had fun simply to have it and couldn’t. Work wasn’t fun exactly, but it was sometimes rewarding and always challenging. She loved seeing the look of pride on her boss’ face when she succeeded at yet another tricky, impossible task, but it wasn’t what she’d call fun.

Fun had really ended for her the summer she’d been eleven. The hushed conversations, the worried looks she hadn’t understood. Her mother kneeling in front of her, bare head wrapped in a colorful, obnoxiously patterned turban, making her promise to be strong and brave.

At the funeral, she had decided that instead of a movie star, she’d be a doctor and never let another mother die.

That pipe dream had lasted until she was a freshman in college. Freshman Bio had killed it and killed it dead, and then she’d been lost again, aimless and goalless, until she’d come home during winter break and had caught her dad watching a Bo Jackson documentary on ESPN.

An hour later, tears still drying on her cheeks, she’d announced yet another career change. This time she’d be behind the camera instead of in front of it, but from the steady pride in her dad’s eyes, Izzy had known she’d found her new calling.

Exchanging her pre-med classes for journalism, Izzy decided she was going to tell the stories that nobody else knew:  the stories that made viewers cry and laugh and burn to be something greater than the sum of their parts. When her dad died in a car wreck on an icy stretch of I-5, leaving her essentially an orphan at the age of 21, Izzy had only become more convinced of her path. She’d thrown herself into the last semester of school, determined that even if they were gone, she’d make her parents proud.

She’d been hired at the Pacific Northwest Sports Network right out of college, and now, six years later, she knew she’d gotten lost in the job, let it swallow her practically alive. It was hard to explain to people, especially strangers, that work was all she had left. Her family was dead. Her acquaintances from college hadn’t survived six months after graduation.  And her dating life was practically nonexistent. So if she worked long hours, who cared? She didn’t even mind that the entire office whispered about how pathetic she was, only that they did it behind her back.

“You mean what I do when I’m not at work?” she asked, horribly aware of the pity on Graham’s face. He’d obviously heard the office gossip, clearly after he’d asked her out, or else they wouldn’t be here tonight. And here she was, proving them all too true.

Really, that was okay with her. Izzy gave herself a little mental shake. He was just a stupid boy, who liked playing video games. Who cared if he regretted asking her out? She regretted saying yes.

“My boss Charlie and I like to eat,” she finally admitted. “We’ve been to every diner in the greater Seattle area.”  Nevermind that this was more Charlie’s hobby than hers and that after the first month, he’d made it a job requirement so she’d stop turning down his dinner invitations.

If only Charlie wasn’t sixty five, balding, and forever expanding in the waistline, he’d have made the perfect boyfriend.  They had the same dry sense of humor, the same lack of patience for fools and idiots, and he had a way of supporting her that didn’t feel anything like pity.

And he made her feel a tiny bit less alone.

Her cell vibrated and Izzy only hesitated a moment before plucking it from her clutch. She held it up and gave Graham what she was sure was a horribly fake shrug of regret. “I’ve got to take this. Sorry.”

From his decidedly annoyed expression, Izzy guessed she was even worse actress than she’d believed.

“That’s fine. I’ll get the check and we can go,” Graham said, and the barely-concealed sneer in his voice took her by surprise.

“Sure,” she said uncertainly, feeling the phone continue to vibrate in her hand. “If that’s what you want.”

“What I wanted was to have dinner with an actual human being. Not some kind of robot.”

Along with the flourless chocolate cake and crème brulee, humiliation was apparently also on the dessert tray tonight.

“Hey, you asked me out,” Izzy retorted, resorting to her last defensive resort—the withering tone that tended to leave men in the fetal position. “If you’d asked around, you already knew what I was like.”

Graham jerkily shucked a few bills on the table, clearly deciding the evening was over before the check even showed up.  “Yeah, after I did. Stupidly, after you said yes. I thought you were just a pretty girl. Guess I was wrong.”

Izzy decided it was time for this farce to be over before Graham set feminism back another hundred years. “Guess you were.”

He shot her a look that was pure pity and then left, leaving a trail of interested gazes in his wake. Izzy glanced at her half-full glass of pinot gris and reached for it, taking a long, slow swallow, and then another. She didn’t have anything to prove—not to a room full of strangers, anyway—but her pride wouldn’t let her rush out after Graham. She wasn’t afraid to eat alone; she’d done it enough times.

It was only after her glass was empty and she was putting her coat on that she remembered the missed phone call.

The phone number wasn’t one she recognized.  Wrapping her coat around her and heading out into the cold drizzle of February in Seattle, Izzy accessed her voicemail.

“This is Carol Steele, a nurse at the University of Washington Emergency Trauma Center. We have a patient here, admitted for heart attack symptoms. His name is Charles Walker, and you are listed first on his emergency contact list.  Please call me back at (206) 555 – 9035 to discuss his hospitalization.”

