It’s finally Friday. All week, I’ve been throwing tidbits from the amazing stories in the ONE SULTRY DAY anthology. But you follow me, and you’ve been waiting for today’s excerpt.
I know you have. Well, I hope you have.
But…a few weeks ago, I made a promise to the people who agreed to admit they were my friend (or maybe even a fan of my writing) and join an exclusive Facebook group.
The promise: I will only share excerpts of my work in the group.
And…I can’t break my word.
BUT…while this is a closed group, I’m happy to add anyone to the group.
So, if you want to read today’s excerpt, you’ll have to click over to the Facebook group. I’ll have the excerpt front and center.
If you’d rather avoid all that and just read the entire story, click on the book cover, and buy away.
Or maybe you’ll take your chances and try to WIN a copy (or $10 from Amazon which will purchase TWO electronic copies). If that’s your game plan, click on the meme below and follow the giveaway instructions.
Otherwise, I hope to see you over at Facebook. If you’re going there from here, will you comment on the excerpt post that that’s how you found it? I’m doing a little market research.
If you want to keep that summer romance alive, ONE SULTRY DAY is the perfect choice. And who doesn’t want a little romance in every day?
Escorts for Hire – Heartaches for Free by Deryn Pittar
University drop-out and current barista, Lexi Fletcher-Bain upgrades to a position as a quality controller for a new agency established by her friend Jess. An agency designed to provide escorts for discerning women. Anything’s better than driving an espresso machine. Despite her shattered ego after a disastrous breakup, Lexi decides to try it for a month.
Sadly, the assessments aren’t any more fun than making espresso. The first subject, Jeremy Miller, gets the Aunt Freda special and Lexi manages to send him running for the last train back to the city. Her second assessment is ruined by an accidental meeting with her ex-fiancé Simon.
Back at the cafe, things get more complicated when Jeremy looks her up wanting a do-over. When Jess says Simon has applied to be an escort, Lexi is forced to explain why she broke off their engagement and why Jess shouldn’t hire him.
The bigger question: why is Jeremy no longer available?
Ghosts of SummersPastby T.E. Hodden
For five years Bunny has never once felt alone. He has been haunted by the tragedy that stole Hanna, his first true love from him, and has always felt her presence on one shoulder, and blame on the other.
Now Alice, a minor star from the show he writes, is on the verge of becoming more than just a friend, and the sun-baked palm beaches are almost feeling like home.
Can Bunny face the ghosts of his past? Or is history about to repeat itself in the most terrible of ways?
Unexpected by Sharon Hughson
Grad student Ivory Konner relishes a summer of guiding rafts on the Wenatchee River far from the expectations of her parents and the reminders of her recent dumping. Falling in love is the furthest thing from her mind when a thin guy and his dog nearly send her plummeting off the trail.
Cancer survivor Prescott Colyer drops out of college, escapes to his uncle’s photo gallery in Leavenworth, WA, and quietly pursues his art. But when an unexpected encounter during a hike exposes him to pain-free physical contact, he risks everything for a girl who’s not interested in romance, not even for the summer.
Once Ivory connects with Prescott’s art, she offers to help him build a business. As they spend time together, her heart takes on its own mission.
Can their unexpected encounter urge Prescott out of isolation? Will Ivory include love in her long-term plan?
Second Chance Summerby Lily Carlyle
Twenty years ago, Summer and Jason’s summer romance seemed destined to last. Until Summer abruptly broke it off, with little explanation. Heartbroken, Jason leaves the Outer Banks—indeed, the entire East Coast—waiting two decades to return. When he comes home to settle his great-aunt’s estate, one of the first people he sees is Summer.
She’s ready to tell him the truth about that summer. But is he ready to listen?
Excerpt from ‘Escorts for Hire – Heartaches Free’ by Deryn Pittar
She’d chosen the tearooms because of their proximity to the train station and had arrived before the time she’d told him on the phone. She wanted to be able to observe him before he realized who she was. Of course, having his photo gave her a distinct advantage, whereas he was looking for a woman wearing a floral dress carrying a largish, red sisal bag and wearing a sunhat, which now hung on the back of the third chair at the table. Perhaps she should stand outside to get a clearer view. She made to rise then sat again. Was this him?
