Wednesday, December 12, 2018

It's TASTY LOVE release day!!

My favorite release this year is here!

Out of all the books that Sarah and I have written, this is my favorite.

It's a second chance at love story and I adore the hero and the heroine.

The a police detective at the Aspenridge PD.

The the baker at Em-Dash (the local bookstore), but in high school, she was the cheerleader and he was the dorky brainy kid who never thought he had a chance.

Then they fell in love...until life fell apart.

Story Description:
Eight years ago, she broke his heart.
Eight years ago, he vowed never to let her hurt him again.
Now, they have to work together to keep their town safe.
At the age of sixteen, Val Garcia made the worst mistake of her life. She trusted the wrong guy, and hurt the guy she loved. She can never atone for that one mistake, but she’s trying.
As a cop, Spencer Murdock is trained in the art of evasion, but that isn’t helping him avoid the pariah in his life...his first love, Val. It doesn’t help that as the town baker, his friends and coworkers are always moaning over her cupcakes. Yeah, it sounds dirty to him when they do it, too.
Now, he has to work with her daily, see her daily, listen to her soft voice and see her smooth skin...daily. And daily he’s seeing her more as the girl he fell in love with, not the girl who destroyed him.

There’s no way they can have a second chance. That trust is broken. But every day there are glimpses that make them both ask...what if? 

What reviewers are saying...

"...a story I could not put down."

"Loved this book..."

"Love the characters and storylines..."

"This was a really well written story that I enjoyed..."