Izzy’s stomach plummeted to the ground and her agonized half-gasp left her reaction to Graham in the dust.

Charlie. Her boss. Her boss and so much more. Her guiding light, her mentor, the man who’d taken a chance and hired her right out of college. Charlie, who had somehow found out about her dad and had taken her under his wing when she was still numb with grief and shock.

Not Charlie too.

---   ---  ---  ---   ---  ---

I know the subtitle on the cover is "romantic comedy" and I promise there is lots of humor, but the plain and simple fact is that Izzy's past is almost unbearably tragic, and it's shaped who she is and how she lives her life. At first I tried writing this opening chapter without giving all the details of her tragedies, but in the end, I think it's better for us to know right away what kind of baggage Izzy's dealing with.

Good news is that everything is progressing wonderfully on the back-end prep work for release, and publication date, barring any last minute emergencies, will be April 30.

Restraint - It's Totally HOT

If you've been reading any of my blog posts, it's not so much a surprise that my opinions can be idiosyncratic, strange and sometimes just downright odd. Considering the climate of the romance publishing industry right now, this is going to seem maybe even weirder. I really love restraint.  And no, I don't mean being restrained, though that's definitely hot right now. No, I mean, like, actual restraint. Like the love interests don't jump each others bones on the first page (with a caveat I will admit that sometimes this works, though not often for me, personally), but instead their journey is this crazy long slow burn. I love that. I love when a kiss on a hand is sometimes sexier than a kiss someplace else.

I was re-reading some of my favorite Eloisa James' historicals this weekend, and in A Duke of Her Own (the entire Desperate Duchesses series is pretty much amazing, but I've got special love for Villiers and his novel, the last of the series), Villiers greets Eleanor with pretty much the steamiest hand kiss in the history of hand kisses.

He took her hand. Then, without smiling at her, without saying a word, without doing anything other than meeting her eyes, he slowly peeled off her glove. It was utterly surprising--and scandalous. She heard her mother make a small huff of disapproval as he drew it off.

But Villiers didn't look away from her eyes, just lifted her bare fingers to his lips as if they were entirely alone. His gesture was the antithesis of Gideon's polite greeting. Villiers's kiss was slow and deliberate, giving everyone in the tent more than enough time to enjoy the spectacle.

For Eleanor, the world titled--and changed. She suddenly saw the man before her in focus: his thick lashes, his deep bottom lip, the hard line of his chin, the thick hair tied back and defiantly unpowdered. The maleness of his shoulders. The coiled strength of his body.

A sultry warmth spread from her cheeks and flooded down her body. Yet it wasn't the kiss that did it. It was something in those black eyes that made heat rise in her cheeks. . .and in her body.

No, he's not slobbering all over her hand. No, he's not licking or sucking or anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with those things.

Watching The Originals last night also got me thinking about restraint. Pretty much my favorite character on this show or Vampire Diaries is Elijah, played by the incomparable and insanely handsome Daniel Gillies. Yes, of course, Klaus is smoking hot too, and I love it when he growls and throws people around, but when it comes down to it, I just prefer the subtlety of Elijah to Klaus' theatrics.

Right now, the writers on The Originals have got this amazing slow burn pre-relationship/friendship between Elijah and Hayley, Klaus' baby mamma (don't even ask, I don't watch these shows for the plot).

They haven't actually kissed yet, but their almost kiss is probably sexier than any other kiss I've seen on TV this year.

[su_youtube url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtVLJfRea_I"]

I love the message of honor and love.

Plus, the music is awesome. "Hard to Find" by the National.

And in this clip, Elijah desperately tries to save Hayley's baby by cooling her fever.

[su_youtube url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEi5Kdu6jgs"]

What is it about water that makes everything automatically sexier? An age old question we may never answer.

In The Lucky Charm, Izzy is way too rational and fearful for her job to just jump into a relationship with Jack, even if he could probably charm her pants off, so theirs is a slow burn as well. Circumstances demanded it, but since it's also my natural preference, it's not much of a surprise that the characters don't immediately jump into bed in TLC.

So much about Izzy's journey is about finding the courage to be okay with wanting what she wants. In this excerpt, she hasn't found it yet, and Jack's there to show her all that she's missing out on.

Izzy whirled around, heart in her throat. Toby couldn’t have come back and heard the one uncharitable thing she’d ever said about him out loud. That would be too unfair.

But it wasn’t Toby. It was Jack, leaning against the doorjamb, grinning at her.

“Not nice,” she panted in relief. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“I seem to have a pretty strong effect on you,” he said, taking a few steps into the trailer and letting the much-abused screen door slam behind him.