Yes, she recognized his face from the photo she had and he was tall, very tall compared to her 5 ft. 2”. Just as well she wore sandals with a reasonable wedged hell which gave her another 2” in height. Despite his long legs he didn’t stride, he sort of strolled with a slight swing to his hips. His blond hair flopped over his forehead, cut short at the sides and long on top in what seemed to be the current trend. A pale chambray shirt over dark blue jeans, his pullover draped over his shoulders, its arms half knotted across his chest. Very casual chic. He looked absolutely delicious. Where did that thought spring from? Here she was, off men altogether and suddenly her brain had woken up from a long sleep and declared an interest.
He stood a short distance away from the tearoom’s doorway and checked his watch then after putting his hand in his pocket ran a comb through his hair, pulling back the fallen fringe.
Note to self: early for appointments, dresses well, takes care with his appearance.
Her heart sank. He walked away and to her horror disappeared around a corner across the road. What? He was abandoning her without even meeting. How could she explain this to Jess? How embarrassing. She left the table, waving her hand at the waitress. “Looking for my friend,” she explained and walked outside. The heat hit her. Unbelievable for this time of the day. The stone paving had already absorbed enough sunshine to reflect heat and the highest temperature for this summer was predicted for this afternoon.
She stood, feeling foolish and sad as early shoppers bustled around and past her. Once again the last girl left standing without a partner while everyone else danced. It wasn’t fair. She hitched her bag over her shoulder and decided to give him a few more minutes to change his mind and come back. After all, checking her watch, it really was just on half nine.
“Excuse me, would you be Alexandria?”
He’d returned, sneaked up on her from the side. His blue eyes set below arched eyebrows held her gaze and even as she thought to look away, she couldn’t. Ignoring the flip-flop in her chest as her heart bounced with excitement she got a grip and stood as tall as she could and gave him her best smile. This could be fun after all.
Want to keep reading? Click here to purchase the anthology from your favorite retailer.
One Fantastic Giveaway
In order to celebrate this newest release, I’m running a contest. The mandatory portion of this “Rafflecopter” is a scavenger hunt of sorts. You visit either websites, blogs or Facebook pages to find the answer to the question.
I promise, the answers are front-and-center and so obvious all but a blind person could find them. (No slight to my plethora of unsighted readers intended.)
Besides the scavenger hunt, there are multiple ways to enter, including visiting Facebook pages or following authors on different platforms. Four entrants will win.
THREE winners of a digital copy of the anthology
If you’re always game for cash to spend at Amazon and/or FREE books, click on the link. Enter by visiting the authors’ pages.
To make it simple, the answer to my scavenger hunt clue can be found in the blurb from “Unexpected” (scroll back up to see it). I’ve always liked the summer camp romances. What’s your favorite summer romance trope?
Don’t you love fictional towns? Sometimes walking the streets in Sweet Grove, Texas feels like coming home.
Or maybe I’m the only one who gets attached to fictional characters and places. It’s why I like to read well-written series set in places I like. Like Cedar Cove, WA (Debbie Macomber) or Wishful, MS (Kait Nolan).
Thanks to Amazon’s decision to close down the Kindle Worlds, the new title I slated for release on July 3 has been burbling impatiently on the back burner.
But it will make it into the world.
Thanks to the owner of the First Street Church universe, my Sweet Grove Romance series can continue. Furthermore, the author coalition that populates that world with dozens of new stories every year, is introducing new sub-genres into the mix. Sweet Grove Suspense is a line of clean Christian romances with suspense elements. Heroes of Sweet Grove features former or current military personnel as the main characters.
I don’t generally write suspense. I do have a military background, and I’ve dreamed up two former soldiers who will walk into Sweet Grove carrying more than their military duffel as baggage.
LOVE’S LINGERING DOUBTS
Enter Jazlyn Rolle. She hasn’t lived in Sweet Grove since she was the softball superstar for the Lady Shorthorns. In fact, she hasn’t been back for more than a few days since her brother’s funeral seven years ago. And she’s only stopping in while she picks up Drew memorabilia and figures out what she’s going to do with her life now that her military career has folded.