Chapter One
It was too early in the morning for whining, but obviously Travis hadn’t gotten that memo.
“What am I going to do, Val?”
I worked hard not to roll my eyes at him. The young college-aged cutie that my BFF and owner of Em-Dash, Kali, had left in charge of her bookstore while she jaunted off to Kenya with her new love looked completely panicked.
Pulling the tray of cookies from the oven, I set them on the row of waiting hot pads and gave Travis my best stern adult look. The comforting scent of cinnamon and sugar filled the air and immediately dropped my heart rate. There was nothing like fresh baked goods to ease the soul.
“Travis, Kali wouldn’t have left you in charge if she didn’t think you were capable.” I gave our clerk a pointed look before reaching into the oven for a second tray.
“And I was capable . . . am capable,” Travis said, snaking a hand toward the cookies before I slapped it away. “But these midterms are kicking my butt, so I know finals are going to be awful. I need about ten more hours in every day to get in classes, work, studying, and the occasional nap.” He ran his hand through his thick, already disheveled dark hair that looked about a month and a half past needing a haircut. Every day he appeared a bit more frazzled, but that could be me projecting my stress.
I laughed and grabbed my dusting tin. “Welcome to the wonderful world of being an adult.” I paused in my cookie routine to give him a soft smile. “Kali said it was okay to hire some part-time help, so do it. Take out an ad in the paper, or put up some signs in the student center.”
Turning my attention back to the cookies, I uncapped the dusting tin and shook out a shimmering cascade of cinnamon and sugar to fall delicately on the still-warm tops of my snickerdoodles. The second dose of cinnamon and sugar gave them that extra oomph that left my customers coming back for more.
“I don’t love the idea of a bunch of new people traipsing around the bookstore.”
My shoulders tightened. “You can’t have it both ways,” I snapped a little too forcefully. “Either you play loosey-goosey with your grades and handle Em-Dash on your own or you hire someone new.”
Blowing hair out of my face, I tried to soften my words with a little smile. Travis wasn’t the only one feeling Kali’s absence. It was hitting me harder than expected to be without my boss babe and bestie. And there was no use pretending that when she got back from Kenya a few days after Christmas that everything would go back to normal. She had Ten, and that meant I would have less of her.
“Look, I’ve got to get these cookies off the trays before the bottoms brown, but we can sit down tomorrow and write up an advertisement to put in the paper. Okay?” I asked, sliding a hot and somewhat-melty cookie off the tray and handing it to Travis.
“Okay,” he mumbled around soft dough and perfectly portioned sugar and cinnamon.
I would never be a super-nurturing maternal type who could make everything better with a hug and a soft word or two, but I could bake the best snickerdoodle in Colorado, and that was almost the same thing.
“Now, get out of here before the ladies start showing up and you really get uncomfortable with people in your bookstore.” I gave him a playful wink.
Travis was a good kid, and he was super dedicated to Kali, even more so since we all found out that she had been secretly writing horror books as David Greer for the past six years. But even that level of fanboy had its limits, and the line was drawn a long time ago at Single Ladies Book Club.
Once a week—and sometimes it even happened twice a week—the single women of Aspenridge descended on Em-Dash to eat cookies, talk vaguely about books, and watch the firemen across the street wash their truck. Travis decided in his first week of working at the bookstore that that level of estrogen was way too much for him. Since then, he’d always made it a point to be out of here well before the ladies started showing up. But a quick glance at the clock hanging next to my giant stainless-steel fridge confirmed he was cutting it close.
I scooped another cookie off the tray and passed it over to him.
“Thanks, Val. See you tomorrow.” He stuck the cookie in his mouth, grabbed his bag and keys, and rushed out of the kitchen to head home.