“Don’t remind me,” Izzy said, slumping down to one chair. Her knees wobbled a little from the shock of almost telling her boss to his face that he treated her like shit and a little from the shock of the fact that Jack was here. She’d almost gotten used to seeing him first thing in the morning. There was a safeness in their morning routine; he’d never come to see her in the trailer before, or after a game, and the uncertainty of the situation set nerves fluttering in her stomach.

Then his gaze swung to her, like a magnet drawn to its opposite, the interest in his expression completely naked, and Izzy froze.

Don’t think about him naked, she had to remind herself. Somehow, along the line she’d begun to find him more attractive than Noah, and suddenly the trailer felt about half its normally claustrophobic size as he leaned against the corner of the desk and gazed at her.

He’d showered and changed after the media session, and she could smell his soap on the air—something tangy and fresh, like just-cut grass. His close-cropped light brown hair was still wet on the temples, and had just begun to curl in the Florida heat. He was so close to her chair that she wanted to reach up and smooth it down, so she could feel the damp strands against her skin.

She had to do something to break this spell, before he did anything they couldn’t take back; before he did anything to compromised her career even more than it was already compromised.

“What can I do for you?” she stuttered out, hating the way he effortlessly seemed to unsettle her.

“Do I need an excuse to see you?” he asked softly, the words hanging in the air. Izzy supposed it was inevitable that matters would come to this; he’d flirted with her from almost the first moment they’d met, but she’d hoped that maybe flirting was all it would ever turn out to be.


There's a saying that the hardest line to write is the first.  I won't disagree with that--it's sometimes half the battle just to get started, and the first line is all about crossing over from talking about writing to actually writing. But they're lying.  The hardest part isn't just the first line; it's the first chapter.

The first chapter is everything.  It establishes your setting, your tone, the characters and their baseline before the plot happens, and it has to all be wrapped up in a beautiful, enticing package that seduces the reader into wanting to read more.

I know a lot of writers lament the "middle" of a novel--where the plot stalls and sinks like a cake with no leavening--but it's the beginning that causes me the most struggle.

Ironically, it was only a few posts ago (my first post, incidentally) where I was lamenting that I had to rewrite the middle and end of The Lucky Charm.  And it did need to be rewritten, make no mistake about that, but then it turned out that the first chapter needed rewritten too.

What it boils down to is this:  in a novel, the characters go on a journey.  Sometimes literally; but usually, more like metaphorically.  I believe that for a novel to be satisfying, there's a journey each character needs to take on their own, and then if the novel is a romance, there's a journey the two characters go on together.

I understood the destination, and even most of the journey my characters would take to get there. The problem was actually where they began, more with the female protagonist rather than the male. Full disclosure: Jack Bennett pretty much dropped into my head fully formed, very, very passionate about what he was and wasn't, and loathe to change anything about himself.

But Izzy, she was a real issue. I didn't know how to frame her story and tell the reader about her devastating past while keeping the light, comedic tone I really wanted. This is where writing is really hard; as a writer, you try a lot of things and sometimes none of them work.

I tried re-working what I already had. I tried editing. I finally came to the conclusion the entire chapter would have be thrown out and I'd have to start over.

It was totally the right decision. I understand Izzy a lot better now and when I sent it to my mother to read, she said, "oh, I really like her now. I didn't before." My mother is the best beta reader in the world because she is horribly, horribly honest. Like too honest sometimes, but only in the best possible way. She pushes me to be a better writer. She also forces me to look at the logistics of things, and I know to listen to her when she says, "there is no way this would ever happen like that." When she's reading, she's excruciatingly sensitive to problems that jerk her out of the narrative, so if she tells me she doesn't like something, I listen.

The happy ending here is that the rewrite cured the problems with Izzy. She wasn't unlikeable anymore; she wasn't too tough or insensitive or callous. She was finally a character deserving of a happy ending with Jack.

So, without further ado, meet Izzy Dalton:

When Izzy Dalton was eight years old, she proudly boasted to her parents that when she grew up, she was going to be a famous movie star. Mobs of adoring fans, endless red carpets and a never-ending supply of rhinestone sunglasses would be hers. She’d imagined swanning around a glittering blue swimming pool, shaded by palm trees and a legion of Ken doll lookalikes.

And here's Jack Bennett:

“I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t put your feet up there.”

Jack Bennett opened the eye closest to the flight attendant and didn’t bother to hide his grimace.

It was her—the same girl who’d already interrupted his nap three times. First, she’d asked if he wanted a refill on his ginger ale. He’d replied, observing that in his experience, drinking more of the beverages the airplanes supplied usually correlated with an above average need to use the airplane facilities and really, he needed more room than that little cramped closet with its black hole of a toilet. But thank you very much for asking.

Now, I'm sure you're dying to read more. And I do plan on putting up a new excerpt every Wednesday until the publication date.

And what is the publication date, you ask? Hopefully, all the moving parts are in place by April 30, but I will definitely keep an update here at the blog.