Bailey Travers would like to get away from Sweet Grove, but his family ties him there. His foster father is about to pass away and his little sister has returned with a college degree, work experience, and a plan to convert the family ranch into a guest ranch. There’s no way she can do it alone.
Back in the day, Bailey had a major crush on Jazlyn. Jazlyn is done with men, after her recent breakup cost her the military career she’d dedicated to her fallen brother.
They’re thrown together when Bailey needs help fighting for the ranch. If only his foster father had left a will. If only his foster parents had completed the adoption process. But Bailey’s learned not to waste time dreaming about “if only.”
In Sweet Grove, even where there’s no will, love still finds a way.
A Peek Inside
In the new publishing company, Ms. Storm implemented some word count caps for each novella. Which meant I needed to reduce the word count. By about 5,000 words!
This benefits you. Now, I’m free to share par of this scene as a teaser of what’s to come. I really wanted to keep this scene (as you read it, I hope you understand why) but ended up referencing it vaguely with a comment by Bailey at the end of the novella.
As soon as Bailey cut the motor, he heard the girls’ laughter. Miles of intestines knotted, and he clenched his teeth. He shoved his hat lower, swung down from the tractor and snatched the neon softball from the beneath the seat.
Just get it over with.
Elise called the girls together, and the voices dimmed to a hum. He was a few yards from the dugout where he planned to drop the ball and get back to work.
A figure separated from the cluster. He’d recognize those muscular legs anywhere. The knot from his stomach reared into his heart, which stuttered like a rusty engine.
His feet forgot to move forward. Jaz stopped a few feet from him, sweeping kinky strands of hair that escaped from the clip at her neck off her forehead. One corner of her lips curled and that same eyebrow quirked.
“We meet again. Or are you following me?”
Bailey blinked. The softball turned to a shot put in his hands, and her words jumbled inside his mind.
She cocked her head, and both brows shot upward. The movement drew his attention to her eyes, which sparkled like topaz in her chocolate face. “Back to “cat-got-the-tongue” huh? I figured spending an hour talking in the library would have changed all that.”
She was right. They had talked at the library, and he hadn’t acted like a freshman facing a hot cheerleader. Not even when she remembered their first meeting. He opened his mouth to answer, but his throat dried and his lips froze.
A few girls in the cluster around the mound turned toward them. One whistled through her fingers, but Elise regained her attention. Bailey flicked his attention back to the gorgeous woman baring too much thigh for his comfort.
She’s going to think you’re an idiot. As if she didn’t already know the worst about him. He licked his lips to gather moisture and make his move.
“What’s up, Bailey?” She stepped closer and nudged his shoulder, as if trying to shake him from a stupor.
Electricity raced straight to his heart, a thousand volts that made him jolt away from her. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she shifted away. The subtle motion of her hips compelled his gaze to flick toward her curves. Which was a major mistake because the sight sucker-punched him.
You can read this third story set in Sweet Grove sometime in August 2018. As an additional teaser, this will be the first in a planned trilogy for Jaz and Bailey’s romance, currently titled “Texas Homecoming.”
Be sure to get Hero Delivery to find out specifics or join the Friends of Sharon Hughson Facebook group. Have you read and reviewed LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL and LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS? Do you enjoy stories about military heroes?
In honor of summer, I’ve decided to give you a peek inside my sweet summer romance. It’s something of an unexpected story in an anthology with three other sweet romances.
If you want to read the blurbs, check this out.
As for my story, the meet cute was inspired by a very real hike on the exact trail where my shero is trotting in the opening scene.
There were no interesting males to meet on the trail. I’m a happily married woman. Dogs? Yes, there were many. Some without leashes like Rembrandt.
Their meet cute is the scene I sent to my publisher. You deserve something fresh and new.
When love and isolation collide, only the bravest hearts survive.
Ivory’s determination steams face-first into Prescott’s dream with unexpected results.