Chuckling, I finished plating the rest of the snickerdoodles. The SLBC was scheduled to start in less than fifteen minutes, and eager members would be showing up soon. I scooped the last cookie onto the plate and tossed the trays into the sink to clean later, adding it to the list of things I’d need to take care of before finally heading home.
With Kali gone, my hours at Em-Dash had about doubled, and after getting there at four in the morning to start the daily baking, I was usually exhausted by lunch. Staying until five for book club was just about killing me, but I desperately needed some girl time.
I marched out of the kitchen, cookies in hand, just as the front door opened.
“Where would you like me?” A tall, muscular man stood in the entry, already removing his jacket to reveal a tight T-shirt barely holding back a moan-inducing set of pectoral muscles.
My legs quivered, and I bit my lip hard to keep myself under control. I set the cookies down on a table and pointed to a stool next to a floor lamp. “Will that work?”
He nodded and gave me quick wink before pointing at the cookies. “Mind if I snag one of those before we start?”
I simply nodded back, frozen in place. He leaned around me to grab a snickerdoodle, and his tight chest brushed against my shoulder, releasing a deep, musky aroma that didn’t help my thin control. I bit my lip harder. If one touch from this guy was getting me this worked up, I was in desperate need of getting laid.
The chime above the door sounded again and pulled me out of my stupor.
“Well, hello there.” Britney’s cheerful voice cut across the silent bookstore as she focused in on the fire station hottie.
I backed away from the very hard chest and created some distance from the distraction. “Britney, this is . . .” I motioned toward the man, but my brain couldn’t pull up the name I was so desperately searching for.
“Mick,” he offered up. “Mick Forrester.” He held his hand out to me, and I gave it a quick shake.
“Mick is going to be helping us out with book club today. With the weather turning colder, the guys at the firehouse won’t be washing the truck as often. So several of them have graciously volunteered to read for us in exchange for a steady supply of baked goods.”
Mick bit into his cookie and licked crumbs off his full lips. “If everything you send over is this good, you ladies might not be too impressed with the show once the spring weather comes back.” Mick patted his rock-hard abs and gave me another wink.
“Indeed,” Britney said, shooting me a loaded look.
I handed Mick a copy of that month’s book, and thankfully he took it and walked over to his stool. Kali had been the one to suggest inviting the firemen to come do readings for us since our usual club entertainment was locked away for the winter. At the time, I thought it was brilliant, but I was seriously rethinking that. I knew the girls would flirt and fawn all over the well-built guys, but I didn’t expect the guys to flirt back.
I hurried behind the counter where I’d stashed the chairs for the meeting, and Britney followed tight on my heels.
“Well, that was interesting,” Britney whispered in my ear, casting a coy glance back at Mick still sitting on his stool and flipping through the book I gave him. “If I’m reading that right, I’d say Mr. Fireman is interested in more than just your baked goods.”
I picked up two chairs and steadied my face into what I hoped was a neutral expression. “He can be as interested as he likes, I don’t care so long as he sits pretty on the stool and reads all the sexy bits of the books.”
“Right,” Britney said, rolling her eyes. “So you weren’t at all affected by his solid abs, luscious lips, or charming glances?”
“I can appreciate a fine man without wanting to date him.” I hefted a chair under each arm and turned back toward the front of the store. “Besides, I’ve got enough on my plate between covering Kali’s absence and the holiday baking season. The last thing I need is a guy to complicate things.”
And it wouldn’t matter anyway. I’d screwed up my chance at living happily ever after a long time ago, and that wasn’t something you got a second chance at.