I admit I’m nervous because these characters are unique in ways I’ve never written before. She’s taller and broader than him, and he’s a little too skinny and pasty to be handsome.
They’re not the typical 22-year-olds, either. She’s heading back for a Master’s degree her parents oppose. He’d a college dropout with his paint-stained fingers and an aversion to physical contact.
It sounds nothing like a perfect match.
Read on for a peek at their story. This is from a non-line-edited chapter six (translation: it might not be exactly the same as what you’ll see in the book come August 6).
After multiple trips on roots and rocks, Ivory’s gaze stayed fixed on the ground. Until she plowed into Prescott’s back with an unladylike grunt. She peeked over his shoulder into a wash several yards away. A doe curled under a pine tree, ears tilted in their direction while a speckled fawn sniffed at the detritus of needles, cones, leaves and twigs lining the edge of the runoff. It hadn’t rained for several weeks, so the ground was dry, and the snapping of the fawn’s hooves against the foliage carried to their ears.
Prescott eased his camera upward. If he couldn’t capture the scene in a photo, hopefully his artistic brain could memorize it well enough to paint later. A portrait of the pair would make an excellent addition to his collection.
The snap of the shutter echoed in the quiet forest. A chipmunk chattering above them went silent, and birds stopped calling to each other.
Ivory held her breath. As if her breathing could be heard by the diligent mother.
A crow cawed. The fawn’s head snapped up and its ears swiveled forward. Snap. The Dumbo-esque ears twitched toward them. Prescott stilled.
Spots dotted the edge of Ivory’s vision. Her fists clamped Prescott’s hips, and she buried her face in his shoulder blade. Only then did she expel her air and draw another breath.
When she looked up, Prescott’s face was turned toward her, a wary look in his eye.
She was touching him. He didn’t like that. Although she didn’t really understand the pain he experienced at physical contact, she had no desire to hurt him.
“Sorry.” At the moment she mouthed the word, a flurry across the clearing drew their attention.
The doe scrambled to her feet and herded her baby into the trees. Her deep brown eyes stared right at them before she slipped into the forest, out of sight in seconds.
“How did she hear that?” This time there was actual volume in her words.
Prescott’s throat bobbed. His gaze flitted to her lips. Her pulse lunged into her throat.
She stared into his eyes. From a distance, the amber ring around his iris made his eyes appear hazel, but up close they were as brown as Rembrandt’s but accented by the golden halo.
“Your eyes are amazing.” As soon as the words tumbled out, Ivory regretted them. Too bad this wasn’t email. No immediate recalls if you hit send too quickly.
He angled his body toward her, his shoulder mere centimeters from her breast. “Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”
“Why? My eyes are muddy green. You have this cool circle.” She nibbled her lip.
He stared intently into her eyes. “Your eyes are the color of a deep fishing hole or tarragon leaves.” His fingers touched the corner of her eye.
She blinked. “A poet and a painter. How is it you don’t have a line of girlfriends?”
His face flushed before a grin quirked half his mouth. Her heart lurched at the sight. If he smiled like this all the time, women would swoon at his feet for sure.
If you liked this, why not share it on your social media? Or maybe forward the link to your friends who like to read?
If you follow my Hero Delivery newsletter, I’ll be sending out an opportunity for a FREE advanced copy of the anthology in exchange for an honest review. Watch your email inbox OR join my Facebook group. Are you still interested in reading this? More or less interested than before?
May 5th and Reflections from a Pondering Heart is being released into the wide world of readers.
Today, I’m offering readers of my blog a chance to win a copy of the book. I will give one eBook copy and one print copy (signed, of course) to randomly drawn commenters on today’s post.
Now, for the excerpt I have been promising for awhile.
What a welcome home! I bolted outside and heaved into the waste bucket until I thought my stomach might rend in half. I vomited until all that came out was a thick green slime. It burned my throat as it erupted from my mouth.
It was beginning. I pressed my sleeping shift against my stomach. Elisabeth warned me to expect as much as a month of nausea, usually just in the mornings. She kept flat bread beside her sleeping couch, claiming it helped to have something in the stomach before trying to stand up in the mornings.
I didn’t know if I would be able to convince Anna to let me leave food beside my bed. Even if she allowed it, my brothers might eat it before I did. Those three were always hungry.
I clutched my stomach and returned inside. Tonight, Father and I would meet with Joseph. An honorable man like Joseph bar Jacob would find infidelity an unacceptable breach of contract. How could I defend my virtue when my body told a different story?
Darkness fell early. Father and I walked to the village and down a small street far from the town’s center to a sturdy brick building. Joseph’s house (would it ever be mine?), a simple two room box, had sturdy wooden furnishings. Two pillows were nestled together near the hearth. Father lowered himself onto one of them. I stared toward the ground and nearly missed Joseph’s gesture for me to sit on the other pillow.
Father shook his head.
“Thank you,” I said, raising my eyes as far as Joseph’s beard, “I will share with Abba.”
Joseph nodded. “Would you care for wine, Father Heli?”
“Not at the moment.”
I squatted beside Father on the edge of the pillow, my back resting against his side. Joseph folded his legs beneath him and nodded to Father respectfully.
In the light of the candles flickering on the nearby table, I studied this man, my betrothed. A few gray hairs dotted his dark brown beard, which he kept closely trimmed to his face. His skin was sun-darkened and weathered.
Pale brown eyes, flecked with amber and green, stared at Father. The planes of his face were broad and masculine, accentuated by his neatly trimmed hair, which hung to the collar of his robe in the back but was brushed away from his face in the front. It wasn’t a traditional haircut, but it made sense for a man who bent over wood and stone, working with tools all day.
The two exchanged greetings and small talk, while I watched Joseph from beneath my lashes. I pulled my shawl further forward to camouflage the inappropriate staring.
“This is more than a social visit,” Father said.
Joseph nodded. “Of course.”
I felt Father glance toward me. I clenched my skirts with suddenly cold hands. Tightness in my chest made breathing difficult.
“Something unexpected has mired our betrothal agreement,” Father said.
Joseph tilted his head toward Father, but his eyes swept in my direction. Heat clawed up my neck and burned my cheeks.
“Just over three months ago, Jehovah’s messenger visited Mary.”
A whisper of wind could have knocked me backward at that moment. Father said we would keep the truth from everyone, and yet he was telling Joseph. I glanced toward my future husband, wondering how he would react to the unbelievable account.
His face didn’t change while Father repeated the angel’s declaration. A calloused brown hand smoothed his beard. He cupped his chin in one hand, a finger straying to cover his strong mouth.
Father’s direct approach shouldn’t have surprised me. Of course he would tell Joseph. How else would he explain my condition?
“Mary is with child,” Father said. “Although she has done nothing to violate the marriage contract, the law gives you the right to divorce her.”
Joseph’s hazel eyes filled with emotion. I guessed it was disbelief. My experience spotting Anna’s disapproval and condemnation made it easy to rule out those emotions. He rested his gaze on me, and I tried to shrink into my robe, wishing for a larger shawl to hide my embarrassment.
If he spoke to me, what would I say? The whole thing sounded absurd when Father admitted it aloud.
“You realize how incredible this sounds?” Joseph drew each of his words out, as if carefully selecting them.
“Yes. Precisely why no one outside this room knows about it.”
“You are claiming she is carrying the Messiah,” Joseph said.
“I claim nothing. I am simply repeating what happened.”
“I’m expected to believe my wife is pregnant but didn’t have marital relations with another man?”
Father’s silence made my stomach clench. Bile burned the back of my throat. I gritted my teeth, keeping the churning acid from making an escape. If I vomited here, I would die.
“I expect you to accept my word, one honorable man to another.”
Silence filled the space around us. It was so complete I could hear the fire hissing against the lard on the candle nearest to me.
Father expected too much.
In order to be entered into the special drawing I’m running on my blog, comment below. When have you experienced the uncomfortable situation of sharing unbelievable news? OR what should Mary do to convince Joseph of her innocence?
I will draw a name in one week and contact the winners via email. Thanks for visiting. Share this page with any of your friends who might be interested in reading this book.