Chapter Two
I walked into the Aspenridge Police Department to the normal Monday morning trash talk being thrown around, with one notable exception. “I’m telling you man. Val Garcia’s muffins make me hard.”
Every part of my body—including my heart—stilled as that caveman part of my brain, which was still attached to her even after all these years, roared in outrage. Mine! But instead of letting loose with the scream, I shoved that primal part of me down and glared across the room at the rookie beat cop who’d been talking.
Nathan Peters. His back was to me, so he didn’t see me coming as I stomped across the room, but his buddies did. And from their reaction, my face must have shown some of that inner caveman, because both of their eyes widened and they scurried away. But I clamped down on top of Peters’ shoulder so he couldn’t escape.
He flinched under my grip as I turned him to me. “Peters, don’t you have a school zone to go patrol?”
“D-detective,” he stuttered. “Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. I just wanted to get a muffin before they were all gone.”
I scowled at him.
“Tonja from dispatch dropped these by.” He twisted out of my grip and offered up the distinctive pastry box from Em-Dash. Val’s muffins . . . from Val’s bakery.
Suddenly it all made sense, but I still didn’t like the tone of voice Nathan Peters had been using to refer to Val.
“Are they any good?” I growled at him.
“Oh, yeah.” His eyes practically rolled back into his head. “They’re some sort of pumpkin, walnut, and white-chocolate mixture that melts in my mouth. A woman who can make something like that . . .” He groaned like she was sucking his cock.
I growled again, and his eyes widened as if he’d forgotten who he’d been talking to.
“Detective,” Chief Klune called from across the room. “Stop harassing the rookies and get in here.”
With one last threatening scowl at Officer Peters, I turned and strode to the chief’s office.
As soon as I entered, he barked out, “Shut the door behind you.”
I complied and then turned to meet the frown my boss aimed at me. “What the hell was that out there with Peters?” He waved a hand to the bullpen.
“Nothing to worry about, sir.”
He examined me for a moment, and I could almost see his inner debate about pushing the matter further. In the end, he must have decided not to, because he simply shook his head and nodded at the chair in front of his desk. “Sit.”
He clicked a few keys on his computer and then met my gaze. “The independent investigation into your conduct with the Naked Brews case has been concluded.”
My stomach clenched. The Naked Brews case had been my first big investigation with the department. I’d been naively excited about the case when it began. Aspenridge was a small town in Colorado. We weren’t exactly in the middle of a hotbed of crime. Petty shoplifting, mischievous teenagers on vacation, along with an occasional DUI hit and run into a tree from one of the tourists were the norm.
So, when it looked like the Naked Brews incidences were a pattern of something more sinister . . . hell, yeah, I’d been excited. I wanted to prove my worth and my investigative abilities. Well, I’d failed big time. Not only had my failure endangered lives and property, but I hadn’t seen the evidence right in front of me . . . that my little brother, Warner, was behind the majority of the crimes.
Since that day four months ago, which ended with Warner in the hospital and eventually on his way to prison, I’d spent too many sleepless nights wondering exactly where I’d gone wrong. I hadn’t felt like I was missing the obvious at the time, but had I let my family ties blind me?  That question would always haunt me.
I should have been able to see what was going on with Warner. I should have been able to prevent it from happening. Not only as a detective, but as his big brother. And because of that, my little brother was a convicted felon. So, yeah, I’d failed big time, and my little brother was paying the price in prison.
“ . . . free and clear.” The chief looked at me with a grim smile on his face, and I realized I’d zoned out from what he’d been telling me.
“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that again?” I asked.
His scowl was back, and he shoved a piece of paper into my hands.
“You can read it yourself, but they found you and the department free and clear of any wrongdoing on the case. You’re being reinstated as a detective.”
Suddenly, I could feel the blood flow back into my limbs again. I had my job back. Relief wasn’t even a big enough word for what I felt in that moment. Four months of sitting at my desk working as a glorified secretary filing all the paperwork for the department had been sucking my soul dry.
“Thank you, sir.”
He nodded, although his lips were in a tight line like he didn’t necessarily agree with the determination of the investigation. “Lucky for you, I had a case come across my desk this morning. He handed me a folder filled about a half-inch thick with reports. My eyebrows lifted. I hadn’t heard of anything that would require this many pages happening in Aspenridge. That little buzz of anticipation curled in my gut.
He nodded at the file. “In the past month, there have been twenty-one thefts reported.”
I flipped open the file and quickly scanned the first couple of reports. I turned a couple more sheets before meeting the chief’s amused gaze. “Are you shitting me? You want me to investigate a rash of garden-gnome thefts?”
“Yes, I do, and I expect quick results. The citizens of Aspenridge are having their property stolen. No matter what that property is or how questionable their taste, your job is to recover it and find out who is doing the crime? Any further questions?” he growled.
I shook my head and clenched my teeth. “No, sir.”
He went back to typing. I had obviously been dismissed to carry out my very important investigation.
Fuck my life. Garden gnomes. This was what I wanted off desk-jockey duty for? Not hardly.
Seven hours later, I glanced down at my list of victims that I still needed to interview about the garden gnome thefts and sighed. One glaring victim name had been mocking me all through this fabulously shitty day. What was one more thing to make it even more sucktastic?
I turned and headed toward Em-Dash.
Ever since the scene that morning in the bullpen, Val had stayed in the back of my mind, lingering, taunting me. Most days I was able to ignore her presence in town. It was easier that way . . . if I pretended she simply wasn’t here. And hopefully it was late enough that she wouldn’t be at work so I could keep pretending.
Val owned and ran the bakery at the back of the local bookstore, Em-Dash. But running a bakery meant she kept a baker’s hours—early mornings followed by getting off in the early afternoon—which I hoped meant she’d probably left the bookstore hours ago.
But as I approached the store, the lights from within illuminated the occupants against the growing dusk outside. There was no mistaking the long, silky, red hair that haunted my dreams. The lights of the store caught those glossy tresses and made them look like they were lit by candlelight.
Fuck my life. I just couldn’t catch a break.
Once upon a time, I’d tangled my hands in that gorgeous hair as I’d buried myself inside her luscious body. I knew how silky the strands felt . . . almost as silky as the inside of her pussy had felt on my dick. The thought hit me like a punch to the gut.
Fuck. It had been eight years. I should be over this shit. She didn’t want me. She’d never wanted me. I’d been a game to her, a silly teenage game. A geeky kid blown away by the head cheerleader. Unfortunately, by the time I’d discovered that, she already had my heart, and it had gotten trampled in the fallout, too.
I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders in my suit coat, making sure my badge was showing on my waistband and my gun was still safely tucked against my ribs. I pulled open the door to the store. I was a man, and I had a job to do. I was stronger than the shit she’d pulled on me in high school. She might have been my first love, but I’d never again let her see that she had the power to hurt me.
Never again.

Note: While this is book #2 of the Bookstore Love duology, this book can be read alone. It stands completely on its own.

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